Skip to main content /TRANSCRIPTS



CNN Newsroom

Aired October 29, 2001 - 04:30   ET


MICHAEL MCMANUS, CO-HOST: Hello, everyone, welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael McManus.

Round the clock recovery efforts in New York halted Sunday for an emotional memorial. Thousands of mourners gathered where the World Trade Center towers once stood to salute the victims and heroes who died there. Music, prayer and possibly some healing filled the hour- long ceremony.

Brian Palmer takes us to ground zero for a look at the site's first memorial service.


BRIAN PALMER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The wind cooperated, clearing the sky and delivering beautiful hopeful melodies to thousands gathered at Ground Zero to grieve for loved ones lost on September 11, a public memorial service, to heal private wounds.

Recovery activity at Ground Zero stopped for the service, the first time since the one-month anniversary of the attacks when a moment of silence was observed. Dignitaries assembled but did not speak, leaving the day to the musicians, mourners and men of faith who shared a message of sorrow and renewal.

EDWARD CARDINAL EGAN, ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK: We are in mourning, Lord. We have hardly any tears left to shed. For the past almost seven weeks our world has been engulfed in fear and hurt. Help us to set things right.

RABBI JOSEPH POTASNIK, CHAPLAIN, NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT: In Hebrew we say, harofay leshooralay (ph) , heal those who are broken. We come here today to hold those who hurt so much, to help those who need so much, and to hear those who cry so much.

IMAM IZAK-EL MU EED PASHA, CHAPLAIN, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: And we should have no differences. But our differences should be the beauty of our faces and our cultures, the beauty of our ways of worship.

PALMER: And for every family, for each person, different reasons for attending the memorial.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe this, this ceremony today will give us some closure, but I don't think so. I think this is going to last a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I lost my husband in the World Trade Center so we just came to, I guess, I don't know, put some sort of closure to the incident, and to pay our respects.

PALMER: And in a larger sense the service may also help the nation recover and reclaim something of what was lost, at least in spirit, on September 11.

Brian Palmer CNN New York.


MCMANUS: Another postal worker has inhalation anthrax. Officials confirmed this weekend that a worker at a mail processing facility in New Jersey has the disease. That brings the total number of confirmed infections to 13.

The anthrax scare is one of the topics President Bush discussed with his national security team this weekend at Camp David, Maryland. They talked about the progress made in thwarting future attacks and the steps that will still need to be taken. Mr. Bush says he is optimistic on several fronts concerning domestic terrorism, including the improvement of aviation security, the expansion of federal authority's information gathering power and internationally, the advancement of U.S.-led air strikes.

CNN's White House correspondent Kelly Wallace reports on how the Bush administration is weathering the war on terrorism at home and abroad.


KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No comment from President Bush as he returns to the White House to this "Washington Post" report that the CIA is considering for the first time since the 1970s secret missions to assassinate individuals designated by the president as terrorists. Mr. Bush's top advisers were tight-lipped, saying only the U.S. would do what it takes to defend itself.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The only way to deal with the terrorist network is to take the battle to them, and that is in fact what we are doing.

WALLACE: But some lawmakers say the U.S. might not be doing enough. Republican Senator John McCain says the U.S. must ratchet up its military might now to win the war.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's going to take a very big effort, and probably casualties will be involved, and it won't be accomplished through air power alone.

WALLACE: The almost daily aerial bombardment has so far not loosened the Taliban grip on Afghanistan or turned up Osama bin Laden, but the defense secretary says the administration never promised this was going to be quick or easy.

RUMSFELD: It is going to take patience, and that is what is taking place. And it's going very much as expected.

WALLACE: What was not expected, the White House says, sophisticated anthrax sent in the mail. The president's chief of staff rejected criticism the administration did not respond quickly enough.

ANDREW CARD, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: 20/20 vision is always better looking back than it is looking forward. And I tell you, we have had a challenge in this country. We are meeting the challenge.

WALLACE: But Democratic lawmakers say the White House was not forthcoming in an attempt to keep the public calm.

SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: You get one piece of information and the next is a contribution or a modification, and that in itself creates its own source of panic.

