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Aired October 26, 2001 - 04:30   ET



We now know that the letter sent to Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office contained an especially dangerous form of anthrax. Who is behind the release remains elusive, but the origin of the strain is narrowing as David Ensor reports.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Richard Spertzel helped make anthrax as a weapon for the U.S. more than 30 years ago. In the 1990s, he helped the U.N. destroy the biological weapons found in Iraq.

Ever since anthrax in the letter to Senator Daschle reached the noses of at least 28 people, he's been predicting chemicals or other alterations designed to make the anthrax particles float in the air would be found.

RICHARD SPERTZEL, BIOWEAPONS EXPERT: To do that you have to have particles that are not going to be, tend to adhere to each other, tend to have electrostatic property that will make them cling to surfaces, and they also have to be water repellent.

ENSOR: Now that there's apparently evidence the anthrax has been altered to float better, Spertzel says that means it was either produced in a nation's laboratory or by someone trained in one.

SPERTZEL: My number-one choice would be that there's some kind of active cooperation going on between Iraq and Osama bin Laden.

ENSOR: Spertzel says you can rule out anthrax from the U.S., whose weaponized stockpile was destroyed years ago, but you can't rule out anthrax from the former Soviet Union, stolen and sold to terrorists.

There are also, he says, long-term biological weapons programs capable of this sophistication in Iran, Syria, Libya, China, and North Korea. The additional tests under way could prove crucial.

SPERTZEL: Without saying specifically what it is, if that foreign material turned out to be one of about three different substances then I would be inclined to say look very, very closely at Iraq.

ENSOR: Spertzel hopes he is wrong about Iraq, and he warns there will likely be no smoking gun evidence in the laboratory analysis of the chemicals in the anthrax. Though, Wolf, the field of suspects could be narrow.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.


MCMANUS: Authorities still aren't sure whether the September 11 attacks are tied to this month's anthrax incidents. Nevertheless, Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge says anthrax is clearly being used as a weapon, and he says the Bush administration is authorizing funds to help protect the nation's mail.


TOM RIDGE, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR: The postal service, working with federal, state and local officials, have begun environmental testing at 200 postal facilities along the eastern corridor. The postal service will also conduct random environmental testing at major postal facilities nationwide. It will conduct random testing nationwide. It is strictly a precautionary measure. It is taken to protect the mail.


MCMANUS: As Jeanne Meserve reports, defense measures are being taken on a variety of fronts to deter any future anthrax threats.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Clearly, this is a battle the U.S. wasn't fully prepared to fight, but forces are being marshaled on several battlefields.

The postal service has already suffered two casualties and is rushing to protect the rest of its troops. Thursday, it began irradiating incoming government mail to the Nation's Capitol, a process already used to kill bacteria in food.

POTTER: We are out on the market buying electron beam equipment that can penetrate the mail and kill any bacteria in the mail.

MESERVE: To get enough equipment in place to zap most of the mail in America will take six to 18 months.

On the medical front, there also has been a mobilization.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Health and Human Services will pay 95 cents per tablet for a total initial order of 100 million tablets.

MESERVE: The antibiotic, Cipro, is being rushed to medical stockpiles. By the end of the year, the government hopes to have enough on hand to treat 12 million people for 60 days.

There is an anthrax vaccine, but questions have been raised about it's safety. And it takes six doses over 18 months to become effective. Research published this week on the structure of the anthrax bacterium is raising hope for new therapies sometime.

ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: It would probably wind up taking, I would say, years at regular pace, less than that if we're not only lucky but if we put a very accelerated effort.

MESERVE: Nose swabs are not a reliable test for anthrax exposure. And diagnosis of anthrax through blood and tissue samples can take five to seven days.

DR. THOMAS RYAN, PRINCE WILLIAM HOSPITAL: It would be great if we could have some sort of quick test for this type of illness, for anthrax, that we can perform in the emergency department.

MESERVE: That would allow quicker treatment of those who are infected and less treatment of those who aren't. But how do you prevent anthrax exposure in the first place?

There are field tests to detect anthrax which take only minutes to perform, but they can be misleading, giving false negatives and false positives.

