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Questions over Failed Hostage Raid; King of Spin on His Infamous Clients; Imagine a World
Aired December 8, 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: the rescue mission that failed.
Could it have been avoided?
Also ahead: from Chilean dictator General Pinochet to the Syrian president's wife, why British PR guru Lord Bell takes on some of the
world's most notorious clients right or wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORD TIM BELL, FORMER THATCHER CAMPAIGN ADVISER: . the point about public relations is that we are paid to express somebody else's point of
view. It's not our point of view; it's their point of view. And we are paid to make that as compelling and as attractive as we possibly can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.
This weekend's spectacular and deadly failure to rescue two hostages held by Al Qaeda in Yemen has raised troubling memories and more questions.
Five months after another such failure and the gruesome beheadings of James Foley and other Western journalists and aid workers by ISIS in Syria.
This weekend, President Obama said he ordered special forces to try to rescue American photojournalist Luke Somers, because intelligence indicated
he would soon be executed. Somers had been held along with South African teacher Pierre Korkie for more than a year.
The rescue went terribly wrong; it appears the crucial element of surprise was missing and the terrorists shot their hostages and fled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOLANDE KORKIE, PIERRE KORKIE'S WIDOW: Pierre is an innocent and honest person who served the poor people through his teaching. My two
children and I miss him terribly. He was just an ordinary man from South Africa.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Now also vital intelligence was apparently missing: the U.S., not knowing that Korkie was held with Somers nor that
he was about to be released after a private South African charity arranged to pay ransom. Neither South Africa nor the United States negotiates or
pays ransom to terrorists.
And after the summer killings by ISIS, President Obama ordered a review of U.S. hostage policy as more and more Western citizens are being
Joining me now is Imtiaz Sooliman of the South African charity Gift of the Givers, who raised the ransom for Korkie's release; and from Virginia
Beach in the United States, retired Navy SEAL commander James Liddy, whose ideas of planning special ops and antiterrorism campaigns.
Gentlemen, welcome; thank you very much indeed for joining me.
Let me go first to you, Mr. Sooliman. Tell me about the negotiations that you had that led you to believe that Mr. Korkie would be released.
IMTIAZ SOOLIMAN, GIFT OF THE GIVERS FOUNDATION: I need to correct something first, Christiane. We didn't raise the ransom money. The ransom
money -- it wasn't ransom money, it was transportation (ph) fee that was raised in the last week because the family has not that kind of money for
Al Qaeda operating (INAUDIBLE). That money was raised privately by the family. That's the first aspect.
The second aspect is the negotiations with Al Qaeda, we had initially face-to-face direct negotiations with them in January. And that's how we
managed to release Yolande Korkie.
But our relationship soured with Al Qaeda when they accused us of stealing ransom money, which they thought the South African government
brought for them to Yemen. Subsequently to that, we then went to the tribal leaders and our negotiations have been through tribal leaders from
June right up until 26th of November, when the tribal leaders came back to us and said we have secured the release for Pierre Korkie and he will be
released very soon.
And on Saturday, the 6th of December, the tribal leaders were on their way to meet Al Qaeda to facilitate the release of Pierre Korkie. And at
that point, I got a call from a police inspector, a hostage negotiator in South Africa, to say that Pierre Korkie is dead and we then had to abort
AMANPOUR: Mr. Sooliman, there is a lot of confusion about who knew what, about whether there were arrangements to release Mr. Korkie and,
indeed, whether the two were being held together.
Yemeni officials say that there -- it was known to the Americans that these arrangements were being made on behalf of Mr. Korkie. The United
States officially has said, well, they didn't know that these arrangements were being made.
Can you clear up this confusion for us?
SOOLIMAN: The Yemeni government right in saying that they knew because we have been working with the Yemeni government since January. At
all times we consulted with the National Security Agency and the interior ministry of Yemen.
