CNN THE POINT WITH GRETA VAN SUSTEREN
Has Osama bin Laden's Top Lieutenant Been Killed?; Is Al Qaeda Trying to Build a Nuclear Bomb?; How Do Draft-Age Men Feel About the War?
Aired November 16, 2001 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: THE POINT WITH GRETA VAN SUSTEREN. One of the world's most wanted terrorists may be dead in Afghanistan.
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DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The reports I have received seem authoritative.
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ANNOUNCER: Tonight, who he was and what his loss could mean to Osama bin Laden's organization.
In their own handwriting, more hints the terrorists are trying to build a nuclear bomb. Take a frightening tour through an al Qaeda safe house.
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PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM EXPERT: It fits a very discomforting set of patterns of the bin Laden's group.
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ANNOUNCER: It has been an alternative to college, a way up the career leader. But how draft-age men feel about really going to war? We'll ask some.
And a perfect life now in ruins.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a numbing feeling. You're numb through all this.
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ANNOUNCER: CNN's Maria Hinojosa up close with a victim of September 11 terrorist attacks.
THE POINT. Now from Washington, Greta Van Susteren. GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: We have a developing story and what looks like another anthrax letter. It's not new, but it has only now turned up. For details, CNN congressional correspondent Kate Snow joins us from Capitol Hill. Kate, my first question is why are we discovering this letter just now? It was postmarked October 9.
KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, and it's a good question. But here's why, because when they discovered the presence of anthrax in the office of Senator Tom Daschle last month, they then went about collecting all of the mail from Capitol Hill, all the congressional mail that was unopened or had just recently been delivered. They took it all back and they brought it to a warehouse. The FBI and postal inspectors have been looking through that huge pile of mail, and we're told tonight by the FBI that what they have discovered is a letter to Senator Patrick Leahy, in which they believe, "appears," in their words, to contain anthrax.
The letter, again, addressed to Patrick Leahy, a Democrat of Vermont. He is also the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. You see him standing here with the new FBI Director Robert Mueller.
Senator Leahy's office, his personal office is located in a different building than Senator Daschle's office, in the Russell Senate Office Building. And we've just received a statement from Senator Leahy. He says, quoting: "FBI Director Mueller informed me immediately, and I appreciate his call. This is a law enforcement matter and I will leave it to the proper authorities to report what they know and the procedures they are taking," senator Leahy saying in a statement: "I'm confident they're taking the appropriate steps, and that eventually they will find this person," referring to the person who sent this letter.
I should also note that he says: "The leaders did the right thing in isolating the Senate mail," and a spokesman for Senator Leahy telling us that everyone in the office is feeling absolutely fine. Let me now read you from the FBI statement from earlier, speaking about this particular letter, again addressed to Senator Patrick Leahy. The FBI saying: "The as yet unopened letter, addressed to Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, has an October 9, 2001 Trenton, New Jersey postmark, and it appears to be in every respect similar to the other anthrax-laced letters."
According to two Senate sources, the letter -- the address on the letter looked very similar to the letter that was sent to Senate majority leader Tom Daschle. The writing was similar. We're not clear yet whether the return address was the same, but we're told the handwriting was similar. And again, identical postmark, the same date -- this letter was sent on the same date to Senator Patrick Leahy as the letter that was sent to Senator Tom Daschle.
And one final note, Greta, the building in which Senator Leahy's office is located, the Russell Senate Office Building, was closed for a period of time. We're told by the U.S. Capitol Police that there were spot checks done in that building, testing it for anthrax. Back to you, Greta. VAN SUSTEREN: OK, Kate, I'm looking at the numbers. On October 14 was the day that the Daschle letter was discovered. That's a month and a couple of days from...
VAN SUSTEREN: OK. The 15th. All right. Have they -- and they've been going through this pile of mail. Have they now finished going through this pile of mail where they found the letter today for Leahy?
SNOW: My understanding is the FBI and postal investigators have been looking through this pile since about a week ago. I don't believe they're finished, although I don't know for sure.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Our congressional correspondent Kate Snow joining us tonight from Capitol Hill. Thanks, Kate.