WALLACE (on camera): The administration is making adjustments. Senior Bush aides say Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge will now brief reporters as many as five days a week. White House officials conceding they need to do a better job coordinating the message.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, near Camp David, Maryland.


MCMANUS: As military strikes enter a fourth week, U.S. military forces say this past weekend's bombing was the heaviest yet, but this conflict involves more than just military deployment. Along with arms, political relationships are playing a big part in the new war on terrorism. It involves sharing intelligence and other resources on a level never seen before.

Our Joel Hochmuth has the first of two reports on the art of coalition building.


JOEL HOCHMUTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a whirlwind tour through three Asian nations, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell briefed lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week. His testimony before the House International Affairs Committee provided unique insight into diplomatic progress in the war against terrorism.


COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Sometimes out of great tragedy, great opportunities arise. And when you look at what happened on the -- on 9-11, as we call it, the 11th of September, and the pain we went through, but as we -- as we -- as we deal with this pain, we can't ignore the opportunities.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOCHMUTH: More than 80 nations have now formally condemned the attacks and are supporting the U.S.-led campaign to go after those responsible.


POWELL: And the reason this coalition has come together so quickly and so successfully is that everybody who has joined this coalition realizes that what happened in the United States on the 11th of September, and especially what happened in New York, was not just an attack against America, was not just an attack against New York, it was an attack against civilization. It was an attack against the world community.


HOCHMUTH: If there can be any good coming out of such a tragedy, it may be that the U.S. is finding friends in places that would have been unthinkable prior to September 11. Perhaps the most notable is Russia, which, as part of the Soviet Union, had been an arch enemy throughout the decades of the Cold War.


POWELL: Russia came forward rather quickly. Mr. Putin was the first one to call the president -- imagine that -- first one to call the president.


HOCHMUTH: The U.S. is getting new cooperation, too, from Central Asian nations that were also once part of the Soviet Union. Among them is Uzbekistan, which has granted the U.S. permission to use one of its air bases and is offering humanitarian support.


POWELL: We suddenly have relations with the Central Asian republics that are new and exciting and have potential for the future as well. And Russia is not bent out of shape because suddenly we are doing things with the Central Asian republics, because we're talking to the Russians about it.


HOCHMUTH: New opportunities are opening up with other long-time foes, including Syria and Iran. Remember Syria and Iran are nations the U.S. has long accused of sponsoring their own brands of terrorism. Iran is the country that held Americans hostage during the Carter administrations.


POWELL: I have no illusions about the nature of the regime in Syria in Iran. Yet Iran is willing to provide search and air rescue if any of our pilots should be downed over there. It's not likely to be case with them not flying over there. And I have, you know, no illusions about Syria, but Syria has indicated that it wants to at least talk to us about some things.


HOCHMUTH: And Pakistan is now on board, although even before Powell met with President Pervez Musharraf, the new relationship was raising eyebrows. The U.S. had placed economic and military sanctions on the country after it conducted nuclear weapons tests in the late '90s. Some lawmakers wanted to know why those sanctions were suddenly being lifted.


POWELL: We already had in process staff work to remove some of the sanctions on Pakistan, and we have done so, and now -- I think to encourage him to move in this correct direction. And also he has started to take action against some of the fundamentalist elements within his society to encourage that, and to encourage him to move in this positive direction. So I think that's frankly been a good thing to do with him (ph).


HOCHMUTH: And it's not just the U.S. finding new friends in the wake of September 11, rebel troops in Afghanistan known as the Northern Alliance who are fighting against the Taliban are hoping Russia delivers on a promise to supply much needed military hardware. It was just over a decade ago the two sides were killing each other during the Soviet occupation there.

As Satinder Bindra reports, without Russian help, a campaign by the Northern Alliance could grind to a halt.


SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than two weeks Northern Alliance forces have been pressing hard to capture the strategic northern town of Mazar-e-Sharif. So far, all of their attacks have been repulsed.

Local Taliban officials even claimed five Northern Alliance commanders had been captured and hanged. Those claims were denied within hours by a senior Taliban minister. While not confirming or denying those reports the Northern Alliance said earlier this week its forces killed 35 Taliban fighters and captured another 140.

It's impossible to independently verify claims from either side. What is clear though is the fighting in the north seems to be veering towards a stalemate.

On many northern battle fronts, it's evident Alliance forces are poorly equipped and commanders admit they may not be able to make much headway against entrenched Taliban forces until Russia delivers on a promise to provide 40 tanks pulled out of storage and 100 armored vehicles. BURHANNUDDIN RABBANI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN (through translator): Well, Afghanistan has a history of a long war with the Soviet Union. But today, we are clearly no longer dealing with the Soviet Union. Now we are dealing with the Russian Federation, and their politics clearly differ from that of the Soviet Union.

BINDRA: Reports from Moscow indicate Russia could deliver up to $45 million worth of hardware perhaps by the end of the year. Northern Alliance commanders say the tanks will definitely boost morale an increase their military capability.

But with winter setting in and many mountain passes expected to close soon, the tanks, if they're delivered, may not be able to make it to the Kabul front until next spring.

Regardless of the arrival of Russian armor, the Alliance says the fighting will go on -- perhaps even during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

RABBANI (through translator): As I mentioned, traditionally the Taliban have not refrained from unleashing terror on people for any religious circumstance or holiday. So, of course, if there are going to be any attacks we will do everything to defend our people.

BINDRA: In the weeks ahead, the Northern Alliance wants the United States to keep up a punishing barrage of air strikes but it hopes this bombing is better coordinated with Northern Alliance commanders on the ground and directed with pinpoint accuracy against front line Taliban positions.

Satinder Bindra, CNN, Khoja Bahawuddin, northeastern Afghanistan.


MCMANUS: Continuing on the theme of coalition building, now we turn to Saudi Arabia. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed positive diplomatic relations in recent years. While the kingdom has been cooperative, it has been noticeably quiet as the U.S. battles terrorism. Why the silence?

As Jonathan Mann explains, the quiet in the kingdom goes much deeper into the pages of history than September 11, 20001.


JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The king of Saudi Arabia is old and sick. A stroke several years ago ended Fahd's ability to rule, but he still receives guests, a symbol of continuity in a society that does not welcome change.

The king and his extended family of five or 6,000 princes are custodians of the land where Islam was born, and of its two holiest cities Mecca and Medina.

They're also owners of the world's largest oil reserves, a quarter of all known petroleum. Those twin blessings have given the House of Saud enormous wealth and influence. But now they represent threats as well.

Oil wealth transformed Saudi Arabia lifting incomes and expectations. There is still a lot of oil, but there is a lot less money. Saudis on average have seen their incomes drop by more than two-thirds in a generation, from an average of $28,000 a year in the '80s to $8,000 last year. And Islam, which gave the royal family legitimacy, has turned faith into a force the Sauds can no longer be sure to control. Thousands of young Saudi men heard the call of Holy War in the '80s when Afghanistan fought the invasion by the USSR.

Many were radicalized by their experience. Many others were embittered by another invasion closer to home when they learned their own nearly undefended kingdom needed U.S. troops to face down the Iraqis who conquered neighboring Kuwait in 1990. Those men envisage a different kind of kingdom now -- former U.S. Ambassador Wyche Fowler.

WYCHE FOWLER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SAUDI ARABIA: Most of the people who study the region think that if you had a successor government to the regime in Saudi Arabia, it would be more like the Taliban than strong pro-Western people as the Saudis undoubtedly are.

MANN: The radicals did not turn directly on the king, but on the infidels who came to defend him. Nineteen people were killed in the 19996 bomb attack on U.S. personnel at Khobar Towers in Dhahran. It's believed in the West to have been carried out by Saudi extremists, but outside the kingdom, very few people know. The Saudis are widely reported to have stymied a U.S. investigation even as they pursued their own.

And the U.S. forces have since retreated to the Prince Sultan base in a remote stretch of desert south of Riyadh. These are not recent pictures. The Saudi government doesn't want anyone to see the base on TV these days and although 6,000 Americans have been positioned there, it is inviting no others. Saudi Arabia won't let those U.S. troops or their airplanes take part in airstrikes on Afghanistan either.

Saudi Arabia's own armed forces total about 200,000 men to defend a vast area nearly the size of Germany and France combined with the most important industrial resource in the world.

Devout, disaffected and disgusted by their nation's military weakness, some Saudis are ready to follow Osama bin Laden. No one knows how many, but journalist Seymour Hersh says the number is high.

SEYMOUR HERSH, JOURNALIST: Osama bin Laden is probably the most popular person in that country outside the royal family because he represents something that the royal family does not. If he wants to torch those fields -- and this is the worry we have -- he could very easily and then what would we do then.

MANN: "The New York Times" reports that U.S. and Saudi officials now believe that 15 of the 19 men who carried out the September hijackings were from Saudi Arabia.

But the Saudis have said very little publicly about the attacks except to condemn them and condemn as well the airstrikes on Afghanistan that the U.S. is carrying out in response. And U.S. newspapers are full of stories leaked by frustrated officials about the lack of Saudi help in tracking down the hijackers. The stories are regularly denied higher up.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as the Saudi Arabians go and the secretary can comment on this, he's had more recent contact with them than I have. But they've been nothing but cooperative.

MANN: The royal family of Saudi Arabia never publicly says more than it has to. Right now it has good reason to be careful with its words.

Jonathan Mann, CNN.



ANNOUNCER: Matt Lampman from New York, New York asks: "Who makes up the Northern Alliance? What does the Alliance represent?"

HARON AMIN, SPOKESMAN, NORTHERN ALLIANCE: Matt, I should tell you the Northern Alliance or the United Front and is composed of all of the ethnic groups of Afghanistan. And the United Front basically represents about 35 percent of the country in proportion to the population.

The aim behind the United Front's formation was basically five principles: the principle of Islam. Given that Afghanistan is predominantly a Muslim country. The second principle is the principle of international cooperation. The third principle is the principle of political pluralism and democracy. Fourthly, it is the principle of the evolution of power to the local authorities. And fifthly, the right of the people of Afghanistan, including the rights of women, as well as the right to self-determination.

We hope that given the cooperation of all of the segments of the Afghan society, as well as the cooperation by the international community, that we hope in the end, we can form a pro-democratic government in Afghanistan, that will be broad based and multiethnic.


MCMANUS: There have been civilian casualties in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led air attacks. Yesterday, a funeral was held for one woman killed after a bomb that missed its Taliban target landed on her home. Several others were hurt.

Chris Burns reports on the mixed feelings of anger and understanding among Afghans who feel caught in the crossfire.


CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Marzakan (ph) and his wife Kokogol (ph) fled here from their frontline village with their two children a month ago. Now, Marzakan's adopted village is burying his wife, victim of a stray bomb from U.S. airstrikes. Their 4-year-old son was wounded and hospitalized.

"They won't leave me alone," says Marzakan, rejecting interviews with international reporters. "I'm never going to shake hands with those people," he added, "they killed my wife."

More harsh words from an imam. "We are inviting the Americans," he says. "They are bombarding Afghanistan, but we condemn this air strike here." Still, he adds it's because of Osama bin Laden that our people are dying.

At the remains of the shattered mud-brick home, bomb fragments litter the rubble. The clock stopped at 4:25 p.m., when the bomb struck.

A neighbor says he was working on his farm when the bomb hit.

"It was very heavy. It shook the ground terribly," says Shamistan (ph). "I couldn't see anything. There was so much smoke and dust."

The family pictures may have survived, but little else remains unscathed here, including the image of the air strikes.

(on camera): Kokogol was sewing dresses for a wedding party when the bomb hit, the first to strike a Northern Alliance-held village, testing the resolve of Alliance supporters for an extended air campaign.

(voice-over): Mixed with anger and sadness is the will to understand, at least among some villagers, the house's owner for one.

"It was a mistake," says Abdul Metin (ph). "They should not do this. They should know the line between enemies and friends."

The Northern Alliance, which calls itself the United Front, sees the error as one more reason Washington should work more closely with them to target the Taliban.

DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, NORTHERN ALLIANCE MINISTER: We have to coordinate, as I mentioned the other day, that not only these type of mistakes could be prevented but also civilians casualties as a whole.

BURNS: It's not the first time war has struck this village. A Taliban shell destroyed this house -- little consolation for the victims.

And as civilian casualties mount on both sides of the line for the air strikes, the international coalition will face more anger from people like Marzakan.

Chris Burns, CNN, Ghani Khail, Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MCMANUS: These are particularly anxious times for Afghans living in the United States. While they are far from the bombing, they are close to their culture and sympathetic to the millions of refugees who have fled their homes. Family ties and commitment have perhaps never been stronger among Afghans.

CNN's Thelma Gutierrez shares the story of one family's hope and concern.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the comfort and safety of a Los Angeles suburb, Zarmina Khalili and her daughter Zohra watch the suffering of Afghan children, and news of bombs raining down on what was once their homeland.

ZARMINA KHALILI, ABUL'S HUSBAND: They're my people, of course it hurts. And Afghanistan is my land. I was born there; I was raised there. And of course it hurts.

GUTIERREZ: They watch images of desperate men, women and children on videotape, shot in refugee camps by Zarmina's husband Abul.

KHALILI: He's helping his people and he's giving them the supplies like food, medicine, clothes.

GUTIERREZ: The family says Abul has made the trip to Afghanistan eight times to provide humanitarian relief. She believes he is there now, somewhere in the north.

KHALILI: No communication at all, because there is no way that we can have communication.

GUTIERREZ: Abul left Los Angeles more than a month ago. His wife and children last heard from him when he was about to cross the border into Afghanistan.

ZOHRA KHALILI: I'm afraid that he might get killed, but at the same time I know that he's going to make it because he's a very brave man and I'm very, very proud of him.

GUTIERREZ: Once a parking valet, Abul is now the founder of a non-profit charity called Afghanistan Relief Organization. He has distributed donations of food, clothes and medical supplies to refugees since 1998.

ZARMINA KHALILI: He said there's been like times that for 10 days we didn't have food. There's no food, no water, nothing.

GUTIERREZ: Zarmina says these miserable conditions were shot back in March, long before U.S. strikes. The situation now is worse than ever.

ZARMINA KHALILI: "Our homes have been destroyed and we have nothing. And we're just living here under these tents." GUTIERREZ: The plastic tents, jackets and shoes were donated by Afghan Americans, who say it is now harder to enjoy a meal while so many go hungry.

ZARMINA KHALILI: It's very hard. And it's been like three, four days I haven't slept. And I can't eat, because when I eat, you know, I can't -- it just gets stuck in my throat, because I think that all my people, they are hungry there, and God knows what's going on there right now. And I'm really depressed; really depressed.

GUTIERREZ: 14-year-old Zohra says she is haunted by this image of a 13-year-old Afghan girl.

ZOHRA KHALILI: She was very sick. My dad told me she was very, very deeply hungry.

GUTIERREZ: Abul left the girl's side, visited other children, then returned a few hours later.

ZOHRA KHALILI: When he came back, he found her dead. And when I heard that, I was so shocked, and I couldn't believe that girl died.

GUTIERREZ: The stories are echoed from camp to camp.

ZARMINA KHALILI: I feel sorry for them, and I wonder how they -- how they can live like that. You know, it's not easy to live like that. So I keep wondering that, how they can live like that, you know? It's not easy for them.

GUTIERREZ: And it's not easy on Abul's family, either. They grieve for refugees thousands of miles away and they worry about the man trying to save them somewhere in Afghanistan.

This interview was taped in September, right before he left.

ABUL KHALILI: And I always (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Afghanistan, I pray for myself and for my two daughters, which I love, and for my wife and say, "Goodbye."

ZOHRA KHALILI: If he dies, then when I grow up, I will live on his legacy. I will go to Afghanistan and I will do the same thing as he did.

GUTIERREZ: Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Los Angeles.


MCMANUS: That's one American family sacrificing but definitely making a big difference.

Well here's a quick program note, starting tomorrow, tune in to a NEWSROOM special series entitled "The Incas." Join us when we explore their rich history and culture and discover how their legacy lives on today. For a sneak preview and some great educational resources, be sure to log on to As for today's show, we've reached the end of the line. We will see you tomorrow. Until then, we'll leave you with more sights and sounds from Sunday's World Trade Center memorial.






Back to the top