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Encore Presentation: CNN Presents: Terror 2.0
Aired August 20, 2006 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are at war and I am a soldier. Now you, too, will taste the reality of this situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These home grown terrorists may prove to be as dangerous as groups like al Qaeda, if not more so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole war in Iraq has been ideally shaped for Osama bin Laden mobilizing Muslims against the West.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anon (ph) saw Mugniyah as sort of a role model.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mugniyah is head and shoulders above any other terrorists in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need them clear now, Russel Square (ph).
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Terror, convulsions of violence across the globe, the architects of these acts, al Qaeda.
Five years ago, on September 11th, the world came to know the shadowy terror network al Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden and his foot soldiers became the most wanted men on earth.
In the months after the attacks, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, and routed al Qaeda from its training camps. Many of the terrorists were killed, but bin Laden, cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora, escaped to lead his now fractured but still fanatical band of killers.
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Al Qaeda the organization has definitely been impaired post 9/11. Seventy-five percent of their leadership captured or killed or on the run but the organization has proved very resilient. Because it's not the typical criminal organization. They are motivated by an ideology where they really believe they're doing God's work on earth.
PAT D'AMURO, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, GIULIANI SECURITY AND SAFETY : The war on terrorism has significantly damaged al Qaeda's ability to attack the United States. It doesn't mean that it's eliminated. Bin Laden is continuously trying to recruit individuals to conduct attacks against the United States and its allies.
BLITZER: Al Qaeda is a potent ideological force, a virus that has infected thousands of Muslims around the world, and though wounded, it remains an operational force as well.
BERGEN: Bin Ladenism is a negative way of looking at the world, against a lot of things but not for anything very positive. It's against the U.S. presence in the Middle East and adding this component of violence against Jews, against westerners, against Americans and that was kind of his innovation.
BLITZER: An ideology that is spreading around the world.
BERGEN: One of the critical reasons we see the spread of this bin Laden ideology is communications technology.
When al Qaeda releases a tape, hundreds or millions of people see, read or hear about it within 24 hours.
BLITZER: Messages that inspired splinter groups that trained at the camps in Afghanistan.
D'AMURO: Those training camps were utilized by a number of terrorist organizations, somewhere between 15 and 20,000 individuals may have gone through the terrorist training camps.
BLITZER: Experts say that terrorists are today forming groups of their own, inspired by al Qaeda but carrying out their own plans.
RON SUSKIND, AUTHOR/JOURNALIST: Someone like bin Laden or Zawahiri who essentially are saying borders matter less. We can build an organization with thousands of people, spread across two dozen countries. We can essentially create havens wherever like-minded people gather.
BLITZER: In the past five years, there have been attacks in Bali, Madrid, London and suicide bombings in Afghanistan.
BERGEN: This is the worst year for terrorist attacks since numbers have been kept, 2005 was the worst year. 2006 may be even worse.
BLITZER: In London this summer, a terror plot involving transatlantic airlines bore the imprint of al Qaeda and its leader, bin Laden, but the trail to bin Laden's whereabouts remains cold. Nearly five years after 9/11, he continues to elude his hunters. U.S. intelligence points to Pakistan, a remote mountainous region on the Afghanistan border.
BERGEN: If you were Osama bin Laden sitting and assessing around the fifth anniversary of 9/11, I think you'd be saying it's great in Pakistan. There are always Kashmiri militants who are helping me, the Taliban who are helping me. We took the huge hit after 9/11 but we're back in business.
BLITZER: And helping to fuel that business is the Iraq War.
D'AMURO: The war in Iraq, many believe in the extremist world that the United States was an invader, and that they have a responsibility to fight jihad against the United States. See I think much of the jihadist activity we've seen has been focused in Iraq. When that war ends, will they then focus domestically or will they focus additional attention on U.S. interests abroad in other places outside of Iraq?
BLITZER: Coming up, a country on the front line, Britain coping with its own home-grown terror.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are at war and I'm a soldier.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a community center in East London earlier this summer, a group of young Muslim men are watching a video of Osama bin Laden, showing their support, and venting their anger, the accents are English, the sentiments are frightening.
ABU RATIF, MEETING ORGANIZER: Muslims in this country are living under siege and Muslims outside this country under siege.
