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CNN Larry King Live
Colleagues Discuss The Kidnapping of Journalist Jill Carroll in Iraq. Osama Bin Laden Warns U.S. of Future Attacks in Audio Tape.
Aired January 19, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, in a new audiotape, Osama bin Laden threatens more terror attacks in the United States and offers a so- called long-term truce. We'll get reaction from the only western TV journalist who interviewed the world's most wanted terrorist and from Al-Jazeera who aired the tape.
And then as the deadline set by her daughter's kidnappers draws near, the mother of Jill Carroll, the American journalist held hostage in Iraq, goes on CNN to plead for her safe return. We've got the latest with Jill Carroll's friends and colleagues. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
The first portion of our program will deal with the, again, reemergence of Osama bin Laden. Joining us here in Los Angeles is Steve Kroft of CBS News "60 Minutes." He reported from Pakistan recently on the hunt for Osama.
In Washington, John Miller, an ABC reporter who interviewed bin Laden in 1998. He currently works for FBI public affairs.
Our old friend Peter Arnett, famed war correspondent, in 1997 he became the first western journalist to interview Osama.
And, in Washington, Peter Bergen, CNN Terrorism Analyst, interviewed bin Laden in '97 and produced Peter Arnett's Osama interview. He's the author of "The Osama bin Laden I know," an oral history of al Qaeda's leader.
And, at the D.C. Al-Jazeera studios is Hafez Al Mirazi, the former bureau chief for Al-Jazeera in Washington, current host of a weekly Al-Jazeera show called "Min Washington" which means "In Washington." Hafez, how do these tapes come to you?
HAFEZ AL MIRAZI, AL-JAZEERA: Well, I don't know the specifics of the latest tape but regularly the pattern is that either these tapes are sent by mail to Al-Jazeera headquarters in Doha, Qatar, or dropped at one of the offices of Al-Jazeera in the Middle East like Pakistan.
KING: And who verifies them?
AL MIRAZI: We try to verify the audio. I mean we have a problem when it's a statement on facts (ph) for example but the audio is almost very clear to us, yet we still put on the screen saying that the perpetrated or what we believe that to be bin Laden. We cannot for sure say that's bin Laden until some time the CIA reports the authenticity of it and then we report the next day that the CIA did confirm it was bin Laden that we broadcast yesterday.
KING: Steve Kroft, what do you make of this?
STEVE KROFT, CORRESPONDENT, CBS NEWS "60 MINUTES": I'm sort of surprised. It's been a long time since we've heard from him. I don't think that anybody has doubted or very few people really doubted that he was alive.
When we were in Pakistan talking to the ISI, President Musharraf, they all believed that he was alive. I think it's significant that it's audio tape and not videotape. It may indicate that he's really hunkered down someplace and...
KING: Or might be ill and doesn't want to be seen.
KROFT: Or changed his appearance as was suggested tonight on the "CBS Evening News" or any number of reasons but he's around.
KING: John Miller what do you make and you've interviewed him, what do you make of this?
JOHN MILLER, FBI PUBLIC AFFAIRS ASST. DIR.: Well, I think he's trying to send out a number of messages, a shopping cart full of messages, one to the American people threats and demands, another to his followers that he is alive and trying to portray himself as still in control of a terrorist network.
But, I think the main message because we have seen audio tapes before, we've seen videotapes before, is to break that long silence and say that "I'm still here."
KING: Peter Arnett, how seriously do we take them?
PETER ARNETT, INTERVIEWED OSAMA BIN LADEN IN 1997: You know, Larry, bin Laden has enjoyed thumbing his nose at the west, has enjoyed, you know, using the media to move his aims along.
I remember meeting him when I was with Peter Bergen in 1997 and you had this tall cleric gentleman declaring war on the United States and we sort of laughed at it at the time.
But, you know, he loves making these statements. He routinely does it. Maybe there are long delays but I think behind it there's probably some substance. Maybe he does have something to back it up with.
KING: Peter, do we up the alerts?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I mean only in Los Angeles has there been any change and I think that's fair enough. You know we've had 19 videotapes and audio tapes since 9/11 from bin Laden saying sort of more or less essentially the same thing. And I think that we've had so many tapes now to make a direct connection between a particular tape and a possible attack I don't think is really the right way to go. It's not surprising that bin Laden is saying he's planning other attacks on the United States.
I don't think you need to be Sherlock Holmes to make that decision to realization that bin Laden, al Qaeda of course is planning attacks on the United States but their capability is being severely disrupted compared to what it was in the pre-9/11 time period.
