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Aired September 24, 2001 - 04:30   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TOM HAYNES, CNN CO-HOST: (INAUDIBLE) see a remarkable triumph of the human spirit.

More now from our Joel Hochmuth.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOEL HOCHMUTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The toll in human lives from the terrorist attack September 11 is still hard to fathom. Between the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York, hundreds of people are dead, more than 6,000 are missing and presumed dead.

To call it the worst single-day tragedy in U.S. history is a vast understatement. That's nearly three times the death toll from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Also hard to fathom, the structural damage to New York on a scale never seen in the city.

HOCHMUTH (on camera): As a structural specialist, what are your thoughts about this building? Can you believe something like this happened?

JORGE DUQUESNC, STRUCTURAL SPECIALIST: You know, I've been asked that quite a few times, and I still don't have the words to describe it; it's unbelievable.

HOCHMUTH (voice-over): Twisted in a heap are 200,000 tons of steel from the Trade Center's twin towers that will take months to clear, and that's just the beginning. Throughout the 16-acre disaster area in Lower Manhattan, at least a dozen buildings are collapsed or have suffered major damage. Even experts are overwhelmed.

DUQUESNC: I never imagined it was going to bring down so many buildings, nor that it was going to damage so much the buildings surrounding it. It's just amazing.

HOCHMUTH: Yet from the ashes of one of America's worst days rises a spirit that many say is America at its best. While destruction on this scale would have been inconceivable just two weeks ago, so too would have been the outpouring of compassion and patriotism that's followed.

Ordinary Americans are giving up themselves in whatever way they can, some donating their blood, others simply lending their hearts. Americans of all walks of life are reaching out including professional actors. The New York Mets donated a day's pay to families of fallen rescue workers. Celebrities too are offering support.

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: What was meant to divide us has drawn us together, and we shall not be moved.

HOCHMUTH: On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are singing the same tune for the first time in many peoples' memory. Perhaps, it's easier to put aside disputes over things like social security when national security is at stake. Unmistakable too in the aftermath of the tragedy has been a renewed sense of spirituality from the president on down. That is where so many seem to make peace and sense out of the madness. Sunday's memorial service at Yankee Stadium is a prime example.

WINFREY: We are here today to be strengthened by the light of their lives. We all know that there's strength in numbers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must face one another as members of one human family to find Shalom, to find Salam, and to find peace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Survivors should continue to live for what they died for.

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: All of the victims of this tragedy were innocent. All of them were heroes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the fury of violence, the souls of thousands rose. Up from the cloud of dust and above freedom's harbor, they traveled through the sky towards god and left the vivid air signed with their honor. God bless them, God bless you, God bless the United States of America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harder yet may be the fight, and right may often yield to might. Wickedness or wild may reign, and Satan's cause may seem to gain. Oh, but there is a God who rules above. And he's got a hand of power and a heart of love, and if I'm right, that God will fight my battle. They'll be ruined.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CNN CO-HOST: As people around the world remember and pray for the victims of the terrorist attacks, U.S. President Bush is encouraging the nation to try to get back to normal.

Larry Woods has the story of one family, who knows the pain of waiting, the agony of uncertainty all too well, parents hoping to be reunited with their daughter and ultimately a sense of normalcy like President Bush mentioned.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LARRY WOODS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tilden Curry, since he is an understandably worried, devours every bit of information he can about the fate of his 29-year-old daughter, Dayna.

Along with seven other western relief workers, she has been accused of preaching Christianity in Afghanistan and faces a possible death penalty.

TILDEN CURRY, FATHER OF DAYNA: I don't think she ever thought she was doing anything inappropriate; you know, she's not that type of person. And she wants to live and she loves the Afghan people and she's there to help them, but surely, they will not do that or at such a minor offense.

WOODS: Curry and his second wife Sue along with Dayna's mother Nancy Castle, who is in Pakistan, are clinging to State Department assurances they are doing all they can to free the group.

TILDEN CURRY: I heard that there's a trial, has been reconvened. So I'm -- they're hopeful that they'll go ahead and finish that and release them soon after.

SUE FULLER, DAYNA'S STEPMOTHER: When people ask all the time, "how are they doing?" And I say, "OK," but there's no way to say how they are doing.

