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Connect the World

Funeral Held for Hamas Official Killed in Beirut Strike; NHK: Passenger Jet Pilots didn't see Coast Guard Plane; Defendant Attacks Judge during Sentencing Hearing; Fears of Escalation Around Middle East; Teen Sensation Falls just Short of World Darts Title. Aired 9-9:45a ET

Aired January 04, 2024 - 09:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Well, hello and welcome to "Connect the World". I'm Becky Anderson broadcasting to you here in Abu

Dhabi. It is 6 pm. Here we are connecting you to a region on edge. There are vows of revenge today for the dozens of people killed and wounded.

Hundreds wounded in explosions in Iran.

A funeral for a Senior Hamas Leader killed in Lebanon's Capital, heavier fighting reported in Gaza. The Commander of a pro-Iranian militia killed in

a drone strike in Iraq. And attacks on commercial ships launched by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, the Middle East is staring down multiple tensions

amid growing fears of a regional war.

We're going to walk you through all of it over the next two hours starting tonight with those twin explosions in Iran yesterday Wednesday that killed

84 people and injured hundreds more as they visited the burial site of the Iranian Military Commander, Qasem Soleimani. The country has declared a day

of mourning, there has been no claim of responsibility. But Iranian leaders as they have done in the past after similar attacks are blaming Israel.

Here's what Iran's President is saying.


EBRAHIM RAISI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT: I warn the Zionist regime, don't doubt it. You will pay the price for this crime. These crimes that you have

committed, you will deeply regret.


ANDERSON: Well, Paula Hancock sat with me here in Abu Dhabi. And while Israel has said, it has no comment I mean, there are clearly fears around

this region of an escalation in violence.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely Becky. I mean this particular attack in Iran it was destined to cause mass casualties. And what we've

been hearing from the U.S. side from analysts is that's not the modus operandi of a state of Israel for example. We have seen in recent days that

Israel carries out very targeted strikes.

But of course, we have heard many times in the past when something happens, Iran will automatically blame Israel. Now the U.S. has said that there's no

reason to believe that that is the case. And also saying that this actually bears the hallmarks of something like ISIS, some group like that, that is

trying to increase casualties.

The fact that they had one blast at 3 pm and then just 20 minutes later once emergency services, once people had rushed to the area to help the

casualties, that is when the second and more deadly blast happened so all these factors point to for U.S. officials and for many analysts that this

could be some kind of ISIS type group.

But of course, that doesn't make a difference to the rhetoric that we will hear from some leaders and the concerns of these wider tensions increasing.

And the fact that that this could potentially spill over more into the wider region, especially when you consider that just the day before you had

a top Hamas Leader being killed in Southern Beirut.

So this really does just add to the concern. I mean, we have U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken coming to the region again this week, showing just

how concerned the U.S. is about this.

ANDERSON: Absolutely, good to have you Paula, thank you. Well, the streets have been packed in Beirut today for the funeral of that slain Hamas Leader

Saleh al-Arouri. He was the Deputy Head of Hamas's political wing. And his assassination inside Lebanon sent shockwaves through the region. It has

sparked fears of a wider regional war although Israel is not acknowledged that it played a role in that attack. Nada Bashir is joining me now from

Beirut, Nada.

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, Becky we have seen just over an hour ago, those funeral prayers being held here in Beirut for Saleh al-Arouri. As you

mentioned number two in Hamas's political bureau somebody who was considered one of the Founders of Hamas's military wing, the Al-Qassam


And just a little while ago we did see these huge enormous crowds gathering outside the mosque as we had thousands gathered to pay their respects to

Saleh al-Arouri. Many chanting their support for Hamas, many chanting their support for the Palestinian people as well and those in Gaza this is a

neighborhood of Beirut where support for the Palestinian cause is strong and has to be said.

And we've seen that procession marching behind us. They have now left this area outside the most heading towards the Shatila Refugee Campaign, a

historic Palestinian refugee camp.


It's there at the martyr's cemetery that Saleh al-Arouri will be buried in just a little while now. And of course as you mentioned, this was a moment

-- it really sent shockwaves across Lebanon, certainly in Beirut where they haven't seen a strike of this kind in some time.

Hamas has been very clear in pointing the finger of blame towards Israel. You heard from Hamas's Political Chief describing this as a cowardly

assassination is heard in his words, as you mentioned neither claim of responsibility nor a denial from Israeli officials at this stage.

However, U.S. official has told CNN that as the U.S. understand that Israel was indeed behind the attack. And that has raised concern over the

potential for this to spark a wider escalation more broadly, between Israel and Lebanon. And in particular of course Iran backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

ANDERSON: Yeah, and we are seeing continued attacks on both sides of the border, the Israeli Lebanese border and further depths. Let's hear from the

Lebanese Foreign Minister.


ABDALLAH BOU HABIB, LEBANESE FOREIGN MINISTER: We don't want an escalation in the war. We don't want what's happening in the south to be spread to

over Lebanon. We don't like a regional war because it's dangerous to everybody, dangerous to Lebanon, dangerous to Israel and to the countries

surrounding Israel.


ANDERSON: Yeah. I mean clearly, there the words of someone who has genuine concerns, Nada over a further escalation.

BASHIR: Absolutely. And the Lebanese government has been clear. It doesn't want to see a war break out. It is according to the Foreign Minister

working to convince Hezbollah not to wage war with Israel. As you mentioned, we have seen those continued skirmishes between Hezbollah and

the Israeli military on Lebanon southern border, from the outset of this whole like almost continuous near daily exchange of fire across the border.

That has certainly sparked concern. And just yesterday, we heard from Hezbollah's Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. He spoke on the anniversary

of the death of Qasem Soleimani, Iran's the Commander of the IRGC's Kuds Force.

And of course, he also spoke about the Tuesday's strike which killed Saleh al-Arouri. He issued a warning to Israel. He was very clear that if Israel

wages war seeks to wage war on Lebanon and the response from Hezbollah would in his words, be limitless.

He was clear he said that Hezbollah is not afraid of war and that warning sign had certainly raised alarm bells. We are expecting to hear from the

Nasrallah again on Friday, where there are indications that his focus will be more squarely on the situation in Lebanon, certainly all eyes will be

waiting to see what he has to say.

Then we have also heard those warnings from the Israeli side as well. Just last week, a member of Israel's War Cabinet Benny Gantz saying that time is

running out for a diplomatic solution to the escalating tensions on the border and that urgent action isn't taken. The Israeli military may be

forced to take action itself it may be forced to put the situation in its own hands.

That was a warning as well, from the Israeli Foreign Ministry. But of course we also heard from the U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matt

Miller, who said yesterday that the U.S. was concerned around the potential for the conflict in Gaza, the conflict between Israel and Hamas to escalate

more broadly in the region. The U.S. at this stage following Tuesday strike is no more concerned than it has been from the outset of this war, Becky.

ANDERSON: Nada Bashir is in Beirut. Thank you. Well, Gaza's second largest City of Khan Yunis is now at the center of the fiercest fighting in the

territory. That's according to reports from both Israel and Hamas. Gaza's Hamas controlled Ministry of Health says 22 people were killed in an

Israeli airstrike in Khan Yunis on Thursday and 14 others including children died in an earlier strike on home just outside of the city.

The IDF says its operations there have significantly impaired Hamas's ability to command its forces in the area. Journalist Elliott Gotkine is

joining us now live from Tel Aviv. Just explain what we are seeing in Gaza today, both on the ground and from the air? It does appear that we are

seeing a tightening around the center of Gaza by Israel's defense forces. Just explain if you will.

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Yeah Becky, I think you know for all the talk of a lower intensification of the fighting between Israel and Hamas perhaps

that is happening in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, but clearly the reverse if anything is happening in central and southern Gaza.


And Israel's operations now seem to be focused around the central part of the Gaza Strip such as Deir al-Balah and also Khan Yunis in the southern

part, where of course Israel believes that the senior leadership is hiding in tunnels below ground and where perhaps hostages are also being held.

So that's pretty much the focus of their operations. And we are getting continual updates, both from Hamas and also from the IDF talking about

strikes. Israel saying yes, that it's impaired Hamas's command and control operations that has been killing saboteurs, weapons depots and the like as


And as I say, this does seem to be intensification in central and southern Gaza. And Israel again warning residents of the Gaza Strip to avoid the

central axis running north to south between the Gaza Strip and to use the coastal road instead and it seems that there's no sign as I say of any move

to a lower intensity of fighting if anything in central and southern Gaza, things seem to be intensifying, Becky.

ANDERSON: Elliot Gotkine is on the story, Elliot, thank you. Let's have a look at these markets, because we are just about 15 minutes or 20 minutes

out from the open on Wall Street. The DOW, the S&P and the NASDAQ well, they're on track, aren't they for a mixed open as you can see here after

closing in the red on Wednesday. We are keeping an eye on oil prices up partly on the issue of supply.

We will explain why and get a closer look at what global trade is and is not flowing through the Suez Canal, as the tension in this region of course

grows all of that at the bottom of the hour. First, though the latest in Japan after the earthquake there, plus new findings on what may have led to

the runaway plane collision in Tokyo. And unsealed court documents confirm some of the famous people connected to accused sex trafficker Jeffrey

Epstein, a closer look at those names is up next.


ANDERSON: Well, the death toll has risen to 84 in Japan after the earthquake on New Year's Day. Rescuers continue to search for more

survivors there. The search though, is more difficult because of conditions, a major tsunami warning remains in effect, many roads remain

damaged and aftershocks continue.

Well, we're also learning more about the moments leading up to the deadly runway collision at a Tokyo airport earlier on in the week. According to

NHK, the pilots on the Japan Airlines plane didn't see the smaller Coast Guard plane on the runway. And record show runway warning lights had been

out of service for several days failing to stop the Coast Guard plane's pilots from taxiing onto the runway. Well for more let's get you to Will




WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A catastrophic collision in the heart of Tokyo captured from passenger Aruto

Iwama's window seat, as flames engulfed his Japan Airlines jet. Honestly, I was scared to death he says, at landing I felt strong shaking and when I

looked out the window, I saw sparks flying, and the plane burning when the plane stopped in less than a minute the cabin was full of smoke.

That black smoke below through the cabin. In this video the voice of a young child, please let us off quickly, he says, a polite plea for help.

Flight attendants forced to use megaphones to direct passengers, the onboard communication system broken. With just seconds to spare and some

emergency exits blocked, the crew of 12 successfully evacuated 367 people including eight infants, everyone survived with barely a bruise.

Investigation of Tuesday's harrowing crash focusing on four crucial minutes 5:43 to 5:47 pm. Japan Airlines Flight JAL 516, making its final approach

over Tokyo Bay cleared for landing at Haneda Airport.

Just as the Japan Coast Guard turboprop was pulling onto runway C right into the path of the much larger Airbus A-350-900. The airliner hurtling

down the runway as flames consumed the fuselage. The explosion and fireball fully engulfed both aircraft in a matter of minutes.

The airliners fire resistant materials and emergency exits allowing vital time for nearly 400 people to escape the inferno, at least five Coast Guard

crew members died Japan's Transport Ministry releasing the official written transcript of those final four minutes suggesting possible miscommunication

between air traffic control and the two planes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: JA722A Tokyo Tower, good evening, No. 1, taxi to holding point C5.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Cockpit audio confirms the tower telling the Coast Guard flight to taxi to a holding point, giving the commercial flight

clearance to land.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cleared to land runway 34R JAL 516.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The transcript and audio raising key questions, why was the Coast Guard plane in the wrong place? Why did the Japan Airlines

pilots failed to see the other aircraft and abort the landing especially on a clear evening with good visibility, mangled metal and melted plastic a

reminder of just how bad it could have been.


RIPLEY (on camera): And there it is what's left of the airliner still sitting on Runway C here at Haneda Airport. A team of investigators are

there including technicians from Airbus who are helping the Japanese investigators search for the missing black box, which could provide crucial

clues in this crash that has disrupted travel for some 20,000 people and claimed at least five lives. Will Ripley, CNN at Haneda Airport Tokyo.

ANDERSON: Well, Safety Analyst David Soucie says that the runway status lights at the Japan scene alike many other airports are meant to keep

pilots aware of other traffic.


DAVID SOUCIE, SAFETY ANALYST: Those collision lights that you're talking about the runway lights, the runway lights were working, it's important to

clarify what it is. These are runway status lights. What that means is they automatically turned red if the runway is not safe to enter.

So they can be told the -- if they were working, then the cargo or the excuse me, the Coast Guard plane that was told to hold short would have

come up to that runway and seen a row of red lights that says stop, do not get onto the runway because there's something dangerous going to happen on

that runway. And that's what those lights do.


ANDERSON: Well, that's David Soucie, David Soucie there. Well, Russia and Ukraine have carried out what Kyiv is calling the largest prisoner exchange

in the nearly two-year-old war. Ukraine says 230 of its soldiers and civilians were released from Russian captivity.

They include seven soldiers who defended Snake Island from a Russian warship in the Black Sea when the war first began as well as prisoners

captured in the Chernobyl nuclear plants. Russia says 248 of its servicemen were returned from Ukrainian territory. Moscow credits the UAE for

orchestrating the exchange, much more on this story next hour from Kyiv.

Well, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Britain's Prince Andrew among the names appearing in newly unsealed documents in the Jeffrey Epstein case

sees the multimillionaire accused of sex trafficking before his suicide in 2019. And it's important to note the inclusion of someone's name is not an

indication of wrongdoing, more now from CNN's Shimon Prokupecz.



SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Long awaited documents finally released. The first batch of sealed court

filings pertaining to the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein were made public Wednesday. The document stemmed from a civil defamation lawsuit

brought in 2015 against Epstein's Former Girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell.

Prominent figures including Prince Andrew and Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, included in a 2016 deposition of Johanna Sjoberg,

a former employee of Epstein. She says in the document that she and Epstein had a conversation and quote, he said one time that Clinton likes them

young, referring to girls.

When asked if Clinton was a friend of Epstein, she said she understood Epstein had quote, dealings with Clinton. Clinton has not been accused of

any crimes or wrongdoing related to Epstein, and has denied any kind of criminal activity. But in 2019, he admits to having flown on Epstein's

private plane, but knew nothing of the financiers quote, terrible crimes.

Sjoberg also recalled a time she was with Epstein on one of his planes and pilots said he needed to land in Atlantic City. Jeffrey said, great, we'll

call up Trump and we'll go to, I don't recall the name of the casino, but we'll go to the casino. She says in the deposition, she never gave him a

massage to Trump. This is the first reference to Donald Trump, but he is not accused of any wrongdoing.

LISA BRYANT, DIRECTOR, "JEFFREY EPSTEIN: FILTHY RICH": Right now the only person who has been prosecuted is a woman; Ghislaine Maxwell who certainly

you know should be behind bars. But it's interesting in this you know network of all these men who've been trafficking young women and underage

women for decades and yet the only person that's been prosecuted you know it's a woman. There are many, many other people that you know should be

held accountable as well.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): The documents also contain excerpts of depositions taking a Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who previously reached an out of court

settlement in her sexual abuse lawsuit against Prince Andrew. Giuffre alleged in her deposition, that Maxwell directed her to have sexual contact

with people including Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Prince Andrew and Tech Guru Marvin Minsky.

Attorneys for Ghislaine Maxwell said in a statement on Wednesday, she has consistently and vehemently maintained her innocence. This is the first set

of documents to be unsealed under a December 18 court order, with more expected in the coming weeks. The documents are expected to include nearly

200 names including some of Epstein's accusers, prominent business people and politicians.


ANDERSON: And that was CNN's Shimon Prokupecz filing that report. Well, Donald Trump's legal team has formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court to

overturn the Colorado ruling that removed him from the state's primary election ballot. Now, Wednesday's move comes a day after Trump appealed the

decision made by Maine's Secretary of State that also prohibits him from appearing on that states ballot.

Both states say his role in the 2021 insurrection violates a clause in the U.S. Constitution, making him ineligible to run for President. Well,

Trump's lawyers argue amongst other things that he and I quote here in no way engaged in insurrection a potential decision from the U.S. Supreme

Court could settle the matter for the entire nation and have a major impact on the presidential election.

Watch this space and be sure to stay with CNN tonight for back to back Town Halls live from Des Moines, Iowa. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will go

first followed by Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. It all starts tonight at 9 pm Eastern right here on CNN. We'll have a preview of

what we can expect to hear from both candidates coming up on "State of the Race" with Kasie Hunt in about 90 minutes time.

Well, new courtroom video shows just how dangerous it can be to mete out justice in the United States. Watch this.




ANDERSON: Well, a judge in Nevada just denied the man's request for probation on charges of attempted battery with substantial bodily harm. The

court says the judge and one of the marshals who came to her defense were injured. Defendant is now facing three additional counts of battery on a

protected person.

Coming up next on "Connect the World", new warnings over tax on shipping in the Red Sea that is coming up plus the Middle East braces over fears of an

escalation and a regional war, we'll discuss that up next.



ANDERSON: Right, welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. You're watching "Connect the World". The time here just after 25 past six. This is

how U.S. markets are outlook to start the trading day in just about three minutes time. It is a mixed picture, investors looking forward to U.S. jobs

data tomorrow.

Of course the labor markets a real indicator of the health or not of the economy that will give more of a direction of where we stand on inflation

and on economic growth. Investors are looking for signs that inflation is easing, allowing central banks to cut interest rates later in the year.

That's certainly been the indication it has now, the back end of last year from the Fed. The prices of oil higher slightly, Saudi Aramco the world's

largest oil producer plans to deepen its push into China. But supply issues remain a concern with all the Middle East regional tension that we've been

connecting for you.

And that of course continues that tension on display in one of the world's most important maritime trade routes, the Suez Canal. That trade route

accounts for about 30 percent of global container traffic. The U.S. and UK issuing new warnings about the risk to global trade amid ongoing Houthi

attacks, here's U.S. National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby, take a listen.


JOHN KIRBY, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESPERSON: A significant amount of global trade flows through that Red Sea and by forcing nations to

go around the Cape of Good Hope, I mean, you're adding weeks and weeks onto voyages and untold resources now, expenses have to be applied in order to

do that. Plus, it's just a more dangerous journey. So obviously there's a concern about the impact on global commerce.



ANDERSON: And that is why you are hearing the spokesman for national security making comment on this disease. Well, it's a global trade story an

issue of national security for the U.S. CNN's Anna Stewart joining me live from London.

Let's just talk about what we are looking at here. I want to look two things, oil prices, which have just shown on the board by me, and then what

is going on with regards Suez Canal and the wider global trade story? Let's start with those oil prices. Not enormously higher, but they ticking

higher, what do you put that down to?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So Becky yesterday, oil prices around 3 percent higher and they are as they are sort of slightly higher today

again. Far off the highs that we saw, I have to say last September when they were actually creeping towards that $100 benchmark. So they're off

those highs.

But I think what you're seeing here is the beginning really of a risk premium to oil, a result of just tensions in the Middle East, the regional

conflict, but also the risk as you were mentioning earlier to oil supply thanks to this almost blockage of the Suez Canal and the Red Sea.

Some ships are passing through but the longer this continues, and the longer it's considered unsafe, the more we'll see oil tankers, I think

divert and take a longer route around. So that is why you're seeing a slight issue there.

As you said yes, as you said earlier, you know the U.S. and 11 other governments released another joint statement. This one was really

interesting yesterday, it said the Houthis (ph) will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives,

the global economy and free flow of commerce in the region's critical waterways.

On Tuesday night two more anti-ship ballistic missiles were fired into the Red Sea. They didn't hit a boat. But increasingly the sort of naval ships

that are shooting down these anti-ship ballistic missiles, it is expensive, it is challenging. It is not always successful.

We know a Maersk ship was hit by an unknown object on Sunday. However, while they are taking what seems to be a tough and stance, at least from

that joint statement that we just saw. There is also concern though about escalating the situation and creating a broader conflict, given these

militants are backed by Iran.

ANDERSON: This is fascinating, isn't it? I haven't known in all my time of covering this region. I've known as much concern on a sort of broad base

about what is going on in the Red Sea for four years. We aren't seeing the regional players in this part of the world getting involved in this sort of

multi country coalition to help try and secure these waters perhaps that will change going forward.

But Egypt of course, derives significant revenue from the Suez Canal. It has an economy which frankly is you know facing real headwinds at present.

What sort of impact is this latest event having on the Egyptian economy?

STEWART: The Suez Canal contributes a significant amount of revenue for Egypt. I think it's around 2 percent of GDP. But perhaps more critically,

right now. It's about foreign currency, how much foreign currency it brings into that economy, which is you say is in something of a pickle sluggish

growth, inflation, last I saw was hovering around 35 percent.

So the cost of living for people in Egypt is going through the roof. So this will impact Egypt, some ships are still transiting through, it's

important to note that it's not a complete blockage, like we saw with the Ever Given a couple of years ago. But of course, it will hit revenues


I would say in Egypt's favor in a way given it is a key player diplomatically in that region, it is perhaps more likely to get a big

financial support package from the international community like the IMF. So that is certainly something we should watch probably in the weeks to come.

ANDERSON: Good to have you. Thank you. Well, fears of a wider regional conflict are spreading in countries across this region. Iranian officials

are blaming Israel for what were those deadly twin bombings we saw in Kerman yesterday, even though no group or country has claimed


Iran also accused Israel of assassinating a senior IRGC Commander in Syria. Israel didn't comment. And in Lebanon we've just seen the funeral of the

Deputy Head of Hamas who was killed there. The U.S. is involved in the region. Of course last week, U.S. helicopters sank three boats of Houthi

rebels based in Yemen but again, backed by Iran.

And last month U.S. military struck Iranian backed Kata'ib Hezbollah an affiliated groups in Iraq after an attack injured U.S. troops. Well, I want

to focus again on what we have seen in Iran. Here's the key takeaway from my next guest Ali Vaez.


He posts all in all the Kerman attackers once again highlighted Iran's vulnerability and the government's failure in providing security while the

security forces seem adept at harassing women not wearing hijab. They fail to save their lives and protect them against terrorism.

And Ali Vaez joining us now live from Washington. And you know it has to be said, the failure of security the failure to secure a site where hundreds

of people would have been expected. This was the fourth anniversary of Qasem Soleimani's death assassinated by the U.S. in Iraq four years ago. We

have to ask how and why did that happen?

AKI VAEZ, IRAN PROJECT DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: Well Becky, it is clear that Iranian security forces are distracted by other developments.

Other developments could fall in the category of domestic issues like the potential for reemergence of protests in Iran.

There is still a high degree of disgruntlement and discontent within the society. The economy is doing very poorly. Women are still resisting the

mandatory hijab. But there's also distraction in the sense that the aftershocks of the war in Gaza and the possibility of entering into some

sort of direct confrontation with Israel and the United States and whoever committed these atrocities yesterday, clearly exploited that negligence

from the Iranian security forces.

ANDERSON: Right. What I read out at the beginning there was the end of a thread of yours on X started with your pointing out that Iran is blaming

Israel for yesterday's attack. You also said and I quote here by this logic, it would be part of a campaign of maximum provocation, killing

Mousavi in Syria and Arouri in Lebanon to prompt Iran into committing a mistake that would justify expanding the war and dragging U.S. in. But you

don't think that Israel is behind this, or that this is Israel's strategy Ali. So just explain why.

VAEZ: Well, I'm not sure at this moment where we don't have enough evidence one way or another to be able to judge. But this attack in Kerman is not in

line with previous covert operations that we have seen, allegedly committed by Israel. It doesn't have those hallmarks.

Usually Israel is very targeted at either assassinates senior Iranian nuclear scientist or military commanders or sabotages nuclear facilities

and military facilities. It doesn't really target innocent civilians in Iran. It hasn't happened in the past. Now of course we're on uncharted

waters right now. And everything is possible. So I'm not ruling out any possibility.

But if indeed is part of a pattern of Israel, killing senior IRGC officials in Syria, Hamas officials in Lebanon and yesterday basically U.S. also

killing a -- official in Iraq, all of that together, could put Iran and its allies and the axis of resistance in a difficult position.

Because if they don't respond, they would fear that it would be interpreted by U.S. and Israel as a sign of weakness and would only invite more of

these kinds of attacks and assassinations. And if they do respond, then there's plenty of risk for mishaps or miscalculations that could result in

tensions --.

ANDERSON: And there are enough people around this region who have or are seeing evidence were putting down is Israeli actions and words as evidence

that the Israelis are actually trying to draw the Iranians in to a wider conflict at present, not sure what you think of that. What I do want to

hear from you very briefly is, if not Israel, who and why?

VAEZ: Well, you know, Iranian leaders still don't want to war in the region Becky, and that's why I think if they are to respond they are likely to

respond in kind against Israel. But if it's not Israel, the likeliest scenario is ISIS, ISIS in Afghanistan that could easily get over to porous

border and mountain attacking soft targets.

ANDERSON: It's good to have you. We'll have you back. Thank you, sir. Happy New Year! We'll be right back.



ANDERSON: Well, it was oh so close see a teenager who captivated us at the World Darts Championship in London has fallen just short in his quest for

what would have been an unprecedented title. Patrick Snell is here. It was so close.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: It really was Becky. Yeah, I mean, he really has so much to be proud of though Luke Littler just 16. He's going

to be 17 in a couple of weeks. He had a chance actually. He probably feels he should have won that final Becky here a chance to go 5-2 up. In the end,

he would succumb 7-4.

But we should give full credit to his fellow Englishman who beats him Luke Humphries, the other Luke. Humphries himself is a wonderful story. And he's

done very, very well as the world's top ranked player to go on and get that done. But you have to imagine now Luke Littler with all the world's media

spotlight focused on him Becky, his life I would imagine has changed forever. And he's still just 16 years of age.

ANDERSON: I just want to -- I really hope he just sticks to having that kebab at night after an event because I just love that.

SNELL: I too. Remember his recipe for success? It was an omelet before he left his accommodation. It was a pizza upon arrival at ally pally and then

the kebab to celebrate.

ANDERSON: I love it. More on "World Sport" up after this short break stay with us.