Return to Transcripts main page


Hackers Shut Down North Korea's Internet; Boko Haram Releases Video Show Mass Executions; German Author Visits Heart of ISIS Territory; Istanbul's Real Estate Push; Libya's Split Political Crisis; Amnesty International Reveals Girls Driven To Suicide By ISIS; Brazil's Postal Work Santa Clauses

Aired December 23, 2014 - 11:00   ET





ISHA SESAY, HOST: The brutality of Boko Haram in chilling detail: the terror group follows in the footsteps of ISIS by releasing graphic new

video footage. This hour, we'll consider what's fueling the militant's momentum and we hear from the mother of an abducted Nigerian schoolgirl as

she prepares to spend their first Christmas apart.

Also ahead, sex slavery or suicide? Amnesty International reveals the horrific choice faced by some women and girls living under ISIS rule.

And the future of a failed state, we'll speak to the foreign minister from Libya's internationally recognized government.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World.

SESAY: Hello, everyone. I'm Isha Sesay. We begin in northern Nigeria where suspicion is growing that Boko Haram is to blame for two

deadly explosions. The first blast rocked a bus station in the northeastern city of Gombe killing at least 20 people. A homemade bomb

planted near a bus exploded just as people were getting on board.

Later, an explosion tore through a crowded market in the city of Bauchi. It's about 150 kilometers west of Gombe. It caused a huge fire

that spread to other parts of the market. Police say the blast killed at least seven people and injured 25 others.

Well, Boko Haram militants have released a new video containing an alarming threat and some very disturbing images. As CNN's Nima Elbagir

tells us, Boko Haram is apparently intent on executing all infidel hostages from this point on.

We warn you, her report contains graphic pictures.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dozens of prone victims executed, fighters pose and parade through their midst. As

civilians in northern Nigeria take up arms against Boko Haram, this massacre and the release of the video chronicling it appear to be an

escalation in Boko Haram's campaign of intimidation.

Standing in the blood of his victims, a man claiming to be a Boko Haram commander addresses the camera. "Killing, slaughtering, destruction

and bombing, " he says, "will be our religious duty anywhere we invade."

This video was uploaded on to a video sharing site and then distributed to the media. We have no way of verifying its authenticity,

but it is 10 unrelenting minutes of a massacre as it unfolds. The commander, the reputed commander addresses the camera claiming to be in the

town of Bama (ph), a territory that Boko Haram took in the summer.

Well, we spoke to some of the residents who managed to flee Bama (ph) and they said that hundreds of non-Muslims were taken hostage by Boko Haram

in the town.

The commander says this video is proof that those hostages have now been killed. And he also says that from now on Boko Haram will kill any

hostages they take, raising fresh concerns about the hundreds of hostages, including dozens of girls still in Boko Haram custody.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


SESAY: Well, we'll have more on the situation in Nigeria later in the program. Plus, we sit down with one family whose daughter was kidnapped by

Boko Haram along with hundreds of other girls earlier this year.

We'll hear from the government on efforts to find the girls and we'll take a closer look at Boko Haram, how it operates and continues to gain


Now, North Korea is back online but with spotty service after a nine hour internet outage. The disruption came just days after U.S. President

Barack Obama promised retaliation for the Sony hack, which the U.S. blamed on North Korea.

Some are now questioning whether the U.S. is responsible for the outage. Earlier, our own Kyung Lah explained what happened when North

Korea's internet went down.


KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are government websites. And when we try to check in to KCNY, which is the way that North

Korea speaks to the outside world, we got an error page. This is something I've never seen before. People who watch North Korea have never seen this


There is sometimes some slow service trying to get to the page, but you never see this.

The website briefly came back up hours later and then got replaced by a purple flower.

So when you talk to internet security people, as we've been throughout the day, what they're saying is that this looks like a hack. It doesn't

look like something that the United States would bother with. It looks like something that perhaps an amateur might be doing to mess with North

Korea. The website does appear to be working right now.


SESAY: Now, Kyung Lah there. Very intriguing.

There you see Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has been tracking the U.S. government's response to the outage. She joins us live from

Washington. Barbara, it's the answer everyone is seeking is the U.S. responsible? What are U.S . officials saying?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good day to you, Isha. Here in Washington officials aren't saying anything. Everyone is

being very coy, nobody is denying it, nobody is saying the U.S. did it. There's a lot of chatter as Kyung Lah just said that it is a hack. But

it's not to say that the U.S. government isn't looking at some ideas about what it may want to do.