WOODS: A quite, introspective man, who tries to shield his emotions, Curry admits he fears he may never see his daughter again. So he and the family wait and hope.

(on camera): Tilden Curry's daughter is being held in a Taliban jail cell, but 12 years ago this was part of her everyday life, the life of a smiling, friendly teenager in an up-scale Nashville suburban high school.

(voice-over): In 1989, the pretty, devoutly religious senior graduated from Brentwood High School. Friends and teachers remember her as an average student who blended in with the crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to sit up in my fire engine?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on over here, I'll set you up in here.

Steve Czirr, a local fireman, who first met Dayna in the ninth grade, recalls her as sort of the girl next door and said her sights after graduation seemed set on helping others.

STEVE CZIRR, DAYNA'S FORMER CLASSMATE: Hopefully, she knew the risks she was taking when she went over there. It's not an easy thing to do. I do feel for her, and I hope she gets back. I mean I hope -- I hope they get her back definitely. We're here to save lives ourselves, and we don't ever want to see anybody perish.

CLAY CURRY, DAYNA'S BROTHER: She always kind of knew in the back of her mind there was an imminent danger, but I don't -- she never wanted that to deter her, that she believed in what she was doing and instead -- I think she always knew the risk, but I think she thought the reward outweighed the risk.

WOODS: What she was doing before her arrest last month was helping feed and educate the poor in war-ravaged Afghanistan through the efforts of Shelter Now International. Before the bombing of the World Trade Center, the Currys received word Dayna was all right.

TILDEN CURRY: (INAUDIBLE) what she called prison. She thought that conditions were pretty good, and they had a small room where they all lie down and had a courtyard in which they could go out and exercise each day, so she thought the food was good and they were being treated very well.

FULLER: I think I'm not sure whether she's probably afraid a lot, because you're always afraid of -- and then -- but I know that she has this inner strength that comes from her faith.

WOODS: And if Tilden Curry could get a message to his daughter or to those holding her, what would he say?

TILDEN CURRY: Well, at first, we'll tell her that we love her, we miss her, we want her home.

WOODS: Larry Woods, CNN, Brentwood, Tennessee.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYNES: The day before the attack on America, CNN's Nic Robertson was in Afghanistan doing a story about the Afghan people and what's been driving so many of them to leave their country. Many of the refugees Nic talked to now live in the United States, Britain and Australia. That snapshot of September 10 in Afghanistan is an important look at what could lie down the road.

Here's Nic Robertson's report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Packing up and leaving, never easy; this time, harder than ever. Raheed (ph), our cook, his ample meals sustained us through many long nights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember (INAUDIBLE), we didn't want to come.

ROBERTSON: Our departure forced by the Taliban, because they could no longer guarantee our safety. From behind curtains hiding us from prying eyes, we glimpsed the now emptying streets, leaving no doubt here that this is a city filling with fear, half the Ministry of Information, pockmarked by shells of the bygone battle.

Out of town and onto the bumpy highway, roads so broken by 22 years of war and neglect at times you feel them fading. A grinding poverty permeates this land, mountains, rocks, dust, drought and war. It's as if as some Afghans say their land was forsaken by God. Of all the regret, leaving the poor with no one to report their fate hurts the most.

(on camera): There are so many people here who are caught up in Afghanistan's on going conflict that really doesn't seem to be anything of their own making. It's a sad feeling leaving.

(voice-over): I've been coming to Afghanistan regularly since my first visit in 1996. It was a violent time. The Taliban had taken control of Kabul, but I'd fallen in love with the wild, rugged beauty of the mountains and the soft hospitality of its equally wild and rugged people, and I found I couldn't stay away.

I'd come this time along with my cameraman Alfredo Delara to cover the trial of eight western aid workers accused of Christian proselytizing. Since the world first heard the Taliban's harsh policy towards women and non-Muslims, the strict Islamic movement whose name means student, have learned nothing of international diplomacy. Barely a month seemed to go by when they weren't making headlines in confrontation with the western world, recently, blowing up several huge ancient statues of Buddha, because they were un-Islamic.

