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U.S. Warships Gather Near Yemen to Search for Escaped al Qaeda Prisoners

Aired February 9, 2006 - 08:00   ET


I'm Miles O'Brien.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Zain Verjee in for Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Emotions are running high already in the Muslim world. Those cartoons, of course. The question is will all that unrest spill over into what are emotional ceremonies related to a religious festival? we're live in Baghdad for more on that.

Business as usual this morning on Capitol Hill after a false alarm sent senators and staffers scrambling last night. Still not sure what triggered the alarms.

VERJEE: Firefighters gain an upper hand on those wildfires in Southern California. But will the Santa Ana winds whip up more trouble?

An insurance battle brewing in Biloxi. At issue, whether wind or water caused more damage.

O'BRIEN: And U2 -- five new pieces of hardware today. A look at their big Grammy haul ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

A little bit of breaking news for you.

Remember, it's been about a week or so now since that daring prison break in Yemen. Twenty-three people escaped, 13 of them known al Qaeda operatives. They remain at large and now, we are told, U.S. warships are gathering in the area near Yemen to try to help with the search for those escaped prisoners.

Let's get right to Barbara Starr at the Pentagon to give us a sense of what we know at this point -- Barbara, good morning.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Miles.

This word now, in the last five minutes, just coming in. To be clear, it is international maritime warships that, in the last 48 hours now, have moved into the international waters off the coast of Yemen. This is under the command of a U.S. Navy admiral, the head of the U.S. Navy central command in Bahrain.

They are not giving a lot of details. But what they are telling us is a number of U -- of international maritime warships have moved into these waters. What their mission is, is to block any escape routes by sea of the terrorists who escaped last Friday from a jail in Yemen. One of them, Jamal al-Badawi, of course, I especially wanted by the U.S. Navy. He was involved in the attack on the USS Cole back in 2000. He is someone the U.S. Navy and the United States does not want to see on the loose.

Twenty-three people escaped from this high security prison in Yemen. And now what these ships are doing, these warships are doing, is they will patrol the international waters off Yemen. That's 12 nautical miles offshore. They will attempt to block any maritime escape route or capture these people if they can find them.

One of their challenges will be to try and determine who is in the shipping that goes through this area It's a very busy international maritime area. A number of cargo ships and a number of small fishing dows (ph), if you will. These are the small ships, the small boats that ply all of this Middle Eastern Persian Gulf area. They are now on the lookout on the high seas for these men -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Barbara, just to clarify for me, what are international maritime warships? What -- under what flag do they operate?

STARR: You bet.

Out in the Middle East, the U.S. Navy commands three international maritime task forces. What they do out there is they patrol these waters -- they have for some time now -- looking for terrorists, looking for bad guys. A lot of what they do is intercept piracy and smuggling on the high seas.

But there is one task force in particular. It's called Combined Joint Task Force 150 in maritime language. It is currently led by the Dutch Navy, but it is under the senior command of U.S. Navy Admiral Patrick Walsh.

So there's a lot of merit -- international effort going into all of this -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon with a little bit of breaking news for us.

Thank you very much -- Zain.

VERJEE: Miles, today marks the holiest day of the year for Shia Muslims and it could be just the opportunity for more criticisms over those Prophet Muhammad cartoons.

Take a look this march here in Baghdad. Thousands of marchers beating themselves to mark the death of Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Husayn, that died in Karbala in Iraq.

And when we look at the pictures of them beating themselves, essentially what that represents is that a lot of the Shia men want to capture the suffering that they believe Husayn felt at the time. And they say it's to express their love for him.

A lot of Shia leaders don't approve of this sort of bloodying and instead they encourage a lot of their followers just to donate blood.

CNN's Aneesh Raman is in Baghdad and he joins us now with a little bit more on this -- Aneesh.

ANEESH Republican MAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Zain, good morning.

Security is incredibly high in and around the city of Karbala, which, as you say, is where -- which was the site, some 1,300 years ago, where the Prophet's grandson died.

Today there are upwards of two million pilgrims in and around that city. The security apparatus is in place. Some 8,000 Iraqi security personnel are there. Vehicles have been prohibited from entering the city. Pilgrims who have come from outside of Karbala have been searched as they entered.

It has been relatively peaceful today. That was not the case some two years ago, when over 180 people died after bombs exploded both in Karbala and in Baghdad.

