This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from Nov. 9, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
BRIT HUME, HOST: for more on the bombings in Jordan, Neil Livingstone, the noted author and terrorism expert, joins me. So, in your estimation, who and why?
NEIL LIVINGSTON, TERRORISM EXPERT: Well, Brit, most likely, this is some kind of Islamic fundamentalist group. It may indigenous to Jordan, it may have come across the border from Iraq because Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has sent it there.
But this is part of the global Islamic attacks that we’re seeing everyplace from London to parts of the Middle East and we saw in Saudi Arabia just some months ago where there were a series of coordinated attacks there that were trying to undermine the Saudi government.
HUME: What do you think the response of the Jordanian government will be? We heard the words of King Abdullah, it would not deter them in the fight against terror. But will it?
LIVINGSTONE: I don’t think it will deter them. Look, Zarqawi has already tried to overthrow the Jordanian government once. He’s been in prison there, and he was released, unfortunately. And he’s made no secret of the fact that he really wants to overthrow what he calls the conservative Muslim regimes in that part of the world that are supported by the United States.
And in this case, Jordan also has reasonably good relations with Israel. So I think what we’re seeing here is an effort to undermine that government, maybe even open a second front.
HUME: A second front, you mean Iraq being the other?
LIVINGSTONE: Iraq being the other one. And they tried to get a front going in Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis came down hard on it.
HUME: What does this say about how well terrorist organizations, to include Al Qaeda, think they’re doing in Iraq?
LIVINGSTONE: Well, I think they’re beginning to have some sense of desperation. President Bush has made it clear the United States is not going to cut and run. We’re expanding our operations. We’re carrying out operations right now in the Syrian border and elsewhere.
And we just saw that the Australians rolled up an Islamic network there. They don’t have a lot of victories right now. It is costing the United States a lot, but they want to expand this war, and they want to give us more to think about.
HUME: I was hearing this afternoon various experts say, "Well, you know, the Jordanians, they’re very good at this. They’ve been at it a long time. They have very tough and smart intelligence services," suggesting that Amman, Jordan, would be a hard target. In your judgment, hard target or soft?
LIVINGSTONE: Soft target. Hotels are particularly soft. They hit hotels and nightspots in Bali. They hit them in Sharm el-Sheik. They’ve hit them in other parts of the world. Hotels are twofer. You get to strike out at Jordan, undermine their tourism industry, and hopefully, from their point of view, kill Americans, because these were all three American hotels. And a lot of people that are staging there and going into Iraq stay in those hotels.
HUME: So what about — what does it say about our own security? I mean, you see these other places are vulnerable. Does this mean we are as vulnerable, more vulnerable, less? What do you think?
LIVINGSTONE: Well, I’m one of those that believe that we’ve done things right in this country, and that’s why we haven’t been attacked again, and that’s it’s easier for them to cross a street, if you will, than to cross an ocean to carry out an attack. This is right next to where they’re operating in Iraq if, indeed, this came from Zarqawi. That’s a lot easier than carrying out an attack in New York, particularly after we’ve rolled up so many networks here.
HUME: Neil Livingstone, always a pleasure to have you. Thanks very much.
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