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CNN Saturday Morning News

Lebanese Cabinet to Mull U.N. Cease-Fire; Israel Strikes Before Cabinet Takes Up Cease-Fire Sunday; Both Lebanon and Israel Are Expected to Approve Resolution

Aired August 12, 2006 - 07:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. Here is what is "Now in the News." The terror may have been just days away. We have more details today about the alleged plot to blow up U.S.-bound planes. A security memo reveals the suspects had been given the go ahead to "do your attacks now." We'll have a live report from London in about three minutes.
In the meantime, tighter security measures at U.S. airports are likely to remain in place for several more weeks. That is according to the Transportation Security Administration. The new restrictions ban liquids or gels in carry-on luggage. Now authorities say the suspects in the alleged airline terror plot planned to use liquid explosives.

Lebanon's cabinet plans to vote on a U.N. Security Council resolution today. Now, the Security Council yesterday passed a cease- fire agreement aimed at ending the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. Israel's cabinet is expected to vote on the measure tomorrow, and a full report is just minutes away.

Well, despite progress on the diplomatic front, violence escalates. Just take a look. The Israeli military said it carried out more than 80 air strikes in southern Lebanon. Lebanese officials say 15 people were killed in a border village. And we are going to talk with an Israeli government spokesman in about 10 minutes.

TONY HARRIS, CNBC ANCHOR: A long night of fighting a fire near Reno, Nevada. And wind-driven brush fire burns dangerously close to homes in two subdivisions. The fire has consumed more than 5,000 acres already, and threatens 50 to 60 homes. Smoke could affect flights in and out of Reno-Tahoe Airport.

Now to Reynolds Wolf for a quick check of your weather.

And rain in that area, Reynolds, would certainly help.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It certainly would, but we're looking at really dry conditions through parts of Nevada. Certainly not good news for the firefighters there. However, we are looking at the chance of some strong storms through portions of the northern and central Plains, also, in parts of the southeastern U.S. We'll give you the complete forecast for your neighborhood coming up in just a few moments.

HARRIS: Well, thank you. We update the top stories every 15 minutes on CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Your next update is coming up in about seven minutes. Seven -- no, longer than that, 13 minutes. At with 7:15.

NGUYEN: Every 15 minutes. You have got to do the math here, barely, though.

HARRIS: That time this morning. Thank you, Betty.


MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Currently we do not have evidence that there was as part of this plot, any plan to initiate activity inside the United States, or that the plotting was done in the United States.

NGUYEN: That said, we still have frightening new details this morning in the investigation of that airline terror plot.



KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: I would be remiss if I did not tell you how profoundly disappointed I am that the Council did not reach this point much, much earlier. And I am convinced that my disappointment and the sense of frustration are shared by hundreds of millions of people around the world.


HARRIS: The United Nations finally reaches a resolution on the crisis in the Middle East, but when will the fighting really stop?

From the CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. And, good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen. We want to thank you for joining us today. The go ahead had been given, and we do have some new details emerging about the alleged plot to blow up planes bound for the U.S. from the U.K., and how close it came to being carried out. CNN's John Vause joins us live from London's Heathrow Airport.

John, what more do you know about this plot? What have you learned?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Betty. Well, we have new information today about the investigation which now appears to have spread all the way to Germany with the interior ministry in Berlin telling CNN that it's looking at a possible connection there with one of the suspects currently being held by British authorities. What we have learned about the plot is that it was possibly just days away. This coming from an unclassified memo from the Department of Homeland Security.

Now, according to that memo, a message was intercepted coming from Pakistan which simply said, "do your attack now." That message, apparently, coming from Pakistan. Other evidence which suggests this alleged attack may have been just days, up to a week away. The searches of the homes of some of the suspects uncovered martyrdom videotapes, an indication that this was very close because those tapes are often made just days before.

Also, money had been wired from Pakistan to Britain apparently to purchase airline tickets to carry out this alleged attack. We also have some details about those who are accused of being involved in this. Apparently all of them are British citizens, but many of them of Pakistani descent. And interestingly, what we have learned is that according to investigators, none of them had expressed radical views. All of them had been described as very quiet individuals -- Betty.

NGUYEN: All right. CNN's John Vause, joining us from London's Heathrow Airport. John, we'll be speaking with you shortly. In the meantime -- Tony.

