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Middle East - AP
Al-Jazeera Journalist Faces Scrutiny
Thu Sep 19, 8:58 PM ET
By TAREK AL-ISSAWI, Associated Press Writer
DOHA, Qatar (AP) - An al-Jazeera journalist, who has faced criticism since a Sept. 11 suspect he interviewed was later arrested, said Thursday he's not concerned about his safety.
Yosri Fouda, host of al-Jazeera's investigative program "Top Secret," held clandestine interviews with Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh, two al-Qaida Sept. 11 plotters wanted by the United States. Two days after his report, Binalshibh was captured in Pakistan.
"I took a personal risk and put my life on the line. Al-Qaida saw the program and what was on it. I am not afraid for my safety and I'm least concerned about al-Qaida," Fouda said.
He said he followed elaborate instructions that ended with him being taken blindfolded to an apartment he believed to be near Karachi, Pakistan, where he interviewed the men over a two-day period.
Fouda said the interviews were in June, but held off reporting on them until he could include the material in a Sept. 11 anniversary program.
An Islamic militant Web site posted a statement that noted the announcement of Binalshibh's arrest "came a few days after an interview with Yosri Fouda" and added: "if, God forbid, this news is correct, this means there was a kind of treason that caused brother Ramzi to fall into the hands of those infidels, which requires a warning to all brothers."
Fouda told the Associated Press he hasn't received any threats, but had read the veiled warning on the Web site and articles in Arabic newspapers questioning whether his reporting could have led authorities to Binalshibh.
He dismissed any links between the interview and Binalshibh's arrest.
Investigators believe Binalshibh was a member of a Hamburg, Germany-based cell led by Mohammed Atta, the suspected leader of the Sept. 11 hijackings.
Fouda said that he thought al-Qaida contacted him to prove that the group was still functioning and able to communicate with the outside world.
"It's a statement. A message that al-Qaida is still up and running. They appeared proud that they were able to invite a journalist to stay with them for two days, sit and talk, have a cup of tea and then return to their hide-outs," he said.