Return to Transcripts main page


Pakistan Charges Seven Men For Their Alleged Role In The Siege Of Mumbai

Aired November 25, 2009 - 12:00:00   ET


STAN GRANT, CNN INT'L. ANCHOR, PRISM (voice over): Seven suspects in the Mumbai attacks have been charged with terrorism, by Pakistan.

Claims of abuse, allegations that British soldiers murdered and tortured Iraqis.

And in tonight's "Prism Segment" if Palestinian President Abbas steps down, as promised, the future of the Palestinian Authority is very much in question. Who or what should come next?

(On camera): From CNN Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates, this is PRISM, where we take a story and look at it from multiple perspectives. I'm Stan Grant.

First the news, on the eve of the first anniversary of the terror attacks in Mumbai, Pakistan has formally charged seven men for their alleged roles in plotting the assault on India's financial capital that left some 160 people dead.

From Islamabad, Reza Sayah has more on the timing of the charges.


REZA SAYAH, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (On camera): It is perhaps no coincidence that on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Mumbai attacks seven Pakistani suspects, charged in connection with those attacks, have finally been indicted here in Pakistan.

According to a defense attorney representing one of the suspects, the seven individuals are Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the attacks, and seven other individuals who have been accused with helping plot the attacks. The individuals have been charged with committing acts of terrorism, money laundering, funding acts of terrorism, and also providing tools for terrorism.

If convicted on the charge of committing an act of terrorism, these individuals do indeed face the death penalty. Of course, Thursday was the one-year anniversary of the Mumbai attacks. Immediately after the attacks New Delhi pointed the finger at Pakistan, saying it was banned militant outfit, Lashkar-e-Taiba, here in Pakistan that was responsible and orchestrating and launching the attacks.

Over the past year it has been non-stop finger pointing between these two nuclear neighbors. India saying Pakistan is not doing enough to find the perpetrators. Pakistan saying they are doing enough and accusing India of not cooperating and not providing important and valuable evidence. It is Pakistan's position that these seven individuals, their arrest, and now their indictment, is proof that they are aggressively pursuing this case.

India says they are not going to be satisfied until Pakistan arrests Hafiz Saeed, the alleged founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba. Pakistan's response to India, show us proof that he was involved in the Mumbai attacks, and that's when we'll go after him.

Reza Sayah, CNN, Islamabad.


GRANT: Well, one year later, here is the time line on the Mumbai massacre. It began as a series of coordinated attacks and lasted for three days. A number of different locations were targeted. First, terrorists stormed the Taj Mahal Hotel. At about the same time, gunmen also attacked the Oberoi Trident Hotel. They also stormed the CST rail station and seized a building complex, including Mumbai's Jewish Chabad House. Gunmen opened fire on diners at the Cafe Leopold and a downtown market, and attacked a nearby hospital.

When it was all over, more than 160 people, including many foreigners, were dead.

A group of Iraqis want the British government to apologize for the deaths of their family members. Claims of abuse by British soldiers in Iraq, five years ago, will be the subject of a public inquiry in London. Former detainees and the family of a slain Iraqi say at least 20 people were killed at a British camp. But that is not how Britain's Ministry of Defense sees it. Atika Shubert is following this inquiry and joins us now from London.

And Atika, the Ministry of Defense has been criticized in the past for its handling of this case?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: That's right. In fact, the Ministry of Defense was forced to hold this public inquiry after a judicial review found that the Ministry of Defense had failed to disclose information regarding this case. Now what we do know, what the facts that are clear, are that 20 people were killed, 20 Iraqis were killed after a firefight at a British checkpoint.

Now, the Ministry of Defense maintains they were killed during that fight, the claimants in this case say that they died in British custody. And a further nine claimants, say they were physically abused by British soldiers before being released. Now, we have some still photos. One of those photos, lawyers say, came from the Ministry of Defense, during that disclosure. From the judicial review, it shows a British soldier with several Iraqi detainees, blind folded, and bound on the ground. That photo was taken just shortly before the alleged incident.

We also have several photos of the claimants, that were taken 24 hours after they were detained. Now, those claimants, again, are alleging that they were abused by British soldiers. In those photos we can see some bruising on the faces of the claimants, but it is not clear exactly in what circumstances they received those injuries and we don't know for sure how those -in what circumstances those photos were taken. So, we are still waiting for clarification on that.

The Ministry of Defense maintains that there was no mistreatment of detainees. And they said they welcome this inquiry and that they have nothing to hide, Stan.

GRANT: Atika, talk about the terms of reference of this inquiry. How long will it run? Who is likely to be called and what are the possible findings that are open to it?

SHUBERT: Well, what we know with that -the terms of reference is that this is likely to go on until the end of next year. So, this is going to be a long and involved process. Several witnesses can be called in. This, of course, is not the first public inquiry into an alleged abuse case like this. There is also the Baha Mousa case, which is currently ongoing, in which an Iraqi detainee was allegedly abused and killed while in British custody. So this is the second public inquiry. And lawyers are saying that they have 38 more cases coming down the pipeline. So that what they are looking for is a much larger inquiry that looks at all of these cases. For now, however, the Ministry of Defense is tackling them, one by one.

GRANT: Atika, thank you for that. Atika Shubert joining us live there, from London.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's efforts to reach out to the Taliban have met a quick and not unexpected response. The head of the Taliban in Afghanistan has rejected a call for peace talks. Mullah Mohammed Omar said he would never take part in any negotiation that, in his words, "prolongs and legitimizes the invaders military presence in our beloved country." The statement was released just days ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid Al Atta, which signals the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Well, today marks the long-awaited start of Hajj. The annual pilgrimage to Mecca for pious Muslims, the event draws some 2 million of the faithful to the Saudi Arabian desert. Isha Sesay has been there since the weekend and joins us now from Mina.

Isha the weather is playing a little bit of havoc with the Hajj?

ISHA SESAY, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it certainly is, Stan. The rain came down hard on this, the first day of the Hajj. In fact, according to one Mecca resident we spoke to, this is the heaviest rainfall they've seen during the Hajj in some 25 years. And it came down and it left the pilgrims soaked as they made their way from Mecca to Mina. And it also left part of the tent city, which you can see behind me here, in Mina, in disarray. With tents leaking, some flooding being reported, along with power outages.

I just want to point out, for our viewers, that pilgrims make their way to Mina and they spend the night here in prayer, and reflection. But a number of pilgrims have had their plans derailed and had to actually move to nearby hotels because of the conditions in those tents, as you saw. A very difficult day for a number of pilgrims, on this, the first day of the Hajj, Stan.

GRANT: Isha, of course, with a gathering like this questions are going to be raised about potential radicalism, of people attending the Hajj. Is that an element? How significant is it? And how is it dealt with?

SESAY: I think there is no doubt about it, given the fact that you are going to have over 2 million Muslims gathered in one place, you are going to have Muslims of all different thought processes, so to speak, and different perspectives on things. People who differ on the true meaning of jihad, on terrorism, on the equality of women. There is no doubt about it, those different groups of people, their different thoughts are here in Mecca.

But you know we spoke with a number of people to find out how much discussion there is on issues like politics and jihad. And they tell us the Hajj is not the place for that. The Hajj is the place for people to dedicate themselves to God, to recommit themselves to realigning themselves with other Muslims. And it is not a place to focus on divisions, Stan.

GRANT: Isha, thank you very much for that. Isha Sesay, joining us there from Saudi Arabia.

Well the Hajj is the subject of today's "AMANPOUR". Christian asks who speaks for today's Muslims, and she will look at how the Hajj reflects Islam today.

The Philippines president is promising swift action after a roadside slaughter in the country's south. It is a gruesome scene. Officials now say at least 57 people were killed Monday in Maguindanao Province; 11 more bodies were recovered Wednesday. A spokesman for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo says the mass killing stems from a political clan war. And police say suspicion now falls on the son of the provincial governor. The president says she is enraged by the violence and has vowed that arrests will be made within hours.

To Cambodia, now, and to a massacre that happened more than three decades ago. Prosecutors are asking for a 40-year sentence in the war crimes trial of a former Khmer Rouge prison chief. The man known as Duch commanded the infamous S21 Prison, where more than 15,000 Cambodians were tortured and murdered in the 1970s. Four other senior Khmer Rouge leaders are awaiting trial. Duch took the stand, and once again, apologized to the dead, their families, and all Cambodians.


DUCH, CAMBODIAN WAR CRIMES DEFENDANT (through translator): For the victims of S21 and their families, I still claim that I am solely and individually liable for the loss of at least 12, 380 lives. These people, before their deaths, had endured great and prolonged suffering and countless inhuman conditions. I still and forever, wish to most respectfully and humbly apologize to the dead souls.


GRANT: A Swiss court has granted bail to Hollywood film director Roman Polanski. The bail offer is $4.5 million, but Polanski has not yet been released. The Swiss justice ministry says it will keep him in jail until it decides to appeal his release to the supreme court. The court had said Polanski would be kept under house arrest at his Swiss chalet and wear an electronic monitoring device. The United States wants Polanski to be extradited to face charges of having sex with a minor in 1977.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he will not seek re-election. In tonight's "Prism Segment" we will take a look at just what that might mean for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinians. There is no shortage of viewpoints there.

Also, a proposed freeze on new Israeli settlements in the West Bank meets with a lukewarm response from the Palestinian side. We will tell you why when PRISM continues. Also, bring you a speech from Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli president.


GRANT: Welcome back.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is asking his government to approve a 10-month moratorium on building new settlements in the West Bank. Mr. Netanyahu is meeting with his security cabinet where he is expected to present the measure for approval.

But the moratorium on building permits only covers new construction and doesn't include Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, which the Israeli government considers a separate issue. That prompted a Palestinian spokesman to dismiss the move as not a halt to settlements.

And just a reminder that we are expecting Benjamin Netanyahu to make speech on that. We'll take you to that live, when that does happen.

Now, we're putting Palestinian politics in our PRISM today. Specifically, what happens to the Palestinian Authority without Mahmoud Abbas? The Authority's president says he will soon step down. How will his departure affect the security of his people? Prospects for peace with Israel? And the future of his political party?

Jerusalem Bureau Chief Kevin Flower went to the West Bank to find out what Palestinians are saying.


KEVIN FLOWER, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF (voice over): This is the televised announcement that threw Palestinian politics into disarray.

"I have told our brethren in the PLO Executive Committee and Fatah Central Committee that I have no intention to run for the upcoming presidential elections," declared Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Political bluff or not, the Abbas decision has raised serious questions about the future of the Palestinian Authority government and who or what comes next.

DIANA BUTTU, FORMER PLO ADVISOR: The question is not who the alternatives are, but what they represent. And if the new people who are going to emerge, or perhaps the old people who are still in Fatah, if they are going to cling to the same failed policies then we're going to see the same failed results.

FLOWER (on camera): The Palestinian Authority lead by President Mahmoud Abbas is credited by many Palestinians for improving the security situation in the West Bank. But no one we spoke to here believes his government could deliver on its promises to end Israel's 42-year old occupation.

(Voice over): And 16 years after the signing of the Oslo Accords that created the Palestinian government, many of its citizens are growing weary.

"The PA is for nothing. It is not doing anything good. It is more than enough that it made us worse," says this 24-year-old strawberry vendor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the Palestinian Authority cannot decide the policy here. The occupation will still - as it is.

FLOWER: So, what next for Palestinian politics? The current Prime Minister Salaam Faiadh argues the path to liberation lies with institution building and good governance.

SALAM FAYYAD, PRIME MINISTER, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY: When we approach it this way, we stand a very good chance of getting the support, sympathy and encouragement of the international community.

FLOWER: The Islamist group, Hamas, which seized power from the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, in 2007, calls for a different approach. For its leaders the potential release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, is evidence that the language of force makes Israel listen.

AZIZ SDWEIK, HAMAS, PARLIAMENTARIAN: The mean, and the ways that Hamas used has achieved something, while negotiations with the Israelis have achieved nothing so far.

FLOWERS: One of those Palestinian prisoners who could be released is Fatah's Marwan Barghouti, regarded by many as a potential presidential candidate, capable of bridging the bitter divisions between Abbas' Fatah party, and Hamas.

Critical observers, however, sat Palestinians need to stop holding their breath.

BUTTU: Everybody is waiting for some body else to liberates them. It's like waiting for the messiah, by they don't realize that the messiah is not coming when it comes to Palestinian liberation. They have to take things up, in their own hands.

FLOWER: Whether with the help of divine intervention or not, Palestinians are faced with some very difficult political choices. Kevin Flower, CNN, Hebron, in he West Bank. (END VIDEOTAPE)

GRANT: With, another important view in the region, what do Israelis think? We got a sampling of opinion on the streets of Jerusalem. Many people we heard from welcome a change.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they need better leadership. This is not working out for them. If they really want peace and security, they need different leaders. Because this one is leading no where.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they are trying to do their best. It depends on a lot of matters. It depends on how Israel behaves, or it depends on the Hamas behavior. I think they are looking for good. They are looking for a solution, but they have their own interest, and we have our own interests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Palestinian people need new blood. Abbas is from the old school, together with Arafat. And as much as he says he wants to talk with Israel. I don't think he is really doing it. I think he's just saying it. And really think they need new, young blood.


GRANT: Well, if and when, Abbas does step down, who will succeed him? Possibilities include current Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He is gaining support among Palestinians due to recent economic success in the West Bank.

Muhammad Ghneim, a founding member of Fatah and the PLO, is the number two man behind Abbas and is known for his hard-line positions on Israel.

Marwan Barghouti is currently serving a life sentence in Israel, convicted of murder during the second Intifada. But he could be released as part of the prisoner exchange. He remains popular. Before his arrest he led Fatah in the West Bank and says he supports peaceful negotiations with Israel.

A distant cousin Mustafa Barghouti came in second, behind Abbas, in 2005 elections. He is an advocate of non-violent resistance to Israel and supports a diplomatic two-state solution.

And Hanan Ashrawi maybe an outside possibility; she is a legislator, scholar, well-known internationally. She is also a Christian and a feminist, committed to diplomacy and said to be a tough negotiator.

So, it is time to hear from you. Who do you think should lead the Palestinians. Send your thoughts to my Twitter account. That is StanGrantCNN.

The Hajj pilgrimage gets underway under driving rain. We heard from that earlier. We'll have more on that rare moment from the Weather Center.

And the French first lady says she's been offered an opportunity too good to pass up. And it has something to do with Woody Allen. Stay with us.


GRANT: Welcome back.

We've been watching developments in Israel where President Benjamin Netanyahu has been going to cabinet to seek approval on a 10-month moratorium on building settlements on the West Bank. We understand that approval has now been granted. We are also expecting a statement from Benjamin Netanyahu. We'll take you to that, live, when that does happen.

Moving on. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy says, everybody knows she can sing, she can model, but can she act? The wife of French President Nicholas Sarkozy says she doesn't know, but she's going to find out.

In an interview on French television Bruni-Sarkozy said she has been offered, and accepted, a role in Woody Allen's next film. She admits she may be terrible at acting but can't bear to the opportunity to pass that up.

Meantime, the star says she has no idea what her part may be, or when the film will be made. Well, one to look out for.

Time now to take a look at the global weather picture; Mari Ramos at the CNN World Weather Center.

Hi, Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, there, Stan. We're going to start with that weather that you had there, in Saudi Arabia. With all of that rain, it is pretty amazing.

We have been looking at some of the rainfall totals. And some of them are pretty impressive. In Jeddah, for example, they had 70 millimeters of rain. That is 7-0, that is a lot of rain!

And Mecca, I haven't seen any big rainfall totals. Only about 6 millimeters, that is the only thing that has been reported. But I have a feeling in the next day or so we are going to get some of the more significant rainfall totals, being reported. It just depends on where the reporting stations are. Sometimes it takes a while to actually get that through. But it was pretty heavy.

And our own Isha Sesay, that is reporting there in the area, said the rainstorm lasted over two and a half hours. So that would bring, easily, over 6 millimeters of rainfall.

Well, you can see, right now, we are seeing the skies clearing. We have that front that moved through here and that helped bring the rainstorms through that area. But we are getting a lot of questions about this. Why is it raining? Isn't it the desert, it is not supposed to rain?

Well, this time of year you get these fronts that come through, they have some moisture with them. It is hot enough, you get that lift. And all of the ingredients are there to bring you that rain.

And as we head through the next 24 hours, and we could see, again, along this same frontal boundary, not only rain showers, but some strong winds. And we could see some sand storms kicking up as well. So that is going to be something else to monitor, especially for travelers in the area. Rainfall accumulations will probably be all north of Mecca. Jeddah might get some rain, again, as we head through the day tomorrow. Notice, there may be some lingering rain showers here just south of Iraq and into Kuwait, possibly.

Temperature wise we are going to stay in the 30s across this region. About a 20 percent chance of rain on Thursday and Friday, in Mecca proper. Back to you.

GRANT: Mari, thank you very much for that. We are standing by for that announcement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. CNN confirms that a 10-month moratorium on the construction of new Jewish settlements on the West Bank has now been approved. We'll bring you that speech as soon as it happens. We'll be right back.


GRANT: I'm Stan Grant. Here is what is making news this hour.

The Israeli government has approved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to impose a 10-month moratorium on new settlement construction in the West Bank. Palestinians have .