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Your World Today

Appeal for More Weapons From Nuri al-Maliki; U.S. Role in Helping Iraqi Refugees; Deadly Storm Blows Across Western Europe

Aired January 18, 2007 - 12:00   ET


RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: An appeal for weapons. Some pointed criticism of George Bush from Iraq's prime minister. How long should troops stay in?
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The "Big Brother" television flap in Britain, is it racism, a clash of culture, or something else?

VASSILEVA: Bird flu fears reemerge. And it's a more aggressive strain driving the concern this time.

CLANCY: Also ahead, check your watch. Do you really know what time it is?

VASSILEVA: Well, I think I do. It's 8:00 p.m. in Baghdad, 12:00 noon in Washington.

Hello and welcome, everybody, to our report broadcast around the globe.

I'm Ralitsa Vassileva.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy.

From Nairobi to Berlin, Stockholm to San Antonio, wherever you're watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

VASSILEVA: Iraq's prime minister has a message from the United States: Give Iraqi forces more guns and equipment so U.S. troops can start going home.

CLANCY: That was Nuri al-Maliki speaking out how he thinks the insurgency can be stopped and how the U.S. strategy for the war is going.

VASSILEVA: Well, in published reports today, Mr. al-Maliki said the U.S. isn't giving Iraqi security forces enough weapons or money for training.

CLANCY: He says that if that speeded up, the need for U.S. troops in Iraq could decrease dramatically within three to six months.

VASSILEVA: Mr. al-Maliki also tried to blunt criticism that his government isn't willing to take on the powerful Shia militias. He said some 400 members of the Mehdi army have been detained. Well, a new wave of attacks in Baghdad underscores the urgent need for a new security plan. Bombings and more terror attacks across the capital Thursday killed at least 24 people and wounded dozens more.

Washington's new war strategy will put thousands more U.S. troops in Baghdad to help with security. Iraq's president says the U.S. made that decision on its own.


JALAL TALABANI, IRAQI PRESIDENT: I don't know how our thinking. It's up to them to decide. We didn't ask more troops. But if they send more troops, they are welcome.


CLANCY: Now, with all of these developments coming out of Iraq, we want to get some reaction now from Washington. Ed Henry joins us from the White House right now.

Ed, has there been reaction?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. White House spokesman Tony Snow certainly thrown on the defensive by these sharp comments from Nuri al-Maliki. He made them in a roundtable with international journalists, Maliki did. And obviously, President Bush is counting so much on Maliki to deliver on this new strategy unveiled by the president last week.

Certainly this is not what the White House wanted to hear today. Specifically, Prime Minister Maliki charging that if the situation on the ground in Iraq would not be so bad if only the Americans had done a better job of getting the Iraqi security forces more and better weapons.

Now, Tony Snow tried to downplay this initially with reporters a short while ago here at the White House, basically said this was just one complaint and they agree on mostly everything else. But then it was pointed out to Tony Snow that there were a whole series, bits of criticism from Nuri al-Maliki, including his frustration at comments from Mr. Bush himself, as well as other U.S. officials, charging that the Iraqi government had really failed and botched and mishandled the hanging of Saddam Hussein.

Maliki said, "I understand and realize that inside the American administration there is some kind of a crisis situation, especially after the results of the last election." A tough shot, obviously, given the Republican losses in the last U.S. elections.

Maliki then went even further, declaring that some of these comments from U.S. officials that he was referring to have really, in his words, played into the hands of insurgents. He said, "I believe such statements give a morale boost to the terrorists and push them towards making an extra effort, making them believe they have defeated the American administration. But I can tell you, they haven't defeated the Iraqi government."

Now, Tony Snow was pressed on that, is Maliki really still on board with President Bush? Where are they in the so-called Kumbaya index, that American term? Tony Snow insisted, "They are still holding hands and swaying."

Now, White House officials also privately are chalking some of this criticism up to domestic political concerns from Mr. Maliki that he has to try to separate himself from the American administration sometimes to show he's his own man. But also, White House officials point out in this interview with international journalists Mr. Maliki also vowed to crack down on Shiite militias, as well as Sunni insurgents.

And as you noted earlier, he said that he believes within three to six months the Iraqi forces can take over more and more of the burden and really dramatically reduce the need for U.S. troops. But even these White House officials who are pointing out those positive comments, they acknowledge privately they've heard these vows, they've heard these promises from Nuri al-Maliki again and again. And White House officials privately admit they do not know whether he's going to deliver on these promises.