Last year at the is time, dozens were killed in attacks in and around the period of Ashura.

Now, security officials I've spoken to in the Iraqi government say their intelligence suggests there will not be any major attacks today. But they are incredibly concerned for the days to come as the pilgrims start returning home, as their vigilance starts to go down, as the security apparatus starts to diminish. That is when they are worried that these attacks could take place -- Zain.

VERJEE: Aneesh, in Beirut, we saw the Ashura march turn into essentially a protest against those cartoons that many Muslims felt offended by of Prophet Muhammad.

Is that happening now at all in Baghdad?

RAMAN: We haven't, and it's come as a bit of a surprise for those of us here. Iraq is known for protests that are large in number, oftentimes violent. But with respect to this controversy, there have been protests. They've been isolated, relatively small in number. They have been completely under control, peaceful pretty much all around.

There's a twofold reason. One, of course, Iraqis have a great deal of other number of issues that they're dealing with. The second is a voice of moderation came from the country's most revered Shia cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who, in a recent statement, both condemned the cartoons and the fact that they were published, but also condemned what he called were essentially extremists exploiting this controversy to spark violent riots -- Zain.

VERJEE: Reporting from Baghdad, CNN's Aneesh Raman.

We want to check in on the headlines with Carol Costello -- Carol, hi.


We're just getting word that Neil Entwistle has been arrested on suspicion of murder. You remember he went to London and his wife and baby were killed, shot to death and he simply went to London, didn't show up at their funeral?

We don't know too many details about where Entwistle was arrested. We're still trying to find out that information. CNN has just confirmed this. And we're getting word from the Associated Press. But we have confirmed that Neil Entwistle has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Do we know where he was arrested yet?

Can someone -- we do not know where he was arrested. So we're going to gather more information about this and, of course, we'll pass it along to you. We're still working this story.

Also in the headlines this hour, less than two hours from now, President Bush will talk about the hunt for terrorists. The president due to speak at the National Guard Memorial Building in Washington. Besides the global war on terror, the president is expected to mention the National Guard's rescue work during hurricane Katrina. We'll take the president's address live at 9:55 Eastern time.

Investigators trying to figure out what triggered a false alarm on Capitol Hill. More than 200 people, including some senators, were evacuated after an air monitoring system mistakenly detected nerve gas. The tests turned out to be negative. Three hours later, everyone got the all clear. More tests are expected today just to be sure.

A possible lead to report linking the fires that damaged or destroyed nine Alabama churches in the past week. Still no suspects, but investigators are checking reports that two men in a sport utility vehicle were spotted near several of the fires. Federal arson teams have brought in profilers to help figure out what the arsonists might do next.

Just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, we'll talk to the pastor of one of those churches that burned.

Dangerous and dry conditions in parts of California. A massive wildfire in Orange County, east of Anaheim, has now grown to more than 8,300 acres. But that is good news. Those fierce Santa Ana winds are expected to die down a bit today. And that could give firefighters a chance to fully contain the fire.

And a much smaller fire near Malibu is nearly out. The fire, which broke out Wednesday morning, was sparked by a burning SUV in the area.

Adventurer Steve Fossett now a full day into his latest in-flight challenge. Destination? The record books. Fossett is determined to fly around the world, and then some, not in 80 days, mind you, but in 80 hours. You can track Fossett's Global Flyer on the Web by going to or Blue Sky is providing the tracking technology for the flight.

So there you have it.

And we're going to continue getting more information on the Neil Entwistle arrest.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Carol.

Keep us posted on that.

Let's check in on the weather.

Chad Myers at the CNN Center.

We were talking a little bit, a while ago, about Steve Fossett doing this in the winter.


O'BRIEN: He's riding the jet stream, right?

MYERS: He's sure trying.

have you been on lately?

O'BRIEN: Actually, I haven't seen where he is in the past 10 minutes or so.

Where is he now?

MYERS: Actually, well, they just updated something here, too, Miles.

He lost 750 pounds of fuel on takeoff. Remember, last time he tried this, he actually lost almost 3,000 pounds of fuel on takeoff.


MYERS: And that was some of the end of all of that.

But he didn't lose as much this time, but still lost it. But he is 4,000 miles behind schedule because he's not finding the wind that he hoped for.

