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Jordan
King Abdullah II
Interview on CNN's Larry King Live
Washington, D.C.
September 18, 2001

We begin with the Kingdom of Jordan and we go to Amman, a vitally important part of proposed international coalition. Earlier today, I was privileged to speak with their majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan. I began by asking the king for his reaction to Israel's decision to halt its military operations.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

ABDULLAH, KING OF JORDAN: I think that is very positive news, because obviously, one of the key elements in bringing stability to this area will be solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And we have seen the increase of violence over the past several months, especially increase in the past week or so. I think both sides realize the calamity that happened in the United States has changed the world, once and for all. And I believe we are at the threshold of seeing both sides sitting down, once and for all, and hopefully coming to a peaceful agreement.

KING: In other words, out of tragedy might come hope?

ABDULLAH: Sir, unfortunately, sometimes it does take tragedy to bring about hope. And I believe that there is tremendous hope all over the world now that after the horrible, tragic incidents that we saw in the United States that out of that, out of the ashes, will come hope for all of us in the world. And in particular here in the Middle East.

KING: You met with President Mubarak yesterday. He was our guest last night on this program. What came of that meeting?

ABDULLAH: We had a very good meeting this afternoon, again, in trying to coordinate what support we can give to the international community. And what we need to do to really be able to tackle the problem of international terrorism and at the same time trying to give our support to the Israelis and the Palestinians to be able to get to the peace table as quickly as possible.

KING: To the first lady, Queen Rania. What has been reaction of the Jordanian people to these attacks?

RANIA, QUEEN OF JORDAN: People here have been initially very shocked, and they just couldn't believe what happened. And I think a week later now the sorrow and the grief is beginning to set in, as I'm sure it is with all the American people and the families of the victims. And really our hearts go out to all of the victims and their families, who are going through a very difficult time. And I just want to tell them that you know, at times like this, the only thing that one can do is pray to God, the one God that we all believe in, the God that will give us strength to go forward with our lives and pick up the pieces. I hope.

KING: You have three children. You wrote a children's book about your father -- late father in law. What do you say to children at a time like this?

RANIA: It is so difficult to really -- to explain this kind of thing to children. My son, Hussein, passed by the living room when I was watching CNN, seeing some of the images. He saw some of the pictures of the destruction, and he was asking me, "Mum, what's going on? Is there a war?" And I said I said "Yes, there is kind of a war going on." He said, "Well, who did this?" I said we don't know. He asked me, "Are there some people stuck in there, and are there mothers out there looking for them?" I said, "Yes, they are."

And then he asked me a very difficult question. He said, "Why did they do this?" And I find it very difficult to answer that question. I think that that is one question we all have to ask ourselves. I think the last few days we have been talking about what we can do to increase security and intelligence cooperation, but the one question we really have to ask ourselves is why are there people in this world with this hatred and anger that leads them to such disregard for human life, and for them to be so misguided in their fanaticism. I think that is a question that we all have to answer.

KING: King Abdullah, where does you and your country stand in this question of the United States building a coalition again? I know the clerics yesterday said that the Muslims should not participate in an antiterror coalition. What's your view?

ABDULLAH: Well, I think that the Arab world is -- Islamic world, the international community, is fully behind an international platform to put an end to the scourge of international terrorism. So you will get full support from everybody. Obviously, I think there are concerns on how we should go about that.

KING: Right.

ABDULLAH: Not only in our part of the world, but also in Europe. Again, we are waiting for the United States to formulate its policy so that we can see how best to support combating terrorism. As you know, Larry, this is not just a military option, it is that of the political, diplomatic, economic and intelligence. And each country with its capabilities will try and do as much as they can. So I think you will get the full support from everybody in this part of the world. But we need to know what it is going to take and how we can help.

KING: Have you heard anything definitive from President Bush?

ABDULLAH: I had a very good conversation with the president. Again, we were very taken by his leadership and the strength of the American people to this very, very difficult crisis. Again, I was very, very heartened and moved by his support to Arab-Americans and those of the Islamic faith, that the United States is one country, one people, and that really that you are the beacon and the hope for many of us around the world. And again, also, we discussed the difficulties of the region and how we can end the conflicts, which will be the quickest way of taking away platforms for radical organizations that use crisis and conflict to try and drum support for their somewhat narrow-minded causes.

KING: What -- what, Your Majesty, is your view of Bin laden? There have been reports that his organization has cells throughout Syria, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iraq, the West Bank, Gaza -- but not in Jordan. How do you account for that?

ABDULLAH: We have obviously felt Osama Bin Laden in Jordan as well. Actually last year, during the millennium celebrations, there was an attempt to create massive damage and loss of life in our hotels, but uncovering that cell actually led to the ability of the North American intelligence services because of the information that we had.

We managed to intercept several cases or attempts that were going to be perpetrated in the United States during the millennium celebrations, which would have cost thousands of lives in North America and in Europe. So the battle with Osama Bin Laden has been going on for quite a while. And as the weeks continue, I think you will find out we will be able to talk more about what Osama Bin Laden was trying to do against the normal Jordanian citizen. And some of the things he was up to were quite horrific indeed.

