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Americans Pause to Remember the Victims of 9/11; Second Charter Flight Evacuating 150+ Foreign Nationals from Afghanistan; Biden to GOP on Vaccine Mandate: "Have at It"; "Health Pass" and Delta Variant Convince Many French; California Governor Faces Recall Election; Highlights of the U.S. Open; Supertyphoon Chanthu Aims for Taiwan; Women Who Served at Ground Zero; Looking Back at U.S. War on Terror. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired September 11, 2021 - 04:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Thanks for joining us. I'm Robyn Curnow.

Coming up, on CNN, September 11th, 2001, today marks 20 years since that fateful day that changed the lives of millions of people forever.

And on this anniversary of the war on terror, the Taliban making it clear they are in control again. How we have come full circle in Afghanistan.

Plus Republicans, threatening to pursue President Biden on his new vaccine requirements but he doesn't seem worried.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: Exactly 21 years ago, no one dared to believe that commercial airliners could become weapons of war. But that's exactly what happened in the horrific attacks of 9/11, changed the course of history. In the coming hours, Americans and indeed people around the world will pause to remember the enormous loss that day and reflect on what happened since.

In New York, the epicenter of the attacks, the missing Twin Towers are now replaced in the Manhattan skyline by beams of white light.

This year's anniversary also coincides with the U.S. ending its 20- year war in Afghanistan that followed those attacks. Earlier, President Biden reminded Americans of the resolve that emerged in the aftermath.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We also saw something all too rare, a true sense of national unity. Unity and resilience, the capacity to recover and repair in the face of trauma, unity and service, the 9/11 generation stepping up to serve and protect in the face of terror, to get those terrorists who were responsible, to show everyone seeking to do harm to America that we will hunt you down and we will make you pay. That will never stop.


CURNOW: The attacks began early on September 11th, when over nearly 3,000 people had perished in one of the most brazen terror attacks ever on U.S. soil.

Jeh Johnson is the former Secretary of Homeland Security, a U.S. agency created in the wake of the attacks. Today he is a trustee of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and he spoke earlier with our Wolf Blitzer about what's changed since that date and also what has not.


JEH JOHNSON, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: It does seem as though things have come full circle in a 20-year arc, doesn't it, Wolf?

But circumstances are different. I was down at ground zero, the World Trade Center today, this morning, and I will be there again tomorrow for the observance. I try to go every year. Each year I go, which happens to be my birthday, it feels as though things have never changed.

I am working today in the same law firm in private law practice that I was in 20 years ago, and I watched the towers collapse from our midtown office that I work from now. Yet, things are very different.

Twenty years ago, there was no Department of Homeland Security. Bin Laden was alive. Since then, we've created a Department of Homeland Security. I ended up leading it for three years.

We got Bin Laden in 2011. Al Qaeda has been degraded. They're no longer, in the view of many, including myself, able to launch another large-scale attack on our homeland and here in the United States.

But the terrorist threat has evolved. The Taliban is back in control. There is now an organization called ISIS-K that is rising in prominence. And most of the terrorist threat here at the homeland, Wolf, is domestic-based, right-wing violent extremism.

And if you were to ask me today, 20 years later, what are the top security threats to our nation, Wolf, I would say global warming, global warming, global warming, and that is the top priority, along with cyber security, cyberattacks on our nation on a daily basis and domestic violent extremism. And we have to stay one step ahead of those threats.

Every year on 9/11, I believe we should mourn and remember those who died that day, the courage showed by passengers on Flight United 93, for example, and never forget. But the world has changed. The threats against our homeland have changed.


CURNOW: On this solemn anniversary, many are still trying to flee Afghanistan now that the country is back under Taliban rule. The Qatar Airlines flight took off from Kabul on Friday, heading to Doha with scores of evacuees on board.

It's the second such charter flight carrying foreign nationals from there, since the U.S.-led evacuation ended last month.


CURNOW: The U.S. State Department says an estimated 100 American citizens remain in the country. Arwa Damon continues to follow all of these stories, she is in Istanbul.

And certainly 20 years on, coming full circle, Afghanistan remaining a focus as it was 20 years ago, it is today.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's coming full circle, Robyn, in the worst imaginable way possible.

In fact, many Afghans are still struggling to come to terms with the reality that the Taliban is back in power.

Certain freedoms that they enjoyed over the last 20 years have just been ripped away from them, along with so many hopes and dreams for their own future.

And this is something that defies logic to a certain degree, that, on the very same day that those towers came down, around the same time that America declared its war on terror, it went to war in Afghanistan, now the very entity that it went to war against is the one that controls Afghanistan.

And the great concern is, has America, has the West really learned from the lessons of the past?

And how is America and the West going to navigate this new reality forward?

Which of their morals are they going to be willing to compromise to ensure that Afghanistan remains stable enough?

And not stable enough for the Afghan people to be able to prosper but stable enough so that the West can believe that it is, relatively speaking, safe, that the terror threat at least has been contained because a lot of the rhetoric that we hear right now is centered about how to keep America safe, how to keep the West safe.

It's not about how to keep Afghans safe. And add to all of this, if we just look back over what happened in the last 20 years and how all of these terror threats managed to emerge, grow, thrive, spread across the world, well, that really began to shift when the U.S. shifted focus from Afghanistan to Iraq, based on botched, misrepresented evidence.

And by doing this, the United States created this perception, among many Muslims, that it wasn't a war on terror but, rather, a war on Islam.

CURNOW: So with all of this and all of the lessons learned, the hard lessons potentially learned over the last 20 years, what do you think America's status is in the region, particularly the view from where you are?

DAMON: You know, America's moral compass no longer exists. America used to be viewed as this beacon of democracy; humanity, to a certain degree. People really do want to believe in these concepts of democratic free societies. That's not what is at stake here.

But America, being a global leader, the world's moral police, I mean, America has such little standing at this stage. People don't believe what the United States says, because America, over the course of the last 20 years, and arguably, even before that but really over the course of the last 20 years, has made so many promises, whether deliberately or implied them, that it quite simply has not stood behind.

And especially with these wars that happened in Afghanistan and in Iraq, with the rising toll among the civilian casualties, with the apparent disregard that the U.S. does seem to have when carrying out these wars, when it does come to civilian casualties, no matter what is said at the highest echelons of American power, there is this sense that America is actually not looking out for the interests of humanity as a whole but, quite simply, for its own, no matter what the cost is to any other population.

CURNOW: Arwa Damon in Istanbul, thank you for that.

A woman who lost her husband in the 9/11 attacks is sharing her story. She was speaking on the phone as the first plane hit.


DIANE INGHILTERRA, WIDOW OF LOUIS INGHILTERRA: He started to reflect a moment and he said, oh, oh my gosh.

And I said, what's wrong?

And he said, oh, I think that plane, I see a plane, it's going to hit the North Tower.

And I said, what?

And he said, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have told you that because you have the movers and you're just going to worry about it. I'll call you back.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CURNOW: We will have a full report of the family's story about 20 minutes from now.


CURNOW: And of course, there are several solemn events taking place to mark the September 11th attacks. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will visit all three sites.

In New York, there will be a moment of silence at 8:46 am local time, the moment the first plane struck the World Trade Center.

It will be followed by the annual reading of names. The city is also commemorating events with its annual Tribute in Light, two beams of light projected into the sky to symbolize the Twin Towers.

There will also be a ceremony this morning at the Pentagon. A flag will be unfurled on the west side of the building, where American Airlines Flight 77 struck.

A private observance will be held at the national memorial site also near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed.

Join CNN as we honor the victims of these attacks. "9/11: 20 Years Later" airs this Saturday. Our coverage starts at 8:00 am Eastern time, 1:00 in the afternoon if you're in London, right here on CNN.

President Joe Biden standing firm also on his COVID vaccine mandate after Republican governors threatened to sue his administration over the new requirements. The president's message to his opponents, that is next.

And also, a gamble by French president Emmanuel Macron appears to be paying off in the fight against the pandemic. What the U.S. can learn from his approach to vaccinations.





CURNOW: U.S. President Joe Biden has a clear message to Republicans threatening to sue the administration over the new vaccine mandate, quote, "Have at it," he said.

The president's new policy will affect nearly two-thirds of the American work force, including federal workers, health care staff and large employers. Kaitlan Collins has more on the backlash the president is facing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden is defending his sweeping new vaccine mandates and brushing off Republicans accusing him of overreach.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're playing for real here.

COLLINS (voice-over): Vaccines are now required for all federal employees and the Labor Department is drafting a rule, requiring private companies with 100 or more employees to vaccinate their workforce or test them weekly. Within hours, Republicans were already vowing to defy Biden's plan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the Biden administration is doing is government overreach. Pure and simple.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): This is a president who has acknowledged in the past he does not have the authority to force this on anybody. And this order would result potentially in millions of Americans losing their jobs.

COLLINS (voice-over): In his first remarks since unveiling new proposals to vaccinate more Americans, the president pushed back on GOP resistance.

BIDEN: Particularly some of the Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities.

COLLINS (voice-over): For those threatening to sue, Biden offered these three words.

BIDEN: Have at it.

COLLINS (voice-over): Still the move is a significant shift for the president, who was once hesitant to impose any mandates.

BIDEN: No, I don't think it should be mandatory. I wouldn't demand it be mandatory.

I will do everything in my power as President of the United States to encourage people to do the right thing.

COLLINS (voice-over): Nine months later, the pandemic is still raging out of control and a new CNN poll found that 56 percent of people now approve of Biden's handling of the pandemic, a 10 point drop from 66 percent in April.

COLLINS: And the president's top aides are also not ruling out requiring vaccinations for domestic flights within the U.S. Asked about this on Friday, two of the president's top advisers said they were not taking any measures off the table.

And one said they would continue to look at options that they believe could help save lives -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.



CURNOW: Joining me now is Jessica Levinson, a professor of law at Loyola Law School and host of the "Passing Judgment" podcast.

Good to see you. I want to get your take on this.

From a legal standpoint, where do you think this mandate is the most vulnerable?

JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: So I think the mandate actually is not vulnerable. I would actually like to start with that, by saying, in terms of whether or not it's vulnerable, I think it stands on pretty strong grounds.

Where is it the most -- I would use the word maybe not vulnerable but new, it's sweeping. We have never used OSHA, we have never used the power of the federal government to mandate vaccines for this many people before.

That doesn't mean that it's legally weak. It just means we've never seen OSHA, for instance, that was established 50 years ago, impose vaccine mandates to this extent. And it's new but that doesn't mean it's illegal.

CURNOW: Who would have the standing then to challenge this?

LEVINSON: Yes, I think the most likely group would be employers, who would say, look, you're reaching into my private business, you're going too far, I want to conduct my company or my corporation the way I want to. Thank you. Basically get out of my life.

But we know that companies have plenty of federal regulations on them. And in this case, I think what the Biden administration is doing is so smart, they're funneling essentially these vaccine mandates as part of workplace protections, saying the way to get a safe workplace is to mandate vaccines.

And they're saying, look at the Delta variant. Look at the number of hospitalizations. And look at how safe the vaccines are.

Now could this be put on hold?

This is a really interesting one because whether or not it stands on strong legal grounds, we know it's a slightly different question than can you find the kind of judge somewhere who could put this on hold.

And the answer is, no, potentially, there would be a judge, who would go, I believe, against precedent and say, you know what, this looks like a federal government overreach.


LEVINSON: It's not proper under the federal government's commerce clause authority. It's too broad under OSHA's authority. And so we're just going to push pause on this nationwide. You could see that; I don't think you will.

CURNOW: But the president seems to be pretty confident. In fact, he kind of said bring it on. So he thinks got a pretty good case here.

LEVINSON: I think the president's "bring it on" really accomplishes two things. One, he's showing I think I'm on really strong legal footing, go back all the way back to 1904, when the Supreme Court said, yes, states can mandate vaccines.