HARRIS: Well, besides banning liquids and a few other items and carry-on luggage, what else is the Department of Homeland Security doing to protect air travelers? CNN homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve tackles that question.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His department does not have the technology to detect liquid explosives like those the alleged terrorists wanted to use, but Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says the blanket ban on carrying liquids and gels onto aircraft is working.

CHERTOFF: Again, I want to reiterate flying is safe.

MESERVE: But some experts say aviation security is chock full of holes. Most air cargo is not screened. There is no system to ward off attacks with shoulder-fired missiles. Some airport personnel with access to secure areas and even aircraft don't have to pass through security checkpoints. And over and over again the government's own security watchdogs have smuggled prohibited items past screeners and their machines.

One expert is most horrified by this. The airlines, not the government, are checking passenger names against terror watch lists.

JAMES CARFANO, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Here we are. We'll be at the fifth anniversary of 9/11, and we still haven't done the one of kind of practical common sense thing we could do to keep terrorists off airplanes.

MESERVE: A member of the commission that investigated 9/11 says aviation security is ripe with questionable decisions and pork barrel spending.

TIM ROEMER, FORMER 9/11 COMM. MEMBER: To often some of these contracts are let to particular businesses in districts of members of Congress rather than based on an intelligence assessment and the best technologies. MESERVE: With threats morphing and multiplying, absolute security is impossible, the head of the Transportation Security Administration says. But he argues that federal air marshals, reinforced cockpit doors, combat air patrols and technology provide effective layers of security if routines are varied and kept unpredictable.

EDMUND "KIP" HAWLEY, TRANS. SECURITY ADMIN. DIR.: What we don't want is to allow a terrorist to be able to engineer his process knowing exactly what we're going to do.

MESERVE: Hawley also wants to expand the training of security personnel to recognize suspicious behavior. He says it is inexpensive, yet effective.

HAWLEY: We would rather put the effort into that security, which guards against any kind of threat rather than spend millions of dollars, wait many years, and then only deploy it where you can afford it.

MESERVE (on camera): Hawley and his critics agree on one point, that intelligence is a critical ingredient in aviation security. The proof? Intelligence is what thwarted this latest plot to blast airplanes out of the sky.

Jeanne Meserve, Washington.


HARRIS: And we're talking about the terror plot in our e-mail question this morning. We want to hear your thoughts, your stories about airport security. The good, the bad, the ugly. E-mail us this morning. The address is, and we'll read some of your responses on the air throughout the morning. And all day Monday CNN will show you where America is most vulnerable to terrorist attacks. No matter what time you tune in, you'll get specific and essential insight on where the threats are, what you can do to stay safe, and whether the government has a clue. "Target USA," all day Monday, only on CNN.

NGUYEN: ending the bloodshed. The U.N. has passed a cease-fire resolution aimed at stopping the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. Now the next step. Lebanon's cabinet is expected to vote today on the resolution, and Israeli's cabinet is expected to vote tomorrow.

Senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth has the details now from the U.N.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There was relief in the air in the Security Council chamber. But the unanimous 15-0 vote masked bitter bruising negotiations which finally produced a diplomatic solution to end a war. The struggle to reach the agreement though angered the U.N. secretary general. ANNAN: I would be remiss if I did not tell you how profoundly disappointed I am that the Council did not reach this point much, much earlier. And I'm convinced that my disappointment and the sense of frustration are shared by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

ROTH: Now Kofi Annan's U.N. peacekeepers will play a significant role. Up to 15,000 assigned to assist as many as 15,000 Lebanese government troops in securing southern Lebanon. The existing U.N. monitoring force, called UNIFIL, will be made more muscular.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: This new force will have an expanded mandate, a greater scope of operations, better equipment, and much larger numbers, a target of 15,000 soldiers, a seven-fold increase in its current strength.

ROTH: But first, the tricky timing. The resolution calls for a full cessation of hostilities. Hezbollah must immediately cease all attacks, but the resolution leaves room for Israel to use defensive military operations.

TAREK MITRI, LEBANESE GOVT. SPECIAL ENVOY: A cease-fire that is incomplete is not a true cease-fire. A cease-fire that is by its terms cannot be implemented is no cease-fire. A cease-fire that retains for one side the right not to cease firing is not a cease- fire.

ROTH: The resolution sets out to end decades of border disputes and establishes a buffer zone to prevent guerrilla attacks against Israel.

