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Interview With Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal; Prosecutor in Sniper Case Speaks Out

Aired November 25, 2002 - 20:00   ET


CONNIE CHUNG, HOST: Good evening. I'm Connie Chung.
Tonight: hard questions for the Saudi royals about the role of their money in September 11.

ANNOUNCER: Did money from the Saudi royal family go to the 9/11 terrorists?


SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: We need to know what kind of ally we have here. I'm suspicious.


ANNOUNCER: The U.S. government and relatives of the 9/11 victims want answers. Could money from the Saudi government have bankrolled al Qaeda?

John Lee Malvo awaits trial on capital murder charges. Tonight, exclusive: The man who will prosecute Malvo in the sniper case takes aim at the teen suspect.

A beauty pageant triggers a bloody riot. Then a mass exodus takes beauty queens out of harm's way. Tonight: After more than 200 deaths, should the show still go on?

This is CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT. Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York: Connie Chung.

CHUNG: Good evening.

Tonight: new developments in the investigation of September 11 and a major step in the effort to prevent another September 11-style attack from occurring on American soil. Today, the president signed the new Department of Homeland Security into being. At the signing, President Bush outlined the massive new department's responsibility.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The new department will analyze threats, will guard our borders and airports, protect our critical infrastructure, and coordinate the response of our nation to future emergencies. The Department of Homeland Security will focus the full resources of the American government on the safety of the American people.


CHUNG: A huge undertaking. The president also said he will nominate White House Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge to head the new Cabinet-level department.

And CNN's Jeanne Meserve joins us now from Washington with more on Governor Ridge.

Jeanne, I know you had a chance to talk with him today. It's such a daunting task he has before him. Is he at all intimidated by it?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's such a big job, Connie, that I asked him, first of all, why he took the job. He said because the president asked him and because he believes that service is one of the responsibilities of citizenship. As to whether he has any doubts that he can get the job done, absolutely not.


TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR: Look, I'm not naive to think that it's going to be easy. I mean, if you take a look at what's gone on in the private sector over the past five or 10 years, you'll out that find more corporate mergers and acquisitions have been unsuccessful than were successful.

But here, the tie that binds, I believe, is the commitment of the people who are already doing these jobs to securing their hometown and their homeland for their families as well. Here, I think it's a different environment within which we work. So, yes, it will be tough to merge history and culture and people. But we will be persistent. We will be relentless. And we'll get it done.

MESERVE: Does Tom Ridge have the skills to get it done?

RIDGE: You bet.


MESERVE: Ridge says he's willing to knock some heads together if he has to. He also hopes to use persuasion to try and build some cohesion amongst the 170 employees who will be in this new department. He hopes to get some traction right away. But even the president says true results will take a while -- Connie.

CHUNG: Well, I think that is what America wants to know. When will we see some changes? When will we feel that we are safe?

MESERVE: They're working on a very accelerated schedule with this new department.

Under the legislation, the president has 60 days to send a reorganization plan to Congress. He is sending it up today. Tom Ridge expect to assume office on January 25. And he says that, by March 1, most of the new -- most of the agencies will be merged into this new department. But as to when we're going to feel safer, most experts say it could be a couple of years. And will we ever have 100 percent security? Even Tom Ridge says we won't -- Connie.

CHUNG: Jeanne Meserve in Washington, thank you.

While the president focused on homeland security today, he was not eager to discuss disturbing new reports about one of America's allies, Saudi Arabia. It has long been known that 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11 came from Saudi Arabia. But now there are new reports about where some of their money may have come from.

And CNN State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel has been tracking that story for us -- Andrea.


This is a story about Saudis' culture of giving to charities. It's also a story about a complex web of personal relationships involving a Saudi crown princess here in Washington. She is Princess Haifa al-Faisal. She also happens to be the wife of the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

Now, government sources have told CNN that Princess Haifa ended up giving a check, basically, over a period of years to a Saudi woman. They don't know who she is. They don't know why she was receiving the money, other than the fact that she was on the princess' list of charitable donors. And that money, apparently, according to government sources, went to two Saudi students and then to two of the 9/11 hijackers.


(voice-over): Firing back on morning news programs, the Saudi government seized the offensive.

ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: I've heard the charges they are outrageous, they're are prosperous.

KOPPEL: The former policy adviser to the Saudi crown prince adamantly denied that the wife of Prince Bandar, the long time Saudi ambassador to Washington, had knowingly donated thousands of dollars which may have ended up supporting two of the 9/11 hijackers.