ROBERTSON: Abu Ratif and others have organized this meeting just before the anniversary of last summer's subway bombings. But their anger is not directed against the four young Muslims who killed 52 people with their suicide attacks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did this happen? What were the causes behind it?
ROBERTSON: Instead, they blame the governments, and the citizens of Britain and the United States. For the war in Iraq, and what they see as a war against Muslims around the world.
ABU MUWAHEED, MEETING ORGANIZER: The British public are responsible and are to blame for what happened on the 7th of July because they voted for that government.
ROBERTSON: Two months after this meeting in the same neighborhood, British police conducted the biggest anti-terror raid since the bombings last summer. They arrested young Britons, Muslim and mostly Pakistani descent and said they had thwarted a plot that would have dwarfed the subway bombings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): But what is all too imaginable is that young British Muslims are turning against the country of their birth. There is a culture of extremism here now, consumed with the ideas and actions of al Qaeda.
(voice-over): Listen to the words of subway bomber Mohammed Sadik Kahn (ph) to the British public in the so-called martyr's video released by al Qaeda.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are at war, and I am a soldier. Now, you, too, will taste the reality of the situation.
ROBERTSON: To his colleagues and parents at Hillside Primary School in Leeds, where he was a teaching assistant, Kahn was a trusted figure who worked closely with disabled children.
While the Muslim community is, on average, poorer than the rest of British society, Kahn and fellow conspirator Sharzad Tanweer (ph) led middle class lives, hardly deprived, the children of successful immigrant families, they went to university, drove nice cars, and appeared to fit in.
But rejecting a society they felt had never accepted them, they chose sides. They chose terror in the name of Islam.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your democratically elected governments continue to perpetuate distrust against my people all over the world and your support makes you directly responsible, just as I am directly responsible for protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters.
ROBERTSON: The idea of home grown terrorists sends a chill up this country's collective spine. British Muslims had carried out a suicide bombing in Israel in 2003 but never at home. The truth turned out to be even more complicated. Home-grown, yes, but Kahn and Tanweer traveled to Pakistan, intending to become holy warriors, sources say.
There, al Qaeda leaders gave them explosives training and sent them back to the U.K., but not before having them record their last wills and testaments.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I and thousands like me have forsaken everything for what we believe. Our drive and motivation doesn't come from tangible commodities that this world has to offer.
ROBERTSON: But are there thousands of Mohammad Sadik Kahns (ph) ready to die? Britain's security service, MI-5, is believed to be tracking some 1,200 people, two dozen cells, and one British Home Office report from 2004 put the number of Muslim extremists at about 16,000.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Twin Towers, they were bombed, two buildings came down, 3,000 people died. After that, they went for the Pentagon.
ROBERTSON: The young men who attend meetings like the one in Walthamstow (ph) who praise Allah when 9/11 is mentioned envision an Islamic state, a world caliphate that includes Britain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any other way of life, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, atheism, communism, capitalism, all of these ways of life will not save anyone from hellfire and they will be punished for this by Allah. ROBERTSON: At the mosque next door to the community center where the meeting was held we show a tape for the meeting for the local imam, Gulam Rabani (ph). He is shocked by what he sees, especially by the zeal with which the men celebrate the carnage of 9/11.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Especially chanting on this occasion, I think innocent people being killed.
ROBERTSON: Rabani is from an older immigrant generation. He leads the vast majority of Walthamstow's Muslims along a path of peace and tolerance. He could not be more unlike the radicals next door. He may share their anger at British foreign policy, but Imam Rabani does not share his young neighbors' vision of violence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are proud to be Muslim and proud to be British. How can I say I'm Muslim and not British? My religion is Islam. My country is Britain.
ROBERTSON: The young man say they want no part of Imam Rabani's brand of Islam so they pray next door. But their defiance would be curtailed. Only weeks after the meeting the British government banned the groups that sponsored it, using anti-terror laws passed after 7/7, and now the police are in Walthamstow searching for evidence of yet another alleged terror plot in Britain.
BLITZER: Next, what about the U.S.? Are there enemies among us?
BLITZER: In the U.S., five years after 9/11, there is an uneasy calm.
D'AMURO: If you ask most Americans, do you believe there will be another terrorist attack domestically in the United States, they'll tell you yes. If you ask them if you think that terrorist attack will affect them, they'll probably tell you no.