DAN GILLERMAN, ISRAELI U.N. AMBASSADOR: The resolution alone will not do anything and will do nothing unless the tools set out in this resolution are used with resolve and decisiveness, we will be back at this table, if not in a week, then in a month or a year, facing an even greater tragedy.

ROTH: The U.N. secretary general promised the Security Council he will contact Israel and Lebanon this weekend to determine the exact date and time when cessation of hostilities comes into effect.

(on camera): Now the U.N. just needs to round up troops to go to south Lebanon. France and other European countries are likely to contribute troops in numbers to serve under U.N. command. Kofi Annan says he understands the reluctance of some nations to contribute soldiers, considering the hostile terrain, but he urged donations of manpower and money to help rebuild Lebanon.

Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.


NGUYEN: And we are just minutes away from speaking with Avi Pazner, the Israeli government spokesperson about this very issue, the U.N. resolution, and the fact that the fighting continues in the Mideast. But in the meantime, want to get you caught up on the weather outside. Things are a-changing. And Reynolds Wolf is watching all of it.

Hi, Reynolds.

WOLF: Hello. Indeed they are. Right now we're seeing some scattered showers and storms forming across portions of the Carolinas and through the Deep South. Now coming up, I'll let you know how long they're going to last and what you can expect for the rest of your weekend. That's all coming up right here on CNN.


HARRIS: Well, despite the U.N. cease-fire resolution, violence rages on. Today the Israeli offensive continues on the ground and in the air. Tomorrow the Israeli cabinet is expected to consider the U.N. resolution. Joining us now, Avi Pazner, an Israeli government spokesman.

Avi, good to talk to you. Our understanding is that Prime Minister Olmert has accepted the U.N. resolution and yet what we're seeing today is that the IDF has nearly tripled the number of forces in Lebanon as part of its expanded ground operation. Can you tell us why?

Avi, can you hear me?

OK. Clearly, he can't hear us at this time. What we'll do is we'll take a quick break, come back with more CNN SATURDAY MORNING, and we'll make this connection work for us. We'll be right back.


NGUYEN: "Now in the News, in the Middle East, the Israeli military expands its ground offensive, moving deeper into South Lebanon, trying to weaken Hezbollah. Air strikes, well, they continue too. An Israeli air strike knocked out a power station in Sidon and Tyre. And missiles slammed into a border town, killing 15 people.

Well, Israel's cabinet is expected to discuss a U.N. Security Council resolution tomorrow. The Security Council yesterday passed a cease-fire agreement aimed at ending the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. Lebanon's cabinet plans to vote on the measure a little bit later today. We'll keep you posted on that.

And airports in the U.S., well, they remain on high alert today, and a memo suggests the alleged plot to blow up a U.S.-bound plane or several of them from the U.K. may have been just days away. Authorities think the suspects planned to use liquid explosives. Coming up in about 20 minutes. We will talk with an explosives expert.

HARRIS: Two college students arrested in Marietta, Ohio, face terrorism charges after purchasing hundreds of untraceable cell phones. Prosecutors say the devices can be used by terrorists to detonate homemade bombs. Defense attorneys say the young men were buying and selling the phones as a simple business venture and were victims of racial profiling because they are Arab-Americans. A preliminary hearing is set for Tuesday.

HARRIS: A rescue off the coast of Louisiana, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued 40 people from a burning research boat 10 miles south of Grand Isle. The crew sent a distress call after fighting a fire in the engine room for more than two hours. Two people are recovering in the hospital.

We update the top stories every 15 minutes here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Your next update is coming up at 7:30 Eastern.

And let's get back now to our interview with Avi Pazner, an Israeli government spokesman.

Mr. Pazner, can you hear me now?


HARRIS: OK, great, great. Good to talk to you this morning. Our understanding is that Prime Minister Olmert has accepted the U.N. resolution, and, yet, our understanding is also that the IDF has nearly tripled the number of forces on the ground, expanding the ground operation into southern Lebanon. Can you tell us why?

PAZNER: Yes. It is true that Prime Minister Olmert has a favorable view on the U.N. resolution, but it is up to the entire government of Israel to accept this resolution. And as you know, our government meets only tomorrow. Today, I believe, that the Lebanese government meets in order to study and to approve this resolution. Our government meets tomorrow.

