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Paula Zahn Now

British Investigation Yields Results; More Terror Clues in New York?; Harry Potter Mania;

Aired July 15, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good to have you with us tonight as we close out the week here. Tonight, hunting down the agents of terror as dramatic new information emerges about the London bomb attacks.

ZAHN (voice-over): Connecting the clues from a bomb factory in Britain to a chemist in Cairo and mysterious American links. Does it all lead to al Qaeda?

Lining up and waiting for midnight to buy a book kids can't wait to crack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's adventurous. It has everything.

ZAHN: But why are some religious leaders so worried about Potter mania?

And these teenagers would love to be losers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My confidence, it would go sky-high.

ZAHN: Can weight-loss camp really shape them up and slim them down in just 30 days?


ZAHN: It is now a week and a day since the London bombings. We're not just talking, though, about London anymore. The investigation has spread to all corners of the globe, including right here in the United States, and so apparently have the tentacles of terrorism. Matthew Chance has the very latest on the case, starting with a critical arrest in Egypt.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's being called The Chemist, perhaps a living link to the bombings. Magdy Mahmoud el-Nashar, age 33, is an Egyptian biochemistry expert detained in Cairo at Britain's request. It's understood British agents with Egyptian officials as he's questioned; Nashar denies any involvement in the London attacks. But evidence is being gathered in the British city of Leeds where el-Nashar earned a PhD in biochemistry earlier this year. Police have been continuing their forensic search of properties linked to the suspected bombers, including an apartment rented by the Egyptian chemist. A source tells CNN that several pounds of homemade explosive material have been found there. The same type of explosives British shoe bomber Richard Reed used when he tried to blow up an American airline's flight from Paris to Miami in 2001. Police are tight-lipped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because one day, we had to put people on trial. I'm not in a position to discuss the explosives. But I have said before, this explosion has the hallmarks of al Qaeda, the simultaneous explosions, the fact that the dead appear to be sort of foot soldiers. And what we've got to find is the people who trained them, people who made the bombs, the people who financed it.

CHANCE: And this may be the face of one such foot soldier. The man police say is responsible for carrying a bomb in a backpack onto a London bus. He's identified as Hasib Hussain, just 18, photographed by security cameras at the Luton train station on the day of the attacks. Another suspect, Shehzad Tanweer, 22 years old, from Leeds, pictured here as a school boy back in 1995, believed responsible for the Aldgate bombing. Mohammad Sadique Khan was a primary school teacher, married, with an 8-month-old son. Police say he's now linked to the Edgware Road explosion. And as London continues to mourn its loss, a fourth suspected bomber has been named by U.S. sources as Jermaine Lindsay, a Jamaican born convert to Islam, most likely killed, say police, in the explosion between Russell Square and King's Cross. Analysts say the British threat remains severe.

PAUL SLAUGHTER, SECURITY ANALYST: I think that the cell that perpetrated the bombing last week, that was a very small cell. And what normally happens in situations like this, you get the controller, and the controller may have three or four cells, each of four or five people. And each cell won't know members of the other cell. So undoubtedly, I think there's probably maybe two, possibly three other cells still at large currently.

CHANCE (on camera): Police say this is an investigation that will be complex. And as the latest arrest in Egypt is underlined, one with an international reach, it could be many months, they say, before those who planned the attacks, trained the bombers and encouraged them to strike are ever caught.

(voice-over): One connection may be the religious schools, the madrasses in Pakistan, like this one outside of the city of Nafor, which at least one of the London bombers attended, which has been linked to radical Islam in the past.


ZAHN: And that was Matthew Chance reporting.

It appears the London bombers belonged to a terrorist sleeper cell. We've heard about them. Now, investigators are trying to shed some light on exactly how these cells work and how they are related. It is downright frightening. CNN international correspondent Nic Robertson joins us from Leeds, the terrorist suspects' hometown.

Welcome, Nic. So is there anything new tonight on the bombing suspects and any of their activities? NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're not hearing anything new from officials. But what the police are looking for is what motivated these young men, what drew them together, who financed them and where they might have met. And for that end, we did get an insight into that today. Part of the police investigation has focused on the Hamara Community Center also used as a mosque. There have been several reports the -- that two of the bombers at least who lived -- tow of the suspected bombers, at least, who lived close by. Tanweer and Hussain had used that facility. We talked to a man today who said that he'd seen three of the bombers, Khan, Hussain and Tanweer, around that office on several occasions. He said he'd seen them going in there. They had gone in; they put up a notice on the door saying that the office was closed for lunch, several hours later emerging. He said he didn't know what was going on inside but now; he begins to realize that perhaps there was something suspicious going on. But certainly, at this time, investigators still continuing the forensic searches but not putting out any information.

