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Profiles of Scott Peterson, Yasser Arafat

Aired November 13, 2004 - 11:00   ET


CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Catherine Callaway in Atlanta. And here is what's happening now in the news.
Fighting continues in Falluja. U.S. officials say that U.S. and Iraqi troops are nearly finished cleaning up remaining pockets of insurgents in the city and finding significant amounts of weapons, including rocket propelled grenades and bomb making materials. Iraqi officials say that 1,000 insurgents have been killed, 200 others have been captured.

A steady stream of mourners came to pay last respects to Yasser Arafat today. The somber mood in Ramallah this morning was in stark contrast to the frenzy that surrounded Arafat's burial ceremony yesterday. Elections for a new Palestinian president will be held within 60 days.

North Korea says a solution over an international nuclear stand off is possible if the U.S. drops what the north calls a hostile policy. The U.S. and several other nations have been talking with North Korea. The U.S. opposes direct talks with North Korea and now says it will not insist on bilateral talk with Washington.

I'm Catherine Callaway in Atlanta. Another news update coming for you in 30 minutes. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" is next. Here's David Mattingly with the latest on Scott Peterson's conviction.

ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, after a dramatic five months in the courtroom and 10 days of tumultuous jury deliberations, a verdict in the Scott Peterson murder trial.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, find the defendant, Scott Lee Peterson, guilty of the crime of murder of Laci Denise Peterson.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The biggest reason for a conviction in this case is that Scott Peterson was the only person who had the motive, who had the means.


ANNOUNCER: It started with a missing, pregnant wife who was bright and vivacious.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANNE-MARIE O'NEILL, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: I guess you could call Laci an all-American girl.


ANNOUNCER: The seemingly ideal husband accused of murdering her.


ABBA IMANI, OWNER, PACIFIC CAFE: People really liked him. He was a very likable guy.


ANNOUNCER: A storybook relationship that ended up a tabloid confession.


AMBER FREY, HAD AFFAIR WITH SCOTT PETERSON: We did have a romantic relationship.


ANNOUNCER: Beyond the hype and the headlines, the story behind the relationship of Scott and Laci Peterson now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.


SHARON ROCHA, LACI PETERSON'S MOTHER: I love my daughter so much. I miss her every minute of every day.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a story that has captivated the country. A murder mystery played out daily in the media.

TED ROWLANDS, REPORTER, KTVU: People wanted to know what -- where she was, whether she was OK and whether that baby was OK.

MATTINGLY: Each year in the state of California alone, thousands of adult men and women are reported missing, but in the final days of 2002, one of those cases went from an ordinary disappearance to an extraordinary media phenomenon that has mesmerized the country.

SCOTT PETERSON, HUSBAND: I nothing to do with Laci's disappearance.

TOOBIN: One of the great mysteries about the Peterson case is why the public has responded to it so passionately, because it doesn't have a celebrity involved. No one had heard of these people before, but there is something about it that has grabbed many thousands of people.

MATTINGLY: Twenty-seven-year-old Laci Peterson gone without a trace on Christmas Eve. The media was flooded with images of a beautiful, beaming young woman and the tearful family members desperately seek her return.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laci Denise, if you're hearing dad, we love you very much and we want you home.

MATTINGLY: It just didn't make sense. Laci had a handsome, loving husband, parents, siblings and in-laws who cherished her. Plus, the substitute teacher was eight months pregnant when she suddenly disappeared.

Things had been good for Laci Peterson. She was starting a new chapter in her life in the place where her very first chapter began.

Modesto, California, a mid-sized city with a very small town feel, a place where happiness is spelled out in the welcome sign.

Laci Peterson was born in Modesto on May 4, 1975. Even as a young girl, Laci Denise Rocha had the same sunny disposition that was so familiar in her adulthood.

STACEY BOYERS, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: Laci is always smiling. No matter where we are or what we're doing, she's always bubbly and talkative. And she's usually the center of attention.

MATTINGLY: Laci was into everything and she had no shortage of friends. As a student at Downey High, Laci wasn't your typical angst- ridden rebellious teen, quite the opposite, in fact.

