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Al Qaeda's Role; Tour De Triomphe; Fight for Iraq; At the Movies

Aired July 25, 2005 - 05:29   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you.
Coming up in the next 30 minutes, what an incredible feat. For seven years in a row, this man has won the Tour De France. So what comes next? We'll take a look.

And it opened this weekend, but could "The Island" beat out "Willy Wonka?" We'll have that story.

But first, "Now in the News."

A rare meeting going on in Beijing. U.S. and North Korean envoys are meeting one-on-one. The envoys are discussing North Korea's nuclear program. Six nation talks over the controversial program resume tomorrow.

Protesters have gathered outside the Philippine congress. Riot police are there as well. President Gloria Arroyo began a critical speech to congress just about an hour ago. Opposition leaders in the Lower House of Congress want her impeached. They say she rigged last year's election.

Just about four-and-a-half hours from now, we'll know more about how the shuttle countdown is going. NASA gives a briefing at 10:00 Eastern. As of Sunday, there were no significant problems, other than that pesky fuel gauge. Liftoff is set for 10:39 Eastern tomorrow morning.

To the Forecast Center now.

Good morning -- Chad.


Good thing they're not taking this off in D.C. this morning.


COSTELLO: All right, thank you -- Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

COSTELLO: Turning to those deadly attacks in London this month, investigators try to determine if there is a connection to any al Qaeda terrorist group and they're singing a familiar tune.


SIR IAN BLAIR, LONDON POLICE COMMISSIONER: This explosion has the hallmarks of al Qaeda.



SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: They have all the earmarks of al Qaeda.



COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: It has the earmarks of al Qaeda.



JOHN ASHCROFT, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: This case has many of the hallmarks we have come to recognize in al Qaeda operations.



ROHAN GUNARATNA, AUTHOR: Has all the hallmarks of an al Qaeda attack.


COSTELLO: We have heard that so many times.

So just what are the hallmarks of an al Qaeda attack? The "Washington Post" says an al Qaeda attack is marked by multiple, simultaneous bombings usually aimed at unguarded civilian targets and they are quite often designed to scare Westerners.

Now there is no specific link in the London bombings to al Qaeda.

We want to talk more about this with Bruce Hoffman of the RAND Corporation. He joins us live now from Singapore.

Good morning -- Bruce.


COSTELLO: So we hear it all the time, we've just demonstrated that, all the hallmarks of an al Qaeda attack. In both Egypt and Britain, you could say that those two attacks had all the hallmarks of an al Qaeda attack, but does that necessarily mean al Qaeda is to blame? HOFFMAN: No, it doesn't necessarily mean that al Qaeda is to blame, but we can't dismiss the possibility that al Qaeda is somehow involved. Now that's the real question, on what level? Is it a direct command-and-control relationship, such as on 9/11 where bin Laden actually gave direct orders? Is it more that logistical assistance or training assistance in the construction of bombs, for instance, is being provided? Or is it more a spiritual (INAUDIBLE), a motivational, perhaps, influence that al Qaeda exerts?

COSTELLO: But, Bruce, since 9/11, has any attack been traced directly back to Osama bin Laden?

HOFFMAN: It's hard to say if they've been traced directly back to bin Laden, which, of course, he's on the run and is having difficulty communicating with his minions worldwide.

However, the plot that came to light just about a year -- exactly a year ago, in fact, that involved a young Pakistani computer specialist, a Mohammed Naim Noor Khan. He, apparently, had been orchestrating planned attacks, both in London and in Washington, D.C., and had been in contact with al Qaeda operatives in the more such (ph) frontier, the tribal areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. We don't know who specifically in al Qaeda he is in contact with, but it is clear he was hooked up with an al Qaeda command central and perhaps even bin Laden himself.

COSTELLO: You know we always hear about all of these arrests being made by the military of high-level people within the organization of al Qaeda. There always seems to be a replacement. Doesn't that seem odd in some way?

HOFFMAN: No, it's disconcerting, apparently, it's not odd. I think that what we're seeing, and you're entirely correct, is that al Qaeda has a much deeper bench than we imagined. And I think this is a reflection of bin Laden's planning and skills that he brought to creating this movement more than a decade ago when he sought, in essence, to develop a movement that had this self-generating capability that trained echelons to replace previous cadres. So what we see is a very resilient movement and a very formidable threat.

