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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Message to Plotters: "Do your attacks now"; Security Council Approves Resolution Aimed at Ending Mideast Conflict; Malica Ehlarud Loved Osama bin Laden; Chances of Surviving Explosion On Airplanes Good or Bad?; Some Wonder if Right Measures Are Being Taken To Protect Airline Passengers

Aired August 11, 2006 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again from London. Two global stories breaking as we speak: agreement reached to end the fighting in Lebanon but questions about making it stick, and new details on how the plot to blow airliners out of the sky was unraveled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Tracing the connections, solving the puzzle, new details on the terror plot, the alleged terrorists and the connections around the globe.

No bottles, no makeup, what's next? Are we going about this all wrong? New calls to focus more on people and less on what they're carrying.

They fell hard for bin Laden.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a fascination, a love. It was very clear, and I could be safe.

ANNOUNCER: A husband and wife united in Jihad, until death did they part. How al Qaeda seduced a loving husband into loving murder more.

And a month of fighting -- how tonight's U.N. resolution aims to stop it, and whether it will work.

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360: SKY TERROR. Reporting tonight from London, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And thanks for joining us. In this hour, we come to you in the shadow of the Tower Bridge, a lovely scene in the city still on edge after the discovery yesterday of this alleged plot to bring down as many as 10 airliners.

We begin with breaking news here in London, and four words: "Do you attacks now." That was the message to the men who police say were on the bring of blowing as many as 10 airliners out of the sky. CNN has learned that this four-word message was intercepted, and that, along with money wired from Pakistan to the alleged ringleaders told authorities that an attack was imminent. We are learning that tonight and a whole lot more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And just bear with us. We will get you in there just as soon as we can, get you checked and on your way.

COOPER (voice-over): Today airport lines are shorter and details from the investigation a bit clearer.

The identities of 19 of the suspects arrested are no longer a mystery. Their names today revealed by the Bank of England, as it announced it froze their accounts.

The youngest named suspect is 17, the oldest just 35. All of them, believed to be British, though all had Pakistani names. Some reportedly belonged to the same Islamic society at a London university.

At least three of them, according to the "Associated Press," were converts to Islam and one of the suspects, whose name wasn't given out today, is a young woman with a 6-month-old baby, according to the same report.

One of the 24 people originally detained was released today, but police believe they have in custody the organizers of a plot to bomb as many as 10 planes using liquid explosives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think, that is the police, the security service think that we have apprehended the main suspects, but this is an ongoing operation.

COOPER: Ongoing for sure. Investigators are now seeking anyone who knew those in custody while digging for more evidence, through documents, laptops, videotapes and other materials seized from the suspects' homes.

They even took a vacuum cleaner, hoping that perhaps it scooped up traces of explosive material for use in what could have been one of the world's deadliest terror strikes.

FRAN TOWNSEND, HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: The plotters intended this to be a second September 11th. It's a frightening example of multiple simultaneous attacks for explosions of planes that would have caused the death of thousands.

COOPER: It may look like an al Qaeda plot, but whether it is remains under investigation.

U.S. and British government officials say two of the suspects may have gone to Pakistan to meet with a man suspected of being an al Qaeda operative.

Today they identified this man as Matuir Rehman, and said he's an explosives expert who's still at large. It's not yet known whether he was involved in the plot.

As for any possible American connection, U.S. officials say the suspects made calls from London to Washington, New York and other U.S. cities. Those calls were checked, but did not uncover any U.S.-based operatives.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Currently we do not have evidence that there was, as part of this plot, any plan to initiate activity inside the United States, or that the plotting was done in the United States.

COOPER: But the U.S. still remains on alert, at airports for a second day, liquids of any sort were banned from carry-on luggage and today transportation officials indicated that those new regulations will stay at least for awhile. Air travelers seem to have gotten the message.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: More now from our correspondents covering this story on both sides of the Atlantic. CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Tom Foreman in Washington and Deborah Feyerick here as well.

Deb, let me start off with you. What triggered police to move in when they did?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was really the intercept of that message that said, "do your attacks now." That was a really big concern of theirs. Also, they received a telephone intercept as well, talking about the alleged plot. There was a flurry of Internet chatter and two guys that they had under surveillance simply disappeared. So there were enough signs for them to realize that in fact the time was now. They couldn't wait any longer.

COOPER: But Christiane, I mean, at this point authorities are not saying for sure whether or not al Qaeda was involved?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're not, but they're saying that some of the linkages, some of the events, the fact that two of these went to Pakistan and apparently met with an al Qaeda operative is significant, but you're right. They haven't yet confirmed that.

COOPER: And Tom, what do we know about these phone calls placed to people and/or persons in the United States? Do we know any details?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know a lot of details about this. We know exactly what the Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff said there, which they didn't seem to lead into anything.