ZAHN: At this hour, does there seem to be any linkages between this case and previous terrorist activities?

ROBERTSON: Again, that's one of the things that the police are investigating. There was a case in Britain last year, in March 2004, when eight young men of Pakistani decent, several of them British born, were arrested by British police. They had in their possession -- they had in a storage facility about half a ton of ammonium nitrate. The so-called virtualizer bomb, the same type of explosives Timothy McVeigh used in the Oklahoma bombing in 1995. The police have not said whether there's a direct link between those men and the men who are currently the suspects in this particular case. But it is known that they have asked U.S. officials to go back and question the same man who's in U.S. custody who provided the police with the initial information that led to those arrests last year -- Paula.

ZAHN: They said -- you're reporting tonight and the last couple of days that it's clear just how dense this investigation is and how wide the reach is of all of these tentacles investigating. Nic Robertson, thanks so much.

The most disturbing news of all may be that the bombing investigation has come very close to home. It reached into at least three locations in the U.S. And the search for possible connections is now under way in Cleveland, Ohio, in Raleigh, North Carolina and in New York City's neighborhood of Queens. Kelli Arena is closely following those developments for us tonight.

So we now know British investigators are very interested in talking to man from Queens. What do they want to know?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, his name is Mohammed Bubar and he is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan. He's in custody and he pled guilty to providing money and supplies to al Qaeda. So British authorities want information from him because officials say that it was Bubar who gave investigators information that helped lead to those arrests that Nic mentioned of several men in Britain last year. And to that discovery of half a ton of ammonium nitrate, investigators in Britain are following up leads that there is a possible connection between those arrests, which were dubbed "Operation Crevice" and the recent bombings in London.

And Paula, there is another tie to New York. Sources say that alleged bomber Mohammad Sadique Khan made a phone call to New York City in the days just prior to those bombings and that led is also being run down by New York investigators.

ZAHN: And then there's yet another lead they're looking into and that is the man -- an Egyptian man detained who is now being detained in Cairo. His name is Magdy el-Nashar. He has spent some time here in the United States. Is it clear exactly what he was doing here?

ARENA: Well, it turns out that Nashar studied chemical engineering at North Carolina State in 2000. And the FBI field office in Raleigh is investigating any and all contacts that he may have made while he was here in the United States. Agents are interviewing anyone who may have known him or worked with him. But Paula, it's looking like he was only in the United States for about five months. And sources say that so far, nothing substantial has turned up intelligence-wise on him.

ZAHN: And then we're learning more about another one of the suspected bombers, Jermaine Lindsay, a man who is originally from Jamaica but also has some ties to the Cleveland, Ohio area. What are we looking at there?

ARENA: Right, Jermaine Lindsay's mother lived in Cleveland and sources say that he visited her there in both 1994 and in either 2000 or 2001. Now, those sources say that the last visit was short, only about four -- three or four days. Now, keep in mind, Lindsay is reportedly only about 19 or 20, so he would have been about 14 when he last came to the United States. And Lindsay's mother no longer lives in Cleveland and hasn't, according to sources, for at least a year. So officials here say they don't know where she is at this time. They would only say that she's not in Ohio. Now, she's obviously someone investigators are interested in talking to. Agents here across the United States on the lookout just in case she's still in the United States.

ZAHN: I guess it's not a surprising when you see the latest polls about increasing fears in the United States about how these attacks might be connected to -- folks here in the United States reporting evidence of that tonight. Thank you so much, Kelli.

I think the hardest question for all of us to grasp is why would anybody strap explosives to heir body, go to a public place, blow themselves up, blow hundreds of other people up or dozens in the process? What kind of mindset does that take? Well, you can't find two better people to ask that question of than our next guests. That's why we reached out to them. Anne Marie Oliver and Paul Steinberg are working on a book that will be called "The Road to Martyrs' Square: A Journey Into The World of The Suicide Bomber."

It's great to see both of you. Anne Marie, why would anybody want to kill themselves this way?

ANNE MARIE OLIVER, SUICIDE BOMBINGS EXPERT: Well, if we take these people at their word, their motivations are largely religious. They see themselves with absolute certainty as doing the work of God on earth and they are agents of God. Their deaths are literally on the path of law. In actuality, their motivations can be quite diverse and include anything from a sense of grievance and humiliation to nationalism, religion, fame, glory, power, money, that the motivations are diverse.

ZAHN: And how quickly, Paul, can that kind of mindset develop? This doesn't happen overnight, does it?

PAUL STEINBERG, SUICIDE BOMBINGS EXPERT: It doesn't happen overnight and -- nor does it happen spontaneously. Our studies found that there has to be a system set in place in order to bring these young men to the point where they can take these kinds of actions. And these systems where we studied were in one area, were part of an ongoing conflict there but have since -- have spread around the world, via the Internet, via outlets such as Al Jazeera, Al Minar (ph), and exist to disperse throughout the world now in discussions like on the Internet and in the mosques and in communities in our system that you just heard.

ZAHN: So Anne Marie, how do these suicide bombers square their religious zeal with some of the responsibilities at home? We know that two of these suspects led -- left children at home, small babies.

OLIVER: Right, that's one of the most shocking aspects, that one of them was a teacher of disabled children. Clearly, the enemy, and the purported enemy, rather, has to be demonized to an incredible extent. And that's what we found that in the media that we looked at. And these media are indispensable to the whole process of demonization of the enemy. In other words, you have to be able to see your enemy as not completely human and therefore, this is the price that must be paid. Their destruction is the necessary price that must be paid for the will of God to be enacted.

ZAHN: So what, your family becomes irrelevant?

STEINBERG: Well, it's important to note and it's actually quite obvious that the pain and suffering that they inflict upon people, including their families, is part of the process. One thing that stands out in the media, and we have been unfortunate scholars of this media for years, is that it is replete with images of sadism and violence and there -- and moreover, those images are used and couched in terms of the pleasure that a person would get upon learning about this, on the pleasure that the wider community will get upon feeling the pain of their enemies and even upon the pain that their families feel.

ZAHN: But Anne Marie, do they have to die in the process for the mission to be considered a success, or is it enough...


ZAHN: ...just to kill a bunch of people?

OLIVER: No. They're both suicides and homicides and they can't be separated. Suicide is clearly prohibited in Islam and so the homicidal aspect is just as important as the suicidal aspect. Psychologically, you could argue that one is more important than the other, but they have to be both.

ZAHN: Paul, I think one of the more frightening things to try to understand is why certain men and certain women, I guess, in some communities are targeted and what it is about their personalities that makes them vulnerable to recruit.

STEINBERG: Well, typically, it's an adolescent phenomenon. And the recruitment techniques are those that appeal to adolescents. We've talked about those already. They tend to be couched in terms of glory, power, sexuality, even. There's a whole literature devoted to the afterlife of the martyr, and it's a highly sexualized one, one that would appeal to teenagers or people who are still caught up in an adolescent lifestyle. They target a very vulnerable population, and they do it quite well.

ZAHN: I'll tell you; this picture says it all when you look at the youngest of the suspects carrying a backpack on his back moments away from killing a lot of people. Anne Marie Oliver, Paul Steinberg, thank you for that fascinating look inside the minds of -- or what might be going on inside the minds of suicide bombers.

And this Sunday night, a quick programming note, "CNN PRESENTS: WINNING THE WAR ON TERROR," an in-depth look at how countries like Britain and Israel have been dealing with terrorist attacks for decades. What can America learn from them? That's Sunday night at 7:00 Eastern Time.

Still ahead, the countdown is on, and nothing can stop this launch. But as the midnight release of the latest Harry Potter book approaches, some religious leaders are accusing him, that is, Harry Potter, of being bad for kids.

And later, some amazing young people who are spending the summer trying to lose to win. Weight-loss camps, do they really work?


ZAHN: Still ahead, despite selling millions and millions of books, not everyone loves Harry Potter. Find out why some religious leaders think he's a very bad influence on kids. And usually the nickname Cupcake sounds pretty affectionate but not to these kids. In summer, they're doing their very best to lose it. You'll meet them a little bit later on at camp, but first, time for a look at the top stories with Thomas Roberts of "HEADLINE NEWS."

Good to have you with us, tonight at 19 minutes past the hour.

THOMAS ROBERTS, "HEADLINE NEWS": Thanks, Paula, and nice to see you. And we start with what's going on in Iraq. A very violent end to the week. There are no fewer than eight car bombs killing at least 30 people in Baghdad. Two U.S. Marines were also killed in Anbar Province. A top American commander says suicide bombings are spreading to other parts of Iraq.