BLITZER: So why does the U.S. seem so insulated from the home- grown terror that's afflicting Europe? Part of the answer is here, in this diverse group of students at Emory University in Atlanta.
Aneel Nayim (ph), a first generation Pakistani American is the president of the Muslim Student Association on campus. His family came to America for a better life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A loft the Muslim community I've seen that's actually immigrated to America, I find them to be often like the best of the society that they left behind, you know? In that they were actively seeking opportunity, and that's why they came to this country. To actually take advantage of that opportunity, that this country presented. BLITZER: Opportunity for all, the American dream. It's a vision still largely shared in this nation of immigrants. Aneel's dream? To become a doctor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think many Muslims living in this country, our hope is that if we engage in the community around us and if they recognize us on a personal level as opposed to an image on a TV, they'll come to understand that we share their hopes, we share their dreams, and we share their many of their same experiences.
BLITZER: Young Muslims like Aneel illustrate why America is still different, different from most countries where the vision for a growing number of young Muslims is one of jihad.
FAWAZ GERGES, AUTHOR, "JOURNEY OF THE JIHADIST": The American inclusive model has really enabled the Muslim American community to integrate into mainstream America, to prosper, to grow, and become, play a major role in the American social and economic lifeline.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a British model or the French model or the German model.
BERGEN: Muslim Americans are better educated than most Americans. They have higher incomes and that's a different picture than what we see in Europe, where so many countries in Europe have Muslim populations not been integrated, where the Muslims have disproportionately high unemployment rates, where they're not particularly well-educated.
BLITZER: And U.S. Muslims make up less than two percent of the entire country's population. A small number, when compared to Europe.
BERGEN: In France, for instance, 10 percent of the population is Muslim and in Britain, there are 1 million Muslims living in London alone. The scale of Muslim immigration into these countries is much, much larger than it would be in the United States.
BLITZER: But says FBI director Robert Mueller, vigilance is still called for. The U.S., he says, is fertile ground for home-grown terror.
ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: Today, terror threats may come from smaller, more loosely defined individuals and cells who are not affiliated with al Qaeda, but who are inspired by a violent jihadist message.
BLITZER: One possible breeding ground for terror, prisons. Torrance, California, 2005, four Americans charged with planning to attack military bases, an Israeli consulate and synagogues. The leader, Kevin James, turning to radical Islam while here, at this California state prison.
BERGEN: That's probably the principal problem. People converting to Islam in prison and taking on a much more radical view.
BLITZER: Elsewhere across America, small but telling cases provide reason to worry about an enemy here at home. Lodi, California. Hamid Hayat, the young bearded man being interrogated in this FBI video is a Pakistani American. He left California for Pakistan to train in a terrorist camp in 2003 and 2004.
FBI: And what they do at these camps, what they're doing is teaching people how to kill American troops.
HAMID HAYAT, CONVICTED TERRORIST: Of course.
FBI: That's what the camps are all about.
HAYAT: They do that. Yeah, exactly.
FBI: Hayat was convicted of providing material support to terrorists when he returned to the United States.
BLITZER: Lackawanna, New York, 2001. Six American men of Yemeni descent traveled to an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. Once back in the U.S. they were arrested and all six pleaded guilty to charges of providing material support to al Qaeda. A seventh suspect was last reported to be in Yemen.
Toledo, Ohio, last February, three men, two Jordanian Americans, the other from Lebanon rested after being charged with plotting to attack U.S. forces in Iraq. One is accused of planning to harm President Bush. All three pleaded not guilty.
Atlanta, Georgia, last March, a college student of Pakistani descent, along with a 19-year-old American of Bangladeshi descent are accused of filming possible targets, including the U.S. Capitol. Today, both are in federal custody. The two pleaded not guilty.
GERGES: It's this generation, the jihad generation, so the- called self-generating cells, the autonomous, independent cells that are becoming now a major threat, and they are replacing al Qaeda as the most potent threat to the international security.
BLITZER: The good news? Since 9/11, there has not been a successful plot carried out in the United States. But how long will our luck hold?
When we return, listening and watching for signs of terror.
TOM RIDGE, FORMER HOMELAND DEFENSE SECRETARY: Today the United States government is raising the threat level to code orange.
