DAVID HAFFENREFFER, CNNfn ANCHOR, MONEY & MARKETS: Joining us now from Washington to talk more about the situation is Jack Spencer, senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation and Jonathan Schanzer, Surat (ph) fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Welcome to you both.
JONATHAN SCHANZER, WASH INST. FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: Thank you.
HAFFENREFFER: Jonathan, your thoughts on the developments today on this front and whether or not when the terrorists made their demands at the time, they ever actually believed that they'd be getting them or was Paul Johnson basically a dead man from the moment they made those demands?
SCHANZER: I actually believe that Paul Johnson was a dead man from the moment they caught him. The demands from the terrorists were such that they were asking for two things that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia could never yield to. Number one, that was to release about 500 al Qaeda militants that had been in Saudi jails. This would essentially be opening up the floodgates in Saudi Arabia where there has already been a terrorism problem, since as Nic mentioned, dating back to May of last year. Saudi has been struggling with this.
The other thing they were going to ask for was to have all U.S. servicemen and all U.S. contractors leave Saudi Arabia. Most of our servicemen have left but we have thousands of people on the ground who are there for oil contracts, for military contracts and it was just unreasonable to think that would happen in three days.
HAFFENREFFER: We need to pause here for one moment while we get some reaction here from President George Bush today on the beheading of Paul Johnson earlier. We did hear some comments from Dick Cheney, the vice president, who was out in Englewood, Colorado, speaking before an academic crowd is my understanding of it, but we do understand that we're getting some comments in just now from President Bush and we hope to bring that to you very shortly.
OK, we're going to hold on that for just a moment. Jack Spencer, your thoughts here and as we consider the death of Paul Johnson at this point who as we were mentioning was a Lockheed Martin employee at this point, if you're Vance Coffman, the chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin at this point, it's hard to sleep at night knowing that you've got people on the ground in this region who are at risk.
JACK SPENCER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It's hard to sleep at night, of course and I'm sure his heart goes out to the families of the people affected. But he shouldn't change what they're doing. That's the thing that the terrorists, for whatever reason don't learn is that whenever they kill an innocent person, they're only hurting that person -- the families involved. The United States, Lockheed Martin, the Saudi government are not going to change their policies. They're not going to -- American ex-pats in Saudi Arabia are not going to leave. They're going to have the same reaction that we have here in the United States whenever the terrorists attack here. We say OK, that's a bad thing, but we're not going to discontinue our lives. We're going to behave in the way that we behaved before the attack. That's the same thing I would suspect the ex-pats in Saudi Arabia are going to do tomorrow. They're going to continue living their life. They're going to continue doing their jobs and they're going to continue moving forward.
HAFFENREFFER: With that in mind, Jonathan Schanzer, is it your sense that we're going to see more abductions and more beheadings or murders at the hands of these terrorists before this is all over?
SCHANZER: Undoubtedly. What we're seeing right now, Saudi Arabia has been around as a modern state for about 72 years since 1932 and I would say that this is by far, the biggest challenge that the Saudis have had to face in their short history. What we're looking at right now is the coalescence of an affiliate group, a small group of people who graduated from al Qaeda camps and from al Qaeda wars. It's led a man by the name of Abdul Aziz al Muckrin (ph). This is a man - he's in his mid 30s and he is a charismatic leader. He's been in Yemen. He's been in Somalia. He's been in Algeria where he's fought alongside al Qaeda. And what he's done is he's put together a small rag tag group of committed soldiers and fighters who are willing to die for the cause of al Qaeda. They're not al Qaeda in particular. They don't have ties necessarily to bin Laden, but have actually worked alongside a lot of bin Laden's associates in the past and what these people are doing is they're essentially fighting in the name of al Qaeda and if you read their communiqus, if you look at what they're trying to communicate to the U.S. and to the rest of the world, they're here for the long run, at least until they're caught and it doesn't look like we've been able to get good information as to where they are. So as long as they are able to stay under the radar, I suspect that these attacks will continue.
