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Al-Jazeera: Bin Laden Hails Terror Attacks

Aired October 14, 2002 - 10:14   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go overseas to a pair of back-to- back bomb blasts that are echoing here in the U.S. this morning. At least two Americans are among the 187 confirmed killed in the bombing of an Indonesian nightclub. More than 200 others remain missing this morning, and the U.S., saying Al Qaeda is linked to the attack, has begun ordering Americans out of the most populous Muslim nation in the world. The blast was so thunderous it was felt nearly 10 miles away by our next guest, Debe Campbell. She's with the Bali Tourism Authority, and she joins us now on our videophone.
Can you tell us was you heard and saw when the blast went off, Debe?

DEBE CAMPBELL, BALI TOURISM AUTHORITY: My residence is about 15, 20 kilometers from here. It was about 11:00 when we heard the blast, and it actually rocked our house. It was so loud we went outside thinking it was a sonic boom or earthquake.

HARRIS: We're glad to see you're OK. I assume your family is well as well?

CAMPBELL: Yes. Yes. Fortunately, me and my closest friends and family did not lose anyone in the blast. Most of those victims were overseas visitors and Indonesian workers in this area.

HARRIS: Many Indonesians were also involved in this blast, as you just noted there. Does that have Balinesians feeling unsafe and possibly panicking right now?

CAMPBELL: I'm having difficulty hearing you. Can you repeat that, please?

HARRIS: Sure, we understand that there were a number of locals there also hurt in the blast. Does this have residents there feeling panicky?

CAMPBELL: Not exactly, because the feeling here is that the target was specifically foreign visitors. Due to the nature of the location, this place was frequented mostly by international visitors.

So it's -- the local people, particularly, look at it as an incident that targeted them, not so much local residents, although the Australians were the largest number of fatalities, with nine. Indonesian fatalities, to date, or as of this evening, were eight.

HARRIS: Debe, we have heard many experts in terrorism say in the last few hours that this sort of thing was expected to happen at some point, some place in Indonesia. Did you or any of the authorities there in Bali expect something like this to happen at some point, and were any precautions taken for it?

CAMPBELL: This is never, never expected. Bali, as you know, is the Hindu enclave and the largest Muslim country in the world. The focus of everything here is peace, balance. Every day is a holy festival, prayer many, many times a day. This has been a safe destination all throughout all of the conflict.

HARRIS: It appears we've lost our connection there with Debe Campbell. She's with the Bali Tourism Authority, and we were trying to get some perspective from the folks who live in Bali this morning to find out exactly what's going on, but unfortunately, we've lost that connection. Apologize for that. And we'll move on now.

Let's get some more on the possible Al Qaeda connection to the bombing, coming up in just a moment.

But first, we have some breaking news. The Al Jazeera TV network says it's received a statement signed by Osama bin Laden, praising last week's attacks on U.S. Marines in Kuwait and the French supertanker off the coast of Yemen. The statement urges Muslims to unite against Americans and Jews. For more, let's turn to Mike Boettcher, standing by in London.

Mike, what have you learned about this?

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, we've been tracking that same message for several hours this morning, before it was broadcast Al-Jazeera. It came across what we believe was an Al Qaeda affiliated Web site. It's been known in the past as (ph), and has a different name today. It's come up on a different server.

Let's take a look at a couple of quotes from this letter that was reportedly signed by Osama bin Laden. It says "The heroic operation in Kuwait proves the level of danger that threatens U.S. forces in Islamic countries."

Next, it says, "The priority in this war at this stage must be against the infidels, the Americans and the Jews, who have not stopped their injustice around the world."

This message, basically, congratulates those who carried out the attacks against U.S. Marines in Kuwait and, also, those who carried out the attack believed to be a terrorist attack against the French tanker off the coast of the Yemen.

It also states that Al Qaeda has not been destroyed by the coalition in this year-long war and that it will continue to operate around the world. Also this morning, very interesting, Leon, the respected French newspaper "Lemond (ph)" is reporting intelligence sources in Europe believing that some imminent attacks in Europe could be out there. It's the chatter they're picking up, the intelligence chatter. This being reported by "Lemond (ph)," that agencies around Europe are at the highest alert -- Leon. HARRIS: Mike, as you know, one of the burning questions here stateside for the last few months has been whether or not Osama bin Laden is alive. This letter that's come in to Al Jazeera, how do we know for sure that this letter may have came from him? Has there been any sort of independent confirmation it might have came from him, and that it is his signature there on that letter?

BOETTCHER: To be very frank, Leon, it's going to be difficult to 100 percent verify that it was written by him. But we can look at the sources, Al Jazeera and this Web site have both before put out statements that have proven to be from the source Osama bin Laden and other leaders. These have been in the past reliable outlets for Al Qaeda people who want to get statements out. So we can look at that.

BOETTCHER: It will take more analysis, but there are time references about the attacks against the freighter and about the attacks against the U.S. Marines in Kuwait. So that would make this statement, having been written within the last week.

HARRIS: Mike Boettcher, reporting live for us from London. Thanks, Mike. We'll check back with you later on.


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