And on several occasions my representative from my office in Yemen, Anas al-Hamati, regularly reported to the ministry to give our progress.
We told them at every step of the way what we were doing because of our own security. And as of last week they said we are with you all the
way. You know we cannot negotiate with terrorists and we don't pay ransom, but we are with you all the way.
And we even told our government ambassador in Saudi Arabia that please prepare a passport for Pierre because once they bring to Aden, we need to
move him out of the country very rapidly and we also need to get an exit visa.
That point was clear. As far as Americans not knowing, that's a discussion between the Yemeni authorities and America. I cannot comment on
AMANPOUR: Let me turn to you, James Liddy, former Navy SEAL, former retired commander.
Do you think the United States -- I know that you weren't involved in this operation -- but would the U.S. have known about who Luke Somers, the
American who they were trying to get released, might have been with or not?
COMMANDER JAMES LIDDY, RETIRED U.S. NAVY SEAL: They -- not necessarily would they know. We always train and plan for surprises on
target. The SEALs particularly are trained, as is our other Tier1 special forces to anticipate that there are going to be others.
This is not something that in my experience we've ever gone in on a mission that we didn't expect to have those types of surprises. We may not
have intelligence on who they are or how many. But we expect that.
AMANPOUR: You have been involved in certain operations, perhaps similar to this. Nonetheless, Navy SEAL operations. Obviously the
rulebook says that surprise and detailed intelligence have to be there to pull these off successfully.
It clearly wasn't in this case.
LIDDY: Well, you know, that's an interesting way to put. You know from your experience in interviewing military and high-ranking officials
that you're making a best estimation on the information that you have and on the -- how imminent the danger is to the hostages.
There comes a time when you have to put it all aside and say do we have enough to go, not unnecessarily risking additional lives, but a
probability of success and is it worth it?
Those decisions are made by the national command authority and when they determine that that is -- we're willing to accept those risks, then
they launch the Tier 1 forces.
AMANPOUR: What do you think then when -- obviously there was the November 25th attempt that didn't work because he wasn't there.
What do -- what would you have done in this case, then?
LIDDY: Well, as I understand it, and I cannot second guess my brothers over there that attempted this mission, but from what I
understand, there was on infiltration very close proximity to the target. Getting ready, there were canines, dogs, that alerted the terrorists.
And in a situation like this, it depends on if there's out of the ordinary that dogs would be barking or not, whether it's a trained dog or
not. All these types of things enter into these types of missions.
So from what I understood, that that happened, that the element of surprise was compromised and then things started to escalate very quickly
as they do.
AMANPOUR: Well, let's turn to the other aspect of this, and that is negotiating and paying ransom in this case.
Mr. Sooliman, your government does not pay ransom or negotiate with terrorists. That is its stated position, like the U.S. government, like
the British government.
What made you try to raise whatever you might call it, funds, goodwill gesture, some might call it ransom?
SOOLIMAN: What me raise it? As I said, we didn't raise that.
AMANPOUR: No, but you know what I mean.
SOOLIMAN: -- negotiators --
AMANPOUR: You know what I mean.
SOOLIMAN: -- person.
AMANPOUR: You know what I mean. I'm trying to figure out why you decided that was the way to go.
Well, let's put it very simply. I always give the example, if a family member of one of us was captured, are we going to say international
law says we don't negotiate, we don't pay, so let the family member die? Or does he stay in captivity forever?
We had a woman here who had two children who was missing her husband sorely, who was in ill health, who was deaf with a problem, with all kinds
of medical conditions and she requested assistance.
We were based in Yemen. We had a good name in Yemen. We still have a good name in Yemen. And each day that (INAUDIBLE) increases because of
amount of people we have. And we said we are South African from a humanitarian point of view because we are humanitarian organization. We
are not a military organization.
And our aim is to have people, irrespective of the circumstances, in this case a man was captured and we said, let's use our leverage of the
work we did in Yemen and if we can help, we have -- we can help.
