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Friends of Syria Meeting in London; The Fight against Radicalization; Imagine a World
Aired November 10, 2014 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: Syria and the sons and daughters from here willing to take up arms over there. A father tells
us why his children are fighting and dying on that faraway battlefield.
ABUBAKER DEGHAYES, FATHER OF SONS FIGHTING IN SYRIA: (INAUDIBLE) so young, so much (INAUDIBLE) in his life and (INAUDIBLE).
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Also ahead, what now for the moderate forces in Syria, fighting ISIS and Assad? I asked the president of the Syrian
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.
Britain's top military commander is warning that homegrown jihadis fighting in Syria and Iraq will try to carry a terrorist attack here. And officials
continue to interrogate four men they arrested around London late last week, suspected of plotting such an attack.
In the United States, the Pentagon said it's still trying to verify whether they struck ISIS head Abu Baker al-Baghdadi in Mosul, Iraq, this weekend.
And it's just been announced that 50 U.S. troops have arrived in Iraq's Anbar province, part of a promised training force.
While in Syria, the allied operation, Inherent Resolve, aimed at raising up a moderate Syrian force to battle ISIS, has still not gotten off the
ground. As the U.N. special envoy to Syria met President Assad in Damascus, the Syrian opposition said airstrikes have allowed him to crack
down even harder on them.
So beleaguered opposition leaders are in London in a desperate plea for help at yet another Friends of Syria meeting and the Syrian National
Council president, Hadi al-Bahra, joins me right now in the studio.
Welcome to the program.
HADI AL-BAHRA, PRESIDENT, SNC: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So you met today with members of the Friends of Syria. You've also met with Britain's foreign secretary, Philip Hammond.
What did you ask for; what have they promised you?
AL-BAHRA: For us, we asked a more active role in the equip and train (ph) program and the research and reorganizing the Free Syrian Army in order to
bring all the program under a national umbrella, where Syrians play effective role into guiding this program.
AMANPOUR: Now we have heard, which is why I said that actually this arm- train-vet program of the moderate forces has practically achieved nothing yet, has not really gotten off the ground.
When you say you've been promised more, what's happening right now on the ground?
Is there any forces that have been raised in the last two months?
AL-BAHRA: As you said, this program didn't get off the ground yet where there's no expected startup date before maybe end of February, early March.
AL-BAHRA: And this is a very long period to wait.
As you know, our forces now on the ground fighting two-front war against ISIS and against the regime at the same time. So fighters should be -- had
more, supplied more in order to sustain the battle against ISIS and the regime.
AMANPOUR: I'm not sure I understand why. We -- all we've heard are promises and pledges that this is going to get up and running. Obviously
it's not going to happen overnight to have a force race, but that nothing is happening yet? And it won't even start until February?
AL-BAHRA: Actual recruits, they will be able to join by the end of February, early March. Right now all steps taken and organizing, getting
more countries to join the program, organizing the logistics, putting down the procedure and the process itself. But this is very long time to wait
We need to figure out how to sustain the current operation and make more supplies available for them in order to win the battle on the ground.
AMANPOUR: Meantime, we see pictures of President Assad in Damascus with the U.N.'s top envoy to the region, Stefan Di Mistura, there is word that
potentially perhaps something might be announced around maybe, I don't know, a cease-fire, Aleppo, do you have any information about that?
Do you think that that's even possible or likely?
AL-BAHRA: We also support Mr. Di Mistura effort as part of comprehensive solution, political solution to the situation. But anything short of
comprehensive solution and clear road map to peace, it would be -- it will backfire and it will cause more victims to fall and for the crisis to be
AMANPOUR: Do you think President Assad is kind of thinking, wow, you know, I got away with this one.
Is he feeling under threat?
AL-BAHRA: Currently, I don't see Assad feeling any threat at all as he sees the coalition planes striking ISIL positions and giving a blind eye to
his jets bombing the civilian area in Aleppo and other area using TNT barrel bombs.
AMANPOUR: The United States, for its part, says basically we must attack ISIS first in Iraq. That's really desperate over there. And then maybe
we'll turn our attention to Syria in terms of Assad.
President Obama said -- I think it's three years ago -- that Assad must go.
Do you believe that this administration still believes that and is going to work to make Assad go?
AL-BAHRA: I know this administration believes that Assad will not play any role in the future of Syria. But this administration, I think, put much
more priority on finalizing its deals on the nuclear program with Iran. And this is number one importance to it.
While Syrian people has paid 200,000 victims until now and they see no action by the international community in response to these crimes committed
by Assad himself.
