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CNN Newsroom

Aired October 15, 2001 - 04:30   ET


SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And welcome to CNN Newsroom. I'm Shelley Walcott.

TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: And I'm Tom Haynes.

For an eighth straight day now, U.S. military operations lit up the skies over Afghanistan on Sunday. Air strikes targeted Taliban positions north of the Afghan capital, Kabul, and several locations in Kandahar.

WALCOTT: Now as the campaign against terrorism moves ahead in Afghanistan, a new fear is mounting in the United States.

Talk of bioterrorism has Americans on edge. Since October 5 when a Florida man died from inhalation anthrax, hundreds of people have been tested for the disease. Two of the man's coworkers at the tabloid newspaper, "The Sun," are receiving treatments for confirmed exposure. And preliminary tests indicate more exposures may have occurred.

In New York, an NBC employee was infected by the bacteria. Investigators say they found traces of anthrax in a threatening letter that was mailed to the network last month. New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani says three other people who handled the letter are being treated for possible exposure.

And in Reno, Nevada, a letter mailed to a Microsoft office has tested positive for anthrax. Bush administration officials say it's premature to say whether the anthrax cases are linked to the September 11 attacks.


TOMMY THOMPSON, HHS SECRETARY: There's no question it's bioterrorism. It's a biological agent. It's terrorism. It's a crime, it's terrorism, but whether or not it's connected to al Qaeda, we can't say conclusively.


WALCOTT: CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta brings us details now on cutaneous or skin anthrax, the type that has infected the NBC employee.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are three methods anthrax can infect people: inhaled, ingested or as in this latest case, through the skin or so-called cutaneous anthrax.

This is the most common and treatable form of the disease. It is very different from inhalation anthrax, the form that killed the Florida man and reached two others who worked in the same building.

None of the forms of anthrax are contagious from one person to another. Cutaneous infection most commonly occurs if the anthrax spores or bacteria come in contact with an open wound, cut or sore in the skin. Anthrax is unlikely to infect a person if it merely touches healthy or intact skin. Most cutaneous anthrax cases are from contact with an infected animal.

However, it can also be weaponized and delivered through, for example, powder contaminated with anthrax spores. The incubation period ranges from 12 hours to five days. At first a patient may notice an itch, a rash, which may eventually turn black. If left untreated, the anthrax spores can travel through the bloodstream and get into the lymph glands. The bacteria can infiltrate the body's immune system, causing shock and, in some cases, death. Several types of antibiotics are effective to treat the cutaneous form of the disease, including penicillin and Ciprofloxacin, also known as Cipro.

Even without antibiotic treatment, three out of four patients beat the infection. With antibiotics, nearly all patients fully recover.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


HAYNES: President Bush's top advisers fanned out on the Sunday talk shows trying to reassure a jittery nation after cases of anthrax in three states and an FBI alert warning of possible additional terrorist attacks. It is a delicate balancing act for the White House trying to give the American public the facts without creating a wave of panic.

That story from CNN's White House correspondent Kelly Wallace.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush quickly rejects the latest Taliban offer to discuss turning Osama bin Laden over not to the U.S. but to a third country.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If they want us to stop our military operation, they've just got to meet my conditions. And when I said no negotiation, I meant no negotiation.

WALLACE: Meantime, days after an FBI alert warning of possible terrorist attacks in the U.S., the attorney general reveals law enforcement is looking for nearly 200 people who could be connected to the September 11th attacks or planning other acts of terror. JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We are doing everything possible to disrupt, to interrupt, to prevent, to destabilize any additional activity, and we are on our alert.

WALLACE: And he says the administration is investigating whether the recent anthrax cases could be linked to bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization.

ASHCROFT: There's real suspicious here.

WALLACE: More questions, though, about whether the federal government is ready.

SEN. BILL FRIST (R), TENNESSEE: A concern to me remains, if there was a large bioweapons attack occurring in several parts of the United States of America, would we be prepared? We'd be prepared, but under-prepared.

WALLACE: A case in point, the federal government has enough of the antibiotic Cipro to treat two million people for anthrax over 60 days. This week, the administration will ask Congress for $1 billion to treat an additional 10 million people.

