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Al Zarqawi Profiled; Religious Diversity Frowned on at Air Force Academy

Aired May 13, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Anderson, is there a statute of limitations on how long you can leave that on your very personal stationery?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, no, no, no, no. I can go for years -- I can go out for dinner on this for years.

ZAHN: I want proof that that's on your stationery. Monday morning, on my desk.


ZAHN: Thanks, have a good weekend.

And welcome, everybody. Glad to have you with us tonight.

He is leading his own deadly offensive against the U.S. in Iraq. There is a $25 million price on his head. But how close are we to catching one of the world's most wanted terrorists?

(voice-over) Shedding new light on a mysterious enemy. He's declared war on the United States, killed hundreds of Iraqis. The man behind the bombings and beheadings and the violence now tearing apart the new Iraq. Tonight, the deadly showdown with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

All this week, a force of 1,000 American troops has been in Western Iraq hunting followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The search has cost a half dozen American lives. It comes during a two week long onslaught of insurgent violence that has killed about 400 people throughout Iraq. Several of Zarqawi's top lieutenants have been caught recently and American forces could be closing in on the terrorist leader himself.

So what do we know about the most wanted man in Iraq? Here's Nic Robertson with tonight's "People in the News" profile.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Iraq, May 2004.

UNKNOWN MALE: I have a brother and sister, David and Sam.

ROBERTSON: American Nick Berg is about to be beheaded, his execution recorded and released on a website titled "Abu Musab al- Zarqawi Slaughters an American." Its barbarity rockets Zarqawi from relative obscurity to front page familiarity. But already he is the deadliest insurgent in Iraq.

To find out how Zarqawi got to this point, I've come to this jail in Jordan.

ABDULA RUMAN (ph): In this prison, in this jail al-Zarqawi became a leader.

ROBERTSON: Journalist Abdula Ruman knew Zarqawi and is willing to talk. He was locked up with him in the mid 1990s.

He was asking his men to march along.

ABDULA RUMAN: They used this square to walk as a close group, a strong group . . .

ROBERTSON: Like an army?

ABDULA RUMAN: And shouting - like an army, exactly like an army, and shouting.

ROBERTSON: Politely moved on by Jordanian security, Ruman tells me to learn more I should begin where Zarqawi grew up.

Born Ahmed Fadil Al-Khalayleh, he later took his nomdeger (ph), Zarqawi, from the name of his hometown, Zarqa. It looks pretty from a distance. But up close, it is different, crammed by successive waves of Palestinian refugees, one of the poorest towns in the country.

With its densely packed housing and intense tribal loyalty, Zarqa has been compared to the Bronx. But others liken its downhill (ph) working class neighborhoods to Detroit. For Zarqawi, though, it was a place of limited opportunity.

Outside the house where he was born in October 1966, neighbors say they remember the family well.

UNKNOWN MALE, (through translator): They were a simple people. They lived a simple life. They barely made it.

ROBERTSON: His father fought against the Israelis in 1948 and was well respected before he died. In this picture at the time, the young Zarqawi looks unremarkable but seems determined to earn respect like his father.

UNKNOWN MALE, (through translator): If someone would even harm his neighbors, Zarqawi would always come to defend the victim. He always did good deeds, nothing wrong.

ROBERTSON: His days were spent here in Zarqa school. But by all accounts, he didn't excel academically.

Zarqawi left school before his final exams, disappointing his parents. He didn't seem to have a career in mind and his father tried to fix him up with a job at the local municipality.

That was 1982. Zarqawi was about 16, developing a reputation as a tough guy who, against Muslim custom, drank and got a tattoo. Outside his old mosque, I tracked down his brother-in-law hoping he can tell me more.

Excuse me, sir, can we talk you to about Abu Musab, your brother- in-law? Is that possible? You know nothing? You don't want to say?

He's not unfriendly, just unwilling to talk.

One man I find who will talk says he knew Zarqawi's father and was Imam, or preacher, to both father and son.

UNKNOWN MALE: I know him exactly, and the first time when he was a child, he no good.

