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American Diplomat Assasinated in Jordan

Aired October 28, 2002 - 05:02   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: OK, let's right to that breaking news, the assassination of American diplomat Laurence Foley in Jordan. The shooting took place outside Foley's home in Amman. Authorities there are trying to find out who pulled the trigger.
Shortly after the shooting, CNN spoke with the Jordanian minister of information about this shooting.


MOHAMMAD AL-ADWAN, JORDANIAN MINISTER OF INFORMATION: He had waited for the diplomat around his house, when he was leaving his house for to go to the embassy, apparently. And he shot him several times. He had his face covered and I believe the wife of the diplomat informed the authorities.


COSTELLO: And so far no one has claimed responsibility or a motive in this killing. We're going to bring you the latest as we get it.

In fact, I have the latest right now. This is from the U.S. Embassy, a statement, and I'm going to read off my paper here.

It says, "We are working closely with Jordanian officials to investigate this horrible crime. The U.S. Embassy in Jordan has informed U.S. citizens in Jordan of the incident and reiterate our recommendation that all U.S. citizens remain vigilant. All of us in the American community convoy our condolences to the Foley family on the death of such a warm and loving man. We are outraged by this incomprehensible act."

And, of course, Mr. Foley's wife was there in the house as he was shot this morning. It was she who called authorities to the house.

We want to go to neighboring Iraq now for some reaction to this morning's shooting in Jordan.

Our Baghdad bureau chief Jane Araf joins us -- and, Jane, while we don't know the motive for this morning's shooting in Jordan, what is the atmosphere in the region for U.S. diplomats and for Americans traveling there?

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, it is fairly tense, as you might imagine. Ironically, Iraq is thought to be, by Western diplomats who are here, one of the safest places in the region just because it is completely controlled by the Iraqi government.

Now, there are no American diplomats here. American interests have been governed by the polish embassy since the advent of the Gulf War. But there are an increasing number of Western European diplomats. In other places in the region, it's not the same story. Jordan particularly is quite vulnerable to this sort of thing with its majority Palestinian population next to the West Bank. It has ties with Israel. It's made peace with Israel. And it's a strong U.S. ally. So there are extremist elements that do find it quite an attractive target.

Now, the kind of things we've been seeing in other parts of the region, for instance, in Kuwait, attacks on American troops, this kind of thing is, as Iraqi officials and diplomats here warn, expected to continue and perhaps even increase as the threat of war increases -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And, Jane, you know, it seems that Americans, as you said, are being picked off everywhere -- like, you know, they're, in Kuwait American soldiers were killed and now in Jordan an American diplomat is killed. Do you think that the pressure that President Bush is putting on the United Nations to deal with Iraq is adding to all of this in the whole region?

ARRAF: It is. I believe you're absolutely right about that. The feeling is among a lot of people here and people in the region that this is heading towards something that on the street level a lot of Arabs and a lot of Muslims, in fact, can't accept.

Now, the Iraqi government's position on what's happening at the U.N., for instance, the resolution, is that the U.S. is launching something that would essentially occupy Iraq. The resolution to get arms inspectors here would, for instance, include the presence of foreign troops.

Now, that doesn't sit well not just in Iraq, but in other parts of the region, where there really is a resentment and maybe even a growing resentment against the American government, not the American people, by any means, but the American government and what a lot of people on the streets in Arab capitals and cities and towns in Muslim countries around the world see as a growing threat by the United States against them to increase its influence -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Jane Arraf, thank you very much for the update live from Baghdad.

We want to talk to Rami Khouri, who is a columnist for a Jordanian newspaper.

Good morning, Rami.


COSTELLO: What do you know about this shooting?

KHOURI: Well, only what the government has released in terms of the shooting taking place and the masked gunman escaping. But I think the significant thing is really the political dynamics out of which this terrible tragedy happened and I think you have to look at the political background. And this is problematic, because we've seen this happen before and we're probably going to see more of this.

COSTELLO: Rami, let me interrupt you. Tell us a little bit about that political situation and why that's adding to violence against Americans in the region.

KHOURI: Well, it's violence against targets, official American government agencies. It's not random violence against any American. But you had the shooting of the soldiers in Kuwait. You had the attack on the French tanker, which the people in Yemen felt was an American one. And now you have the shooting of the American diplomat here. This is, I think, the unfortunate but inevitable consequence of the trend that we've seen in the region with greater American pressure in the area and greater Arab anger and resentment.

And as official Arab parties, governments, seem unable to do very much, you're getting these free lance individuals or small groups who are going to this desperate means of using terror to express their anger and we've got to break the cycle, because it's awful for Americans and it's awful for Arabs.

COSTELLO: How do you break the cycle, though?

KHOURI: I think you break it by recognizing how you built the cycle up and how we got to this situation in the first place, which is to recognize the legitimate concerns that people have in this region, separate them from the illegitimate concerns and address the legitimate issues that both Americans and Arabs are talking about.

And I would add it's not just Arabs and Muslims, but it's people all over the world who are critical of what the U.S. is doing in Iraq. And we need to address these issues in a much more effective and coherent way that is based on international law. And I think we can do that. I think there's a majority of people in the Arab world want to get rid of terror, they want to end occupations, they want to stop wars halfway around the world.

But we need to systematically recognize the different issues that brought us here. And those are domestic issues in the Arab, Arab- Israeli issues, American foreign policy issues. There's lots of blame to share. It's not any one party that's concerned. But we're into the cycle of violence and we've got to get out of it, because it's going to get a lot worse. And as we saw on September 11, that's just one indication of what some people might do.

COSTELLO: Point taken.

Thank you.

Rami Khouri, a columnist from a Jordanian newspaper, joining us live by phone this morning.

Again, a U.S. diplomat has been shot down in Jordan as he was leaving his house for work at the embassy.


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