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CNN Newsroom

Aired November 26, 2001 - 04:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

SUSAN FREIDMAN, CO-HOST: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM for Monday. I'm Susan Freidman. Joining us this week is my friend and colleague Sharon Frame.

Welcome, Sharon.

SHARON FRAME, CO-HOST: Thank you, Susan. It's awfully good to be with you.

We've got a lot to tell you about, including an update on where the Taliban stand in Afghanistan and a look at what may lie ahead for the nation's political future.

FREIDMAN: And "In our Headlines," a major scientific breakthrough draws heavy criticism. I'll tell you more later.

First, we focus our attention to Konduz, the Taliban's last northern stronghold. Northern Alliance forces say they've entered the city but are meeting resistance from Taliban forces. Also Sunday, a holding camp near Mazar-e-Sharif became the sight of a deadly Taliban uprising. Taliban soldiers claiming to surrender apparently smuggled weapons into a holding compound then opened fire. Hundreds of people are reported dead. The Pentagon strongly denies reports that a U.S. serviceman was among the casualties.

CNN's Alessio Vinci is in Mazar-e-Sharif with the story.

Teachers, you may want to prescreen this report.


ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The revolt took place inside the highly fortified compound occupied by Northern Alliance top General Abdul Rashid Dostum. Eyewitnesses say some 400 Taliban fighters who had surrendered the day before and were brought here seized weapons and began shooting.

Trapped inside the fortress, hundreds of Northern Alliance fighters, two television news crews, from Reuters and Germany's ARD, along with several U.S. special forces, here to advise the Northern Alliance on military affairs. (on camera): What is happening?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a prison uprising.

VINCI: How did they get the weapons?


VINCI (voice-over): The gun battle lasted several hours, with Northern Alliance fighters searching for armed Taliban, preventing them from leaving the area. Witnesses say hundreds were killed, some executed as they tried to escape from the gates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We control the north end of the fort, the south end of the fort is in their hands...

VINCI: U.S. military advisers communicated with the outside via satellite phone, giving an early assessment of the situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is hundreds of dead here, at least, and I don't know how many Americans are here. I think one was killed, I'm not sure.

VINCI: This U.S. military adviser called for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just need help to free this place up. We need to have a -- and again, we can't hit it from the air.

VINCI: The Air Force did strike, at least nine times, according to eyewitnesses, with precision-guided missiles. The Northern Alliance moved in its tanks. Some of the wounded soldiers ran for cover and escaped from the fortress, followed by the reporters and this U.S. military adviser.

The Taliban who revolted were mainly foreign fighters from Pakistan, linked to the al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden. They were brought to this compound as part of a deal to surrender the city of Konduz five hours away from here. They had all been searched for weapons. Personal items, such as copies of the Koran and hand grenades, were confiscated.

On Saturday, one blew himself up, killing three Taliban and two prominent Northern Alliance commanders, a warning sign that their surrender may have been part of a plan to give themselves up and stage a massive suicide mission. None could have expected to survive the uprising.

Alessio Vinci, CNN, Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan.


FRAME: United Nations-backed talks on forming a post-Taliban government are set to get underway on Tuesday. Various delegations will attend the meeting to be held in Bonn, Germany. Now the topic of discussion, how Afghanistan should be run and by whom.

For a preview of this week's meeting and its significance, we go first to Tom Mintier, then to Bettina Luscher.


TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These men have seen plenty of change in Afghanistan over the years, most of it bad. They are all members of the Ahmed Zia (ph) tribe of Afghanistan, Pashtuns all. The tribe counts among its members more than five million Afghans. None of these people will travel to Germany for the U.N. meeting, but its outcome will affect everyone sitting here. They have traveled from all over Pakistan for this one-day meeting, a few hours sitting in the sun listening to speeches, praying for a better future for Afghanistan. There are no weapons here. Only two guards have guns, one at the back of the meeting, the other watches over a cemetery.

"We want to express our support," he says, "for the process in Bonn and also for the United Nations for their efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan."

The aim of the Bonn meeting is to form a broad-based government, but some fear that just how the government is formed could be a recipe for problems.

