King Abdullah II
Interview with Jon Scott on Fox News
September 17, 2001

JON SCOTT: The tensions over Osama bin Laden and his apparent residency in Afghanistan are forcing all nations to figure out where they stand, especially in the Middle East. There is pull there in two very different directions.

We're joined by His Majesty, King Abdullah II of Jordan, the son of the late King Hussein.

Your Majesty, it's good of you to be with us today. Thank you for being here.


SCOTT: Can you tell us. What is the view in the Muslim world of Osama bin Laden

KING ABDULLAH: I'm sorry; your voice is coming in somewhat distorted. Can you say that again, please?

SCOTT: What is a Muslim view, the view of the Muslim world toward Osama bin Laden right now?

KING ABDULLAH: I’m very sorry, sir. Your voice is coming in extremely distorted. I can’t hear what you’re saying.

SCOTT: All right. We are attempting to fix that problem, Your Majesty, and we apologize for that. I know that you were on your way to Washington and your own plane had to be turned around as a result of these attacks. This event has struck you as well.

KING ABDULLAH: I can’t hear.

SCOTT: All right. We are apparently having those difficulties getting in touch with His Majesty. We will attempt to straighten out that situation and be back with him momentarily.

A couple of developments underway. There have been no live recoveries in the World Trade Center in the past four or five days, although the mayor at his most recent news conference said….

[Momentary Break to Correct Technical Problems.]

SCOTT: His Majesty, King Abdullah II of Jordan has been good enough to join us. We are having some difficulty establishing an audio link with him, but he is very patiently waiting to share his views with our viewers, both in America and worldwide. And we return now to Amman, Jordan and His Majesty. There will be some delay as the satellite signal reaches His Majesty. So we hope our viewers will stay with us, but this gentleman is one of the most important players on this international drama about to unfold and we’d like to get his views.

Your Majesty, if you would please share with us the Muslim view of Osama bin Laden?

KING ABDULLAH: Sorry? I can hear -- I have a TV. I can hear on the TV if that helps.

SCOTT: Right.

KING ABDULLAH: But I’m not getting your image.

SCOTT: If you could tell us your view, the Muslim worldview of Osama bin Laden, please?

KING ABDULLAH: Well, again, obviously, Osama bin Laden has some popularity in certain circles of the Middle East, simply because in the political vacuum in being able to achieve a solution on different conflicts in the area, he does have a platform whereby he can rally some sort of support.

SCOTT: If there were stronger governments in place in some of the countries where he is known to operate, would that reduce his influence?

KING ABDULLAH: I believe, yes, it would. And I think what we’re talking about now is a series of actions by the United States and the international community which would encompass, obviously, the military, political intelligence and financial. The military, I think, will probably be the smaller portion of the reaction. It is the political one where you go to countries that have been known to harbor or support terrorism and say, look, what’s happened has happened. But today is a new day and we want to know where you stand. Do you stand with us or do you stand against us? And if you stand against us, then that leads us to other options.

The more difficult situation or option that has to be dealt with quickly is obviously the funding and the financial ability for these organizations to work and this is an international effort because you’re talking about an international banking systems, NGOs all over the world, some of which have more than dubious associations with different terrorist organizations.

SCOTT: Which of your neighbors can the United States count on for support now?

KING ABDULLAH: I think, sir, that you can count on the majority of the Arab world. As I said, the Arab and Islamic world are aghast at the horrible tragedies that unfolded in the United States last week. And again, we have to wait to see, and not only people in the Arab and Islamic world, but the Europeans and others are waiting to see exactly what the United States is going to define as a way of combating international terrorism through, as I said, the political, economic, military or intelligence fields. So we’re all waiting to see what can be done and what we can do to help.

SCOTT: Your nation has had its own trouble with Osama bin Laden. His organization was accused of planning of the millennium terror attack and some of its members are to go to trial -- were scheduled to go to trial there in Jordan today. Would there be a great deal of applause if someone were to take out Osama bin Laden?

KING ABDULLAH: I believe, sir, that again, you know, we need to be able to put a stop to international terrorism and the many faces of it. Yes, Osama bin Laden and his organization were going to do a massive strike inside strike inside Jordan during the millennium celebrations, due to the very quick response of our intelligence service, we managed to put a stop to that. More importantly, we managed to uncover a series of plots that were going to take place in the United States and in Europe and by so doing; we obviously managed to save many thousands of lives in the West. And this is a platform that, you know, I think the more and more people understand in all parts of the world and including this part of the world, that people like Osama bin Laden and international terrorist organizations don’t care who they hit and who they hurt.