The health and human services secretary, criticized for being overly optimistic, says the federal government can respond, and urges Americans to focus on the facts.

TOMMY THOMPSON, HHS SECRETARY: We're no misleading. All we're doing is giving out evidence. We do not have any proof there's going to be an extensive bioterrorism attack on America. It's possible, but we don't have any proof of it.

WALLACE: Still, there is a delicate balancing act which the White House is learning as it goes along. How much to tell Americans without causing any panic while at the same time asking for their patience, saying that this campaign against terror will last a long time.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, near Camp David, Maryland.


ANNOUNCER: Lisa Fritz from St. Louis, Missouri asks: Why are people on FBI watch lists and other high-risk individuals allowed to freely enter the country?


JEFF BEATTY, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, Lisa, they're not all allowed to freely enter the country. You can come to the attention of our folks at the borders a variety of different ways. They may want to arrest you at the border because you've committed a crime. On the other hand, they may know that you have known terrorist associates. They may want to surveil you. So a watch list means watch, and it's a very good tool to help our security forces identify people coming into the country and as appropriate, either arrest, surveil or simply monitor, to some extent, their presence in the United States.


WALCOTT: We've seen the satellite photos of damage, but the Taliban escorted a group of journalists for an up close and personal look at what they claimed were attack sites. The Taliban has blamed the bombing campaigns for numerous civilian deaths and casualties since the military strikes began.

Our Nic Robertson is following events in Afghanistan and files this report.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Nic Robertson speaking to you from Jalalabad in Afghanistan. The Taliban today took us to a village about 60 miles west of Jalalabad, where we are now. In that village, they showed us houses that they say had been destroyed in a bombing raid. It was a village, remote, high in the mountain, difficult to get to. There were about 40 to 50 houses there and about 90 percent of them were destroyed.

People were sifting through the rubble there. They said that they were trying to find loved ones, trying to find property in those houses. People there told us this was just a simple, rural community. They bridled at suggestions this might have been a terrorist training camp or might have been viewed as a terrorist training camp. They insisted that it was just a rural community. They showed us bomb fragments they said were from American bombs. And, indeed, just 100 yards from the village, a large unexploded bomb stuck in the hillside.

Later on the Taliban took us to a hospital in Jalalabad where we saw about 17 people who were injured in that same bomb blast in that same village, we are told.

Now, the Taliban said that some 200 people were killed in that blast. We had no independent verification of that. Certainly, in the village itself there were some, perhaps two dozen of so graves. But in the hospital, again, we spoke to survivors and they talked about airplanes dropping bombs early in the morning. They talked about losing large numbers of loved ones from their families.

One man told us he'd lost four of his children, another said he'd lost his wife; and another two children we saw in the hospital, doctors there told us that they were orphans. The doctors told us that when the casualties first came in there was a big flood of some 28 casuals. Three died; some have subsequently been discharged, but there are 17 still there.

The Taliban have also taken us to sights that we've asked to go to. We asked to go to the airfield, knowing that this had been a site subject to air attacks. Now, we were shown an radar installation that had been hit, the Taliban said, by a cruise missile on the first night of attacks. The airport commander there told us that the airport was now not operating. He said that there no communications at the airport, that the runway was slightly damaged but they didn't have any plane that they were able to use from the runway. And for right now he said the airport was out of action.

On the streets we've also been able to get an insight into life here in the city of Jalalabad. Some stores are closed. We have seen a few people leaving town today. But the vast majority of stores here are open. There are people out on the streets going about their business as normal. We saw a lady this morning walking down the road carrying a box of washing powder.

A lot of traffic on the road, too. There appears to be no problem at the fuel stations for people getting fuel. People have been able to drive in and fuel up vehicles at will.

So the situation out on the streets here, perhaps fewer people around than would be normal; but a sense of normality, not a sense of abject fear on the streets at this time.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Jalalabad, Afghanistan.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Afghans cheered when the Soviet Union troops left their land after 10 years of warfare. It ended one of the hottest periods of the Cold War. America had heavily funded and armed mujahideen rebels who fought the communist troops to a standstill. As has been widely reported, Osama bin Laden fought along with those mujahideen who received U.S. baking. But once the Soviets left, the western nations pulled support too.

