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CONNECT THE WORLD
Ukraine Pulls Troops From Debaltseve; Egypt Calls On UN Coalition To Fight ISIS In Libya; African Startup: Benefit Consult; White House Summit to Counter Extremism; Funeral for Terror Victim Dan Uzan in Copenhagen; "Le Monde" Says Paris Terror Attacks were Coordinated; Undermining ISIS Online; Fighting Extremists with Super Heroes; And the Winner Is...; Parting Shots
Aired February 18, 2015 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: At this hour, Washington faces up to a war being fought on several fronts and a terrorist threat that is seemingly growing
by the day. President Barack Obama is hosting a summit aimed at tackling the threat from its source. And it couldn't come at a more pivotal time.
We've got the fight against ISIS covered from all angles.
Also ahead, another war with international implications appears to be on the boil again. We'll bring you the view from eastern Ukraine days after a
ANNOUNCER: This is the hour we CONNECT THE WORLD.
FOSTER: We'll start, though, with a group that controls no country, has no demarcated borders, no government or organized army to speak of, but which
nonetheless has managed to sufficiently threaten states across the world that today an already broad global coalition against them could perhaps
extend as well.
I'm talking about ISIS and the potential for coordinated attacks against them in a third country, adding Libya to the list. That's if the Egyptian
president gets his wish and the United Nations backed military action there.
In Iraq and Syria, a U.S.-led group of western and Arab states is already trying to weaken the group, but after six months of airstrikes ISIS is
still able to mount offensives.
Meanwhile, western states are grappling with the radicalization of some of their citizens, trying to physically stop the stream of men and women to go
and fight in Syria.
As well as trying to understand and undermine the attraction of ISIS's ideology for so many young people. And the U.S. is hosting a meeting today
on that very topic in Washington.
Take a listen to what the homeland security secretary had to say as he opened the talks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEH JOHNSON, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We need to develop a counter narrative. We've heard that over and over now. And we know that
there are a number of those who have undertaken to do this. We need to take that to the next level, developing the counter narrative.
Also in our communities, and the communities we engage, we ask that we all have a stake. So, one of the themes of this conference, which fits right
in with that is our communities, our responsibility, our shared future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Meanwhile, on the ground in Iraq, Kurdish officials say they have repelled a major attack just outside the regional capital Irbil. Various
Kurdish forces have been fighting ISIS in northern Iraq for months now.
For more, let's bring in CNN's Tim Lister. They're struggling arent' they?
TIM LISTER, CNN PRODUCER: It's a battle for them, Max.
I'm in Irbil at the moment. And I've spent the last 10 days traveling around the front lines. And they are long front lines, they go on from
Mount Sinjar in the north all the way down to south of Kirkuk 1,000 kilometers to guard against ISIS. And ISIS can pick their moment and their
place to attack. And they favor night time. They pick poor weather. And the Kurds are stretched. They're also not particularly well armed. It's
improving somewhat, but they don't have very much in the way of heavy armor, which they need to repel the IEDs that ISIS uses to much. They
don't have very much in the way of heavy machine guns or mortars or artillery pieces, APCs, they sort of pretty much everything apart from
So they're holding the line. And according to the deputy prime minister of Iraq who is a Kurd, he says he believe Kurdistan is safe, but it's a
constant vigilance for them against ISIS probing and tactical attacks across this long front line.
FOSTER: The Kurdish forces are very well regarded fighters, aren't they? But they just don't seem to have the kit that they need to repel ISIS. Why
aren't they being provided with that?
LISTER: There's a lot of reasons. And I think the main reason is, and this is what Kurdish officials will tell you as well, that the United
States and other weapons providers are very weary of tipping the sectarian regional balance in this country by supplying one side and perhaps not the
So the Iraqi government in particular does not want to see direct arms flows to the Kurds.
It's one thing to give them submachine guns or automatic rifles, which is what they are getting from places like Germany, but it's another thing to
give them the sort of armor that -- they could really use to go on the offensive against ISIS.
So the Kurd's position is very defensive at the moment. They are not able to take any towns of any size that ISIS holds, and that includes Mosul.
And they don't want to take Mosul for a variety of reasons. The urban combat would be horrendous. It's not even principally a Kurdish city, it's
a Sunni-Arab city. So it may be months, it will be months before Mosul is taken even if it can be successfully grasped from ISIS in the next few
That depends on the Iraqi army standing up, being retrained, remotivated, that is a work in progress, Max.
FOSTER: OK, Tim Lister, thank you for joining us from Irbil.
