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Aired December 6, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

SUSAN FREIDMAN, CO-HOST: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Susan Freidman.

MICHAEL MCMANUS, CO-HOST: And I'm Michael McManus.

We begin with the three U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan by what's called friendly fire. The special forces members were killed Wednesday north of Kandahar when a U.S. bomb missed its target. The explosion also killed some opposition troops and dozens of others were wounded. The Pentagon right now is trying to figure out what went wrong.


REAR ADMIRAL JOHN STUFFLEBEEM, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: This mission was called in due to the fighting that was occurring between opposition groups and those Taliban forces that were dug in. This is north of Kandahar. The rest of this in terms of how that weapon managed to not fall where the troops intended it to is under investigation.


FREIDMAN: Afghanistan's political future is a bit clearer today. Delegates meeting near Bonn, Germany signed their names Wednesday to an interim post-Taliban administration. As word of the final agreement trickled in to the Afghan capital, Kabul, residents there expressed joy and some disbelief.

CNN's Jim Clancy will bring us more reaction from Kabul in a minute. First, we go to Jim Bittermann who has been following the talks and the mood of the delegates.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It took a deadline set by the German government and an all night bargaining session to finalize an agreement. And not everyone picked for Afghanistan interim administration is even known yet. But the country's short-term political future is now, at least, on paper. And those of us invited to witness the signing ceremonies at this exclusive mountain top guest house, saw not bleary eyes, but down right exuberance among the delegates, who clearly view themselves as the founding fathers of the new Afghanistan.

QAYUM KARZAI, BROTHER OF NEW AFGHAN LEADER: This is the best thing that can happen, we are hoping that we will go forward to the new mission of peace now, the war is behind us.

BITTERMANN: Lakhdar Brahimi, who worked thankless years to bring Afghans to exactly this point, challenged them never to backslide from the commitment made here.

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY: To promote national reconciliation, to protect human rights, establish the rule of law and maintain peaceful relations with your neighbors. Above all, you must serve your people in a democratic, transparent, and accountable manner.

BITTERMANN: It was a message the delegates all seem to have taken to heart. But they have all accepted as well the promise of the developed world that it will now stand by their sides and not, as in the past, abandon Afghanistan to sink to its worst inclinations.

YUNUS QANOONI, NEW INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): The moral expectation of the people of Afghanistan is not only in implementing the provisions of this agreement, but also comprehensive rebuilding of the country, our country, the international community's is expected to have.

BITTERMANN: In the end, analysts said the delegates created a government that is not only an intricate ethnic and political mix, but also includes a number of qualified professionals.

OMAR SAMAD, CNN ANALYST FOR AFGHAN TALKS: What we are seeing here are the beginnings, the signs of nation building again in Afghanistan, after 23 years of conflict, and that may be the strongest message that has been sent.

BITTERMANN (on camera): As difficult as it was to come to an agreement, implementing it may prove to be even more so. But just as the world community has overseen the process so far, there have been many promises here that it will continue to do so.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Koenigswinter, Germany.


JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everywhere you looked, it seemed that Afghans in the capital city were trying to tune in to the latest news about a new government. Actually, few had heard the details. Even when we told them, they had trouble believing.

GHULAM DAREEZ, LAW PROFESSOR: I think that it is very wonderful. And I know people are very happy to hear such a news. But they haven't heard yet such a news that they have reached an agreement. CLANCY: The deal reached in Germany paves the way for a broad- based government the likes of which have never been seen by people here. And general elections: that was like hearing Afghanistan was about to put a man on Mars. But there it was, on the Afghan evening news. And whether young or old, men or women, this was a day to be remembered.

"We're so happy, you can't imagine. You can't even ask us," said this woman. And despite the fact she wore a traditional burka, she was quick to add, "it's wonderful that women are also taking part in the government."

"We're lucky to be getting this chance," said another Kabul resident, "even if it takes six months, a Democratic government is going to be much better for us."

While challenges remain, one of those who's to take up a post in the government says, there is a determination to carry the process through.

DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, FOREIGN MINISTER, AFGHAN INTERIM GOVERNMENT: Now there are questions about implementation of it. I think we are determined. We were determined to make it a success. And no agreement will mean anything without implementation. So it is -- our next job to meet the implementation of it as soft, as smooth as possible. And I don't see why it shouldn't happen smoothly.

