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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Terror, Murder & Courage
Aired December 9, 2004 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and welcome to this special edition of PAULA ZAHN NOW.
Tonight, you're in for an extraordinary hour, stories of dedication in the face of danger, of families that might have been destroyed by evil, but instead grew stronger.
ZAHN: Tonight, Westerners in a violent world, working, sometimes dying in a climate of terror. Daniel Pearl, an accomplished journalist, used as a pawn. His family watches his gruesome murder by terrorists.
Amy Biehl, an idealistic young woman, killed by the very people she wanted to help. Her family stunned by grief. But now both families have turned hate aside, going far beyond forgiveness.
And a journalist, one of the world's bravest woman, who has brought the face of war and terror into sharp focus.
For the next hour, stories of terror, murder and courage.
ZAHN: We begin tonight with the story of Danny Pearl, whose kidnapping in early 2002 has become a gruesome model for terrorists. At last count, 26 people are being held by terrorists and so far this year, at least 44 others have died.
ZAHN (voice-over): Margaret Hassan, Nick Berg, Kenneth Bigley, Paul Johnson, Jack Hensley, Eugene Jack Armstrong, Sho Sykota (ph) and others, innocent casualties of the war on terror, bystanders reduced to pawns.
ZAHN (on camera): What does that open up inside of you every time you see another unarmed innocent human being beheaded by these extremists?
JUDEA PEARL, FATHER OF DANIEL J. PEARL: It evokes primarily fear that our culture is being hijacked by these images and by these terrible events, to the point where we are going to see in those images and events a routine. This is what I fear. And we have to stop it. ZAHN (voice-over): These words from a man with a unique perspective, Judea Pearl; 2 1/2 years ago, his son, a "Wall Street Journal" reporter, was abducted and murdered in Karachi, Pakistan, by Islamic extremists.
J. PEARL: We are confronting a new type of evil. It is the media, the Arab media that sustains it and inflames it, unfortunately.
ZAHN (on camera): Do you think that will ever change?
J. PEARL: They're simply currently intoxicated in an orgy of hate. Currently, every time they perform this horrific act, there's a big publicity, attention the world over and they know they have customers, which emboldens them to conduct another abduction and to capture another journalist and to perform a more horrific act, because it's the news that networks are after. So it's a vicious circle.
ZAHN (voice-over): A circle that has repeatedly played out on camera, with the world watching, victims begging for their lives, families praying for release.
(on camera): Did you ever look at the murder video?
J. PEARL: Yes, I did.
(MR. PEARL WENT ON TO SAY HE ONLY LOOKED AT THE GOOD SECTIONS OF THE VIDEO.)
J. PEARL: My theory is that he did not know that he's about to die. But I can see through the tone of his voice he's concerned, but not frightened. And he's talking with dignity, and not defiance, but real pride about his heritage. And I think the meaning of his words is: "I have a right to be different and I want to tell you that it's about time that you come to your senses. I'm Jewish and you are Muslims, and we can still be friends."
ZAHN: Why do you think your son's captors murdered him?
J. PEARL: I think their main purpose was to score a point against the U.S.
ZAHN: As simple as that?
J. PEARL: As simple as that.
All the demands that they made were just fabricated. It did not make sense. He was captured because he was an American, because he was an easy prey. It was the first reaction of al Qaeda to the bombing in Afghanistan. And they wanted to show the world they're still alive and kicking. But we don't know the whole story and we're not being told what the currently conducted interrogations radiates.
ZAHN: Why aren't you?
J. PEARL: The FBI, if you ever dealt with the FBI, is like a sponge. They only take in information. They never deliver information.
ZAHN: How hard is that for you? You want to know, don't you?
J. PEARL: We would like to be given one consistent scenario. And so far, we haven't. We know that they're connected with al Qaeda. We know that ISI had some doing there.
ZAHN: Intelligence services.
J. PEARL: Yes, Pakistani intelligence service.
And we don't know to what extent. But, definitely, there are some issues connected with the ISI which haven't been clarified.
ZAHN: Do you think Danny was targeted by his captors because he was Jewish?
J. PEARL: There is some indication to that, quite feasible, and the fact that in the murder video, they do not mention his profession at all. The only thing they mention and paste together are his statements about his heritage and his connection to Israel.