Now, Egypt's foreign minister is at UN headquarters pushing for more international involvement in the fight against ISIS in Libya. The Egyptian
air force bombed ISIS targets there on Monday after the terror group beheaded 21 Coptic Christians from the town of Minyar (ph).
Egypt is now seeking a resolution to end an arms embargo on Libya so it's government is beter equipped to fight extremists.
Our Ian Lee has been following developments from Cairo for us. He joins me now.
Does Egypt have what it needs to take on ISIS in Libya, or does it need that international support?
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, Egypt definitely needs international support to do anything in Libya. And what we're
hearing now this vote is supposed to go down, this resolution is supposed to be presented later today. But what we're hearing from the Egyptians now
is a more watered down version of what they initially proposed.
In the beginning, they wanted a same sort of coalition that was dealing with ISIS in Iraq and Syria to deal with Libya as well. But now we're
hearing that they're fine with the diplomatic measures, they have launched air strikes into Libya, targeting ISIS, weapons depots and training camps.
We have not seen any airstrikes since then, but they do -- are going to the UN to push for, as you mentioned, a lifting of the international arms
blockade. They want to see what they say is arms going to the internationally recognized Libyan government.
Talking -- or listening to what other countries are saying. France seems to want to support Egypt in their efforts to get a tough resolution passed.
Other western countries, though, very hesitant about using military force inside Libya. They want to see this political process go forward as well
and to get some sort of political agreement, because at the end of the day that's what it's going to take, Max.
FOSTER: And you've been seeing firsthand what's happening on the ground and the impact of this, not in terms of the front lines of the war, but you
went to the hometown, didn't you, of some of these Christians that were beheaded in that most brutal recent video.
LEE: That's right. And this really is a city, a little village actually, in mourning. Every one is related, everyone knows someone who died. And
it was a very emotional scene seeing this city come out and mourn. Take a look.
LEE: A grieving mother of a son-turned martyr. 24-year-old Mina Aziz (ph) didn't have much. A strong back, but no education. With marriage on his
mind, he left for Libya. He was a worker, carried sand and rocks.
AZIZ (ph): (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
LEE: "He was a worker. He used to carry sand and rocks. What else could he do," asked his mother? "He didn't have a trade. He would have taken any job
offered to him."
Families like Aziz's (ph) may be poor, but they are rich in faith. The small, close-knit village mourns 14 sons who were a group of 21 who lost
their lives at the hands of ISIS in gruesome beheadings.
The streets, void of joy, filled with a painful procession of crying eyes.
Om Bashir (ph) lost two of her sons. They were about to return home to celebrate Christmas.
OM BASHIR (ph), GRIEVING MOTHER: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
LEE: "They said, Ma, cook us all the holiday food," she tells me. "But the bastards kidnapped them. Like they deprived me of their sons, I hope God
The attack sparked national outrage. Islam and Christianity in Egypt forming one hand.
Men in this village understand what it means to work in Libya.
(on camera): The thing about villages like this is people are poor. Work is scarce. Libya was seen as the only opportunity. Some say, once things calm
down, they will risk their lives going back.
(voice-over): Hannan (ph) isn't returning. He's lucky to be alive, narrowly avoiding being kidnapped by ISIS. He's the last to see the sons alive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
LEE: He tells me, there was a crack in the wall next to the A.C., masked men seized his cousins and nephew in the adjacent room. He heard ISIS
militants say they had orders from the emir to arrest all Christians there. Hannan (ph) escaped into the desert with 15 others. Back home, he avoids
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
LEE: "I feel guilty," Hannan (ph) tells me. "First of all, the situation was difficult, more than you can imagine. How can your nephew be taken from
your hand? How can you face your brother or uncle? What would you tell them? Heroics would mean one more son wouldn't have returned home."
Despite the gruesome video, Hannan (ph) takes solace in what he saw.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
LEE: "To the last moment, the name of Jesus was on their lips," he tells me. "As they were being martyred, they were calling God's name, saying God
have mercy on us. The entire village is proud.
Azaf (ph) doesn't hold a grudge against Hannan (ph). She knows her son is in a better place."
LEE: And, Max, another issue that Egypt is going to be dealing with is that there's thousands of Egyptians still in Libya. Some quoted up into
the hundreds of thousands. The situation for them is growing increasingly more dangerous. After those airstrikes, not just Christians are in danger
now, but also Egyptian Muslims, too. And the government has urged them to leave, but a lot of them are still trying to find a way out -- Max.
FOSTER: Ian, thank you.