Now that's different than what's happening here at the federal government. But we clearly have a long tradition in this country of mandating vaccines.

But I think the other reason; he said, basically, "try me, see you in court," is because he wants to convey politically that he tried to be cautious; there's no more time for that. He's thin on patience and it shows the employers who might want to challenge this, I'm serious.

And it shows the governors who are balking at a lot of basic safety protocols that he wants to use every lever that he can as part of the federal government's power to make sure that people get vaccinated.

CURNOW: Is this something that many employers are asking for?

LEVINSON: I suspect that there are a number of employers, who are very happy to be able to get cover from the federal government, so that they don't have to be the ones to deal with whatever pushback might come from their employees.

And they can say, look, my hands are tied. You saw what President Biden said. This is on strong legal footing. There's nothing else we can do.

It really does throw a blanket of protection around the employers who wanted to take that next step and were worried either about doing that for the culture of the office or for the blowback they would get or worried about legal challenges. And now they can say look, look to the federal government if you want to challenge this.

CURNOW: Jessica Levinson, thank you very much for joining us, good to speak to you, always good to have you on the show.

LEVINSON: Thank you.


CURNOW: So France is the latest European country to ban unvaccinated Americans from entering. Like his U.S. counterpart, French president Emmanuel Macron has struggled to convince skeptical citizens to get the vaccine but now the country has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. Melissa Bell explains.



MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the push back in July that made all of the difference.

MACRON (through translator): We are extending the use of the health pass to push as many of you as possible to go and get vaccinated.

BELL (voice-over): Within 24 hours, almost 1 million appointments had been booked with a health pass, which shows whether you have been vaccinated or have had a PCR test within 72 hours, suddenly needed to enter restaurants, museums, cafes and bars and now extended to employees of any business serving the public.

ANAIS MAJDOUBI, FULLY VACCINATED WORKER: They say do you have the choice but you don't really. It's either you get vaccinated or you pay for your tests. So it is a trivial choice.

BELL (voice-over): Anais says she wasn't going to get vaccinated, like 60 percent of those polled during France's second lockdown in December. For a long time, the United States was ahead of France in terms of the proportion of the population that had received at least one dose.

Then in July, Macron took a gamble. Just as vaccination centers were emptying as vaccine hesitancy kicked in. And French hospitals were being overwhelmed by the Delta variant.

BRUNO CAUTRES, SCIENCES PO: They took the risk to say I will make the life of the non-vaccinated very difficult, which is very, very, very dangerous statement.

BELL (voice-over): Protests followed by one of the biggest came on July 31st, just a couple of weeks after Macron made his speech. Across France, 204,000 people took to the streets according to the interior ministry. But for all the noise that very same day, more than double the number of people required to be getting an injection.

The reason says this French lawmaker that most people understood that the alternative was yet another lockdown.

MONIQUE IBORRA, FRENCH LAWMAKER: It was saying to the French, she says that if you're vaccinated, you can live like you're used to this health pass will give you your freedom back.

BELL (voice-over): Now France has one of the best vaccination rates in the world over 62 percent. And despite the spread of the Delta variant, hospital admissions have gone down.

DR. CATHERINE HILL, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: The Delta variant goes faster. But enough people are vaccinated to sort of balance between being more contagious and meeting more people who are immunized.


BELL (voice-over): Macron's gamble depended on his being able to act at a national level with strong executive powers and a solid parliamentary majority, none of which Joe Biden has on his side.

But the French model does show that with some encouragement, even the vaccine hesitant, can be convinced that in the extraordinary circumstances of a pandemic, individual liberties must end where collective responsibility begins -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


CURNOW: Thanks to Melissa for that report.

Still ahead on CNN, the political fate of California's governor will be decided in the coming days. We take a look at the national indications this recall election could have if Gavin Newsom is voted out.

Plus, the grief born on 9/11: a widow shares the story of the husband she lost in the terror attacks.




CURNOW: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Thanks for joining us. I'm Robyn Curnow. It's 29 minutes past the hour.

So I want to show you the scene above the Pentagon as America marks 20 years since the 9/11 terror attacks. A tower of light is being projected into the sky, in remembrance of the lives lost when a hijacked airliner crashed into the building.

The World Trade Center in New York was the first target. That's where most of the nearly 3,000 victims lost their lives. Among them, a husband and a father, who worked on the top floor. Gary Tuchman has a personal connection to the family and he shares their story.



GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the morning of September 11th, 2001, Louis and Diane Inghilterra were excitedly getting ready to move into a renovated house in Westchester County, New York.

Diane, who has been a friend of mine for more than 35 years, says her husband did not have to go to work that day but felt it was important to just go in briefly for a morning meeting.

TUCHMAN: Do you remember anything about him going to work that morning?

D. INGHILTERRA: Yes, because we were so giggly and silly.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Louis was a senior vice president of the Fiduciary Trust Company. He worked on the 95th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. He called Diane from the office that morning, asking if the movers had arrived.

D. INGHILTERRA: And then he started to reflect a moment and he said, oh, oh my gosh and I said, what's wrong? And he said, oh, I think that plane, I see a plane, it's going to hit the North Tower. And I said, what? And he said, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have told you that because you have the movers and you're just don't worry about it. I'll call you back.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): So he was afraid he was going to scare you?


TUCHMAN (on-camera): And he said he's going to call you back. And then he hung up.

D. INGHILTERRA: And then he hung up.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Minutes later, she saw that plane did a deed flying to the north tower. She was terrified but knew her husband was in the south tower. Seventeen minutes later, though, the second plane hit.

D. INGHILTERRA: I froze. And then I kept saying, Louis knew he saw the first plane, he must have gotten out.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But he did not. Forty-five-year-old Louis Inghilterra was killed. He left behind Diane and their two-year-old son. A son who shares his father's first name, Louis Sam, who is today a 22-year-old college student at Colorado State University majoring in interior architecture and design.

(on-camera): Do you have any memory of your father at all?


TUCHMAN (on-camera): Do you feel like you were cheated that you have no memory of him?

L. INGHILTERRA: Yes, 100 percent.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Diane remembers waiting until Louis was about four to try to explain what happened to his father.

D. INGHILTERRA: And I said daddy went to work. And a plane hit his building. And daddy died very quickly. And so that became how he understood how his dad died.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): When Louis was in first grade, he wrote this in class.

L. INGHILTERRA: My dad died. He was in a building and a plane crashed into the building. And he couldn't get out. He is an angel now but he is in my heart now but I love him.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Diane says her little son's words and actions back then helped sustain her. D. INGHILTERRA: I was in the kitchen. I remember so many times. Just like mommy, like, yes, you need a hug.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This week, Diane is visiting her son at college. And she and Louis invited me to watch home videos of father and son taken just a few months before 9-11.


LOUIS INGHILTERRA, 9-11 ATTACK VICTIM: Mommy, mommy, that's right. How about this one?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Your mom was telling us that there are a lot of things that you do, the way you look that remind you of your father. How does that make you feel?

L. INGHILTERRA: Oh, it makes you feel great. Makes me feel connected to someone that I basically never knew. But it's really heartwarming. I'd say for me.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Diane has never remarried. She still wears her engagement ring.

(on-camera): Are you happy today?

L. INGHILTERRA: I am. I think despite the horrible tragedy that happened to me and to my mother, I think I've overcome and persevered. And I'm really happy person today.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): And you Diane?

D. INGHILTERRA: I am happy.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): And you know what, my guess is your husband and your father would be happy that you're?




TUCHMAN (voice-over): Gary Tuchman, CNN, Ft. Collins, Colorado.


CURNOW: So powerful. And nothing, of course, tells the story of what happened on 9/11 better than hearing it from people like that, people who lived through it and feel its impact today.

From the survivor who dug his way out of the rubble at the World Trade Center, to the Muslim-American woman who worried what America would be like for her yet unborn children, more than a dozen people have shared their stories, in their own words, in a special interactive section on our website. Do go find it. It's at

And coming up, voters in California head to the polls on Tuesday to decide if governor Gavin Newsom will keep his job. Recent polls suggest a majority of Californians want Newsom to stay. But if he doesn't, the consequences will be felt far beyond the Golden State, as Michael Holmes explains.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first question on the ballot is simple: should California governor Gavin Newsom be removed from office?


HOLMES (voice-over): In Tuesday's special election recall, California voters choose yes or no. If more than 50 percent mark yes, the leader of America's most populous state would be unseated, making him one of only three governors in U.S. history to leave their post in this way.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Good morning, brothers and sisters.

HOLMES (voice-over): Now Governor Newsom is trying to convince voters he should keep his job.

NEWSOM: Are we going to vote no on this recall?

HOLMES (voice-over): A stark threat to the Democratic governor that began as a challenge from state Republicans.

In June of last year, Newsom's opponents received approval for a petition to unseat him. Then amid a raging coronavirus pandemic, Governor Newsom was seen in November at the dinner party of a prominent lobbyist, wearing no mask, while publicly he was telling residents to mask up and stay indoors.

Newsom apologized but backlash after that incident may have been pivotal in the petition's success. Republicans collected more than 1.7 million signatures, enough to trigger a recall election in California. Soon, the campaigning began.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are being betrayed. You are being used.

HOLMES (voice-over): Now Newsom's chief opponent is this man. Larry Elder is a 69-year-old conservative talk show host turned political candidate. He is vowing to roll back California's coronavirus restrictions and repeal mask and vaccine mandates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not sure the scientists settled on that at all and young people are not likely to contract the coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I had known there would be so many people, I would have prepared something to say.

HOLMES (voice-over): Elder's candidacy has been seen as somewhat controversial in California, in part for his views on race and women. He has also been accused of domestic violence, an allegation he denies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have always felt that minorities and women complain too much about racism and sexism.

HOLMES (voice-over): Still Elder is among more than 40 of Newsom's challengers, all hoping to become California's next governor. But Newsom has strong support from some of his party's most prominent members, including the U.S. president and vice president.

KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They think if they can win in California, they can do this anywhere.

HOLMES (voice-over): Supporters are framing the special election as a challenge to liberal values across the country. Democrats fear that, should Newsom lose, the impact could be far-reaching, potentially encouraging Republican-led recalls in other states and even jeopardizing the party's control of the U.S. Senate.

As Tuesday nears, Democrats and Republicans in the state and across the country will have to wait and see how many say yes and how many say no in California's recall election -- Michael Holmes, CNN.


CURNOW: Coming up on CNN, O Canada, is fit for the usually hockey mad nation as the cheers for two of its tennis playing daughters, a preview of the U.S. Women's Open final, that is next.

Also, we are tracking this monster, a supertyphoon heading toward Taiwan. We get the details from the Weather Center.





CURNOW: Novak Djokovic is just one win away from a record-breaking 21st men's grand slam title, beating Alexander Zverev of Germany in five sets on Friday to reach the finals of the U.S. Open.

Should Djokovic beat the other finalist, Daniil Medvedev of Russia, on Sunday, the world number one would accomplish the calendar grand slam, winning the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in the same year. No man has done that since Rod Laver back in 1969.

And as for the women's final on Saturday, it is the Cinderella battle of two teenaged sensations; 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada takes on 18-year-old Emma Raducanu, who plays for Great Britain where she was raised. But she actually was born in Canada as well.

Paula Newton has more from the Canadian capital on what has become a source of national pride. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the U.S. Open courts, cool Canada is on fire. The newest unlikely heroes on hard court are inspiring fans back home and beyond.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm very proud of Dan (ph).

NEWTON (voice-over): First to 19 year-old Leylah Fernandez, an unseeded finalist, virtually unknown, embedded now in many hearts in her northern homeland. The Canadian prime minister tweeted that he caught some of her semifinal match just before he took the stage in a national political debate.

Basketball Hall of Famer and fellow Canadian Steve Nash cheered from her players' box and heaped praise.

Magic Johnson called her "captivating."

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: She just turned 19 years old, a fresh face, who was just able to pull out victories, not necessarily with power but with guile, with brains, with strategy and it's just absolutely delightful to watch.

NEWTON (voice-over): And yet there are more stunners from Canada. Yes, Canada: 21-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, gutsy, composed, making it all the way to the semis.

He and Fernandez are all-Canadian kids, both the children of immigrants and now symbols of the striving can-do attitude that's becoming Brand Canada.

Fernandez's mother is a Filipino Canadian and Jorge Fernandez, a former soccer player and an immigrant from Ecuador, is Leylah's father and coach.

JORGE FERNANDEZ, LEYLAH'S FATHER: There is no magical formula. I've always been a very, very demanding and tough coach. So whenever we lose, we get back to work really hard. That's just a traditional thing, an old-school thing.

NEWTON (voice-over): But for Canada, this is a new thing. The tennis pedigree has been notable but not like this. Canada's third semifinalist in the U.S. Open is Gaby Dabrowski, who, with Brazilian partner Luisa Stefani, reached the final four in women's doubles.

More Canada?

Yes. British phenomenon Emma Raducanu and Fernandez's championship opponent was born in Canada. Even ahead of the U.S. Open, had to confess --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You won't tell anyone I'm Canadian, right?

NEWTON (voice-over): As the cliche goes, there must be something in the water up there. Fernandez shot back, "It's the maple syrup."

Whatever the secret, there's a new spirit to tennis, from an unlikely cool place -- Paula Newton, CNN, Ottawa.


CURNOW: You're watching CNN.

Coming up, Vietnam and Taiwan are already bracing themselves.


CURNOW: Twin cyclones, as you can see here, are forecast to make landfall this weekend. One is a supertyphoon, one of the strongest storms to hit this year.


CURNOW: You're watching CNN. We will be right back with much more on our 9/11 anniversary coverage.






OFFICER MOIRA SMITH, NYPD, 13TH PRECINCT: (INAUDIBLE) a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center.



We go. If the fire, is like shooting somebody, this is what we do. We go in, we go, we help, we do what we're supposed to do, we go and we save people.


CURNOW: A tribute there to the women of the New York Police Department, who rushed to Ground Zero on 9/11. The department released the video to showcase their contributions and the sacrifices they made.

You heard the voice of a female officer who was killed when the towers fell; 35 others have since died from illnesses related to that attack.

Now the horrific attacks led to the U.S. war on terror and invasions of not only Afghanistan but also Iraq. Our chief international anchor, Christiane Amanpour, interviewed key international decision makers over the past 20 years who shaped much of what happened since 9/11.

And she now looks at the U.S. response to those attacks.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Incredibly, I did not see the Twin Towers fall in real time or on live television. I didn't see the attack of 9/11 because I was on assignment in the far-flung West African nation at war and cut off at the time of Sierra Leone.

So, CNN immediately started to try to extract me from there, send me back to base in London and then deploy me.

In the meantime, we also know, because of the footage that the U.S. forces found in Afghanistan, that Osama bin Laden, whose diabolical plan this was, had not reckoned with the towers collapsing.

The chilling video of him talking to his al Qaeda honchos where he uses hand gestures to mark the top to bottom of the World Trade Center, not expecting anything below the level of the planes' impact to collapse, is just so stunning to watch 20 years later.

And the idea, because we couldn't get into Afghanistan at the time, was to try to figure out what the U.S. and the allies would do. So, I got an exclusive interview with then Prime Minister Tony Blair.

After the United States had said, President Bush, that war has been declared on us, NATO declared Article V for the first time in its history; i.e., on behalf of the United States, an attack on one is attack on all, which meant that they would respond to this act of war declared on the United States.

TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I do think that the whole of the civilized world will stand together, yes. I think that the whole of Europe will stand with America on this, because people know that what happened was not just aimed at America. It was aimed at all of us.

AMANPOUR: Just about everybody hoped that it wouldn't come to war. They hoped they could persuade the Taliban to give up Osama bin Laden and avoid war. Of course, that never happened.

The Taliban didn't. And of course, it got me remembering who the Taliban were. I had the opportunity to watch their rise through Afghanistan. In April of 1996, I was in Herat as they took over that western Afghan city.

(voice-over): Today, Herat is ruled by the Islamic fundamentalist group known as the Taliban. It refuses to negotiate with the Kabul government, vowing only total military victory.

Closing down girls schools has been the Taliban's biggest blow. Education is just for boys, they say. But now boys don't get taught either because most of the teachers are women. So, classrooms full of idle children wait to take turns with one of the few male teachers.

"We're not learning anything," says 15-year-old Orban (ph), "so we will end up stupid and ignorant."

(on camera): Fast-forward now to November 2001, an air campaign by the United States and allies had ousted now Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.

They were on the run.

And here was the man who the West was pinning hopes of leading Afghanistan in a new Taliban-free, terrorist-free, law-abiding, peaceful Afghanistan.

He was Hamid Karzai.

I got his first television interview as he's coming up from Southern Afghanistan through Kandahar, where we stopped to talk. And we used gaslight to light our little sort of set, because there was no electricity and very little else.

Mr. Karzai, here we are sitting in Kandahar surrounded by tribal elders and leaders.

In about a week's time, you're going to take the helm of a new government for Afghanistan, an interim government. What is going through your head right now?

HAMID KARZAI, FORMER PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: It's an exciting time. It's a new beginning for Afghanistan.

If the world does not pay attention to Afghanistan, if it leaves it weak and basically a country in which one can interfere, all these bad people will come again.

AMANPOUR: Karzai then, of course, was talking about how the United States and the world shifted its attention from Afghanistan after the Soviet Union was defeated there.

This is where an invading Soviet army met its final test and lost. It is where a superpower and the Cold War began to die.

But what truly sparks the beginning of the end of the right kind of American and other attention Afghanistan was the Bush administration's determination to expand what was a legitimate response to an act of war to a global war on terror, that they insisted, wrongly, as it turns out,

Saddam Hussein in Iraq was unfinished business from the first Gulf War.

They insisted that he was somehow connected to 9/11. Then they insisted that he had active weapons of mass destruction, even nuclear. Wrong again.

Nonetheless, the Bush administration now squandered all that goodwill that its allies had shown and coming to his defense in Afghanistan by insisting on going off somewhere else.

Only this time, neither allies like Chirac or adversaries, it turns out, like Putin, supported an expansion of this war.


AMANPOUR: And on the eve of the Iraq War -- that would be March of 2003 -- I sat down with the French president, who explained why and who, in all these years later, has been proven right and prophetic.

JACQUES CHIRAC, FORMER PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): We just feel that there is another option, another way, a less dramatic way than war.

AMANPOUR: On the eve of what looks like war, what do you have to say to President Bush, who you call a friend?

CHIRAC (through translator): I just want to tell him that I don't share his views, that I don't approve of his initiative.

AMANPOUR: What would have happened if they're taken Chirac's advice on the eve of the 2003 war?

A friend was trying to tell them to give it a bit more time, find a bit more evidence. Maybe they wouldn't have encountered this terrible debacle in Iraq. Maybe they wouldn't have precipitously retreated and withdrawn and seen the rise of ISIS in Iraq, which then took thousands more U.S. troops to combat ISIS.

And what would have happened if they hadn't withdrawn totally and chaotically from Afghanistan? But they have. And the Taliban is back and in charge.

(voice-over): The future lies with the generation of Kalashnikov- toting illiterates and the world has one more wasteland whose people were good enough to fight its war, but not worth the effort for peace.

(on camera): Twenty years later, it's come full circle. And it is actually a 180-degree circle, certainly from what I witnessed, back to hell.


CURNOW: Always so good to get Christiane's perspective. Thanks for that.

And please do join CNN as we honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks, "9/11: 20 Years Later," starts at 8:00 am Eastern time. That's 1:00 in the afternoon in London, right here, on CNN.

And thanks so much for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow. You can follow me on Twitter and on Instagram, @RobynCurnowCNN. The news continues here on CNN.