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Hala Gorani Tonight
U.K. Foreign Secretary Visits Qatar, Pakistan for Talks; Qatar Flies in Government Officials and Aid to Kabul; White House: Biden Gave Ghani Three-Point Strategy Before Afghan President Fled; ISIS "Beatle" Pleads Guilty To Numerous Crimes; Biden Says Texas Law Encourages "Vigilante" Justice. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired September 03, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, CNN HOST: Hello everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm Isa Soares in for HALA GORANI TONIGHT. Women protest in Kabul, but will the
Taliban listen to polls for inclusivity coming from their own capital and around the world? And terror in New Zealand. Why authorities couldn't stop
it even though the attacker was a known threat.
And the U.S. President has just touched down in Louisiana to survey the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. It's one of many challenges Joe Biden is
facing. We will, of course, discuss. But first, the last pocket of armed struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan is putting up a fight. The so-
called national resistance front is holding on a ramp Panjshir Valley just north -- you can see in that map, north of Kabul. Now, the anti-Taliban
stronghold includes former members of the Afghan security forces.
CNN cannot independently verify the intensity of the fighting. It comes, of course, as western diplomats visit the region, U.K. Foreign Secretary
Dominic Raab, as you can see there, came to Pakistan for talks about the situation in Afghanistan. Many Afghans are still trying of course, to flee
through neighboring countries after western forces left the Kabul airport. Now, Qatari team is now there to deliver aid and discuss what's new to
fully reopen that airport.
A source tells CNN, a high-ranking Qatari government official has also arrived to discuss the future of Afghanistan. So, lots for us to discuss
with our senior international correspondent Sam Kiley who's been on the story right from the beginning. And Sam, I know I've been asking you day
in, day out about this announcement or expectations of this announcement from the government, when we'll get a sense of what this government will
look like. Do you think it's going to happen today? And how do you think it may be shaped here?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's very unlikely to happen today. I think today is almost tomorrow in Kabul. So, I
think very unlikely that you get a government announcement in the middle of the night. This is something that the Taliban will want to fanfare.
Clearly, it is not straightforward. They have a wide range of interests that they have to balance. You have within the Taliban hardliners and more
moderates. You've got from the Taliban perspective, a highly fractious nation with an ongoing resistance fight going on in the Panjshir Valley.
There's an insurgency or a nation insurgency potentially from ISIS-K. There are elements within the Taliban that probably agree with quite a lot of
ISIS-K's agendas. And on top of that, they have to deal with the idea that maybe they need to present a more moderate, more inclusive face to the
international community, and they are the victorious party in all of this. So, quite a fraught process, no great surprise that it may be taking longer
than many people anticipate.
The Doha here, the capital of Qatar has been very deeply involved in the messaging to the Taliban to try to encourage the inclusivity and the
moderation in return for engagement with the international community, not recognition. I think that's way off. But maintaining a united international
front with regard to the Taliban and keeping the conversation with the Taliban going is something that the Qataris hold very dear. It's something
that they've been working on for many years and they are arguably in the best possible position to do that, not least, because Britain, United
States, Holland and others have moved their Kabul embassies to here, to Doha, in order to continue that relationship such as it is with the
So, it's no great surprise it's taking a bit longer. It's the sort of thing the Taliban want to get right from day one, and they almost certainly won't
be able to, Isa.
SOARES: Yes, and on the question of inclusivity that you're talking about there, Sam, explain to our viewers right around the world, you know, the
tapestry of ethnicities in Afghanistan that will look to them as a sign, of course, that they will be a government for all.
KILEY: Well, the first aspect of the Taliban -- and this is something that probably many people don't understand, is that they had a reputation for
judicious probity. Probity in the judicial section, when they were ruling areas particularly of the southeast and south, they had a much better
reputation for solving legal disputes than the very corrupt central government officials. So, in terms of their ethnic base attached to -- in a
broader sense, the southerners and southeast easterners, they're probably pushing at an open door, and they've also got quite a lot of cultural
It gets a lot harder for them as they go further north. There were the Tajik communities, Uzbek communities battle the Hazara or Bamyan Province
who are Shia and they look a bit different.
They look more like central Asians than southern Asians. So, they're all -- and are from a different tradition within Islam. So, these are very
fractious elements that they need to co-opt or at least get to the point of tacit cooperation with the central government or things are going to get
difficult very quickly. And if they get difficult for the Taliban, the default position in all probability is more and more draconian rule, more
and more oppression and more and more isolation which of course will be bad for everybody. At least, certainly, that's the position here in Qatar and
in the G7, Isa.
