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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Jordan Declares Intention to Develop Nuclear Program; Psychic Powers Debunked in Shawn Hornbeck Case?
Aired January 19, 2007 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Believe it or not, there are scientists who keep track of how close we are coming to the end of the world.
It's called the Doomsday Clock. And, this week, the Nobel Prize- winning minds behind it moved the clock two minutes closer to nuclear midnight, closer now than at any time since 1953, the height of the Cold War.
The reason became even clearer today: nuclear weapons in the Middle East. The race to get them appears to be escalating. While Iran continues to develop its nuclear program, a program they claim is peaceful, another Muslim country has announced they want to go nuclear, Jordan.
Will it lead to a nuclear arms race in this explosive part of the world?
CNN's Aneesh Raman examines both Jordan's desire for nuclear capabilities and Iran's latest moves.
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Taking his anti- American rhetoric on the road, Iran's took a five-day, three-nation tour through Latin America, blasting the U.S. alongside his anti- American buddies, Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega, the newly elected leftist president of Ecuador, and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, a diplomatic love fest among populist leaders eager to see U.S. power curtailed, and, for the Iranian president, a chance once again to thumb his nose at the U.S.
"We can understand the importance of this trip," Ahmadinejad said, as he returned to Tehran, "from the anger of the enemies of the Iranian nation."
They are images sure to raise concern in Washington, but now even some in Iran think even Ahmadinejad has gone too far. In an unprecedented move, more than 150 members of Iran's parliament this week publicly criticized the president for his handling of foreign affairs. And a hard-line newspaper owned by the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, announced, Ahmadinejad's language, in defending Iran's nuclear program, has, at times, been offensive, as when he called U.N. sanctions nothing but a torn piece of paper.
MOHAMMED SHAKEEL, ANALYST, GLOBAL INSIGHT: It's just a question of how far on a limb the president is willing to go in order for the international community to clamp down on Iran. And there is no one within Iran, especially not the supreme leader, who wants Iran isolated to that extent.
RAMAN: The supreme leader, in clipping Ahmadinejad's wings, may be sending a conciliatory signal to the world.
But some experts warn, Ahmadinejad's rhetoric is no longer the biggest challenge that Iran poses. Instead, it's the seemingly irreversible effect of Iran's nuclear ambitions, because now the rest of the region wants in -- today, Jordan's king saying his country wants its own nuclear program -- quote -- "The rules have changed on the nuclear subject throughout the whole region. Where I think Jordan was saying, we would like to have a nuclear-free zone in the area, after this summer, everybody is going for nuclear programs."
And, by everyone, the king isn't kidding. Along with Jordan, Egypt is now looking to go nuclear, as is the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Everyone says they want peaceful civilian energy, not nuclear weapons, but once nuclear programs are on the ground, here in the world's most volatile region, that could quickly change.
The Iraq war has ignited tensions between Sunni and Shia across the Middle East, a Middle East which could now be on the edge of launching the world's next nuclear arms race.
Aneesh Raman, CNN, Cairo.
COOPER: Well, that's the question. What happens if or when so many countries with such deep suspicions of one another all have the means of making nuclear weapons?
Joining me now San Diego is Vali Nasr of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the remarkable book "The Shia Revival."
Vali, good to see you again.
So, Jordan and other Mideast powers say they want nuclear power for peaceful purposes. Do you buy that?
VALI NASR, ADJUNCT SENIOR FELLOW FOR MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, that's obviously the language they will use in order to get acceptance from the international community to at least begin the program. But, ultimately, once they have the technology, it can go in any direction.
COOPER: What does it mean for the U.S., if there is a nuclear arms race in the Middle East?
NASR: It -- it -- it raises the stakes considerably.
It's obviously a threat to presence of U.S. troops and U.S. interests in the region. It's a threat to Israel. And, also, it means that conflicts could always have a potential to go nuclear, when -- whereas, now, they're much more containable.
COOPER: And -- and is that the real battle? I mean, you -- you write so eloquently about this -- this divide between Sunni and Shia, and this battle with -- that is going on within Islam.
Is that perhaps the greatest threat of where these nuclear weapons would be used?
NASR: Well, we don't know how the sectarian feelings are going to spread out, but it's very clear that, right now, the Arab governments are -- are creating an alliance against Iran, which has very sectarian overtones.
It has to do with the conflict that we're seeing in Iraq. And the fact that Iran is marching towards nuclear capability is leading these governments to want to be able to balance Iran out. So, this is clearly an axis of conflict, that, if it has more tension in it, it could be quite explosive.
COOPER: So, is Jordan's announcement that they want a nuclear program, is that, you think, for real, or is it -- is it more of a warning to U.S., and -- and perhaps a warning to Iran, and a warning to the U.S. to do something about Iran?
