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CONNECT THE WORLD
Search for Abducted Nigerian Girls; Gas Attacks Alleged in Syria; Surviving the Siege of Homs; Ehud Olmert Sentenced; Two Parents Identified Daughters in Boko Haram Video; Chibok Residents Scarred by Attacks; Boko Haram's Influence; One Square Meter: Milan Property Boom; Pistorius Prosecutor Asks for Independent Psychiatric Evaluation; Al-Masri Terror Trial; Tensions in Yemen; Indian SENSEX Hits Record High; Future of India's Economy; Parting Shots: Celebrating Afghanistan Through Lens of Steve McCurry
Aired May 13, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Searching from the sky. The US lends its weight to the hunt for Nigeria's missing schoolgirls as the government in Abuja weighs its options.
Also ahead, a broken city, a battered population. We'll show you how life for the people of Homs has been changed forever by Syria's civil war.
And he made headlines this weekend, topping Britain's list of billionaires. Indian-born Gopichand Hinduja speaks to us exclusively about building wealth in his homeland after the world's biggest-ever election.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: A very good evening from the UAE. It is 7:00 here. We are tracking new developments out of Nigeria for you this hour in the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls. Some of their relatives tell CNN that not all of the girls seen in the Boko Haram video were abducted from Chibok last month. They believe some of the girls may have been taken in other kidnappings in the last two years.
Well, this new information comes as the US aids the search for the missing girls. Planes provided by the US are scouring Nigerian territory, and two senior Obama administration officials tell CNN the US is also sharing commercial satellite photos and other intelligence with the Nigerian government.
Well, let's bring in our Isha Sesay from Abuja for the very latest on this -- the search efforts. Isha, the details on what has actually happened on the ground in Chibok really quite confusing at this time. What do we know at this point?
ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, you summed it up. It is still quite confusing as to what is going on when it comes to this search-and-rescue operation, and it is our understanding, of course, that the Nigerian government is taking the lead on this, that is what we've been told.
We know that the international assistance that has come in is here in an advisory capacity. You've already mentioned the aerial surveillance and the sharing of surveillance on the part of the US with Nigerian authorities.
But as to where we are now, what level of progress has been made, as to knowing where these girls actually are, whether they're in Nigeria or they have been taken outside of the country, we just don't know the answers to those questions. We continue to press the Nigerian authorities to get some kind of operational update on what has been achieved so far. As yet, no details forthcoming.
But what I do want to share with you is the reaction to the Boko Haram videotape that was released yesterday. I think we need to stress to our viewers the plight, the trauma of the affected families. This really is a case of dashed hopes, now, Becky, for a number of these families.
We know that they've been huddling around television sets, around laptops, trying to see if they can identify their children who were taken on that April 14th raid, and we know that only two to three of them have been successful at that.
So, this really is a case of dashed hopes. People that are going through so much pain and anguish right now, and they were holding onto that hope when that tape came out yesterday. And now, they don't really know what to think. Becky?
ANDERSON: All right. Isha, we have heard from the government that they -- as far as I understand it -- are prepared to negotiate with this group, who has said that they are looking to have their prisoners released in exchange for these kids. Behind the scenes, do we know at this point whether they are negotiating?
SESAY: It's -- what we found since we've been on the ground here is a lot of mixed messaging, especially in this regard, since this tape came out. It has been reported by some outlets that yes, the Nigerian government is willing to negotiate.
Others have said within the government, other officials, no, they will not let a group like Boko Haram dictate terms. The Nigerian government of course saying to CNN at a press conference that all options are on the table.
There is a lot of mixed messaging, and I think it feeds into this sense of confusion that surrounds the response to this April 14th abduction. Nothing seems clear-cut, and right now, we don't know what's going on behind closed doors.
Are there talks underway? Has there been an outreach to Boko Haram? Once again, no information being provided by the Nigerian government on that front. Becky?
ANDERSON: Yes, all right, Isha. Thank you for that. We've got more on this developing story just ahead today. First, we'll take you to Chibok, where we'll show you how residents are trying to protect themselves as they wait for any word on the abducted girls.
And we'll talk to a terrorism expert about Boko Haram's influence in Nigeria and beyond and find out what other dangerous groups they may be linked with. That is coming up this hour.
Well, Syria's government faces new accusations it carried out chemical attacks. Take a look at this footage said to be from a rebel-held village north of Damascus last month. People are choking and being given oxygen after what they said were bombs dropped from helicopters. CNN cannot independently verify this video's authenticity.
The group Human Rights Watch points to it as evidence that the regime dropped barrel bombs filled with chlorine gas. HRW says its findings are backed up by interviews with witnesses, with photos, and with video recordings, adding that at least 11 people were killed in attacks on three cities.