AMANPOUR: What do you ask for, apart from more help? When I spoke to the prime minister of Turkey, he was very clear about wanting a buffer zone and
wanting a no-fly zone on the Syria-Turkey border.
What have you talked to, to foreign secretaries and to officials, and what did you ask for in that regard?
AL-BAHRA: We explained to them that our strategy and plan committed -- and the one plan that's called Back to Syria, where we'll shift the presence of
all the coalition and the political institutions inside Syrian territories and from there we start governing the areas which are freed from ISIL
forces and provide moderate forces to continue the fight in the front against terrorism and against the regime itself, because the regime is the
source and main incubator of the extremist and terrorist organizations.
AMANPOUR: You yourself, or the SNC itself, has had a pretty checkered past. I mean, let's admit it. There's been a lot of squabbling. There's
been a lot of inaction, inertia and critics even say that you actually have almost zero influence on what's happening on the ground, certainly with the
FSA, certainly with the forces there.
I mean, how can you actually exert any influence and effect any change?
AL-BAHRA: Actually, these information are wrong. I had my meeting with the commanders, military commanders in Aleppo just the past week. And we
have worked our plan and strategy on how to confront the current situation in Aleppo.
Past week we held also three things with the commanders, main military commanders on the ground, with the coalition. There's plenty of programs
which are performed inside Syria. The civil defense program, the police forces who exist inside Syria and Aleppo and the Iraqi (ph) region.
Then foreign government itself has its officers up inside Syria since four months ago. Right now we are planning to move the whole interim government
to be inside Syria, the whole coalition to be inside Syria.
AMANPOUR: Will you go?
AL-BAHRA: And the safe zone area, this was our own idea, which we have discussed with our friends in Turkey and convinced them about the
importance to it. So we can have real pressure on the regime to move towards a political settlement.
AMANPOUR: Last answer: will you go?
AL-BAHRA: I will be the first to go.
AMANPOUR: SNC president, Hadi al-Bahra, thank you very much indeed for joining me tonight.
AL-BAHRA: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And with global crises popping up wherever we look, President Obama kicked off his Asia tour by touting the importance of U.S. leadership
Now Japan and China are far from partners, but they have tried to break the ice -- sort of -- at the APEC Summit in Beijing, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
and President Xi Jinping met after more than two years of severe tension over disputed islands in the South China Sea.
But he didn't return Abe's smile nor his attempt at conversation during what's usually called a "grip-and-grin" or a photo op.
But when we come back, more from Syria and the route to radicalization. What makes a Western teenager take up arms for a militant cause? A father
who's already lost two children in Syria joins me next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back.
Growing fears of a terrorist attack on U.K. soil as authorities here uncover more alleged plots and British Muslim youths as well as those
across the West swell the ranks of foreign jihadis joining ISIS and other radical groups.
Why do apparently ordinary young men and women drop everything and rush off to fight for an extremist cause, even some of them becoming suicide
AMANPOUR: Abubaker Deghayes is a father of four, a business man from Brighton on England's South Coast. Two of his sons have recently been
killed fighting in Syria. And another one of them says that he'll stay there until he's, quote, "martyred," too.
Abubaker joins us live in the studio, along with Peter Neumann from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political
Gentlemen, thank you both for joining me.
Mr. Deghayes, this is a really troubling phenomenon.
How is it that an ordinary middle class business man like yourself, two -- no, three of your sons have gone to Syria to fighting for Jabhat al-Nusra,
ABUBAKER DEGHAYES: I think it's troubling but, at the same time, it's understandable.
AMANPOUR: How is it understandable?
ABUBAKER DEGHAYES: Because the atrocities. There are people dying there. They're not (INAUDIBLE). You see babies buried. You see airplanes
targeting civilians, people crying, people dying, bloodshed. I mean, the reaction of human beings has always been to save other fellow human beings
AMANPOUR: So you're saying the fact that all this has happened for so long and nobody stepped in, that sort of made them go?
ABUBAKER DEGHAYES: Exactly. Exactly. That is what we're saying. That's what we've been saying and I hope that we have listening ears within the
government and have people who are concerned to expose this problem so that everybody is -- will relax --
AMANPOUR: You know, if that is the case, Mr. Deghayes, and I have incredible sympathy for you; two of your children have been killed and
you've got another one there, who may or may not survive, why did they fight for ISIS or Jabhat al-Nusra? Why that group? Why not the FSA, the
leader of whom I've just been talking to?
ABUBAKER DEGHAYES: OK, I mean, ISIS is a different thing.
AMANPOUR: OK, but Jabhat al-Nusra --
ABUBAKER DEGHAYES: -- I can only assume obviously; the answer is my sons. But I can assume from going there and working in the refugee camp, which
had people from northwest and east of Syria, because it was near Turkey and they were trying to get to Turkey, but they couldn't.