J. PEARL: Which means they had prepared a justification for the audience. Who the audience are, the people they're trying to recruit, the world at large, or whoever. But we understand that they're using video murder, the murder video for recruiting. It's half entertainment, half recruiting call.
ZAHN: So sick. Doesn't that just make you feel...
J. PEARL: I got over it. I got over it.
ZAHN (voice-over): Even though four men have been convicted of Danny Pearl's murder, Judea Pearl still doesn't know exactly what happened to his son and why. He believes the U.S. government knows more than its telling.
(on camera): Does the U.S. government owe you an apology for not bringing you up to date on this investigation and sharing with you details you think are critical to understanding what happened to your son?
J. PEARL: I'm an engineer. I'm not after apologies. I'm after actions and results. And I would like to know the information, get the information.
ZAHN: So you are you pessimistic, then, that you'll never know?
J. PEARL: I'm pessimistic, yes. It will take someone who is interested in producing the result and seeing it throughout the process: "I'm going to get this information to the parents of Daniel Pearl."
And there isn't anyone who is willing to take upon themselves this overseeing.
ZAHN: Why is that?
J. PEARL: You, me -- I'm as puzzled as you are.
ZAHN: It has got to be so hurtful.
J. PEARL: There are more painful thing in the world.
ZAHN: We asked the FBI about Judea Pearl's criticisms. The FBI told us this evening that it had no comment.
Coming up next, from the nightmare of a son's murder to the dream of transforming hatred into tolerance.
ZAHN: When you sit down across the table from Muslims...
J. PEARL: Yes.
ZAHN: .. .what do they say about your son?
ZAHN: And a little bit later on, the story of another courageous journalist daring to live and work in the most dangerous place on Earth, our own Jane Arraf.
ZAHN: Welcome back.
You heard Judea Pearl talk about his search for answer to his son's murder, "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl, by terrorists.
Well, now Judea Pearl shares his memories of Danny and tells me about his long wait for news about Danny's fate.
ZAHN (voice-over): This is the Danny Pearl you've probably never seen before. The music you're hearing is a rare recording of Danny Pearl playing the violin. Danny was a passionate man, passionate about his family, his friends, his music, and his work.
J. PEARL: He felt an urge to go and talk with strangers, with friends. And he made thousands of friends from strangers.
And I think it came from the fact that he was so secure. He didn't have to test whether or not people approved of him. And he built up this belief that, as long as you stick with principles and the truth, he can go through fire. ZAHN (on camera): Your son put himself in some very dangerous situations. Did you worry about him?
J. PEARL: Yes. We worried about him. He was careful to tell us constantly where he's going. Whenever he would change a hotel, we knew about it. He's the one who wrote the safety manual for "The Wall Street Journal." He was cautious. But he didn't perceive Pakistan at that time to be a dangerous place, or a war zone, essentially.
ZAHN: Did you perceive it differently?
J. PEARL: No. No. We didn't perceive it.
We thought -- we were worried constantly about him getting close to the areas where there were riots, there were demonstrations, and there were occasional outbursts of terrorism. We were worried about it. But he had this belief or halo that journalists are somehow protected.
ZAHN (voice-over): And why would Danny's father, Judea, think differently? Danny was an investigative reporter who had covered numerous conflicts all over the world, but this one would be different.
In 1999, "The Wall Street Journal" moved Danny and his wife, Mariane, to Mumbai, India. Danny was promoted to Southeast bureau chief. When the war in Afghanistan began, Danny and his Mariane, also a journalist, went to Pakistan to cover the story.
MARIANE PEARL, WIFE OF DANIEL PEARL: The reason why we're in Pakistan today is because we wanted to know more about the people and write about their views and just keep working on that same idea of how we're going to create a dialogue.
ZAHN: On January 23, 2002, Danny Pearl went to this restaurant in hopes of getting an interview with a Pakistani militant leader allegedly connected to this man, Richard Reid, the infamous shoe bomber. Danny didn't know he was walking into a trap.
M. PEARL: Danny wanted to see these people without taking care of his own security and having people -- whatever. He trusted. It's because he's pure in his attitude.
ZAHN: But his captors were not. Danny was held hostage in a city of 12 million, where kidnappings are common. Three days after his abduction, a list of demands and these chilling photos of Danny were sent to news organizations worldwide.
His captors accused Pearl of spying for the U.S., as well as Israel.
ZAHN (on camera): What was it like to go through this personal tragedy with so much scrutiny.