KING: Just so we get this straight. You took actions last year that prevented what would have been attacks against North America?

ABDULLAH: Yes, sir. I think the operation that we took down in Jordan allowed us the ability to uncover a series of operations in Europe and in the United States, and in Canada, which immediately, obviously, we coordinated with those countries' agencies. We managed in teamwork to be able to intercept those operations.

KING: Wow.

ABDULLAH: We did good. We saved a lot of lives.

KING: Boy, that is great to hear. It was also reported that -- I think it was in June of last year -- that 10 people were arrested in Amman who had grenades and machine guns, were going to take action against the U.S. Embassy? Is that true?

ABDULLAH: I don't think it was specific to the American embassy but we caught several groups that were in Jordan trying to do series of operations, and obviously they are all interlinked. And again, some of these operations are ongoing, so as we go through the next couple of weeks, as we wrap up a lot of these operations, then Jordan can talk more about what Osama Bin Laden, his organizations were trying to do not only in Jordan, in the Middle East, but in Europe, and North America as well.

KING: Do you think Bin Laden is involved in this?

ABDULLAH: Well, the indications from all of us point to the organizations that come under the umbrella of Osama Bin Laden. So directly or indirectly, I think his name will surface as being responsible for the horrific incidents as we have seen in the United States.

KING: Mr. Mubarak warned yesterday about taking instinctive action. Maybe too much, too soon, to wait and have patience. Do you share that view?

ABDULLAH: I do. And I think, again, the American administration does. As you have noticed, we have gone almost a week, and American policy is still being formulated. In other words, the American administration is taking its time to make sure they understand fully who is behind these crimes and then to be able to develop a strategy that we can all work with. I think that is a very mature approach from the United States.

Obviously, I think that what we are saying is we are having a go at international terrorism. There are countries that have been supporting terrorism. I think after the 11th of September, that is changed. And I think the word goes out to all those countries that have some affiliation with terrorist organizations to say, "Gentlemen, what's happened in the past has happened. Today's a new day. You have to make up your mind. Are you with us?

Are you against us? And if you have supported terrorism in the past, we are going to give you the chance to right the wrongs right away. If not, then you are going to have to deal with us in another way."

KING: Madam First Lady, the United States has seen something happen a week ago it had never seen on its direct soil before. You live in a region where terrorism is commonplace. How do you -- how do you adjust to that? You know, we are trying to. How do you?

RANIA: Well, I think you never adjust to it. And I don't think anyone should adjust to it. I think it is our right to live safely, and first, to feel that our children can grow up in a safe and secure environment. I don't think it is fair for anybody to have to adjust to this kind of fear. And we shouldn't live in this kind of fear. And I think with incidents of last week have taught us that we all have to get together, work together, cooperate and prevent these kinds of acts of evil from terrorizing our lives. So I really don't think anybody should accept these kinds of evil acts.

KING: Finally, Your Majesty are you -- we asked this of President Mubarak last evening. Are you optimistic or pessimistic?

ABDULLAH: Oh, sir, I'm very optimistic. This is a battle that has been going on for a long time. We in this part of the world have been in the trenches fighting this type of evil for many, decades. And I think that the awful incidents that happened in Washington and New York is a wake-up call to the rest of the world to once and for all come together to be able to combat international terrorism.

And I'm optimistic because -- the heinous crimes we saw in United States have struck into the hearts and souls of all of us around the world. And I think there is enough anger out there to say once and for all we want to put a stop to this. I'm optimistic that for the first time, we will really be able to take the fight to the -- evil people that have been perpetrating these crimes across the world and say that enough is enough. KING: One other thing. You were flying to the United States last Tuesday morning, correct? You were in the air when this happened?

ABDULLAH: We were near the coast of Nova Scotia when the first calls came through. And honestly, Larry, in the first five minutes we really couldn't understand the extent of the tragedy that was unfolding. We were told a bomb had gone off in New York.

Bombs go off all the time. I don't think the images were easy to translate across a telephone. It wasn't until we got to -- really back into England to refuel on our way back home where we saw first images on television -- that the real shock set in on how horrible it -- to what extent these crimes were. And I mean, really you have to be able to see the images to understand the extent of the violence that was perpetrated on innocent people in the United States.

KING: Did your own security ask you to go back?

ABDULLAH: No. We -- we actually were I felt that, you know, in times of crisis, friends need be with friends. And my initial instinct was to continue to the United States to be with our friends, to show solidarity and support. But then it obviously dawned as we began to understand the extent of the damage, that who would be interested. I had a lecture in Houston. We were meeting with the IT community in Los Angeles. The American people had their minds on the tragedy that was unfolding. For us to have been there would have been very insensitive. Obviously, the administration and the government had their hands full. It was probably easier just to get out of everybody's hair, come back here. We are waiting to come back to United States, I think, in very near future.

KING: We hope to see you. Thank you both very much. His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan and Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan. Tomorrow night Queen Noor will be one of our quests. We will take a break and when we come back, the Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani. Don't go away.

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