They have no passports, everybody had words of praise for Jabhat al-Nusra, that they are dedicated. They don't involve themselves inside things.
They don't loot. They don't commit oppression against people or steal their things.
And they are strong and solid. And they see each other with the Free Syrian Army, it -- some elements of it, unfortunately, they have a bad
reputation, by looting, leaving their injured on the battlefield.
So when you go into war, I assume, and you're going to face an enemy, you would think you want the strongest around you, who will stick to you until
the last minute, even --
AMANPOUR: And you who study all these groups, is there a ring of truth to that?
I mean, why are all these people rushing off to fight with the really bad guys?
PETER NEUMANN, INTL. CENTRE FOR THE STUDY OF RADICALISATION: I think there a couple of reasons. First of all, I agree that in the first wave of
people going over in 2012-2013, a very large proportion of them were moved by this humanitarian situation. They were seeing pictures every day of
Bashar al-Assad's troop killing, torturing, raping the Syrian people and they wanted to help.
I think it's also true that in the second wave, more recently, when ISIS had declared its caliphate, when it was more about an ideological cause,
also other people, perhaps more extremist people have gone over. But certainly in the first wave, a lot of people went over because of the
humanitarian catastrophe and no one helping.
AMANPOUR: Now you've been talking about blowback for a long, long time. We've talked to you several times about this. This arrest in and around
London over the last few days -- and they're continuing to interrogate these people -- is it as the head of -- I mean, do you expect like the
head of the armed forces here than an inevitable attempt at an attack?
NEUMANN: I think there was something bad coming out of this. And I'm always saying we're having three groups of people to deal with, the three
D's, if you want. Some people are truly dangerous and we're seeing some of them on social media, who are already talking about attacking Western
However, there are also people who are disturbed, who are traumatized by the conflict, who are a risk to society but not necessarily ideologically
And there are people who are disillusioned, who did not like what they saw in Syria, who want to come back and who want to reintegrate and
And I think it's really important that government manages to distinguish between those three groups.
AMANPOUR: And that, obviously, plays right to you. You clearly cite your surviving son to come back and be reintegrated into society here. What are
you asking the government?
ABUBAKER DEGHAYES: Of course. Well, that is the call why I come out one reason is to try to talk to our government and tell them that don't put
everybody in one basket like our friend here, saying -- our professor. But do differentiate. There are different types of people who go there.
Secondly, it's very important that the government puts away its prejudice and do not think of Muslim youth as a threat. I mean, now we're
culminating the (INAUDIBLE) you have there --
AMANPOUR: Yes, the --
ABUBAKER DEGHAYES: -- people who died from here, 400,000 Muslims died in this war fighting the British. I mean, why are we always giving this gloom
picture that Muslims would be a threat if they learned how to defend themselves? Maybe one day they will fight for this country and we will
need them to fight for us if we are under attack. You never know. Why don't you think in a positive way?
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, listen, you're absolutely right and God knows if I had to tell this story many times, but let me play a sound bite from your
own son, your last remaining son, who's in Syria and who wants to keep jihading.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMER DEGHAYES, JIHADIST: Is the real victory for the one can get for himself is martyrdom. And is the greatest success a person can attain, as
you are assured paradise in the highest level of paradise. I'm willing to die in the fight. That's my main aim. I have promised Allah that I will
stay on the way of jihad until I get killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Do you recognize that person?
ABUBAKER DEGHAYES: Of course I do. That is my son. But --
AMANPOUR: And when I say recognize, do you understand where he's coming from?
ABUBAKER DEGHAYES: Yes, I understand where he's coming from.
If you are in that place, seeing freshly with your naked eye the atrocities being done in front of you, you see the death, you see the killings, your
feelings and your emotions are much higher. Also the other thing is when you're with a group, which are dedicated to such a cause, you complete, you
be pushed -- you're not -- so somebody sitting next to the fire is not like somebody who's far away --
AMANPOUR: So you're talking about peer pressure?
ABUBAKER DEGHAYES: -- peer pressure, circumstances, all these things play. I mean, let me be clear here. As a Muslim, to die for the sake of Allah or
sake of others is a virtue. For Christians as well. We believe Jesus sacrificed himself for humankind.
They believe, the Christians. So real, this ideology, this is -- we are not --
AMANPOUR: You're not recommending that your sons or other people --
ABUBAKER DEGHAYES: -- going to Syria and saying this is the place, no. Because Syrians don't need you there as a foot fighter. You can help from
here and your sacrifice where it's very vitally needed. Not with any cause in just like this, you know.