O'BRIEN: All right, that does not bode...


O'BRIEN: That does not bode well because they really didn't have an ounce to spare on this one.

Apparently it was going out the vents. You have to have vents in the fuel tanks, as you could understand.

MYERS: Well, right.

O'BRIEN: And it's not a good thing.

MYERS: They thought they fixed it, but they never had a chance to try it out, to see if the fix actually worked or not.


It's actually two dangerous to fuel it up to test it.

MYERS: Oh, is that right?

O'BRIEN: Yes. It's just, just a dangerous thing.


MYERS: I mean it's all gas tank.

O'BRIEN: Right.

MYERS: I mean that's what it is. The gas tank is shaped like a wing.



MYERS: And, good morning, Miles.

And good morning, everybody else.

I'll do it quickly here.


O'BRIEN: Coming up on the program, our special health series for people in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Today, the challenges faced by women trying to become moms as they get a little older.

VERJEE: Also, the road to recovery in Biloxi, Mississippi. Months after Katrina, officials there are still waiting on insurance help and it's all because of a technicality.

O'BRIEN: And we'll tell you about a surprising new ad campaign from some Evangelical Christian groups. They're talking about global warming. And we'll look at why that is stirring up a bit of controversy.

That's next on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: The debate over climate change is heating up, if you will. And some interesting new players have weighed in, in a way you might not expect.

Take a look at this ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you know that Evangelical leaders are telling us that global warming must be stopped because it will bring more devastating floods, droughts and disease? As Christians, our faith in Jesus Christ compels us to love our neighbors and to be stewards of god's creation. The good news is that with god's help, we can stop global warming, for our kids, our world and for our lord.


O'BRIEN: The Reverend Jim Ball is the director of the Evangelical Environmental Network, the group responsible for that ad.

And the Reverend Richard Land is president of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He begs to differ on the issue of global warming.

Let's start with you, Reverend Ball.

What started this initiative? What led Evangelicals like you to push for some change on climate change?


We believe that global warming is a serious problem that's going to harm many folks around the world in this century. Millions could die because of global warming.

And so once we started understanding it, we said, well, you know, Jesus calls us to love our neighbors and to care for the least of these folks as if they were him, as if they were Christ himself. And so we want to make sure these folks don't get hurt by global warming.

And so we think that we can, as Americans, we can help solve this problem of global warming.

O'BRIEN: All right.

This is a debate which involves science and now politics and now religion, I guess.

Reverend Land, you're one of a couple of dozen Evangelicals who say global warming is not a consensus issue. You wrote a letter in January declaring that point.

What do you mean by that?

RICHARD LAND, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION: Well, what I mean, first of all, I'm not saying that global warming is not happening. I'm saying there's not a consensus among Evangelicals, at least my constituency, that it's happening, the severity of it, the human causes of it and the best ways to address it.

We think it would be...

O'BRIEN: Well, but, Reverend...

LAND: It would be irresponsible of me and unethical of me to say that my constituency is where my constituency isn't. Brother Jim, he's got a, you know, he's got a constituency that's sort of self- selective, Evangelicals who are convinced, Evangelicals who do believe certain courses of action are necessary.

We are going to continue to foster discussions on creation care. There's on disagreement among Evangelicals that we have a responsibility to care for the creation. We have a responsibility to act in environmentally responsible ways.

But as the leader of a 16.4 million denomination of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptists, it would be unethical and irresponsible of me to say there's a consensus among my constituency when one isn't there.

O'BRIEN: Reverend Ball, there really isn't a scientific debate anymore over global warming.

This is about how to deal with it, isn't it?

BALL: Yes, sir. It's time to start solving the problem. And the over 85 Evangelical leaders, including Rick Warren, who authored "The Purpose Driven Life," are saying it's time to start solving this problem. And we can do it. We can, as Americans, we believe in the can-do spirit of our country and we believe that god is with us as Evangelicals.

And the thing about where our community is, we actually have released a poll, yesterday, showing that 70 percent of Evangelicals think that this is going to be a serious problem for future generations. Sixty-three percent say that we should be starting to address it immediately.

O'BRIEN: So, Reverend Land, do you think -- is there some sort of -- is it mutually, exclusive, should I say, for, as you see it, for Evangelicals to get on board and say something needs to be done to re -- to stem the global warming and the climate change effects that we see right now?