O'NEILL: I guess you could call Laci an all-American girl. You know, she was a cheerleader at high school. She was vivacious. She was outgoing and friendly. Her stepfather used to call her Jabber Jaws because she talked so much.

MATTINGLY: Pretty soon, cooking and gardening joined chatting on the list of favorite Laci pastimes and her green thumb planted her at San Luis Obispo at California Polytechnic State University with a major in horticultural sciences.

There she would meet the man who would become her husband. Scott Peterson was a handsome, athletic California boy from San Diego.

COLLINS: People who knew Scott at high school have described him as a kind of jock, very confident, slightly arrogant and yet still friendly and easy to talk to.

MATTINGLY: The consummate outdoorsman, Scott loved hunting, fishing and golf, but he also had an entrepreneurial spirit. As a student at Cal Poly, Scott made a good impression on his teachers in the agriculture and business department.

PROF. JAMES AHERN, CALIFORNIA POLYTECHNIC STATE UNIVERSITY: A very nice guy, a good guy, a capable student, interested beyond just getting grades and interested in knowing people and a good interactor, a charming person that could talk well and was interested in what other people had to say, a very likable guy.

MATTINGLY: Scott's agreeable personality worked for him outside the classroom, as well. He parlayed his charm into a part-time job at the Pacific Cafe.

IMANI: His mom and dad were a customer here. They ate here regularly. And then when Scott graduated from high school he came and ate with them a few times and then he asked for a job. He was a very good worker, very responsible, but most importantly, very polite person. People really liked him. He was a very likable guy.

MATTINGLY: One customer in particular took a liking to Scott, fellow Cal Poly student Laci Rocha. After talking to Scott a couple of times, Laci asked a friend who worked at the Pacific Cafe to give Scott her number. He called right away.

RENEE GARZA, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: They're like teenagers in love.

MATTINGLY: That's how most everyone described Laci and Scott. Their relationship turned serious quickly and when Laci said she was bringing her mom to dinner to meet Scott, he went out of his way to impress her.

IMANI: He asked me to make some special appetizer for them. And I did. Some scampi, if I remember right, and he had some flowers on the table.

MATTINGLY: The storybook courtship led to a storybook union.

COLLINS: The wedding was really elaborate. Laci had a big part in planning the wedding. She made sure the flowers were just how she liked them. And she -- it was -- there was a white dress. Him feeding her cake, you know the full routine. He carried her up the stairs. For a while there, his family thought that he might drop her, but he didn't. So the wedding by all accounts was a big and happy affair.

IMANI: It was a gorgeous day out on the beach, outdoor wedding. Perfect. Everything was just right and a nice couple. They just -- they were, like, perfect for each other.

MATTINGLY: It was a picture of perfection that would suddenly be shattered.





MATTINGLY (voice-over): Laci and Scott Peterson went from ocean front wedded bliss to a shack. The couple wanted to create a hangout spot where students from their alma mater Cal Poly could eat well for cheap. This was a dream they shared and they each took an active role.

BLAKE REED, FRIEND: Scott's an entrepreneur and he pretty much just built the place up, you know, from the ground up. CHRISTINE REED, FRIEND: Laci's involvement, too, in the restaurant was significant. She loved to cook. She would go on these trips to France and learn to cook for a week or two and then come back and they kind of both sat down and developed the concept and the menu and then went and found a location.

MATTINGLY: The restaurant soon took off.

When they weren't working, Laci and Scott were out spending time with friends like Blake and Christine Reed. They say this picture taken at a dinner party perfectly summed up the dynamics of their relationship.

B. REED: All of the guys were sitting out in the back porch and we were all smoking cigars and drinking a scotch or whatever and just hanging out and it was all of the guys.

And so somebody wanted to take a picture of all of the guys sitting back there and they were just getting ready to snap the shot and Laci comes behind all of the guys and she wanted to get right in the middle and that's a really good way to describe Laci. She liked -- she was really gregarious and she liked to be in the center of things and be -- you know, she was real comfortable being the center of attention.

C. REED: You know, I never saw Scott feel -- or I never saw any expressions or his behavior never said he was embarrassed by that or angry by that. I mean he kind of just stands back and smiles and said, "That's my wife."

