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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Three U.N. Workers Taken Hostage in Iraq; Presidential Election Goes Down to the Wire

Aired October 31, 2004 - 08:00   ET

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


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is October 31st. In case you forgot to fall back...
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: That's right.

NGUYEN: ...better check your clocks this morning. It is now 8 a.m. at CNN headquarters in Atlanta here on the east. Five a.m. on the west coast. Good morning everyone. I'm Betty Nguyen.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Thank you for being with us. Now in the news.

A United Nation's spokesman confirms that a video shown on Arabic TV network Al Jazeera is of three U.N. workers, election workers taken hostage in Afghanistan. The captives identified themselves as Filipino, Irish and Kosovar.

The kidnappers are demanding the release of prisoners held across Afghanistan as well as those held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Japanese officials confirm a headless body found in Baghdad is that of a Japanese hostage abducted last Tuesday. Kidnappers had threatened to behead the man unless Japan pulled its troops out of Iraq.

Al Jazeera aired video Saturday showing a Polish woman captured last week by militant group in Iraq. On the tape the woman pleads for her life and for Poland to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

A suicide bomber killed the nine U.S. Marines killed in a car bomb attack in western Iraq. Ten other Marines were wounded. In the attack on the convoy interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says Iraq is entering the final phase of efforts to peacefully resolve the Fallujah situation.

NGUYEN: Also ahead this hour, CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is just two days until election day. The Kerry campaign is cautiously optimistic. The Bush camp says they need to continue the fight against terrorism.

The FBI is on the trail of Azzam the American, a self described al Qaeda officer with a dire warning if President Bush is re-elected.

And a propaganda video surfaces in Pakistan with a clear message and it bodes ill for Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf and his ties tot he White House.

Now to our top story this hour, political primary colors. Two days before the presidential election the United States of America is looking like an eight state nation. Patterns of red, white, blue and yellow. Our latest CNN electoral college outlook shows President Bush seemingly with 227 votes and Senator John Kerry with 207. Now that's just too close to call.

Those areas that are simply too close to call are Florida, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire

Well from fields of green or red hot rallies, the candidates are courting a colorful array of supporters to have them a victory come Tuesday. CNN is covering the campaigns from every angle. We begin with CNN Kelly Wallace, who is in Dayton, Ohio with the Kerry campaign.

Good morning, Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning again, Betty. Senator John Kerry starting his day here at a Baptist church in Dayton, Ohio. Aids say he would be delivering more of an inspirational message. And this is also a move by the Kerry campaign to try and make sure that that new tape by Osama bin Laden is not dominating the dialogue of the campaign over the next 48 hours.

The reason for that is simple. Kerry's advisers know that if the focus is entirely on Osama bin Laden that's a play to President Bush's strength. He has been leading Senator Kerry in most polls by as much as 20 points when it comes to who can do a better job on the war on terrorism.

So what we expect from Senator Kerry in these last two days, a lot of what we heard last night at a rally before a huge crowd. Thousands and thousands in Warren, Ohio. The senator talking pocket book issues and also trying to reach out to those voters who backed President Bush in 2000, but who have not been very happy with the past four years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I ask anybody undecided, I ask thoughtful Republicans on the other side just stop and think about this. George W. Bush is the first president in 70 years to lose jobs in the United States on his watch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Now the goal is getting that message out, but also getting out the vote. Senator Kerry getting some help again from Former President Clinton who was in New Mexico and Nevada over the weekend. He will be in his home state of Arkansas today, which Kerry's advisers hope turns out to be a big upset on election night.

Also we understand the former president and Senator Hillary Clinton will be doing satellite interviews with television stations in Hawaii. Hawaii, as we know, has suddenly become very close. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) said Vice President Cheney is heading there today.

Now we have heard something else. Senator Kerry from here in Ohio will be heading to New Hampshire and there we are told he will be joined by two owners and also the general manager of the Boston Red Sox. We are told by a senior Kerry adviser that they will be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) endorsing Senator Kerry.

The significance here though is huge, of course. The Boston Red Sox the country's home team right now after winning the World Series. There's also, Betty, a little bit of politics here. Because, as you know, Kurt Schilling is one of the big pitchers on the Boston Red Sox. In an interview he had endorsed President Bush. He was supposed to appear with him in Manchester, New Hampshire but he said doctors said he couldn't go. It was also a sense that politically he decided to sort of not go do that while the World Series champions were celebrating.

So, that's the latest from here. Betty, back to you.

NGUYEN: All right. Kelly Wallace thank you for that report.

Tony.

HARRIS: Well surely the candidates know that the polls show that this race is still very tight. Our latest polls, the polls which averages recent national polling data has President Bush with a three point lead over Senator Kerry.

President Bush is leaving no hand shake, no hug, no stone unturned as he tries to summon up rock solid support. He's in three Florida cities today before heading for Cincinnati this evening. CNN's Elaine Quijano is at the White House and she joins us on the phone with the latest.