J. PEARL: It was tough. The media was all over our house. And it was fight on several frontiers, one, the uncertainty about his fate, the other one keeping the media quiet, and not only keeping them away from us, but keeping them quiet not to reveal our origin. I'm an Israeli. I was born in Israel. And my wife is Jewish.
Danny is Jewish and never concealed his identity. And we knew that these are critical points of information that should not be revealed to the -- whoever is abducting him. We were hopeful. We were almost certain that, once they recognized who he is, he will charm them. We had no doubt, if they would just let him play a game of backgammon or soccer, he will charm them.
ZAHN: Describe to us what it was like to know that those images of Danny were being broadcast around the world.
J. PEARL: I felt angry, very angry that people of my race would be proud of being cruel.
Normally, people are -- when they resort to cruelty, they hide it. They're ashamed of it. Even the Nazis were ashamed of their atrocities. And here we have a bunch of people claiming to be part of my race and are proud of being cruel. It didn't occur to me that it's feasible.
ZAHN: Are you still raw? Do you ever get over the violence?
J. PEARL: Once in a while, it hits me. Once in a while, it hits me. And I even ask myself, is that for real? Could it happen? I'm expecting the door to open and Danny comes in and smiles. Once in a while. It's getting rarer and rarer, but it happens to me, yes.
ZAHN (voice-over): For Judea, the future lies in the life Danny lived, a life filled with passion, music and conversation. Judea and his wife, Ruth, created the Danny Pearl Foundation. Its mission is to reduce the kind of hatred and intolerance that they feel led to their son's death.
Programs include fellowships in American newsrooms to reporters from the Muslim world, as well as an annual world music celebration, all in an effort to create cross-cultural respect, understanding and tolerance.
J. PEARL: We had to continue Danny's mission, Danny's life, his contributions. Whatever the murderers wanted to achieve, we decided to defy. They wanted to achieve division and hatred and we decided to act against that hatred and devote our life to minimize the hatred that took Danny's life.
The foundation is addressing the moderate Muslims. It's my belief that we cannot fight terrorism without their help, namely, they ought to do the job of minimizing, marginalizing, eradicating, if you will, the extreme elements. The Koran says that we have prepared fire for the wrongdoers. And I would like the 500 million children, Muslim children, to know the difference between what Danny stood for and what their parents stood for.
ZAHN: When you sit down across the table from Muslims...
J. PEARL: Yes.
ZAHN: And they obviously respect what you're trying to do, what do they say about your son?
J. PEARL: They also see him as a symbol. He's a symbol of their own fight against their extremists. He's also a symbol of the good West, beautiful West.
He was a masterpiece of nature. He was my mentor. And I admired him. Really, he loved people. And he had a strong belief that, as long as you love fellow human being, as long as follow the principles you were taught in school, as long as you follow the truth and the facts are behind you, you can go through fire. And he did for 38 years.
ZAHN: Well, I assume his parents had something to do with it.
J. PEARL: I consider myself just a student of my son.
ZAHN: What a beautiful thought.
Danny Pearl's story is one of a young man's life lost in the search for truth.
Coming up next, a young woman's life brutally taken as she worked to reverse decades of injustice. It is also a story of passion, ideals and dedication. When we back, Amy's story.
ZAHN: In the beginning, Amy Biehl's story isn't all that much different than the stories of other young people who are full of passion and ideals. She saw injustice. She worked to change it. And that's where the similarities stop.
Amy's life ended violently. She would never see her goals achieved. But it's what her family, in particular her mother, did in her memory that has amazed so many.
LINDA BIEHL, MOTHER OF AMY BIEHL: She had a sparkling personality. Like any young 26-year-old, I think she lived life pretty fully.
ZAHN (voice-over): Amy Biehl had a love of life, an abundance of optimism, traits that led her on her defining journey to South Africa, a country deeply and violently divided by apartheid. It was there in the early '90s that Amy studied, fought segregation, and helped the embattled country get ready for its first multiracial free elections.
(on camera): She was passionate about what she was doing in South Africa. Where did that come from?
BIEHL: I think our whole family, you know, had a sense of what's going on in the world, current events. In the '80s, when Amy went to Stanford, she decided to major in Southern African issues. And so she was sort of in the academic world, but the passion of the people, the music, just I think having that opportunity to be pulled into an amazing culture.