AL-JUBEIR: We have realized over the years people have take -- have now taken advantage of our charity, of our generosity of our naivete, if you want to call it that, that of our innocence but those days are coming to an end.

KOPPEL: With a possible war in Iraq just around the corner and Riyadh's reluctance to support military action. The news comes at a critical moment already strained after the 9/11 attacks revealed 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens. But publicly, at least, the Bush administration is sticking to its carefully crafted script, refusing to criticize, calling the kingdom a good partner in the war on terrorism.

RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: I think we're satisfied with the cooperation we've gotten so far. But by saying more needs to be done, that means we haven't done everything we can. We want to work with the Saudis, and are working more with the Saudis on issues like preventing the misuse or abuse of charity organizations.

KOPPEL: On Capitol Hill, some U.S. Legislators, Democrats and Republicans alike, are questioning just how good of an ally Saudi Arabia really is.

SHELBY: Let's follow the money. If we follow the money we get to the truth, and I think the truth will not be very nice.

KOPPEL: Also looking for the truth, attorney Allan Gerson represents 3,000 9/11 families and survivors. The one trillion dollar lawsuit claims some members of the Saudi royal family gave money to sponsor international terrorism.

ALLAN GERSON, LAWYER FOR 9/11 FAMILY VICTIMS: A Faustian bargain, that's the phrase of the day, what's struck between the United States and the Saudis where by the United States did not look very hard as to what the Saudis were allowing to occur. This is a web, and we are unraveling the web. It's a web of conceal, and deceit. And the truth is going to emerge. There's just no question about it.


KOPPEL: The State Department is quick to point out that it is the FBI that is heading up this operation. Nevertheless, one frustrated Powell aide told CNN -- quote -- "This just isn't a time to be doing this, maybe if they had hard evidence. Oh, by the way," he quipped, "they don't have any hard evidence."

CHUNG: Andrea, the United States is not criticizing Saudi Arabia. How big of a hot potato is this?

KOPPEL: Well, it's a pretty big one, when you consider that we've got the potential war with Iraq looming on the horizon.

Saudi Arabia is the second largest exporter of oil to the United States. It's also a key strategic ally, for any number of reasons, in the Middle East. And so, for the United States, they cannot be seen publicly to be criticizing the Saudi government, because they need the Saudi government a lot, much more than the Saudi government needs the United States right now.

CHUNG: All right, Andrea Koppel at the State Department, thank you.

We wanted to get the Saudi perspective on this situation. After all, the president continues to count on them as partners in the war on terror. But even before the new questions about Saudi money, the Saudi royal family still had not given permission to use their military bases if a strike on Iraq is needed. Prince Turki al-Faisal from Riyadh is not only former chief of Saudi intelligence; he's the brother of the princess, Princess Haifa al-Faisal, wife of the Saudi ambassador to Washington, whose checks are now under investigation.

He is also named in a lawsuit filed by September 11 survivors. But he declined to discuss the suit when I spoke with him earlier today from Riyadh.


CHUNG: Prince Turki al-Faisal, if these reports are true, how could the Saudi government allow money to eventually make its way to the hijackers on 9/11?

PRINCE TURKI AL-FAISAL, FORMER CHIEF OF SAUDI INTELLIGENCE: Ms. Chung, you will find that these reports are not correct and they are not going to be proven correct.

There was a report in "The Los Angeles Times" yesterday about the investigators who investigated the San Diego people who are allegedly connected with the hijackers. And their conclusion was that there was nothing whatsoever to tie these people with the hijackers. So, the people who did the investigation on the ground have reached that conclusion.

Now, I don't know where the other investigations are leading, but what I know is that the FBI is working very closely with the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington to reach a final and conclusive end to this rather, in my view, ludicrous and unfair media hype on my sister.

CHUNG: Have you spoken with your sister, Princess Haifa?

AL-FAISAL: I have spoken to her. And she is chagrined that she could be involved in anything like this.

CHUNG: Did she tell you that she actually did contribute some charitable money to someone named Osama Basnan?

AL-FAISAL: She told me that she contributed money to a lady -- I forget her name, but her name was mentioned in the press reports -- and that she had made several contributions to various other peoples.

