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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Unfinished War in Afghanistan; America Remembers September 11 Terror Attacks
Aired September 11, 2006 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us. We are live, coming to you from eastern Afghanistan, a forward operating base. It was here, in Afghanistan, that the first American shots were fired in the war on terror. And now the last shots have yet to be fired.
ANNOUNCER: Outgoing artillery, incoming rockets. The Taliban regroups. Al Qaeda returns -- the unfinished war now growing hotter.
Moments in a day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SEPTEMBER 11, 2001)
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: In Washington, there has -- there is a large fire at the Pentagon.
And there, as you can see, perhaps the second tower, the front tower, the top portion of which is collapsing.
Good lord. There are no words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Remembering the moments that changed us all and changed our world.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The war is not over. And it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious.
ANNOUNCER: And new threats, old voices -- Zawahri still out there, bin Laden still out there. Is the trail growing cold?
ANNOUNCER: From Afghanistan, this is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360: "Ground Zero of Terror."
Here's Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: Thanks very much for joining us.
This truly is the ground zero of the war on terror here in Afghanistan. We're at a forward operating base in eastern Afghanistan, pressed hard against the border with Pakistan. I can't tell you the exact location, for security reasons. But the soldiers here from the 10th Mountain Division, every day, are fighting a very real war on terror here in eastern Afghanistan.
The enemy is all around us, literally. And it is many different kinds of enemy that they are facing here every day. There are drug traffickers, a burgeoning, huge drug trade here in Afghanistan, also a resurgent Taliban increasingly using al Qaeda-style tactics, suicide bombers, IEDs. We have seen those in Iraq. They are happening here now in Afghanistan. And that is a new development.
And, perhaps most alarmingly, al Qaeda fighters on the ground in eastern Afghanistan -- the soldiers here from the 10th Mountain Division say there are Uzbeks, there are Arabs, there are Chechens, and other foreign jihadists. The same kind of men who flew those planes into the Pentagon, into the World Trade Center, are still out there operating, many intelligent sources say here, living in Pakistan, crossing over the border.
We have a lot to cover tonight. But I can guarantee you that the 9/11 that these soldiers experienced today was very different than the one that you experienced back at home.
Let's take a look at what happened at ground zero today.
In Lower Manhattan, at the Pentagon and a field in rural Pennsylvania, bells were rung, names were read, friends remembered.
And, tonight, at ground zero, beams of light -- this is the picture now, two beams of light, symbolizing, of course, the Twin Towers there, but no longer there. The lights are actually located about four blocks south of ground zero, and they will burn throughout the night.
Here in Afghanistan, we have been getting a very up-close look at what -- what happened on 9/11, and what is happening here five years afterward. We went out on patrol today. And -- and, while the soldiers were trying to commemorate 9/11, nothing quite worked out as planned.
Here's how the day looked.
COOPER (voice-over): To get to ground zero in Afghanistan's war on terror, you fly east out of Kabul, over parts of the country the government here is still struggling to control.
(on camera): We're in a U.S. military helicopter, heading toward a forward operating base in eastern Afghanistan, along the Pakistan border. We have to fly very low to the ground. The higher you are in the air, the more at risk you are for getting hit by rocket-propelled grenades.
The base that we're heading to has already come under pretty intensive attacks, incoming rocket fire and mortar fire. But now that Pakistan has signed a deal with Taliban militants on the Pakistan side of the border. U.S. intelligence sources are concerned that those attacks are only going to increase.
(voice-over): When we get to the base, soldiers from Bravo Company, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain, are firing at enemy positions several miles away. Daily, these soldiers head out on patrol in armored Humvees in full battle mode.
1ST LIEUTENANT RICHARD PARNELL, U.S. ARMY: There's a lot of bad guys in this area, suicide bombers. You have got guys that will set in, in ambushes behind the ridgeline towards Pakistan. You have got rocket attacks, mortar attacks. The 3rd Platoon, in particular, has been through it all.
COOPER: First Lieutenant Richard Parnell joined the Army because of 9/11. He says the enemy he and his men are fighting now is very diverse.