There's another developing story this hour, and it may have international implications. U.S. bombers apparently damaged a mosque today in Afghanistan. Let's get the latest from CNN military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon -- Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Greta, it was a Ramadan bombing mistake by the U.S. Air Force blamed on a bomb that had a malfunctioning guidance system. According to the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, the U.S. Air Force planes were dropping three laser-guided bombs on a complex of buildings near Khost, Afghanistan, that were believed to be al Qaeda facilities. Two of the bombs struck the facility, as they were supposed to. The third suffered a guidance malfunction, and missed. The Pentagon says the resulting explosion damaged a nearby mosque.
They don't know the extent of the damage, but they are not aware at this time of any injuries because of this errant bomb. But nevertheless, it's not something that the United States would like to see happen, especially today, which is the first day of Ramadan, the beginning of the Muslim holy month.
Again, though, the United States regrets that they had any bombs go astray. They always try to reduce the possibility of damage to historical sites, mosques and other civilian targets. But the U.S. has also said it will not pause its bombing for Ramadan and give the Taliban and al Qaeda a chance to regroup. And fighting continues in Afghanistan, both around Kandahar and up to the north in Konduz, and U.S. bombing in support of that fighting on the ground is also continuing -- Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jamie, PR in that area is extremely important in this military operation. Obviously, there will be many in Arab world countries who are not going to think this was, quote, "an accident." Does the Pentagon have any sort of plans to sort of counteract the impact it is going to have in that region?
MCINTYRE: I think they're just going to restate what they believe to be the facts here, and that there was a guidance system malfunction, and that obviously the United States would not be in its interest to intentionally damage a mosque.
I'm not sure at this point whether the bomb actually hit the mosque or simply hit nearby, but the U.S. also has made the point that there are Muslim forces fighting on the ground. The Northern Alliance forces, the other opposition groups in the south are Muslims. They're fighting other Muslims. That fighting, that war has not stopped for the Muslim holy month, and the U.S. doesn't plan to stop its bombing either.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon. Thanks, Jamie.
Get out your marking pens. It may be time to cross off one of the names on the FBI's list of the world's most wanted terrorists. But before we get to him, let's consider the mess he and others have left behind in Afghanistan. The latest word is that Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has agreed to withdraw his forces from the city of Kandahar. Between 80 to 100 Afghan tribal leaders have given the Taliban an ultimatum: Surrender within a week, or face an attack by well-armed Pashtun tribesmen from six southern Afghan provinces.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld today confirmed that U.S. special forces in Afghanistan have been involved in combat. He showed reporters a picture of U.S. soldiers riding horses in one operation.
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RUMSFELD: What you have is people are jokingly saying that that's part of Rumsfeld's transportation to the 21st century, and I've got it backwards.
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VAN SUSTEREN: Some things al Qaeda left behind when Kabul fell this week are no laughing matter. CNN's Christiane Amanpour gives us a look at what appears to be sophisticated plans to build a nuclear weapon.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this house, deserted in the Taliban's hasty retreat from Kabul, we found a letter that appears to refer to the events of September 11th. The writer says he has changed his name, and can no longer leave Afghanistan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "You must be aware that I cannot travel anywhere by now, due to what happened in the last operation in America. I am present now in Kandahar with the rest of the fighters."
AMANPOUR: Our Arabic-speaking colleague, Eddie Malouf (ph), helped translate the piles of papers we discovered. Some were written in English.
This letter was sent to Abu Habob (ph), which happens to be the name of one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants. Indicating the presence of terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, the letter says -- quote -- "I am sending some companions who are eager to be trained in explosives, or whatever they want." It was signed and dated January 12, 2001.
We found this house empty, except for these papers in a bag tossed away as garbage. It appears to be detailed nuclear weapons research, some of which could have been taken from material that is already in the public domain. The Arabic handwriting says "the biggest bombs." When we flipped through the photocopied handwritten pages, we found references to Uranium 235. Next, in English, the words "nuclear," "atomic bomb," and then "TNT," and finally...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here, specifically, mentions how to make a nuclear bomb.
AMANPOUR (on camera): While we were scouring this now abandoned house, we came across this picture on the wall. These are the falls of Igwasu in Brazil, and this is where U.S. intelligence officials say they've identified terrorist cells that they say are linked to Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network.
(voice-over): We also found an 82-page training manual that says it's published by the Al Qaeda World Committee for Recruitment. Here's another carefully handwritten tract that instructs how to hijack and blow up airplanes and other facilities, including bridges, towers, railways and ships.
And in the shed of this house, we found all sorts of chemicals, like sodium oxide and nitrates that experts say are used in explosives.