ROBERTSON: Was his father angry with his son?

UNKNOWN MALE: Yes, so angry. Last time he told me there is no good road for me. Only I kill him.

ROBERTSON: To kill his son?

UNKNOWN MALE: To kill his son, yes.

ROBERTSON: Zarqawi was out of control. No one here can tell me more. But as I am to find out later, he was about to have a life changing experience. At that time in 1989, the U.S. backed Mujahideen were on the verge of driving the Soviet army out of Afghanistan. Thousands of Arabs, including Osama bin Laden, were in the fight. Zarqawi decided to join them.

In these rare pictures taken soon after he arrived, Zarqawi is seen relaxing, mixing happily with other Jihadists or Muslim holy warriors. He'd arrived as the Jihad was ending. Some reports say Zarqawi never fought the Soviets. Others, that he was very brave in battle. All accounts agree though, he befriended this man, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a Kuwaiti born cleric, intent on the violent overthrow of secular Arab governments.

Much of what he did in Afghanistan is unknown. There are conflicting accounts of whether or not he met Osama bin Laden. General Ali Shukri was a military and intelligence adviser to Jordan's King Hussein and knows Zarqawi's case file.

GENERAL ALI SHUKRI: He decided to join the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. He was trained there. He became a bomb expert.

ROBERTSON: Zarqawi left Afghanistan in 1992. He came back to Jordan with new friends, ideas and an agenda.


ZAHN: When we come back, Zarqawi's radicalism lands him in prison and sets him on a path to become the most feared insurgent in Iraq.

Coming up next, the making of a terrorist.


ZAHN: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is the most wanted terrorist in Iraq. Blamed for beheadings and attacks that have killed hundreds. And like al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, his career as a terrorist began after fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan in the '80s.

Once again, here's Nic Robertson.


ROBERTSON: Zarqawi returned to Jordan in 1992, reuniting with his spiritual mentor, Maqdisi.

SHUKRI: And he started to plan attacks against visitors, tourists coming into Jordan. He managed to create his own unit, if I can call it the unit, or a cell. All the time under the auspices of al Qaeda, but disengaged from al Qaeda.

ROBERTSON: In 1994, Zarqawi was arrested and jailed for possession of explosives and plotting against the Jordanian kingdom.

UNKNOWN MALE: And Al-Maqdisi came to Swaqa as a hero. But everybody can note at that time that al-Zarqawi, he is the strongest one.

ROBERTSON: Swaqa jail had a relatively liberal regime. Prisoners could work on the farm, in the work shops or kitchen. Zarqawi exploited the system.

UNKNOWN MALE: He told the officer of the jail, "you can't touch anybody from my group. You can't touch him because you are infidels and we are believers."

ROBERTSON: So the prison authorities couldn't control him?

UNKNOWN MALE: No. Nobody can control him.

ROBERTSON: It was the same in court.

UNKNOWN MALE, (through translator): He used to give orders to his followers with his eyes, meaning don't talk. Another sign is when he said, God is great. Then they would repeat it after him. If he prayed, they would do so following him. If he read the Koran, they would read it after him.

ROBERTSON: But what turns Zarqawi, one time hard man, into this radical Muslim? Sheikh Esmat (ph), a political dissident who also found God, thinks he knows the answer. He was close to Zarqawi in prison, even wears the white robe Zarqawi gave him to our interview. According to Esmat, Zarqawi found God before he went to Afghanistan after waking from a drunken stupor and looking for a purpose.

SHEIKH ESMAT: He was drink, throw up, and when he wake up, said to himself, "What happened? Why I like this? Why I drink?" ROBERTSON: He became a devout Muslim.

ESMAT: In Al-Sait prison, he finishing the Koran.

ROBERTSON: He finished learning the Koran?

ESMAT: Yes, not learning . . .

ROBERTSON: Memorizing.

ESMAT: Memorizing, yes.

ROBERTSON: In 1999, he was released, benefiting from the newly enthroned King Abdullah's pardon for all political prisoners. Returning to his wife and four children in this house in Zarqa, he lacked work, missed his followers and was confused.