But what does concern authorities here in all of these cases is the very fluid nature of al Qaeda. The fact that they have operatives who are supposed to operate somewhat on a freelance basis. That's what people are guarding against here, the fact that there might be somebody out there who is ready to spring forward precisely because this plot has been uncovered.

COOPER: Tom, I mean, do U.S. authorities believe that there are al Qaeda sleeper cells operating inside the United States right now?

FOREMAN: If they do believe that, they're not telling us that at this point. I think that's one of those things that they always have to be on guard against. They'll always tell you that they have to look for whether or not there are sleeper cells.

And the other thing you have to bear in mind is the very nature of al Qaeda. Yes, there are the people who are sort of officially al Qaeda, but there are also supporters, people who would call themselves al Qaeda. That's what we're talking about often, much more than a direct line of communication. People who would say we believe in the cause. We believe in what they're trying to do. That's what they fear might be here and what they want to locate.

COOPER: Christiane, 24 people were arrested here in Great Britain, others arrested in Pakistan. Already one of those people in Great Britain has been released. Is it possible, I guess it is possible that more of the 24 will be released?

AMANPOUR: It's possible. Experts have said that this is not unusual in these kinds of searches, that they could have put a big net around all the suspects that they knew of or thought they knew, and then by closely interrogating them, closely investigating and questioning them, realizing that perhaps at least one, at this point, was not apparently involved and they released him.

COOPER: Already, Christiane, we're hearing from people in the Muslim community here in Great Britain, a lot of support, doubt that the police have the right people. The fact they already released one of them is only going to add to that.

AMANPOUR: Potentially. You know there's a lot of fear and a little bit of bad feeling or a lot of bad feeling left from what happened a couple of months ago, called the Forest Hill area where they raided in a very heavy way a house. There were shots fired. There were injuries and they thought that they had two Muslim suspects. Turned out that they didn't, that it was a wrong entry and they had to let these people go. And it caused a huge commotion in that community, obviously.

COOPER: Deb Feyerick, you've been on the trail of these alleged suspects. What do we know about them? I mean, who are these guys?

FEYERICK: Well, a couple of extra details that we've learned tonight because of this U.S. government security memo. And that is one of them was a biochemistry student. He actually worked at Heathrow airport. He was a recent convert to Islam, as was another one of those who is in custody.

Also, a number of people from the neighborhood all describe them as never causing any trouble. So why they came together, not clear. But the way investigators were able to sort of make all the connections was by looking at telephone records, looking at e-mails, looking at bank records, to see who knew who, and that's how they sort of tied and made all these connections and down the web of suspects, basically. COOPER: And Deb, do we know how many of them went to Pakistan and what they allegedly did when they were there?

FEYERICK: It's unclear. We know that at least two of them went to Pakistan, and they met with an al Qaeda operative, somebody who is a known explosive expert. Two others, we are told, received the wire transfer. A large sum of money intended to buy the airline tickets. And the people who got that sum of money, we are told according to the security memo, were the so-called ring leaders of this terror plot.

So there is definitely a connection. It seems, that a lot of roads lead back to Pakistan. The question is, is who they were visiting, who they were talking to there, but so far only two with known links to an al Qaeda operative.

COOPER: Tom, as you know, travel restrictions here in Great Britain are incredibly severe. Absolutely no carry-on luggage at this point. In the U.S., a little less strict. You can have some carry-on luggage, just not toiletries, liquids, gels and lotions and the like. Any sense of how long those restrictions are going to be in place in the United States?

FOREMAN: Well, Anderson, I'm not sure if it will be a comfort or an inconvenience to American travelers. There's a lot of talk here about this stuff becoming permanent. I think that's a mixed bag for everybody here. Everyone likes to feel safer, but the kind of restrictions people are dealing with right now are very inconvenient for people who are not used to them. And a lot of people are just saying, what is the future going to hold?

Because the fact is there are many, many chemicals that can be combined to create weapons, some that don't even have to be combined, that can be disguised in many different ways. And I think some people are fearing that we're moving toward a time when there simply will be nothing carried on a plane. The question is can that practically be done?

COOPER: Especially if you have kids traveling on a plane, you know, it is a nightmare on long flights, say if you don't have stuff to entertain the kids.

Tom, appreciate that.

Deb, for your reporting as well.

And Christiane, thanks.

As we said at the top, two stories breaking tonight -- the terror plot and the Middle East. So we'll head in that direction now with a "War Bulletin."

The U.N. Security Council tonight approving a deal aimed at ending hostilities. Resolution 1701 establishes a militia-free zone in southern Lebanon, calls for boosting the number of U.N. peacekeepers in the south from 2,000 to as many as 15,000. They would be joined by 15,000 Lebanese soldiers. It also called for the release of two kidnapped Israeli soldiers and a full cessation of hostilities. However, not yet clear when.