RIFAT HUSSAIN, POLITICAL ANALYST: When it comes down to the brass tacks of proper (ph) sharing, who gets to control which ministries. I think once you have that kind of a debate taking place then you will have all kinds of differences cropping up.

MINTIER: Pakistan has called on the United Nations to send in peacekeepers to Kabul. Now its president feels the political process comes first.

GENERAL PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: We see that the future of a political arrangement lies in this process and the backing up of this process by the world community.

MINTIER (on camera): Pakistan would still like to see a U.N. force or an Islamic force to keep the peace in Afghanistan but after a government is formed, exactly what is being attempted in Bonn. But no one seems quite sure of the timetable and when or if politics replaces the rule of the gun in Afghanistan.

Tom Mintier, CNN, Islamabad, Pakistan.



BETTINA LUSCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An Afghan king comes visiting. Back in 1963, Zahir Shah to his (ph) West Germany at the height of the Cold War. Germany is divided by an iron curtain. Afghanistan is at the doorsteps of the feared Soviet Union, but a neutral country and Bonn is looking for good friends in faraway places.

CITHA MAASS, GERMAN INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL AND SECURITY AFFAIRS: What is hardly known is that there are about a hundred years of very good relations between both countries. They date back to the early beginnings of the 20th century when there was still the German emperor in Germany and he and the Afghan king established the first relations.

LUSCHER: Today, the Kaiser is long gone, but Germany is still a desired destination for Afghan leaders, even if the frail king can only send envoys to Bonn.

JOSCHKA FISCHER, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We are glad and honored to be the hosts for this meeting and what we can do, we will contribute.

LUSCHER: Germany has already spent $45 million this year in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and is promising another $70 million.

MAASS: The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) emphasized about three months ago that, as even before events of September, that the German government, and especially the Foreign Ministry, should really concentrate on Central Asia because of these many conflicts burning there.

LUSCHER: At the U.N., they appreciate the German role.

FRANCESC VENDRELL, U.N. ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN: But I do think that it is fitting that Germany -- we are going to have a conference in Europe, it should be in Germany because there are -- there is a core of German intellectuals and German academics who are extremely knowledgeable about Afghanistan. There are many Afghans living in Germany, and the German -- the German government is currently the head of the -- chairing the Afghan support group.

LUSCHER: That support group is to lead the effort to raise billions of dollars to help rebuild Afghanistan.

(on camera): Some 90,000 Afghans have fled the violence and taken refuge in Germany. It's the largest Afghan community in Europe. Many refugees hope this conference will be a first step towards peace in their homeland.

(voice-over): One more reason Bonn was chosen, the conference site. The Petersberg Hotel, which has hosted scores of summits, it sits on top of a mountain and can easily be sealed off from curious journalists and more importantly, possible terrorists.

Bettina Luscher, CNN, Bonn.


FRAME: Since taking over the Afghan capital of Kabul, the Northern Alliance has recovered a wide range of evidence linked to the Taliban.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour brings us a closer look at some of the items found and what it may say about Arab and al Qaeda influence on the Taliban.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Northern Alliance intelligence officials bring sacks full of documents to Kabul, everything from passports to notes on poisons and killer gases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We took the documents from the al Qaeda security headquarters in the center of the town of Jalalabad. The Taliban gave them this building.

AMANPOUR: The latest discoveries include passports from all over Europe as well as the Arab world. Officials say they may have been stolen and used as forged travel documents. The cache also includes immigration and visa stamps from Italy as well as Pakistani embassies in Jordan and Syria, perhaps stolen or fake. In addition, British Airways tickets for travel November 24, 2000 from Pakistan to Sweden via London. One of the travelers appears to be a Swedish woman.

Handwritten notebooks similar to those found in al Qaeda houses in Kabul describe poisons like risin (ph), 0.35 grams is said to be the lethal dose for adults, a third that amount for children. It's said to kill within three to four days. The list goes on to include poison gases, how to prepare and use them, the affects of mustard gas, sarin, botulism.

In a basement prison cell here, this man was captured as Kabul fell. He says his name is Osama Abu Kavier (ph). He says he's Jordanian, spent two years in the army and recently came here to join the jihad against America.