KING: Steve, do you question that?
KROFT: No, I agree with Peter on that. I think that there's no indication that they have the capabilities to do a 9/11 style attack, you know. It's always possible. I think you have to take them seriously and I'm sure the threats are being taken seriously but there's no real indication that they have people that can pull that off right now.
KING: Hafez, what do you make of this truce idea?
AL MIRAZI: Well, I don't think that really I mean there is anything to be taken seriously. That's my own personal view. Yes, bin Laden did threaten before and delivered and in many other cases before he did deliver and it came up as bluffing only that he didn't have a way to implement his threats.
The truce idea for me sounded like he would like to make excuses if something happened in the future if they did any kind of murdering for innocent people that, yes, we did warn them before and they didn't accept it.
So, it does not mean that he is really making a truce or making a real offer but just trying to wash his hands in front of his followers that he did warn them. He did not kill them in cold blood.
KING: Before we ask John Miller about the timing, you wanted to add something Steve?
KROFT: Yes, I think one of the things and I think most people would agree on this, I don't think that Osama bin Laden is controlling the organization anymore. I don't think he is the one that is making decisions. He may be...
KING: Was he the PR front?
KROFT: I think he is largely a PR front and one of the things that has happened is that a lot of the attacks are initiated sort of locally. I mean it's almost as if you declare yourself part of al Qaeda and you stage an attack. I don't think that he is running the operation day-to-day and I question how much Zawahiri really is involved day-to-day.
KING: John Miller, what do you make of that?
MILLER: Well, it's hard to tell what to make of the timing because there is a track record here. As Peter mentioned earlier this evening, there has been 19 of these tapes released over a period of several years.
Some of them, in the case of the Cole bombing, in the case of the embassy bombings, in the case of 9/11, foreshadowed attacks that came within a month of the release of the tapes but many more, even though they contain similar threats and promises and demands, ended up not foreshadowing attacks.
I think that because of that mixed bag we at the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the intelligence community, the director of national intelligence have to weigh this as very serious every time we have a communication. What does it mean? How can we exploit it for intelligence? How does it match against the overlay of our cases and other intelligence as to timing?
But, again, you can't glean a clear signal from it except for the fact that bin Laden has an angst to make his presence known at a time when, as Steve pointed out, al Qaeda's ability to have command and control over worldwide resources is in serious question.
KING: He plugged the book called "Rogue State." We'll ask about that after the break. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNETT: A year ago, bin Laden took refuge here in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is perhaps the only country in the world that will accept him.
(voice-over): Our quest to meet bin Laden begins in Peshawar, Pakistan and then across the Khyber Pass to Jalalabad, Afghanistan where we wait for several days. Finally, bin Laden's media adviser arrives. We are allowed to take our lights and sound equipment but not our camera.
There have been assassination attempts against bin Laden and his security force worries our camera might contain a tracking device that would give away his location. The interview will be conducted with their camera.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back. Left to right you're looking at John Miller, Peter Arnett and Peter Bergen, the three western journalists who have interviewed Osama bin Laden.
Peter Arnett, what do you make of plugging a book named "Rogue State"?
ARNETT: Well, you know, there's all kinds of books these days and there are a lot of rogues in the world. Just a point on our earlier conversation, you can't listen to this tape of bin Laden without considering Iraq, which is the main action area of al Qaeda and Musab al-Zarqawi is the bin Laden acolyte if you want, if you'd like to look at it that way, launching daily attacks against Iraqi police and Americans. I think the message possibly is reassuring to them, those who are fighting for bin Laden or al Qaeda or his goals in the field that he is still functioning.
KING: Peter Bergen, technically is he winning this war?
BERGEN: Well, we're certainly seeing a lot of terrorism. 2003 was the worst year for significant terrorist attacks since 1982 and then in 2004 the numbers tripled, so we're seeing a lot of terrorism around the world, obviously no attacks in the United States.
Are we winning or losing I'm not sure. Osama's organization is very much damaged. The ideological movement that he spawned is doing pretty well. The Iraq war seems to have energized that movement.
You know we talked earlier in the program about is he really in command and control of his organization? Clearly not, he's not picking up the cell phone or sat phone to tell people what to do. But through the medium of these videotapes and audio tapes he's reaching an audience of hundreds of millions of people.
Every time Osama bin Laden opens his mouth every network in the world, including CNN and BBC and Al-Jazeera, et cetera, et cetera, runs these tapes. And so I think he's providing broad strategic ideological guidance to the jihadists around the world through these statements.