And today, because of that assistance, a woman is reunited with her children; although they've lost their father, at least one member of the
family is alive because of our intervention, irrespective of what international law says.
AMANPOUR: James Liddy, you're not a government official, but Mr. Sooliman has a point, doesn't he?
Do you believe that it is time to revisit the idea of negotiating and as you know, negotiating doesn't always mean paying off.
LIDDY: You know, I do agree because when you negotiate, there's the ability there to gather additional intelligence. And as long as you're
talking, you can be gaining intelligence and then your options are greater.
So I do agree that always it's a good thing to negotiate.
Now I would not support paying ransom; that only encourages terrorists, as we've seen time and time again for hundreds of years. So I
But I would absolutely negotiate.
AMANPOUR: So you both obviously agree on that.
And last word to you, Mr. Sooliman. I mean, I know it's very soon, but do you have a full after-action report from your contacts on what
precisely went wrong at the last moment?
Or was it just that, this rescue happened coincidentally the very same day?
SOOLIMAN: It was coincidence. You know, had we gone in a little earlier, we were dependent on the family raising the money for the tribal
leaders. But because they didn't have the money in time, it took us a few extra days to get Pierre Korkie out because she needed time to raise that
kind of money. We don't have that kind of money in South Africa.
Had we done it earlier, Pierre may have been alive. We also have the same problem as the Americans. We didn't know where Pierre was being held.
We didn't know he was with Luke Somers because in May, when the fighting started between Yemeni forces and Al Qaeda, Pierre was spotted in three
different provinces in two weeks because he was moved to different areas.
The first time he was spotted with the CIA (ph) hostage, the one in June 7th (ph), (INAUDIBLE), he was then spotted with a German hostage and
then he was spotted alone.
So you really never know what -- who you are and where you are kept with that person.
AMANPOUR: And Mr. Sooliman, I really have to go right now.
But how much money was raised, the figure?
SOOLIMAN: Two hundred -- $200,000. That was raised. But it was not paid. The deal was for the tribal leaders, once they delivered a package
to us, then they get paid. Because Pierre passed on, nothing was paid.
AMANPOUR: Imtiaz Sooliman, James Liddy, thank you both very much for joining me.
And after a break, can you buy a good reputation? Should you be able to?
I'll ask the legendary PR guru who's represented the famous and the infamous what it's like to work for some of the most notorious people in
modern history. That's when we come back.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
Public relations guru Lord Tim Bell has represented some of the world's most colorful and controversial characters, eyebrow-raising names,
including Chilean General Augusto Pinochet, the dictatorial Belarus leader Aleksandr Lukashenko and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's wife, Asma.
Lord Bell believes that even some of the ruthless deserve the right to state their case.
So how does he choose his clients?
Has he ever said no?
It is all in his new book, "Right or Wrong," and we began by talking about his rise to fame with the campaign slogan which is still the stuff of
legend that brought Britain its first female prime minister, the Iron Lady herself, Margaret Thatcher.
AMANPOUR: Lord Bell, welcome to the program.
LORD TIM BELL, FORMER THATCHER CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Why did you decide to write the book?
BELL: I was -- I think because I thought that what I'd experienced was worth telling people, not because I thought it would be fascinating and
change the world, but because it just seemed to me to be necessary for somebody to speak up for the right-of-center thinking, which very few
people talk about now.
AMANPOUR: You are most famous, I would say, at least your big first mega fame came with the campaign for Margaret Thatcher back in the late
'70s. "Labour Isn't Working," if I'm not mistaken.
BELL: That was a poster, yes.
AMANPOUR: It is actually brilliant. How did that come into your head?
BELL: Well, I didn't write it because it was written by a copywriter and art directed by an art director.
It comes about because you have an idea and you express an idea which you think will capture people's imagination. Then you do it in such a way
that it has an enormous impact and it might actually change the way people think and the way they behave.
