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Target Terrorism: Taliban Troops Are on the Move; Prayer Service for Workers at the WTC Site Gets Under Way; Vehicular Traffic to Be Allowed Into Lower Manhattan

Aired October 7, 2001 - 08:27   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.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: National Guard troops are becoming familiar faces at the nation's airports. They're not travelers, they're on guard.

Joining us to talk about what travelers can expect is 1st Sgt. Mike Herndon from the Georgia National Guard.

Great to see you, 1st Sgt. Herndon.

1ST SGT. MIKE HERNDON, GEORGIA NATIONAL GUARD: Great to see you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, let's talk about -- well, first of all, are you dialed in and ready to go?

HERNDON: Oh, as we said in Savannah, Kyra, all the troops are totally and thoroughly trained and actually looking very forward to this upcoming mission, starting today at Hartsfield International Airport, and they're already on station at the other airports throughout the state.

PHILLIPS: Well, you go ahead and tell me, give some background to our viewers, how you and all these soldiers basically put away your day jobs to come and volunteer for this mission.

HERNDON: Sure, Kyra. There's 150 right now volunteers for task force Sky Guard, that are part of this airport security mission throughout the state. They're all volunteers. They're volunteers from the military service, one, but also for this particular mission.

They know the task that's going to be in front of them. They are making a lot of sacrifices, but they're ready, willing, and able to do the job.

PHILLIPS: I've got to ask you, why did you do it?

HERNDON: Well, I work full-time for the Guard, one, but also, this is going to be a real world mission, supporting the cause that changed 11 September. I'm glad to be a part of that, to reassure the public that their travel is going to be taken care of and they're in safe hands. PHILLIPS: Well, I've also known you to have deployed on a number of missions. Tell me how this operation is so much different from other ones that you have participated in.

HERNDON: Kyra, that's a good point. Normally we are trained primarily to go to combat. Of course, this is not a combat situation. We're here to support law enforcement on-site at the airports throughout the state, but also to be the eyes and ears of the FAA and also, mainly, to reassure the public that we are there for their traveling safety. And of course, this being a law enforcement support mission, we have had additional training very specific to that, and the troops are all well-prepared for that.

PHILLIPS: Let's talk about that training, use of force. Obviously, people are going to see you in the combat gear, armed and ready to go in the airports. However, I know your training focused a lot on a different type of arrest mechanics. Why don' you talk a little bit about that.

HERNDON: Very good. All the soldiers and airmen on task force Sky Guard were trained in different aspects for this mission. Some of the specifics were mechanics of arrest. How to handle suspects if there is a contingency, and I want to emphasize, that is just a contingency to support law enforcement that are already on-site at the nation's airports. We're basically a force multiplier for those already there.

PHILLIPS: And let's talk about what kind of contingencies you're talking about. Give me a list of what you're prepared to step in and take care of, if need be.

HERNDON: OK, number one, we'll follow all directives from the law enforcement officers and agencies on-site, and those could be some of the things that I think everyone is aware of that could happen. We don't expect that to be the case, but if so it's basically going to be a case by case situation, and we'll have to react expeditiously, obviously.

PHILLIPS: Let's give some examples. For example, hijackings, of course. Bomb threats. What else?

HERNDON: OK, Kyra, I don't exactly want to get into the specifics of how we'll react in those situations. They're a little bit sensitive right now. But there is a plan laid out for each contingency.

PHILLIPS: Very good, that's all I wanted, to get the point across. And I know also you trained with the FAA. I know a lot of that is classified also, but why don't you talk about the importance of the FAA and why they did need to come and meet with you and have these classes.

HERNDON: Sure, Kyra. The foundation of our training over this last week was a very intensive and concentrated block of instruction put on by the FAA that prepared us for this specific mission. It was a 16-hour block. It was a lot of training crammed into a small period of time, that was put on very well, and I think all of the soldiers feel a lot more confident than they did day one, knowing a lot more about their upcoming duties and responsibilities, and I think they're very excited about walking into the airports.

