Return to Transcripts main page

CONNECT THE WORLD

American POW Bowe Bergdahl Released; New Report Alleges Qatar Bribed Way to 2022 World Cup Bid; Man Arrested In Connection to Jewish Museum Shooting In Brussels; India Gang Rape and Murder, Qatar 2022 World Cup Bribery Claims; Hamad International Airport Opens in Qatar; Qatar's Flying Force

Aired June 1, 2014 - 11:00:00   ET

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


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: The U.S. soldier not left behind in Afghanistan and detainees let go from Guantanamo Bay prison. We'll bring you the details of a carefully orchestrated prisoner swap with the Taliban.

Also ahead, a suspect in the shooting at the Brussels Jewish museum is under arrest. We're learning about his violent connection.

And new claims about dodgy dealings in the Qatar World Cup bid. We're going to speak to the editor of the paper that printed them and find out why some football officials want a new vote on hosting rights.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Free at last, U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is beginning the long journey home after being held by the Taliban for nearly five years. He was the last U.S. soldier held in captivity in Afghanistan. U.S. special forces freed him on Saturday in exchange for Taliban detainees.

Now Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the U.S. had to act quickly after learning Bergdahl's health and safety were in danger.

He is now in Germany recovering from his ordeal.

Well, details from Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB BERGDAHL, BOWE BERGDAHL'S FATHER: I'd like to Bowe right now who's having trouble saying English, (speaking in foreign language). I'm your father, Bowe.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: An emotional moment as Bowe Bergdahl's parents stand with the President.

JANI BERGDAHL, BOWE BERGDAHL'S MOTHER: I just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported Bowe.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After nearly five years in captivity, their son, Bowe, is coming home.

SGT. BOWE BERGDAHL, U.S. ARMY: Release me, please. I'm begging you. Bring me home, please. Bring me home.

STARR: Behind the scenes, a secret choreography had quickly been worked out in just the last several days. A U.S. command center was set up at an undisclosed location.

U.S. commando secretly flew to a point near the border where the Taliban said they would be waiting to turn Bergdahl over. Back at Guantanamo Bay, officials from Qatar were on standby, waiting to take custody of the five Taliban detainees the U.S. was releasing in return for Bergdahl.

That was the guarantee the Taliban needed to let the American soldier go, after five years a prisoner. The Pentagon will not disclose if it was Navy Seals or Army Delta Force teams.

They were taking no chances. Several dozen of America's most elite forces were involved. Other troops stayed at a distance. Plankton drones flew overhead, keeping watch.

The heavily armed U.S. troops landed facing 18 Taliban and Bergdahl. A senior U.S. official says Bowe Bergdahl was able to walk. And they quickly got him on board the helicopter.

Once in the air, an extraordinary moment. Bergdahl wrote down the letters SF, with a question mark, asking if these men were U.S. Special Forces?

The men replied, yes, they were Special Forces. And they told Bergdahl, they'd been looking for him for a very long time. At that point, Bowe Bergdahl broke down.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Barbara Starr reporting for you.

Let's bring in our Nic Robertson who is near the medical center in Germany where Bowe Bergdahl is being treated.

Nic, what do we know about his condition at this point?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We know very little about his condition. We know that he was able to walk to the helicopter when those special forces troop came to rescue him inside Afghanistan. We know that he transferred very quickly to the Bagram military air base in Afghanistan, again an indication that he wasn't suffering any serious physical ailments there.

The hospital that he's being treated at now has a huge track record through the Afghan and Iraq wars of treating veterans, 70,000 people have been through the doors there.

But doctors there are not saying what physical or mental condition he's in, merely that he may be there for some time. They won't say for how long he will be here, it's sufficient to say that they will do his -- what they call a reintegration at a process and a pace the is comfortable with.

They also say -- you know, they're very sensitive to everything that he has been through, Becky.

ANDERSON: OK. And we were just there showing a number of pictures as well, not just of Bowe, but of those Guantanamo detainees who have been released, Taliban prisoners.

Nic, Chuck Hagel, the defense secretary, says the U.S., and I quote, had to act quickly. Five years, though, seems an awfully long time to me. When he said they had act quickly, what did he mean by that?

