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CNN Gets Rare Access to Al-Hol Camp for ISIS Families; New Israeli Statement Suggests Netanyahu Poised to Sign onto Biden Cease-Fire Plan; U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jordan after Meetings in Israel; Jury Deliberating Evidence in Hunter Biden Trial; Impact of Right-Wing Electoral Success on Ukraine; FBI Stats Indicate U.S. Murder Rate is Dropping; Rising Sea Levels Force Residents off Panama's Gardi Sugdub Island; Hamas Leader Claims Group Has the Upper Hand in War; Interview with UAE AI Minister Omar Sultan Al Olama. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired June 11, 2024 - 10:00:00   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND U.S. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Top of the hour here, welcome to the second hour of CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Erica Hill

in New York, in today for my colleague, Becky Anderson.

Ahead this hour, America's top diplomat is in Jordan, urging leaders across the Middle East to put more pressure on Hamas for a ceasefire. Antony

Blinken putting the onus directly on the militant group. The Israelis are also yet to publicly accept terms for a deal.

Plus hairy new details on the conditions of the four hostages who were rescued over the weekend.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): It was a harsh, harsh experience with a lot of abuse almost every day, every hour.


HILL (voice-over): And jury deliberations underway in Hunter Biden's federal gun trial. If convicted, the president's son could face up to 25

years in prison.


HILL: "A ticking time bomb about to explode."

Those ominous words used to describe a camp housing the wives and children of ISIS fighters. Five years after the terror group's defeat, 50,000

prisoners and their families are being held in 27 prisons and camps across northern Syria.

CNN's Clarissa Ward gained extraordinary access to some of those facilities, including the notorious Panorama prison. Now most of those held

are children, stateless and now coming of age. I want to bring you into Clarissa's exclusive report. And I do want to warn you as you watch here,

some of these images may be disturbing.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cell phone videos of ISIS' brutal justice that the world hoped it would never

see again.

Shared for the first time with CNN, these images weren't captured in Raqqa or Mosul in 2016. They were taken in 2022 in the Al-Hol camp in northern

Syria, a sprawling dumping ground for the women and children captured after ISIS was defeated.

Five years after the fall of the caliphate, ISIS' ideology lives on here. Security officials warn it is a ticking time bomb, ungovernable and hostile

to the outside world.

WARD: You can see just how vast this place is. More than 40,000 people are living here.

And the most dangerous part of the camp is called the annex. That's where some 6,000 foreign nationals are currently within.

WARD (voice-over): We were granted exceptionally rare access to the annex by the U.S. backed Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF, who control the camp. The

women here hail from more than 60 different countries. Several raise their right index fingers for the cameras, a sign of solidarity with the Islamic


WARD: Do you regret your decision to join ISIS or ... ?

WARD (voice-over): She complains that the conditions in the camp are awful.

WARD: There are people in the world who will say you went to join ISIS, you deserve it. You deserve it.

What do you say to that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): Normally, even with enemies.

WARD: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): Women and children need services.

WARD (voice-over): The majority of Al-Hol's residents are kids who have ended up here through no fault of their own. The U.N. has called it a

blight on the conscience of humanity.

It is effectively a prison camp where women and children are arbitrarily and indefinitely detained.

A group stops us with a frantic plea. One of their sons has been arrested trying to escape the camp.

WARD: She's asking if she can get her son back, who's in a prison.

(Speaking foreign language).


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

WARD (voice-over): "We wanted to send him out, so the SDF wouldn't take him," she tells us.

"Once boys turn 12th here, they take them."

It is a troubling story we hear over and over again.

The SDF says it is their policy to separate adolescent boys because they are being radicalized by their mothers.

An SDF raid earlier this year netted this video of a training session for children inside the camp.


The SDF claims young teenage boys are married off to repopulate the next generation of ISIS fighters, which, they say, may explain the roughly 60

births recorded here every month.

This is where some of those boys end up after they are taken, the Orkesh rehabilitation center. Conditions here are much better than the camps but

there are only 150 beds and they are all full.

Shamil Chakar grew up in Cologne, Germany, until his parents took the family to the ISIS capital, Raqqa. A shrapnel injury to his head has left

Shamil confused.

WARD: How old are you?

(Speaking foreign language).

SHAMIL CHAKAR, GERMAN CITIZEN: (Speaking foreign language).

WARD: (Speaking foreign language).

You don't know.


WARD (voice-over): Shamil was living in Al-Hol camp with his mother and siblings until a few years ago, when security forces came into their tent

in the middle of the night.

"A man came and pulled me up and tied my hand behind my back. My mom was screaming. She said, 'Leave him alone,'" he tells us.

"I didn't want to go with them. He pushed me, saying, 'Put on your shoes." But I didn't. Then he hit me."