Today, more tanks rolling into Lebanon, at least 150 Katyushas hitting Israel. As for that peace deal, both Lebanon and Israel say they will accept it. As for Hezbollah, that is somewhat less clear and this is hardly the only question out there tonight.

A lot to talk about with our correspondents following this story in the region. John Roberts in northern Israel, John King is in Washington tonight, and Jim Clancy in Beirut.

John King, lets start with you. What needs to happen now? What is the next step now that the security council has passed this resolution?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's cliche, Anderson, but also true. Now comes the hard part. The government of Lebanon is scheduled to put this before the cabinet on Saturday.

The government of Israel will put it before its cabinet on Sunday.

Both governments have told the United Nations and the United States they expect it to be ratified. And then Kofi Annan, the U.N. secretary-general, will negotiate with the two governments to pick an hour, pick a time of day when they will agree that the shooting will stop.

The expectation is that could come Monday, maybe slip to Tuesday if there's any difficulty in the negotiations. And then even harder work, implementation. The Lebanese army starts to move. You beef up that U.N. force. It moves with the Lebanese army and as it goes in, Israel will move back slowly in concert, if you will.

The Lebanese army comes in, assuming this is approved and works out, mind you. Israel will wait. No shelling, it will move back. It will move a little further. Israel will wait, no shelling, it will move back. So, this will take some time to implement. And they don't trust each other, so it will be tough to watch.

COOPER: Yes, a lot of moving pieces to that plan.

John Roberts, one of the moving pieces, the Israeli forces. They are literally on the move tonight, pouring in more troops to Lebanon. What's going on with that?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We just saw some armored personnel carriers come back from being across the border. We saw a lot of tanks and armored personnel carriers last night on the way in.

It's really interesting, Anderson, that even as the diplomatic tract was beginning to really take hold, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Defense Minister Amir Peretz, launch it, do it, expand the ground campaign.

They had said yesterday, yesterday, New York time, but a day ago here in Israel, that they were going to wait, that they were going to give the diplomatic track some time. They gave it barely 24 hours before they said go ahead and pull the trigger on this expanded ground campaign.

So, it looks like what they're trying to do is they're trying to take as much territory as possible in the next 24, 48, 72 hours, however long it's going to be before the guns go silent. And according to Mark Regev, the foreign minister spokesman quoted in the "Haaretz" newspaper, he said, look it, it's better for Lebanon if we stay in there.

We'll give them a cleaner southern Lebanon, much easier to take over, less Hezbollah in there. So, Israel seemed to rationalize it somehow, Anderson. But if the goal really is to go after those Katyusha rockets, the ground campaign and the air campaign for that matter haven't been very effective in knocking them out. So, not quite clear exactly what they're going after with this expanded ground campaign.

COOPER: Jim Clancy, Lebanese authorities had wanted Israeli troops immediately to pull out of south Lebanon. That clearly is not going to happen. There's going to be this sort of phased withdrawal as Lebanese and U.N. troops fill in the gap. How quickly can Lebanese forces or can the Lebanese government get 15,000 troops down south?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they can do it relatively quickly, but it is going to be in stages certainly. This government is determined to put those troops there.

As I watch the sun come up right now, this hour over Mt. Lebanon, I just wonder, is it going to be a new day? If it's going to be a new day, that's the challenge this government has to face. It has to get those troops down on the border.

This is a very dangerous time now. The Israelis can say they'll make things easier. But if the two sides go at it, Hezbollah and by extension, Iran against Israel, there's any number of things that could happen here to complicate the deal. It's a very dangerous time still this morning.

COOPER: Getting troops down on the border doesn't seem the hard part. The hardest part seems to be actually disarming Hezbollah. Can they actually do that?

CLANCY: Well, it's going to take -- look, there's been a lot of misconception here I think about that. So I'm glad you asked me. Because this isn't a question of the Lebanese government turning to Hezbollah and saying OK, now give me all of your guns.

I want all of those rockets and missiles that you have. Send the Lebanese army in and get them. That's not the way it happens, Anderson. The way that it happens is Hezbollah sits down with other members of the government, parties get together and they talk and they say, look, you've got to disarm. They've been pushing for this.

The excuse has been that Hezbollah was down there protecting the border. If the Lebanese army can do that job, this government has a better chance of persuading, pushing, forcing Hezbollah to give up those guns.

COOPER: John Roberts, obviously a lot of people in Israel doubt the Lebanese government can do it or maybe even wants to do it. They said they had plenty of time to do it already. They haven't done it thus far. Is there any confidence in Israel tonight that this plan can be effectively carried out, that Hezbollah can be disarmed?

