State Journal-Register

Sep 18, 2001

Local man headed to Yemen
    New envoy to help build coalition against terrorists


WASHINGTON - Edmund Hull, sworn in Monday as ambassador to Yemen, is "the right man (in) the right place at the right time," Secretary of State Colin Powell said. 

Hull, 52, who spent most of his youth in Springfield, was until recently the State Department's coordinator for anti-terrorism. In his new post in Yemen, he will be America's chief representative in a country of significant importance to the international coalition the United States is building against terrorism.

In a State Department ceremony, Powell praised Hull and expressed appreciation to the Yemeni government for pledging to work with the
United States to fight terrorism.

"In Mr. Hull, we are sending the right man to the right place at the right time," said Powell before he administered the oath of office to Hull in the historic Benjamin Franklin Room. The ornate room has a view of the Pentagon, where Hull was being briefed last week when hijackers crashed a commercial plane into the building. 

Earlier Monday, Powell said, he had spoken by telephone with Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Salih, who pledged to double his country's efforts against terrorism.

Only two weeks ago, the New York Times reported that FBI investigators were frustrated in their efforts to get Yemeni officials to allow them to widen their inquiry into last fall's bombing of the USS Cole to include Islamic militant groups in Yemen. 

The Cole bombing was linked to terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, whom Powell has identified as the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks in Washington and New York. Newsweek reported Monday that the FBI had been investigating two men associated with bin Laden who turned out to be among the hijackers of last week's ill-fated flights.

After he was sworn in, Hull said last week's terrorist attacks "reinforced something that I've been aware of for some time. That is the clear and present danger of terrorism to American interests.

"It adds urgency to the counter-terrorism efforts, and I think Yemen is important because it is an Arab, Islamic country that said it wants to work with us to counter this terrorism, and it has important influence and capabilities.

"I think we need to reach out and grab the hand of partnership and try to do as much as we can," Hull said. "We've got to make all parts of the world inhospitable to terrorists. 

"It's not just a question of stopping them in New York or Washington, because as long as they can operate in Germany or Afghanistan or
Yemen, they'll be able to create the kind of plot that we saw last week."

"As a country, we have shown we can sustain the involvement we need to get results, so I'm confident we will win," the career foreign service officer said. "We might not win every battle, but we will win the war."

Despite disruptions in airline service last week, 10 of Hull's 11 siblings made it to the ceremony. His parents, Thomas and Lorene of Macomb. drove to Washington with a daughter and her husband. A sister flew from Portland, Ore., with her two sons. Another arrived from Florida just a few hours before the event.

A brother from Wichita, Kan., wasn't able to attend because his wife, Cindy Klose, a television announcer who used to work in Champaign, was covering news related to the terrorist attacks and they couldn't arrange child care.

Although Hull's mother said she is a little worried for her son's safety, she recalled how he was once kidnapped for 12 hours while stationed in Beirut.

"He grew up in a large family. That's where he learned his survival skills," Lorene Hull said. "Edmund is exceptional. He is very intelligent and very sharp, with people skills."

Hull praised his wife, Amal, for "building a human bridge across the gulf that often divides Americans and Palestinians" when they married 23 years ago in Jerusalem. She and their two college-age daughters, Leila and Lena, whom he described as "proud and fine examples of Arab-Americans," also attended the ceremony.

Born in Iowa, Hull moved to Springfield in the fourth grade. He graduated from Griffin High School in 1967. He graduated from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He has served in Egypt, Israel and Tunisia. He is fluent in Arabic and French.