What's left of bankrupt energy giant, Enron, will pay $1.5 billion to California, Oregon and Washington State to settle claims of price gouging. Audio tapes capture the voices of energy traders joking about blackouts and skyrocketing prices four years ago.

In North Carolina, the president pitched a new free-trade agreement with Central America to textile workers. He says it's going to be pro-jobs, pro-growth, pro-democracy. Critics worry that capital will threaten jobs and family farms in the U.S.

Hurricane Emil, weakening and working its way eventually into the Gulf of Mexico now. Emily lapsed into a hurricane or a Cat 2 Hurricane, that is, with sustained winds of 105 miles per hour and falling as it heads for Texas. And Paula, the storm losing some strength there, but that's really good news, especially for people along the Texas Gulf Coast there because they've been watching and waiting for this, to see how it's going to develop. The weekend is really going to tell the tale on this.

ZAHN: Well, we just hope it continues to fall apart.

ROBERTS: We certainly do.

ZAHN: Thanks, Thomas. We'll check back in with you in about 30 minute or so.

Still to come, Harry Potter may be a hero to millions, so why do some people say the young wizard has a dark side. The controversy over the runaway best-sellers coming up.


ZAHN: Want to see some magic? Watch this. So what the heck was going on in London just an hour ago? Well, at the stroke of midnight, their time, all these boys and girls finally got to go book shopping -- that's right, book shopping. And here's the scene in New York City tonight. As any parent knows, it takes a special kin of magic to get this many young people excited about reading. Lines and lines of kids all day long. It's the kind of spell that only Harry Potter can cast. And by now, only a muggle, that's a non-magical person, doesn't know that Harry Potter is a young wizard and the books about his adventures have turned millions of boys and girls and their parents, I might add, into eager, avid readers.


ZAHN (voice-over): All around the world tonight, there's magic in the air. Hundreds of clock-watchers just can't wait till midnight. They stand in line, attend parties, even dress up in costume. We say we aren't anywhere near Halloween or Christmas Eve. Well, for millions of young book worms, it's Christmas in July. Across the time zones, "Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince" goes on sale at the stroke of 12. The witching hour has already come and gone at the most magical place of all, at Edinboro Castle in Scotland. At one minute past midnight, a little over an hour ago, author, J.K. Rowling, read the first chapter of her new book in person to 70 lucky contest winners.

J.K. ROWLING, AUTHOR, "HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE": There were bins full of trick worms, the cheapest merely turning into rubber chickens or pairs of pants when waved.

ZAHN: The J and K stand for Joanne Kathryn. She goes by Jo and thought of Harry in 1990 when she was a struggling single mom. She's now one of the richest people in England.

Her first Harry Potter book appeared in Great Britain in 1997, a year later, in the U.S. Volumes 2 and 3 came in each of the following years although both didn't show up in the U.S. until 1999. By the time Volume 4 was published in 2000, simultaneous release dates, midnight lines at bookstores and full-scale Potter mania had set in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, this is Harry Potter, you know, so you have to go all out.

ZAHN: And then came the movies. The film version of the first Harry Potter novel came out in 2001...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was bloody brilliant.

ZAHN: ...with sequels in 2002 and 2004. There was no movie in 2003, but that's the year the long wait ended for the fifth book in the series. The new book is expected to sale 10 million copies tomorrow. The series has been translated into 61 languages and distributed in more than 200 countries. Rowling has said there will be only one more book in the Harry Potter series. But the fourth Harry Potter movie comes out this November. So Potter mania will strike again this year in theaters instead of at bookstores.


ZAHN: Ah, but now, there's a controversy, and coming up next, is reading Harry Potter dangerous?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Bible says if people use sorcery and witchcraft, that they will go to hell.


ZAHN: Coming up next, a literary phenomenon draws fire from some religious leaders. We'll take you inside the debate.


ZAHN: You're looking at a live picture at a bookstore in New York City where moms and dads and entertainers are trying to keep their kids awake for the next three-and-a-half hours. That's when they'll finally be able to get their hands on the brand new Harry Potter book.