There’s one Jordanian definitely known to have died in the World Trade Center. We think there’s another one. At the moment, the psychological impact on the United States to try to put communities against each other is not the physical damage that is what Osama bin Laden and his people were trying to perpetrate. It was also trying to break up the fabric of American society. Making Americans fear each other; putting Americans at odds with each other; Arab Americans, those of the Islamic persuasion. This is the major, I think, target was to destabilize the beacon and the bastion of freedom and liberties and this is what we must not allow to happen or happen in the future.

SCOTT: Well, as you know, there is a lot of anger in America that is directed, perhaps unfairly, toward the Arab world. How do you differentiate yourselves from the supporters of Osama bin Laden?

KING ABDULLAH: Well, I think that’s very straightforward. There are -- I say the huge majority of Muslims and Arabs all over the world are shocked and disgusted by what we have witnessed in the United States. But, again, you have to remember that we have been fighting this fight for decades, in Jordan in particular. There’s been more Jordanian diplomats that have lost their lives due to international terrorism than Israeli diplomats, and many other countries in the Middle East have had to suffer the same fates. So what we’re saying now is, you know, help us fight. Join the fight. This is something that we have been working together with the United States, but maybe with not as much of an understanding by the average person in the street.

Unfortunately, as awful as the crisis was on Tuesday, it’s a wake up call for the world that maybe we’ve been looking the other way or not dealing with this as seriously as we should and once and for all, we should say that stop, enough is enough. We will not allow this to happen anymore, whether it’s to Arabs, to Jews, to Christians, to people in Europe, in Asia or in the Middle East. Terrorism is the scourge of the century and as I said, this is a new war. This is the third world war to eradicate this horrible phenomenon that uses, in this particular instance, religion and the word of God as a tool for bringing destruction to innocent people.

SCOTT: There is the prospect of some kind of military campaign against the Taliban government in Afghanistan because our government says they are harboring Osama bin Laden. How do you avoid some kind of backlash in the Muslim or Arab worlds against the United States if there is a campaign against Afghanistan?

KING ABDULLAH: Well, again, I think you have to be very clear on your objectives. Getting in is always the easy part, and I believe that the planners in the United States understand the difficulties that they have to face. You want to get in. You want to be able to achieve some success on the ground. But, again, please, I think we make the misunderstanding that this thing will be over within a week or two. There will be military action of some sort against those who support and harbor Osama bin Laden, but then, it crosses borders. Again, I think, the military solution becomes less and the political, economic, intelligence portion of this problem will take the forefront. And I’m very reassured that I’m sure that people in the United States government and military are thinking of efficient ways of dealing with this one that the international community will come aboard on.

SCOTT: I know you spoke with our President Bush. Can you share in broad strokes what you told him?

KING ABDULLAH: Well, sir, obviously, it was an opportunity to pay our condolences to the President of the United States, his government, the people of the United States and in particular, the families of the victims. And again to show our solidarity with the United States that we are side by side in combating international terrorism and that whatever it takes, you can count on your friends here in Jordan to be able to stand side by side with you and you can stand by also. I allowed myself to speak on behalf of many of the leaders in the Arab and Islamic world, that you will have friends. And it’s in troubled times like this where friends, true friends, will come and stand by you and you’ll see that you have many true friends in the Middle East.

SCOTT: Your Majesty, I know that America very much appreciates your friendship. At the same time, you are in a difficult position geographically, as well as politically with your neighbor, Iraq. The United States says that Iraq is one of those states that sponsors terrorism. In your view, does the U.S. have the right to target Iraq in this war on terrorism?

KING ABDULLAH: I think, sir -- as I alluded to beforehand, I think that, first of all, we have -- and the information will be, I think, finalized in the next couple of days -- who is ideally responsible for the bombings in Washington and in New York. And then, as I said, I think that there will be an international call led by the United States to say to the world, as the President has said before, if you’re with us, you’re with us, and if you’re against us, you’re against us. Make up your mind. We are against international terrorism. We, as the international community, are setting our foot down and saying that this no longer acceptable, no longer allowed. Those countries that are suspected of supporting, harboring, helping terrorist activities across the world, make up your mind now because today is today, tomorrow, if you’re not with us, you’re against us. And I think that that’s how we should deal with the situation.

I think that what’s happened in the past is the past. The world has gone through a dramatic historical change with the bombings on Tuesday. The world is not the same as it was before the bombings. This is a new era and there is a new enemy out there. Do you want to be the enemy or do you not? And I think then those countries will have to look very hard into themselves and decide whether they are on the side of good or on the side of evil and then the rest of us will take actions appropriately.

SCOTT: Your Majesty, I know that all of America thanks you for your support and for your condolences and we thank you for being with us today.

His Majesty, Abdullah II, the King of Jordan.