STARR: After the Sony attack, the Pentagon moved quickly, CNN has learned, beefing up its own cyber defense against North Korea. Now the

Pentagon is looking into a number of classified options to quickly identify and defend against any future attempts by North Korea to hack into military

computer systems. At the same time the military is preparing options for the president to consider.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: We're part of the inter- agency discussion about the incident and about options that may be available.

STARR: And a military cyber response will be coordinated with the FBI, which is leading the investigation.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionally, as I said.

STARR: One potential, an offensive U.S. military cyber attack on North Korea's limited online capabilities, but it may be tough.

BRUCE KLINGNER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: We know from defectors from this unit, which is called Bureau 121, or unit 121, that they have 3,000, 5,000

cyber warriors. They operate out of China, Singapore, Europe as well as using computer nodes throughout the world.

STARR: Oddly, experts who track online outages around the world are reporting internet routes into North Korea since Sunday have been down. No

one is yet saying this is a U.S. counterattack.

Pyongyang, not giving up on its fiery rhetoric saying, "our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon,

and the whole U.S. mainland, the cesspool of terrorism."

There are other U.S. options such as more sanctions and putting North Korea back on the list of countries sponsoring terrorism.


STARR: Now one of the reasons you keep hearing about the notion of a proportional response is the U.S. doesn't have a lot of confidence it knows

how the North Korean leadership makes decisions and they don't want to do anything that might inadvertently spark an unanticipated reaction,

unanticipated further retaliation from the north -- Isha.

SESAY: And Barbara to that point, I've got to ask you I know you're talking about the U.S. trying to measure how it responds to the Sony

attack, but are there fears that regardless what the U.S. says about this internet outage, that the North Koreans will indeed make a next move and

will retaliate?

STARR: You know, this is always the question for the U.S. intelligence community and U.S. law enforcement and military, how to gauge

that North Korean rhetoric. It's often very tough, very fiery. It all sounds very violent, but there is an undercurrent of thought that North

Korea engages in this rhetoric for internal political reasons, for the regime if you will. Kim Jong un to demonstrate power to his own people and

that they may have little interest in really trying to provoke the outside world, but it is something the U.S. watches around the clock.

SESAY: Understandably so.

Our own Barbara Starr, Pentagon correspondent joining us there from D.C. Barbara, always appreciated. Thank you.

All right, let's get to Wall Street where the Dow hit the 18,000 milestone for the first time ever. This is how it's looking now. Let's

take a look at the board. As you see, still over 18,000, up 84 points that's just over 90 minutes after the opening bell. The record gains come

as data showed the economy grew by 5 percent in the third quarter.

Let's bring in chief business correspondent Christine Romans who joins me now live from New York.

Wow, Christine, what a milestone. What are your thoughts?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think wow is really that GDP report. 5 percent economic growth, Isha, in the third

quarter? That's remarkable. And when you put it against the second quarter that had 4.6 percent growth you're seeing a solid six months there

of an economy that is really moving forward at a brisk pace. That 5 percent read for the third quarter is the best we've seen since 2003, so

think of that: the best economic growth since 2003.

It was personal spending, you know, people spending more money in the third quarter. It was also businesses investing, building up their

inventories. And so those were the big drivers of it.

There was a little number, a November durable goods number, would be a fourth quarter number, that was a little less optimistic. It could mean

that maybe the fourth quarter growth is not going to be as strong as the second and third. But at any rate, it shows you companies are adding jobs,

the economy moving forward and low gas prices in the U.S. means consumers are feeling better and for the first time in seven years, a majority of

Americans say the economy is good. And that is really remarkable.

You can see that when you look for investors, too. I mean, the Dow Jones Industrial average has risen 1,000 points since December 16. I want

to show you a chart, Isha, that shows you just the rocketship advance of the Dow Jones industrial average just since December 16.

Remember when there were all those concerns earlier in the month about a pullback and all this selling? Boom, right away the economy -- the

economy is showing signs of strength, but investors in the stock market certainly having a very, very good year. That's a -- you know, an 8

percent return for the Dow this year. That's a pretty good year for investors, Isha.