And scenes like this are being played all across country tonight. And note out that if people are patient enough, millions of kids will be reading Harry Potter's latest adventure. But we do have a question, and it's a serious one, are these books good for us? As Kyra Phillips explain, some very important people say no.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So father, help us to do the right thing.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The right thing, a difficult choice in a complicated world. At the Jesus, nondemoninational church in Greenville, Michigan, Pastor Tommy Turner and his followers are fighting off evil one page turner at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I don't want anybody to go to hell. And the Bible says if people use sorcery and witchcraft, they will go to hell.

PHILLIPS: And the tricks of this evil trade, according to this group and others like it worldwide, are being pushed on children through the antics and the adventures of J.K. Rowling's bespectacled character Harry Potter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome, welcome to another year at Hogwarts.

PHILLIPS: When young Harry came onto the scene seven years ago, the world was charmed by the colorful characters and fanciful plots that filled the books. But as the popularity of the books and movies grew, so, too, did the concerns of some religious groups.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've read the content, it's filled with witchcraft, sorcery, black magic, vengeance, rebellion. I don't think this is appropriate literature. And I don't think it's a good movie for a child to see.

PHILLIPS: A small but growing movement against the positive betrayal of witchcraft in the Potter stories, has been going on for several years. However, it wasn't until just this week we learned that a somewhat higher authority had already weighed in.

In a 2003 correspondence with German author Gabriele Kuby, who authored the book, "Harry Potter: Good or Evil," the pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote, "it is good that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions which act unnoticed, and by this, deeply distort Christianity in the soul before it can grow properly.

But Harry Potter fans disagree, they contend the boy, his school and his adventures are simply high flying fictional fantasy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to your first flying lesson. Everyone step up to the left side of their broomstick.

PHILLIPS: Supporters point out that this young wizard's popularity gets children reading more books. And at the same time, opens up their minds to creative thinking, whether it be human or wizardly.

But many people believe Harry Potter is just the latest hero, fighting the same old fight that has been fought throughout the years: the age-old battle between good and evil.


ZAHN: A never ending battle, I'm afraid.

Kyra Phillips reporting for us tonight. Responding to an inquiry by the Associated Press, the Vatican this week had absolutely no comment about the pope or Harry Potter.

So is Harry Potter bad for the soul? We wanted to bring you two very different view points tonight. John Granger is in Seattle. He's the author of "Looking For God in Harry Potter." We also have the author of a book the "A Landscape With Dragons: The Battle For Your Child's Mind." It's written by Michael O'Brien. He joins us tonight from Ottowa, Canada. Good to have both of you with us tonight.

So Michael, do you honestly believe that if children read this book, if their parents read this book, they will end up embracing witchcraft?

MICHAEL O'BRIEN, AUTHOR: I think the potential is there.

ZAHN: How? What proof do you have of that?

O'BRIEN: Well, we can go on to proof later. The point is that in the contemporary world, the supernatural is real. It's not make believe. And the world of actual witchcraft and sorcery is a growing phenomenon. And that world is a world of darkness and spiritual bondage. Witchcraft, actual witchcraft, is about control. It's about the violation of the dignity and the freedom of other human beings.

ZAHN: I understand what you're saying, but you think the simple act of reading about darkness is going to encourage people to practice witchcraft?

O'BRIEN: No. I think among the hundreds of millions of readers of Harry Potter, we're not going to see them all joining witch's covens. All I'm suggesting in my own critiques of the Potter series, and also Gabriele Kuby's critiques, a German sociologist and other thoughtful writers, not the inflammatory critiques, but the literary critics with spiritual discernment, we are asking questions. We're raising questions. What are the effects of flooding the imagination of a young reader, children, at a stage formation, with powerful, powerful images.

ZAHN: Well, let's see what John thinks about that. John, do you thing those images are damaging to the development of a child's psyche?

JOHN GRANGER, AUTHOR: Paula, if they were damaging to a child's psyche, what we would see would be a growth in witch's covens, because these books are being read not only by children but by adults.

And the reason that Michael is unable to give you proof is because the only people who say that witches' coven and the occult are growing are watchdog groups who are quoting the proselytizing occult groups themselves. Sociologists that study these things for a living will tell you -- (INAUDIBLE), other people at the Center for the Study for New Religions will tell you that the occult has been in a serious decline for ten years in the United States and in Europe.

ZAHN: Well, let me put it a little differently. Let's talk about the author for a moment. John, she says she's a Christian. She says she doesn't believe in magic. She doesn't believe in the occult. And she does believe in her God and reads the Bible. But there are those that feel that the subtext of this book is meant to lead people away from Christianity. Do you see that?

