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Threat from North Korea; Aleppo after the war; The brutality of Boko Haram; Kenya's opposition challenges results; Acoustic attacks on U.S. diplomats; Trump's feud with Republicans; . Aired at 11-12p ET

Aired August 10, 2017 - 11:00   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Rift to reasons, that's what North Korea has to say about U.S. President Donald Trump's, fire and fury threat. Plus,

Pyongyang warns it's working on a plan to fire missiles into the sea near the U.S. territory of Guam.

Next, updates from CNN's reporters across Asia, plus --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When the people who fled see that business is coming back, they will turn and we'll work together to make

Aleppo as great as it used to be.


CURNOW: Fledgling signs of life returning. Once a rebel stronghold, the Syrian city of Aleppo was recaptured by the government with Russia's help.

Later on in the program, a firsthand accounts of people trying to rebuild from war. And --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boko Haram's use of women and children in its suicide bombing campaign is staggering, never before seen.


CURNOW: Brutal, horrific, and deadly. A new report looks at how the terror group uses vulnerable groups to spread fear in Nigeria.

Hello and welcome to "Connect the World." I'm Robyn Curnow in Atlanta. North Korea is brushing off fiery threats and punishing new sanctions with

more detailed plans about its latest threat to a U.S. territory in the Pacific. Now, North Korean state media say a plan to fire four missiles

near Guam will be ready for review by Kim Jong-un within days.

And the North is calling U.S. President Donald Trump's recent threat to unleash fire and fury a, quote, load of nonsense. Well tensions between

the two nations have escalated sharply over the last week. They ramped up after sources said new U.S. intelligence assessments indicate North Korea

has produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead.

Well our team of reporters is all over the story. Joining us now is Will Ripley in Beijing, Ivan Watson reporting today from Guam. Ivan to you in

just a moment. Will, go first. This plan that the North Koreans are outlining, have you ever seen anything like it before you've been to

Pyonyang so many times?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, and we've heard so many warnings of annihilation of the mainland United States. Guam was threatened even

back in 2013, but what makes this particular statement different, Robyn, and really striking to me is the technical detail in which they described

what they, in either plan to do or intend to do depending on the orders of their supreme leader Kim Jong-un.

They essentially layout how they will simultaneously fire four of their intermediate range missiles, the Hwasong-12, the missile that they tested

as recently as May that's believed to have a range of at least 3,700 kilometers or so, given that Guam is 3,400 kilometers from the Korean

Peninsula. It would theoretically put that small island, that U.S. territory, within striking range.

They say they'll fly those missiles up over Japan and put them down in the waters within 30 to 40 kilometers off the island itself. It's obviously a

very specific, very technical threat but at this point, this is all that it is. It's written down on paper here.

But the fact that they spelled it out so specifically tells me either one, this is big bluff or two, North Korea is very confident that they could

pull off this kind of demonstration, a show of force that would be their most provocative missile test that they've ever done, Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes, certainly. And Ivan to you there in Guam, I mean, Will says either a bluff or they're very confident, what's the mood where you are

then with that in mind?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The governor of Guam insists that the threat level has not been escalated at all in response to these types of

comments. He says that this is not a time to panic, that there are ample defense features in position between here and Guam notably in South Korea

where there's a U.S. military presence, in Japan as well.

North Korea missiles would presumably have to fly over both of these countries at a vast expense of ocean to reach here. Take a listen to an

expert of what he had to say to me.


EDDIE CALVO, GOVERNOR OF GUAM: There's no panic in Guam. I'm sure you've talked to people who live in Seoul or even Tokyo. I think the concerns are

even more weighty over there, which is closer to the action particularly Seoul where getting their artillery is within range of the inhabitants of



WATSON: I spoke with one businessman who was having beer at a bar this afternoon and he said he wasn't worried at all and pointed out that in

2013, the newly appointed North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un made similar threats against North Korea

[11:05:00] and actually in response to that, the U.S. military deployed the THAAD Missile Defense System here, that is perhaps the last line of defense

if North Korea were to fire ballistic missiles in this direction, Robyn.

CURNOW: OK, good point there. And I want to go now to Joe Johns. He's at Bedminster in New Jersey, where President Trump is taking a working

vacation, and Joe, I mean all of this in many ways kicked off by those fire and fury comments, mixed messages many people say or is this just a tiered

organized response from the administration?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's true and we haven't heard a lot of detail from the administration but we did hear from Sarah Huckabee Sanders,

the White House press secretary just a little while ago. She said nothing has changed in the president's view and he's very clear where he stands. We

also know that we're expecting to see the president. He's going to attend a briefing with some top members of his national security team including the

national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, the chief of staff, John Kelly.

So, it's clear there will be an opportunity for the president to say more. The administration so far has not said much since that detailed threat came

from North Korea just yesterday. Our hope is that he will address it, but so far the word from the White House, the press secretary is nothing has

changed and the president has made clear where he stands, Robyn.