So obviously President Bush really hanging a lot of this on Nuri al-Maliki, and the White House just doesn't know whether he can deliver -- Jim.

CLANCY: All right. Well, he is making some moves. For the first time we're seeing members of the militias arrested. How far it goes, the White House is right, you have to wait and see. It may be right in Baghdad, too.

Ed Henry there at the White House.

Thank you.

HENRY: Thank you.

VASSILEVA: Well, fearing for their lives, more and more Iraqis are fleeing the violence and seeking safe havens abroad. But of the two million who have left since the war began, only a tiny fraction have been taken in by the United States. And now some U.S. lawmakers want to push the doors open wider, saying the U.S. has a special obligation to help them.

Zain Verjee is following the story. She joins us now live from Washington -- Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: Ralitsa, thousands of Iraqis want to seek refuge in the United States to escape the sectarian violence and persecution that they say they face in Iraq, but they're encountering some major obstacles to coming here.


VERJEE (voice over): New identities for new lives. Two Iraqi refugees now living in the United States won't show their faces but want to tell their stories to U.S. lawmakers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name was listed on the doors of several mosques.

VERJEE: A truck driver who brought water to American troops says he was jumped by insurgents, beaten, and threatened with death.

And an interpreter for the U.S. military says he narrowly escaped a car bomb attack.

Thousands of Iraqis who serve as contractors, guides or translators for Americans are now targets of assassination and fleeing their country. Experts say Iraq is the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world.

About two million Iraqis have fled their country, 100,000 people flee Iraq a month. Nearly two million Iraqis abandon their homes and are refugees in their own country.

Yet, since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, only 466 Iraqis have been allowed to come to the United States as refugees, partly because of limited quotas and partly because how difficult it is to determine who meets refugee status criteria.

ELLEN SAUERBREY, U.S. ASST. SECRETARY OF STATE: Because of an enhanced security review that has been required, it has made it very difficult for these Iraqi refugees to pass through the screening mechanism.

VERJEE: Some lawmakers say Iraqis deserve the help of the U.S. government and want to speed up the process of getting refugees safely to America.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We do have a special obligation to keep faith for the Iraqis who have bravely worked for us and often paid a terrible price for it by providing them with safe refuge in the United States.

VERJEE: Aid agencies say a big concern is a complex law passed in 2005 that bans aid to terrorist organizations.

SEAN GARCIA, REFUGEES INTERNATIONAL: Many Iraqis have been kidnapped or paid ransom to terrorist groups inside Iraq to get loved ones back. And unfortunately, the Bush administration does consider those types of payments as material support that would bar them from entry to the U.S.

VERJEE: These Iraqi families are among hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees now in neighboring Jordan or Syria without work or easy access to healthcare and education.

GARCIA: They all were victims of kidnappings, tortures, rapes, murders in their families, their homes being bombed in the middle of the night. The level of violence has gotten very extreme.

VERJEE: Advocates say more money is needed to process and resettle refugees in the United States and give them homes and training so they can be self-sufficient.


VERJEE: And Ralitsa, the State Department acknowledges that the refugee situation is a major problem. They say that what they want to do is to work with Congress to try and provide a special status to Iraqi religious minorities, as well as Iraqis who have helped the U.S. government, and try to make that process for them to come here a lot easier -- Ralitsa.

VASSILEVA: So, Zain, is the U.S. accepting applications at this time?

VERJEE: I talked to a number of refugee agencies, and what they said was that basically the U.S. is not accepting any direct applications from Iraqis who want to apply at embassies. What's happening is, is that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees is dealing with the screening process, and they're actually quite hesitant to refer Iraqis who are seeking refuge to the United States because they're aware of the limited quotas.

They also have major budget problems as well. So they can't really expedite the process.

What the U.N. is looking for is $60 million to be provided to try and facilitate this for Iraqi refugees, and they want the United States to pick up half of that -- Ralitsa.

VASSILEVA: OK. Zain Verjee at the State Department.

Thank you very much.

CLANCY: All right, Ralitsa. Let's take a look at some of the other stories we're following this hour.

VASSILEVA: We begin with those direct talks between the United States and North Korean officials taking place in Berlin.