BLITZER: Inconvenient, but necessary. Terror alerts, increased security at airports, longer lines at concerts and sporting events. We've had to change our routines since 9/11. But has the massive bureaucracy of our government changed as well? LEE HAMILTON, VICE CHAIRMAN, 9/11 COMMISSION: I think one of the major problems of our intelligence community prior to 9/11 was that the various agencies of the federal intelligence community did not share information very well.
BLITZER: The 2001 attacks on America caused law enforcement at every level to rethink the way it does business, especially when it comes to sharing information.
RAY KELLY, COMMISSIONER, NYPD: It is a realization that we're all in this together, that information has to be shared in order to be meaningful.
D'AMURO: Since 9/11, the PATRIOT Act has served to eliminate the confusion in the sharing of that intelligence information.
BLITZER: Since 2001, nearly 450 suspected terrorists have been taken into custody. And more than 250 have been convicted or pled guilty to terror-related activities. Terror experts call the 2005 arrests Torrance, California, an example of using quote, "the network" to beat the network.
MUELLER: The police officers who arrested two of the suspects in what looked like a routine gas station robbery found evidence that these two were planning a terrorist attack. They passed the information on to the local joint terrorism task force. And together, they traced the steps of these terrorists and exposed the entire cell.
BLITZER: But law enforcement can't always count on a lucky break. The key to preventing another 9/11 is human intelligence. Hearing about the plot before it happens.
KELLY: Any bit of intelligence that can give us a leg up to help us better protect the city is certainly welcome.
BLITZER: The New York Police Department fast tracked NYPD Shield, pairing cops with members of the community who can get close to the source of any threatening activity.
KELLY: We asked them for anything that can help us, anything that they see of a suspicious nature.
BLITZER: Being able to listen to talk on the street, meant hiring more Arabic speaking officers.
KELLY: In this day and age it's helping us with investigations, it's helping us interact with the community. As I say, New York is the most diverse city probably in the world.
BLITZER: For the FBI, the events of 9/11 prompted a seat change in its traditional role of investigating crimes. Lee Hamilton was co- chairman of the 9/11 commission that had harsh words for the FBI's readiness.
HAMILTON: The big problem here in the FBI, the big challenge is to make the shift of law enforcement to intelligence gathering. That sounds easy but it's a very complicated task when you're dealing with an organization as big as the FBI.
BLITZER: And part of that task is to win the trust of communities where the seeds of terror may grow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want to spy on our own people but if we see anything suspicious we'd be more than happy to tell law enforcement.
We live in this community. We go to these mosques. If there's any extremists we would be the first one to notice it. So if we as Muslim youth, as Muslims in general see anything, for us we can go tell the law enforcement firsthand.
BLITZER: That was the key factor in the London terror arrests.
SUSKIND: The London plot shows clearly that human intelligence trumps electronic or signal intelligence every time.
BLITZER: But British authorities are able to play by different rules.
The FBI is bound by the U.S. Constitution. We have certain parameters that must be met for the FBI to conduct a full investigation, for the FBI to conduct surveillance activities.
BERGEN: The British tend to let these terrorist plots go a little further than they would in the United States in an effort to build up a stronger case against the people involved, in an effort to find out who these people might be associating with.
BLITZER: Yet even in hypervigilant New York, some plots still go undetected. In 2003, an attack was planned on New York City subways.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Al Qaeda had developed a new style device called the Mutaker (ph) for the delivery of hydrogen cyanide. It could have created 1,000 casualties under the streets of New York.
BLITZER: Authorities uncover the plot through human intelligence but only after al Qaeda had called the attack off. The system is far from foolproof and the question is not whether America will be attacked again, but when.
D'AMURO: The authorities, the intelligence services in this country have been affected in preventing any additional attacks since 9/11, but we're not out of the woods.
BLITZER: When we come back, the most notorious terrorist you've never heard of.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: Much of South Lebanon is in ruins after this summer's month-long war but the Lebanese organization Hezbollah and its sponsors, Syria and Iran, boast of an historic victory over Israel. Hezbollah's TV network showed pictures of destroyed Israeli tanks, and the face of Hezbollah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, proclaimed a new order in the middle east.