Well, we'll be staying with this story, which is so important to the future of the Middle East as regional alliances shift and strengthen. We'll take
a closer look at the Egyptian president's plans for taking on ISIS inside Libya.
We'll also be live in Washington to hear about a White House initiative on fighting extremism. A talking shop, or a step in the right direction?
And the creator of this comic book hero tells us about the role he sees his character in the fight against ISIS. All that coming up this hour.
We turn now to a major setback for Ukraine in its fight against pro-Russian separatists. Government forces are pulling out of Debaltseve, a key
highway and rail hub whose apparent capture gives the rebels better access to other cities they control.
Fighting has raged there, despite last week's ceasefire. The separatists insist Debaltseve was never part of it, though, Russia's foreign minister
offered a slightly different view.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): When it comes to 12 February agreement, the main point was about a ceasefire and
removing heavy armor and across all conflicts line. We can see that hostilities ceased and heavy armor started to be being moved. However, we
can see that it's not the case in Debaltseve. We are not happy about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in eastern Ukraine. He joins us now from Donetsk, another rebel stronghold.
Does this mean the separatists have Debaltseve then, Nick?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: More or less. There seem to be some pockets potentially of Ukrainian troops there about the
message we're getting from Ukrainian military, certainly, is the draw -- withdrawal should have been complete today.
Now the question people don't know how to answer is how many have died in this violence? There has been intense shelling it's fair to say by both
sides. Civilians caught in the crossfire. They're also stuck in Debaltseve as well. So alongside the military casualty, there's a civilian
loss of life. The pictures being shown of Ukrainian military leaving often in an awfully sorry state. They have been blockaded, encircled for days
now against a vastly better equipped military, which Ukraine and NATO say is Russian trained and supplied.
So, a very messy and upsetting picture inside Debaltseve certainly for the Kiev government here. And we saw ourselves traveling around the sort of
villages on the fringes of Debaltseve, positions which have been vacated by the Ukrainian military. Just hours earlier, one checkpoint where an APC
was on -- still smoking from the fire that appear to have killed some of its soldiers inside. Two other vehicles damaged as well.
One large cache of artillery, which the Ukrainian soldiers seem to have left behind as they fled. It was pretty clearly their position, because of
the remains we saw behind there.
But quite a remarkable picture of Ukrainian retreat. And Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, trying to suggest that this is effectively an
orderly withdrawal where arms have been taken with them and a bid to hold on to Debaltseve long enough to expose what he says is Russia's connivance
Extraordinarily bad day, I think, for Ukraine's military operations here. The question now being the separatists seem to have the lines they wanted
and believe the ceasefire somehow gave them. That was their quite distorted interpretation of the Minsk agreement.
The question is do they stop there now? They say today they're withdrawing their heavy weapons as part of their obligations under that treaty, but
frankly many separatist fighters you speak to still talk about advancing further than the lines they have now -- Max.
FOSTER: OK, Nick, thank you very much indeed.
Still to come this hour, Denmark in mourning. We'll have the latest on the investigation into the terror rampage that gripped the Danish capital over
the weekend. That's in about 20 minutes.
And Egypt asks what international support to attack ISIS affiliates in Libya. But how will this fight play out at home? We debate the issue
FOSTER: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Max Foster. Welcome back to you.
Let's take you back to our top story now, and that's the strengthening global coalition against ISIS. The latest and loudest voice this Wednesday
is Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi pledging vengeance after ISIS murdered 21 Christian migrant workers in Libya and calling on the United
Nations to back military action there.
Cairo has been accused of intervening in its civil war, crippling neighbors before. In August, there were reports that bombing raids were carried out
against Islamist militias.
Egypt and the United Arab Emirates denied taking any such action at that time.
How will Egyptian military involvement against its chaotic, unstable neighbor play out at home, though? To talk through this, I'm joined by
Omar Ashour, senior lecturer in Middle East politics and security studies at the University of Exeter in the UK.
And with me in the studio is Anas Altikriti of the Cordoba Foundation, and institution that has lobbied on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood, the
movement now banned in Egypt and several Arab states.
I'm interested in your view, really. Is the Muslim Brotherhood looking at this in a particular way, this unfolding story with ISIS?
ANAS ALTIKRITI, CORDOBA FOUNDATION: Well, I'm pretty sure that the Muslim Brotherhood will be looking at any kind of event that will change the
dynamics of what's happening on the ground.
