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Trump Returns to Controversy over Kushner; White House Addresses Sanctions on Russia; Flight Disruptions Continue at Heathrow and Gatwick; Portland Train Stabbing; The Palestinian Frank Sinatra. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired May 28, 2017 - 11:00   ET




ROBYN KRIEL, CNN HOST (voice-over): Problems for the president. New allegations Mr. Trump's son-in-law discussed creating a secret channel with

the Russians. Fresh off his first foreign trip, we look at how the American commander in chief is settling back into the White House amid the

growing controversy.

Next, we are live in Washington and Moscow.

Also, the investigation into last week's bombing in Manchester continues, the city is mourning and trying to get back to daily life. We'll take you


Plus, taking flight. British Airways is working to clear the backlog of passengers after an I.T. problem caused them to cancel all flights from

London on Saturday. A travel update for travelers is just ahead.


KRIEL: Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Robyn Kriel in for Becky Anderson.

It's a holiday weekend in the United States but for a White House trying to dig out from stories involving the Russian investigation, this Sunday is an

active work day.

Fresh off his whirlwind foreign tour, President Donald Trump is expected to talk strategy with his senior advisers. He set off for a barrage of tweets

a short while ago accusing the media of, quote, "fabricating lies," but he has yet to directly address the latest allegation that his son-in-law and

senior adviser, Jared Kushner, sought to set up a secret line of communication with Russia. Our Ryan Nobles has the latest from Washington.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Donald Trump is back in Washington after his lengthy trip abroad and even though his team

feels confident the trip was successful, he returns to plenty of controversy, including a number of issues that involve his son-in-law and

senior adviser Jared Kushner. Kushner has yet to respond to reports that he attempted to set up a secret backchannel line of communications with the

Russian government during the transition.

Kushner's connections to the Kremlin through a variety of means, continue to be a specific line of inquiry by investigators looking to Russia's

attempt to intervene in the U.S. elections. Now, despite these issues, a White House official says that Kushner isn't going anywhere. He does plan

to keep his head down and keep focused on his wide portfolio of responsibilities in the West Wing.

In the meantime, the White House is shaking things up, creating a war room designed to quickly rebut the attacks that pour as a result of this ongoing

investigation. The president's children are getting involved as well. Donald Jr. and Eric Trump and his wife, Laura, spent the last few days in

Washington meeting with groups including the teams at the RNC and PAC the American Priorities which supports the Trump administration.

The goal of these meetings was to get all of the teams on the same page ahead of the 2018 midterm elections and the president's own re- election

bid in 2020 -- Ryan Nobles, CNN, Washington.


KRIEL: Russia's foreign ministry is dismissing the Kushner story and our Clare Sebastian joins us from Moscow with the latest.

Clare, thank you. We know there are many things about this type of back channel that would be of great concern to U.S. intelligence.

What's the Russian perspective?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Robyn, the idea of a back channel is not foreign here in Moscow. It's happened with previous U.S.

administrations and transition teams, like the Nixon administration and with the then-Soviet Union.

But the detail reported by "The Washington Post" that Jared Kushner suggested using the facilities of the Russian embassy in Washington to set

up this channel would be very unusual here and would potentially even raise security concerns.

And there's another element that Russia would find disturbing and that's the fact that it got out in the first place.

These back channel relationships are secret and they're not supposed to leak out and that's their very nature and that's why we don't often find

out until years later that they happened.

And certainly, we see that reflected in the response that we got from the foreign ministry early on Saturday, calling this McCarthyism, essentially

suggesting that the whole topic of Russia is simply being used by Trump's opponents to try to discredit him.

And the same spokesman for the foreign ministry warning the U.S. media in the week not to spread lies about Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey

Kislyak. So I think we may see this leak escalate about Russia as this story develops -- Robyn.

KRIEL: The Trump administration, before they entered the White House, campaigned for improvement of --


KRIEL: -- relations with Russia, even the potential lifting of sanctions.

What's the likelihood of this happening now and what's the view from Russia on that possibility?

SEBASTIAN: You know, I think there's real concern, Robyn. On the one hand, we have the exasperation as you saw, from the prime minister's

response to the Kushner story about all the Russia-related controversy and, on the other hand, real concern about where the policy of the Trump

administration is going.

As you say, Trump campaigned on the idea that he might be open to lifting sanctions on Russia. And then just on Friday, we get this comment from the

director of his National Economic Council, Gary Cohn. Take a listen.