More notably, of course, sheltering suspected international terrorist Osama bin Laden. It seemed only a matter of time before some more cataclysmic confrontation developed. I didn't expect we'd run into it on this trip.

Within minutes of the second plane slamming into the World Trade Center, we'd been put on standby by CNN headquarters in Atlanta. An uncomfortable feeling was already growing in my stomach. The Taliban foreign minister responded quickly. Within five hours of the attack with budding suggestions bin Laden was involved, I knew then it wouldn't be long before we were being told to leave the country.

First to go, diplomats and some journalists and international aid workers. The first to suffer, those four to five million Afghans who rely on aid to get by. Earlier this year, Alfredo and I had been to a massive camp of Afghans driven out of their homes by four years of drought, more than 100,000 in this tent city dependent on daily humanitarian handouts, many hundreds of thousands of others elsewhere.

The story now, though, on the Taliban, not the poor. In Kabul, we gauged fear and apprehension by empty training schools, our filming covert, because the Taliban forbids pictures of living things. TV crews are a rare sight, and such is the diet of the Taliban's anti- western views here, we are prying for suspicion of something more sinister.

Our nights stretched out, one memorably so, when the Taliban's in-country enemies launched a daring night time helicopter missile raid from front lines, some 30 miles north of the capital. The pressure for us to leave, when it came, fell like a hammer, not because it was a surprise, but because our trusted local staff left in fear.

Initially, Taliban officials told us we could stay if we accepted they couldn't protect us. What journalist would walk away from the hub of such a humanitarian, political, diplomatic and military story? Alfredo and I chose to stay, moving to Kandahar, the Taliban spiritual and ethnic heartland. There, we found new staff and began petitioning the foreign minister to allow us to stay, a request he would later reject.

The pressure to report growing also, as the Taliban received ultimatums to hand over bin Laden. As our hours in country grew shorter, our time on air felt as if it were growing immeasurably longer. Alfredo was filing for CNN's Spanish Network. We were working round the clock. Too much glass in the windows for my liking, in case of a missile attack, but we'd got our back-up systems ready, spare batteries and a generator to keep us on air, a hi-tech link with the rest of the world, a tiny box digitizing our TV picture and beaming it to Atlanta by satellite, the humble videophone, de rigueur for frontline reporters intent on getting the story out.

The obvious feeling, however, no matter how hi-tech, if there's no reporter, there's no story.

Nic Robertson, CNN, 80 miles from the Afghan border.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: You know as Nic Robertson just showed us the economy in Afghanistan is in shambles, and it's not getting any better with so many people trying to flee the country.

Michael McManus joins us now for additional insight into this problem -- Mike.

MICHAEL MCMANUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Shelley. You're about to meet Sid Akbar. Sid is a Pakistani American who traveled to the Pakistan-Afghan border last summer. He had two goals: The first was to go work in a refugee camp and help distribute food, clothing, and water. The second was to document these camps on video and share it with us.

His first story shows the conditions in these tent cities, and introduces us to the people who fled civil war in their own country, only to have to fight for survival.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SID AKBAR: We're traveling along the Afghanistan border in Pakistan. I'm on my way to volunteer at an Afghani refugee camp, not really knowing what to expect. This is Jalozi, home to 300,000 people who have left Afghanistan to escape the internal fighting. Families live in makeshift tents and in intense desert heat.

"There are many difficulties." he said. "I had a home in Afghanistan, but there is so much war, you have to take sides." Some of the children have never lived anywhere else. This woman sits in her tent spinning cotton, carrying on her traditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

AKBAR: When you ask them why they are here, the common response is "war."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Everyone is fighting in Afghanistan; even though I was born there, I had to leave because of war.

AKBAR: This is a tribal leader who led his 300 families from Afghanistan instead of aligning with the Taliban. There is no running water. Water for drinking must be brought in by truck; there is not enough for bathing. This is their toilet, nothing more than a hole in the ground. This is the kitchen.

After working two weeks in Jalozi, I left to work at another camp called Shamshetu (ph). It's older than I am; it was opened 23 years ago when Afghan refugees began pouring into Pakistan when the Soviets invaded their country. Instead of tents, these refugees built homes out of clay. They also have something I did not see in other camps.

This is Abu Bakar (ph) School, a center of hope for young refugees. The teacher is also a refugee. He says it's sometimes difficult to convince parents that their children need education. Notice, there are no girls allowed in this class. This boy is 13 years old, yet he is only in the second grade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

AKBAR: He says he wants to become a doctor. Along with reading and writing, there are classes on their religion, Islam. Here, these boys learn how to pray to Allah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking in Arabic).

AKBAR: Sometimes Afghan refugees move out of the camps to the nearby city of Peshawar. Survival can sometimes mean begging. This 13-year-old is asking for spare change. Some Afghanis have found ways to earn money. This man is making his living, selling Afghan chai tea on the sidewalk to passersby like me.

(on camera): It's hot, but it's good.

(voice-over): This refugee sells fresh meat on the street, but you take your chances with its cleanliness. Here, you can buy Afghani currency, as a souvenir. This 10,000 note is only 17 cents. Afghanistan is known for its beautiful rugs. Afghan families make them by hand and sell them for between 40 and 80 American dollars. It can take a month to make one rug.

Young and old refugees find work making jewelry. Their employer says he pays them reasonable wages; but their labor is a very small part of the price this jewelry may sell for in the United States. For more than two decades, millions of Afghan people left their homeland to escape war and wait for peace. Yet, the prospects of war have only increased. The camps near the border will get even more residents in the days ahead, as more families seek refuge.

Sid Akbar, CNN's Student Bureau.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCMANUS: A look at some of the refugees of Afghanistan. I will be sharing more of Sid Akbar's images with you tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYNES: How to respond to the terrorist attacks against the United States? From across America, opinions are mixed. In a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, 82 percent favor military action in Afghanistan, while 13 percent oppose. Those opposed may be in the minority but they're not the silent minority. Student peace activists are speaking out.

Jason Bellini reports from one gathering, in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The forum -- the room is full, we apologize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So many people showed up, which is awesome and incredible and uplifting, but also a fire hazard.

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The turnout was unexpected, nearly uncontrollable. Teach-ins at New York University brought anti-war voices, out of isolation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have every right -- as they drive, as they beat the drums in a war hysteria -- to ask questions of our government if we are expected to not only support this war...

BELLINI: Large, loud, and together in one room; the student organizers of the new peace movement know how unheard, unseen, and unwanted they are right now by the United States at large. They have seen the poll supporting military action. Most consider war inevitable and wrong; that the target is terrorism makes it no better. Who are these peace activists? Are they the same young people who scrawl messages of peace and love on makeshift memorials?

(on camera): Some yes, but most I spoke to say they are not neo- hippies. They come from a new school of protest...

(voice-over): ... the Anti-Globalist School. They are applying to America's new war, a philosophy expressed in Seattle and around the world in protest against the IMF and the World Bank. They believe global alliances like the one President Bush is forming to fight terrorism internationally makes victims of the poorest and the weakest members of the world community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they can move towards like a globalization of a police state...

BELLINI: During President Bush's speech to Congress, a small gathering of NYU students reacted...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crying.

BELLINI: ... with disgust.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like we're going to go to war, and you are either going to be with us or against us.

BELLINI: The thing Americans need to look at, they believe, are the reasons why terrorists would hate us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an attack on what is our domination and economic exploitation of the entire world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The thing people, I guess, want is justice, while what our government's going after is punishment.

BELLINI: All in the room agreed that something needs to be done. What that something is, they could not articulate. And were they, while sharing a pacifist philosophy, buttheads?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be meaningful like -- say something that has some merit too -- something that you wish he should have said, because I don't know what I wish he should have said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To take a pro-peace stand, does that mean being against any type of armed retaliation?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think to be pro-peace is to be any way, to be for the smallest amount of loss of life. You know that, you know, someone close to me died. I mean, like, I understand that, but that doesn't mean that we should go out and like, declare this gigantic crusade...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I totally agree, I totally agree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

BELLINI: But as peace activists struggle to offer alternatives and educate the public on what they consider the root causes of terrorism, they feel peace is rapidly slipping away.

Jason Bellini, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALCOTT: And that wraps up this edition of CNN NEWSROOM.

HAYNES: Yes, as we leave, you'll look at a dramatically changed New York City skyline.

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