[The US reward for information on Hamza bin Laden] is a bounty for a prominent figure but it’s not a huge bounty compared to his father or previous top-level figures. The thing about him is that there isn’t much to know. He’s very young, he spent a lot of time in hiding in Iran… and he doesn’t have major operational credibility that other figures have. Right now he’s at best a figurehead...while seasoned leaders are trying to recapture their brand, which was much stronger under his father. With that in mind using the Bin Laden name is sensible, the question is can he build on this and go from the son of an important person to an important person in his own right.
If [foreign fighters] aren’t brought home, what happens to them very much depends on who captured them and what their policies are. I understand people are tempted to say these people did something brutal and horrible and they should not be allowed to return, but that is what our justice system is for. There's a real question of whether they'll face justice with a real rule of law. Some might be able to bribe their way out, others may try to find places to flee if they aren't allowed to go back to their home country and spend years in prison. A group of hundreds of people unable to go home hiding out who knows where with links to the Islamic State - that's a very scary possibility... It would leave us with the same question. Say they were tried by an international tribunal and found guilty, where would they be imprisoned? It won’t be an option... [while] Guantanamo is a logical possibility ... I just don't think it's one politically that Trump would want to do.
[The pan-Arab nationalists] see themselves often as critical of religion because religion is ‘backward.’ It’s what’s been holding the Arab world back. That’s kind of the dominant divide, and Islamists of all stripes are pushing back against this... The Saudis really put a lot of money into the ‘Dawah’ machine to try to out-compete Iran around the world. There’s a real panic and concern then.
If you had told officials after 9/11 that in the next 17 years there would be only 104 deaths from terrorist attacks in the United States, they would have raised a glass of Champagne. Back then, we were worried that we’d lose that many people in a week. We could have mass attacks again, we could go 10 years without anything.
The [Trump administration's] proposals don't call for constant monitoring once someone is in the country. It seems like [Saipov, the NYC attacker] became much more radical relatively recently. So the ideas on the table don't seem particularly relevant to this attack.
This is a movement that historically has been highly divided. One thing Osama had been doing is trying to be a unifier. He was very comfortable working with people who agreed with him on one issue and disagreed with him on five. Toward the end of his life, a lot of what he was trying to do was to get groups to work together.
What do you do when your allies [like Pakistan] are part of the problem? The desire to turn our backs on these people is there, but then you worry that terrorists will have more operational freedom and it will cost you more in the long run.