ROBERTSON: That there was a window of opportunity to make this deal work. The Taliban have wanted these five men, one a former interior minister, one a former deputy defense minister, one a former deputy chief of intelligence, another one had been a governor of two different provinces under the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Taliban had been demanding these people to be release. There have been efforts to set up a deal to negotiate this to make it happen. In the past it hadn't worked.

But when he said it had to happen quickly, that the pieces were in place, that there seems a willingness and intent on both sides, but because so much had gone wrong in the past, therefore, there was clearly the view that if they left it too long, that it too many -- too much time was -- too much time passed, then the deal could fall through again.

And I think that is the essence, although we don't know the details precisely what he meant, but I think that is the essence of what he was getting at there, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yeah, detailed sketch on this at present. Nic Robertson bringing you bang up to date on what is going on there with the prison. The last U.S. soldier held captive in Afghanistan by the Taliban, released and in Germany today. Pictures we were showing you there of five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay who we believe now are in Qatar on a prisoner exchange.

Well, Syria is getting ready to hold a presidential election. Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday. On the current ballot, current president Bashar al-Assad.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen has a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Perhaps the most controversial election poster in the world. Bashar al-Assad on a burnt out building in the battle scarred town of Homs. But like this country, the opinions about the upcoming presidential election are deeply divided.

The first question, can a country engulfted in a civil war even hold an election? In the government controlled part of Damascus, the answers are clear.

"I think at least 70 percent of the people will be able to vote," this woman says. "And even in the battle zones, most of the civilians have fled anyway."

"I think in every town in Syria, the army holds some territory," this man says. "So it will be possible for everybody to go to those areas and to vote."

The opposition and most western countries disagree. They say it's impossible to hold a vote when rebels are holding much of the north and east of the country. And, they say the election won't be free or fair, that it will be rigged and Assad declared the winner anyhow.

This Assad campaign poster says the choice is not yours, the people have chosen you. And it's part of the campaign to portray the president as a reluctant leader, only willing to stay in office, because Syria needs him.

There are two other candidates, lawmaker Mahar Hagar (ph) and former cabinet minister Hassan al-Nouri, both have been called pawns. But while Hagar (ph) has kept a low profile, Nouri says he is for real.

HASSAN AL-NOURI, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you ask me about the possibility of winning, I think the candidate -- the current president is very strong. He's popular in this country. I cannot ignore this. I am working on his weaknesses. I am trying to attack his weaknesses.

PLEITGEN: What do you think are things that you can do better than President Bashar al Assad?

NOURI: I think in the economical form and administrative form, I am probably social (inaudible). I would be more aggressive and more effective than him.

Politically, I think he's doing what he has to do, especially concerning the crisis.

PLEITGEN: And while Nouri says his rating are climbing, talking to people on the streets of Damascus, it's clear Assad's opponents face an uphill battle.

"We don't know anything about these people," this man says. "This is the first time we've heard of them, so we don't really have any sort of opinion of them. I don't think they have a chance at all.

"All together, for Bashar al-Assad," these two soldiers chant.

The Syrian government has dismissed any criticism of the electoral process, but it seems only a major surprise on election day could silence the critics.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Damascus.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: We are getting new details about the suspect arrested in connection with the deadly Jewish museum shooting in Brussels last week. Now this man was taken into custody in Marseille in France on Friday. Authorities say he has ties to Islamic radicals in Syria and that he made a video in which he admitted carrying out the attack and showed his weapons.

Here's more from the Paris prosecutor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANCOIS MOLINS, CHIEF PROSECUTOR OF PARIS (through translator): The investigators discovered a (inaudible) to find a caliber special weapon, 57 cartridges as well as 261 caliber two cartridges armed with firearms a camera, a nights noir (ph) helmet a gas mask all objects with -- corresponded with the clothing that the criminal in Brussels had been wearing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Atika Shubert is on the story for us. She joining us from Brussels now.

Atika, who is this man? And what was he doing in Marsailles?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't actually know exactly what he was doing in Marsailles. We know he is a 29 year old. His name is Mehdi Nemmouche. And he's apparently a French national.

Now how exactly he ended up in -- what police believe to be in Brussels and then on his way to Marsailles is still trying to figure out.