Further south, people are returning to the city of Homs. They're some of the residents who fled just before the 700-day siege of the old city by government troops. Frederik --
ANDERSON: -- though, the first Western journalist to enter Homs. And after last week's truce, he spoke with two people who were trapped there and didn't leave. They've been there the whole time. And this is what is their incredible story of survival.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The massive destruction in the old town of Homs shows the whole tragedy of Syria's civil war. But in the middle of this sad scene, some are beaming with joy.
Zeinat Akhras is one of only a handful of civilians who lived through the entire two-and-a-half-year siege of Old Homs. "I don't even want to think about it," she says. "The last three months were the toughest because we could only eat grass and leaves all the time."
They Syrian army sealed off Homs after it fell into rebel hands. Supplies of food and medicine quickly depleted. Zeinat's brother, Ayman, was trapped with her the whole time. He tried to find food and gather firewood for the little stove in their apartment.
"I took wood this size and bigger," he says. "It's some of the wood rebels broke out of homes to burn. I only used leftovers." When virtually all their food had run out, they were forced to eat leaves. Ayman says of all places, he found the best ones in a graveyard. He asks me to try them.
AYMAN AKHRAS, SIEGE SURVIVOR: Good?
PLEITGEN (on camera): It's OK. It's OK. It's OK. Every day?
ZEINAT AKHRAS, SIEGE SURVIVOR. Every day.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): "For breakfast, lunch, and dinner," he says. And each meal was just a tiny bowlful. "For breakfast, we cut it up and ate it fresh with one or two spoons of olive oil and spices," says Zeinat. "For lunch, we did the same thing, but we tried to fry it over the stove. We also put some water on it just to change the taste a little."
PLEITGEN (on camera): What we always have to keep in mind is that the people who were stranded here were not only starving, they were also subject to intense shelling pretty much round the clock that laid waste to large parts of the historic town of Homs.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): With its use of heavy weapons and the siege of this and other districts in Homs, the Assad regime has been accused of using starvation as a weapon in the civil war. Zeinat and Ayman say their apartment was raided by opposition fighters dozens of times, and the rebels took most of their few remaining supplies.
"They took everything," he says. "Marmalade, five canisters of olive oil, honey, tea, they didn't leave anything."
After more than two years of hunger, Zeinat is weak. She weighs only 34 kilos, around 68 pounds. These photos from a family celebration show her before the conflict began.
Both Zeinat and Ayman are survivors. The siege of Homs may have left them frail and thin, but also strong in spirit and determination, and hopeful about the future.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Homs, Syria.
ANDERSON: Well, a former Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has been sentenced to six years in prison. He was convicted of receiving about $160,000 in bribes in connection with a controversial housing project. That was when he was the mayor of Jerusalem more than ten years ago.
Well, let's get to Ben Wedeman, who is live for us in Jerusalem with more tonight. And he is expected to appeal this sentence, Ben. Be that as it may, a bad day for Olmert, surely, but a good day for Israeli democracy, do you think?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly many people here are saying that it shows that it doesn't matter how powerful you are in Israel, if you break the law, if you are a powerful politician and break the law, you will go to prison.
Others are somewhat embarrassed by the fact that this -- he's only the latest Israeli official -- senior Israeli official -- to go to prison. Let's not forget that former president, Moshe Katsav, is serving a seven- year sentence for rape. So, there's a bit of shame, a bit of pride at the same time.
Now, as you mentioned, he does have 45 days to appeal his case to the supreme court. His lawyers say he will do exactly that. Not only this six-year sentence and the fine, but also the original conviction itself, which was handed down on the 31st of March.
However, the presiding judge in this case, David Rosen in the Tel Aviv District Court, was quite harsh in saying that Mr. Olmert and the others had violated public trust, and he said that public officials who accept bribes are akin to traitors. And he said that Mr. Olmert should begin serving his six-year sentence on the 1st of September. Becky?
ANDERSON: Ben, how did a former prime minister once described by one leading Israeli newspaper, at least, as spearheading the fight against exposing organized crime in Israel when he was a young parliamentarian in the 70s, how did he end up being found guilty of "one of the worst crimes under law"? The presiding judge's words, not mine, by the way.
WEDEMAN: Well, certainly, I suppose you can just say that power corrupts. And certainly during his ten years as mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003, perhaps the temptations became too great.
Now, the thing that's at the center of all this is this so-called Holy Land real estate development project, a real eyesore, if you've seen it, in southern Jerusalem. Now, it was him and other officials in the Jerusalem municipality who accepted bribes -- even though I should say that Mr. Olmert continues to insist that he never asked for a bribe and never accepted one -- that led to the construction of this housing project.
