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At Least 23 Killed in Series of Attacks in Algeria; War on Terror: Report Concludes Initiative is a Failure; Pervez Musharraf Facing Challenges at Home, Abroad

Aired April 11, 2007 - 12:00   ET


JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: A renewed insurgency. Algeria reeling now from multiple bomb attacks that evoke grim memories of the recent past.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The war on terror a massive failure. A new report says the effort is backfiring and the world is becoming more dangerous.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Darfur is a global catastrophe. And because we believe technology can be a catalyst for education...


CLANCY: The power of Google. One click gives surfers a cyber view of Earth's worst humanitarian catastrophes.

CHURCH: And this isn't a scene from a movie. It really happened. An Israeli highway turns into smash city.

It's 7:00 p.m. in Tel Aviv, 5:00 p.m. in Algiers.

Hello and welcome to our report broadcast all around the globe.

I'm Rosemary Church.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy.

From Algiers, to Tel Aviv, to Khartoum, wherever you are watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

CHURCH: Well, the Algerian government had thought it had gotten the upper hand in a long and bitter battle with Islamic extremists.

CLANCY: But now it would appear that they are back and back with vengeance. Twenty-three people killed Wednesday in a series of bombings in and around Algiers, including a devastating attack on the government palace itself.

CHURCH: And as International Security Correspondent Paula Hancocks tells us, the attacks appear to be the work of a well-known group with a new but frighteningly familiar name.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Residents of the capital thought scenes like these were behind them. But just before midday Wednesday, two explosions hit Algiers, killing some two dozen, with many more injured.

The first blast, which police sources say was a suicide bombing, targeted government buildings. Most notably, the prime minister's office. He was unhurt, telling reporters, "We will stop the gas, because the gas pipes have been damaged. And after this, we will calculate the number of casualties of this criminal and cowardly act."

A second explosion hit a police station in the east of the capital on the road to the airport. Wednesday's scenes of carnage are reminiscent of the 1990s, when these images became all too familiar on the streets of Algiers.

Algeria descended into violence in 1992, when the army canceled elections, but an Islamic party looked set to win. Up to 200,000 people have been killed since then. According to Al-Jazeera, Algeria's main Islamic group, the al Qaeda organization in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, London.


CHURCH: And of course this is the fear, that this could trigger the violence that was seen back in the 1990s in Algeria.

CLANCY: One woman is quoted by the Reuters news agency as standing there outside the wreckage of the government building, saying, "I thought all of this was over with." And now she says, "It appears to be back. I was wrong." And she says, "I can't accept it."

There could be a backlash against some of these Islamic groups as a result of all of this.

CHURCH: That's right. Now, since then, Algeria has enjoyed several years of relative calm.

CLANCY: Still, this deadly attack is reminiscent of what the country went through so many years ago, when it lived, literally, in fear.

Jonathan Mann joins us with insight.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The U.S. still mourns its dead from September 11th, northern Ireland spent years, of course, suffering from what it called the troubles, and there is Iraq, where the attacks are still almost daily. Terrorism is a scourge around the world. But Algeria may be in a league of its own, an agony of its own.

One number says it all. The conservative estimate is that 150,000 people died in Algeria's war with Islamist militants. Other estimates -- and you've heard one -- are even higher. You can trace the tragedy back to 1992, in a very fateful decision. Ultimately, a fatal one.

Algeria's military-backed government held elections and then aborted them when it was clear that Islamist reformers were the ones who were going to win. Some of the Islamists were rounded up, some went underground, some went to war.

The government fought back very hard. It took years, but Algerian authorities did eventually prevail. Essentially, only one terror group survived, called the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. And last year, on September 11th, no less, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number two man in al Qaeda, made an announcement about them.


AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI, AL QAEDA LEADER(through translator): The lion of Islam, our emir, Osama bin Laden, has asked me to announce this good news to our Islamic nation and the mujahadeen everywhere, that the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat has joined al Qaeda.


MANN: Earlier this year, the Salafists abandoned their obscure name and took on the more infamous one, al Qaeda in Islamic North Africa.

Within days, the new al Qaeda offshoot set off seven enormous bombs at police stations and other targets. And just a few days ago, the Algerian government opened up a new attack against them.

