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CONNECT THE WORLD
ISIS Forces British Journalist To Create Propaganda; Tourism Driving Real Estate In Romania; Captured ISIS Militants Tell Chilling Tales of Brutality; Australia Suspends Visa Applications From West Africa; Iraqi Peshmerga Headed to Kobani; Denmark Works to Rehabilitate Jihadists; Russia Will Recognize Ukraine Election Results; Putin's Popularity Soars; Parting Shots: Garden Sanctuaries in Conflict Zones
Aired October 28, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): With ISIS, your fate would be death. There are different kinds of death. They would torture you for
sure. They might decapitate or cut off your hands. They will not simply shoot a bullet in your head.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: You're going to hear firsthand from what we are told are ISIS fighters, prisoners captured by Kurds brought before our
cameras. It's just one facet of the propaganda battle being waged away from a military front stretching though part of the Middle East. Contrast
that with what the militants want us to watch.
For the first time, they're using a hostage as a sort of reporter in a slickly produced video.
Also this hour, why the girls in this terrorist made video are still a long way from home.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: Right. A very good evening from the UAE. It is just after 7:00 in the evening here. And Iraqi-Kurd official says Peshmerga forces
are leaving Erbil in Iraq and heading towards the besieged city of Kobani in northern Syria.
Now this video came into CNN just in the past hour via Iraqi-Kurdish TV. You're looking at what's believed to be a convoy connected to those
Now here's how Turkey's Anadolu News Agency describes what's happening. One convoy carrying, and I quote, heavy weapons is already on
the move from Irbil to Dohuk, they say, and will continue by land into Turkey. A second convoy then will fly by private plane from Erbil
International Airport to Turkey some time in the evening.
Well, they are expected to join Syrian Kurds in the ongoing battle against ISIS militants.
Meanwhile, CNN's Ivan Watson managed to speak with a number of ISIS fighters captured and being held by the Kurds. Have a look at this.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're in a prison run by Kurdish militants here in northern Syria. An we're being introduced to
prisoners that the Kurds tell us were members of ISIS.
The prisoners are brought in blindfolded. And we quickly begin to wonder whether they're being forced to speak to us.
During our visit here, the guards, who ask not to be shown, do not allow us to see the cells where the prisoners are being held. This man
trembles with fear as a prison guard removes his blindfold.
I introduce myself as an American journalist and he begins to relax a little.
He tells me, he's a Syrian named Suleiman. He confesses to being part of an ISIS cell that planted and detonated a remote control car bomb
outside a Kurdish base and says he received around $3,600 U.S. dollars for completing the job.
What is the idea that ISIS is fighting for?
SULEIMAN, CAPTURED ISIS MILITANT (through translator): They said they were fighting for Islam and justice. They were lying to us. They took
advantage of our minds and our poverty.
WATSON: One of the prisoners the guards bring out is barely a man.
Your name is Kareem. How old are you?
KAREEM, CAPTURED ISIS MILITANT (through translator): I'm 19-years- old.
WATSON: But Karim tells me he fought alongside ISIS all across Syria for more than a year.
WATSON: Where were you injured?
And he has the battle scars to prove it.
KAREEM (through translator): They gave us drugs, hallucinogenic pills that would make you go to battle not caring if you live or die.
WATSON: Before he's captured by the Kurds, Kareem claims he saw ISIS behead many of its prisoners.
Why does ISIS cut people's heads off?
KAREEM (through translator): Whenever ISIS goes into an area, the eyes of ISIS, the people there who don't adhere to their Islamic law are
apostates. Everything has to follow ISIS's way, even women who don't cover their faces. Women would also get their heads chopped off.
WATSON: The final prisoners is Jaber, a former school teacher and father of two who also confesses to a car bombing.
What would have happened to me if when you were with ISIS, if you guys had found me, an American journalist?
JABER, CAPTURED ISIS MILITANT (through translator): With ISIS, your fate would be death. There are different kinds of death. They would
torture you for sure. They might decapitate you, or cut off your hands. They will not simply shoot a bullet in your head.
WATSON: It's impossible for CNN to confirm whether anything the prisoners tell us was true, or whether these men were coached by their
captors. The Kurdish prison guards say if set free, every one of these men would likely go back and rejoin ISIS.
ANDERSON: Well, Ivan Watson joins us now from the Kurdish controlled city of Erbil in northern Iraq.
These prisoners, Ivan, clearly vulnerable. And that throws up a series of questions not least about the conventions that prisoners of war
and humanitarian law, you could also argue that these interviews provide propaganda to one side of this conflict.
Needless to say, we've seen a plethora of propaganda to date from the other side, and that being ISIS.
Your thoughts, though, on that?
WATSON: Well, there's not just a vicious war being fought between ISIS and these Kurdish militants who are kind of the ideological opposite
of them. They're rooted in a secular Marxist frame of political thought. They call for gender equality. And they're highly disciplined.
But not only is there a vicious conflict, but there is also a very heated propaganda war. So clearly the Kurdish faction that controls part
of northern Syria sees this as a way of demystifying ISIS, of spreading stories of some of the alleged atrocities that ISIS commits from some men
who confessed to me that they had witnessed and participated in some of these atrocities.
One man claiming that a car bomb he planted actually killed his own nephew.
We can't confirm any of that. But it is perhaps one of the first occasions that we've had to come face-to-face with men who we are told come
from that ISIS jihadi militant group -- Becky.
ANDERSON: So what did you learn? You spent some time there. The report is really enlightening. What more did you learn about the
conditions that they're being held in and their kind of mindset?
WATSON: We were strictly controlled. The Kurdish prison guard does not show us the conditions that these men were held in. The men all kind
of repeated statement, saying that they were sorry for their mistakes. They begged forgiveness from the YPG Kurdish militants and at times they
made furtive glances at their guards, almost to make sure they were saying the right thing.
They did not show any signs whatsoever of any kind of obvious abuse. Two of the men came from within a Kurdish community. They appeared to be
from some kind of cell of ISIS within there.
The most striking stories came from that 19-year-old young man who clearly had fought with ISIS all across Syria. He'd met many foreign
fighters, he said, including a fighter from China. He said he had a difficult time communicating with them.
He said he was enticed to join ISIS with $2,000 U.S. dollars. And he said that ISIS was also offering wives to recruits to join in the movement.
That story, whether or not the young man said that story is true, it is a version that we are hearing here in Iraqi Kurdistan where thousands of
Kurdish Yazidi women have been kidnapped and we're hearing are being distributed almost as slaves to supporters of this ISIS movement -- Becky.
ANDERSON: And it's a story that we are hearing from sources here as well as we are hearing this story of terror financing and the sort of money
that's being offered to jihadists, as it were, jihadist financing to get involved in the battle of war. And we will continue this coverage, of
Ivan, thank you for the time being.
More on ISIS coming up. A British hostage held by the group is used in another propaganda video. This time, John Cantlie is said to be inside
Now, we are also seeing video and getting reports of Iraqi Peshmerga on the move to help Syrian Kurds in Kobani. We're going to have a live
report from Turkey
Well, now this could change the dynamic on the battlefield.
And in the second part of our series on radical Muslims in the west, why does Denmark have one of the highest numbers of jihadist fighters per
capita among European nations? All that coming up on Connect the World with me Becky Anderson this hour.
I want to move on for you to talks to secure the release of more than 200 Nigerian school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, which are continuing
according to the Nigerian government. Now that's in spite of a surge in violence over the last few days that we've been reporting here this hour on
CNN that's been blamed on the insurgent group.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOYIN OKUPE, SPECIAL ASSISTANT OF NIGERIAN PRESIDENT: The (inaudible) Nigerian and the Nigerian military have confirmed and we are -- I'm
restating that we are having talks with Boko Haram. The talks are going on.
Yes, there are infringements of the ceasefire. And even the Boko Haram people have come out and said to say that this are done by
dissidents, this are done by something that (inaudible) within those societies. And it is not unusual.
You know we are talking of -- you know, we are talking of an insurgency sect. You know, they have different warlords
So they may not all agree together at the same time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, Isha Sesay is in the Nigerian capital. Isha, you're in Abuja following this story for you -- for us. What have you learned at
ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Becky.
Well, we continue to wait and watch to see if these 200 plus girls held by Boko Haram since April will indeed be released. You heard from
Doyin Okupe there. He's a senior special adviser to the President Goodluck Jonathan saying that the talks are on course. But he's given no timeline,
neither has other government officials in recent days, no timeline for the release of these girls. Again, many people waiting to see whether this
will actually happen.
But what we are hearing, Becky, is from Human Rights Watch, which is giving some insight into life for women and girls once they are abducted by
Boko Haram, the group releasing a 60 plus page report yesterday in which they detail tales of rape, forced marriage, forced labor and forced
participation and murders.
It is horrifying reading.
