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Extra Baggage; Immigration Impact: The Other Side; The Jesus Mystery

Aired March 13, 2007 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Remember that tomb of Jesus? Well, fresh evidence tonight about the tomb that a new documentary claims contain the bones of Jesus and his family. How the facts square with the film that some are calling a revelation. Another professor, a step forward, saying it's a load of biblical bunk.
First, though President Bush in Mexico, with controversy growing back in Washington over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

CNN's Ed Henry is traveling with the president, joins us now from Merida, Mexico -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, President Bush was already battling for attention with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has been conducting a sort of shadow tour of Latin America.

But then today, something else overshadowing the president's message, new information suggesting the White House was more involved in the firing of these eight U.S. attorneys than was originally believed.

Back in Washington while the president was here in Mexico, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales basically acknowledged mistakes were made after accepting the resignation of his chief of staff. Democrats now demanding that Gonzales himself step down and are salivating at the chance to potentially drag top White House Aide Karl Rove before Congress for testimony about exactly his role of this matter as well.

Now, the controversy forced the traveling White House here in Mexico to put out Counselor Dan Bartlett, to try to push back on the story. Bartlett insisted that the president still has full confidence in Attorney General Gonzales. And he also tried to downplay new information that the president himself in a meeting with Gonzales on the eve of the last election talked about some of the complaints he had been hearing about these U.S. attorneys.


DAN BARTLETT, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: This briefly came up and the president said, I've been hearing about this election fraud matters from members of Congress. I want to make sure you're on top of that as well.

There was no directive given as far as telling him to fire anybody or anything like that.


HENRY: Now Bartlett said while the White House pledges to cooperate in this matter, in terms of turning over e-mails and other documents, that it's highly unlikely that Karl Rove and other top White House aides will actually testify in the matter. That sets up the possibility that Democrats may end up issuing subpoenas forcing the first constitutional showdown since Democrats took power on Capitol Hill -- Anderson.

COOPER: Is there a tipping point for the White House in this controversy?

HENRY: Well, certainly if you start seeing more and more Republicans come forward, as we saw a couple of them today saying they want to hear more about Karl Rove's role, they want to hear more exactly what the president knew and when he knew it himself, whether it was just this one meeting with Gonzales, and exactly whether or not these firings were motivated by politics -- that would be the tipping point -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Ed Henry, with the president.

Thanks, Ed.

The Mexico that President Bush is visiting has changed enormously over a very short period of time. New buildings, new roads, but also CNN's Soledad O'Brien discovers a new emptiness.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Along the way to Hidalgo from Mexico City, you see majestic mountains, picturesque Mexican villages, roadside pottery stands. And you see lots and lots of new construction.

PRIMITIVO RODRIGUEZ, MEXICAN IMMIGRATION EXPERT: That church is new. The school is new. The square is new. This construction is new. That is new. That construction is new. I mean you see everywhere new houses.

O'BRIEN: In the tiny village of Julio Villa Grande (ph), the streets are mostly empty.

Only women remain, she says. The men are gone. Delphina's son is one of them. He's 18 years old. He's been living in Florida for two years.

I asked Fabiola Ramierz how many of her family members have crossed the border to the states.

She says four of her siblings and 20 cousins have gone. All to America, all sending back money. And that money is literally helping build this village. But it's also destroying Julio Villa Grande (ph).

She says residents leave because they can only earn enough to eat. You can't eat, she says, and have a home. Senor Epiphanio Pentoja ran a small grocery store, but it closed. I asked him why, and he said no customers. Where are the people?

The young people are all working in America.

Socks were once made at this factory by 200 employees. Now it's empty.

Further down the road in Iksmikiltan (ph), the town center is abuzz with people selling goods and children playing.

I meet the local historian, Jose Ramirez. He tells me the area's been decimated.

(on camera): What percentage of the people (speaking Spanish)?

Twenty percent.

(voice-over): Of the 75,000 people who lived in Iksmikiltan (ph) and surrounding villages, he says 15,000 have gone north; 8,000 in the last three years alone.



COOPER: Soledad, it really is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, all these families are dependent on all of the money that their relatives are making in the United States illegally and yet it sort of destroys the life of these smaller towns.

O'BRIEN: It really does. And when you look at the actual numbers, the percentages of people who leave some of these villages, 20 percent by some estimations. In some of the more rural villages, that number is 40 percent.

One indigenous tribe we talked to, the number 90 percent. You know, they say there's this black hole that's being created in Mexico. Not only the low wage workers are leaving, but families are leaving and then you have some people who are -- would be considered middle class. A teacher who can make $12,000 a year as a teacher -- U.S. dollars, as a teacher. Not really necessarily worth it when he can sneak across the border and make $26,000, $27,000, $28,000 a year pumping gas.

COOPER: And there's just not the opportunity in Mexico presently?

O'BRIEN: Yes, there really isn't. I mean, that's really what Calderon has in front of him as a challenge. He's got to create jobs. He's got to have this -- close the wage disparity. He's got to bring people hope. Because if you don't do that here on this side of the border, people really don't have another option than to go.

COOPER: President Bush tried to bring hope as well, tried to reassure not only Mexico's president, but also the Mexican people that he was still going to work very hard for what he terms a comprehensive immigration reform.

Are Mexicans you've talked to there at all optimistic about President Bush's words?

O'BRIEN: You know what was really interesting? A lot of the Mexicans knew about this meeting didn't have much of an interest in President Bush at all. Had a lot of interest in President Calderon and what he was going to do. They're very closely watching his every word.

Back in New York, though, some of the illegal immigrants we've been talking to who've been paying their taxes are watching what's happening with President Bush very closely. Paying their taxes because they hope to have a record of the fact that they were in the United States and hopefully one day if things change, they say, maybe they'll be able to rely on that and basically get a break.

COOPER: So what is Calderon's message on illegal immigration? I mean, is there any effort on his part to actually stem the tide?

O'BRIEN: Yes, you know, he's really turned the focus in on his country itself, which is kind of interesting. He hasn't blamed the United States. He's asked for more foreign investment, but what he's really said is we've got to fix things here.

And I think a lot of people agree with that. I mean, the truth is, if you're desperate, you're going to run across the border. And people we've talked to said, listen, you can go across the border, wall, or no wall, there will be a way across that border.

So if you want people to stay, then you have to be able to pay them and you have to make sure you can pay them enough money that they can eat and afford a home and have a family. That all really happens right here in Mexico.

COOPER: Of course, the question is, how to do that.

Soledad thanks very much. Fascinating stuff.



COOPER: Be sure to watch Soledad and Miles O'Brien each weekday morning on "AMERICAN MORNING," beginning at 6:00 a.m., Eastern, right here on CNN.

And up next, a film about Jesus under fire.

COOPER: Faith-shaking claims discounted.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The premise of this particular film is wrong from the beginning.


COOPER: He says there's no way the lost tomb of Jesus was found. He appeared in the documentary and says it's fudging the facts. So why is he speaking out now?

Plus, caught on tape, a whale's deadly attack from under the sea.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He may feel distressed. He may take you as a threat and may defend himself.


COOPER: And the victim was only there to help, when 360 continues.


COOPER: To millions of Christians, Jesus is a savior, of course, but he's also the subject of intense historical debate. This new documentary is adding fuel to the discussion. It's called "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," and it was produced for the Discovery Channel by Oscar winning Director James Cameron.

Many Christians see the film's claims about what was found inside the tomb as an attack on the core tenants of their faith.

CNN's Joe Johns reports.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is the very foundation of Christianity. The belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, leaving just an empty tomb, the greatest of miracles. But now another theory ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ascension could have been spiritual, leaving his body behind.

JOHNS: The filmmakers behind the new documentary believe the bones of Jesus were buried this tomb. It was discovered in 1980, wasn't considered significant back then. But recently some researchers began to take a closer look at these burial boxes or ossuaries that had been clustered inside. They were engraved with a curious collection of names.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jesus, son of Joseph.

JOHNS: On another ossuary, Joseph. On another ...


JOHNS: Or Mary.. Jesus, Mary and Joseph. All very common names in that era. But to fine them altogether, what were the chances of that in then, another ossuary. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The inscription has two parts. The second reads Mara, the first part is a diminutive of Mariani.

JOHNS: Which translates, they claim, into Mary Magdalene all of those names in one place, it couldn't be a coincidence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Literally, this is the biggest archaeology story of the century.

JOHNS: That is actually quite an understatement. If true the discovery would rock one of the world's major religions. But the film takes it one step further. Researchers did DNA testing on the sediment left in the Jesus and Mary ossuaries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the DNA matched, that would mean that this Jesus and that Mary were brother and sister. Or mother and son. There could not be husband and wife. The DNA did not match. The forensic archaeologists concluded they must be husband and wife.

JOHNS: What's more, the researchers uncovered yet another ossuary, the inscription, Judah, son of Jesus. Could it be true?


JOHNS: "The Last Tomb of Jesus Bills" itself as fact. But it's also an action-packed movie with actors and extras and a big Hollywood budget. And critics say that's all it is, entertainment, fiction. But what if it's more than that? What if it's the answer to one of the greatest mysteries of all time? Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, more and more scholars have come forward and said simply it's not. Stephen Pfann, a scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem appeared in the documentary as an expert. Now he is coming out the film's premise is wrong. He's released a paper saying the filmmakers were mistaken when they identified an ancient ossuary from the cave as belonging to Mary Magdalene. I spoke to him earlier tonight.


COOPER: Central to the filmmaker's argument is that one of these ossuaries or one of these caskets has the name of Mary Magdalene on it. They say that is the tomb of Mary Magdalene, Mary the teacher. But you are saying in fact there are more words, there are more names on that. What have you actually read it as?

STEPHEN PFANN, UNIVERSITY OF THE HOLY LAND: You can see the first letters of the inscription, M is written with separate strokes. The A, the alpha, is actually written with two separate strokes. The same thing with the other letters as soon as you arrive at the letter that look leaks a backward N, that backward N is actually the Greek kappa. It is written with one stroke without lifting the pen, starts the word kai, following that is the name Mara. So these are actually two inscriptions. COOPER: So you believe the they are the remain of two women inside that casket, Mary and a Mara?

PFANN: Yes, that's at the least two. In most ossuaries there's more than one individual that's found inside. Sometimes as many as 60 to 80 skeletons in one tomb.

COOPER: One of the things the director said to me when I interviewed hem a short time ago he said, look, the statistics on this are on our side. All of the experts we talked to said just statistically, it is incredibly rare to have all of these names of Jesus and a Judah and a Mary all in one ossuary. I want to play you something he said.

SIMCHA JACOBOVICI, DIRECTOR, "THE LOST TOMB OF JESUS": When we went to statisticians, they told us that the odds, after eight months of study, the odds are 600-1 in favor of this tomb being the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.

COOPER: Is he just flat-out wrong?

PFANN: When you work with statistic as I have had in past you first have to have a proper database of names, names of families that would potentially be like the other family. So, how many other families have the same names as Jesus' family.

There's no database to say. So the statistics in the end can't even really tell you whose family that is.

COOPER: This 600-1 figure that the director's been throwing around is basic kind of a guess.

PFANN: The 600-1 is sort of a guess, I think that what he's coming up with is what's the likelihood as a statistician can say, what's the likelihood that in the next tomb that the same names will come up? That's even difficult to assert because of the fact that so many of the skeletons in these tombs don't have names attached to them.

COOPER: In working with the filmmakers, did you get the sense basically they were, they felt they were on to a good story, on to what would be a blockbuster film, but I mean it seems, as more and more scientists are coming forward and as you peel this stuff away, it seems to be less of a real documentary and more of a fantastical film.

PFANN: In the end, facts that we want to bring forward, that many of us want to be forward they're willing to put that aside in order to build the story. This is very common in works of science fiction, in historical novels where it becomes reductionistic and you reduced down to whatever fit your story. That's what we have a story of perhaps a Jesus but it's certainly not Jesus of Nazareth.

COOPER: Professor, it's fascinating. Thank you very much.

PFANN: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Despite widespread ridicule from scholars "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" has been hugely popular. Here's the raw data.

According to the Nielsen ratings, the documentary averaged 4.1 million viewers when it aired on March 4th, that is Discovery Channel's largest audience since September 2005. A companion book, "The Jesus Family Tomb" has rocketed to sixth place on the "New York Times" best seller list.

Some breaking news that could hit us all in the bank account tomorrow. After a day of big losses on the American market Asian markets are opened and getting hammered. CNN's Ali Velshi is monitoring the breaking developments, joins us now by phone.

What's going on, Ali?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on phone): Anderson, it looks like after an almost two percent loss on the Dow during the day this is spreading once again to Asia proving again ...

COOPER: Clearly we just lost contact with Ali. We'll try to get him back. Again, Asian markets taking something of a hammering, down some three percent, just in last well since opening this morning. We'll see if has -- what sort of, if any, effect it has on U.S. markets tomorrow morning. We'll get Ali back after the break and we'll continue.

Still ahead -- more on the markets.

Also, children of the Iraq War and the battle scars they carry into life.

And an incredible attack caught on tape. A whale flips out and flip observe a fishing boat. Even wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin says he has never seen anything like it. He'll join us next on 360.


COOPER: That was the closing bell earlier today. We're back with breaking news after Wall Street took 242-point beating today, markets in Asia are now getting pounded. What that might mean for investors here at home is what we want to talk to Ali Velshi about. Ali, what's going in Ssia?

VELSHI: Anderson, after a day where U.S. losses saw a two percent drop, U.S. markets saw a two percent drop, this is all tied to a crisis around subprime mortgages, we're now seeing Asian stock selling off. The financial sector like the financial sector was selling off in North Market.

But also those stocks in Asia, particularly Japan that depend on exports to America because if America's economy is affected they're not going to able to buy as much from Asia, as a result, we're seeing stocks like Canon and Honda on the Japanese markets affected. The losses in Japan and Hong Kong right now are bigger than the percentage losses that we saw on the Dow which is just sort of proving again that you and I had this discussion a couple of week ago the interconnectedness between markets around the world.

It is not -- these are not panic numbers. These are not up numbers that something we should be worrying overall. The problem is where does it stop? Are these markets tracking U.S. behavior or are they going further? Are we going to play catch-up overnight through European markets and back when American markets open up in the morning?

The last time this happened we did see some of this back and forthing for a couple of days until investors decided it was low enough and it was time to get back into the market. So once again, we're not that far off that big market move downward a few weeks ago. And this is going to give a lot of investors back in New York more pause for concern as these Asian markets wrap up over night and European markets start trading.

COOPER: But some observers, I'm reading their comments, are saying the problem this time seems more contained to a specific sector of the U.S. housing market and, therefore, perhaps not as big an impact as the last downturn?

VELSHI: Right. You might think that applies in America if you're not part of the subprime housing market, that's lenders with low credit rating how does it affect you? The bottom line is American purchasers, American consumers are the most powerful economic force in the entire world. When they are weakened, it weakens the entire American economy. When the American economy is weakened, Americans buy less of things that everybody in the world makes. That's why this is a problem.

The stocks of financial companies and companies that sell things to the rest of the world, including America, are the ones that are suffering. In Asia right now, you'll see the same thing happening in Europe. And once again in the morning, those are the ones that will suffer in America, specifically companies that cater to the very people being hurt by their mortgages becoming too expensive.

You'll see retailers, particularly retailers who deal with people at the lower end of the income scale getting hit. So that's why you're seeing this specific, even if it's contained to a sector of the American population, it's a sector that does a lot of shopping.

COOPER: Ali Velshi, appreciate you covering the breaking news for us. Thanks very much. We'll continue to watch over the course of this next hour.

From the wild world of business right now to the wild kingdom. It's not uncommon to hear about sharks attacking swimmers or surfer. It's not every day that a whale goes after humans.

It happened off the cost of Japan. And it wasn't just any whale. It was a sperm whale, one of the largest mammals alive. Three fishermen found out the hard way how powerful the giant creature can be. CNN's Tom Foreman has details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The incident started with the best of intentions, a 30-foot sperm whale, a species rarely seen near shore, strays into a cove. And local fishermen try to shoo it back to open water.

Banging sticks, circling around, "He obviously noticed the sounds but didn't move much," one says.

So the would-be rescuers tried to rope the whale and drag it to sea. The whale spouts, appears to grow agitated, then disaster. In an explosive rush, the whale slams into one of the boats, heaving two men into the water. A third remains aboard, but only for a few seconds.

The whale hits again, flipping the boat.

These closer pictures show just how violent the attack was and how helpless the fishermen were. Here you can see the whale lunging toward the boat and thrusting the vessel upward.

(on camera): It is clear, from these images, that this boat was simply no match for this kind of power. After all, a sperm whale of this length can easily weigh 14 tons or more.

(voice-over): As the immense mammal thrashes the water, rescuers cannot even come close. And one man drowns. Witnesses say the whale did not appear healthy and that may explain its erratic behavior. The exact cause will remain a mystery, however.

After the attack, the boaters retreated, and the whale swam back to sea. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: To get some perspective on the whale attack, from Animal Planet, wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin earlier tonight.


COOPER: Jeff, I want to play the video for our viewers. It is so incredible. You actually see the fin of the wale hitting the boat and one fishermen being thrown overboard. Is it common for sperm whales to be so aggressive like that?

JEFF CORWIN, ANIMAL PLANET: Absolutely not. These animals, by their nature, are not aggressive creatures but they are powerful and they will protect themselves. And the thing to remember about these incredible cetaceans, these incredible whales, these sperm whales, is that they are predatory.

You know you have two major groups of whales. You have the baleen whales the filter feeders, blue whales and humpbacks, they're eating krill. Incidentally there was a negative situation between people in humpbacks a few weeks ago off the coast of Mexico. Then you have these sperm whales, they are a toothed whale. What you notice that is, although there's conflict, the whale's physically not bite organize latching on to these fishermen.

COOPER: The whale -- I want to show another spot on this video. The whale seems to come out of nowhere, flips the boat over like it's a toy and you actually catch a glimpse of the 58-year-old fish man who later died. How strong are these whales?

CORWIN: You have to remember this is a beast weighing in easily at 60 tons. It's one of the largest types of whales on the planet. These creatures have the ability to swim many, many hundreds and hundreds of fathoms beneath the surface of our oceans. They're a predatory creature. They go after extremely powerful squid. In fact, the largest of all squid, the architeuthis, this is an animal pushing 50, 60 feet in length, that's what these whales are hunting.

But you know, this is very unusual. I've never seen anything like this. So when I see this footage, what comes to mind is potentially a creature is that distressed, maybe has been physically injured or is experiencing some sort of illness. It's not an animal that spends a lot of time in the shallows unless it's trying to escape some sort of detriment. Now, as you can see, these fishermen are approaching the whale. So my take in this whole thing, Anderson, is that this whale's trying to protect himself.

COOPER: The irony, and the sad irony in all of this, these guys were trying to help the whale get out of the shallow water. What happened if the whale stays in the shallow water?

CORWIN: Well, as long as a significant amount of its body weight is submerged, and that weight is being distributed through the water, that's not a problem. The problem with whales and shallows is when they tend to beach themselves and they get to the point of shallows where much of their bodyweight is above the surface and all that gravity pulls down on them. They tend to almost suffocate.

But this whale was probably in enough depth work (ph) and navigate, and shortly after the situation I believe the whale did liberate itself and find its way to open water. You know, my question is -- I think it's wonderful that these fishermen wanted to intervene and get involved. But how were these guys that probably weigh upwards to about 300 pounds together, how are they going to help a 60-ton whale?

COOPER: Why are sperm whales still in endangered?

CORWIN: Well, because their numbers tack a long time to recover. Historically, these creatures were hunted to the point of near extinction.

They were hunted because of spermaceti, which is this oil-like substance, a liquid which is found in the melon, in this part of the whale's body. And people would hunt the whales and extract that stuff, that spermaceti. And it was used in lamps and oils. And although they're no longer hunted throughout much of Europe and the United States, they are still hunted in other parts of the world. And in Japan they still take a whale harvest.

COOPER: Interesting. Jeff, appreciate it.

Jeff Corwin.


CORWIN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up next, Iraqi children caught in the crossfire.


COOPER (voice over): Children of the Iraq war, they play with toy guns, but it's not all fun and games.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of them are traumatized.

COOPER: Tears, screams and aggressive behavior. Can the children be healed or will their violence run unchecked?

And the fire took half his family, but there's more to this story than you can ever imagine, coming up next on 360.



COOPER: A new CNN poll finds that fewer Americans than ever believe the U.S. can win the war in Iraq. Forty-six percent of those surveyed say the U.S. can win. That's down from 54 percent in November. Forty-six percent believe the U.S. will lose in Iraq, up from 43 percent over the same period.

One thing is for certain, for Iraqi children, they are caught in the crossfire.

CNN's Jennifer Eccleston takes a look at some of the war's youngest victims.


JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's a brutal reflection of daily life in Iraq. "Die!" they shout. "Die now!" Plastic machine guns and pistols, a game of "kill the insurgents".

"We learned this from the American. It's my favorite game."

DR. SAIED AL HASHIMI, PSYCHIATRY PROFESSOR MALE: Our children are surrounded by violence. They -- in every direction they look, they see violence.

ECCLESTON: Car bombs, kidnappings, air strikes, and mass displacement. Dr. Saied Al Hashimi is a professor of psychiatry.

AL HASHIMI: Now I can say that almost -- almost all the Iraqi children, especially in Baghdad and around Baghdad -- these are what we call the hot zones -- most of them are traumatized.

ECCLESTON: Mustafa Karim (ph) is a seemingly happy young boy, despite living in a squalid refugee camp in the Shiite Baghdad slum of Sadr City. His family was brutally driven out of their village by insurgents. "They killed my father and uncle in front of my eyes."

Iraq's healthcare system is reeling from victims of the physical brutality of war, too overwhelmed to deal with the victims of the psychological battle. Many of Iraq's best and brightest doctors have either been murdered or fled the country.

Helping is left to a small team of doctors like Haidar Abdul Mosen. He runs a one-man psychiatric clinic. He says it's the only one in Iraq.

Despite meager resources, he treats up to 15 patients a day, patients like 8-year-old Dahra (ph). When bombs burst in her neighborhood, she suffers seizures. And 13-year-old Kita (ph). When she hears blasts, she hits her mother.

DR. HAIDAR ABDUL MOSEN, PSYCHIATRIST: Our children became very violent, became very aggressive. They talk badly. They behave in a bad manner. And we think this is one of the effects of war.

ECCLESTON: Sixteen-year-old Saman (ph) is severely depressed. She screams and cries in the middle of the night, too afraid to sleep.

Saman (ph) was kidnapped by someone, we don't know who, outside of her school. She was held for nine days in a windowless room with 20 other girls, beaten and forced to sleep next to the dead body of a girl who was raped and killed.

Her family paid $20,000 for her release. She asked us to conceal her identity. Saman's (ph) mother pleads with Dr. Haidar to help her daughter.

"It's OK. It's OK," he says to her. "Calm down."

But to me, he says a generation is lost.

Jennifer Eccleston, CNN, Baghdad.


COOPER: Well, earlier tonight, I spoke with 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta about some of the mental health issues facing Iraqi kids.


COOPER: Sanjay, what are the greatest risks for these Iraqi kids in terms of mental health? DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the biggest thing that is that you're seeing what's becoming normal is just a pattern of violent behavior. That's becoming their new normal.

There have been several studies here, interestingly, over the last year showing that school-age children, elementary school-age children suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Something you typically think about in much older people you're now seeing in school-age children. And you saw in Jennifer's piece there as well, you know, the little girl actually hitting her mother, that sort of violence towards other children, towards their parents, and that's in addition to things like bed wetting and just standard aggression in general -- Anderson.

COOPER: Are there any numbers in terms of how man kids are going to need psychiatric help in the long run?

GUPTA: Well, you know, one thing to keep in mind is it's a very young country, overall. About half the population is under the age 18.

Again, this is something that's being studied. You're going to need longer-term numbers to be able to tell for sure, but they're estimating anywhere between 25 and 40 percent. And the sort of help they need could be anything from just safe zones to real psycho and talk sort of therapy.

COOPER: We see these kids role-playing violence around them, the kidnappings, the killings. It reminds me when I was in Sarajevo during the war in the mid-'90s, kids played a game, "Sniper," you know, based on the snipers they saw.


COOPER: Is that actually a good thing, for them to be expressing it, whether it's through drawings or role-playing?

GUPTA: You know, it's interesting, Anderson, because I saw some of this with drawings in Africa. I think you and I saw that together, saw some after the tsunami as well.

I've asked that same question. Here's what I've I heard I think more often than not, is that it's OK. The role-playing, the drawings are OK. In fact, it might be unnatural to not allow children to express what they've just seen.

A couple of caveats, though. One, it has to be done in a safe setting, and it has to be done with a trained professional to have some sort of follow-up to all this.

COOPER: And in terms of trained professionals, I mean, there's -- I imagine there's not a lot of great resource -- a lot of great mental health resources in Iraq available right now.

GUPTA: No. I think that's one of the -- one of the hardest parts. I mean, you know, you're still dealing with the physical injuries, just being able to take care of the obvious things, the amputations, the head injuries, the bullet wounds, things like that.

And then after that, probably next in the pecking order comes adult mental illness. So you can imagine with children and mental illness, that's just probably getting no consideration. Not to mention, that it's so hard to diagnose these things for sure, especially in a medical community that's sort of rebuilding itself.

COOPER: Another angle in the war in Iraq.

Sanjay, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Up next, international intrigue. A top Iranian official vanishes. The question now, was he kidnapped or did he defect?

Plus, a deadly fire here in New York. Nine kids and an adult killed. Their deaths shedding light on a culture that many Americans don't know much about when 360 continues.


COOPER: In an especially volatile part of the world there's a real mystery unfolding tonight. Iranian officials are trying to find out what happened to a top military adviser and general who seems to have vanished into thin air. There's wide speculation he was abducted. And topping the less of suspects, well, no surprise, the U.S. government.

CNN's Ben Wedeman investigates.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Iranian deputy defense minister Alireza Asghari traveled to Istanbul a moment ago, then disappeared.

Was he kidnapped? Did he defect? Who was behind it? The Americans? The Israelis?

MEIR JAVEDANFAR, MIDDLE EAST ANALYST: The United States and Israel are very much involved in trying to find out as much as possible about Iran's nuclear program, how -- where is it right now? What are the -- what are the challenges and when is Iran likely to have a nuclear bomb?

And the information that General Asghari would have would fill in some very crucial gaps, I believe.

WEDEMAN: A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard officer in Lebanon in the 1980s and '90s, Asghari may have information about the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marines' barracks in Beirut that left 241 dead.

Israel would no doubt like to pick Asghari's brains about Hezbollah, an organization he helped develop.

Danny Yatom headed Mossad, Israel's spy agency.

DANNY YATOM, FORMER MOSSAD CHIEF: Whatever happened during those years and had the signature of either the Hezbollah or Iran probably was orchestrated by this man.

WEDEMAN: And he might know something about Iran's involvement in Iraq.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: He would also know a lot, I think, about the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and possibly the Quds force, although, again, he's been out of circulation for a while.

WEDEMAN: Most intelligence analysts believe Asghari defected for money, lots of it. But ex-Mossad chief Yatom has another idea.

YATOM: Maybe the way he wants to wash the blood is by defection.

WEDEMAN: Iranian officials say Asghari was kidnapped by western intelligence services. And in Tehran, what purports to be Asghari's family has come forward to claim he was nabbed by either the Israelis or the Americans. Israeli and American officials deny any involvement.

(on camera): The only certainty in the case of Alireza Asghari is that he's vanished. And some Iran watchers here suggest more high- profile Iranians could disappear under equally murky circumstances as a full-blown crisis looms over Iran's nuclear program.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Jerusalem.


COOPER: Well, a wall of smoke and flames, that's what awaited firefighters in New York. The victims were young, very young, and there were many. The latest on the investigation and how the tragedy revealed a culture many in America don't about -- don't know much about, I should say.

Next on 360.


COOPER: It is the saddest of stories. Funeral services were held in New York this week for the 10 victims killed in last Wednesday's house fire in the Bronx. Nine of the victims were children, the youngest just 6 months old.

CNN's Jason Carroll reports.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Wednesday night, at this four-story apartment house, where 22 people lived inside, all relatives, most from the African country of Mali, around 11:00 p.m. an overheated cord on a space heater sparks a blaze on the first floor. They tried to put the fire out before calling 911, but it doesn't work. It quickly spreads up the wooden staircase.

Then desperate cries for help.

EDWARD SOTO, RESCUED CHILD: A lady was screaming and yelling, "Please save my babies! Save my babies!" So me and a friend of mine, we ran, we jumped the gate.

HECTOR ORTIZ, RESCUED CHILD: My friend Easy (ph), he (INAUDIBLE) the building and opened up the fence. We had access to the back yard. So there's a lady trapped on the third floor.

CARROLL: Flames and smoke close in on the people inside. They have no options left.

ANDRE, RESCUED CHILD: We told the lady, you know, to jump. Her and the other kids out there was hollering, so we told them to jump. And we caught them.

CARROLL: Firefighters arrive less than three and a half minutes after the emergency call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here!

CARROLL: Their hands are full saving the children and babies inside.

One rescue worker shouts for a bus, for an ambulance. They frantically try to resuscitate an infant. The heartbreaking sight of children in distress is too much for the family.

It takes firefighters nearly two hours to extinguish the blaze.

(on camera): The fire takes everything from Mamadou Soumare. He's a cab driver who was working the night shift. He rushed hope as soon as his wife called him about the fire downstairs. The next morning he learned she died in the fire. So did all four of his children.

MAMADOU SOUMARE, FAMILY DIED IN FIRE: This is my family. Nobody here. Nobody here.

CARROLL: They will all be remembered as victims of one of New York's worst residential fires in decades.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, so many people have opened their hearts to the survivors and to the parents, including the father you're about to meet. His culture may seem different, his suffering certainly is not.

CNN's Gary Tuchman reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was emotionally difficult to watch this man as he prayed in a mosque after losing five of his 11 children in a Bronx, New York, house fire. Moussa Magassa is still in a state of disbelief, which made his kindness and graciousness so noteworthy when we talked with him about New Yorkers.

MOUSSA MAGASSA, LOST CHILDREN IN FIRE: And I appreciate what they have done for me. You know, from the governor, the mayor, everybody. I thank everybody in New York City.

TUCHMAN: Magassa, who went through his destroyed home today, is from Mali, one of tens of thousands of West Africans who have immigrated to the United States, mostly in the New York City area. The tragedy has opened a window and a way of life not always understood in the West.

(on camera): How are your wives doing?

MAGASSA: She's doing fine. She's doing fine.

TUCHMAN: You have two, right?


TUCHMAN: And are they both doing fine?

MAGASSA: They're doing fine. They're doing fine.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Like many Muslims, Magassa has more than one wife. Both women survived the fire. Five of his wife Mathia's (ph) seven children died. The four children of his wife Isa (ph) all survived.

There was a huge outpouring of support at the funeral, including some of the city's top politicians.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), NEW YORK: I just pray that this never happens again.

Salem Aleikum.

TUCHMAN: Polygamy is illegal in the United States, which has made many worry these grieving family members could find themselves in legal turmoil. But polygamists have not been prosecuted in the country for decades unless the marriages involve underage girls, like those allegedly ranged by fundamentalist Mormon leader Warren Jeffs.

Columbia University's Gregory Mann is an expert on West Africa.

PROF. GREGORY MANN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Malians have always had polygamist households as far back in history as we can tell. And of course Islamic law allows to for polygamy as well.

TUCHMAN (on camera): In your country you're allowed to have two wives. Not in this country.


TUCHMAN: You have four wives?


TUCHMAN: Really?

(voice over): Abdu (ph) is from Gambia. He has lived in this Bronx neighborhood for 19 years.

(on camera): Is it complicated? Is it hard?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not hard. If I don't know how to take care of them, I'm not going to do it. But I know how to take care of them.

TUCHMAN: I would think it's very hard. I don't think I could take care of four wives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's not hard. God helps you.

TUCHMAN (voice over): West Africans are often described as hard working, gregarious, generous, and grateful.

SHEIKH MOUSSA DRAMMEH, GAMBIAN IMMIGRANT: America is probably the best place to practice your own religion. The Constitution gives everybody the right to practice what you believe. Even the Muslim country, you may not have as much freedom to practice Islam as you have here in America.

TUCHMAN: In this country the family's lifestyle and culture are not very well understood. But their grief sure is. West African or not, this is an American tragedy.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, New York.


COOPER: And we'll have more 360 in a moment.


COOPER: And we're back with breaking news. After Wall Street took a 242-point beating today, markets in Asia now getting pounded. At one point the Nikkei was down three percent, but has recovered slightly.

I want you to help us keep them honest. If there's a wrong that needs to be made right in your community, go online, tell us about it,

Thanks for watching. I'll see you tomorrow night.


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