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CNN Live Event/Special

America's New War: Latest Developments

Aired September 24, 2001 - 01:30   ET


COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Colleen McEdwards at CNN Center. Here's the very latest on the September 11th attacks in the United States and the impact they have had around the world. The United States is disputing reports that Afghanistan's ruling Taliban doesn't know where Osama bin Laden is. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says he's absolutely convinced that bin Laden's al Qaeda network is behind the attacks. And he says he believes the U.S. will be able to publish a government report showing that link. The Taliban have demanded proof of bin Laden's involvement.

A U.S. Defense Department team is to meet with Pakistani officials Monday in Islamabad. They are expected to go over the specifics of Pakistan's cooperation against bin Laden and his network.

And British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will ask Iran for its cooperation in international efforts against terrorism. He travels to Tehran on Monday. The highest ranking British official to visit since the Islamic revolution. In a letter to the Iranian people, Straw says the war on terrorism is not a war on Islam. He also will carry a message from the United States to Iran.

Well with more news now on the U.S. government's latest actions let's go to Major Garrett in Washington. Major what can you tell us.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well good morning, Colleen. About this question was to whether or not the United States government feels compelled to prove it's case against Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda terrorist organization he is said to lead. U.S. government officials made it clear on Sunday, they don't feel they need to make that proof available to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, but they very well might make that available to other nations who are seeking.

Secretary of State Colin Powell speaking on one of the Sunday talk shows said in fact the United States government very -- may very soon prepare a document and release it to the world.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are hard at work bringing all of the information together, intelligence information, law enforcement information. And I think in the near future, we'll be able to put out a paper, a document that will describe quite clearly the evidence that we have linking him to this attack. But also remember, he has been linked to earlier attacks against U.S. interest and he was already indicted for earlier attacks against the United States.


GARRETT: Specifically, Osama bin Laden is indicted for the terrorist attacks against the two U.S. embassies in 1998 in Kenya and Tanzania. As to the overall subject of remaining vigilante the United States against possible future terrorist attacks, the President's National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice said American's must keep their guard up and keep it up high at least for the time being.


CONDOLEEZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: There's no doubt that Americans need to be vigilante. They need to be patient about the security measures that are there at airports, at borders. We are in a very active campaign. The FBI has thousands of agents out hunting the perpetrators of this crime. We're getting very good cooperation from intelligent services and from law enforcement networks abroad.

The best offense here -- the best defense is going to be a good offense, to go after these terrorists where they live.


GARRETT: The President has said over and over he would like the United States to get back to a sense of routine. And on Sunday, he did something that symbolizes a return to the routine, at Camp David, Maryland, the Presidential Retreat, he and the First Lady as the Marines ceremonial raised the American flag to full staff at the presidential compound at Camp David. That happened across the country, as a Presidential decree ordering flags at half staff expired on September 23rd.

A very solemn and uplifting ceremony at Camp David, one repeated across the country as Americans return to work and school on Monday they will see flags flying at full staff for the first time since the terrorist attacks on September 11th. Yet, another sign the White House says that American life is beginning to return to a degree of routine.

After that, and a quiet day at Camp David, the President returned to the White House Sunday afternoon, landing aboard Marine one on the south lawn department with the First Lady, returning to the residence of the White House.

And planning for the week ahead. It will include more coalition building, meeting at the White House on Monday with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, on Tuesday the Japanese leader Junichiro Koizumi comes to visit the White House and President Bush. And all throughout the week Colleen the President and his top economic advisors will be plotting strategy with senior members of Congress to put together an economic stimulus to revive a shaken and somewhat unsturdy and unstable U.S. economy. Colleen.

MCEDARDS: CNN's Major Garrett for us in Washington, thanks.

A high level U.S. military delegation is scheduled for talks Monday in Pakistan. The talks are expected to focus on exactly what role Pakistan will play in a possible U.S. attack on Afghanistan.

CNN's Tom Mintier is in Islamabad right now and joins us now with more from there. Tom.

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Colleen, the Pakistani government has been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this delegation from Washington. First it's believed that a delegation from the Pentagon will arrive first, then a delegation from the State Department.

