This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, March 12, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight: Homeland Security issues an alert, warning police on trains and subways to be on the lookout following yesterday's rail massacre in Madrid. And tonight, as thousands mourn, ETA has denied responsibility for those attacks.
Joining us in Washington is Marc Ginsberg, former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco, and with us from Turkey is Mansoor Ijaz. Both are Fox News foreign affairs analysts.
Mansoor, any update from your end -- you're overseas -- onto who may be behind this massacre?
MANSOOR IJAZ, FOX NEWS FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Greta, I think the picture is getting a lot clearer now, and that is that there is a transnational component to this. The type of explosives that were found, the type of trigger switches that were found, the fact that there were these Arab-language manuals, and so forth, in place in the vans -- it's pretty clear now that there's a foreign hand in this. And I would have to venture a guess very clearly that al Qaeda is a part of this but not solely responsible for what's going on here.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, your thoughts as to, you know, what -- what signals what particular group, as to who might be responsible?
MARC GINSBERG, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MOROCCO, FOX NEWS ANALYST: This is normally, Greta, not the hallmark of the major operation of ETA, which is the Basque separatist movement. It may be a splinter group that married up with a splinter group of al Qaeda operating, as we've seen, in Morocco and in Algeria, just across the Straits of Gibraltar from Spain. There are Islamic extremist groups, Greta, that are operating in Spain. Spain has had to deal with al Qaeda offshoots for the last three years, and there's many arrests that have occurred in Spain of Moroccans and Algerians and Tunisians that have essentially formed splinter extremist groups indirectly tied to al Qaeda.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, the Arabic-language manuals that Mansoor was just speaking about that were found near the scene -- is that, you know, a pretty strong signal that it is these extremists?
GINSBERG: I think so. And indeed, we won't really know, given the conflicting signals here, because you can point to either direction, and it may very well be a confluence, a marriage of these separate splinter groups. But Greta, I think the one question here that's going to have to be answered after we find out who did it is -- the Spanish people supported us in Iraq. They are supporting us in the war against terror. How are we now going to respond against those who perpetrated this attack? How are we going to, in effect, put more boots on the ground in Pakistan and Afghanistan, so the United States is not the only force tracking down the leader ship of al Qaeda?
VAN SUSTEREN: Mansoor, that -- the ambassador's question about, you know, what are we going to do to support Spain, who supported us -- what is the expectation in Europe, in that region, about what the United States should do or will do?
IJAZ: Well, you know, Greta, I had a discussion yesterday with some senior Spanish intelligence officials, and they were actually quite confused about what this really means, whether this is a new strain of terrorism, whether there's -- as Ambassador Ginsberg correctly points out -- a marriage of ultra-extremists in both al Qaeda and ETA and other domestic terrorist groups.
The real problem that we have here is that three years after 9/11, our human intelligence on the ground is still not picking things up fast enough to alter and mutate and change with the way these terrorist groups are now changing the way they do their business. That's No. 1.
No. 2, we've got to keep in mind that each one of the major terrorist attacks in the last three weeks have now taken place on either the day of a significant political or religious event or just prior to, in the case of the Iraqi constitution, in the case of the elections coming up in Spain on Sunday, and so forth. That means that these terrorists are getting very, very good at timing their terrorist attacks, and that's what bodes so ill out of what happened here yesterday.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, why isn't it that, for instance, if al Qaeda is responsible, that they would step up and say, We did this? You know, what's the point of not making themselves known, so that they can inflict as much as they can on us?
GINSBERG: Two major reasons why I believe that's the case, Greta. The first is al Qaeda's MO is not normally to take credit after the fact. There was just an audiotape issued by bin Laden's No. 2, Dr. al Zawahiri, calling on al Qaeda to attack Spain a few weeks ago. Secondly, it very may well be -- as we said, we tend to look at al Qaeda as a generic monolithic organization. I tend to look at it as a franchise organization that is franchising terrorism out.
When we've looked at these attacks in Morocco, as well as look at the Algerian home-grown extremist Islamic groups, there's more than enough terrorists to go around who have no direct identification with al Qaeda, such as, for example, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who, indeed, himself, while tied to al Qaeda, has his own separatist terrorist network. We have to look at this as the fact that 50 new terrorist groups have emerged just since we went to liberate Iraq.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mansoor, the ambassador talks about that audiotape from bin Laden's No. 2, al Zawahiri. He mentioned Spain. Does he specifically name other countries, do you recall? I don't recall. And is the U.S. one that is listed?
IJAZ: Well, the United States is a primary target of these type of extremists fundamentally. But the problem is that until you have a domestic franchise that you can hook into -- and that's what I think is missing in the United States, thank God -- it's going to be very, very difficult for them to pull off that type of an attack on U.S. soil. However, we know now that France had a real problem two weeks, three weeks ago, with trains being targeted there, as well. Rail stations in other countries are now being looked at very carefully.
I would venture a guess that any country that has now a major political event about to take place, you're going to find some effort made to try and disrupt those political elections. Particularly if they are supporters of the United States, the war on Iraq or anything else that they were doing to support the American cause, that'll cause a problem.
VAN SUSTEREN: Here's what I don't understand, Mansoor. You say that the United States is different -- you know, the truth is, and this is no secret, our trains and subways are totally unprotected. Are you saying that we're not going to get hit because they don't have the infrastructure, the terrorist organization infrastructure, in this country to attack those open targets?
IJAZ: That's exactly what I'm saying. In other words, we need to have a Timothy McVeigh times 100 to be able to pull off what these guys did in Spain because ETA is so well entrenched there. They know the system. They understand how it works. They understand the entire framework for how to pull off a terrorist attack. And all the extremists did was plug into that. That's the point that I'm trying to make.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, what Mansoor says is somewhat -- I say cautiously -- reassuring for those of us here who are in the United States now. But do you agree?
GINSBERG: Mansoor really has a good handle on this, and I tend to agree with him. I'm probably a little bit more concerned. We hear constantly on our own intelligence grapevine that the FBI is always identifying someone, someone in the United States, that has been contacted to be part of an al Qaeda-like network. We know from the discussions being held in Washington, Greta, as well as by the testimony that Mr. Tenet gave, the CIA director, before Congress this week, that we are really not really any -- that much more secure and we should be far more concerned about a potential attack here. I don't think that you need a home-grown terrorist organization in the United States to pull off the type of attacks that occurred in Spain.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, but taking the big picture, I mean, are we better off now than we were, for instance, let's just say six months ago here in the United States?
GINSBERG: I frankly don't think so. While I agree that we certainly have been able to uncover what were essentially hidden cells, such as the cell up in Buffalo, New York, last year, I still believe, listening very carefully to what Mr. Tenet and the FBI director have said, that we have got to be on our guard and that al Qaeda -- we tend to be looking for the leadership of al Qaeda without realizing that of the 20,000 jihadists that went through the Afghani training camps of bin Laden, we've really only been able to account for about 5,000 of them. There are still 15,000 of these idiots running around the world.
Some of them have infiltrated into Chechnya. And as you saw, there've been railroad attacks in Moscow that are similar to the ones that occurred in Spain. And we see this proliferation of splinter groups that have emerged. And so we really don't know who they are. The attack in this Istanbul on the synagogues there, the attacks in Spain may be part of, in effect, an un-hidden network that still has yet to emerge that gives us a diagram, where we know where to follow the dots.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Ambassador Ginsberg, Mansoor Ijaz, thank you both.
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