And after the approval, hopefully, if and when it is approved, only then will we get in touch with the secretary general of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, to speak about the modalities and implementation of the cease-fire. In the time being, for the time being, our operation in southern Lebanon continues, and we are trying to get to those missile launchers, rocket launchers, Katyusha launchers which have hit our country day in and day out for the last 30 days.

HARRIS: So, Mr. Pazner.

PAZNER: And this is the nature of our operation. Yes?

HARRIS: Would you call this with a -- seemingly, with a deal in hand, would you characterize the actions on the ground now as an escalation, a stepped-up effort to get at these rocket launchers ahead of a final agreement?

PAZNER: It is definitely not an escalation. It is a military operation in view to get rid of those missile launchers. I think it can be also useful in the future if we push Hezbollah out of all the southern part of Lebanon. It will be much more easier for the international force and for the Lebanese army to be deployed there. And I think that what we are doing now is of primary importance both from the point of view of assuring the security of the northern part of the country, and then assuring the implementation of this U.N. resolution.

HARRIS: Yes. Well, here's what I don't understand, and maybe are you answering the question, and I'll ask you to take it on again. Earlier this week the Israeli government in essence decided to hold off on expanding the ground campaign, to give diplomacy more time to work. And it seems that it has. There is an agreement now in place.

And yet, in the face of that it looks like an escalation. You say it's not, but it looks like when are you talking about tripling the number of forces on the ground in Lebanon, 80 air strikes we are reporting this morning in southern Lebanon. It sounds like a stepped- up effort. Help us understand the difference here.

PAZNER: It would be a mistake, I believe, to see that as an escalation. We decided last Wednesday that because of the continued shelling of all the northern part of our country, and don't forget, more than a million-and-a-half Israelis live in shelters for already a month. We decided last Wednesday to enter deeper into southern Lebanon and to take out missile and rocket launchers.

We decided, also, to give diplomacy a chance, but during those 48 hours, first of all, there was not much progress on the diplomatic front. And secondly, Hezbollah continued to shell the Galilee (ph) and Haifa and all the northern part of our country. So we saw that there was no point in waiting for a resolution that might not have come.

HARRIS: I see. So...

PAZNER: And this decision was made before the U.N. resolution passed yesterday night.

HARRIS: All right. One final question, if I could. How long do you think it will take, best-case scenario for a lot of people viewing the crisis, for the Israeli cabinet to agree to accept -- so country- wide acceptance of the U.N. resolution. How long from that moment, in your mind, to the end of -- a cessation of the military -- offensive military operations? How many days?

PAZNER: You know, I will tell you, tomorrow hopefully our cabinet will adopt this resolution. Then we will be in touch with the secretary general of the United Nations about the implementation. Dr. Condoleezza Rice yesterday said at the Security Council of the U.N. that sometimes it is very difficult to implement a cease-fire agreement.

And I believe it is especially difficult when in front of you, you have a terrorist organization, the Hezbollah, and we don't know whether they accept this resolution, whether they don't accept, whether they continue shooting. Much depends on that.

So it would be now very irresponsible on my part to try and to guess how much time or how many days this would take.

HARRIS: OK. But it certainly sounds like immediate may not mean immediate. Avi Pazner, we appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

NGUYEN: In the meantime, what do you have in your carry-on bag, and what should you keep in your checked bag? It's a big question these days, especially with this terror plot un-foiled -- or foiled, I should say. Some might still be confused, though, about these new airport rules.

You were just at the airport.

HARRIS: Check everything.

NGUYEN: Got stuck for a little while, didn't you?

HARRIS: Check everything. Shannon Cook from the desk has some answers for us.

Shannon, good morning.

SHANNON COOK, CNN.COM: Check everything. You would know, having just flown from New York. It's good that you actually got here, and I hope all your possessions actually got here with you.

Apparently we have to go to a break now. I'll have some of this information for you when we get back.


HARRIS: So, Shannon, the issue is getting in a long line at the check-in to get the bags in because that line is -- it is insane now.

COOK: OK. And you would know because you have just flown.

HARRIS: And then the problem -- the other problem, on the back side, getting your bags off the carousel takes forever now. But I think that will maybe -- oh, Shannon Cook is here. It's a conversation we're having like we're not on the air.

Hi, Shannon, good to see you.

COOK: I knew we were on the air, so I don't know what's wrong with you.

HARRIS: Oh, sorry, sorry. Good morning.