ROBERTS: Well, they had to have a little bit of faith or they wouldn't have agreed to it. As to how much faith they've got, that remains to be seen. They also don't have a whole lot of faith in this United Nations force. There was a big concession on Israel's part to go with the expanded United Nations force under what's called Chapter Six of the U.N. Charter, which means that they have no enforcement powers.

What they really wanted and what the U.S. was pushing at the United Nations was an international force or a U.N. force with a Chapter Seven mandate, which would actually allow them to fight if Hezbollah was to violate or if Israel was to violate the terms of the agreement.

So, Israel really had to swallow a lot on this one. But I think they were coming to the point, Anderson, where they just really couldn't carry on this campaign for too much longer because it really wasn't gaining them a whole lot in terms of turning off those Katyusha rockets. And all of those horrible pictures coming from the Lebanese side. It really turned world opinion, really galvanized world opinion against it.

So they knew that time was limited. They had to try to come up with the best negotiation they could. It was a compromise, but every negotiation's a compromise.

COOPER: John King, who's going to run this UNIFIL force? Who is run it now and how long is it going to take them to beef it up to the point that they get as many as 15,000 troops on the ground?

KING: France is running it now, Anderson. The expectation is that France will run it at least in the short term, although that has not been officially announced yet. They think they can get several hundred, perhaps 1,000 troops in relatively quickly, asking nations to send rapid reaction forces in as quickly as possible, getting up to 15,000, that will take months.

Everybody involved concedes that, which is why as we talk about what will Lebanon do, what will Israel do, what will Hezbollah do, there's a number of other questions here too. What will Iran do? What will Syria do?

There are outside parties who can prick pins at this, if you will. It's already a very tense situation and it goes beyond the people directly involved. There are other governments involved and as the international community gets involved here, watch as well. Syria will say what about the Golan Heights? If they're going to give back Shebaa Farms. The Palestinians will say, how about negotiations with us. This is a multilayered onion and it is tense at every turn.

COOPER: And to very briefly, John King, any mention of the first Israeli soldier who was taken inside the Gaza Strip, any sense of the fate of him? Is he mentioned in this plan?

KING: He is not mentioned in this plan, although many believe that these are related issues. It's an excellent question. The first thing that has to be done as part of this too, is the two Israelis kidnapped by Hezbollah must be given back unconditionally. All of the other political considerations come after that.

Many think once those are returned, that Hamas is willing to give back the Israeli soldier as well if it can get into conversations about prisoner swaps and other issues also.

COOPER: All right, interesting. John King, John Roberts and Jim Clancy, as well, thanks. Nobody covering the story better.

Ahead on 360, more on the alleged airplane terror plot. The troubling link between the suspects and a U.S. ally in the war on terror.

Plus plane construction has come a long way. We'll show what you is being done to make planes even safer, maybe even being able to survive a bomb blast, when 360 from London continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IMTIAZ ALI, WALTHAM FOREST ISLAMIC ASSOCIATION: Four or five of the gentlemen have been arrested personally and they're not in this nature which is being portrayed by them. And I'm quite disappointed how it's come across in the media. Basically you know, they try to find the great British public.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, tonight we're learning more about the alleged plot to attack U.S. bound planes. While U.S. officials say that Pakistan played a major role in foiling the scheme, it also appears to where many of the suspects got their suspect.

CNN's Kelli Arena now with the latest on what's known about these connections.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A British official says an alleged terrorist operative in Pakistan gave the go signal for the airliner plot to go forward after arrests in Pakistan. Both U.S. and British officials say connections between the alleged militants in Britain and seven people arrested in Pakistan are troubling.

Bob Grenier is a former CIA station chief who was based in Pakistan.

BOB GRENIER, KROLL ASSOCIATES: It's fairly clear that these operatives in the U.K. received some form of support from elements in Pakistan. What is not at all clear right now is the extent to which al Qaeda, as narrowly defined, was actually involved in that And whether or not there was actual command and control exerted from Pakistan.

ARENA: U.S. and British sources say one of the men in custody in Pakistan, identified by Pakistani officials as Rashid Rauf, had a key operational role in the alleged plot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About those in Pakistan at the moment I won't like to say anything. Investigation is continuing.

ARENA: And there are other connections. U.S. government officials say wire transfer records show funds being sent from Karachi to members of the alleged terror group in Britain. Intelligence sources on both sides of the Atlantic say at least one member of the group trained in an al Qaeda camp in Pakistan. And at least two of the British suspects traveled to Pakistan to meet with an alleged al Qaeda explosives expert, Matuir Rehman.

Terror experts say Rehman was directly involved in an attack on U.S. consular officials in Karachi back in March.