GRANGER: Couldn't be anything sillier, Paula. If you look at Christian fantasy, C.S. Lewis said it should do two things, it should train a reader in the stock responses of virtue over vice and it should baptize the imagination to foster faith when the child or the adult encounters the real thing for the first time.

And the Harry Potter novel is written by a Christian. Of course, the wonderful training in the stock responses, is that everyone sympathizes with the good guys. My children, when they play Harry Potter in the yard, the problem is finding someone who will play Vuldamort and the Death Eaters. They all want to be the good guys, being loyal and sacrificial, et cetera.

But the more important point is, is how does this baptize the imagination. Every symbol in these books from the snakes with the bad guys to the lions and the unicorns and the griffins, with the good guys, are within the Christian cosmology. Every single book, Paula, is written on a heroes journey theme that ends with a figurative death of Harry. And he rises from the dead in the presence of the symbol of Christ, every signal book.

These books are written on a Christian formula for Christian readers to be edifying in the faith.

ZAHN: And Michael, we have got to keep in mind this is meant to be fiction. And yet, you still believe that kids will make a literal interpretation of what they're reading?

O'BRIEN: Well, some of the studies, including studies reported by "Time" magazine in the year 2000, also "Newsweek" showed that certain pagan organizations in Germany and England, elsewhere, were reporting a market increase in the number of children, youth, applying to their organizations. Most of them asking, how can I become a witch?

They attributed, Pagan organizations, attributed this large increase in interest and activity, to what they call the Potter factor.

A study done in the year 2001, in the southern United States, among just a group of normal, young people, under 1,000 in the test group.

ZAHN: Right. What did it show?

O'BRIEN: Showed an increase of 12 percent activity in overt occult activity. I'd just like to go back to...

ZAHN: Unfortunately...

GRANGER: But again, Paula...

ZAHN: John, you get the last word. It's got to be really brief.

GRANGER: Again he's quoting occult groups, and that their numbers are rising. We're supposed to fear these groups and yet trust them on their figures? It's absurd.

ZAHN: And of course, John pointed out earlier that these groups are hyped, because you're talking about groups that are proselytizing. We let our audience make their own judgment tonight. John Granger, Mike O'Brien, fascinating the debate to have on a night where we have seen kids waiting for, in some cases, 13, 14 hours with their parents to snatch the new copy of the Harry Potter book as it comes out at midnight here in the United States.

Thanks to you both. Have a good weekend.

When we come back, we're going to meet amazing kids who are spending the summer trying to lose so they can win.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm at a point in my life where I realized I can't continue to live like this. I'm ready to go whatever it will take to change.


ZAHN: Weight-loss camps -- do they really work? You'll see when we come back.


ZAHN: I think this next set of numbers are going to shock you. I know they -- a recent study in "The New England Journal of Medicine" says that today's young people may actually be the first generation in 200 years to have a shorter life expectancy than their parent. And this is why. One out of every six boys and girls in the U.S. is over weight. And starting tonight, medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen is going to follow some young people who are trying to turn their lives around. They're going to a summer camp to lose weight. And you'll see their progress in our series "Four Weeks to Lose". We begin by meeting them at home. (START VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's not that she hasn't tried to lose weight. Early in the morning when her friends are usually fast asleep, Shawna Rubeck works out. She's not crazy about exercising this early, but Shawna will do anything to lose weight because she's scared, scared of getting diabetes. Scared that since she's been heavy all of her 14 years, she'll be heavy the rest of her life. And scared that the teasing will never end.

SHAWNA RUBECK: People have called me cupcake as a joke. And I would just sort of laugh about it because, you know, I knew I couldn't do anything about it.

COHEN (on camera): Is it sort of one kid calling you this, or do they sometimes team up on you?

RUBECK: They team up. Like one will start it and then others will hear about it and they'll be like hey flubber, hey cupcake. Stuff like that.

COHEN (voice over): That's when she started working out. And she thought she was losing weight, but she wasn't. (on camera) What was it like when you were at the doctors? You saw that you gained 30 pounds in one year. What resolution did you make?

RUBECK: Well, my heart kind of sank, you know, if I can gain that in a year, I can be 30 pounds 40 pounds heavier the next.

COHEN (on camera): When Shawna reached 250 pounds, she realized she needed help.

RUBECK: I'm trying to get some of the brownie, but it's not coming off. There we go. I went online and I was looking up weight loss camp for kids, summer weight loss camps.