COOK: Good morning. Good to see you.

As we know, since this alleged terror plot in the U.K. was foiled last Thursday, passengers are essentially scrambling to adjust to these new airline restrictions on things like gels and liquids. Well, security experts are saying get used to it because these restrictions might be here for a while. And takes a look at the implications in a special report. And you'll find that on our travel page. That is One expert points to business travelers and says they're really going to feel these new restrictions, getting to the airport three hours ahead of time is not so convenient for a business traveler, say, coming back home for the day. That takes a huge chunk out of their day, and having to check certain toiletries rather than carry them in a small overnight suitcase slows them down even more, forced to check their luggage and wait to pick it up, et cetera. As Tony said, waiting to get your luggage takes forever.

Now also, on our site you're going to find a list that actually breaks down the dos and the don'ts. The airline restrictions that are in place right now that you really need to know if you are traveling. For example, any beverages purchased beyond security checkpoints, must be consumed before boarding. And also, take note that some of these restrictions differ depending on where you are flying to and from.

For instance, if you are in the U.K. flying to the U.S., you are not allowed carry any electronics on board at all.

HARRIS: That's cell phones...

COOK: IPods.

HARRIS: ... iPods.

COOK: BlackBerrys, anything like that.

HARRIS: Key fobs, those sorts of things, yes.

COOK: Whereas in the U.S., those restrictions don't apply as yet if you are flying within the U.S. or to Britain.

HARRIS: Question, if you are looking for this information -- it's great that we have it at, but can you find this information elsewhere, maybe some other travel sites?

COOK: Oh, absolutely. Basically any site which has anything to do with travel has a lot of information about these restrictions. For example,, there's a lot of info on there about the restrictions. Plus, links to airlines that are affected. You could go to British Airways site, for example, and find out site alerts there about flight cancellations. I think 10 flights were canceled today on that airline. Lots of info out there.

HARRIS: All right. Are you going to share this with us a little later this morning?

COOK: If you wish.

HARRIS: It would be great if you would.


HARRIS: Shannon, thank you.

COOK: I'll be back. HARRIS: Shannon Cook, thank you.

HARRIS: Well, ahead, will Lebanon and Hezbollah sign off on the U.N. resolution to end this Mideast conflict? Plus, we're going to take you to Tyre, Lebanon, where our Ben Wedeman will show us what's happening on the ground right now.

We will be right back. You are watching CNN SATURDAY MORNING.


NGUYEN: "Now in the News," Lebanon's cabinet plans to vote today on a resolution aimed at the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed the cease-fire agreement yesterday. Israel's cabinet is expected to vote on that proposal tomorrow.

Well, despite the resolution, Israeli air strikes and ground attacks continue in southern Lebanon. In the deadliest attack, 15 people were killed in a village near the Israeli border. Israel says it stepped up its ground offensive, moving deeper into Lebanon in an effort to weaken Hezbollah.

And we do have new information coming out about the alleged airline terror plot. A memo suggests the suspects may have been just days away from carrying out the plan to blow up U.S.-bound planes. Authorities say the plot involved the use of liquid explosives. Now, coming up in just seven minutes, we're going to talk with an explosives expert about the danger.

Iran may be attempting to re-supply Hezbollah with rockets and ammunition. That is what a U.S. intelligence official tells CNN. The official says it's believed that at least two shipments made it into Lebanon. And Iran -- well, Iran denies the report and calls it totally baseless. We're going to have more on this developing story in about 15 minutes with CNN's Barbara Starr.

HARRIS: Black and glowing orange, the color of the night around Reno, Nevada. Look at these pictures. A wind-driven brush fire nears homes in two subdivisions. The fire has consumed more than 5,000 acres already and threatens 50 to 60 homes. Smoke could affect flights in and out of Reno-Tahoe Airport.

Another check now of the weather. Boy, Reynolds, rain would be helpful. Cooler temperatures, some humidity would help firefighters get a handle on that situation out there, wouldn't it?

WOLF: Absolutely. But, Tony, take a look at what we have in parts of the Great Basin. I mean, anyone could be a meteorologist and take a look at this image and show that it doesn't look that good in terms of rainfall. I mean, look. Here you go right along I-80 from Reno back over to Salt Lake City. Hardly a drop to see anywhere. Very dry conditions. In fact, they have a red flag warning because the dry conditions. That will be in effect through this evening. Certainly not good there.