AMANPOUR: And at what point did you realize that this really was a mega campaign?
BELL: Oh, I suppose, the moment I saw it because it was just so clever. I had a bit of trouble --
AMANPOUR: Or Election Night.
BELL: Yes. And it was actually long -- it was a year before the election that we ran it. It actually stopped James Callahan calling the
election in October '78.
AMANPOUR: Who was the prime minister at the time.
BELL: Then the prime minister, yes.
The other reason I loved it is because Ms. Thatcher didn't understand it. She was a very old-fashioned politician. Politicians are very simple.
They put their name on the door. They stick their party on a poster and you're supposed to walk past and say, my God, I'm a (INAUDIBLE) Republican.
I must vote for that.
But I mean, this case -- and it actually had the other man's name in the headline, "Labour Isn't Working." Tory politicians don't put up
posters saying Labour. They put up posters saying Conservative.
So she was at first rather shocked by it and said, why on Earth would I want to buy lots and lots of posters and put the other man's name up?
AMANPOUR: And how did you convince her, then, that this was a good idea?
BELL: I told her it was a double entendre.
AMANPOUR: A double entendre?
BELL: And Margaret -- if you ever met her -- looked at me with those sort of piercing eyes and said, "Oh, it's a double entendre, is it, dear?
I hope the country gets it, just like you do."
AMANPOUR: Well, the country did, obviously.
BELL: As it happens, yes.
AMANPOUR: Is there anybody you wouldn't work for?
Would you advise the Labour government, the Labour Party?
BELL: No, because I completely loathe Socialism.
AMANPOUR: You said because you loathe Socialism, so you obviously have a big, personal, values-driven ethic for your own work.
So why did you represent somebody like Aleksandr Lukashenko, the dictator of Belarus?
BELL: Well, you call him a dictator; he's actually an elected president. I grant you in a very --
AMANPOUR: But he's definitely in Socialist/Communist mode.
BELL: -- in a very unsatisfactory election.
However, the reason I worked for him is because he told me that he was going to try and make the democracy in Belarus work much better, have
fairer elections, release people who were in prison for political reasons. That he did. He released 18 people.
And he was going to try and mend the sanctions arrangement that existed with the European Union.
Unfortunately, after six months, it became quite clear he wasn't going to do that. So we resigned the account and walked away.
AMANPOUR: Where do you draw the truth line?
BELL: I've discovered -- you may not believe this, but I've discovered that in my life in advertising, and my life in public relations,
that telling the truth is a damn sight more effective than not telling the truth.
So I tend to opt for the truth -- if I'm told it.
Now the problem I have is that I'm a conduit. So somebody tells me what happened, I don't know whether that's right or wrong.
AMANPOUR: Let me see if I can do some rapid fire.
Robert Mugabe: you've said that you would not represent somebody like Robert Mugabe.
Have you ever met him?
BELL: Yes, I've met him three times.
AMANPOUR: So tell me why not.
BELL: Because he is basically a very evil man. He doesn't care how much damage he does to people, doesn't care what poverty they live through.
He uses violence and aggression to get his own way and he runs what effectively is an army police state.
AMANPOUR: Asma Assad.
BELL: I did -- all I did for her was set up a first lady's office. She wanted to have a communications office rather like Laura Bush has or
had at that time and she wanted to have a communications director and a process to communicate.
AMANPOUR: What would you advise her, if you were advising her today?
BELL: I think I'd probably tell her to get the hell out of there.
AMANPOUR: What would you advise Vladimir Putin if you were advising him today?
BELL: Well, Vladimir Putin is a more interesting case because he -- I don't think he's genuine; I think he's phony.
But if he were genuine, he's genuinely trying to stand up for the country that he's been asked to run. And he's involved in the classic
issues of all constitutions, internal defense of the realm, external defense of the realm. Those are the first two duties of the government.