CLANCY: The biggest challenge may be the old guard of the Northern Alliance. In an emotional appearance to pray and pay tribute to the charismatic military commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, President Burhanuddin Rabbani seemed to also be paying tribute to men like himself who had spent the better part of their lives battling the Soviets, the Taliban and at times, each other.

While the Northern Alliance still holds key positions in the transitional government, the posts went to the younger, diplomatically savvy circle within their ranks.

(on camera): Afghans want change and they want peace. They realize they need a broad-based government in order to achieve both. The challenge will be making the politicians inside and outside the new government work together.

Jim Clancy, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.


MCMANUS: Since the Taliban lost control of Kabul, the Afghan capital has seen drastic changes. Women unveiled, men clean-shaven and children both male and female now have hopes of education.

Our Jason Bellini spoke with an Afghan teenager who is ready to lend a hand in teaching them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sadika (ph) Almadi (ph) sees her school, and it is her school, as a way out. Out of the fate she refuses to accept, a life knitting carpets.

(on camera): Is it boring?

SADIKA ALMADI, TEACHER: Yes, it's really boring. But what you can do?

BELLINI (voice-over): The Taliban only let boys attend school, and only then to study the Koran, so two years ago, Sadika became a self-taught teacher. She opened her own school for English in her home.

ALMADI: There is the test paper. All of them are test papers.

BELLINI (on camera): You give tests?


BELLINI (voice-over): Boys and girls secretly attended, until the Taliban discovered her, shut her down and beat her father.

ALMADI: And they want to punish me also. But my father didn't let them punish me. He said for the Taliban, I'm proud of me -- my daughter is teaching English.

BELLINI: Her father is proud, but also practical. Has no job, he needs his daughter's help.

(on camera): When you're making carpets, do you dream about things? What do you think about?

ALMADI: I'm thinking about my knowledge, and I always when I knit a carpet, I'm very absent about because I lose my knowledge, and in this situation we have to knit carpet.

BELLINI (voice-over): Under the Taliban, most girls rarely left their homes. Sadikah was no exception. When she wasn't reading, teaching or knitting carpets she would sometimes listen to music or watch movies. Forbidden activities under the Taliban.

(on camera): Did you have to keep these hidden from the Taliban?

ALMADI: Yes, I hide from them.


ALMADI: Under the ground.

BELLINI: Under the ground?


BELLINI: Where under the ground?

ALMADI: On our hall -- yard.

BELLINI: Really, can you show me?


BELLINI: You kept your music where?

ALMADI: Here. Besides the musical cassettes there under the ground.

BELLINI (voice-over): Her courses bring in some income, but not enough to save her from the carpet loom. When she has a little extra money she spends it on books. The expanding horizons of her mind make it that much harder to accept society's expectations.

(on camera): What kind locket?

ALMADI: Gold locket.

BELLINI: From boyfriend.

ALMADI: No, I don't have any boyfriends.

BELLINI: No. Why not? Why no boyfriends?

ALMADI: I don't like.

My parents got me and get -- got.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She says that now I'm engaged by my parents to someone.

ALMADI: But I'm not happy about this. I'm so nervous.

BELLINI: Do you know him? Have you met him?

ALMADI: Yes, he's my cousin.

BELLINI: Have you ever been outside of Kabul?



(voice-over): Sadikah's dreams have no borders.

ALMADI: Also, I like a lot to be a flight attendant.

BELLINI (on camera): A flight attendant?

ALMADI: Yes, because of, I want to travel a lot, and meet interesting people.

BELLINI (voice-over): Teaching makes it all seem possible. Perhaps helping her to forget what's next door to her classroom. The carpet loom. Jason Bellini, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.


MCMANUS: It's been about three months since that new day of infamy, September 11. In that time, war has been declared, fighting has begun and new fears have come to light. Young America's voice has always been a bellwether and it's no different now.

I spent some time with high school students shortly after the attacks, and I invited them back again for some fresh insights about a very different country.


MCMANUS: Hello, I'm Michael McManus.

A couple of months ago, we brought together a group of students from two area high schools to talk about the terrorist attacks. They have been very nice to come back and speak with us again today, and they are from Riverwood High School and Clarkston High School here in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

First off, last time we spoke a couple of you had relatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan that you had not spoken with since the war began. I want to know if you've heard from them or if you've been able to contact them since the war is kind of turning a corner.