COSTELLO: So how big is al Qaeda?

HOFFMAN: That's almost impossible to say. I think it's very clear that it's been reduced facicably (ph) and that it has been tremendously weakened since 9/11, but at the same time, the hardcore field remains. And that's the question of the day is how big a heart could you need to self-facilitate or if not to facilitate, at least to imply a worldwide terrorist act?

COSTELLO: But, Bruce, how can you say if you think that these attacks are linked to al Qaeda that it's been considerably weakened, especially if it's operating successfully in Iraq, right? If you think that the attacks in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt had something to do with al Qaeda and the attacks in London had something to do with al Qaeda, how has it been weakened? HOFFMAN: Well I think the weakening is in a matter of degree and it's a profound degree. Now on the one hand, I think the tragic loss of any civilian life to terrorists anywhere is to be equally lamented. But at the same time, though, on 9/11, al Qaeda presented the United States, and I think many other countries, with what might be described as an existential threat. In other words, terrorism had transformed itself from something that was the tact really having national security implications.

And that's what we've weakened by depriving al Qaeda of its operation of the base (ph), of its capabilities in Afghanistan. I think we have seriously reduced al Qaeda's abilities to carry out spectacular on the order of 9/11 where thousands of people died. But as you point out collective, it hasn't stopped al Qaeda dead in its tracks and its ability to inflict pain and to kill in the tens and even in the hundreds, unfortunately, you're right, is undermentioned (ph).

COSTELLO: Bruce Hoffman of the RAND Corporation joining us live this morning, thank you for sharing some insight.

We've been asking you this question, too, because everybody wants surveillance cameras to be put through (INAUDIBLE). And authorities in the know think that this will stop (INAUDIBLE) didn't stop striking (INAUDIBLE) because I mean the guy is going to blow himself up, he is going to be recorded on camera.

Although, Chad, as you pointed out, after the fact it helps catch these people.

MYERS: Mike agrees. He says this may not stop them completely, but they will very much be needed (INAUDIBLE) for the (INAUDIBLE).



COSTELLO: OK, put down your coffee and listen to this. OK, you can keep your coffee, but listen anyway. The company that makes stun guns is taking aim at you. Taser International is launching an ad campaign to boost sales of the police weapon, and now they want you to have one.

The first city to see the ads, Miami. Tasers are legal in Florida, but that's not stopping people from being outraged about this. Police and human rights groups fear the stun guns will end up in the wrong hands since background checks are not required. The cost to own one, $400 to $1,000.

Your news, money, weather and sports. It's 5:42 Eastern. Here's what's all new this morning.

Tens of thousand of Filipinos have taken to the streets of Manila to demand the president's resignation. Lawmakers have filed an impeachment complaint against her. They accuse the president of vote rigging and corruption. A convicted sex offender is suspected of taking an 8-year-old girl from her home near Reno, Nevada. Authorities have issued an Amber Alert for Lydia Bethany-Rose Rupp. She went missing on Friday.

In money news, four major unions could be leaving the AFL-CIO. The federation meeting now in Chicago. Leaders of those four unions, almost a third of the 13 million AFL-CIO memberships, say too much money is being spent on political efforts.

In culture, the Broadway production of Chicago is adding some star power to the cast. Singer Huey Lewis is set to join up in November as Billy Flynn. That's the part Richard Gere played in the movie. And Brooke Shields joins the cast next month for a short stint as Roxie Hart.

In sports, Kurt Busch led most of the way in winning the Nextel Cup's Pennsylvania 500.

Chad, why am I reading this story?

MYERS: Carol, you want to talk about horsepower. Kurt Busch had just that horsepower. This is the longest straightaway in NASCAR. When he put the gas down, he pulled away from Rusty Wallace like Rusty was tied to a tree. That Rausch engine there, Rausch Racing did very, very well yesterday, including Mark Martin, who finished right behind Rusty. So congratulations to those guys there.


COSTELLO: Thank you, Chad.

That's a look at the latest headlines for you.

Lance Armstrong is ending his professional cycling career on top. He won the Tour De France for a record seventh consecutive time. Afterward, President Bush called to congratulate his fellow Texan.