PHILLIPS: And you've learned about all the checkpoints and how the airport operates, security-wise, etcetera. I know you were briefed on that type of stuff. When you do step foot into the airport today, what's the first plan of action? Will you guys be patrolling? Will you be based at luggage checks? Tell me, kind of give me a visual.

HERNDON: OK, what I will tell you, the things that I can tell you right now, is there will be armed guardsmen at all the checkpoints at the airport, specifically at Hartsville (ph) today. There will be other duties, and I don't want to go into the details of those, but the most visible to the travelling public will be at the checkpoints, at the main checkpoint, and the other two out at Hartsville International Airport, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: 1st Sgt. Mike Herndon, I've trained with you and I can tell you I would definitely feel safe flying out of any airport come today. Thank you so much for being with us this morning.

HERNDON: Thank you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Well, when we return, a live look at the work on the World Trade Center site in New York and the latest on the investigation there.

Plus, getting back to normal. Is it possible after such a tragic act?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN ANCHOR: We're back. I'm Jeanne Meserve in Washington.

PHILLIPS: And I'm Kyra Phillips in New York.

Here are the latest developments as America targets terrorism. Taliban troops are on the move. CNN has learned a significant number of Taliban fighters are moving toward Afghanistan's border with Uzbekistan. U.S. military aircraft are flying in and out of an air base in Uzbekistan and more than 1,000 American troops have been deployed to a base near Uzbekistan's border with Afghanistan.

The U.S. has permission to use the air base for humanitarian missions only during this anti-terrorism campaign.

And the Bush administration is warning the Taliban, time is running out to surrender suspect terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

A prayer service for the workers at the World Trade Center site gets underway in about a half-an-hour from now. New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani plans to attend the ceremony.

Also, this morning the mayor says vehicular traffic will be allowed into Lower Manhattan. Depending on how the experiment works, the area may be open to vehicles during the week.

The last federal rescue crews withdrew yesterday from the World Trade Center, leaving New York officials to continue the search for nearly 5,000 victims of the attack.

Federal investigators have been following the money trail to learn who financed the terrorist attacks. CNN's Eileen O'Connor reports, that trail is leading back to an all too familiar name.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The September 11th attacks were thought to cost roughly $500,000, according to sources. Suspected hijacker Mohammed Atta received wire transfers via Pakistan and then distributed the cash via money orders bought here in Florida.

A senior law enforcement source tells CNN, the man sending the money to Atta is believed to be Ahmed Omar Sayeed Sheikh, the leader of an Islamic militant group associated with Al Qaeda, a group that was fighting for Kashmir's independence from India. Which is why Sayeed Sheikh was once in custody in India. But in 1999, he was released to meet the demands of hijackers of Indian airlines flight 814.

NIRUPAMA RAO, INDIAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESWOMAN: From the nature of the demands that they made, and the people whose release they demanded, who were definitely linked to Al Qaeda, I would like to think that even the hijackers had links with this terrorist organization.

O'CONNOR: Even the eight day long hijacking itself had all the trademarks of an Al Qaeda operation.

CAPTAIN DEVI SHARAN, PILOT HIJACKED ON INDIAN AIRLINER: They used two planes, Osama bin Laden, and they used to give a lot of lectures on Islam.

O'CONNOR: The alleged financial link between Sayeed Sheikh and Mohammed Atta provides more evidence to U.S. law enforcement that Osama bin Laden was behind the September 11th attacks and remains a threat.

WILLIAM HARLOW, CIA SPOKESMAN: No one should minimize that threat. It's also something which is not new. Bin Laden and his organization have made it clear that it is their goal to target American taxpayers. They've said that it's their religious duty to kill Americans.

O'CONNOR: Federal law enforcement officials say knowing about threats doesn't necessarily make it any easier to stop the actual attacks. Especially, they say, when terrorists can take advantage of the freedoms offered in the United States.

BUCK REVELL, FORMER FBI OFFICIAL: Only two of the 19 individuals that have been identified were even known to the U.S. intelligence community. The FBI was looking for them, but had no authority to arrest them, because they hadn't done anything illegal at the time.