SESAY: Yeah, it's a good number. And it's a good way to close out 2014. We hope it continues. Christine Romans joining us there from New

York. Thanks, Christine.

In Libya, a tale of two governments and deepening chaos. Later on Connect the World the foreign minister from the internationally recognized

government speaks to CNN about his country's troubles.

And it's been eight months since Boko Haram abducted hundreds of Nigerian girls from their school. We sit down with one family having to

face Christmas without their daughter. That's next.


SESAY: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World with me Isha Sesay. Welcome back everyone.

Now back to our top story. More violence strikes northern Nigeria and Boko Haram is the likely culprit. One attack targeted a bus station while

another hit a crowded market. More than two dozen people were killed in both explosions.

Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a string of violent incidents, including the mass kidnapping of more than 200 girls back in

April of this year. There is still no word on their fate. One family who says Christmas will not be the same without their daughter.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): She is brilliant. She likes reading. Always she loved going to school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): She used to tell me one day she will finish school and become somebody. She used to assist the younger

ones with their homework. She loved studies. She used to fall asleep with her books in her arms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Every Christmas we used to be complete and happy, but now one of us is not here. How can it be the same?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There is nothing I can say. It has happened. It is a bad Christmas. But there is nothing we can do.

Her siblings know that she is not here. They themselves know what is happening having come out of war. They keep asking me when is she coming

back? But I keep telling them to keep trusting God. Maybe he will hear us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I tell the children that she will come back. They should keep praying and hoping that she is still

alive and that she will come back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator); I used to feel pain inside of me, but I am trusting God that one day she will come back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They will come back. They will come back. That many girls? If they are alive on the face of the

Earth, they will come back.


SESAY: That is the hope of us all that they come back. The search to find the girls continues. And a Nigerian government spokesman says he

believes the girls are still alive.


MIKE OMERI, NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: If the government was not -- we do not have the girls in focus, I'll give you the fact against the

insurgency in focus, that we have given up. We won't give up. We have to come to the conclusion. These are human lives. And the fact that

knowledge available is that they are still alive and living somewhere means we have to keep searching, we have to keep working, we have to make sure

that we get to the end of the story.


SESAY: Well, northern Nigeria has been targeted regularly by Boko Haram for many years. For more on the terror group's campaign of

violence, I'm joined by Alex Vines in London. He's the head of the Africa program at Chatham House. Alex, thanks so much for joining us.

We just heard from government spokesman Mike Omeri there saying that the government is still searching for these girls. That is the hope. But

when you look on the ground at what is happening in northeastern Nigeria in recent months, Boko Haram appears to have stepped up its attacks. It's

attacking areas. It's taking people. It's holding areas with what seems to be near impunity.

Is the Nigerian government actually employing a counterinsurgency strategy here?

ALEX VINES, CHATHAM HOUSE: Well, Isha, that's a good question. I think the core problem in northern Nigeria is that the government response

has been fragmented, it's been ineffective. The government hasn't really helped by executing over 50 of its own soldiers for ineffectiveness and

insubordination. The solution here is obviously an effective counterinsurgency operation coupled with hearts and minds. We've learned

about this elsewhere in the world in Afghanistan and other places. And we don't see that in northern Nigeria as you've just been reporting there is

just continued violence.

So whereas I do agree with the government spokesperson that we haven't heard the end of the story about the Chibok girls, I'd believe that they're

alive. The problem of Boko Haram will continue to be a major theme in 2015.

SESAY: Let's talk about this step up, this increase of attacks from Boko Haram. Talk to me about what the group is doing now. It appears to

be getting stronger. What's your sense of its capabilities?

VINES: Well, look, I don't think that the group is really much stronger than it was at the beginning of the year. What I do think is that

the government of Nigeria, its own forces have not strengthened, they have weakened, therefore it looks stronger.

What is very noticeable at the beginning of the year we wouldn't have been talking about large areas of the north being dominated by Boko Haram.

They were doing hit and run operations. They were still doing all sorts of outrageous attacks in cities, but they didn't control areas of territory in

the way that they do now. That's what is different now.

But that's because of the weakness of the Nigerian federal government response.

SESAY: So, can the Nigerian government as it stands now -- you mentioned the lack of morale among Nigerian soldiers, something we've heard

about a great deal -- can they really take on Boko Haram? Is this going to require foreign intervention?

