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CNN NEWSROOM

Security Increased at U.S. Airports; Britain Terror Investigation; Hezbollah in Iraq

Aired July 2, 2007 - 09:00   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
I'm Tony Harris.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen, in for Heidi Collins today.

You'll want to watch events come into the NEWSROOM live on this Monday morning. It is July 2nd.

Here's what's on the rundown.

U.K. sources linking suspects in the Glasgow airport attack to unexploded car bombs in London.

HARRIS: The U.S. military claiming Hezbollah is behind the killing of Americans in Iraq with help from Iran.

NGUYEN: Punishing injury. A child slammed into the head -- or in the head on an amusement park teacup ride.

We have all the information on that story, plus so much more right here in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Great Britain on its highest terror alert right now. New developments to tell you about in the search for suspects.

Security sources tell CNN the same men may have been behind the wheels of two unexploded car bombs in London and the Jeep that slammed into the Glasgow airport. Two of the seven in custody are said to be medical doctors. In fact, sources say police investigating the London car bombs were tracking the men before the attack on the airport.

In the United States, tighter security is in place at airports, but the overall terror alert level in the U.S. unchanged.

NGUYEN: Well, here in the United States, the terror alert level is unchanged, but travelers are seeing more security at U.S. airports.

CNN's Jim Acosta is at LaGuardia airport in New York.

And I know, Jim, it's been a busy weekend, especially with the holiday coming in the next couple of days.

Has security really beefed up around that airport? JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It sure has, Betty. And American airports are back on guard. And that has been meant some delays for travelers. Authorities seem to be willing to shut down entire terminals, even if just something looks suspicious.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice over): At New York's JFK International, police stopped all passengers from entering this terminal for an hour on Sunday after finding a suspicious package that turned out to be harmless. Over at LaGuardia airport, massive lines of anxious travelers who nearly missed their flights due to slowdowns at baggage screening.

REBECCA BLAKE, AIR TRAVELER: This is not security though. This is poor, poor management.

ACOSTA: But many passengers say they're willing to wait to stay safe.

MARCELL PEVSNER, AIR TRAVELER: In their case, they have about, what, a one-hour flight? We'll be on line for two hours to take a one-hour flight. It's almost like Disney World.

ACOSTA (on camera): The line is longer than the ride?

PEVSNER: Exactly.

ACOSTA (voice over): Armed police officers and bomb-sniffing dogs will stay visible at air terminals across the country until after the Fourth of July. One New York public safety official told CNN Saturday's attack at the Glasgow airport caught U.S. security experts off guard.

MICHAEL BALBONI, NEW YORK DEP. SECRETARY OF PUBLIC SAFETY: The way it was done really truly is bizarre.

ACOSTA (on camera): Not in the chatter, as it's called in intelligence?

BALBONI: We saw -- we didn't see anything that -- with a specific mention towards that.

ACOSTA (voice over): Despite the stepped-up security, we found this car sitting unattended outside departures for more than 10 minutes before the driver came along. We saw another vehicle left outside the terminal for several minutes. The pickup was nearly towed by police until the driver showed up just in time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And as for that suspicious package over at JFK, it turns out it was just a bag containing a bottle of cologne -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Well, better safe than sorry, huh?

HARRIS: Yes. Yes.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Jim.

HARRIS: Britain on alert.

The terror investigation from CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Blackened and burnt, the twisted hulk of the Jeep used in the blazing attack on Glasgow's airport is slowly removed. Gas canisters and fuel packed inside. An apparent suicide mission to kill and maim. Police say they are making progress.

PETER CLARKE, METROPOLITAN POLICE SERVICE: The investigations into these events, these attacks, is extremely fast-moving. It is no exaggeration at all to say that new information is coming to light hour by hour.

ROBERTSON: New information revealing al Qaeda may be behind the attack.

GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is clear that we are dealing in general terms with people who are associated with al Qaeda.

ROBERTSON: Chasing those leads just a few minutes' drive from the Glasgow airport, police sealed a street, searched a house in a quiet village, shocking neighbors.

May Gordon (ph) lives across the street.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a quiet neighborhood (ph). Nothing ever happens here. Nothing at all. And I just can't believe it.

ROBERTSON: The two-story house, the only rental property on the street, almost unnoticed by neighbors. Now police say it's a focus of their investigation into the airport blast.

Collin Graham's (ph) friend lives next door to May Gordon (ph), says two men of apparent Pakistani, Indian or Bangladeshi origin moved in a few months ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just told me a couple of Asian people moved in. He's only seen one of them, one of the men. He's only seen them once. They must have kept themselves to themselves.

ROBERTSON (on camera): The street here could not be more nondescript or ordinary. When you look up the road, there is a Mercedes outside one house, another Mercedes, a BMW, another new vehicle at the very top of the street, so close to the airport for anyone trying to blend in and hide in a quiet location. This is perhaps perfect.

(voice over): After an emergency session of top Scottish parliamentarians and intelligence chiefs, revelation the two men arrested in the attack on the airport not from Scotland.

ALEX SALMOND, FIRST MINISTER OF SCOTLAND: The people involved in the incident had not been Scotland for any length of time.

ROBERTSON: Further south, more arrests linked to the London and Glasgow bombers. A 26-year-old man taken into police custody in Liverpool bringing the total detained since Friday's attempted bombing in London to five. More searches, too. This time central England, in Newcastle Under Lyme.

BROWN: We will have to be constantly vigilant. We will have to be alert at all times. And I think the message that's got to come out from Britain and from the British people is that as one we will not yield.

ROBERTSON: At Glasgow airport, where lines of holiday makers waited patiently to get through tightened security, Brown's message seemed in tune with expectations. Terrorism is now a very real threat here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think you can expect to be immune from it. So it's just (INAUDIBLE).

ROBERTSON: Stiff upper lip or simple resignation to the new reality. Al Qaeda is changing its tactics, simplifying its attacks to get around British security, which has been picking up on their larger, more complex attacks.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Houston, Scotland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And Nic Robertson joins us live now.

Nic, maybe you can explain to us how it is that this investigation has come together so quickly. It sounds like the suspects here have left behind for the authorities something of a treasure trove of clues.

ROBERTSON: That does seem to be the case, and that's what we're learning by watching this investigation unfold, Tony. And I will just tell you, the latest piece of the investigation here spreading out a little more.

We're outside the Royal Alexandra Hospital, just a few miles from the airport. The police now have cordoned off and are searching the doctors' premises, the doctors' accommodation at this hospital. This is the neighborhood, as well, where just a few hours ago police arrested another two men, a 25-year-old and a 28-year-old.

How are we able to sort of track and follow and watch the investigation and learn what the police are doing? Well, we know that they almost perhaps got a hold of the men who attacked Glasgow airport before their attack. They were talking to a letting agency just before the attack. The letting agency had let a house in a small village not far from the airport to two men believed to be involved in that attack.

We've since learned as well from the lady who let that house to the men that one of them was a doctor at this hospital. Now the police are back here at this hospital again investigating the doctors' premises here.

We have heard a lot about how there's an assessment, a security assessment that this al Qaeda-type cell, al Qaeda associated-cell has its roots in the medical profession here. That there are some doctors and others who have come to the country to study and to practice medicine. We're seeing that here. The investigation now at the hospital, at this particular hospital, searching the doctors' premises.

Again, we are only able to piece this -- piece this together piece by piece from what we see -- from what we see the police doing. But it does seem, again, that it is centering on those two men who attacked the Glasgow airport. One of them seemed to be a doctor at this hospital -- Tony.

HARRIS: Yes.

Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, for us this morning.

Nic, thank you.

U.K. terror investigation, fast-moving developments this morning. New British home secretary Jacqui Smith will update us. Her briefing live in the NEWSROOM, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

(NEWSBREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: A new enemy operating in Iraq. The U.S. military confirming a story first reported here on CNN. Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon aligning with Iran's Quds Force Special Operations Unit to coordinate attacks on U.S. troops.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIG. GEN. KEVIN BERGNER, MULTINATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ SPOKESMAN: The Quds Force, along with Hezbollah instructors, train approximately 20 to 60 Iraqis at a time, sending them back to Iraq organized into these special groups. They're being taught how to use EFPs, mortars, rockets, as well as intelligence, sniper and kidnapping operations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: CNN's Michael Ware first broke this story. We will have his exclusive details coming up shortly. We have it now right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): ... warfare, Lebanon's Hezbollah. Last year, they claimed victory over the might of the Israeli defense force. Now believed to be fighting another war in Iraq.

U.S. intelligence (VIDEO GAP) special operations commanders. Ali Mussa Daqduq, said to be an expert with these roadside bombs, his role in Iraq was so covert there are no known pictures of him here, save for his prison mug shot (VIDEO GAP) have not released.

Captured on March 20 in the southern city of Basra, the Americans say he and the Iraqi militia commanders he trained and led admitted to working with Iran's elite Quds Force Special Operations Unit. (VIDEO GAP) and the personal effects of dead American soldiers seen by members of the Iraqi government and shown to CNN support their claims.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials say their confirmation of Hezbollah's long (AUDIO GAP) January 20 attack on American soldiers in Karbala, a well planned attempt to kidnap five GIs that went wrong, ending with the soldiers' execution. Senior U.S. military officials tell CNN that after the attack (AUDIO GAP) hunt down the men...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Yes. We apologize for the audio hits and the technical problems with Michael's package. We will figure that all out and we will bring you his full report a little later this hour in the NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: Well, in the meantime, U.K. terror investigation. Fast- moving developments this morning.

New British home secretary Jacqui Smith, well, she is going to update her -- or update us. Her briefing, that is, happens in the NEWSROOM, and that is at 10:30 Eastern. You don't want to miss it.

REGGIE AQUI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Reggie Aqui, in Coffeyville, Kansas, but it's not coffee that's in this water this morning. The flooding is potentially going to get worse, and there's also a problem in that water.

We'll talk about that when the NEWSROOM continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. And we want to get you back now to an important story that we're following this morning, and that is floodwaters on the rise today in the American heartland.

Parts of Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, even Texas all reeling from just days and days of rain.

CNN's Reggie Aqui is in Coffeyville, Kansas, standing by in what would normally be a dry street, but not today. AQUI: Yes. This would usually be the intersection that kind of separates the west side of town from the east side of town, but there's no one going to the east side of town today because of all the water that you see behind me.

I should let you know, Betty, I do have my rain boots out here, but I'm not going to wear them, and you can't pay me enough to go into this water. And here's why.

When you looking down, it may be hard to see, but there is a layer of oil that's on top of this water. The reason why? Well, take a look at some aerial shots that we took earlier and you will see that there is a refinery in this area. That refinery has some crude oil in it, and apparently because of this water that flooded that refinery, that crude oil leaked out.

How much of it? We're not exactly sure, but it's enough that you can actually smell the oil in the water and see it. Right now, health officials from Kansas are in the area trying to determine how much of a threat this poses to the residents.

We don't know when those residents are going to be able to go back to their homes. You see, a levee broke over the weekend, and that caused the water from the Verdigris River to come right over into the streets.

About 2,500 people had to evacuate at one point. They even had to save 50 people. They had to go in there and bring boats out with people because some of those people didn't get out fast enough. There is a curfew now in place in this area.

This town is at least right now on power-wise, and they do have water available. But we just spoke to some emergency officials, and they tell us that that may not last for very much longer.

The power situation is OK. It's the water situation that's kind of iffy. The water from the river flooded the pumping stations, and right now they're only at about one-third capacity.

Also want to show you some interesting video from the border of Kansas and Oklahoma. You will see some bison that are apparently up to their -- I don't know what you call it, shoulders, in water because of the flooding that's going on. This is affecting a large part of the southeastern portion of Kansas and northeastern portion of Oklahoma.

We understand the Kansas governor is going to be in a helicopter today looking at some of these areas. And, of course, a lot of these people are going to need both state and federal help.

We don't know how many people back here are insured. We do know that as of right now they can't get back to their homes.

Betty, one man told me that his house is pretty much completely under water. All he could save were his house plants. He told me he's going to spend the rest of the day going back there in his boat trying to rescue some of the animals that people have, because they didn't have enough time to take everything they needed.

NGUYEN: Well, you know, and even when and if he can get back to his home, you have got the oil situation there, which could be very dangerous. And we're going to hear a little bit later, I'm sure, as an investigation is under way to determine how much of a potential hazard that's going to be for the folks there.

But let me ask you this very quickly -- we see the water there on the streets. Any chance that you can get a reprieve from the rains in that area?

AQUI: We should. And actually, if we look down real quickly, you can see very early this morning when I was on "AMERICAN MORNING," the water was right here. And I would say, what, two or three feet back now?

So it looks like it's receding a tiny little bit, but they don't expect to see any major progress potentially for another two days. It's dry right now. You can see my shirt and my hair is dry. It hasn't rained for several hours. That's good news, but rain is still in the forecast for the next couple of days.

NGUYEN: All right. Reggie Aqui, stay out of the water, would you?

HARRIS: Yes.

AQUI: I will.

NGUYEN: Take care. We'll talk to you later.

HARRIS: Terror alert across Great Britain, and a common thread that could unravel a plot. The latest on the investigation and arrests.

NGUYEN: Also, eyewitness to terror. Many ran from the attack in Glasgow, but one airport employee grabbed his camera and actually went to work.

We are going to talk to him live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Well, it is no surprise that Great Britain is on its highest terror alert right now. There are new developments to tell you about in the search for those suspects. Security sources tell CNN the same men may have been behind the wheels of two unexploded car bombs in London, and that the Jeep that slammed into the Glasgow airport was driven by those two.

Now, two of the seven in custody are said to be medical doctors. In fact, sources say police investigating the London car bombs were tracking the men before the attack on the airport.

Now, here in the United States, tighter security in place at airports, but overall the terror alert level in the U.S. has not changed.

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