UNKNOWN MALE: His sister went to him. She knows that he is very sad. She tells him, "remember the vision. God wants you to be a mujahid." It's a dream.

ROBERTSON: He followed her vision and headed back to his Jihaddy roots in Afghanistan, setting up a training camp in the west of the country far from bin Laden. Arabs from Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, close to his home, came for his specialized classes in bomb-making.

Following the September 11th attacks, Zarqawi's camp was bombed. He fled west. According to U.S. officials, he turned up in a Jihaddy camp belonging to a group called Answer Al Islam (ph) located in Kurdish controlled Northern Iraq. By late 2002, he was on the attack. Jordanian officials linked Zarqawi to the assassination in Amman of a U.S.A. ID Official Lawrence Foley. In 2003, Zarqawi was dealt the al Qaeda link to Saddam Hussein.

COLIN POWELL: Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an associate, collaborator of Osama bin Laden.

ROBERTSON: Powell also said he was a Palestinian who'd lost a leg. Both details untrue. But as war in Iraq got closer, Saddam did invite Arab Jihadists to Baghdad.

LT. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, FMR. U.S. ARMY INTELLIGENCE: From the end of 2002 and up through March 2003, Zarqawi was not part of the equation from the intelligence perspective. And I was the senior intelligence guy on the ground.

ROBERTSON: But after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Zarqawi became very much a part of the equation. In August 2003, a suicide bomber destroyed the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, killing a top diplomat and more than 20 others.

MARKS: That is probably the inflection point where we began to realize we're in the midst of an insurgency.

ROBERTSON: Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the U.N. bombing. More bloody attacks in Zarqawi's name followed, targeting not just U.S. troops, but Iraqi security forces and Iraq's majority Shiite population. His web posted exploits rapidly propelling him to the most popular insurgent among the newly emerging radical Jihadists like himself. He is also the most wanted insurgent, by now worrying about being caught. In a letter to bin Laden he sounds worried. Eyes are everywhere, he says. Later, a more confident, he calls for bin Laden's blessing and gets it.

UNKNOWN MALE: Dear Muchead (ph) brother, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is the prince of al Qaeda in Iraq. So we ask all our organizations brethren to listen to him and obey him and his good deeds.

DR. MARC SAGEMAN, FORMER C.I.A. OFFICER: Right now it's a marriage of convenience. There are definitely some major differences between Zarqawi and bin Laden.

ROBERTSON: Former ally Maqdisi and others criticize the brutal beheadings carried out by Zarqawi. Other less radical allies doubt he could be killing fellow Muslims.

UNKNOWN MALE: Maybe he do something against Iraqi armies, but what happened about the Shia and about the others, other peoples, I think it's not true.

SAGEMAN: Zarqawi is very much a part of the new generation, the new leadership of this whole social movement. The new leadership is far more aggressive than the old leadership.

ROBERTSON: Despite U.S. and Iraqi efforts to capture or kill Zarqawi, he remains at large, a powerful magnet for more foreign Jihadists to join the deadly insurgency in Iraq.


ZAHN: That was Nic Robertson reporting.

As for the hunt for al-Zarqawi's followers in Western Iraq, the Marine Corps says another senior terrorist was caught just yesterday.

And in recent days, one Midwestern city has paid a terrible price in that fight to destroy Zarqawi's terror organization.

CHRIS SMITH (ph): I was just devastated. It - I was just speechless.

ZAHN: From middle America, a city in shock. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: Still ahead, the worst news possible from Iraq brings out the very best in a Midwestern city.

Plus, a startling development in the hunt for a sexual predator and his young victim.

First, though, about 21 minutes past the hour, time for Sophia Choi at "Headline News" to update the other top stories.

Hi, Sophia.


You know yesterday Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said his recommended military base closings would not be as bad as expected. Well, he probably did not expect today's bipartisan blowback. There's angry reaction to the proposal to close 33 major bases, including South Dakota's Ellsworth Air Force Base. The state's Republican Senator John Thune calls the decision "dead wrong" and he's just one of many who say they will fight the closings that could cost their states thousands of jobs and billions of dollars.