And since the Gulf War, experts say, research into new technologies to detect anthrax and other biological and chemical threats has gotten little attention and even less funding. Only recently has a major research push gotten underway in private and government laboratories. No predictions on when a reliable technology will be deployed.

(on camera): There still are alarming gaps in the ability to fight this war, though the government seems willing to spend substantial resources and money. Experts hope officials take a comprehensive approach, so the battle against anthrax leaves the nation in a better position to fight other battles against other biological and chemical agents that may yet be unleashed.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


MCMANUS: The U.S. Senate passed legislation Thursday to crack down on terrorism. The landmark bill will give law enforcement officials more authority to tap phones, share intelligence information and track Internet usage.

Some investigators warn cyberspace may be the next frontier where criminals launch attacks. While authorities are trying to put a stop to that as well, and Eric Philips reports on a new program called neighborhood watch of cyberspace.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ERIC PHILIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 2001, thousands perish when four planes crash within minutes of each other in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. 2000, a small boat explodes next to the USS Cole killing 17 sailors -- acts of terror. But experts warn a few keystrokes from a cyberterrorist could present a new type of danger.

DAVID FORD, FBI: They can attack a computer system in the United States and further their cause by getting publicity or causing economic loss here in the United States or loss of life.

PHILIPS: The FBI says by hiding behind a cyber veil, a terrorist could remain anonymous while launching attacks that could disrupt 911 service or even air traffic control. To help combat the potential threats, the FBI has launched a unique partnership called InfraGard. It pairs the FBI with the business and services sector. The goal, halting cyber crime.

PHYLLIS SCHNECK, SECUREWORKS: It's all about cooperation.

PHILIPS: Traditionally, e-commerce companies have been reluctant to share information on cyber attacks. Secureworks from Atlanta is a networks security service. The company is part of InfraGard.

SCHNECK: There's so much expertise inside the FBI. There are so many ways that those agents can help. They need to know that we're going to be willing to say I was attacked.

PHILIPS: And the reality is attacks happen every day. The hope is that InfraGard will help keep cyberterrorists from doing real damage.

Eric Philips, CNN, Atlanta.


MCMANUS: The U.S. Congress plans to crack down on immigration and visa policies as well. This, after learning that 13 of the 19 terrorist hijackers were actually in this country legally, some on student visas. Two U.S. senators say they are drafting a bill that would bar students from seven countries believed to sponsor terrorism.

Lilian Kim has more on how student visas may have helped terrorists slip through the immigration net.


LILIAN KIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As investigators pick through the rubble of the September 11 attacks looking for why it happened, one focus of how turned on student visas. Some of the terrorists are believed to have entered the U.S. as students but never went to school. The attention now is on universities where a file is put together for each international student. The plan is to send this information electronically to a national database to help the Immigration and Naturalization Service keep better track of students from overseas. GARY AUSMAN, DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL SERVICES, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: We have to report if they don't show up. That seems to be one of the major flaws in the current system. And so we'll be able to report just electronically that these are the students that we're expecting, these are the students who in fact have shown up and have been -- and have enrolled.

KIM: This new database is a result of a law passed by Congress after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. One of the convicted terrorists in that attack had an expired student visa.

(on camera): Because of that law, many schools have already tested the system which tracks country of citizenship, the date the visa was issued and academic status. It's a process many students believe sends the wrong message.

ADI SALEHUDDIN, INTERNATIONAL STUDENT: It's sort of equating internationals with terrorists which is unfortunate because, you know, most of us aren't.

KIM (voice-over): Each international student must pay a $95 fee to offset the cost. For some, it's a small price to pay.

ZENGHUI WANG, INTERNATIONAL STUDENT: We should respect the idea of the people who are the hosts of this country and we are just guests here.

KIM: Guests in a country where fear of terrorism is reaching American campuses.

Lilian Kim, CNN, Seattle.


MCMANUS: The first round of colleges will begin submitting electronic profiles next month. Every school must participate by 2003.


ANNOUNCER: Kurt Chun from Mill Valley, California asks: "In the past, how has the United States managed the issues of terrorism?"

