USIS Washington 

24 August 1998


(Terrorism expert expects bin Ladin to act) (930)

By William B. Reinckens

USIA Staff Writer

Washington -- "Diplomacy may be the best weapon to bring (Usama) bin
Ladin to justice," Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East and terrorism expert
at the U.S. Library of Congress said in an August 24 interview about
bin Ladin and the course the United States might take to bring him to
justice following the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and

President Clinton signed an executive order seizing bin Ladin's assets
August 21, the day after the U.S. military strike at terrorist sites
in Afghanistan and Sudan believed to be associated with bin Ladin's

According to a State Department fact sheet, issued August 22, "The bin
Ladin network is multi-national and has established a worldwide
presence. Senior figures in the network are also senior leaders in
other Islamic terrorist networks." These include terrorist groups such
as the Egyptian al-Gama'At al-Islamiyya and the Egyptian Islamic

"Bin Ladin and his network seek to provoke a war between Islam and the
West and the overthrow of existing Muslim governments, such as Egypt
and Saudi Arabia," the fact sheet stated.

Bin Ladin's organization calls itself the World Islamic Front for
Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders.

His network has been linked to the threat to kill U.S. servicemen in
Yemen en route to a humanitarian mission in Somalia in 1992, according
to the fact sheet. The network has also "plotted the deaths of
Americans and other peace keepers in Somalia who were there to deliver
food to starving Muslim people," and "assisted Egyptian terrorists who
tried to assassinate Egyptian President Mubarak in 1995 and who have
killed dozens of tourists in Egypt in recent years," according to the
fact sheet.

The Egyptian Jihad "conducted a car bombing against the Egyptian
embassy in Pakistan in 1995" and bin Ladin's network "plotted to blow
up U.S. airliners in the Pacific and separately conspired to kill the

Further, the fact sheet states, bin Ladin's "followers bombed a joint
U.S. and Saudi military training mission in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in

Bin Ladin "has got to be brought to ground and be turned over to U.S.
law enforcement authorities," Katzman said in his interview. The
Taliban and the Government of Pakistan, in his view, could be
instrumental in aiding this effort.

"The Taliban cannot allow bin Ladin to become a state within a state,"
the CRS specialist said, referring to the Taliban's recent warning to
the expatriate Saudi dissident not to threaten the United States from
Afghanistan soil. "They have warned bin Ladin before not to attack any
other state," Katzman said, adding that the Taliban moved him from
Jalalabad, near the Pakistan border, to Kandahar to keep a watchful
eye on him after he arrived in June 1996 from Sudan.

"The Taliban is interested in getting itself recognized as the
legitimate government so it can claim the Afghanistan seat at the
United Nations," Katzman said. This, it is felt, might help enhance
the Taliban's international standing.

Knowing Pakistan might want the U.S. to roll back the economic
sanctions imposed because of recent nuclear tests, Katzman said he
believes that "at some point bin Ladin might become expendable to

"Essentially, if they lose their well-financed patron they have no
place to go," Katzman said about bin Ladin's estimated 3,000 to 4,000
followers who are scattered around the world in different Muslim
countries. Many of these supporters have been with him for 20 years
and formed bonds of loyalty during the war in Afghanistan.

In February, bin Ladin announced a broad coalition which includes
members of his Islamic Front, Egyptian radical groups, two Pakistani
radical groups, and a Bangladesh radical Islamic group.

Kaztman views bin Ladin as a person who wants to expel "infidel armies
from Islamic holy lands, whether that be expelling Soviets from
Afghanistan or the U.S. from Saudi Arabia. The two are equivalent in
his mind."

Bin Ladin's terrorist tactics have shifted with the attacks on the
U.S. embassies in Africa, noted Katzman. "He's globalized it because
the U.S. is so powerful. He apparently feels that hitting the U.S.
anywhere will help in his objective.

Bin Ladin is now viewed by many in the Middle East as someone who has
taken his message directly to the United States, although clearly
"there are many people who do not support such violent actions toward
that end," he noted.

Katzman says that bin Ladin is viewed by people in the region more as
an "operational guerrilla leader because his religious credentials are

"He's certainly planning retaliation, that's for sure" said Katzman.
"What form that's going to take, who knows?"

"He will try to hit the U.S. where it doesn't expect him to attack,"
Katzman said. He also does not rule out bin Ladin's use of chemical or
nerve agents or the use of more traditional terrorist weapons such as
car bombs or shoulder-held missiles in any retaliatory attack on the

What they are afraid of is making him into a bigger political force
than what he is now," said Katzman about the Arab world's official
response to the U.S. embassy bombings and the retaliatory air strikes.

Today, bin Ladin has the money to "provide the patronage" to terrorist
organizations, said Katzman. "If the patron is decapitated the whole
network dissolves."