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CNN Live Event/Special


Aired January 15, 2002 - 20:00   ET


BILL HEMMER, HOST: John Walker, the American to face conspiracy charges to kill Americans back in the U.S., an update on his story is coming up.

Also, what's the truth on a missing American somewhere near Kabul? We'll go live to Alabama to talk with his family about that. That's all next LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN.

ANNOUNCER: LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN with Bill Hemmer. He fought with the Taliban. Now, we know the charges John Walker will face.


JOHN ASHCROFT, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: At each crossroad, Walker faced a choice, and with each choice, he chose to ally himself with terrorists.


ANNOUNCER: Even though the fighting has died down, it remains one of the world's most dangerous places for Americans.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her husband may have been -- may be held hostage in Afghanistan.


ANNOUNCER: And Bill Hemmer takes us on a ride, where even members of an armed U.S. patrol have to be extra careful.

They lost loved ones to terrorists. They did, too. Families, half a world apart, unite in grief.


EVA RUPP, RELATIVE OF SEPT. 11 VICTIM: We just want to show our respect and compassion for other human beings who have gone through the same suffering that we've gone through.


ANNOUNCER: LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN, Bill Hemmer. HEMMER: Hello again from Kandahar and greetings from southern Afghanistan. Just a few hours ago, another group of detainees rather left here from the detention facility, 30 in all in the latest group. Eventually, once they arrive in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, there will be 80 now stationed in the southeastern tip of the island of Cuba.

One person not onboard though, the American, John Walker. The 20-year-old right now being held onboard the USS Bataan, but now we know Walker will soon be transported to Alexandria, Virginia. He'll face charges there of conspiracy to kill Americans. This news breaking a few short hours ago. In Washington now, Susan Candiotti is tracking the latest on this front.

Susan, good evening and good morning from Kandahar.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Bill, good to see you. Tonight, an attorney for John Walker's family is responding to the charges, chiding authorities for the way they've handled Walker's interrogation - quote - "despite repeated attempts by his family and his counsel to see him, John has not given access to a lawyer. We are going to do everything in our power to make sure that John has a fair trail."

American Taliban John Walker escaped the death penalty, but if convicted, he could spend the rest of his life behind bars. A possible life term is attached to the conspiracy count to kill U.S. nationals abroad. He's also charged with two counts of providing material support to terrorist groups, including al Qaeda and one count of assisting the Taliban with goods and services. The final three counts carry a maximum 15-year sentence.

Walker allegedly told investigators bin Laden once thanked him personally for helping his holy war. Attorney General John Ashcroft says Walker chose to join terrorists not the other way around.


ASHCROFT: Youth is not absolution for treachery and personal self-discovery is not an excuse to take up arms against one's country. Misdirected Americans cannot seek direction in murderous ideologies and expect to avoid the consequences.


CANDIOTTI: And, Bill, the attorney general does not rule out additional charges.

HEMMER: Susan, to my knowledge, John Walker, right now, is the only one being held onboard the USS Bataan. Do we know yet or have any knowledge when he may be transported to the U.S.?

CANDIOTTI: We've been trying to get a better idea about that, and all we know is this -- at this hour, the Pentagon says that it is finalizing, waiting for final orders to be drawn up and then John Walker would be sent to the United States. Officials at the White House say that could come in days - Bill. HEMMER: All right, Susan. Susan Candiotti, live in Washington, tracking that story.

Back here in Afghanistan now, the story of another American, Clark Bowers is his name, and his wife Amanda says he's turned up missing somewhere around Kabul. Two satellite phone calls have been delivered to his wife in Alabama and there's a random being asked for right now. Let's go to Alabama and pick things up with Gary Tuchman who's tracking this story.

Gary, hello.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill, hello to you. There's a yellow ribbon tied around the mailbox behind me, tied around a tree, tied around the pillars of this home in Limestone County, Alabama. This is the home of a self-employed political consultant who is on an individual humanitarian mission in Afghanistan. His name is Clark Bowers, 37 years old. He lives inside this house with his wife Amanda.

Clark Bowers called Amanda last week, she says, told her that he had been kidnapped along with an interpreter who was with him. He says he was on a plane from Istanbul, Turkey to Kabul and was then kidnapped by people in Afghanistan who took him to an undisclosed location.

Now, Amanda Bowers talked to reporters today and told us she is now preparing to send a ransom.