HAFFENREFFER: OK, now we understand we have that Bush comment coming up just shortly now from the president, who's in Seattle today. Let's listen in.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: . Paul Johnson. We send our prayers and sympathies to them during this very troubling time. The murder of Paul shows the evil nature of the enemy we face. These are barbaric people. There's no justification whatsoever for his murder and yet, they killed him in cold blood and it should remind us that we must pursue these people and bring them to justice before they hurt other Americans. See, they're trying to intimidate America. They're trying to shake our will. They're trying to get us to retreat from the world. America will not retreat. America will not be intimidated by these kinds of extremist thugs. May god bless Paul Johnson. Thank you.
HAFFENREFFER: Those comments made just a short time ago by President Bush at Fort Lewis in Washington state before he made his way back aboard Air Force one this afternoon.
Back now with our conversation with Jonathan Schanzer from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Jack Spencer from the Heritage Foundation. Jack, Colin Powell said earlier today in his reaction that he is - he feels quite confident that Saudi Arabia will be -- use great force and effort to go find the people responsible for this death and handle them. Can we really count on Saudi Arabia to do all that?
SPENCER: Well, I think in the past year, Saudi Arabia has begun to understand that it too, is threatened by terrorism. It's been a victim of attack a number of times and this is just another one of those attacks that while the victim was an American, it also affects Saudi Arabia. And I think -- I don't know that we can count on them or not count on them, but I think they will respond. Hopefully they'll respond appropriately. Hopefully they'll find out who the killers were. It would have been nice had they done that before the murder took place but let's hope that Saudi Arabia is as committed in action as they have been in word in recent months.
HAFFENREFFER: Jonathan, your thoughts on that and where Saudi Arabia will be in all of this effort and prosecution I guess to try to find these people who did this?
SCHANZER: I can tell you I'm somewhat cynical. If you look back at when this all began in May of last year, the Riyadh bombings, the Saudis responded not with military force, not with increased intelligence and not with bringing in U.S. forces onto the ground to help them stamp out the al Qaeda problem. What they did is they actually launched a PR campaign, commercials that are aired on al Jazeera and al-Arabiya where they are saying yes, to Islam, but no to terrorism and that of course did nothing. It did nothing to stop the terrorism and in fact what we've seen is these terrorists have gotten bolder over the last several months and have been able to carry out more spectacular attacks.
One of the things that I think is most striking about this attack is the fact this Abdel Aziz al Mucrin, (ph), the leader of this group I was talking about, this is a man who was actually let out of jail by the Saudis. He had been extradited to Saudi Arabia after being involved with a number of al Qaeda groups and they actually let him out of jail for having good behavior in jail and for memorizing the Koran. This is the kind of mentality that I think we're dealing with when we look at the Saudis. This is not a country that's been terribly serious about fighting terrorism. Perhaps now they're going to begin to take it more seriously. But you know, we've said that after every attack that's taken place inside Saudi Arabia. We say perhaps now they're going to be more serious. I don't believe that Saudi Arabia is a country we can rely on yet in the war on terror.
HAFFENREFFER: Jack, Jonathan said earlier that we might expect more of this type of horrendous activity before the region there is stabilized. If the terrorists there feel -- or sort of are under the understanding that the United States or Saudi Arabia for that matter will not negotiate when it comes to terrorists' demands, what are they hoping to get across by continuing this type of violence, by beheading an innocent person?
SPENCER: They're trying to terrorize. They're trying to do just what the president, we just heard him describe, shake America's will, try to compel the United States to withdraw from the world and it's not going to happen. Terrorists have been using these tactics for years and years. It's nothing new and the United States has never negotiated with them and they're not goings to start now nor should they. That said, the terrorists will continue to use these tactics because it's all they have at their disposal right now. The reality is is that for us to stop it, we need to find them, incarcerate or kill them. And hopefully, Saudi Arabia will be more committed now than they were in the past. Again, certainly they haven't shown that commitment yet, but hopefully they start to make that commitment and we will be able to stamp out this sort of thing, but it's not going to happen overnight. It's not going to be easy and there will be more attacks or more instances like what we saw here today.
HAFFENREFFER: Jack Spencer and Jonathan Schanzer, thank you so much for being with us today.