Islam is from Dagestan, Russia, and is one of the youngest boys here.

WARD: (Speaking foreign language).

So he's saying that he is just 12 years old. He has been here about three or four months. He was taken from his mother. He doesn't even know what his

last name is.

WARD (voice-over): Human rights organizations have said the separations are an appalling violation of international law. But the SDF's top general,

Mazloum Abdi, defends the policy.

GEN. MAZLOUM ABDI, COMMANDER, SYRIAN DEMOCRATIC FORCES (through translator) Instead of these organizations condemning what we're doing and calling it a

human rights violation, these organizations should give us help when it comes to our program that we have in place for years now, to rehabilitate

these children.

WARD: But part of the problem seems to be that, once these young boys turn 18, there's not anywhere for them to go, particularly if they can't return

to their home countries. And so some of them, I believe, are ending up in prison.

ABDI (through translator): This is not a policy that we are following, to put them in prison at 18. The reality is, the goal is to reintegrate them

with society.

WARD (voice-over): But CNN has found that boys as young as 14 had been held here at the notorious Panorama prison. With an estimated 4,000

inmates, it is the largest concentration of ISIS fighters in the world.

No journalist has been allowed inside Panorama since 2021 until now.

WARD: So the head of the prison has asked me to put on a head scarf while we walk through here because these are some of the most radicalized

prisoners they have.

WARD (voice-over): A senior U.S. official told us the number one concern at Panorama is a prison break, a fear that was realized in 2022, when

hundreds of inmates managed to escape.

WARD: Can I look inside?

WARD (voice-over): Twenty-five men sit cross-legged in silence. The cell is spotless.

The men we see appear to be in decent physical condition.

But tuberculosis is rampant in the prison. And we are only allowed to look inside two cells.

WARD: Are you British?

You are?

Where are you from?

WARD (voice-over): A British man approaches the grate but does not want to show his face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): We've been here for like five or six years.

WARD: I know.

WARD (voice-over): Advocacy groups called the U.S. funded Panorama a legal black hole, worse than Guantanamo Bay.

In an interrogation room, we meet 19-year-old Stephan Uterloo from Suriname. He tells us he was brought to the prison when he was 14, along

with more than 100 other minors.

WARD: Have you had a lawyer ever?

You talk to a lawyer?


I don't know about the big guys. But if you are speaking about kids, us in (ph) -- if you want to know the truth, we don't know even why we're always

like punished. Is like five years in this prison and we're punished. We don't even know what we've done. Like we've been in prison because of our

fans (ph).

WARD (voice-over): At the SDF intelligence headquarters, we met British Pakistani Dr. Mohammed Sakhed (ph), accused of joining ISIS. He claims he

was the victim of an elaborate kidnapping plot.


He says Panorama's inmates are abused.

DR. MOHAMMED SAKHED (PH), SUSPECTED ISIS MEMBER: So we live in torture. I live in fear.

WARD: When you say you live in torture, do you mean that you are actually physically being tortured?

SAKHED (PH): This happens on and off.

WARD: What kind of torture?

SAKHED (PH): Like beating by the stick, by the guards.

To be honest, I'm just waiting for my death. There's no getting out of this prison, probably never.

WARD (voice-over): The warden at Panorama called Sakhed's (ph) claim of abuse false, saying, quote, "All parts of the prison are monitored by

cameras and no prison guard can act in this way."

The SDF and the U.S. are pushing countries to repatriate their citizens from Syria, saying it is the only solution to this complex and dangerous


But the process has been slow. And many, including Western allies, are dragging their feet.

In the Al-Roj camp, we meet Brits, Canadians, Belgians, Australians and a couple of Americans.

HODA MUTHANA, U.S. CITIZEN: We survive basically.

WARD (voice-over): Thirty-year-old Hoda Muthana has been stuck here with her 7-year-old son for more than five years.

WARD: I have to ask you, I'm seeing all of the women here are fully covered. A lot of them covering their faces. You're not covered, you're

wearing a T-shirt.

Is that hard?

MUTHANA: It was hard when I first took it. I would say for the first 2-3 years. People were not accepting of it, you know, and they harassed us a

lot. They stole our stuff. And I had to stay strong and show an example for my son.

WARD (voice-over): Born and raised in the U.S., Hoda became radicalized online at the age of 20 and left her family in Alabama to live under ISIS,

a decision she quickly regretted.

WARD: If you were to be able to go back to the U.S. and you had to go on trial, potentially serve time in prison, have you reconciled yourself with

that possibility?

MUTHANA: I always tell myself that going to prison would be a step forward in my life. If I had any time to serve, I'd serve it and I'd come out and

begin my life with my son.

WARD (voice-over): For now, that is not an option. While the U.S. advocates repatriation, it ruled Hoda's U.S. citizenship invalid on



WARD (voice-over): Now she lives in fear for her son's future.

WARD: What do you miss most about America?

MUTHANA: I just want to breathe American air and be around people. I love the people of America. They're very open and they're very forgiving and

they're very -- they're people who give second chances. And I think if they were to sit down with me and listen to my story from the beginning, they

would give me a second chance.

WARD (voice-over): But second chances are hard to come by here. For most, repentance is demanded and forgiveness rarely given as the cost of ignoring

this ugly crisis continues to mount.


HILL: And Clarissa joins us now from London.

Such a powerful, such important reporting, Clarissa.

I'm curious; Hoda, who we just met there at the end of your piece, what more have you heard from the U.S. in terms of response when it comes to her


WARD: So, Erica, the State Department did come back to us with a statement. They said the department has not changed its position with

regards to Ms. Muthana's citizenship status, as the State Department determined and the courts agreed she is not and never was a U.S. citizen.

We put that to Hoda's lawyer, who pointed out that she has had two U.S. passports issued to her in the past. And she replied, if Hoda Muthana is

not a U.S. citizen, then she is stateless. And that is a violation of international law that directly contradicts what the U.S. government has

stated, that other countries cannot and should not do.

So a very complicated situation.

HILL: Yes, it certainly is. And there was, in your reporting, too, there's this push, right, for some folks to be repatriated to their home countries.

There's a lot of reluctance there as well, Clarissa.

WARD: There is. I think that, unfortunately, Erica, this has become a political issue. And many people in a lot of countries, particularly here

in the U.K., feel very strongly that they don't want anyone who went to join ISIS coming back to these countries.

Now that doesn't really get at the issue, though, of these children; more than 20,000 of them, who were either taken there, not of their own will, or

were born there, who now find themselves stateless, with no rights, with no future.

And who could potentially, if this situation does not get under control somehow, ultimately pose a very serious security threat.


So you have this kind of push/pull between those who are advocating very strongly to repatriate those citizens and those who are pushing back.

Another issue that you will hear time and time again is the issue of whether there's enough evidence to actually put these people on trial, some

of them, to make sure that they end up in prison effectively.

Or if they can't effectively prosecute them, what does that mean for the security situation in these different countries?

But again, important to remember that this isn't just about those ISIS fighters and their families. This is about the victims of ISIS as well. And

the longer it takes to repatriate and prosecute, the longer it is, also, Erica, before those people can get some kind of justice.

HILL: Yes, it's such an important point and clearly a really important part of this story.

There is always, as we're here in New York, there are always questions about this, the U.S. perspective, the U.S. presence actually in the Middle


Does this figure in?

Or how does it figure in?

WARD: It definitely figures in, Erica. I mean, the U.S. is really the main country that is supporting the SDF, that is providing funding, that is

providing training, that is trying to make these camps and prisons more effective, more secure and more humane.

And underscoring that is the very stark reality that when U.S., when the U.S. talks about potentially pulling out of the Middle East, there's been

lots of talk in the past, particularly about pulling out of Syria, that is simply not a feasible option as long as you have these more than 50,000

people still inside northeastern Syria, Erica.

HILL: It is really something. Clarissa, really good to have you on, to talk through it as well. Important reporting. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Still ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD, new details on the daring raid to free the Israeli hostages over the weekend. And also new details on the horrific

toll that it took on Palestinian civilians caught in the crossfire.




HILL: U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken is in Jordan this hour after meeting with Israeli leaders, as he tries once again to broker a ceasefire

deal in Gaza. We are live in Amman this hour.

But also in Israel Blinken said prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his support for a U.S. backed plan that was endorsed on Monday

by the U.N. Security Council. Hamas for its part saying it welcomes that U.N. resolution and is ready to negotiate.

Blinken says it's up to Hamas, though, to take concrete actions beyond those words to achieve a ceasefire. CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Tel Aviv.

So Paula, we're also hearing a little bit more publicly now from Israeli officials.

What do they say?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, this is a government official statement, assumed to be affiliated with the prime minister's

office, speaking for him. And it basically says that the proposal that is on the table at this point does enable Israel to achieve its goals.


Now it has said that its goals are it will only end the war once it has degraded the governing and military capabilities of Hamas so that it can

not threaten Israel in the future. And also to ensure that all the hostages are returned to Israel.

Now there are -- there is some vagueness in the statement and certainly some of the issues don't seem to gel completely with what the ceasefire and

hostage deal on the table is stating.

But it's really the closest we have at this point to Israel openly saying they will go ahead with the deal. Of course, we are still waiting for an

official response from Hamas. We have, though, in recent days, been speaking to some of the families of those hostages still being held.