HARRIS: Reynolds, thank you.

We update the top stories every 15 minutes on CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Your next update, there it is, coming up at 7:45 Eastern time.

HARRIS: Well, good morning, everybody. Welcome back, from the CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Good morning. I'm Betty Nguyen.

HARRIS: And good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris. Thank you for being with us.

HARRIS: A step toward accepting a peace plan may be in the works, but for now war on the ground rages on in the Middle East. Let's get right to CNN's Ben Wedeman in Tyre, Lebanon.

Ben, good morning.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CAIRO BUREAU CHIEF: Good morning, Tony. Yes, certainly there's no letup in the bombardment here. Just a few minutes ago we heard some very large explosions to the south of here and throughout the day there's been fairly steady artillery bombardment and air strikes.

Now, we understand that Israeli forces have reached their furthest point within Lebanon so far in this more than 30-day campaign, reaching a town called Honduriah (ph), which is about seven miles inside of Lebanon. It's a strategic point which basically overlooks the Litani River and has control of the central and eastern parts of the southern Lebanon.

Overnight there were more air strikes in Tyre, apparently taking out two sub-power stations. Now, the southern part of Lebanon, certainly Tyre, is completely without electricity.

Now, just a little while ago, a ship from the International Committee of the Red Cross docked in Tyre harbor with about 200 tons of supplies, including 100 tons of wheat flour and another 100 tons of medicine and other urgently needed supplies -- Tony.

HARRIS: Hey, Ben, very quickly, what is left of Tyre? I mean, it's been under constant assault for weeks now. Is it isolated, cut off from the rest of Lebanon?

WEDEMAN: Well, first of all, Tyre itself, the city, which is actually to the north of here, has only been hit about five times, so the city is more or less intact, although 80 percent of the population has left. But the problem is, of course, it is cut off.

The bridge over the Litani was blown several weeks ago. Makeshift sand bridges were made by bulldozer. They're blown as well. So essentially, we are cut off. The only way to get back and forth is to either wade through the river itself or to cross a tree trunk, and that's about it. So it's not only cut off, overnight there was an Israeli air strike on the border crossing between Lebanon and Syria at Arida (ph), which is in the northern part of the country, that was blown as well. So we're sort of in a double -- we're doubly cut off.

HARRIS: OK. CNN's Ben Wedeman for us. Ben, thank you.

Shampoo, hair gels, sports drinks. These everyday products could very well conceal liquid bomb ingredients. CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin takes a closer look.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is the simplicity of the plot that is scary. Separate passengers each carrying one piece of a bomb. The ingredients on their own not enough to raise suspicion, and according to the former head of security at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, current screening technology would most likely have missed it.

RAFI RON, FMR. SECURITY DIR., TEL AVIV AIRPORT: We can certainly assume that this was one of the reasons that the terrorists have chosen to focus on this type of explosive material form because they believe that it would be difficult -- more difficult for us to detect.

GRIFFN: Here is one way it could work. The plotters, perhaps as many as four, board a plane and take seats throughout the cabin. At a predetermined moment, the leader leaves his seat, leaving a small carry-on bag. He collects an ingredient along the way. Other participants get the signal to meet at a wash room. They provide the final pieces.

Inside the bathroom the leader begins mixing the chemicals. Then he attaches an electronic trigger until now disguised as a cell phone. Once the bomb is complete, the leader returns to his seat or wherever he deems to be the most effective spot and triggers it, killing himself and destroying the plane.

(on camera): And experts tell us it wouldn't take much. Liquids that could easily fit into containers of household items, things people normally take on planes then mixed together on board. In this case, something as small as a sports drink and maybe some hair gel.

DENISE NORMAN, GA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: It could take as little as a water bottle to cause enough damage to an aircraft.

GRIFFN (voice-over): British intelligence officials report the planned explosive mixture was to be peroxide-based and involved liquid and paste-like ingredients, according to official U.S. sources. Previous CNN investigations in Afghanistan have uncovered al Qaeda training videos and documents giving step-by-step instructions in using similar household and industrial chemicals to create bombs.

Individually, components that in small amounts would be hard to detect, which is why airport security expert Rafi Ron says it would be much more effective to search for suspicious people instead of suspicious liquids.

RON: It is extremely difficult for people to disguise the fact that they're under a tremendous amount of stress, that they are going to kill themselves and many other people around them in a short period of time. And all the other factors that affect their behavior.

