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Special Report: Target: Terrorism

Aired October 6, 2001 - 22:00   ET


DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Nice to have you joins us. I'm Donna Kelley. This is a CNN special report.

In the next hour, we're going live to Eastern Afghanistan, Islamabad, Pakistan and Washington. First a look at the latest developments for you this hour. At least two people were killed today when a remote controlled bomb exploded in eastern Saudi Arabia. It was placed in a busy shopping district in Alkobar (ph). U.S. military personnel are stationed in the area. Investigators call this an isolated incident.

The Pentagon and White House are not commenting on reports that Taliban forces fired on a U.S. plane over Afghanistan today. Taliban foreign ministry says the U.S. aircraft was not hit.

A Taliban official says 10,000 troops have rushed to the Afghan border with Uzbekistan. They're threatening to cross the border if that country assists a U.S. attack on Afghanistan.

Afghanistan's opposition forces, the Northern Alliance, say that they are making advances against the ruling Taliban. A spokesman says that the group captured five villages today, killed possibly dozens of Taliban fighters, and captured 100 others.

And the Taliban say that they will release eight Western aid workers if the United States stops, in its words, mass propaganda of military action against the people of Afghanistan. The Bush administration says no deal.

The United states appears to be inching closer to military action against Afghanistan. CNN's Matthew Chance is in the northern part of that country this hour.

Matthew, we had talked to another reporter in eastern Afghanistan earlier. He said that they were moving the troops to strategic high ground and stockpiling food. What can you tell us about troop movements where you are?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well certainly from the perspective of the Northern Alliance, anti-Taliban forces in this part of Afghanistan where we are right now, there is a sense in which they seem to be consolidating their positions in those front lines, the nearest front lines to here about 25 kilometers, about 15 miles north of the Afghan capital Kabul. I spent two nights ago. I was on that front line. And the commanders there told me they've been beefing up their positions essentially. There have been renewed commitments from Russia to supply arms to the forces of the Northern Alliance. And they also say that the troops there are ready to strike out at the Taliban positions across the plains towards Kabul.

But first, they say they're waiting to see what the United States will do. The foreign minister of the Northern Alliance, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, has been talking in terms of days of some kind of military action, but I have to say he's been saying that now for a couple weeks, Donna.

KELLEY: Matthew, the Northern Alliance has been claiming a number of successes militarily lately. What can you tell us?

CHANCE: Well, that's right. They do say they've been making significant territorial gains in the northern, northwestern part of Afghanistan, several hundred kilometers to the west of here, from where we're standing. They say they've made gains in the province of Samangand, taking five villages there. Also taking a lot of prisoners from the Taliban, and in their words liberating a number of Afghan civilians.

The important thing is, though, we're only getting those reports secondhand, because of the remote location of that area of conflict. We're not able to travel there and independently verify exactly what the situation is on the ground -- Donna.

KELLEY: Do you have any idea what the numbers are for the fighters for the Taliban and for the Northern Alliance and those who may be joining the Northern Alliance?

CHANCE: Well, the Northern Alliance, we've been saying all along, have had about 15,000 men who are armed and ready to fight, 15,000 troops that is. On the Taliban side, it's different. They've got many more people they say who are under arms and ready to fight. They're talking in the hundreds of thousands.

The reality of the situation is slightly different, because in the area that exists between the land controlled by the Northern Alliance and the land controlled by the Taliban, there is a very gray area made up of local warlord's, who offer their commitments, their alliances to whichever power they feel is in their interest.

Now there's a lot of those warlord's who are in alliances with the Taliban right now, because the Taliban are the main force here in Afghanistan. We've been told by Northern Alliance officials that there are discussions underway with a lot of those local warlords. And a number of them, they say, have expressed interests in sort of swapping sides and coming over to the Northern Alliance. That, of course, would seriously deplete the Taliban forces and bolster those of the Northern Alliance -- Donna.

KELLEY: Matthew, do you have any idea, do you get any word -- the Khyber Pass in that northern part of the country, which the Northern Alliance controls, is one of the few places, one of the toughest places for refugees. Do you get any word on the numbers of refugees or if they're able to get out or what their situation is right now?

CHANCE: It's a very tough country all over this part of Afghanistan for refugees along this very rugged mountainous terrain. You can see the kind of dusty mountains that we've got here in northern Afghanistan behind me, indeed.

They've had a long running refugee crisis here, hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people, according to the United Nations. Very difficult though estimate the exact numbers.

There are a number of tent cities refugee camps that have sprung up, not just because of the latest crisis. A lot of those new refugees have been absorbed into the local communities here, but from the years and years of conflict that has pushed normal Afghans from their homes.

