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Obama Weighs Striking ISIS In Syria; Will Other Nationals Join Fight Against ISIS?; Michael Brown's Funeral Tomorrow; Ferguson Protesters Demand Justice; ISIS Offered Prisoner Swap For Foley

Aired August 24, 2014 - 06:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: This is NEW DAY SUNDAY. We have the latest on the Michael Brown shooting coming up and there is a lot to talk about that happened overnight -- Christi.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. You were there and you saw a lot of it so it will be interesting to get your perspective, Victor. We do want to begin this morning though with the news that ISIS has besieged another Shiite town. They cut them off we're told from food and water for the last two months.

This is more than 17,000 people who live in the Northern Iraqi town of Amerli. The U.N. fears they are going to be slaughtered if ISIS captures this town. Nearly three dozen villages surrounding Amerli are already under ISIS control.

You see on the map the wide swath of territory ISIS has already seized there in Iraq. Well, the crisis in Amerli mirrors violence exploding across the country. There are bombings and attacks in Baghdad and in the north that you know killed dozens.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh joins us now from the Iraqi capital. And we will be talking to her actually in a couple minutes. But one of the big questions today when we look at this is, we hear that there are Shiite factions that have attached Sunnis so is this now a two-pronged fight so to speak for Iraq?

Not only are they fighting ISIS, but they may be having a fight with the Sunnis and the Shias and trying to deal with that faction as well because, as we know, they need to form a new government and they are in the process of it. We'll see if that is making any progress in any way.

Meanwhile, we do know that President Obama is returning to Washington from Martha's Vineyard today. Topping his agenda is whether to send U.S. warplanes into Syria after ISIS in response to the group's execution of American journalist, James Foley.

The Pentagon's been conducting surveillance we understand, surveillance flights along Iraq's border with Syria to bolster U.S. intelligence on ISIS activities.

Let's talk to retired lt. colonel and Pentagon consultant, Robert Maginnis now in Wood Bridge, Virginia, and Peter Neumann in London who is the director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence.

Thank you, Gentlemen, both for being here. Lt. Col. Maginnis, I want to start with you. Do you think air strikes in Syria are imminent and are they enough?

LT. COL. ROBERT MAGINNIS, PENTAGON CONSULTANT: Well, as the chairman, General Dempsey said the other day, you cannot fight ISIS without going into Syria one way or the other. Either from the air or the ground. So it's obvious with the especially is focused on the eastern part of that country you must pursue them.

And you're going to do that from the air, at least initially. And then of course I think eventually you're going to have to have some ground presence in order to root them out of the towns and villages that they are already located in.

PAUL: When you say ground presence, do you mean a ground presence of American troops or someone else?

MAGINNIS: I suspect we will have Special Forces people eventually in those locations, as far as large numbers of U.S., I don't anticipate that at this point. We'll have to see whether or not we have coalition of the willing, maybe the Turks, maybe the Jordanians, perhaps even Peshmerga which I doubt.

But the Iraqis clearly, if they can disenfranchise themselves from some of their previous issues then perhaps they can be involved. But you have to have ground forces and they have to be well led and covered with air.

PAUL: So Peter, you talked about this last hour about how there has to be a ground presence as well. But I believe you were the one saying that it would be not a U.S. ground troop. What do you make of what's happening in Iraq right now? However, not just with the fight against ISIS, but you've got Sunnis and Shiites that still seem to be fighting each other outside the ISIS presence.

PROFESSOR PETER NEUMANN, KING'S COLLEGE: I think that's a very important piece, and I think that the success of ISIS can only be explained if you take into account that there has been a very sharp and aggressive confrontation in Iraq between Sunnis and Shias.

The Sunnis have felt very disenfranchised over the past year or so by Iraqi government, which was seen as openly sectarian and openly siding with the Shiites. And it is on the back of that that ISIS articulating Sunni grievances has been able to become so powerful.

So ultimately of course on the Iraqi side of the equation, it will be necessary to have a political solution in addition to the military one, which is essentially an inclusive Iraqi government so that Sunnis again feel comfortable being part of the Iraqi state, and no longer feel that they need to fight the Shiites and need to support ISIS.

PAUL: One of the other big points of contention I think in this fight has been the fact that there has been no real presence from other Arab nations with this. What do you think, Colonel Maginnis, about the plausibility of some sort of coalition, either you know, with the Europeans or the Arab nations stepping up in some regard?

MAGINNIS: Yes, I don't see the Europeans getting involved in the fight at this point, even though they do have I think a stake. I do believe that the Turks may show some willingness. They aren't Arabs, but they have a vested interest in keeping the Syrian border more neutralized.

Clearly it's not at this point. I don't know the Saudis may have an interest here and they may be willing to do something. Certain think Jordanians, which are a good ally of the U.S., and have an effective fighting force, they eventually may want to get involved in this particular fight.

But beyond that, I don't really see a significant Arab element, not the Egyptians, and certainly not any of the Persian Gulf Emirates.