So, there was a lot of money involved. And what's interesting is that even in the trial, it was understood that Mr. Olmert never actually physically received any money himself. His brother, however, Yossi, was somebody who received a fairly significant bribe in this case. But I guess it really is a case of the money was a bit too much of a temptation. Becky?
ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem for you this evening. Thank you, Ben. Still to come tonight, the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius in South Africa takes what is an unprecedented turn. Prosecution may be suggesting a new defense strategy. A live report from Pretoria is coming up this hour.
And investor sentiment on the rise following an historic election in India. Later this hour, we've got an exclusive interview with you -- or for you with the Indian-born mogul Gopichand Hinduja. That coming up. Let's take a break.
ANDERSON: You're watching CNN, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Welcome back. Now, I'm going to return to our top story tonight, the search for more than 200 missing schoolgirls in Nigeria.
And some news just coming into CNN. We told you that it appears that some of the girls seen in this video that I'm about to show you actually taken in earlier kidnappings. While that may be the case, CNN has just learned that two parents say they have, in fact, identified their daughters. We are hearing that from human rights lawyer, Femi Falana.
Now, he adds the parents, along with five girls who escaped Boko Haram, are being taken to the office of the governor of Borno state to rewatch the video and try and confirm to authorities in person their daughters' identities.
Now, this new information comes as the US aids the search for these kids. US surveillance planes are scouring Nigerian territory, and the US is also providing intel support.
Well, Boko Haram's attack and abduction in Chibok last month has shaken the town to its core. Nima Elbagir talked to some residents who are still scarred by what was that terrible night and fear more assaults by the terror group.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nightfall in Chibok, and with it, the fear returns, bringing back memories of when nearly 300 girls were abducted here.
ELBAGIR (on camera): It's at night that people here say they feel most vulnerable, most abandoned by the outside world, which is why they've started going on nightly patrols like this, even since that horrifying night of April 14th. The men here have come together, each bringing what they could: machetes, homemade bows and arrows, trying, hoping that they will be able to protect their families.
DANIEL MUVIA, CHIBOK RESIDENT: And it was very dark. But the sound of gunshots, explosions everywhere.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Daniel Muvia and his family witnessed the terror firsthand.
MUVIA: We had to run into the bushes for our lives. So, it was a horrifying night. Fear is all over. Fear is everywhere.
ELBAGIR: Daybreak does bring respite, but the burnt-out school stands as a reminder of the sheer scale of the devastation. Nearly a month since the night when the radical Islamist group Boko Haram stormed this town, more than 200 of the girls are still missing. Tired of waiting for help to arrive, fear is making way here for resilience.
ELBAGIR (on camera): We're told it was four terrifying hours of gunfire, grenades, and looting as the villagers here cowered in the bush. But as you can see, life in Chibok is already returning to some semblance of normal.
The reality is, as we've heard from the people we've been speaking to here, that with no end in sight to the continuing Boko Haram attacks, the villagers say that they've had to learn to pick themselves up and just get on with their lives.
Nima Elbagir, CNN, Chibok.
ANDERSON: Well, it's no wonder that we are seeing residents of Chibok terrified of another Boko Haram attack. The town lies in an area where the group is extremely active, and its influence has only been growing.
Let me get you some analysis on this. Joining me from London is Raffaello Pantucci, who's a senior fellow at RUSI, an institute that watches and are experts in terrorism. Boko Haram fighters are often better-armed than Nigerian government forces. So, the question is, where is this group getting its weapons.
Let me just get our viewers a little bit of analysis here, sir, and I'll get to you. Experts say guns are not hard to come by in Nigeria, but the group is known to smuggle arms and explosives in from Chad and Cameroon, for example.
Boko Haram also gets many of its weapons by raiding government and police armories, and analysts say Boko Haram fighters are usually armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades and other explosives.
Recently, they've acquired heavy guns mounted on trucks, including some anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns. Raffaello, where are they getting the money from for this equipment?
RAFFAELLO PANTUCCI, SENIOR FELLOW, RUSI: Well, I think they're getting it from a wide range of places. I think on the one hand, we have to remember that Boko Haram has not only indulged in the sort of terrorist acts or mass kidnappings that they've become prominent for now, they're also involved in a lot of criminality in the region.
They do a lot of kidnap for ransom for people with in the sort of north Nigerian area. And they've been involved and connected to sort of other regional organizations, like al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, further up in the Sahel, and there's been evidence that they have been supplying them with some funds in the past.
However, at the moment, I suspect that the group gets a lot of its funding from parasitic criminal activity, extortion and attacking villages in the area where it operates.