Now of course, there have been pledges of aid from an aid donors conference in Geneva, pledging $600 million. The United States has pledged aid specifically for humanitarian support of those refugees. The difficulty, of course, Donna is how to get that money and those supplies to the people of Afghanistan. The situation is obviously very difficult right now. And much of the country is inaccessible to aid workers. And so distribution is of course the biggest problem, Donna.

KELLEY: In the northern part of Afghanistan, our Matthew Chance. Thanks very much. We'll talk to you soon.

Well, President Bush is stepping up the pressure again on the Taliban.

CNN's White House correspondent Kelly Wallace with our report.


KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Out of sight at Camp David, President Bush consults with his National Security team and uses his weekly radio address to give the clearest indication yet that military action against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban may be very near.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Taliban has been given the opportunity to surrender all the terrorists in Afghanistan and to close down their camps and operations. Full warning has been given and time is running out.

WALLACE: Mr. Bush, for the first time, says time is running out for the Taliban, while his administration flatly rejects the latest offer from the regime. The Taliban proposes releasing eight Western aid workers, including two Americans on trial accused of spreading Christianity, in exchange for the United States ending threats of a military attack. An administration official tells CNN, "It is time for action not words. This is not a negotiation." While Mr. Bush reiterates this is not a campaign against the Arab world, Islam or the people of Afghanistan.

BUSH: We are offering help and friendship to the Afghan people. It is their Taliban rulers and the terrorists they harbor who have much to fear.

WALLACE: The President touts how his administration will provide $320 million in food and medicine to the people of Afghanistan and will call on Congress to make money available to help the country rebuild in the future, just as the United States did in Japan and Germany following World War II.

JAMES STEINBERG, FMR. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: That's a very big commitment that the President has suggested here, but it's clearly an attempt to tell the Afghan people and others in the Arab and Muslim world that we're not against the Afghan people, that we are ready to help them.

WALLACE: According to the latest "Newsweek" poll, Americans remain solidly behind the President. More than 80 percent approve of the job he is doing. And senior administration officials say they don't detect any impatience on the part of the public, that Americans know this will be a long process. Still, when pressed for the significance of Mr. Bush saying now, time is running out, one aid said the President's words speak for themselves.

Kelly Wallace, CNN near Camp David, Maryland.


KELLEY: While Mr. Bush is digging in with tough talk, more strong cries against the United States in Pakistan. Angry demonstrators joined in on a major anti-U.S. protest. CNN's Tom Mintier is joining from Islamabad, Pakistan.

Tom, tell us a little bit more about the protests today? Are they growing, the numbers, is the anti-U.S. sentiment growing?

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the anti-U.S. sentiment may be simmering. I don't know whether it's growing or not. We did see a very large demonstration when Mr. Tony Blair was here, a very large demonstration well attended.

But the demonstration that we saw yesterday in Peshawa is about 5,000 people. Now if you want to say this is about average and the sound about normal, then that's what it is. It's very, very strong anti-American rhetoric coming out of these demonstrations recently in Quetta and Peshawa and Karachi and here in Welapendi (ph).

The one in Walapendi (ph) was much, much larger than the one in Peshawa yesterday. You have to remember, Friday is the day of prayer here. On Saturday, it's likely that demonstrations like this will come out. And in the coming days, as the possibility of potential military threat to Afghanistan and the Taliban increases, so will the numbers. The crowds expected to swell.

We have seen a demonstrations the last couple of weeks that were nowhere nearly as well organized as this one in Peshawa yesterday and did not have the numbers. Turning out 5,000 people on the street is significant.

But you must consider, that this is a population of 140 million people. And the fundamentalists have not done very well in the political process here in the last few years. The basic number of the parties and the seats they capture are growing less and less and less.

But they have a rallying cry here now. And the possibility of these numbers growing in the coming days is quite significant. So it is a large pocket, if you will, of anti-American sentiment and growing anti-Pakistan government sentiment. So it is visible. It is noisy. It is very easy to see.

But as far as representing the majority of the population, you know, when the President had his speech, addressing the nation about this situation, he said that some will not be with me. Maybe as many as 10 percent.

Well, we're not seeing even those kind of numbers out on the streets, but the government is aware. In places like Karachi, they have 25,000 police and military on duty for crowd control and riot control. And we had some sectarian violence there last night, where four were killed, which followed a shooting on Thursday night, where another five or six were killed.

So there is tension in the cities. People are coming out and expressing their feelings that they don't support Pakistan's role in aligning with the United States -- Donna.

KELLEY: But it sounds like the base of support is still good and strong for President Musharraf?

MINTIER: Most definitely. When you look at the mainstream of society, when you look at 140 million people, and then you look at the size of the demonstrations, the government had pro-demonstrations a week or so ago here. Didn't really turn out those kinds of numbers even what the anti-government demonstrations are turning out.

So there a lot of people on the sidelines. There are some people who may, on religious reasons, think that the United States may be wrong in what's going on. A lot of those are not turning out. They're not speaking up. And they're remaining silent, but the vocal ones feel very, very strongly. And they are turning out in pretty good size numbers.

KELLEY: What about allegations in some print reports, Tom, that I saw that there may be a question of loyalty with the military in Pakistan of some officers and maybe the intelligence information that might come out of Pakistan? Do you know much more about that and how that might play out?

MINTIER: Well it's been a story that's been around for a long time. You have to remember that Pakistan has and still has diplomatic relations with the Taliban. There is an embassy here.

But when I asked senior government and military officials about this lingering story about dissent in the ranks, they say it's absolutely not true that everyone is aligned, all the core commanders, all the generals are aligned behind General Musharraf in his decision to side with the United States. They say there is no split. There is no friction, but that this is simply a story that won't go away.

KELLEY: Tom Mintier in Islamabad, Pakistan. Thanks very much. We'll talk to you again soon.

And coming up for you, we will have a story of a British journalist in Afghanistan who may be on the verge of gaining her freedom. And we'll talk to the parents of an American aid worker and hear about their hopes for their daughter's release.


KELLEY: Welcome back. Afghanistan's Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden. But today, they said they will release a detained British journalist soon.

CNN's Tom Bogdanovich reports from London.


TOM BOGDANOWICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well after a tense week, Yvonne Ridley's family can prepare for her return to Britain from Afghanistan. There were fears "The Sunday Express" reporter would face spying charges after entering Afghanistan without a visa, wearing traditional Afghanistan dress. Several days of negotiations preceded the release announcement.

MARTIN TOWNSEND, EDITOR, "THE SUNDAY EXPRESS": No money has changed hands. It's been a straightforward negotiation, careful negotiation over the last three days. And thank God, these things have the result that we've been looking for.

Ridley, who has a nine-year-old daughter, was arrested in the Afghan town of Jalalabad nine days ago. But friends and fellow reporters say she was simply following a story. It's inconceivable, they say, that she was spying.

DAPHNE ROMNEY, FRIEND OF YVONNE: It's absurd. I mean, anyone who knows Yvonne will know this is just completely absurd. She is not a spy. She is not capable of being a spy. She wouldn't want to be a spy. It's a joke.

BOGDANOWICH: But some of Ridley's professional colleagues question whether "The Sunday Express" should have allowed her to go into a dangerous country undercover. The newspaper's editor is unrepentant.

TOWNSEND: We made the decision after a lot of careful thought. Yvonne had taken a judgment herself about going in on the ground when she was out there. And I absolutely stand by the decision. It was the right decision.

BOGDANOWICH: Ridley's expected release may give hope to eight charity workers also detained in Afghanistan. The Taliban says it'll let them go if the U.S. "stops its mass propaganda of military action."

JOHN MERCER, FATHER OF DETAINED WORKER: Anytime I hear the words "release" and "detainees" in the same sentence, I become encouraged. And these recent words out of Kandahar, I'm encouraged by them. And I just hope that our government will also be encouraged and try to work a favorable solution for all sides in this matter.

BOGDANOWICH: But it's the Ridley release that looks more encouraging right now.

(on camera): Yvonne Ridley's family, friends, and colleagues are holding back on any celebration. That they say will only come when she's safe and sound on British soil.

Tom Bogdanovich, CNN, London.


KELLEY: And we'll talk to the parents of one of the American aid workers being held in Afghanistan right after this quick break.


KELLEY: And there you see a couple of facts and figures. And now we're going to take a look at the lay of the land in Afghanistan and the problems that that can present. Afghanistan is land-locked. And one of its most important geographic features if the massive mountain range that's known as the Hindu Kush.

It's those mountains that make the prospect of military ground engagements pretty daunting. Fighting in mountainous terrain requires specialized training.

And CNN's Thelma Gutierrez reports from the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a covert world close to civilians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 746481, they're still on the move.

GUTIERREZ: A place where commandos blend into the night, glimpsed only with our night vision lens. It's called the Mountain Warfare Training Center near Bridgeport, California, where 10,000 U.S. Marines practiced mountain assault techniques every year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Small reconnaissance, trying to check out the area around us. GUTIERREZ: The military says this is routine training. But this year, the training has special relevance. The rugged terrain here matches some of the challenges of Afghanistan's mountains.

And over the last couple of days, we've built a picture of the enemy that tells me he is up in this high ground and that three companies are now behind him, and pushing him downhill towards the rest of my fire support units, which will then engage hopefully, as we push him out of the high ground.

GUTIERREZ: This is all part of a three-day war training exercise, that takes place on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The training goes on, all through the night, but under the cover of darkness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me where somebody is. Six or seven guys might be waiting here.

GUTIERREZ: You can't see a thing.

Only infrared nightscope vision glasses change that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Light horse, light horse.

GUTIERREZ: The training is designed to simulate real battle conditions. This is the field command center, a high tech, mobile communications operation, where the units positions are tracked and so are the enemies. No phone calls, no two-way radios are needed here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this corner, we maintain what's called a Viasant (ph) digital communications system. And load it into the computer, shoot in a burst transmission to higher headquarters. And now all of a sudden, they have a complete picture of operational plan that we want to carry out.

GUTIERREZ: It happened instantaneously. The information is encrypted twice. The technology has its price.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are tremendous tools that give us tremendous capability, but also like anything, is susceptible to viruses. And also, I have to keep a generator outside running all the time. Whereas five years ago doing this, is I didn't have that noise signature, and I could do everything without making a lot of noise.

GUTIERREZ: The troops stay on the move all night, in the cold with little sleep.

By day, they practice survival on steep hillsides that reach 14,000 feet.

KEVIN DILE, ROYAL MARINE COMMANDO: This mountain range in particular, it's very, very loose rock and sort of shale, which means every foot you put down doesn't stay where you put it. It'll go about two foot below you.

GUTIERREZ: For the past month, the 42nd Commando Group of the British Royal Marines train alongside the first battalion, Sixth Marine Regiment from North Carolina.

DAVID HOOK, ROYAL MARINE COMMANDO: We don't have the opportunity to train at this sort of altitude in the United Kingdom. But more importantly, it gives us the opportunity to train alongside our Marine Corps brothers.

BRAD YOUNG, CAPTAIN, U.S. MARINE CORP: Our forces are well equipped for any kind of terrain to fight in, including the terrain that may be in Afghanistan or anywhere around the world.

GUTIERREZ: Together, they demonstrate an assault up a 300 foot cliff.

YOUNG: Actually an indirect approach. The reason they were coming this route is because it's not defended. And it gives them an ability to slip in the back door of an enemy force.

GUTIERREZ: The days of practice pay off. They make it up to the ridge within minutes. Neither of these units, Americans or British, has yet been given deployment orders. They say with this rugged mountain training, they are ready when the order comes.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, in the Sierra Nevada, California.


KELLEY: And now for the look at the region, countries near or neighboring Afghanistan include Ukraine, Russian, Kazakstan, and Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is certainly making headlines. The Uzbek president has allowed the United States to use one of the country's air bases for humanitarian purposes and says that he may open up more air bases to the United States in the future.

Uzbekistan has a population of more than 24 million. Mountains are in the west. And most of the people are Muslim. Uzbekistan is only one of the so-called stans or post-Soviet states in Central Asia.

Former U.S. State Department official Paul Goble joins us from Washington to talk a little bit more about the area.

Mr. Goble, hello. Nice to have you join us.


KELLEY: You think Uzbekistan is probably the most important of the stans at this point?

GOBLE: Well, these countries don't like to be called stans. We do it, and they don't. They don't really prefer it.

Uzbekistan is the largest, the most significant, and the most independent minded. Its government is strong, but brittle. That is to say authoritarian, without a great deal of popular support. Linking itself to the United States is something that gives it more independence and its government a better chance to survive. KELLEY: Taliban says that they're rushing 10,000 troops to the border with Uzbekistan. And the (INAUDIBLE) mountain headed there yesterday to get into that airfield for humanitarian purposes and for security at the airport. Do you see a possible clash there coming?

GOBLE: Well, I think we have to understand that those 10,000 troops of the Taliban are not some kind of organized units that are one large, 10,000 group people. I doubt they have that many in any one sector of Afghanistan.

On the other hand, there are going to be infiltrators into Uzbekistan. They're going to be trouble. There's been trouble in Uzbekistan itself. There is a homegrown Islamist movement there, so that it could get a great deal worse in the coming days.

KELLEY: And a senior official has told CNN that the Uzbek government would privately have said that they would like the United States to go ahead and stay, even after all of this is over.

GOBLE: Well, I think that's very much the case. President Islam Karimov sees the presence of American troops as giving him enormous leverage, both over his own population, his dealings with Afghanistan, and his dealings with Moscow.

KELLEY: What about Russia? Let's talk about President Putin. What does Russia get out of this by joining in, at least letting the air space be used for humanitarian needs with Russia?

GOBLE: Well first of all, President Putin of Russia very much wants to use this crisis as an occasion for ratifying Russia's return as a major power, an equal power in international affairs.

At the same time, he very much hopes that he can convince many in the West, some already have, that his fight against the Chechen rebels is part of the same plight that the United States is engaged in, in Afghanistan. And that the West should show understandings for what he's doing.

There has been some shift in Western opinion, but certainly not all the way to where Mr. Putin wants it.

KELLEY: And Russia apparently has an extensive and thorough bunch of reports on intelligence that they could offer. What can they contribute in the intel factor?

GOBLE: Well, I think they can contribute something. I think we shouldn't over-stress how much they can give. The reality is, they didn't do very well in Afghanistan. Their presence there has been relatively minimal for the last 10 years.

Certainly, they can be helpful. I don't think they're the essential country that some are suggesting.

KELLEY: What do you think that they can contribute then? And do you think they might come in, even though they spent 10 years there before and got so bogged down? Would they contribute militarily? GOBLE: I think there are two things they can contribute in the short term. First, is by not opposing the international coalition, but rather supporting it, they make it more difficult for other countries to oppose it and make it more likely that there will be a political solution, rather than being forced to go to a military one in many cases.

Second, I think they do have some intelligence on the ground. And they can be helpful that way.

I think it would be very, very difficult for President Putin to commit military force in Afghanistan. There's a large amount of popular opposition to that. And indeed, his own advisers are saying if he gets too close to the United States on this, he's going to lose significant popular support at home.

KELLEY: Paul Goble with Radio Free Europe and a former State Department official. Nice to have you come and visit with about what you know. Thanks very much.

GOBLE: Thank you.

KELLEY: Just a couple of minutes ago, you briefly heard from the father of Heather Mercer. She is one of two American aid workers being detained in Afghanistan. Mr. Mercer and Heather's mother, Deborah Oddy, join us from Islamabad.

Glad to have you to talk with us.

Mr. Mercer, earlier I think that you were confident that they would do the utmost, the Taliban would do the utmost, the Taliban would do the utmost to protect your daughter. Why would they do that, why do you think that?

MERCER: Well, I think there is a very important tradition within the Afghan society, one of being a guest. And actually several times the Taliban authorities have referred to the detainees as their guests, so -- also their Islamic religion is a very compassionate and humane one. And they place great stock in taking care of women, children, and I think they will continue to do that.

KELLEY: Deborah, we've seen reports that Heather is sick. Is she? Do you know what's wrong?

DEBORAH ODDY, MOTHER OF DETAINED WORKER: We do know what's wrong. We had a recent communication with Heather yesterday. She is suffering a lot of stress, and it's coming out with sobbing and nausea; and she's just a terribly frightened young lady. She has seen a doctor; she has refused any medication. She says she wants to keep her wits about her. If she needs to make a decision, she wants to be clear-headed. But it isn't a physical illness per se, it's really emotional from all the stress. I believe today is 66 of their captivity.

KELLEY: Understandable, too, Deborah. You said communication with her yesterday. Are you able to tell us how you are able to have communication back and forth?

ODDY: We've been faxing letters back and forth to the foreign ministry. We heard from her sometimes several times in one day. Yesterday it was twice.

KELLEY: John, you said -- I want to let you know, you've probably heard this report -- that the Taliban said they would release the aid workers if the United States stopped, as they termed it, the mass propaganda of military action against the people of Afghanistan. The president said, no, not going to negotiate.

Is that the right track to be on, and what more could he do in your opinion?

MERCER: Well, that's difficult for me to say. I think it was a very encouraging statement by the Taliban. And I think they want to release the detainees. This was an opportunity for that to happen. I'm still encouraged that somehow we will be able to discuss with the Taliban how this could happen.

KELLEY: What about the status of the trial, John? Do you know if that is moving forward or if it is on hold?

MERCER: It's rather on hold, because the lawyer, Mr. Khan, is currently in Islamabad finishing up his written brief, which he will then submit on Tuesday, next week, to the Taliban Supreme Court. He's planning to go back on Monday. And from there, I suspect that the court will review the brief. If they have further questions, they might call in the detainees to answer questions. And then I suspect they might render a verdict.

KELLEY: Well we know that this must be truly agonizing for you, and we certainly wish you well, and hope that everything will work out for you, and we'll continue to talk with you and keep track of the situation, certainly. John Mercer and Deborah Oddy, who are Heather Mercer's father and mother, thank you.

Well the tide of refugees fleeing Afghanistan is swelling, and today the United Nations high commissioner for refugees warned that the final numbers could be staggering. But also on the rise, money to help the displaced Afghans. So far 22 countries have pledged, at least, $600 million. More that 3 1/2 million Afghans have fled into neighboring Pakistan and Iran, and another 1 1/2 million are expected to seek refuge in other countries.

After a quick break, we have a live look at the work at the World Trade Center in New York, and an update on the investigation there.


KELLEY: And welcome back. Here are the latest developments as America targets terrorism, we're learning more about that remote controlled bomb blast in eastern Saudi Arabia today. At least two people were killed, four others were injured, including an American and a Britain. The bomb exploded in a busy shopping area in Al Khobar. Finance ministers from the world's seven wealthiest nations vowed today to smash the complex international money machine of terrorist organizations. And President Bush is warning Afghanistan's Taliban that time is running out to hand over suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and his associates.

And we want to take a look at live pictures for you right now, of the World Trade Center ruins at this hour. The number of missing at this location stands at 4,979, almost 5,000 people still listed as missing; 393 people are confirmed dead, and of those 335 have been identified.

As more bodies were pulled from the rubble today, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, ended it's search and recovery efforts at the site, but some agents are going to remain to help people who were displaced after the attack.

As -- in New York funerals and memorials for two dozen firefighters, this is a service for Faquino Apostal (ph) laid to rest today in Staten Island. He was killed as he helped people evacuate the World Trade Center.

As U.S. investigators narrowing in on suspected plotters of the terrorist attacks, authorities are following a trail of Afghan training camps, money transfers and communications. And along the way they're picking up evidence against Osama bin Laden and his associates.

CNN's national correspondent Eileen O'Connor with our report.


EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The September 11 attacks were thought to cost roughly $500 thousand, according to sources. Suspected hijacker Mohamed Atta received wire transfers via Pakistan, and then distributed the cash via money orders bought here in Florida.

A senior law enforcement source tells CNN, the man sending the money to Atta is believed to be Ahmed Umar Said Sheikh (ph), the leader of an Islamic militant group associated with al Qaeda, a group that was fighting for Kashmiri independence from India, which is why Said Sheikh was once in custody in India. But in 1999 he was released to meet the demands of hijackers of India Airlines Flight 814.

NIRUFAMA RAO, INDIAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESWOMAN: From the nature of the demands that they made, and the people whose release they demanded, who were definitely linked with al Qaeda, I would like to think that even the hijackers had links with this terrorist organization.

O'CONNOR: Even the eight-day long hijacking itself had all the trademarks of an al Qaeda operation.

CAPT. DEVI SHARAN, PILOT, HIJACKED INDIAN AIRLINER: They used to praise Osama bin Laden and they used to give a lot of lectures on Islam. O'CONNOR: The alleged financial link between Said Sheikh and Mohamed Atta provides more evidence to U.S. law enforcement that Osama bin Laden was behind the September 11 attacks, and remains a threat.

WILLIAM HARLOW, CIA SPOKESMAN: No one should minimize that threat. It's also something which is not new. Bin Laden and his organization have made it clear that it is their goal to target American taxpayers. They've said that it is their religious duty to kill Americans.

O'CONNOR: Federal law enforcement officials say knowing about threats doesn't necessarily make it any easier to stop the actual attacks; especially, they say, when terrorists can take advantage of the freedoms offered in the United States.

BUCK REVELL, FORMER FBI OFFICIAL: Only two of the 19 individuals that have now been identified were even known to the U.S. intelligence community. The FBI was looking for them, but had no authority to arrest them because they hadn't done anything illegal at the time.

O'CONNOR (on camera): Which is why local law enforcement wants more information sharing, so that if someone like accused hijacker Mohamed Atta gets a speeding ticket, he might not be able to get away with mass murder.

Eileen O'Connor, CNN, Washington.


KELLEY: The attacks sparked calls for major changes in the way that the United States gathers intelligence. And now some of those changes are starting to move through Congress.

CNN's national security correspondent David Ensor with our report.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prompted by the magnitude of the terrorist attacks of September 11, the House, Friday, passed a bill authorizing billions more for U.S. intelligence gathering. The bill also orders the CIA director to make it easier to hire informers or agents who have criminal and human rights abuse records.

REP. DOUG BEREUTER (R), NEBRASKA: We must allow our foreign officers to recruit assets that are some rather unsavory characters.

ENSOR: The budget numbers in the bill are classified, but it would pay for more spies; for work on the next generation of surveillance satellites, smaller and more numerous; and to higher more photo analysts and language experts to sift through intercepts and photos for the National Security Agency, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency and throughout the intelligence community.

REP. PORTER GOSS (R-FL), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We've got stuff on the cutting room floor, as it were, that's not even been looked at, and some of it may be very valuable.

ENSOR: The House Intelligence Committee report attached to the bill also says a fresh look should be taken at restructuring the CIA, possibly even setting up a separate clandestine service to run the nation's spies.

Critics say the U.S. is dangerously weak on human intelligence.

SEYMOUR HERSH, JOURNALIST: I don't there's one agent undercover inside the fundamentalist circles in the Islamic world. We don't have one.

QUESTION: Not one?

HERSH: I hate to say not one, but if there's one, there's one.

ENSOR: CIA officials say they won't discuss how many spies they have in the Middle East and Southwest Asia but note that, for example, the number of Arabic speakers at the agency roughly tripled in the last five years.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Porter Goss, is himself a former CIA officer.

GOSS: To hone your skills to be able to speak the vernacular, to blend in the neighborhood, to understand the customs, to wear the right clothes, make the right hand gestures, all of that means living in the community or being ethnic to the community. Those are the kinds of people we need to be finding to do work for us, either as our officers or our agents. And, clearly, there's must work to be done in that area.

ENSOR: Much work to be done, and it will likely take years to make a meaningful difference. The U.S. intelligence community must try to detect and stop the next big terrorist threat to the U.S. with the assets it has in place right now.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.


KELLEY: When we come back, we'll update you on the investigation into a Florida man's death from anthrax, and we'll ask an expert on biological warfare just how worried you should be.


KELLEY: There are still more questions than answers about Thursday's crash of a Russian airliner. Relatives of the victims gathered at a morgue today to try to identify the few bodies that have been recovered from the Black Sea. Russian officials are trying to recover the plane's data recorders and investigating whether it was shot down by a stray Ukrainian missile.

A day after a Florida man died of anthrax, medical detectives are trying to determine how he caught the disease. Health officials want to track where Bob Stevens had been in the past two months, that he might have been infected. No other cases of anthrax have been reported in the area where Stevens lived.

Authorities say there is no evidence that the anthrax case was the result of a terrorist attack, but fear of biological weapons is on many minds lately. How concerned should you be?

Joining us is an expert on biological warfare Dr. Ken Alibek. Dr. Alibek, good to have you join us. Thank you.

DR. KEN ALIBEK, ADVANCED BIOSYSTEMS: Thank you for having me.

KELLEY: What is the biggest threat that you can see of biological warfare at this point?

ALIBEK: You know, what I would like to say when we discuss anthrax and smallpox, when we talk about crop dusters or something like this, it concerns me very much. The problem is not just anthrax and smallpox; there are many different biological weapons agents. There are many different techniques when deploying biological weapons; there are many different scenarios to deploy biological weapons.

In this case, when we discuss just anthrax and smallpox and forcible or so-called open-air deployment, we are oversimplifying this issue. That concerns me very much.

KELLEY: So it's wide-ranging; there could be an number of threats to deal with. But how panicked should people be? How worried? Is it easy to get ahold of? Would it be easy to dispense, whatever they got?

ALIBEK: I don't believe that we are going to see something here tomorrow or day after tomorrow. I don't support the idea to buy gas masks. But what we need to do, in my opinion, it's very important for us to understand the nature of the threat. It's very important for us to understand what biological weapons are, how they work.

KELLEY: Well what is the nature of the threat then, if that's what we need to understand?

ALIBEK: First of all, there are many different biological agents. Let me give you just a couple of examples. Discussing anthrax in my opinion, we make a significant mistake. Anthrax, yes, it's a real biological weapon; but in addition to anthrax, there are many agents like, plague, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), tuberculosis and many others. There are many viral agents.

And if we focus our attention just on anthrax, we can miss many other things. In this case, in my opinion, we need to develop a program of defense which would be focused on all this possible biological weapon threats.

KELLEY: What would that defense be, then? You said you were not in favor of gas masks; what would the defense be?

ALIBEK: When we discussed possible defense. First of all, as I said before, we need to identify the nature of this threat. As soon as we understand this -- the problem is this. Even now we have no full understanding of biological weapons threat. As soon as we understand this, it will be absolutely obvious to us what we miss now, what else we need to do just to develop an appropriate protection.

In my opinion, this -- I would call it a multi-level problem. For example, we can discuss and find the solution, what we can do on individual levels. What could be done on county, state levels, and what could be done on federal levels.

KELLEY: What's the most important there, if you're going to talk about individual level or state or federal government? Where would you start people on a defense?

ALIBEK: First of all I would start from the government level, it's very important.

KELLEY: What should the government do, then?

ALIBEK: You know, we've got about 30 or 40 agencies and departments involved in one or the other form in biological weapons defense. And as far as I know, and I'm working in this field, there is no coordination, or good coordination in this field.

First step in my opinion, very important step to be made is to develop a sort of government body which would be responsible for coordinating issues between all this agencies and departments, and would have authority just to make decisions and to make the significant changes in biological weapons defense.

If we don't have this type of centralized -- I know we live in a democratic country, but when we discuss biological weapons threat, there is no democracy here. We need to have a very centralized system to deal with this issue.

KELLEY: Along with coordination and centralizing, real quickly if you can, Dr. Alibek, at this point, though, is there time to prepare? Or should people be worried? And you know, a lot of people think, no, it's OK, and some people are very worried.

ALIBEK: Whatever I say now, if somebody is worried of course, it is not going to change this person's opinion. But my personal opinion is this: We need to think what could be done. For us, of course, it's very important just to make people, I would say, calm. But what could be done in this specific case, for example, maybe it's not bad just to start thinking about reconsidering our efforts in distributing antibiotics.

I'm not saying that we need to develop special kits to sell antibiotics to any family. But if we talk now about four locations with huge amounts of antibiotics stockpiled, maybe we need to do something else, we need to develop some local programs and local storage for antibiotics.

KELLEY: OK, from Advanced Biosystems, Dr. Ken Alibek. We're very glad to have you join us this evening. Thanks very much. ALIBEK: Thank you.

KELLEY: As we carry on here: unraveling the money trail of terrorism. Just ahead for you, terrorists may have a low-tech advantage in a high-tech world.


KELLEY: One target in the war against terrorism is the financial network that supports Osama bin Laden's operations. But the money trail may be hard to detect, and even harder to stop.

CNN's Senior Asia correspondent Mike Chinoy with our report from Pakistan.


MIKE CHINOY, CNN SENIOR ASIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the heart of old Peshawar, teaming lanes virtually unchanged from a century ago, a widespread, low-tech and illegal banking system is confounding the hi-tech financial sleuths on the Osama bin Laden money trail.

(on camera): The system is known as Hawalla (ph) in Arabic or Hundi (ph) here in Pakistan. It's a way of moving cash across borders quickly, cheaply and without detection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the most effective, most efficient method of transacting businesses as such. And huge amounts of money, and plus, a lot of black money flows in through these channels.

CHINOY (voice-over): It works like this. Suppose you want to send, say $10,000 to New York. You take the cash to a dealer here who gives you a code number. You tell the code to the recipient who goes to a designated dealer in New York and collects the cash. The dealers settle up later. It's a paperless transaction based on trust and almost impossible to track.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hawalla (ph) amount is untraceable. There is no evidence. But if you send (UNINTELLIGIBLE) money through a bank, you know that is an official money and one has to pay taxes or that is used for the economic development of the country. But when the Hawalla (ph) amount is sent, you know, there is no record of that.

CHINOY: In south Asia in the Middle East, Hawalla (ph) is routinely used to circumvent bureaucratic and inefficient banking systems, especially by overseas workers sending money to relatives at home. But it is also used for criminal activities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Hawalla (ph) system actually is a system, which is used for the illegal payments of every part, whether for smuggling, for heroin, for anything.

CHINOY: And it is widely suspected that the bin Laden network regularly uses Hawalla (ph) to move its own funds around the world. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For organizations that want to hide their transactions from authorities, for example, this is the perfect mechanism.

CHINOY: And it won't be easy to root out. Pakistan has tried for years to crack down, but this has only served to drive many dealers underground. Any of these money changers could be handling Hawalla (ph) transactions. None of them will say so publicly.

Indeed, Hawalla (ph) continues to flourish today. There is no way to know the exact figures, but it is estimated that $5 billion to $6 billion, more than three times what is sent through official banks, are flowing through the Hawalla (ph) system here every year.

Mike Chinoy, CNN, Peshawar, Pakistan.


KELLEY: And that's it for us. I'll be back in a moment with you, for the latest developments followed by an encore presentation of "CNN PRESENTS: Beneath the Veil." That's all next, hope you can stay tuned.




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