Can I just tell you a little bit of what she does in Washington, Ms. Chung? She is on the board of many hospitals, like St. Jude hospital and other hospitals in Washington as well. And her contributions to children's welfare and children with educational disabilities are well-registered and reported in the Washington area. This is a lady who does a lot of charity work, not just to Saudis, but even to American families.

CHUNG: Does your sister believe that there might be a possibility that that money was funneled to hijackers? AL-FAISAL: My sister believes that what she did was to help someone who was in need, someone who was ill and who wanted money to help reach a cure for her illness. That is what my sister believes. So, any allegations about money from my sister reaching these hijackers is allegation and half-truths and totally untrue.

CHUNG: Do you believe that any member of the royal family would knowingly give money to al Qaeda?

AL-FAISAL: Of course not. Al Qaeda is targeting the kingdom. Al Qaeda has done terrorist operations in the kingdom. They are declared enemies of the kingdom. No one in their right mind would contribute to that.

CHUNG: But, sir, the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia is not a good one at this time.

AL-FAISAL: That is not true, Ms. Chung.

Ask President Bush. Ask Vice President Cheney. Ask Secretary Powell. Ask Secretary Rumsfeld. They are the ones who know what Saudi Arabia has done. And see what they wrote and said about that. They are in full praise and appreciation of what the kingdom has done. So, any allegations otherwise are pure allegations.

CHUNG: Is the royal family -- and you, in particular -- are you appalled at this report?

AL-FAISAL: Of course. We are all appalled at this report.

What makes it even more appalling, Ms. Chung, is that, in the United States, we have fallen, particularly my sister, between two, as it were, running trains: a train in the congressional investigations, which has something to do with investigating whether the CIA and the FBI were doing the right job or not, and then the train of investigative reporters like the reporter who reported in the "Newsweek," who is out to get scoops and sensationalize whatever reporting he has.

And, unfortunately, both of them fall in the grounds of, as I said before, half-truths and fantasy.

CHUNG: Prince Turki al-Faisal, I thank you so much for being with us.

AL-FAISAL: Thank you very much, Ms. Chung.


CHUNG: And joining me now from Washington is the man who broke this story on Saudi money; "Newsweek"'s Michael Isikoff.

Michael, I'm sure you just heard what Prince Turki said. He said that your report was ludicrous and -- quote -- "unfair media hype."

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, "NEWSWEEK": I did hear him say that, yes. But, look, the essential facts that Princess Haifa, the wife of Prince Bandar, made these contributions is not in dispute. Saudis last week, when I first contacted them, at first adamantly denied that there were any such checks and then finally sort of fessed up after it became clear that the FBI and congressional investigators had conclusive proofs that the checks existed.


CHUNG: ... whether she knowingly...

ISIKOFF: Yes, whether she knowingly turned over this money.

CHUNG: And were those other individuals who were intermediaries and/or hijackers, were they really given this money? Did that money funnel through to them?


And here's what we know. What we know is, the two individuals who ended up as the recipient of the money -- or at least it was through -- or their families ended up as the recipients of the money -- are these two Saudi students in San Diego, Mr. Omar al-Bayoumi and Mr. Osama Basnan.

Now, they turn out to be not your run-of-the-mill Saudi students. Mr. Bayoumi, under his own account, just happened to run into the two hijackers, al-Midhar and al-Hazmi, right after they landed in LAX, straight from an al Qaeda terrorist summit in Kuala Lumpur in January 2000. By his account, he just happened to overhear them speaking Arabic at an L.A. restaurant and just happened to offer to take care of them and bring them to San Diego. He welcomes them in a welcoming party. He opens up a bank account for them. He arranges for an apartment right next door to his. And he fronts them two months rent for the first two months, $1,500.

Mr. Basnan, as we report in this week's "Newsweek," was a known al Qaeda sympathizer, according to a federal law enforcement official, had openly expressed his admiration for the events of September 11, and talked about what a wonderful, glorious day it had been, and, as we further report, according to a U.S. intelligence source, showed up in Houston earlier last April, when the Crown Prince Abdullah was in town and met with a high-ranking member of the crown prince's entourage, who deals with intelligence matters.

And we did find a Houston police report that placed him in Houston that day, April 25. He was reporting $400 in stolen cash.