I want you to listen to some of the victims themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): One of them raped me. I kept pleading for him to leave me alone, because I had my baby, but he
refused to listen, and told me to put my baby down. So I put her down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I was forced to go with them on operations. I usually carried their bullets. They would make me
lie down on the ground during operations, but I just held the bullets. When they wanted me to kill the first man, my body was shaking and I fell
down on the ground. They force me to get up and watch as they killed the second person. At that point, I was thinking I should grab a gun from the
insurgents and kill myself since they had taught us how to shoot.
When I thought that I'd be forced into marriage, I pretended to have stomach pains. They were concerned that I might be HIV positive so they
told me to go get tested at a hospital. That's how I escaped from the camp.
SESAY: Becky, unimaginable horrors, so much trauma, one of the big things to jump out at readers of this report is Human Rights Watch says the
Nigerian government is not giving the victim -- those who managed to escape from Boko Haram, they don't receive the necessary help and support they
need to reintegrate into their community, to rehabilitate from all that they have endured. In fact, what they are greeted with is stigma and
shame. And that is one of the key recommendations for the -- from Human Rights Watch that the Nigerian government step up and do much, much more
for these victims -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Absolutely. All right, Isha, thank you for that.
Isha Sesay is in Abuja for you.
Well, Australia is under fire today for implementing strict new measures to combat the Ebola virus. The government has imposed a visa ban
on travelers from the West African countries affected by the outbreak. Andrew Stevens, my colleague, reports.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I call the honorable the prime minister.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A dramatic step by the Australian government immediately closing its borders to anybody
wanting a visa to travel to the country from key Ebola affected areas.
SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION & BORDER PROTECTION: These measures, madam speaker, temporarily suspending our
immigration program, including our humanitarian program, from EBV affected countries. And this means we are not processing any application from these
STEVENS: A dramatic step by the Australian government, immediately closing its borders to anybody wanting a visa to travel to the country from
key Ebola affected areas.
Even permanent visa holders will have to spend 21 days in quarantine before they're allowed in.
The new rules come after 11 people who'd traveled from West Africa were put in isolation in Australia, none so far has tested positive for
The decision sparked sharp criticism. The Australian Green Party describing it as shameful and cruel. Banning refugees from fleeing West
Africa, says Green's immigration spokeswomen Sarah Hanson Young (ph) is like shuttering up the window while a house burns down.
MORRISON: The government is taking very serious steps.
STEVENS: Prime Minister Tony Abbott says his priority is to protect Australians at home, but his policy on Ebola is already drawing fire.
BILL SHORTEN, AUSTRALIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: The president of the Australian Medical Association has described the government's response to
the Ebola crisis as a shambles.
STEVENS: Mr. Abbott says the government is taking very serious steps to deal with the virus, but the Australian Medical Association says both it
and the country's chief medical officer are, quote, in the dark about what plans the government has.
The Abbott government was asked a month ago by key allies, the U.S. and the UK, to send medical experts to West Africa. The U.S. is sending
about 4,000 military personnel, while Britain sending about 750.
But Australia is not sending anyone yet. The government says it's still looking at evacuation plans for workers who may contract the disease.
It has provided nearly $15 million to the UN, but Mr. Abbott sees his front line in this fight squarely at home.
Andrew Stevens, CNN, Hong Kong.
ANDERSON: You're watching Connect the World with me Becky Anderson.
Still to come this hour, female fighters on the front line in the battle with ISIS. More women are becoming Peshmerga, risking their lives
to defend their people.
We'll show you how the latest video from ISIS seems to take its cue from western media and (inaudible) coverage of the war using hostage John
Cantlie as its reporter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN CANTLIE, ISIS HOSTAGE: Hello, I'm John Cantlie. And today we're in the city of Kobani on the Syrian-Turkish border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: With the lenses of the world's media focused on Kobani, ISIS gets the opportunity to get into the spotlight and control the
narrative, as it were. And the militants know just how to get our attention putting British hostage on John Cantlie front and center in their
latest propaganda video. ISIS using Cantlie to send the message that it controls this strategic border town and that filming there with a western
captive is proof that it is in charge.
Well, that certainly the narrative that they would want disseminated.
CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen says clearly Cantlie is under duress. We can't say for sure when the video was shot, although the
hostage does refer to recent U.S. air drops.
Well, chief U.S. security correspondent Jim Sciutto joins me live from Washington. And while I emphasize we don't know when this was shot, what's
indisputable, Jim, is the fact that the ISIS propaganda machine has yet again got the world talking.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question, Becky.
You know, while this video looks so calm, in many ways it's ISIS propaganda at its most frightening because as you watch John Cantlie there,
you can only assume here is a man who is fighting for his life doing anything he can to stay alive, including acting, in effect, as spokesman
And it comes during a week when the ISIS propaganda machine is at full steam. They were releasing photos in the last 24 hours of them firing
advanced shoulder fired missiles at Iraqi helicopters, clearly a threat not only to Iraq, but U.S. aircraft and coalition aircraft in the area.
Also thoughts that ISIS propaganda may have played a role in radicalizing the Ottawa shooter or the man who attacked New York police
officers with a hatchet last week, all showing ISIS's tremendous power beyond the battlefield.
SCIUTTO: British hostage John Cantlie is seen in the heart of the hotly contested town of Kobani within sight, he claims, of Turkey.
CANTLIE: Hello, I'm John Cantlie. And today, we're in the city of Kobani on the Syria-Turkish border. That is, in fact, Turkey right behind
SCIUTTO: Almost certainly under duress, he refutes western accounts of the battle there, saying Kobani remains mostly under the control of
ISIS, not Kurdish rebels.
CANTLIE: There are no YPG, PKK, or Peshmerga in sight, just a large number of Islamic State mujahedeen. And they are definitely not on the
SCIUTTO: U.S. officials dismiss the video as just another product of ISIS's aggressive propaganda machine.
And elsewhere in Iraq and Syria, ISIS appears to have a dangerous new weapon.
Here, an ISIS militant is shown firing at an Iraqi helicopter with a shoulder fired missile, identified by experts at Janes Defense as a Chinese
The next frame shows what ISIS claims was the result, the twisted wreckage of the downed chopper.
With U.S. aircraft, including Apache helicopters and AC-130 gunships now in action over Iraq, so-called man pads or manned portable air defense
systems are a grave and growing concern.
JEN PSAKI, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: There's clearly significant potential threat to aviation operating in Iraqi and Syrian
airspace due to ongoing fighting, but -- and of particular concern is our advanced conventional weapons like man pads.
SCIUTTO: U.S. officials have not confirmed that ISIS has obtained the weapons, but there are fears they captured them from retreating Iraqi
forces or bought them from other Syrian rebel groups.
Man pads like the FN-6 can strike aircraft flying at altitudes up to 12,500 feet, making both Apaches and AC-130s vulnerable, though not higher
flying combat aircraft such as FA18s or B1Bs, or commercial aircraft at cruising altitude.
Man pads are a threat, however, to civilian or military aircraft on takeoff and landing, a threat that has grown as ISIS forces have moved
within several miles of Baghdad International Airport.
Former U.S. commander General Mark Hertling says ISIS is still not close enough to pose the most severe threat.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: So you've got to be within a couple of miles to take a good shot. And so far they haven't
encroached that closely to the western side of the airport.
SCIUTTO: Now in combat, there are steps that U.S. and coalition pilots can take to reduce the risk, including changing their routes
constantly so that ISIS fighters cannot set up firing positions with these shoulder-fired missiles, but I can tell you, Becky, that this is something
that U.S. and coalition commanders are very concerned about.
ANDERSON: Yeah, absolutely. All right, Jim, thank you for that. Always a pleasure.
Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. When we come back, women fighting on the front lines against
this militant group.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to work harder about some things twice or more than twice as a man to just shows that we women are capable to be
counted as the Peshmerga.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: One of the first female Peshmergas tells us her story.
First, though, taking a bite out of the European property market away from the (inaudible). Well, real estate in Romania gets a boost from the
legend of Dracula. I'm going to explain what's going on there up next.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Romania is emerging as an investment gem. The country has a steadily growing economy on a
continent where its neighbors are under pressure. With an interesting mix of property stock, its history from Medieval times to Soviet era, is
evident in the architecture. Prices comparably low to other European Union member state is attracting foreign investment.
Horanu Florescu (ph) a prime property adviser says in the first half of 2014, there were $600 million worth of property transactions, $100
million more than last year.
HORANU FLORESCU (ph), PRIME PROPERTY ADVISERS: In 2008, the total takeup in this market (inaudible) is 230,000 square meters. Last year, we
had 300,000. And this year is growing.
Also, this is happening to the other major cities in Romania like Clush (ph), like Yimshala (ph), like Yash which are becoming IT hubs.
DEFTERIOS: But more can be done to unlock the country's potential. Further towards the Carpathian Mountain, tourists are drawn to the most
famous property in Transylvania.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentleman welcome to Dracula Castle.
DEFTERIOS: Once a fortress, the site of many bloody battles, Bran Castle is now a museum where tour guide Matei Simian entertains fans of
Bram Stoker's Gothic novel and the Hollywood vampire movies.
MATEI SIMION, TOUR GUIDE: Dracula is a character that will never die. This, the other books, this books like Harry Potter, Twilight, are like
meteorites. People will forget them.
DEFTERIOS: This year alone a half million people visited Romania's number one tourism destination.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am Dracula...
DEFTERIOS: And there are hopes to increase those numbers.
ALEXANDRU PRISCU, MARKETING MANAGER, BRAM CASTLE: Without the help of central and local authorities, we can't go farther, because of the
DEFTERIOS: The European Union has pledged part of a $32 billion fund to improve Romania's roads, rail and airport lanes. It's hoped the Brasaf
(ph) airport development, once completed, would significantly impact the region and the town of Bran is ready.
SIMION: When the first bus arrived from England in the 70s over here was a big surprise for the local people -- farmers, you know, working the
field, cows cutting the hay, they didn't even care about the castle. And suddenly they saw thousands of tourists coming every day. It's funny
because when they first came and asked the local people is this Dracula Castle they were like who is Dracula. But when they saw a lot of money
coming with the tourists, they said, yes, yes, this is Dracula Castle, of course.
Very intelligent one.
I said I remember my grandma had two marks over here.
DEFTERIOS: John Defterios, CNN.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: This is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. You're watching CNN. The top stories for you this hour.
The Australian government has imposed a ban on travelers from the worst-hit Ebola countries. It stopped processing visa applications for
people from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. And in the US, the Center for Disease Control has issued new guidelines for monitoring people at high
risk of the virus. Apologies, I think we may be showing slightly different pictures for you. Anyway, let me move on.
Reports that Russia's foreign minister says his country will recognize election results in Ukraine. On Sunday, voters cast their ballots on
parliamentary polls. Sergey Lavrov says the elections did not take place in what he calls "the whole territory of Ukraine."
Well, this is the funeral procession for Canada's Corporal Nathan Cirillo. He was gunned down last week as he stood guard at the National
War Memorial in Ottawa. The gunman went on to attack Parliament, where he was shot and killed. He will be laid to rest in his hometown of Hamilton.
Iraq's Kurdish Peshmerga forces are on their way from Erbil to Kobani in Syria. They're expected to help Syrian Kurds in the battle against ISIS
militants. You are looking at what is believed to be the Kurdish convoy. Turkey's Anadolu news agency reports that one is carrying, and I quote,
"heavy weapons." The second convoy is to fly from Erbil International Airport to Turkey.
Nick Paton Walsh standing by in Turkey on the border. Just how significant is the news that these fighters, Nick, are on the move through
Turkey -- Iraq and Turkey, on the way to Syria?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been weeks of waiting, Becky, for this to actually come through. The
Turkish government putting out mixed messages. The Peshmerga in northern Iraq, Iraqi Kurds, putting out their statements, too. But it did appear
today finally that they were going to be en route.
And we've seen on Kurdish media enormous convoy, 100-plus vehicles, leaving Erbil. If you do the maths of the route they have to take to
Kobani, the earliest they could potentially get to that volatile border area is at early dawn, potentially, tomorrow morning.
And a lengthy route, and certainly a volatile crossing to get in. Where we are in Gaziantep, there's been a lot of anticipation amongst
Turkish officials to quite when they would be able to make that crossing.
It will be complicated. ISIS have had adequate amounts of time to prepare for these Peshmerga coming in. We believe they may try and use the
official crossing points that the Turkish military has actually had in the center. We've seen some images shown to us from inside Kobani of the Kurds
fighting to clear the space behind that official crossing point.
So, potentially a very dangerous moment when they decided to move into Kobani, but that has been followed -- sorry, preceded -- by a large amount
of diplomatic wrangling. For a while, they -- Peshmerga were debating technical details, then their mission changed to being advisory and supply
of heavy weapons. Now, we're talking about them actually going in to fight, now, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes, Nick. And you rightly point out, this has been well- flagged as a mission, as it were, and ISIS will be watching, possibly this broadcast it will be watching others and knowing that they are on the move.
So, is there any detail as to what happens next once they get there?
We've seen just through the video, the propaganda video released by ISIS on John Cantley, for example. We're into this kind of starling type
situation where you've got this sort of street-on-street, fighter-on- fighter battles going on at the moment. This is sort of urban warfare stuff, isn't it?
WALSH: Well, certainly. That's what John Cantley refers to as being the forte of ISIS in that slickly-produced, I have to say, video they put
out yesterday. The issue really is how important is this to ISIS? And the fact that they put those resources into the Cantley video yesterday
suggests that it's certainly important in the court of public opinion. We know it's very important to the Kurds.
We know, in fact, that the outcome is important to Turkey as well, because it's clear by allowing the Peshmerga in, they want to dilute with
the presence of Iraq Kurds what would have been a purely Syrian Kurd victory if they held onto Kobani. Remember, Turkey considers those Syrian
Kurds to be allied to terrorists.
And we know it's important to the coalition, too, because they have been piling that air power in. They're very aware of the psychological
impact of those continued explosions taking out ISIS. Is this going to be the crucible in which they try and degrade, as they would say, a lot of
ISIS's militant firepower? Possibly. The fighting certainly not finished yet.
But that large amount of Peshmerga, if and when they do pour in, that will make a big difference in the battlefield. Becky?
ANDERSON: Nick Paton Walsh there on the story for you. Thanks, Nick.
As the battle for Kobani intensifies, more and more women joining the ranks of the Peshmerga in a bid to defeat ISIS. Former Peshmerga Diana
Nammi was one of the first women to fight on the front lines, and she told us what life was like on the battlefield.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Diana Nammi joined the Peshmerga as a teenager after she narrowly escaped arrest for her political activism in Iran. She
fought alongside many Kurdish women, who paved the way for the next generation of female Peshmergas.
DIANA NAMMI, FOUNDER, IRANIAN AND KURDISH WOMEN'S RIGHTS ORGANIZATION: I was Peshmerga for 12 years, and that 12 years, most of our time were in
war. Being a Peshmerga showed everyone that we don't need to be asleep at home, working at home, just waiting, what we need to be ordered and doing
But a woman can be a Peshmerga, can be a fighter, a freedom fighter for their rights and for the whole community and families. Being Peshmerga
made a huge change in Kurdistan and all around Iran at that time. And now, everywhere in the Middle East.
ANDERSON: Her legacy, and that of her fellow female fighters, can be seen today in the increasing numbers of women joining the ranks to fight
NAMMI: We have to work harder against sometimes twice or more than twice a man just shows that we women are capable to be counted as a
Peshmerga, to be in the front line, and to defend ourselves. And that women are not there to just providing services to Peshmerga.
We were the first women in the front lines. And for many people, I was struggling at the beginning, because they thought women Peshmerga are
physically weak, all women are emotional, or they will give up.
But then they saw us, that we have been in the front line, and we have been very strong. And we have -- we become leaders within the community
and eventually with in the party and Peshmergas. So, they respect us. They respected us so much.
ANDERSON: As female Peshmergas face their latest challenge in the battle against ISIS, much is at stake.
NAMMI: ISIS will take all of us back to the dark ages. And that their law, women have no control of her life. Any cities that they took
over, the first thing they have done was force women to cover themselves, force women to go home.
Those who have not been circumcised, they will cut them. Those who feel that they can sell them as a slave, they took them. They forced them
into marriage from very, very early ages.
It's not easy, feeling that any second you can be killed, but you have to defend your life. And I am very proud that women have gone and
defending themselves. I salute them.
ANDERSON: Now living in the UK, Diana helps women escape forced marriage and domestic abuse through her organization. Her days on the
front line are over, but her thoughts are with those that continue the fight for freedom.
NAMMI: What I hope to happen in Kurdistan, especially, is for women to have a safe life, to have respect, and to have a life without any fear.
They are not alone, they have not been forgotten. We are all thinking about you and we are hoping that it will be further action in search for
ANDERSON: A war or conflict needs recruits on both sides, men and women, doesn't it? Hundreds of jihadists in Europe have traveled to the
Middle East to fight alongside ISIS. Right now, Denmark thought to have one of the highest numbers of jihadist fighters per capita among European
Atika Shubert joins me from London with the details and to continue the discussion that we started last night, Atika, after the first of your
two-part report. A somewhat controversial program in Denmark.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is very controversial, because essentially, many jihadi fighters, if they volunteer
to be part of this program, get a relatively soft landing.
But what it's really about, according to both the mosque that is at the center of this program, and to the counselor that deals with a lot of
these returned fighters, is making them feel included as part of the society, giving them something to care about back home in Denmark rather
than going off to fight.
But is it working, is the question. Well, there's a mixed response. Take a listen.
SHUBERT (voice-over): Why have hundreds of jihadi fighters across Western Europe gone to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, and how do
authorities keep them from lashing out violently once they are home?
The answers might be found in Aarhus, Denmark. It may not look like a hotbed of jihadi radicalism, but of the 100 Danish fighters that have left
for Syria, more than a third come from Aarhus, specifically, the suburb of Gellerup.
SHUBERT (on camera): This is the suburb of Gellerup. It's just outside of Aarhus. About 80 percent of the people living here are
immigrants. Unemployment is high and, according to the Ministry of Housing, they've even described it as a sort of ghetto.
SHUBERT (voice-over): Here, Danish authorities have set up a de- radicalization program with the help of the local mosque and its chairman, Oussama el-Saadi. Interestingly, the mosque refuses to condemn or openly
support ISIS, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. But he does meet with Danish police every month to both discourage young Muslims from fighting in
Syria and to counsel them on their return.
"The only and the most important thing that we want to see is that they don't consider us as criminals," he tells us. "They don't consider us
as terrorists, and they recognize us as a minority living in Denmark," he says.
El-Saadi introduces us to "Omar," not his real name, who was once an engineering student before he became a fighter in Syria.
"OMAR," JIHADI FIGHTER: Nobody's going or leaving the country because someone has brainwashed them. They go because -- to defend the oppressed
people in Syria and help them by any means is a good deed, according to the Koran.
SHUBERT: But in-fighting among jihadist groups drove Omar home to Denmark, and he isn't the only one to return home disillusioned, says
Preben Bertelsen, who counsels returning fighters.
PREBEN BERTELSEN, AARHUS UNIVERSITY: They see things they didn't expect to see: brutality, violence, evilness, and also corruption from the
guys they thought was their allies. So, in fact, some of them are de- radicalized --
SHUBERT (on camera): Just by the process of going there.
BERTELSEN: Yes, some of them.
SHUBERT (voice-over): Disillusioned, traumatized perhaps, but will Denmark's experiment on de-radicalization win the hearts and minds of
Muslim youth? Yes and no. Omar insists that he still wants to travel to Syria even though he considers Denmark his home.
"OMAR": With regard to the youth left in this city, I knew them as very intelligent people who will finish high school, who will study at the
universities and have a good degree in the school. So, I don't believe that they are isolated from society at all.
SHUBERT: According to police, the numbers traveling from Aarhus to Syria have dropped from 30 in 2013 to just one in 2014. An encouraging
start for the Aarhus model of de-radicalization.
SHUBERT: As you heard there, is that sense of inclusion. The idea that these fighters are less likely to leave if they have a job, family, an
education at home keeping them there. But if Omar's story anything to go by, it may not -- it may be enough to keep them from carrying out attacks
at home, but perhaps not from returning to Syria, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes, I'm fascinated. The word "radicalized" is a word that we were discussing here in the UAE with some sources the other day, and I -
- somebody was pointing out to me that there are a lot of radical Muslims, they don't go off to fight as jihadists necessarily. Perhaps they'll
consider themselves fundamentalists, but you get a lot of fundamentalists in the Christian religion as well.
But this idea of sort of trying to change ideology for those who do intend to go into the theater of war I know is something that Denmark is
looking at. Did you get a sense that we are looking here at changing the ideology of people who really are serious sort of religious believers?
Or are we also talking about youngsters who just have militant tendencies? Because if that's the case, then changing ideologies has
really got nothing to do with it, has it?
SHUBERT: Well, exactly. And one of the interesting things is the mosque that is at the center of this is, in many ways, very fundamentalist.
It is a Salafi mosque, for example. But it is encouraging that they meet with police every month, for example. They were happy to do interviews
And they're very open about it, the fact that they do not condemn ISIS, even though they don't outright support ISIS either. And the key to
the program is that they don't try and change the ideology of many of these fighters that are going of, for example, these more fundamentalist Muslims.
They're saying it's fine to have the ideology, but don't carry out any violent acts, don't advocate any violence. And as long as that's the case,
then they aren't being challenged on the ideology. That's very controversial, but that is a key part of the program.
ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating. Atika, thank you. Atika Shubert in London this evening for you.
Live from Abu Dhabi, we are broadcasting CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Coming up, Russians rallying around their president as
Vladimir Putin's anti-Western stance becomes increasingly popular. Our report from Moscow, up next.
