CNN BREAKING NEWS
Israeli Plane, Hotel Targeted in Kenya in Dual Terror Attacks
Aired November 28, 2002 - 07:10 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: I want to get back to that story out of Tel Aviv. We had mentioned that Matthew Chance was on the scene at that airport when a number of passengers came off that plane. At least 260 passengers on board, plus another 10 crewmembers in tow as well.
Some reaction from what Matthew heard from those getting off that plane.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard a bomb, and they told us at first that they think a bird was stuck in the engine. But they didn't -- they knew from the start what was going on, and they didn't tell us (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the plane.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Other crew in the plane was dealing with just everything as usual.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: Again, some of the reaction. We'll continue to bring you the latest videotape that we get out of Tel Aviv.
But in the meantime, though, there already has been some claims and speculation, frankly, that al Qaeda could have been behind these simultaneous attacks here that we've been talking about in Kenya.
Again, no claim of responsibility, but there is rampant speculation, not only in Kenya, but also back in Israel.
Why is this happening right now? Is there any merit to it?
From London, Con Coughlin is the executive editor of the "London Sunday Telegraph." He's been watching developments and is with us live now.
Is there something behind this theory right now that al Qaeda may have had a link here? And why so quick for these officials in Africa and the Middle East to put the finger on al Qaeda?
CON COUGHLIN, "LONDON SUNDAY TELEGRAPH": Well, because this attack is very similar to the attacks that took place in Nairobi and Tanzania in 1998 when suicide bombers destroyed the American embassies. This is very much an al Qaeda kind of operation. And I think this morning, we're looking at the first al Qaeda attack against an Israeli target. Until now, the al Qaeda operatives have been targeting America, but now they seem to have turned their guns on Israel.
And I would point out that I don't think that it's a coincidence that the attacks today have taken place 24 hours after the arms inspectors started work in Baghdad.
HEMMER: Well, what is the connection for Iraq in al Qaeda operating in Africa? I mean, you have a theory yourself that says Saddam Hussein has a finger in that part of the world. Where is the proof?
COUGHLIN: Yes. Well, we know that Saddam has funded training camps in the Sudan that Osama bin Laden used. People from these camps then went to blow up the American embassies in Kenya. And it's not beyond the bounds of reason that these same people are now carrying out the attacks against Israelis.
HEMMER: Well, what about Hezbollah operating in Africa?
COUGHLIN: Well, that's the other thing. I mean, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this morning, we are in the business of informed speculation.
COUGHLIN: We don't know precisely who is responsible. We haven't had a legitimate claim.
But we also know that Hezbollah, which is the Iranian-funded militia that caused devastation in Lebanon, and also blew up the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, is active in Africa. There was a Hezbollah cell in Uganda that was recently uncovered. It had been trained by Iran. Uganda is quite close to where this attack took place.
But if I was a betting man, I would say my money is on al Qaeda today.
HEMMER: What would it tell you, then, if indeed this is true, and if indeed this scenarios plays out -- we're playing with a lot of ifs here, Con, as you well know.
COUGHLIN: Yes, yes.
HEMMER: But if it the case that al Qaeda right now has launched its first attacks against Israeli targets, what does that mean?
COUGHLIN: Well, it means that, you know, the war on terror has entered a new dimension. Osama bin Laden, as we've seen in his statements that have been broadcast, wants to attack Israel. As I said, until now, he's mainly confined his attacks to American targets. But he -- the al Qaeda network is spreading its range, and they've said they would attack Israel, and it looks this morning as though they have.
HEMMER: Yes, take me back a little bit. What were the hints out there that said al Qaeda may focus on Israelis?
COUGHLIN: In the recent statements that Osama bin Laden is attributed as having made, he has said that he wants to see the end of Israel, he's a committed anti-Zionist, and that he would take action to attack Israel, and he's made this quite clear. This has been a consistent threat from bin Laden and the al Qaeda leadership for the last couple of years or so.
HEMMER: Con, thank you -- Con Coughlin, normally we talk about Saddam Hussein. You've written a definitive book on the man and his history in Iraq.
HEMMER: But the events of the world take us in a different direction today. Nonetheless, good to see you again. We'll talk down the road. You got it, OK.
COUGHLIN: Well, anyway -- and happy Thanksgiving.
HEMMER: Thank you very much -- much appreciated.
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