"My aim was to train and shake (ph) Osama bin Laden's camp or with any other group," he says.

This is the Rishcor (ph) military barracks near Kabul, suspected of being bin Laden's biggest training camp in Afghanistan and home of the 055 Arab Brigade. Here Northern Alliance commanders show us the tank and heavy weapons they captured. They also show us what they describe as a noose where they say the Arabs hanged hundreds of prisoners. The family of the anti-Taliban leader Abdul Hock (ph) believes that he was hanged here after being captured on a mission into Afghanistan shortly after the U.S. began bombing.

(on camera): It looks like the Americans bombed this base many times, and even local residents say they believe this was an Arab training camp because although the Taliban had closed this place off, residents say they often saw Chechens, Pakistanis and other Arabs come and go.

(voice-over): "Everyone could hear the sound of firing 24 hours a day," says Aticola (ph) who lives nearby. "The noise was so loud you thought there was a war going on."

Since the fall of Kabul, Northern Alliance soldiers say they have uncovered firm evidence that the Taliban invited in all sorts of radical Islamic groups from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, all over the Arab world and beyond. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They needed each other. Al Qaeda could not operate without the Taliban and the Taliban was dependent on al Qaeda.

AMANPOUR: For example, officials say this map of Saudi Arabia was printed by al Qaeda. It shows U.S. interests in the region and it calls for jihad. It was found in the Taliban Ministry of Defense. And it is almost identical to the map on a book by Osama bin Laden which also calls for holy war against the American presence in Saudi Arabia. At least one defiant holy warrior says from his prison cell that the fight against America will continue.

"Like me, there are hundreds of thousands who wish to do harm to America," he says. "I'm telling you, the problem of America is not with Osama bin Laden, he is a symbol. Their real enemy is the Muslim nation. You will soon see with your own eyes the fall of America."

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Kabul.


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

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

FREIDMAN: Now to the other major story we are following. Scientists at a biotech company in Massachusetts have reportedly been successful in creating a human embryo through cloning. The Massachusetts biotech firm had been working on the project for the past several months. The researchers hope the finding could mean treatments for diseases like Parkinson's and diabetes, but the discovery comes with plenty of controversy.

Rea Blakey has the first of our two reports.


REA BLAKEY, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A human clone has been created. It's not a walking, talking, human being, but a bunch of cells. And the company responsible for it, Advanced Cell Technology, says it's the dawn of a new era in medicine.

MICHAEL WEST, CEO, ADVANCED CELL TECHNOLOGY: We could use cloning technology, all the promises that it has, not to clone human beings, but to apply it to cells.

BLAKEY: CEO Michael West says his company's goal is to clone human embryonic stem cells as replacement cells to one day treat diseases like diabetes, cancer, AIDS, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. But critics say the fact that human cloning is one of the techniques used to produce the potentially regenerative cells creates serious ethical problems.

DR. JEFFREY KAHN, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY BIOETHICIST: That's the real concern, is that the same technique that could be used to make embryos for stem cell research purposes could also be used to make them for reproductive cloning purposes. And we have no way to prevent that from happening.

KEVIN FITZGERALD, PRIEST AND BIOETHICIST: The issue is, once the technological information gets out there, the question is what are people going to do with it?

BLAKEY: Though Advanced Cell Technology's multi-celled embryos resemble human blastocysts, the first stages of life, West insists his company is not cloning humans.

WEST: We're talking about making human cellular life, not a human life.

BLAKEY: Still, the company's findings, published this week in scientific journals, provide a controversial recipe for cloning a human.

WEST: The potential benefit for human lives, people suffering from Parkinson's and diabetes and spinal cord injury, and this long list of disorders that could be cured using this technology, you know, we felt that it's so much more urgent to rapidly go and try to help these people who are sick.

BLAKEY (on-camera): Advanced Cell Technology says it could be 10 years before we see any practical application of this cloning technology in medicine.

Rea Blakey, CNN, Washington.



KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush, through a spokeswoman, criticized the creation of the first cloned human embryos, the aide telling CNN, quote: "the president has made it clear that he is 100 percent opposed to any type of cloning of human embryos."