GRIFFIN: More time spent searching for the terrorist themselves, he says, not just their deadly tools.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.

HARRIS: And you can catch more of Drew Griffin's investigative reports on "PAULA ZAUN NOW," weeknights 8:00 p.m. Eastern, at 5:00 Pacific.

NGUYEN: All right. Perfumes, lotion, makeup, thousands of dollars worth of stuff all trashed at the checkout counter, and there are other common materials that could be used to make or conceal a bomb. Dan Watts is a chemistry professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Thanks for being on the show this morning.


NGUYEN: First of all, let's talk about what we know about this alleged plot here and the chemicals involved. From what we understand, it was a peroxide based component with paste-like ingredients. What do you know about this?

WATTS: Well, it's difficult to answer this specifically because not too much information has been given about the particular chemicals that are being -- were being considered. However, it is known that in past incidents something like this, material called triacetone tri- peroxide has been the explosive. This could be made easily by hydrogen peroxide, which is a common chemical often found in a drugstore...


NGUYEN: Yes, just about anyone's bathroom you could probably find it.

WATTS: Absolutely. The difference is what you have in your bathroom is a very dilute solution of the peroxide. In order to carry this out, you would want a more concentrated solution.

NGUYEN: So would you have to mix these ingredients? Because we're also learning that there was possibly a triggering device, like an iPod or a cell phone.

WATTS: You would, first of all, have to mix the ingredients to carry out a reaction to form the explosive material, which is basically unstable, but if you wanted to make certain that it was going to explode at the time you wanted, a detonating device of some kind, perhaps providing an electrical current, a spark, would be sufficient to set it off.

NGUYEN: OK. Now, we don't want to give any would-be bombers any ideas, but...

WATTS: Absolutely not.

NGUYEN: ... at the same time, talk to us about how common household items can be made into explosives. Take, for example, can you really make a bomb out of nail polish remover?

WATTS: Well, the answer is yes. You would need a lot of it. The basic ingredient in most nail polish remover is a substance called acetone, and acetone is in fact one of the ingredients that has been commonly used in making explosives of this type. Is there enough in the typical bottle of nail polish remover to carry this out? The answer is probably no. And most people don't mix nail polish remover with hydrogen peroxide.

NGUYEN: Well, what are other items that we could find in our cabinets at home that could be used for such things?

WATTS: Well, you know, there are certain alcohols that could form similar properties, such as rubbing alcohol, which isopropynol (ph), conceivably, methanol. The reactions can take place, but not forming materials that have such a degree of explosive properties as certain others.

NGUYEN: Well, OK, that's my question. Because can these items really take down a plane? Do they have enough explosive material within them to do that?

WATTS: Some of the materials do.

NGUYEN: Really?

WATTS: The acetone-based material that has been talked about is reported to have been the explosive that has been used several times by terrorist organizations and in the bombings in Israel, so it takes a relatively small amount to cause some severe damage. One of the...

NGUYEN: Because all you need to do is depressurize the plane, right, to take it down?

WATTS: That's absolutely right. So you don't need to destroy the plane entirely in an explosion. You need to basically cause some breach in the wall of the aircraft that would depressurize it and cause significant damage to allow the airplane to fall from the air.

NGUYEN: Well, and very quickly, we have been looking at video of people throwing away their perfumes or shampoos or lotions and all these types of things. Is that warranted, or is that just something that we're doing right now because we're on a heightened state of alert?

WATTS: Well, it is -- my suspicion is that at the most times -- most part is what we're doing now because it is a heightened state of alert. Perfume is not something that's going to cause an explosion. Toothpaste is not something that's going to cause an explosion.

The issue is someone who really wants to could take what is a normally appearing container of perfume or toothpaste and replace the ingredients with something else. The challenge is that at the kind of airport screening we have at the moment is not able to detect these particular kinds of explosive materials because they're set up to detect basically nitrogen-based explosives, rather than peroxide-based explosives.

NGUYEN: Well, maybe we'll see some changes because of it. Dan Watts, chemistry professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Mr. Watts, we appreciate your time.

WATTS: Thank you very much.

HARRIS: Is Hezbollah's big brother, Iran, trying to smuggle weapons into Lebanon?

NGUYEN: Well, U.S. intelligence suggests Iran is trying to re- supply Hezbollah. We have this story is coming up in about five minutes from now. That's right here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.