AMANPOUR: But your political hero, Margaret Thatcher, would never and did not stand for the invasion of a small country, Kuwait, by a big
country, Iraq. And what Putin has done, big Russia, has invaded little Crimea.
Is there a PR strategy to get him out of the hole that he's dug himself?
BELL: There isn't a PR strategy. There's a way of getting him out, but it's a very controversial way and one that wouldn't be acceptable to
AMANPOUR: Which is.?
BELL: Which is that Putin pays for Crimea.
BELL: Pays money. Pays $500 million or 1,000 million dollars or a trillion, whatever, and then he gives the money to the Ukraine; the Ukraine
mend their economy. They make the rest of the Ukraine into a very prosperous country.
Then you look across at the people in Crimea and they say, I don't want to live here, I want to live there.
AMANPOUR: Do you have a slogan for that?
BELL: No, I don't.
Yes, it's something like it's "Make Putin Pay."
AMANPOUR: "Make Putin Pay." All right.
On that note, Lord Tim Bell, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
BELL: My pleasure. Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Now from the Silver Fox to the Urban Fox, that flame- haired, four-legged creature that is now reportedly even more common here in London than the city's signature red double-decker bus.
"The New York Times" is reporting that at around 10,000 strong many of these foxes are finding themselves in the crosshairs as Londoners contract
snipers to keep this un-endangered but dangerous animal out of people's houses and off their lawns.
Now imagine a world where some of the Earth's most endangered species get a royal reprieve -- after this.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where some of creation's crown jewels have a prince riding to their rescue. Prince
William, also known as the Duke of Cambridge, is visiting America with his duchess, Kate, and one of the royal heir's first ports of call was animal
After meeting President Obama in the White House, William went to the World Bank headquarters in Washington and delivered what's billed as a
major speech on saving the world's rarest creatures.
The biggest danger of all: demand has caused the price of animal parts, like rhino horns, elephant tusks and tiger claws, to soar in the
mistaken belief that they possess magic powers.
South Africa is just one country where rhinos are being slaughtered in record numbers; more than 1,000 this year alone. And CNN's Diana Magnay
recently went to watch crack teams there put pressure on the poachers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Above the poaching hot spot, a veterinarian takes aim. This is a dart gun. His goal
is save, not to slaughter.
A flash of pink on the rump: the hit's good.
On the ground, a veterinary team stand by, wary around the stunned animal, ready with a blindfold as the drugs kick in.
MAGNAY: So the rhino is darted with a mix of immobilizer and a tranquilizer. It takes about three to five minutes from the time it's hit
to get it on the ground and from that moment on, the process is incredibly fast.
MAGNAY (voice-over): Oxygen tubes to help with breathing and the horn is microchipped.
And crucially for South Africa's anti-poaching endeavors, DNA samples are taken.
MARKUS HOFMEYR, HEAD OF VETERINARY SERVICES: If a rhino does get poached, you can actually take a piece of the horn and then link it to a
MAGNAY (voice-over): Then another shot to partially reverse the anesthetic.
MAGNAY: This is clearly one of the most critical moments, to get the rhino up using its own body force, having given it a partial reversal of
the tranquilizer. We have to make sure that we don't get in the way.
MAGNAY (voice-over): The team haul the rhino to its feet. And it takes a few ginger steps towards the trailer which will carry it to safer
ground in a more intensive protected zone in the Kruger National Park.
This is why. Just a few miles further north, a rhino carcass lies where it was shot some 10 days ago now.
The forensics team have had such a backlog of poaching cases, it's taken them until now to get here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We suspect that they shot it from over there in Mozambique.
Kruger National Park shares a 350-kilometer border with Mozambique. This shabby wiring right beside the carcass, all that separates the two
countries. It's no deterrent when rhino horn can fetch more than $100,000 per kilogram on the black market, fueled by insatiable demand from Asia,
where they wrongly believe that rhino horns can cure diseases like cancer.
AMANPOUR: And that's it for our program tonight. You can always find us online. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.