ZAHN: Amy was certainly aware of the risks she was taking in doing the kind of work she was doing in South Africa. Did she ever express to you any fear?
BIEHL: She would say things to ourselves, the family and her friends. You know, mom, if something happens to me over there, I'd rather be a number than a name, because black people were always reported in the newspapers as numbers being killed, 11 killed here, 13 killed there. But when a white person was killed, it would be a name, with the name of your pet, with everything. So she used to throw out little barbs like that.
ZAHN: Was that haunting for you?
BIEHL: Well, it certainly -- it's very fresh in my mind, so it has stayed with me.
ZAHN: Do you think she had a premonition?
BIEHL: I've heard that people have said that.
ZAHN (on camera): August 25, 1993, the eve of the country's first democratic elections. Amy was living in Cape Town. After work, she was driving some friends home, when a mob chanting anti-white slogans ambushed her car, forcing her out. She was stoned with bricks, then stabbed to death.
(on camera): Take us back to the horrible day when you got the news that your daughter had been killed. Where were you?
BIEHL: It was great day, actually. I was off work for a week and my son was just ready to start his junior year in high school. And we were out back-to-school shopping. And Zach and I were always quite close anyway. But I had a little white Mustang convertible, and we had just had lunch, and we were driving home in Newport Beach, a beautiful, sunny day.
And you walk in your house and your phone rings, you know? So it was -- it was a shock. She had almost prepared with us a sense of events.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stabbed to death by a mob of blacks in a town...
ZAHN (voice-over): Amy's murder was reported around the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Family, friends and colleagues of Amy Biehl filled the church. ZAHN: It's a story tinged with irony. Amy, in South Africa to help a people gain freedom, was killed by men who thought she was there to keep them from being free. Amy had planned to go home just two days after she was killed, her homecoming, a reunion with her family and her longtime boyfriend. She didn't even know he was planning to ask her to marry him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amy, I'm so proud of you. You were magnificent. You were radiant. You're the light now. And you're always going to shine on me. And I'm grateful for that. But I miss you so much.
ZAHN: And, in her death, Amy's voice became even stronger.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Neither Amy nor her work will be forgotten.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amy Elizabeth Biehl, my sister, my little sister, and a world changer.
ZAHN (on camera): Obviously, it took a while for you to work through the shock.
BIEHL: The hardest part is just the sense that it -- you know, it's this huge void and this sadness, you know? It was sad that it had to have happened to anyone. And it's a total shock when it is your 26-year-old daughter. But I just, you know, have to say that I feel she's opened doors.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're finally here. yes!
ZAHN: Doors to a new life for Linda and Peter Biehl, far from their suburban California roots. It began with a trip to South Africa to retraced their daughter's journey. They went to the township where she was murdered and met with some of the killer's families to console them.
L. BIEHL: Don't cry.
ZAHN: What the Biehl's did next, quite honestly, amazed me. In the late 90's, after the fall of apartheid, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and anti-apartheid leader Nelsen Mandella created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The TRC, as it was known, dealt with those convicted of political violence during apartheid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I took the knife and stabbed her once, in front, on her left hand side.
ZAHN: In front of this commission, the four men, who had already served 5 years of an 18 year prison sentence for the murder of Amy Biehl expressed their remorse and pleaded for amnesty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I apologize sincere through Amy Biehl's parents, family and friends and ask their forgiveness.
ZAHN: The Biehls not only witnessed their testimony, but actually supported their release.
L. BIEHL: We are here to share a little of Amy with you.
ZAHN (on camera): I'm amazed by your strength. I'm a mother of three. I don't think any of us should judge anybody else's grieving process or this arc that you have gone through to get here. But it still is difficult to understand how you were able to bury your anger and your hurt and your hatred.
L. BIEHL: But it's not that. And because -- because it's never been about that, it's really -- it's about filling the void.
ZAHN: What would Amy think of this.
L. BIEHL: The thing I would want her to say, mom, you're doing a good job, don't give up. She would expect me to be the person I am, but grow enough to embrace the causes and interest in the love of a people that she embraced.
ZAHN: What they did next quite honestly left me speechless. It involves this man, one of Amy's killers. His name, Ntebeko Peni.
When you look into Linda's eyes, what do you see?