On Capitol Hill, senators are gearing up for the coming battle over blocking 10 of the president's judicial nominees. Unprecedented obstructions say the Republicans. Bring it on, say the Democrats. Both sides are expected to bring that fight to the Senate floor next week.

Americans were told to stay off the streets as security forces and protesters fought pitch battles in Uzbekistan. At least 20 civilians were killed and protest leaders claimed to have captured dozens of soldiers. It all began after demonstrators stormed a prison to free suspected Islamic militants.

And, Paula, Tiger Woods has made the cut 142 consecutive times in seven years on the PGA circuit. That's not today. Tiger broke his streak missing the cut at the Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas. He said he just didn't quite have it this time.

And those are the headlines.


ZAHN: Well, I guess after the Masters, that great come from behind victory, we can cut him some slack here.

CHOI: How can you be 100 percent all the time?

ZAHN: Exactly.

Thanks, Sophia. Appreciate it. We're going to check back with you in just about a half hour from now.

Time, though, to pick up the person of the day with all of you. Will it be Pope John Paul II for being fast tracked for sainthood, the cast and crew of the "Star Trek" franchise now going where they've never gone before, off the air, or Ed Viesturs for becoming first American to reach the 14 highest peaks in the world? Cast your vote at and I'll let you know wins at the back end of the hour.

Coming up next though, a community pays a staggering price in the fight for freedom.

UNKNOWN MALE: This is the first one that has really hit home. And I think it makes it real all of a sudden.

ZAHN: Hope and pride turned to tears as the war in Iraq hits home.

And a little bit later on, some disturbing allegations about one of the military's top service academies.


ZAHN: A little bit earlier on we mentioned that this week U.S. forces have been hunting down terrorists in Western Iraq. The offensive is called Operation Matador and the Marines on front lines say there has been no significant resistance since the first two days of fighting. But they have taken some serious losses. One whole squad of Marines was eliminated. A dozen men, either killed or wounded. They all came from a reserve unit based in Ohio and Marines there this week have been delivering the painful news to families. Here's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): In every town, on every street, at fire stations, schools, stores, the people of Ohio wait for news of their sons and daughters on the front lines of the latest assault in Iraq. Wesley Davids' (ph) parents got the visit everyone dreads.

UNKNOWN MALE: I was making dinner and . . .

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Yes. So one minute you have a normal life with, you know, dinner cooking and the next minute everything changes.

UNKNOWN MALE: We regret to inform you . . .

FOREMAN: Their son died one day past his 20th birthday. His friend and fellow soldier Dustin Durga (ph) died on Mother's Day. Dustin's life-long buddy and fellow firefighter Chris Smith is still in shock.

CHRIS SMITH: He was always just so upbeat. It was just unreal. You know, he'd always make you laugh.

FOREMAN: What did you think when you heard the news?

SMITH: As you can imagine, I was just devastated. It - I was just speechless.

FOREMAN: Back in January, 150 Marine reservists shipped out of Ohio in what was known as lucky Lima company. But in Iraq, the luck has been bad. Many are in the middle of Operation Matador and casualties are reportedly very high. A "Washington Post" reporter embedded with Dustin's unit says every person in the squad of 21 has been hit. At least six killed.

UNKNOWN MALE: The last time I saw him he was here in his dress uniform. FOREMAN: So flags are lowered at Dustin's high school, fears are raised.

KEN SCHNEIDER, HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER: This is first one that has really hit home. And I think it makes it real all of a sudden.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Hey. How are you doing?

FOREMAN: An informal network has emerged among Ohio's military families and friends. Chris Smith is working the phone too, calling in memories of Dustin.

SMITH: You know I saw some voice mails on my phone that he's left.

DUSTIN DURGA: Just got a chance to call and I don't think I will for a while. Probably won't be getting to use these phones very much because I'm not going to be staying where I am right now. We're going to a place that won't have this stuff.

FOREMAN: Most days many here say they live their lives unaware of what is going on in Iraq. But not this week.