With the common enemy gone and with no help from others to rebuild, the country spiraled into chaos. The mujahideen disintegrated into tribal warfare. It was bloody and lawless, cities were destroyed, drug smuggling abounded. An estimated five million Afghans, including doctors and professionals, fled the country. Many Afghans blamed their former supporters for their plight. Some called it the great American betrayal.

Amid the rubble, enter the Taliban. It began as a small movement, vigilante justice to avenge the rape and abduction of two women. The name Taliban means students of Islam. Its founder, Mullah Mohammed Omar, a veteran of the mujahideen.

Driven by religious fervor, the movement grew in strength. And in 1994, when Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto needed security to protect her country's supply routes in Afghanistan, she turned to the Taliban, offering funds and arms in exchange for their protection. That, say analysts, was what gave the Taliban a crucial edge.

In September of 1996, they captured Kabul, the Afghan capital. People embraced the Taliban as they brought iron fisted order to the chaos.

Taliban members are mostly from Pashtun tribes in the southern part of the country where the movement began. The rebel Northern Alliance is a Kabul coalition of tribal and ethnic groups, mostly non- Pashtuns from the north. Though they ended up with only 10 percent of the territory, they continue to be recognized by the U.N. as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

On the Sunday before the September 11 attacks on America, the leader of the Northern Alliance, Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud was assassinated by suicide bombers. The Northern Alliance has taken advantage of U.S. strikes on Afghanistan. Energized by new western support, it's ready to take on the Taliban again, but many Afghans remember the alliance as the same people whose squabbles once brought the country to ruin.


ANNOUNCER: Teachers, make the most of CNN NEWSROOM with our free daily classroom guide to the program. There you'll find a rundown of each day's show so you choose just the program segment that fits your lesson plan. Plus there are discussion questions and activities and the guide highlights key people, places and news terms. Each day find hot links to other online resources and previews of upcoming desk segments.

It's all at this Web address where you can also sign up to have the guide automatically e-mailed directly to you each day. It's easy. It's free. It's your curriculum connection to the news. After all, the news never stops and neither does learning.

HAYNES: Across the Muslim world a call to arms by the Taliban and the al Qaeda network is being largely rejected but that hasn't stopped a rash of often violent anti-U.S. protests in many parts of the world. In South Africa, for example, demonstrators against the U.S.-led action in Afghanistan are making their voices heard.

And as Charlayne Hunter-Gault reports, their anger is deep seated.


CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anger outside the American Consulate. Bin Laden, bin Laden, the demonstrators shout, a reflection of simmering anger elsewhere in the country, especially among Muslims.

Here at Capetown's largest mosque, imams, Islamic scholars and professionals speak with the same anger as the men in the street, but the agitation in the Muslim community goes beyond the U.S. bombing in Afghanistan.

SHEIKH MOHAMED SELIEK GAMIEKFIEN, ATTORNEY: (INAUDIBLE) the anger springs basically from the hypocrisy of the United States as the leader of the western world today. And this hypocrisy comes out very clearly in its unevenhandedness towards the state of Israel and the Palestinian problem.

HUNTER-GAULT: Anger also over what they and Osama bin Laden call the infidel U.S. invasion of Muslim holy land in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. ABDOOL HAQUE KHATREE, MEDICAL DOCTOR: Although the United States has said it's a fight against terrorism, a lot of us view it as a fight against Islam. This is the bottom line.

HUNTER-GAULT: Beyond talk, this man actively recruiting volunteers, unemployed men to go to Afghanistan, despite the South African government's recent ban on any of its citizens leaving to avenge the U.S. strikes on Afghanistan.

ABDURAHMAN KAHN, ORGANIZER, VOLUNTEERS TO AFGHANISTAN: Islam sees an eye for an eye and therefore people understand -- people that are good Muslims understand that when you're under attack then you defend yourself with maximum retaliation.

