Possible USS Cole Attack Suspects
CNN Early Edition
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: We have an update now on the injured sailors from the USS Cole. We have just learned that 22 injured sailors just arrived to be treated in Ramstein, Germany. Eleven have arrived in Djibouti. Families are still being notified out of Norfolk, Virginia, where the USS Cole is normally based.
But right now we want to take a look at who might actually be behind much of this violence. We are going to be joined by Daniel Pipes. He is in our New York bureau right now. He is the founder and director of the Middle East Forum.
DANIEL PIPES, DIR., MIDDLE EAST FORUM: Good morning.
LIN: Well, given the evidence that you have seen, what are your thoughts on who might be responsible for the bombing of the USS Cole as well as the bombing of the British embassy in Yemen.
PIPES: Well, Carol, we've got to be very careful not to speculate. But there has been one claim to this act of violence. By the way, I don't call it terrorism because it's against the military ships. It's not terrorism. This act of violence has been claimed by something called the Army of Mohammed, which is a British-based group that has been active in Yemen for some years now. Or, let's say, it's Yemeni-based but with a leadership in Britain. Very violent, been attacking foreigners, Britons, Americans, others. Islamist, fundamentalist Muslim, very violent, very nasty, very aggressive and it would seem to fit their profile.
LIN: Are they connected with the Islamic Jihad? or Osama Bin Laden? or Hezbollah? any of the groups that have been highlighted in the news so far as possible suspect in this?
PIPES: Some authoritative sources do tie them to Osama Bin Laden. It's pretty speculative as to exactly who they are and what their connections are. But, the general profile is pretty clear. Radical Islamists, radical fundamentalist Muslims, who hate the West, hate the United States in particular, hate Israel, and in some cases have made statements that all American-Israeli or even Western targets are fair game and should be attacked.
LIN: Is this related at all to the clashes now occurring in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza?
PIPES: Probably not in the sense that the attack on the American ship, not necessarily the British Embassy, but the American ship attack probably required days, weeks, months of preparation. This is not a casual undertaking. Think of the insider information required to know when the ship is coming, to be able to pretend to be or to act as a guiding ship to help the American battleship into-Naval warship into harbor and then turn against it and blow it up. This is not something you can do in a matter of moments. So, I suspect it was long in the works and just happened at the same time.
LIN: At least 100 FBI agents have arrived in Yemen to begin that investigation.
I want to shift you now, though, to the crisis in the Middle East. Are you surprised, given the rhetoric and the violence of late, that Ehud Barak says that he is still optimistic a peace deal can be struck?
PIPES: No, Carol, I'm not. It seems to me that the general tenor of Israeli politics has been, let's deal with the violence when it occurs, let's do our best to stop it and then let's return to the negotiating table. The general statement one hears out of Israel is there is no alternative. So, however bad it is, we need to return to negotiations.
However, that said, there are a lot of Israelis, especially on the left, who are now rethinking this approach. But, still, it is the official governmental approach.
LIN: We're taking a look at some of the pictures of the clashes out of Ramallah in the West Bank this morning with demonstrators confronting Israeli soldiers.
A question, though, for you, mixed signals, though, from Ehud Barak. On the one hand, he's still optimistic for peace and on the other hand he's threatening to form a national emergency government with Likud, partnering with Ariel Sharon, perhaps, who was the person the Palestinians say was the catalyst for this when he went to visit the Al-Aqsa mosque.
PIPES: Fair enough, but if you look at the Likud record from 1996 to 1999 you find it's not that different from Labor's. Yes, Likud is more reluctant, is a bit tougher line. But, in the end, Likud also signed agreements with the Palestinians. So, I don't think Ariel Sharon's inclusion necessarily implies a fundamental change in or shift in Israeli policy towards the Palestinians. It might, but I don't think that's necessary.
Also, the other point to remember is that the Israelis, although, yesterday they used a lot of noise and made a big impression, they actually targeted empty buildings and no one was killed. So, it was more a demonstration of force than an actual, you know, really strong response. They are keeping the door open.
LIN: Yes, then, a demonstration of force that is clearly continuing to enrage several Palestinians still today.
Thank you very much for joining us this morning.
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