GARY COHN, NATIONAL ECONOMIC DIRECTOR: We are not lowering our sanctions on Russia. If anything, we would probably look to get tougher on Russia.

So the president wants to continue to, you know, keep the sanctions in place.


SEBASTIAN: Sanctions are a critical issue for Putin's government and this kind of comment getting a lot more coverage here than the Jared Kushner

story, for example, but it's interesting they are still holding out some hope, it seems, that this relationship will develop.

Russia has avoided overtly criticizing Trump himself even as the stance of his team towards Russia appears to be hardening -- Robyn.

KRIEL: All right, thank you so much, Clare.

Let's stay with that story of Jared Kushner. Let's get some analysis now. Lynn Sweet is Washington bureau chief of the "Chicago Sun-Times" and she

joins us live from Washington, D.C.

Lynn, thank you. Plenty of opinions on this Kushner story. Pundits and former Obama officials expressing themselves online, on Twitter on Sunday

morning here in the U.S.

Let's start with what Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security adviser of President Obama had to say.

He said the State Department and Department of Defense are skeptical of Russia and tend to toughen talking points would be worth a lot to the

Russians to have a channel excluding them.

Lynn, you traveled with the president on foreign trips before.

What does Ben Rhodes mean by this tweet?

LYNN SWEET, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Ben Rhodes is still working for former president Barack Obama. He is working in the post-presidential office

space in Washington, D.C. He travels with him. So when he says something, I take it with significance as to messaging of what the Trump

administration is up against.

People are not just believing, not all of them, that this is fake news and there is something to this. That's why the tweets that President Trump put

out this morning expose him to danger at this point because he is facing questions about obstruction of justice.

And even though he has lawyers, who probably should or will soon be telling him to not tweet, he has not been helping, I think, his own case by saying

everything that's out there about his White House is fake. If there's an explanation, offer it. If Jared Kushner has something to say about this

story, say it. So far, they have not.

KRIEL: Let's talk about what President Trump was tweeting earlier today, Lynn. He said -- we've got some of those tweets.

He said, "It's very possible that those sources don't exist but are made up by fake news writers."

He says, "Fake news is the enemy."

Now park that, one of his other tweets congratulated the -- Greg Gianforte of Montana for his win. He said he is accused of assaulting a British-

based "Guardian" reporter just a day before he won with that election and just days before that, there were jokes from the Texas governor about

shooting reporters.

Now Trump once again reiterating that the news is the enemy, that the fake -- that the news is fake and that these sources are made up.

What's the problem with these sorts of statements, other than the obvious, coming from the president and other senior officials?

SWEET: We are seeing something develop in the United States and that is the journalism organizations are standing stronger and firmer, doing its

job with a new, you know, with a new sense of purpose which is the job that most of us have been doing anyway.

I think, in this case, President Trump is talking to his base. There are three investigations going on, one in the House, one in the Senate and one

by a former FBI director, special prosecutor Mueller, right now.

So this controversy is not fake. If the White House wants to ignore it or have President Trump tweet at it, he does so I suppose at his peril because

what he set up today is another day of distraction about talking about fake news, which brings us right back to talking about the controversies and the

Trump administration, rather than his week ahead, where he might want to deal with the showdown over raising the debt limit in Congress.

His budget came out last week, while he was overseas. And by the way --


SWEET: -- what happened to that health care bill in the Senate after it passed the House?

KRIEL: Speaking of him not talking about issues, President Trump also refusing press conferences during his overseas trip and that is unusual, I

believe, and then refusing questions when he landed and now he's being vocal on Twitter.

When is he going to start talking to reporters?

And does he need to at some point?

SWEET: Well, I don't think he has to. No president has to talk to reporters. It is theirs to decide. Of all of the criticisms about

President Trump, I suppose, his decision not to have a press conference overseas or when he might have one here next is something you have to just

say he's entitled to have his own approach and his own style.

Reporters always want more access and reporters always have more questions.

Clearly, in Europe, though, if you're talking about the standing of the United States' president and the ability to explain what the United States

wants to do, he -- I don't see how he helped make the case stronger, what to watch for this week and what the European allies will be looking at is

whether or not he pulls out of the Paris climate agreement.

Certainly, there will be a clamoring for a press conference for him to explain himself on that.

So everyone's entitled to their style. And I think that's where you have to just give the president his ability to communicate when and how he wants

-- in this case, directly to the people on Twitter. We'll see if he can sustain this for a while.

We also will see what happens with what had been regular press briefings before he went overseas and we'll see if they pick up the pace again.

KRIEL: We'll certainly keep an eye on that. Thank you so much, Lynn Sweet, live from Washington, D.C.

Moving on, British authorities have made another arrest over Monday's bombing in Manchester, bringing the total in custody to 12 and they are

searching another property.

Britain's home secretary is warning that some members of the network behind last week's Manchester attack may still be at large.

Amber Rudd told the BBC that no one can be sure until the investigation is complete. Britain's terrible threat level was lowered this weekend from

severe to critical but Prime Minister Theresa May says the public needs to remain vigilant; 22 people were killed in last week's terror attack.

CNN's Muhammad Lila is in Manchester with the latest.

Muhammad, things are moving quickly in terms of the investigation and the raid. Tell us what you know.

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Robyn, just a short time ago police announced that they conducted another raid in a part of the city

called Old Trafford. They say they made their 14th arrest in connection with this investigation.

With those 14 arrests, two have been released over the course of the last several days. So we understand 12 people remain in custody as a result of

this investigation.

Also, you mentioned British home secretary Amber Rudd talking about how they could potentially be more suspects out there but saying there's no way

to know for sure until the investigation is complete.

And one big milestone, if you will, in the investigation, police believe they have located and identified the apartment that the suspect was using.

And that's very important because they believe that that apartment is where the final explosive was assembled.

And we've been talking about the possible sophistication and expertise involved in putting that explosive together.

Now they're going to be combing that apartment, looking for forensics clues and looking for residue of any explosive material that could help them

determine just how sophisticated it was and possibly point them in the direction of other people who may have been collaborating as part of this

terror network.

KRIEL: Muhammad, you are at a marathon and it sounds certainly as if it is very festive, definitely a change of pace and a change of scenery from the

last few days, where you've been at such a somber environment.

Take us through the atmosphere there and is it one of defiance and resilience?

LILA: Let me just set the scene, I'm right at the finish line of the Manchester run and I have to apologize because it is so loud here. You

hear music, you hear people laughing, cheering and clapping.

And this is a very festive mood and it's a very celebrative mood and the end result of that is this is the city of Manchester's way of saying that

they won't let terror stop them from living their lives.

This was an event whose status was up in the air just a few days ago because there were concerns that it would be a target of another terror

attack. But the city said, no, we want to do this and hold this to show the U.K. and the world that Manchester is recovering.

And of course, while I say that, there is a much heavier security presence here.

There are armed officers patrolling the streets, heavily armed officers, some of them carrying semiautomatic rifles. In the U.K. that's a rare

sight because police generally don't usually carry firearms. But that is the case here right now. Police are not taking any --


LILA: -- chances but we can report there have been no incidents today related to this marathon. So far, so good.

KRIEL: Thank you so much, Mohammad Lila, showing us that Manchester is recovering. That's the message.

Moving on, an old symbol of Manchester is taking on new life since Monday's terror attack. People are lining up to get bee tattoos. The bee has long

been a symbol of Manchester, signifying a hive of activity in a historically industrial city. Now it's being used to raise money for

attack victims.

The Manchester tattoo appeal was started in a show of solidarity and the idea has quickly spread beyond the U.K.

Some flights remain canceled, at least two of London's busiest airports has disruption in a second day. A worldwide I.T. system power failure hit

British Airways Saturday, leaving all flights grounded and thousands of people stranded.

British Airways says all of its long-haul flights are operating out of Heathrow. Gatwick is nearly fully operational but there are delays. Nina

dos Santos is at Heathrow Airport for us.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: Robyn, life is gradually returning to normal, both at Gatwick and also at Heathrow, where planes are

taking off. The majority of services of the busiest (INAUDIBLE) at Heathrow are expected to run.

But having said that, the airline has warned passengers that, even if they have a ticket set to take off today, they should be wary of cancellations

and departures, which is why it's imperative to check on the company's website, which is back up and running and also the airport's website to

make sure that, if you have a ticket for today, it is confirmed to be taking off or landing.

For those passengers who were caught up in the nightmarish 24 hours of I.T. outage that was caused by what the company said was a power supply issue,

well, it was a completely different story.

Many of them were saying that especially if they were on transit, in some cases they were left on the tarmac for up to six hours and then they found,

when they got to the airport, at lounges and information desks, there was very little information as well because the company's I.T. systems were

down and the staff only had very limited information to give them.

When it came to finding accommodation, all of the airport hotels around the vicinity seemed to be booked up. I spoke to a passenger who, like many,

was issued a sleeping bag and had to spend the night either on the floor or in the hotel lobby.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, a nightmare.

We'd booked a lot before. We'd actually gone to Vegas. So we pre-booked concerts and pool parties and the whole shebang and we've missed it all.

Basically, they told us that we can go to a hotel. They gave us sleeping bags and wash facilities. Obviously we've been able to freshen up and

shower this morning, which has been fantastic, to be fair. But, yes, we slept in sleeping bags all night and that was it.


DOS SANTOS: So, Robyn, that brings me to the issue of compensation. While obviously British Airways, like is standard in many of these cases,

probably won't be expensing passengers like that one for her concert tickets and the fact that obviously the start of their holiday has been

severely impacted by this, they will be reimbursing people for what they call appropriate, adequate expenses, reasonable expenses.

So accommodations for travel, food and drink. People are urged to keep the receipts for that because if they want to submit something for

compensation, they will need them.

And passengers who've been caught up in all of this have until November the 17th to move their ticket to another day or ask for a full refund.

Remember this is a crucial bank holiday weekend also a busy time for children to be traveling with their parents because it's the (INAUDIBLE)

holidays as well.

For anybody that does have a ticket on the Sunday or the Monday bank holiday and doesn't want to travel because they feel that it might be too

busy for them during these circumstances, they have the right to also move their tickets. They have more flexibility and they can ask for a refund,

too. All of this designed to reduce the passenger volumes at a crucial time like this in airports like the one behind me.

Having said that, for those lucky passengers who have managed to get a flight to where they're going after being caught up in all of this, it's

not said and done that your luggage is going to be following you to your ultimate destination immediately because there were pictures of piles and

piles of baggage that has been left, effectively abandoned after being checked in and couldn't get to its destination.

Again, the message from the airline is do not come here to busy places like Heathrow. We will send that luggage to you to your destination at our

expense -- Robyn.

KRIEL: Nina dos Santos there.

Still to come, an upbeat U.S. president Donald Trump is back on home turf. We'll look at the ground he covered and the feathers he ruffled on his

first trip abroad.

And if all that weren't enough, one major Muslim --


KRIEL: -- rights group is accusing Mr. Trump of provoking racism and bigotry in America. We'll ask them about that claim ahead.




KRIEL: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. This is CNN. I'm Robyn Kriel. Welcome back.

As we've mentioned, U.S. President Donald Trump is back at the White House following his first overseas trip. CNN's Robyn Curnow has a look at some

of the moments of deference and defiance that stood out during his nine-day tour.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Mr. Trump's first trip abroad began with a lavish welcome in Saudi Arabia.

Then in a speech to leaders of more than 50 Muslim-majority nations, he steered clear of the term "radical Islamic terrorism" but urged Arab

leaders to drive terrorists out.


TRUMP: Drive them out of your Holy Land and drive them out of this Earth.


CURNOW (voice-over): In Israel, Mr. Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem, including the

Western Wall. In a meeting with Israel's prime minister, Mr. Trump pushed back reports he had shared iris intelligence about ISIS with Russian

officials during an Oval Office meeting earlier this month.


TRUMP: Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name Israel.


CURNOW (voice-over): Later, with the Palestinian president, Mr. Trump condemned the terror attack in Manchester, coming up with his own label for

those responsible.


TRUMP: I will call them from now on losers because that's what they are. They are losers.


CURNOW (voice-over): On Wednesday, a highly anticipated meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican; while they publicly disagree on issues from climate

change to refugees, their face-to-face meeting seemed very cordial.


TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE). I won't forget what you said.


CURNOW (voice-over): On to Brussels and at his first NATO summit, Mr. Trump made a brash first impression, elbowing his way past the prime

minister of Montenegro, engaging in a power handshake with France's new president and openly scolding member countries that Mr. Trump says aren't

meeting their financial obligations to the alliance.


TRUMP: Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying for their

defense. This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States.


CURNOW (voice-over): But Mr. Trump was also left embarrassed after British officials expressed outrage, blaming the U.S. for leaking details about the

Manchester bombing investigation to the media.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I will be making clear to President Trump today that intelligence that is shared between law enforcement

agencies must remain secure.


CURNOW (voice-over): And at Friday's G7 summit in Sicily --


CURNOW (voice-over): -- Mr. Trump sat next to German chancellor Angela Merkel but separately had some tough talk for the U.S. ally. German news

reports quoted Mr. Trump as saying the Germans are very bad when it comes to trade -- Robyn Curnow, CNN.



KRIEL: Let's get you up to speed on some other stories that are on our radar right now.


KRIEL: The latest world headlines just ahead, plus --


OMAR KAMAL, MUSICIAN: So when you have just a clear idea of a couple of things that you can really do, it just drives you to achieve something.

KRIEL (voice-over): Turning frustration into opportunity, we meet a young musician who has come to be known as the Palestinian Frank Sinatra.




KRIEL: This is CONNECT THE WORLD, the top stories of this hour.



KRIEL: The U.S. city of Portland is remembering two men many are calling heroes. They were stabbed onboard a commuter train on Friday evening.

Witnesses say a suspect started shouting slurs at two women, one of whom was wearing a hijab. Police say the two men killed were trying to calm the

man down. One died on the train and the other later at hospital.

A professor of one of those victims described him as a wonderful human being, quote, "as good as they come." Our Dan Lieberman has more on the



DAN LIEBERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Portland, Oregon, police are now identifying the suspect in a brutal stabbing; 35-year-old Jeremy

Joseph Christian was booked on murder charges and is being held without bail after allegedly stabbing three people on a crowded commuter train

during rush hour.

Two of those victims died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's horrific and there are no other words to describe what happened.

LIEBERMAN (voice-over): Video shows Christian at a rally, shouting racist slurs and making Nazi salutes just weeks ago. Witnesses say that's what he

was doing on Friday, shouting anti-Muslim and other hateful slurs like --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Get out of the country." Plus "You don't pay taxes in here," and he doesn't like Muslims because they're, like -- they're


LIEBERMAN (voice-over): Authorities believe the comments were directed toward two female passengers, one wearing a hijab. Other passengers

intervened and that's when the violence broke out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I go to reach out, to start pulling people apart and then I see that there's just blood everywhere. Again, it happened so fast

but it looked like every punch that I saw was actually a stab.

LIEBERMAN (voice-over): Two men were killed and police say the suspect fled the train. He was later arrested in a nearby neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When he got off the train I saw he was holding a knife and then he says, "Don't follow me."

LIEBERMAN (voice-over): First responders tried to save one victim's life but he died at the scene. The other victim died at the hospital. The

other passenger who was stabbed is expected to survive.

Two others were also injured. Oregon senator Jeff Merkley responded on Twitter, saying, quote, "Terrible tragedy on Portland's MAX train.

Champions of justice risked and lost their lives. Hate is evil." -- Dan Lieberman, CNN, New York.


KRIEL: If the attack is found to be a hate crime, then, sadly, it won't be unique. The latest report from the FBI covering 2015 reveals a huge spike

in the number of incidents, with those against Muslims rising most sharply, up by more than two-thirds from the year before, something that the Council

on American Islamic Relations wants to see the man in the White House do more about.

Executive director accuses Donald Trump of provoking bigotry and racism through his, quote, "numerous statements, policies and appointments."

But is that fair to say?

Let's bring in Edward Ahmed Mitchell, he's the director for the U.S. state of Georgia at the Council.

Thank you so much for your time, Edward. We've seen a lot of Islamophobic vitriol spewed by various elements during the campaign for president and

indeed afterwards, particularly the alt-right group.

How concerned are you and the Council right now?

EDWARD AHMED MITCHELL, CAIR GEORGIA: We've seen a sharp increase in both hate speech and hate crimes against American Muslims ever since candidate

Trump opened Pandora's box. It's gotten worse and worse every year.

The incident in Portland is perhaps the worst thing we've seen. It's tragic and it's disgusting but in a way it's also inspiring, that two

strangers stood up and defended these Muslim women from an attack and gave their lives doing so.

So what we're seeing is horrible. It seems to be getting worse but I am heartened by the fact that so many Americans are locking arms with their

American Muslim neighbors and defending them, even with their own bodies.

KRIEL: What would you like to see more of, from the politicians, the people in power and average citizens?

MITCHELL: At this point, I don't really care what President Trump says but it would be nice if he acted like the president, by stepping up and saying

that what happened in Portland is evil, it is wrong.

