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More Detainees En Route to Cuba

Aired January 13, 2002 - 20:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN WITH BILL HEMMER. It's destination Cuba for another planeload of Afghan detainees. Plus, what were investigators learning from these former fighters? Then, targeting al Qaeda hideouts, the U.S. led bombing campaign continues, a report from the front lines.


SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), NORTH CAROLINA: These folks are clearly going to get bin Laden. It's just a question of when.


ANNOUNCER: Just back from Afghanistan, U.S. Senators with an update on the hunt for the world's most wanted man.

And help is here to restore the pride to Afghanistan's battered symbol, a lion who had his own run-in with the Taliban.


BILL HEMMER, HOST: Hello again, from Kandahar on a day where military sources say they are holding detainees right now who had specific plans one day to travel to America and kill U.S. citizens. We'll talk more about that in a moment. But first, another shipment is off and flying now to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In fact, we saw the giant C-17 lift off from here about nine hours ago. Given the events of Thursday night, military, once again, stepped up its security precautions here. Thirty more detainees headed to Guantanamo Bay under intense security here, a Marine or Army MP heavily armed escorting each detainee across the tarmac. Attack dogs, again, roam the airport tarmac. Cobra helicopters roam the air overhead. Humvees also patrol the perimeter where that shooting took place on Thursday night. All 30 detainees now in their familiar orange jumpsuits, sat in two rows, back to back with an armed escort opposite them. There were no reports of incident on Sunday night.

Meanwhile, military sources once again confirm with CNN, they are holding detainees at this point who had specific plans one day to travel to the U.S. and kill Americans. They also indicate that those plans were thwarted for whatever reason, possibly, due to the events of September 11.

Also, Bagram, north of Kabul continues to look like a centerpiece for interrogation. Right now, the man accused of running the Afghan terrorist camps, Ibn al-Sheykh al-Libi, in recent days, was transferred there from onboard his position on the USS Bataan. We know a week ago Abdul Salam Zaeef, a former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, also was taken to Bagram. One source indicating here - quote - "there are a lot of bad boys right now in Bagram."

Meanwhile, in eastern Afghanistan, the bombing continues again on Sunday afternoon. There's a terrorist training camp there, 40 acres below ground, four miles above ground. It's described as a huge complex. CNN's Kamal Hyder in that area watched the bombing again on Sunday and filed this report just a short time ago.


KAMAL HYDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the bombing, indeed, was very, very heavy and it continued throughout the night. That bombing having continued now for the fourth day. This morning, also, we heard very loud explosions here in this area and we were told that the - indeed that target was the Zawar Kili area. This comes very, very close to the Pakistani border within a thousand meters and the Pakistani army also on high alert to try and stop infiltrators from coming into Pakistan.

The American bombing is very, very heavy indeed. And people are saying that there must be a high priority target in this area because for the past few weeks Zawar Kili has received special attention - Bill.


HEMMER: Kamal Hyder near the Afghan-Pakistan border where he has been perched now for the past 10 days. Again, that bombing intense. It started a week ago Sunday, late in the afternoon. Obviously, it continues to be a target today. Apparently, the U.S. military seeing quite a bit on the ground there in eastern Afghanistan.

From now to the Pentagon - Bob Constantini watching this and also more news about the remains of U.S. Marines in route to the U.S. sometime very soon.

Bob, hello to you.

BOB CONSTANTINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hello, Bill. The remains of five of those seven crewmembers killed aboard a KC-130 tanker that slammed into a mountainside in Pakistan on Wednesday are coming back to the United States and have - and are - left Ramstein Air Force Base earlier today and are being brought back to Dover Air Force Base. Dover Air Force Base is famous for handling the remains and you often times see coffins on the tarmac there, remains of soldiers who are killed and from the United States who are killed overseas.

Now, as we say, the plane, a KC-130 tanker, slammed into a rugged mountainside in Pakistan after completing several missions on Wednesday. Officials here say there is still no evidence that enemy fire brought that plane down. In other news, there were no military leaders, but plenty of political types who were on the Sunday talk programs as usual and of course, they were talking about the war in Afghanistan today. And let me paraphrase one of them for you.

The war in Afghanistan is not over by any stretch and the United States is going to have to commit troops and money there for a long time. That's the word from Senator Joe Biden of Delaware who's in Kabul and who wants - that although the Taliban may seem defeated, they are still a major force.


SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), FOREIGN RELATIONS CHAIRMAN: They're not in power. They're not in the major cities, in control, but just in this city, right here in the room I'm sitting in, not but a half a mile away, there are many here who view that there are Taliban who control parts of the streets here.