Now as the Major was talking about this document that may be prepared by either the justice or state department is also being eagerly awaited here, the so-called proof that Osama bin Laden was involved in the attack on September the 11th. The Pakistani's from the very beginning have been saying that they want to see some kind of evidence. And want to be brought in the loop on what the plans are militarily if indeed there is a strike against Afghanistan.

Now yesterday we saw the lifting of half of the sanctions being placed against Afghanistan -- or against Pakistan by the United States. They are awaiting details, exactly what those sanctions are and what they're going -- which ones are going to be lifted, which ones are going to remain in place. The finance minister told us yesterday he was greatly relieved. That this is being done now, that the timing was right. That the economic situation in Pakistan needs these sanctions lifted.

Also, there are meetings today by the humanitarian organizations here in Islamabad trying to plot our their strategy for the next few days or few weeks. There are estimates of up to a million Afghans coming to the border and needing to come across.

Now the border has been closed for nearly a week, the official crossings, but it's estimated that as many as 200,000 Afghanistan refugees have come across the border through the mountain passes that are not patrolled. They're not bordered checkpoints. And it's a more than 1000 mile border and they're saying that it's easy to cross through.

But the humanitarian agencies are bringing relief supplies. They have ordered 20,000 tents to possibly be placed in an area along the border. Also, additional tarpaulin's (ph). UNHCR says that they have enough tarpaulin's (ph) in their stockpiles to house more than a million people. So those plans are being put into place.

There are planes of supplies that are coming into the region, so that if indeed a humanitarian crisis does evolve as military conflict looks over Afghanistan the people that want to get out and can get out will have a place to go. Now the Pakistani government has basically sealed for the last week the existing refugee camps inside Pakistan not letting anyone in or out. They are not desirous of having these camps extended or expanded. Saying instead that they would like to see if there is a need for it, new camps to be placed inside Pakistan where they can deal with the newly arrived.


MCEDARDS: And Tom, I know you've been talking to the various aid agencies, I mean given the potential scope of this, the potential numbers that they're talking about, how concerned are they about their ability to provide aid to these refugees?

MINTIER: They're very concerned. You know you have a situation where the border is effectively closed, as far as people being able to come out with their belongings and things like that. So there are discussions going on between the humanitarian agencies and the Pakistani government to possibly open these border crossings and allow these large groups of people to come across and be documented.

I think what scares a lot of people is that if these mountain passes are used, the Taliban may use that as an effective means for crossing the border and getting out of harm's way and working inside Pakistan. So they want to maintain control of their border. And what the humanitarian agencies are trying to do is have an orderly flow of refugees so they can really have a handle on what is needed on this side, so they can provide the relief supplies as people are coming out.

When they're coming out through the mountainous areas they sometimes mingle in with the Pakistani community. It's a very large Afghan community inside Pakistan. So they're like to maintain control if they can.

MCEDWARDS: All right. CNN's Tom Mintier thanks very much.

And Tom alluded to it there, but we want to spend just a little bit more time on this because the people of Afghanistan have been struggling with war, poverty and doubt for many, many years. Thousands have already fled to Pakistan and beyond. Even before the threat of a U.S. military attack the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan was indeed serious as Tom had said.

CNN's Nic Robertson was actually one of the few Western journalists in Afghanistan on the day before the attacks on Washington and New York. Here's his report.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Crowded in tiny classrooms, Afghans come to learn English. One dollar for three months lessons, about three days salary here, but for these youngsters, an investment in their future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our country in a war situation, and it needs for repair, and there must be some engineers, some doctors to repair it again, yes? For the sake of that, we don't want to leave our country and...

ROBERTSON: They say they don't want to leave, but away from the camera, the manager says many hope skills learned here will translate into dollars earned in well-paid jobs with international aid organizations. That way, he says, they can get the money they need to leave the country.

(on camera): Had you started university here before?

(voice-over): Mohammed (ph), not his real name, wants to leave. He's spent years he says carefully saving his money to pay smugglers.

MOHAMMED (through translator): I prepared 10,000 U.S. dollars, and the smugglers increased their price. Due to that, I could not get to the European countries, and I have to leave because of the problems.

ROBERTSON: Problems like being arrested, although he says it won't be safe to fully explain until he leaves.

MOHAMMED (through translator): It's very difficult to explain. Everything, we can say both political and economic, because the warring parties in Afghanistan do not behave to the satisfaction of the people.

ROBERTSON: Across town, refugees recently deported back from Pakistan where they fled to escape the four-year drought, live in a mosque because they say their livelihoods on their farms are gone. At the United Nations, High Commissioner for the Refugees Office, they as for help. They are all, aid workers here say, trying to flee not just the broken economy, but a damaged country.

YOSHYKI YAMOMOTO UNHCR KABUL CHIEF: It's because in this country state does not exist here, state function does not properly watching here. So, we don't call them simply economic malaise. They have a reason of this sufferings.

ROBERTSON: In Britain and Australia, Afghans are fast becoming the predominant nationality seeking asylum, the best way to prevent them coming, aid workers here say, is to invest in Afghanistan.

YAMOMOTO: We have to be concerned in this country. They can see the future with this country. They try to work hard here to be like this country.

ROBERTSON: With all international aid officials know outside Afghanistan, that seems unlikely. The best relief officials can hope for now is to prepare for those who might flee the current crisis, what kind of long-term refugee problem they'll be facing will likely depend on how the next few weeks develop.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Quetta, Pakistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MCEDWARDS: Still ahead on World News Britain's Foreign Secretary gets set for talks with Iranian officials about their Afghan neighbors. And people in Kazakhstan and welcome Pope John Paul II as he tries to give a little bit of boost to relations between Christians and Muslims. Details on that in just a moment.

Well Britain's Foreign Secretary travels to Iran Monday to ask Tehran's help with global efforts to combat terrorism. Jack Straw says he intends to open a dialogue with Iran and offer aid as well. Britain has already allocated more than $35 million to help Afghanistan's neighbors deal with the problems of refugees fleeing the country. Straw will become the highest ranking British official to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Tehran has condemned the attacks on the United States but opposes a military attack on eastern neighbor Afghanistan.

Well the head of the Arab league says that Arab states are unified against terrorism. But Amr Moussa is urging the U.S. government to take a close look at the why in this issue. Why many people in the Middle East are angry with the United States.

Moussa has arrived in the Jordanian capital, Amman, for talks with Jordan's King Abdullah. He says the U.S. must not take military strikes against Arab nations.

Pope John Paul the second has said special prayers calling on Christians and Muslims to work together in the wake of the attacks on the U.S. He made his plea during mass on Sunday on a visit to Kazakhstan. Most Kazaks are Muslim or Russian orthodox. And many fear the influence of religious extremism in nearby Afghanistan.

CNN's Jim Mitter -- Jim Bitterman rather has this report from the papal tour.


JIM BITTERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a country that is more Muslim than Christian, more Orthodox than Catholic, Pope John Paul II cautioned against using religion as a reason for conflict. I urge both Christians and Muslims, the Pope said, in a late edition to his morning mass, to raise intense prayers of peace. Those of both religions who attended the service new exactly what the reference meant.

Mushar Kubai (ph), a Muslim, said relations between religious groups are here, but Taliban Muslims from Afghanistan could cause trouble in the region. Kubai's (ph) view it seems is shared by the President of Kazakhstan. When Nursaltan Nethrobia (ph) met with John Paul he said Kazakhstan is prepared in coalition with other states to joint the fight against terrorism. Because he said, no nation alone, no matter how large can win victory over terrorists who do not come from any one particular country or religious group.

John Paul, according to his spokesman also supports bringing those responsible for the attacks on the United States to justice. But despite reassurances from the White House that its was is against terrorism, not Islam, the Pope and the Kazakh President urged caution.

JOAQUIN NAVARRO-VALLS, VATICAN SPOKESMAN: The present situation cannot be interpreted as a confrontation between Islam and Christianity or between Islam and the Occidental world. If anybody tries to understand the things in this terms that would be extremely dangerous. And most probably that's not reflecting the reality of it.

BITTERMAN (on camera): What the Pope and Kazakh authorities would like to avoid is turning a hunt for terrorists into a regional or religious conflict. It's clear how things begin, the papal spokesman said. But it's much more difficult anticipate how they'll develop.