MATTINGLY: Though surrounded by friends and fulfilled by the success of their restaurant, Laci and Scott decided to move back to Modesto to be closer to Laci's family and to start a family of their own.

O'NEILL: Laci was really excited about getting pregnant. They'd been trying to get pregnant for some time. And when she did get pregnant and she got the news she was pregnant she was on the phone at 7 a.m. the next morning calling her relatives and telling them of the news.

SUSAN CAUDILLO, SCOTT PETERSON'S SISTER: She and Scott were just thrilled about the coming of their baby boy and everything in their life that they had planned for the past five years and their marriage was coming. This was a big event for them and everything was going wonderfully.

MATTINGLY: Which is why it was so stunning when Scott called family members on December 24 saying he had just come home from a fishing trip and couldn't find Laci anywhere.

JACKIE PETERSON, SCOTT PETERSON'S MOTHER: They were all ready for Christmas, their presents wrapped, their plans laid and they had a little free time. And it's just like Laci to let Scott go do something he wanted to do, and she wanted to do a little more shopping privately, so that was their agreement and it was only for a few hours. It should have been fine.

MATTINGLY: But it wasn't fine. Hours passed with no sign of Laci. The family sprang into action, pleading for help on the airwaves and putting Laci's picture on every tree, lamppost and window in sight.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, SAN FRANCISCO BUREAU: When Laci was missing, literally thousands of people who didn't know her came out to help search for this missing woman and they started to know her.

MATTINGLY: Laci's family, her parents, her brother and sister, as well as Scott's parents, became familiar faces.

ROCHA: I'd like to make a plea to the person or persons who have my daughter.

MATTINGLY: They appeared on television night and day. Noticeably absent, her husband, Scott.

ROWLANDS: When someone's going through this you don't know how they're going to react, but normally you've got a father or a spouse or a family member of a missing person who wants media coverage, who wants the picture out there, the flyers, wants to do interviews, wants to really do anything to get help to find this person. And with Scott it was a little different story where he was real standoffish; didn't want us to take his picture, didn't want us to interview him.

MATTINGLY: Slowly, people began to question Scott's demeanor.

TOOBIN: For better or worse, the public seems to have kind of a script in mind for how bereaved relatives ought to behave and he didn't follow that script. He was not quite sad enough.

MATTINGLY: Modesto Police also seemed to think something about Scott wasn't right. He wasn't named a suspect, but he wasn't ruled out either. Police repeatedly questioned him and searched the home he shared with Laci. But the people who knew him best ignored all that whispering.

LEE PETERSON, SCOTT PETERSON'S FATHER: If you knew Scott as far as him being implicated it's just a non-issue.

O'NEILL: Laci's mother, Sharon, told us that she was calling Scott every day. They were speaking on the phone and she was telling him that they loved him and not to worry.

MATTINGLY: With Laci missing for one full week, the family and the town of Modesto came out on New Year's Eve for a candlelight vigil.

Scott Peterson raised eyebrows and got stares of disbelief as he laughed and joked with friends and even took a cell phone call while the rest of the family was in tears.

That, combined with frequent out of town, overnight trips and his steadfast refusal to speak publicly, turned Scott into a villain in the media. But it only got worse.

When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, a potential motive for murder surfaces.

FREY: I met Scott Peterson November 20, 2002. I was introduced to him. I was told he was unmarried.





MATTINGLY (voice-over): Nearly one month after the disappearance of Laci Peterson, a shocking revelation.

KIM PETERSON, ROCHA FAMILY SPOKESPERSON: Approximately two weeks ago, Ron Grantski, Laci's stepfather, asked Scott if he had a girlfriend. Scott told him no and Ron believed him. Now, however, they believe that he has lied to them about this and possibly other things, as well.

MATTINGLY: At first, Scott continued to deny the affair, but a press conference with the other woman, Amber Frey, erased all doubts.

FREY: Scott told me he was not married. We did have a romantic relationship. When I discovered he was involved in the -- the Laci Peterson disappearance case, I immediately contacted the Modesto Police Department.

TOOBIN: The fact that Peterson was having an affair at the time his wife disappeared certainly raised suspicion on him and obviously gave him a motive for murder.

MATTINGLY: It was also the turning point in Scott's relationship with Laci's family.

TOOBIN: That was the moment when they went from being largely supportive of Scott to neutral to hostile.

MATTINGLY: Engulfed in a torrent of bad press, Scott Peterson agreed to what he had resisted for so long, on-camera interviews, but it had to be on his terms. At the time, Ted Rowlands was a reporter for KTVU in the California Bay area. His is now a CNN correspondent.

ROWLANDS: He called me on the phone the night before and said no lights, just one camera guy. I just want it to be a simple interview. He said I'd like to see the questions you want to ask me.

I've never had anybody ask me that before, so it was a definite situation where he was in control and he didn't want to say anything that quite frankly, would, I think, make him look bad.

MATTINGLY: And when it came time to speak he chose his words carefully.

S. PETERSON: I had nothing to do with Laci's disappearance. Even if you think I did, think about Laci.

MATTINGLY: He seemed the most emotional when speaking of the empty nursery for the baby they had decided to name Connor.

S. PETERSON: The nursery's ready for him. That door is closed. I can't look, you know? All of the little itty-bitty clothes and all of those wonderful things we have for him.

MATTINGLY: But public reaction was mixed.

ROWLANDS: I think that people thought he was guilty, and I think seeing him in his sort of pat answers and his reluctancy to really open up didn't help him.

TOOBIN: And then he started doing things like trying to sell Laci's car, actions that seemed inconsistent with a grieving relative and more consistent with a criminal suspect.

MATTINGLY: The downward spiral continued for Scott Peterson, but the darkest days were just ahead.

On April 13, 2003, just miles away from where Scott said he was fishing on Christmas Eve, the body of a fetus washed up on the shores of San Francisco Bay, followed by the partial remains of a woman.

The question on everyone's mind, could this be Laci Peterson and baby Connor?

Claiming Scott was a flight risk; the Modesto police Didn't wait to find out. Just days after the bodies were discovered he was arrested near a posh golf course in San Diego, just an hour away from the Mexican border.

Despite appearances, the Peterson family stayed strong and supportive.

L. PETERSON: They made a rush to judgment because of all of the media pressure, I believe, and politics. And he's in there. He should not be. And we're going to find out who did it.

MATTINGLY: But the attorney general disagreed, calling the case a slam-dunk. And the state of California said it would seek the death penalty against Scott Peterson.

After DNA results confirmed their worst fears, that the bodies that washed up were indeed Laci and her baby, Laci's family held one final, heart-wrenching press conference.

ROCHA: I literally get sick to my stomach when I allow myself to think about what may have happened to them. No parent should have to think about the way their child was murdered. RON GRANTSKI, LACI PETERSON'S STEPFATHER: I know all of you would like for us to say something about Scott, but we're not going to do that. We owe it to Laci to let the courts bring the facts out.

MATTINGLY: The family took the high road and refused to publicly discuss their feelings towards Scott.

TOOBIN: Anyone who has followed the case at all closely can see that the Rocha family, Laci's family, has gone pretty much over to outright hostility to Scott, even though they have never said the words publicly, "We think Scott did it."

MATTINGLY: Then after several delays, a change of venue and three months of jury selection, the trial finally got under way. It had been a year-and-a-half since Laci disappeared. The case against Peterson was largely circumstantial and the prosecution still had to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

TOOBIN: This case is not a slam dunk, at least not in terms of the evidence that's public. There is no murder weapon. There is no eyewitness. There is no time of death established. Those are all things that the defense can exploit.

MATTINGLY: For the first two months of the trial, the prosecution was criticized for presenting a weak and, at times, confusing case.

TOOBIN: The biggest criticism of the prosecution is they simply called too many witnesses who had a peripheral connection to the case.

MATTINGLY: But in August, the prosecution began to build a stronger case with expert witnesses and investigators. The jury heard taped phone conversations between Peterson and his former girlfriend, Amber Frey.

FREY: You came to me early in December and told me that you had lost your wife. What was that about?

S. PETERSON: She's alive.

FREY: What?

S. PETERSON: She's alive.

TOOBIN: The strongest part of the prosecution's case was kind of an implicit argument more than an explicit one, which was who else could have done this, who else would have done this.

MATTINGLY: After calling 174 witnesses to the stand over 19 weeks, the prosecution rested their case. The defense, on the other hand, called only 14 witnesses to the stand. After just six days, the defense rested. The jury never heard from Peterson.

TOOBIN: The defense didn't want Scott on the witness stand, because the jury, at a minimum, thinks he's an adulterer, that he cheated on his pregnant wife, that he lied to lots of people about lots of things, and he is an unpleasant person, at best. That's a strong burden to face when you start to testify.

ALFRED DELUCCHI, JUDGE: You have heard all the evidence and the arguments of the attorneys.

MATTINGLY: After ten days of dramatic deliberations, including the dismissal of two jurors, the jury had a verdict. Peterson was convicted of first degree murder with special circumstances in the death of Laci and second degree murder in the death of their unborn child. Peterson could face the death penalty.

TOOBIN: The biggest reason for a conviction in this case is that Scott Peterson was the only person who had the motive, who had the means and he had a lot of sleazy aspects of his behavior. And it was really the collection of all that rather than one specific piece of evidence that sunk him.

MATTINGLY: Now, nearly two years after her disappearance, there is closure in the deaths of Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Connor, but one question remains. What compelled Scott Peterson to murder his wife?



CALLAWAY: Hello, everyone, I'm Catherine Callaway. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" will continue after these stories now in the news.

An Iraqi official says that the operation to retake Falluja is winding down. He says U.S. forces control the city except for a few small pockets still in the hands of rebels. Top insurgent leaders have apparently escaped Falluja. Officials report 1,000 insurgents killed and at least 22 U.S. troops have died.

President Bush is warning violence will likely escalate in Iraq as January elections approach. In his radio talk today, the president hailed U.S. troops in Iraq, who he says, are restoring order for law- abiding citizens in Fallujah.

And in California, border agents say they found a girl sealed in this piņata inside a smuggler's car. It was rigged so that she could breathe. The child's mother was hiding inside the trunk, her brother under a collapsible backseat. The three were voluntarily deported to Mexico.

More news coming up for you in 30 minutes. I'm Catherine Callaway and now "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" continues.

ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, he spent more than 30 years mired in Middle East conflict, fighting for a Palestinian homeland.


AARON DAVID MILLER, PRESIDENT, SEEDS OF PEACE: He succeeded more than any other single individual in putting the Palestinian issue on the political map.


ANNOUNCER: A hero and man of peace to some...


HANAN ASHRAWI, PALESTINIAN LEGISLATOR: He moved to the peace maker, because he made a historical decision.


ANNOUNCER: enemy and man of violence to others.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: He's an arch terrorist. He's a master terrorist.


ANNOUNCER: From guerrilla warfare leader to shunned leader, the life of Yasser Arafat.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS I'm Paula Zahn. For 36 years, Yasser Arafat embodied the Palestinian struggle for independence. On Thursday, however, the only leader the Palestinians have ever known died at a French military hospital outside of Paris. He was 75. Arafat was buried at his West Bank compound in Ramallah. Revered by his supporters, reviled by his enemies, Arafat lived his life at the very heart of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Here's Sharon Collins.


SHARON COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Israelis and Palestinians, violence is an all too known fact of life; terrorist attacks in Israel and Israeli military operations in the Palestinian territories. As leader of the Palestinian people, Yasser Arafat stood at the center of the conflict. For almost three years, he had been confined to his West Bank compound, virtually trapped by the Israeli army, trapped by the seemingly endless round of hostilities that continually threatened any hope for peace. One ancient land, two ancient nations, a cycle of violence that's formed to the back drop of Yasser Arafat's life.

He was born in 1929, one of seven children. His birth place, like other details of his life, is a source of some speculation. He claims to have been born in Jerusalem, but his birth certificate says Cairo. His mother died when he was four and his father sent him to Jerusalem to live with his uncle for several years. John Wallach who died earlier this year wrote a biography of Arafat.

JOHN WALLACH, ARAFAT BIOGRAPHER: His childhood was painful for him. He was shunted back and forth from one relative to another. He never really had a mother and father that he knew very well. He likes to say today that that homelessness, that sense of not having a parent, not having a mother and father is parallel to the homelessness of the Palestinian people themselves.

COLLINS: In 1937, Arafat rejoined his father, three sisters and three brothers in Cairo. They lived in a mixed neighborhood, Arab and Jewish.

WALLACH: He had Jewish friends. He even played basketball on a Jewish team. So this is someone who has been familiar with the struggle, the Zionist struggle for independence from his early years or at least from his teenage years and I think that that had a deep influence on him.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Do you think we will see Jewish children and Palestinian children playing together, growing together, being friends?

Y. ARAFAT: In my boyhood, we were doing the same.

KING: Your cousins?

Y. ARAFAT: Yes, not to forget that we never said the other Jews. We used to condemn our cousins. This is the history. Abraham is our -- is mine.

KING: You never hated the Jews?

Y. ARAFAT: Never, otherwise I will not be a real Muslim.

COLLINS: The creation of Israel in 1948 drew Arafat to the ranks of Palestinian nationalists who wanted to destroy the Jewish state. While studying engineering at Cairo University, he arranged the smuggling of weapons from Egypt into Palestine.

WALLACH: He promoted himself as the leader of the Palestinian Student Union, that he was going into the desert to seize weapons that had -- old weapons that the British left behind from the days when Egypt had won its independence.

COLLINS: When Egypt went to war with Israel in 1956, 27-year-old Yasser Arafat fought for the Egyptians. After the war, another Arab defeat, Arafat began to focus on displacing the Jewish state to secure a homeland for Palestinians. He co-founded Alpha Tau, which would later become the militant wing of the PLO and an instrument of guerrilla tactics and deadly terror.

WALLACH: Terrorist activities began against Israel in 1966 and 1967 when attacks took place in Israel itself, blowing up railroad stations and water facilities, dams.

COLLINS: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, from militant warrior to national hero, Yasser Arafat engages a struggling people.



COLLINS (voice-over): June 1967, a dramatic and sudden shift in the Arab-Israeli conflict and a turning point for Yasser Arafat. Israel facing attack from Arab neighbors' intent on destroying the Jewish state, launches a pre-emptive military strike.

In six days, Israel triples in size, having captured territory from Jordan, Syria and Egypt and raises the Star of David over each Jerusalem.

DAVID SHIPLER, AUTHOR, "ARAB AND JEW": Israel was the underdog before the '67 War and was celebrated triumphantly. It was seen as the David that had slain the Goliath.

WALLACH: This was such a devastating defeat for the Arabs that the Palestinians said to themselves, they're never going to be able to deliver independence for us.

COLLINS: Frustrated with the lack of strong leadership in the Arab world, the Palestinians turned to Yasser Arafat. He was elected chairman of the PLO with hopes of putting Palestine on the map and wound up on the cover of "TIME" magazine.

WALLACH: Arafat was now emerging as a figure who not only confronted Israel, but confronted established Arab regimes. This was the beginning of kind of Arafat as a nuisance to the Arab leaders.

COLLINS: After the Six Day War, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled the West Bank and Gaza into refugee camps in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The fate of these refugees, their yearning for their own state and Israel's need to guarantee the security of its own people is at the heart of the conflict that has played out over the last 30 days. A struggle for land and peace with little common ground.

Y. ARAFAT (through translator): The establishment of a Palestinian state with holy Jerusalem as its capital is the only guarantee for security, peace and stability in the region and the world.

NETANYAHU: Arafat is out to destroy the state of Israel. So what did Arafat send out the PLO to liberate? What was the Palestine? And the answer is Israel, any part of Israel and any border.

COLLINS: Under Arafat's leadership in the early '70s, the PLO and its various factions turned terrorism into a household word. One of these factions carried out a series of hijackings in Europe and the Middle East, including five in one week in September 1970, which ended with three emptied planes being blown up in the Jordanian Desert. Arafat never personally claimed responsibility for these acts, but he never condemned them either.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The taking of civilian lives, the hijacking of airlines, these are deemed to be terrorist attacks.

Y. ARAFAT: You are -- you are -- you are mentioning the hijacking. You are neglecting the crux of the whole issue. We are under occupation and according to the United Nations Charter and resolution and decisions, we have the right to resist against occupation by all means.

NETANYAHU: He's an arch terrorist, he's a master terrorist, he's the one who brought to the world, the -- you know, the terrorist start-up of producing airline hijackings, of taking people hostage, of kidnapping and murdering diplomats, including American diplomats in Khartoum. You name a terrorist technique; he's either thought about it or perfected it.

COLLINS: Despite the terror attacks, Arafat was invited to speak to the U.N. General Assembly in New York in 1974.

Y. ARAFAT (through translator): Today, I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter's gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.

COLLINS: Israel boycotted, but for Arafat and the PLO, the implications were clear.

NASSER AL-KIDWA, PALESTINIAN REPRESENTATIVE TO U.N.: What was significant, of course, was the symbol of the world buddy, recognizing the Palestinian National Liberation Movement and its leader, thus, recognizing the legitimacy of the Palestinians' struggle.

COLLINS: Recognition by the U.N. did not change the ways of Arafat and the PLO. In 1982, the PLO now based in Lebanon launched a series of deadly attacks against Israeli forces.

Israel invaded Lebanon and troops led by then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon pushed all the way to the gates of Beirut, literally driving Arafat and the PLO out to sea.

Y. ARAFAT: I was under siege one year ago. And I am in another siege this year. What is difference? It is not a picnic. It is a revolution.

ARIEL SHARON, FORMER ISRAEL DEFENSE MINISTER: He came here only for one purpose and that is to destroy, to destroy and to take back his world, to destroy the terrorists' PLO Palestinian organizations.

COLLINS: Arafat was on the run again. He went to Tunis. Then several years later, as Palestinians in Israeli occupied territories staged a violent uprising, Arafat finally indicated that the PLO might be willing to compromise.

At a special assembly of the U.N. in Geneva, Arafat not only recognized Israel's right to exist, he uttered the words many had been waiting years to hear.

Y. ARAFAT: I repeat for the record that we totally and absolutely renounce all forms of terrorists. COLLINS: With a single speech, came hope that years of fighting just might come to an end that the time for terror was over.

ASHRAWI: He moved to peacemaker because he made the historical decision. He did that and that had to be recognized and he did change the course of history.

COLLINS: But more than 10 years later, Arafat's words are being used against him. That story when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues.





COLLINS (voice-over): Having owned the door to peace with his historic speech to U.N., Yasser Arafat was still a man without a homeland.

Y. ARAFAT: You know it is not an easy life to live every night in different place and two different beds.

COLLINS: He had so many enemies; he practically lived on an airplane and rarely slept in the same place.

Y. ARAFAT: In this airplane, even my colleagues don't know where we are going to.

COLLINS: But Arafat would prove himself the consummate survivor. In 1992, his plane crashed in a sand storm in the Libyan Desert and he escaped with his life. He developed a blood clot on his brain afterwards but beat that too.

Shortly after his brush with death, Arafat went public with surprising personal news. A year earlier, he had secretly married a Christian-Palestinian woman who was half his age, a woman some had mistaken for his mistress.

SUHA ARAFAT, WIFE: It was terrible for me because when I'm married to a man and the entourage would say, "It's his mistress." It's too much this political entourage of the peers, all which is gossiping all the time.

ASHRAWI: I really think it's a very, very simple case of falling in love with a younger woman, who was working in his office, and they wanted to have a more permanent relationship.

COLLINS: Newly married and in declining health, Arafat seemed more reflective, more intent than ever on finding peace, according to people close to him. And in September 1993, the life-long warrior for Palestine sealed a historic peace agreement by shaking hands with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The Oslo Accords put in writing that the Jewish people were entitled to a state of their own and Arafat was vilified by many Palestinians for signing the deal.

Y. ARAFAT: Making the peace is more difficult than to make war. Any -- and so any -- any officer, any general can make a peace -- they can make war, but to make peace, it means the courageous man to implement peace.

COLLINS: Israeli hard-liners didn't like the Oslo deal either. Among other things, it allowed Arafat to move to Gaza and establish the Palestinian Authority there. Now, the Israeli's mortal enemy would be living in her midst.

MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN, CONF. OF PRESIDENTS OF MAJOR AMERICA JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS: They thought for a moment that he was going to become like Mandela in South Africa or Gandhi in India or indeed David Benduri (ph) in Israel, who was willing to make the necessary compromises to bring about a peaceful resolution. It turned out that this was a false hope.

COLLINS: Despite anger on both sides, Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts though the award itself was controversial.

NETANYAHU: Does anyone take seriously Arafat's Nobel Prize? I think it was one of the low points of the Nobel Prize.

COLLINS: By this time, the pursuit of peace and the Palestinian state was all consuming for Arafat. He and his wife, Suha, had a baby girl in July of 1995, but their family life was somewhat unusual. Suha had her own apartment upstairs where Arafat seldom ventured. He claims that he didn't have time for his own daughter because he was father to all Palestinian children.

ASHRAWI: I told him once, "Don't you miss her?" And he said, "Yes, but I can't afford to think about it." So his life has been taken up with the struggle. It doesn't mean he's not a father or he's not -- he doesn't have these human or paternal feelings, but I think reality has deprived him of the chance to express them, to exercise them and to be with his family.

COLLINS: The personal and political spears so often separate converged for Arafat in September of 1995 when an Israeli right-wing extremist assassinated Prime Minister Rabin. It does a blow to the peace process and a personal blow to Arafat.

S. ARAFAT: I got this phone call and he was -- he stayed all night without saying one word. No, but it was -- it was that his partner in peace was killed.

AL-KIDWA: I remember seeing him once in his office after the assassination of Rabin, a few days after, and he was really in distress.

COLLINS: Whatever Arafat's personal distress, Rabin's killing put the peace process on life support where it remained until 1998 when the two sides held peace talks again.

At Camp David, in fall of 2000, the Israelis offered the Palestinians much of the land Israel had occupied after the 1967 Six Day War. One sticking point was that the deal did not include total Palestinian control of Arab East Jerusalem. Arafat rejected the offer.

And so, the vicious cycle of attacks of retribution continued. Pressure mounted on Arafat from all sides, pressure to denounced terror once and for all and put a stop to the attacks.

Y. ARAFAT: It was the attack. Did President Bush succeed to stop the attack of bin Laden? You have the biggest power all over the world. I am doing a 100 percent of my effort, but no one all over the world can give 100 percent of that.

ZUCKERMAN: He puts a lot of tigers into a cage. He organizes these tigers in different cages and then, he says to the people who control the gates to the cages, "Why don't you open those gates?" And then he says, "Oh, my goodness, the tigers are killing people. I'm really shocked."

COLLINS: In March of 2002, after a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings, Israeli forces surrounded Arafat's Ramallah compound.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you under direct physical threat right now?

Y. ARAFAT: They have the place completely surrounded of our buildings, completely.

COLLINS: After more suicide bombings, the Israelis twice returned to Arafat's compound. On their last siege, as Arafat took cover, the Israelis bull dozed parts of the complex, trapping the Palestinian leader in his own compound. It was a blow to Arafat, who earlier in the year had received an effective vote of no confidence from President Bush.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership so that a Palestinian state can be born.

COLLINS: Arafat named a prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, but retained for himself the title of president. Despite a summit in 2003 and a proposed road map for peace, the violent cycle continued. And what was supposed to be a shared power agreement never materialized. Arafat was unwilling to relinquish control to the Palestinian leadership around him. For nearly three years until his evacuation to Paris, Arafat stayed hold up in his damaged compound, the Israelis never too far away. Through it all, he stubbornly held the reigns of the Palestinian Authority, struggling with different Palestinian factions.

MILLER: The knock on Mr. Arafat will be that he never really made the transition from a revolutionary figure operating the Palestinian Diaspora to a leader who was prepared to make the kinds of decisions and choices that might have advanced the Palestinian national movement.

COLLINS: How will history remember Yasser Arafat? Some will mourn the death of a man who spent his life fighting for a Palestinian homeland. Others will see him as a failure who could never shed his terrorist past and deliver a lasting peace. Now, with Arafat gone, the future of his people and his dream of a Palestinian state remain even more uncertain.



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