CURNOW: OK, and we'll keep an eye on all those meetings that are happening where you are on CNN throughout the day. And Will, back to you, I mean I

think what's important here whether you said blast towards confidence, the fact is North Korea took to the streets. They gave a mass show of

propaganda in the past 24 hours that in itself also shows, you know, the way they do business all the while more concerned about their nuclear

weapons program.

RIPLEY: And it's all designed as a show of force to the United States, a show of solidarity if you will. They filled up Kim Il Sung's Square with

tens of thousands of people at what they call the protest against the round of sanctions that were imposed, voted unanimously by the U.N. Security

Council. Of course, a lot of these gatherings in North Korea if you live in Pyongyang, you're expected to attend. It's amazing how they can mobilize

such scores of people very quickly and then they, in a very orderly way, march to the streets. They chant and shout anti-U.S. slogans.

These weapons though, Robyn, and I think it's an important point to make, the sense I get from conversations with North Korean officials, they want

to perfect their arsenal but they don't want to use these weapons. They're not hoping to get the perfect missile so that then they could launch it

immediately. They view this as a deterrent and really the main goal is to keep the regime led by Kim Jong-un in power.

And so, even a demonstration like this will be an attempt to try to dissuade the United States from taking military action against North Korea,

but the fear in this region is that there could really be a chain reaction of events that lead the region down a road from which there's no return. An

accidental war if you will. But touching on a point that Ivan made earlier, probably the two countries where people are the least nervous are the

countries that would suffer the most under an eventual conflict. That would be South Korea and North Korea.

In South Korea, I was chatting with a colleague yesterday and said people were more concerned about the weather than they were about this latest

flare up of tensions. And I've also found the same is true in North Korea. It's a nation where people has spent their whole lives living on a war

footing if you will and yet they continue to laugh and joke with their friends when they're not attending major rallies like that. It's just a

part of life for people who live on the Korean Peninsula.

So we can put that into some context and certainly for people in other parts of the world, who might feel fearful, keep in mind that the people on

the Peninsula, in many cases, do not feel that way. They've lived with this. They've been down this road before, but this is an unprecedented time

in terms of the weapons capabilities of North Korea, which is why the world is so focused right now.

CURNOW: Yes, you make an excellent point there and it's always, you know, the broad stroke of history and the context is always important, and of

course you are the best at it because you've been in Pyongyang I think 13 times. So thank you so much for giving us all of that perspective. And to

all of our reporters who have just followed for us. Thanks so much Will, always.

So turning now to another story we've been following here at CNN, we are awaiting the final results from Kenya's presidential election. But there's

already a dispute of early returns. Opposition leader Raila Odinga says he's trailing in preliminary results because the election system was

hacked. We just heard from the opposition again in the last hour. They say they filed a complaint with the election board.

Kenya's election chief has said there was a hacking attempt but it failed. Well CNN's Farai Sevenzo is in Nairobi with all of this for us. And just

give us a sense of what we're hearing particularly about this election counting and comments from former secretary of state John Kerry.

[11:10:00] FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John Kerry is one of many observers here, Robyn, who have been watching this election. This is

the most closely monitored election in all of East Africa and that's the Kenyan government telling us that. The acting secretary for the interior

issued a statement trying to tell the Kenyans to keep calm and of course, Mr. Kerry told us that this is about the ballots. The paper trail of the

ballots, not about the electronic system, which of course as you know, Mr. Odinga and his national (ph) coalition have been going on about.

So, it's important to remember that he also said that if they have this evidence, they must present it in the courts and not on the streets. So

everyone, including the African Union Observer Mission led by Thabo Mbeki including Aminata Toure who is Mr. Kerry's co-leader of the Carter

Foundation election observatory, including European Union has all been on the same page. They believe that the IEBC give or take give or take a few

glitches, has done an excellent job.

The Kenyans have been very patient. So at the moment, the owners is on the opposition who have been making (INAUDIBLE) claims today to prove that

their claims.

CURNOW: And let's just listen to what former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry actually said to out Clarissa Ward in the last few hours. I mean he

said he's confident in the overall integrity of the election but let's just listen to what he's saying.


JOHN KERRY, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It's a paper ballot vote. And so it's determinable as to what happened and I think it is important for

all of the candidates to allow the process to be transparently put to the test and then if they have a concern, go through the rule of law. Go to the

court process and let the evidence be there for everybody to see. I think there is great legitimacy in the basic process. The question now that has

to be tested is did everybody follow it.


CURNOW: And we know that there have been clashes and violence in previous elections in 2007. It was more peaceful in the next election. I mean, is

there confidence that this is going to all work itself out particularly because Raila Odinga is again calling into question the process.