CHUNG: All right, Michael Isikoff, however, according to that "Los Angeles Times" report that Prince Turki had read in part to us, the special agent in charge of the FBI San Diego office says, of the hijackers: "They were self-controlled. They were funded from abroad. They did not come in our normal intelligence investigations." And that really knocks down your story. ISIKOFF: Well, that has exactly been the FBI's position all along. The Joint Intelligence Committee has been investigating this right from the beginning for the last couple of months after they got this. And they are questioning that account.

Look, this is in dispute. I don't know the answer to this, Connie. You don't either. And what has people on the Hill alarmed is that they fear the FBI did not. The FBI, as we now know, made numerous mistakes along the way. And it may well be that there is a series of strange coincidences that do not hook up with each other. But it also may be that there's more to the story.

And that is exactly what we are trying to -- that's exactly the thrust of the account. We don't know the answers to these questions. The FBI, the criticism from the Joint Intelligence Committees is, a lot of these connections were not fully investigated at the time. In fact, Mr. Bayoumi left the country two months before September 11. He was picked up by the British in New Scotland Yard a couple of days after 9/11, then released after a week, and is now believed back in Saudi Arabia.

I can tell you for a fact that, as we report in "Newsweek," that witnesses in San Diego have been grilled intensively in the last couple of weeks about Mr. Bayoumi and his whereabouts and his activities. And the FBI, which is conducting this investigation, would not be asking those questions if they were fully satisfied that all the questions about Mr. Bayoumi's activities had been answered.

CHUNG: Fair enough.

Michael Isikoff, appreciate it. Thanks for being with us.

ISIKOFF: Thank you.

CHUNG: Still ahead: Some of the toughest questions for the Saudis aren't coming from the Bush administration, but in a private lawsuit filed by family members of the September 11 victims. You'll meet one of them and the lawyer who wants the Saudis to pay billions right after this.

ANNOUNCER: Next: A beauty contest sparks a bloodbath in Africa. The beauty queens flee to safety, but should the show go on?

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT will be right back.


CHUNG: The new questions about the role of Saudi Arabian money and the September 11 attacks are not the first time Saudis have been implicated. Almost 3,000 September 11 victims and relatives have joined a massive lawsuit seeking as much as $1 trillion from members of the Saudi royal family.

Kevin Schaeffer is one of those victims. And Ron Motley is the attorney pursuing this lawsuit. And they join me now from Washington.

Thank you, gentlemen, for being with us.

Ron, I'm told that you have just returned from Kabul, that your investigators were there looking into links between the hijackers and the Taliban and al Qaeda. Were they able to find any link to the Saudi royal family?

RON MOTLEY, ATTORNEY FOR 9/11 VICTIMS AND RELATIVES: Yes, ma'am. We were able to establish, by sworn testimony, the act of participation of Prince Turki in the facilitation of the funding of al Qaeda directly in Afghanistan.

CHUNG: Are you saying that Prince Turki, with whom I just spoke and who claims no one in the royal family is in any way connected to or funding al Qaeda, are you saying that he is indeed not only a funder, but a facilitator for al Qaeda?

MOTLEY: There is absolutely no question about it. We spoke with senior Taliban officials who were in the room when he indeed did facilitate the transfer of large sums of money directly to al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

CHUNG: Who was present and how can you verify that Prince Turki was involved?

MOTLEY: Well, Prince Turki hasn't appeared in the suit yet. But when he does, if he does, we will be able to take his testimony under oath.

But Prince Turki was in Afghanistan on numerous occasions facilitating the transfer of funds and equipment to al Qaeda. And the people who gave us these sworn statements were in the room when it occurred. And these were senior Taliban, former Taliban officials.

CHUNG: Prince Turki is named in your lawsuit, is he not?

MOTLEY: He indeed is a primary target.

CHUNG: Do you have any information that would suggest that the story today, which involves Princess Haifa, is an accurate one?

MOTLEY: Well, I think the story is accurate.

The conclusions you can draw from that story may not be soundly footed right now, although my investigator has reported -- maybe another coincidence -- but another link between the princess and an al Qaeda figure who has turned state's evidence and is testifying against three other al Qaeda members in Michigan.

CHUNG: Mr. Schaeffer, I know that you were actually injured during the Pentagon attack. I see your hands are still recovering from the burns.


I was burned on close to half of my body. And Flight 77, when it crashed into the Pentagon, actually crashed into my office space and killed everyone in there but me.

CHUNG: How long were you in the hospital, sir?

SCHAEFFER: I was in ICU in the burn unit here in D.C. for just over three months.