Helicopter gun ships in the air, troops in vehicles on the ground, thousands of men in all carrying out their biggest offensive in years. In the northeast of the country, a setter (ph) of Islamic resistance, targeting in particular a town called Bejaia, 200 kilometers east of Algiers, about 150 miles in the mountains and the forest of Algeria.

After so much violence and so much death, Algeria probably still has more ahead. The sad irony is, around the world, Algeria looked like a success story in the war on terror. A remarkable one. Obviously, it doesn't look like that today.

CHURCH: And Jon, a very interesting report there.

I want to get an idea from you how seriously this is being taken in Algeria, this threat from al Qaeda.

MANN: It wasn't taken all that seriously. The violence never completely stopped, but the violence was so bad and got so much better that people thought the war had been won. To use a familiar phrase, that the last holdouts were dead-enders that the government could deal with easily.

When it changed names, people thought, oh, they're just trying to get more attention, they're trying to re-brand themselves, find a new life. Well, the attacks never stopped, and it was really only a week ago that the government really began this offensive to finally wipe out the group that is announcing itself very much alive and dangerous -- al Qaeda in Islamic North Africa.

CHURCH: That's right. And we've been watching attacks in Morocco. What is the link there?

MANN: Well, it's not clear. In the claim of responsibility that we saw just moments ago, the same group that claimed this attack has also claimed responsibility for Morocco. A different story.

If you weren't following that one closely yesterday, three different men killed themselves with suicide bombs, one was shot as he was set to put off his explosives, as police raided various places around Casablanca looking for men responsible for an earlier attack. Moroccan authorities say it's domestic terrorism. They released the names of those involved.

They say they were all Moroccans, no links to organized terror outside Morocco's borders. But a lot of experts say, such coordinated attacks, especially given al Qaeda's ambitions to have a North African front, have to be related.

So, it's anyone's guess right now. The Moroccan authorities say no link at all; others, as I've said, are saying there really has to be.

CHURCH: All right.

Jonathan Mann with some insight there.

Thanks so much.

CLANCY: In the post-9/11 era, the war on terror has been the standout focus of Tony Blair and George W. Bush. Both men have staunchly defended their military and intelligence initiatives as vital not only to the security of their nations, but the security of the free world. Now arrives a new assessment concluding it has achieved the exact opposite.

International Security Correspondent Paula Newton has more on that.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's called flowback. The brutality of the Iraqi conflict, the ongoing global war on terrorism backfiring. Instead of making the world safer, is actually increasing the chances of a terrorist attack.

That is the bottom line of a new British study that claims the war on terror has been a failure.

PAUL ROGERS, OXFORD RESEARCH GROUP: The very concept of a war on terror using military means almost exclusively is actually counterproductive. It's something which an organization, a movement like al Qaeda, actually wants. It wants a major western presence in the heartland of the Islamic world, because then it is actually able to get more recruits to do the fighting.

NEWTON: It's an opinion that has resonated with moderate Muslims for years. Many convinced U.S. and British foreign policy have made it easier for extremists to groom suicide bombers among them.

Hussein Thomas (ph) works with Muslim youth in London and says the war on terror, especially since the Iraqi invasion, has been a dead-easy recruiting tool for al Qaeda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they show you pictures of what's happening in Iraq, kids with their arms chopped off, legs chopped off, crying. Obviously, they are going to be angry.

NEWTON: But U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have been unwavering, prosecuting the war on terror, a priority that they claim will keep their people safe. But the killing field that is now Iraq may have permanently undermined their cause.

STEVEN MONBLATT, U.K.-AMERICAN SECURITY INFO. COUNCIL: Any successes that they have I think have been overwhelmed by the strategic failure that is Iraq. That has made everything more difficult, has made it easier to recruit terrorists, has made it harder to deal with them once they've been recruited. So, strategically, I think it's a failure.

NEWTON: Time and again, President Bush has countered that criticism, saying, in effect, if we cut and run, the terrorists will follow us home. This British study argues they already have, especially in Europe. Iraq is now a battle cry for global jihad.

(on camera): Both Prime Minister Blair and President Bush argue that the war on terrorism should be the top priority of this generation, and that the Iraqi invasion was a just cause. But none of that has eased the nagging doubts in some minds now that waging the war on terror has actually made the world a more dangerous place.