HUNTER-GAULT (on camera): "Sign up for Afghanistan," says this form Kahn has placed in strategic areas like mosques and other places around the Cape flats. He says some 1,000 volunteers have signed up so far.

(voice-over): Some Muslims here say this is a fringe element but not the anger. In the mosque of the Cape flats where flags fly at half-staff for the Palestinian dead...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they kill Osama bin Laden tomorrow, a hundred -- not a hundred, thousand Osama bin Ladens going to rise up again.

HUNTER-GAULT: Ironically, even as they decry U.S. policy, they condemn the terror attacks in the United States and those behind them as being forbidden by Islam, but they say they won't condemn bin Laden unless and until they see proof.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, CNN, Capetown, South Africa.


WALCOTT: Even before the September 11 attacks, the religion known as Islam was getting a bad wrap in the non-Muslim world. It's been associated with American hostages in Iran, an edict calling for the execution of author Salman Rushdie (ph) and a series of terrorist acts.

Christiane Amanpour looks at how a fanatical few have hijacked a religion that has long had a history of peace and tolerance.


When terrorists struck at the heart of America on September 11th, the word jihad entered our everyday conversation. Yet it's a term that is poorly understood.

ARMSTRONG: The word jihad does not mean holy war. It means to struggle. It means effort.

And Muslims are very concerned that it is always going to be a struggle to put God's will into practice in a flawed and tragic world. AMANPOUR: But militants have defined that struggle their own way, misusing it to justify acts of terror.

ESPOSITO: Yes, you as an individual or your community, the Muslim community, or Islam itself is under attack, under siege, is threatened.

Then, your struggle now, is not simply the moral or the intellectual struggle to understand the faith and follow it. It becomes a struggle to defend the faith.

And it's not just that it is an option. It is that it is your duty. In that context, then, jihad becomes the legitimate use of violence. It becomes the legitimating of armed struggle.

AMANPOUR: But in the Koran, the only permissible war is one of self-defense.

ARMSTRONG: There is no sense in which a Muslim can ever initiate hostilities. But, sometimes, if -- it is necessary to fight, if you feel that decent values are being threatened.

AMANPOUR: But the militant, some would even say, the fanatical reading of jihad resonates with a radical minority of Muslims whose ranks include Osama bin Laden.

And it's spreading to a new generation at religious schools, like this madrassa in Pakistan.

Mullanah Wajihudeen (ph) is headmaster.

MULLANAH WAJIHUDEEN, HEADMASTER (through translator): The use of force is permitted where there is oppression, like in countries where Muslims begin to lose power. God almighty has created the iron. With iron we can create guns.

So when there is unimaginable oppression and wrongdoing in the world, it is permitted to take up arms.

AMANPOUR: At this school on the outskirts of the capital Islamabad, about 50 students, some as young as six years old, immerse themselves in the Koran, reciting it over and over until they have it memorized. It's the only thing they study.

WAJIHUDEEN (through translator): Our aim is to spread the message of the Koran all over the world, and to make Islam prime over all other religions.

AMANPOUR: Women are not allowed inside this religious school. In fact, this is an all-boys institution.

And in so many of these schools throughout Pakistan, the students have virtually no contact with women, not even in their own families. And it's in this strict environment that the students learn their rigid world view.

Although the head master calls the attacks of September 11th a sad event, militant views aren't far from the surface.

On the walls inside the mosque, a poster that said, Afghanistan equals American graveyard. Also, support for Osama bin Laden himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, (through translator): Here in this mosque, as elsewhere, we pray for him around the clock.

AMANPOUR: On these walls, too, anti-Semitic messages. And soft- spoken but harsh words from the students.

Uzman Ullah (ph) is 16.

UZMAN ULLAH, STUDENT (through translator): Everyone knows it was a Jewish conspiracy, that there were no Jews in the World Trade Center on the day of the attacks.

AMANPOUR: Attitudes like these can be found at some of the thousands of madrassas in Pakistan and throughout the Islamic world.

Many of them have become breeding grounds for a political extremism that is framed in religious terms.

ARMSTRONG: The madrassas in Pakistan tend to be rather narrow, and it's from this, in fact, that many of the Taliban were trained.

AMANPOUR: Yet the sense that Islam is under siege is quite widespread, even among moderate Muslims who have condemned the recent terrorism.

Long before, many Muslims felt a sense of oppression, and they largely blame the United States. Atop their long list of grievances, the United States' close relationship with Israel.

ARMSTRONG: Muslims have no tradition of anti-Semitism, no tradition of hating Jewish people. That changed with the state of Israel, not because of a hatred of Judaism, but because the state of Israel meant that Palestinians lost their land.

AMANPOUR: Resentment over the Palestinian question has only deepened with the escalation of the Arab-Israeli conflict. And the media coverage of the Intifada in the Arab press.

ESPOSITO: They can look at al-Jazeera or something else, and every day watch scenes of violence -- violence committed by both sides, but see a disproportionate use of violence in terms of weapons, in terms of the number of people that are killed on the Palestinian side, or injured.

And they see American Apache helicopters being used. They see F- 16s, you know, going to Israel.

AMANPOUR: Viewed through that same prism, many Muslims are enraged by the suffering of Iraqi civilians under U.N. sanctions directed against Saddam Hussein's regime.

American soldiers stationed in Saudi Arabia -- trespassing on the holy land. And a long history of U.S. support for the rulers of countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, who they perceive as un- Islamic.

ESPOSITO: They basically say the following. Our regimes are authoritarian and corrupt. Therefore, they're part of the problem, not the solution.

And, they're propped up by the United States and the West, or they're allowed to do what they do by the U.S. and the West.

ABDULLAHI AN-NA'IM, ISLAMIC SCHOLAR: It is the rhetoric of being the beacon of freedom. But the practice of suppressing democratic regimes and supporting authoritarian, despotic regime...

AMANPOUR: That was felt most acutely in Iran in 1979, when popular anger swept aside America's long-time ally, the Shah, in the world's first Islamic revolution.

ARMSTRONG: In Iran, the shahs used to make their soldiers go round the streets with their bayonets out, taking the women's veils off and ripping them to pieces in front of them.

On one occasion, Shah Reza Pahlavi shots down hundreds of unarmed demonstrators in one of the holiest shrines of Iran, who were peacefully protesting against obligatory Western clothes.

AMANPOUR: When Ayatollah Khomeini seized power in February 1979, he sent a powerful political message to fundamentalists throughout the world.

AN-NA'IM: Khomeini's success in coming to power in '79, has been a tremendous sort of, almost like an earthquake, politically and ideologically throughout the region, because it showed that a fundamentalist agenda can succeed into seizing power and really putting the rest of the world totally helpless in confronting it.

AMANPOUR: Khomeini confronted the U.S. head-on, labeling America the Great Satan. And in November 1979, 52 Americans were taken hostage inside the U.S. embassy in Teheran.

They were held for 444 days.

ARMSTRONG: It seemed the turning of the tide, that Islam had enabled the -- a very powerful and apparently stable Western-backed regime to fall. And they -- people were taking their destiny, again, into their own hands.

AMANPOUR: And it wasn't just political. For the growing ranks of Islamic fundamentalists, the Iranian revolution had cultural implications, as well.

It emboldened those who saw Western culture as too materialistic, a dominant culture that they fear was crushing their Islamic identity.

ARMSTRONG: So that what you're seeing in many of these movements are desperate, desperate attempts to get Islamic history back on track.

Muslims seemed to be doing all right for all their history. Now, why is it against the West they can make no headway?

And their attempts, as they continue to fail, their attempts get worse and more extreme.

AMANPOUR: Extreme, like the Taliban's regime in Afghanistan. The Taliban fought their way to power in the mid-1990s. And ever since, the ruling mullahs there have imposed a medieval brand of Islam that includes a ban on television, radio and music, and effectively imprisons women in their own homes.

Today, the Taliban says that Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the September 11th terrorist attacks, is in Afghanistan. A man, who to the dismay of millions of Muslims around the world, uses the Koran to justify his call to arms against the United States.


WALCOTT: That wraps up this edition of NEWSROOM.

HAYNES: Yes, have a safe Monday. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

WALCOTT: Bye-bye.




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