CHUNG: And how long will your recovery be, do you think?

SCHAEFFER: Well, I'm actively trying to heal right now, both emotionally and physically. And I expect to hopefully be as back to near perfect or close to what I was maybe in about a year's timeframe from now.

CHUNG: What do you hope to accomplish with your lawsuit?

SCHAEFFER: Well, I can tell you, speaking on behalf of the families who Mr. Motley represents and those of us who have filed this suit, that the last thing we're seeking in this fight is a monetary reward.

And what, indeed, all of us are seeking is the facts and the truth. We certainly know and are realists that money makes the world go round. And this financial network, as shadowy as it, actually supports and enables global terrorism to happen, and specifically September 11. Those individuals were funded by someone. And that's what we're seeking to prove.

CHUNG: It's going to be very difficult, though, isn't it? Don't you concede that it is very hard to root out the facts?

SCHAEFFER: It is very hard to root out the facts. And that's why we've been actively seeking and requesting support from our government in helping this effort. We are being supported by many nations around the globe who are actively fighting global terrorism. And we seem to be lacking the support right now from our own government. So, that's what we're asking for.

It is very difficult thing to prove, but we are finding information on a daily basis that is astounding, when you think about it. And we're just hoping that we'll be allowed to have our day in court.

CHUNG: Kevin Schaeffer, Ron Motley, thank you for being with us on this important lawsuit.

Still ahead: Why was actress Mia Farrow in Africa? A movie? No. The true story is much more dramatic. And it's about kids.

Stay with us.

ANNOUNCER: Next: the prosecutor in the sniper trial of John Lee Malvo. Has he learned anything about the suspect's motive?

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT returns in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHUNG: Sniper suspects John Muhammad is John Lee Malvo have been accused of at least 18 shootings this year, including the murders of 13 people. You're about to meet the man who is going to prosecute Malvo and try to send the 17-year-old to his death.

But first; a little background on Fairfax County prosecutor Robert Horan. He became the prosecutor of the Malvo case when Attorney General John Ashcroft turned the two accused snipers over to Virginia authorities.


JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Commonwealth attorneys Paul Ebert of Prince William County and Robert Horan of Fairfax County are here with us today. They are tough, seasoned, and highly-respected prosecutors, whose offices have excellent records in prosecution of violent crime.


CHUNG: And when Ashcroft said seasoned, he wasn't kidding. Horan has been Fairfax County prosecutor for 35 years.

CNN's Charles Molineaux reports.


CHARLES MOLINEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seventy-year- old Robert Horan is described as tough as nails and a hard-charging, true believer, also controversial, unreasonable, even irrational.

A former Marine, Horan became Fairfax County's Virginia Commonwealth attorney in 1967. His tenure there is now the longest of anyone in the state. And he comes to the D.C. sniper case with a history of high-profile cases under his belt. He's best known for getting a conviction in a 1976 execution-style murder at a restaurant and for a 1989 kidnapping in which the victim was never found.

And Horan ended up on the international stage prosecuting Mir Aimal Kasi. He was the Pakistani eventually convicted for the 1993 shooting rampage that killed two people and wounded three others outside CIA headquarters. Kasi was just executed on November 14.

But Horan has attracted criticism, too. Defense attorneys have blasted his reluctance to allow DNA testing for defendants already convicted in previous cases.

ROBERT HORAN, FAIRFAX COMMONWEALTH'S ATTORNEY: You can wind up wasting a lot of time and a lot of government money testing ridiculous cases.

MOLINEAUX: Horan's straight-shooting style has also drawn flak, charges of racism, each violent anti-American protests overseas. In 1997, he set off a firestorm in the streets of Pakistan in the CIA shooting case when a $2 million reward was offered for Mir Aimal Kasi's capture. And Horan said that was no bargain. HORAN: I'm sure there are people over there would turn in their mother for $20,000, let alone $2 million.

MOLINEAUX: The State Department apologized. And so did Horan.

But he's no less outspoken. As his office moves to prosecute 17- year-old John Malvo in the sniper case, Horan rejected defense demands that Malvo be put in a juvenile jail, calling the idea almost "Alice in Wonderland." Horan said jail is not a nice place, but it's better than the front seat of a Chevy Caprice. Malvo and John Muhammad are accused of going on their deadly sniper rampage in a Caprice.

Charles Molineaux, CNN, Atlanta.