GRENIER: He's clearly a very dangerous individual and it is speculated that he may be playing a key role in the link between Pakistani extremists and members of al Qaeda. But at this point, it's really too soon to say precisely what his role is.

ARENA: Pakistan's border with Afghanistan is home for many of the world's most dangerous Islamic terrorists. Among them, Osama bin Laden. And they still exert tremendous influence on extremists around the world.

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER: I really believe that the Pakistani officials have to stay on top of this. Because they have the links then to the Pakistani communities in the United Kingdom as well as to here in the United States.

ARENA (on camera): While the Pakistani government is working to do just that, it still has some major hurdles to overcome. It has little control over the tribal areas near the Afghan border where al Qaeda is very strong.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Back with us this hour is Will Geddes, a counterterrorism expert. He's managing director of ICP, a global threat management group.

It's fascinating when you -- I mean, we're learning new details today about these alleged plotters. Most of them are in their 20s. The youngest is 17, the oldest is 35. There really is no profile of a terrorist.

WILL GEDDES, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT: Well, no, not really. This is the hardest part. You have individuals who come from all walks of life and all social status as well. Some of these individuals have got very respectable jobs. You know, they're not on the poverty line. They're not desperate. However, they do seem to have radical beliefs. And those radical beliefs are being fueled or fired by certain groups.

And one has to look perhaps at the root cause. What is it that's actually drawing these people into these kinds of actions?

COOPER: And it's a tough question to answer. I mean, they will often say, and when you go into the Muslim community, people talk about foreign policy things, and the Palestinian issue, but it can't be that simple. I mean, that may be just something that people are latching onto, to explain away their behavior.

GEDDES: I think I agree entirely. There are individuals that will pin their flag onto foreign policy issues and say, yes, this is the driving force behind why I'm involved in these actions. However, it won't be until more of these individuals get detained and interviewed and processed very, very thoroughly to try and determine even psychologically what it is and what are the contributing factors that make people do that.

COOPER: Right, because I mean, plenty of people, you know, have strong opinions about foreign policy. They don't take the next step of becoming a suicide bomber.

GEDDES: No.

COOPER: What do you think, what have you learned about sort of the mentality of a suicide bomber? I mean, what does it take for someone to take that step?

GEDDES: Well, it's crossing that particular line. And when someone has committed their own life to this particular cause or motivation, one's got to say, OK, is it for one specific agenda or are there a variety of agendas? Has this person got to a stage in their life where they feel that they've expended everything, and this is the only way out and perhaps it's seen as a respectful or a martyrdom way of carrying out an attack and finishing their life.

COOPER: Where does this investigation go now? I mean, British authorities have a total of 28 days before they have to bring charges against what's left of these 24. GEDDES: Well, at the moment it's going to be just very thorough investigations, forensics, absolutely everything that the security services and the police and the law enforcement agencies can do to try and draw down every single bit of value from the leads that they have, whether that be money, whether that be communications, whether that be previous reconnaissance or surveillance they may have undertaken on some of these individuals.

COOPER: And they think some of these guys are still out there?

GEDDES: Yes, absolutely. And I think we'd be unrealistic and naive to not believe that there are other cells operating out there. Albeit, whether they're connected to this particular group, well, again only time will tell.

COOPER: Do you think one of the problems with this group was that if all of what authorities are saying is true, is that there were too many people involved. I mean, that past operations have involved smaller numbers of people. It's easier to keep things a secret, it's easier to execute. If you have 24 or dozens more, someone will tell.

GEDDES: Well, absolutely. If you go to the old adage of a secret is only as good as the fewer person that you tell. The larger the group becomes, the less secure the information is surrounding whatever planning, whatever choice of target they may be selecting.

So, yes, I mean, where they're more successful is when there's smaller groups and smaller cells. Don't want to give them any help here. However, the larger the group, the less easy it is to remain under the radar.

COOPER: Will Geddes, appreciate your expertise. Thanks.

A lot more to talk about. It's still too early to tell how much the terror threat and the security changes will affect the economy. Early indicators are mixed.

Here's the raw data. Airline stocks did take a hit early yesterday, but gained back ground by the end of the day. They closed down again today, but that could be because of rising oil prices. Hard to tell. "New York Times" reports that not many people called travel agents and airlines yesterday to cancel their flights, despite the threat.

In response to carry-on restrictions, UPS and FedEx have not seen a change in shipments of luggage. But some firms that specialize in delivering luggage door to door say they have seen a spike in orders.

And airport shops have been hit hard. Some that specialize in liquid products, such as perfume stores, have had to close.

Ahead on 360, you're going to meet a woman widowed by the war on terror. Her husband, though, was killed fighting for al Qaeda. Fighting for Osama bin Laden and she couldn't be more proud of that fact. The fascination with Osama bin Laden, in her words. Plus, we're also talking about airliners and bombs. The odds of surviving -- yes, actually surviving an explosion on an airplane. You might be surprised what's being done to keep you safe, when 360 "Sky Terror," continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: So what attracts followers to Osama bin Laden? Why would a person be willing to die for him? CNN traveled to 10 countries to get exclusive insight for a special to air later this month. It's called, "In the Footsteps of bin Laden."

Tonight, we hear from one supporter. A widow of the war on terror and proud of it.

Again, here's CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Malica Ehlarud (ph), a devout Muslim who had emigrated from Morocco as a child, was living in Belgium when she first saw Osama bin Laden on television.

His image mesmerized her and her husband, Abdusata Dahman (ph).

MALICA EHLARUD, WIDOW OF THE WAR ON TERROR (through translator): He was watching. There was a fascination, a love. It was very clear, and I felt the same. Osama had beauty in his face. It is a stunning face.

OSAMA BIN LADEN: May God give victory to the young men who perform jihad to win his approval. May God give us patience.

EHLARUD: When you hear his voice, it makes you want to stand up right away and leave and join him.

AMANPOUR: And that's what her husband did when he traveled to Afghanistan in 2000. Malica Ehlarud followed the next year. Life with bin Laden meant living without.

EHLARUD (through translator): There were windows without glass, just a big hole in the wall. And it was the middle of winter. There was no bathroom, no kitchen. We really thought we had gone back to the middle ages.

AMANPOUR: Her husband, who had spent six months in al Qaeda training camps, was given a secret, deadly assignment, one that would move bin Laden closer to his ultimate goal.

EHLARUD (through translator): He told me he'd be home in 15 days.

AMANPOUR: That would be the last time she would ever see him.

Then, the assassination of Ahmed Shah Massoud, a friend of the U.S. and legendary leader of the northern alliance, a formidable Afghan militia.

Two men claiming to be television reporters arranged an interview with Massoud. They were suicide bombers, armed with explosives. One had them strapped to his body. The other, hidden in the camera.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no doubt that bin Laden ordered the assassination of Massoud. He knew that the 9/11 attacks would likely provoke some kind of American reaction and he needed the Taliban to protect him. So, what he gave them was the one thing they desired most, which was Massoud's head on a plate.

AMANPOUR: The explosion killed Massoud. It also killed one of the two attackers, the cameraman. The other assassin was executed by Massoud's men. He was Abda Sata Dehman (ph), Malica Ehlarud's husband. This had been his secret mission and she was very proud.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, earlier I talked about the appeal of bin Laden with CNN's Christiane Amanpour and CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

Christiane, I understand this widow received correspondence from Osama bin Laden after her husband was killed. Do we know the nature of it?

AMANPOUR: Well, apparently it was a letter, and in it was money. We're told $500. And apparently because it is custom in Islam when somebody dies, that their debts have to be settled and this, her husband had these debts and she claims that it was Osama bin Laden who settled them. And I think what's so fascinating about this, it links directly Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to the assassination of Ahmed Shah Massoud.

COOPER: Peter, you read the overall history of Osama bin Laden. And you must have talked to -- I mean, I know you talked to a lot of people because I read the book, about the appeal of him.

You know, when you hear this woman, this widow, saying that, you know, she saw him on television, and that there was something about his face and she immediately wanted to go and join the cause. I mean, it doesn't make any sense to an outsider. Does it make any sense to you after talking to a lot of people who knew bin Laden?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it's an amazing story to see somebody on television and go, you take your husband and yourself to Afghanistan to go and join al Qaeda. I mean, that's a pretty extreme reaction.

But clearly, you know, bin Laden has favorability ratings of 65 percent in Pakistan in a poll in 2004; 55 percent in Jordan; 45 percent in Morocco.

You or I or Christiane may not understand this appeal, but clearly there are people in the Muslim world who regard this guy as somebody who stood up to the West, somebody who's got a attractive back story in holy word term, stood up to the Soviet Union. And there is something that is attractive. There are other leaders of al Qaeda, like Ayman al-Zawahiri, who don't have his charisma. I don't find him charismatic, but unfortunately a sufficiently large number of people do.

COOPER: And Christiane, it's not just people, I mean, elsewhere in the Muslim world, I mean, right here in Britain there seem to be a significant numbers of people who, whether or not they like Osama bin Laden, are certainly drawn to the jihadist cause. What do you think it is? What is it, especially about what's happening here in Britain.

AMANPOUR: Well, the question why do they hate us has been one that's been asked many times since 9/11. It's been asked here. It's been asked in the United States.

There are a variety of reasons. In short, pretty much an amount of real and imaginary grievances against big powers like the United States and now Britain, which leads some of these people, those who are extreme and who have the tendency to be flip, that there's a tipping point that can tip some of these people into extreme actions.

COOPER: It is just fascinating.

Peter Bergen, thanks.

Christiane, thanks.

And a reminder, Christiane and Peter's special report, "In the Footsteps of bin Laden." That airs on the 23rd of this month, 9:00 p.m., Eastern, right here on CNN.

The thought of a bomb on an airplane strikes fear, of course, into the hearts of air travelers everywhere. Who wouldn't be afraid of that? Ahead on 360, how close are we to a bomb-proof plane? Is that even possible? You might be surprised.

Plus, a closer look at airport screening procedures, what is working and what needs fixing, when 360 continues, live from London.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHERTOFF: Flying is safe. It is safe precisely because of the measures we're taking here and are being taken elsewhere in the world. And the commitment of people at TSA is to keep it safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, the TSA and the airlines are continually trying to find ways to make flying safer. But common wisdom tells us the chances of surviving an explosion are not that good -- or are they?

CNN's Joe Johns investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 1988 downing of Pan Am Flight 103, authorities said an explosive device went off, killing everyone on board.

In some ways, the history of bombs on planes is divided into everything that happened in the 25 years before this, and everything that happened afterward.

Some of the bombings in the before column were predictably deadly, like the June 1985 attack on an Air India flight, killing all 329 people on board. But there were also stunning cases where most of the passengers lived to tell about it, like the bombing of TWA Flight 840 that killed four people, but the plane landed safely in Athens. More than 100 people survived.

(On camera): In fact, in the two and a half decades before 1988, the National Academy of Sciences reported there were 35 in-flight bombing incidents with a survival rate of 57 percent. In other words, more than half the people on board planes when bombs went off, lived.

(Voice-over): So, says Sandra Hyland, of the National Academy of Sciences, it's just not true that all the passengers are doomed when a bomb goes off on a plane.

SANDRA HYLAND, NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES: I think there are a lot of aspects that you would have to take into account how big the bomb was, what damage it did to the plane, where it was located, how high the plane was. I think there are a lot of things that could go right. There are a lot of things that could go wrong.

JOHNS: Things went right and wrong on this Philippines airlines flight headed for Tokyo. When Terrorist Ramzi Yousef planted a bomb attached to a timer, which detonated. One man was killed, but the plane still was able to make an emergency landing in Okinawa.

Thinks went right and wrong with this Aloha Airlines flight. Downed, not by a terrorist bomb, but by what authorities called an explosive decompression. Stress on the metal of an aging plane literally ripped off the roof. One stewardess was killed and there were injuries. But more than 80 people on board got on the ground intact.

It's hard to get statistics after 1988 or know whether more people or fewer have survived. But the government and industry alike have gone to great lengths with limited success, studying ways to make the fuselage and baggage compartments of passenger planes more resistant to explosions. It's been very tough. So tough that some in the industry, like Airline Security Expert Michael Boyd question whether it will ever be done.

MICHAEL BOYD, AVIATION SECURITY EXPERT: The idea of having an airplane that is bomb proof or puncture proof with a bomb just isn't probably not from an engineering point of view and cost point of view, possible at all. Remember, we're taking a big piece of iron. We are levitating it. That means it has some vulnerabilities, regardless of what we do. And if we try to totally mitigate those vulnerabilities, the thing won't get off the ground.

JOHNS: The trying continues. And some say the latest alleged plot only adds motivation.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Hmm. To avoid a bomb explosion in flight, there are new carry-on rules, no liquids, no gels. We'll have a look at the new rules, what works and what some say could be changed and could be improved, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN REID, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: More than ever we need to draw on the tolerance and resilience of all parts of our community in the days ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, air travelers seem to adjusting to the new security rules, checking or ditching their mouth wash, perfumes, hair gels. It's not clear, though, how long these new security measures are going to be in effect or even how effective they really are.

As one woman said, don't think you can blow up a plane with a blush. It begs the question, are the right measures being taken to protect our passengers in airports?

We asked Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve to investigate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): His department does not have a technology to detect liquid explosives like those the alleged terrorists wanted to use. But Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says the blanket ban on carrying liquids and gels onto aircraft is working.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I want to reiterate how flying is safe.

MESERVE: But some experts say aviation security is chock full of holes. Most air cargo is not screened. There is no system to ward off attacks with shoulder-fired missiles. Some airport personnel with access to secure areas and even aircraft don't have to pass through security checkpoints. And over and over again the government's own security watchdogs have smuggled prohibited items past screeners and their machines.

One expert is most horrified by this. The airlines, not the government, are checking passenger names against terror watch lists.

JAMES CARAFANO, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Here we are, we'll be at the fifth anniversary of 9/11 and we still haven't done the one kind of practical common sense thing we can do to keep terrorists off airplanes.