O'CONNOR: Which is why local law enforcement wants more information sharing, so that if someone like accused hijacker Mohammed Atta gets a speeding ticket, he might not be able to get away with mass murder.

Eileen O'Connor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: Well, let's talk about how we've changed since the 11th of September. Watts Wacker helps companies predict trends and changes. He's what's known as a futurist. He's the author of "The Visionary's Handbook; Nine Paradoxes That Will Shape the Future Of Your Business." Mr. Wacker is in Spokane, Washington.

Bill Strauss joins us here in Washington. He's an historian, cofounder of the Satirical Group for Capital Steps and the author of several books. His latest is "The Fourth Turning."

Thank you, gentlemen, both, for joining us.

BILL STRAUSS, AUTHOR: Thank you.

MESERVE: A lot of people, after September 11th, felt that their world had shifted, their perspective on the world had shifted. Mr. Wacker, is it permanent?

WATTS WACKER, AUTHOR: I think in certain ways indeed, Jean, it is permanent. I think we can really look at the bombing as a seminal act. I think much of the social change had already been moving through the system of the zeitgeist, but I think we can say this is an iconic representation of a world changed.

MESERVE: Mr. Strauss, agree, disagree?

STRAUSS: This is a change in that it is permanent in that it will last a couple of decades. Every two decades or so, there is a new mood era in America that is the result of the aging of generations. And the last time that we saw a change like this in America was right after the stock crash in 1929. The year 1930 felt an awful lot like America right now.

MESERVE: Mr. Wacker, let's talk about how we're going to see that change reflected. First, on the personal side. Are people's lives going to be conducted differently? Is there sense of priorities different now?

WACKER: Well, I think we've already seen that we've lost some of that post-modernism appreciation for the superficial, you know, thinks like Condit in the news and so forth. But some of the bigger changes, things that we really hadn't thought about; I mean, you could have flown a private airplane over a nuclear power plant airspace. Those kinds of things will change forever.

MESERVE: Mr. Strauss, also, on the personal level, do we see more orientation, let's say, to family?

STRAUSS: Yes, we do. And we also are starting to appreciate the positive things about America, the heroism that people can find within, and in particular, we're celebrating our young people in a way that we haven't since the 1930's.

MESERVE: What about cynicism and irony, Mr. Strauss. I can't help but notice that you're a cofounder of the Capitol Steps, which is known for it's takeoffs on all things political. Does it change the sense of humor?

STRAUSS: Yes, it does. Now is not a time to be flip or glib. It's very difficult to criticize the president of the United States, even in humor. But there's a new kind of humor that is reborn during this time. It's one that goes to the wellspring of what we are like as people, and our relationships among each other.

You can look back at the movies, for example, of the 1930's, and you can see the drift towards the Fred Astaire, Frank Capra tone in the culture, where we celebrate the positive. I mean, look at, no celebrities, but at regular people doing difficult things.

MESERVE: Mr. Wacker, what about the sense of community? Is that going to be different now?

WACKER: It is. You know, community, if you really think about it, is defined by what an individual is willing to make a sacrifice towards, to be a part of something that's bigger than themselves. And so, the role of community increases, but what constitutes where we'll make our sacrifice will change as well. And indeed, we are willing to make those sacrifices.

MESERVE: And what sacrifices specifically do you think will be made, in terms of freedoms, liberties?

WACKER: Well, I think in the beginning we'll see things like people's willingness to wait two to three hours to get onto an airplane. But we'll also see sacrifices as it relates to not knowing exactly what's going on. I mean, when you think about a war on terrorism, we're not going to be seeing the kind of footage that we would have seen in the wars of Vietnam or, for that matter, Desert Storm, on television.

So, the information that we will be getting from the government about exactly what is going on will perhaps be something that we're willing to sacrifice, the knowledge of knowing about it.

MESERVE: Mr. Strauss, your thoughts on that? STRAUSS: Yes, I do. What we've seen in previous fourth turnings, when we call a fourth turning an era of crisis that follows those longs periods of individualism, when liberty is celebrated, when the society is exposing points of vulnerability. And frankly, it's also the time when the last post-war generation is reaching middle-age and moving towards the edge of old age. We saw this in the 1930's. We saw this as America went from the 1850's to the 60's, and it's a time when eras of individualism have run their course, and the society is ready to snap to a new sense of community and to take large civic risks, including the risk of war.