Lawmakers were also quick to express concern.

From the right...

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: I think what we have to do is think about, where does to lead us.

WALLACE: ... and from the left. SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: It goes over the line in dealing with the natural order of things if it is being done simply to perpetuate another human being. But I think that we're talking about medical research.

WALLACE: It is already against the law to use taxpayer dollars to clone human embryos. And the White House believes Congress should go further and outlaw human cloning outright.

Listen to the president this summer, when he backed federal research only on already existing embryonic stem cell lines.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I strongly oppose human cloning, as do most Americans. We recoil at the idea of growing human beings for spare body parts, or creating life for our convenience.

WALLACE: The House of Representatives voted this summer to ban human cloning and make it a criminal offense subject to prison time and fines. Now the administration says the Senate should do the same, but senators caution against any rush to legislate; and some advocate a compromise approach.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: We in the Senate have to draw that line so it's a reasonable line, so we can continue medical science and breakthroughs without crossing that line into something none of us want to see.

WALLACE: But other lawmakers worry about even allowing human cloning for scientific research.

SHELBY: All of us are very interested in biomedical research; we benefit from it. But this is a slippery slope, we better be careful.

WALLACE (on camera): It is not likely Congress will act this year, since the agenda is dominated by September 11-related issues. And even if Congress eventually imposes a ban, lawmakers of both parties believe that human cloning will still go on, either illegally in the U.S., or overseas.

Kelly Wallace, CNN. Hagerstown, Maryland.


FREIDMAN: Today we begin our series "The Other Side of Africa." Throughout this week, we'll introduce you to a fascinating, yet often overlooked, side of this area of the world.

NEWSROOM correspondent Rudi Bakhtiar journeyed to Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Africa and Mali to uncover a new perspective on the world's second largest continent.

Only Asia is bigger than Africa which comprises more than 30 million square kilometers and covers about one-fifth of the total land surface on earth. Africa's other global claim to fame is that it's only one of two continents that straddle the equator. From Cape Blanc (ph), Tunisia in the north to Cape Agulus (ph), South Africa in the south, the African continent stretches about 8,000 kilometers in length. At its widest point it spans an equally impressive 7,400 kilometers. Africa is comprised of 53 independent states and nearly 800 million people speaking more than 1,000 different languages call the continent home.

We will begin our tour of "The Other Side of Africa" at the continent's southern most tip, the Republic of South Africa. Bordered by two bodies of water, the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the Indian Ocean on the south and east, South Africa is nearly twice the size of Texas. Its neighbors to the north include Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland.

Though considered a developing country, South Africa's transport, energy, communications, legal and financial sectors are very well developed. Its stock exchange ranks among the 10 largest in the world. One of the top reasons for South Africa's economic advances is the nation's abundant supply of natural resources and one of those resources is valued higher than all the others.

Rudi Bakhtiar reports.


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It sparkles, it glitters, it dazzles. Renowned for its natural beauty, the diamond is also the hardest natural substance known to man. Worldwide demand for this unique gem's brilliance and durability has brought tremendous economic benefits to those nations that draw it from the earth and help get it to the market. Africa is the world's richest continent for diamond mining and South Africa is where it all started.

BRIAN ROODT, DE BEERS CORP. AFFAIRS MANAGER: If one puts it in historic context, the first diamond officially found in South Africa was discovered in 1866. That was at Hope Town on the banks of Orange River about a hundred kilometers south of Kimberley. The local mines here in Kimberley were discovered around 1869 to 1871, and with the discovery of the diamonds here in the Kimberley area, the whole evolution of modern industrial South Africa as we know it really began. It was followed, as your viewers might well know, with the discovery of gold, but it was diamonds that came first.

BAKHTIAR: Between 1872 and 1908, South Africa produced more than 97 percent of the world's diamonds. Mining for both diamonds and gold became the foundation for the nation's rapid economic development.

ROODT: Prior to the discovery of diamonds, South Africa was essentially an agricultural outback and ships plying between Europe and the East used to stop here to replenish their supplies. But there was very little beyond primarily agriculture so it was the discovery of diamonds that really triggered the development of the modern industrial South Africa.

