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Suspected Terrorists Die in Explosion in Spain; Trump Hosts 'SNL'

Aired April 4, 2004 - 07:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It's April 4. Did you set your clocks one hour ahead for Daylight Saving Time? Well, if you didn't, it's 7:00 a.m. Eastern, 4:00 a.m. Pacific.
Good morning, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We've got a lot coming up this hour. In just a moment, we'll take you live to Spain, following a powerful and deadly explosion at a suspected terrorist hideout. Also ahead, getting your kids unplugged, getting them rather to unplug from all those electronic distractions. It's a challenge, but we'll tell you how and why it's so important.

And the Donald ducks into "Saturday Night Live" for a bit of that funky chicken. What a sense of humor. All that and more, but first the top headlines.

In Iraq, Spanish troops in the city of Najaf were engaged today in a four hour gun battle. Spanish sources tell CNN the troops came under attack on several fronts. The attackers apparently were attempting to free several suspects in custody of the Spanish forces.

Iran says Reuters is making false, baseless, and unfounded propaganda. The news service quoted Western diplomats as saying bomb grade uranium has been found at more sites than the Iranians have declared. The U.S. claims Iran has a nuclear weapons program, but Tehran denies it.

In Tyler, Texas, Deanna Laney reacts to a jury's verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. Laney will be committed to a mental institution. She says he bludgeoned two of her children to death and injured another because God told her to do it.

Check your clocks this morning. If you didn't spring forward overnight, now is the time. Most of the nation lost an hour of sleep as Daylight Savings Time took over for the warm months. We'll regain an hour October 31 when most of the U.S. will fall back.

Our top story this morning, a dramatic and explosive confrontation in Leganes, Spain, a suburb of Madrid. Police were closing in on three train bombing suspects when they blew themselves up, wrecking the building, killing themselves, and a police officer. Our Madrid bureau chief Al Goodman joins us now by telephone with the latest on this investigation -- Al?

AL GOODMAN, CNN MADRID BUREAU CHIEF: Fredricka, I am now in Leganes, this southern suburb of Madrid. I am looking at a scene of destruction. A four story apartment block. I can see right through the building where the explosion has occurred right through the exterior of the building, to what appears to be an interior patio. I'm about a block back. They're still keeping everyone, reporters and people from the neighborhood way back.

The entire flat here in question that took this explosion, you can see right through it. Windows above are shattered. A scene of destruction. Now the interior minister, Mr. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) has must made an appearance. And he has announced that perhaps the most wanted suspect in the case, a Tunisian man, named Sahad Bin Abdel Jamin Faked (ph) has died in this attack.

There may be as many as four suspected terrorists who died, but the news coming out of the interior ministry is that the Tunisian who was considered by an international arrest warrant, Fredericka, to be the leader and coordinator of these attacks who had indoctrinated others around him in Islamic radicalism, who had called for an attack on Spain and specifically in the area of Madrid, to happen, he'd been saying those statements since at least last summer as an expression of jihad. All of this according to the arrest warrant that CNN was able to view a couple of days ago at the courthouse. He is now dead.

There are also two or three other suspected terrorists dead. And there is at least one police officer dead. 12 other police officers have been reportedly wounded. Some of them in serious condition -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: And Al, we're looking at the pictures now of this apartment building. Obviously the damage quite extreme and impressive there. How about the residents of that building? Had they been evacuated in time before this explosion took place?

GOODMAN: It appears, and we're still trying to get details, that the injured do not include neighborhood residents. There had been, as we were reporting last night, talking to you in particular, that the area had been cordoned off and they had evacuated seven apartment blocks.

Now I've just talked to a young couple walking their baby out here on this beautiful Sunday morning in this southern suburb, who said they lived about a block away. They were not evacuated, they said, but they clearly heard the explosion, which happened at about 9:00 local time. And they said it just is horrible that terrorists were living a block from their house -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: And yesterday, Al, police have not revealed what lured them to this location. Are they being a little bit more forthright with that information now this morning?

GOODMAN: We are trying to get further details on what the interior minister has just said. And I'll have to come back to you on that. What he said late Saturday was that it was part of the investigation. But clearly, if they issued international arrest warrants in mid week, and published the photographs of these six people, the Tunisian and five Moroccan men, a total of six widely throughout all the media. They called on people all across Spain. And they listed two emergency phone numbers to give tips to police.

Maybe that paid off. Maybe there was a connection to the failed bullet train bombing on Friday. We don't know but we're trying to get those details -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right, Al Goodman, thanks very much for that report over the phone. So once again now at least three people -- at least four now in all who were killed in that explosion in Leganes, a suburb of Madrid. It's believed that one of those persons was a police officer. And of the three suspects, one is believed to be the suspected leader off the March 11 train attacks in Madrid that killed 190 people. More on that as we get it.

Now turning to Iraq. The ongoing hostilities there have claimed the lives of two more U.S. Marines. And in Najaf, Spanish troops there came under attack earlier today. That battle concluded a short time ago, after four hours of shootings.

CNN's Jim Clancy now joins us from Baghdad with the latest -- Jim?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These are the most serious clashes between coalition forces and the militia or the supporters of a very young and very fiery Shi'ia Muslim cleric, Mutata Sadr. Mutata Sadr supporters believe that Spanish troops of the coalition had taken captive one of his top aide and taken him to a Spanish base. They marched on that base. Chaos ensued.

According to Spanish military officers CNN talked with, they approached the base, tried to break in. They said, according to the Spanish, we were attacked. That was about mid day three hours ago. Now we understand the situation has tapered off somewhat.

I want to show you some of the latest pictures that we have coming in from there. You could see, at times, young supporters of Mutata Sadr firing. You couldn't tell what the targets were, but you could also tell that there had apparently been some casualties on Mutata Sadr's side on -- among his supporters.

According to eyewitnesses and doctors, four people were killed. Dozens of others may have been wounded. As we said, the most serious clashes, but Spanish police telling us that it is now tapering off.

There was really a scene of chaos. We're hoping to get some clarification on all of this. Officials in the coalition telling us now they are going ahead. They're going to have a press conference here in Baghdad in about 3.5 hours. That should clarify hopefully some of the outstanding issues here, including the one, is the coalition holding his top aide, Mustafa Alyakubi (ph)? Perhaps we'll find some answers there.

Meantime, in the capitals, we said there were demonstrations that at least partially blocked off the Green Zone entrances to the coalition provisional authority. Here's how it looked.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CLANCY (voice-over): For a third consecutive day, supporters of a young Shi'ia cleric marched in the streets of Baghdad in a show of defiance. The obvious purpose of the demonstration was to demand that Mutata al Sadr's newspaper shut down by the coalition for allegedly inciting violence against its troops, be allowed to reopen.

But the demonstrations are also encompassing other demands. While Mutata al Sadr inherited a support base from his father, a powerful cleric who was assassinated by suspected agents of Saddam Hussein, he has also become a uniting force for all Muslims opposed to the U.S. led occupation of Iraq.

"Long, long, long live Sadr," protesters changed, interspersed with calls that the U.S. and the governing council are infidels. Some observers think the U.S. made a mistake closing the paper that most Iraqis considered a tabloid that lacked credibility. The perception is the move will depict the young cleric as a victim of U.S. discrimination and enhance his position as both a nationalist and religious leader for Iraqis who resent the occupation.

Sadr has been at odds with the coalition over his fiery, anti- U.S. rhetoric from the pulpit, his maintenance of an armed militia, and most recently, his declaration of support for Hamas and Hezbollah, two militant groups on the U.S. terror watchlist.

Adopting a new tactic, the demonstrators did not just march to the headquarters of the coalition in Baghdad's Green Zone. They blocked traffic in and out of the main gate. Under the watchful eyes of U.S. troops, the demonstrators lay down or sat along the concertino wire, vowing to continue to the protests and put more pressure on U.S. officials.

A casket was brought by the demonstrators to back up claims two of their followers were crushed under U.S. tanks during Saturday's protests, claims denied by Iraqi police in the capital.


CLANCY: Just a few moments ago, I talked with one official in the CPA who told me that those gates are now open. The traffic can flow in and out, although the protesters are there cordoned off in areas, continuing what he described as an exercise in their own freedom and democracy to protest against the action of the coalition.

We'll continue to follow this story from here -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right, Jim Clancy, thanks very much from Baghdad.

Well, what the U.S. new and didn't know about terror threats facing this nation will be the focus when national security adviser Condoleezza Rice testifies this week under oath before the 9/11 Commission. Her appearance before the panel, which the White House had strongly resisted at first, is scheduled for Thursday morning. CNN will be carrying that live.

The calendar says spring, but it's been cold and wet in the Colorado mountains west of Fort Collins. But that's a welcome break for firefighters battling a wildfire. Cloud cover had prevented aircraft from attacking the blaze burning for the past five days now. The Picnic Rock Blaze, as it's being called, has now spread over 8700 acres since starting Tuesday from a residential trash fire. It's about 30 percent contained. About two dozen homes are still considered at risk.

Summer vacation season is fast approaching and many people, especially in California, are reconsidering their plans to hit the road for a getaway. Rising gas prices are to blame.

The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded is at a record high of $1.77. The prices in California top out well above $2.00 a gallon.

We want to know if your vacation plans are being affected by the rising cost of gas. E-mail us at and we'll read them later on in the show.

Can a teacher be fired for refusing to teach alternatives to the evolution theory?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...that exist here cannot have resulted from chance alone.


WHITFIELD: That might become a reality in some states. We'll look at the debate next on CNN SUNDAY MORNING. Plus, what would your kids choose, watching television or hanging out with friends? If TV and video games rule in your family, find out. Well, you may need to unplug your kids. And later this hour, can we call this man one of the biggest success stories in America? Getting there was not easy. A look at Donald Trump's ups and downs still ahead.


WHITFIELD: Seventy-nine years after the scope's monkey trial challenged the teaching of evolution, the topic is again returning to the education agenda. At issue is a new theory that combines elements of both evolution and creationism.

CNN's Denise Belgrave explains.


DENISE BELGRAVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Imagine a law that would fire teachers who refused to teach alternatives to evolution theory, alternatives that have not yet been widely accepted by the scientific community. That's what Missouri's considering, but Missouri isn't alone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Raise your hand, please. BELGRAVE: All across America, local school boards like this one are voting on how evolution should or shouldn't be taught in public schools. Nine states are now grappling with the debate, either through legislation or local school boards. And other states are likely to join the ranks soon.

One reason the debate is heating up is the appearance of a new series, known as intelligent design, which basically suggests...

WES MCCOY, DEPARTMENT CHAIR, NORTH COBB HIGH SCHOOL: Somehow the things that exist here cannot have resulted from chance alone, but somehow an intelligent being must have formed those.

I have heard people say that they're not advocating belief in God.

BELGRAVE: But by not calling that being God, the theory goes intelligent design is not religion. And that's an important point. Since in 1987, the Supreme Court ruled that promoting a particular religion, in this case, the Bible, violated the First Amendment separation of church and state.

Yet others, like John West, of the conservative non-profit discovery institute say the debate has shifted.

JOHN WEST, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, DISCOVERY INSTITUTE: that t here are a lot of -- a growing number of scientists who are raising critical questions about the Darwinian claim. That's one of the most common misperceptions is people think well the only people who are questioning evolutionary theory are doing it on religious grounds.

BELGRAVE: But for those on the front lines, well, they're just trying to make sure it's not the firing line.


BELGRAVE: It's not only that teachers are concerned about being fired. They're very much concerned about making sure that the students themselves have a balanced view of both religion, if they happen to be religious, as well as evolution theory.

WHITFIELD: And this has certainly been a hot topic, of course, in classrooms and in households across the country, but particularly now, this weekend in Atlanta, the National Science Teacher's Association is having a convention. And surprisingly, this is something they're talking about, isn't it?

BELGRAVE: That's right, Fredricka. In fact, at the Teacher's Convention, they had five out of 12 of the workshops were devoted to teaching evolution and issues surrounding that. Legal issues, issues that other teachers have had to deal with. It was a very good workshop.

WHITFIELD: And given it still, obviously, unresolved. We're going to be hearing a lot more about this debate in the classrooms and even the courts, aren't we, coming up? BELGRAVE: I think this is going to end up in the courts. And one of the reasons it may very well end up in the courts is because there is this Missouri bill that is pending, which pretty much all of the teachers believe is going to be challenged if it's passed.

WHITFIELD: All right, Denise Belgrave, thanks very much.

BELGRAVE: Thanks, Fredricka.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...I'm still the same person. And there's just one more thing to overcome. You know, life's full of little obstacles than just to get by all that.


WHITFIELD: After long duty in Iraq, his only hope is to be able to walk again. The story of this hero next on CNN SUNDAY MORNING. And later, are your kids spending too much time playing video games? We'll tell you how to pull them away from their computers and the television screens. We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: And then there were two. It'll be a giant killer. Georgia Tech against the Huskies of Connecticut in the NCAA Men's Final on Monday night. Tech, the team with no well known stars, no special standouts, well they downed Oklahoma State by two, 67 to 65.

In the other Final Four game, Connecticut rallied from 11 points down, to eliminate Duke by a point, 79 to 78. The Blue Devils didn't help themselves when all three Duke centers fouled out. Well of course, they'll be in the dome on Monday night for the final, but San Antonio's such a beautiful city.


WHITFIELD: Well, time for a quick check of the morning headlines. The man suspected of being behind the March 11 terrorist attacks in Spain is dead. Spain's interior minister says the ringleader was one of three suspects who died after setting off explosives as police were closing in yesterday. One policeman was killed.

In Iraq, two American Marines are dead, following fighting in the Al Anbar province. Coalition sources say the two were involved in separate incidents on Saturday. Al Anbar province includes the city of Fallujah and much of western Iraq.

We've heard numerous accounts of coalition casualties in Iraq over the past year, but we don't often hear much about what happens to the wounded afterward.

CNN's Casey Wian has one soldier's story of recovery.


2ND LT. STEPHEN RICE, ILLINOIS NATIONAL GUARD: I've always been an active person, and the prospect of not walking again or being able to run again -- it's rough. It's definitely rough.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Military policeman Stephen Rice is struggling to stay in shape. Six months ago, he was in Baghdad leading a platoon of 33 soldiers teaching Iraqis how to be cops. Three months ago, a roadside bomb shattered everything.

RICE: We were going on shift about 7:00 o'clock in the morning, and I received a call on the radio saying that a soldier was injured in a roadside bombing and they needed help securing the scene. And I was running to that soldier's location, and a secondary device detonated on my left side.

WIAN: The blast knocked Rice to the ground.

RICE: And I knew there was quite a bit of damage there.

WIAN: Since then, he's had numerous surgeries.

RICE: They pulled shrapnel out of my knee and also had to remove a piece of my quad. There's also a scar right here from an operation they did, and there's an entrance and entry wound here on the left side of my ankle, and an exit wound right here. And also, my big toe is missing a middle bone.

WIAN: Rice will be back in surgery again in a couple of weeks, but he's confident he'll not only walk again but run and be able to do the martial arts he loves.

RICE: I'm still the same person, and there's just one more thing to overcome. Life's full of little obstacles, and we just have to get by all that.

WIAN: The bomb may have shredded Rice's leg but not his mind or his determination to stay in the National Guard and become a cop.

Casey Wian, CNN, reporting.


WHITFIELD: We bring you hero stories every on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

Tyco's former CEO and former CFO escapes the guilty verdict for now, but what does the public think about the $6,000 shower curtain and extravagant parties?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone has a $6,000 shower curtain. So that doesn't really bother me too much.


Plus, a jury in Texas decides the fate of the mother who bludgeoned her children to death.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Researchers say they are closer to solving the mystery of why more women than men worldwide suffer from depression. And their findings may surprise you. According to the International Association for Women's Health, about half of all cases are genetic. Estrogen and hormones also get some blame. They cause brain chemistry changes, which can open the door to depression, especially after stress or a traumatic event.

Now researchers have added social bias, a higher rate of poverty, physical and sexual abuse, as well as negative thinking and over thinking. Females are much more likely than men to dwell on problems like criticism or rejection. And that initial sadness can turn into full blown depression.

To lower your risk of depression, doctors recommend staying active and surrounding yourself with friends, as long as they aren't negative thinkers.

Tori Atali (ph), CNN, Atlanta.




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