MESERVE: Mr. Wacker, one more question for you, about the economy. How are things going to change in terms of Americans lifestyle, economically speaking?

WACKER: Well, I think we need to look at the economic impact from both a macro and a micro perspective. From the macro, the economy has just about reached the point of being what I would call autocatalytic, in that it's feeding itself. We're cascading towards a $35 to $40 trillion world economy much faster than we moved from $25 to $30 or $30 to $35.

On the micro level, I think you'll see an awful lot of business saying that the fourth quarter of this fiscal year, this calendar year, is pretty much going to be wiped out, and so they'll clean their books, cleanse themselves, if you will. But I think you'll see a much more robust beginning of 2002 then a lot of people would have predicted.

MESERVE: And we've got to leave it there.

Watts Wacker and Bill Strauss, thank you both for this conversation about what lies ahead.

And now, Kyra, back to you.

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Jean. We're actually going to go right into breaking news mode here for a moment.

The Associated Press is reporting that the Taliban now say they are willing to detain Osama bin Laden and put him on trial in Afghanistan. This is according to the Associated Press.

The Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan says bin Laden would be tried under Islamic law, provided the U.S. makes a request and provides specific allegations against him.

President Bush has demanded that the Taliban, quote, "turnover Osama bin Laden immediately."

Now, we're working on getting White House correspondent Kelly Wallace up here on our broadcast, and as we work on that, we will bring you the reaction from the White House. While we do that, we're going to take a quick break and we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We've been talking all this morning about Uzbekistan and its prominence right now as the U.S. considers its strategy in this region. Let's take a look one more time at the region. Zoom in a little bit and give you a sense of exactly what might be going on there.

This, of course, this area right here, Afghanistan, and we switch now to a two-dimensional map and let's give you an idea. These bases that you see here, with the little fighter depiction, are essentially remnants from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Many of them are. And as a result, there's basically an infrastructure that is in place there for a military force to engage in activity against Afghanistan, and that is exactly what the U.S. has secured from the leadership of Uzbekistan.

Now, it turns out that this particular air base has been a very busy place right now. It's about 250 kilometers, 150 miles or so, from the border of Afghanistan, that border which is only about 80 miles in length. Of course, as you can see here, there's a base that's a little bit closer, called Termez, that is within 30 miles or so of the border.

Let's go now to CNN's Alessio Vinci who is very close to that Khanabad base that we were just telling you about in the town of Karshi, and Alessio, I know you're in a country right now that doesn't prize the freedom of speech and you're not getting a lot of information, I know, right now. Just give us a sense of what you're seeing, what you're hearing, and what you're able to surmise by all of that.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, we're not getting any information here, any more information than the Pentagon is willing to release. As a matter of fact, many of the Uzbek officials with whom we're trying to get any information always refer to us how the Pentagon is handling the press in the United States.

We are about five miles away from that Khanabad air base that you were mentioning on your map earlier on. And we have not been able to go anywhere near that base. Several police checkpoints prevents us from going through. Although, throughout the evening yesterday, we got here about 24 hours ago, we heard several planes landing and taking off, and earlier today another plane arrived, and we do believe that these are U.S. military planes, there as part of their deployment at this former Soviet military base.

It is, we understand, one of the largest former Soviet Union air force bases here in the region. It was widely used during the Soviet Union attempted invasion of Afghanistan, between 1979 and 1989, and basically what we are hearing is these large planes taking off and landing and taking off. And mainly what we'll also be able to do is to talk to people who are -- who live nearby the air base and talk to people in the street.

The vast majority of the people really are very reluctant in sharing any kind of information. I think there is a sense of fear here in talking to any Western reporter, and the ones that we managed to meet through other people have been living here, there was a total of ten international people living here, and through them we were able to talk to some locals here, and they are telling us that they have seen several -- an increase in the activity in terms of landing and taking off at that air base. And so we do, we kind of pretty much assume that that's where the United States is building up its base, over there.