COHEN: She found them, plenty of them. But the price tag, around $4,000 a month, was way more than her family could afford. Then, her mother heard about a scholarship program. Twenty-two kids competing for just eight spaces. Shawna poured her heart out in her application letter.

RUBECK: Often when I'm out in public, people stare at me and sometimes make comments that really hurt my feelings. I am at a point in my life that I realize that I can't continue to live like this. I'm ready to do whatever it will take to change.

COHEN: After weeks of waiting, her mother gave her the good news.

RUBECK: She told me that I had been one of the first chosen and I was -- had gotten a scholarship., and I was almost in tears. I can't believe I'm leaving this Sunday.

COHEN: Shawna's week at weight-loss camp begins this weekend. It's her dream, a team of nutritionists, psychologists and exercise specialists will be at her service. It's also a test, will she be able to meet her goal of losing 40 ponds. This one month may be her best shot ever.

Unlike Shawna, Nathan Ruffin was thin throughout childhood. In fact, he started out life a two pound preemie. Then in sixth grade, bullies started to tease him mercilessly, just because he was close to his mother and made nearly perfect grades.

NATHAN RUFFIN: Ok. Girl, gay, fat, momma's boy, teacher's pet. To be in a classroom and someone's talking about you, you feel like you're kind of an outcast. And no one really likes you or knows you basically.

SHARON RUFFIN, NATHAN'S MOTHER: I ended up getting off work early one day, and I came home and he just cried in my arms for a long time. He said, Mom, they're just so mean to me. And he's like, they don't even know me. And -- I'm getting ready to cry -- just as a mom, it was heartbreaking. You know. This is my son telling me, you know, that he just can't take it.

N. RUFFIN: Bless our family, keep them happy and healthy, amen.

COHEN: On one particularly bad day, Nathan found a new refuge.

N. RUFFIN: I think I ate two packs of noodles, hot dogs and chips and dinner. So that was a lot it eat that day.

COHEN (on camera): Why do you think you ate so much?

N. RUFFIN: I think I was really stressed out maybe.

COHEN (voice over): Nathan gained 70 pounds in two years. Now, 13, he weighs 200 pounds. Like Shawna, he started going to the gym, but it wasn't enough.

N. RUFFIN: Definitely starting to hurt.

COHEN: His mother heard about weight-loss camp, but since she supports five children on her own, she couldn't afford it. Then Nathan heard about the scholarship program.

N. RUFFIN: I was like speechless.

S. RUFFIN: Our whole family just jumped in on it and we just all just started working on it. Like we got to get him in here, we got to get him in here. Two to three non-cotton T-shirts.

COHEN: The family effort paid off. Nathan won one of the coveted spots. And now his grandparents, aunts and uncles are helping him get everything he needs for camp. A lot is riding on these next four weeks, not just the 30 pounds Nathan intends to lose, but his pride in making his mom happy.

N. RUFFIN: I want her to be proud that I accomplished something.

COHEN (on camera): You've really got an important mission this month.

N. RUFFIN: I do. But I'm excited, so. I want to stay happy. I want to stay excited, and I want it to hurry up and come.

COHEN (voice over): And so does Shawna. (on camera) What would be the best thing about being the same size as your friends?

RUBECK: My confidence. It would go sky high.

COHEN: Where is it now?

RUBECK: About in the middle, because I'm getting really excited about this camp. So I think that if I can get this far, get myself this far, I think, you know, I just need a little bit of a push going to this camp. And then I'll be off. That's all I need.


ZAHN: I don't know, from watching both of them, Elizabeth, it seems like they have an awful lot of motivation, and what great families they both come from. So can you give us a sense of what happens to these kids over the next couple of weeks once they get to camp?

COHEN: Right. When they arrive at camp on Sunday, Paula, what's going to happen the staff will give them a pedometer, and give them a calorie counter and give them a journal. And they tell the kids you have to keep this journal with you at all times. And you have to write down everything that you eat. So that's sort of one step. Another step is to give them counseling to help figure out why they have over eaten in the past. Why did they tend to do this? And as you saw with each kid, the reasons were slightly different with each child.

And that's true for all of the children at this camp, this camp by the way is called Wellspring camp and it's in North Carolina. So that's some of what they do. They also take them on trips, kayaking and white-water rafting and they also take them mountain biking. And so it's a whole program. And in the past, they found that it worked. And of course, we're hoping that it works for Nathan and for Shawna.