KING: Steve Kroft, in Pakistan what did they tell you about where they think he is?
KROFT: I'll say, I just wanted to add one thing to what Peter said first. Every time he makes a statement it emphasizes to the Muslim world we can't get him.
KROFT: And that is a very powerful...
KING: So he wins in that point.
KROFT: That's why he's important. In some ways it shows to the Muslim world the impotence of the United States to retaliate, to bring him in, put a stop to it. That is his biggest value.
When we spoke to the head of counterintelligence at ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency, their theory was that he was someplace along the border between Pakistan and in Afghanistan, probably not moving, probably surrounded by a small number of people, maybe as few as ten.
And, their theory I think is based on the fact that that's where a lot of the courier traffic has come from. They believe he's somewhere down there but that's a huge area.
They believe he's somewhere down there and not moving, stationary, not communicating really with anybody except that somebody will come and pick up one of these tapes.
KING: Hafez, putting it frankly, should we expect an attack?
AL MIRAZI: As I mentioned before, Larry, of course nobody could make any argument for yes or not. Of course we all hope no. But it's very difficult to expect anything.
Yes, previous threats have been delivered on but these threats that they delivered on mainly was until 2001, 9/11. After that, I don't think that we could remember anything to prove that he could really deliver on what he said.
And even in that tape, bin Laden gave an example of how did they do some operations in Europe, European capitals despite all the security measures? But there is nothing at least that I know of that could link to bin Laden directly to what happened in London or Madrid bombings.
This is maybe just an effect of bin Laden being there that people might try to do something but I don't think that bin Laden as the leader of al Qaeda would be able to deliver the way he used to do four or three years ago.
KING: John Miller, what would people find surprising about him?
MILLER: Well, I think what you'd find surprising about him, I mean physically, as Peter said, the first thing that strikes you is his height. The second thing that strikes you and you can even hear that in his tapes is that he is terribly soft spoken and measured in tone even though the things he is talking about often involve mayhem and mass murder and that there is the sense he's truly committed to the things he says.
KING: Peter Arnett, would you say he has the ambience of a leader?
ARNETT: Yes, I would think so, Larry. You've got to look at this man. He was one of the richest families in the Middle East he was part of and yet he gave it all up to, shall we say what the British say, live rough.
He's basically lived in a cave under difficult circumstances for over 20 years. There's a difference of Saddam Hussein who when he went on the run in 2003 was overweight, was overused to luxury. He didn't have a chance and he was picked up within a few months.
Bin Laden has survived for so long and, you know, some believe it's unlikely they'll ever catch him. So, I think in many ways he has the admirable presence that would attract numerous followers in the Middle East.
KING: Thank you, gentlemen. We're going to keep Steve Kroft for our discussion on the hostage. We're going to meet two distinguished members of the United States Senator, Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Evan Bayh of Indiana.
We thank Steve Kroft, John Miller, Peter Arnett and Peter Bergen and Hafez Al Mirazi. Steve Kroft will remain with us. We'll be right back. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KROFT (voice-over): Those hunting for bin Laden compare the challenge along the border with trying to describe an elephant to someone who has never seen one. "You must go see the elephant," they said so we did.
This is Waziristan, part of the federally-administered tribal territories, an area roughly the size of Vermont, 10,000 square miles of peaks and valleys set against the Hindu Kush Mountains and dotted with caves, tunnels and walled compounds any one of which could be hosting the world's most famous fugitive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's get some legislative response to this with two outstanding members of the United States Senate. They are Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, he's in Columbia. He serves on Senate Armed Services. And, in Washington, Senator Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat, he serves on Select Armed Services and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Senator Graham, what do you make of all this?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, I guess he's trying to send messages to different groups, I guess Zarqawi and those guys probably encouraged he's still alive.
But the thing that strikes me most about the tape is that we're often accused, I think rightfully so, in not understanding the root cause of terrorism or our enemy. I don't think he understands us very well. To suggest a truce to the American people just shows how disconnected he is from who we are and what our purpose is.
KING: Senator Bayh, in essence is he, we asked the panel this, is he winning this war?
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA, ARMED SERVICES, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEES: No, Larry, I don't think he is. He's obviously still very dangerous. He's killed people in the last year in Madrid and London. Obviously he killed thousands here.
But, as one of your guests previously indicated, their ability to carry out spectacular large-scale attacks has been significantly degraded. So, they were chased out of their safe haven in Afghanistan.
