King Abdullah II
Interview with Paula Zahn on CNN
September 12, 2001

PAULA ZAHN: I need to mention that a bunch of us up here on the platform have just sighted what we believe to be a military jet doing some kind of flyover. In light of what David Ensor is reporting, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when he is describing – his report made sense describing the activity in Canada. But this jet was traveling south and slightly east of here; you know, appeared, you know, over 5th Avenue. We have no idea of what the relevance of that flight is. But it clearly was a military jet. Some folks on here who are very good at identifying military aircraft thought it was an F-16. We will try to confirm whether it was and what it all means.

But right now, I have the honor of joining King Abdullah of Jordan now for his reaction to what has happened here in the United States. Your Majesty, thank you very much for joining us today.

Do you have any idea who is responsible for this massacre in the United States?

HIS MAJESTY, KING ABDULLAH BIN HUSSEIN: I think at this stage it is too early to tell. Obviously the international community, Jordan included, is working very closely with the United States to try and come up with some answers as quickly as possible. But I’m sure in a very short period of time we’ll be able to identify the individuals or the organizations that were behind this very barbaric act.

ZAHN: What kind of intelligence support are you providing the United States?

KING ABDULLAH: Well, many countries in the Middle East, as well as further afield, are working closely together with the different agencies in the United States to compare information. And this is not just because of the crisis. This is something that has been going on for many years. But, obviously, everybody’s in their offices working night and day to try and get to the bottom of this horrendous crime as quickly as possible.

ZAHN: And in what way is Jordan attempting to combat terrorism right now?

KING ABDULLAH: Well, obviously, Jordan has been working very closely with the United States for many years due to the unfortunate experiences that our country has gone through. And we have a very close working relationship between the security services, the intelligence communities of both countries.

But, again, I think you must understand that combating international terrorism is actually a combined effort by many countries all over the world, and we’re just part of that effort.

ZAHN: As I understand it, you were halfway across the Atlantic on your way to the United States, and your jet turned around. What else can you tell us about that?

KING ABDULLAH: Well, really, we were almost coming towards the coastline of Nova Scotia when we got the information of the first incident of the first aircraft hitting one of the towers. And as the information began to unfold, obviously we did feel like we wanted to continue to the United States. Air traffic was a problem at that point. And obviously, we realized that the government and the federal agencies were going to have their hands full because of the tragic circumstances.

So it was better to return home at that point. But all of here in Jordan would like to share in the sorrow and the grief that has befallen the United States, and particularly the families of the victims involved.

ZAHN: A number of world leaders, including yourself, have condemned this attack; Yasser Arafat yesterday condemning the attack. What is your reaction to some of the Palestinians yesterday in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank who were celebrating these attacks in the United States as a victory against Israel?

KING ABDULLAH: Well, I think we were, here in Jordan, just as shocked as you are. But again, as you said, it’s a small group. And I think this small group of individuals that were celebrating and in no way is a reflection of the Palestinian people or the people of the Middle East. I think all of us are shocked and saddened and distraught that so many innocent people have been hurt or killed in this devastating incident. And we all have families, and just to think of putting ourselves in the shoes of those bereaved ones in the United States I think has touched everybody. I have friends of mine in New York. I spent yesterday on the airplane trying to call my friends to make sure they were all right. I think all of us have been touched by this incident. And I hope that this is a renewed effort now by the international community to really to be able to work much stronger together. There’s a lot more that we can do to break down the barriers of cooperation between different countries to try and rid ourselves of this horrendous from of international terrorism.

ZAHN: Your Majesty, do you think U.S. policy in the region made the United States vulnerable to this attack?

KING ABDULLAH: I believe that many countries in the world have been targets for terrorist organizations. As I said, this is not a phenomenon of this week. The United States and the international community have been battling terrorism for several decades now. And, again, it must be pointed out that this is an ongoing battle that happens everyday. And I’m somewhat surprised that something like this had not happened sooner. I mean the law of averages, sooner or later the bad guys are going to get one through, and, you know, we have to understand that. And I hope American has, and I’m sure it will have, the strength and determination to pick ourselves up and really take the fight to the terrorists and those responsible for the heinous crimes that we saw perpetrated yesterday.

ZAHN: So it sounds to me, Your Majesty, and I have to do this briefly, that in essence, you’re saying perhaps even if, as one of our guests suggested earlier today, peace had been achieved in July of 2000, this still – in the Middle East, this still might have happened.

KING ABDULLAH: I don’t believe so, because I think that if you had solved the problems of the Middle East, and obviously the core issue is that between the Israeli and Palestinians, I doubt very much that this incident would have taken place, and again, that was a reminder to all of us and why I think so many of us in the international community have been working so hard to bring a stop to the violence and bring people back to the peace process, because, in a vacuum, you do allow the extremists the upper hand and the chance to try things as what happened yesterday. And they will continue on trying until we can solve the problem once and for all.

ZAHN: King Abdullah, it is an honor to have you join us here at CNN. We very much appreciate your time. Thank you again…

KING ABDULLAH: Thank you very much.

ZAHN: …for joining us.