NTOBEKO PENI, ANY BIEHL'S KILLER: Well, at first I see Makulu, which is a grandmother. Secondly, I see somebody who gave me an opportunity to live the life I wanted to live as a young boy. And thirdly, I see a leader, but a (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
ZAHN: Well, you've got to be wondering, as I did, how did someone who seemed so sweet become a killer. And if he took your child's life, could you ever forgive him? Could you actually embrace him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Can you ever look at Ntobeko without thinking, this is the man who was involved in my daughter's killing?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Linda Biehl's answer when we come back.
ZAHN: Linda and Peter Biehl set out on a long journey to preserve Amy's memory and her work. But eventually Linda found herself alone after Peter died.
Yet once again, grief did not stop this courageous woman. She found the compassion to give one of Amy's killers a future. And because of that, for Linda, Amy lives on. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ZAHN: When she was murdered, Amy Biehl was a 26-year-old Fulbright Scholar studying women's rights and supporting the black freedom movement in South Africa. When Ntobeko Peni killed her, he was a young freedom fighter. His battle cry, one settler, one bullet.
PENI: Amy was seen. Here comes a settler. And a settler is a white person.
ZAHN: You saw her as the enemy?
ZAHN: Ntobeko's motivation was typical of young blacks growing up poor and segregated in South Africa's townships. Apartheid taught him that whites were his enemy, that he should hate them and that he should fight back.
PENI: More people dying in front of us, jumping over dead friends, dead colleagues, you sort of graduate to another level of politics.
ZAHN: And as you look back on that day, help us understand why you did kill her.
PENI: On the 25th, it's almost every day, students were taking to the streets, blocking all freeways and national roads, stoning down bringing everything to disrepute making it a point that South Africa is becoming totally ungovernable.
ZAHN: Did you think you could kill.
PENI: One became prepared to die to believe in a cause and to die for a cause. Eventually you found yourself at a stage where you are prepared where you're prepared to kill for the cause.
ZAHN: Under the pressure of being with young men who are trained to fight, like a militancy movement, did you have a choice?
PENI: There was totally no choice. But as you get more involved more politically, you sort of allying yourself with your life in it, in politics. So there was not much of a choice.
ZAHN (voice-over): Ntobeko and his three accomplices were convicted of murder and sentenced to 18 years for the murder of Amy Biehl. Five years into his sentence he was offered and opportunity to go free. But first, he would have to express remorse and plead for forgiveness to a post-apartheid body called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the TRC.
(on camera): When did you feel remorse for the first time after you killed Amy?
PENI: At the TRC but not on the same day. Later that day.
ZAHN: This is when you had to go before a tribunal and in order to prove you were worthy of getting out of jail.
ZAHN: And that you understood what you had done? You had to testify about the depth of your remorse.
PENI: Yes. At the end of that day when Linda said they forgive, it kind of -- it was a turning point. But on the way to my prison cell I felt it ease. You know, I was thinking to myself, taking a shower, I've 18 years to serve, but with this kind of forgiveness, I feel 18 years is nothing.
ZAHN (voice-over): But Ntobeko wouldn't have to serve those 18 years. He was granted clemency. His freedom came with the surprising support of Amy's mother.
LINDA BIEHL, AMY BIEHL'S MOTHER: Amy was a bright active child. She loved competitive sports, such as swimming.
ZAHN (on camera): In spite of this reconciliation, the two of you have experienced, you have endured enormous pain along the way. Can you ever look at Ntobeko without thinking, this is the man who was involved in my daughter's killing?
BIEHL: I hardly ever think about that. He could have been in prison. He could be dead, he could have -- instead, he's a father. We were just at Toys 'R' Us here in New York, looking at educational toys.
So he is -- he is a part of a very positive society in South Africa, raising a young 2-year-old child to be able to participate in this multi-gender, racial, great country. Don't you think? I mean, to me, that is great, great joy and happiness. And I've been privileged to have that opportunity, you know.
ZAHN: Do you think she would accept the fact that you've made peace with several of her killers?
BIEHL: Yes. Yes, there's no problem. Amy reached out to people, and many of her friends and co-workers would say, you know, she did cross the line, yes, she did. Because -- but that's what she -- and she was a listener, you know?
ZAHN: She crossed the line and she was willing to step across this great divide...
BIEHL: And she was comfortable. And she was comfortable.
ZAHN: ... that white people weren't supposed to cross.
BIEHL: You got it. Yes.