(voice-over): If those developments in the pursuit of terrorism go badly, the religious and ethnic harmony in Kazakhstan and elsewhere in central Asia could quickly be shattered. Christians and Muslims here are praying together that won't happen.

Jim Bitterman, CNN, Astana, Kazakhstan.


MCEDWARDS: To India now with the World Hindu Counsel, where a controversial Hindu temple is to be built on the ruins of an historic Mosque in northern Uttar Pradesh.

Speaking at a temple in New Delhi Sunday, a senior member of the counsel said that work on the Ram temple will get underway on what he called an auspicious date, after the festival of Shiratai (ph) in February.

The planned temple is being built on the site of the 16th century Babri Mosque which was destroyed by Hindu's in 1992. The destruction of the Mosque sparked some of India's worst rioting in decades. More than 3000 people were killed then.

Well 20 people accused of playing a supporting role in the 1994 bombing's of South America's largest Jewish cultural center will go on trial Monday. They are suspected of supplying the stolen van that was use in the suicide attack. Eighty-six people were killed. Those convicted face as much as 25 years in prison. But authorities are still trying to find out who is directly responsible for planning and financing that bombing.

Well coming up on our special coverage an interview with U.S. National Security Advisory Condoleeza Rice putting fears aside, focussing on strategy. Stay with us.


MCEDWARDS: United States officials say they do not believe claims by Afghanistan's ruling Taliban that suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden has disappeared. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice said Sunday that the Taliban are quote not trustworthy in that regard.

In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Rice discussed a wide range of issues, from Taliban's refusal to turn over bin Laden, to whether American's are still at risk of another terrorist attack.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Dr. Rice, thank you once again, for joining us. I know you've been very busy these last few weeks. But how concerned should American's be right now about additional terrorist attacks against them?

RICE: Well there's no doubt that American's need to vigilante. They need to be patient about the security measures that are there at airports and borders. We are in a very active campaign. The FBI has thousands of agents out hunting down the perpetrators of this crime. We're getting very good cooperation from intelligence services and from law enforcement networks abroad. The best offense here - the best defense is going to be a good offense to go after these terrorists where they live.

But yes we need to be vigilante. But as the President has said what we don't want terrorists to do is to change who we are. And so we are going to be very cognizant and aware of civil liberties. We're going to be very cognizant and aware that just because people look a particular way they should not be the subject of harassment, either by the government or by their neighbors. It's important that we remain who we are, but it is a time to be vigilante.

BLITZER: When you say the best defense is a strong offense, does that mean that the President is ready to revise the executive order that's been in place for a couple of decades, barring the U.S. from engaging in assassination of foreign leaders?

RICE: The United States is looking at all of the laws that we have on the books, all of the executive orders that we have. But I believe that the President believes that with the package that General Ashcroft is putting forward in the Congress, we will have what we need to do.

BLITZER: Law enforcement sources, intelligence sources have told me that their working assumption is that they there are other Osama bin Laden operatives from the al Qaeda organization still at large in the United States right now. Is that a fair assumption?

RICE: I think it's is best to assume that there are certainly other operatives at large. We know now that this network has been burrowing into the United States for several years, at least a couple of years. So it would not be surprising if not everything has been routed out in the last - in the first 10 days.

BLITZER: As you know, the President issued a series of demands on the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in effect. Thursday night in his address to Congress, the Taliban has rejected basically by saying show us the proof. Give us evidence that Osama bin Laden was behind this. In effect rejecting the President's demand, what's next?

RICE: Well the Taliban should recognize that this has a long history. This is September 11th, but it is prior to September 11th. Also, we know that Osama bin Laden and his network, his al Qaeda network were behind the bombing of American embassies. They were - Osama bin Laden was indicated for that. We know that they are associated with the bombing of the Cole. So to say give us evidence at this point is not helpful. And the President is not going to be deterred in acting in America's self defense, because the Taliban which by the way is not a government that seems to care very much about evidence when it summarily executes it's own people.

The President is not going to be deterred in doing what he needs to do to defend the United States. And this Wolf, is self-defense. If you have any doubt about the degree with which this is self-defense just look at those pictures from September 11th.

BLITZER: Now, today Taliban sources or Taliban officials are saying that Osama bin Laden is now missing Afghanistan. What do you say about that?