SEVENZO: Well that is the worry of course, Robyn. I mean, yesterday we confirmed, CNN here in Nairobi that Mr. Odinga's stronghold of Mathare, two

people, two very young men were shot in an encounter with the police and there's been a spontaneous coming out on the streets in his strongholds

including Kisumu, the area in the west where he was born. And of course, people like Kibera, Kawangware, all these sort of high density areas of

Nairobi, he has a great deal of support in there.

And the worry of course that if something doesn't give in terms of conceding or accepting what the IEBC are claiming tomorrow they will give

us, then of course people may come out on the streets and you're right to say in 2007, that was a very marked period in Kenya's history when a lot of

people lost their lives, again in the politics of mainly these two men, Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga have been doing battle over elections for nearly a

decade now.

CURNOW: You know, they certainly have and keeping an eye on all things there. Thank you so much in Nairobi, Faria Sevenzo. Thank you.

And you can see the full interview with former Secretary of State John Kerry on "Amanpour" at 7:00 p.m. in London. Be sure to watch that.

Let's get you up to speed on some other stories we're watching this hour. It may have looked like any other plane to observers on the ground, but

this was an unarmed Russian Air Force jet that flew over the U.S. capital, the Pentagon and CIA headquarters on Wednesday. Russia and the U.S. are

part of the treaty that allows such flights to observe military facilities.

And the first hurricane of the Atlantic season has weakened to a tropical storm but Franklin is still wreaking havoc on eastern Mexico. This is just

a glimpse of the flooding there. The storm made another landfall early Thursday and is driving inland towards Mexico City.

Venezuela's Supreme Court has sentenced another opposition leaning mayor to prison. David Smolansky was charged for failing to control protest and

handed a 15-month sentence for other mayors who faced similar charges in recent weeks.

And in London, a man has been arrested after a jogger was filmed pushing a woman into the path of an oncoming bus. Thankfully the driver quickly moved

out of the way leaving the woman with only minor injuries. The 41-year-old man is suspected of causing grievous bodily harm.

And just in to CNN, pop star Taylor Swift was just called to take a stand in a civil trial. The case stems from Swift's claim that a DJ groped her

backstage at one of her concerts. The DJ was sacked, so he sued Swift, her mother and her radio promotions director saying they falsely accused him.

But Swift then counter-sued. She's on the witness list for both sides.

New clues are shedding light in the mysterious situation involving U.S. personnel in Cuba.

[11:15:00] according to senior State Department officials, workers at the American embassy in Havana have been subject to so-called acoustic attacks,

one being blamed for serious health problems in two employees. According to our sources, devices were place in or near the diplomat's homes. Patrick

Oppmann is monitoring all of these in Havana. What exactly is an acoustic attack? What more do we know?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well it sounds unbelievable doesn't it, Robyn, but we're told that there are devices that exist called sonic

weapons and it emits a frequency that you can't hear but you can certainly feel the effects of these devices. And what it does is it makes you feel

like you have a loss of equilibrium. It can affect your hearing so much so that one of these diplomats now requires a hearing aid.

Others said they felt like they have suffered concussions. So the effects are very real of these devices so much so that the United States is calling

all this an attack on the personnel, that the incidents took place at the residences here in Havana where they are home with their families. And it's

now under investigation.

The FBI, we're told, is going to be allowed to operate in Cuba to try to bring some light to these incidents and we are told they are looking at

possibility that a third country was involved, Robyn, perhaps a country with some help from the Cuban government that was trying to drive a wedge

between the U.S. and Cuba. So, many more questions than there are answers right now but U.S. officials tell us that the attacks have stopped at least

for the moment, Robyn.

CURNOW: OK, so then do the questions about how and why this was executed but broadly, what does this reveal, the timing? Why the U.S. is revealing

this now when these attacks are taking place and what does this mean about US-Cuba relations particularly Mr. Trump?

OPPMANN: And this has been a well-kept secret for some time. It has actually took place the end of last year before President Trump took office

and fairly shortly on from the beginning of this year. From about February, United States and Cuba were in contact -- the United States complaining

about these attacks saying that Cuba needed to do more to explain what had happened.

Apparently the assurances of Cubagat were not enough, because in May, two Cuban diplomats were expelled from the United States where they are working

and reprises of what these attacks on U.S. diplomats. And late last night, the Cuban government said that they would cooperate with the U.S. but again

denied they had anything to do with the attacks on U.S. personnel here in Havana.

CURNOW: There in Havana, Patrick Oppmann, thanks so much.

Still ahead here on "Connect the World," following the story even when it leaves the headlines. These scenes from Aleppo transfixed the world last

December. Now, CNN is back to find out what's been happening since. We're live from Syria, that's next.

And later, what incentive is there for North Korea to give up its nuclear program? Our diplomatic editor talks us through Pyongyang's logic.