NASR: I think all of the above. I think they -- Jordan and Egypt are both threatened by Iran, but they also see an opportunity here, because Iran is providing everybody cover to be able to ask for a nuclear program, which, otherwise, they would not have been able to ask.
And the -- the pretext is that we need to match Iran, but, at the end of the day, they will be able to get something they may have wanted all along anyways.
COOPER: There's this report out today that Iran is ready to start assembling thousands of centrifuges. That certainly doesn't sound good. How close do you think they really are to -- to a nuclear-capable weapons program?
NASR: We really don't know, because a lot of Iran's program is not really transparent.
There have been rumors that, in recent months, their program has ground to a halt because of technical difficulties. But Iran likes to show the world that everything is going well, and it's speeding ahead, and that it cannot be stopped. A lot of this is grandstanding. And we don't have a way to verify it.
COOPER: Troubling times.
Vali Nasr, appreciate your perspective. Thanks very much, Vali.
NASR: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, a potentially major development today in Iraq: U.S. and Iraqi forces detaining a top lieutenant to radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
A statement from American forces did not mention the aide by name, saying, merely, that Iraqi forces detained him based on credible intelligence that he's the leader of an illegal arm -- illegally armed group involved in the organized kidnapping, torture and murder of Iraqi civilians. How real of an arrest this is, though, we simply don't know.
Back home, another shot today from Senator Hillary Clinton, slamming President Bush for putting so much faith in Iraq's prime minister, and, in her view, demanding so little in return.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Frankly, you know, it's quite disconcerting to see our government, the strongest, most powerful nation in the world, begging this government that we basically put into office to please do the things we want them to do.
We are not exercising power like a great power should. We are not using the tools at our disposal to try to deal with the neighbors in the region, to try to rein in Iran and Syria, or to try to get the Maliki government to take the actions that we expect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, you can hear more of what Senator Clinton has to say on "THIS WEEK AT WAR" With John Roberts, Saturday evening at 7:00 Eastern time, Sunday afternoon at 1:00.
Now, the big chill here at home, round two: more icy weather, more homes without power, with round three already on the way.
Reporting for us tonight, Reggie Aqui.
REGGIE AQUI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A deep freeze still gripping the Midwest and the Great Plains a full week after a huge ice storm.
The number of people without power actually went back up here in southeast Oklahoma, after a main power line failed -- 80,000 to 90,000 people with no electricity in Oklahoma alone, and well over 100,000 homes and businesses nationwide.
As power companies use hundreds of contract workers from out of state, Teressa Johnson uses just about the only thing she has left...
TERESSA JOHNSON, WITHOUT POWER: And we have been using lots of candles. I mean, I have been making, and lots -- lots of candles.
AQUI: ... her ingenuity.
JOHNSON: You take it like so, put it in there, drop all the wax around it, and then all you do is light it up. And that makes the candle last at least three more hours longer.
AQUI: Seven days ago, she didn't just lose her lights. She lost her heat, her food, and her contact with the outside world.
JOHNSON: For the past week, I have been -- me and my two children have been living in this house, freezing, you know, trying to keep this one room warm.
AQUI: Here in Krebs and nearby McAlester, growing concern for those who cannot fend for themselves.
DONALEE BOATRIGHT, MAYOR OF KREBS, OKLAHOMA: Our elderly citizens that we're -- we're trying to find them all. And I think we have. But we are going to -- sometimes, you don't know.
AQUI: One hundred miles away, in Tulsa, it's the thaw causing problems. A huge chunk of melting ice landed on this Mustang. The driver survived, but 70 other people in nine states have lost their lives in storms over the past week.
Outside Cleveland, people are still digging out, and winter hasn't finished yet. Up to eight inches of snow is expected in some parts of Oklahoma this weekend.
JOHNSON: This is how I cook. This is my cook stove right here.
AQUI: Back in Krebs, Teressa Johnson, who is also battling cancer, now finds nightly refuge in a shelter.
JOHNSON: No matter what life throws at you, you have got to make the most of it.
AQUI: She may not have electricity, but, like so many people here, she does have the power of perseverance.
COOPER: Reggie, what is -- what is FEMA doing about this?
AQUI: Well, FEMA has already sent some generators, 100 or so, to this area. And that's what's actually powering some of the shelters and the hospitals, that sort of thing.
They are also going to be in town tomorrow, along with representatives from the -- from the governor's office. And they're going to be surveying the damage. What they're going to do is send that report back to Washington. And, then, it will be up to the government to decide if this is considered a major disaster.
And, Anderson, as you know, that's not just semantics we're talking about here. Just putting that word "major" in front of disaster could get the state a lot more money and many more resources.
COOPER: Reggie Aqui, thanks for the report.
Now the big picture -- the chill isn't going anywhere any time soon. Here's a look at the next winter weather system now on the way. It's not a monster, like the ones this week. It came out of Mexico. Forecasters expect it to dump ice and up to a foot of snow over north Texas and New Mexico by daybreak, then make its ways through Oklahoma by day's end. From there, they expect the system to weaken and slowly die out by the time it gets to the Ohio River Valley.
There's a lot more to bring you tonight, including a rare inside look at the war through the minds of young Muslim men between the forces of moderation and violent jihad.
Also, we will hear from Shawn Hornbeck's mother and stepfather -- new details about Shawn's life in captivity, more, too, about their anguish and what they went through in a moment of desperation.
COOPER (voice-over): You will do anything to find your child, anything to know.
CRAIG AKERS, STEPFATHER OF SHAWN HORNBECK: She even gave a description of a car that she thought that he was taken in.
COOPER: A self-proclaimed psychic -- Shawn's vulnerable parents, on national TV, sent on a wild goose chase.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")
SYLVIA BROWNE, AUTHOR, "VISITS FROM THE AFTERLIFE": When somebody goes to the other side, everything is OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: None of it was true. And that's not all she said. We're "Keeping Her Honest" -- next on 360.
COOPER: It was one week ago that Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby were found alive inside that suburban Saint Louis apartment. Ben, of course, had been missing for a few days. Shawn, on the other hand, had vanished four-and-a-half years before.
Tonight, we're learning more about the life he led with his accused abductor, Michael Devlin. Shawn surfed the Internet, biked around the neighborhood, and, according to today's "Saint Louis Post- Dispatch," even had a girlfriend. Though he was acting like a typical teen, Shawn's life was anything but.
I spoke to Shawn's mother and stepfather earlier.
COOPER: First of all, Craig, how -- how is Shawn doing? CRAIG AKERS, STEPFATHER OF SHAWN HORNBECK: He -- he appears to be adjusting really well. You know, there -- there's moments where I -- I see that little 11-year-old boy again.
He's just so overjoyed to be back with his parents, with his family, with his sisters. You know, he made the comment that this is the first time since he's been gone that he -- he has felt safe.
COOPER: Craig, do you -- have you asked him any questions about -- about what went on? I -- I know you have indicated you -- you think there was sexual abuse. Have you -- have you asked him?
C. AKERS: No. We're -- we're not going to push him for any answers. He will, in his time, tell us what he wants to tell us. You know, that was one of the pieces of advice that we got early on, is to let Shawn be Shawn, and, when he's ready, he will -- he will tell you what he wants you to know.
COOPER: So, what do you think it was that kept him there? What -- what do you think it was that Michael Devlin said to him or threatened him with?
PAM AKERS, MOTHER OF SHAWN HORNBECK: At this point, we really don't know what that is, but we -- Shawn did tell us that he was just terrified.
So, we do know that something has happened to him. For some reason or another, he was -- didn't feel that he could come home, because I feel, in my heart, that, if Shawn was able to just up and walk out, and not have to worry about anything else, I have no doubt in my mind he would have came home.
C. AKERS: We have to remember that, when Shawn was taken, he was only 11 years old. You know, he's not the 15-year-old boy -- he wasn't the 15-year-old that he is now. He was 11 years old, very young, very impressionable.
And, you know, we don't have any clue what he was put through in -- in that first month, first year that he was in captivity. So, you know, it's -- it's not right for any of us to -- to judge Shawn on that. We -- we haven't been in his shoes. And, until anyone has been in his shoes, they -- they just don't have the right to -- to judge him and -- and say things like, well, he had, you know, all these opportunities to get away.
That's just not fair. You don't know what that boy has been through.
COOPER: When you first saw him, when -- when he came back, what -- I mean, I -- I don't want to intrude, but what was that moment like?
P. AKERS: Oh, just wonderful. I don't even know if there's words to explain how we were feeling.
It was just -- emotions was so overwhelming. And, when I walked through that door, and I seen him for the first time, I knew that was Shawn, and I knew he was home, and that we could make him safe again.
COOPER: Back in -- in December -- I guess it was December 1 of 2005, there was a message left on -- on -- on a -- a bulletin board, a Web site for the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation. And -- and the question -- it was from a Shawn Devlin. And it said, "How long are you planning to look for your son?" And then there was another note later apologizing.
Were you aware of that note at the time? It's still not clear who sent that, if -- if -- if anyone -- if it was Shawn or -- or Michael Devlin, or -- or, frankly, just some -- some nut out there.
Did -- did you see the message at the time?
C. AKERS: It -- yes, I did see that message. And we now -- now know that that was Shawn that posted that message. It was a way of him trying to -- to reach out, without endangering himself.
COOPER: There have been thousands of people praying and searching for Shawn over these many years.
What is your message to those parents who are still out there? I have talked to a lot of parents whose kids are still missing. We had a woman on, Patty Wetterling, whose son Jacob was taken in 1989. He 11 years old. He's still missing.
What is your message to those parents who are still out there?
P. AKERS: I would tell them just to never give up hope, never give up with the faith. Always keep your child's name and picture out there in front of the media, in front of the public, in front of your community.
We, as parents, have to take that responsibility, to make sure that's still out there. And I want them to all know that they have the same possibility of having their miracle child come home, just as we did.
COOPER: Craig and Pam, thank you so much for doing this. It can't be easy. But I really do appreciate it. And it means -- I know you know it means a lot to the -- to other families who are out there waiting. So, thank you very much.
P. AKERS: Thank you.
C. AKERS: Our pleasure.
COOPER: Well, Craig -- Craig and Pam Akers would try almost anything over the years to find Shawn. They even consulted a famous psychic on national television.
Four months after Shawn disappeared, the Akers appeared on "The Montel Williams Show" with self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne. Browne told the distraught parents that Shawn was dead, and told them in great detail where to search for his body.
COOPER (voice-over): To some, she's a window into the future, a spiritual leader who can communicate with the dead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")
CALLER: Sylvia, I want to thank you for sharing such a special gift with us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: To others, Sylvia Browne is nothing but a con artist and a fake.
ROBERT LANCASTER, FOUNDER, STOPSYLVIABROWNE.COM: She's wrong more often than she's right, as far as I can tell, so far. There -- there have been a number of missing-person cases that she has -- she's got flat wrong.
COOPER: Case in point, just listen to what Sylvia Browne told Shawn Hornbeck's parents about their son's kidnapper nearly four years ago on "The Montel Williams Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE MONTEL WILLIAMS SHOW")
BROWNE: Yes. The -- the guy was dark-skinned, although he wasn't black. He was more Hispanic-looking, had real long dark hair, and, strange enough, Hispanic, but he had dreadlocks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Then Sylvia Browne confirmed their worst fears.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE MONTEL WILLIAMS SHOW")
PAM AKERS, MOTHER OF SHAWN HORNBECK: Is he still with us?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Thankfully, Shawn Hornbeck was found last week alive and well. His alleged abductor, Michael Devlin, is not Hispanic. And he didn't have dreadlocks at the time of the abduction.
Browne did say Shawn was abducted by a man named Michael, but she was terribly wrong about the most important detail of all.
CRAIG AKERS, STEPFATHER OF SHAWN HORNBECK: Hearing that was one of the hardest things we ever had -- had to hear.
COOPER: The search for Shawn was diverted, according to his parents, based on the misinformation Browne had given, costing the effort valuable manhours. Shawn's parents, Craig and Pam Akers, also say Browne offered to help them for money.
(on camera): Is it true she also offered to help for $700?
C. AKERS: Yes. We were told that, if we wanted to talk with her additionally, that -- that we could at her normal standard fee.
COOPER: And that's $700 an hour?
C. AKERS: I believe that's what it was.
(voice-over): In a statement issued today, Browne's business manager wrote: "Sylvia has never charged a fee to any law enforcement person, agency, or any individual for her work on a missing-persons case, and has worked on hundreds of such cases over the years, with positive results."
The statement goes on to say -- quote -- "She can not possibly be 100 percent correct in each and every one of her predictions. She has, during a career of over 50 years, helped literally tens of thousands of people."
But there are also some people she has hurt. For instance, on "The Montel Williams Show" in 1999, Browne shared this information with the grandmother of a missing child named Opal Jo Jennings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE MONTEL WILLIAMS SHOW")
BROWNE: She's not dead. But what bothers me -- now, I have never heard of this before, but, for some reason, she was taken and put into some kind of slavery thing, and taken into Japan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Four years later, the little girl's remains were found near Fort Worth, Texas. An autopsy showed she was killed shortly after vanishing.
Browne often says that only God is right all the time. But her critics insist, she preys on people in need, people like Shawn Hornbeck's parents, who were desperate for information.
LANCASTER: People come to her with their problems. They are desperate. And she preys on that. She takes advantage of that. She takes their money. She makes -- makes believe that she's psychic. And that's -- that's reprehensible. It's -- it's evil, is what it is, evil.
COOPER: Well, all this made us wonder how many people believe in psychics.
The Baylor Institute For Studies of Religion has actually studied this. Here's the "Raw Data."
Thirteen percent of Americans they surveyed said they believe in psychics. Women are almost twice as likely as men to believe psychics can foresee the future, 18 percent, vs. 8 percent. Geography also seems to make a difference. Just 8 percent of Southerners surveyed had ever called or consulted a psychic, medium, or a fortune teller. That's compared with 11 percent of Midwesterners, 13 percent of Westerners, and 19 percent who live in the East.
Well, up next: a man who keeps track of Sylvia Browne's other prognostications, and says her mistake about Shawn Hornbeck is -- well, it's just the tip of the iceberg.
Plus: Scared someone might steal your identity? Well, you will meet an identity thief so smart, she conned her way into the Ivy Leagues. And the twisted tale does not end there.
And a little later: a place where young Muslims are now actually saying it's cool -- cool -- to blow themselves up and take others with them. Where is it happening? Not as far away as you might think.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE MONTEL WILLIAMS SHOW")
BROWNE: Strange enough, there are two jagged boulders, which look really misplaced, because everything is trees. And, then, all of a sudden, you have got these stupid boulders sitting there.
C. AKERS: And he could be found there?
BROWNE: He's near the boulders.
P. AKERS: Is he still with us?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that was famous alleged psychic Sylvia Browne on "The Montel Williams Show" in 2003, four months after Shawn Hornbeck disappeared.
She said that Shawn Hornbeck was dead. She was wrong about that. She said, a Hispanic man with dreadlocks had taken him. She was wrong. And she told Shawn's grieving parents where to search for his body. She, of course, was wrong about that as well. As you know, Shawn was found alive, not stuck between jagged boulders, but in an apartment in suburban Saint Louis.
Mr. Browne -- or, I should say, Ms. Browne's mistakes does not end there.
And it doesn't surprise famed debunker of the paranormal James Randi, who also runs an educational foundation. He joins us now.
James, thanks for being with us. What is your opinion regarding what we just saw -- just saw happen with Sylvia Browne on "The Montel Williams Show"? Does it surprise you?
JAMES RANDI, PSYCHIC DEBUNKER: No, I'm not surprised at all, because all of these people who say that they can speak with the dead, all of them, including Sylvia Browne, of course, are like vultures.
They sit in a tree, and they wait for the grieving to come by, grieving people, who are vulnerable, that really need some help, and are naive enough to think that: If she appears on "Montel Williams," Montel Williams wouldn't deceive us, of course. She must be the real thing.
And that's not necessarily true. And they jump on these people and charge, as Sylvia, does, $700 for a 20-minute reading over the telephone. Incredible, but they believe it.
COOPER: Well, that's -- the Akers -- I talked to the Akers yesterday. And they told me that they were only allowed to speak with Sylvia Browne on the show, not before or after.
And they were told after the show that, if they wanted further communication with her, they would have to pay her going rate, which I thought was $700 for an hour, but you're saying $700 for 20 minutes. And that's a phone consultation. She denies that. Her manager told us she's never charged at all.
RANDI: I think that's a matter of her opinion, against mine.
COOPER: What do you think it is that makes people go back to a person like Sylvia Browne, even though she was wrong about this case. And as we've shown earlier, wrong about a bunch of others.
RANDI: Well, she'll be back on Montel Williams or Larry King, or some other place, again. And that adds to the illusion that she's dependable. Now, I have a collection, Anderson, of all kinds of tapes that have been made of the 20-minute session that she charges $700 for, over the telephone. And invariably every one of the people that sent me those tapes, wanted their money back. Were totally dissatisfied with it.
Most of the tape consists, first of all, with giving the names of these people guardian angels. That's not what they're looking for. They're not looking for names of other beings that they were in previous dimensions, in previous ages, millions of years ago. No, they want information that they have burning questions to which they want answers. And that's not what she answers for them.
COOPER: You say that what a lot of these so-called psychics do are cold readings, what is that?
RANDI: Well, a cold reading is a technique, a specific technique, where you just throw out ideas and initials, things like, there's something red connected with this, like a -- it might be a roof of some kind, and the letter M or maybe a double letter R. I'm not sure. But there is also something about late at night, and I smell gasoline, or turpentine, something like that, and electricity is flowing.
And they go on and on like this, and they will fill a tape with this sort of nonsense, and afterwards, if the victims are gullible enough, what they'll do is they'll look back through the tape to find some sort of correlation with what she said.
COOPER: So-called psychics will say, look, even though something can't be scientifically proven, that its not real or doesn't exist.
RANDI: That's true.
COOPER: Do you hold out the possibility that somebody could have psychic powers?
RANDI: Well, we've been offering at the James Randi Educational Foundation, a $1 million prize now for many, many years. And Sylvia Brown agreed, on international television, that she would take the challenge. Then she announced immediately that she didn't know how to reach me. A psychic didn't know how to reach me? She can't use the telephone book?
And then she said, after we told her how she could reach me, so she wasn't inconvenienced of course. She then said I'm not a godly man, so she wouldn't have anything to do with me. Now, wouldn't she want to take that million dollars? Which she could earn inside of 50 minutes, or so. We figured that's how long it would take to do a definitive test.
COOPER: Well, we'll see if she responds now. James Randi, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
And we should point out, we invited Sylvia Browne to appear on this program. We keep the invitation open at anytime she wants to come on and explain herself. Explain why she said Shawn Hornbeck was dead.
The incredible rescue of Ben Ownby and Shawn Hornbeck has raised a lot of questions about missing kids, and the people who take them. We'll look at that, and more, in a special hour "Taken: Children Lost and Found" starting at 11 p.m. Eastern, tonight.
Still ahead, the fight for young minds. The battle to stop home- grown terror, why a surprising number of Western young people think violent jihad is justified.
Also a twisted tale of identity theft, missing money, and two missing women.
They say she stole a missing girl's identity, now she's missing, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I ask one more question about Esther?
COOPER: Is she a con artist, is she a spy? The lady vanishes, the mystery remains, next on 360.
COOPER: Well, take a good look at the faces around me. These are pictures of one woman who lived someone else's life. Maybe you've seen her, maybe you know her. She's a master of identity theft. It opened all kinds of doors for her. It even got her into Harvard. That's just one part of the story. For one family her deception wasn't just a crime, it was beyond cruel. CNN's Gary Tuchman reports.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, AC 360 (voice over): Twenty- year-old Brook Henson disappeared without a trace, in a small South Carolina town of Traveler's Rest.
My working theory is that she was murdered and that her body was disposed of.
TUCHMAN: But no arrest has ever been made. Lisa Henson is Brook's aunt.
(on camera): Can you believe how much the family has been through?
LISA HENSON, BROOK HENSON'S AUNT: Absolutely not.
TUCHMAN: The family has gone through a whole new round of trauma, more than seven following Brook's disappearance, after the police in New York City contacted the police in Travelers Rest.
DR. HOWARD SPIVAK, TUFTS UNIVERSITY: They contacted us, said, you're girl is in New York. She's alive.
L. HENSON: I was just like jumping for joy. It was incredible.
TUCHMAN: But the joy was brutally dashed. This is the woman police found in New York. She said she was Brook Henson, but in reality she had taken Brook Henson's identity.
SPIVAK: This girl was actually living as our victim and went to great lengths to live as her and become Brook.
TUCHMAN: Her real name is Esther Reed, originally from the tiny town of Townsend, Montana, she had been reported missing by her family around the same time as Brook. And now she's missing again, after she realized she had been caught as an impostor. Edna Strom is Esther's sister.
EDNA STROM, ESTHER REED'S SISTER: I had pretty much come to the terms that she was dead.
TUCHMAN: Far from it. Esther Reed apparently read that Brook was missing and used the false identity to apply to ivy league colleges, Harvard and Columbia, and the high school dropout got admitted to both. SPIVAK: She was able to get some true identification, using fake identification, and she was able to tack the SAT, the GED, in our victim's name. And she used those to apply to Columbia.
TUCHMAN: There's no evidence as to Reed used the false I.D. and other false I.D. she had gotten for illegal financial gain, but authorities are investigating a relationships she had with at least four officer candidates at West Point and Annapolis, and thousands of dollars she received in wire transfers from outside the country. Officials want to make sure she's not a spy.
SPIVAK: We don't want to learn something like that in a small town in South Carolina and say, that's interesting, shove it in a desk drawer and not tell anyone. We wanted to give it to somebody who would be able to investigate. So we passed it off to the Army.
TUCHMAN: Esther Reed's life in Montana seemed to be a sad one. James Therriault was her high school English and speech teacher.
JAMES THERRIAULT, ESTHER REED'S FMR. TEACHER: Esther was the kind of kid who would have been invisible if you didn't take pains to notice her presence.
TUCHMAN: Her grades were poor, but her IQ was high. Her teacher put her on the speech team. A first place plaque with her name still hangs in the school more than a decade later.
THERRIAULT: What strikes me most about her, was her innate brilliance. This is really a smart girl we're talking about.
TUCHMAN: Her father still lives in Townsend. Earnest Reed did not want to open the door, but did tell us earlier he is convinced his daughter does not want to be found. Do you think she's using another ID right now?
ERNEST REED, ESTHER REED'S FATHER: Most probably.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Vulnerable people in venerable institutions. This native of small-town Montana has fooled them all with equal ease, which makes authorities more than aware that even after all this, Esther Reed could currently be in your college class, in your office place, in your apartment complex. And you don't even know it.
(Voice over): Esther's sister is just relieved she's alive and wants her back.
STROM: I would hug her, and I guess -- I mean, you just hug people you love.
TUCHMAN: In South Carolina, Brook Henson's family just wants her back, too.
(On camera): Is there any chance your niece is still alive, do you think?
L. HENSON: We don't believe so. I think you always have a little bit of hope.
TUCHMAN (voice over): Hope, even after being victimized again.
COOPER: Gary, this is such a bizarre story. What do Harvard and Columbia have to say about admitting this woman?
TUCHMAN: Well, suffice it to say, they're both universities, Anderson, are embarrassed. But the information they're giving us is skimpy. They say because of federal privacy laws, they can't tell us much.
They do tell us though, that a woman named Brook Henson did apply to both schools, was admitted to both schools. She apparently went at different times, and they do say she had great SAT scores, apparently she did have her GRE. And you may be wondering how did she get in without a high school transcript? Whose high transcript did she show? Apparently, according to investigators, she want she was home- schooled, and often Ivy League schools like to take people who are home-schooled, that get high scores and who have -- who can do very well in school.
One thing we should tell you, Anderson, this is really important. Obviously, the schools didn't check very carefully to see if she was a real person. The way she was caught, Esther Reed, is that she applied for a housekeeping job in New York City. The family in New York City then put Brook Henson in Google, saw she was a missing woman from South Carolina, called the police, and that's how Esther Reed was caught.
COOPER: They don't necessarily think she had -- or do they think she had anything to do with her disappearance?
TUCHMAN: Yeah, they don't think -- they both went missing around the same time. They don't think Esther Reed has anything to do with the disappearance of Brook Henson. However, police do want to talk to her about it, just in case. But they don't think so.
What they think happened to Brook Henson in South Carolina, unfortunately is they think she was murdered by an acquaintance. But they don't have enough evidence to arrest that person. The person of interest, who they have in mind.
COOPER: All right, it is so terrible. Gary, on a happier note, I just want to offer congratulations, your son, Daniel, who I understand earned his black belt tonight. It must be kind of nice to know your 12 year old can take you out to the woodshed.
TUCHMAN: My 12-year-old can take care of me, Anderson. When I saw him get his black belt today I knew the days were over. At the age of 46 I can't take care of my 12 year-old-son, he can take care of me.
COOPER: Congratulations, Daniel. Well deserved. In our next hour, we'll take a look at some of the missing children cases of not only Ben Ownby and Shawn Hornbeck, but others as well. How they vanish, how they're rescued, and how you can protect your kids.
Also this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: They're the kid next door or the boy on a bus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a minority, I mean, in the schools that actually believe that blowing people up is quite cool.
COOPER: Young people brainwashed into jihad and the battle within Islam to stop them, next on 360.
COOPER: It was the day often referred to as London's 9/11, the terror attack on it's transit system back in July of 2005; 52 people were killed by four suicide bombers. What was even more shocking to many was that all the bombers were born and bred in Britain. It is the war within, radical Muslims battling for young English minds. CNN's Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour investigates.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Hanif Qadir is a youth worker in Wolfenstowe. Overnight he discovered that he was on the frontline of Britain's battle against terror, when police arrested 14 young men in his neighborhood.
HANIF QADIR, YOUTH WORKER: There's a minority, I mean, in the schools that actually believe that -- I mean these are Muslims and non-Muslims, and this is very shocking -- but blowing people up is quite cool.
AMANPOUR (on camera): That blowing people up is cool?
QADIR: It's quite cool, yeah.
AMANPOUR (voice over): Last August British police descended on Wolfenstowe, saying they had foiled a conspiracy to blow up a dozen U.S.-bound airliners with liquid explosives. This set off the biggest security alert since 9/11.
QADIR: I got an e-mail about this, so I put the question to some of these guys, and the answers I got back is, when a bomb goes off in Baghdad or Afghanistan, and innocent women and children are killed over there, who cares for them? So if a bomb goes off in America or in London, what's wrong with that?
AMANPOUR: Indeed, a poll in "The Times of London", showed a shocking 13 percent of British Muslims believe the London subway bombers were martyrs, and many British Muslims see the Iraq war as a war against Islam, against them.
(On camera): We're talking about England here, we're talking about young Muslims, who have grown up in this country. I think people would be really stunned to hear you say that it is essentially foreign policy which is causing youngsters to blow themselves up on the subway system, and youngsters to think that that's cool.
QADIR: Foreign policy has a lot to do with it, but it's -- it's the minority radical groups that use that to get to our young people.
AMANPOUR (voice over): And some of those young Muslims are easy prey, because they believe the British government crackdown is scapegoating them, as when Minister John Reid came to talk to Wolfenstowe parents.
MINISTER JOHN REID: There are fanatics looking to groom and brainwash children, including your children, so all I say is look for those telltale signs now.
AMANPOUR: One of those fanatics was in the room, waiting to pounce.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they come to your own houses, when your house is raided or your business is raided, you'll be just as irate as I am!
AMANPOUR: Omar Brooks, a self-styled religious leader of a an extremist group that is now banned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm the one they call extremist rubbish!
QADIR: Now, he's went in there, and he's you know, he's shouting and he's hollering at everybody and everybody thinking, yes, this guy is against the system.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm outside. Where's your freedom of speech now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over there.
QADIR: They're considered to be heroes, you know, for the younger guys. Yes, get in there. He's telling them how it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should not come to Muslim area. We don't want to see John Reid, we don't want to Tony Blair, or any of your cronies.
QADIR: It's very easy for them guys to then come back into the community and have a lot of supporters.
AMANPOUR: These people? Many of them self-appointed clerics, are dominating the national debate, and certainly the debate within Islam right now. They're the loudest voices. How is that possible?
QADIR: Because our scholars have educated themselves to preach Islam are not coming out of their holes, their mosques and their holes to engage these people. They're frightened of that.
AMANPOUR: So, Hanif is desperately trying to fix that, trying to get the mosque elders, many still stuck in the tribal traditions of Pakistan, to communicate with the younger generation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to ask the young people, because I'm part of the committee of next-door mosque, which young men come into the mosque and the mosque refuses?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many times, you, the community leaders, have tried to engage with us, the youths, I want to know?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes young people like you go in the mosque and the older people are praying and you disturb the prayer. We know about young people, what you do. Some of you -- no, you listen to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not attacking the mosques. We're attacking the elders.
AMANPOUR: What do you think is your most serious problem right now as young Muslim men in England?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feel like the youth have been called the enemy within. Because they're blaming us on being terrorists, blaming us as suicide bombers, when they have no, no right to actually accuse us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I was walking down the street, right, with my mosque hat on and my beard, and you know what, straight away, terrorist. They would think extremism.
AMANPOUR: Extremism can thrive among kids who see no way out of their ethnic ghettos.
QADIR: They're into all kinds of vices. They're into street crime, gun crime, drugs, car theft, credit card fraud. But then you've now got another threat.
AMANPOUR (on camera): What's the new threat?
QADIR: The new threat is radicalism. It's a cause. Everyone wants a cause.
AMANPOUR (voice over): So, Hanif's cause is to break the ice. This time in a pool tournament between the police and the young men who often find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the street they hate the uniform, at all. So this is to break them barriers. I think it is a brilliant idea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is unusual to see it, but it's quite good at the same time. Because like the kids and the police are mixing together. I personally think it's a great thing.
QADIR: All it takes is just foothold. It wasn't just the game. It was them being here. They were in the same room having a laugh and a joke. The same guys they've arrested many times, and may arrest again. But you know what, they've got one think in common now, they're playing pool. And it's the only chance they've got to beat them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On behalf of the Metropolitan Police this is for the Active Change Foundation Pool Tournament October 2006. Well done.
AMANPOUR: It's a good start for Wolfenstowe, but it is only a start.
QADIR: You can be Muslim and you can be British, you know. Like you can be Christian and you can be British. You can be Jewish and you can be British.
If the British-born Muslims really want to do something to stop people damaging Islam, then start reading up on your book, explain it to your children, come out your denial phase. They only conspires against Islam, at the moment, right? And the biggest threat to Islam at the moment is our enemies within.
COOPER: Well, Christiane Amanpour's startling report is the first for CNN's Special Investigations Unit, "The War Within" premieres tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
On a much lighter note, time now for "The Shot" and for this Friday is double the fun for double your pleasure.
We begin with another normal day at work for lawmakers in Taiwan. Ah, there we go, viewers of 360 knows that means yelling, some pushing, and of course, some fighting. The brawl erupted during the last day of the winter legislative season. Don't know why they were so upset, maybe it was because Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz broke up? Did they? I'm not even sure that's true.
Maybe it's because of this. Who needs wrestling? We can watch the Pillow Fight League in action. That's right the Pillow Fight League. Women only, big surprise there. The Toronto-based sack fest is taking center stage in New York, apparently this weekend. The championship fight will be held tomorrow, pitting Miss Clocker against Champagne.
Let's play fair there, ladies. I don't know -- anyway.
Up next, serious stuff, an hour that could save a child's life. A closer look at the remarkable story of Ben Ownby and Shawn Hornbeck, at predators, the children they target, and how law enforcement targets them.
Also we'll take you inside the double lives of men and women who kidnap and molest and kill. What makes them tick? All part of a special hour, "Taken: Children Lost and Found", next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: It is every parent's fear, having your child taken. No child, of course, is immune. This is a special hour of 360: TAKEN, CHILDREN LOST AND FOUND. All the angles tonight on the terrifying story that could have ended much differently but thankfully didn't.
Two missing boys taken. How Ben Ownby and Shawn Hornbeck vanished seemingly without a trace. Vanished, but were found. Saved by a combination of luck, gut instincts, and a life-saving tip from another child.
All the details ahead. We are beginning to learn more about what both boys went through and what it might take for them to heal.
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