CHUNG: And Fairfax, Virginia, Commonwealth's attorney Robert Horan joins us today from Washington.

Mr. Horan, thank you for being with us.

HORAN: Connie, it's nice to talk to you.

CHUNG: Do you know why you and Fairfax County was selected as the first to go in terms of this young 17-year-old juvenile?

HORAN: Well, it was an interesting process.

So many jurisdictions wound up making charges, because each of the jurisdictions had very egregious homicides committed against ordinary citizens. So, everybody charged. And, eventually, everybody gave, in essence, their investigative reports, reports of the working police officers.

All of that went to the United States Department of Justice. They evaluated the laws of the different states, the evidence in the different jurisdictions. And, eventually, a decision was made that the adult would start in Prince William, Virginia, and the juvenile would begin in Fairfax County, Virginia.

I've heard a lot of conversation about how all of that took place. And I can honestly say I never, in the course of all of the proceedings, talked to anybody in the United States Department of Justice in Washington. All I know is that, one morning, I got a phone call saying, "We're going to send the juvenile to Fairfax County for trial." And that's the first I knew that we were going to be the one to begin that process.

CHUNG: When do you think you will go to trial?

HORAN: Well, we tend to try these cases rather quickly in my part of Virginia. It wouldn't surprise me if we go to trial by the middle of the summer, certainly, although capital cases, generally, they will run between six months and a year from the time the grand jury indicts.

CHUNG: Mr. Horan, you have prosecuted a juvenile death penalty case, have you not?

HORAN: Yes, I have.

CHUNG: And how many?


CHUNG: And was that young man executed?

HORAN: Yes, he was.

CHUNG: Do you have apprehensions about that entire issue?

HORAN: Well, of course, it's very fortunate. Capital cases are a rarity. You don't see a lot of them in the course of prosecution. But, eventually, you'll have cases -- and everybody runs into them sooner or later -- where you do deal with a juvenile.

And the whole question of capital punishment deals with the magnitude of the crime committed, the circumstances under which it was committed. And all of those factor into the question of whether or not it is properly a death penalty case.

CHUNG: Mr. Horan, you've prosecuted high-profile feeding-frenzy type cases every decade of your practicing life, in the '70s, the '80s, the '90s and now. How will this case be difficult for you, do you believe?

HORAN: You know, oddly enough, if you do enough of these -- and I've done hundreds of homicide prosecutions -- they tend to fit into a mold. And it becomes a question of adapting to the evidence in the case, adapting to the law which will apply to the particular facts of the case. And you go from there. It becomes almost a practice that you repeat over and over again in homicide prosecution.

I don't think this case will be terribly different. It will be a little more complicated because of the magnitude of the evidence coming from a number of different jurisdictions. But, to a certain extent, it is a typical homicide prosecution.

CHUNG: Well, Mr. Horan, I think you've got the routine down. Thank you so much for being with us.

HORAN: Connie, it was good talking to you.

CHUNG: When we come back: why a beauty pageant sparked deadly rioting.

Stay with us.

ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: Award-winning actress Mia Farrow speaks out on something very important to her.

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT will continue in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHUNG: In Nigeria today, they are burying the dead, some of at least 215 people who died in rioting because of disagreements over a beauty pageant. Muslims were already opposed to the Miss World Pageant because it was slated during Ramadan. But when a newspaper article suggested that the Prophet Muhammad, father of Islam, might have considered marrying one of the contestants, they started to riot.

CNN's Robyn Curnow reports.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eighty-four beauty queens without a pageant, relocated to London after riots forced them to leave Nigeria, where the Miss World finals were due to take place.

Today, Miss World organizers defended their first choice of Nigeria as pageant host and dismissed charges that it bore any responsibility at all for the mayhem which left more than 200 people dead.

JULIA MORLEY, PRESIDENT, MISS WORLD: I truly don't think you can say, because we were there and a journalist said something, we were the cause of a riot. That can happen anywhere in the world now.

CURNOW: Tensions between Nigerian Muslims and Christians have increased in the two years since 12 states imposed sharia, or Islamic law, going against the secular constitution.

NICOLE GAZAL, MISS AUSTRALIA: People have asked me, "Do you think it should be held in a Western country next year, as opposed to such a Third World country that has very little infrastructure to support such an event?" And I don't agree with that. I think it's countries like Nigeria and smaller countries around the world that need our attention and that need the event to be held there.