ANDERSON: Can I just talk to you for a moment about whether the Nigerian government is or should be negotiating with Boko Haram. We spoke to a couple of people who gave us, well, at least their reaction to the idea of negotiation. Have a listen to just one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL OSAS, SURVEYOR: You don't negotiate with terrorists, because if you do that, then maybe if you release those people that are in the SSS custody, the worry, of course, that they'll come back and hit you harder. So, you don't negotiate with terrorist. The government is just finding a way to let -- to try and rescue those girls.
And now that the US and other persons are with the government, assisting the government, I believe they should be able to do with that things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Daniel Osas, Raffaello, very much reflecting what many people we've spoken to on the ground are saying, don't negotiate with these guys. If the government were negotiating, and they have said on record that they are prepared to at this point, would they be negotiating financially at this point? Because again, we're talking about funding here.
PANTUCCI: Well, I think that yes, this is an element where people would speculate. As I said before, Boko Haram and some of their splinter organizations that operate under the group have in the past been involved in kidnap that has been resolved through apparent payment of ransom. So, it's possible that there are discussions moving in that direction.
The difficulty is, and it somewhat reflects what the gentleman in Nigeria was saying, is that when you do these sort of deals with these sorts of groups, you do tend to incentivize them to do it again. If they know that they can kidnap people and then the government will potentially trade or give money or do other things, which they are looking for, then it incentivizes them to do it again.
So, you have to tread a very fine balance. On the one hand, figuring the human element of the story and these poor girls who need to be rescued and you need to find some way of bringing them back, but you need to do a deal or do some sort of arrangement with the group that can be constructed so that it helps save the government's face, but it helps the group advance its interests in enough of a way that they're satisfied, and they're willing to let these people go.
PANTUCCI: But at the same time, just sort of cutting a deal in which you let people go in exchange for these ones is probably not really going to cut it.
ANDERSON: How is the group -- I know you're studied this group. This isn't a group that's new to you. How is it connected to other Islamic factions in North Africa, and how much are they benefiting from the -- what is growing instability that we've seen across North Africa after the fall, for example, of Gadhafi in Libya?
PANTUCCI: I think it's a very complicated picture. But fundamentally, what you've seen is, you've seen the sort of problem which we used to mostly see up in northern -- North Africa, sort of in Algeria, emanating originally with the GIA, which then developed into the GSPC, which then turned into al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
That's a group that now seems to have spread, and we've seen the increase of instability across the region that's both directly connected to this group and, in part, there is an element of when in 2009, the Nigerian government clamped down quite hard on Boko Haram, it seemed to scatter.
And what I think we saw was some of the leadership people we see now in quite senior positions in the organization, like Abubakar Shekau, probably ended up in training camps or ended up connected with AQIM in the more north of where Boko Haram currently operates, a training camp with them.
And then went back to Nigeria and started a campaign of terrorism which, in many ways, in the tactics and ways that they've been deploying attacks, are very reminiscent of what we've seen with AQIM.
The other bigger problem that we've seen across the region is that after Libya and the collapse of the Gadhafi regime, the Gadhafi regime was a very heavily-armed regime, which had accumulated vast stockpiles of small arms and light weapons. And we've seen the scattering of these weapons across the region.
And this is across the broad Sahel, which you're really talking about North Africa across, but all the way down to places like northern Nigeria, and even across into Chad and Cameroon.
ANDERSON: Fascinating. Raffaello, for the time being, we thank you very much, indeed. On one of our top stories, of course, tonight.
Live from Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. We are at 25 minutes past 7:00 here in the UAE. Coming up, a new architectural wonder is on the rise. This isn't Shanghai or Dubai. Find out which fashion capital is making a foray into sky-high buildings. That after this.
ANDERSON: We have a Global Exchange here on CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson out of Abu Dhabi. A little Italian flare for you today at the Exchange. Milan may be known as a capital for fashion and design, but it's also becoming what is a property hot spot. John Defterios takes a look in One Square Meter for you.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR (voice-over): Milan does not have the grandeur of Roman or Venetian architecture, but the city is the financial heart and undisputed design capital of Italy. One kilometer from Milan Cathedral, a new architectural wonder is rising. Porta Nuova promises to revive the neglected outskirts of the city.
MANFREDI CATELLA, CEO, HINES ITALIA: In Italy, it's not just fashion, design, and food. For, I would say, the first one is our land. And this is the natural resource, like the Middle East have their oil, we have our oil in our land. And now, we have to take it back and create value. And Porto Nuova is an example.
DEFTERIOS: Valued at more than $2 billion, Porta Nuova is 60 percent financed by European investors, with the remaining 40 percent funded by Qatar holdings. At 290,000 square meters, the site will encompass office, residential, and green space.