ANDERSON: Russia's -- let me start that again. Russia's foreign minister says that Moscow will recognize the results of Ukraine's
parliamentary elections. Voters in that country, you'll know, headed to the polls on Sunday. Final results are expected later this week.
Ukraine's president says exit polls to point to a, and I quote, "powerful and irreversible pro-European course" for his country.
Now, here's what Russia's Sergey Lavrov had to say about that poll.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): And I think we will recognize the results of this election because it is very
important for us, for Ukraine, to finally have the authorities that are not fighting each other or are involved in the tug-of-war between the West and
the East, but rather will deal with the real issues facing the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: In Russia itself, President Vladimir Putin remains wildly popular, and as Mathew Chance reports, there are concerns that Russia could
be returning to its authoritarian roots. Have a look at this.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it says "Krym nash," which means "Crimea is ours."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
CHANCE (voice-over): For many Russians, Vladimir Putin is more than just a president, he's a symbol of national pride and an icon adorning the
patriotic t-shirts in this Moscow store.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This t-shirt with Olympic rings.
CHANCE (on camera): Ah, yes. And it's showing Putin as an Olympic hero.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, hero, like -- hero.
CHANCE: Is this meant to be ironic? Is it a joke?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's a joke, but I don't think so.
CHANCE (voice-over): Certainly his popularity ratings of more than 80 percent are no laughing matter.
CHANCE (on camera): And of course, these provocative t-shirts are just one lighthearted sign of what many in the West regard as a much darker
trend in Russia. Under this man, Vladimir Putin, there are concerns the country may be slipping back towards Soviet-style authoritarianism, and
that after years of embracing the West, Russia is reversing course.
CHANCE (voice-over): The toppling of Ukraine's pro-Russian president earlier this year, supported by the West, seems to have been a tipping
point. Amid complaints about NATO and European Union expansion, Russia annexed the strategic Crimean peninsula, then backed separatists rebels in
Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking east.
Despite a raft of Western economic sanctions that followed, Russian officials believe their message is now finally being heard.
VYACHESLAV NIKONOV, RUSSIAN LAWMAKER: To some extent, there is a growing understanding in the West that it is impossible to organize post-
Cold War Europe without speaking to Russia.
CHANCE: But this newly-assertive Russia seems to tolerate even less criticism than before. At the offices of one of the country's most
influential newspapers, "Vedomosti," staff suspect their days of independence may be numbered.
Controversial new laws signed by President Putin limit foreign ownership of media companies in Russia. Currently owned in part by "The
Wall Street Journal" and "The Financial Times," "Vedomosti" may soon have a new Russian owner loyal to the Kremlin.
TATYANA LYSOVA, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "VEDOMOSTI" (through translator): We're not an opposition newspaper, but because we're independent and
because we can't be forced to write in favor of them, that's already enough of an inconvenience.
CHANCE: Back in the t-shirt shop, the absence of criticism has become a fashion accessory.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My favorite: "Putin is my hero."
CHANCE (on camera): "Putin is my hero." Is he your hero?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
CHANCE (voice-over): Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.
ANDERSON: Live from Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Colorful escapes in dark times. We're going to take you
inside the gardens that pepper conflict zones throughout the Middle East and beyond.
ANDERSON: No matter where we live in the world, gardens are places of relaxation and reflection. They are all the more important when your
surroundings are scarred by conflict. In tonight's Parting Shots, we look at the work at one photojournalist who has already found a Middle East
LALAGE SNOW, PHOTOJOURNALIST (voice-over): My name is Lalage Snow. I'm a British photojournalist and writer. The (inaudible) Project is a
project about gardens in war zones, or "garazitos," (ph) which I started in Afghanistan.
It looks at people behind the headlines who are living through a conflict, just like anyone else lives their lives, but using gardens as a
narrative of finding peace, basically, in a very hostile place.
I took the project to Israel and Gaza to look at the people living on either side of the border, and it was very interesting to see the people
who are extraneous from the politicians and the policymakers, they're just average people, who are growing plants for therapy or for food and are
basically creating light after darkness.
This year, I took the project to the Ukraine. These of Donetsk is a city of one million roses. I think what struck me the most is people's
ability and desire to survive. Each (inaudible) of the humanity of the struggles of those who live there. And also how many people are not party
to any one side or the other.
None of them wanted the war, they were all -- none of them wanted the conflict. And they respond to each other. They run businesses together.
So, I think it's that kind of underlying humanity and continuity of survival that struck me the most.
ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. From the Gulf, thank you for watching.