ZAHN: Did you ever think you'd have this reservoir of forgiveness in you.
BIEHL: There's a forgiveness thing, but there's also the reconciliation thing. So you can kind of forgive other people and just walk away from it. You know? It can be a personal thing. And say, you know, that's OK, you're not bothering me anymore, I'm going to go on with my life, right? You can do that.
But the next step and really the most exciting step and the energizing step is this huge word "reconciliation." And it might be a small, you know, a small reconciliation between, you know, family members or something.
ZAHN (voice-over): For Linda Biehl, not only helping her daughter's killer get out of jail, but also giving him a job, a future.
Ntobeko now works at the Amy Biehl Foundation. Formed in 1994, it creates programs in the needy townships outside Capetown. Programs like after school groups, and job training initiatives. Ntobeko works as a guide and a peer educator for HIV/AIDS awareness.
In addition to that, he travels the world with Linda, to tell their story and their incredible journey from murder to forgiveness.
(on camera) What do you want people to learn from your transition, from a killer to a man who professes to have great remorse for your acts?
PENI: Well, at first, I would be happy if people could give people a second chance. It's very important. And if people are given a chance, they're able to step out of the shoes that they were in and be somebody else.
Because it was one thing to be a militant. And it's another when you want to be a servant and you're entitled to be a servant, even, irrespective of how much (UNINTELLIGIBLE). If you want to claim a civilian identity, you can.
So it's quite difficult for me to step into that identity, having to face what I did. So I was always taking the shoes off of being a militant (ph). And I was -- I would be OK with my history, but whenever I tried, it was difficult. And eventually I became myself and its thanks to the forgiveness and the reconciliation process that we personally took.
ZAHN (voice-over): A decade long relationship born out of hate, now based on admiration, respect, even love.
(on camera) Do you think Ntobeko is family now?
BIEHL: Of course. Yes. Definitely.
ZAHN: Does a day ever go by where you don't see Amy's face in your mind?
PENI: I may see Amy's face, but in a form of a positive spirit. When I look at what I'm doing each and every day of my life, and it's a second activity I do, which is to live for other people and their lives. This is what Amy was doing and I'm proud to continue.
ZAHN: Remarkable story. You can learn more about Amy Biehl and the foundation started in her honor by logging on to CNN.com/Paula.
Amy Biehl and Danny Pearl are inspiring models of courage and dedication. But there are so many others who risk their lives everyday. When we come back, one of the bravest, our own Jane Arraf on the front lines in the world's most dangerous place.
ZAHN: These days journalism is a risky business, especially for reporters who cover stories in the most dangerous places on the planet.
Consider the sobering statistics from the Committee to Protect Journalists. So far in the year 2004, 54 journalists have been killed while doing their jobs; 23 of them have been killed in Iraq.
One journalist who knows first hand the dangers of reporting from that war-torn country, our own Jane Arraf. Since the U.S. invasion she has been reporting on the front lines. Just last month, she was embedded with the U.S. Marines during the assault in Falluja. Trust me, she knows what it's like to have bullets whiz past her.
Jane and every journalist understands that working in Iraq is a crapshoot, a place where hostage taking and beheadings almost routine.
In a rare visit back to the states, Jane joins me now.
Good to see you. Welcome.
JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Paula. Thanks very much.
ZAHN: I know you are well aware of the risks. But it strikes me you have three things against you. You're a woman; you're a journalist and you're a westerner. Do you ever feel like you're tempting fate?
ARRAF: I guess one of those things being a woman, it's inconvenient at times, I don't see that as a drawback, actually. And even in the Middle East, although you would think it would be, particularly in Iraq, it hasn't really been a drawback.
But I believe it's so important to go out and be there and be on the ground and cover these things and tell people what these soldiers are going through, what Iraqis are going through. And the only way you can tight is being, as you say, on the front lines, there where it's happening.
ZAHN: We actually have some incredible video of you doing your work at a time when you are under fire. And it's incredibly disturbing for me to watch, as I'm sure it will be for most of our audience.
Let's watch together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take cover!
ARRAF (voice-over): We did. Taking cover near an armored vehicle.
(on camera) Just a few minutes ago this was a normal, busy street with traffic going to work (ph), and now we're in the middle of rocket-propelled grenade and mortar attacks. There's small arms fire, and the unit we're with has called in for tanks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Have you ever thought, on any of these assignments, there might be that moment or that story where you're not going to come out alive?