SOARES: Yes, important context there from our Sam Kiley in Qatar. Thanks very much, Sam. Well, in a rare and real defiant show of dissent, Afghan
women are making their voices heard. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Small groups of protesters took to the streets in Herat and Kabul in the past 24 hours demanding representation under the Taliban, which is
exactly what we just heard from Sam Kiley. Some held signs saying, "don't be afraid". During one rally, a man's voice could be heard saying, "go
away", but the crowd as you could see, they kept chanting. Well, politicians in Afghanistan are also wondering about their future. Kabul's
mayor tells CNN he had not ruled out working with the new government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MOHAMMAD DAOUD SULTANZOY, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: If it's an inclusive government and the likes of me at some capacity serving that government,
then one will have room to play a role. But if it's not an inclusive government, my desire is a moot point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, let's go to the Afghan capital now. Ben Farmer is the Afghanistan correspondent for "The Telegraph", he joins me now live from
Kabul. Ben, great to see you. Give our viewers a sense of what you're seeing, the mood on the ground and what's standing out to you since you've
BEN FARMER, AFGHANISTAN CORRESPONDENT, THE TELEGRAPH: I would say certainly the mood here is that, this is a city which is not yet at peace with itself
and is not yet back to normal. The streets are far quieter than I am used to seeing them. There is much less traffic. And there is a feeling of
tension. Certainly, I've witnessed not just fewer people in general, but definitely a lot fewer women on the streets.
We've got an escalation of that tense atmosphere as well just in the last hour. About an hour ago, there was a cacophony of celebratory gunfire. It
went on non-stop for a good 20 minutes. It was very heavy. Now, there were reports that, that could have been because people -- some Taliban fighters
have been misinformed that the resistance had been toppled in the Panjshir. The resistance says that that's not correct. There are also reports that
they could have been elaborating on what was the leader of the government. Again, that's been denied as well. But the people who were living here were
really put on edge by that firing, which went on for 20 minutes.
SOARES: And stay with us, Bernard, just obviously, the connection breaks up a bit, considering that you're in Kabul. I know it's late at night. But I
heard that you were talking about the cacophony of gunfire of course. We don't know what that is behind. But give me a sense, Ben, in terms of the
day-to-day -- you know, we've seen prices going through the roof, inflation, fear, there could be a run on the banks. It's an economy
practically on its knees. How are people getting by?
FARMER: People are struggling. Earlier, I met people today who are government workers who haven't been paid for two months. I've seen people
selling their possessions by the side of the street. People really are struggling. There have been long queues outside the banks as people have
tried to get their savings to try and bridge the gap until the economy starts getting better. But there is a limit to how much money can be taken
out, and there are huge queues.
There is some hope that remittance services, money transfer services will start again because these are a lifeline for a lot of people, and these
have been shut for -- getting on to three weeks as well. So, people are struggling. It's adding to a humanitarian crisis, which has already been
here for months. And I think people face very difficult time.
SOARES: You know, under all this pressure and tension, Ben, we have been seeing defiance by women. We showed viewers a video of women protesting
against the Taliban. Clearly, there are expectations, we've heard from our Sam Kiley and the rest of the world, of course, saying the same thing, that
we'll get a more tolerant Taliban. Have you seen any signs of this thus far?
FARMER: I've seen very mixed signals. So, for example, you've --
SOARES: Yes --
FARMER: Seen these demonstrations. But also, I've seen today teams of painters going around with buckets of whitewash, and they've been painting
over murals and pictures and adverts which they consider to be against Islam or to be indecent. These are pictures of women they consider to be
westernized, for example. So, they are certainly still living up to some of the fears that people have about their conduct.
SOARES: And Ben, briefly, just before you go, I want to get your sense as to when you think we might hear from the Taliban about their new
government, and what you're hearing about what that government could look like?
FARMER: We were expecting it all day today. It's approaching 11 O'clock local time, so I doubt we're going to hear it today. Now, we're looking at
tomorrow. I think what people are expecting is that it will be ruled on day-to-day by Mullah Baradar. He is the head of the political office in
Qatar, he's a very popular man. He helped -- he helped negotiate with troop withdrawal deal with Donald Trump. Beyond that, perhaps there will be some
kind of ruling council which will make lots of the decisions. We don't know how many people will be on that.
One thing we're not expecting to see no matter what they say about an inclusive government is we're not expecting to see any women in senior
SOARES: Right, yes. So, their interpretation of inclusive is very different from ours. Ben Farmer, thank you very much, appreciate it and stay safe.
Thank you. Now, in New Zealand, police have shot and killed a man who wounded six people in a stabbing attack. The prime minister says it was
carried out by an ISIS supporter who was a known security threat. CNN's Ivan Watson has the details for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The prime minister of New Zealand is calling it an act of terror when a suspect armed with a knife
began stabbing people in a supermarket in Auckland. The thing is that this suspect and his violent extremist ISIS-supporting views were known at the
highest levels of the New Zealand government.
(voice-over): Panicked shoppers at an Auckland supermarket inside --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's armed here with a knife, babe --
WATSON: Disbelief --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got a knife --
WATSON: As word spreads of an attacker on a stabbing spree.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cops and everyone just turned up --
WATSON: He wounded six people, leaving three in critical condition. Within moments, police shot the suspect dead.
JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER, NEW ZEALAND: The attack began at 2:40 p.m. and was undertaken by an individual who was a known threat to New Zealand.
The individual was under constant monitoring, and it was the police surveillance team and special tactics group who were part of that
monitoring and surveillance that shot and killed him within, I'm told, the space of roughly 60 seconds of the attack starting.
WATSON: Just hours after the attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern identified the dead suspect as a Sri Lankan national and ISIS supporter who
had been under police surveillance and whose case she had personally known about.
ARDERN: What I can say is that we have utilized every legal and surveillance power available to us to try and keep people safe from this
individual. Many agencies and people were involved and we're all motivated by the same thing, trying to keep people safe.
WATSON: Police say the man took a knife in the supermarket and used it to carry out the attacks. An existing court order initially restricted
government officials from revealing more details about the attacker. Ardern did say the man was labeled a national security threat as early as 2016.
But that wasn't enough to warrant the man's arrest, says the mayor of Auckland.
MAYOR PHIL GOFF, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND (via telephone): He was under police surveillance because of the views that he held. But in our democracy, as in
yours, you don't get imprisoned for your views. You get imprisoned for your actions.
RODGER SHANAHAN, TERRORISM EXPERT: Listen, I think one of the shortfalls of New Zealand counterterrorism legislation is there's no law against
preparatory acts before an act of terrorism in Australia. That's what the majority of domestic terrorists are being charged under preparatory
charges. It doesn't exist in New Zealand.
WATSON: The New Zealand government now lobbying to lift the court order, gagging officials from revealing more about the alleged violent extremist.
(on camera): New Zealand compared to many countries has relatively low rates of violent crime. The most deadliest terrorist incident today took
place in the city of Christ Church in 2019 when an Australian white supremacist attacked two Mosques there killing more than 50 people. In that
case, he was armed with firearms. The suspect in the stabbing in the Auckland supermarket only had a knife. Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.
SOARES: And still to come tonight, more flood warnings in the northeastern United States after dozens of deaths. Who's most at risk now? Plus, U.S.
President Joe Biden will see firsthand some of the damage Hurricane Ida left behind. He's just touched down in Louisiana, and we are following his
movements. Do stay right here with CNN.
SOARES: Now, major U.S. cities are trying to figure out how to prepare for extreme, deadly weather caused by climate change, of course, it comes days
after the remnants of Hurricane Ida drenched the northeast United States, killing at least 48 people. In New York City, the storm flooded subways and
trapped people in basement level apartments. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new climate-driven-rain response to give people more warning. He says
it's time to plan for a new normal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK STATE: Things that we were told are once in a century are now happening regularly. But bluntly,
they're also getting worse. It is entirely different reality. And we all -- and I want to speak on behalf of all city agencies here, we have to change
what we do across the board. We have to change our entire mindset because we're being dealt a very different hand of cards now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Meanwhile, 4.5 million people in the northeast are still under flood warnings, mostly in New Jersey. The governor there is telling people
to take the threat seriously. CNN's Polo Sandoval joins me now from Manville, New Jersey. And Polo, paint me a picture of what is happening
where you are.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a day to clean up and begin to think about how some of these families will rebuild. Isa, behind me is
actually one of the houses that is, in fact, just destroyed. In this case though, the fire officials here telling me that it was a combination of
some leaking gas during the height of the storm when all of this was flooded, and a short circuit in the electrical box that made this house
explode. Several witnesses here, several neighbors tell me that they were in the middle of the storm when they just heard that loud explosion here.
Good news though, those people had already evacuated since they know that this area usually tends to flood, certainly not expecting what took place
here on Wednesday. But nonetheless, this storm, it just speaks to the devastation that the storm has left in its path. As you mentioned here,
close to 50 families are now left grieving the loss of their loved ones, but then for so many more, now they are left just trying to picking up the
Just about everywhere you look in this particular community, there are those homes where the owners of those homes are basically hauling many of
their damaged belongings and just leaving them to get picked up on the street curb. These are their lives that many people are simply having to
rebuild here. So, there's a big question of what will happen next, and also whether or not maybe more could have been done to prepare in some of the
other cities including like in New York City.
You just heard from Mayor Bill de Blasio as well describing this as kind of a wake-up call for so many. But in the meantime, there is this expectation
also that they will be getting some help. I'm talking about many of these families that have been deeply affected, even families here in the
northeast setting their sights on the southeast where President Biden just arrived to survey the damage firsthand, to see what kind of potential
federal assistance people will get. Isa?
SOARES: On that point, Polo, I mean, in terms of the mood, is there a sense from people that you've been speaking to that the mayors of the states were
prepared for this new normal that Bill de Blasio was talking about?
SANDOVAL: Oh, we -- in speaking to many people, they did get those warnings, they did get those weather watches on Wednesday when the storm
was making its way here. But there seems to be this consensus that nobody expected it to be this bad. There are many parts of the northeast, for
example, Isa, that experienced some widespread devastation during super storm Sandy, for example or in the -- this particular area was hard hit in
the '90s by a hurricane, Hurricane Floyd as well. And most people were able to rebuild and get on with their lives.
So, there was sort of this feeling among many, not all, but many, that if they had been through that successfully, that they would be able to do just
fine this time around. And also, many of these communities that are like river basins or surrounded by waterways, they felt that much of the
infrastructure and investment that had been put into their communities would actually pay off and protect them. And for the most part it did. But
when you're dealing with a storm of this size and with such torrential rainfall, then all bets are off. And that's when you begin to see many of
these homes getting severely damaged.
And now, again, just about everywhere you look, people are once again coming out, picking up the pieces and see what will come next.
SOARES: Polo Sandoval, thank you very much. Polo Sandoval there for us. Well, U.S. President Joe Biden has just landed in New Orleans. He's on a
trip to survey the extensive damage from Hurricane Ida. Crews are rushing to restore power to the more than 820,000 homes and businesses that are
still in the dark. Louisiana's governor says he's received federal approval for a program to provide shelters for thousands of displaced people. But
right now, really, it's a lack of fuel, one of the biggest obstacles to the recovery effort. Joining me now, CNN correspondent Adrienne Broaddus in New
Orleans, and CNN White House reporter Kevin Liptak. Adrienne, first to you, give me a sense of what you're seeing on the ground.
ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I want to illustrate something for you. Behind us, you'll notice there's a puddle. Within minutes, free
bags of ice went. People collected those bags of ice and where that puddle is, that's where those bags were. The owners of this gas station told me
they have a thousand more bags coming. And it's a sign of how the little things right now are making a big difference in the lives of these people
here in New Orleans, and across the state. Because keep in mind, more than 800,000 people across the state of Louisiana are still dealing with power
You see folks here are lined up to fill their cars up not because they're driving around the city, but because they're using their cars as another
form of relief. When they step outside of their home, they sit in their cars to cool off. The cars have running AC, but a lot of these homes don't
have AC because they don't have power. President Obama is in this -- oh, excuse me, President Biden is in the state and a lot of folks that we heard
from here filling up their cars with gasoline say, the one thing they want is some help. And they're wondering when is that help going to get here.
SOARES: Thank you very much, Adrienne, appreciate it, we'll keep -- we'll stay in touch with you, obviously once President Biden arrives. Kevin, I
want to go to you, if I can. I mean, on the -- picking up on that point that Adrienne made, the sense is, you know, we've seen fuel lines, food
shortages, no power. People clearly feel that the help hasn't come from what Adrienne -- hasn't come fast enough. What does the president want to
get out of this? Clearly, it will be more than just a photo op here.
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, certainly, it's a moment for the president to demonstrate leadership in all of this. He's been on
conference calls all week. He's receiving hourly updates from FEMA, which is the emergency administration office here in Washington. And what the
president wants to do is show himself as a leader in all of this.
Of course, unplanned events like this have a way of defining presidencies. And after the crisis over the past two weeks in Afghanistan where the
administration seemed to have this crisis of confidence, competence as well, the president wants to get out front of this and show himself as a
leader. And so, what you'll see today is the president meeting with local officials. He's just landed in New Orleans.
He's taken a helicopter to Reserve, Louisiana. He's going to meet with local officials there, receive a briefing on this situation on the ground.
He'll survey some damage. You know, also see the president take an aerial tour of some of those southern parishes in Louisiana, around Grand Isle,
places that have been flooded, have been inaccessible and really need help from the federal government to recover. And some of the things that the
White House says that the federal government is doing is they're providing surveillance maps, satellite images to try and restore power to some of the
places where power still isn't there.
They're trying to get cellular phone companies to sort of boost their carrier services and increase roaming in some of these places so people can
have access to the outside world. What the leaders in the state have said is most important to get from the federal government is housing assistance.
A lot of these places are going to have to rebuild houses and that sort of thing. The other thing I think you're going to hear from the president
today and what you heard from the president over the last several days is linking this storm to climate change.
And that's something that politicians have avoided in the past, directly linking these two things. Certainly Republican politicians. The president
is not waiting to make this link. And of course, you have wildfires decimating parts of California, out west as well. You see the flooding in
the northeast. The president has major pieces of legislation that are pending right now that would address climate change in some capacity. It
would also kind of boost some of the infrastructure that you saw failing over the past several days because of these floods.
So, expect to hear the president sort of push that agenda, at the same time as he tries and demonstrates this leadership from Washington to these
people who desperately need help.
SOARES: Let's talk about the leadership, Kevin. Because there are a lot -- clearly a lot of questions on Biden right now. You know, we're seven months
or so into his presidency. He's facing economic pressures, we saw that today with the numbers out of the U.S., we saw the chaotic withdrawal from
Kabul, the Texas abortion law and of course, as you mentioned, the deadly fallout from Ida. How has he fared? What is the assessment? Give us a sense
of approval ratings right now.
LIPTAK: Yes, well, if there was ever a honeymoon period for this president, it's over now. Last month was really hard for President Biden. And you do
see that reflected in some of the approval ratings today. There's a poll from "ABC News"-"Washington Post" that showed for the first time in his
presidency, he has a net disapproval rating. I think it's around 44 percent people approve of how he's doing and as much higher like 52 percent that
disapprove of how he's handling it. And a lot of that had to do with that chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan which really undercut the president's
message of confidence, the idea that he came into this office as someone experienced and sort of knew what he was doing.
That's part of the reason why you see him down there in Louisiana today because the White House officials, while they don't believe that the
president was wrong in withdrawing from Afghanistan, they certainly recognize that as time goes on, they really cannot afford this pattern to
sort of bubble up of people thinking that he can't do the job well.
SOARES: Oh, yes --
LIPTAK: A lot of this is driven by the pandemic, and that's of course the biggest crisis that he's still facing. Cases are still going up in the
United States. We expect to hear more from the president on the pandemic crisis next week. But certainly, a lot of things are piling up on his plate
that aren't necessarily all within his control.
SOARES: Very much so. Kevin Liptak, thanks very much, Kevin, appreciate it.
SOARES: And still to come tonight, one of the four ISIS terrorists known as The Beatles has pleaded guilty to numerous criminal charges in U.S. federal
Court. We'll explain what's ahead for Alexanda Kotey. That's next.
SOARES: And this just coming into CNN, the White House is giving its version of the last call between President Joe Biden and former Afghan
President, Ashraf Ghani, before Ghani's astir. Now a spokesperson says Mr. Biden told Ghani that the Afghan leader needed to do three things, work
with U.S. to devise an effective military strategy focused on major cities, let Afghan military commanders implement that strategy, and get Afghan
political leaders behind it to reinforce public confidence. Ghani fled, of course, the country last month. And for those Afghans who were able to
escape Taliban rule, the future is filled with uncertainty. Nic Robertson has more for you from Islamabad.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As they set foot on new soil after countless hours of travel, many of the more than a hundred and fifteen
thousand evacuated Afghan refugees relieved to be free from fear of life under Taliban control. This is 40-year-old former translator now in South
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People do not believe them. We do not believe their promise. They are opposite of humanity. It is especially for the women, for
the girls. They are not happy that the girls go to school.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: Whether it's in South Korea, the U.S., Spain, Mexico, France, Qatar, or many of the other hundred plus countries that have vowed to take
them in, their new lives and dreams begin now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came here and we want to live for a long time in peace. Our children should have a good education here and a peaceful
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: At Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, those not lucky enough to make the evac flight struggle to leave. One man crushed to death Thursday
as the crowd pushed to cross. Some here though not fleeing, fighting, or fearing the Taliban, but just looking for survival.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Previously during such change, a lot of looting had happened so for that reason, people were scared. People
were running away. Myself, I've come here with a patient for medical treatment,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: and some coming for that most basic need, economic certainty, escaping drought and unemployment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are 150 families. It was tough for us to cross the border. We were very oppressed and many families are
stranded there. We were unemployed and hungry. We migrated here because of poverty. And we need help because we don't have tents and food. We have
nothing. Have mercy on us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There was no work here, no jobs. We fled to Pakistan in disarray.
We are requesting the Pakistani government to help us because we're refugees. Look at these kids. They have nowhere to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: For now, Pakistan's message to would-be refugees, in particular economic migrants, don't come if you don't have the right paperwork. We
simply can't afford it anymore. Their message to the international community, engage economically with the new Taliban government and do it
soon. If you don't, the trickle of suffering at the border will turn into a surging torrent. Nic Robertson, CNN, Islamabad, Pakistan.
SOARES: Now a member of the notorious British ISIS cell "The Beatles" has pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges in a U.S. Federal Court. Thirty-
seven-year-old Alexanda Kotey stood in the Virginia courtroom in front of the family members of his family -- of his victims. He admitted to taking
part in ISIS kidnappings that resulted in the brutal murders of two American journalists who were executed in ISIS propaganda videos.
He also acknowledged his role in the deaths of two American aid workers. Back in 2018, shortly after his detention, our Nic Paton Walsh spoke with
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What keeps you awake at night?
ALEXANDA KOTEY, ISIS BEATLES MEMMBER : There's these lice in my clothes, in the place I'm sleeping.
WALSH: So there will be some people who see you make a joke of that question and think that whatever's gone before to use sort of being a bit
of a laugh. Are you saying that there's nothing that you witnessed here in Syria or been involved into troubles here?
KOTEY: No. If I want to talk about while I was in the Islamic State, the kind of things that keep you up at night is the sound of like F-16 jet
flying in the sky and some Syrian neighbors with these kids crying.
WALSH: Would you prefer to be tried anywhere in particular like the U.K.?
KOTEY: Definitely familiarity is the easier option. My experience with British judges is that they're quite fair and just.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, he'll likely get his chance. Kotey faces multiple charges in Britain and that's where he may serve out most of his expected life
sentence. Senior U.S. Justice Correspondent Evan Perez has been following this case for us from Washington. Evan, I mean, I'm keen to know more as
the detail of this two-hour plea hearing. What more did he say? What did we learn?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It was the first time we've heard him actually acknowledge the facts of what happened during the
time that he was -- from the time he went from London, and from the U.K., to his time working with ISIS in Syria. And, you know, the sheer brutality
of the of the actions of the beheading of these people, and then sending out emails trying to get ransom money, and terrifying and -- the families
who -- by the way, some of the family members were in this courtroom.
And let me repeat the names of the four Americans for which these charges represent. They are James Foley, Kayla Mueller, Steven Sotloff, and Peter
Kassig. The family members of those four were in the courtroom and they were pleased with the result of this of this plea hearing. He was charged
with eight counts, including hostage taking conspiracy, and support for a terrorist organization, in this case, ISIS.
And what you referred to at the beginning is a very unusual part of this case. If you remember, there was some resistance by the U.K. to turn him
over to the United States because of the death penalty, which we -- he would have been eligible for under these charges. In the end, the Justice
Department here in the United States agreed to not bring -- to not seek the death penalty for this case. As a result of that, he is facing life in
prison in United States.
And another unusual part of this is the fact that after this trial, after this case, he will be sent back to face trial in the U.K. After all, some
of the victims of the brutality of ISIS, in which Kotey played a role in, include British victims, Japanese victims, so we anticipate that there is
more of what occurred that will play out in court, Isa.
SOARES: Evan, did we -- I know you mentioned the relatives, the family members of some of the victims were in court. Did they comment? Did they
say anything? And secondly, and correct me if I'm wrong, there was no apology from his side as of yet, right?
PEREZ: There's never been an apology. He acknowledged what he did, which was the first time that he had done any of that. And -- but, no, there was
no apology and -- but one of the things that the judge says he has to do is to meet with some of the family victims -- the victim families, rather.
That's going to be an extraordinary occurrence when that happens. As far as the family members, they were gratified that there has been justice brought
in this case. There is, of course, another member of this group, El Shafee Elsheikh, who is still here in the United States awaiting his turn in
court. We don't know what the outcome of that case will be. His lawyers were in court yesterday and did not comment on this.
But one of the things that we heard from the family members is bringing attention to American hostages, and urging the Biden administration to do
more to help those families including people who are believed to be held hostage in Afghanistan. Isa.
SOARES: Evan Perez, thanks very much, Evan, good to see you.
PEREZ: Thanks, Isa.
SOARES: And still to come, reports of racism at a World Cup Qualifier. What it would take to root out the problem from football we'll discuss.
SOARES: Now U.S. President Joe Biden says a law in Texas that essentially bans most abortions is encouraging vigilante justice. The Supreme Court
refused to block the law yesterday. It bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy before many women even know they are pregnant, with no exceptions
for rape or incest. The law allows the public to sue anyone suspected of aiding such abortions with a $10,000 reward if they win in court. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The most pernicious thing about the Texas law, it sort of creates a vigilante system where people get
rewards to go out to -- anyway. And it just seems -- I know this sounds ridiculous, almost un-American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Almost un-American. Let's bring in our Supreme Court Reporter, Ariane de Vogue. And Ariane, you know, we heard President Biden, you know,
not the first time in the tweet earlier, basically blasting that Texas State law saying was extreme, that it blatantly violates a woman's
constitutional right. The size of those strong words from President Biden, what can you do to change it -- to change this? What can Democrats do?
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Right. Well, after the Supreme Court allowed this law to go into effect, we see this full frontal assault
We've got the president, President Biden, he gave that speech. He also has directed his White House counsel and some of his agencies to begin figuring
out what they can do to help women seeking an abortion. They already met today with groups.
And then you had Congress announce -- Democrats in Congress announced hearings, looking into not only what they can do on the issue of abortion,
but how the Supreme Court was able to do what it did. And then you have Attorney General Merrick Garland. He also said yesterday that he's looking
into it, and of the three, maybe Garland, maybe that would have the most teeth because if the federal government could find a way to step in and sue
the state, as they have in other areas, such as immigration, well, that would change things.
But the reason that this is so difficult for all the parties and what President Biden was talking about is this law was carefully crafted to
avoid judicial review. And that's because for years and years, what's happened is clinics have been able to challenge a state, a state hostile to
Roe that might have passed the law. They're allowed to go to court, and then the law usually gets blocked if it's a violation of Roe v. Wade.
But the crafters here were very careful. And instead of having state officials being able to enforce this law, they said that anybody could go
ahead and sue somebody who they thought might be assisting in carrying out the procedure. So that could be a relative, it could be someone paid for
it. It could be an Uber driver that took them to the clinic. And that's what all this has come up because it's really hard for the clinics to
figure out how they can bring a lawsuit. And that's what was in front of the Supreme Court.
SOARES: And we shall see, Ariane, exactly what the Democrats can do to change. Ariane de Vogue, thank you very much, Ariane. Appreciate it.
Well, pro-choice activists are fighting back, but not in the way you might expect. Users on TikTok, Reddit, and other social media platforms have been
flooding a Texas abortion whistleblower website with false reports, pornographic images, and unusually Shrek memes. The anti-abortion group,
Texas Right to Life, set up the site which allows people to leave anonymous tips about potential violations of the law. But instead, social media users
have made it their mission to sabotage the platform. One TikTok user even posts that she had submitted 742 fake reports of the Texas Governor getting
Now, FIFA says it's launching disciplinary proceedings following reports of racism at a World Cup Qualifier. During a match in Hungary, broadcasters
reported that fans directing monkey chants at England's black players. Some who also heard booing the England team when they knelt to protest. Now,
later, they threw cups at opponents who scored including forward Raheem Sterling. With more now to discuss is Piara Powar, Executive Director of
Football Against Racism in Europe.
And Piara, I mean, I know this was a World Cup Qualifier, and it falls under the control of FIFA. But couldn't FIFA have worked together with UEFA
and try and put a stop to this? I mean, we could have predicted this, right?
PIARA POWAR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FOOTBALL AGAINST RACISM IN EUROPE: Yes, actually, and sadly, we did predict this, which is always a dangerous game.
But Hungary has such a terrible record in the recent past that it was so more as powerful, of course. I'm not sure both of those organizations are
sort of fighting out as to whose fault it was that the ban that EUFA had imposed wasn't implemented for this match.
I'm not sure that it -- that the blame can lay with FIFA if I'm honest with you. It's often up to the regulating authority to extend the worldwide ban
on the action that they've taken. That's what happens with drug abuse in football. That's what happens with match fixing. So -- but -- and
nevertheless, I think the point remains that we have sometimes even when there are good sanctions being applied, we have a sort of a perfunctory
slapdash approach to it or without a real consideration of what will correct the change that we want to see, rather than just leaving the
sanctions out there, and allowing a team to get away scot-free, as Hungary however, seems to me, for most of us are.
SOARES: So -- but, you know, you're not saying -- you -- who should be blamed then here? I mean, you have -- they all have anti-racism policies,
we knew exactly what we could expect. We could have predicted all this, like you say, so where did we where did we -- where did it go wrong?
POWAR: Well, my feeling is that EUFA should have applied to FIFA to say please extend this ban for this match.
POWAR: And that would have worked. But that doesn't happen. And it's not even within the sort of thought process of UEFA to do that. So this is --
the -- so what I'm saying is, the problem is quite systemically, really, the way in which governing bodies of football level, let alone other
sports, are thinking about how to deal with the problem of racism when it comes to problematic countries like Hungary.
SOARES: But then you have -- let's talk about this, Hungary, I was reading up and correct me if I'm wrong, is going to play I think in another full
Stadium in a couple of days, I think it's next Wednesday when they play Andorra. What happens then whilst they investigate and then look into this?
POWAR: Well, I mean, Andorra is a pretty sort of European side. So we're not sure that there will be the same sort of abuse going on. I mean, one of
the dangers of last night's match was that England are a very racially diverse team. It's a big team. So there's, you know, they have a challenge
-- they are a challenge, if you life, for some supporters, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. And so all of those sort of dynamics together
with the dynamics of Hungary, politically, together with the dynamics of Hungary in a footballing context, which we've seen over the summer, they
were co-hosts of the European Championships, came together to bring about the sort of the scenes that we saw last night, which were, you know, I
think, widely reported, though, there was quite a lot of racial abuse.
SOARES: And what's interesting to me while I was looking in terms of the fees and the fines, the numbers, to be honest, they've been an average
40,000 pounds of fines over the past two decades, this is for England players. Doesn't seem like much.
POWAR: No. I mean, fines don't work, that's absolutely --
SOARES: So what does?
POWAR: Well, what works is, firstly, to hit national associations, the FA is hard, which is to make them play behind closed doors and make a series
of games behind closed doors. And that then also is a national humiliation. So it prompts a debate within that country, a soul-searching often about,
you know, what are they doing wrong? What do they need to do better? How do they educate people? How do they police people? And that then often creates
a dynamic where we see the change happening.
And then I think in a situation like this, you need an -- a 360 approach from the governing bodies to say, Hungary are problematic, we have a ban in
place, how do we extend it? And then what else do we need to do? Whether we're supporting the FAA or whether we are hitting them harder as whether
it's a characteristic, what do we need to do to make sure that this sort of racism, in a very visible public space like a football stadium, which is
televised across the world, doesn't take place?
SOARES: Yes. And probably working more -- working together rather than blaming each other for not putting the rules in place. Piara Power,
appreciate it. Thank you very much, Piara. And we'll have much more after a very short break.
SOARES: Now U.S. President Joe Biden's in Laplace, Louisiana. I want to show these live pictures. He's on a trip to resurvey the extensive damage
from Hurricane Ida, which was this Category 4 storm when it slammed into the Gulf Coast. Now he's speaking as you can see there with local
officials. Of course, it's all about surveying the damage of after almost a week, really, of deadly storm ravaging the eastern half of the United
We've heard from our correspondents on the ground, people without power, many without food, and in very scorching heat. So we'll monitor this for
you as President Biden there meets officials and of course as there are developments of course, we shall bring them to you.
Now, the high-flying days are over for British billionaire and space entrepreneur Richard Branson, at least for now. U.S. aviation authorities
have grounded space strips by Virgin Atlantic while it investigates his July flight. Let's discuss this with CNN Space and Defense Correspondent
Kristin Fisher in Washington. And Kristin, I had read that it was -- they're invest -- the FAA was investigating because it was a mishap. Tell
us more about this mishap.
KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: So it looked picture- perfect, right? They lift off, the landing. The problem actually started during the rocket's ascent. During the ascent, some warning lights went off
in the cockpit according to literally the journalist who wrote the book on Virgin Galactic, Nicholas Schmidle, he spent years and years with the
company and found out that two warning lights went off inside the cockpit, leaving these two pilots with two options, they either abort the mission
threatening Richard Branson's chance of becoming the first billionaire to ride into space on a rocket that he helped build, or you try to course
And so that's what they did. But in doing that, during the glide of descent, they went out of its designated FAA airspace for about one minute
and 40 seconds and this is a big deal because as you know, if you're a pilot and you fly out of your designated airspace, you can get into a lot
of trouble. So that's what the FAA is saying that Virgin Galactic did. Virgin Galactic is acknowledging that it did this, but they say that it was
in no way in where any crew members in danger. They are now cooperating with this investigation, but until it is complete, Virgin Galactic has to
stay on planet Earth. Isa.
SOARES: Kristin Fisher, thank you very much. And that does it for me. Thanks very much for watching. Do stay right here. We'll be back after a
short break with "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS."