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THE SITUATION ROOM

Protests Over Anti-Islam Movie Spread in Middle East; Officials in American Embassy in Libya Killed

Aired September 15, 2012 - 18:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: You're in the SITUATION ROOM happening now.

Protesters across the Islamic world rage against the United States in an inflammatory Muslim film. An exclusive interview with the brother of al-Qaeda's leader talking chair and a plan for truce.

And some dramatic twist in the race for the White House. With only 52 days to go before the election.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in the SITUATION ROOM.

Violent protests across the Muslim world this week, sparked by a low budget movie by a mystery film maker that denigrates Muslims and the prophet Mohammed. The U.S. embassies found themselves under attack by outraged mobs and in some cases security forces fired on demonstrators with deadly consequences and all of it caused a dramatic shift in the presidential campaign as foreign policy suddenly took center stage.

Our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is beginning our coverage this hour. Ben is back in Cairo for us.

It seems that this weekend that there seems to be a cooling of heads to a certain degree in Egypt. Is that what you're seeing, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly among the leaders of the Muslim brotherhood and in the administration of the Mohammed Morsi, the Egyptian president, there is an attempt to calm down the situation rhetorically. And certainly we've seen in messages conveyed by leaders of the Muslim brotherhood and the Egyptian president, they're trying to send a message of reassurance to Washington.

But at the same time they're kind of walking a tight rope between Washington and the street here in Egypt, where there is anger, where we have seen these protests really going on around the clock. And therefore there's a difference between what we're hearing in English from the Egyptian government and from the Muslim brotherhood and what we're reading on the Web site of the Muslim brotherhood in Arabic and what we're hearing from the rank and file of the Muslim brotherhood here in Cairo. For instance, on Friday we attended a demonstration outside a mosque, not in the area of tariff, were on the American embassy where they were chanting Obama, there are a million Osamas. And this are from basically the rank and file of the Muslim brotherhood who were saying also that the United States is the patron of international terror, that it's the enemy of God, and therefore we're hearing very mixed messages on the ground here in Cairo, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's very worry some. Is this anti-American hatred, I used that word deliberately, is it strictly the result of that inflammatory anti-Muslim film or is there something bigger here that's going on?

WEDEMAN: Well, it's no secret that many Egyptians and many Arabs have long been unhappy with U.S. foreign policy in the region with support for Israel, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, support for dictator governments over the last decades. But this isn't necessarily the feeling of the great majority of Egyptians. You have to keep in mind that the removal of the Hosni Mubarak and the dictatorship, in a sense, it opened Pandora's Box. Out of that box has come the good, the bad and the ugly. And at the moment we're seeing in many countries of the Arab world that have removed their dictators, we're seeing the ugly.

But I think the good will come out again. Many ordinary Egyptians have condemned the violence outside the U.S. embassy. They're not happy with that you tube video that has offended so many people, but they don't believe that violence is the answer. So, I think we're going to see the silent majority of Egyptians come out eventually and say enough is enough. We have to get this country back on track. The economy running again.

I mean, the pictures from the streets of Cairo, around the American embassy are not going to help Egyptian tourism which supports about 15 percent of the population. And Wolf, for instance, Wednesday evening when the embassy was breached here in Cairo, was also the last day of a visit of a very large American business delegation which had the support of the Obama administration, which was trying to drum up some investments here in Egypt.

So it's not all black here at the moment. Hopefully a little light will come into the situation in the coming days.

BLITZER: Let's hope. Let's see. We will stay close in contact with you, Ben.

Ben Wedeman on the ground for us in Cairo. Thank you.

Let's get some more now on the turmoil in Egypt and throughout the middle. "New York times" columnist Nicholas Kristof is joining us.