DEFTERIOS (on camera): Milan is already known as a center for finance and fashion, and this complex speaks to both. But the developer wanted to add a third pillar, if you will, that being technology, to make it edgier. It has delivered by having Google set up its Italian headquarters here.
DEFTERIOS (voice-over): Cutting-edge architecture has helped make Porto Nuova unique. The most spectacular build is the Bosco Verticale, or vertical forest. At 231 meters, this curved tower is UniCredit Group's European headquarters. Its 4,000 employees help bring it to life. General manager Paolo Fiorentino feels the building is more than just a skyscraper.
PAOLO FIORENTINO, GENERAL MANAGER, UNICREDIT GROUP: The feedback is so positive that we replicate this project also in other cities, like Vienna, we remind also Roma. But we change the overall headquarters' philosophy in the group. We changed some processes, pushed by this new environment.
DEFTERIOS: But can the Milanese, with a taste for traditional bricks and mortar, approve of this metal and glass intrusion into their city's skyline?
MASSIMILLIANO LOCATELLI, ARCHITECT, CLS: We are not used to certain skylines, so you turn your head and, boom, now you lift your head up.
DEFTERIOS: To get a local's perspective, I met with a contemporary architect and designer in his new offices, a converted church.
LOCATELLI: That new way of building for Milano, it's really unusual. And I guess people have to get used to it.
DEFTERIOS: Porto Nuova is on target for completion next year, in time for the Milan expo 2015.
John Defterios, CNN, Milan, Italy.
ANDERSON: The latest world news headlines just ahead here on CNN. And the prosecution in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial makes a legal move that could delay the trial for weeks or even months. That's up next, stay with us.
ANDERSON: From the terrace here in the UAE, welcome back, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. The top stories this hour.
The families of the Nigerian girls abducted last month have been scouring this Boko Haram video. While some of them found their daughters in the group, some relatives tell CNN that several of these girls seen here may have been taken in earlier kidnappings.
Well, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has been sentenced to six years in prison. He was convicted of receiving about $160,000 in bribes in connection with a controversial housing project. That was when he was the mayor of Jerusalem more than ten years ago.
Visiting Ukraine today, Germany's foreign minister stressed the importance of the country's upcoming presidential poll and pushed for talks between the government and separatist leaders. Meanwhile, Ukraine's prime minister said Russia should stop using natural gas as a weapon, referring to Gazprom's contracts with Kiev.
The prosecution in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial is asking the judge for an independent psychological evaluation of the athlete known as the Blade Runner. A psychiatrist for the defense testified that Pistorius suffered from general anxiety disorder at the time that he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Well, the move by the lead prosecutor has never been seen before, and it's effectively opened the door for the judge to consider an insanity defense, even though that is not part of the defense strategy. This is pretty confusing, but I know somebody who can help us sort it out, CNN's legal analyst, Kelly Phelps, joining us live from Pretoria.
I'm going to have to ask you to do this in words of one syllable, because this is complicated and procedural stuff at this point, but could mean that this trial could go on for weeks, if not months.
KELLY PHELPS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. This is a critical point in the trial, because it could change the direction of the trial entirely. If the judge accepts Mr. Nel's application tomorrow, it will set in motion a legal process of psychiatric referral.
At the end of that process, which will take around a month, should the court find that as a result of that referral, at the time that Mr. Pistorius committed the conduct, he had a mental illness operative on his mind, it will lead to an automatic verdict of not guilty by reason of mental illness.
And therefore, he will be subject to involuntary committal to a mental institution until that mental illness has been successfully treated, which could potentially be for the rest of his life. And that will see the end of the criminal process in this matter.
ANDERSON: So, let me just clarify this. We are waiting, of course, on the judge in this case. There is no jury. We're waiting on the judge to decide. But what you're saying is that there may never be an end to this case?
PHELPS: Well, it would end the case, it would just end in a very different position to any of the positions that had been suggested previously. So, insanity is a defense. In other words, it is provided as a shield for an accused person to use should they so choose to.
But in this case, we have a state prosecutor who is trying to force the court's hand to consider a defense that the accused is desperately trying to avoid. And therefore, this was never foreseen as a potential outcome in this matter and could significantly change his prospects.
ANDERSON: Kelly, always a pleasure. Thank you.
Well, the radical London-based cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri says that his relationship with a Yemeni terror group was much like Gerry Adams and the IRA. He's been testifying in his own defense in a terror trial in New York.
He denied all charges against him, including aiding the 1998 kidnapping of 16 tourists from the US, Britain, and Australia, in Yemen. He says he agreed to be a terror group's spokesman, but did not agree with the kidnapping. Four of the tourists were killed by their captors.