PAUL: We were talking about this village of Amerli, there are about 17,000 people there and the U.N. says the situation there is unspeakable, they had no water, electricity has been cut off for two months, they fear a slaughter.

We saw U.S. air strikes protecting villagers escaping to Mount Sinjar. Do you think, Peter, we will see America come to the aid of this village as well?

NEUMANN: I think it would be plausible because what's going on here is very similar to what we saw with the Yazidis a week ago. What ISIS is doing, it is rather than fighting and taking these places, it is surrounding them, it is laying siege on them, it is essentially starving people to their death until they either leave and are slaughtered or give up.

So this is a terrible and very horrible tactic that they are using. I think based on the precedent that was created last week and two weeks ago with the Yazidis, it would be plausible for us to see a similar scenario.

PAUL: And Lieutenant Colonel Maginnis, what are the dangers for the U.S. going into Syria without the invitation of the Syrian president?

MAGINNIS: Clearly, that is a marker. It indicates that we're involved in a civil war, we've taken sides. Now, in this particular case it's interesting that the people we've condemned for some time we're taking sides with essentially trying to preserve some modicum of peace there.

Given that there is disarray and the 200,000 innocents have lost their lives over the last few years. That is significant, I think once you are in, incrementalism start to erode your willingness or your situation. So it could be that we will eventually escalate our activities and our presence there, which is a danger.

PAUL: All right, Peter Neumann and Col. Robert Maginnis, thank you so much for breaking it down for us as we continue to watch the situation unfold. We appreciate your guidance. Thank you. Thousands of people are expected to attend tomorrow's funeral for Missouri teen, Michael Brown. Even though the community is mourning, the streets are still filled with anger toward police. And now the president is stepping in, are there going to be big changes for police departments nationwide.

ISIS demanded this woman's release in return for James Foley. Who is she? Why was she one of the most wanted women in the world?


BLACKWELL: Welcome back. It's 11 minutes after the hour. Now after more than two weeks of violent protests and looting, the military style policing in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, the community is preparing to say good-bye to Michael Brown.

He's that unarmed teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer on August 9th. His funeral will be held tomorrow at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis.

Thousands of people from the local area, around the country, they are expected to attend the service. It will be a closed casket service including three White House officials including one who attended high school with Brown's mother.

The Reverend Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy. As Brown is laid to rest, supporters of Darren Wilson, the officer who killed him, they are speaking out and say they received death threats over their support for Wilson. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our mission is to formally declare that we share the united belief that Officer Wilson's actions were warranted and justified. We believe that the evidence has and will continue to validate our position. The media will ask for my name, job titles, stories, et cetera. You want my name, my name is Darren Wilson. We are Darren Wilson.


BLACKWELL: We also heard from protesters earlier in the week in favor of Brown who say their names are Michael Brown as well. Now, here on the ground in Ferguson, relatively, it was a quiet night.

At one point, Captain Ron Johnson ordered police to arrest a rowdy protester, he feared his behavior would insight some violence. In all six people were arrested overnight.

There were some tense moments between the people who live in this community in Jennings, which is nearby, from St. Louis and people who came from Michigan, from Indiana one man said he was from that state.

There are a lot of people here not just because of what happened in the Michael Brown situation, but because of their own children, because of their father, their grandfather. I met a woman last weekend who said she was here because her grandfather once bred dogs and she said white men would come in and shoot those dogs. She was here for her grandfather.

I want you to listen to a woman I met a few hours ago. She has a 26- year-old son. Listen to what she is here night after night.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been blessed at having been my son. I can't sit back and say nothing.

BLACKWELL: How old is your son?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My son is 26 years old. My son is highly intelligent, college graduate, but it doesn't matter to them. It doesn't matter. It doesn't. It's not me today, but it could be me tomorrow.

BLACKWELL: You say them, who are they?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know who them are, the police officers that you see today. There's no respect for the black people in any community. Let alone this one. You could be harassed, beaten, lied about, planted drugs on whatever they want to do. Enough is enough. When is enough, enough?

BLACKWELL: It's been two weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It can be two years and I'm going to be here. I'm going to be here if it's two years.


BLACKWELL: If you watched the coverage of the unrest here in Ferguson, you have obviously seen the images like this one, military vehicles, armored vehicles, rolling through the streets. I think we have the video.

And local police armed with semi-automatic weapons. Nationwide those military style tactics are being criticized and now President Obama is getting involved. Let's bring in Alina Machado. How is the president getting involved here?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORREPSPONDENT: Victor, a senior administration official tells CNN the president has ordered a review of a federal program that allows local and state law enforcement agencies to purchase military equipment.

This move comes days after those violent confrontations you mentioned that took place here in Ferguson, Missouri, between police and protesters. Confrontations where we saw authorities using military style tools in terms of heavily armored vehicles, and stun grenades and tear gas.

Those images raised questions about whether these departments should even have these tools. But listen to what one expert told us what he thinks the real problem is.


BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NYPD COMMISSIONER: Training is the most important issue here if there was better training, we wouldn't have seen what we saw on day one out in Ferguson. You had local law enforcement responding to a riot with semi-automatic and automatic weapons. It was wrong. It shouldn't have happened.

But you cannot diminish the ability of local and state law enforcement to protect our cities in this day and age by taking the stuff away that really secures our country.


MACHADO: And this review we're told will be looking at the training that these officers are getting when they do get this military equipment -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Alina Machado is also here in Ferguson. Thank you, Alina. Christi, what we saw last night from the highway patrol is that they were definitely visible. You could see a large police presence, however, they were removed somewhat.

The protesters were on one side of the street, they were on the other. Only crossed that street was Florissant. If there was some gathering, if people stopped and started to mill about. That's when they would ask people to move it along.

PAUL: All right, thank you, Victor, so much. You are giving us a great sense of what's going on there.

We also need to talk about ISIS because I don't know if you're aware but they made two demands before the beheading of an American journalist, one was money, the other was a trade. What do we know about this prisoner ISIS wanted to swap? We're taking a look at the woman known as Lady Al Qaeda.


PAUL: It's 21 minutes past the hour right now. In the days leading up to the killing of American journalist, James Foley, ISIS made two demands. Before the terrorist demanded a $132 million ransom, they offered a prisoner swap, in exchange for Foley they wanted a woman released who is serving 86 years in a Texas prison. Jean Casarez introduces us to Lady Al Qaeda.


AAFIA SADDIQUI, SUSPECTED TERRORIST CONVICTED OF ATTEMPTED MURDER: What I'm saying is simply that the woman is not an unpaid slave.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Dr. Aafia Saddiqui also called "Lady Al Qaeda," a Pakistani national, her release from a U.S. prison was one of the demands made by ISIS in exchange for American journalist, James Foley, before he was beheaded by his captors.

In an e-mail sent to Foley's family on August 12th, ISIS wrote, "We have also offered prisoner exchanges to free the Muslims currently in your detention like our sister, Dr. Aafia Saddiqui.

DEBORAH SCROGGINS, AUTHOR, "WANTED WOMAN": She is an icon. She is the poster girl for Jihad and in that way, she serves as a sort of rallying point. She is the premier symbol of the Muslim woman in distress.

CASAREZ: Saddiqui earned degrees from MIT and Brandies University outside Boston. This petite 44-year-old woman, a neuroscientist and mother of three lived in the U.S. for more than a decade and in 2003 she disappeared.

In 2004 was put on an FBI alert list, considered a clear and present danger. In 2008, Saddiqui was stopped by Afghanistan National Police for acting suspicious outside a government building.

According to court documents, officers searched her handbag and found numerous documents describing the creation of explosives, chemical weapons and other weapons involving biological material and radiological agents.

Handwritten notes by Saddiqui referred to a mass casualty attacks listing various locations in the United States including the Empire State Building, Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge.

When American authorities came to question her the next day, she grabbed one of their rifles and started shooting. Saddiqui was flown to the U.S. where she was never charged with terrorism, but convicted of attempted murder. Saddiqui claimed she was framed.

SCROGGINS: She interrupted her trial repeatedly with heated outburst, anti-Semitic outbursts about Jews. All kinds of things. The judge found that she was mentally capable of standing trial, but that she needed some sort of treatment and that's why he sentenced her a prison in Texas where she is able to receive psychiatric care.

CASAREZ: She also has a notorious in law. She married the brother of the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks.

(on camera): Based on what you know, is she a scientist or is she a terrorist?

SCROGGINS: She is definitely a terrorist sympathizer. There is no doubt about that and she was helping terrorists. But she was never -- she's never been accused of actually committing a terrorist act herself.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Whether she has committed a terrorist act or not, ISIS clearly considers her to be of great value. Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) PAUL: It could be weeks before a grand jury decides whether to charge Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown. We're having a look at some of the steps ahead inside the courtroom as the community attempts to uncover the truth here.

Plus, the alert level is on for a volcano in Iceland. Travelers are watching hoping it does not blow its top.


PAUL: It feels good to get up to the morning and be able to relax a little bit. I hope that's what you're finding and Sunday has been good to you. I'm Christi Paul.

We have more on Ferguson, the ISIS threat in a moment. I want you to hear a couple of other stories this morning. One, Ukraine is celebrating its independence day. A military parade rolled through the capital city, Kiev, even as fighting continued in the east in territories held by pro-Russian rebels.

Meanwhile, a convoy of Russian trucks are back in Russia we've learned. Moscow said the trucks have crossed in Eastern Ukraine carrying humanitarian aid.

Number two, the Ivory Coast is closing borders because of the Ebola outbreak. A British man in Sierra Leone has tested positive. The man was a volunteer nurse. Hundreds of suspected cases have been reported from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Number three, this came in a couple minutes ago it is official,

Tropical Storm Christobell has formed in the Atlantic. Rain and tropical storm forced winds battered Puerto Rico before this though.