LAND: Well, I find that in my constituency, to begin with an assertion that global warming is a fact and that it's going to be drastic and the human causes of it is counter-productive because it turns off sections of my constituency from the rest of what I have to say.

O'BRIEN: Well, look at...

LAND: I wrote...

O'BRIEN: Reverend Land...

LAND: I wrote a book...

O'BRIEN: Reverend Land...

LAND: I wrote a book...

O'BRIEN: Reverend Land...

LAND: I wrote a book 13 years ago...

O'BRIEN: Yes...

LAND: ... talking about care for the Earth. And we continue to talk about it.

O'BRIEN: Reverend, but let me ask you this. You know, I know that science and religion are often at odds. But the scientific evidence is overwhelming at this point.

Are you denying that?

LAND: There are scientists who deny it. There are scientists who say...

O'BRIEN: Scientists who are bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry.

LAND: Well not...

O'BRIEN: You...

LAND: Not necessarily.

O'BRIEN: Mostly, yes.

LAND: I'm not going to impugn those scientists' integrity. The fact is, on the ground, there is not a consensus among Southern Baptist Evangelicals about that part of the issue.

There is a consensus about the fact that we have a responsibility for creation care and we ought to be acting in environmentally responsible ways and we ought to be encouraging our government to encourage Americans to act in environmentally responsible ways and to use technology to try to solve the problems...

O'BRIEN: So I...

LAND: ... of carbon emissions.

O'BRIEN: But...

LAND: And so that's the part we're going to focus on...

O'BRIEN: But those seem like...

LAND: ... and we're going to continue to discuss -- we are going to continue to discuss the issue. We're going to try to build consensus.

O'BRIEN: That seems like platitudes to me, without being specific about a significant problem. LAND: Well, no. It's not platitudes. We're talking about curbing carbon emissions. I've been talking for 20 years, we need to be building far more nuclear power plants than we. France gets 85 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. We should be doing the same. That's not a platitude, that's a solution.

O'BRIEN: Reverend Ball, a final word?

BALL: Well, we're calling on government leaders to have a requirement that our global warming pollution be reduced. And our statement of over 85 Evangelical leaders is the foundation for a consensus position, an Evangelical consensus position.

What we feel is required in our community, as well as in the government, is leadership on this issue. We know it's a problem. Now is the time for leadership. And we can -- working with god's help, we can solve this problem of global warming.

O'BRIEN: Thanks very much, gentlemen.

The Reverend Jim Ball, director of the Evangelical Environmental Network, and the Reverend Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

Obviously, a debate that could go on and on. Unfortunately, time does not.

Thank you both.

BALL: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Zain?

LAND: Thank you.

VERJEE: Miles, word just in to CNN moments ago.

The arrest of Neil Entwistle on suspicion of murder.

He's the Massachusetts man who left the country and missed the funerals of his wife and his infant daughter after they were found shot to death.

Jason Carroll has the details and he joins us now by phone from Boston -- Jason, up until now, he was only described as a -- by authorities as being a person of interest.

What do we know now about this arrest?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that certainly has changed, hasn't it, Zain?

Some of the details are starting to trickle in now from the Middlesex district attorney. I spoke to one of their representatives this morning. They tell me that Neil Entwistle was charged, in fact, with two counts of murder, one count of illegal possession of a firearm and one count of illegal possession of ammunition.

He was arrested at 7:00 a.m. London time. He was arrested and detained by Scotland Yard officials. The Middlesex County district attorney, or, rather, the Middlesex district attorney, did not say where in England he was arrested. But we do know that the police force knew Entwistle was staying with his parents in Worksop, England. And that's, I believe, 150 miles or so north of London.

The big question now, Zain, becomes when he will be back here in Massachusetts. And that's a big question mark this morning simply because if Neil Entwistle chooses to fight extradition, that could be a very lengthy process. If he chooses to fight extradition, that means he would not be back here anytime soon. If he chooses to waive extradition, of course, that would definitely speed things up.

At this point, the district attorney is trying to figure out what their next step will be. They are planning to hold a 10:00 a.m. press conference. That's going to happen at 10:00 a.m. local time, Eastern time. But, again, at this point, Zain, the big question now becomes will Neil Entwistle fight extradition.

VERJEE: Jason Carroll reporting to us from Boston.

Thanks, Jason.

And coming up, more and more women are trying to get pregnant as they get older. But the older they are, the tougher it is. We're going to look at the challenges they face. That's in our health series for people in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

Plus, the Muslim outrage over the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. We're going to look at how some countries may be trying to take advantage of the anger.

That's ahead here on AMERICAN MORNING.


VERJEE: A key priority (ph) early on -- more and more women are choosing to wait to have children.

But how long should you wait? How long can you wait?

CNN medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, has our continuing series looking at changes through our 30s, 40s and 50s.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you take a lesson from Hollywood, it seems you could wait practically forever to have a baby. Actress Jane Kaczmarek gave birth at age 46. Holly Hunter had twins last month, at the age of 47. And Geena Davis was 48 when she had her twins.

And now, the reality check. Getting pregnant at nearly 50 is extremely difficult. DR. DOROTHY MITCHELL-LEEF, FERTILITY SPECIALIST: The misconception is that you're going to always have eggs and you're always going to have a chance of getting pregnant, even into your 50s. And that's not true.

COHEN: As a woman ages, her eggs begin to die off. Doctors say fertility starts to decrease in your early 30s. This graph shows how quickly it happens. Each month, a 30-year-old woman has a 22 percent chance of conceiving a baby. A 40-year-old has an 8 percent chance of conceiving. And at 50? Less than 1 percent.

Kristen Ray learned that the hard way. She's only 32, and yet she struggled to get pregnant three years ago.

KRISTEN RAY, 32-YEAR-OLD: I was just shocked. I was thinking, I'm too young to go through this. You know, this is somebody who's in their late 30s or early 40s going through this, not this early.

There you go! You got it.

COHEN: Kristen needed fertility treatments to get pregnant with Samuel. She's expecting again after even more treatments than the first time.

As women get into their 30s, they're more likely to encounter fertility problems such as hormone issues or menstrual problems.

Kelly Adam (ph) is 42. She tried for two years before finally getting pregnant with her first child, Mary, with the help of fertility treatments.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that's the heart beating.

COHEN: Now she's five weeks pregnant and this time it took even more treatments.

KELLY ADAM: My little Jelly Bean.

COHEN: For women in their 40s, eggs are usually the problem.

MITCHELL-LEEF: Their eggs are aging and they don't have as many as they used to have.

COHEN: Of course, fertility varies greatly woman by woman. Some women get pregnant easily, even in their early 40s. You don't have to be desperate like Marisa Tomei's character in the movie "My Cousin Vinny."


MARISA TOMEI, ACTRESS: By biological clock is ticking like this!


COHEN: But, on the other hand, fertility experts say don't wait too long. Having a baby after 43 often only happens with eggs donated by a much younger woman.


COHEN: Now, what we haven't mentioned here is men.

A lot of times when couples have trouble conceiving, they assume it's because the woman is having problems. But when a couple has these problems, has trouble conceiving, they need to get both the husband and the wife checked out -- Zain.

VERJEE: So what exactly does one have to do if they're having fertility problems? What can people do?

COHEN: Well, the first thing you need to do is go to the doctor. And don't wait. Don't wait too long. Usually doctors say around six months, you should go to the doctor and say hey, we're not conceiving, what's going on here?

Sometimes it's a relatively easy problem to fix. Sometimes a woman needs to go on hormones and that's the only thing she needs to do. Sometimes artificial insemination needs to happen. Sometimes in vitro fertilization is the solution. And that's where egg and sperm are actually joined in the Petri dish.

Now, what you're seeing here is an interesting procedure. This is an actual blastocyst that will become a fetus once it's implanted in a woman. And they're testing it to see if it has any genetic abnormalities.

Now, a great place to find out about fertility clinics and their success rates is the CDC Web site. They go through each fertility clinic in the country, clinic by clinic, and talk about their success rates for various fertility treatments.

VERJEE: Elizabeth Cohen reporting to us from Atlanta.

Thanks, Elizabeth.

COHEN: Sure.

VERJEE: Miles.

O'BRIEN: Coming up, was it the wind or the water? It's a multi- million dollar question for one hurricane wrecked city. Most post- Katrina catches and red tape to tell you about.

Plus, the outrage over those Muhammad cartoons.

Are some governments fanning the flames?

That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



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