MESERVE: A member of the commission that investigated 9/11 says aviation security is rife with questionable decisions and pork barrel spending.

TIM ROEMER, FORMER 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: Too often some of these contracts are let to particular businesses and districts of members of Congress, rather than based on an intelligence assessment, and the best technologies.

MESERVE (on camera): With threats morphing and multiplying, absolute security is impossible, the head of the transportation security administration says. But he argues that federal air marshals, reinforced cockpit doors, combat air patrols and technology provide effective layers of security if routines are varied and kept unpredictable.

EDMUND "KIP" HAWLEY, DIRECTOR, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION: What we don't want is to allow a terrorist to be able to engineer his process, knowing exactly what we're going to do.

MESERVE (voice-over): Hawley also wants to expand the training of security personnel to recognize suspicious behavior. He says it is inexpensive, yet effective.

HAWLEY: We'd rather put the effort into that security which guards against any kind of threat, rather than spend millions of dollars, wait many years and then only deploy it where you can afford it.

MESERVE (on camera): Hawley and his critics agree on one point, that intelligence is a critical ingredient in aviation security. The proof? Intelligence is what thwarted this latest plot to blast airplanes out of the sky.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, the goal of course is tougher, more thorough airport security. Coming up, we're going to look at how that can be done. Feedback from Rafi Ron, former head of security at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport. He has more than 30 years of counterterrorism experience. His perspective, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, before the break we pointed out some of the holes in airport security. My next guest is an expert in the field. Rafi Ron is the former security chief at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport. He joins us live from Washington.

Rafi, thanks for being with us. I understand you flew from New York to Washington today. How was the flight?

RAFI RON, AIRPORT SECURITY EXPERT: Well, the flight was smooth, and I must admit that the airport procedures seemed to be working well. The American public is responding well by avoiding carrying liquids and paste on board. So it seemed like almost as usual, except for the fact that you saw the piles of those containers on the sideline.

COOPER: You know, the focus in the U.S. has always been on screening people's belongings. Is that the right way to go?

RON: Well, I think that this was one of our greatest weakness during the last five years. And I was very happy to hear Mr. Hawley referring to this as something that he believes and understand it has to be changed. Because for the last five years, we invested almost all our efforts in technology. And technology, by definition, is limited to do what it is being designed to do, which is mainly or perhaps even only detection of weapon, according to a predetermined list.

Now, it's kind of a problem when you have to...

COOPER: It...

RON: Yes, please.

COOPER: No, no, no. Sorry, go ahead.

RON: And so when you have to work according to a predetermined list, in terms of the airport detection purposes, you are limited by two things. One is by your imagination. And we have seen the terrorists have been like always a step ahead of us in terms of their imagination. And secondly, by the limitation of technology.

What we saw a couple of days ago in London is something that not exactly -- this is something we should have expected already after the Richard Reid case, when we saw the terrorists learn the weaknesses of our technology and they know how to abuse it.

COOPER: Sir, how do you go about it? I mean, it's interesting. I've been flying in and out of Israel recently a lot. And they seem to focus, I mean, they certainly x-ray baggage, but they also interview basically all the passengers and they -- clearly, when you're being interviewed by Israeli security, they're looking for, I guess, patterns or something about you. They're clearly looking for clues.

In the U.S. should we be more focused on passengers and talking to them?

RON: Well, we should certainly pay more attention to passengers. We should certainly talk to some of them. I don't think that the volume in the United States allows to implement the Israeli approach with 100 percent of the passengers being interviewed. I'm not sure at this point in time this is possible.

But I think that we can use some sophisticated tools in order to identify a smaller percentage that we may want to talk to before we allow them on board. And this interview process, which has been refined in Israel for the last 30 years to a level that became a very strong deterrent to terrorists, and a very powerful tool to detect them when they decide to show up on the scene.

COOPER: How long do you think in the United States this no liquid requirement is going to be? Do you think that's there to stay?

RON: Well, I don't think that this could hold very long. I think that the effect that this has on the industry would strongly create a pushback, a strong pushback. I think that the losses are increasing by the day. I think that the difficulty in baggage handling systems are growing with greater pressure on the systems, and on the explosive detection systems back in the bag room. And I think we have to come with a better solution than just banning those liquids from being taken on board.

I'm sure that we will come with a technological solution for that sometime in the near future. But my question is, are we always going to be one step behind in terms of providing technological solutions? Or are we going to follow what Mr. Hawley mentioned a couple of minutes earlier, and start to focus on individuals that we want to pay more attention to, and finally start to talk to them at the airport and find out more about them.

COOPER: It sounds sensible. Rafi Ron, appreciate your perspective. Thanks very much.

More of 360 in a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Thanks for watching 360. Have a great weekend.

"LARRY KING" is next.

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