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[] WPO 16.10.01: Rice Interviewed On Middle Eastern Network,
Washington Post
October 16, 2001

Rice Interviewed On Middle Eastern Network

By Mike Allen, Washington Post Staff Writer

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice went on a Middle Eastern news network yesterday to warn that the United States cannot ignore terrorism sponsored by Iraq, but she sought to assure Arab viewers that the U.S.-led campaign "is not a war against Islam."

Asked by the al-Jazeera satellite station if Iraq might be the second target after Afghanistan, Rice condemned Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in terms similar to those President Bush used at his news conference on Thursday.

"The president has made very clear that the war on terrorism is a broad war on terrorism," she said. "You can't be for terrorism in one part of the world and against it in another part of the world. We worry about Saddam Hussein. We worry about his weapons of mass destruction that he's trying to achieve."

But when asked about Syria, she pointed out that "the means that we use with different countries to get them to stop harboring terrorists may be very broad, and there are many means at our disposal." Bush has said that in addition to the war's military component, the United States will fight terrorism on the diplomatic, financial and political fronts.

The administration has warned that al-Jazeera could unwittingly be carrying secret messages from Osama bin Laden, whose terror organization has delivered two taped statements to the network since U.S. bombing began on Oct. 7. At Rice's request, U.S. television networks agreed last week to review bin Laden's statements, which some had been picking up live and unedited as they were played on al-Jazeera, before airing them.

Rice said during the interview that the network executives "understood that having a 15-minute or 20-minute tape that was pretaped, prerecorded, that sat there and did nothing but incite hatred and, ultimately, attacks against innocent Americans was not a matter of news, it was a matter of propaganda, and it was inciting attacks against Americans."

The administration had objected to the tapes both for their propaganda value and because of the possibility of coded messages. Yesterday, Rice emphasized the former. She said during a White House briefing that U.S. analysts continue to review the tapes for hidden messages, but she gave no indication that they found them. "We are still concerned about whether there might be some signaling in here, but I don't have anything more for you on that yet," she said.

Rice is the latest of several administration officials to grant interviews to al-Jazeera because it has wide reach in the Middle East, and the administration is giving increasing attention to trying to sell its policies in the region. Advertising Age reported yesterday that the State Department is considering buying ads on al-Jazeera. A State Department official would not confirm that but said the United States is looking at many outlets.

At the end of the 16-minute interview, Rice was asked what message she would like to deliver to al-Jazeera's large audience in the Arab and Muslim world.

"This is a war against the evil of terrorism," Rice said. "The president of the United States understands Islam to be a faith of peace, a faith that protects innocents, and the policy of the United States is to do the same."

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