By Pat Roush
Wednesday, September 11, 2002 1:00 a.m.
The first words Bill O’Reilly ever spoke to me were, “So they are not coming back.” That was earlier this year during my first appearance as a guest on his television show, “The O’Reilly Factor.” I responded that, of course, they were coming home. I would never stop working for my daughters’ freedom.
But we all know that once Mr. O’Reilly makes up his mind on a subject, it seems like there’s no turning back. Convinced that my two American daughters who were stolen from me almost 17 years ago – and captured inside the medieval madness of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia – were not coming home to me from the very moment that he heard about my story, O’Reilly was determined, once given the chance by the Saudis, that he would hammer that idea home to millions of viewers across the world.
Nine months after I first spoke to O’Reilly, the dastardly deed was a fait accompli. The girls had been packaged, delivered and their fate sealed by O’Reilly and his co-conspirators, Adel Jubair and the Saudi princes, and the U.S. Department of State. The scene of the proposed demise of my daughters was not “headchopper’s square” in Riyadh, but the plush Langham-Hilton Hotel in London, near Oxford Circus.
Surrounded by an entourage of Saudi men – including their father, his brothers, husbands, Saudi government officials and executives from American public relations firms hired by the Saudis to improve their image in the United States – my girls were “allowed” to be interviewed by a cascade of stars.
This list included a female consular-affairs officer from the U.S. Embassy in London, an appointed female Arab reporter from Associated Press and, of course, O’Reilly’s producer – who flew from San Diego on special assignment to get the scoop on these two women who had been cloistered inside the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 17 years, never seen by Westerners before.
When my daughters stepped off that plane from Riyadh to London, wearing black abayas from top to bottom, they were finally able to view a land of freedom, albeit from behind the filter of the thick, black cloth covering their young faces. Soon after they were quickly shuttled with their keepers into the luxurious Langham Hotel Suite – paid for by the Saudi government – the rehearsal would begin.
Jubair had been trying to make this screenplay happen for three months – ever since the congressional hearings took place by the Committee for Government Reform in June. First, he went to Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Bill Burns in July, offering to make my daughters available to U.S. Embassy personnel in Riyadh – but only if a statement was taken down concerning where they wanted to live. Burns would have gone for it, but after I gave my disapproval to an underling from consular affairs who called asking for my blessing on this “tea party” proposed by Jubair, the messenger stated, “Mr. Burns told Mr. Jubair that it would appear too staged.”
But Adel Jubair would not be deterred – he wants what he wants, not unlike Mr. O’Reilly. So, when the meetings began in August between the staff members of the Government Reform Committee, Jubair’s brother, Nail, and representatives from Qorvis Communications, they once again leaned heavily on the “meeting” with my daughters scheme. Burton’s staff would not buy into it, and it was decided that Dan Burton would not seek to meet personally with Alia and Aisha during the trip to Saudi Arabia, scheduled in late August.
Instead, the Saudis and their handlers were told that my American daughters should be allowed to come to the United States with any children they had to visit with their mother and American family. If they chose to return to Saudi Arabia, they would be free to leave at any time. We do not force people to stay in America – it was only asked of the Saudi authorities that my adult daughters be allowed to return to their native land to get to know the mother they had been denied all these years.
But then there was Bill. Adel Jubair appeared as a guest on “The Factor” on Aug. 9. O’Reilly just had to ask him about my daughters. He offered to interview them on television before millions of viewers. Then Jubair knew he had found a way – a lackey to carry out his plan.
O’Reilly’s producer in New York called me. I told her not to go ahead with it. This was counterproductive to what we were trying to accomplish. But she said, “Bill really wants to do this, Pat.” Again, I pleaded with her. Then O’Reilly called me the next day. I told him I did not want him to interfere with what we were planning. I asked him to stay out of it. He said he would think about it. They never called me back. He spoke to Dan Burton the next day and I thought all was taken care of. I was wrong.
This self-appointed savior of my daughters has fulfilled the purpose that was intended for him by the Saudi masters. He carried out the scam and is proud of it. Between two television shows, radio programs, countless e-mails and his commentary on WorldNetDaily.com, Bill O’Reilly must have said about 50 times that “they had their chance and don’t want to see their mother or come to the United States.” He admits that the Saudis have organized the trip, used coercion and that the women were under pressure. Then he berates my daughters for not running for freedom when they had a chance.
Even the Donna Abunasr, Associated Press reporter, stated:
Her sister was more composed but had dark circles under her eyes …Throughout the interview, the sisters were restless and shifted constantly in their seats. They both jumped when they heard knocks on the door – one time it was room service, the other housekeeping.
As a registered nurse, I was trained to assess patients for signs and symptoms of traumatic stress and duress – but one doesn’t have to trained as a professional to notice that my daughters were behaving very abnormally for young women who were merely “on vacation” and who decided to disavow their mother and country.
Mr. O’Reilly’s producer in New York, Kristine Kotta, confided in me before I appeared on his television program on Sept. 4, “Pat, don’t worry. The producer from San Diego says that it looks so obvious that your girls were forced into this. Your youngest daughter was so confused and curious about why all this was happening. We would never put you or your daughters through any kind of trauma.”
Obviously, Ms. Kotta was not speaking for her boss – who says there is nothing we can do for my daughters now: They are “brainwashed” and “too far gone.” He told Dan Burton that my innocent daughters who have been at the mercy of their deranged Saudi father and forced into submission, repression, fear and degradation every day of their young lives since they were kidnapped into Saudi Arabia, are now “absolutely destroyed by a totalitarian regime.” He then asks Dan Burton what is the responsibility of the United States to these destroyed, shambled Americans? Should we just write them off?
O’Reilly has become my daughters’ judge, jury and hangman. He couldn’t save them, so he decided to just discard and condemn them because he posed the end-all test, and they failed – his reporter asked them about Osama bin Laden. When poor, darling Aisha answered that he was a “clean and peaceful man,” O’Reilly squealed with delight! That was it! The final litmus test had been performed and that statement proves they are not worth saving!
“The most telling moment of the conversation we had with Alia and Aisha came when they praised bin Laden … Only praise of Allah and Osama bin Laden.” She didn’t praise either, only answered a question asked of her by a strange, American woman. This child-like response is that of an innocent victim that has been incommunicado with her mother and the West for almost two decades. She is not “brainwashed,” but a scared, little girl in a young woman’s body who has never been allowed to make one decision in her entire life – she was three years old when she was taken away from her mother. The fact that she is still alive is, by itself, a miracle.
If O’Reilly had been locked up, wrapped up and shut up for 17 years inside a cell in Saudi Arabia like my daughters, he would probably be in a rubber room picking his skin off. But my daughters have learned how to survive – with downcast eyes, with obedience, submission and patience that one day the mother that they secretly love so much and who loves them will finally find a way for their path to freedom. Until that day comes, we will keep that love etched on the tablets of our hearts.