But the spoils of victory may actually belong to a man who remains unseen, a terrorist in the shadows, who knows killing firsthand. A man who, before 9/11, murdered more Americans than any other terrorist. While Osama bin Laden makes statements on television, there are almost no pictures of Imad Mughniyah. He doesn't care whether you even know his name.
ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Is head and shoulders above any other terrorist in the world. Whatever tradecraft, how he picked it up, I don't know, but it is so good that it's probably unbeatable.
GARY BERNTSEN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Imad Mughniyah is the leader of Hezbollah's terrorist arm. He is the person that has managed operations which included attacks on the U.S. Embassy, the U.S. Embassy Annex in the early 1980s, late 1983. Attacks on the marine barracks in that same year where 241 marines died.
BLITZER: American intelligence officials also believe Mughniyah was behind the murders of CIA Beirut station chief William Buckley in 1984 and Lieutenant Colonel William R. Higgins in 1988 and the attack in 1996 on Khobar Towers, a Saudi facility that housed U.S. troops.
And according to Danny Yaton (ph), a former head of Israeli intelligence, it's Mughniyah's unseen hand that struck the first blow in the recent war between Israel and Hezbollah.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks as if he is the one that is responsible also to for the last terror attack that killed eight Israeli troops and kidnapped two Israeli troops, after which we started our operation in Lebanon.
BLITZER: Mughniyah is said to have destroyed all records and documents that describe his past. He's believed to have been born in 1962, and grew up in the Shiite neighborhoods of Beirut. The teenaged Mughniyeh was recruited by Palestinian militants, eventually serving in Yasser Arafat's elite guard. The 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon further inflamed his hatred for the Jewish state. And when a U.S. peacekeeping force landed in Beirut that year ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was against the interests of the Shia and against the interests of Iran and Iran of course is the single most important sponsor of Hezbollah and he therefore worked with Iranian intelligence hand in hand to conduct attacks on us.
BLITZER: Like the terrorist shot heard round the world, an attack that became the model for future terror attacks against the U.S.
BERGEN: Mugniyah was responsible for the terror attacks in 1938 that killed 241 American soldiers and bin Laden saw that as a model for his future for attacks. Because if you think about the attack, pretty much immediately afterwards President Reagan ordered the United States out of Lebanon and so that's the model bin Laden wanted to implement everywhere, attack the United States in places like Yemen or in Kenya, or in Tanzania, or even the United States itself and it will pull out of the Middle East, and so bin Laden saw Mughniyah is sort of a role model.
BLITZER: And a role model for countless others on the Arab street.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is a folk hero in Tehran. He is a folk hero among the Shia in Lebanon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is just a killer of innocent people, a killer of anybody.
BLITZER: Kurt Carlson (ph) is that rarest of westerners, a man who came face-to-face with Mughniyah, and lived to tell about it. He was badly beaten, but survived the brutal hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985. He's convinced that Mughniyah was the ring leader who came aboard the flight at the Beirut airport and could easily have ordered the deaths of all the hostages over the following terrifying days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mughniyah looked like really a fanatic, and as he talked about Israel, the tone of his voice kept rising, until finally he was just screaming and his eyes were glassy, and we didn't know what he was going to do. I mean, I thought he was just going to pull out a gun and start shooting.
BLITZER: For the man in the shadows, Flight 847 may have been his one careless move. He left a fingerprint on the plane. That placed him on the FBI's most wanted terrorist list, with a $5 million bounty on his head. Why then, for two decades, has he remained at large?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do not know what Mughniyah looks like today. You will find people that will insist that he's injecting silicone, you know, to give himself a, you know, turkey waddle here and you know, no major surgery. His hair is gray, has a beard, doesn't have a beard.
BLITZER: Israel has come close to finding Mughniyah and killing him. In 1992, intelligence agents tracked him and his brother to a Beirut garage.
YOSSI MELMAN, AUTHOR: They shadowed his brother and planted the bomb in the garage, knowing that Imad Mughniyah would arrive there, but he was late own the bomb exploded and the brother was killed. Probably they missed him by a few minutes, yes.