AMANDA BOWERS, WIFE: He told me that he had landed safely in Afghanistan but that he and his Afghan interpreter had been abducted by someone whom Clark said was a tribal warlord. But if you believe in the power of prayer, as I do, that you would pray for Clark's safe return because that's my only concern.


TUCHMAN: Well, the State Department says it's taken this very seriously. However, the State Department is also saying it has not confirmed this kidnapping, still has many questions and says the information is very sketchy. And it's not known in any way, shape or form how ransom money from the United States would be sent to Afghanistan.

Bill, back to you.

HEMMER: Gary, two questions -- why no public announcement for how much ransom money is being requested right now, and, second, has Amanda Bowers talked about how she feels about the U.S. reaction to this case?

TUCHMAN: Part one of your question, Bill, she says, Amanda, that she is not saying how much the ransom is because she's been advised by the State Department not say about the amount of money. Also, regarding what the State Department is saying about the sketchy information, about having many questions, she said she would not take any questions at her news conference. And since the news conference, we've gone to the door. She's still not talking. However, she said during her news conference that the State Department and the FBI are being - quote -- "very helpful" -- Bill.

HEMMER: We will hope for a good outcome here. Gary Tuchman, live in Alabama. Gary, thanks to you.

Back in Kandahar now, another reminder of how dangerous southern Afghanistan can be. On Tuesday, the U.S. Marines announced that late on Monday they spotted seven men patrolling a few hundred yards from where we are standing and a few hundred yards from where the Marines take up their fighting holes on a 24-hour basis.

After an inspection on the nearby grounds here, they found a cache of weapons, including rocket propelled grenades, and mortar fuses and other devices of ammunition. They found these in abandoned buildings surrounding the perimeter in Kandahar. They blew them up and flattened those structures, also, cleaned out some of the crawl spaces underneath, where they say weapons were found as well. Nearby, some cave openings also were imploded and closed for security reasons. The Marines talked about it and gave details to us on Tuesday afternoon.


CAPT. DANIEL GREENWOOD, U.S. MARINE CORPS: The seven individuals were not found once our reaction force arrived out on the scene. We looked through all the buildings that were on the site. No individuals were located. It is not known whether they egressed the area to the northwest in the canals and crevasses that are out in that area or if they used the tunnel complexes.

We destroyed four of the more prominent tunnel complexes last night to ensure that they could not be used against us and we do not know what happened to those seven individuals.


HEMMER: Also, the Marines say they will extend the perimeter here, the security perimeter, by a couple hundred yards to take into account for that area. And by the way, this is the same location, last Thursday, where machine gunfire and sniper fire originated when the first group were sent out last Thursday night bound for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Again, that is on the base here, but off the base, it's even more dangerous. Every day, American forces patrol the ground in and around the air base. We went with them on patrol in southern Afghanistan.


HEMMER (voice-over): Just off Highway 4, the main road outside Kandahar, it's dusty and bare and brutal. The U.S. military is on a daytime reconnaissance patrol. Several humvees bump over the dry terrain. The Afghans here take notice. Some flirt. Some wave. But they always watch the giant machinery roll across their desert.

Part of keeping secure is knowing what's around you. That's what this patrol is all about. U.S. forces have made local contacts, and as they roll into a village, the contact may be a spy and is nowhere to the seen. The patrol takes no chances. It keeps rolling. No problems, just precautions.

Further down the road, a Marine eyes two men on a mountainside, an armed vehicle has taken cover. Staring at the rock facade, the challenge is obvious. They say there's a cave in here, maybe more. Notes are taken. A check from the air will be called in later.

Cobra gun ships now flutter overhead. Below sits the real Afghanistan, a rare irrigation canal and a country locked in four years of deadly drought.

Back in the village now, still no sign of the local contact, but the kids don't mind. Chasing vehicles on bicycles is a growing Afghan pastime. Three hours later, uneventful but necessary, the patrol returns to its fortified air base back off Highway 4. There will be another run tomorrow, and the next day.


HEMMER: These patrols will continue for an extended period of time, of course, until Afghanistan again comes under control based on security here.

Later this week, we do anticipate Colin Powell, the secretary of state, will travel to Afghanistan. We anticipate him to be in Kabul meeting with the new interim government head there, Hamid Karzai. There are no plans that we know of right now, to visit Kandahar. However, that could change at any time.

In addition, the secretary of state, Colin Powell, to visit India and Pakistan to help talk about relations between those two countries and help diffuse tensions again over the rising tensions regarding Kashmir.

Also, when Colin Powell is here, he'll talk about certainly the recovery effort for Afghanistan. The World Bank on Tuesday announced that over the next 10 years the country will need $15 billion to get it back on track. Officials now pushing for that money as soon as possible.