He is in all likelihood hiding in a cave someplace in the remote areas of Pakistan. He's capable of causing death and violence, obviously scaring many people in our country but I don't think that ultimately he is winning.
KING: How seriously do you take this threat, Senator Graham? GRAHAM: Well, I think you have to take everything that he says and does seriously but he has been diminished in terms of his leadership abilities but I could tell you this for sure, Larry, if we got up tomorrow and the paper read that bin Laden captured or killed, it would make us feel better but it really is not going to change the fundamental dynamic we're dealing with because Zarqawi is a bigger problem than bin Laden right now.
KING: Do you agree, Senator Bayh?
BAYH: I do. Osama bin Laden is no longer exerting operational control over al Qaeda. There are now many al Qaedas around the world carrying out these attacks but he remains an inspirational figure. He needs to be removed for that reason and also, Larry, for the basic reason of simple justice.
This man needs to be brought to justice to prove that no one can do, perpetrate the kind of crimes he has perpetrated and get away with it, so he's not exerting control but it's still important that we get him.
KING: Senator Graham, if perception is reality, he still is perceived as the world terrorist is he not?
GRAHAM: Absolutely. When you mention terrorism what's the first person that comes to mind, bin Laden. He represents that segment of humanity that really needs to be dealt with. He represents the worst in who we are in terms of religion and tolerance.
And, Evan's right, if it takes forever we need to put all the resources available to our country to bring him to justice to show the world that people like him can be brought to justice. But he represents the worst in humanity and I'm optimistic that people in the Muslim and Arab world over time will reject what he preaches.
KING: Is the failure to get him, Senator Bayh, a failure?
BAYH: Well, obviously we would like to have gotten him long before now but he is in a very remote part of the world. I just got back from the border area in Afghanistan and then went to Pakistan and it is mountainous. It is remote. The tribes there are harboring him.
So, of course it's a disappointment we haven't gotten him but I believe that eventually, Larry, he will be brought to justice and we also need to continue to deal with the roots of this problem, which is giving across that part of the world these alienated young people a positive alternative to radical jihad and suicidal terror. That in the long run is what will allow us to defeat Osama bin Laden.
KING: Does it disturb you, Senator Graham that apparently he still remains one of the more popular figures worldwide?
GRAHAM: Beyond belief. His popularity in Pakistan, for instance, is amazingly strong. I guess he represents resistance more than he represents a lack of humanity and maybe one day we can turn the tide because bin Laden's world is a very terrible world for women. It's a terrible world for people who want to embrace God on different terms. It's not the way to go for the Muslim or the Arab world. It really does bother me that so many people throughout the world could see him as a positive figure when, in fact, he has nothing to offer but the worst of humanity and maybe one day, as Evan said, we can change that. I hope so.
KING: Why do you think, Senator Bayh that he is so popular?
BAYH: Larry, it can only be a failure to understand what the man truly represents and who he truly is. I mean look at Iraq. He's sponsoring killing of Muslim versus Muslim. He's trying to start a religious war within his own religion. He kills women, children, innocent civilians without remorse.
How could anyone who looks at this record possibly find him to be an inspirational figure? I think the answer lies in the fact that there are these young people across the Islamic world who have no economic future, no political participation.
They've been instilled with a radical interpretation of their own religion and they have gone to him out of in some ways desperation and hopelessness. And that's why it's when we stand for freedom, economic, political and religious that we give them a positive alternative to bin Laden-ism.
KING: You remain optimistic, Senator Graham?
GRAHAM: I do in the sense that 11 million people turned out to vote in Iraq with signs on the walls saying "If you vote, you die" yet the Iraqi people are joining the army. They're becoming judges. They're becoming lawyers. They're wanting to be policemen. They're fighting Zarqawi. They're taking the terrorists on head on.
So, I'm optimistic that the people in Iraq show that it's possible to go a better way and I hope the people in the region will reject the Iranian president's call to break the world apart. So, I'm optimistic that good people in that part of the world are going to overcome evil. We just need to be more supportive and somehow better connect.
KING: And you, Senator Bayh, are you optimistic as is Senator Graham?
BAYH: Larry, I'm optimistic but I also think it's important that we be realistic. This problem that has given rise to bin Laden, and Lindsey mentions the president of Iran who is a scary individual and that is a whole other problem we need to deal with seriously as they seek nuclear weapons, I am optimistic but this is going to take some time to deal with.