ZAHN: I'm just curious really quickly in closing, what the chances are that they actually will lose weight and keep it off, even with all of that exercise you're talking about that they'll be doing.

COHEN: At this camp, this is one of the few camps where they actually follow the kids, and they keep track of how they do and they tend to lose about four pounds a week. In this camp, they keep track of them for six months, after they leave camp most of the time they do actually keep it off for six months. The big question is, do they keep is off for longer than that? And that's sort of an unresolved question it's not very clear.

ZAHN: Well we're rooting for Shawna and Nathan. They seem like really, really good kids.

COHEN: Wonderful, sweet kids. And a lot of family support.

ZAHN: Yes, that was really nice to see. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much. Have a good weekend.

COHEN: You too.

ZAHN: Still to come, terrorists hope to prey on people's fear. But now a lot of people are talking back, thanks to one man.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did it at first, because it was a really personal kind of effect on me. You know, my friend was involved.


ZAHN: When we come back, a simple phrase that sparked a worldwide phenomenon.


ZAHN: It was just a quick response to last week's London bombings, but its message, simple, powerful, and it's resonated all over the world. Here Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Want to tell terrorists you're not afraid? Not afraid at all? Pah, so not afraid. Let your toes do the talking. Spell it out with alphabet soup.

ALFIE DENNEN, WERENOTAFRAID.COM: It's such a simple way of getting a message across. It's quite a deep message.

MOOS: When did our Alfie Dennen dream up the Web site, right after the bombings. Since then, over 11,000 photos have been submitted from all over the world. A rush of photos from Mt. Rushmore, to Hollywood.

DENNEN: I did it at first because it was a really personal kind of effect on me. You know, my friend was involved.

MOOS: This friend who took his own picture fleeing one of the underground bombings. Dennen reacted by posting this photo of himself. And look where it went from there, from homemade signs to elaborate graphic design.

DENNEN: That sums it up, man. Terrorist Advisory, I'm not afraid.

MOOS: The sky's the limit: photos pour in, sometimes, at a rate of five to six a minute. Baby pictures are big, but not bigger than pets. It seems as if the entire animal kingdom is free from fear. From Fluffy to Super Squirrel.

Do I look afraid? Do I look afraid? Do we look afraid? New Yorker Richard Ghazarian doctored his drivers license to reach to London the way London reached out to New York after 9/11.

RICHARD GHAZARIAN, EMAILED PHOTO: What a better way to show who you are and where you're from then your driver's license

MOOS: Pregnant women are not afraid. Even fetuses are showing remarkable courage. Middle fingers seem to be getting a lot of exercise, even the littlest of middle fingers.

Dennen and a dozen of his friends manage the site, editing out anti-Muslim hate e-mail.

Does he think it makes a difference to the terrorists?

DENNEN: No. No. I think it makes a difference to us.

MOOS: Dennen even quit his job at a streaming video company to devote himself to the site. It's identical in concept to another Web site. Remember, sorry everybody? When those who voted against George Bush apologized after his reelection?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It says, sorry, world, we tried.

MOOS: The creator of that site contacted Dennen.

DENNEN: You know, he e-mailed me. And he said, your biting my style? I said, yeah, you were a total inspiration.

MOOS: Many use humor to defy the terrorists.

DENNEN: The scaredometer. Terrorist squirrels, paper bags, flying spiders.

MOOS: And remember the Iraqi information minister who told the opposite of truth? You have my word, they are all very, very afraid. Despite Dennen's sign, he's frightened by his own Web site.

DENNEN: It's frightened me, because of the huge amount of attention.

MOOS (on camera): But I'm afraid, afraid that's all we have time for, except for one final photograph.

DENNEN: He was in the carriage which had a bomb in it.

MOOS: In the middle of the night, this photo of someone named Mark arrived.

DENNEN: He sent in an imagine with stitches on his head, sutchers (ph) on his head, just with we're not afraid.

MOOS: Mark and Dennen ended up talking.

DENNEN: I told him that he was the bravest person I've ever spoken to. And he just went, all, what, bugger off. He was kind of laughing.

MOOS: Laughing away terror seems to help. The contents of our diapers are scarier than you. Take that, terrorists!


ZAHN: I know something about that, Jeanne Moos. Thank you.

We're going to take a short break, we'll be right back.



Thanks for joining us. Have a great weekend. We'll be back, same time, same place, Monday night. Again, thanks for dropping by tonight. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.