Islamic militants in Yemen are posing an increasing threat to Westerners, especially to Americans. The security concerns are so serious there that the US Embassy had to shut its doors. Mohammed Jamjoom reports it could be a while before they reopen.
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With pitched battles between al Qaeda and security forces intensifying throughout Yemen, CNN has learned exclusively the threat toward the US embassy in Sanaa has become so critical, the embassy will now be shut down for at least two more weeks, an extraordinarily long amount of time, and quite rare, showcasing just how dangerous the situation in the country's capital has become.
JENNIOFER PSAKI, SPOKESWOMAN, US STATE DEPARTMENT: We said we'd open it when it was practical to do that, so we continue to evaluate on a daily basis.
JAMJOOM: The embassy closing comes after the revelation that two US embassy employees get into a deadly shootout with al Qaeda militants attempting to kidnap them just two weeks ago at a popular barber shop. The Americans were quickly moved out of the country.
But last week, after street fighting between al Qaeda and the military worsened and more foreigners were targeted in Sanaa, a decision was made to shutter the embassy.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: We know from sources who used to be inside al Qaeda in their own peninsula that in late 2011, they actually conducted video surveillance of the US embassy compound in Sanaa. So, they have this footage on the shelf, and there's been a real push by the group to try and attack it again.
JAMJOOM: The recent uptick in attacks by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, shows how strong the organization remains, even though Yemen's military, with the assistance of the US, is battling the militants in several provinces.
Over the weekend, AQAP attacked a security checkpoint close to the presidential palace. Elsewhere, the group ambushed and killed more than a dozen Yemeni soldiers. Now, as the war against al Qaeda gets murkier --
JAMJOOM: -- one thing remains clear: the US has become an even bigger target.
ANDERSON: From Washington, now, for you. What else have you learned about the severity of this threat towards the US and its embassy?
JAMJOOM: Becky, a Yemeni official was telling me yesterday exclusively that, in fact, the threat towards American targets, US embassy personnel, and the US embassy in Yemen, is as high as it's ever been.
I also learned that the threat is much more severe than it was originally believed to be. Now, one of the reasons they shuddered the embassy as they have -- and let's remember that even though the embassy is closed to the public, it is still operational, there are still diplomats there, there is no plan to evacuate them from Sanaa.
But we learned that this decision to close the embassy was made in the wake of that brazen attack at a barber shop, a very popular barber shop, in Sanaa. There were two US embassy personnel that were there, this was on April 24th.
And AQAP militants, I'm told by the Yemeni government, attacked them. They tried to kidnap them at gunpoint. One of those US embassy personnel had a permit to carry a gun. He then got into a shootout with the two militants, killed the two militants.
Since then, those two US embassy personnel have been deported from Yemen -- no, sorry, not deported. They've left Yemen. And that's standard protocol.
But all this points to the fact that there are more targets of foreigners in Yemen right now, especially in the capital. They are more of a target, and there's a much higher security threat level, not just towards the US embassy, but towards other embassies, other diplomats. And the atmosphere there in Sanaa really very scary right now, Becky.
ANDERSON: So, very briefly, how would you describe the war on terror going? The war against AQAP on the ground? I keep seeing in formation that suggests that the Yemeni forces are after al Qaeda elements, and yet, they are losing their own forces in this fight. Of course, there are drones in the sky as well, aren't there?
JAMJOOM: That's right. It's a very, very tough fight. We should remember that the Yemeni military has never attempted something this large- scale in the past. It is a huge commitment on the part of the Yemeni military to actually have boots on the ground in provinces like Shabwa and Abyan and Hadramaut.
These are provinces that are hotbeds for militancy, and usually, the Yemeni government, which has a very weak central government, doesn't dare put troops there to try to battle al Qaeda. So, the fact that they are there, that they are trying to encircle these AQAP militants, that they are trying to destroy their hideouts and their recruitment centers, that is a very big deal.
But it's also very murky. It's being done, really, in the shadows. There's not a lot of coverage. And it's also being done with the assistance, logistical support, air support, from the US government. And there's not a lot of information getting out about that, too.
We know that at least dozens of Yemeni military men have been killed in these clashes with AQAP. We've also been told that there are real concerns that because of fuel shortages across Yemen, that in fact the military, they might run out of fuel for their jeeps, for their tanks, for their vehicles there.
That would be a stunning development for the Yemeni military, who might actually have to pick up and then go back to Sanaa. And what would that do to AQAP and their strength in those areas? So, there's a lot of questions that remain.