CONSTANTINI: The chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee has been heading a delegation, visiting military and political leaders in Afghanistan. Always known for Culver's (ph) language, Biden said the U.S. doesn't want to own the country, but may have to rent it for a while to prevent the return of terrorist elements.


BIDEN: I think the American people understand that we drain this swamp or not yet, but almost drained it and if we don't get this finish shot, we're going to be back in here having to drain it again. It will be a lot more expensive.


CONSTANTINI: Biden is urging the Bush administration and Congress to send hundreds of millions of dollars immediately to the fledgling administration in Afghanistan of Hamid Karzai - Bill.

HEMMER: Bob, back to the bombing in eastern Afghanistan, Kamal Hyder, again, describing that as quite intense. What is the Pentagon saying about what it is seeing there on the ground?

CONSTANTINI: Well, Bill, the word is that there is a large complex of caves and tunnels and we're not sure if - we heard much from that report, but there's a large complex of caves and tunnels that they are targeting. And they've been having this intense bombing for three days there. There may be as many as three miles worth of tunnels inside that mountainside there. We want to make sure, of course, that anything in there, any leftover weapons or possible Taliban or al Qaeda fighters might be taken care of - Bill.

HEMMER: All right, Bob, thanks. Bob at the Pentagon, thank you very much here. Back here in Afghanistan now, it's Monday morning already, but Sunday morning, as Bob mentioned, the Sunday talk shows kicked up and fired up and one of the main topics again was the military campaign here in Afghanistan. Two senators who just returned from the region talked about the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the hunt for Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban founder. Both men still evasive, but both Senators also indicated the hunt does continue and is still intense.


EDWARDS: One of the things that we've discovered there, I think, is that there is an intense effort going on, first of all, to find bin Laden, to find Omar. It's a high tech operation. These are highly professional, highly confident people. And I came away with the impression that these folks are clearly going to get bin Laden. It's just a question of when.

SEN. FRED THOMPSON(R), TENNESSEE: I don't think it's just a matter of time. Some people think he's inside Afghanistan still even. And Omar, they think, pretty definitely is inside the country. But it's something that people are naturally interested in and we're going to talk a lot about. But again, I agree with Senator Edwards here - it doesn't really make that much difference exactly where he is. We're going to have to look in all these places and we're going to have to take some time. And we're going to have not loose patience, which is something we tend to do.


HEMMER: One has to wonder also if too much time has elapsed already. Let's talk more about it. From Chicago now, retired Army Brigadier General David Grange again, our guest tonight on LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN.

General, what about the trail here and the possibility that many people see, the longer it goes, the colder that trail may grow. Is there some logic that serves on that front in the hunt for bin Laden and Omar?

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET), U.S. ARMY: Bill, I don't believe that the colder - the trail gets colder. I believe that more intelligence will become available, which will enable the force to try new targets to go after, just like the complex that's being attacked right now, that you just described and showed some film of. We're going to have new targets pop up continuously that must be checked out, searched and destroyed. So no, I don't think it's going to get colder.

HEMMER: Do you believe, also, the detainees right now are being questioned and interrogated not only here in Kandahar, but also in Bagram, north of Kabul - what do you gauge based on what we're hearing now through sources who say they have now thwarted plans possibly to carry out more terrorist attacks against Americans in addition to what we saw and witnessed on September 11?

GRANGE: Well, first of all, Bill, I'm sure that's accurate, that they have exposed some plans of future attacks on our people and our country whether it be facilities abroad or back in our homeland, the United States. But this is a great example of why you have to take the initiative, you must go on the offensive, you must take the fight to the enemy to win. And what that has done is again, you know, it was a compromise of a tentative terrorist attack in the Philippines and then the one you just described, some plans in the future that has been again compromised. So it won't happen. So this is terrific. This is the only way to keep these people off guard and off their feet.

HEMMER: You heard Kamal Hyder reporting on the bombing now, seven going into eight days, intense bombing at times in eastern Afghanistan. What is your gauge right now? What would the U.S. military might be locating right there and is it more than just a group of al Qaeda fighters who may have resurfaced after it flushed out of Tora Bora?

GRANGE: Of course, it's hard to say, but this is quite a large complex and I believe there is several others that haven't been checked out in any detail. There may be a big prize in one of these. You know, you kind of get that feeling. I know there's a lot of hype about Tora Bora.

This one, it's because of what the descriptions of the immensity of this complex. There's a good chance that we have some nice prizes in there that will have in our custody soon.

HEMMER: Yeah, I want to go back, General, to the previous topic though for a moment here. Do you believe that al Qaeda was more advanced than many people had thought given the information we're now hearing, coming from the detainees?