RICE: I would say that the Taliban is not trustworthy in this regard. And I don't see that we believe there's any evidence of that.

BLITZER: Do you believe they know exactly where he is and they're protecting him?

RICE: Well I think it's probably time that they demonstrate what they know about Osama bin Laden.

BLITZER: Well assuming the Taliban does not change, what is the United States do next in Afghanistan.

RICE: Well in fact, this campaign has already begun. The President as is well known will sign an executive order about financial networks. And really squeezing the life blood out of this organization. It will ultimately not be able to function if it cannot have access to money.

BLITZER: You're talking about the al Qaeda ...

RICE: The al Qaeda organization, yes. The President is also mobilizing international intelligence and law enforcement efforts around th world. There are people in this cell being rounded up in various parts of the world, not just in the United States. So the campaign has begun. But as to the Taliban, the President made clear the other night that he will act, but he will act at time and a place of his choosing. He will act when it is most effective and in the way that is the most effective.

BLITZER: Will that include assuming the Taliban (ph) defies the United States with a move into Afghanistan to overthrow that regime?

RICE: The President is going to do what is most effective. And he has a number of options. There are a number of assets that we can use in getting to the Taliban and making it clear to the Taliban that they have a choice here. But the President is going to do this at a time of his choosing and not one minute before that.


MCEDWARDS: That was U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, speaking with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

Well let's get a quick check now of the global weather outlook for you. Jenny Harrison is standing by in the international weather center. She's going to get us going in Asia, where I understand there is some pretty nasty stuff to tell us about Jenny. How bad is it?

JENNY HARRISON, INTERNATIONAL WEATHER: It's looking pretty bad, actually, Colleen. There are two systems we're keeping close eye on thankfully. Two typhoons, thankfully only one is perhaps causing some rain to areas that you need to be concerned about. And the first system here you can see on the satellite not moving very quickly, but it's still a significant system nonetheless producing heavy rains.

And this is typhoon Lekima. Also on the satellite you can make out another system here. That is typhoon Francisco. That is moving well up to the north in the northern Pacific and not threatening any land areas. But as I say typhoon Lekima is a rather different story.

Now there's also a couple of hurricanes out there we're keeping a close eye, and again, just one thankfully that we have to keep an eye on. And this is the system here. This system, hurricane Juliet is moving very closely to the canals of the coast of Mexico to the West Coast. And that has some strong winds with it in particular. But also some heavy rains. The rains really are what we'll be seeing effecting coastal areas of Mexico. The strong winds should be staying out over open waters.

So looking in more detail at Francisco, as I say, it's a long way from land, over 700 kilometers in the northeast of Iwogima. The winds are very strong, 204 kilometers now but it's moving north quite speedily at about 2100 kilometers an hour. Obviously a problem if you're out at sea but not really to any land areas.

But typhoon Lekima a rather different proposition. I'm afraid it means more heavy rains yet again in particular to Taiwan, already producing very heavy rains to northern areas of the Philippines. At the moment it was about 139 kilometers north of Luson (ph), the winds are 126 kilometers an hour. But it is moving pretty slowly about northwest at 10 kilometers an hour.

So through Tuesday morning not much movement. The rain spreading back across much of Taiwan and across the Philippines. Also, beginning to extend towards that east coast of China.

Elsewhere across Asia, we've got one or two showers through Hokkaido, mostly cloudy skies back along this funnel system across into Korea, also into northeastern areas of China. Some showers courtesy of this trough to the east of this Tibetan plateau.

And across in India, perhaps we're getting some better news because the monsoonal rains showing signs of receding down to the fast showers. In particular across Sri Lanka and the islands. Not much change into Wednesday morning. In fact, still those showers well into southern China. Things clearing across much of Japan, also into Korea. But as you can see, Lekima still in the picture very much and not moving very fast. But as I say those rains particularly effecting Taiwan, the Philippines and also that southern coast of China.

And a quick look at temperatures. You can see still pretty warm in Beijing. Twenty-four (UNINTELLIGIBLE) clear skies through Tuesday. Twenty-six in Shanghai, 30 in Hong Kong, some rain for you and 38 in New Delhi but at least it should stay dry now.