ASURA (ph): Well most of my relatives are in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the Northern Alliance has Kabul so we're not really -- we don't have contact with them but we're not that as worried as we were before since they're pretty -- we're pretty sure that they're safe.

MCMANUS: And, Marium, you had a personal story about how some of your relatives had to actually flee the country.

MARIUM: Yes, some of them fled and they went to Pakistan. And they've called us and made us sure that they're all right. But there's a couple of my uncles left in Kabul that we haven't heard of for a long time so we're not sure about how they're doing right now.

MCMANUS: Can you explain to us what it's like to go through that emotion of not knowing? Not very many people here or maybe some of our viewers, too, have an understanding what it's like to have a relative in a war zone, not fighting, but actually just trying to live peacefully.

MARIUM: Right now all we can do is pray, but all we're waiting is for a phone call so we can find out they're OK. But we're sure that things are all right right now.

MCMANUS: Well that's good news because I know there was some concern last time...


MCMANUS: ... we were all together.

Kenneth, the war is winding down, it's turning a corner, what happens now?

KENNETH: I don't -- I see a lot of people being worried about the war, the family members who are gone off overseas in Afghanistan, but I see it be calming down in a sense. I think we're going to return to the way things were. It's going to exist as a current event that we're going to talk about but there's going to be a calm behind it.

MCMANUS: Do all of you feel that the country has gone back to some sense of normalcy since September 11 -- Lauren?

LAUREN: I think we've started to get back to normal, but every once in a while we'll have the warnings and just having us be cautious from the government. And I think that kind of puts it back into our minds that we really do need to be cautious a little bit more than normal. So we get back to normal, but I think there's always kind of -- there's always back in our -- in the back of our mind that there is something we need to be worried about.

MCMANUS: I mean, Shala (ph), is that something you feel, too? Are you a little bit more aware now of your surroundings?

SHALA: Yes, I think, like you know, people like from America, they know they need to be, you know, calm and don't worry about what's happening, you know, to the other people. They do, but they, you know, I don't know, you know, they have to be, you know, calm.

MCMANUS: Calm I guess is a...


MCMANUS: ... very important word nowadays, just to stay calm and ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well I think it's really important to be cognizant of our surroundings, but the purpose of terrorism is to really invoke terror in the people and you can't let that happen or else there'll be a victory for them. So you have to continue to live your life and do the things you would normally do or else it'll be a moral victory for the terrorists.

HALIMA: I think people are going back to normal now a little bit. It's not as bad as it was in September or beginning of October. But, like Lauren said, I think even then, even, you know, a couple of months from now, people are still going to remember and people in the back of their head are still going to have, you know, a little bit of fear, you know, what's next kind of thing. So I mean it's going to go back to normal, but it's not going to be -- I don't think it's going to be like it was in August.

MCMANUS: Halima, do you still talk about it in your school, in your classes on a daily basis? HALIMA: Not on a daily basis, but every now and then we'll discuss like what's going on and what's happening and how everyone feels about it. But you know, we -- yes, my friends -- I talk to -- you know about it to my friends and we discuss, you know, like those that have families back there, you know, we ask them how they feel and if they've, you know, heard anything new from their family members or anything. But you know that's about it. That's about all we talk about.

MCMANUS: So, Halima, for you and Rabbia also, I mean it's more of a personal discussion lots of times more than just a philosophical one?

RABBIA: Well we have -- we talk about it, like she said, sometimes in class. Like our teachers go to the current events and I have talked about it with my friends. And in Pakistan, I have family there and they're fine. We just, you know, make sure everything's OK. They made sure we're OK and we basically understand what's going on.

MCMANUS: Well let's go into a topic we were discussing, do you all feel safe? Last time you were here, I asked you if you were worried about this anthrax threat. You all, for the most part, said no. It's a different type of threat now. Governor Tom Ridge came to the White House podium just the other day and said that we all have to be aware this holiday. There is a credible threat, not a specific one, but a credible one. This is a different type of atmosphere now. I want to get your feelings on that.

WILLIAM: Well both of my parents are within the airline industry and related fields, and I have family members who are in the armed forces and such, and so whenever I get worried or -- about the terrorists or anything like that, it's usually on the home front. Like people like within our country who are terrorists and not even like from Afghanistan or either taking advantage of the situation and stuff. So whenever I feel like there's a threat, it's usually probably going to affect my parents more than me because of the fact that they have to deal with it on a daily basis.

And I don't feel quite so uneasy about going to shopping malls or crowded places and such because I feel that, you know, within our country there are so many of those places and the odds of that specific place being targeted are so small and me in that specific place getting hurt is so small that I don't feel like I have a real reason for it to fear for myself. But my family members are a major priority.

MCMANUS: Haley, are you afraid to go to the mall now?

HALEY: I definitely feel safe. I agree with Will completely. I think that the majority of the places that we went to before, nothing much has changed. There might be a heightened sense of security, like at the airport, but I think, for the most part, things have remained the same. And I think one of the reasons that he gave out those warnings is to keep people aware and like alert, because we kind of have, you know, settled back into our everyday routines since what's happened. And so I think that by reminding everybody that there is -- you know that there are things going on that we need to be aware of has just made people more alert and careful.

MCMANUS: Kenneth, did you want to speak up as well?

KENNETH: I was going to say what Haley has already said that this -- the heightened security in public places is noticeable and it's -- it makes you feel very secure. So going out, there isn't as much -- there's a little bit of worry or a little bit of concern, but for the most part, you see all these security guards and you know that there are new procedures and new restrictions and new rules so it's -- you feel a little bit better about going out.

MCMANUS: Asura, did you want to change your holiday plans or are you afraid to go to the mall? What are you not going to do now that you used to do?

ASURA: My life hasn't really changed as much as -- like I do everything the way that I've done it before, you know. The way I see it is if something is going to come to you, if it's in your fate that it's going to happen to you, it's going to happen. But I'm not really scared about oh if I go to a mall something's going to happen or anything.

MCMANUS: An open question for all of you, what happened in Israel last weekend, suicide bombers, a car bomb in a crowded mall- type area, the United States is known for shopping malls and public places like that, is that something you feel we're going to have to start dealing with? Is that in our future?

HALEY: I spent two months in Israel this past summer, and we have family in Israel and we have spoken to them since the -- since the bombings that went on there. And you know everything there, it is like we were talking about earlier, they've kind of gotten used to things going on, and where America, this is -- you know when things happen, it's a completely new situation for us. But hopefully we won't get to that point that we'll have to just -- it -- have it become an everyday occurrence. We'll just be like oh that's another thing. Hopefully we have enough security and we have enough -- like enough warnings about things going on that we won't ever get to that point.

MCMANUS: Halima, people deal with this sort of thing everyday overseas, we're just starting to have to deal with it now. Is this something that is not going to go away for a long, long time, do you feel?

HALIMA: Well, I'm not sure. I mean personally I don't feel that I have to be afraid to shop at the malls because I'm not afraid of anybody bombing a mall for some reason. I don't know if it's just that sense of security, but I don't think anybody's really going to here. Anyway, I don't think anybody is going to try to bomb a mall. I mean, you know, who would you suspect, right, so I don't think so.

MCMANUS: This is an open question for all of you, how have some of your relationships changed since September 11? How have they changed at all with your parents, with your peers, with your siblings, with your friends, with your schoolmates, your classmates in school that you might not normally talk with? How have some of your relationships changed?

LAUREN: I have a twin sister, but I don't know if this has to do with the current events, but lately we have gotten -- we used to be absolute enemies, we wouldn't speak. If we did speak, we'd be fighting. But probably in the past couple of months, it seems we've been a lot more civil. And it's probably just because we know that we'll be leaving next year because of being a senior and also because of the current events we know that life isn't -- life is too short and anything can happen so that we might as well take advantage of it while we have it.

MCMANUS: A very good example.


HALIMA: Some of my classmates have changed their attitudes towards, I don't if it's just me or just the whole, you know, because Islam people have -- you know had things said or done to them because of what happened. But I've had some of my friends, some of -- some classmates who didn't talk to me before or just I don't know if they didn't know me before or whatever, but now I have people coming up to me and talking to me and ever since that happened. And they're like did you have, you know, any of your family members, you know, back there or, you know, how do you feel about what's going on and now we feel -- I feel like they're more open with me because of the events.

MCMANUS: So they show concern but they also have questions?

HALIMA: Yes, they have questions and they show concern, yes.

MCMANUS: Has anyone else feel that or had some of that -- Marium?

MARIUM: Yes. Me -- my family and myself, we've gotten closer. And they've given me an understanding that I shouldn't be worried and to understand that things are going on on the other side of the world are just more tragic than over here so we should be thankful for what you have and for what you do everyday and...

MCMANUS: There's definitely a bit of different thinking now for many people.

I have one final question for you and that's what will you tell your kids and your grandkids about September 11, 2001?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well this is definitely an event that changed our lives. We all felt we were really -- we were invincible and we weren't vulnerable like the rest of the world, we were America. But we were -- this really showed us that we are just as vulnerable and it's made us -- we have to be careful of how we get involved in other countries. It's made us rethink our position in world events, and it's really changed our lives. It's heightened security. People are worried about the big government getting too involved in our lives, violating human rights, and so we really have to rethink a lot of things about government and our involvement in other countries.

MCMANUS: Kenneth, what will you tell your grandkids or your kids?

KENNETH: I think I would try to explain to them the goodness that came out of such a bad thing. A lot of -- a lot of relationships have changed. There are people out there who want to know more about the Middle Eastern religions. Before this happened, you know, they kind of didn't care about it, but now they want to understand. And I think that's a good thing that people are willing to change their behavior out of all of what's happened recently.

MCMANUS: Marium.

MARIUM: By the time I have kids, I would love to have a chance to take them and go to Afghanistan and visit, because I haven't had a chance to visit so that would be a nice thing, and show them where they're from and their background and everything.

MCMANUS: Their history and...


MCMANUS: ... maybe by then it will be a brand new country with a new government and democracy possibly.

MARIUM: Yes. Yes, everything is going to go back to normal.

MCMANUS: Lauren.

LAUREN: For me, September 11 kind of, like I said before, made me realize that life is too short and that you can't waste time. And hopefully with me living this way, continuing, when I have kids and grandkids, hopefully the way I think about life will be passed on to them. And so just like kind of a lesson that I want them to know that to not -- to not waste time and to just do what you need to do and get it done because you never know what's going to happen.

MCMANUS: That's true.


HALIMA: I think what has come out of this that I would like to tell, you know, future generations is that, like Kenneth said, people have a better understanding of the Middle East, you know their religions, that you know all terrorists are not Muslims and all Muslims are not terrorist, that kind of thing, you know. Because I think ever since that happened, people have been asking questions and they've had things -- programs on TV that, you know, show the true things, not just the stereotypical stuff they put, you know, on the news or, you know, but the true side of, you know, Middle Eastern cultures or religion or whatnot. And I think that that is a positive effect, you know the fact that people know the truth now. You know they know this is -- they didn't -- the people that did this didn't do it because, you know, it's part of Islam and they're Muslims, you know. So I think that's a positive thing that came out of that (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MCMANUS: The war (UNINTELLIGIBLE) been educated. HALIMA: Yes.

MCMANUS: Absolutely.

And one final comment from William.

WILLIAM: I come from an international background and I am totally excited by how the world seems to be uniting against this cause, against how people attack others for whatever reason be it religion, creed, race. And -- but I am also very excited about the stronger sense of nationalism within our country and how people have united under one common banner and one flag, how people have shown their patriotism in many ways as including flags on cars and stuff that seemed tacky at one point has come to be a great sign of how strong our nation is. And I'm really proud to live in a time where people are excited about actually finding the forces of evil and oppression and hatred and it's a good feeling and I'm going to tell my kids that.

MCMANUS: Well the country has definitely bonded, hasn't it, and some would argue the world has.

Well I thank you all very much for coming back with us today. I really appreciate it. And what you have done is really give a voice and some opinion on what's going on today and what's on the minds of America's young. So thank you very much.


MCMANUS: Thoughts and feelings being shared, no doubt, by many people around the world.

And, Susan, one afterthought, our round table included a diverse background of students in both religion and culture.

FREIDMAN: And that discussion will no doubt continue, Michael.

MCMANUS: That it will.

And that is NEWSROOM for Thursday. I'm Michael McManus.

FREIDMAN: And I'm Susan Freidman.




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