(on camera): All the documents were found in this neighborhood. It used to be Kabul's diplomatic quarter, but when the Taliban took over, this became home to their Arab guests.
(voice-over): Northern Alliance commanders have taken over one of these homes, where we found pamphlets on how to, quote, "liberate Saudi Arabia from American influence," as well as an open letter from bin Laden to the Saudi king.
"The Arabs came here speaking of Islam," says Commander Mohibullah (ph), "but they deceived the Afghan people as they went about their own work of terrorism and fighting."
Although Osama bin Laden has expressed interest in weapons of mass destruction, U.S. and other officials say it's unlikely al Qaeda has the capacity to build them. Still, so many documents in so many homes indicates at least a deep interest in all manner of terrorist activity.
Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Kabul.
VAN SUSTEREN: CNN's team on the ground in Kabul says at least one of the al Qaeda houses visited by CNN and other news organizations yesterday was cleaned out overnight. While the houses are still full of trash, all the interesting documents have been removed. CNN military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre has confirmed U.S. forces have been on site.
There are 22 men on the FBI's list of the world's most wanted terrorists, but if reports out of Afghanistan are correct, the number can go down to 21. CNN national correspondent Mike Boettcher has word of the death of one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants.
MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was the third man, the man seen alongside Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda's number two, Ayman Al-Zawahiri. Like them, he was wanted by the U.S. government, indicted for his role in the 1998 embassy bombings. And like them, he was believed to be directly behind the September attacks.
Mohammed Atef, 6-foot-4, carried the nickname "el Kabir," the big guy. In al Qaeda, he was indeed big, not just in size, but in power. As director of al Qaeda's military wing, U.S. authorities believe he was the master planner of terrorism operations. His rise to the top of leadership of al Qaeda came suddenly. Analysts believe that it was propelled in part by Atef's role in the 1993 fighting in Somalia that left 18 American soldiers dead.
MAGNUS RANGSTORP, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: He was really no one. And he was propelled into someone who was tremendous importance in the organization as the head of the military command.
BOETTCHER: But it was the January marriage of his daughter to Osama bin Laden's son Muhammad that sealed Atef's position as bin Laden's successor. His death will be a double blow for al Qaeda, losing its expert in planning terrorist attacks and disrupting the orderly transition of power in the terrorist organization in the event of bin Laden's death or capture.
This al Qaeda organization chart, derived from information obtained by coalition intelligence sources and civilian terrorism experts shows Atef's position, along with Ayman al-Zawahiri, as a top figure in the organization's governing council, known as the Majlis Al Shura.
Of the various departments of al Qaeda, his military wing was considered the most powerful. The new successor to bin Laden, according to coalition intelligence sources, could come from one of the three other departments that were recently revealed to CNN by a coalition intelligence agency.
The Security Department, which protects bin Laden, is directed by the number four man in al Qaeda, Saif Makawi, who coalition intelligence sources believe would likely ascend to al Qaeda's leadership position if bin Laden is killed or captured.
Ayman Al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's number two, is the group's ideological force and has no aspirations to run the organization, according to an Egyptian reporter considered one of the Middle East's top al Qaeda experts.
MOHAMED SALAH, AL HAYAT NEWSPAPER: It is said that Ayman al- Zawahari was always away from the spotlight. He didn't like to be in the picture. He didn't talk to the media. He didn't give statements with his name.
BOETTCHER: The Pentagon believes bin Laden is still in Afghanistan. But what of the other top al Qaeda leaders?
BOETTCHER: The bottom line is, coalition intelligence agencies just aren't sure, but on September 11, in the days that immediately followed, they did see evidence of small planes flying from Afghanistan to Somalia, another place consumed by chaos, with plenty of places to hide -- Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mike, if Muhammad Atef is the -- or was the master planner of terrorism operations for the al Qaeda network, now that he is dead, or apparently we believe he's dead, what does that do to the terrorism operations? Is that a significant sign that the operations have been hurt?
BOETTCHER: Well, the sources who are very familiar with al Qaeda operations tell us that those operations already set in place have been put in place able to operate without the heads, so to speak, of al Qaeda, but future operations, if they wanted to sustain more operations in the months and years ahead, it will be a great blow. And the other great blow is, it throws into question the whole matter of succession in al Qaeda.
VAN SUSTEREN: And speaking of succession, Al-Zawahiri, who is number two, the doctor, in your piece you said he has no aspirations to lead the al Qaeda network. Why not?