However, I think that the party that is feeling a real sense of reprieve and possibly an opportunity to rehabilitate is the Egyptian regime. All of
a sudden, you know, despite all the reports from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty and various other international organizations condemning the
brutality of the regime, the massacres that were committed against the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the pro-democracy movements inside Egypt, all
of a sudden the Egyptian regime has now the cheek to actually look at the world square in the face and say, you know what, you need to arm us now
because we're involved in a war against ISIS. And everyone knows how horrible that could be.
So I think it's the Egyptian regime that is the happiest of the parties right now.
FOSTER: Omar, is it a regime, or is it a government?
OMAR ASHOUR, SENIOR LECTURER, UNIVERSITY OF EXETER: It's a -- I think -- my opinion it's of course a regime. It's a regime that came after a very
clear military coup. The defense minister came out on TV, suspended the constitution, dissolved the parliament, arrested the president and anyone
who opposed these measures were killed, detained or exiled. So, pretty much text book military coup as I teach it in the university.
So, the unfolding political system is more or less a regime where you have the military dominating the political scene, which has been really the
system since November '54 -- there's a second coup after the 1952 July coup. And more or less, the period that destruction of this military
dominated regime happened was between 2011 and 2013, but it did not last long before a comeback.
FOSTER: So in terms of this latest battle against ISIS and defending this Christian community, for example, which was so brutally attacked in this
latest video, does that strengthen the regime, as you describe it, within the country and perhaps appease some of its critics?
ASHOUR: It's -- it will have the effect of rally around the flag, because the massacre was so horrible that many will look to Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as
the patron and the savior who will protect and defend Egyptians.
But the problem is that the wrong questions so far as being asked. Rather than asking you had 50 days to try to attempt to save these 21 extremely
impoverished workers who were risking their lives to go to a war zone to get back some money for their families. And rather than doing something
within this 50 days, rather than trying to gather information -- we all know the military intelligence is in Libya, the general intelligence has
presence in Libya -- some military formations has presence in Libya as well -- rather than trying to use these basically tools to get some information
or to try to facilitate a release of these hostages, the 50 days passed. They were executed. And then 10 hours after their execution, you have air
raids on the wrong spot in Derna, not in Sirte.
So, there's too many question marks. And at the moment, because of the nature of the regime, transparency and accountability are not there.
FOSTER: Is that an opportunity, Anas, for the Muslim Brotherhood to make some political capital, work against the regime and perhaps gain another
presence back there in Cairo.
ALTIKRITI: Insofar as the dynamics might shift and might move, probably. But I don't see this being the opportunity.
Let's not forget that the Muslim Brotherhood is a totally different kettle of fish than ISIS. I mean, they're on diametrically opposed stands in
terms of their ideological and political approach. And, you know, in the eyes of ISIS the Muslim Brotherhood is even seen as beyond the pale in
terms of Islam.
So there's no one I think you know celebrating within the Muslim Brotherhood that this might be the chance where they sort of regain any
kind of foot of power.
The fact of the matter is, I think that Omar brought up some very important point, particularly in terms of you know how the attack took place. Until
now, until now, people with the Libyan parliament denounced the attacks on its territories and stated clearly that the attacks actually took place on
a residential -- on a highly condensed residential area in Derna nine hours away from where the alleged slaying of the Coptic Egyptians took place.
So everything now is up in the air. We don't know exactly what's happening on the ground. And to be perfectly honest, once again, we have this knack
for the past two, three years everywhere while you have a despotic, tyrannical dictatorial regime in the region on the verge of collapse we
immediately see ISIS coming up and totally rehabilitating that regime and affording it a stay of presence.
I mean, we saw it in Syria about a year-and-a-half ago. And now we're seeing it in the case of Egypt.
So, it's as though this is some sort of orchestrated play that keeps on coming time and time again. And to be honest, no one knows exactly how
this will turn out.
FOSTER: Thank you.
Anas Altikriti, thank you very much indeed for joining us. Also Omar Ashour, thank you very much indeed for joining us. And we'll be seeking
government responses as well on that story as you can see. Very controversial one within Egypt as well as around the world. Thank you very
much indeed for joining us.
Now, the U.S. President Barack Obama will lay out his thoughts on how to respond on global terror groups like ISIS and their extremist propaganda at
a summit in Washignton today. Speaking live about five hours from now, but a recent CNN poll shows his words will be reaching a largely disapproving
Go to CNN.com for more on why Americans are unhappy with Mr. Obama's record and the fight against ISIS.
Live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up, from super heroes to online messages, the innovative way some are challenging the spread of
But first there's something fishy going on in Nigeria. And it's catching on in households across the country. This week's African Start-up -- a bit
mysterious -- right ahead.