MIKE BROOKS, FORMER FBI COUNTER-TERRORISM TASK FORCE MEMBER: Kurt, the United States manages instances of terrorism very well. Here in the United States domestically, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, is in charge of the crisis management of a terrorist incident and the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA is involved in the consequence management.

After an incident happens, the FBI begins their investigation and at the same time the Federal Emergency Management Agency starts to try to get the United States back to a sense of normalcy.

Now, on the international side, we have the Bureau of Diplomatic Security that deals specifically with incidents of terrorism overseas. Now, the FBI, by statute, can investigate and bring back terrorists from overseas who have harmed or killed Americans, as we've seen with Ramsey Yousef in the World Trade Center bombing and also with Mir Aimal Kasi, who was responsible for shooting a number of Americans outside the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.


MCMANUS: Two months ago, you probably didn't think about the terrain, population or even the location of countries like Turkistan and Uzbekistan. September 11 changed everything. They have become vital in the new war against terrorism, largely because of their proximity to Afghanistan, ground zero in the military response.

Two stories now from CNN Correspondents Alessio Vinci and our own Joel Hochmuth.


JOEL HOCHMUTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a part of the world few could have predicted would be thrust into the international spotlight but that's exactly where the central Asian region known as western Turkistan now finds itself, largely because of its proximity to Afghanistan.

It's home to a variety of Turket speaking tribes that have lived in the region for as long as 1,500 years. Although many areas are desperately poor now, Turkistan thrived during the days of Marco Polo when it was crossed by trade routes from Europe to China.

CHARLES MARVIN, CENTRAL ASIA EXPERT, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY: It historically the silk roads of these were fabulously wealthy. And you go back there now and your eyes are just open in wonderment, these beautiful old buildings, mosques, military buildings, wonderful residual dwellings from the old emirs.

HOCHMUTH: It was the Soviet Union that divided the region into the republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the early 1920s.

MARVIN: It's like Africa was in the latter part of the 1800s where looking at it you'd say the western colonial powers almost deliberately set out borders in certain ways between colonies so as to divide up nature tribal groupings.

HOCHMUTH: While the Soviets brought stability and modernization to what had been a mishmash of kingdoms and emirates controlled by local warlords, Moscow's presence was a mixed blessing.

MARVIN: And Khrushchov's great attempt at growing cotton and doing various things with the soil there, disaster. The Aral Sea was one of the largest fresh water bodies in the world, and it is largely dried up now and in its waters there is horrible pollution so you can't eat the fish anymore.

HOCHMUTH: With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the five republics gained their independence. So far, they've been able to avoid the ethnic strife that has torn Afghanistan apart with some exceptions.

In Tajikistan, independence gave way to civil war between government troops and a mix of nationalists and Islamic fundamentalists. Though a peace agreement was signed in 1997, the region remains unsettled.

MARVIN: Tajikistan also, however, is pretty much of a tribal mess. And there is the very large contingent of Russian troops still in Tajikistan trying to keep order there at the invitation of the local government, which, of course, is Russian supported, too.

HOCHMUTH: Uzbekistan, too, has had to deal with guerrilla activity on the part of Islamic fundamentalists sympathetic to Osama bin Laden. That may be one reason the government is cooperating with the U.S. and giving it permission to use one of its air bases.

MARVIN: They relish getting the attention and they relish getting the at least temporary support for the maintenance of order of the current regime there. But on the other hand, of course you'd be worried if you had the 500 pound gorilla, you know, coming in and how long is the 500 pound gorilla going to stay around, what's the 500 pound gorilla going to do.

HOCHMUTH: Still, that the U.S. is developing a relationship with countries in the region would have been unthinkable a decade ago. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's recent visit to Uzbekistan is just another sign that Cold War animosities are fading under a new world threat.

Uzbekistan is offering humanitarian help in the current conflict as well.

For that, we go to Alessio Vinci.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The United Nations' top man for humanitarian affairs Kenzo Oshima says Uzbekistan has agreed to facilitate aid delivery to Afghanistan by allowing the U.N. to use the border town of Termiz as a transit point. Mr. Oshima gave no specific timeframe, but said aid would begin to move to Afghanistan as soon as possible and that it was not necessary for untied Taliban forces to take control of the northern town of Mazar-e- Sharif before relief agencies could start moving south.

At a news conference, Mr. Oshima said aid would be distributed by Afghan nationals but that many other logistical problems had to be worked out.

KENZO OSHIMA, U.N. UNDER SECRETARY-GENERAL: This is a problem which have to do with the absence of international staff inside Afghanistan, lack of communication, the size of the Afghan nationals that engaged in these activities. All these factor combine to make a situation inside Afghanistan which is rather difficult to carryout the task.

VINCI: Fearing a potential influx of refugees, Uzbekistan will not reopen the border with Afghanistan closed since 1998 nor will U.N. trucks be allowed to use the only bridge linking Uzbekistan and Afghanistan across the Amu Darya River. Instead, aid will be ferried across on barges.

Aid agencies have already begun stockpiling blankets and other items at warehouses in Termiz and several new shipments are expected in the next few weeks. U.N. aid officials say in northern Afghanistan half a million people have been internally displaced and up to three million need humanitarian help.

FILIPO GRANDI, UNHCR: But we hope that if the groups of people are really desperately pushing at the border and have no other choice but to seek protection in Uzbek territory, we hope this situation will not occur, but if it did occur, we would hope that Uzbekistan would adopt a very humanitarian approach.

VINCI: Did they give you any guarantees in that sense?

GRANDI: Not yet.

VINCI (on camera): Despite their security concerns, Uzbek officials had little choice but to allow humanitarian aid into Afghanistan from their southern border. After all, it was the best way to avoid the refugees coming here seeking that very same help.

Alessio Vinci, CNN, Tashkent, Uzbekistan.


MCMANUS: Afghanistan was a monarchy until 1973 when the king was overthrown. The new government, which was Soviet backed, was not accepted by all the Afghan people. Opposition groups called mujahideen or soldiers of Islam fought the Soviets. Unofficially, the U.S. backed the mujahideen because of the Soviet Union was a Cold War foe of America.

The Soviets began withdrawing in 1988 and the Afghan government toppled four years later. After that, various factions fought for power. The radical Islamic Taliban won out in 1996. They've stripped Afghan women of most of their rights, forbidding them to work or to attend school.

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, known as RAWA, is an underground political and social network trying to better the lives of women. In doing so, members risk their own lives.

CNN's Kimberly Abbott sat down with a RAWA member. To protect her identity, she is using an assumed name and is shot in shadow.

This story contains mature subject matter so, teachers, you may want to prescreen this report.


TAHMEENA FARYAL, RAWA MEMBER: A woman in Afghanistan does not have the right to get education, does not -- cannot work, cannot go outside alone, should be fully covered when she's outside. She cannot wear any makeup. She cannot wear any nail polish. She has to be careful not to have colorful dress or shoes which would make noise because, according to Taliban mentality, they would attract male attention.

KIMBERLY ABBOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How are women treated under the Taliban compared to life before?

FARYAL: Women in Afghanistan, especially after 1992 that the fundamentalists -- the Jahadi fundamentalists take the power, we're the first and easy victims. The Jahadis did not have their list of restrictions on women such as the Tal -- the same way the Taliban had like going -- banning them from going to school or not having the right to work or not going outside alone or being fully covered when they are -- they go outside. These are not the restrictions during the other fundamentalists groups, but they also committed heinous crimes against women.

ABBOTT: So are you saying it was some of the same practices were happening before, they just made it official?

FARYAL: Exactly -- or in some ways they were happening in worse ways then now under the Taliban. We had more cases of rape, of forced marriages, of abduction during those fundamentalists called Jahadis then now under the Taliban.

ABBOTT: And you're speaking of the Northern Alliance.

FARYAL: Yes, some of them are now in the Northern Alliance. So considering this situation that women in Afghanistan have been going through since 1992, Afghanistan is a hell for women. Most of the women, especially the widows, like I guess in the capital city Kabul we have more than 70,000 widows, they do not have any other option to survive to feed their children. Beggary and prostitution for many of these women are the only ways to live and some of these beggars or women who have to go to prostitution worked as teachers, as engineers, as lawyers before.

ABBOTT: And do you think the same thing is happening? Is history repeating itself with U.S. cooperation, this time with the Northern Alliance, last time with the Taliban?

FARYAL: RAWA has been warning the U.S. government, as well as any other government who are willing to cooperate with the Northern Alliance, that if they are in the future government of Afghanistan, we will go again to the period of '92 to '96. And if you want to have a peaceful and democratic government in Afghanistan or the stability in Afghanistan, it's not possible to achieve that with Northern Alliance.

ABBOTT: Do you think it's helping at all with the image that the U.S. is trying to project that the attacks are against the Taliban not the people? They want to help the people by providing some sort of humanitarian aid. Do you think that message is getting across to ordinary people in Afghanistan?

FARYAL: I don't think so because the people of Afghanistan do not forget the role that United States played during the Cold War in Afghanistan in funding against -- supporting the fundamentalists in Afghanistan. And that's what the people of Afghanistan know. The very ordinary, uneducated people in Afghanistan know because it's -- it was not a hidden fact.

They know that they supported and those you know criminal Jahadis who took the power in 1992, and I don't think that through dropping food they can convey this message.

But we have also heard from the people that if -- on one hand they are very terrified of the bombings and in Afghanistan, on the other, they think that if that could root out the Taliban and the terrorists in Afghanistan it's like a hope for them.


MCMANUS: In times of tragedy, people often seek an outlet for their anger, someone to blame. Since the September 11th terrorist attacks, there has been a lot of misdirected hate toward Arab- Americans.

Candy Crowley takes us to a town that's been hit especially hard by discrimination.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the story of a pretty typical American city, with everything from minivans to mosques.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would like to do anything to express our feeling that we are against terrorists or terrorism activities.

CROWLEY: It is a city like so many others these days, full of flags and sadness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife, the second day of the tragedy was driving. She wears a head scarf and she was called. Somebody rolled down their car window and said, "You bastard."

And I feel hurt. My family is targeted. My bigger family is losing thousands of people in the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. But I am not given the chance to prove that I am an American too.

CROWLEY: You can eat well and widely here: chicken and chickpeas, cupcakes and warm pita, in shops are full of American dreams.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We always heard about how this country was built on, you know, not to be discriminated against people because of their religion or their race or their ethnic background. But this is just talk. Now you feel when it comes to action, you feel that it wasn't true.

CROWLEY: Welcome to Dearborn Michigan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good afternoon, Access, can I help you? CROWLEY: Where one in four adults is Arab-American.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are here, live here, and we work here and we pay taxes and everything. I mean, it shouldn't affect all of the people. If it is a bad person, it doesn't mean all are bad people. Like Oklahoma. I mean, they did it. Does that mean all American people are bad? No.

CROWLEY: And 58 percent of the children are Arab-American.

(on camera): Were all of you born here?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was born in the States. American-born.


CROWLEY (voice-over): Jihad, Kassem and Mustafa went to a resort area recently with a Boy Scout leader. Someone complained about suspicious behavior and the police pulled them over. Eventually, they were allowed to drive on.

(on camera): Are all of you American-made boys, do you feel differently about America in any way? Has this made you feel differently?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just kind of rings a question in my head. Am I really an American or not? It is kind of hard to think about. Do I have the same rights as, like, an American (UNINTELLIGIBLE), or do I have different rights because I'm Arabic?

CROWLEY (voice-over): The question rings not just in his head, but across the generations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My grandfather came here in 1896. I'm a veteran. My brothers are veterans, and yet I feel like I am not -- you know, I have not found my rightful place in America. When do I become an American?

CROWLEY: Dearborn is a pretty typical city, only here the sadness is twice as unbearable, and here, the flag is not so much about showing patriotism as proving it.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Dearborn, Michigan.


MCMANUS: Thank you for joining us this week. For all of us here at CNN NEWSROOM, have a great weekend. We will see you right back here on Monday.




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