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Al-Jazeera Arrest

Aired September 5, 2003 - 13:29   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: An Al Jazeera television correspondent goes from telling the story to becoming part of it. Spanish police arrested Tayseer Allouni and accused him of being a member of Al Qaeda.
CNN's Al Goodman is live with more, joining us from Madrid.

Give us the latest.

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, I spoke with a court official in Madrid who confirmed indeed, Tayseer Allouni, who is one of the best known journalists on the Al Jazeera network, was indeed arrested this day, Friday, several hours ago at his home in Grenada. That's in southern Spain. Now this court official telling us that authorities believe that Tayseer Allouni helped at least two other suspected Al Qaeda operatives, one of them suspected one of the ringleaders of the Al Qaeda network in Spain is currently in jail. His name, Iman Edinbarkotyarkis (ph), alias Abu Daba. He's been in jail since November 2001.

The other suspect is a fugitive thought to be in Afghanistan. His name Mohammed Bayia (ph), alias Abu Kayed (ph). The court official telling us authorities believe that Tayseer Allouni helped both of these men, and maybe others.

Now Tayseer Allouni of course is best known because he's the last journalist to have got and interview that anyone knows about with Osama bin Laden, and that was back in October of 2001.

A couple of other notes, Miles, I did also talk with Tayseer Allouni's wife, Fati Mohammed Layasi (ph). She says that the arrest warrant was issued by judge Baltazar Barsone (ph). Judge Barsone, of course, is leading the investigation into the Al Qaeda operatives in Spain. Some dozens of people have been arrested under his order since the September 11th attacks. Tayseer Allouni's wife denies the charges. She says her husband is a journalist, not a terrorist -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Now Allouni, to remind our viewers, was actually expelled from Iraq in the latter days of the war by the Iraqi regime just as it fell. And at that time it became clear, even though there were allegations that there were sympathy with the Iraqi regime, that maybe that wasn't the case. It's kind of murky, isn't it, exactly where he stands in all of this.

GOODMAN: It is murky, but not from the standpoint of his wife, or other journalists here who know him, who say that as an Al Jazeera journalist, because that's such a well-known network, of course, he would try as a journalist to seek access to people like Osama bin Laden and the other people.

Now, he has had, for instance, Miles, when back in Afghanistan, the night that Kabul fled, Tayseer Allouni he fled with the Taliban, getting away before Kabul fell. So he has been in a position, perhaps from the eyes of the United States and some other nations, chasing after the terrorists. He's been certainly very close to them in some very tight situations -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right, Al Goodman, watching this for us from Madrid. Well have more on this later in the program.

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