BAKHTIAR: If diamonds helped put South Africa on the road towards economic progress, then De Beers can take credit for drawing the map on diamonds. Founded in 1888, the De Beers Group held a monopoly over the world's supply of diamonds for more than 100 years. Today, its monopoly diminished, De Beers is still the largest diamond mining company in the world.

ROODT: In South Africa alone, we employ in excess of 10,000 people. We pay significant taxes to the country. We generate enormous taxes for the country and the employees that we employ obviously are also paying taxes. We occupy significant areas of land in the areas where we are mining and we pay rates and taxes on that as well. So there is a major contribution to the economy of South Africa.

BAKHTIAR: De Beers is headquartered in the remote South African city of Kimberley where most of South Africa's diamond operations are concentrated. Considered the historic capital of the worldwide diamond industry, Kimberley owes its existence to the precious stone.

ROODT: There were originally five operating mines in Kimberley. Of those five, two have already ceased production. The world famous Big Hole, which was also known as the Kimberley Mine, closed down in 1914. The De Beers Mine, after which the company was ultimately named, closed down at the end of 1990. So we still have three operating mines here in Kimberley. They are the oldest and deepest underground diamond mines in the world.

BAKHTIAR: But while diamond mining has a proven record of accomplishing great economic good, as in South Africa and neighboring Botswana where De Beers also has business interests, it has also been the source of horror elsewhere in the continent.

In countries like Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone, control over diamond mines has been intertwined with civil wars, wars that have fueled countless human rights abuses and atrocity. Diamonds from those countries are known as blood diamonds or conflict diamonds.

The diamond industry says these stones only account for up to 4 percent of the market, but human rights campaigners say the actual number could run as high as 15 percent. So against a backdrop of finger pointing and a potential threat that customers would stop buying diamonds if they didn't know where they were from, De Beers and the larger diamond industry agreed to take action.

PETER MOETI, DE BEERS PRODUCTION MANAGER: The measure we've taken basically is to make sure that we are not selling or even buying any diamonds which the money of will be used by the rebels to go buy arms and hurt or even kill people at the end of it.

BAKHTIAR: De Beers also supports a plan for global certification of all rough diamonds. It's an initiative being worked out by participants in the Kimberley process, an intergovernmental forum mandated by the United Nations.

MOETI: If everyone is concerned about what is happening in terms of conflict diamonds and insists on a certificate of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) before doing a transaction in diamonds, that will further and even marginalize (ph) people that dealing in conflict diamonds that they will run out of people to sell to.

BAKHTIAR: The objective, allow customers to obtain the entire history of any diamond, where it was mined, how much it weighed originally and where it was cut. Yet difficulties remain.

ROODT: If one has a large parcel of diamonds or a pile of diamonds, which we call a run of mine parcel, then it is possible to look at the general characteristics of that parcel and say, yes, these look like they come from a particular area. But if one took a single diamond from that parcel and looked at it in isolation, it wouldn't be possible, and this is part of the problem and the difficulties that one has in establishing a so-called order trail with the whole issue of diamonds from conflict areas.

BAKHTIAR: Another concern for De Beers, preserving its presence in South Africa for generations. To that end, the company is planning to build a new plant in Kimberley. Without it, the city would face a complete halt in operations by the year 2003.

ROODT: We have managed to extend the life of the underground operations for another 8 to 10 years. And it is the intention also that we will start to treat all the dump material that one sees around the city and that means that Kimberley is going to continue producing diamonds for the next 35 to possibly even 45 years which is very exciting for the local economy.

BAKHTIAR: Full production at the treatment facility is expected by the middle of next year. In the meantime, the search for diamonds goes on and South Africa counts its blessings and its bounty thanks to this dazzling product of nature.

Rudi Bakhtiar, CNN, Kimberley, South Africa.


FREIDMAN: Tuesday on "The Other Side of Africa," a Rwandan success story. We'll introduce you to a man who succeeded against the odds to obtain the most useful tool of all, knowledge. Find out how he's using this tool to heal his homeland.

FRAME: And that's coming up tomorrow. Until then, I'm Sharon Frame.

FREIDMAN: And I'm Susan Freidman -- goodbye.




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