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Interview With Adel Al-Jubeir

Aired April 12, 2002 - 13:39   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to make mention of something we at CNN observed yesterday from Saudi Arabian television. It was a telethon underway trying to raise money, they say, for the martyrs in the Middle East. We will talk more about that with a guest from Saudi Arabia. First, for the sake of our viewers, have a look and listen at what we saw on television yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We can take part in Jihad by either donating money or self sacrifice. Even if financially you can only contribute a little, god will multiply your contribution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I just opened this envelope, and inside there was this little ring from a widowed mother with children. She said that's all I could offer my Palestinian brother to help. I am saying to you now, my Arab brothers, if this doesn't move you to act, then I don't know what would. Our hearts can't bear seeing our brothers living under the Israeli siege. How can we eat, sleep and enjoy life when our brothers are suffering. This little ring will be this sister's proof on judgment day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We said at the beginning of this telethon that all contributions will reach the families of every martyrs ,ever injured, and everyone whose house who was destroyed, to fix every damaged door, hospital and school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): In their innocent way of thinking, some of our children made the sling shots for their Palestinian brothers, expecting that it will reach them, if god is willing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): One of our sisters lost consciousness when we watched the massacres our brothers in Palestine had endured. She is now in the emergency room, yet she is contributing to this blessed cause. I am donating all I own today to my brothers in Palestine. If I have to donate part of my body, I will. I am doing this fully aware of my actions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We received the fax from the Nahadat (ph) Sports Club, and they are contributing one-day salary for all employees. And the woman who called to donate a piece of land, 420 square meters, the sister is saying that's all I own. Please accept my donation. Also, we have received the car as donation from one generous brother. The office of mecca will stay open this evening

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The spokesperson for prince of Turkey said, his excellency, the prince, has a farm that is about 1 million square meters. The prince is donating this farm that will be sold on the world market. Fifty percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Palestinian cause.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Princess Nora bin Saud al-Saud (ph) donated her private car, a Rolls-Royce, and an ox.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Let's close this telethon with a general prayer to curse the Israelis, the oppressors, and Zionism. And we pray for the Muslims, the Palestinians and the Mujahedin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HEMMER: Again, the images and words from the telethon broadcast earlier this week, a telethon broadcast in Saudi Arabia. Let's talk about the implications and the suggestion that we were just witnessing there. From Washington with us, Adel Al-Jubeir is the foreign policy adviser for the Saudi Arabian government. He's our guest now in D.C. Sir, you watched that along with us. What is the suggestion, other than to immediately imply that there is money raised in Saudi Arabia that will fund, in essence, suicide bombers coming from the Palestinian areas?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: I don't believe that's correct. I think what you have is a genuine concern on the part of the Saudi public for the plight of the Palestinians. Remember that 50 percent of them live below the poverty line. Their hospitals lack equipment. Their pharmacies lack medical supplies. Unemployment rates are extremely high. The bread winners in a lot of families are either jailed or have been killed by the Israelis. These are images that move people in Saudi Arabia to respond. And they are responding by being generous and trying to alleviate as much as they can the suffering of the people of Palestine.

HEMMER: But they mention the word martyrs and said several times the martyrs in Palestine.

AL-JUBEIR: Absolutely.

HEMMER: The implication there is that these are suicide bombers then, right?

AL-JUBEIR: This is the wrong implication. The term martyr refers to people who were killed ...

HEMMER: How so?

AL-JUBEIR: ...as a result of the Israeli aggression against them. I don't know where you get the term martyr to equate it with suicide bombings. Remember that the Grand Mufti in Saudi Arabia, our senior religious authority, a year ago, condemned suicide bombing. HEMMER: OK. The reason why I say martyrs and connect that with the suicide bombers is because there are posters and signs in Gaza that go to show the martyrs who were suicide bombers. That's why I make the link. Are you telling me I'm wrong then?

AL-JUBEIR: I'm saying that, in the case of Saudi Arabia, when we refer to martyrs in Palestine, it is all the Palestinians who have fallen at the hands of Israelis. That includes, as of today, in excess of 1,600 people, which, in relative terms, is double the number of Americans who died during the Vietnam War. These are incredibly high statistics.

HEMMER: Saddam Hussein, we know, gives about $25,000.00 to the families of suicide bombers. How much of this is happening in the Arab world, that we watched in Saudi Arabia, that we hear from Baghdad?

AL-JUBEIR: Well, what you have -- what the Iraqis do is their business. I can't speak for the Iraqis. But I know that in Saudi Arabia, we have provided a lot of support to the Palestinians to help families in need, to help bring medical supplies to hospitals, to help bring food to the table of Palestinian families, who no longer have bread winners, who were killed by the Israelis, or in prison by the Israelis. We have helped a lot to build infrastructure, roads, schools, hospitals, in order to help the plight of the Palestinians who are suffering from the Israeli occupation. That is what we've done.

HEMMER: Are you saying then that no money raised at that telethon in your home country of Saudi Arabia will go to support suicide bombers coming from the West Bank or Gaza?

AL-JUBEIR: We do not support suicide bombers. That's not our intention. Our intention is to help the suffering of those in need.

HEMMER: Adel Al-Jubeir, Foreign Policy Adviser, Saudi Arabia, thank you, sir. We appreciate your time.

AL-JUBEIR: Thank you.

HEMMER: Thank you for being with us. We will get more coverage here in a moment, live from Jerusalem. We will continue in a moment, back in 2 minutes here.

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