BOETTCHER: Well, he's always been the behind-the-scenes man. Muhammad Atef actually was a protege of his and studied under Al- Zawahiri when they were members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, or al Jihad, in Egypt. And so, he was always kind of showing deference to Al-Zawahiri. But Al-Zawahiri is the ideological person. He's the force.
I guess if you want to look at it, look at the old structure of Iran, and you had the political side and people running it there, and then you had the ayatollahs, who were the real power, and the ideological power. And that's kind of how it breaks down in al Qaeda, frankly, that Al-Zawahiri is a person behind the scenes who provides this ideological force, but other people are usually in charge and running things.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mike, what do we make of this treasure trove of sort of chilling information CNN and other news organizations have discovered? What does it mean? I mean, what's the signal to us that all this chilling information is in their possession? BOETTCHER: Well, the bottom line is, they wouldn't be making a nuclear bomb in a house in Kabul, probably, but it's interesting that -- that they were studying this in class work, and studying all sorts of things according to our people on the ground -- how to use anthrax, mustard gas, nuclear weapons, how to blow up bridges and other things.
And so, it indicates a really broad-based terrorism education system that we really didn't know existed. We knew they had the camps in certain locations, and once you gained expertise in one camp and they saw you had some talent in some area, let's say chem-bio, they'd move you to another camp. What we didn't realize was the broad nature of this education going on, and it looks like it was going on in a lot of places.
VAN SUSTEREN: But you take the education, you still got to take the education, there's still got to be some product associated with it. Is there any evidence -- looking at the materials that with this education they intended to take mustard gas or even anthrax or anything else or nuclear weapons, did they have places targeted?
BOETTCHER: Hard evidence? We don't have the mustard gas, we don't have the anthrax produced by al Qaeda or the nuclear weapons, but coalition intelligence sources tell me that they are sure that al Qaeda has chemical and biological, but they aren't so sure about nuclear, and that the likely scenario there would be a dirty bomb, not a bomb that would create a nuclear explosion, so to speak.
VAN SUSTEREN: As always, Mike, thanks a lot. Mike Boettcher from CNN center in Atlanta.
ANNOUNCER: Coming up on THE POINT, why are wanted terrorists living openly in London?
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Britain is understandably reluctant to extradite anyone to a country where if convicted they will be executed.
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ANNOUNCER: When THE POINT continues.
VAN SUSTEREN: For more on what the latest developments in Afghanistan mean for the U.S. war on terrorism I'm joined by CNN national security correspondent David Ensor. David, I want to talk first about the bombing Pentagon says accidental bombing of a mosque on the first day of Ramadan.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. A very unfortunate piece of news. It'll resonate through the Middle East in a very negative fashion, I think you can be fairly sure about that. And it will not be positive news in the United States either. It's the kind of news that the Pentagon tends to put out after the network news broadcasts are over on Friday night.
VAN SUSTEREN: And is that what happened tonight? I mean, they waited until at least appears until the network news is over, and then?
ENSOR: You know, motives I don't know, but it didn't come out until just after those network broadcast had run. Obviously, people are very, very unhappy about the fact that this happened. I know that, as Jamie McIntyre reported, nobody wants this kind of thing to happen, but it does from time to time. There is an element of news management to the way the news comes out sometimes.
VAN SUSTEREN: Muhammad Atef, number three in al Qaeda. Can you give me any more details on how he died?
ENSOR: I can tell you that the understanding is that he died in these air strikes that were just south of Kabul. So it was very close to the capital city. And the way the U.S. found out about it was that after the air strikes, there were people all over the wreckage, obviously looking for survivors or whatever. And some of these people were using communication gear of some sort, whether it was radios or telephones of some sort I don't know, but anyway, those communications were intercepted, and that's how they found out this man was dead.
Now, this, of course, is going to immediately start -- if the number three man is dead, if it's possible to kill the number three man in al Qaeda, then the question comes, can they get bin Laden, and where is he. And there'll be a lot of pressure now to try and find him.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know what I'd be curious about is, I would be very interested in going over his surroundings, the communication gear, everything. If he's number two or number three, whatever he is, you would think there may be a link back to number one, Osama bin Laden, unless they're very clever in covering their tracks. So maybe there are some clues as to where bin Laden is.
ENSOR: There may well be. There may also be clues in those houses that we heard Christiane Amanpour talk about, and the materials there. You can be sure that U.S. intelligence is heavy on the ground in Afghanistan at this point, on the ground, human intelligence, as well as the usual surveillance and eavesdropping that's done. There's a lot to be gleaned from opportunities that are opening with the fast movement of troops and the fast apparent collapse of the Taliban.
VAN SUSTEREN: We talk about fast movement of troops, what's the latest on the military action? Summarize where we are.
ENSOR: OK, in brief. There's basically fighting in two places now that matters. In Konduz in the north, and in Kandahar in the south. Kandahar, of course, the ancient stronghold -- not ancient, the stronghold of the Taliban. It's where Mullah Omar comes from, and there are a lot of forces gathered in that place. Some reports -- some of them may be leaving. And certainly days ago, there was a large group leaving to the southwest, I was told. In Konduz, some of the most fierce fighting that's occurred so far has been going on there. And they are -- there -- there are several thousand hardened non-Afghan forces. These are people from Pakistan and from the various Arab states that are, as one official put it to me, "fight to the death types."
VAN SUSTEREN: David Ensor, thank you for the update tonight. Appreciate you coming.
They live in London and hate the West. Just ahead, why are they walking around free.
VAN SUSTEREN: Recapping two of this hour's breaking stories, the FBI says a letter addressed to Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont appears to contain anthrax. Handwriting on envelope is similar to other anthrax letters. And like the letter to Senator Tom Daschle, it was postmarked October 9 in Trenton, New Jersey.
The Leahy letter has been kept in a holding facility and was only discovered today. The Capitol police say they will close the Dirksen and Russell office buildings tomorrow for further testing.
And in another developing story, the Pentagon says an off-target U.S. bomb has damaged a mosque in Afghanistan. The extent of the damage and any possible injuries are not known. The accident happened on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. That could spark a very negative reaction across the Muslim world.
Much of the whole world is tracking terrorists. And what do you suppose happens when the suspects turn up? In London, they go about their business.
CNN's Diana Muriel explains why.
DIANA MURIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wanted in Yemen on terrorism charges, accused by Saudi Arabia of advocating the overthrow of the kingdom's ruling family, convicted in Jordan for inciting terrorist acts. Despite what Middle Eastern countries say is clear evidence of extremist links, these men have lived openly in London for years, denying any terror connections. They either have been given political asylum or outright British citizenship over loud objections from Middle East governments.
NABIL OSMAN, EGYPTIAN PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN: Some of them were granted political asylum. Some of them were granted free passage. Some of them just moved around freely. And there was no action taken. And those were the masterminds. And those are the financiers.
Only now when America asks for drying up financial challenge for those terrorists, the international community is a bit more active.
MURIEL: But London has a proud history as a safe haven for political dissidents. And Britain and European law prohibits extradition of anyone facing a death sentence.
GEOFFREY ROBERTSON, ATTORNEY: The death penalty is of enormous importance. Britain is understandably reluctant to extradite any one to British citizen or any other citizen, to a country where, if convicted, they will be executed.
MURIEL: Yet in the face of mounting pressure, Britain is now retooling all its asylum, refugee, and extradition policies, often seen as cumbersome. The American authorities want four people accused of terrorist activities tied to Osama bin Laden, extradited to the United States. Three of them were detained back in 1999 after the U.S. embassy bombings in Africa.
Their lawyers are still fighting the case before the House of Lords. The other, Abu Dohar, was indicted in New York, just days before September 11 for allegedly masterminding the plot to blow up Los Angeles Airport in 1999. It could take years before he is extradited.
The government was also particularly embarrassed by claims that up to 15 of the September 11 hijackers moved through London on their deadly mission. It's expected to announce tough new anti-terror laws.
Laws that may restrict the activities of, or even imprison men like 40-year-old Palestinian Abu Katada (ph), a preacher of militant Islam. He lives in this West London house and has received taxpayer income support. But the U.S. Treasury Department recently froze a bank account it has linked to Katada (ph). And tapes of his speeches were found in the Hamburg, Germany apartment of suspected hijacker Mohamed Atta.
(on camera): Whilst associates of Zacarias Moussauoi have told CNN that the would-be pilot, arrested in Minnesota, just a month before the September 11 attacks, was also impressed with Katada (ph) and probably had gone to hear Katada (ph) preach at this rundown, north London community center.
(voice-over): In a rare TV interview at his house with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Katada (ph) said he didn't know any of the suspects tied to his name. Denies media reports that he knows bin Laden, and rejects Jordanian claims that he orchestrates terror attacks. But his message to all Muslims is clear.