President Trump is quick to tweet about Muslim terrorists but when domestic terrorists acting horribly and in the name of Islamophobia do things, he

suddenly falls quiet. So President Trump should step up and say the obvious. This is wrong. It is evil, it is un-American. I don't expect

him to do that --


MITCHELL: -- he hasn't done it before but he should. As for the broader American community, we're encouraging American Muslims to make sure they're

defending themselves. We held three back-to-back self-defense seminars here in the state of Georgia in different houses of worship. Those went

very well. And we are encouraging Muslims to engage in interfaith dialogue with their neighbors during this Ramadan. That's the way to solve this in

the long term.

KRIEL: Let's talk a little bit about those two men who were killed for standing up for -- at least one woman was wearing a headscarf. Let's talk

about them and what would you like to see coming from the public and how would you like them to be honored?

MITCHELL: Well, I am very happy to see that the American Muslim community has already raised almost $200,000 for the families of these men. They're

not victims, they are heroes. They died defending two innocent women from attack and we honor them for that. We pray for them. May God have mercy

upon them and bless their souls.

So I want to see people of all faiths joining together to support the families of these men. And I want to see all people join together to say

that bigotry is wrong. The president won't step in and say it. That's OK. We can say it. Everyday people can say it, this is wrong and it has

to stop.

KRIEL: It is the month of Ramadan and there have been terror groups calling for increased attacks during the next month.

But what does it mean to people who don't know what Ramadan is?

What does it mean to the average Muslim, who is peace-loving and who believes that this is an extremely spiritual and family-oriented time?

MITCHELL: Well, you just said it. Ramadan is about getting closer to God and receiving God's forgiveness and becoming more charitable, becoming more

grateful. That is what American Muslims and Muslims around the world are seeking to do this month.

Anti-Muslim bigots and terrorists want to twist and ignore Ramadan and do horrible things during this month but that's not going to change what

American Muslims do. We'll keep worshipping God. We're going to keep giving charity to our neighbors. We are going to keep being good citizens.

That is the best way to celebrate Ramadan. That is the best way to be a Muslim.

KRIEL: All right. Thank you so much for your time, Edward Ahmed Mitchell, from the Council of American Islamic Relations. Thank you.

MITCHELL: Thank you.


KRIEL: And in today's "Parting Shots," we take you to the West Bank, where dealing with tensions and conflict is just part of daily life.

Growing up, Omar Kamal tried to escape that reality by turning to music and through it all he never stopped believing in peace, a central theme during

the holy month of Ramadan which is currently celebrated by Muslims throughout the world. Becky Anderson has his story.



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: You are now known by many as the Palestinian Frank Sinatra. I sometimes wonder whether that sits well with someone from

this region.

OMAR KAMAL, MUSICIAN: For someone to learn from one of the best in phrasing and singing and performing is a huge honor but I will gradually

move on from that. I'm not in a rush but at the same time I have to be careful.

ANDERSON: Tell me about the first time you heard a Frank Sinatra song.

KAMAL: I think it was one of my father's CDs, a collection of love songs and the Internet was kind of a new thing in Palestine. So I searched for

Frank Sinatra and the first result was, "Fly Me to the Moon." And from that moment I wanted more.


ANDERSON: Don't tell me that you got that right straight away and how did growing up as a Palestinian inform and influence your life?

KAMAL: We didn't have all of the options. We didn't have all of the possibilities open so when you have just a clear idea of a couple of things

that you could really do, it just drives you to achieve something.

It was a very musical atmosphere at home.

ANDERSON: So Mom sang.

KAMAL: Mom sang. My sister sang, as well. My brother played the piano a little bit and because I was -- I'm the youngest so I was watching from the


ANDERSON: You went to the U.K. to do an engineering degree.


ANDERSON: You did very well, so when did you dump the idea of being an engineer?

KAMAL: I had to prove it to myself first and to my parents and family that this is what I want to do and this is what I'm fit for.

ANDERSON: So why jazz?

I mean, it couldn't be any more different --


ANDERSON: -- than Palestinian music.

KAMAL: I've been talking to Quincy Jones about this. It's all about song, whether it's in jazz, Arabic, pop, anything. So if you have a good song it

doesn't matter what genre it is.

ANDERSON: How important a role, do you think, music plays in changing perceptions about a region or a people?

KAMAL: It's the power of music and the power of representation. The mere fact that I'm putting myself out there is just enough to bring this image

of life and hope from Palestine and to Palestine, you know. I would like to see peace.

I mean, can you imagine if there wasn't any hope?

I think it needs the people to change from within and decide to drive this process. It has nothing to do with governments or politics. It's got to

start from the people.



KRIEL: I'm Robyn Kriel and that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching.