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Tallest Skyscraper In The World Officially Opens In Dubai, Last- Minute Name Change, Though, Now The Burj Khalifa

Aired January 04, 2010 - 12:00   ET


STAN GRANT, CNN INT'L. ANCHOR, PRISM (voice over): What's Al Qaeda thought to be plotting now? Some nations think more trouble is brewing in Yemen and have curtailed embassy activity there.

And new rules now in place for passengers flying to the U.S., especially those from 14 particular countries. In our "Prism Segment" tonight we're asking does terrorist profiling work?

Plus, its owners say it is 828 meters high, we crane our necks towards the world's tallest skyscraper, officially unveiled in Dubai.

From CNN Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates, this is PRISM, where we take a story and look at it from multiple perspectives. I'm Stan Grant.

Fears that a terror attack my be looming have embassies locking their doors in Yemen. This is day two of a shut down for the U.S. and British missions there. French and Japanese offices are taking action as well. All while Yemeni government forces say they are striking militant targets. Let's get the latest from our International Security Correspondent Paula Newton. She joins us now from CNN Dubai.

And take us through these concerns, Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INT'L. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, what has been going on is that the embassies have been receiving very specific information about attacks that have been thwarted. Now that started throughout December. What has happened now is that with these attacks and the attempted attacks continuing in the capital, the embassies believe that it is more prudent fro them to shut down.

The key thing here, though, is trying to assess the security situation on the ground with the Yemeni government and many people in Yemen now wondering if that Yemeni government can actually control and contain the Al Qaeda attacks in that capital.

Especially, you know, Stan, we had seen attacks just on the American embassy in 2008; it killed 19 people. So, it is not as if this hasn't happened before. And for that reason many in the foreign community, in San'a, the capital of Yemen, quite on edge.

GRANT: Paula, you mention, there, the history of the attacks in the past. What have you been able to learn about the threat, the specific threats, that countries are receiving right now?

NEWTON: What is interesting is that one diplomatic source that I spoke to, who is briefed by the government, said that precisely that the government claimed that there were four suicide bombers on their way to hit foreign sites. They believe that it was probably the Saudi embassy and also the U.S. embassy. But yet, again today, Stan, we had the government officials telling us, in the northeast of the capital that they hit a group of five Al Qaeda militants, two dead, two wounded, one escaped. They can't be sure exactly what those militants were on their way to do. But the Yemeni government would like everyone to believe that, in fact, that group was headed for the capital, again, trying to initiate some type of attack.

GRANT: Paula, thank you. Paula Newton joining us live, there, from CNN Dubai.

The U.S. says the Nigerian man who allegedly tried to bomb a U.S.- bound plane on Christmas Day has links to Al Qaeda in Yemen. Airline security has been on heightened alert, and just today the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, imposed strict new rules for screening people traveling to the U.S. And as Jeanne Meserve explains from Washington, people from certain countries will come under the sharpest scrutiny.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: As of now all passengers on flights heading into the United States will be subject to random screening, not the mandatory intensive screening that has been in place since Christmas Day. But those flying in from certain countries, or with passports from those countries, will be required to go through enhanced screening. That could include full body pat downs, carry on bag searches, full body scanning and explosive detection swabs. This according to a new security directive issued by the Transportation Security Administration, and now in effect.

The countries include those that are officially listed by the State Department as sponsoring terrorism, Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. The other countries were chosen because of concerns particularly about Al Qaeda affiliates. They are Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.

In addition, pilots on inbound flights will have the discretion to prevent passengers from keeping pillow and blankets in their laps, and to limit movement in the cabin.

The president's top counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan fanned out across the talk shows on Sunday to say although there were lapses and errors in sharing intelligence prior to the attempted Christmas attack there is no smoking gun. He rejected comparisons to the failures of communication before 9/11.

JOHN BRENNAN, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: It's not like 9/11. There was no indication that any of these agencies or departments were intentionally holding back information. And I can point to numerous successes.


BRENNAN: No turf battles. There were lapses through human error. The system didn't work the way it should have. But no agency was trying to - I think there were human errors and lapses. And so what I'm going to do is to make sure I tell the president exactly what I think went wrong. But there wasn't an effort to try to conceal information.

MESERVE: The president meets with his top Homeland Security and intelligence advisors tomorrow to discuss the shortcomings that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board an aircraft on Christmas Day. Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


GRANT: Meanwhile, debate over who will be in charge of the U.S. TSA rages on. The White House and one Republican senator are in a deadlock over President Obama's top counter-terrorism aid says former FBI agent Erroll Southers is highly qualified to do the job. But South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint says he is concerned that Southers might allow TSA workers to unionize and that is a move he strongly opposes.

Well, in our "Prism Segment" this evening. We will explore security profiling. We asking how effective is profiling in stopping terrorism. A New York state legislator says he's reintroducing a 2005 bill to allow the use of ethnic profiling to identify terror suspects. New York Assemblyman Dov Hikand says Muslims aren't terrorists, but most terrorists are young Muslim men. A New York Muslim group counters there are more effective ways to fight terrorism.


DOV HIKIND, NEW YORK STATE LEGISLATOR: The fact of life is that they fit a certain profile. If it is not my fault. Don't blame me. The fact is they are all of -they are young Muslim men, of Middle Eastern or South Asian background.

OMAR SHUNDRI, ISLAMIC CENTER OF LONG ISLAND: I want us to investor our money and effort into better technology of the scanning equipment. And also getting better trained, what they call, screeners and also using bloodhounds for sniffing of explosive devices.


GRANT: Well, the man arrested in connection with the Christmas Day terror attempt is a Nigerian named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Some Nigerians are now worried they will be profiled at airports because of the association. Listen to what a friend of the Mutallab family says in an interview with CNN affiliate KHOU TV.


CHIDO NWANGWU, ABDULMUTALLAB FAMILY FRIEND: As a Nigerian-born American citizen, I am very concerned. And I am tortured and worried that if this can happen in Mutallab's family, it can happened to most of the Nigerians who are well-placed. That is a major, major problem. You know, the second one is that we will be subjected, realistically, to additional profiling, you know, Nigerians. Especially, those of Islamic faith. I am a Christian, but the fact of the matter is that we are all Nigerians, at the end of the day.


GRANT: Well, some officials acknowledge profiling can be an effective tool for law enforcement. And even some critics don't object to it outright. Selecting the criteria is what has proven to be most controversial. Listen to what Zahra Billoo of the Council on American- Islamic Relations says about travel profiling.


ZAHRA BILLOO, COUNCIL OF AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: If someone is in line and looks shifty, if they look like they have a suspicious package, if they are behaving in a way that concerns people around them. If they are acting out of the ordinary, then that is a reason to profile them. If someone is speaking a different language, that is not generally a reason to profile an individual.


GRANT: Well, the debate over profiling is vigorous and spreads from cafes to classrooms. CNN IReporters have been weighing in on profiling as well.

I-Reporter Katy Brown is a student at Kent State University, in the state of Ohio.


KATY BROWN, STUDENT, KENT STATE UNIV.: Yes, this generation has seen mostly Muslim terrorism, but please keep in mind that the Oklahoma City bombing was an act of terrorism and it is safe to say that no Muslims were involved.

Also this generation is all about change and electing an African- American into the White House. You would think, you would think, there would be more open minds.


GRANT: Well, to hear more IReport opinions on profiling you can simply log on to CNN's IReport page, Search profiling and then choose from the results.

Well there are many arguments for and against profiling. It is being much debated in the U.S. since 9/11. The discussion became heated during an interview with CNN's Rick Sanchez.


EDINA LEKOVIC, MUSLIM PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL: We can't allow fear and paranoia to cause us to engage in bad policing. And I think that is exactly what racial profiling is. It doesn't work. It is unconstitutional and it is discriminatory.

CLIFF MAY, FDN. FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Racial profiling, I totally disagree with. What I do think we have to do, it is only practical, is terrorists profiling. In other words, if you look at terrorists you'll find that they have certain characteristics in common. And that should raise alarm bells.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: OK, like what? OK, like what kind of characteristics?

MAY: Well, OK, for one thing, they are going to be young. For another thing they are mostly going to be male. For another thing, they are going to have spent time in countries where Islamists terrorism is being preached and practiced.


GRANT: Well, a man who knows profiling well is a former profiler with the FBI. Jim Clemente joins us from our Washington bureau with another perspective on profiling.

This is so difficult, isn't it? We have heard different opinions just in this segment now. People who say it is discriminatory, but others who say you can't ignore religion or race. How do you then, go about profiling and try -and successful profiling?

JIM CLEMENTE, FMR. FBI PROFILER: Let me first distinguish between criminal profiling and racial profiling. Criminal profiling is an investigative tool. A very effective investigative tool if used properly. However, racial profiling is focusing on one aspect of a person, which really doesn't help us at all. And basically it attempts to predict criminal behavior rather than trying to find out somebody who committed a crime. That is what criminal profiling does. It is reverse engineering of a crime that is already been committed.

And these terrorists that we want to stop from coming in here have already committed crime. Conspiracy to commit acts of violence against people in the U.S., or our interests. And also fraud and smuggling dangerous materials onto planes. And those are crimes that can in fact be profiled effectively.

GRANT: I'm hearing what you are saying there about trying to broaden the profile. But let's look at the reality of someone standing at an airport, we would know that since 9/11 people who appear to be from Islamic countries are going to be identified more readily. We have heard the concern about Nigerians, after this latest incident, now fearing that they are going through profiling. You really - it is not as simple as just saying you need to broaden the profile, because race and religion appear to be so linked, so closely linked to this.

CLEMENTE: No, you are right. I think it is more of an ideological profile that we have to build of people who are susceptible and vulnerable to radicalism; people who are in a position that can be turned against our country. And that could be people who were -happened to be raised as Muslims, or people who were converted to the Islamic faith. But that is only one factor that we have to look at. We have to look at the age, we have to look at the gender, we have to look at their travel schedule. We have to look at who they are communicating with; their web postings, their speeches, their Internet activity, all that stuff should be used to build a good ideological profile.

GRANT: What you are describing there, though, is almost like wrestling with a column of smoke. You get a hold of it, it changes, shape and it moves. How do you profile successfully when it can change so dramatically, the profile itself?

CLEMENTE: That is a really good point. What we have to do is be dynamic. We have to constantly change covertly, and overtly, what our security measures are, what our screening measures are. We have to do this randomly and we have to do it frequently. And if we do that we will stay a head of them. Because believe me, they are watching every single thing we do. And they are going to make sure that they can try and get around it. We have to be smarter than them. Every citizen in the United States, every citizen in every country has to participate in this process. It is not something we can simply leave to the federal government or international cooperation.

GRANT: You said something interesting there. Every citizen, in every country, we are linked in this, aren't we. It is not enough for the United States to be able to identify potential threats, it really has to be an international approach. You are only going to be as strong as the security in the previous country.

CLEMENTE: Absolutely. And I think there are plenty of Nigerians today who are really offended by what Abdulmuhallab - I'm sorry if I got his name wrong -Abdulmutallab did. And because of that they feel they are going to suffer. When in fact, they would never have wanted him to do what he attempted to do. So what we have is people in that country who are being victimized by his acts. I'm sure that they can, and will, participate in trying to stop the next attack from happening, especially from their country.

GRANT: Jim, appreciate you sharing your thoughts, you experience, with us on this PRISM.

Jim Clemente, there, former profiler with the FBI.

Thank you.

CLEMENTE: Thank you.

GRANT: Now, if you want to send us your thoughts on profiling send me at Tweet to StanGrantCNN.

Breaking news just coming into CNN. A shooting at the federal courthouse in Las Vegas. It happened about an hour ago, in the lobby of the federal building that also houses the FBI. Initial reports are that at least two officers were shot and wounded. Police say a suspect was shot an killed about a block away. Details are still coming in. Of course, we will keep you updated on this story.

Well, the tallest building in the world opens its doors. We'll take you live to the towering Burj Khalifa. Plus, just how big is the building? We'll stack up some comparisons from CNN correspondents around the world.


GRANT: Welcome back. It's 828 meters high. That's right, six years in the making a price tag of $1.5 billion. That all adds up to the world's tallest skyscraper. The towering structure is making an extravagant debut and it is happening right now.

The building was initially called the Burj Dubai. It will now be known as the Burj Khalifa. It is named after the UAE president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. So, excitement aside, the flashy spectacle is raising some eyebrows. It comes less than two months after Dubai shocked world markets by asking for a freeze on $60 billion in debt payments.

Mohammed Jamjoom joins us from Dubai, now, where he is keeping watch on all the action.

Mohammed, that is right, what a juxtaposition of images. Just a month ago talking about Dubai going broke, in the words of some, now all of this?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Stan. What a turn around, at least in appearances. Today has been a huge party in the city of Dubai. Thousands of people crowded around the Burj Dubai, which is now renamed the Burj Khalifa, as you told the audience, to witness the opening, the inauguration by the ruler of Dubai, and this spectacular fireworks display that happened. First fireworks when off around adjoining buildings and then they went off in amazing fashion around the Burj itself, which is the tallest building in the world.

Now, we were told just a few months ago that Dubai was broke. They were going to have to lean on Abu Dhabi for financial assistance. But today, and many here believe that this is a sign that Dubai, if not as recovered completely, that it is recovering. And that this is a real symbol of its might and its strength and its ability to reinvest in itself and make itself once again the great city that everybody here thinks that it is, Stan.

GRANT: Yes, as Mohammed is speaking you are seeing some of the pictures there of the opening celebrations of the Burj Dubai; 828 meters tall, that building, the biggest tower in the world.

Mohammed, you spoke there about the economic plight Dubai has been in, well it has been bailed out by Abu Dhabi, largely, many, many billions of dollars. Well, of course, being named after the ruler of the UAE, who is president, of course, the president of the UAE, but also ruler of Abu Dhabi. Another sign of Abu Dhabi's growing influence and control over Dubai?

JAMJOOM: Well, it does seem to be a sign. I mean, there are more signs lately, Stan, that Abu Dhabi, you know, is coming the rescue of Dubai. That Dubai is leaning more on Abu Dhabi. But today is really more all about Dubai, all about the show; all about telling the residents of Dubai that they should be proud of their city. And everybody that we have spoke with that it involved in this project said that this project, right now, is profitable; that the residences in the building, that the businesses in the building, were about 90 percent pre-sold.

They are going to be unveiling different parts and different phases of the building in the next few months. First up is going to be the observation deck. That is the highest observation deck in any tower in the world. We were up there today, spectacular panoramic views of Dubai. And again, everybody we spoke with said beyond being just a symbol of the economic might, or the recovery of the economy of Dubai, they believe this will bring in more businesses. This will bring in more tourists. And they believe that also this will establish Dubai once again as the most esthetically avant-garde city in the Emirates. They believe that this will really put a stamp on the skyline of Dubai in a way that no other building has so far, Stan.

GRANT: Mohammed, thank you very much for that. Mohammed Jamjoom joining us on the line there, from Dubai. And as Mohammed said, the debt question not withstanding, it is an extraordinary symbol of what Dubai has been able to achieve. And we have been wondering how the Burj Khalifa, as it is now known, might look in some other places. Back when it was still called the Burj Dubai, Kristie Lu Stout got the virtual ball rolling by placing the skyscraper in Hong Kong.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (on camera): It stands over 800 meters, but can you picture just how big the Burj Dubai really is? Using Google Earth and a 3-D model of the tower, created by the Google user Quixote 3-D, we can put the Burj Dubai in some of the world's biggest cities.

This is the famous Hong Kong skyline. And this is Google Earth's version of the skyline with one addition, the Burj Dubai. As you can see, it is almost twice the height of Hong Kong's tallest skyscraper, 2IFC. And it is taller than the mountains surrounding Hong Kong Harbor. That is what it would look like here. And, of course, folks (ph) around the world have been playing the same game.

KYUNG LAH, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm Kyung Lah in Tokyo. This is Shabuya (ph) Crossing, made famous by the movie, "Lost in Translation". Not too many tall buildings here and in Tokyo overall there aren't that many skyscrapers. If you put the Burj in any Japanese neighborhood it would dwarf everything.

The reason there aren't that many skyscrapers, the number of earthquakes, strict city codes and Japan has just gone through two decades of slow economic growth. The skyline here, a glimpse into the economy and geology of Japan.

DON RIDDELL, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm Don Riddell in London, at one of our picture postcard sites, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. What would the Burj Dubai look like here? Well to be quite honest, I can't imagine. It would dwarf the entire city. For a start, Big Ben really wouldn't be that big. The Burj would be eight and a half times higher than the iconic clock face.

Well, London isn't really know for its skyscrapers. It will soon be home to the tallest building in Europe. But at 300 meters high, the London Bridge will still only be less than half the height of the Burj Dubai.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Susan Candiotti on a freezing, blustery winter's day in New York. And this is Columbus Circle, the southern entrance to Central Park. The Big Apple's biggest green space among a cavern of high-rises and skyscrapers. It is pretty hard to picture, but if you plunked down the Burj Dubai in the middle of Central Park, well, it would tower over the Empire State Building, measuring just over 440 meters, it is slightly over half as tall as the Burj Dubai, imagine that.

STOUT: The Burj will also reclaim the title that used to be held by the Arab world, for thousands of years the tallest structure of in the world was this, the Great Pyramid of Giza. You could see just how far we have come since then. Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


GRANT: Absolutely amazing, isn't it. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, and there is the proof. Burj Dubai, now known as the Burj Khalifa, the biggest building in the world.

Well, parts of Australia were left reeling by heavy rains last week. Now, they'll get money to rebuild. We have the latest as they dry out Down Under.

And some holiday fun for Russia's leaders, and why not? Everyone needs a break sometimes. These stories, and more, just head.


GRANT: Well state emergency money is now available to flooded areas of New South Wales. The state's premier has declared the flooded farming districts of Coonamble and Burke, natural disaster zones. Emergency officials say a major river in Coonamble peaked Monday afternoon, without breaching its levees. Meteorologists say the worst of the heavy rains is over. But river and reservoir levels continue to rise.

Well, on that note we'll take a look at the global weather picture.


GRANT: Well, Russia's leaders took a little time to enjoy a winter wonderland, Sunday. President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took to the slopes of a resort where the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held. The two men enjoyed some time on skis and then switched to snowmobiles. They also took some time to greet well-wishers and pose for photos with children, which is what all politicians like to do .

And that's it for me, Stan Grant in Abu Dhabi. "Inside Africa" is up next after we update the headlines.