This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," July 25, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
JANE SKINNER, GUEST HOST: Two attacks in two weeks in London, Egypt's deadliest terror attack ever — are these signs of what might be called an Al Qaeda (search) resurgence?
Let's ask Robert Spencer. He's the director of Jihad Watch and the author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades."
Robert, thanks for being here.
ROBERT SPENCER, DIRECTOR, JIHAD WATCH: Happy to be here, Jane.
SKINNER: The question that was kind of a pet peeve after the attacks in London — of mine, anyway — was, "Oh, is Al Qaeda back?" I didn't get the sense that they necessarily went away. Did you?
SPENCER: No, certainly not. Jane, this is a group that's very patient. We should remember that, between the 1993 World Trade Center attack and the 2001 attack, there was eight years without Al Qaeda activity in the United States. Of course, there was the Cole bombing and other things going on in other countries.
But we would have been naive in the extreme to think, during those eight years, that there was no longer any threat here. And it's the same thing now. This group will go underground for many months, even years, and be working in indoctrination and in planning, and then emerge with this kind of activity that we've seen in London and Egypt now.
SKINNER: And, Robert, some have said that Al Qaeda now is almost being used generically. They've speculated that it's really gotten very decentralized, this network, if you can call it that, and that makes it very hard to track individuals who are involved. Do you agree?
SPENCER: Oh, yes, 100 percent, Jane.
This is more of an ideological cohesion than an organization with a command structure that goes from top to bottom, and people issue orders and others carry them out. This is a group of loosely linked, ideologically bound entities that all are united in their pursuit of Islamic jihad and the idea that it's their religious responsibility as Muslims to wage war against unbelievers. But that is what links them, much more than any kind of organizational structure.
SKINNER: Do you get the sense that, particularly in this country, we would like to see some sort of concrete link with Usama bin Laden (search)? We would like to get something that we can get our heads around?
SPENCER: Yes. I think that's largely because of the unwillingness on the part of many authorities to come to grips with the ideological implications of the struggle. Tony Blair (search) in Britain has, to his credit, called for an international conference to confront Islamic extremism, which, of course, could be just another red herring and just another diversion, but it could be just the positive sign, on the other hand, that we need and positive efforts that we need on the part of Muslims to confront the elements of the Islamic religion that are giving rise to terrorism and to work to eradicate them, whereas we don't see anything like that from American officials.
And I hope that President Bush will soon join with the prime minister in this, and that they will both work to make sure that it's an honest, forthright and thorough conference, and not just a show.
SKINNER: Yes. But, Robert, how can a conference really help stop what's going on here and prevent these attacks?
SPENCER: Yes, that's an excellent question. Absolutely right.
What needs to emerge from it, of course, is a comprehensive effort on the part of Muslims to root out the extremists, and real cooperation, not just condemnations of terror. Words are cheap, but real actions to work with authorities to root out the extremists and to convince them, if they can, that their version of Islam, the version of Islam that they are working from to commit these acts of violence, is in fact an incorrect version, which, of course, we always hear from them.
But we need to see now their actual work in convincing Muslims that that's the case. We've seen nothing of that so far.
SKINNER: All right.
And when we're moving forward here, is there anything more important than better intelligence that we need?
SPENCER: Well, I think, certainly, we need to come to grips with this ideological problem we have been discussing.
We certainly need better intelligence, but we also need more honesty. We need to realize that there are elements of Islam that are giving rise to this problem and to call upon any people of good will, Muslim and non-Muslim, to deal with that accordingly and to come up with positive solutions. You know, we've been making excuses. We've been hearing excuses since 9/11 and before that, for that matter, that this is just a tiny minority of extremists.
Well, why do they keep coming up? How do they get recruits? Why does this keep happening? We need to ask these questions and get honest and forthright answers.
SKINNER: But, to correct that, I guess, better intelligence is probably in order?
SPENCER: I would say it's essential, Jane. Absolutely.
SKINNER: All right. Robert Spencer, he is the director of Jihad Watch (search).
We thank you.
SPENCER: Thank you.
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