But prosecutors believe he is the main suspect. You heard there the list of gear and weapons that he had on him matching the description of the man who carried out the attack at the Jewish museum in Brussels.

Now, what's more interesting here is his background. He seems to have been something of a petty criminal in and out of jail for a number of years for armed robbery, also of auto theft. But most interestingly a year in Syria, it's believed.

So this is something that investigators are now looking at. What was he doing in Syria? Did he come back with any specific instructions, or is it something that he came up with on his own?

These are the kinds of things that they'll be looking at.

But at this point, we don't have that many details. And we don't know even exactly what he has been charged with.

So, we're still looking at a lot of details to be filled in, but the fact that they do appear to have that main suspect now is very interesting and his background is very key.

ANDERSON: Yeah, and his background, this association with Syria. What more do we know? And are we convinced at this stage that he worked alone on the attack on the Jewish museum?

SHUBERT: We really don't know. We know that he was in Syria for about a year and that he's believed to have been with the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, ISIS. Of course this is the al Qaeda affiliated group. But we don't know what he was doing with the group. We don't even know the exact amount of time he was there.

His background is most similar to the similar to the case of Mohammed Morrah (ph) who was the Frenchman who carried out the Toulouse attack several years ago that targeted specifically a Jewish school.

Now we don't know if these two knew each other, if they had links in common. These are the kinds of things that investigators are looking for.

But that will pinpoint whether or not this was an attack that he might have come up with on his own, or if this was something as part of a wider organized network. And that, of course, is what investigators are more -- most fearful for, because hundreds of young men have gone to Syria over the last few years during the conflict to fight, and there have been fears that they could come back and carry out this kind of violence.

ANDERSON: Atika Shubert on the story for you.

And still to come tonight, we're going to have more on the release of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, including a report from his hometown in Boise, Idaho which is preparing for what will be a big homecoming. That, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: This is CNN and Connect the World with me Becky Anderson at 15 minutes past 7:00 here in the UAE.

Now the U.S. soldier held captive for nearly five years in Afghanistan is now in Germany undergoing a medical evaluation.

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was released on Saturday in exchange for five Taliban detainees held in the Guantanamo detention facility in Cuba.

Well, the detainees have been placed in the custody of Qatar after the government helped broker the prisoner swap.

Well, later today, Bergdahl's parents are scheduled to speak with the media fresh on the heels of their meeting with President Obama yesterday.

CNN's Ed Lavandera joins us on the phone from Bergdahl's home state of Idaho where the soldier's family and friends are rejoicing at the news of his release.

What do you -- what are you hearing from the community and the family there?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's just overwhelming relief for many of the people in his family and friends that have been following this saga and ordeal for almost five years. Bowe Bergdahl's parents are in the process of flying from Washington, D.C. back to their home state of Boise, Idaho. And they're expected to land here in the city of Boise and speak here -- and speak with reporters. It's not clear whether or not Bob Bergdahl and his wife will take question. But Mr. Bergdahl wanted to make a statement, and obviously there's been a great deal of attention here in his home state. So he's in the process of flying back.

However, the Bergdahls, as far as we understand you know have not even had a chance to speak with their son yet. They are waiting, you know, to figure out the logistics on how this reunification will take place, and perhaps Mr. Bergdahl will be able shed some light on how that will happen in the days ahead.

ANDERSON: Certainly, the people in his home state felt it was time that Bergdahl got released. They were worried, of course, about the end of the year and U.S. troops withdrawing. This, though, has been a very long process. Even though Chuck Hagel suggested that the U.S. had to work quickly on this release, I mean his parents had been working in the background here for, what, five years.

LAVANDERA: Yeah, this really is one of the fascinating parts of this story. This is a family whose son has been captured for nearly five years. They -- going into all of this, before anyone in the world knew who Bowe Bergdahl was, the Bergdahls are a fiercely private family. They live in a very remote area of Idaho and kept to themselves. And here they are kind of thrown into the middle of this international ordeal.

But the Bergdahls strategically made very few public comments. I think only gave a handful of on the record interviews over the years. Mr. Bergdahl released a YouTube video to his sons captors. They have, you know, been very quiet publicly. But as many people have said, behind the scenes there has been a great deal of work. And Bob Bergdahl, Bowe's father, I know from having spoken with him several times over the years he worked tirelessly, didn't just sit around waiting for diplomats and security officials to do their work, he tried as well to try to win his sons release as well.