We've got to be strong. We've got to be persistent and we've got to gather the world with us because we stand for the forces of freedom and a better future. Someone like bin Laden wants to take us back to the dark ages. The president of Iran envisions an apocalypse. That can't be the future of America or the rest of the world and we need to be in this for the long haul.
KING: Thank you both very much, Senators Lindsey Graham and Evan Bayh, two outstanding members of the United States Senate.
And when we come back a major panel discussion including the return of Steve Kroft on the missing reporter for the "Christian Science Monitor" -- not missing -- Jill Carroll being held hostage in Iraq, don't go away.
KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE in Washington Rajiv Chandrasekaran. He has known Jill Carroll since 2002. He's assistant managing editor for continuous nest at The Washington Post and former Baghdad bureau chief. Bobby Ghosh is in New York. Time magazine's senior correspondent, a colleague of Jill Carroll's when he was based in Baghdad. In Washington is Natasha Tynes, the Jordanian journalist and close friend of Jill's. Jill stayed with her last year in Amman. She has an Internet blog devoted to Jill Carroll, it's www.natashatynes.com.
In Jerusalem, Stephen Farrell, the Middle East bureau chief for Times of London. He was kidnapped near the Iraqi city of Fallujah in April of 2004, set free after he managed to convince his captors that he was a genuine journalist and knows Jill Carroll as well.
Remaining with us here in Los Angeles is Steve Kroft, CBS news "60 Minutes" correspondent, recently reporting from Pakistan on the hunt for Osama. Anything to bring us up to date, Michael Holmes? Where we are? Where we stand now with her captivity?
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: The lightest thing today, Larry, I guess was the release of more video of Jill. It hasn't been widely seen. But we've seen it. It shows her sitting or kneeling in that room with masked gunmen standing nearby. One of the men apparently reading a statement.
I suppose the other thing that was a development was those eight women who are being held by the U.S. the Iraqi Justice Ministry telling us six of those women were due for release. The U.S. military coming out today and saying, well, they've got procedures in place. They have no plans for any immediate release of anyone. Larry?
KING: Rajiv, you know her? You were the former Baghdad chief for The Post. What do you make of this?
RAJIV CHANDRASEKARAN, WASHINGTON POST: It's just a devastating development, Larry. Like everybody else out there, I'm hoping and praying for her release. You know, it underscores the dangers of working there as a journalist.
This is a subject you've discussed before, and we've all thought and talked about. But it is such a hostile territory there. And even a young, committed, courageous young woman like this who is so committed to the story and, you know, worked out there under these incredibly adverse conditions, it shows, you know, how still continuingly dangerous it is for journalists to operate there.
KING: Bobby, why do you do these things? Why do you go to Baghdads?
BOBBY GHOSH, "TIME" CORRESPONDENT: Many of us, Rajiv would concur, many of us have been following the story even since before it began, before the war. There's a curiosity, there's a desire to see how the story turns out. Besides, this is the most important story of our time. And I think it's important. The world knows about it. And we feel that we have a role to play in communicating that. And Jill felt that very strongly.
KING: In an exclusive interview this morning with CNN, Jill Carroll's mother made an important statement. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY BETH CARROLL, MOTHER OF JILL CARROLL: Taking vengeance on my innocent daughter who loves Iraq and its people will not create justice. To her captors, I say that Jill's welfare depends upon you. And so we call upon you to ensure that Jill is returned safely home to her family who needs her and loves her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Natasha Tynes, do you think that might help?
NATASHA TYNES, JOURNALIST: Definitely. Jill -- the kidnappers who took Jill need to know that Jill is only a journalist, an innocent journalist who went to Iraq only to convey the truth, to tell the stories of the Iraqi people. And that she is merely a journalist. She had nothing to do with the war that happened in Iraq. And she needs all the support.
KING: Stephen Farrell, I thought journalists were free from this, that they don't -- and I know you were taken and talked your way out of it because you were a journalist. I thought they don't do that to journalists.
STEPHEN FARRELL, "TIMES OF LONDON": There's no rules in Iraq, Larry. You can't know what's going to happen tomorrow. You don't know if what happens tomorrow is going to be what happens today. There's no operating rules on the ground.
When I was taken 18 months ago, it was a rarity. We hadn't met these people. We managed to flip a kidnap into an interview. To them, at that time, it was useful for them to put their message across. I think that has changed. There's lots of journalists out there. They've spoken. They've got a different attitude toward us now.
Frankly, if they wanted us dead, we'd all have been dead months ago. They know where we all live. They know the hotel rooms we're in. You operate in dangerous, shifting ground out there. There just are no rules.
KING: Steve Kroft, in your career, have you had to go in uncharted waters? KROFT: Oh, yes. And it's always dangerous if you're covering wars. I've covered a lot of wars. You make your decision, you go out into the battlefields. Spend a lot of time -- in some ways, it's indicative of what we were talking about in the first hour, and the fact that this is sort of a chaotic insurgency.
It's clearly counterproductive in sort of a propaganda way for the insurgents to be doing this. They're being condemned across the Muslim world. It's not civilized by any standards of warfare. And I think some of these groups, certainly the people that have been kidnapped would know more than I do. It seems very undisciplined and it seems like you have groups of people that are sort of operating autonomously without very much leadership.
KING: I know the standard is not to negotiate. But if it were your daughter, you would want them to negotiate wouldn't you?
KROFT: Of course.
KING: So there stands the -- what do you do?
KROFT: Right. There may be some negotiations going on. The Wall Street Journal, I believe it was The Journal today wanted to try to open up some sort of line of communications with the captors. There may be people behind --
KING: Do you think the government might even too?
KROFT: I think the government certainly can't be seen to be negotiating.
KING: We'll take a break and be right back with more. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY BETH CARROLL: They've picked the wrong person. If they're looking for somebody who is an enemy of Iraq, Jill is just the opposite. And her Iraqi friends can attest to that. And I think she was a wonderful ambassador, is a wonderful ambassador to the United States for the Iraqi and Iraqi people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining us by phone now is Jennifer Hamarneh, the editor- in-chief of the "Jordan Times," who worked with Jill Carroll for over a year. What's she like, Jennifer? Jennifer do you hear me all right? OK, let's check in before we check back with other -- Rajiv, what is she like?
CHANDRASEKARAN: Jill is a spunky, courageous woman. I was struck when I first met her by her sheer chutzpah. You know, she came to Amman for the first time in the fall of 2002. She had had an internship here in Washington, D.C. for the "Wall Street Journal." She landed a job at the "Jordan Times," came out there. She wanted to study Arabic, which we did from almost the first moment she got on the ground. She contacted me, I was then the Cairo bureau chief for "The Washington Post." She wanted to start freelancing for the "Post," working for other newspapers.
She knew in her heart she wanted to be a foreign correspondent. She had a passion for the Middle East. And what we've seen is a woman who has not been willing to let that story go. Well, unlike so many of our colleagues who parachute in for 30 days or 60 days, she's believed in living that story. She spent a year in Jordan studying the language. And then she started going to Iraq.
And she would go and she would stay in Iraq until literally she was down to her last dollar. It's really tough to operate there as a freelancer. She has to pay for her own hotel, for her car, for her driver. But she managed to scrape together the funds to come in and just keep, you know, staying there and working until the last possible day, go out, earn some more money, come back in.
KING: Bobby Ghosh, do we know who this brigade of vengeance is?
GHOSH: No, Larry, this is a new name. And judging by the hand- fished way in which they've put out this video, I would speculate that they are a new group, and that they're amateurs.
The more professional, the groups that have done this sort of kidnapping before, would have let the world know much sooner that they had her, and they would have put out a video in which we could hear her, probably reciting from some sort of manifesto. That demands would be have been more cogent and more predictable. This sounds to me like a group that's just set up, possibly made mainly criminal elements who are subscribing now to a political agenda.
KING: If that be true, Natasha, does that make you pessimistic?
TYNES: Well, you know, I'm praying and hoping, and the fact that Jill speaks Arabic, and she's been in the region for almost three years, so she's not like just another parachute journalist. She's well aware of what's happening. So I'm hoping that her skills, her Arabic skills and her knowledge of the region will help her to survive this.
KING: I think we've fixed up our connection by phone with Jennifer Hamarneh, on the phone from Amman, Jordan, the editor-in- chief of the "Jordan Times" who worked with Jill Carroll for over a year.
What about this request to release female prisoners of Iraq, prisoners of the United States? Do you think that might work, Jennifer? I'm sorry, apparently we're not making a connection with Jennifer. Do you think that might work, Steve Kroft? That six are going to be released anyway?
KROFT: Well, they say that, but the White House -- I mean, that's what the justice officials were saying in Baghdad, but the White House is not indicating that that's the case. And I think it's dangerous, as the White House said today, to try and make a link between a demand by a terrorist group in any sort of action.
KING: Stephen Farrell, do you think all this, the pleas by the mother, the effective other world leaders, people calling television, the fact that the captors could be looking at this right now, would help her?
FARRELL: Larry, take it from me, you have no idea what's going on inside that room of that building. Nobody outside can possibly know. Appeals, things pointing out the truth, that she's a young courageous woman, that she's acting on behalf of the Iraqi people, all of that can't do any harm.
But there's very few things that can be beneficial. And there's an awful lot of things that can be harmful. I certainly -- I know that when I was sitting there in a room, not knowing what was going on around me, totally sealed off from the outside world, I didn't know if it had been made public or bouncing around the airwaves or wasn't.
Really, the last thing you want is people who aren't there, who don't know the situation, who don't know the people, speculating about who they are, throwing around words that may cause offense to them, may conflict with their own way they see themselves.
KING: So in other words, we could hurt her?
KROFT: It's possible. It's possible that they're watching CNN.
KING: We don't know.
KROFT: Right, we don't know. I'm curious as to how -- what it was the argument that Stephen Farrell made that convinced them to let him go.
FARRELL: Any and every argument I could think of over 10 hours. And some I didn't think of. There was a colleague with me who spoke very good Arabic. And I certainly owe my life to her. The overwhelming -- actually, they laid out the ground rules very early on.
Within the first five minutes, they sort of -- one of them sat back in the car holding his handgun and just said, "Look, this is very simple. If you're journalists, we're going to let you go. If you're soldiers, or contractors, or spies, well, we're going to kill you. And we're going to chop you up and we're going hang you from the bridge like we did a group of contractors a week earlier in Fallujah."
So the ground rules are actually very clear. You don't know until the second you're released. But those rules did apply. They stuck to it. We convinced them we were journalists. We convinced them we were there for a good reason.
And at one state, I think the very, very last argument I made to them, and I took a deep breath before doing it was saying, "Well, go ahead, kill us then. We're doing this for a good reason, for a good cause. And I know that what I'm doing is the right thing." And I think they sort of responded to that idea of somebody being there for a reason they could respect. And I sincerely hope that's the situation with Jill.
KING: Let's check in with Anderson Cooper, the host of "A.C. 360" at the top of the hour. Still in New Orleans, Anderson. Why another night?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, tonight we are on a cruise ship on the Mississippi in St. Bernard Parish, about a dozen or so miles from New Orleans. It is safe to say this is no pleasure cruise. There are more than 800 people here living right now, still homeless from Katrina. They've been on this ship for months now, not far from here.
Tonight, we're looking to why, so long after local government asked for 16,000 trailers for people to live in on land, why there have only been 1,000 or so of them, been actually delivered in St. Bernard Parish. We'll look at the pollution problem here as well. We're talking to the governor of Louisiana. Some tough questions for her. That, and the latest on the bin Laden tape. All that and more, Larry, top of the hour.
KING: "ANDERSON COOPER 360," don't miss it. Anderson on top of every scene. We'll be right back, don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY BETH CARROLL, MOTHER OF HOSTAGE: After being in Baghdad for two years, that she knew what she was doing. She knew what the dangers were. She knew what the risks were. And she chose to accept those because what she was doing to communicate to the world the sufferings of the Iraqi people was important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're going spend a moment rejoining with Hafez Al-Mirazi, the former bureau chief for Al-Jazeera in Washington. He's current host of a weekly Al-Jazeera show called "From Washington." He was with us earlier. What do you make of this story?
AL-MIRAZI: Well, Larry, it's very sad, the story of our colleague, Jill. Al-Jazeera, actually, we went out of our way in this particular case, as we did in maybe two previous cases, and Al-Jazeera issued a statement of condemnation to the cases of kidnapping journalists and harming them, or mistreating them, regardless of who was doing that, militia or an army or anything like that.
But I really have something to say on that case in particular, Larry. That, yes, it is politically correct and right not to give in to terrorists or kidnappers, and to give them what they want, because we don't want to send a message that violence does pay off. But in the meantime, it is very important and imperative on politicians, once the crisis is over, to sit down and sincerely review and consider the grievances in order to disarm a terrorist from using such grievances as a rallying point.
Whether it's bin Laden using the grievances of the Arab and Muslim world of the U.S. having the wrong foreign policy, or the kidnappers saying, "Why are you taking female prisoners?" The U.S. just released recently two female scientists, Iraqi scientists. For almost three years they were in prison for nothing. And they released them with no charges. So we need to correct that. Not immediately during the crisis, but we should reconsider these issues after the crisis.
KING: Rajiv, why don't we?
CHANDRASEKARAN: Well, you know, we're in the midst of this ongoing war out there, and it is a war that has not dissipated here over the past many months. You know, we thought that we would be with several elections there, moving into a more acquiescent phase of this conflict. But it hasn't gotten there yet.
And I think that the U.S. government and the U.S. military isn't at the stage to sort of begin those discussions. We don't know who those interlocutors are, who are the credible forces in the Sunni community?
I mean, we'd all love to find people we could reach out to in that Sunni community to negotiate for people like Jill. Even though the government doesn't negotiate, there would be private parties that might step up, or at least broach a discussion.
Those people aren't there. I mean, and this is a problem that extends well beyond the case of Jill. It extends all the way to the whole political process of Iraq. The lack of credible, legitimate Sunni leaders, who are stepping up to represent the Sunni people. And it just doesn't exist, and this is a problem that has bedeviled this process from the very beginning.
KING: Is it a problem, Steve?
KROFT: It's a big problem. There are a lot of problems. The big problem is there are a lot of problems. And I'm sure this is probably not even a problem that anybody in the United States government had ever focused on before, until this unfortunate event.
KING: But Hafez has a point, doesn't he, to speak to them after?
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: There are so many people on the ground in Iraq, her Iraqi friends, friends in the press corps, Iraqi officials who have seen the injustice, and the horror of this brutal act, and have stepped up, at some risk to themselves, to speak out for Jill. And I think to speak out for the Iraqi people who don't want to be represented to the world as people who are supportive of this kind of horrible brutality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Rajiv wants to add something about Jill -- Rajiv?
CHANDRASEKARAN: Yes, Larry, a few months ago Jill sent me a copy of a research proposal that she was submitting for a grant to fund her continued reporting and studying of Arabic in Iraq for another year.
And I wanted to read just a couple of lines of it. This is in her own words. She says, "It's clear a lot is happening below the media's radar screen with Iraq's rebuilding. There is only one way to understand its complexities, to join them on the front line."
She talks about the need to study Arabic as perhaps an unorthodox interpretation of the research for the proposal. She says, "It is as much the key to bringing insight to complex sideline stories, as typical investigative reporting tools, in this poorly understood region, where so much is at stake, important stories are lost every day, because the foreign press corps doesn't speak Arabic."
That's the sort of committed journalist Jill Carroll is. And I hope her captors, if they're hearing this, will understand that this is a young woman who has embraced Arabic, has -- loves the Iraqi people, and really is committed to telling the truth of what's happening on the ground, and bringing the experiences of the Iraqi people to the American media.
KING: Natasha, doesn't she make a strong point there, that we better understand it, if we understand what they're saying?
TYNES: Definitely. Learning Arabic is the key point here. And Jill was very motivated, and she always wanted to learn Arabic. I remember when I used to work with her, she always insisted on speaking with me in Arabic.
And she was -- she used to take a minimum of two classes a week of Arabic, and I was really impressed by her progress. And whenever she used to learn a new word, she would come and tell it to me. So she really wanted to master the language, because she knew that this is the way that a reporter can make it. And the only way a reporter can convey that she was in the Middle East is by speaking the language of the people there.
KING: Don't you agree, Steve?
KROFT: It's not just the journalists who don't speak Arabic. It's unusual to find -- it's a huge deficiency in the United States government. At all levels in the State Department, certainly, in Iraq. You've got to be able to speak the language if you're going to understand the problem.
KING: You mean the diplomatic corps doesn't have a...
KROFT: ... Well I think the diplomatic corps does. But I think that not a lot of the military people do. And I think that's important when you're going into villages and you're trying to explain yourself and explain your presence.
And I think that that was one of the things that I remember, that I think it was the CIA initially that sent out this big, sort of SOS that they needed more people, they needed more Arabists.
KING: That should make us optimistic, though, because she's conversing with them in her language.
KROFT: I think that's the best thing that she has going for her.
KING: Thanks you all very much. Thanks to our panel, thanks Steve for spending the hour with us. Thanks to everybody.
Tomorrow night, we shall delve more into this, into the whole story of Osama bin Laden, and more on the Jill Carroll matter. That's all tomorrow night on "LARRY KING LIVE," with again, outstanding panels.
Speaking of outstanding, we're going to head to New Orleans now for the outstanding host of "A.C. 360", Anderson Cooper. He is standing by and he's on a ship. Anderson, what's happening tonight?
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