BLITZER: Mughniyah has surfaced only a few times in the past 25 years, but on every occasion, the result has been deadly. The fighting this summer Lebanon may be a warning of things to come.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would expect that Hezbollah will respond using its terrorist capabilities, outside of Israel in order to retaliate for the significant losses that it's taken.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this turns badly and they turn against us and Imad Mughniyah who has explosives all around the world we know for a fact and decides to use those on airplanes, he himself, could close down civil aviation worldwide. If the Iranians want to turn him loose, beware.
BLITZER: Next, an al Qaeda recruiting ground.
ROBERTSON: For more than two years before his Death in June, this man, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, was the face of al Qaeda in Iraq. By his own account, a brutal murder, responsible for a cult (ph) of barbaric beheadings, recorded on video and then released on the Internet.
ABU MUSAB AL-ZARQAWI, DECEASED TERROR LEADER (through translator): When the crusader enemy entered Iraq it intended to gain control over the Islamic nation and to strengthen the state of the sons of Zion from the Nile to the Euphrates. But Allah has given the mujahedin the strength to face the cruelest crusader campaign, invading the lands of the Muslims.
ROBERTSON: Zarqawi became the violent embodiment of the Arab rage at the Western occupation of Iraq. A killer with the thirst for publicity, appearing on jihadi computer screens around the globe.
PAUL EEDLE, AL QAEDA EXPERT: It was his use of the media in particular, his brutal beheading videos on the Internet that catapulted him into the leadership position of al Qaeda in Iraq and made him a hero to jihadis all around the world.
ROBERTSON: And yet, after two years of operating in secret, only two months after this brazen self-promotion, Zarqawi was killed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a picture of Zarqawi taken last night, 6:17 p.m.
ROBERTSON (on camera): This rubble here is all that's left of the house where Abu Musab al Zarqawi was killed, a torn blanket here, a ripped up and twisted shoe here, plenty of rubble, and floor tiles on the ground from where he was killed.
The question now is, Abu Hamza al Muwaja (ph), his replacement, going to emerge as such a strong figure in the insurgency?
It may not matter. Iraq is already veering toward civil war. It's what Zarqawi was trying to achieve. A war ignited by terrorism, and sustained by sectarian feuds. And with each day, the bloodshed in Iraq it s taken as further proof by angry young Muslims that the U.S. is at war with their faith.
Just as the U.S. calls Iraq the frontline in the global war on terror, Osama bin Laden now uses the U.S. presence there to incite his followers.
BERGEN: The whole war in Iraq has been ideally shaped for Osama bin Laden to use to further his wider argument mobilizing Muslims against the west.
ROBERTSON: Videos showing American soldiers under attack in Iraq are a staple of al Qaeda-related Web sites, but these images of Iraq is beaten and degraded by American soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison turned out to be a recruiting tool that has reached out well beyond the ranks of hardened jihadi supporters.
EEDLE: Abu Ghraib was very important as have been the more recent revelations of American soldiers, killing, murdering, and raping Iraqi civilians.
ROBERTSON: In the Arab world, young men with a lust for revenge heeded al Qaeda's call. These recruits, CNN was told, came from Jordan to Iraq to carry out suicide missions. Hundreds of others are believed to have answered the same call, traveling from as far away as northern Europe.
Since the U.S. invasion in March 2003, no one knows exactly how many al Qaeda wannabes have flooded into Iraq. Hundreds, maybe thousands and certainly not all of them have been killed. The fear is that the war in Iraq is attracting and inspiring young recruits with no criminal record, which makes them hard to detect when they return home.
These tapes, CNN recently obtained, show a pre-9/11 terror training class in Afghanistan. The teacher is Abu Musab al Suri. His message is clear, learn to kill at the front line. Go home and build terror cells.
(on camera): What worries regional and Western intelligence agents is they don't know exactly who is going to Iraq, and they certainly don't know what lethal skills they're coming back home with.
(voice-over): In short, Iraq has been the kind of boost al Qaeda could only have dreamed of four years ago, amplifying their message, multiplying their followers, training their fighters.
BLITZER (on camera): Iraq remains fertile ground for recruiting angry, young Muslims. And for teaching them deadly, new skills. Extremists trained on the front lines of Iraq or simply inflamed by U.S. involvement there, are most likely the next generation of terrorists, terrorists anxious to lash out at enemies in the U.S., Britain, or wherever they may be found.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. Thanks for joining us.
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