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Terrorist Attack Viewed Through Foreign Eyes, Even Libya Condemns Attack

Aired September 12, 2001 - 05:50   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: As John King has been reporting, and as we spoke to James Rubin earlier today, what President is looking for is support internationally for the fight against terrorism.

So we move overseas now to CNN Chief International Correspondent Cristiane Amanpour who's in London.

Cristiane you've been looking at the morning newspapers. What is the read today over there.

CRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Carol, the sense of shock here across this side of the Atlantic is profound. And it seems to be growing, not diminishing as this unfolding catastrophe becomes more and more clear.

In England, for instance, the normally hyper ventilating tabloids are saying things like is this is the end of the world? Or that you might be expect from these kinds of tabloids, but the otherwise cerebral and normally cautious and careful broad sheets, the "Financial Times" has got a front page headline entirely devoted to this. They call it, "Assault On America." Another U.S. British paper calls it "Doomsday In America." And here in France on the leading newspaper, "The Figaro" it is saying "The New War."

All radio and television programs here in the United Kingdom and around Europe that I've heard, and that we've been tapping into, are almost entirely devoted to this catastrophe. Leaders from all of the European countries have spoken publicly about their unlimited support for the United States, not just moral support for the United States and the victims of this catastrophe. But also they pledge themselves publicly to what they say will have to be a renewed effort by all democracies worldwide effort they say to try to defeat and eradicate this kind of terrorism.

In England, certain specific measures have been taken. All commercial airlines are banned from flying over central London. There is heightened security at key areas, in key buildings, particularly around the airport. British Airways, the national career has canceled flights to Pakistan which neighbors Afghanistan. Also to Tel Aviv, you know Israel has closed down its air space to any foreign carriers. Air France, the French national carrier has also banned its flights from going to Tel Aviv, obviously because that airport is closed but also to North America while that situation resolves itself in terms of airport closures there.

But an intense state of alert and security. All of the European governments, most of them say that they're holding top level national security meetings today. In Britain the Prime Minister has convened his top ministers of defense, his foreign secretary and his home secretary are to an emergency meeting at the Prime Minister's resident. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary earlier today said that it was perhaps to early to point the specific finger. They said that while they do share intelligence with the United States, he would not reveal that kind of intelligence. Although, he says that it should not be under estimated the magnitude of what happened in the United States, yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK STRAW, FOREIGN SECRETARY, UNITED KINGDOM: This is an even of such horrifying unimaginable proportions that I believe it's one worthy that shock grows over time rather than diminishes as the reality of it impacts upon all of us. And we come better to understand the appalling consequences for obviously for the victims, for their families, for the community in New York, for the people of the United States and for the world democratic communities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Now while leaders and commentators and analysts are generally saying that a state of war has been declared against the United States and against what they call civilized humanity, they're saying that it is important Jack Straw's saying to keep a cool head. While at the same time realizing and eventually responding to the profound nature of what happened against the targets of democracy and the United States yesterday.

Now in the Arab world, most of the Arab countries who are allied with the United States, most of the moderate Arab countries, the leadership has come out vigorously condemning the attacks yesterday. There is slightly different mood on the streets of the Arab world where some in some capitals and in some parts of the Arab world people are saying that this was an inevitable eventuality.

They say that this is something perhaps that the United States should have expected given what they say is the U.S. close association with the state of Israel. And as you know this 11-month inter- fighting has been ratcheting anti-American feelings amongst the Arab peoples over the last 11 months.

Having said that, Libya, which has not had a history of close relations with the United States, Libya came out condemning what it called this terrorist attack. And today there is word from the OIC, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, 57 Islamic Nations have come out condemning this attack saying that it is against Islam. Carol.

CAROL: Cristiane, as you probably know by now we expect that U.S. Domestic flights will be flying again around mid day although there will be extreme and heightened security at all of the nation's airports. What is the situation in Europe? Are flights going to be resuming? Trains resuming? And how tight is security across the board?

AMANPOUR: Well security is exceptionally tight, as you can imagine. There were scene of not chaos but controlled disruption yesterday at all of the airports with obviously hundreds of passengers trying to get to the United States and people waiting for visitors coming from the United States. And European airlines and air companies are having to deal with many, many stranded passengers as they await news from the United States as to when those airports will be open for operations some time in the not to distant future, they hope.

I was flying back from an assignment in Africa yesterday aboard Air France, the French national carrier. And there was an intense security and heightened sense of caution on the flight. The captain, in a rather extraordinary measure came into the main cabin, took the microphone and asked everybody to be alert to look around them. To observe whether they noticed anything alarming, different, abnormal to report anything that they saw that was potentially cause for concern. It was very chilling. It was very tense. It was very stressful.

Having said that, Air France takes these kind of security precautions in various tense areas for instance for the West Coast of Africa. And they have private security agents on board who fly on their flights. And not only that, check passengers coming on to the flight even once they've been through all of the airport security at the bottom of the plane, at the foot of the steps they check once again both a body search and a baggage search. Carol.

CAROL: Yeah, not unheard of even in normal times. Thank you very much Cristiane Amanpour reporting live from London.

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