KATADA: We teach them religion. And religion requires them to live the life of Muslims and not the life of those who are not Muslims. In turn, it is the duty of a Muslim to live by Islam, and not to be subjugated or enslaved by the lives of others, America or the others. Islam must be lived as it is, without mixing with others. That is what I preach.
MURIEL: So why did Katada (ph) seek refuge in Britain then?
KATADA: I could go to an Arab country. If I could have gone to one, I would have. I came to see the state that wasted the land of my forefathers in Palestine. MURIEL: Other radical scholars under scrutiny here include Egyptian Abu Hamza, who runs a mosque in north London. His two sons were arrested in Yemen, while allegedly trying to carry out terrorist bombings. And Saudi dissident Muhammed al-Masseri. Al-Masseri talked to CNN in the days after the September 11 attacks, but was careful to remain inside British law, even while admitting he tells followers they can take up arms.
MUHAMMED AL-MASSERI, SAUDI DISSIDENT: If you have something to wage war for, then you go into the battlefield. For example, Kashmir, there is nothing to be done here. We know Britain is the one who give birth to both Pakistan and India and Kashmir. And the mess is partly British done and mediated. Fine.
But that is not be settled here. You're unqualified there. Not yet. As long as you're here, you're at the realm of a queen. You have a passport or you have an exceptional need to stay. You have to keep the peace.
MURIEL: But one dissident, Egyptian Yasser al-Siri (ph), has been caught in the widening anti-terror net. The 38-year-old has lived in London since 1994. He fled here, after being convicted in absentia by Egypt's military court, for his role in the attempted assassination of the prime minister. He now stands accused in Britain of conspiring to murder former Northern Alliance military chief, Ahmed Shad Massoud, who was assassinated in Afghanistan on September the 9th. Al-Siri's (ph) supporters agree he is a harsh critic of Egypt, but say emphatically, he is no terrorist.
(on camera): Since September 11, the government here has been under enormous pressure, from allies, from opposition parties, and from the British media, to do something about the perception that Britain remains a safe haven for terrorists and their supporters. But with so many of the September 11 hijackers having transited through London, and so many people already here suspected of terrorist links, it would be hard for Britain to lose the stigma of a terror port of call.
Diana Muriel, CNN, London.
VAN SUSTEREN: It used to be America's young people were asked to join the army and "be all that you can be." But are they ready to be in a fight? That's my next point.
VAN SUSTEREN: They are "an army of one," "the few, the proud, the brave." Young men and women who want to "accelerate their lives." The military's recruiting slogans are geared to attract people who want to make a difference in their lives. But how about going into combat?
Since September 11, it has become a real possibility. Are the nation's young people really ready to go to war? Let's ask four of them who e-mailed me recently.
Phillip Sklar is 17 and in Chicago. 23-year-old Seth Moulton joins us from Boston. In Philadelphia is 18-year-old Garrett Lloyd. And in Denver is 22-year-old Brian Anderson.
Phil, first to you. Would you go to war? Would you volunteer to join this military action?
PHILLIP SKLAR, 17 YEARS OLD: Yes, I definitely would volunteer to go war. And I'd be proud and honored to go to war for our country. Both of my grandfathers fought in World War II for the United States of America. And I'm proud of what they did. And I would definitely be willing to go to war, especially after I've seen the buildings fall and the planes crash into the Pentagon, it put sort of a fire into my heart that makes me want to fight back for our country and make our country proud.
VAN SUSTEREN: Phil, you're a senior in high school. Are you going to enlist upon on graduation? Or are you go on to school or work?
SKLAR: No, I plan to go on to college, but if my country calls me, and I'm drafted, then I will be very willing to go to war. I hope go to college and hope to get a degree. And after that, I hope to get a job. But if my country calls me, then I'm willing to fight for my country and defend the freedoms and the liberties that we have today and that my grandparents fought for.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Garrett, what about you? You're 18- years old. Would you join this military action?
GARRETT LLOYD, 18 YEARS OLD: Actually, no, I don't think that I would. I don't believe that war is necessarily the appropriate solution to what's going on.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you wouldn't enlist. How about if there were a draft and you were drafted, would you serve then or would attempt to get out.
LLOYD: No, I would try to fight the draft if that was the case.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you opposed to this current military action in Afghanistan?
LLOYD: I don't believe that it's been legally declared as a war. So I'm opposed to it in that sense. I just don't think it's the right way. I mean, it creates more violence than -- in the long run than anything else.
VAN SUSTEREN: Seth, you've just graduated from Harvard, 23 years old. What about you? Would you -- are you going to enlist?
SETH MOULTON, 23 YEARS OLD: Yes, definitely. In fact, I already have. I just recently signed the papers for the Marines. And I expect to go to officers school in January.
VAN SUSTEREN: And why'd you do that?
MOULTON: Well, I made the decision a while before September 11. I think it'll be a tremendous experience. I'll have challenges and opportunities that I wouldn't have anywhere else in my life. But much more than that, I look forward to serving alongside other people just like me. You know when you see other people your age, doing such important work, it kind of makes me want to be a part of that effort.
VAN SUSTEREN: Brian, prior to September 11th, would you ever have contemplated a life in military? And since September 11, would you be willing to serve?
BRIAN ANDERSON, 22 YEARS OLD: Yes, actually before September 11, I did contemplate joining the Navy. I decided against it. But now that this is happened, you know, if the country ever did institute a draft, I'd be more than willing to fight for it. And at that point, I think I would volunteer.
VAN SUSTEREN: Garrett, I don't mean to put you on the spot, but you're the only one who's not interested. Is there anything that would convince you, that perhaps, to change your mind, and to get involved in this military action?
LLOYD: Not as long, as it was illegal in my mind. And if we were be attacked and there were troops in America, I would gladly fight. This is my country and I love it. But I'm not going to go and fight to further corporate interests and, you know, further political gains.
SKLAR: I feel we already have been attacked when the planes sliced into the World Trade Centers, and when the Pentagon was burning up, that was an attack on our nation.
LLOYD: That was an attack, yes, it was, but I believe that we created this problem for ourselves 20 years ago. If we hadn't deserted Afghanistan after the Soviet occupation, maybe they wouldn't hate us so much.
VAN SUSTEREN: Seth, go ahead.
MOULTON: Well, I was just going to say, you know, I think that's the case, but you know we really, this is a commitment that needs to happen now. You know, we can talk a lot about what we wish we did in the past and the kind of world we'd like to have for the future, but this is not just a question of what we want for tomorrow. It's a question of what we're willing to do today. And we have to be courageous and committed, just like the terrorists.
VAN SUSTEREN: Brian, the question of being courageous committed, people go off to war sometimes don't return. Does that cross your mind?
ANDERSON: It absolutely does, Greta. And I think that anyone that says that they wouldn't be afraid to go to war is lying. You know, the prospect of it is something that I never really wanted to happen with my life, and certainly wish that it doesn't. But if it does, if the country needs us, that's something I'm more than willing to do.
VAN SUSTEREN: Phil, we only have about 10 seconds left. What about the thought of going to war and possibly dying?
SKLAR: Possibly -- it's obviously a realistic possibility, but when we do things that we feel in our hearts there's always a consequence. And that is one of the possible consequences that we'll just have to deal with.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, gentlemen, thank you very much. I appreciate all of your viewpoints tonight. My thanks to Phil Sklar, Seth Moulton, Garrett Lloyd and Brian Anderson.
Why is the fight against terrorism so important? Stay with us and get up close to one of its victims, next.
VAN SUSTEREN: Here on THE POINT, we are trying to put a human face on the consequences of terrorism. Tonight, CNN's Maria Hinojosa takes us up close to a stay-at-home dad who has become a stay-at-home widower.
MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a gorgeous fall day in New York City, but Jimmy Alario isn't feeling much of anything.
JIMMY ALARIO: It's like a numbing feeling. You're numb through all this, and you still can't believe it, and you just keep doing it, you just keep doing what you got to do.
HINOJOSA: What can you really feel on the day when you're going to pick up an urn with ashes, ashes that maybe, just maybe include some of Jimmy Alario's wife?
ALARIO: It's just like somebody took a hand grenade and blew up your family.
HINOJOSA: The ashes are supposed to be some remains of Peggy Alario and thousands of others, and of buildings, planes and rubble. Out on this lonely pier, the city keeps them in boxes and provides grief counselors and forms to apply for aid.
ALARIO: My opinion is, I don't know if that's Peggy. It could be the terrorists in there that destroyed everything. That's one of the things I look at. And I don't want the terrorists to be on my mantelpiece in my house.
