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Terror Plot Confessions; Eye on the World; Kobe Bryant Case; South Africa Celebrates

Aired April 27, 2004 - 05:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: The Jordanian government says it could have been one of the deadliest terror attacks ever. Suspected al Qaeda operatives allegedly planned a major attack in the heart of the Jordanian capital. Among their supposed targets, the U.S. Embassy and the Jordanian prime minister's office.

In a series of raids one week ago, security forces say they broke up the plot by killing three suspects and arresting several more. Now some of those in custody are talking.

In an extraordinary taped confession, made available to CNN by the Jordanian government, the alleged al Qaeda operatives described their terror plot and talked about its alleged mastermind.

CNN's John Vause picks it up from there.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jordanian special forces raiding an apartment house in Amman in the hunt for an al Qaeda cell. Some of the suspects are killed, others arrested, ending what Jordanian intelligence says was a bold plan to use chemical weapons and truck bombs in their capital; targets including Jordanian intelligence headquarters, the prime minister's office and the U.S. embassy. The Jordanian government fears the death toll could have run into the thousands, more deadly even than 9/11.

For the first time the alleged plotters were interviewed on videotape, aired on Jordanian TV. CNN obtained copies of the tapes from the Jordanians. This man revealing his orders came from a man named Azme Jayoussi, the cell's alleged ringleader.

HUSSEIN SHARIF (through translator): The aim of this operation was to strike Jordan and the Hashemite royal family, a war against the crusaders and infidels. Azme told me that this would be the first chemical suicide attack that al Qaeda would execute.

VAUSE: Also appearing on the tape, Azme Jayoussi, who says his orders came from this man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the same man the U.S. says is behind many of the violent attacks in Iraq.

AZME JAYOUSSI, ACCUSED PLOTTER (through translator): I took advanced explosives course, poisons, high level, then I pledged allegiance to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to obey him without any questioning, to be on his side. After this Afghanistan fell. I met Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq.

VAUSE: Al Jayoussi was only shown in profile. He had marks on his hand, neck and face. The Jordanians who taped the confessions say the suspect suffered the injuries during the arrest. CNN was not allowed access to any of those arrested. The Jordanian government says this plot is only the latest attempt by al Qaeda to destabilize this country.

ASMA KHADER, JORDANIAN MINISTER OF STATE: Jordan was fighting this type of plans years now, and the security forces were able to confront them.

VAUSE (on camera): The Jordanians say the alleged terrorist plot was just days away from execution. If successful, Jordan's King Abdullah told a U.S. newspaper it could have decapitated his government.

John Vause, CNN, Amman, Jordan.


COSTELLO: And for more on the chemicals seized and how Jordan says it broke up the plot, log on to our Web site at

Now for the latest in the fight for Iraq, the U.S. military says its forces killed 43 insurgents in fighting near the city of Najaf last night. The scene today shows craters and debris. The U.S. used an AC-130 Spectre gunship in the battle. That aircraft has a side firing cannon that can unleash heavy firepower on ground targets.

Also, U.S. Marines fought a three-hour battle with insurgents in Fallujah on Monday. Today is the deadline for Iraqis to surrender heavy weapons. U.S. military officials say the lack of weapons turned over so far shows the insurgents are not interested in a peaceful solution in Fallujah.

And U.N. Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is back in New York today briefing Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council. Brahimi has been in Baghdad planning for the transitional government.

Secretary of State Colin Powell says he would like to see a peaceful end to the standoff in Fallujah, but he is not ruling out a major military assault there.



COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: When our soldiers and our Marines are attacked, they will respond and they will respond with force to protect themselves and to kill those who are trying to kill the dreams and hopes of the Iraqi people.


COSTELLO: On the issue of Iraqi sovereignty, Powell says the new government that takes power on July 1 will have to give back some of its sovereignty so that the multi-national force can operate under its own command.

Want to bring in our senior international editor David Clinch now to go through exactly what is happening in Fallujah.


COSTELLO: Let's start there, because this truce doesn't seem to be holding up very well.

CLINCH: Right.

COSTELLO: And this turnover of heavy weaponry doesn't seem to be going well.

CLINCH: We are...

COSTELLO: And is the deadline today?

CLINCH: Well we are just getting some fresh information, and this is sort of early information updating the two aspects of what we're looking at in Fallujah. One is the deadline. And there is a deadline for the insurgents to hand over their weapons that is today.

We are just hearing from senior coalition sources in Baghdad, this hasn't been announced officially yet, that they are going to give that more time. Now we don't know exactly how much more time.

COSTELLO: But this is the second extension of the deadline?

CLINCH: Right, we're talking Tuesday was the deadline that had been extended from the weekend. We're now being told that they will give it more time. We're not sure exactly how long. And obviously we're not sure exactly why since, as you said, all of the indications were up until yesterday that no serious amount of weapons had been handed over. And clearly from the clashes we were covering yesterday morning at this time, the insurgents had -- in the words of the Marines there -- "not got the memo" about the cease-fire. So we are being told at this point by senior officials that the extension exists. We'll let you know as soon as we know how long.

COSTELLO: So what about those Iraqi patrols along with U.S. forces patrolling the streets?

CLINCH: Right. Again, we are getting some fresh information on this. And we need to be clear, today, Tuesday, we were told was not a deadline for those patrols to begin. There's a distinction there. This was the day on which they might begin if the mechanics were in place. We are being told, and this was indicated during the day yesterday, that the mechanics are not in place quite yet. So we are not expecting to see those joint patrols today, although the Marines say that they do still intend to follow through on that as soon as possible in Fallujah.

Now An Najaf, also getting some more information today about what's happened overnight. As we have been reporting, the U.S. moving troops in to positions vacated by the Spanish. The Spanish, as we know, their new prime minister vowed to get the Spanish troops out of there. The first place he is getting them out of is that area around Najaf. They have moved out of their positions. The U.S. has moved in.

In moving into those positions, they have, according to the U.S., encountered some anti-Iraqi forces. It's not clear whether they are Muqtada al-Sadr militia supporters, but those are the people in that area. And in those clashes, the military today telling us they killed 43 of those Iraqis overnight. So obviously, even in just moving into positions around Najaf, they are already in fighting there. They are saying, the U.S. military, as opposed to Fallujah, there is no intention of going into the heart of the city.

COSTELLO: Want to talk a little bit about Moammar Gadhafi...

CLINCH: Moammar Gadhafi.

COSTELLO: ... because he is in Brussels today.

CLINCH: He has just arrived. Now this part of this process of Libya admitting to, announcing and giving up its weapons of mass destruction programs, opening itself up to the rest of the world. Amongst those who are now opening up their doors to Moammar Gadhafi in return for that effort is the European Union. The European Union invited him to Brussels.

He has just arrived within the last hour there. You see him getting out at the headquarters and moving inside. Obviously, as well as the political aspects of this story, it's always just fascinating to see this man moving around. I mean even when we go to Libya to interview him, he lives in a big palace in Tripoli, but when we do the interviews, it's in a tent not too far away.

COSTELLO: Well what was most intriguing to me is he travels with a team of female bodyguards.

CLINCH: Right.

COSTELLO: What's that about?

CLINCH: And he has brought his tent with him, as well, apparently, although he hasn't set it up at headquarters here. We'll see if he does later on.

COSTELLO: But why female bodyguards?

CLINCH: Well that's a good question. We have seen that many times when we have been to Tripoli to interview him. And here you -- I don't know if you can see them clearly yet in this picture, but he does have a group of bodyguards, including women. They are not all women.

The general assumption, and there are many theories on this, is that these are obviously are highly trained bodyguards and that the -- although just quickly there, you saw very quickly somebody trying to hand him a piece of paper there. We're trying to find out whether that was a protest of some kind. We're not sure on that yet.

But the female bodyguards, the idea is just that in being female that they might just simply give more of a relaxed atmosphere. But we are told, and we are told just by the Libyans, that they are trained killers, these bodyguards. So women, you see a mixture there. There's a woman and a man standing directly behind them. Those are the bodyguards.

COSTELLO: You know it's just so strange to see him standing there, for those of us who grew up in the '80s, and Moammar Gadhafi was the Saddam Hussein of the '80s. I mean...

CLINCH: Right. Well that's why when I -- when I say we're trying to clarify that was a protest, it clearly was some kind of a protest. But there are so many things about which one could protest Moammar Gadhafi, I would hesitate to guess at this point what that person was trying to protest about. As you say, a figure of tremendous controversy over the years. And here he is in Europe, Britain...

COSTELLO: Getting the red carpet treatment.

CLINCH: Getting the red carpet treatment. Britain and the United States moving a little bit more slowly, but also to open doors back up for Gadhafi.

COSTELLO: David Clinch, many thanks.


COSTELLO: A record heat wave in the west tops our look at stories making news 'Across America.'

California has hit the beach trying to escape record-high temperatures. Parts of the coast saw triple-digit temps while Los Angeles hit a record high of 99 degrees. Firefighters were standing by throughout the state in case that heat sparked wildfires.

An anniversary present for Arnold Schwarzenegger. The California governor picked up an award from a Los Angeles women's group for his support of after school programs. Schwarzenegger was introduced at the ceremony by his wife, Maria Shriver. It was the couple's 18th wedding anniversary.

In New Jersey, jury deliberations are set to begin today in the Jayson Williams manslaughter trial. His lawyers had argued the shotgun death of a limo driver was an accident. But prosecutors told the jury when you play with deadly weapons, accident is no defense. Williams is also accused of leading a cover up to make the death look like a suicide. If convicted on all counts, Williams faces up to 55 years in prison.

And hearings resume today in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case. The court will hear more testimony on the relevance of the accuser's sexual history. Regardless of the outcome, this high-profile case has changed forever the life of Bryant's accuser and the community she no longer calls home.

CNN's Gary Tuchman is in Eagle.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Many people move to Eagle, Colorado, because it is a safe place to live, hence, the irony of the story.

ROXIE DEANE, FORMER MAYOR OF EAGLE, COLORADO: I feel bad that anyone would feel that they weren't safe in this community or didn't feel like they could be here when it is their home.

TUCHMAN: The woman who has accused Kobe Bryant of rape is no longer living in her hometown because she feels unsafe there. Her attorney filed legal papers declaring: "She has been forced to quit school. She cannot live at home. She cannot talk to her friends. And she has received literally hundreds of phone calls and e-mails, threatening either death or mutilation."

In this family-oriented city of 3,800 people, the accuser has many sympathizers.

LANEY COFFEY, RESIDENT OF EAGLE: I would feel badly for anybody who has gone through this. It is a gut-wrenching experience.

TUCHMAN: But more so than when this case began, there are those who are not shy about publicly criticizing the 19-year-old woman. At this bakery, the owner does not mince words.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's not raped. You know, if, like, I am a woman OK? If I see a guy and I should don't go to the room. And she went to the guy. So that is a big mistake she did it.

TUCHMAN: Aris Duncan went to high school with the alleged victim.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she shouldn't be afraid to come back. I think more she should be ashamed.

TUCHMAN: Three men, all from outside Eagle, have been charged with threatening the accuser. But the woman's family says her security is threatened in Eagle because the location of the family home is well known. That, plus the increased public cynicism in town, make many here understand the decision to stay away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't blame her parents for trying to go somewhere else until this whole thing is over.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The alleged victim and Kobe Bryant share something in common when it comes to this town. They would both at least for the time being prefer not to be here.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Eagle, Colorado. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: SARS and West Nile are not the only concerns of the CDC. It seems obesity is also a big worry. Just ahead, we'll tell you which state has the highest obesity rate in the entire country.


MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Mike Hanna live in South Africa's capital Pretoria, as the nation celebrates the inauguration of a president and a decade of democracy coming up when DAYBREAK returns.


COSTELLO: Your news, money, weather and sports. It's 5:47 Eastern. Here is what's all new this morning.

New pictures this morning for you out of Najaf. U.S. forces killed more than 40 Iraqi insurgents during fighting on the outskirts of the city. About 2,500 troops are stationed outside of Najaf this morning.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments today on White House privacy. At issue, records on who gave advice to Vice President Dick Cheney as he worked on the national energy policy.

In money news, Google may be ready to make gobs more money. The search engine giant is expected to file papers for its initial public offering as early as this week.

In the world of sports, a Minor League Baseball team is auctioning off an at bat on eBay. The winning bidder will get a chance to hit for the independent northern league team the St. Paul Saints. The bidding ends on May 3. Fun!

In culture, opening night on Broadway for P. Diddy. He is starring in a revival of "A Raisin in the Sun." P. Diddy is playing the part of Walter Lee Younger, a role made famous by Sidney Poitier 45 years ago -- Chad.

MYERS: And good morning, Carol.


COSTELLO: Those are the latest headlines for you.

This is a huge anniversary in South Africa. The nation is celebrating 10 years of democracy, a decade since the end of apartheid. Plus, there's a presidential inauguration and it's one big party day.

Joining us live from Pretoria to tell us all about it, CNN's Mike Hanna.

Hello -- Mike. HANNA: Hello there, Carol.

Well, as you say, twin celebrations, the inauguration of a president and that celebration of 10 years of democracy. It was exactly a decade ago to this day that Nelson Mandela ascended the podium behind me and was sworn in as the first president of a democratic South Africa. And today, the welcome from the crowd when Nelson Mandela himself arrived again was absolutely immense. As he made his slow way up the steps into the amphitheater at the union buildings in Pretoria, the crowd rose as one, applauding him all the way to his seat on the podium.

His successor, Thabo Mbeki, arrived a short while later. Mr. Mbeki, having recently won comprehensively an election in South Africa, now being sworn in for his second term as president of the country, a second five-year term. And this is a term in which he is going to dedicate himself to meeting the many, many challenges that still lie ahead and above all from Mr. Mbeki, a commitment to democracy.


PRES. THABO MBEKI, SOUTH AFRICA: Nobody in our country today views democracy as a threat to their interests and their future. This includes our national, our racial and political minorities. This is because we have sought to design and implement an inclusive democratic system rather than one driven by social and political exclusion.


HANNA: Representatives from more than 100 countries attending here, numerous heads of state and the party as South Africa has these twin celebrations is going to continue well into the night -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Mike Hanna live from South Africa this morning.

John Kerry supporters are crying foul. They say Vice President Cheney took unnecessary aim at Kerry's military record in a recent speech. What the vice president said just ahead in the next hour of DAYBREAK.

And obesity, an epidemic, the CDC seems to think so. Ahead, the state that's leading the pack on a major health problem.


COSTELLO: Welcome back to DAYBREAK. We were just chatting, 5:54 Eastern Time.

Some 'Health Headlines' for you this morning.

Heart disease is not a rich old person's disease anymore. According to new research, cigarettes, cheap food and city life are causing heart disease and early death for millions of people in poor countries. In this country, Mississippi has the most obese people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 25 percent of adults in Mississippi are obese and childhood obesity is rampant. The CDC is giving a million dollars to Mississippi schools to fight the fat.

If you are trying to fight the fat with exercise, you don't have to make that trek to the gym. Experts say home exercise videos and DVDs offer workouts in all areas of fitness. But with so much to choose from, the American Council on Exercise recommends that you first decide what type of exercise you are interested in and then find what matches your abilities.

For more on this or any other health story, head to our Web site. The address,

I guessed it was Wisconsin, for some reason,...

MYERS: You did.

COSTELLO: ... the Midwest,...

MYERS: Right.

COSTELLO: ... where I'm from, but it's Mississippi that has the most obese people, 25 percent of the population.

MYERS: You know it's a part -- when you move to the South, or even if you come to the South and you take a look at some of the things we put on our breakfast table, and it doesn't surprise me much. You know what,...

COSTELLO: Those great cheese grits and fried chicken.

MYERS: ... it's been a -- when I moved down here, it was a struggle for me to keep my weight off, too, you know.

COSTELLO: It is a struggle, you're right.

MYERS: It's good food down here, anyway.

COSTELLO: Let's talk about Noah's Ark, because this is pretty exciting. An expedition is going up Turkey's Mount Ararat to try to dig out what they think is parts of Noah's Ark.

MYERS: Right. If you remember back in the '80s, we had this expedition that went up, took a piece of wood from way up there where there should have been no wood at all, because it was way above the tree line, brought it back down. But then they dated it and they found out it was only 1,200 years old.


MYERS: It was 2,000 years too young to actually be Noah's Ark. But what's that wood doing up there in the first place and where did it come from? And so they are going to go back up there and see if they can figure that out.

COSTELLO: And one of the other reasons they couldn't excavate at the time was because Russia thought that U.S. spies were going up there...

MYERS: Right, yes.

COSTELLO: ... and didn't have anything to do with Noah's Ark.

MYERS: Right, right.

COSTELLO: But this time they are allowed to go up there. And they are not going to dig it out, per se, but they are going to take pictures and they will probably take more samples back.

MYERS: Right. They have a lot of satellite photos so that they think they have really pinpointed where they think this thing that is sticking out of the ice is.

COSTELLO: Interesting.


COSTELLO: We'll see.

MYERS: All right.

COSTELLO: Secrets of the executive branch. The vice president's case goes before the Supreme Court over privacy issues. Coming up next, do you really need to know what goes on behind closed doors in the White House?

And what the Labor Department is doing today that will affect the issue of overtime pay for American workers.

All that and much more in the next hour of DAYBREAK.



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