ARRAF: Sure. In Falluja, we were told this would be one of the worst battles since Vietnam. And not only me. But the soldiers going into that looked around, and they knew not everybody would come back alive. And it's always a risk. But it's a risk anywhere.
And one of the things about covering these stories is that it reminds you how fragile life is and how wonderful it is, and how you have to not only have to live it, but that you have to show people stories, no matter what the risks are.
That footage there was -- was interesting. And as you can see from that, a large part of the job is actually ducking and knowing when to hide.
ZAHN: One of the more chilling parts of your going into Falluja was stumbling into what appeared to be a holding cell, along with U.S. forces. Let's show the audience what you encountered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARRAF: It's tiny room, cold and dark, very much like a cell. They believe this chain might have been used to tie up hostages. In another part of the complex, they say that they found knives and bayonets, which may have dried blood on them.
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ZAHN: Now, I'm watching this, and I'm thinking, if I had been there, I'd be saying, what makes me think I'm so secure here? You know, I could be the next one.
Did that come cross your mind at all, particularly since they're plucking the most innocent of people off the streets now and beheading them? ARRAF: It is scary. The kidnappings are scary. And one thing that's been shown is that no one is immune. I think being in Iraq has stripped away almost every illusion I've ever had. One of them was that they wouldn't kidnap women, but we've seen women kidnapped and we've seen woman killed.
So yes, there is a feeling that we're all vulnerable.
ZAHN: Where does your courage come from, or do you even view yourself as a brave woman?
ARRAF: No. I view myself as someone going out there and doing whatever is required at the moment. I suppose the difference is a lot of people wouldn't want to be out there.
But I really think if you're going to do something like that, you have to actually be there. You can't hang back. You have to be on the front lines. It's the only way, really, you can show people what these soldiers are going through and what Iraqis are going through.
And bravery, perhaps, is you have to be afraid first. A lot of the stuff isn't particularly terrifying. A lot of it is very, very disturbing. And there are moments when I thought, gee, I hope this doesn't hurt or, gee, I hope this isn't the end. But apart from that no, I don't see myself as very brave. I just see myself as doing my job.
ZAHN: Do you have to be a little bit nuts to do what you've been doing?
ARRAF: You must have been talking to my mother.
ZAHN: I do respect you, but I see you in the field, and sometimes I wonder night after night how you could do that to yourself.
ARRAF: Here's a secret, Paula. It's actually really fun. OK, sometimes it's not entirely fun. There have been, like, 10 hours in the Bradley, in the back of a Bradley when I thought to myself, "Why in the world am I doing this?"
And it's that combination of discomfort and danger that makes you think sometimes, "Why am I doing this?" But apart from that, it is incredibly -- we're seeing history unfold there. I feel so lucky to be there, so lucky to see these people go out and do what they do everyday.
And nobody ever says anything about most of these soldiers, most of these Iraqis who are really heroes. And they never get covered. And I feel we have to go out there and tell their stories.
ZAHN: As your sister, I am so proud of your ability to go out and find those stories night after night.
ARRAF: Thank you.
ZAHN: Good luck to you.
ARRAF: Thank you so much, Paula.
ZAHN: And I know you're heading back to Iraq. Stay safe.
ZAHN: We'll be right back.
ZAHN: And we're back now with a quick check with my colleague Aaron Brown.
Hi, Aaron, how are you doing tonight? What's up?
AARON BROWN, HOST, "NEWSNIGHT": I'm fine, Paula. Good evening to all of you. Tonight on "NEWSNIGHT," the scandal in the Catholic Church has never simply been about priests abusing young children. It's always been about how the leaders of the church handled the allegations.
Tonight, new allegations against one of the most powerful Catholic leaders in the country, the archbishop in Los Angeles. And Archbishop Mahoney responds. It's all part of a major CNN investigation into these allegations in Los Angeles, allegations that could ultimately cost the church hundreds of millions of dollars.
That and more on "NEWSNIGHT," 10 Eastern tonight -- Paula.
ZAHN: Thanks, Aaron. We'll be looking for you in just an hour and one minute. Aaron will be up right after Larry King. Please join Larry now. His special guest tonight, John and Elizabeth Edwards.
Thanks so much for joining us tonight. We'll be back same time, same place tomorrow night. Good night.
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