VINES: Look, the root cause of the Boko Haram crisis is a Nigerian one. Therefore the solution to this is Nigerian. External experts can

help give certain advice in particular areas, but any lasting solution will require Nigerian politics in dealing with this crisis is very fragmented,

very disjointed.

We are coming up to an election in Nigeria in February 2015. After an election, I guess there will be more focus on this. That provides an

opportunity. But in the short-term, I'm afraid I have to be very pessimistic about the chances of a reduction in violence in northern


SESAY: All right, Alex Vines we're going to leave it there. We appreciate the insight there and the perspective. It's much appreciated.

Thank you very much.

VINES: Thank you.

SESAY: From Boko Haram to Ebola to the crisis in Ukraine and the search for a missing Malaysian airliner, CNN takes a look back at the

stories that captured your attention this year. Join us for Defining Moments 2014. That's coming up Thursday at 8:00 a.m. in London.

And live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World.

Coming up, ISIS has been blamed for killing thousands of people in its quest for an islamic state, now rights groups says the terror organization

is also driving women and girls to take their own lives.

Plus, a city that straddles east and west is growing on two continents. We'll take a closer look at Istanbul's property market ahead

on Connect the World. Do stay with us.



JOHN DEFTERIOS, EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Istanbul, a city that straddles the continents of Europe and Asia earned its place in history,

but it's out to do the same in property.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's a cliche, but as Napoleon said, if the world was a state, the capital would be Istanbul.

It's that important.

DEFTERIOS: Faisula Yetkin (ph) is a board member of Challah Group (ph), which is building Tara Basi 360 (ph), just a third of a kilometer

from Taksim Square. Facades will remain, but little else as up to 700 units will emerge in this one city block, known in the past two decades as

an eyesore of dilapidated buildings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator); For this area to remain as a wreck is not acceptable for anyone, especially for an Istanbulite.

DEFTERIOS: The large-scale urban renewal has been engineered by the most famous Istanbulite, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Here he is at the recent groundbreaking for a third bridge to cross the Bosphorus Strait. A year ago he inaugurated the Marmaray Tunnel,

opening rail service underneath their waterway.

As the world has witnessed in Taksim Square, there's been stiff resistance to modernization without local consultation.

City planning activist and architect Gohan Gumish (ph) believes power has been snatched by the long arms of the federal government in Ankara.

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: It could be a space, a public space controlled by a citizen organization, by local government. But there is no possibility

because the central government tried to control the local economy with privatization.

DEFTERIOS: And there's plenty of controversy around especially on the giant redevelopment projects like here at Galataport. A large holding

company offered to pay just over $700 million to have the right to redevelop the waterfront and operate the port over the next 30 years.

The 100,000 square meter project was suspended by a top court. The plans met objections by an association of Turkish engineers and architects.

In the shadow of Galataport, property specialist Anthony Labode (ph) says the megacity needed a mega push from the president to modernize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we've seen has been fostering a lot of the activity and the real estate activity over the last few years. Without

such initiatives, I don't think that the market would have gone through such transformation.

DEFTERIOS: Despite efforts by local activists to slow down developments, a new crop of buildings on the Asian and European sides,

continue to sprout up as this city expands.

John Defterios, CNN, Istanbul.



SESAY: This is Connect the World. The top stories this hour. New York City's mayor is asking protesters to hold off on demonstrations

against police conduct until after the funerals for two murdered officers.

Rafael Ramos' funeral is set for Saturday. Relatives of his fellow officer Wanjian Liu are waiting for more families are waiting for more

family members to arrive from China before making arrangements.

Services have been held for the two victims of last week's cafe siege in Sydney. Mourners celebrated the lives of 38-year-old Katrina Dawson, a

barrister and mother of three; and the 34-year-old cafe manager Tory Johnson.

Greek lawmakers have failed to choose a new president in a second round of voting. Stavros Dimas the only candidate standing was still shy

of the votes needed. A final round of voting will take place on December 29th. If parliament fails again, the country will go to snap elections,

which could bring an anti-austerity party into power.

A landmark day on Wall Street as the Dow Jones climbed above 18,000 points for the first time in its history. You're looking at the current

level now. It's still over 18,000, up 82 points. The record coincides with the news that the U.S. economy grew at a revised annual rate of 5

percent in the third quarter this year, its best performance in more than a decade.

Now Libya's competing governments are fighting for control of key oil terminals. The violence has now spread to a third port, further disrupting

the country's energy exports.

Libya's parallel governments and parliament are locked in a struggle for power, territory and crucially access to all-important income from oil


Months of fighting between various factions have killed hundreds and forced at least 120,000 people from their homes, that's according to the

United Nations, which is also documented kidnappings, torture and food shortages as the political stalemate drags on.

So who are these competing governments? Let's break it down for you. The internationally recognized cabinet was forced out of Tripoli in August

by an armed alliance called Libya Dawn. Its Tripoli based government now controls most ministries and state institutions.

In November, the Libyan Supreme Court declared it the only legitimate authority in the country. The UN is calling on all sides to negotiate and

bring an end to the conflict.

Let's bring in Mohamed Dayri, who is foreign minister of the internationally recognized Libyan government who joins us now from

Washington, D.C. And Mr. Dayri, thank you so much for joining us.

Fighting as we say has now spread to a third oil port causing some to wonder whether Libya is on the brink of falling apart. What can you tell

us about the situation in your country right now?

MOHAMED DAYRI, FOREIGN MINISTER OF LIBYA: The situation has been of grave concern to us Libyans, but also to the neighboring countries of Libya

since the launch of the Dawn operation that you have mentioned. However, we have to regret the escalation of the situation, which came through the

attack on the oil fields as have suffered the repeat of December of this month.

So the situation that we are faced with is characterized by the association of some groups from the Dawn operation who were joined by the

Ansar al-Shariah, it's an outlawed organization by the U.S. and which is a terrorist organization that will declare it as such by the UN sanction

committee on Wednesday the 19th of November.

So this situation, this attack on the oil fields has been worrisome. It's added insult to injury, because it represented a breach of the

national cohesion that we are all striving for on Libya on one hand. On the other, access of radical and terrorist groups may potentially happen at

the hands of this operation.

And this is, I think, is a trend move, which would be worrisome for us Libyans, but also for the international community. We should not -- we

should avoid a repeat of what happened in Syria through ISIS access to the oil fields.

SESAY: Well, the violence is continuing, as you point out. And national cohesions is basically hanging by a thread.

Are you still pinning your hopes on General Haftar to oust these islamist militants, these extremists?

DAYRI: I would like say that we are grateful to General Haftar and to those army servicemen who joined him since the 16th of May of this year

when they launched together the dignity operation.

However, I would like to add that since August, since the start of the proceedings of the Haftar representative in Tubruq. We have had other army

people who joined in. And we have now a new army staff chief General Abdarzaq Nadouri (ph) who is joined also by other ground commanders and

other military heads who are -- who have been part of our operation in Benghazi and nowadays in the Sidra area where we have the oil fields.

SESAY: All right, so it's -- so we're talking about what's happening on the battlefield. There is still a military operation judging from what

you are saying to oust these fighters.

Let's talk politically, the political protests -- the political process, I should say. The internationally recognized government, of which

you are a part, isn't considered legitimate domestically, so where does this leave your efforts to stabilize Libya. What's your next move?

DAYRI: No, I think our government is internationally recognized as a legitimate government and this is a recognition that we are getting from

the European countries, from the African Union, from the League of Arab states and here in the U.S. So we are grateful to all of these nations to

have backed the Libyan people's choice, which was manifested through the election of the house of representative that took place on Wednesday the

25th of June of this year.

SESAY: But a Supreme Court doesn't recognize you domestically, Mr. Dayri, so what can you do?

DAYRI: We have a great deal of respect for our judiciary, which despite all odds, despite many challenges that the judiciary and other

state institutions have been faced with, we commanded the ruling of the Supreme Court in the past and its proceedings.

However, one must underscore here the duress that was applied on the Supreme Court. And one most recognize that the ruling of the 6th of

November was forced by arms.

One has also to add to that that three judges stepped down from that ruling, from that case, because precisely of this very reason of duress and

pressure that was exerted on them.

So, one has to add that the international community hasn't taken into consideration the nature and the repercussion of that ruling. And as I

mentioned earlier, we are still the legitimate authority through the house of representatives and the government that it set up since the 28th of

September of this year.

SESAY: Right, Mr. Mohamed Dayri, sadly we must leave it there.

And we look forward to continue this conversation with you in the days ahead about the situation there in Libya and next moves for the

internationally recognized Libyan government. Thanks so much for your time today.

DAYRI: Thank you. Thank you, Isha.

SESAY: Now the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS carried out 10 air strikes in Syria and Iraq Tuesday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

says more than 1,100 people have died in three months of strikes. The opposition-linked NGO says the majority of casualties have been ISIS

fighters, most of them foreign. More than 70 militants from the al Qaeda linked al Nusra group are also reported dead, but 52 Syrian civilians have

been killed in the strikes.

Well, despite the strikes, ISIS still controls, or has a presence in a vast sweep of territory stretching from the Turkish border to within an

hour's drive of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

For safety reasons, few western journalists venture near ISIS strongholds anymore, but on Monday we brought you the exclusive story of

one German author who did, going so far as to embed with ISIS, to see the cities they control and how they operate.

So how did he get in? And why did ISIS agree to allow him into their world? CNN's Fred Pleitgen sat down with him to ask him just that.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What I have here is the declaration of safe passage, I think it is, that you received from the

Islamic State. When did you get here? Do you remember what it says also?

JURGEN TODENHOFER, GERMAN AUTHOR AND FORMER POLITICIAN: Yeah, it says that the caliph is giving a guarantee that I would be protected, the

people, my team would be protected and I would come back to Germany in safety and it's a clear guarantee.

Our problem was that we didn't know if this guarantee was sure, because I cannot control the stamp on this declaration, on this guarantee

and this was our risk.

PLEITGEN: But did they treat you well when you were there? Did they abide by what they wrote here?

TODENHOFER: They were correct, but they were not very kind to me. We had very hard discussions about our -- about the way of investigations,

about our freedom and sometimes they chose a tone that I didn't accept and we had hairy disputes and after two days we had a very hard dispute and we

almost decided to leave and to go back.

PLEITGEN: What about censorship? How openly were you allowed to travel? What were you allowed to show? What did they want to see?

TODENHOFER: Well, at the beginning I wanted to go to Raqqa, but they said I would prefer to go to Mosul, because I knew Mosul and I could make

comparisons. They said Mosul is not possible, it's difficult. And when I arrived, they said we have a good surprise for you, you can go to Mosul.

You are the only one, the first one, et cetera.

And this was the good side. But the bad side was that we had to give our mobiles, to give our laptops to them. And that all the photos were

controlled, all the films were controlled.

PLEITGEN: So they went through all of your stuff, all of your video...

TODENHOFER: They went through all of the stuff and of course we said no. We refused and we had again a huge dispute. And they said you can

leave if you want to leave, then leave. So, I think even if we hadn't taken one single photo I was interested to see what was happening in this



SESAY: And to see more of the videos and interviews which Jurgen Todenhofer filmed during his trip through ISIS territory, just go to our

website at

Now thousands of people have been killed fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Amnesty International says the terror group is also to blame for

many deaths beyond the battlefield with women and girls committing suicide to avoid the trauma of sexual slavery.

Joining me now is Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa director Philip Luther. Thanks so much for joining us, Philip.

Tell us more about the personal stories uncovered in this report about the experiences of the Yazidi women and girls at the hands of ISIS?

PHILIP LUTHER, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Well, this report is about torture. It's about torture such as rape and other forms of sexual

violence against women and girls from the Yazidi minority in Northern Iraq.

And these are women and girls who were abducted back in August. They've been held in Islamic State captivity in Iraq and Syria. They've

often been forced into marriage. They've been sold, or given as gifts to Islamic State fighters and in some cases then ended up as sexual slaves.

The -- this involves girls as young as 14, 15 and even younger than that. And as you say some of them have been driven to suicide by the

experiences they've had.

SESAY: It is truly horrifying.

Give us some perspective. What kind of numbers are we looking at here? How widespread is this?

LUTHER: Well, our research has been focused on precisely 42 interviews that were able to do in the north of Iraq with women and girls

who'd escaped from captivity. We were also able to talk to four more who were still in captivity, but then have talked to dozens of family members

of women and girls who are still, or had been in captivity.

So, our best estimate is that we are talking about hundreds who have experienced or have been exposed to this type of rape or sexual violence.

SESAY: Hundreds. Hundreds of women and girls exposed to rape and sexual violence. What kind of impact are we talking about on the survivors

on this kind of horror?

LUTHER: Well, the impact is truly shocking. Not only, of course, is the impact of the experience themselves so powerful, but also these women

and girls have often -- are often experiencing the trauma of either losing loved ones, whether they be fathers or other male relatives who have been

killed by Islamic State fighters and they've returned in some cases to families, at least broader, larger families, who are not perhaps best

equipped to deal with their terrible situation. And they don't have access now to the medical and psycho-social services that hey need and really

they're in a terrible situation. And efforts need to be redoubled to support them.

SESAY: And are you seeing a willingness, are you seeing an understanding among the authorities, NGO, to get these girls or to connect

these women and girls to the services that they need?

LUTHER: I don't think there's a shortage of good will, and I don't think, you know, there's anyone who is not making a serious effort whether

it's at the level of the UN agencies or the Iraqi-Kurdistan authorities.

The difficult is often that the social stigma that relates to some of these -- some of the experiences that the girls and women have gone through

means that they're often in a catch 22 situation. They're in isolated communities, they're not able to talk about their experiences with their

community and the services they need are often in distant towns or cities.

And that's the catch 22. And so that's why, then, a particular effort needs to be made to get into those communities to be able, then, to provide

those types of services.

SESAY: Philip Luther, Middle Eastern and North Africa head for Amnesty International, the director there, joining us. Appreciate it.

Thank you so much.

LUTHER: Thank you.

SESAY: Now, we want to bring you a quick update on a story we told you about at the top of the hour. Vin Research has tweeted that North

Korea's internet service is down once again after some intermittent service during the day. We're going to continue to dig a little deeper into the

situation and find out what the situation is right now. We've got people working the story for us. And we'll bring you more details as they come

into us.

Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World. Coming up, spreading Christmas cheer from Sao Paulo to the Amazon, how Brazil's postal workers

are up against more than just time to get special presents to those less fortunate.


SESAY: A South Korean zoo has some especially festive felines this holiday season. It's the first Christmas for these lion and tiger cubs.

And their keepers made sure they got into the holiday spirit. I hope they wanted to.

They've been getting their presents early some toys for them to chew on to the delight of visitors and some festive head gear.

South Korea, of course, is home to a large Christian community so lots of celebrations there over the coming days. You're watching CNN. And this

is Connect the World with me Isha Sesay, welcome back.

Postal workers in Brazil are helping to spread Christmas cheer to those in need. Despite economic times, the program is helping to ensure

that half a million less fortunate children have gifts under their trees this year.

Shasta Darlington has the details.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A modern-day Santa Claus delivers presents to your doorstep no matter where that may be,

part of a Christmas campaign run by Brazil's postal service, matching needy families with generous donors with the help of traditional Dear Santa

letters, keeping Christmas magic alive for young and old.

"Wow, so it's for real," says this woman as she receives a present for her granddaughter.

In downtown Sao Paulo, most of the action takes place behind this unlikely facade.

It's a simple operation, just a few tables full of handwritten letters. People can come in, read them, deliver the presents right there.

And this is happening at 5,000 different post offices around the country.

Rosemary and her family are joining in for the third year in a row.

"Here's a letter from a 9-year-old boy," she says, "asking for a blender for his grandmother even if it's used, and a toy car for his little

brother, but nothing for himself."

Jasmine (ph) picked a girl her same age, "she asking for Barbie roller skates," she says.

The letters also tell stories.

"My mom has a health problem," she says. "She's 33 and cleans houses."

The program was started 25 years ago by a handful of postal workers who decided to do something about all the letters.

But the regional postal director says today children have to meet three criteria.

"They must be under 10," he says, "from disadvantaged families and they have to write the letters by hand."

This year, half a million Brazilian children will see their wishes come true.

Footballs and Barbie dolls are on many lists, but at the post office toy factory, you can also find baby formula and diapers soon on their way

to another Christmas tree.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paulo.


SESAY: What a wonderful story. The team at Connect the World wants to hear from you. Have your say on all of today's stories at You can also tweet me @IshaSesayCNN. And I look forward to hearing from you.

Now, we want to remind you of that update on a story we told you about at the top of the hour. Din Research has tweeted that North Korea's

internet service is down once again after some intermittent service during the day. We'll have more on this story in the next hour. So do stay with

CNN for that.

I'm Isha Sesay. And that was Connect the World. Thank you for watching. African Start-up is next. And stay tuned for International Desk

with Lynda Kinkade.