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Bush Administration Links Islamic Jihad to Tel Aviv Bombing; BTK Suspect Appears in Court; Teens Who Will Change the World

Aired March 1, 2005 - 15:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: At the top of the news this hour, a developing story for you, as a Bush administration official says the U.S. government has firm evidence linking last Friday's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv to leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group that is based in Syria.
CNN's John King joining us with details that are likely to heat up White House pressure on Syria.

It really is all about putting pressure on Syria, isn't it, John?

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, miles. A senior Bush administration official telling CNN that the United States government has firm evidence that a Damascus based organization called Palestine Islamic Jihad is responsible.

The official says the U.S.' evidence is that leaders of this Damascus-based organization not only authorized, but were actively involved in the planning of last Friday's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, four people, I believe, killed in that bombing. It threatened to disrupt recent momentum, the Palestinians and the Israelis beginning to have a dialogue about resuming the peace process.

So, the Bush administration pointing the finger today at this Syrian-based organization. And as it does so, this comes on the heel, of course, of considerable pressure already by the Bush administration on the government of Bashar Assad of Syria, the administration just yesterday reiterating its demand that Syria should immediately withdraw all its troops and all its intelligence forces from Lebanon and allow a new interim government in Lebanon to schedule free and fair elections, as the White House puts it, free of any outside interference.

The administration, including today from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, also complaining about what it calls Syria's blessing, at least implicit blessing, of support for the Iraqi insurgency from within Syria's border. So now the U.S. saying it has firm intelligence. It will not say what that intelligence is are, but it says it has firm intelligence that this Damascus-based organization is responsible for authorizing and planning the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, this following a long list of complaints that Syria for a long time has allowed Hezbollah and other terrorists organizations to operate within its borders.

So, look for even more pressure on the Syrian government from the Bush administration at a time, Miles, as you noted, that pressure already quite considerable.

O'BRIEN: Well, John, the momentum is growing, but also there is a sense of consensus here. It's not just the U.S. going it alone this time. I assume that is very key to the strategy here.

KING: It is key to the strategy.

The government of France, which has long-term interests in Lebanon, working very closely with the United States on this issue. There's some talk about going to the United Nations Security Council for additional international sanctions on Syria. The Bush administration has already imposed some sanctions, the United States against Syria. It could go back and impose more. Officials here say they are waiting now to see what Syria does next, especially about the issue of Lebanon, pulling it troops out as soon as possible.

President Assad quoted in a "TIME" magazine interview today saying that he will pull all of Syria's troops from Lebanon within a few months. That is a deadline that is not likely to be met with satisfaction here at the Bush White House. They want this done right away, Miles.

O'BRIEN: CNN's John King at the White House, thank you very much -- Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now the Michael Jackson trial and a tantalizing hint to the jury. With testimony now under way, a defense lawyer suggests that, before it's all over, the king of pop music could take the witness stand.

As he concluded his opening statement today, the attorney told the jury on several occasions, "Michael will tell you." First witness called, journalist Martin Bashir. The prosecution is showing the jury parts of his documentary, "Living With Michael Jackson." In it, Jackson holds hands with the 13-year-old boy he's accused of molesting.

O'BRIEN: A federal judge's family is shot dead in her Chicago home and now police and the FBI are investigating. Police say U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow returned home to find the bodies of her husband and her mother in the basement, both shot in the head. Police say they are exploring every avenue, including the possibility the killings could be linked to one of Judge Lefkow's cases.


DET. JAMES MALLOY, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: There is much speculation about possible links between this crime and the possible involvement of hate groups. This is but one facet of our investigation. We are looking in many, many directions, but it would be far too early to draw any definitive links. The case is too new and the evidence is still being worked up. It is also too soon to determine a motive.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: Judge Lefkow presided over a trademark infringement suit involving a white supremacist, Matthew Hale. Hale was later convicted of trying to have Judge Lefkow killed for her handling of that case. Now, he is awaiting sentencing and is in jail. Police did not mention Hale today and again said all leads are being pursued.

PHILLIPS: A community terrorized for 30 years by a string of murders got its first look today at the man police say is the BTK killer. Dennis Rader, a Cub Scout leader, father of two, appeared in court hours ago in Wichita, Kansas. The DA in the case commented on the proceedings just a short time ago.


NOLA FOULSTON, SEDGWICK COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I can remember the feeling of being a young woman -- I was only in my late 20s at that time -- and feeling the unraveling or the unnerving feeling of potential of even being a victim.

And so, following this through the years, and then having something or somewhat of a relief in the community, and of course these allegations being filed at this time, it's been also an historical adventure in essence for our community to then after 30 years have this occur.


PHILLIPS: Now for details on the hearing, here's CNN national correspondent Bob Franken.


BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is routine, but in this case, of course, it was not routine.

Dennis Rader, who's charged with being the BTK killer, charged with 10 murders over a period of several decades, was having what is called a first appearance. He was appearing via video link-up in a courtroom to have the charges read to him, 10 of them, also to have bond set. It was set at $10 million, also to have an arraignment date set, a preliminary hearing date set. That was set for two weeks, although most attorneys say that's probably going to slide as various motions are filed, including almost certainly one for a competence test and another one to determine whether there should be a change of venue, something, by the way, which has never occurred here.

The public defenders office was appointed as the defense attorney, but there's been no comment yet from anybody with that office. He was represented by another lawyer today. But the case was really brought to full focus when the 10 charges were read against him, and then the judge had a question for Rader.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you understand that you're charged with 10 counts of first degree murder?

DENNIS RADER, DEFENDANT: Yes, sir. FRANKEN: Rader was appearing in court after his arrest, following many decades in which the BTK killer terrorized this area. Many attorneys say it would be impossible for him to get a fair trial here.

Bob Franken, CNN, Wichita, Kansas.


O'BRIEN: In Florida, authorities searching for a girl who lived -- lives on the Gulf Coast missing now for five days, report about 1,000 leads, But so far none of them solid; 9-year-old Jessica Marie Lunsford vanished from her bedroom Wednesday night. Sheriff's deputies say they don't believe she ran away.

State-trained search-and-rescue teams have replaced hundreds of volunteers looking for her. Atlanta Braves Pitcher Mike Hampton and his wife have offered a $25,000 award. There are other awards as well. The Citrus County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone with information on Jessica Lunsford's whereabouts to call these numbers, 352-726-1121 or 352-726-4488.

PHILLIPS: In a 5-4 ruling today, the Supreme Court tosses out one death sentence and changes national standards for imposing it on minors. The case involved a man sentenced to death for a murder he committed at the age of 17.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, "When a juvenile commits a heinous crime, the state can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic liberties, but the state cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity." The ruling invalidates death sentences of some 70 death row inmates who were under 18 at the time of their crime. And it means states won't be allowed to seek the death penalty for minors in the future.

O'BRIEN: Well, the tyrant is long gone, but the interim government that took Saddam Hussein's place is guilty of some of the same abuses that occurred under the former regime. In its annual report on human rights abuses, the State Department says that, although the interim government reversed a long legacy of serious human rights abuses, serious problems do remain in Iraq, including arbitrary arrests, detention and torture.

South of Baghdad today, mourners began the somber task of burying those who died yesterday in Hillah, the single deadliest insurgent attack since the fall of Saddam Hussein. At least 127 died in that attack. Nearly as many were wounded. Tomorrow has been declared a national day of mourning for the Hillah victims.

There is heightened concern one terrorist mastermind may be enlisting the help of another in planning attacks on the U.S. U.S. intelligence has intercepted what is believed to be a message from Osama bin Laden to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Government officials tell CNN the message encourages al-Zarqawi to expand operations outside of Iraq. Well, three die in a shoot-out outside a Texas courthouse. And it's all caught on tape. Up next on LIVE FROM, the dramatic video of a lone gunman on a shooting spree.

PHILLIPS: Plus, it might be the end of the search for BTK, but officials say more serial killers are out there. Ahead, an unsolved case that still mystifies many people.

O'BRIEN: And later, terrific teens, two youngsters with the will to help people and the passion to change the world.


O'BRIEN: Captured and charged. Kansas authorities are hailing the arrest of the man they allege is the infamous BTK killer. With one possible serial killer off the streets, several others continue to elude authorities.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve takes a look at one particularly daunting case.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He called himself the Zodiac and used a distinctive circle and cross insignia to identify himself. In the late 1960s, he killed at least five people in and around San Francisco.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that he's -- it appears to us that he is killing just for the thrill.

MESERVE: On October 11, 1969, the Zodiac shot cab driver Paul Stine at this intersection. Bob Kendrick lived nearby.

BOB KENDRICK, SAN FRANCISCO RESIDENT: It was nerve-wracking that night with all the sirens. I don't think anybody expected him to strike here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Paul Stine's shirt.

MESERVE: The Zodiac later sent pieces of Stine's blood-stained shirt to the news media, part of an ongoing communication that was sometimes conducted in code. The last letter verified as authentic was sent in 1974, more than 30 years ago.

Communications from the Washington snipers and the Unabomber provided clues that led to their capture. The last thing an investigator wants is for communication to stop.

GREGG MCCRARY, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Perhaps they're in prison. They're locked up. One example, they could be dead, which is something that it's kind of the investigator's worst fear, that an offender has died, because it becomes very, very difficult then to solve -- solve the given case.

MESERVE: In fact, the lack of new leads was a factor when police decided to close the Zodiac case in 2004 without an arrest.

Many infamous serial murderers have been caught. Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker, was convicted of committing 13 murders in Los Angeles in the 1980s. In 2003, Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer, pleaded guilty to murdering 48 women in the Pacific Northwest. However, McCrary believes there are others out there.

MCCRARY: I'm sure there are serial killers operating now that have not yet been identified as serial killers.

MESERVE: Not identified because investigators have not connected the dots.

JIM TRAINUM, HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: We are really good at identifying serial cases if they occur within a very short time period, such as weeks or months and in a very small geographic area. It's when they become more spread out, both in time and space, that we really stink.

MESERVE (on camera): The FBI has a database intended to help identify serial killers, but participation is voluntary. And local police have entered only a fraction of the violent crimes committed. Some investigators simply don't believe it will help solve their crimes, although, in some cases, only the big picture gives the whole picture, grisly as it may be.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


PHILLIPS: Well, the scene of last week's shooting spree in Texas, the Smith County Courthouse in Tyler, has reopened its doors. Newly released tapes from a security checkpoint camera and calls to 911 tell the chilling story of Thursday's terror.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Automatic weapon, he is at the back door shooting at these people.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh, they're still shooting.



PHILLIPS: Police say gunman David Arroyo Sr. shot and killed his ex-wife. A bystander who had grabbed his own gun and confronted Arroyo was also killed. Four other people were wounded before the gunman fled that scene. Police gave chase and Arroyo was eventually killed in a gun battle with police.

O'BRIEN: Well, with all the ugly incidents in the news today, if you need a little something to lift you up, we've got it, a young man who is reaching out to people half a world away, an American teenager and his mission to help the people of Uganda. You will be amazed at what a difference one person can make. His story is straight ahead.

Please stay with us.


PHILLIPS: Well, usually when you pick up "Teen People" magazine in your local grocery store, you see young celebrity heart throbs like Chad Michael Murray or Lindsay Lohan gracing the cover. But this April, you are going to see something a little different. Alongside those famous faces, you're going to see and meet an extraordinary group of real teens. They're passionate activists and creative thinkers who have been selected as "Teen People"'s 20 teens who will change the world.

Two of them join us today. Alex Hill and Clotilde Dedecker are with us from New York.

Great to have you both.


CLOTILDE DEDECKER, "TEEN PEOPLE" HONOREE: Great to be here. Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Well, we want to get in all kinds of good stuff.

So, Dedecker, let's start with you and talk about your project in Afghanistan. How did you get the idea and what inspired you?

DEDECKER: Several things inspired me. I've always been interested in international public policy.

So, after September 11, Afghanistan was kind of thrust into media spotlight. And I was continually hearing the horror stories of, you know, women and girls under the Taliban.

I myself am a student at an all-girl school and I was absolutely outraged and, quite frankly, horrified by the fact that, under the Taliban, women and girls had been denied an education. I think it's a natural right that every human being deserves. So, really, it was those stories that were the initial inspiration.

PHILLIPS: Tell me how you raised the money and what it was you created in Afghanistan.

DEDECKER: Well, we raised money. I founded a coalition of six of the all-girl schools in my Western New York area, hometown area. And we have been meeting for two and a half years now to raise funds, as you said, for the girls in Afghanistan.

We've done it a number of ways, dances, car washes, bottle drives, bake sales, you name it. And we have been extremely successful. We've completed school No. 1 in Kandahar, the Zarghona Middle School for Girls. PHILLIPS: And we have pictures of that right now. As we look at these pictures from the groundbreaking to some of these beautiful students, I mean, have you had any communication with any of these girls? Have they said anything to you? Have you had a chance to talk or write with them or anybody there?

DEDECKER: We have not yet had initial communication. I mean, as you can see now on the screen, I've been able to kind of see the school via these photographs, which are, as you said, beautiful.

Hopefully, in the near future, we will be able to have contact. It's most definitely a goal of the coalition.

PHILLIPS: Well, it's incredible, as we look at these kids for the first time. Because of you, they're getting an education in a brand new school. It's awesome.

DEDECKER: Oh, thank you.

PHILLIPS: Well, Alex, let's talk about you. You have a totally different are project. Yours was over to Uganda. Tell us how you came up with this idea. Tell us about the idea and what happened.


Well, first, I met an African priest who visited my parish in -- back in Grand Lake, Michigan. He offered African drum lessons. And I thought that would be interesting. So, I went and he taught me. But he also taught me about the great need of basic medical care over there and also their need for emergency transportation.

So, that was about the time I was thinking about my Boy Scout Eagle project. And I asked him what I can do to help, because I wanted to choose a project that would really make a difference in the world and something that would benefit him.

PHILLIPS: And so you raised money. Tell our viewers about what you did with regard to medical care there, because you've learned a lot about AIDS in Uganda. You actually went over there. So, tell us what you brought to these kids.

HILL: Well, the money I raised, the $67,000, we wired that over there. And while I was there, we ordered the ambulance at the Toyota dealership, because it's a Toyota Land Cruiser that's converted into an ambulance. And in some of the pictures you have there, we took little matchbox ambulances for the kids.

PHILLIPS: So, what did the kids say to you when they saw you walk up? Here you were standing in front of all of them. How did they interact with you? What did they say to you?

HILL: Well, there's a bit of a language barrier, because they were still young, so they were learning English. But English is the national language. So they're in the process of learning it.

PHILLIPS: Well, I love how, when you go and you speak with certain groups now, you bring this cardboard cutout of this priest who made such an impact on you. Tell me where you take this and why you carry it around with you.

HILL: Well, I thought it would be a good idea to ask people to host Father Joseph in their home, business, classroom or at any other special event, and so that they can maybe easily -- more easily learn about the need in Uganda.

Then the cutout would come with a suitcase, as he stays overnight with you. And there would be a video of him explaining why they need the ambulance and a book with pictures and information about Uganda and the health care over there.

PHILLIPS: Well, it's absolutely amazing, what you two have done.

Clotilde Dedecker and Alex Hill, not only have you made changes in Afghanistan and Uganda with your projects, but I'm counting on both of you to somehow change our world in an even greater way as you get older. Will you promise me that and come back to CNN, say, in 10 years and tell me what you're doing in the world?

DEDECKER: I'll try.

HILL: Definitely.


PHILLIPS: All right, we're counting on you. Thank you both.


PHILLIPS: Miles...


O'BRIEN: Let's put them off on a split with us, if you could just briefly.

PHILLIPS: All right. OK.


O'BRIEN: Put a split, the two of them. I think very easily they could take our job. Yes.

PHILLIPS: They could take our -- what do you think?

O'BRIEN: Absolutely. Sign them up.

PHILLIPS: Look at them right there.

O'BRIEN: There they are, yes.

PHILLIPS: Maybe we should have them sign off. Can we have them take us to Judy Woodruff and "INSIDE POLITICS"?

O'BRIEN: Yes, do you know Judy Woodruff and "INSIDE POLITICS"?

DEDECKER: Yes, I'm familiar.

PHILLIPS: All right, so, Alex, you say that wraps it up for LIVE FROM today.

And then, Clotilde, toss it to Judy Woodruff in Washington.

HILL: That wraps it up from LIVE today.

DEDECKER: Next on to Judy Woodruff in Washington.


PHILLIPS: Hey, Judy, what do you think?

O'BRIEN: We're out of a job.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: There's never been a better throw than that one. OK.


WOODRUFF: Thank you, all four. We appreciate it. Good to see you all.

So, we have a question. Are governors offices the best route to the presidency? Four of the last five presidents went from the statehouse to the White House. Today, we're going to talk with two men who may try to follow in their footsteps, Governors Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Tom Vilsack of Iowa. Plus, we'll talk with ousted Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore about tomorrow's Supreme Court hearing on allowing government displays of the Ten Commandments.

"INSIDE POLITICS" begins in just a moment.


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