MARK MALLOCK BROWN, UNDP ADMINISTRATOR: This is a country with a history of weak central government and a very strong regional structures. You know, our view is that, you know, you have to first separate out the humanitarian from the recovery and reconstruction. The humanitarian assistance is to reach all hungry people wherever they are.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HEMMER: Later this week, they say they'll have a meeting to line up donors and start the donation process to get Afghanistan again getting that money that is so desperately needed here.

In a moment, though, we'll go to another part of the world, Somalia. Is al Qaeda hiding in east Africa? Christiane Amanpour is there. WE will check in Mogadishu.

Also, back to Kabul, the grieving continues, and so, too, does the healing. New Yorkers meet Afghans in the capital city when LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN continues.


RITA LASAR, RELATIVE OF SEPT. 11 VICTIM: I'm going to hope that they understand that Americans care about them and that we're sorry, and if they don't, I'm going to convince them.



HEMMER: Welcome back to Kandahar. I want to check our status report again tonight from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. We now know one of the 50 detainees being held there right now has been treated for a gunshot wound that apparently took place about a month ago. We also know several detainees here in Kandahar have sought medical attention, several amputations have taken place and one source indicates also that brain surgery was also performed here at the base in Kandahar.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon says it has flattened a terrorist training camp in eastern Afghanistan. It says 60 structures had been destroyed above ground and 50 cave openings have been closed on the ground itself. We're also told more targets may be hit sometime very soon in the same area.

There is another target that may be hit, possibly, in another part of the world. It's east Africa, and the country there is Somalia. Many think the lack of a central government is a prime-time time place for terrorists to gather and carry out their plots and deeds. CNN is there. Christiane Amanpour from Somalia and the capital city, Mogadishu, watching things, and now brings us an update. Here's Christiane.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bill, sue Somalis are telling us that they feel that they've been under a sort of psychological warfare since September 11 with all the innuendos swirling that their country may be next on America's target list.

The United States is patrolling the long Somali coast with warships and also says that it has surveillance aircraft above the skies of Somalia, along with French and British aircraft. The Somalis are saying that they don't harbor any terrorists. And indeed, it appears at the moment unlikely that U.S. bombs will fall on Somalia.


(voice-over): In 1993, the ill-fated hunt for warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid destroyed buildings, killed hundreds of Somalis and about 20 U.S. soldiers but never snared Aidid. Today, people read newspapers and listen to a swirl of rumors and threats with a sense of panic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The families in this town are afraid, not only me, all the people is afraid.

AMANPOUR: They're afraid Somalia will be next on the U.S. bombing list.

This man says the Americans can come here to check for al Qaeda or other terrorists, but if they find nothing, they must stay to help. Although the U.S. says Osama bin Laden sent fighters to attack American soldiers during "Operation Restore Hope," Somalis insist they have long gone and bin Laden could never find safe haven here.

"I'm a 100 percent against the attacks in New York," says this man, "because those people did nothing wrong."

Incredibly, he and his friends were reading English language newspapers dated September 12, filled with images of the attacks on the World Trade Center. They say they're just trying to improve their language skills, but one man in the crowd tells us Somalia should join the war on terror.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is the time to join international committal war.

AMANPOUR (on-camera): Some cynics and columnists have suggested that Somalia might welcome some well-targeted U.S. bombing as a way out of its current predicament. And surprisingly, despite all the bad blood that has flown between these two countries, many people that we spoke to here say they would welcome American troops back again.

(voice-over): They don't want the bombing, but they do want help, a way out of endless war and warlordism.

"We've been killing each other for 11 years, and we've been terrorizing each other," says this man, "I am requesting America not to bomb us but to come and help us."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I warmly welcome the Americans and the westerners to come on Somalia and to intervent.

AMANPOUR: Not everyone is happy to see westerners on their streets, but the hostility is quickly contained, and the crowds are mostly good-natured. Civil war has raged here since 1991. The country is divided into thiefdoms by weapon-wielding clans, insecurity, joblessness and poverty reign.

Today, people tell us they see what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan and they want the same, a broad-based government, warlords disarmed and weapons taken off their streets. (END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Another deeply pressing issue is the humanitarian issue here. The situation is deteriorating and all the international humanitarian organizations have pulled out since September 11. Right now, the U.N. is sending and does have a team of specialists in the country to assess the security situation, and they're guardedly optimistic that they may be able to re-introduce the humanitarian program sometime in the not too distant future -- Bill.