SMITH: He won't be forgotten around here, that's for sure. You know, so he died a hero, that's for sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE; He was so patriotic.

FOREMAN: Many Ohioans are proud and scared and praying about a distant war that is suddenly so close to home.


ZAHN: The view from the home front from Tom Foreman.

Coming up, allegations of religious intolerance at one of the country's top military schools.


CAPTAIN MELINDA MORTON, AIR FORCE CHAPLAIN: To associate your power and position with a religious agenda in the military is inappropriate. And it is against regulations.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But it happens at the Air Force Academy.

MORTON: Yes, it does.


ZAHN: When we come back, a startling report about the pressure to conform.

And a little bit later on, a break in the frantic search to rescue a young victim of sexual abuse. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: According to its Web site, an education at the United States Air Force Academy stresses academics, military training, athletic conditioning, and spiritual and ethical development. After a series of complaints about religious intolerance, this week it is that last part, spiritual development, that is under intense scrutiny.

And a chaplain says she's being transferred out of the academy, because she blew the whistle on evangelical Christians who she says crossed the line. Here is Sean Callebs.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cadets march in step, governed by their honor code: "I will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate anyone among us who does." But this issue lies outside the honor code, long-standing allegations of religious intolerance have surfaced, yet many are still afraid to talk about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're just terrified to come forward. They're afraid that their careers will be ruined. They have spouses, they have children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The one individual said to me you can't say who I am. My job is at stake.

CALLEBS: One who is speaking out, Captain Melinda Morton. After serving as a missile launch officer, she became a chaplain late in her career.

MORTON: I had no less than three of my fellow chaplains come to me and ask me how in the world I thought I could -- I would consider myself to be a Christian if I didn't believe that we ought be hoping and praying that everyone at the Air Force Academy would be Christian.

CALLEBS: After 2 1/2 years at the academy, Morton, a Protestant chaplain, is making her concerns public.

(on camera): One of your colleagues told us evangelicals can't check their religion at the door. Should the academy force them to check their religion at the door to separate church and state?

MORTON: To associate your power and position with a religious agenda in the military is inappropriate. And it is against regulations.

CALLEBS: But it happens at Air Force academy.

MORTON: Yes, it does.

CALLEBS (voice-over): And she says that her tour at the academy has been cut short, that the Air Force is sending her to Iraq. And that it is retaliation for speaking out.

The academy says that's not the case, that Morton's deployment is a normal rotation. Since the summer of 2001, the academy has so far received 55 complaints about religious intolerance.

(on camera): Has anybody been punished at the academy for religious intolerance?

MORTON: It depends how you define punished. I know of some people who have been counseled for various things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My hope is that the academy will come to the realization...

CALLEBS (voice-over): Mikey Weinstein, himself a member of a prominent academy family, became involved in this last summer. Curtis Weinstein, then a first year cadet, made a sobering confession to his father.

MIKEY WEINSTEIN, AIR FORCE ACADEMY GRADUATE: Curtis told me that he was going to be getting into trouble. And I said what are you talking about, son? And he said the next person that calls me a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Jew or accuses me of killing Jesus, I'm going to beat the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of them.

And if I get court-martialed or whatever happens, you have to know that's what's going to happen.

CURTIS WEINSTEIN, AIR FORCE ACADEMY CADET: I didn't even really know the cadet. And he's like, aren't you Jewish? I'm like, yes, I am. He's like in the middle of a game or something. And he's like, how do you feel you killed Jesus?

M. WEINSTEIN: And I asked him how many times this had happened? It had happened on a large number of occasions in diverse locations at the academy with diverse number of cadets. And at that point he started to clam up. He wouldn't tell me anymore. Because he knew what I was -- he didn't want to turn me into a thermonuclear warhead.

Conference call in the morning, and then we can do the meeting...

CALLEBS: But Mikey Weinstein did explode. This from a man who himself went through the rigors of the academy.

M. WEINSTEIN: Well, this was my JAG badge when I was a JAG in the Air Force.

CALLEBS: Who served in the military's judicial system and comes from a family of military leaders. He took his concerns directly to senior officers.

M. WEINSTEIN: If this was happening to Curtis, God knows what was happening to everybody else going on. Because of course, the academy...

CALLEBS: Weinstein eventually went to the media.

The academy was still recovering from a sexual assault scandal that had been exposed a few years earlier. And the Air Force had brought in new leaders, including Lieutenant General John Rosa as superintendent, and Colonel Deborah Gray to change the atmosphere.

Then, last July, about the same time that Curtis Weinstein was speaking to his father, Colonel Gray invited members of the Yale Divinity School to help the chaplains improve their work with cadets on the issues connected with sexual assault, nothing about religious tolerance. Professor Kristen Wesley led the group. They attended the basic cadet training.

This is where the molding of young cadets begins. Where they're broken down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out now, move.

CALLEBS: And built back to become officers.

KRISTEN LESLIE, YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL: If someone comes up to them with more authority, even an older cadet and says to them, we want you to be a Christian, get out of my face is not one of the appropriate responses.

CALLEBS: While observing that indoctrination process, the Yale team officially reported that it saw an academy chaplain deliver what they described as a fire and brimstone sermon to a group of more than 600 cadets.

LESLIE: The chaplain who was there in the midst of the sermon extorted his cadets that they needed to go back to their bunks and bear witness, to proselytize, to bring their bunk mates to become Christians. And if they didn't, and in fact, they would be consequences for them.

I was struck at how -- how bold the evangelical conservative message was in that environment.

CALLEBS: The Yale Divinity Group reported, that openly urging cadets to try to convert their peers was not good pastoral care and created a place of hostility for the cadets.

COL. DEBRA GRAY, A.F. ACADEMY VICE COMMANDANT: I was around basic training an awful lot, and I never saw such a sermon as this. Doesn't mean it didn't happen. Obviously they observed something. I would say that that is -- each religion has a different format and different structure to what they do. And if that's the type of service it was, and it was voluntary that people participate in that, then, you know, that's what they do.

CALLEBS: The critics and the academy agree that there have been a significant number of problems involving religious intolerance, the question is, are these system wide?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To me when I hear systemic, I hear leadership condoned.

CALLEBS (on camera): Not system wide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly. And so what I try to say is, one, we don't condone it. And we're doing everything we can to educate and train and hold people accountable, which is kind of a circle that leaders go through. But then when we talk systemic, does had it happen a little everywhere -- maybe. I mean, we're a big organization.

CALLEBS (voice-over): Academy chaplains say more than 9 out of 10 cadets here describe themselves as Christian. And about a third of those are evangelical. So, they represent a sizable portion of the cadet corps. Chaplain Phil Guyn knows many of the evangicals on campus and says they understand the mission of the academy.

PHIL GUYN, AIR FORCE ACADEMY CHAPLAIN: The institution of the United States air force academy is not about faith sharing. This institution is dedicated to equipping young men and women to be officers and leaders of character in the United States of America and in our nation's military.

CALLEBS: Even lunch at the academy is a military exercise involving 4,000 cadets. Melinda Morton says put yourself in their shoes. Imagine how hard it is to resist religious pressure when it comes from senior leaders.

MORTON: If the message is, you know, they got where they got because of their evangelical faith, and they have a lot of brothers, brothers in the air force going to help them out because of their evangelical faith. Boy, that's something you might think about. If you're investing all your investing here to get through the air force academy, maybe that's something you ought to think about too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can chaplains proselytize?


CALLEBS: Last month a response to complaints...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually chaplains may not proselytize. Chaplains may not proselytize.

CALLEBS: The academy launched a system wide program to teach cadets and staff about respect, the first of what they say will be many steps to deal with problems. Melinda Morton helped draft the program, and it will be one of her last responsibilities before her new deployment to Iraq.

MORTON: I am extremely sad for my Air Force. I am extremely sad for the academy. I am -- I am beyond disheartened. It is a tragedy. These young people will be in harm's way very, very soon. And we can't provide them an example in which they can live and learn and worship. That's very sad.


ZAHN: And that was Sean Callebs reporting.