Now, the base that you were mentioning earlier, the Termez base, the one right on the border, according to the deal that was struck between Rumsfeld and President Karimov, the United States can only use one base, and this would be the base here in Khanabad. Although, however, it is also conceivable, although, of course, we have no confirmation, that perhaps U.S. military choppers who would be involved in search and rescue operations would first fly to that base, which is closer to the border, and then launch into an operation inside Afghanistan, to perhaps -- to search and rescue any downed pilot, if it would come to that.

But, we are, again about 250 kilometers, or about 130 miles here from the border. That would be a pretty long stretch to fly in an emergency situation, Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right, so Alessio, we don't want to get too far down the road, here, speculation. But just, the laws of physics, if you will, or some of the rules here; helicopters only have a certain amount of range, and C-130's only have a certain amount of range so, excuse me, can we make the assumption that when they say one base will be used by U.S. forces, perhaps it might be a little more than that?

VINCI: Well, Miles, President Karimov was extremely clear that for now he would allow one base, and only for humanitarian reasons, and that being search and rescue missions and perhaps airdrops. When we asked him why he was not willing to give up more of the former Soviet Union military bases, he said, I am not ready yet. The country is not ready yet, indicating perhaps that he was willing later on to allow some of the U.S. military to operate out of other different bases.

So, for now, we can only go with what we know for sure, and that is that U.S. military is allowed to use only one base. But, as you said, the logic of physics, you know, a chopper has to fly, if he has to go deep, deep into Afghanistan, it is conceivable that perhaps it would take off from that air base closer to the border, but that is, really, we must stress this, it is really speculation at this point.

O'BRIEN: CNN's Alessio Vinci, keep your eyes and ears open for us, under some tough conditions, and stay safe. We appreciate you reporting to us from Karshi, Uzbekistan.

One point we should bring out on those helicopters, although it is -- it seems very likely that the helicopters would, you know, the Pentagon planners would want those helicopters staged as close to the Afghanistan border as possible, many of them have the capability of being refueled midair by those same C-130's which are used to bring in the troops -- not the very same aircraft, but in some cases those C- 130's are outfitted with refueling pods. So, that would greatly extend their range as well.

So, a lot to consider here. We'll try to keep it clear for you as best we can. Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Miles. Thanks so much. And in the next hour, we will be taking your e-mail questions also. Miles, Patty Davis, and Nic Robertson will join me to answer your e-mail questions about America's new war, so start sending your e-mails right now at attack@CNN.COM.

And searching for more clues on the bookshelves, a sudden unexpected demand for information on the Middle East has bookstores scrambling. We'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MESERVE: As we mentioned to you just a few moments ago, the Associated Press is now reporting that the Taliban's envoy to Pakistan is now saying that the Taliban would be willing to detain Osama bin Laden and try him under Islamic law.

Kelly Wallace is in Emmitsburg, Maryland today, where President Bush will be speaking shortly, and has some administration reaction for us. Kelly?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jean, I asked an administration official about these reports and the reaction, no surprise. The Bush administration continuing to say that President Bush demands are nonnegotiable, that the Taliban must turn over Osama bin Laden, associates of the al Qaeda network, and shutdown those terrorist training camps, and that those demands are nonnegotiable. There's no room for discussion here. No room for negotiations. That it is time for action, not words.

Jeanne, this is the same reaction we had from the administration yesterday when the Taliban offered to release those eight Western aide workers currently on trial, accused of trying to convert Muslim's to Christianity, if the U.S. stops what the Taliban calls threats of a military attack against the people of Afghanistan. Yesterday, again, the message the same. This is not a negotiation.

So, no surprise, really, for this reaction coming from the White House and, Jean, as you heard, in President Bush's radio address yesterday, the president giving really the clearest indication yet that some military action could very much be in the near future. The president saying time is running out for the Taliban, that the Taliban must adhere to his demands, or face some consequences. Jean.

MESERVE: Kelly Wallace in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Thank you, and we'll be back with you next hour to hear more.

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