of State Colin Powell
Interview on NPR
September 12, 2001
QUESTION: The Secretary of State Colin Powell today pledged a global fight against
terrorism involving not only NATO but also Muslim states.
Secretary Powell, do you expect to have the active support of friendly Muslim
states in that effort?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, I have already been in touch with some Arab states in
the region. They realize that terrorism of this kind is a threat to any civilization.
And they are friends of ours and they want to work with us and they want to
help us, so I know that there will be a number of nations in the region, in
the Persian Gulf and the Middle East region, that will be cooperating with us.
And I am continuing to make phone calls to that end.
QUESTION: Have you spoken to people in Saudi Arabia and Egypt?
SECRETARY POWELL: I have spoken to people in Saudi Arabia. I have spoken to
the Chairman of the Arab League, Mr. Amr Moussa. And I have calls in to other
leaders in the region now.
QUESTION: When you spoke with them today, did they raise the linkage of this
terrorist attack to Israeli actions in the Middle East or to US policy on the
SECRETARY POWELL: They did not. And the simple reason is that this act is so
horrible, so horrendous in its nature and dimensions, that there can be no justification.
Even though we have a difficult situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians,
no way could that justify this kind of attack against innocent people which
costs thousands of lives. And none of them suggested that, nor would I have
expected them to.
QUESTION: How strong a link would you say there is now from all that you know
about yesterday's attacks between what happened and people associated with Usama
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I am going to let the intelligence community and our
law enforcement agencies describe the strengths of links to any particular terrorist
organization or network. Let me just say that there is a body of evidence that
is developing that I think in the very near future will point us in a specific
direction. But I don't want to handicap that with describing it as being either
strong or we're this sure or that sure.
QUESTION: How important is it in whatever the United States does, say if there
is some military retaliation down the road, how important is it that there be
allies, including Muslim nations, in that action?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think it is always best to have a coalition when you are
going after a problem or dealing with a threat that really is not just directed
at America; it is directed at civilization. And so to the extent that you can
put a coalition together, you are bringing the weight of the international community
along with you. It doesn't mean that every member of that coalition has to participate
in some military way. Political support, diplomatic support, other kinds of
support can be just as useful. It is not clear to me we would need anyone's
direct military involvement should we go down a road of military retaliation.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell, the newspaper headlines in New York today, a lot
of them, screamed the word "war." I wonder, is that appropriate? Do
we regard this as the equivalent to war?
SECRETARY POWELL: The President believes that it was an act of war against us,
not a war of the kind that we have seen before such as World War II or Korea
or Vietnam. And Korea and Vietnam were not called wars but they certainly were
wars. But it is an act of war. When you attack our homeland, when you attacked
two places such as the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon, that is
an act of war against our sovereignty, against the security of our people. When
you kill thousands of our civilians, there is no other way to characterize it.
It doesn't mean necessarily that it results in, say, a declaration of war --
Congress would have to make that judgment anyway -- but it means that we have
to really mobilize ourselves and all of the assets at our disposal -- political,
diplomatic, legal, law enforcement, intelligence and military -- to deal with
those who perpetrated this act of war against us.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell, thank you very much for talking with us.