Good morning, Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ...key battleground with 27 highly coveted electoral votes up for grabs. Now last night Mr. Bush held a rally in Orlando, Florida. That is where he wakes up today.

And at that event, as well as his other rallies yesterday in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio, he made no mention of that new Osama bin Laden tape Yesterday the president discussed that tape, however, with his top security advisers via video conference. Senior administration officials saying the president wanted to make sure all precautions were being taken.

Now as for the campaigning the president's aids say they want to get back to basics. And that means trying to draw a sharp contrast painting himself as a strong war time commander and chief and continuing to hit John Kerry hard saying his voting record in the Senate is proof Kerry is weak on terrorism and lacks conviction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A president must lead with consistency and strength. In a war sometimes your tactics change, but never your principles. Americans have seen how I do my job on good days on bad days, when the polls are up or the polls are down, I am determined to protect the American people. .

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Now all along the Kerry campaign has maintained the president and the Bush campaign twist the senator's record and his statements. Meantime, as for the president's schedule a busy day in battleground states. President Bush will crisscross Florida today making three stops. First Coconut Grove south of Miami. Then Tampa on the Gulf Coast and Gainesville, Florida.

The president then wrapping up his day with a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ohio, of course, another crucial state. President Bush won there by about 3 1/2 points. Polls showing a tight race now. Twenty electoral votes up for grabs in that state.

Tony.

HARRIS: Elaine Quijano at the White House. Elaine, thank you.

Liz Cheney, the vice president's daughter, and a Bush/Cheney campaign adviser is a guest on "LATE EDITION" with Wolf Blitzer. That's noon eastern here on CNN.

NGUYEN: There's a new terror threat out and a lot of people questioning that it's the real thing. On its Web site the FBI have posted clips of a videotape containing that threat. It's from a man claiming to be an American agent of al Qaeda. And as our national security correspondent, David Ensor reports the tape raises more questions than it does answers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a technical analysis by the CIA, U.S. intelligence officials say they cannot authenticate the tape. They cannot say whether the man is really from al Qaeda. But they also cannot rule it out.

On the tape obtained by ABC news in Pakistan a man calling himself Azzam the American and claiming to have been born in the U.S. speaks in English for 75 minutes with much of his face covered. He threatens a new wave of terror attacks against the United States at any moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People of America I remind you of the mighty words of our leaders sheik Osama bin Laden and doctor Ayman Al Zawahiri that what took place on September 11th was but the opening salvo of the greater war on America. And that Ala willing the magnitude and ferocity of what is coming your way will make you forget all about September 11th. ENSOR: U.S. officials note that in the corner is the logo of Alsahab (ph) productions, the same identification that has appeared on some other al Qaeda tapes. But they caution that anyone could have put that there.

ABC news says the tape was obtained in Waziristan the region of Pakistan near the Afghanistan border. Copies have been distributed, sources say, to President Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Mueller and former CIA Director George Tenet as well as nine others mentioned by the speaker on the tape.

(on-camera): U.S. intelligence officials warn that this tape may or may not be authentic . with the presidential election just days away they are wary of a possible trick by an impostor. Word of the tape's existence leaked out on the Internet Wednesday. Given the timing, some in this town suspect that leak could have been politically motivated.

David Ensor, CNN Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: In other news across America now.. The nation's terror threat level will remain the same. That from Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, which says despite the emergence of the new tape from Osama bin Laden no actionable intelligence warrants raising the threat level.

Ridge said quote, "The tapes are new, the threat is not."

In New Jersey officials are investigating the cause of a major chemical spill. Nearly half a million dollars of potentially hazardous chemicals spilled into the waterway between New Jersey and Staten Island, New York yesterday. Sodium hydroxide often used in cleaning products spilled when a tank collapsed at a shipping terminal. Three people were taken to the hospital for treatment.

And the few, the proud, the runners in the Marine Corps marathon. You are looking at a live picture from the annual race around Washington. Boy, there's a lot of people there. Nearly 18,000 runners laced up for the 26 mile course. There's no qualifying time or prize money so, many of these racers are first time runners. And there's a bunch of hem.

HARRIS: Is an important U.S. ally in the war on terror in trouble. CNN obtains a Jihad propaganda film urging the assassination of a president.

NGUYEN: Plus religion and politics. Are more Americans OK with getting a political message from the pulpit. The answer may surprise you.

HARRIS: And we want to hear from you. Are you voting for the candidate or the party on Tuesday. E-mail us at wam@cn.com and we'll read some of those responses just a little bit later in the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK):

HARRIS: And good morning Atlanta and hello NASCAR fans. The Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 race kicks off in about four hours in Atlanta's Motor Speedway.

NGUYEN: Yes, get your motor running. Rob, what's the weather going to be like for fans.

(WEATHER REPORT)

NGUYEN: Checking our top stories this hour. A hostage standoff in Afghanistan. Al Jazeera has aired video showing three United Nations election workers held captive. A U.N. spokesman is calling for their immediate release. The kidnappers are demanding a prisoner release.