Paula Newton, CNN, London.


CLANCY: Well, the Bush administration says it is looking for someone to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This person would report directly to President Bush and National Security Director Stephen Hadley. But "The Washington Post" reports that at least three retired generals have turned that job done.

CHURCH: All right. We want to follow some other news that we've been following this day.



CLANCY: Hello, everyone. And welcome back to CNN International and YOUR WORLD TODAY.

CHURCH: We're covering the news the world wants to know, and giving you some perspective that goes a little deeper into the stories of the day.

CLANCY: Now, Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, faces a multitude of challenges now.

CHURCH: He does. There's the continuing conflict between the moderate and radical Islam, and lately confrontation of a different sort.

CLANCY: These are attorneys, mostly. Musharraf's country has been wracked by a series of protests over the suspension of a chief justice last month.

CHURCH: Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry stands accused of misconduct. Critics of General Musharraf say he dismissed Chaudhry in order to clear a path for a re-election bid next year.

CLANCY: Pakistan's prime minister cautioning U.S. lawmakers not to impose restrictions on their government. Democratic lawmakers are pushing a bill that would cut billions of dollars in military aid unless Pakistan shows it is fighting al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Pakistan's prime minister says it's not so easy. In fact, Pakistan's military may be taking sides with the Taliban in a battle to retake villages that fell under the control of foreign fighters in its troubled province along Afghanistan's border called South Waziristan.

CNN's Nic Robertson has just returned from Pakistan's wild west, and joins us now from Islamabad.

Nic, there are reports that hundreds of Uzbek extremists have been driven out by tribal leaders, but also fears those tribal leaders may make more trouble not only for neighboring Afghanistan, but coalition forces there.

What's happening on the ground?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, I think the Pakistani government here would be the first to admit that this situation here is on the one hand, very simple, and on the other hand, very complicated. They say it's simple, because what they have been able to do in the tribal area of South Waziristan is to convince the local tribes there to get rid of, to kick out what they describe as Uzbek militants.

These were radical Uzbek Islamists who were fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, when the United States invaded. They came and took up residence inside Pakistan.

It's taken this long for the Pakistani government to get the tribal fighters to agree to kick out these Uzbeks, as they call them. About 200 have been killed in fighting. But so far they've only been able to move them on in that area. There are still some 500, is what they describe, Uzbeks on the loose.

Now, that's the simple analysis that the Pakistani government will give you. But mixed in with that, it gets more complicated.

Apparently, it is widely believed that there are Taliban elements who are now fighting with those pro-government tribes, which raises questions about, what happens when the fight against the Uzbeks go away? Is the government still hand in hand with these Taliban?

Well, at the moment, the government here says, look, we're not working with the Taliban. The Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan are two different things. Indeed, they blame their problems on what's happening in Afghanistan, and the Taliban in Afghanistan right now -- Jim.

CLANCY: Nic, at the same time this is going on out at the border, the wild west, as we called it earlier. But right in the heart of the capital city of Islamabad, some of the middle class fear the Talibanization of their city.

ROBERTSON: They are very worried about it, Jim. What they see right on their doorsteps is a madrasa, or a religious school, the largest female religious school in the whole of Pakistan. About 3,000 girls study there from the age of 4.

One of the largest male madrasas there. They've seen the students come out of there, burka-clad, stick-wielding girls, taking over a local library, closing down an alleged brothel, kidnapping the alleged madam of that brothel, kidnapping a couple of policemen who came to -- who came to stop them.

They have seen the male students closing down video stores, burning videos. And this worries them.

They have all been aware that the religious leaders at that madrasa, at that religious school, have had very radical views. I interviewed one of them last year.

He told me that he advocated Pakistanis studying from his schools going to Afghanistan and killing Americans, because that's an occupation in Afghanistan. I put that to the prime minister, Pakistan's prime minister, last year, and he said he would be dealt with under law. But the government here hasn't dealt with them, and this situation has escalated.

What we've witnessed is exactly what the people of Islamabad, which is a very middle class city, have witnessed on their doorstep, a Talibanization, some think they haven't seen here before. And they don't see the government stepping in, in a serious way, to curtail the activities of this madrasa, who are threatening now to set up an enforced Sharia law, religious law in this city -- Jim.

CLANCY: All right.

Troubling developments that should be of concern to all of us. Nic Robertson, as always, great to have you there on a very complex story, and explaining it for us, what is going on with one of the most important allies, U.S. allies in the war on terror.

CHURCH: That's right.

All right. We're going to check in on how the markets are doing when YOUR WORLD TODAY returns.

CLANCY: Also, we're going to have more on those bombings in Algeria. Does it spell the return of the Islamist insurgency of the 1990? We'll be talking with an expert.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a major step by Macau authorities. Very welcome. We are very pleased with it.


CHURCH: A timely move that could help North Korea take the next step to end its quest to become a nuclear power.

We'll explain when we come back.



CLANCY: A warm welcome back to our viewers joining us from more than 200 countries and territories all around the globe, including right here in the U.S.

CHURCH: This is YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Rosemary Church.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy, and these are the stories that are making headlines in YOUR WORLD TODAY. An Algerian group with links to al Qaeda claiming responsibility for a series of bombings that so far have killed 23 people.

The first explosion taking place right outside the government palace in Algiers, the capital. That was followed by three more blasts in an eastern suburb of the capital.

CHURCH: A new study by Britain's Oxford Research Group concludes the war on terror is a failure. It says the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are making it easier for terror groups to recruit and train members. Author Paul Rodgers adds the U.S. and Britain are doing nothing to address the root cause of terror.

CLANCY: U.S. envoy, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson says Pyongyang is offering to welcome in U.N. nuclear inspectors within a day of receiving unfrozen funds from a Macau bank.

Authorities in Macau said North Korea can now withdraw more than $25 million from one of its banks. According to the deal, Pyongyang should begin to shut down its main nuclear reactor.

CHURCH: Italian television has aired disturbing images out of Afghanistan, showing a mock trial of three hostages, including a kidnapped Italian reporter, and the execution of his driver. The government has been strongly criticized for the deal that secured the reporter's release. Alessio Vinci reports.


ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These pictures, broadcast on Italian state television, are raw proof of Taliban brutality. They stirred a cyclone of controversy over the how the Italian government negotiates the release of hostages.

The video shows a mock trial, the execution of one of the hostages, and the fear of those whose lives, for the moment, are being spared. Blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs are an Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo, kneeling between his Afghan interpreter, journalist Ashal Mashbandi (ph), to his right, and his driver to his left. After reading the death sentence, the Taliban behead the driver and allow Mastrogiacomo to make an appeal.

DANIELE MASTROGIACOMO, ITALIAN JOURNALIST: I ask again to Italian government, and the Afghan government to do something for us. For our release, because its necessary, it is necessary to do all, really, because it's not possible to continue in this manner. We are very afraid. The situation is very, very, very bad. Please. You have to do something. Something. For our release. Please. Please. Accept conditions of Taliban. Please. Please. Please.

VINCI: The videotape was obtained by Italian state television in Kabul on Tuesday. And it was made March 16th. Three days before Mastrogiacomo's release, in exchange for five Taliban militants.

A trade widely criticized around the world by those who say it rewarded terror. And encouraged more kidnappings. The interpreter, whose release was negotiated, along with that of Mastrogiacomo, was never freed.

The Taliban executed him on Sunday after the Karzai government refused to release even more militants.

(on camera): Prime Minister Romano Prodi now faces a barrage of criticism from those who want to find out why the life of an Italian was privileged, but also from those who want to know why the Italian government has asked humanitarian organizations to handle negotiations which ended with the death of two out of the three hostages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The organization called Emergency, is not quite humanitarian organization only. It is politically relevant organization. An organization that is, as an NGO, carries on a very specific political program in some respects, which is highly critical, if not completely opposed to the action by NATO, and almost openly sympathizing or at least neutral with the Taliban regime.

VINCI (voice-over): In fact, the Kabul government has detained the emergency official who negotiated Mastrogiacomo's release on suspicion he is linked to the Taliban. A move that enraged the organization's chief, Gino Strada (ph), who ordered his entire international staff out of Afghanistan.

Strada also revealed that the Prodi government paid a $2 million ran some to free another Italian reporter last year. Prodi did not deny a ransom was paid, and in a statement, he said the government followed the procedure already established by his predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi.

Italy's former interior minister says that's why quite true.

"I think that one must do whatever possible to save the hostages, but some prices are too high," he says, "like the one the current government paid, and that is the release of five terrorists which weakened the government on an ally like Karzai."

Since the deal to release Mastrogiacomo was struck, the Taliban have kidnapped two French aid workers and several of their Afghan guides.

President Karzai said there will be no more deals to free Taliban militants, but those who fear that negotiating with hostage takers would backfire may now have a point. Alessio Vinci, CNN, Rome.


CHURCH: More now on the bombings in Algeria and an apparent resurgence of an Islamist militant group's campaign of violence against the government there. For more, we're joined by terrorism expert Sajjan Gohel of the Asia Pacific Foundation. Thanks so much for talking with us.

Now, of course, we've learned today that an al Qaeda linked group has claimed responsibility for those bombings in Algiers. What does this mean, do you think for Algeria and for nearby Europe?

SAJJAN GOHEL, ASIAN PACIFIC FOUNDATION: Well, Rosemary, the group that is claiming responsibility refers to itself as al Qaeda Organization for the Islamic Maghreb. They used to be called the Salafist Group for Call and Combat. They were primarily Algerian, they were Salafist, they were transnational. Last year, they changed their name to affiliate themselves directly with al Qaeda.

Ayman al Zawahiri, the deputy of AQ actually gave an audiotape statement showing that there had been a new branding of the organization. Now, Algeria itself transcends and predates the September 11th atrocities because there was an Islamist civil war taking place, there was immense violence, it was spilling over into Europe.

There was hope that after 9/11, the situation had begun to show signs of progress, that the peace was returning, but we're seeing now a re-emergence, an escalation of attacks, this year alone, there have been at least a dozen attempted attacks against the police and the authorities in Algeria. The worry is that today's attack is almost a declaration of war, because it was aimed at the prime minister's office and the interior ministry that deals with conflicts of terrorism so the worry is, this is now setting a new dangerous precedent.

CHURCH: That is the worry of the citizens there and beyond in Europe, as you mentioned. But is that possible? Do you think, from what we are seeing in these bombings in Algeria, and in Morocco yesterday and before that? Could that signal a resurgence of the sort of violence that was back in the '90s?

GOHEL: I'm afraid that the situation is becoming quite precarious, certainly if we look at neighboring Morocco, the situation there is also very tense and very worrying. Let's not forget that the last time there was a major terrorist attack in the Maghreb region was with the Casablanca bombings on May 16th, 2003, when 12 suicide bombers blew themselves up and two failed.

Now, you've never had a single incident like that, with so many individuals were used in a terrorist of ration. So many suicide bombers. Now you are seeing there are new people that are being recruited. The next generation. And what we are also seeing that is a new dimension is that this is the generation that were trained in Iraq, fighting with the insurgent groups inside Iraq.

They have come back home with those ideas, with that training, and are now planning new dangerous attacks. Very similar to the previous generation that honed their skills against the Soviets in Afghanistan during the '80s. So the situation remains very worrying.

And we don't really know what the outcome could be. But I fear that we are going to see more attacks like this both in Algeria and Morocco and the rest of the Maghreb.

CHURCH: All right, Sajjan Gohel, thanks so much for talking with us. Appreciate it.

GOHEL: My pleasure.

CLANCY: Let's go south of the Sahel down into Africa, where hundreds of thousands have been killed. Millions more displaced. Darfur today, the worst humanitarian crisis on earth.

Well, now, word the United States has decided to hold off on its plan to stop the genocide, at least for a few weeks. The White House special envoy to Sudan announced the delay at a U.S. Senate hearing on Wednesday. He says the United Nations needs more time to negotiate with Khartoum.

GOHEL: He got some sharp criticism from Democrats who also testified. Susan Rice, formerly with the Clinton White House, served at the State Department at the same time, said for the so-called plan B to be put into action. In fact, this is not the first deadline that's been issued. All the other deadlines that have been set by the U.S. have been allowed to expire without any strict financial sanctions on Sudan.

CLANCY: And for more, for those of you who want to learn more on this, it's only a mouse click away as Zain Verjee tells us.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's like taking a magic carpet ride into a place no one wants to fly into. But one click on Google Earth, the online mapping service, will transport you to the war torn region of Darfur in western Sudan.

Become a witness, looking down on burned villages, like this one, called Kubar. Click on it and see the number of structures destroyed. Out of more than 1,000, fewer than 100 remain here. Google, working with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum wants to raise awareness about the genocide.

ELLIOT SCHRAGE, GOOGLE VICE PRESIDENT: The situation in Darfur is a global catastrophe, and because we believe technology can be a catalyst for education.

VERJEE: Rights groups say more than 200,000 people have been killed in the civil war there, by a deadly group, backed by the government. Since 2003, rebels have been fighting for a share of oil money and political power. More than 2.5 million people have fled their homes. Google Earth loads up on details, breaking down how many refugees are in camps.

DAOWD SALIH, DARFUR REFUGEE: It's not about numbers. It's about people. People like my brothers and sister, who are still in Darfur. In internally displaced camps.

VERJEE: Click on cameras to see pictures of the war, and link to videos that have been taken by eyewitnesses. Darfur refugees say there's only one way to end their tragedy.

SALIH: We need U.N. peacekeepers on the ground. To stop the killing. We need United States government and its partners.

VERJEE (on camera): Deputy secretary of state John Negroponte is visiting Sudan this week. He's expected to deliver a tough message from Washington, essentially asking the Sudanese government to allow an international peacekeeping force on the ground, otherwise, Sudan faces the threat of more sanctions. Zain Verjee, CNN, Washington.


CLANCY: Well, still ahead, a man of many faces.

CHURCH: Palestinian supporters call him a partner for peace. Accusers charge that he is a terrorist. Just who is Marwan Barghouti?

CLANCY: And get out of my war, or I'll just ram by truck through your car. A high speed police chase in Israel caught on camera. We're going to show it to you, coming up.


CLANCY: Hello, everyone. And welcome back. You're watching YOUR WORLD TODAY, right here on CNN International.

CHURCH: Where we are seen live in more than 200 countries and territories right across the globe.

Well, mothers, wives and sisters of Palestinians held by Israel demonstrated for their release in Gaza on Wednesday. Israel and the Palestinians are trying to negotiate an exchange of Palestinians for Israeli soldiers captured last year. But Israel objects to some of the more high profile names on the list of 450 prisoners. Both sides have indicated they might be willing to compromise.

CLANCY: For Israel, of course, Corporal Gilad Shalit is a name must be on that list of prisoners.

CHURCH: He was abducted by militants last June. For the Palestinians, Marwan Barghouti is a standout.

CLANCY: That's right. Atika Shubert explains in the case of Barghouti, why.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the iconic image of Marwan Barghouti. A Palestinian leader in chains. Convicted in Israeli courts, now serving five life sentences for his role in terrorist attacks. Why would Israel consider releasing him? Is he is a possible partner for peace or as his accusers charge, a terrorist with, quote, "blood on his hands?"

Twenty-one-year-old Qassam (ph) spent the last three years in an Israeli prison, also accused, but never convicted of supporting terror groups. Two months were spent in a cell with his father, Marwan Barghouti. Qassam insists that releasing his father will accomplish two things. Unite warring Palestinian factions and bring both Israelis and Palestinians closer to a two-state solution.

QASSAM BARGHOUTI, MARWAN BARGHOUTI'S SON: All the Palestinians talk about Marwan Barghouti as a leader for everyone. Not just for Fatah, Hamas.

SHUBERT: Israel has long complained that it has no Palestinian partner for peace. Radical Islamic group Hamas now controls the Palestinian government, rescuing to renounce violence or recognize Israel's right to exist.

While more moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is perceived as too weak to enforce a peace settlement.

Marwan Barghouti has become a tempting alternative. He's run for office successfully from prison. A relatively young candidate, untainted by corruption scandals troubling other Palestinian leaders. And, as Palestinian factions battle on the streets, Barghouti has become a bridge from prison, drafting key political agreements acceptable to all factions.

But can Barghouti unite the Palestinian cause, and still negotiate for peace? His former professor hopes for his release, but is not optimistic.

AHMAD HARAB, FORMER TEACHER: Many people entertain the idea that Marwan will be Mandela-like. But in reality, I -- I don't see that's the case.


HARAB: I don't see that Marwan is more influential in the prison than he was in the prison.

SHUBERT (on camera): Time behind bars has made Marwan Barghouti a potent symbol. But will taking him out of prison give both Israelis and Palestinians the leader they are looking for? Atika Shubert, CNN, Jerusalem.


CLANCY: All right. Let's stay in the Middle East. In Israel ...

CHURCH: That's right. We are stunning pictures for you. Let's bring them up a police chase sent a truck plowing into traffic on a highway. Look at that! It happened in a Tel Aviv suburb.

CLANCY: This footage was captured by a camera up on the roof of a nearby sky scraper. There goes the truck again. Just -- it - he's pushing that one car all the way, it looks like. And he gets diverted there. I don't know how many cars involved in that. What a headache for an insurance company.

CHURCH: You bet. Now the truck was stolen by a 19 year old thief who broke through a police checkpoint. He is now in custody, under arrest, but not before 11 people were injured in that pileup.

CLANCY: The driver, yeah, the driver has been arrested. I think that's probably a good move. Going to make the highways in Israel a little safer today.

CHURCH: Israel not usually worrying about those sorts of things.

Still ahead, they risk their lives to get an education.

CHURCH: Despite the ongoing war, despite the daily violence, university students in Iraq are united in their thirst for knowledge, their quest to have a future. We'll be back.


CLANCY: All right. Before we have to go, we're going to take you to Iraq now. And what started out as a debate, comparing Vietnam to Iraq.

CHURCH: But what it turned into was a lesson on the realities of war. Kyra Phillips has a revealing look at what it's like to attend class in a war zone.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. military always find as reason to go to war, Yassir Thar tells me. Just like Vietnam, and now Iraq. The U.S. in a trap again. Vietnam versus Iraq. Can you even compare the two wars? I thought this was today's classroom debate. Until this.

(on camera): Are those bombs - those are bombs going off?


PHILLIPS: How does that make you feel when you hear those bombs going off as you sit here in class?

(voice-over): "Fear, anxiety. I wonder if my family is OK," Yassir says, "because we have no idea where those bombs are landing."

These Baghdad University students don't even flinch. The explosions continue, as they answer my question.

"These explosions have united us, as the sectarian violence divides us," Muqlas Ali explains. "Whether we are Sunni, Shia or Kurd, we are all targets, and that has brought us closer."

In Iraq, if you want a college degree, you risk your life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a woman, or as a girl here, I want to say, we suffer in coming to college, and going to home, and studying with sounds of bombs.

PHILLIPS: So why do you do it? Why do you still come to school, even with the bombs?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is big challenge for us. I think we are very barkaz (ph) people. We are brave.

PHILLIPS: I realize at this point, comparing Vietnam to Iraq is not today's lecture. Living this war, this moment, is the lesson.

AHMED: Maybe the situation in Iraq now is not a good situation, but the challenge of the human is how to create the best situation in order to provide future to this society.

PHILLIPS: And believe me, these students face challenges.

(on camera): Why do you think it's important to debate this war?

(voice-over): "We have to discuss the mistakes," Hashem Haidar says. "Saddam was the worst tyrant in the world. He had to go. But look at Iraq now. The U.S. military hasn't controlled the borders. Raids and bombs scare innocent Iraqis. This is occupation, not freedom."

However, mistakes are not destroying dreams. These students know exactly what they want. Yahad Jundi (ph) wants to work for Iraqi intelligence. Abir Muhamad (ph), a professor. Hanna Rashid (ph), a diplomat. And Muhammad Saleman (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iraqi embassy, anywhere.

PHILLIPS (on camera): Do you feel like you have a future here in Iraq?

(voice-over): It depends on security, and that keeps getting worse, Mohammed Ali (ph) says. Our professors are being killed, and that impacts our education and future."

But for their processor, there is hope in this class.

AHMED: For me, the best thing, how to keep the unity in this classroom, and when I go out of this classroom, their job, how the community and their family.

PHILLIPS (on camera): So ask the students, whether they are Sunni, Shia, Kurd in this classroom, do they all feel as one, Iraqi?

Yes, no? Yes. Yes.

(voice-over): Perhaps the first time I have seen true unity in Iraq. Kyra Phillips, CNN, Baghdad University.


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