This week the Pentagon sent a task force to the air force academy to investigate some of the claims. A preliminary report is due out sometime later this month. And when that happens, we'll bring you the details.

There is a victory to report tonight in the fight to stop child pornography.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have located the victim in our case, and the witness in our case.


ZAHN: Coming up, why the search may have been over before it even started in earnest. Please stay with us.


Still ahead tonight, the end of the two year search to save a little girl from exploitation on the Internet.

But first, time for another look at the top stories with Sophia Choi of Headline News.

CHOI: Hi, Paula. With troops stretched thin in the war on terror, a federal appeals court in Seattle today upheld the military stop loss policy. Some reservists call it a back door draft because it extends their service beyond what they agreed to. One national guardsman sued after his eight year gig in the reserve was extended. The court says, although the policy causes hardship and disruption, it is constitutional.

Wal-Mart is being asked to open its books. A group of Congressional Democrats say they want to investigate whether the world's largest retailer discriminates against female workers. They claim a survey shows women make up 72 percent of Wal-Mart's workforce, but only 15 percent of its managers. It also says female workers are paid less than men. The company says the survey is outdated. Wal- Mart is already facing the largest ever class action suit alleging bias against women when it comes to pay and promotions.

Celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos told the Michael Jackson jury today it was his idea to hire a private eye to spy on Jackson's accusers. Geragos says he thought they were trying to shake down Jackson. Also testified that Jackson told him he never molested his 13-year-old accuser during sleepovers at the Neverland Ranch. Jackson fired Geragos a year ago, but gave him a great big hug today.

And all it takes is a touch of the finger to pay at this supermarket checkout. The Pigly Wiggly chain is using finger scans to link customers with their bank accounts. And as far as we know, you don't get a discount and certainly not a five finger discount. Now, those are the headlines -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks, Sophia. Better not.

"LARRY KING LIVE" is up at 9:00. Larry has a very special guest with him this evening as he wraps up the week here in New York City. Larry who's joining you?

LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: Petra Nemcova will be with us, the wonderful supermodel who hung on that tree in tsunami -- her boyfriend, her fiance was killed. She was an extraordinary lady. It's her first live interview and we'll be taking phone calls. And she'll be right here in studio with us, Paula.

ZAHN: It has been so inspiring to watch her, Larry, as we heard of how severe her first injuries were, and how hard she has worked at rehabbing. You remember -- maybe you'll show the pictures tonight when she was walking on a walker. And bascily had to be in the pool hours a day and in rehab to strengthen the legs so they could walk again.

KING: I'm sure they will.

And as we leave you, Paula, what is a five finger discount?

ZAHN: Well, I suspect you've never shoplifted anything in your life, Larry? I hope not.

KING: I have not. Is that a shoplifting term?

ZAHN: I think, that's what we were sort of hinting at.

KING: I see. Didn't get it but I'm getting old.

ZAHN: Hey, but it is Friday night. It's has been a long week. We have all worked very hard this week.

Well, have a good show. And it should be an inspiring hour, because she's really been quite elegant to watch.

KING: Have a great weekend too.

ZAHN: Thank you so much.

Time now for all of us to reveal our person of the day. Well, actually your person of the day. Your choices were Pope John Paul II for getting on the fast track to sainthood, the crew of "Star Trek: Enterprise" for cruising off the air, and mountain climber Ed Viesturs, the first American to climb the world's 14 highest peaks without extra oxygen.

And the winner with 51 percent, Pope John Paul II.


ZAHN (voice-over): First came bishop, then cardinal, then pope. And now saint? Within days of his death, people were already chanting for John Paul II's immediate sainthood. And now so is his successor, Pope Benedict the XVI.

Today, the pope announced he'll waive the church's usual five year waiting period following the death of a candidate putting John Paul II on the fast track to sainthood.

This isn't the first time church traditions have been weighed. In 1998, Pope John Paul II put Mother Teresa on the path to sainthood, just a year after her death.

The late John Paul II on the road to sainthood, you've made him the person of the day. We'll be right back.



ZAHN: Tonight, we actually have some good news for you. An update on a story we brought you a few weeks ago. The mystery of a young girl abused by child pornographers. It has actually been solved. It's a case that consumed investigators in two countries and attracted national attention. David Mattingly has been following the case and has the latest now.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than two years, countless man hours and unknown thousands of dollars in the making, the desperate international hunt for a single child pornography victim ends in the way investigators never predicted.

LT. MATT IRWIN, ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: We have located the victim in our case.

MATTINGLY: Orlando's Orange County investigators, after asking for the public's help in finding the blond-haired girl just two weeks ago, now confirms she's been identified by the FBI. And is believed to now be 11 years old and in a Pennsylvania foster home.

IRWIN: By saying we have identified her, I don't know where she's at. We are working on getting that information. And I understand that there may be ongoing charges in Pennsylvania, which is the state that the victim is from.

MATTINGLY: The girl will remain unidentified to the public. According to the FBI and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the man responsible for putting photos of the girl on the Internet is in prison serving a 15-year term. Neither his name nor further details of his case or conviction were disclosed by federal authorities.

But Orlando investigators say the man is the child's adopted father, and was sentenced to prison last year. The Florida authorities will now pursue molestation charges of their own.

IRWIN: In Florida, based on what we have, he would probably be facing life charges.

MATTINGLY: The international search for the girl began two years ago when Toronto authorities used computers to remove the girl from her pictures so clues could be pulled from the background. Investigators at that time said tiny pieces of evidence gave them hope they could find her.

DET. SGT. PAUL GILLESPIE, TORONTO POLICE: You can tell when children appear to be abused or when they are abused whether or not it's the first time or not. It's worse to see children who have just lost their spirit and they don't really react to abuse, because you know this is the cost of doing business in their own personal life and that says something.

MATTINGLY: This case immediately stood out from the 50,000 other estimated child porn victims on the Internet, because someone from the public was able to identify the bed spread in this photo as one used at a resort in Orlando. The victim quickly became known as "the Hotel Girl."

As authorities pushed the envelope in publicizing previously withheld information in hopes a break. They even publicized a photo of a dark-haired girl they believed was a friend of hers. Someone who was not molested.

But the extraordinary effort ultimately was not a factor. And they have been told that the girl may have been safe for a matter of years.


ZAHN: Well, I think that's pretty easy to understand, David. But the fact is there was some sort of disconnect here that has got to bother somebody.

MATTINGLY: That was one of the real back stories in this case. And no one's really got a satisfactory answer yet how they can be in Toronto and Orlando and so publicly pushing this case and the FBI only alerting them yesterday that, hey, we have already successfully prosecuted this case. So, they'll be getting to the bottom of that. And if there were any disconnects, they'll make sure they don't happen again.

ZAHN: Tell us about the welfare of this young girl who is now, we understand, being taken care of in a foster home?

MATTINGLY: There can be really no happy ending for her, because there are a couple of hundred pictures of her out there on the Internet. They've been very highly sought after by people in child porn rings. And a lot of it because of the publicity surrounding this case.

So those pictures are out there. They will always be out there. This is something that she will always have to deal with for the rest of her life, Paula.

ZAHN: And before we leave here, any new information on her adopted father who is now being accused of being the one who molested her?

MATTINGLY: Only what we just revealed to you. The authorities right now are scrambling themselves trying to find out more about this federal case. And the FBI is not being all that forthcoming at the moment. They did confirm that he was arrested. And that he was in federal prison. But the actual details and everything of the authorities are hoping to find out more about him as they go as well.

ZAHN: Well, thank goodness she is in -- being taken care of by some good people and she's safe. David Mattingly, appreciate the update.

And we wanted to thank you all for joining us tonight. And please join me over the weekend for "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS." We have some candid interviews with the members of U2 who are having quite a year, a No. 1 CD, and induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. That, after being together for almost 30 years. And weathering a lot of storms along the way. That's "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" coming up Saturday at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. And we hope you'll be back with us Monday, same time, same place. Have a great weekend.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.



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