HINOJOSA: For two months since his wife died, Jimmy says he's just been going through the motions. It's hard because Jimmy Alario once had the perfect life. Two healthy boys, family vacations, a mother who adored her sons, a dad committed to raising them.
ALARIO: She was the main breadwinner. And she made a lot of money. And we made a conscious choice, myself and my wife, that I would stay home and raise the kids.
HINOJOSA: So for her boys, James and Dante, there were many loving little notes for the days and nights that Mommy was away on business as an executive with an insurance company.
For people who might not understand the importance of why you want to find something of Peggy, what's that about?
ALARIO: Well, it's bad enough that I'm going to be alone now. You know, and you don't want to go forever without being with her at all. Even when you die, you want to be buried with somebody. You know, you're going to be alone in life and alone being buried, it's going to be a terrible thing.
HINOJOSA: On Staten Island, the day-to-day job of this stay-at- home dad is still pretty much the same, take care of the boys, feed them, school them, but the big salary Peggy used to bring in is gone. There's money out there to help him, but who has energy to chase those dollars at a moment like this?
ALARIO: You can't be grieving and crying all day and then expect to make 10 phone calls, jump in a car and drive to Manhattan, fill out forms, talk to people. Besides the guilt that you feel that money has to be talked about at the same time as death and try to get money because of this death is heartwrenching.
HINOJOSA: Peggy Alario was a vibrant woman who put herself through college. Her dad never made enough in his construction work to do that for her, his sweet daughter Peggy, his life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My life is gone. Forget about it. I'm -- it is. I have no fun no more. I can't laugh. I can't enjoy life. That's it. I'm gone.
HINOJOSA: You're in pain?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I am. Yes, I am.
HINOJOSA: What do you say at night when you go to sleep?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't sleep. I don't sleep. I lay awake all night, thinking of my daughter.
HINOJOSA: So instead, he goes to this pier with his son-in-law, in hopes of finding closure in a small black box.
HINOJOSA: What are you thinking about, as you're getting ready to go inside the pier now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What am I thinking about? That I shouldn't be here. No one should be here. It shouldn't have happened. That's what I'm thinking about.
HINOJOSA: In the end, there is a semblance of closure for Peggy's father and her husband, but not from the ashes. ALARIO: I think I cherish the flag more than the urn, because to me now, I didn't know they were give us this flag, to be honest with you. So this is like she was my hero now. And now I have a flag that she's a hero.
HINOJOSA: To her family, hero, daughter, mother and wife.
Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.
VAN SUSTEREN: THE POINT will return with more after a break.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what a wonderful day it was at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport. It was perfect weather to stand outside with about 10,000 other stranded travelers. The whole airport was shut down and evacuated after a security breach. Some guy ran past security, down an up escalator and into the bowels of the airport.
They did not track him down until a little bit ago. He said he'd forgotten his camera bag and was rushing to catch a plane. He has been arrested. Among those stranded, one of Georgia's U.S. Senators Max Cleland. He was on his way to Savannah to talk about, you guessed it, the airport security bill approved by Congress today.
By the way, congratulations to the members of Congress for giving us that new airport security bill. Now there at least seems to be a crackdown on our nation's airport security problem.
Tonight's final point, you are out! Sort of, but not really. Remember Argenbright Security? The company that provides security at airports such as Logan, Newark, and Dulles? Well, they have just been barred from working at Logan Airport in Boston because of felony convictions, probation violations, and continued lapses of security at the Boston airport.
Sounds like Boston is getting tough on security, doesn't it? Well, you decide after I tell you the following. Despite having its license suspended, Argenbright will stay on the job at Logan Airport. How can that be? The firm can appeal the decision at a hearing November 30, and can continue to staff security checkpoints until then, so Thanksgiving holiday travel won't be disrupted.
Well, maybe you don't care, because your holiday travels won't take you through Logan Airport. But let me tell you one other thing, current Argenbright workers are the most likely candidates for the company that replaces Argenbright at Boston after the holidays. My point, I don't know the exact reason for the security lapses at the Boston Airport, whether it is the Argenbright management or the workers or both, but I do know that this new arrangement will not instill greater confidence in the security at Logan Airport.
Let me know what you think about the government's plans for airport security. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. That's one word, askgreta.
I'm Greta Van Susteren in Washington. Have a great weekend. And next, Senator Dianne Feinstein and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell are among the guests on "LARRY KING."
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