GRANGE: Bill, when you say "advanced," do you mean on the sophistication on the weaponry they may apply on a terrorist attack?

HEMMER: And the plans and the plotting that now apparently is being uncovered on a daily basis. I can tell you some sources indicate to me that if they could tell us everything, it would be flat out scary because they find it scary themselves.

GRANGE: I believe it. I believe that these people are intense on their destruction of our citizens and our country and our way of life. And I believe that the sophistication and networking that they had set up globally was something that many had warned. It was just a matter of time before there'd be some large attacks. There'll be more attacks if we don't continue this pressure because I believe it. I believe that they're that sophisticated and that - may have that kind of a complex network in order to do destruction around the world.

HEMMER: General, thanks. David Grange live again in Chicago.

In a moment, when LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN continues, a strong pledge from Pakistan on Saturday afternoon - wipe out terrorism. Reaction from Karachi and New Delhi when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HEMMER: There is significant this past weekend out of Islamabad, Pakistan. General Pervez Musharraf pledged to crack down on terrorism in his country. Among his commitment, he talked about two specific items, number one, banning five militant groups, two suspected of attacks on India's parliament back in mid-December. Ash-har Quraishi now and reaction on the streets of Karachi.


ASH-HAR QURAISHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Following a boldly introspective speech by President Pervez Musharraf, many Pakistanis are giving their self-appointed leader a nod of approval.

In a single one hour address, Musharraf laid out blunt measures for dealing with two of the country's biggest and most persistent problems, the dispute over Kashmir and Pakistan's long history of tolerating violent extremist groups.

GENERAL PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTANI PRESIDENT (through translator): What direction are we being led in by these extremists? Pakistan has been made a weak state where the supremacy of law is questioned. This situation cannot be tolerated any more.

QURAISHI: In a strategic move, police raided the offices of several extremist organizations in Karachi shortly before the president's long awaited speech and rounded up more than 250 members of these groups in one of the largest crackdowns ever.

Of the five extremist groups banned by President Musharraf, two were directly accused in being involved in sectarian unrest. Today, one of them, the violent Sunni group, Sipah-i-Sahaba, finds its offices closed. The only people in sight are a few children left behind to remove signs from the building. The other banned group, the minority Shi'ite, the Tehrik-e-Jafria Party.

ALLAMA SAJID NAQVI, TEHRIK-E-JAFRIA (through translator): This is very unfair. He has done a great injustice to us. I condemn his decision.

QURAISHI: But on the streets of Karachi, a sense of approval for the steps President Musharraf has taken. In a local barbershop, this man says... "I think what he did was the right thing because Pakistan needs to think about its well being. That's why I think it's OK."

And at the corner flower stand, a similar reaction. "I think the things he said were very good for this country," this man says. "He is just the kind of leader this country needs."

(on-camera): While the action in Karachi has been mostly positive, President Musharraf's greatest test may come in a few days, after Friday prayers, a traditional time of protest by religious hardliners. It remains to be seen whether or not his new vision for the country can stand up to the small but vocal minority that opposes him.

Ash-har Quraishi, CNN, Karachi, Pakistan. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HEMMER: Clearly, there is no country watching more closely this activity and action and words than further east in India. And many Indians right now are saying they will gauge the actions long after the words have subsided. In New Delhi now, Maria Ressa gauges reaction from there.


MARIA RESSA, CNN JAKARTA BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Even before the government reacted, some in India praised the landmark speech by Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, saying if implemented it would be a historic break with Pakistan's recent past.

PREM SHANKAR JHA, POLITICAL ANALYST: What is absolutely clear is Musharraf has declared war on his own terrorists.

RESSA: Less than 24 hours after the speech, India gave its official reaction - welcoming Pakistan's commitment to fight terrorism everywhere, including in the disputed territory of Kashmir. India wished Pakistan well in its fight, but it added a caveat.

JASWANT SINGH, INDIAN EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER: We would assess the effectiveness of this commitment only by the complete action taken.

RESSA: What actions does India want? An immediate end of infiltration, the entry of militants across the international border and the line of control, which divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan. India claims this could not happen without the help of the Pakistani military. And India wants Pakistan to ban other terrorist groups and their parent organizations in addition to the groups banned by Mr. Musharraf Saturday. That ban included two groups India says were responsible for the December 13 attack on parliament.

SINGH: We look forward to an effective and full implementation of this measure so that its members will not continue activities under other names.

RESSA: India then turned around and rejected two points from Mr. Musharraf's speech - all statements on Kashmir, references to human rights violations and Indian state sponsored terrorism and any kind of third party intervention there. More importantly, there is no sign India is ready to pull its troops back from the border any time soon.

