Published January 14, 2015
This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," Oct. 29, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Was there a secret message to bin Laden (search) loyalists in his latest message Friday? Are they preparing an attack tonight? And how serious should we take these threats? Joining us from West Palm Beach, Florida, is former United States ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsberg.
MARC GINSBERG, FORMER U.S. AMB. TO MOROCCO, FOX FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hi, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, you speak Arabic. You read this. You can, you know, get it in the original language. Your thoughts tonight about this tape? Because we're only hearing the translation.
GINSBERG: Greta, I not only listened to the tape, but also reviewed the Web sites that — not only Al Jazeera's, but other Arabic Web sites. And I must say — and I say this reluctantly — the blatant effort by bin Laden to do this just several days before the election to me is, in my humble judgment, a signal for attack, largely because he says that the American people cannot get security by voting for either Kerry or Bush.
And so I just can only go to the conclusion that after his last issuance of a videotape that occurred to the people of Europe, in which he called on the people of Europe to understand the plight of Muslims, the Madrid bombing (search) attacks occurred shortly thereafter.
So I am very concerned about the timing of the tape and I am not prepared to accept the fact that while his language was conciliatory, that we shouldn't be reading more into this tape than some are already reading into it.
VAN SUSTEREN: But, if President Bush is reelected, then he is guaranteed the ability to mobilize his troops, in one way, right?
GINSBERG: Well, indeed. And you can read this either way, Greta. I mean, it's interesting that several Arab sites — Al Hayat (search) and others — suggested this was bin Laden's efforts to, in effect, politically interfere with the presidential campaign. But at the same time, Greta, I could draw the conclusion that, on the one hand, he may indeed be signaling to the American public, You will not get the security you want by Bush, therefore, you should defeat Bush, and he will claim victory that he helped cause that to happen.
On the other hand, if Bush is reelected — as many people know in this country, as well as in the Middle East: President Bush is obviously not a well-liked individual in the Muslim world — in effect, President Bush is a major recruiting poster for bin Laden and jihadists in Iraq and elsewhere.
VAN SUSTEREN: So it's a little bit of voodoo, us trying to guess who he wants to be president of the United States, in some ways.
GINSBERG: Well, it's very Machiavellian. And we have to understand that this is very Machiavellian. Not only the timing, but also the — during Ramadan. Here he is, wearing gold robes. He's wearing an imam's turban. He doesn't have his camouflage on. And remember, this is occurring two days after we see this Arab-American diatribes, jihadist tape, that was issued just two days ago, which was a very threatening tape...
VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, I'll tell you what struck me is that here is this man that we're going to get, you know, and I feel confident we are. But in some ways, he's reading notes. He's got sort of a flat effect. He almost looks sort of pathetic up there with these sort of, you know, empty, veiled statements about us. I mean, if it weren't for the fact we want him so badly and we have to get him, he almost looks pathetic to me.
GINSBERG: Well, in some respects, I think, the pathetic nature of this is that not only does he look like a person who is standing there all by himself — where are his divisions? — but it's also suggesting, Greta, that the pathetic nature of his appearance is not going to be interpreted that way in the Arab world. Coming as it does during Ramadan, he is going to be seen as the equivalent of Bush and Kerry talking directly to the American public, interfering in this presidential campaign. He won't look pathetic to the Arab people. He'll look very much a leader to the Arab people.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I don't know what he looks like, but he's a mass murderer, and in this tape for the first time, certainly takes responsibility for the World Trade Center and other acts of terrorism.
VAN SUSTEREN: So I don't know what he looks like, but I know what he is, at least, as far as I'm concerned and we're all concerned. All right, Ambassador, thank you very much.
Now joining us on the phone from Luxembourg is FOX News foreign affairs analyst Mansoor Ijaz. Mansoor, you always have your finger on the pulse of this stuff. Where is this guy? Where do you think he's been hiding out? Because he's not walking that rough terrain, at least in this video.
MANSOOR IJAZ, FOX FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, I mean, you know, Greta, the thing that struck me about this video — and you put your finger on it earlier — was that this man is remarkably well informed about what is going on in the United States. For that to happen, he has to have information flow, which means that he's got to be in some sort of a metropolitan area. Whether that metropolitan area is one of Pakistan's cities or Iran's cities or Afghanistan's cities, it's hard to tell. But I think there's no question in my mind that he has moved, you know, around amongst all three of those countries significantly during the course of the past year, year-and-a-half.
The other thing that struck me about this, by the way — I agreed with Marc's analysis, but his conclusion was wrong. I think, essentially, what this indicates is that they don't have the infrastructure to be able to, in fact, strike against the United States inside the United States right now, and that what they're doing is trying to affect the election by intimidating American voters.
Now, some American voters may, in fact, be intimidated, but I don't think they should be because the bottom line here is that what he really wants is a Bush second term. And the reason he wants that is because that's the only way they can keep the jihadist enterprise alive because they know that President Bush is never going to stop coming after them, wherever they're hiding, no matter where they are.
VAN SUSTEREN: But both President Bush and Senator Kerry both said Friday, in very short statements, that, you know, whoever is elected on Tuesday will continue to go after this man, to go get this man. We will get him some place.
IJAZ: Unfortunately, that analysis doesn't hold up and bin Laden knows that better than anybody else because he knows that if there was a President Kerry, Kerry would essentially bring in many of the Clinton-era retreads, if you will, that allowed bin Laden to become the force that he is today in the first place.
VAN SUSTEREN: But then he loses his ability to mobilize his forces. I mean, that's the flip side of it because he uses Bush as his poster child to get his money, to get his people.
IJAZ: Not if he is able to, in fact, conduct a major terrorist attack, which would be much more likely if you've got people who are pacifists about the terrorist enterprise around the world running the American government.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. One quick question: His effect seemed flat — as compared to the other — is that my imagination, or does he seem different in this video, Mansoor?
IJAZ: No, I think he's trying to present himself as not president of the United States but president of the world, an imam of the world. And in that context, that monotone, if you will, is part of the way in which these people behave during the month of Ramadan because they're praying so much that their voices get, you know, hoarse from just saying their prayers so often during the day. I wouldn't read too much into that.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Mansoor. Thank you for helping us.
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