A hostage standoff in Iraq has ended in tragedy. Japan confirms a headless body found in Baghdad is that of a Japanese man. Insurgents had threatened to kill him unless Japan pulled its troops out.

On the ground in Fallujah new pictures in to CNN from the Iraqi city this morning. U.S. Marines have been clashing with insurgents on the edge of Fallujah. Meantime U.S. war planes are keeping up air attacks on the rebel stronghold.

HARRIS: It's widely believed that Osama bin Laden is hiding somewhere in the rugged tribal frontier along the Afghan, Pakistani border. Even if he is not there, the region is clearly a breeding zone for al Qaeda and similar groups. CNN's senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson reports from Islamabad, Pakistan on a terrorist recruitment video that recently surfaced from that area.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Pakistan's troubled south Waziristan province a highly produced Jihad video. The first of its kind from the tribal region bordering Afghanistan. It delivers an unambiguous message, kill Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

The video shows what it claims to be the American bombing of a religious gathering in south Waziristan on the 9th of September. The same day, Pakistani officials say they bombed an al Qaeda training camp in the same area. CNN cannot verify all of the material. Indeed, the U.S. bomber seems to be from another time and place completely.

As the propaganda video continues bodies are shown littering the ground. And addressing a crowd of tribesman religious leader Mullah Amira Achudin (ph) claims women and children were killed. My brothers, he shouts, it's the conspiracy of the Jews and Christians to collide the people against the Army.

A few weeks later in the capitol Islamabad where he represents south Waziristan in Pakistan's national assembly he explains.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Musharraf is doing all of this because the Americans have told him to and he does it to make them happy.

ROBERTSON: He claims to have welcomed the Pakistani Army when it began its first ever crackdown in the semi autonomous tribal region almost a year ago. But as the combined hammer and anvil hunt for Osama bin Laden as U.S. forces on the Afghan side of the border grew he says he saw injustice. Now Pakistani officials are seeing an increasingly organized resistance that goes well beyond the new propaganda video.

So far at least 171 Pakistani soldiers have been killed. Many by road side bombs. The Pakistani army does claim some successes in Waziristan. More than 200 jihadists captured or killed they say including foreign fighters.

(on-camera) What is startling about this propaganda video is not that it threatens the life of one of the United States biggest allies in the hunt for Osama bin Laden after all President Musharraf has already survived three assassination attempts in the last year and a half. But in the very area where the hunt for the al Qaeda is most critical, the battle is getting measurably tougher.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Islamabad, Pakistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS; President Bush is a Methodist and says he's a born again Christina. John Kerry is a Catholic. The separation of church and state has not been separated from this presidential campaign. Sara Dorsey takes a look at politics and religion in this election.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please go and get your vote on.

SARA DORSEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Religion is a hot button issue in the upcoming campaign. The candidates have embraced it and talked openly about it. Many church goers have also been getting a spoonful of politics straight from the pulpit.

DR. RANDY MICKLER, MT. BETHEL METHODIST CHURCH: Where is Jesus in the family values debate. That there is any question as to where he is. He is certainly not a moderate. Never has been a moderate.

DORSEY (on-camera):: Some say all the talk of politics at places of worship is a breech of the separation between church and state. Others say it's simply applying the word to every day life. A Pew poll released this year shows more Americans actually support churches talking politics.

(voice-over) When asked, should churches express views on political matters 51 percent said it's OK, 44 percent said no to churches flexing their political muscle. Some pastors disagree. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope I slay them on Christian principles. That's my job.

DORSEY: Pastor Erin Parker says in his sermon he addresses problematic situations in society. Both men say explaining the issues rather than supporting a specific candidate is key.

DR. AARON PARKER, ZION HILL BAPTIST CHURCH: We certainly don't take political sides to be sure. We encourage people to participate in the political process.

DORSEY: Do the chosen issues lean more towards one candidate or the other. Both pastors say in their churches, no. but what is the congregation hearing.

Do they tell you who to vote for?

FAYE ADAMS TAYLOR, CHURCHGOER: No. No they don't, surprising enough. But we get hints.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I just hear a whole lot of vote what your hear says, vote what your faith says.

DORSEY: Both candidates hope their name is the one religious faithfuls pick come Tuesday.

Sara Dorsey, CNN Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: that brings us to our e-mail question of the day. Are you voting for the individual candidate or for what his party represents.

HARRIS: Some good responses this morning. This one from Sandra is an example. I vote for the man not the party. But I also consider the people he has around him that I think will influence him.

NGUYEN: Phillip from Chicago writes, when I vote I vote for the man/woman never the political party. It's not the party that represents the voter it is the candidate. The party is only used to raise money and help spread the party's political message.

And of course we invite you to keep sending in your responses. Are you voting for the candidate or the party on Tuesday. E-mail us at wam@cnn.com.

HARRIS: All right. Thinking about heading over to a body shop? "HOUSE CALL" is straight ahead with all you need to know if you're considering plastic surgery.

I'm Tony Harris.

And I'm Betty Nguyen. We'll see you again at the top of the hour.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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