CURNOW: You're watching CNN and this is "Connect the World" with me Robyn Curnow. Welcome back. Stalingrad, (INAUDIBLE), Hiroshima, Sarajevo, in

times of war certain cities become symbols of civilian suffering. Well in Syria, the ones driving Aleppo took on this role. A divided city since the

early days of the anti-Assad protest, the Syrian Army retook the last rebel held enclave late last year. Well CNN's Fred Pleitgen returned to see what

has happened since.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was one of the most brutal battles in the Syrian conflict when Syrian government forces backed

by Russia launched their final assault on rebel held areas in Aleppo taking them back from the opposition.

Nine months later, much of Syria's second-largest city still lay in ruins, but life is starting to emerge once again. Thousands have returned to

former battle zone neighborhoods, many relying on a donation to get by. Peeking to this neighborhood just as residents were rushing to get bread


"Most people who returned are in bad need of almost everything," the local head of this NGO says. "Many come back and find that their homes are

reduced to just walls and ceilings. We help them as much as we can."

Some stores are also reopening and market vendors coming back. This area was once held by rebels, some who fled fear reprisals if they return. But

all the people we met were vocal supporters of the government and its Russian backers.

"The Russians are our friends," this man says. "They are honest with us like we are honest with them. Bashar al-Assad and the Russians are one."

Amid this massive destruction, the tiny efforts of new constructions appear almost like a drop in the bucket. But inside the bombed and burned ruins,

Aleppo's industry is starting to spring back to life. Peeking across this textile shop where they repair the machines and are manufacturing clothes

once again.

"When the people who fled see that business is coming back, they'll return and will work together to make Aleppo as great as it used to be and even

better," their shift leader says.

Aleppo's historic old town is a UNESCO world heritage site. Much of it now reduced to rubble. Some of the fiercest battles revolved around the highest

point of the city, the ancient Citadel. The ancient Citadel was one of the main battlegrounds here in Aleppo and like so many parts of the city,

repairing the damage will be a momentous task.

We climbed to the highest point of the Citadel getting a stunning view of all Aleppo, one of the oldest cities in the world, badly damaged but now

with a chance to stand up once again.


CURNOW: Well Fred Pleitgen joins us now from the Syrian capital. Fred, I mean a really powerful report because you give us a sense of the hope and

also the destruction. What do the people say to you when you speak to them? I mean, it's about this personal individual stories that define this


PLEITGEN: Yes, you know, you're absolutely right, Robyn. And one of the things that people say to us is that at this point in time, the people who

are there right now, of course many of them are supporters of the government, of President Bashar al-Assad. They say the most important thing

for them right now is that there's calm in the city. That right now they have a chance that at least, you know, live their lives without being


But at the same time of course, there is that huge task of trying to rebuild this place and really, a lot of people don't even know where to

start. Many are still subsisting on handouts, many have no idea how they're going to rebuild their houses and it really is remarkable, Robyn, to see

how many people are living in buildings that are completely destroyed, where you might have a wall still standing and maybe a roof over their

heads, but very little except for that.

There are still many places that don't have electricity, although that's getting better. Water is still an issue. It is still a city that has a lot

of problems are. There are some who are starting to rebuild, but it's going to take a very, very long time. So there certainly is a lot of, you know,

really almost a sad feeling and many of those destroyed districts in Aleppo, but at the same time you can tell that the weight has fallen off a

lot of people as well. But at least for now, the fighting is over which was still bad and I was there in the last stages while that fighting was going

on. And especially then, it was so bad for many people to witness that and to be engulfed in that as well, Robyn.

CURNOW: And I mean it's been from ordinary lives. I mean, we reported it and you reported about how many hospitals for example were targeted. You

know, women and children, sick people, injured people, just didn't have an option. Those aren't easily rebuilt. Doctors fled or were killed, what do

we know about how people are just trying to survive?

[11:25:00] PLEITGEN: You know what, that's a very good question and certainly also a very important one. And the infrastructure especially many

of the eastern districts of Aleppo has certainly still is a major problem. One of the hospitals have not yet been rebuilt, almost nothing has been

rebuilt. It is the fact that a lot of stuff has been cleared. A lot of the debris has been cleared. It's almost a bizarre feeling when you drive

through Aleppo. I always like taking a car and driving through towns like this and go from the east of Aleppo to the west of Aleppo where it's

basically untouched.

You really go from an absolutely devastated war zone into a place that's almost intact. But you're right, many people have fled or many doctors for

instance have been killed so, medical attention is something that's a big problem. Getting supplies is still a big problem and that certainly is

something that does weigh on a lot of people who really don't know what future they are going to have not just in the coming months, but also

further down the lines as well, Robyn.

CURNOW: Politically though, the future, do they see it indefinitely involving Assad and the Russians. We heard that one man in your piece say

the Russians are our friend. We trust them, they trust us.

PLEITGEN: You know what, right now I don't really think that many people are thinking about or contemplating too much about their leadership. I

think for many people the concerns at this point are more immediate than that and not even thinking about their long-term future. I think for them

right now it's really getting her neighborhoods back up and running again thinking about the next couple of months how they're going to survive

especially once the summer ends and once the winter months come as well. And then trying to rebuild their houses and trying to rebuild their


I think those are the more immediate concerns for many people at this point in time. I think a lot of them are quite happy to have a little more of a

quiet now in their city. I think a lot of people now think that there is a chance, especially the entrepreneurs. I have to say that there is still

that entrepreneurial spirit that Aleppo has always had. It always was the industrial capital of Syria and even if you go into ruins now like we did,

you can see little workshops sort of springing back to life. So they are trying but it is difficult and I think right now (INAUDIBLE) trying to fix

their own situation, few people there are thinking about her leadership.

CURNOW: OK, thanks so much for that perspective there from Damascus in Syria, Fred Pleitgen. OK, the latest world news headlines are just ahead.

Also, you may not know that the country known as the hermit kingdom actually has a railway connection to Russia but what is Moscow's real train

of thought on the North Korean crisis. We explore that next.


CURNOW: This is "Connect the World." I'm Robyn Curnow. The top stories this hour.

Kenya's opposition leader is challenging preliminary results from Tuesday's presidential election. He says he's trailing Persident Uhuru Kenyatta

because the election system was hacked. Kenya's election chief says there was a hacking attempt but it failed. The election commission has a week to

declare a final result.

Senior State Department officials say workers at the U.S. embassy in Havana may have been subject to a so-called acoustic which is being blamed for

serious health problems in two employees. According to our sources, devices were placed in or near the diplomat's homes. A warning, our next report

thought contains some disturbing images.

Dozens of migrants have drowned after being forced into the sea by smugglers off the coast of Yemen. The International Organization for

Migration says smugglers on two boats pushed them overboard when they got close to shore. The victims were mainly teenagers from Somalia and


And our top story, North Korea says it's working on its plans to launch a strike near the U.S. territory of Guam in the Pacific Ocean, and brushing

off threats from President Donald Trump as, quote, a load of nonsense. Well, North Korean state media said plans to fire missiles near the island

will be ready soon for review, but just a short time ago two U.S. defense officials told CNN there are no signs of any imminent launch activity from

North Korea.

Well let's get into the rest of how the world is responding to this. Our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson is in London. Also, senior

international correspondent Matthew Chance usually covering this beat from Moscow, but lucky me, here's in the studio with us today. Matthew, tell me,

what the reaction to all of this, this particular tit-for-tat between Moscow and Washington and what is Moscow, between Pyongyang and Washington?

What is the Moscow reaction?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they haven't made a great deal of remarks but there have been some remarks from various

quarters urging caution. The Russian ambassador to the United Nations urged the United States to keep calm and refrain from any moves that would

provoke dangerous actions by others -- talking about the North Koreans obviously.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov commented on the statement made by the North Korean foreign ministry saying it was a tough statement, but

he said that they always react in the same manner and should be judged by concrete steps. And so what the Russians are saying is that, yes, look,

this rhetoric has been stepped up, but we shouldn't, you know, move too hastily towards any kind of confrontation.

CURNOW: OK, so that's the perspective from Matthew. Nic Robertson, to you, you've just written a piece on, an opinion piece. It's quite

interesting and it's getting certainly a lot of hits online, and the headline is why Gadhafi's down fall scares the life out of Kim Jong-un. I

mean, just give us some sense of what's the play in terms of the thinking in Pyongyang.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATION DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Sure. I mean, look, it's a matter of trust for Kim. Does he trust what he's hearing from the United

States? That they want him to stop his missile program, stop his nuclear program, and that this isn't about regime changes, merely only sort of

bringing and end to the sort of world order. Does he trust among that, that they're not trying to get rid of him? And when he looks at the expense of

Muammar Gadhafi and Libya who was toppled in 2011, he'll look back to Gadhafi deciding in the early 2000 that he was going to get on with the

international community, put terrorism and supporting terrorism behind it, hand over everything that he knew about nuclear weapons and all the plans

they've been putting in place in his own country.

And so in the sort of late 2000's I was meeting with some of his senior officials and with his son, Saif Gadhafi. So then we fast-forward to the

Arab spring 2011, and I was talking again to his officials and to his son, Saif Gadhafi, who was saying to me, look, we really don't think that the

international community is going to go against us. You will see, they will come to our site because we've done things for them. Help them on

counterterrorism, you know, done what they've asked of us.

So they'll support us, you know, at our time of need. Of course, we know what happened. NATO came in on the side of the opposition to Muammar

Gadhafi who was toppled and he was killed by his own people. So, you know, if you are Kim at the moment and you are looking at whether or not you can

trust the international community, he'll be wearing (ph) up. Well, Gadhafi did this. Gadhafi surrendered, you know, his weapons and his ability to

threaten the West and keep the west at bay, and it didn't do him any good because there really wasn't any trust there at the end of the day. He

wasn't supported.

So for Kim, that may be a part of the calculation and obviously he almost has seen what happened to Muammar Gadhafi. He was killed by his people

because he wasn't able to keep his own people at bay either and obviously that may be a concern for Kim.

CURNOW: So the thinking potentially there in Pyongyang, but in Moscow, in many ways how would Mr Putin see the North Korean crisis as an opportunity?

CHANCE: Well first of all,

[11:35:00] the Kremlin also isn't in favor of regime changes. They've seen that taking place in Iraq and in Libya is worth mentioning. It's very much

opposed to it.

CURNOW: And this (INAUDIBLE) is, you know, was concerned that the Americans are trying to meddle in getting him out of a job.

CHANCE: Absolutely. He thinks this is one of the ways the United States asserts itself by establishing kind of means by which regimes can be

changed. He simply don't want to see that anywhere particularly not in North Korea. But there area some still competing interests as well that the

Russians have in mind. First up, Putin said just a couple of weeks ago he doesn't want to see any expansion of the nuclear club.

He doesn't want to see -- it's an exclusive member's only sort of environments and he likes the fact the Russia is one of the few members in.

He doesn't want North Korea to join. And of course he enjoys the fact when it comes to diplomacy, that when it comes to North Korea, Russia has a seat

at the top table. One of the main objectives of foreign policy in Russia is to re-assert Russia as an international player. The map in Eastern Europe

with Ukraine, (INAUDIBLE) in Syria and North Korea is yet again another opportunity where Russia can sit at the top table, insert itself on the

most serious issues of international diplomacy and behave like what it wants to do, which is a great power.

CURNOW: Thanks so much. Matthew Chance, always great to have you and here on the set. Nic Robertson, to you too, thank you so much and urge our

viewers to go to and read your opinion pieces. Thanks so much.

OK, let's move on, and handling the North Korean crisis is certainly a challenge enough, but Donald Trump is also involved in a very different

feud closer to home. He's lashing out again at top Republican senator Mitch McConnell who he blames for the failure of healthcare reform legislation.

Mr. Trump took issue with (INAUDIBLE) McConnell earlier this week. The senator suggested President Trump doesn't really understand how Congress



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Our new president, of course, have been in this line of work before and I think had excessive expectations

about how quickly things happen in the Democratic process. And so part of the reason I think people feel like we're underperforming because too many

kind of artificial deadlines unrelated to the reality of the complexity of legislator.


CURNOW: Well, President Trump tweeted this morning, can you believe that Mitch McConnell who has screamed repeal and replace for seven years

couldn't get it done. Must repeal and replace Obamacare.

Well, let's bring CNN's political director David Chalian. David, great to speak to you. This spat with the majority leader, I mean, don't they meet

each other?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: They do. There is no doubt about that and they both know that they need -- both of them do need some

legislative victories on some big ticket items. What you see President Trump doing here is he is keenly aware that while he is suffering in his

poll numbers and is at the lowest point for approval rating compared to all his predecessors at this point in his presidency, he knows who has worse

numbers and that the Congress and the Republicans in Congress specifically.

He also knows that Republicans are divided in how they see the Republican leadership. This is what we saw play out throughout all of 2015 in the

primary season. The Trump base is they do not like McConnell and the establishment Republicans and they are fed up. They see them as part of the

problem as to why their big-ticket agenda items aren't getting done and the president knows that and so he's trying to make use of that. The question

here is, is this the best way to go about doing it? And I'm not sure the answer is yes to that.

CURNOW: Yes, I mean it's fascinating isn't it, how this is also playing out on social media. I mean, just on something else, Mr. Trump is also

laying at least part of the blame for the North Korean crisis at the feet of Barack Obama. I mean, he's criticizing the former president on twitter

today and he retweeted this, our country and civilians are vulnerable today because Barack Obama did not believe in national missile defense. Let's

never forget that.

I mean, certainly he seems quite -- I don't know if the word obsessed is the right word but he is certainly occupied with the former president.

CHALIAN: There is no doubt about it. We've seen sort of dip into the Obama, well time and again. Now, it's a bit of a time-honored tradition to

want to blame the guy who was in the office before for certain intractable problems that you're facing as president. I don't think Donald Trump is the

first to do that. But you are right to note that he dips into this well about Barack Obama quite often.

He sees completely consumed by making sure that he is doing the opposite of President Obama. He knows that's part of what animates his base that

delivered the Oval Office to him. Go back to when he just tweeted about that totally unsubstantiated claim that Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower

which proved not to be true at all.

He is keenly aware of what being against

[11:40:00] Obama does for his base support and he wants to make sure that he is always sort of in an opposite position.

CURNOW: Yes. And also crucially, many former presidents don't like to respond or get themselves involved in the president that came after them,

so in many ways, you know, Barack Obama is likely hamstrung. He can't defend himself with a lot of these tweets. Let's also talk about another

crisis that we've been following. We're learning more about the FBI raid at the home of Mr. Trump's former campaign chief, Paul Manafort. And a source

tells CNN the news, quote, rattled Mr. Trump's inner circle and it spread quickly.

We learned about it yesterday but the pre-dawn raid took place last month, David, a day after Manafort made to Senate investigators. We know he had

already been cooperating with the investigation so, what is it about this raid? I mean, it certainly sends a message, but they were also trying to

get stuff.

CHALIAN: It definitely sends a message of force and that the Mueller team is not kidding around, and that Paul Manafort clearly is under some severe

scrutiny. I think it sends two other messages. One, to execute -- get that warrant and execute it, to go and raid the home that way. A judge needed to

approve that and that there were some probable cause that there is some evidence there that may point whether or not a crime was committed so

that's a new phase, is that a judge sort of made that determination for Robert Mueller's team to go do that.

And then of course it is also indicative that even though Paul Manafort has said time and again that he is fully cooperating, clearly Bob Mueller and

his investigators have reason to believe he's not fully cooperating otherwise, they wouldn't have had to go about doing it this way. So they

believe that this was necessary to make certain that they were getting everything that they needed to to complete their investigation.

CURNOW: Yes. And so what's also interesting Dan about this Mueller investigation is just how much where it's going and also the kind of

support that the American public is giving its direction. I mean we're getting an new poll (INAUDIBLE) about how supportive they are about this

investigation going to Mr. Trump's finances.

CHALIAN: Yes. Seriously, we've seen 70 percent of the country in our new CNN poll says that investigating Donald Trump's finances should be part of

Bob Mueller's investigation, that that should be within his purview, the Trump finances. We know that Donald Trump sold the New York Times. That was

a bit of a redline. He didn't think so but clearly the country disagrees. We also have 60 percent of Americans who say that this investigation is a

serious investigation. Far fewer say that it is purely an attempt to sort of distract and impede the Trump presidency.

CURNOW: OK. David Chalian from Washington. Fascinating stuff. Thanks so much for joining us as always.

Still ahead here on "Connect the World," harrowing insight into how Boko Haram is using women and children as human bombs, that's next.


CURNOW: You're watching CNN and this is "Connect the World" with me Robyn Curnow. Welcome back.

In Nigeria, the fight with an Islamic insurgency has taken a brutal term. With mainly Christian cells and a majority Muslim north, west people

generally live together in peace. But members of Boko Haram want to break away to create an Islamic state. And as Robyn Kriel reports, the group has

become merciless in a way it uses women and children to spread fear.


ROBYN KRIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A young child walks down a crowded market street somewhere in northeastern Nigeria. Its territory

controlled by Boko Haram. The child detonates a suicide vest killing and maiming dozens of people. A woman then enters the scene and detonates a

second device.

The scenario is hypothetical but the reality on the ground in Nigeria according to American researches, is that Boko Haram's use of women and

children in its suicide bombing campaign is staggering, never before seen and highly successful. A new study reveals that a startling 72 percent of

Boko Haram's suicide bomber army with an identified gender, were women.

Since the group's first recorded suicide bombing in 2011, Boko Haram has used 244 female suicide bombers. And the terror group the researchers say

is on the forefront of normalizing the use of children as suicide bombers. Of those bombers whose age was identified, 60 percent were teenagers or

children. The report found of 134 suicide bombers whose age was determined, 53 were identified as adults , 53 as teenagers and 28 as

children. The youngest suicide bomber thus far was just seven years-old.

Boko Haram also, the evidence suggest, uses four times as many little girls as they do little boys. The study also finds that men, women and child,

suicide bombers tend to target different location. Women and children are more prone to detonating in civilian locations, markets, bus stops, or

internally displaced people's camps. Men are more likely to target Christian or pro-government institutions.

The reasons behind the terrorists heinous logic according to the researchers is thus, women are less likely to be searched and they can hide

their explosives under their billowing clothing or inside handbags or strapped on their backs with infant children. There are also cases of men

dressing as women to slip through security more easily. Women and children according to the report are more easily recruited than their male

counterparts. Whether it be through violence, brainwashing or false promises.

Women and female children in particula are seen as expendable by the male terrorist leadership. Their vulnerability in these cases, a destructive

deadly curse. Robyn Krie, CNN.


CURNOW: Really disturbing evidence there into Boko Haram's tactic and just how far they're willing to go. I want to take a look at another graphic.

This graph -- it shows a staggering increase in the number of attacks by women and girls since April 2014. Now, that date you remember, that's when

the group kidnapped nearly 300 school goals in Chibok. As many as a hundred are still missing. For more on all of this, let's bring in Hilary Matfess,

author of "Woman and the War on Boko Haram." She has helped analyze hundreds of bombings. She helped with that research that Robyn Kriel just

referred to.

She joins us now from New York. Great to speak to you. Let's just talk about the link between the "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign and these human

bombs. I mean, what is it?

HILARY MATFESS, AUTHOR: Great, well, thanks so much for having us on. Very glad to talk about this. As that graphic that you showed before very

clearly demonstrates it was only in the aftermath of the Chibok abductions that Boko Haram began deploying female suicide bombers. And since then,

you've seen just an incredible growth. What our report unpack is not only that rise in the use of female suicide bombers but also the fact that on

average, female bombers are less lethal.

So there are fewer people killed for each female bomber used than male bombers, which raises a really interesting question of why is Boko Haram so

dependent on the use of female suicide bombers when they're not as lethal or as necessarily destructive or effective as their male counterparts.

And this raises an interesting discussion about whether or not these women are all voluntary suicide bombers and can be rightly called suicide bombers

or whether or not the group is deploying person-borne IED

[11:50:00] or PBIEDS who are conscripted and forced into serving as suicide bombers. Another thing that I'd like to know just looking at that graphic

again, by deploying 244 bombers over the course of three years and some change, Boko Haram has taken on the title as the insurgency in all kind of

world history, that has used the most female suicide bombers. For a sense of scale, the Tamil Tigers used just 40 female suicide bombers over the

course of a decade and they were the previous holders of that title.

CURNOW: Yes. That's not the kind of record you want people to hit. So just to go back to the Chibok girls, the reason this is the spike is that Boko

Haram saw the kind of publicity that was there and they saw it as effective and useful then to use women in carrying out their nefarious methods I

understand, but I also want you to just tell us some stories, I mean, you were there. You gathered this research, you spoke to people. I mean, what

struck you when you are on the ground and what people told you? What was with the one thing that that you found starting?

MATFESS: Well first, It's difficult to narrow it down to one thing, but I will say that the effect of the use of these female suicide bombers has

created just an atmosphere of pervasive insecurity. When I was in Yola (ph) in December of 2015, there was someone -- a guard standing with a metal

wand trying to search people as they entered a market. I think anyone that's even seen photos of these sorts of open air markets that are very

busy. It's an exercise in futility.

And so you're having populations regard women and children, who are also deployed as suicide bombers, with an incredible level of suspicion and

there's a lot of stigma associated with young women who are strangers to the community. Now, that might seem sort of beside the point when you've

got such a lethal insurgency.

But when you take a look at the humanitarian crisis that is affecting the region where there are nearly over 2 million people displaced, where there

is a lot of communities accepting strangers and trying to rebuild the upending of this social norms which has resulted in women being regarded

with such stigma and such suspicions, is going to be a serious hurdle as the country tries to reconcile and develop once Boko Haram and the conflict

finally draws to a close.

CURNOW: And let's just talk about these women and what's in their mind. I think there have been some survivors or people who got away, I mean, the

concept of strapping on a bomb or even putting a bomb and then your baby on your back, I mean, you don't want to do it. Just give us some understanding

of what these women are going through.

MATFESS: So, I'm going to push back a little bit because I don't want to rob some of these women who do volunteer to service suicide bombers of

their autonomy. In my forthcoming book, I feature interviews with women who joined the insurgency and they were rescued by the military, but who

remained loyal to the insurgency so, certainly all our women who deploy as suicide bombers, who have agreed to do so.

But for a number of those bombers it does appear that they have been conscripted and the evidence for that is the number of instances that we've

collected in our database that we feature in the report in which young women voluntarily surrender to the security forces before detonating or

they rush out to vigilantes or police officers or members of the military and say help us, you know, we don't want to go through with this.

And this raises a kind of a hopeful point in an otherwise fairly dark situation where we do have the opportunity to engage in the moment with

unwilling bombers, be they, you know, young men, children or women, and give them an offering of out the insurgency if they are deployed on these

missions without their consent.

CURNOW: Hilary Matfess, thanks so much for joining us here on "Connect the World.

MATFESS: Thanks for having me.

CURNOW: Well, a bit of literary normalcy in a time of war. In Syria, these people are finding pleasure and release in books, that's up next.


CURNOW: Amid the destruction in Syria, some are finding solace in stacks of books. We read into this our parting shots showing Syrian's love for the

written word. The Damascus International Book Fair attracted twice the audience it got last year. An exhibitor said books in current affairs and

politics were the most popular.

Thanks so much for watching. I'm Robyn Curnow. This has been "Connect the World." You're watching CNN, the world's news leader. Stay with us.

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