BUKOLA DAWODU, FOUNDER, BENEFITS CONSULT: Hi, my name is Bukola Dowodu from Lagos, Nigeria. And I'm the founder of Benefits Consult. Welcome to
JOHN DEFTERIOS, EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: After studying marine pollution and management, Bokala Dawodu discovered her love and passion for fish.
That interest led Dawodu to start her company.
DAWODU: I build and design aquariums of different shapes and sizes.
I actually started the business way back in (inaudible). I ventured into it with some of my colleagues in school.
DEFTERIOS: Dawodu mainly sells her aquariums to individuals , but also has some corporate clients.
DAWODU: I actually got my first startup capital about three years ago. I saved some money. I actually did my first aquarium in 2010.
For this aquarium, you can actually place it anywhere in your house. You can keep it in your kitchen. You can keep it in your living room. You can
keep it in your living room. You can keep it in your guest room.
DEFTERIOS: Thought Dawodu has made a name for herself locally, she still faces challenges.
DAWODU: As a female, it's not easy to market when it comes to a market that is meant for the male (inaudible). As a lady, I try as much as
possible to relate to people. I do my best in making them understand in the (inaudible) of having an aquarium in your house.
DEFTERIOS: Dawodu is optimistic about the future.
DAWODU: I don't want to be seen just in this place. This should be one of my outlets. Once I'm able to establish an international relationship with
other (inaudible) I would want to visit (inaudible) celebrated aquariums in the world like the ones in the (inaudible) Dubai., some of the aquariums in
the United States of America, too.
There's so many tunnels that they are being constructed in aquarium shapes. So I'd want to visit those places.
All in (inaudible) knowledge and making my own community a better and much more (inaudible) me and my people.
FOSTER: This is CONNECT THE WORLD. The top stories this hour, the Ukrainian military is withdrawing the bulk of its forces from the eastern
city of Debaltseve after weeks of intense fighting with pro-Russian separatists. It's a key highway and rail hub that connects with other
rebel strongholds, specifically at Donetsk and Luhansk.
Police in France and the U.K. have opened investigations after a group of football fans physically stopped a black man from getting on the Paris
Metro. The group, who appear to be Chelsea fans, are heard chanting, "We're racist and that's the way we like it."
Chelsea has condemned the footage and pledged support to any criminal action taken.
Kurdish fighters in Iraq have repelled a major ISIS attack after hours of heavy fighting. This all took place near the towns of Gwer and Makhmur
about 45 kilometers from the Kurdish capital of Erbil. Some 40 ISIS fighters were killed with Kurdish forces suffering several casualties.
Live pictures coming in to us from the Vatican, where Pope Francis is leading Ash Wednesday mass. More than 1 billion Christians around the
world are preparing to enter the season of Lent, a time of solemn spiritual preparation for Easter.
The White House is currently hosting a summit aimed at countering extremism. In his keynote speech later today, President Barack Obama is
expected to appeal to Americans to be more accepting of Muslim whilst urging citizens to be on the lookout for radicals who could turn violent.
Michelle Kosinski is standing by at the White House in Washington.
This has turned into a really major event, hasn't it, internationally?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It has. That said, it's a summit. It's people talking about ways to try to prevent violent
extremism and the question has been maybe from a skeptical point of view, what good is this really going to do now?
But the White House keeps emphasizing that you have to get at the root of extremism and this is how you do it, by getting into communities. It's
also been a sort of fine line for the White House to walk, because they've been so careful to never use the phrase "Islamic extremism," it's always
But when you look at what they're presenting today, pilot programs from around the U.S., they all focus on Muslim communities. The White House is
kind of getting criticism from both sides. Those who say the White House needs to call it like it is and say that young Muslims in America are the
ones who are going to be more likely to be susceptible to ISIS' propaganda.
Propaganda is a big issue during the summit and then you have Muslim Americans who way, wait a second, we're being singled out and stigmatized.
But what we're finding and listening to the presentations today is that it's not really about law enforcement or trying to crack down or be
suspicious of people in these communities. These programs are all about offering opportunities for our teachers to try to help kids find things to
do, look for early warning signs. And then in cities like L.A., needing more mentors, trying to boost the quality of life in some of these
communities and trying to improve things in general.
So this is truly a community based effort.
Also, Max, I think it's worth noting that it's not just American -- you know, you mentioned 60 countries actually more particular. So we're just
hearing today from people like the mayor of Paris, who said something interesting, that whenever you look at someone who's turned to extremism,
you almost always find a school failure somewhere along the way.
So she's focused on schools and wants to keep them all open on Saturday just to give kids more things to do and more opportunities for success. We
heard from a mayor of a town in Belgium, who said that this is all about opportunity, opportunity, opportunity. And his town, he's seen dozens of
people in that area go to fight alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
And he said that radicalism begins where integration ends -- Max.
FOSTER: OK. And stick with us, because we're going to come back to you on the European perspective on all of this, because in here -- and you're --
more is in Copenhagen, for example, covered earlier today, for the funeral of the terror victim, Dan Uzan. He was gunned down as he guarded a
synagogue earlier on Sunday. The terror rampage also targeted a free speech forum where a filmmaker was killed. And the gunman has been
identified as 22-year-old Omar Abdul Hamid El-Hussein. He was killed on Sunday in a shootout with police.
Nic Robertson has more from Copenhagen.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dan Uzan was 37 years old when he was shot dead by the gunman outside the synagogue late
Saturday night into Sunday morning. He was guarding a Bat Mitzvah party. He is being remembered here now as somebody who was active within the
Jewish community, much cherished, much loved, always ready to help out in the synagogue, always ready to help out with community activities.
And this comes on the day when police are looking at surveillance video footage from outside the synagogue that reveals the gunman, Omar Abdul
Hamid El-Hussein, was acting drunk as he approached Dan Uzan and two policemen who were outside the synagogue. He was acting drunk it appears
so he could get close to them. And he pulled out two pistols, fired nine rounds. That's when Dan Uzan was killed.
And we're learning as well today from the police that the death toll could have been far, far higher, that the gunman had tried to get into the cafe,
where the freedom of speech event was taking place. He tried to get into the cafe, through a side door and through a back door with his automatic
weapon, if he'd been able to do that, he would have been able to kill many, many more people.
The funeral here now very somber, very solemn, very reflective, a much loved member of the Jewish community laid to rest. He'll be missed -- Nic
Robertson, CNN, Copenhagen, Denmark.
FOSTER: Moving now to Paris, where we are learning new details on last month's terror attacks there. According to French newspaper "Le Monde,"
the "Charlie Hebdo" attackers in the Kosher supermarket gunman were communicating just before the rampage.
The report cites French investigative sources are saying that Cherif Kouachi texted Amedy Coulibaly about an hour before the "Charlie Hebdo"
massacre. Those same sources also say the operation was nearly called off the day before because one of the attackers was ill.
Jim Bittermann is in Paris with more -- Jim.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Max. This is the result of more than a month's worth of work by "Le Monde." They've been talking
to all the various investigators involved. And they have come up with the scenario which details the last few hours before the "Charlie Hebdo"
attack, right on through to when the gunmen were killed, the two gunmen, the Kouachi brothers were killed, who carried the attack at "Charlie
Hebdo," but also when Amedy Coulibaly was killed.
Coulibaly and the brothers, the Kouachi brothers, it's now without question that they were in contact somewhere between midnight and 1:00 in the
morning on the day of the "Charlie Hebdo" attack. Their direct contact apparently took place between Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly. And then
later that morning, about an hour before the attack, there was this text message, the last text message between Cherif Coulibaly (sic) and Amedy --
rather with Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly.
The contents of that message aren't known. But apparently that was the signal to start things moving. The two brothers went to "Charlie Hebdo"
and started shooting there and then Coulibaly, as we know, went on his rampage the following day.
As a consequence now, they have established pretty firmly this link between the two attacks. There had been some doubt, but there had also been some
reason to believe that they were -- that the two attacks were carried out simultaneously in a coordinated fashion.
And as you say, one of the more interesting things to come out of this investigation is that the attack on "Charlie Hebdo" almost didn't come
about because one of the two Kouachi brothers, Said Kouachi, lived in Reims, had a stomach flu and he was apparently suffering and vomiting and
whatnot all of the day before and it was all uncertain until the very last minute that he was going to get on the train to come in from Reims to join
his brother and carry out the attacks -- Max.
FOSTER: Jim, thank you very much indeed.
We also want to go back now to Washington, because the idea here, really, is that there's an international problem here and countries need to be
working together on this, Michelle, and America are at the heart of things as always, nothing could be done without the American involvement in this
for it to have a real impact.
So how much are these European attacks playing into the thinking of what's going on behind you?
KOSINSKI: Very much, I mean, Americans see these attacks; they worry; they put pressure on leaders and up to the White House to make sure that that
doesn't happen here. And everyone knows that these kinds of efforts aimed at prevention and no one quite knows how successful they're going to be at
this point but it's geared toward trying to stop it. However, it's not going to get everything. So everyone knows looking at this that there's
going to be a possibility there.
But I guess the goal is to do everything possible and again, from a skeptical point of view, you look at this and say, well, it's a summit, OK.
What is it going to do on a practical level?
Well, it turns out the ideas that are being presented are very practical. They're geared toward action and not just talking about it; remains to be
seen how successful they are, but the premise being that sharing information and learning from efforts that have shown some success in
Europe or possibly even this early around the United States that that can't be a bad thing, that at least it's doing something to try to get in at the
community level. Because I think most who study this would agree that efforts at a community level, even if it's just to identify someone who's
at risk or moving in that direction, that's where it has to start.
As U.S. officials have been saying over the last couple of days, this can't be just a military fight. The president said in an op-ed in the "L.A.
Times" this morning that it has to be a fight, too, to win hearts and minds, that old phrase again -- Max.
FOSTER: OK, Michelle, thank you very much indeed.
You hear it often that the fight against terror is a global one and that attacks can happen anywhere. But the reality is some places have it far
worse than others.
One of the most popular articles on cnn.com right now looks at where militants have amassed the most power and the conditions that led to them
to do so. Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, to Somalia, find all the information you need at cnn.com.
Now live from London, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, fighting extremism on multiple fronts. One artist says the real way to change
hearts and minds may be through comic books.
And Syrian activists risk their lives to challenge ISIS in the virtual world. Stay with us.
FOSTER: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Max Foster. Welcome back to you.
Now today President Obama is hosting a White House summit on countering violent extremism while world leaders debate a coordinated response to the
likes of ISIS. Some activists, they're targeting the radical message head- on.
Atika Shubert has this report on Syrians risking their lives to undermine ISIS online.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ISIS propaganda videos attempt to show normal life in Raqqa, aid delivered by fighters with AK-47s
but now more and more people are posting their own pictures to counter ISIS' claims.
These pictures are what appears to be aid from the World Food Programme and Red Crescent papered over with an ISIS flag and delivered by ISIS fighters.
We spoke to the Syrian online activist who posted this video. He runs a network of a dozen activists inside the ISIS strongholds of Raqqa and Albu
Kamal. For his own safety, he has asked not to be identified. But for this interview, we called him Rafiq.
What kind of a punishment is there for somebody for doing something like this?
RAFIQ: Unfortunate to say, it's going to be death. We will treat him as a traitor.
SHUBERT: So literally risking their life to be in this photo.
RAFIQ: Yes. Yes.
SHUBERT (voice-over): It is one of many small movements working with only mobile phones and sporadic Internet access, mostly on Twitter. Syrians who
say they are living under ISIS rule are posting pictures with hashtags scribbled on paper and photographed at the scene to prove they are there,
witnessing events with their own eyes, though there is no way for CNN to independently confirm this.
ISIS have been hit by hundreds of airstrikes. Activists say these pictures suggest they may be taking a toll, especially in the ISIS stronghold of
RAFIQ: It says it's warning for -- coming from ISIS to all vehicle drivers and lorries, don't pick up any IS members and don't take them anywhere.
This is a sign of how much they are scared and worried because of the number of people defecting and leaving IS.
SHUBERT: Rafiq's network is not the only one. The online group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently has consistently countered ISIS propaganda from
the heart of ISIS controlled territory.
And Rafiq goes one step further, challenging ISIS supporters online, he believes that all of this will add up to a revolt against ISIS rule.
RAFIQ: I've been talking to some guy two days ago or three days ago and he said I think there will be a revolution very soon in Raqqa against IS.
SHUBERT (on camera): Does it look like there will be this revolution, this revolt?
RAFIQ: I think so. Because I know certain people are very patient but we have limits. So what's happening with Assad it might happen with Daish,
with anyone else. And I think that's what's going to happen very soon.
SHUBERT (voice-over): Small but important steps in challenging the rule of ISIS -- Atika Shubert, CNN.
FOSTER: Now some say it will take a superhero to fight -- to defeat ISIS.
Jomana Karadsheh talked to one artist who believes a comic book series can help battle extremist ideology and its influence over the young.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet Element Zero, a special forces operative fighting extremists. He's one of the super heroes
created by Jordanian artist Suleiman Bakhit.
SULEIMAN BAKHIT, COMICS CREATOR: You see the kids in the West, they grew up on Spider-Man, Batman, "Frozen." In large parts in the Middle East,
kids grow up on jihad ideology. That's incredibly dangerous. See, that's what all extremists want. They want one version of the narrative -- their
KARADSHEH (voice-over): A few years ago Bakhit started researching extremist ideology, their strategies and narratives and how they influence
some Jordanian children.
BAKHIT: I asked the kids, "Who are your heroes?"
So they looked at me like, "Well, we don't have any real heroes in the sense of the word, but we hear a lot about Bin Laden and Zarqawi."
I'm like, "Well, what do you hear about them?"
"Like they defend us and protect us against America and the West, and the West is out there to kill Muslims and they are defending us."
Of course, that's the ultimate narrative for all extremist groups.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know by a lot of this is the land of jihad.
BAKHIT: The biggest threat we face in the Middle East is terrorism disguised as heroism. See, the way they pitch their ideology, extremist
ideology, as this hero journey, providing the youth with a sense of purpose, sense of identity, a glamorous call to adventure.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Realizing that, Bakhit set out on a mission.
BAKHIT: I want to provide the youth with an alternative hero journey, show them that a sense of purpose, sense of identity and adventure in life can
be achieved by service to others, by resilience, by hope, not violence and hate.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Some of his comics are about contemporary military heroes who are easy to embrace, he says; others also aim to change
stereotypes, like this one about an all-female counterterrorism unit.
With some government funding 10 years ago, he says he was able to print more than 1 million copies his comics and reach children across the
country. And he says it made a difference. But now with no funding he says there's little he can do.
And with a tech-savvy terror group like ISIS, Bakhit believes the need to counter the narrative now is more pressing than ever.
BAKHIT: Even if we tomorrow kill every single terrorist with the press of a button, their ideology still thrives, their narratives and mythology are
still spreading faster than ever and it's going global.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Bakhit says a few years ago, his work left him with a scar across his face.
BAKHIT: I got attacked outside my office. Two extremists attacked me with a razor blade and they slashed my face. I assume -- I mean, they didn't
announce their goals, so I assume it's an attempt to try and scare me or stop me from doing my work.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): That incident, he says, only made him more determined to continue his fight on this different kind of battlefield --
Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Amman.
FOSTER: Now live from London, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up with just days to go before the Academy Awards, the big question: who will win?
Film critics share their predictions -- after the break.
FOSTER: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Max Foster. Welcome back to you.
Now we're just days away from Hollywood's biggest night. The Academy Awards will be held on Sunday; part of the fun is predicting who will take
home the top honors, of course. If you haven't decided yet, this may help. We spoke to film critics about their Oscar predictions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boy, the Best Actor category, this is tough.
So Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking, Michael Keaton in "Birdman," you've got Benedict Cumberbatch playing Alan Turing in "The Imitation Game."
Eddie Redmayne's going to take it home (INAUDIBLE) everything. His performance as Stephen Hawking had to be so nuanced and it had to be so
thought out -- my understanding is that he had to break it down scene by scene with moments of different kinds of challenges in deterioration. And
then he had to shoot it out of order.
All those other male performances are spectacular for their own reasons. But nobody had to go through the kind of rigorous and meticulous planning
that Eddie Redmayne did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the Best Picture field is wide open. I don't think there's a particular favorite for me. I think what could be the
outsider from the Oscar race, I think it could be even a win.
This is a really interesting project because it was shot over 11 years and it covers the life story of a young boy growing up in a family and it used
the real actor who aged over those 11 years.
It's very exciting because never before have we seen an actor actually growing for real in a film. So it's simultaneously a documentary and a
fiction film at the same time. It's very strange. When you're watching, you get much more emotionally involved with the film that you would
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The film that I think really should win it is "Leviathan."
"Leviathan" is one of those movies that if it were not in the foreign category, it would sweep the awards. And I think this goes to a broader
point about the Oscars, that really shouldn't just be a celebration of American cinema but a celebration of the other 190 countries that make up
global cinema today.
FOSTER: Now throughout the week, we're trying to read the minds of Oscar winners and imagine what they're really thinking as they give those dashing
acceptance speeches we so much love. Today CONNECT THE WORLD's planning producer Hazel Pfeifer puts into poetry the thoughts of a Best Actress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAZEL PFEIFER, CNN PRODUCER: I'm terribly embarrassed to be standing here tonight. When I think (INAUDIBLE), my first type of fright, there
(INAUDIBLE) Angelina, Julianne, all of them my idols. If I waited someone I'd like to give my thanks to everyone who helped me on my way, but time
constraints forbid me. After all, this is my day. There is one (INAUDIBLE) I must not forget for that would be remiss. To all those
contemptuous critics, here's my (INAUDIBLE) for you to kiss.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Hazel made for the stage.
I'm Max Foster. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you very much indeed for watching.