It does seem as though AQAP is on the run in some of these areas, and that the military has been more effective than they've been in the past. But the fact of the matter is, AQAP has said that they would take their fight to the capital.
They have done so in the last week, and there are now pitched street battles going on almost every day in Sanaa, and foreigners there and embassies are more of a target than they ever have been before. Becky?
ANDERSON: Mr. Jamjoom, it's always a pleasure. We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us from Washington today.
From Abu Dhabi, we are live with CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Coming up, the Hinduja brothers just topped "The Sunday Times" rich list as the wealthiest billionaires in the UK. I'll be speaking one of them, Gopichand Hinduja, in an exclusive interview up next.
ANDERSON: India's stock market received another boost on Tuesday after election exit polls showed a lead for the pro-business BJP party. The Bombay SENSEX, as it's known, rose over just one percent, hit another record high.
Now, the prospect of Narendra Modi leading a new government has pushed stocks higher by almost 13 -- 1-3 -- percent this year. The Indian rupee has also been buoyed by the speculation. Well, the opposition leader has presented himself as a candidate in the mold of a CEO, campaigning on his record of fostering low unemployment and high foreign investment as head of Gujarat state.
For more on the future of the country's economy, I'm joined by Gopichand Hinduja, who is the co-chair of the Hinduja Group. He and his brother sit on top of "The Sunday Times" rich list as the number one billionaires in the UK. Joining me tonight from London to talk India. And sir, thank you. What will it take to get India's faltering economy back on track?
GOPICHAND HINDUJA, CO-CHAIR, HINDUJA GROUP: In my view, the good governance has been the cause for the setback in the ruling government. So, for having the GDP growth back, a good governance is necessary, which covers everything.
And there is so much scope and potential in the country. Investors want to jump in. Unfortunately, because of not having good governance, there has been a setback. And --
ANDERSON: All right.
HINDUJA: -- a new government --
ANDERSON: Do you think -- sorry, sir, can I --
HINDUJA: -- it comes with the stability --
ANDERSON: -- can I just get you to have a listen to what one analyst had to say about it? I'm so sorry to jump in on you. I want to get our viewers just a sense of what one analyst had to say about India. This is Sunil Shah, who says a Modi win would give the economy a much-needed boost, as I -- I think you are saying as well. Let's have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUNIL SHAH, STOCK MARKET ANALYST: The perception Indians feel is that once the new government is formed and Mr. Modi becomes the prime minister, he will give the much-needed impetus to the economy, which will put India back onto the growth trajectory.
Now, this is just perception. And he would take some hard decisions, and more than political compulsion, he will take decisions which are economically what we see compulsion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: So, Mr. Hinduja, let's get real here. The BJP and Narendra Modi look set to win big, don't they? Does he, though, to your mind, need a majority get give him a clear mandate for his business reforms?
HINDUJA: It's very important that he gets a majority so that there is a stable government, at east with his allies, who are not looking to their greed, but are in alignment to see how the economic growth comes and good governance comes in.
And it's not an easy task --
ANDERSON: How big a drag --
HINDUJA: It's not --
ANDERSON: Sorry, sir, continue.
HINDUJA: -- an easy task -- it's not an easy task to bring in good governance, because the whole system has to be reshuffled. The whole system has to be changed. And I think it takes a lot of effort and we cannot expect the 10 percent growth to come next.
But definitely within two to three years, if there is a stable government, and if the good governance is there, 7 to 8 percent is achievable, and if the global economy is also favorable, then the potential for 10 percent growth is definitely there.
ANDERSON: Wow, that's -- fascinating stuff to hear that from you. Let's talk about corruption, here. How big a drag is corruption on the Indian economy? Many people say it is endemic.
HINDUJA: Definitely this is also the part of governance, whichever government comes into ruling will have to address it. And it is not only in India, it's in many parts of the world. But India has so many other factors to be proud of, and I'm sure they will be able to even take care of this.
Once the stable government is there, they will be able to clear up the corruption, although it's very difficult to clear up the total corruption unless the new reforms, new policies are such that the new investors do not have to go into the entanglements of inter-ministerial decisions, decisions between center and state.
And I'm sure the new government, who is going to get the mandate, they are well aware about the problems. And that is why the voters are going to give them the mandate. The --
ANDERSON: Interesting. All right --
HINDUJA: It will be a Herculean --
ANDERSON: -- and you see that the mandate needs to be a majority at this point?
HINDUJA: -- it will be a Herculean task -- It will be a Herculean task for any government --
ANDERSON: With one of the main -- yes.
HINDUJA: Yes. Any government to really be able to do anything in a short time. It will take time, and we all should --
ANDERSON: Yes. What --
HINDUJA: -- have patience. Yes?