CLANCY: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, shown here, meeting for a third day with representatives from North Korea. The meetings have focused on moving forward with wider talks that are aimed and getting Pyongyang to scrap its nuclear weapons program. There were six-party talks that were held last December.

VASSILEVA: Pulitzer Prize-winning political humorist Art Buchwald has died at the age of 81. Buchwald delivered gentle barbs at politicians of every party and every persuasion in his column in "The Washington Post." He had been waging a long battle with kidney failure and even wrote a book about it.

CLANCY: Bushfires in southern Australia killed one person, destroyed more homes. Now they're threatening a mountain resort. Officials say with more hot weather in the forecast, the situation is likely to get worse, not better, in southern Australia and Victoria. Some of the fires have been burning since late last year. VASSILEVA: Western Europe is getting battered by the strongest storm in years. At least seven people have died in Britain, the Netherlands and Germany. Germans are being told to stay indoors. Schools were closed today.

For more we go to CNN's Frederik Pleitgen. He joins us in Berlin.

So, Frederik, how does it feel?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ralitsa, absolutely, this storm is getting stronger by the minute. And we do feel that it will probably get even more stronger before this gets any better.

What we're getting right now is, on top of these very, very heavy winds, is that the rain, Ralitsa, is really picking up. It's really almost torrential rain that's coming down on us right here.

And as you said before, several people have already died in the storm. And one of the cases really is very tragic. An 18-month-old baby girl was killed by a door that was flying around, a porch door that was flying around which had been basically blown out of the hinges.

And really, German authorities are telling people to definitely stay inside. And that's what most people here are doing.

We're not seeing any people on the streets. So people really do seem to be following that advice, because, really, this storm already has caused substantial damage -- Ralitsa.

VASSILEVA: And Frederik, it's quite unusual for a storm of this magnitude, 180-kilometer-per-hour winds. Are people prepared for this?

PLEITGEN: Well, most people are relatively well prepared for this. Germany does have very sturdy buildings. So if you are inside, basically there's not much danger.

But if you're moving around right now, obviously that could get very dangerous. A lot of trees are being uprooted here. One person ran into -- his car into a tree that was uprooted and actually died in that accident.

So basically moving around now is not a very good idea. And you're absolutely right, these kinds of storms are not uncommon in Germany, but they never really happen at this time of year. Usually these kind of storms happen in the fall months, but they don't happen in these months that we're seeing right now -- Ralitsa.

VASSILEVA: Frederik Pleitgen in Berlin.

Stay safe. Thank you.

CLANCY: All right. Finger-pointing and name-calling. The "Big Brother" flap, it won't just -- it just won't go away. VASSILEVA: It's not. What's behind those accusations of racism surrounding this British TV reality show?

CLANCY: We're also going to check financial markets and return to the health risk posed by the bird flu.

VASSILEVA: More cases are emerging and scientists say this may even be a more aggressive strain.



CLANCY: Welcome back, everyone. You're watching YOUR WORLD TODAY, where we bring CNN's international and U.S. viewers up to speed on some of the most important stories of the day around the world.

VASSILEVA: And here are the stories we're following today -- the TV reality show that created an uproar in the real world.

CLANCY: The sponsor pulled out. Ratings are through the roof, though.

VASSILEVA: And what we're talking about, of course, is the latest British installment of that reality program "Celebrity Big Brother."

CLANCY: Alphonso Van Marsh joins us now from London. He has a look at what all the fuss is about.

You know, we heard earlier 20,000 complaints. And now it's jumped again?

ALPHONSO VAN MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We understand now more than 27,000 complaints.

As you mentioned, it all has to do with the show "Celebrity Big Brother," a show popular in the United States, as well as other parts around the world. But the version here in Britain very, very controversial, because, as you mentioned, of one of the contestants.

Her name is Shilpa Shetty. She is a Bollywood film star who came here to be in the show. And she earlier had said that she felt like she was a victim of racial abuse.

Why? Because some of the other contestants in the show had made fun of her Indian accent. They had said that she wanted to pretend like she was white.

They said that her food wasn't good. They said that Indians ate with their hands.

All of these things that were going on over the course of the show have resulted in a huge fur. Not just here, but also abroad, the fact that Britain's finance minister, who happened to be traveling in India, had some statements on this earlier today. But this is what's new. Today we heard from the broadcaster. Channel 4 -- as you mentioned, has had amazing ratings from this show -- came out saying that these accusations of racial abuse, well, that the star, Ms. Shetty is actually backing away. This is what Andy Duncan had to say just a little while ago.


ANDY DUNCAN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CHANNEL 4: What constitutes racism is a complex question. We have monitoring extremely carefully events in the house and have reached the view that we cannot, with certainty, say that the comments directed at Shilpa have been racially motivated or whether they stem from broader cultural and social differences.

We have already intervened with Danielle (ph). And as viewers will see tonight, again with Jade (ph), where we felt their comments might be construed to have racist overtones. We will not hesitate to intervene again if apparently racist behavior occurs.


VAN MARSH: Now, he referred to two other contestants, Jade (ph) and Danielle (ph). Those are the two people on the show that seem to be sort of the center of attention at this point. It's their comments on the air, their comments that are getting people arguing and talking and debating all across this country.

Again, Channel 4 is saying that they're going to stick to this program. They believe that this program is good for a national debate. There are others here, including the sponsor, that may disagree. The main sponsor, as you mentioned, Jim, pulling out earlier on today. Other people calling that the actual program be pulled off the air -- Jim.

CLANCY: OK. There we have it. The controversy.

Alphonso Van Marsh talking with us there from London.

Noteworthy, the ratings through the roof.

VASSILEVA: What do they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity?

CLANCY: That's right.

VASSILEVA: Well, don't adjust your watch, not just yet. I know you were trying to.

CLANCY: It won't help.

Still ahead right here on YOUR WORLD TODAY, some very serious scientists resetting the so-called doomsday clock, and it's not looking good for humanity.

VASSILEVA: And bird flu fears are on the rise after new cases in the Middle East and Asia. (NEWSBREAK)



CLANCY: We return now to a once prestigious university in Baghdad, the scene of mayhem and carnage earlier this week, Nastansariya (ph) University, where at least 70 people were killed in massive bomb attacks on Tuesday. Now some of those who survived the ordeal say they will not let the terrorists win.

We get their story from Arwa Damon.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A mound on the campus green, a grave for unidentified remains of victims of a pair of bombs, literally blown to bits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Don't believe anyone who tells you they carried entire bodies -- we would carry a body and parts would fall off.

Atop the grave, I.D. cards picked up after the blast, the fate of their owners unknown. Inside the school where footsteps chattered and footsteps sounded just days ago, only silence. Hanging across the entrance, a sign of defiance. The banner reads, "We will not succumb to terror."

Hadi Ashul (ph), both legs broken, his face indelibly scarred, says he would be back. To stay away, he says, would be to let the terrorists win. He says a girl's body fell on him after the explosion, saving his life. And is tormented by thoughts that it might be his good friend, Ma'ab (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I was walking and I saw her, and she said, finally, I caught you. And I told her, Ma'ab, I swear to God tomorrow, I'll not attend any lectures just for you.

DAMON: Ashul (ph) confesses he's had a crush on Ma'ab for a long time, but never told her. Now he fears he'll never get the chance. In another bed, Samaa (ph), a 20-year-old chemistry student who also survived purely by chance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The last thing that I talked about with my friend was her engagement tomorrow. I asked her to stay with me, but she wanted to leave. I insisted on staying to photocopy papers. She wanted to go, and she died; I wanted to stay, and I stayed alive.

DAMON: Those who could talk said the most painful things was that one minute they were just college students having fun -- the next, waking up to a nightmare that will likely never end.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VASSILEVA: And staying with the violence in Iraq and its consequences, one of the more serious issues involves the loss of Iraq's most skilled, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and more have left the country in large numbers for safer lives elsewhere for attacks like this.

Ali Fadhil knows this all too well. He is a doctor but has traded his stethoscope for a pen; he became a journalist.

He joins us from New York to discuss the brain drain in his country.

Ali, thank you so much for joining us.

I have to ask you, who would perpetrate such a thing. Who would target in such a savage way university students and college professors, and why?

ALI FADHIL, IRAQI JOURNALIST: Thank you very much.

Well, I don't think I have the exact answer for this, because the killing of the professionals, and doctors, university teachers, this started early after the invasion of 2003. It's not something new. That's something started immediately after the war. And there were many factors. Probably because gangs, they felt that the teachers, doctors, they were wealthy, and they were using them, kidnapping them for money ransoms, and that continued until today.

VASSILEVA: What about sectarian reasons? Were they attacks because they were of a particular sect, of a particular ethnicity, or was it because of what they did?

FADHIL: In fact, there are two factors. If you're talking about the internal kidnapping, the internal targeting within the universities, within these sects of the Sunnis and Shias within the universities, that's true. It happened, and still happening first, because most of the teachers, and that's well known, most of the teachers, professors in the universities, most of the doctors, they were Baathist, and you have to be in Baath Party to get actually into the medical school and graduate from the medical school.

So some of them, most of them were targeted because they were Baathists. We lost, for example, in our university, my university medical city of Baghdad University, we lost actually many professors. They were professionals. They were head of departments. They were unique in Iraq for certain specialties; no one can do what they were doing at the time.

VASSILEVA: And how worried are you about Iraq's future? These are teachers, they are doctors, like yourself, journalists, targeting the intellectuals of the country?

FADHIL: It's not only my worries, it's the worries of everyone in Iraq. The problem is, if we are -- if this, you know, the proliferation of the educated people, of professors, of our doctors, that means in the coming years, we'll be suffering from generations who they hadn't had the chance to get this kind of training. They will not have the precise education that we had the opportunity to have, and at the end, I guess the problem will be even worse than what we think.

It's not only the daily death in Iraq. In fact, we have the say in Iraq, that we say that people who died from explosions or from sectarian strife, that's fine, they die, but people are living. They are actually dying while they're living. We have no education right now. Most of the universities are shut down. My friends, my brothers, they go to the university, they have no professors. They're just sitting there signing their presence and go back to their home; there's no education around.

VASSILEVA: Let's talk a little about you. You are on a Fulbright scholarship. You plan to go back home after this, and many other people choose to stay; they don't want to go back to being intimidated. Tell us a little bit about how you have been threatened, how you have risked your life.

FADHIL: Well, I changed from medicine to journalism, because in 2003. I realized there was nothing to do with medicine in Iraq. I mean, it wasn't true in 2003 that we needed doctors. We needed hospitals. We didn't have these things. So going into journalism, I found a way to do something, and see my country in a different way. But the problem is, as far as I went deep into journalism, I started working, making films. Haven't actually -- in January of 2006, when American forces raided my house in Gazaliya (ph), and at that time my identity was revealed to the neighborhood, and Gazaliya in West Baghdad, an insurgent area. And I was revealed as a journalist who works with Western media, with British TV, Channel 4 at that time. And what happened is people did not know that I'm a journalist. I used to go outside my house hanging the white card on the -- inside the car so people would think I'm a doctor, I'm going to the hospital, and that's what we were telling the people.

And after that, my identity was revealed as a journalist working for the media. I was targeted, and that's what happened to me. Since then -- in fact, right now, I can go back, because I can go probably elsewhere in Baghdad, but not into Gazaliya.

VASSILEVA: All right. Ali Fadhil, Iraqi journalist, we wish you all of the best. Thank you very much for speaking with us.

CLANCY: Fascinating story, hard life for a lot of the professional people in there, especially some of the journalists, you know, can't reveal their identity, you know, a lot can't go home at night, and it's very tough.

VASSILEVA: As he was saying, that he had to -- he used to tell people he just worked at a hospital, and even his relatives.

CLANCY: That's how hard it gets.

We have to take a short break but still ahead here on YOUR WORLD TODAY, Muslim extremists in Britain.

VASSILEVA: That's right. Radicals are creating divisions within the Muslim communities. We'll preview a documentary that looks at the war within. Stay with us.


CLANCY: Welcome back to CNN International, seen live in more than 200 countries across the globe. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

The main stories that we're following today. Well, more violence in Iraq as country's prime minister says his forces need more U.S. weapons to end the blood shed.

The sponsor of the U.K. reality television show "Celebrity Big Brother" pulling out after accusations of racism.

And a community divided, a look at the cultural clash within Britain's Muslim community. Ralitsa joins us with more on that.

VASSILEVA: That's right, Jim. Since the attacks on the London transit system in 2005 and last year's foiled terrorism plot, a radical minority of Islamic extremist have divided Muslim communities. The growing tensions are the focus of a new CNN documentary called "The War Within."

And before we give you a preview, let's take a look at some of the statistics. There are some 1.6 million Muslims living in the United Kingdom. That's about 3 percent of the total population. Half of all the Muslims in Britain were born on British soil, most are of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin. And they are the poorest group in the country, with an unemployment rate far greater than any other group of Asian workers in Britain.

Muslim extremism can thrive in poor areas of London where many young people feel trapped and they see no way out of their situation. CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour talked with one man who is just trying to make a difference.


HANIF KADAR, YOUTH LEADER: As a minority, I mean in the schools that actually believe -- I mean, this is Muslims, I know Muslims, and this is very shocking, but blowing people up is quite cool.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That blowing people up is cool?

KADAR: Is quite cool, yes.

AMANPOUR: Last August, British police descended on Walthom Stow (ph), saying they had foiled a conspiracy to blow up a dozen U.S. bound airliners with liquid explosives. This set off the biggest security alert since 9/11.

KADAR: I got an e-mail about this. So I put the question to some of these guys. The answers that I got is, what if a bomb had gone after in Baghdad or Afghanistan, and innocent women and children killed over there who cares for them. So if a bomb goes off in America or in London, what's wrong with that?

AMANPOUR: Indeed, a poll in "The Times of London" showed a shocking 13 percent of British Muslims believe the London subway bombers were martyrs. And many British Muslims see the Iraq war as a war against Islam, against them.

We're talking about England. We're talking about young Muslims who have grown up in this country. I think people would be really stunned to hear you say that it is essentially foreign policy which is causing youngsters to blow themselves up on the subway system, and youngsters to think that that's cool.

KADAR: Foreign policy has a lot to do with it, but it's the minority radical groups that use that to get to our young people.

AMANPOUR: And some of those young Muslims are easy prey, because they believe the British government crackdown is scapegoating them as when Minister John Reid came to talk to Walthom Stow (ph) parents.

JOHN REID, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: There are fanatics who are looking to groom and brainwash children, including your children. So all I see is look for those telltale signs now.

AMANPOUR: One of those fanatics was in the room waiting to pounce.

OMAR BROOKS, MUSLIM ACTIVIST: When they come to your own house, when you're house raided, or your sister is raided, you'll be just as irate as I am.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Omar Brooks a self-styled religious leader of an extremist group that is now banned.

BROOKS: I'm not going to talk of extremist rubbish.

KADAR: Now he's running there, and he's -- he's shouting at everybody. And everybody is thinking, yes, this guy is well against the system.

BROOKS: Where your freedom of speech now?

KADAR: They considered to be heroes, you know, for the younger guys. Yes. Get in there, you know. He's telling them how it is.

BROOKS: You should not come to Muslim area.


VASSILEVA: Well, for more on Christiane's investigation into Muslim extremism in the United kingdom. Tune in to "The War Within." For international viewers. The program airs on Saturday at 0700 GMT. And for viewers in the United States, you can catch it at 8:00 p.m. Eastern this Saturday. Jim, it's over to you.

CLANCY: All right. Thank you, Ralitsa.

Majid Khan (ph), the name not likely a familiar one to you. The U.S. government says, he was taking orders from a man accused of orchestrating the September 11 attacks. So Khan is locked up at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A Pakistani national, Kahn's family only recently learned what happened to him. Kelli Arena has his story.


KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The government says Majid Kahn is one of the worst of the worst, one of the 14 alleged terrorists held in secret CIA prisons and transferred to Guantanamo Bay.

He hasn't been heard from for more than three years. His family wasn't even sure he was alive until now.

MAHMOOD KHAN, BROTHER OF DETAINEE: When we saw the letters, the only thing I think that came good out of it is that we know where he is. And before he was uncertain.

ARENA: Three letters in all delivered to the family by the Red Cross. It's the first time anyone has heard from any of the 14 men.

KHAN: He's asking for lawyers. He's trying to tell us that he's innocent and he has done nothing. That's what we get, really out of his words.

ARENA: Khan writes, "in this letter, I am going to mention some of the things I have been through," apparently talking about his time at a secret CIA prison. But all you see after that is a page of black. Details the government blocked out, calling the information too sensitive.

KHAN: So from the whole letter, this is what we get as a family -- two lines up top, two lines on the bottom. That's it. This is what makes you feel frustrated.

ARENA: The only part that isn't not blocked out is where he says, I didn't even have my glasses to read or to see.

In another letter referring to life at GITMO, he says, "I do get to go out of my cell to get sunburned for about one hour every day. And sometimes I get to talk to other detainees as well from behind the wall. But I'm still in solitary confinement."

According to the Bush administration, Khan, who lived in Baltimore, is being held for allegedly plotting to blow up gas stations and poison water supplies in the United States.

He has been denied what many Americans think is a basic right: access to his lawyer. She sued the government to get Khan the right to challenge his detention in court. GITANJALI GUTIERREZ, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: They've certainly have refused to move forward in court or actually present any sworn or credible evidence.

ARENA: While much attention is focused on what Khan wrote about his treatment, his family is mostly touched by the personal passages.

KHAN: "Please let me know in our family who is married to who, newborn babies and who has died. And I don't need to tell you how much I love you and miss you guys."


CLANCY: Kelli Arena with the story of Maji Khan. A young man that found his way into Guantanamo Bay Cuba -- Ralitsa.

VASSILEVA: Well, when YOUR WORLD TODAY returns -- what time is it, Jim? Do you know?

CLANCY: Well, you know, I have a look at this watch, but I think it's closer to midnight on a different clock. And we're going to explain why in a little bit of a different way with the help of Jeanne Moos.


CLANCY: All right. Checking through the facts department. No one knows exactly when the world will end, of course.

VASSILEVA: I hope not any time soon. Well, smart people though, now think it's going to come a little bit sooner than feared.

CLANCY: That's right. We're talking about the bulletin of atomic scientists. They have adjusted what they have -- their famous, it's called the doomsday clock.

VASSILEVA: And as Jeanne Moos reports, time is running out for us humans.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Do not adjust your watch. It won't help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I have the time. It's 2:30.

MOOS (on camera): No, it's five minutes to doomsday, did you hear?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's about a quarter to 3:00.

MOOS: Did you hear it's actually five minutes to doomsday?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hear that every day.

MOOS (voice-over): But we mean doomsday. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines.

MOOS: Doomsday like you see in the movies.

KENNETTE BENEDICT, BULLETIN OF THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS: We take the idea of doomsday very seriously.

MOOS: This was the latest unveiling of the so-called "Doomsday Clock". Since 1947, a group of highly respected atomic scientists have been symbolically moving the hands, forward when the world is looking for dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two minutes to midnight.

MOOS: Back when, for instance, nuclear negotiation seemed to lessen tension.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seventeen minutes to midnight.

MOOS: That was the best it's gotten. After 9/11, the Doomsday Clock was set at seven minutes. And now the scientists say things have gotten worse.


MOOS: That's theoretical physicist Steven Hawking speaking through a voice synthesizer, paralyzed by Lou Gehrig's Disease. Scientists in London joined those in Washington via satellite.

BENEDICT: We stand at the brink of a second nuclear age.

MOOS: They blame nuclear advances by North Korea and Iran, plus the 26,000 nukes the U.S. and Russia have, plus a new culprit: global warming.

Movies like "The Day After Tomorrow" may be alarming. But also alarming is this quiet clock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. That's all I can say.

MOOS (on camera): But, I mean, do you really feel like the end of the world could come?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, if some idiot presses the button. And there are so many idiots at the heads of government now, don't you think?

MOOS (voice-over): At five minutes to doomsday, no wonder why this guy was on "60 Minutes."

MOOS (on camera): Do you feel like it's the end of the world?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not at all. But it makes me want to go get something to eat right now. MOOS (voice-over): So the next time you look at your watch, keep an eye on the big hand and think big end of the world thoughts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-two minutes to 3:00.

MOOS (on camera): Did you know it's five minutes to doomsday?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.

MOOS: The movies may make it look like fun and games.

(on camera): What time it is?


MOOS: Actually, it's five minutes to doomsday. Have you heard this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my goodness, I'm late for an appointment.

MOOS(voice-over): Must be on her way to draw up a will.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CLANCY: Well, she's late for an appointment. She's got to go.

VASSILEVA: Does it matter if it's five minutes to doomsday to keep your appointment? You've just got to live it up.

CLANCY; It did to her. And it does to us to. That has to be it for this hour. I'm Jim Clancy.

VASSILEVA: I'm Ralitsa Vassileva. And you're watching YOUR WORLD TODAY on CNN.