Is an Al Qaeda Attack on the U.S. Imminent?

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Nov. 30, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Does the newly released video of Bin Laden's right hand man, mean Al Qaeda (search ) is about to strike again?

Joining us from Washington, the author of "Shadow War: The Untold Story of How Bush is Winning the War on Terror," Richard Miniter.

Richard, good to have you back on the show.


COLMES: With this tape we hear this guy saying that, you know, we — he says very specific things about us being aggressors in his land. Why shouldn't we listen to what they say?

MINITER: Why should we or shouldn't we?

COLMES: Why should we not listen to them?

MINITER: Well, I think we should listen. It's important to know what the enemy thinks and what inspires them.

But this videotape is really not aimed at us, us Americans. It is aimed at his audience inside the Middle East. I think Al Zawahiri, the No. 2 man in Al Qaeda, the man on this tape thinks that Al Qaeda's grip on the Arab imagination is loosening.

So he's trying to phrase things in much more moderate terms, invoking passages from the Quran, which Muhammed invoked when he was on the losing side of some early battles for Medina. And so this is what he's trying to do. He's trying to show that Muhammed won in the end, Al Qaeda is going to win in the end. These setbacks by the Americans...

COLMES: But he says, we can either deal with Muslims with respect or view them as property available to us. Is that a legitimate criticism of how the United States talks about and views the Muslim world?

MINITER: Well, I don't endorse anything Zawahiri has to say. I would not say that's legitimate criticism at all. I think Bush has been very clear as have members of both of his administration and other allied governments.

But America is not at war with one billion Muslims. In fact, there are millions of Muslims inside the United States, some of whom serve with great honor and distinction in the U.S. armed forces.

We're at war with an ideological group that numbers somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000, Al Qaeda and associated terror groups, which have a very particular political, not religious vision. They want to topple the dictatorships in the Middle East and unite them under one dictator, one Caliphate over all Muslim lands and declare then declare the war on the rest of us as unbelievers. Not a great political view.

COLMES: Have we been — have we been in any sense a recruiting tool for Muslims, young Muslims wanting to join up?

And you know, "Anonymous," [author] Michael Scheier (search), in his book, "Imperial Hubris," says, "They don't hate us because of who we are. They hate us because of what we do." Which is very much like what the terrorists are saying. And he says we're looking at this totally wrong in this country.

MINITER: I met Michael once. I have great respect for him. I've read his works. I disagree with him.

I think we are hated because of changes that are occurring in the Arab world which are blamed on us, things like urbanization, breakdown of families, that kind of thing. Tremendous unemployment. Not because of our policies toward Israel. Because if that was — if Israel were to vanish tomorrow morning, which seems to be the wish of the Iranian mullahs, they'd find something else. Bosnia, Chechnya, whatever.

HANNITY: Richard, welcome back to the program.

MINITER: Thank you.

HANNITY: Aggressors in our land, they're the ones that slaughtered our friends and our neighbors in America. They're the ones that have been at war with us for all these years. They're the ones that have bought into this perverted philosophy the things they are doing God's will and they'll be rewarded in heaven if they slaughter innocent people.

This is getting — this is so twisted in the minds of liberals that they, of course, blame America, blame us for their madness. Doesn't that - - isn't that what it sounds like to you?

MINITER: I agree with you on this one, Sean. I mean, look, there seems to be a thought that if we just — if U.S. government simply follows the dictates of "The New York Times" editorial page that terrorism is going to go away. That's not what's driving it.

Bin Laden's complaints are very specific. He is as equally opposed to us as to the United Nations. If you read Zawahiri's book — he's the No. 2 guy in Al Qaeda — "Knights of the Prophets" he lists all his enemies. He includes NGO's [non-governmental organizations] like the Red Cross in there.

So this is a very broad, hatred-filled ideology. It has nothing to do with particular U.S. policy.

HANNITY: Let me...

MINITER: They're the aggressors. They're the terrorists. We are not terrorists.

HANNITY: Let me ask about this tape that we're looking at right — well, that we were looking at just a second ago here. I want to ask about this in particular here.

Because NBC did an analysis of this and the tapes that have come out of Arab television. He's made 10 similar public statements in the past six years. And they say five of which were followed within three weeks by deadly terrorist attacks.

Should we be concerned that this is a trigger tape, as it perhaps has been in the past?

MINITER: I think we have to consider every tape to be a trigger tape. There are hidden messages in many of these tapes.

What's interesting about this tape is it's almost the same background, the same gun, the same setting as the previous tape which came out in September, and there were terrorist attacks that were attempted within weeks of that tape. We always have to be on our guard.

HANNITY: Well, I think we've got to be on our guard. "USA Today" had an interesting column yesterday. And they pointed out Fallujah's mosques— that the vast majority of them, and it's known as the city of mosques— had all of these weapons. These mosques are being used as the focal point in a war against our soldiers.

Should we now be in the business where we know that that's the case, destroying those mosques?

MINITER: I think we have to. We have to say there are no sanctuaries. That just as in the Second World War, when Nazis held up on 1,000-year-old Gothic cathedrals, and the U.S. Army Air Corps blew those cathedrals up, we've got to say if you turn a mosque into a military strongpoint, it's not going to be considered religious sanctuary anymore. It's going to be a target of U.S. bombs.

HANNITY: What do you make of...

MINITER: Paradoxically, I think that will save mosques.

HANNITY: Was that a chemical lab you think we found last week?

MINITER: Certainly, some of the people I've talked to think it is. They found, also, factories for making improvised explosive devices. And also, drug labs; a lot of heroin found in Fallujah, gentleman.

COLMES: Thank you very much for being with us tonight. Appreciate it. Good to see you again.

MINITER: Thanks, Alan.

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