And they all insist that they want a deal so that they can be released. Let's have a look at what happened over the past few days.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): New video from the Israeli military shows the rescue of Israeli hostages from central Gaza. It says hundreds of personnel

were involved in this rare daytime operation.

Three hostages locked in an apartment in one multistory residential building, another held in a flat 650 feet away, in a densely populated

neighborhood. Models of the buildings were built weeks before to train forces.

This is how Israel's hostage rescue mission looked from the ground. Airstrikes, explosions, residents running to find safety that does not

exist in Gaza.

Hostages were flown by helicopter back to Israel and to emotional reunions with family who had dreamed of this moment for eight months, families who

only heard about the mission once their loved ones were safe.

ORIT MEIR, MOTHER OF ALMOG MEIR JAN: I haven't stopped smiling since my Almog was returned to me. But the remaining hostages need a deal to get

home safely. There is a deal on the table. We ask the Israeli government to move forward with the deal.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): The doctor who has treated the hostages since they arrived tells me, despite appearing in good condition, all four are


DR. ITAI PESSACH, HOSTAGES' PHYSICIAN: Their muscles are extremely wasted. There is damage to some other systems because of that.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): He says they were moved frequently and beaten by their captors.

PESSACH: It was a harsh, harsh experience, with a lot of abuse almost every day, every hour; both physical, mental and other types. And that is

something that is beyond comprehension.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Dr. Pessach also treated some of the hostages released in November and says the psychological damage of these four is

significantly worse.

PESSACH: All of them had faith. But losing that faith, I think, is where you get to the breaking point. And I'm happy that these guys are here. But

there are others losing the faith in us, in humankind.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Residents in Nuseirat, Central Gaza, are in a state of shock, struggling to deal with the aftermath of Saturday, which

neighboring countries and the E.U.'s top diplomat have called a massacre.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

HANCOCKS (voice-over): This woman says most of those trapped under the rubble are women and children. Houses are filled with displaced people.

Israel committed a massacre.

Hospital directors and Gaza officials say more than 270 were killed, hundreds more injured. The IDF says there were fewer than 100 casualties.

There's no breakdown of civilians versus fighters. But this hospital is filled with women and children.


HANCOCKS: (INAUDIBLE) continues to flourish in Gaza, many not daring to hope for this ceasefire, which has been so elusive over the months and

which all of those on the ground in Gaza are calling for -- Erica.

HILL: All right, Paula, I appreciate it. Thank you.

For more on secretary state Antony Blinken's latest diplomatic efforts. I want to bring in my colleague, Kylie Atwood, who is in Amman, Jordan, at

this hour.

Kylie, how have these talks been going?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, they have been incredibly challenging because the United States is still waiting to

hear from Hamas. All the players involved in trying to bring an end to this conflict, a ceasefire or hostage release deal.

And then, of course, the end to the conflict are still waiting to hear from Hamas. Here. We heard from the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, earlier

this morning. He we were with him in Israel and he said, on behalf of the Israelis, he had a meeting with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last


And he reaffirmed his commitment to the proposal that is now on the table with a loss. We heard President Biden articulate that multi-part plan 11

days ago, now still waiting for Hamas to respond.


But it's significant now the prime minister's office is also coming out with a paper statement that appears to commit to backing that proposal as

well. So you have that on the Israeli side, which is positive momentum.

But then it's really in the hands of Hamas. And we have reporting out from "The Wall Street Journal" this morning, that details some of the messages

that the military leader of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar, has said to some of the political members, the negotiating team of Hamas that's based in Doha.

And it really demonstrates Sinwar's willingness to engage in bloodshed in an effort to continue putting pressure on Israel. He says that the

Palestinian civilian casualties are,, in the words of these state -- of these reported messages he sent, "necessary sacrifices."

It's very clear that Sinwar is in this conflict and he's not willing, according to those messages at this moment in time, to back away from it.

Now the secretary of state made very clear statements today, that the United States has seen some positive comments from Hamas over the course of

the last 10 days with regard to that proposal, that President Biden detailed.

But he also said that it effectively doesn't matter what Hamas is saying until they get a final answer. They believe that final answer is going to

come from Sinwar. So seeing what Sinwar is saying in those private messages is really revelatory because it demonstrates just what a challenging

interlocutor is on the other side of this conflict.

Of course, for the Israelis and all the other players that are trying to push toward some sort of a ceasefire or hostage release and potentially end

to this war.

HILL: So much in there, Kylie.

Appreciate it. Thank you.

Just ahead here, as we look at Ukraine, Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy beginning yet another intense diplomatic push for additional

assistance. His latest message to Europe: Ukraine's recovery benefits you, too.

Plus, we are live in Delaware. Jury deliberations underway in Hunter Biden's federal gun trial. We'll have a live report for you.





HILL: Nearly half past the hour now, welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Erica Hill in New York.

Today, we are standing by at this hour for the jury in Hunter Biden's federal gun trial to reach a verdict. The defense resting on Monday and

following closing arguments, of course, the jury began deliberating -- deliberated for about an hour on Monday afternoon.

Hunter Biden declining to take the stand. In those closing arguments prosecutors tried to convince the jury Biden had illegally purchased a gun

in 2018 while addicted to drugs. For their part, Hunter Biden's defense team argued prosecutors are trying to inflate the evidence to win

convictions based on suspicion and conjecture alone.

Important to note as well, among a number of firsts that we have been talking about, this is the first criminal trial ever for the child of a

sitting U.S. president. CNN's Evan Perez, is live outside the courthouse in Wilmington, Delaware.

As we are on effectively on a jury watch here, Evan, bring us up to speed in terms of what we heard in those closing arguments tomorrow. And if there

is any indication at this hour on when we can expect a verdict.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SR. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, we're about 3.5 hours into this jury deliberation. Really, it's up to them to decide

whether the prosecution has proved its case, right?

The case here is really pretty simple. There's overwhelming evidence that Hunter Biden was using drugs during this period, 2015 to 2019. There was

text messages, videos. There's photos of him with drug paraphernalia.

It's his own words also in his memoir, where he talks about his struggle with addiction and it's also no doubt that he bought the firearm. The

question is -- and this is what the defense was focusing on in their closing argument yesterday that took about 90 minutes, was whether he had

the presence of mind.

Did he know, did he believe he was addicted to drugs at the time he filled out the federal form that is required for you to buy a firearm?

And so that's what the jury has faced in deciding these three counts. He faces up to 25 years possibly, this as being a first offender if he is

convicted. It's probably unlikely that he would he would serve anything like that.

But the danger is -- the risk for Hunter Biden is absolute, that he could face prison time if he is found guilty in this case.

And the last things that we heard from prosecutors yesterday was an answer to some of the accusations from the defense. The defense said they have

proved their case. There is no indication Hunter Biden was using drugs in October of 2018 when he bought the firearm.

They also said that they accused the prosecutors of rehearsing with witnesses and are being cruel to Naomi Biden, Hunter Biden's daughter, who

testified here last week.

In response prosecutors really were very tough in their last words before the jury left the room. They said anyone who puts a crack pipe to their

mouth every 15 minutes knows that they're an addict. And those are the words that jurors were left with as they today exited yesterday. Erica.

HILL: Quite the words to end on as well. Evan, appreciate it. Thank you.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in Berlin for an international conference on efforts to rebuild Ukraine.

President Zelenskyy calling for more investment and aid for that reconstruction. Earlier he was greeted by Germany's chancellor, Olaf

Scholz, who said they will be discussing and -- interesting words here -- not only the reconstruction of Ukraine but, in his words, he said this, of

course, is also recovery of a, quote, "future E.U. member state."

CNN's Fred Pleitgen was at the conference and asked directly about how the success of some right-wing parties in the E.U. elections could impact



FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Far-right parties that are very close to the Kremlin did very well in those


And centrist parties like your own, Chancellor Scholz, did very poorly.

Do you fear that this could hamper your ability to give Ukraine the aid that it needs on a European level?

Because, of course, the E.U. needs to, at least to an extent, work as a bloc to do that.

OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): The European elections have shown clear results and the majority of citizens support

parties that deem it important that Ukraine receives support.

Not only for Germany but also when looking at the European parliament as a whole. It is clear that thinking about the surge of right-wing extremist

parties in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, we should make sure that there is a framework. The political competition is possible, different opinions

of possible.

But the parties share a consensus on the requirements for democratic states, for social market economies or liberal economies.

PLEITGEN: We are here obviously at the Ukraine recovery conference but Ukraine would need a lot less recovery if it were able to kick the Russians

off Ukrainian territory very quickly.

So isn't it time for the supporters of Ukraine to drastically give Ukraine more weapons, drastically allow Ukraine to use those weapons wherever

Ukraine sees fit?

And believes they can push the Russians back.


And in order to use those weapons, President Zelenskyy, you also will need enough troops to be able to use the weapons.

Are you going to be able to mobilize enough soldiers to be able to launch a meaningful counter offensive and push the Russians off your territory?

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): As the time come, that the partners gave us all the weapon systems that is necessary

for us to kick out the Russians.

The moment has come. As far as mobilization is concerned, I'm having a sober look at it. Our mobilization is ongoing from day one of the war,

because we've got martial law in effect. I think this issue is present in the society, the war.

If you want to preserve and keep our state, we will have to defend it.


HILL: We'll continue to follow those developments. Also want to get you up to speed on some of the other stories on our radar at this hour.

Amid days of cross-border tensions, South Korea's military says it fired warning shots on Sunday after North Korean troops accidentally crossed the

border. South Korea says the soldiers did quickly retreat and did not appear to be acting intentionally.

In China a suspect is in custody in the stabbing of several people at a park in the northeastern part of the country. Police say the 55-year-old

man stabbed four visiting American educators as well as a Chinese tourist who intervened and tried to help.

The Chinese foreign ministry says those victims were treated for non-life- threatening injuries.

Malawi's vice president has been killed in a plane crash along with nine others, according to the country's president. That wreckage was discovered

following a massive search effort, after the plane carrying the vice president and others went missing on Monday.

New figures show violent crime is declining across the U.S. and that it actually could be headed for its largest annual decline ever.

The FBI reports violent crime between January and March dropped more than 15 percent when compared with the same period last year. You see there,

murders down more than 26 percent; rapes down at more than 25 percent.

The U.S. murder rate has actually been dropping since 2020, when the COVID- 19 pandemic brought a surge in homicides of nearly 30 percent across the country. CNN security correspondent Josh Campbell joining me now from Los

Angeles with more on these latest statistics.

Josh, are these attributed to anything in particular, this decline?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hey, my friend, well, you talk to any crime data analyst and they will tell you that studying crime is

certainly complex. But nearly all of the experts I spoke to point to the pandemic itself. Obviously, that was a time of great disruption in the

country that also brought with it this crime wave.

We saw a 30 percent spike in murders in the U.S., an uptick as well in violent crime; experts pointing to a number of different reasons, like the

closures of schools, the closures of business, more stress, less policing, more guns, all those factors coming to play here in that surge that we saw.

But of course, as we've come out of the pandemic, the number of crimes, the rate has started to drop as well. Let's look at some of those figures just

released by the FBI. You can see it's moving certainly in a positive direction.

Murders down 26 percent; reported rapes down nearly 26 percent; aggravated assaults, robberies are also down. Looking at property crime, we've seen a

drop in burglaries as well as things like even vehicle theft.

And this impacts all regions across the country. We've seen these numbers. And so certainly any crime is bad, obviously, for officials in the U.S. as

they try to grapple with this problem. But you look at these stunning numbers that are certainly moving in a positive direction.

HILL: Yes, it certainly is. The Biden administration for its part, Josh, as I understand it, is touting this decline as a direct result of its

strategic efforts to curb violence. As you noted, there could be different factors here.

How much is that seen as a contributing factor?

CAMPBELL: Well, one thing the Biden administration did as they came into office, was try to actually put in place some kind of strategic plan across

the country in cities, to try to bring the level down.

And as you mentioned, the administration certainly touting these new numbers. I'll read you a statement we got in from the president himself.

He says that, "This progress that we're seeing is no accident. My administration is putting more cops on the beat, holding violent criminals

accountable and getting illegal guns off the street. And we're doing it in partnership with communities."

Of course, if they continue that effort, we may see this continue to drop. One thing I really want to point out is this focus on the murder rate

itself. That has been the most stunning drop that we have seen across the country.

In cities like Boston, we've seen a drop over 80 percent from this time last year in murders; over 40 percent in other cities, such as New Orleans,

Seattle, Baltimore and Philadelphia.

And Erica, just to point to where this could possibly go, I spoke to one crime data analyst who essentially had his predictions validated by this

new FBI data. He says that, if these numbers continue to hold for the rest of the year, 2024 will see the biggest drop in murders in the U.S. in



HILL: Wow, that is really something. Josh, appreciate it. Good to see you, my friend.

Thank you.

A new Alzheimer's drug is now one step closer to approval in the U.S. That's after a panel of independent advisers to the FDA, the U.S. drug

authority, voted to endorse Eli Lilly's drug. It's called donanemab.

The drug itself has been shown to slow the progression of the disease in its early stages. Deemed safe and effective, Lilly telling the panel that

its data from clinical research showed patients who took donanemab actually had a 37 percent lower risk of progression of the disease over a 1.5 year


Compared with those patients who received the placebo. It's important to note here this is one step but that drug of course, must still get final

approval from the FDA.

We are continuing to follow developments on this Gaza ceasefire proposal.

Could Israel actually be ready to sign on to the plan?

We will discuss. My next guest, the Middle East correspondent for "The Economist," stay with us.




HILL: Residents of a tiny island in Panama are forced to evacuate their homes permanently.

The island itself is at risk of disappearing due to rising sea levels. That means hundreds of families there are now being relocated to government

sponsored homes on the mainland. CNN's Rafael Romo has more.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An island that was once home to a community will soon have no one. Hundreds of families who live in this

small island off the coast of Panama have started their new journey leaving their flooded homeland behind.

Alberto Lopez is one of many who called this place home.

ALBERTO LOPEZ, GARDI SUGDUB RESIDENT (through translator): We feel sadness because if this island disappears, part of our heart, part of our culture


ROMO: Panamanian authorities say, this is the first case of human displacement in Latin America caused by climate change.

This week, the Copernicus Climate Change Service said the planet had endured 12 consecutive months of unprecedented heat causing sea levels to


ATILIO MARTINEZ, GARDI SUGDUB RESIDENT: In recent decades, global warming has started very strongly. Some sardines, lobsters and everything we

consume are disappearing. Now they have realized that global warming is one of the factors in this situation. So they have been forced to relocate us.

ROMOA: The islanders are relocating to newly built homes on the main land that where Panama's housing minister says, they won't have to worry about


ROGELIO PAREDES, PANAMA HOUSING MINISTER (through translator): We have invested $12.2 million in this. All the islands have the same problem. So

we hope the necessary resources will be set aside to anticipate these problems.

ROMO: The United Nations' Population Fund assess 41 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean who live in coastal areas are threatened by

the severe weather brought by the climate emergency.


LOPEZ (through translator): I thought of my grandmother, my grandfather, my aunt who died here. It will never be the same but we have to move

forward because life goes on.

ROMO (voice-over): Rafael Romo, CNN.


Just ahead here, Elon Musk has a new beef. This time with a company that he himself helped to set up.




HILL: This hour we've been talking about the U.S. secretary of state's latest push to secure a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. In comments

today, Antony Blinken saying it is up to Hamas here to create concrete actions toward a truce.

This comes on the heels of the U.N. Security Council's approval of a U.S. backed plan to end the war. And in a statement released a short time ago,

Israel indicating prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears poised to formally accept that plan, which he, of course, has avoided doing in the


So that again begs the question of whether Hamas will accept that plan. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting that Hamas' military leader is pleased

with the progress of the war, saying Hamas has the upper hand in his view and that the civilian casualties seen in Gaza, tens of thousands of them,

are, quote, "necessary sacrifices."

Gregg Carlstrom reports on the Middle East for the economy and is joining us from Dubai.

Greg, it's good to have you with me. I just want to start off with where we stand at this hour. So we know there have been more conversations; Antony

Blinken, of course, I believe he's in Jordan at the moment.

This new statement from Israel a little bit more public in terms of where the government could go.

Do you believe that changes anything?

GREGG CARLSTROM, MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT, "THE ECONOMIST": A little bit more public but I think there are still a couple of big questions.

One of them is, if Hamas does agree to this, if the leadership inside of Gaza does agreed to this deal, will the Israeli cabinet then vote in favor

of this?

Bibi Netanyahu has to bring it before his right-wing coalition partners and get the cabinet on board. But before it gets to that point, I think we have

the same question that we've had for months now in these ceasefire talks, which is this issue of whether or not Hamas will go for a deal that may not

turn into a permanent ceasefire.

U.N. Security Council in its resolution last night, sort of trying to fudge that issue. The ceasefire agreement itself also fudges that issue and that

is still holding up these talks, I think as it has for the better part of this year now.

HILL: In terms of Hamas, "The Wall Street Journal" reporting on messages reportedly from Yahya Sinwar, talking about the fact that, in his view,

they've got Israel right where we want them. And even touching on what were referred to in these messages as, quote, "necessary casualties."

That gives everyone perhaps a little bit more insight into where things stand, may also give some folks pause in terms of whether Hamas may be

willing to move forward.

CARLSTROM: And I think those comments are consistent with what people have been saying about Sinwar and his views for months and also what people who

knew him in years past, before October 7th, what they said about his personality.

This is someone who does think he has a long-term strategy against Israel, that he's playing a longer game and he's winning that longer game. So not

surprising that he would make those kinds of comments.

There's a real disagreement, I think, within Hamas at this point. There are some people within the organization who would be willing to go for a

ceasefire right now.


Who think the level of destruction in Gaza, not just this, of course, horrible for Palestinians in Gaza but I think it's bad for Hamas as a

movement, that it's doing damage to their popularity in Gaza.

It's doing damage to them as a political movement and a military force. So that is a view that some people within the organization are pushing. The

problem is they're not the people who actually matter when it comes to implementing a cease-fire.

That comes down to really one man inside of Gaza. And then I do think that these leaked comments in "The Wall Street Journal," they do reflect his

view of the conflict.

HILL: I was struck some of those leaked comments, too. Sinwar saying things went out of control in one of those messages, referring to the

attacks on October 7th, the terror attack. People got caught up in it, referring to some of the gangs taking civilian women and children as


The fact that he may see this as getting out of control, what does that say about the amount of control that Sinwar has over Hamas?

CARLSTROM: Well, and we don't know. We should say we've heard these kinds of comments. I mean, I've heard them personally from other officials in

Hamas over the past eight months.

And we don't know the extent to which these comments are accurate or true or to what extent they're sort of retroactively trying to distance

themselves from some of the things that took place on October 7th.

But I think on the part of Sinwar, it speaks to maybe a broader miscalculation that he has been making for a while now, not just with what

was going to happen on October 7th but also what the reaction was going to be.

"The Journal" reported and I've heard as well from people in Hamas that they were surprised after October 7th that they didn't receive more support

from Hezbollah in Lebanon, from Iran and other Iranian proxies in the region.

They thought there was going to be sort of full-throated support from the other members of the so-called axis of resistance. And they didn't receive

that. So I think there were a lot of miscalculations, a lot of erroneous thinking that went on in the days both before and after October 7th.

HILL: I also want to get your take on where things stand in Israel. You know, you have a great piece going into this not only the background of

Benny Gantz but the decision as well to step down, of course, from the war cabinet.

And one of the things you pointed out at his press conference, he said it's the crucial, strategic decisions that are being blocked by both hesitation

and political considerations, referencing clearly Benjamin Netanyahu there.

How does -- he is stepping down from the war cabinet, one of two people obviously who are leaving.

How does that impact this move heading forward and potentially these negotiations?

CARLSTROM: I think it puts Netanyahu in a very difficult position.

Gantz had hoped to, as you say, to unlock some of these longer term strategic conversations about what Gaza's going to look like after the war,

who's going to govern Gaza, how to avoid a protracted Israeli military occupation of Gaza.

And he didn't succeed in pushing Netanyahu to talk about any of those things. And that's why he went ahead and left the war cabinet.

But by doing that, he deprives Netanyahu of sort of a centrist fig leaf, which is something that Netanyahu has always liked having in his

governments. He has to contend with politicians who are on his Right and he always likes having someone to his Left, someone from the center, to

balance his far-right coalition partners.

That's been true over the past eight months. That's been true of many of his governments over the past 15 years. He doesn't have that balance


And so when Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich and the far-right members of his coalition, when they push him not to accept the ceasefire deal, when

they push him to continue the war.

When they push him perhaps for more action in the north on the border with Lebanon, he doesn't have centrist figures anymore in the war cabinet to use

as a foil to try to push back on those demands from the Right.

HILL: Gregg Carlstrom, so great to have you with us this morning. I appreciate your expertise and your insight. Thank you.

Finally this hour, there's been a lot of talk about Apple and AI. Apple of course, unveiling a new partnership with OpenAI at its annual worldwide

developers conference. That partnership, Apple says, will produce a smarter voice assistant, a smarter Siri for you, and offer some other additional

tools to users.

It should be noted though not everybody is cheering the announcement. Tesla's chief Elon Musk saying in a post on Monday, he would actually ban

Apple devices at various companies -- at his various companies if it, quote, "integrates OpenAI at the operating system level."

My colleague Becky Anderson sat down with the minister for AI in the United Arab Emirates just today, asking him how he feels about this and whether

he'd be happy to have devices with OpenAI in the operating system in his ministry.


OMAR SULTAN AL OLAMA, AI MINISTER, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Why I think it's actually a smart thing for him to say and do, the first thing is it's a

black box. So you actually don't know what goes in and how it comes out.


For someone like him who is building competitors, who has an environment where your proprietary information, secrecy is very important.

ANDERSON: He has a beef with OpenAI, of course.

OLAMA: So he believed in open source. They are a bit more closed source. I think that's the essence of the beef and he's one of the founders, I think

of that. I don't blame him but --


ANDERSON: He doesn't share his concerns.

OLAMA: Well, look, there are certain things where anything that is closed source poses a risk. And this is just for the sake of transparency. I would

recommend that you hear that you'd be better off if everything is closed source.

And that's why the UAE's movement here is actually to focus on open source with Falcon would investments that we've made on open source landscape. As

a government, we prefer open source. But at the same time, what you need is the best-in-class technology.

If OpenAI today offered that, I think OpenAI is the partner that many companies are going to use.

All right?

If someone else can produce something that is as good as open source, I'm pretty sure there's going to be a lot more customers than you'd expect.


HILL: So again, that conversation is happening. You can see the full conversation with the minister on Wednesday, right here on CONNECT THE

WORLD, where he discussed the UAE's AI positioning between China and the U.S. and also hopes to project influence beyond its borders with new


That's going to do it for CONNECT THE WORLD on this Tuesday. Be sure to stay with CNN. "NEWSROOM" is up next. Thanks for joining us.