This is a man who just couldn't sit around and wait for all that work to happen.

So, you know, there should be some amazing stories to be told one day about how all this unfolded behind the scenes. But there was a great deal of desperation that, as you eluded to, the winding down of US. troop presence in Afghanistan. These have been talks that have been going on with the Taliban and intermediaries for several years now. They gone -- you know, rollercoaster ride of watching those talks, you know, looked fruitful and then all of a sudden fall apart has really taken -- has taken its toll on this family and worried them tremendously as they approach the end of this year.

ANDERSON: Ed Lavandera there in the state of Idaho where Bowe Bergdahl will return at some point. We know at this stage he is at the medical center in Germany where Nic Robertson has been reporting and that he will be for some time as he's rehabilitated there before returning to the U.S.

Ed, thank you for that.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson.

Coming up, two gang rapes and murders spark outrage in India. Now some people say India's class system played a role in what are these horrific crimes.

And this man was Qatar's top football official when the tiny Gulf nation won the right to host one of the sports -- one of sports biggest events. He is now accused of paying millions in bribes to get the World Cup to Qatar. We'll take a look at the evidence. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson on CNN out of Abu Dhabi.

It's an accusation that just won't go away. A British newspaper now says it has irrefutable proof that Qatar bribed its way to the 2022 World Cup.

The Sunday Times claims it has uncovered email exchanges, letters and bank statements. It says a cash of millions of documents pointing to a series of payments totaling $5 million by the man who was then the country's top football official.

But Qatar claims the man in question, Mohamed bin Hammam was never officially involved in the World Cup bid.

CNN has contacted the Qatari World Cup organizing committee. We are waiting for their response.

The former vice president of governing body FIFA has since been banned from football for life for his role in another bribery scandal, that which might have led to him being the FIFA president at one stage.

World soccer economist and former editor Keir Radnedge joins me on the line now from London.

Keir, clearly this is just stoking the calls that the right to host the World Cup in 2022 should be put to a vote once again.

You've read this Sunday Times document, and I have to, in its printed form in the paper today.

How definitive do you believe this evidence is that the Sunday Times has to support the allegations that bin Hamman bought Qatar the World Cup?

KIER RADNEDGE, SOCCER REPORTER: Well, certainly the documentation at the Sunday Times was published is extremely substantive and as one former executive said explosive.

The problem is whether they can really stand it up as having related directly to Qatar's bid for the World Cup, or whether it was more to do with bin Hammam's bid for the FIFA presidency.

ANDERSON: Correct. Because let's just fill our viewers in here. At around the same time as this bid, or just afterwards, I think FIFA -- the Qataris won this bid in 2010. In 2011, bin Hammam, FIFA's executive from Qatar, was also running for the presidency of FIFA.

Now as far as I can tell, the Sunday Times through a data visualization exercise, or data investigation exercise, has found payments, allegedly found payments, from bin Hammam to other FIFA executives. What they don't seem to have found, as far as I can see, is substantial, or substantive information which suggests as you rightly point out that these payments were made on behalf of Qatar, i.e. that he would be lobbying for Qatar. And this is something Qatar completely deny and always have done.

RADNEDGE: Yes, that's correct. Qatar has. I mean, you have to remember at the time bin Hammam was president of the Asian Confederation.

Now three other members of the Asian confederation -- Australia, Japan and South Korea -- were also trying to win the 2022 World Cup as well as Qatar. So certainly overtly, and you know, as far as one can remember quite successfully, bin Hammam was never seen at the time as having expressed any preference for anybody and to all intents and purposes at the time had dealt even-handidly with everybody.

ANDERSON: This is a man, of course, who is banned from football for life in 2011, no longer on the scene.

Let me just read you a statement, Keir, that the supreme committee for delivery and legacy out of Qatar have just sent us. They say, "following today's newspaper articles, we vehemently deny all allegations of wrongdoing. We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar's bid. And our lawyers are looking into this matter. The right to host the tournament was won, because it was the best bid and because it is time for the Middle East to host its first FIFA World Cup."

Keir, you've heard the statement just delivered here to CNN. We'll be talking to the deputy editor of the Sunday Times imminently. Your thoughts on what Qatar have said in refuting these claims?

RADNEDGE: I think it's entirely predictable. It is in line with what they have always said before, that they have insisted that their bid and the way they conducted it was proper and within the rules. And obviously in the face of any allegations, they're going to strongly deny them.

Certainly, I think looking at the material the Sunday Times has presented, at the moment you can't see there is a specific link between the Qatar bidding committee and bin Hammam himself.

ANDERSON: All right. I'm going to leave it there, because we're take this on with the Sunday Times deputy editor Sarah Baxter a little later after the headlines.

For the time being Keir we thank you very much indeed.

A village in mourning. We're going to take you to a community struggling to cope with the rape and murder of two of its teenagers. That, and all your world news headlines and more on this -- these claims from the Sunday Times about this Qatar World Cup bid after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. The top stories for you this hour here on CNN. US army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has arrived in Germany for medical treatment. He was released in Afghanistan by the Taliban after nearly five years of captivity. The 28-year-old was handed over to US special forces on Saturday in exchange for five Guantanamo detainees who are now in the custody of Qatar.

French authorities say the man arrested in the deadly Jewish museum shooting in Brussels has ties to Islamic radicals in Syria, and they say he made a video in which he admitted carrying out the attack and showed his weapons.

The sister of the pregnant woman stoned to death in Pakistan says the victim's husband is responsible for the killing. That differs from reports at the scene, describing a mob of family members bludgeoning Farzana Parveen with bricks. Police say she was killed because she married a man against her family's wishes. Authorities say the five people arrested, including Parveen's father, will be tried in an anti- terrorism court.

And police in northern India say three brothers have confessed to raping two teenage girls, but not hanging them. Two police officers have also been arrested, and authorities are working to identify two unknown people, possibly linked to the crime as well.

Sumnima Udas spoke to relatives in the village where it happened. And we warn you, some of the images we are about to show you are graphic, but CNN has decided it is important to make clear the horror of what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From rooftops, through mud walls, people in Katra still try to come to terms with what just happened in their remote village. This horrific image, fresh in everyone's minds.

"When we saw the girls hanging, the whole village was crying," she says. The teenagers were allegedly gang-raped by three brothers, then hanged from a mango tree.

UDAS (on camera): This normally peaceful mango orchard has turned into a high-profile crime scene. You can see the huge media presence over here. And this is the mango tree where the two bodies were found hanging. One of the girls was over here on this branch, and the other over there.

UDAS (voice-over): The girls were cousins, their mothers still so shocked they can barely speak. Then, this burst of anger.

"The rapists should be hanged, just like they hanged our daughters. That's all we want, nothing else," she says.

The girls' grandmother, in a state of trance almost, repeatedly cries out, "They hanged them! They hanged my granddaughters!"

The girls had stepped away from their homes and gone to the nearby mango grove because there are no toilets at home, a common problem, particularly in rural India, that leaves women especially vulnerable.

UDAS (on camera): In this village of about 2,000 people, the majority of homes have no toilets. You can see the open drains here. And many people here now blaming this lack of the most basic of facilities for this gruesome crime.

UDAS (voice-over): Frustrated by the impoverished conditions, outraged that authorities initially failed to help them. "We went to the police station, but they told us we were disturbing their sleep and told us to get lost," he says. "We're from a lower caste. That's why they didn't help us. The police and the rapists, they're from the same upper caste," he says.

The girls belong to India's Dalit caste, regarded as untouchable. Police officials say they're investigating whether caste discrimination played a part in this case. The older girl was this father's only child. He says she wanted to become a doctor.

Caste discrimination, police apathy, shortage of toilets, violence against women, problems in some ways particular to India, all believe to be played out in Katra village. Many here are used to living in difficult circumstances, but this kind of horror is painful even for the most resilient of people.

Sumnima Udas, CNN, Katra village, northern India.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Want to return now to the claims that a former Qatari football official paid millions of dollars to secure hosting rights for the 2022 World -- FIFA World Cup. Now, "The Sunday Times" reports this man, Mohamed bin Hammam, awarded a series of bribes to other international football officials in return for their votes.

Qatar's organizing committee denies he had anything to do with the winning bid, and I'm going to read you what they've just sent us momentarily, but it isn't the first time bin Hammam has been accused of bribery. He was, in fact, banned from the game for an earlier offense, and that was back in 2011.

This is what Qatar have said to us. They said -- and we've received this response to "The Sunday Times" allegations from Qatar's organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup. It reads, "in regard to the latest allegations from 'The Sunday Times,' we say again that Mohamed bin Hammam played no official or unofficial role in Qatar's 2022 bid committee.

"As was the case with every other member of FIFA's executive committee, our bid team had to convince Mr. bin Hammam of the merits of our bid." It goes on, "Following today's newspaper articles" -- and they're talking to "The Sunday Times," here, "we vehemently deny all allegations of wrongdoing.

"We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar's bid, and our lawyers are looking into this matter. The right to host the tournament was won because it was the best bid and because it is time for the Middle East to host its first FIFA World Cup."

Well, let's talk to "The Sunday Times'" deputy editor today. Some influential voices in football calling for a re-vote, arguing that the Qatar nation hasn't just broken the rules to win the event, it has also failed to deliver on its original promises as host. Sarah Baxter joining us. Now, you -- just explain how your journalists came to the conclusion that they did, very briefly. That being that Qatar --

(CROSSTALK)

SARAH BAXTER, DEPUTY EDITOR, "SUNDAY TIMES": Well, this is a story --

ANDERSON: -- effectively bought this World Cup in 2022.

BAXTER: Well, our journalists have been looking into this for a long time, because everybody knew there was something very peculiar with Qatar winning this cup. They have no footballing tradition, it's very, very hot in summer, there is this sort of smokescreen of oh, don't worry, we'll air condition our stadiums, and then that all turned out to be very dubious, to say the least.

So, we've been looking into this for a long time, and bit by bit, we've been unraveling examples of corruption. But then finally, we hit the mother lode, because we have got millions of electronic documents which prove beyond a shadow of doubt that corruption was at play, and that that helped Qatar to win its bid. Now, the officials statement --

(CROSSTALK)

ANDERSON: OK, but can I -- sorry, Sarah, can I just stop you there for one -- yes, let me just stop you there, because you say that you've got a cache of millions of files, so far as I can tell, raising questions about bin Hammam.

But I see no association or connection between some dubious dealings on bin Hammam's side and him, as you allege, effectively lobbying for and winning the Qatar bid on Qatar's behalf. There is no connection, as far as I can see in your journalism there.

BAXTER: Bin Hammam was Qatar's most senior football official. He was not a member of the official bid, that much is true, and no wonder. The fact remains, though, that the whole process of Qatar getting its bid was corrupt. We have direct evidence of payments to officials who had a direct bearing on the vote.

Now, if Qatar is serious about defending the integrity of its bid, it should itself be calling for a re-run, because this bid is tainted beyond all shadow of a doubt.

ANDERSON: Let me read once again what they have said today. "Following today's newspaper articles, we vehemently deny all allegations of wrongdoing. We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar's bid, and our lawyers are looking into this matter.

"The right to host the tournament was won because it was the best bid and because it was time for the Middle East to host its first FIFA World Cup." They also have always, in their defense, vehemently denied that bin Hammam was lobbying on their behalf. And FIFA executives, just because they --

(CROSSTALK)

BAXTER: But we've proven -- we have actually --

ANDERSON: -- come from one country don't necessarily -- hang on -- they don't necessarily represent that country. They may just be from that country. They don't necessarily lobby on that country's behalf, and I'm just wondering whether connection comes in categorically.

BAXTER: What we have categorically proven is that bin Hammam paid bribes and operated slush funds to pay people who had an influence on the vote.

Now, he was, in effect, buying the vote for Qatar. He was arguing that -- he was paying those bribes so that Qatar could win. Therefore, Qatar has won its vote through foul means.

Now, he was not on the official bid committee. That does not mean that the vote process wasn't wholly tainted by corruption.

We have proven that, that a whole slew of officials, African officials, South Pacific officials, officials from the Caribbean, were corruptly involved in this bid through bin Hammam and a very senior Qatari figure. And therefore, the whole thing has to be re-run. There's no doubt about it.

ANDERSON: "The Sunday Times" calling for a re-run of the World Cup 2022 bid. And with that, we're going to leave it there. We thank you very much, indeed, for coming on and explaining the journalism behind what is a sensational story today.

I'm Becky Anderson, and that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEONE LAKHANI, HOST: This week on MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, Qatar is flying high with the opening of a mammoth airport. Can it compete with its neighbors for regional travelers?

And we speak to the CEO of the country's national carrier on how moving its headquarters to its new home will expand business.

The Middle East has its latest airport destination with the opening of this, Qatar's gleaming new Hamad International Airport.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAKHANI (voice-over): Well-known for its huge investments in art, football clubs, and its hosting of the 2022 soccer World Cup, the tiny island of only 2 million people are also seeing its riches being put to work locally.

LAKHANI (on camera): Doha's not the only city that's investing heavily in aviation. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are in close proximity, but is there enough trade and tourism in the region to go around?

LAKHANI (voice-over): After a decade of construction and a four-year delay, flights are finally taking off at Qatar's new airport. Named after the former emir of Qatar, Hamad International Airport will eventually occupy 29 square kilometers, roughly a third of the size of Doha City itself.

For the country's national carrier, it couldn't have come soon enough.

AKBAR AL BAKER, CEO, QATAR AIRWAYS: It gives us unlimited opportunities. Doha International Airport was very congested. It was overcrowded. We could not give the standard of service you would prefer our passengers to have on the ground.

LAKHANI: The airport will have a capacity of 50 million passengers. It'll include public spaces for art exhibitions, a VIP terminal inspired by Arabian sailboats, and an aquatic-themed mosque.

LAKHANI (on camera): This new facility cost $15 billion. It's part of Qatar's 2030 vision to diversify its economy away from oil. But will big spending be enough to make this country the aviation hub it wants to be?

LAKHANI (voice-over): Analysts say Doha, like its Gulf neighbors, understand the power of aviation. Even Jordan inaugurated the brand-new Queen Alia International Airport last year.

JOHN STRICKLAND, DIRECTOR, JLS CONSULTING: There's a recognition by government that aviation plays a wider economic role. It doesn't only support direct jobs, but it supports trade, it supports ability to develop tourism. We've seen that that's been done very effectively, for example, in Dubai. Abu Dhabi is now investing in a similar approach.

LAKHANI: Still, the competition is stiff. Just last year, Dubai opened the doors of its second airport, the mammoth Dubai World Central.

PAUL GRIFFITHS, CEO, DUBAI AIRPORTS: Ultimately, we want to create the world's largest airport, an airport capable of accommodating up to 200 million passengers.

To give you some context, the current largest airport in the world in Atlanta, Georgia, is about 89 million passengers. So you can see the sort of scale and order that we're looking at now is many, many times larger than anything that's been seen before on the planet.

LAKHANI: Those plans may still be years off, but in the first quarter of this year, Dubai's current airport became the busiest in the world, with more than 18 million passengers, overtaking 16 million at London's Heathrow.

Next-door in Abu Dhabi, construction is underway for its Midfield terminal. That's set to open in 2017 with a capacity of 30 million passengers per year.

Three Gulf airports to support the ambitions of the region's main carriers, like Abu Dhabi's Etihad, which is not only pursuing developing markets in the east, but also the established markets in the west.

JAMES HOGAN, CEO, ETIHAD: Step by step, we're opening up the US, but we also are going to balance that with more cities in Southeast Asia, in the Middle East.

LAKHANI: Etihad and the other Middle Eastern carriers are gaining more passengers than any other region, according to the International Air Transport Association. Analysts day all the Gulf hubs are well-placed to tap into the emerging markets. Just eight hours' flying time from two-thirds of the world's population.

STRICKLAND: I don't think the big hub airports in the Gulf are particularly competing with each other. They're more competing with other parts of the world. And the Gulf is positioned between growing markets in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the airlines who operate out of these hub airports have very long-range modern aircraft.

LAKHANI: And each vie for a piece of lucrative pie in the sky.

Bigger and better airports are not the only way airlines are staying ahead of the game. Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways has raised the competition bar to new heights with its new above first class flight option know as "The Residence" on the A380.

It's exclusive, it's luxurious, and very, very expensive. Prices start at $21,000. The three-room suites come with an onboard chef, a private butler, and a VIP travel concierge service.

Most of these large airlines have the same fleet of airplanes, so it really is what's inside them that sets them apart.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAKHANI: Up next, we speak to the driving force behind Doha's multibillion-dollar airport and hear his vision for the country's national airline.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LAKHANI: Akbar al Baker has waited many years and suffered many setbacks before the opening of Doha's new airport. Now that day has come, John Defterios sat down with the CEO of Qatar Airways to ask him about his company's move to its brand-new home.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AL BAKER: New Doha International Airport will give us a huge boost to expand, not only our network, but also bring larger-capacity airplanes. Because we want to be in the next five years exceeding 30 million passengers Qatar Airways alone.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: You're flying the flag for your A380 service to London. Why are you so excited? You're a businessman at heart, but you seem to be raising the profile of this one in particular. Why?

AL BAKER: London is a very important destination for Qatar. We have very huge investments in the United Kingdom. You also know that we own 20 percent of Heathrow Airport company. It is an extremely important destination, and this is why we should take our flagship airplane first to London.

DEFTERIOS: It's really a tilt to the east for growth, and a tilt to the south for growth into Africa. This is the blueprint, even though you still have destinations in America, but the real growth is east and south.

AL BAKER: Exactly. Asia is extremely important for any airline, because it has nearly two thirds of the world's population based in that region.

In addition to this, Africa is very un -- under-served continent. It is important that we show our presence there. And of course, don't forget South and North America.

DEFETERIOS: You're involved in a pilot program right now with Interpol to exchange databases as a result of the Malaysia crash that we saw here. Is it going to fundamentally change the sharing of security information, passport information for good?

AL BAKER: We have been talking about this to Interpol far ahead of what happened in Malaysia. We have been talking also to authorities in Germany and the UK, where we have been exchanging information on forge research, forged passports.

But what this whole thing will do now between us and Interpol, that it will do three benefits to both of us. First, it will stop people using Doha International Airport as a transit point for criminals. It will give us heads up about people using forged documents to travel on QR.

And at the same time, it will warn Interpol of the movement of criminals once we detect such forged documents being used by our passengers.

DEFTERIOS: I want to as you a political question here about GCC relations. You actually purchase airplanes, along with Emirates, at Fly Dubai, the last Dubai air show. But there's tensions within the Qatari position. Does it really effect business and GCC relations. They're trying to patch this up, but what's the reality?

AL BAKER: I have recently, after the tensions that you are mentioning about, started to operate to a second airport in Dubai itself. I don't think that political tensions that always happen, even in the United States with its allies, affects business.

We are an airline. We are not a political entity, so we don't get affected by any of the frictions that may exist. But I really don't think there is any friction between us.

DEFTERIOS: And with the spotlight on Doha for the World Cup, we hear about labor reforms that are taking place, and a system that's widely used in the Gulf states, the Kafala System, to sponsor an agent fee, paid back at home from migrant workers. Are we going to finally see a new standard that people can accept internationally and not just one that's been accepted regionally?

AL BAKER: The agency fees are not paid by me or by the people who are employing. The agency fees are being paid by the worker just to find a job. But this has not been collected by anybody in my country. It is connected as bribe in their home country for the people to find for them a job in the GCC.

DEFTERIOS: In the labor field, and with such a big global event, can this be the push to get Qatar to change its laws and treatment of workers, and the same around the region?

AL BAKER: Qatar has laws to protect both sides, the laborer and the employer. I think the people who are raising all these issues against my country are people who don't want 2022 to happen in my country, people who are anti such a game taking place in a Gulf country, and people who are in general enemies of our region.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAKHANI: CEO of Qatar Airways speaking to our John Defterios there. You can see more on him and all our other stories on our website, cnn.com/mme. You can also join us on Facebook.

That's it for this edition of CNN MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, coming to you this week from Hamad International Airport in Qatar. I'm Leone Lakhani, thanks for watching.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END