ANDERSON: Yes, all right --
HINDUJA: Please, go ahead.
ANDERSON: -- patience is a virtue, it seems, for India. Apologies, there's a slight delay on our line here, which is why I think I'm jumping in when actually you need to continue. So, forgive me.
One of the main reasons that Mr. Modi has got so much support, sir, from the business community both in and outside of India is the perception that he's been a great manager of Gujarat's economy. Even the term "Modinomics" has been bandied about.
Can I just take a moment to compare Gujarat's growth rate, though, to India as a whole? You can clearly see that Gujarat has performed above the national average. But so has a state like Bihar. So the question, Mr. Hinduja, is why is Modi getting so much positive feedback in this regard?
HINDUJA: Firstly, I think the policies which he has placed forward to the voters are helping him quite a lot. He expresses very well what he wants to do. He's ready to take India forward. He has seen the mistakes of ruling government, and has been able to bring it forward to the voters. And this is what is bringing him ahead.
ANDERSON: Can I just ask you before we leave what a new government needs to do about social justice, about human rights, particularly those for women?
HINDUJA: A lot has happened, but there is much to be done. And especially the middle class has been debating a lot, and here I would like to give thanks to the media, who have been able to support the middle class to bring up all these issues.
More awareness is coming, and I think the past government has done some, and the new government will definitely have to be doing more on the social reforms, and especially empowerment of women, which again, helps our economy. Fifty percent are women, and if they start performing well, it automatically helps the economy. We have 10 million youth --
HINDUJA: -- we have 10 million youth every year looking for jobs. Unfortunately, the last statistics show only 1.6 million get jobs. All these new youths are more talented and bright, and when the go abroad India, they have proven themselves.
So, a lot should be done to invest in infrastructure, create new jobs, so that the young talent which is coming should be able to get jobs locally in the country rather than outside.
ANDERSON: Mr. Hinduja, it's been an absolute pleasure to have you on. Your insight is fascinating. You're looking at -- what? -- 7 to 8 percent growth, hopefully 10 going forward if, indeed, as you say, Mr. Modi can get his mandate and a majority. Thank you, sir, for joining us.
HINDUJA: I'm trying to be practical --
ANDERSON: Gopichand Hinduja there --
HINDUJA: I don't want to be a dreamer.
ANDERSON: You can join me --
ANDERSON: It's all right, sir.
HINDUJA: Thank you so much.
ANDERSON: Thank you for being practical. You can join me this Thursday as CONNECT THE WORLD travels to India's capital, New Delhi. We'll bring you all the latest news and developments as the country prepares for a new government.
Our special coverage starts 4:00 PM London, 7:00 PM here in Abu Dhabi, 8:30 locally in New Delhi, only on CNN. That is ahead of results day, Friday, on what is the biggest democratic exercise the world has ever seen. Back after this.
ANDERSON: All right. Welcome back, and before we go, tonight's Parting Shots for you. And we celebrate Afghanistan, its people, its culture, and its landscape, all through the lends of award-winning photographer Steve McCurry.
He's best known for this iconic image of an Afghan girl that graced the cover of the "National Geographic" issue -- magazine in June of 1985. Well, an exhibition of his work is currently on show in London's Beetles and Huxley Gallery. Have a look at this.
STEVE MCCURRY, PHOTOGRAPHER: Afghanistan is one of the most rugged countries in the world. Many of their areas, there are no roads, people who live there have to walk everywhere. But it's this kind of rugged beauty.
What drew me to Afghanistan my first trip was to refugees I had met in a hotel room I was staying at who told me about this war that was raging literally over the next mountain. The story gets into your blood.
The sad part is that because of all the news in Afghanistan is negative, people have a skewed image of Afghan people. We're left with an impression that they're all terrorists and they're all disgruntled and all they want to do is bomb and kill and maim.
The war has infiltrated every nook and cranny of Afghan family life. It's really front and center on everybody's mind. This picture here is of a little refugee girl named Sharbat Gula, who I photographed in a refugee camp in 1984.
The power of the picture is on the one hand, she's a very beautiful little girl. This incredible stare, these beautiful eyes. But it's not just a kind of a beauty shot. You can tell that she has this ripped shawl, her face is a bit dirty.
But there's -- a bit of a haunted look. And the reason the people are so independent and fierce and rugged is because they have to be, because they live in these very extreme conditions.
The Thief Beggar picture was in Kandahar, and I walked down the street and I saw this show -- this case with all these false teeth. And he came there on his bicycle and he would make false teeth by hand, and he did this since 40 years.
I have a great affection for the country of Afghanistan and its people.
ANDERSON: That was CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. We'll leave you with that. Good night.