CURNOW: But it's a case of all dressed up and nowhere to go for this year's beauty queens. The Miss World finals, scheduled for December 7, have not yet found a London venue or sponsor, despite being contracted to provide a live television show to go out to 130 countries.

(on camera): Although the Miss World contest has now been moved to London, there's a growing public debate here. Many are calling for the competition to be canceled completely, one observer saying that the contestants had blood on their swimsuits.

(voice-over): Others, including one feminist writer, are questioning the relevance of beauty pageants.

KATHY LETTE, AUTHOR, "'NIP 'N' TUCK": Well, the Miss World competition, it's like one of those cargoes of nuclear waste that are circling the globe, that nobody wants to give it safe harbor. And much to our shame, this toxic entertainment is coming to Britain.

CURNOW: Toxic entertainment for some, blasphemy for others, but a dream of a lifetime for one beautiful woman. Robyn Curnow, CNN, London.


CHUNG: And joining me now from Los Angeles is Natasha Allas, Miss World USA 2000, who opposed holding this year's pageant in Nigeria.

Natasha, thank you for being with us. I know that you wrote to the Miss World Organization three months ago and said you didn't think that the pageant should be held in Nigeria. Why?

NATASHA ALLAS, MISS WORLD USA 2000: Well, the reason that I did the pageant and was involved in the Miss World Organization and the reason that many girls are involved in beauty contests is that it's an awesome opportunity for us to win a cash prize, to get out of a small town, for some women in international countries, and to further elevate a career, whether it's acting, like for Halle Berry or Linda Carter, or journalism, like for Diane Sawyer, or going to law school or becoming a doctor.

And that's what it has always represented to me and most girls that I know that compete in pageants. And, unfortunately, that's not the case for women in Nigeria. It's clearly anything -- different than that, as witnessed by a woman being stoned to death. And so, the hypocrisy of having a pageant that represents those kind of ideals and that kind of freedom for women in a country that clearly gives women no equal rights, I thought didn't make sense.

CHUNG: When you first saw the violence, what went through your mind?

ALLAS: I was really disappointed. And I was very upset, because it was completely unnecessary.

The reason that Miss World would choose to have the pageant in such an unstable political climate was really beyond me. And I think that the pageant sparked it, irresponsible journalism on behalf of the gentleman who had mentioned the prophet marrying one of the girls, and the fact that I think that the Muslims and Christians just want to riot and fight over anything that can possibly spark it.

And I am just upset that the beauty pageant was the one that sparked that kind of rioting, unfortunately for the families of those victims.

CHUNG: Basically, I can tell you blame a number of different factors that played into this. But, in the end, was it the Miss World Organization that really made the big mistake?

ALLAS: I think that they should have been a lot more responsible in choosing the location.

Look, there are tons of countries that this pageant can be held in. The year that I competed, it was in London. We had an enormous amount of support. The year before, it was in Seychelles. There was great support there. Nigeria is just not the place to have a pageant like this. They were not welcomed by the fundamentalists. The Nigerian government wanted to have the pageant there, but there it was too dangerous, especially in a day and age after 9/11, with the Islamic fundamentalists, who very, very much opposed this pageant and oppose beauty pageants, amongst other things.

So, I think that there could have been a lot of different places the pageant was held, and Nigeria was not a good choice.

CHUNG: Do you think it still should be held? In other words, perhaps it should be canceled.

ALLAS: No, I don't believe it should be canceled. This is one of the largest television events on the planet. It has an audience of two billion people. It's very exciting for a lot of countries. I know, from competing, I prepared for months in order to go to the pageant. For the girls, it means a lot.

So, I'm very happy and very relieved that they've been moved out of Nigeria. I was upset that they were going to continue the pageant on December 7 in that location. I was very scared for the girls. But I think that now, since it's been moved and if the girls are safe and there's no riots or protesting in London, that the pageant should still go on.

CHUNG: Natasha Allas, thank you so much, Miss World USA 2000.

When we come back: A very different story emerges out of Africa. We'll talk with actress Mia Farrow and her 14-year-old son about what they found on a recent visit there.


CHUNG: Tonight, actress Mia Farrow is presenting a special Emmy Award for a contribution by a broadcaster in support of children's rights. Why Mia Farrow? Because, as a survivor of polio, which she contracted at 9, she's championed children's causes for decades, most recently on a UNICEF trip to Angola, along with her 14-year-old son, Seamus.