(on-camera): But there is a ray of hope. India says if Pakistan turns its words into action, then India would be prepared to begin a formal dialogue process. For every step Pakistan takes, India says, it will take two.

Maria Ressa, CNN, New Delhi.


HEMMER: In a moment, improvising in Afghanistan by way of U.S. skill and the symbol for a country found at the Kabul Zoo. Back in a moment.


HEMMER: Here in Afghanistan, one can clearly and plainly see how this country is in need of just about everything. Also, it's a country that's strongly relies on improvisation whether it's wall houses or U.S. steel, Afghans are making the most of what they have. From Kabul now, Michael Holmes reports.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mohammed Aghah does business in his Kabul grocery store. Nothing unusual in that except his store is a shipping container. He bought it seven years ago for a few hundred dollars and has never even thought about moving into a more traditional shop front.

MOHAMMED AGHAH, SHOP OWNER (through translator): I couldn't afford to buy a regular store. Plus, this land is government land and they can make us move. I can take the container with me.

HOLMES: No doubt to the horror of architecture purists, the traditional mud brick store is in many places being squeezed out by the ubiquitous shipping container. Street after street of stores that may look normal from the front, but from the back, resemble a container parking lot. They are structures of strength in a city where buildings of bricks and mud have crumbled to rockets and bombs.

WAZIR GHUL, CONTAINER DEALER (through translator): We can make doors, gates, many things.

HOLMES: Wazir Ghul was unemployed for three years before jumping on the container bandwagon. He's something of a wholesaler, an entrepreneur buying them for $250 each and either selling them, renting them or breaking them into pieces.

In his yard, a worker toils for $2 a day breaking the welds that hold the container wall together. No blowtorch here, it's all done the old fashioned way.

A few miles away, those pieces are turned into truck panels, doors or steel gates for a population that likes some solid protection.

(on-camera): So how much would this door be?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty dollars.

HOLMES: Twenty dollars? It's a good door for $20.

And there's another reason that these shipping containers are so popular here. The shooting may have died down somewhat in Kabul recently, but crime still very much a problem. A businessman was kidnapped right here last week. He was killed and break-ins are very common. Now for a storekeeper, a shipping container provides both peace of mind and importantly, a lock door. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's stronger and thieves can't break the door easily.

HOLMES (voice-over): The story of Afghanistan's shipping containers is the tale of the country's economic decline during the civil war of the 1990s. Goods came in to the country in these containers, but there was nothing to send back out. Afghans say a sign of a recovering economy here will be when the containers start leaving again, this time, full of goods for the outside world.

Michael Holmes, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.


HEMMER: Also, in Kabul, Afghans believe that there is an animal that symbolizes their country, simply a metaphor for what's happened here in Afghanistan and to find it, they say, simply go to the zoo. Chloe Kund (ph), here's her story and what she found.


CHLOE KUND, ITV NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may once have been a top visitor attraction, but after years of war, Kabul Zoo and its animals are looking more than a little neglected. Now, a team of experts from the World Society For The Protection of Animals has arrived to see what can be done to improve conditions.

The most famous is Marjan, the lion. He's lame, toothless and blind in one eye after a member of the Taliban held a grenade at him. But after surviving bombing raids and civil wars, it hoped he can now look forward to a comfortable retirement.

JOHN WALSH, WORLD SOCIETY FOR THE PROTECTION OF ANIMALS: He's a good ol' boy. He's the symbol of the country. Everybody loves him and as I say, it's been sort of the symbol of the suffering of the people of this country, is exhibited in that animal.

KUND: Under the Taliban, 90 percent of the zoo was destroyed and it was starved of funds. Some of the animals need urgent medical attention, like this bear who had part of its nose cut off.

John Walsh and his team would like to see the zoo closed and the animals moved elsewhere. But locals want to keep it opened, hoping that, like the rest of Afghanistan, it, too, can get back onto its feet again.

Chloe Kund, ITV News.


HEMMER: In a moment, a military air show for free when LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN continues.


HEMMER: OK, I won't take that much. Once again, back here in Afghanistan, one of the great advantages of staying here, in the airport terminal, is to see the U.S. military up close and very personal. We saw just that late Sunday afternoon. There was an amazing air show put on here at the airstrip in Kandahar. We saw numerous Air Force C-130s, Army Chinook helicopters, the Marine's Super Stallions and Cobra helicopters overhead. It was impressive. It was an awesome display of military might, practically an air show right before our very own eyes. And the best part about all of it was that it was free, no ticket required.

That's our show for tonight. I'm Bill Hemmer, once again, reporting live from Kandahar. We'll back again tomorrow with more news on the region and in Afghanistan. Hope you have a good evening. So long now from Kandahar.




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