Nick, thanks very much for coming on. All of our viewers remember, you were on top of the square when the revolution is going down. If somebody said to you at the time that this Arab spring would result in what we are seeing over the past few days, breaking into the U.S. embassy, tearing down flags, murdering American diplomats, you wouldn't have believed it, would you?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NEW YORK TIME COLUMNIST: Well, actually I don't know about that. I mean, I think that, you know, when democracy comes, you get this kind of turbulence. I remember I covered South Korea after democracy arrived there, and then as well, the American flag was burned in the main square in Seoul. You know, there's a lot of anti-Americanism in a good deal of the world. And when people have more power, they unfortunately express it in some r Really unhappy ways.

BLITZER: I had very high expectations, obviously, that were unrealistic. But that was just my hope more than my estimate at the time.

What do you think of the initial reaction of the democratically elected government especially that President Mohammed Morsi in Egypt, to what happened in Cairo?

KRISTOF: President Morsi blew it. He blew it really badly. I don't think it's fair to hold the action of a few hundred, you know, crazy protesters against the country of Egypt. It is fair to hold the action of the president Morsi against Egypt. And he went AWOL. He was every bit as missing from action as the new Chinese leader, Xi Jinping. And he's been called on account and subsequently he's behaved much better. But he blew it. He jeopardized the American relations. He jeopardized American investment in Egypt. It was really a major screw-up.

BLITZER: It was a major screw-up but it took a phone call from President Obama to President Mohammed Morsi to turn things around a bit. But you know, you know public attitudes in the United States, especially on Capitol Hill.

Listen to Peter King, he's the chairman of the house homeland security, and he is speaking about the U.S. aid that still continues to Egypt right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING (R), HOMELAND SECURITY CHAIRMAN: Egypt is not acting like an ally, and if it does not act like an ally, it should not continue to get over a billion in military aid.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: You know there's going to be pressure to suspend that U.S. military and economic assistance to Egypt. What do you make of that?

KRISTOF: Well, actually I think at the end of the day it's unlikely to be suspended and that those threats and that kind of rhetoric may actually give some leverage to the White House to get President Morsi, you know, back in the game. And indeed, I think President Morsi did get the message.

You know, the irony is that until recently, he had behaved pretty pragmatic and he behave pretty. And then, in this case he just blew it dramatically. Since then and more recently he's behaving much better. And so, I hope it's an aberration and he's learning on the job. BLITZER: I spoke to David Ignacious (ph), the columnist for "the Washington Post," someone you know. And I still admire him as I did. He suggested that maybe as conservatives, shall we say, is the government, the Muslim brotherhood-led government is right now, there are Salafists who are even more extreme out there and who would like nothing more than to undermine president Morsi and his government and they may have played a significant role in trying to go into the U.S. embassy. Have you heard that as well?

KRISTOF: Yes. I think that's exactly right. And I think it's true not only in Egypt. But I think there was a similar dynamic not only in Libya, in Sudan. We may be to some degree pawns in this. In several of these countries you've had Salafists who feel as if they played a major role, took huge risks in these democratic revolutions and that they have been kind of marginalized since then. And they see this as a chance to gain public support to embarrass their governments, and there's kind of a competition between, well in Egypt gets between the Morsi government and the Salafists. And the attack on the U.S. embassy is part of the drama. But it's less about us than about that competition between Morsi and the Salafists. I would argue.

BLITZER: This anti-Islamic film that is out there in the Internet, how much of that is responsible for the anti-U.S. violence or is that just an excuse?

KRISTOF: Well, I think it's both. I mean, I think if you talk to an awful lot of just ordinary Muslims around the world, there's real indignation at it. It hit every button possible. And I think a lot of people who didn't grow up from a free society assume that the U.S. government is somehow behind it or condoning it. And so there's that back drop. And then I think on top of that, then you have extremists who take advantage of that and inflame it and seize upon it to embarrass and attack their own government.

BLITZER: You want to venture a little bit of prediction. Where the region will be a year from now? Let me repeat the question.

KRISTOF: I'm sorry.

BLITZER: Do you want to venture a prediction where the region will be a year from now?

KRISTOF: I think it's going to be continue to be messy. I think that -- I don't think it's going to be a complete rupture. Yemen might be a little more extreme, but in the country that matters the most, Egypt and even for Libya as well. I think it's going to continue to muddle along. I don't think the American embassy in Egypt is going to be seized the way it was in Iran.

But if you look at Eastern Europe after 1989, countries like Romania were a mess for years. Indonesia after 1997 and (INAUDIBLE) was ever thrown, 1997 1998. That was a mess for years as well. So I think it takes a lot of time to re-stabilize these countries.

BLITZER: Nick Kristof from "The New York Times" as usual. Thanks very much.

KRISTOF: My pleasure.

BLITZER: The controversial anti-Muslim film that shock all of us may have created, at least inspire some of these turmoil, may have its roots in an ancient religious tension that exists in Egypt. We're taking a closer look at why it's heating up now.

Plus, the dramatic impact on the race for the White House. Now the focus is on foreign policy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Mitt Romney provoked a political firestorm by criticizing president Obama almost immediately after hearing about the attacks in Egypt and Libya. Seizing on a statement released by the U.S. embassy in Cairo before the attacks occurred, Romney said he was outraged by the administration' first response. The president slapped back in an interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a broader lesson to be learned here. You know, Governor Romney has a tendency to shoot first and aim later. And as president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that. That you know, it's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: While Romney later toned it down, he refused to apologize or take back his initial criticism of the president's international policies. Here's what he told ABC News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I said was exactly the same conclusion the White House reached was that the statement was inappropriate that's why they backed from it as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: They didn't say it was showing sympathy for the attackers.

ROMNEY: I think it was not directly applicable and appropriate for the setting. I think it should have been taken down and apparently the White House felt the same way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: No direct response to there, when the president says you shoot first then aim later?

ROMNEY: Well, this is politics. I'm not going to worry about the campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I'm joined by CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley and our chief national correspondent John King.

Candy, some of Romney's national security advisers went almost further almost seeming to blame the president and his alleged weakness around the world, messages he's sending or not sending for the outbreak of violence in North Africa and the Middle East.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they certainly have said things would be different if Mitt Romney would have been president and oh, for translation what we actually think of that. But they clearly view this as an opening. Not the kind of negative that so many folks sort of see this as.

First of all, that it's a conversation that not going to help Mitt Romney get elected. It's hard to challenge a commander in chief in times of crisis, unless they've held American hostages for 444 days. It would ala Jimmy Carter. But this is not that. So it's very hard to kind of challenge the president on this.

But challenge him, they are. And I must say, I think you have to look at this from the point of view of the base of the Republican Party. They like this. That makes them happy. That gets them out.

BLITZER: That's voter turnout is key.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No question about that. Both campaigns acknowledged the number one priority for each is generate, gin up your base and turn them out. But there is a lot of Republican strategists scratching their heads. A lot of Republicans strategists would say, any day Mitt Romney is now pressing jobs, jobs, and jobs, since the day he lost.

But I talked to a very senior person in his campaign just before this. Here's what he said. Weak leader translates into his economic failures. Disappointment, lack of progress, absence of a plan for the future. So, what they are hoping to do is score some points on foreign policy and connect the dots back to his leadership at home.

BLITZER: Rich Williamson, the foreign policy to Romney also was quoted as saying there's a pretty compelling story that if you had a president Romney, you would be in a different situation. The president can't even track of who's our ally or not. This is amateur hour. And on Friday, you heard Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee. He really went on the war path on Obama's international record.

CROWLEY: He did. And I think the counter argument if you also here from the Obama campaign is, if we had gone out while all this was happening and talked about jobs, everyone would have said, wait a second, there's this international crisis going on. How would you have reacted? You know, you can question the timing, you can question all these kinds of things. But somehow when you're a presidential candidate, you have to react in some way, shape or form.

Now, -- but it does, they totally agree with the idea, that three days into this, are three days where the headlines, not necessarily Mitt Romney, but where the headlines are all about this. That can break well for President Obama or it might break badly. We don't know.

BLITZER: Poll numbers in the aftermath what has happened in the Middle East. We do have poll numbers going into this in the aftermath of the conventions in three key battle ground states. You've seen these numbers. In Ohio, at least right now, this is once again before the violence erupted in the Middle East. Obama 50 percent, Romney 43 percent. In Florida and Virginia the same, 49 Obama, 44 Romney. That seems to vote pretty well. If Obama takes those three states, that's it.

KING: If you look at the national polls post both conventions, if you look at the state poll, post poll conventions, there seems to be undeniably an uptick for president. Now, the Romney campaign would dispute the size of that irony. They say, if you look at the poll -- 10 percent more Democrats than Republicans. They think it's somewhat out of balance they do acknowledge the president is ahead in Ohio. They would say it is two to four, not seven points.

But look, you can see this. The president got some bounce. We can argue over how much. And here's the thing for Mitt Romney, with 50 days left you're going into the last 50 days of the campaign. You can change one state. If you're good, and you are good campaign, you like to race for governor or race for senate, five points is not so much. But if you have to change four or five points in Florida, four or five for Virginia, three points here, two points there, then it gets complicated. So, what that it tells you? He needs a national change in the dynamic which means he needs a very strong debate performance.

BLITZER: There will be three debates and Candy, you'll be moderating. One of those debates, historically, I know you looked back on this, John. You, as well. Do those debates really, really change the final few weeks of a campaign?

CROWLEY: They certainly can. Sometimes you see that it's already set. But they certainly can. And in any race that looks as though it might be around the margins, and this race has kind of been within the margins for a while. And you're right there's been an Obama bounce post-convention. A debate, you know, a sigh can change things. There's so many things that go on. And it's their last best chance to change that dynamic because they have (INAUDIBLE).

KING: And remember, you know, President Obama is the incumbent president. This race remind me a lot of 1992 except for the fact that President Obama seems to have a bit of an edge going into the debates. George H. W. Bush seem to be down going into the debate. But you mentioned the sigh, there was, I believe, an Al Gore sigh you are talking about there. Remember George H. W. Bush looked at his watch? That was with Bill Clinton as if why do I have to be here.

So, I think both of these guys understand that. But that's why you see both of them taking time, coming off the trail to prepare for these debates because they understand how critical it is. And I would say more critical for Mitt Romney because of the basic trend of the race right now.

BLITZER: Practice, practice, practice. You have Nancy Pelosi Sunday morning on "STATE OF THE UNION" 9:00 a.m. Eastern. We'll be watching.

Thanks very much. Thanks, John to you as well.

The violent protests across the Arab world triggered by an anti-Muslim movie made right here in the United States. That film may be tied to a deep religious conflict inside Egypt. We will update you.

Plus, who's behind the murder of a U.S. ambassador and three others, three other Americans in Libya? Our national security analyst, Peter Bergen is standing by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: In city after city across the Muslim world, protesters are venting anti-American fury over a crude anti-Islamic film. It was made in the United States but it may be rooted in a long smearing religious conflict inside Egypt.

Our Brian Todd has been looking in to that story - Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the conflict is between more hard line Islamists in Egypt and members of the Coptic church, the largest Christian church of the Middle East. There are suggestions that members of that church were involved in the making of this movie. There is no connection directly between the church itself and the film, but the mere implications have been very provocative.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: At the genesis of all this violence, a poorly made film called "Innocence of Muslims," a movie defecting the prophet Mohammed and the violent (INAUDIBLE), a movie which may also reflect growing tension between Islam and the Coptic church, the largest Christian church in the Middle East.

U.S. federal offices believe the man who made the film is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who was convicted three years ago for bank fraud. A production staffer who worked on the movie says the filmmaker also went by the name Abenob Nakoula Bassely and said he believed he was a Coptic Christian.

The staffer said, the filmmaker told him he had been in Alexandria, Egypt where the Coptic church is based raising money for the film. The suggestion that cops were involved in the movie inflamed the Egyptian media.

ERIC TRAGER, WASHINGTON INSTITUTION FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: Islamists used of this idea that cops were behind it was apparently effective in drumming up support for those attacks.

TODD: Analyst Eric Trager and a Coptic church official tell us there's no connection between the Coptic church itself and the movie.

But the film was promoted by a man who identifies himself as a Coptic Christian. The Egyptian born anti-Islam activist, Morris Sadek. In an interview with the Middle East media research Institute last year, he said this.

MORRIS SADEK, ANTI-ISLAM ACTIVIST (through translator): Every Muslim knows that he is one of Egypt's occupiers.

TODD: CNN has tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to reach Morris Sadek.

An official with the Coptic church here in the U.S. told us the church strongly condemns this film. The church issues the statement calling the movie abusive and part of a malicious campaign to divide people.

As for Morris Sadek, the Coptic official says the church has no connection him and certainly doesn't sanction what he says.

Egypt's Coptic church is roughly 2,000 years old. Coptic Christians make up almost ten percent Egypt's population and there is a long history of animosity between them and radical Muslim groups.

The bombing of a Christian church in Alexandria last year killed at least 21 people. Another two dozen Coptic Christians and their supporters were killed last fall in clashes with the Egyptian Army.

How far back does this tension go and what's the reason for it?

TRAGER: The reason for the tension I think is due to the violence that cops have experienced both under the previous regime and since that regime collapsed. And I think that that has really fueled mistrust.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Trager says it's estimated that about 100,000 members of the Coptic church have tried to levee Egypt since the revolution last year -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thank you.

A U.S. diplomatic mission gutted and an ambassador and three other Americans murdered. So, who's to blame?

And only on CNN, the brother of al-Qaeda's leader is out of prison and has a stunning message for the west.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: In an analysis for CNN.com about the anti-U.S. violence spreading across the Muslim world right now, our national security analyst Peter Bergen reminds us that Christian and Muslim extremists have incited deadly protests for years and sometimes the words of political leaders help spark violence.

Peter is joining us now from London.

Peter, thanks very much for coming in. John McCain, the senator, suggested that what happened in Benghazi, the murder of those four Americans, the torching of that diplomatic mission was an act of terrorism. Do you agree?

PETER BERGEN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Sure. I mean, it's a civilian target, it's an embassy, it's protected by international law. I mean, it absolutely is an act of terrorism.

BLITZER: Was there any al-Qaeda connection, either by an affiliate or by an organization that inspired by al-Qaeda? Do you believe there was some sort of al-Qaeda connection to what happened in Benghazi?

BERGEN: I mean, I think that is obviously the FBI is investigating. My guess is there's no formal al-Qaeda connection. There are Jihadi groups in Libya which go on to the umbrella named of (INAUDIBLE) supporters of Shria law, it's pretty a shadowy group of people, obviously Wolf. They might have had some historical connections to al-Qaeda in the past. Certainly Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of al- Qaeda talked about the recent death of a kind of key al-Qaeda Libyan leader just before this event, there might be some kind of connection. But I think it's pretty early to be making any definitive conclusion conclusions.

The Libyans have arrested some people. There is an interview with a Libyan official who says this seems to be a deliberate attack, because not only did they attack a consulate in Benghazi, they also attacked a safe house which was obviously something that would very protected piece of information and implies some kind of penetration of the Libyan security services by this group.

BLITZER: And it also occurred on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. The effort to sack the U.S. embassy in Cairo also occurring on the anniversary of 9/11. Is that co-incidental? What do you make of that?

BERGEN: Well, it's a very interesting coincidence, if it's a coincidence. I mean, the history here, Wolf, is that no one was paying any attention to this video until an Egyptian religious channel called al-Maz (ph) basically picked it up and translated it and broadcast it in Egypt and that was a few, in the run up to September 11th.

So without this media channel drawing attention to the clip, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation in quite the same way. These events did take place on September 11th, I mean you know, that's a very highly coincidental date.

BLITZER: Yes. A lot of people think it maybe not so much of the coincidence. The U.S. department of homeland security and the FBI issued a joint warning this week as a result of what's happened in Libya, Egypt, elsewhere, among other things saying that the risk of violence could increase both at home and abroad. How worried should Americans be, not only around the world, but in the United States right now?

BERGEN: I mean, I think in the United States, I don't see American Muslims community organizations have condemned the violence. I mean, I just don't see this really being problematic. Certainly in countries, we've seen countries around the Arab world and also in Afghanistan already, protests, some of which have turned violent.

I was quite concerned, Wolf, by the statement by the president Hamid Karzai on Wednesday, a man you know well and have interviewed many times. He took the opportunity to condemn the criminal acts, but he wasn't talking about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. He was talking about this stupid film which denigrates the prophet Mohammed. And Hamid Karzai has a history of drawing attention to these kinds of things and these have produced very violent reactions in Afghanistan. So far we haven't seen that, but last year no one was paying attention to the Florida pastor Terry Jones when he burned the Quran. Two weeks later, President Karzai made a statement about it and that was ultimately the death of more than a dozen people in riots around Afghanistan.

BLITZER: And you know, it's interesting because President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt also in his initial statement, he didn't condemn the effort to sack the U.S. embassy in Cairo, he just condemned the film, that controversial anti-Muslim film. It took a phone call from the president of the United States to get him to change his public statements.

But Ben Wedeman just told us, that what they are saying, the Egyptian authorities, the Egyptian government in public in English is very different than what you are hearing them saying Arabic to their own people. They are just going after the U.S. They're saying that, they're really going after President Obama, if you will, as well. If it's one thing to say something in English, another thing to say something to your own people in Arabic. How should we read this?

BERGEN: Well, I mean, it's quite disturbing. I mean, but I think, you know, President Morsi in Egypt doesn't claim to be a close ally of the United States. And in fact, the Muslim brotherhood which he's part of has certainly had long decades of suspicion of the United States. So, it's a little less surprising his statement. I think you know, President Hamid Karzai is normally a close ally of the United States and I think for him to not ho out that publicly and condemn the attacks on American diplomats is, you know, I think it speaks for itself. It's not an admirable thing.

BLITZER: Yes. I'm surprise though, that President Karzai would do that. Is there any logical explanation? Is it just feeding in to his own domestic audience?

BERGEN: Well I think yes. I think that's part of it. I mean, he did extend his condolences in a conversation with President Obama. But that's, you know, kind private conversation. The statement that he made publicly and the first statement he made was drawing a great deal of attention to criminal acts, which is this video which denigrating the prophet Mohammad.

BLITZER: Peter Bergen. Thanks very much.

BERGEN: Thank you.

BLITZER: A peace proposal from an unlikely source. The brother of al-Qaeda's top leader. He is speaking exclusively to CNN. Plus, what the U.S. drone program has in common with realty TV. The U.S. air force things it may have something to learn.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's a story you won't see anywhere else.

The brother of al-Qaeda's top leader speaking out. Mohammad al- Zawahri has been in prison on terrorism charges for years but now he's out and as CNN's Nic Robertson reports exclusively, he has a message for the west.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If the man next to me looks familiar, it's because he is. He is the brother of al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. We are meeting Mohamed al-Zawahiri because he says he has a plan to end al-Qaeda's Jihad against the west.

I only speak as a mediator for the Islamic movement. I don't represent certain groups. My role is a mediator between the west and them, he says. Our people like death the same way that others like life. But we don't want to get into this endless cycle of violence. We like for others and us to live peacefully.

Mohamed was released from Egyptian jail barely five months ago after serving 14 years on charges including terrorism. Charges he denies. Before jail, he and his brother from fellow jihadists. Still share the same ideology, he says.

There is no difference between my brother's thinking and mine. The portrayal of my brother's ideology and mine that it's blood thirsty is not true at all, he says.

His sage page proposal offers a truce if the U.S. and west stop intervening in Muslim lands, U.S. to stop interfering in Muslim education. The U.S. to release all Islamist prisoners. It also calls on Islamist too. Stop attacks on Western and U.S. interest, protect legitimate western and U.S. interests in Muslim lands. Stop provoking the U.S. and the west. It is similar to a proposal bin Laden made in 2004.

Then came the attack in London in 2005? Is your proposal like this if it isn't accepted, then more attacks?

I'm sorry to say those who caused the London attacks were the west. Because the impression was continuous, either you stop the oppression or accept reconciliation, he says. You have to be logical if you want to live in peace. Then you must make others feel that they will live in peace.

To make his point, Zawahiri leads me to a protest outside the U.S. embassy.

And this is the protest calling for the release (INAUDIBLE).

The so-called blind-sheik jailed for his part in the 1993 world trade center attack in New York. We meet the shiek's son.

When you call for prisoners to be released as part of your documents, you're talking about the sheik?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course.

ROBERTSON: The first one. If he's released, this can help improve the relationship. How does that work? Why does it change people's minds?

Because, he explains, it reduces the impression of U.S. arrogance. Zawahiri denies in contact with his brother, but says, he could be if the U.S. allows it.

Do you think it's realistic that the U.S. would release some like (INAUDIBLE) Mohammad, the man accusing of master minding September 11th.

As you see his hand is stained in blood of the Americans, he says. We also see the hands of American leaders and soldiers stained in the blood of the Muslims. Those imprisoned with the Islamic movement would also be released. We want to turn a page and forget the past.

Zawahiri has faith his brother wants to turn the page, too. But it wouldn't be the first time the terms were unimaginable for western leaders.

Nic Robertson, CNN. Cairo, Egypt.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: A $25 million reward is still on the table from the U.S. state department for the capture or conviction Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaeda leader.

It's a far cry from the hot tubs and emotional confrontations, but the U.S. air force is hoping reality TV can improve its drone program. We have details for that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: You might not think reality television producers and the U.S. air force have much in common. But they both have to evaluate a huge amount of video to decide which images are really important.

Air force drones collect more than a thousand hours of video a day.

CNN's Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is joining us now.

Chris, what can the U.S. air force learn from this TV producers?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: You know, it sounds crazy on the surface of things, but then when you step back and start to think of these reality shows that have the cameras running continuously and then have to compress all of that quickly into a 30- minute episode, you start to get an idea of where the air force may be looking.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Hard to believe that TLC's "toddlers" --

For Courtney and Chloe -- would have something to teach the air force. But the reality is it just might.

COLONEL MIKE SHORTSLEEVE, U.S. AIR FORCE: They looked for ESPN, different networks, you name it, we are out there looking important whatever we can that can help us.

LAWRENCE: You see, thousands of surveillance drones are bombarding the air force with data. So how much video do you see in a day?

SHORTSLEEVE: We have about 1600 hours worth of video we see a day.

LAWRENCE: We got an exclusive look inside the intelligence center at Langley air base where all that video pours in. But there is a limit to how much a human being can watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up, un-focus your eyes for a second.

LAWRENCE: A ran report found the military could learn something from shows like "rock for love."

Like the air force, reality TV producers see hours of mundane video with multiple cameras running 24/7. But hair software can tag the key scenes. And to allow operators to see beyond their individual computers, the report recommends to the military adopt the TV control room setup.

The clock is ticking. New surveillance systems can spy on entire towns. More advance centers will capture a lifetime of video in just one day.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL LARRY D. JAMES, U.S. AIR FORCE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: So if you sat down and watched movies for 85 years straight, high-definition movies, that's the amount of information the sensor, one sensor, will create.

LAWRENCE: In a couple of years you may need well over 100,000 people just watching this video all the time.

JAMES: Right. We are not going to get more people. We have to make do with the people we have.

LAWRENCE: And officials tell us why spend money to develop new software if they can adapt what reality producers already use. And catching just one primary of video can have huge consequences.

SHORTSLEEVE: In the end what it does for us is makes us provide better information to the guy on the ground so we can save his life.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LAWRENCE: That's what's really important. The air force is also considering whether to set up one control station, dedicate one control station, for each area that they are looking at. Instead of just being all of that video back to everyone. It is sort of the same idea it is a real shows assigning one crew to watch Khloe's bedroom and another to the KardaShian store.

So Wolf, if you have been bragging to your friends that you only watch "Downtown Abbey" while you have been secretly you have been tee vowing "toddlers and tiaras," don't worry. It is OK to come out in the closet now.

BLITZER: All right, that's right. Bottom line though, how similar are these reality shows to what the military has to deal with?

BLITZER: So much similar, Wolf. But there are some differences. Obviously sports telecast or reality show, they are dealing with a very confined area. A playing field that they know, a store, a room.

The air force and the military could be looking anywhere on a huge field. So there are some bigger challenges for the military, but there are also tools here that they may be able to use and save money doing so.

BLITZER: Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon. Intriguing story. Thank you.

LAWRENCE: Yes.

BLITZER: A cookie icon and candy icon collide. We put candy corn Oreos to a taste test.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here is a look at the hotshots. Vietnam, workers pull carts through the streets on their way to work and construction site.

In Singapore, Prince William and the duchess of Cambridge stroll through a cemetery where allied forces from World War II are laid to rest.

In South Korea, a U.S. soldier takes his position for a training exercise.

And Israel, look at this. Two bears paw in an afternoon snack of fruits and vegetables.

Hotshots, pictures coming in from around the world.

The makers of the all American cookie the Oreo are giving it the flavor of candy corn.

CNN's Jeanne Moos gives as you taste test.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What do you get when you combine America's most famous cookie with its most loved and hated candy? You get what this motto called this mutant love child of deliciousness. The limited edition candy corn Oreo. About a third of the folks who tested without telling were able to place the test.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got it the corn. The candy corn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will give them props for matching the flavor. But I don't like candy corn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once a year, love it. For about three hands full. Then I'm done.

MOOS: Just in time for Halloween, Nabisco is selling the candy corn Oreo at target stores. Naturally candy corn has been at target for haters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of the candy corn that was ever made was made in 1911.

MOOS: Lewis Black calls it the worst thing about Halloween. When we gave the cookie to Fiona.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reminds me about all of the candies I had for Halloween.

MOOS: Like this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I love those.

MOOS: Odd flavors of Oreos are nothing new. Nabisco makes blueberry ice cream Oreos for Indonesia and green tea Oreos for China. They have gotten edgy with their advertising. Giving the Oreos' image a makeover for gay pride and to honor the latest mars rover.

But an actual candy corn Oreo has the Internet chomping at the bit to review it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Children, smell. There you go. Can I have it? That's a no.

MOOS: One reviewer thought the cookie's taste so identical to candy corn that if you can't get your hands on the new Oreos, he recommends sticking actual candy corn between the halves of a regular Oreo. Still some refuse to try it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm in a welfare-step program for Oreos.

MOOS: Childhood memories. Candy corn for Halloween fangs. Some people only have eyes for Oreos even in the most unlikely places.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. This is rob. I'm in the bathtub. You want to see my package?

MOOS: That's candy corny. Jeanne moose, CNN, New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Remember you can always follow what's going on here in the situation on twitter.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in the SITUATION ROOM. the news continues next on CNN.