AMANPOUR: It's still extraordinary, and I'm going to get to you right now.
Is it still extraordinary, this boy is certainly Amer, I think, was a financial student and he's dropped everything, a future, to go over there.
And there is a huge amount of political debate in this country about what should we do with people like Amer, your surviving son, who may want to
come back and feel that they can't, that they're blocked?
NEUMANN: Yes. And I think it's impossible to say how easy it will be to - - for example, reintegrate that person, based on that sound bite alone. I'm not expecting the government to take their word for it. I think that
in Britain and also in other countries there are, for example, intervention programs with very experienced people, who can assess, based on very long
interviews, whether a person is genuine and really wants to reintegrate.
I'm not saying that reintegration is an amnesty. We do not know what goes on in that person's head. But when he comes back, there needs to be a
process for established whether that person needs to be arrested, whether that person needs to get psychological treatment or whether that person can
be reintegrated into society.
I have no idea. I've never met your son, whether that is one or the other.
But I need -- I think we need a process whereby we can assess that.
AMANPOUR: And you know, for your son and yourself, did you try to go over there? When your son, when you realized that they were all over, did you
try to go and get them back?
ABUBAKER DEGHAYES: That's the other unfortunate part of the story, you know, because I was raided by the police and became a suspect myself,
taking away my passports. I could not fulfill my fatherly duty to go and appeal to my sons again and again and capture the moment where they will
respond and pull them out of the risky area. You know, that is very important for the government to realize that I went to Syria long before
the government started this. And if I wanted to fight or join any group, I could have done that very long ago. And I did everything in the open. The
police searched us in Dover (ph), our convoy. They said good luck after they finished. We left with "The Times," one of the journalists with us
from "The Times," covering the story, who collected the things from public meetings. We sorted the stuff and the cars and everything openly. We did
not do anything in hiding. We did not have any intention, other than to release the Syrians as much as we can in the first level from their
AMANPOUR: What a terrible situation. Abubaker Deghayes, Peter Neumann, thank you both very much indeed for joining me.
ABUBAKER DEGHAYES: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now when Germany on Sunday celebrated 25 years since the Berlin Wall came down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): -- then standing to take his bow for history, waving jovially from the big stage, was the last leader of the Soviet
Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. His reforms led to that moment in 1989 and then to the fall of Communism and to the fall of the Soviet Union itself.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): That was President Ronald Reagan, two years before the wall came down. But despite this blustery rhetoric, the British prime
minister, Margaret Thatcher, was already whispering into his ear that the West could do business with Gorbachev.
Of course, Thatcher and Reagan were the closest of political friends, but it wasn't all smooth sailing. Reagan sometimes made Thatcher angry.
So how did they kiss and make up? A revealing new audiotape, next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine being a fly on the wall for the private conversations of some of the most powerful leaders in the world.
Forty-one years ago, President Ronald Reagan sent the American military to topple the Marxist government of Grenada, a tiny Caribbean island.
Trouble was, Grenada was a former British colony, a Commonwealth country. By not informing the British government of his invasion, President Reagan
made his good friend and political soulmate, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, hopping mad.
Now for the first time, audio recordings reveal the never-before-heard kiss and make up call between the president and the prime minister. Take a
listen to some of the extracts.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MARGARET THATCHER, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: Hello, Margaret Thatcher here.
REAGAN: If I were there, Margaret, I'd throw my hat in the door before I came in.
THATCHER: There's no need to do that.
REAGAN: Listen, I'm -- we regret very much the embarrassment that's been caused you, and I would just like to tell you what the story is from our
end out here.
REAGAN: I was awakened at 3 o'clock in the morning, supposedly on a golfing vacation down in Georgia, and was there with the secretary of
state. And so we met in pajamas out in the living room of our suite.
We were greatly concerned because of a problem here -- and not at your end at all, but here. We've had a nagging problem of a loose source, a leak
When your word came of your concerns, by the time I got it, the zero hour had passed and our forces were on their way.
THATCHER: Well, let's hope it's soon over, Ron, and that you manage to get a democracy restored. It was very kind of you to have rung, Ron.
REAGAN: Well, my pleasure.
THATCHER: I appreciate it.
And how is Nancy?
REAGAN: Just fine.
THATCHER: Good. Give her my love.
REAGAN: I shall. All right.
THATCHER: Thank you very much. I must return to this debate in the House. It is a bit tricky.
REAGAN: Oh. All right. Go get 'em. Eat 'em alive.
REAGAN: All right, 'bye.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Amazing stuff. And that is it for our program tonight. Remember you can always watch the show at amanpour.com, and follow me on
Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.