HEMMER: Christiane, thanks. Again, a reminder to our viewers, on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, Christiane Amanpour live in Somalia, why some say it is a perfect hideout.

In a moment, here in Afghanistan, making the connection from Manhattan to Kabul, when our program continues, after a break.


HEMMER: In Kabul now, the healing process is already started for several victims of the World Trade Center attacks in Manhattan. Families of the relatives of the victims have traveled to the Afghan capital to meet with victims from the U.S. bombing. For some, it is healing, for some, it is necessary, and Michael Holmes was there to watch it.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): An emotional day near Kabul, Afghanistan. Emotional for Afghans and also emotional for four Americans who flew in here today on a special mission. They all lost relatives on 9/11 and they are here to cultivate empathy, they say, understanding with Afghans civilians, innocent people, who also lost loved ones in the war on terror.

HOLMES (voice-over): This is the face of collateral damage, and this was Mohammed Shaker Padres' home. His father built it 50 years ago, a grand home in an upper class Kabul neighborhood until the morning of October 17, when a stray bomb, thought to have been American bomb, destroyed it. His wife and four children, by a stroke of luck, were in the back.

MOHAMMED SHAKER PADRES, BOMBING VICTIM (through translator): God forbid, when you hear that your wife is injured and there is no news of your children and your house is bombed, I fainted with grief.

HOLMES: Today, Mohammed's family lives in a tiny rented apartment. His wife, Naji'bah, six months pregnant and still suffering from the head injuries she sustained that day in October. Mohammed, imprisoned and tortured during the Soviet occupation for not joining the communist party, is a walking example of humility and forgiveness. He does not blame the U.S. for the moment that changed his life.

PADRES (through translator): We suffered damage, but to us it was fate. I wasn't Taliban, but this wasn't an intentional act. This was my bad luck.

HOLMES: Today in Kabul, four Americans, relatives of victims of September 11, seeking to join Afghans in grief.

RUPP: We just want to show our respect and compassion for other human beings who have gone through the same suffering that we've gone through.

HOLMES: Eva Rupp lost her sister on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania. Kelly Campbell lost her brother at the Pentagon.

SHELLY CAMPBELL, RELATIVE OF SEPT. 11 VICTIM: We're expecting to have some sort of positive effect on people here, and to educate people in America and around the world about people here who are suffering, and what we can do to help them.

HOLMES: Victims meeting victims: the Americans being greeted by Mohammed and his family. In the group, 70-year-old Rita Lasar, who lost her brother in the World Trade Center when he refused to leave a paraplegic friend.

LASAR: I'm going to hope that they understand that Americans care about them, and that we are sorry. And if they don't, I'm going to convince them.

PADRES (through translator): I am very angry with what happened on September 11, and it was the right of Americans to attack Al Qaeda and Taliban, and these people who lost their family members can understand our heart, and we can understand theirs.

Michael Holmes, CNN, Kabul.


HEMMER: Michael, thank you very much. Half a world away now in the state of Kentucky, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, 15 members of the U.S. Special Forces wounded in combat here in Afghanistan were awarded the Purple Heart, a small sample of what happened in Fort Campbell on Tuesday.


MAJ. GEN. GEOFFREY LAMBERT, U.S. ARMY: These Green Berets to my left here were all wounded in that fight and today, we honor them with medals for valor, and with Purple Hearts for their wounds. The men raised their hands and they went in. They had to conquer the differences in language, in culture and religion. And they had to conquer the centuries of differences in the tactics, and in weaponry and in communications that their Afghani warriors had practiced throughout the 23 years of this war.

And finally, they had to conquer one last thing and that was the Taliban. And they've done it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HEMMER: And as any Green Beret will tell you here in Kandahar, the mission here is long from over.

Finally, tonight, a final word from me -- the events of September 11 sent me to New York City to report four weeks from ground zero. Later, it sent me here to Afghanistan to report for the past month. We've been sleeping on the floor outside for the past month. My Serta mattress will be quite nice once we return to the U.S.

But I've learned a lot here in Afghanistan and I've learned about the awesome military might is just that from the U.S. It is awesome. I've also learned that religious fanaticism in the name of God can get you killed or sent to Cuba or worse; get your organization entirely annihilated. And I've also learned that Afghanistan is a country in need of everything - money and attention will help, but this place needs time. The clock is running. We are watching. I hope you are too.

That's our program. I'm Bill Hemmer reporting live from Afghanistan.