HARRIS: And good morning, everyone. "Now with the News." Lebanon's cabinet plans to vote today on a resolution aimed the ending the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed the cease-fire agreement yesterday. Israel's cabinet is expected to discuss the proposal tomorrow.

Airports in the U.S. remain on high alert today, and a memo suggests the alleged plot to blow up U.S.-bound planes from the U.K. may have been just days away. The memo reveals the suspects had been given the go ahead to -- quoting now -- "do your attacks now."

Only two of 11 missing Egyptian students still have not been found. Three more of the young men were arrested last night without incident in Des Moines, Iowa. The students were among 17 who were part of an exchange program at Montana State University, but only six showed up for class.

It's not as bad as they initially thought. BP announcing that the western half of its Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska will remain open while the corroded pipes in the eastern half are replaced. The company planned to shut down both oilfields, but later determined the western half could operate safely while repairs are made.

We update the top stories every 15 minutes here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Your next update is coming up at the top of the hour.

NGUYEN: Here's a question for you. Is Iran attempting to re- supply Hezbollah militants with weapons and ammunition? Well, Iran says no. A U.S. intelligence official says yes. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr now joins us by phone with the details on this.

So who is right, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty, we don't know because, as you say, Iran absolutely denies it. A government spokesman telling CNN that these allegations simply are not true. But both U.S. and Israeli intelligence, they believe they have very good information that Iran, over the last couple of weeks, indeed, has been trying to re-supply Hezbollah in Lebanon with new weapons.

And they have an awful lot of detail about what they think happened. At the end of July, the U.S. says, two regularly scheduled commercial passenger flights from Tehran to Damascus had a sudden change of equipment. The flights should have used Airbus 300 aircraft to carry the passengers, relatively smaller airplanes, but instead suddenly the airliner switched to 747s, large planes with large cargo areas.

And it is now believed that those two cargo holds on those passenger planes carried in ammunition and rockets into Damascus, Syria, and that those weapons were then shipped overland by truck or vehicle, perhaps, into Hezbollah in Lebanon.

This apparently followed another attempt by Iran to send a regular military cargo plane into Damascus, but that plane was denied overflight rights by Turkey. You would have to fly over Turkey, obviously, to get from Iran to Syria. The Turks said no to that initial cargo flight, so the Iranians sent another plane in with humanitarian assistance. It landed in Turkey. The Turks inspected it, said it was fine, it went on.

But the Iranians apparently realizing that these planes -- these military planes might get inspected so, they went to plan B, according to the U.S., and switched to those passenger planes a few days later with their cargo holds, according to the U.S., carrying weapons in.

And of course, Iran has been of great concern to the United States for its alleged support for Hezbollah, and, also, its involvement with insurgents in Iran (sic). A lot of concern about where the Iranians are shipping weapons and who they're arming the region, Betty.

NGUYEN: Very true. And all of this extremely interesting, nonetheless, and I understand the U.S. intelligence community was able to find out a lot of this information by using U.S. satellites. CNN's Barbara Starr, Barbara, thank you so much for that update.

HARRIS: More to come after a quick break. You are watching CNN SATURDAY MORNING. We'll be right back.


HARRIS: And we're talking about the terror plots disrupted in our e-mail question this morning. We want to hear your airport security stories. Boy, the good -- hopefully a lot of those, the bad, even the ugly. E-mail us at, and we'll read your responses on the air throughout the morning program. NGUYEN: I can't wait to read these because you know they are going to be interesting. Want to hear the good, but I know we're going to get the ugly.

HARRIS: Yes. People are going to rip. People will rip.

NGUYEN: All right. Next hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING begins in just a few moments, but, first, your "Tip of the Day" from Gerri Willis.


GERRI WILLIS, HOST, "OPEN HOUSE" (voice-over): Tired of receiving all those credit card offers in the mail? is the only site authorized by the four main credit reporting companies to accept and process these requests. Just keep in mind opting out of credit card offers will also take you off your own credit card company's list. If you want your credit line increased, your rewards program upgraded or your interest rate lowered, you'll have to be the one to get in touch.

Not comfortable completing this process on-line, just call 1-888- 5-OPT-OUT.

(on camera): I'm Gerri Willis, and that's your "Tip of the Day." For more, watch "OPEN HOUSE" every Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.