CNN's Jim Bittermann has more on Armstrong's remarkable career.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every summer for the past seven years, the American anthem has echoed down the Champs Elysees in Paris. Seven times Lance Armstrong has taken top spot on the podium in a race many say is the most grueling sporting event on earth. This time his kids were with him. They weren't even born the first time he won. But this time will be his last time. He wanted to end his career, as he so often lived it, in control and at the top.

As hard as it's been along the way, in the end, he told tens of thousands of fans on the avenue Parisians like to think is the most beautiful street in the world, that he had come to love the bicycle race that's been the focus of his life for more than a decade.

LANCE ARMSTRONG, TOUR DE FRANCE WINNER: This is one hell of a race. This is a great sporting event. And you should stand around and believe. You should believe in these athletes, and you should believe in these people. And I'm a fan of the Tour De France for as long as I live, and there are no secrets. This is a hard sporting event and hard work wins it. So, Vive le Tour forever. Thank you.

BITTERMANN: Such is the reflected glory from a star like Armstrong that dozens of well-known personalities were in the stands to witness his victory. Who wouldn't want to be on the side of someone with such a storybook life, who struggled and beat cancer and went on to win at everything he tried.

His mother thinks he can do just about anything now.

LINDA ARMSTRONG-KELLY, LANCE ARMSTRONG'S MOTHER: I think he's media TV material. He's cute, too.

BITTERMANN: A politician thinks he's so attractive, he might even become a Democrat.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Anybody would love to see him in their party, but, you know, that's not what this is about right now. And I think he wants to have a different kind of life for a while.

BITTERMANN: A presidenstange (ph) thinks Armstrong is the perfect role model.

PRINCE ALBERT, MONACO: He's that dedicated athlete and that dedicated kind of human being that we all have to look up to.

BITTERMANN (on-camera): From here, Armstrong, girlfriend, Sheryl Crow, and his three kids are headed for a beach in the south. August is not a bad month to relax in France. And from there, well, the champ says there's nothing specific. But whatever it is, you can be sure it will include winning.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


COSTELLO: I'm sure that's true, no surprise, you're a seventh wonder. Lance Armstrong will grace the cover of "Sports Illustrated" this week. Here's an advance peak for you. The magazine hits the newsstands on Wednesday.

Still to come on DAYBREAK, it's been a deadly day already in Baghdad. We'll bring you up to date on the most recent attacked.

And do not forget our e-mail "Question of the Morning." Wake up people. Will more surveillance cameras stop terrorists? We want to know what you think. Does it make you feel safer to have a million cameras pointed at you when you ride the metro or ride a bus? E-mail us at

But right now, good morning, Boston.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: Iraqi insurgents have security guards and police officers in their sights this morning. CNN's Aneesh Raman brings us up to date on the latest deadly attacks in Baghdad this morning.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Suicide car bombs in the Iraqi capital killing just under a dozen people so far today. The first attack came early this morning when a suicide car bomb detonated at a checkpoint outside the al-Sadeer Hotel here in Baghdad. The explosion took place near the house where most of the guards live. They made up a majority of the casualties in that incident.

A few hours later, the target, it seems, a checkpoint of the Iraqi police commandos. There a suicide car bomb detonated in western Baghdad. The majority of casualties there, Iraqi police commandos.

It comes a day after a deadly attack in southeastern Baghdad where at least 25 people were killed, upwards of 27 others wounded, after a suicide car bomb detonated at a police station there. The majority of casualties, we're told, are in fact Iraqi civilians. A massive explosion, some 20 vehicles, 8 shops, essentially destroyed in the ensuing blast.

This spate of suicide bombings in the capital comes as the government is pushing towards that deadline to have a constitution written now just weeks away.

Last week, turmoil in the process. On Tuesday, Mijbil Issa, a Sunni member of the committee, was gunned down. Two days later, the Sunni delegation on the constitutional writing committee suspended their involvement. Today, though, progress, that group, the Sunni group, has said they will rejoin discussions. That after getting security assurances from the government.

Now we're expecting a first draft of this constitution to be put out in the coming days. It still remains unclear what exact language will be used for the enormous issues of both federalism and the role of religion here in Iraq.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Baghdad.


COSTELLO: Get right to our e-mail question this morning. We're asking you about surveillance cameras this morning. Do they make you feel safer at all? I mean will it really stop terrorists from striking public transport?

MYERS: Have a good one here from Jordan (ph). He said you don't protect freedom by taking it away. More cameras and more random searches only make us resemble the totell (ph) and regimes that we fight against. Let our soldiers' sacrifices and their lives for liberty and our sacrifices for liberty for the illusion of security, no, no, no. The terrorists without is no threat compared to the fear within us. And then from Michelle (ph), says I think surveillance cameras would be pretty great for investigative purposes and for those ranting about right to privacy. Well there's plenty of privacy six feet under if the terrorists get by. And you can check my bags, too.

Carol, did you have one?

COSTELLO: No, no, go ahead. You've got great ones.

MYERS: From Sam (ph) in Las Vegas, why bother with cameras, they're only good for catching the person in the act after they're dead. Why don't we figure out how we are creating these bombs and maybe we can try to figure out a way to make it more difficult for them to get the items or the explosives. Anybody ever think about going that extra measure?

And then from Karen (ph) in Knoxville, more cameras won't help unless they're watched. If someone had been monitoring at the controls, preventive measures could have been taken, not just handled for a picture after the fact.

COSTELLO: I do have a comment on that, because if you look at these latest round of suspects in the London bombings, they just look like regular guys.

MYERS: They do.

COSTELLO: I don't know how you could determine who's a suicide bomber and who is not.

MYERS: Exactly.

COSTELLO: A guy is wearing a baseball cap and a T-shirt, carrying a knapsack, looks like anybody else.

MYERS: Exactly. One was of a very big knapsack, though. I will say that the one that you could see the profile of looked like he was carrying his entire laundry in there.

COSTELLO: Yes, well we're going to talk much more...

MYERS: People do.

COSTELLO: ... about this, I'm sure, in the hours and days to come.

Still to come in the next hour of DAYBREAK, "TIME" magazine takes an in-depth look at Supreme Court nominee John Roberts and his chances of getting the job. Can he really be this perfect? Wait until you hear. That's in the next hour.

We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: He has been nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe, and from all appearances, he's on his way to the top.

But as CNN's Sibila Vargas reports, you may not know his -- you may not know this African heartthrob, not yet.


SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He may not be a household name yet, but "The Island" star Djimon Hounsou could be one of Hollywood's next leading men.

In this summers' new Michael Bay flick, Hounsou plays a bounty hunter chasing two cloned escapees played by Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. Hounsou says the film proved to be more reality than fiction.

DJIMON HOUNSOU, ACTOR: It really felt you know so today occurrence, you know, and given the fact that women in the west and all around and so are men. So they are completely into the need to look younger, better and, obviously, healthier. If the technology was available, I think some people would go the extreme of trying to achieve that as well.

VARGAS: In the works is his return to "Gladiator Two." In 2000, he shared the screen with Russell Crowe in the first "Gladiator."

HOUNSOU: From the minute you have a great story. I mean a story that's, you know, nicely put together. Then, you know, you can reach out to the director.

VARGAS: And reaching out is something Hounsou knows all about. At 13, he migrated from Benin, Africa to Paris where he ended up homeless. His luck changed when a fashion designer turned him into a model.

Today he is a regular in the Hollywood circuit. He first gained notoriety in Steven Spielberg's 1997 "Amistad" for which he received a Golden Globe nomination. In 2002, his role in "In America" made him the first African man to ever be nominated for an Oscar.

"The Island" opens in theaters in July.

I'm Sibila Vargas reporting from Hollywood.


COSTELLO: "The Island" was number four at the box office this weekend. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" came in first with about $28.3 million. "Wedding Crashers" had about $2 million less. "Fantastic Four" was third and "Bad News Bear," well, "Bad News Bears" racked up the top five movies.

You can get more entertainment news every night on "ShowBiz Tonight." That's at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on Headline News.

The next hour of DAYBREAK starts in just a minute.


COSTELLO: It is Monday, July 25.

Egyptian security forces have been on the move. They've already arrested scores of people in the wake of Saturday's deadly bombings, but the manhunt is far from over.

Also, do you think somebody is watching you? You're probably right. We'll turn our lens on surveillance cameras.

And triple-digit misery in the Midwest. The mercury keeps rising and the sweat keeps on pouring down.


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