CHUNG: And Mia and Seamus have joined me here for a very special visit.

Thank you so much for coming.

MIA FARROW, ACTRESS: Thank you for having us, Connie.

CHUNG: All right.

Tell me, Mia, you were in Angola and you met a woman who was a mother of how many?

M. FARROW: Eight.

CHUNG: Eight. And she just wanted one thing that would help her so much. What was it and were you able to help her?

M. FARROW: She wanted legs. The land mines litter Angola, still, after the war. They've been at war for 30 years. And the country is infested with land mines. And most of its victims are children and the women trying to do their work in the fields and so forth.

So, she wanted prosthetic legs. And, no, we were not able to get her that yet. We are hoping to have some sort of setup to provide that for the people there. There is nothing there, Connie, nothing. UNICEF is there doing its very best to provide food for people. The woman who lost her eight children, the same woman, took in 13 other children, orphaned children. That was her response to loss.


CHUNG: ... children?

M. FARROW: In bombing of the town of Quito, which is one of the worst of the attacked towns during the car, just completely -- not a single building stands. It's rubble. And, so, it was a lesson for me.

You did an extraordinary thing. Seamus expressed interest and you decided to take him to Angola.

Seamus, it must have been such an incredible experience for you. And I know you actually held a dying baby.


And just even looking into the eyes of children, people my own age, other teenagers, people that were sort of half my size, and that they would never have the opportunities I would have, that they were facing just hardship, and I would go back to this life in America, was really an awakening for me.

CHUNG: And you do have a rather extraordinary -- you know, I'm going to talk about you as if I'm your mother, instead of Mia.


CHUNG: But you're 14 years old and you're in college, because you skipped so many grades?

S. FARROW: That's right, and of my own will. I just -- I didn't feel satisfied with grade-level work. And I guess somehow...

CHUNG: So what have you done with your experience in Angola? Have you brought it back to your college?

S. FARROW: I have. I wrote an article for "The New York Times" "Upfront" magazine about it, which was published this past month. And I gave a speech to the student body at Bard College, where I'm at school.

CHUNG: Let me go back to your mom.

Mia, there's another story you had told us about a man who was so malnourished, so hungry that he even resorted to?

M. FARROW: He ate his belt in the time of terrible famine there, before the relief workers could even get in, because the war was raging. And relief workers couldn't reach these people. And there wasn't a seed to eat. And he saw Seamus had a belt on. And he was saying something. And the interpreter said, "He once had a belt, but he had to eat it." It's that bad.

CHUNG: So what can people do to help?

M. FARROW: People can support UNICEF. UNICEF is there, UNICEF workers living under very difficult conditions, bringing crucial supplies, food, primarily, to the people of Angola.

There's a UNICEF Web site and a UNICEF 800 number. And I don't know if other organizations are there. But I myself firsthand witnessed the UNICEF work there. And they're providing crucial food. And now they're starting with seeds and planting. They're got to remove the land mines, so that people can get back to their homes. It's a very difficult situation, but UNICEF is on the job.

CHUNG: Now, keep me up to date on how many children you have now, because I don't want to say to myself, "Oh, it's 12; oh, it's 13," and then you...

M. FARROW: It's 13.

CHUNG: Is it?

M. FARROW: Yes, it is.


M. FARROW: But most of them are grown up. I have six living at home. And my youngest is 8. And the oldest living at home is 17.

CHUNG: Do you mind if I ask you if have a relationship with your dad?

S. FARROW: I don't. And he's made attempts to initiate that. And, right now, I just feel -- I have no wish for that.

CHUNG: If there's anyone out there who doesn't know, your dad is Woody Allen. OK.

Thank you, Mia, for being with us.

M. FARROW: Thank you, Connie.

CHUNG: And thank you, Seamus.

S. FARROW: Thank you so much.

CHUNG: And thank you for taking your generosity back to the United States for all of the other students there to enjoy.

S. FARROW: Hopefully, it will impact something resembling change, then.

CHUNG: Exactly.

All right, thank you.

And when we come back, we'll just take a look at tomorrow.


CHUNG: Tomorrow: Iraqi-American poet and author Nuar Alsadir on life in America.

And coming up next on "LARRY KING LIVE," Katie Couric talks about the effect of cancer on her life and her charity work to fight it.

Thanks for watching. Have a good night. And we'll see you tomorrow.


Sniper Case Speaks Out>

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