Home > Interviews > “I can feel the grit” – Brett Winterble, Covert Radio

“I can feel the grit” – Brett Winterble, Covert Radio

One-man broadcaster Brett Winterble is such a dynamo that his Covert Radio website homepage is topped by a quivering ammeter. This U.S. station may well be the only one dedicated to covering all aspects of the War on Terror for subscribers and a dozen affiliates. Winterble, who has a degree in ‘Homeland Security and Intelligence Methods’, flattered me with boundless enthusiasm for Dining with al-Qaeda during an interview that aired on 31 March 2010. Surprisingly, he was also open to all my hard-earned soft talk of empathy and engagement with the Middle East. This seemed extraordinary  given that his show is dedicated to being the scourge of everything from al-Qaeda to Jundullah to Pirates to ‘black widow’ suicide bombers to Aztecas to European Eco-Terrorists. Given the likely profile of his listeners, it’s not surprising that his teaser for his show with me read “his answers will surprise you.”

Here’s a transcript of Brett’s own comments. It’s authentic post-9/11 Americana, but I reckon that if all conservatives acted like him, in terms of reaching out to find out about the motivations of people they consider their enemies, half of America’s problems in the Middle East would soon be on the road to peaceful resolution.  His style is inimitable, and he’s generously offered a free link to our show here.

(Jingle) This is your place for American Intelligence.

Brett Winterble

I wanted to go out and talk to somebody who’s really lived it, in the Middle East, who understands it, up close and personal, a man who’s got extensive experience in the Middle East, author of a book that you need to pick up, you need to buy if you want to understand the way the world behaves, Dining with al-Qaeda: Three Decades Exploring the Many Worlds of the Middle East

The book is fantastic. Everybody’s got to get out there and get a copy of this book, it really is a phenomenal insight. This book you did is really cool, man. I can feel the grit. I can feel the fear you feel at different times, and the confusion you feel.

It’ll transport you [listeners] to a place that most Americans most people in the West will never get to go…

(and after the interview was over …)

We didn’t agree … his bent was frankly for my taste too much in favour of the Barack Obama sort of world view, the Bill Clinton world view, he opposes the efforts made by George W. Bush [but] he raises a very important point which comes from the human intelligence point of view. You can’t project onto these people in the Middle East or Chechnya your pre-conceived notions. It is vital to get to know these people, not that we should go and find Chechen separatists, but it’s important to go on their websites … They post their propaganda. Your going to get a good insight into how they think about things, how they believe things are going to be in this country.

The more you can interact and interface with these bad guys, and read what they have to say, and listen to what they have to say, in the original texts, to go back to original sources, the better prepared youre going to be in the conflict. And make no mistake. The conflict doesn’t just occur in Kandahar, in Helmand, in Iraq, in Yemen or anywhere else. The conflict is inside your mind. The conflict is inside your life.

When you make your decisions politically in the United States, you’re not just going to make it based on healthcare, I would hope, you’re not just going to make your decisions based on whatever freebies are being handed out by Uncle Sam, I would hope … I would hope that a major component of that is foreign policy, as we become an increasingly intertwined global village. Not to sound clichéd, but we are. I can talk to somebody in Turkey in a flash. I can talk to somebody in Moscow in a flash. I can conduct business with people in Thailand that I may have never met in person.

We can reach out, we can talk to the bad guys too … We can reach out and talk to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, if somehow they had an internet connection. We can talk to the freedom fighters, many of us did during the Green Revolution in Tehran, by using twitter and facebook. The more we have interactions with people in that area, the more we will learn that our pre-conceieved notions might not be accurate … The more you go to original, the better off you are going to be in this battle.

A guy like Hugh Pope can come on [my show]. This is a guy who got thrown out of Iran, a couple of times, he understands how these people think, he understands how these folks who are targeting us in the United States, targeting us and our allies, how they think, he gets it….

(Jingle) From 9/11 to today, it’s the latest from the enemy…

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Categories: Interviews
  1. Dean
    April 10, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Did Mr. Hugh Pope say (on CNN with Wolf Blitzer) that Jerusalem is a sacred “symbol” for Muslims and that the Jews are angering the Muslims by inhabiting the one and only land that Jewish people have inhabited for almost 4000 years?

    Did he really say that Obama should be going to Israel to explain how things are going to change (for the worse) with the US-Israel relationship now that the Obama administration has shifted foreign policy to favor the Muslim dictatorships and terror groups in the region?

    If Jerusalem is a scared place for Muslims, then is Mecca and Medina a sacred place for Jews. Should Jews be asking for the return of land throughout the Middle East because they have been evicted over time by the relatively new Muslim conquerors? Should people be asking for access to religious symbols in Muslim countries where non-Muslims are prevented from living and visiting?

    Hugh Pope brags that he dined with Al Qaeda. Then they must have brainwashed him into believing that they are the victims; unfortunately, Mr. Pope has bought the Al Qaeda propaganda and now sees himself as their spokesman, not their critic.

  2. Hugh
    April 11, 2010 at 4:58 am

    Dean – you’ve got the right person, and you heard me right. Of course Jerusalem is a sacred symbol for Muslims, just as it is for the Jews. And you’re right, Jews lived in Mecca and Medina too. However, whatever the injustices done to the Jews when they were on the losing side of wars during the Muslim conquest of those cities, it was 13 centuries ago, and I have never heard anyone claiming that the cities had much religious symbolism for the Jewish faith. Jerusalem however is a major symbol for Muslims all over the world, not just in the Koran but since a picture the gilded Dome of the Rock hangs in millions of sitting rooms and shops wherever Muslims live.

    Non-Muslims can and do ask for access to places of religious symbolism in Muslim-majority countries, and usually they get it, like anyone with a U.S. passport can visit most Muslim countries (if their countries are not at war with each other). Mecca and Medina aren’t like that, of course, and in Dining with al-Qaeda I have a whole chapter in which I discuss critically the whole concept of the exclusion of non-Muslims from these cities.

    Yes, I did dine with an al-Qaeda missionary, and it was a memorable event because he threatened to kill me. Al-Qaeda has committed terrorist acts and inexcusably exploited young recruits to kill themselves, which I also said on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN show, hardly propaganda for al-Qaeda, I think you’ll agree. But I also said I thought it was important to understand why he wanted to kill me — and that it was because he thought I represented a force that wanted to kill him.

    My point is this: to counter al-Qaeda, police methods alone won’t work, we have to dry up the cause of recruits flowing to the group as well. If you read my book, you will find that I’m certainly not suggesting the idea that everyone can ask for the return of lands just because their ancestors may once have lived there. Everybody sees themselves as a victim in the Middle East, and there will be no peace until everyone learns to share what they’ve currently got fairly, without seizing yet more from each other.

  1. April 12, 2010 at 7:40 pm

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