PARNELL: You have got international terrorists, who are your al Qaeda, a very household name. You have got the Taliban. And you have just got general -- general criminals in and around the area that are trying to capitalize on the fledgling government here in Afghanistan.
COOPER: Today, they set up a checkpoint with soldiers from the Afghan national army, a joint operation to intercept weapons being smuggled in from Pakistan.
(on camera): And right over here, they're interviewing a truck driver who they have just pulled over, asking him about if -- you know, what he's carrying, if he's seen anything along the road. This truck driver had a truck filled with timber, pretty innocuous, but soldiers say they often find weapons hidden underneath the timber. So, they are searching all the vehicles.
(voice-over): It is a routine patrol, along with building schools and roads, the kind of thing they do every day. Many of the soldiers, however, feel their sacrifices aren't being noticed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're still out here. We're still doing what we came here in 2001 to actually do. I went home on leave. I went home on MY R&R. And people are asking me, oh, you know, how's Iraq? And, after a while, I just got sick of correcting them. I was like, no, I'm in Afghanistan. And people just -- again, like I said, people don't realize that -- how Afghanistan is still going on.
COOPER: It is definitely still going on. Back at base, the soldiers gather for a moment of silence to remember 9/11. We're broadcasting live, but things don't quite work out.
(on camera): We're actually now just getting some fire. Some rockets have been fired.
(voice-over): In all, six rounds are fired at the base. No one, however, is injured. The soldiers seek cover in underground bunkers and return fire with their Howitzers. When the guns finally fall silent, in the dwindling light of day, the men once again come together, determined to remember 9/11, the lives lost, the war still being waged.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all have families. And we're all out here for a reason. We're not just here because some guys are shooting at us. We're here because those are the perpetrators of the tragedy on September 11.
COOPER: It was a simple ceremony. It is a complex mission. Five years after 9/11, the war in Afghanistan shows no sign of letting up.
COOPER: We should also point out that a lot of the -- the young men in the 10th Mountain Division who are here say they joined the Army after 9/11. What they saw on that day, they will never forget. And it really motivates them, as they go out on missions every day here.
And I can't stress enough, while there's a lot of debate about the war in Iraq, and whether that is or should be a central front in the war on terror, there's little debate about what is happening here now, literally all around us on the ground. This is ground zero for the war on terror here in Afghanistan.
As we have said, the enemy is -- is multi -- there's many different kinds of enemy out there. There's Taliban. There's al Qaeda, and there's simple criminals out there as well.
Another big problem, and one of the reasons that we have come here, is that Pakistan has signed a cease-fire deal with Taliban militants on the Pakistan side of the border. Now, intelligence sources say that, essentially, what that means is that the Pakistan soldiers have given up checkpoints, handed over checkpoints to Taliban militants, gone back to their barracks.
And critics will say, this is going to allow Taliban militants, this is going to allow al Qaeda fighters to simply to cross, increasingly cross, over the border. And they worry there's going to be a big uptick in the fighting here. They are already seeing an uptick over the last month or so.
CNN's Nic Robertson has been in -- in Pakistan, traveling in some very dangerous remote areas to get a look about what the Pakistan military says they are doing to try to combat al Qaeda fighters and combat the Taliban. He filed this report from Quetta, Pakistan.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Watch as this man threatens our cameraman. He and his friends don't want to be filmed. It's un-Islamic, they say. Off camera, they describe themselves as Afghan Taliban. But these streets they brazenly stroll are not in Afghanistan. This is Quetta, a major Pakistani city, close to the Afghan border. Exactly what's happening here is explained to me by Pakistani journalist Amir Mir.
AMIR MIR, PAKISTANI JOURNALIST: Pakistan is essentially for the Taliban. Almost the entire leadership of Taliban is hiding in Quetta.
ROBERTSON (on camera): In Pakistan.
In Afghanistan, American intelligence officials say the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, is also living in Quetta. In London, senior British government officials say they are angry Pakistan has not rounded up the Taliban leadership, who they say are planning and plotting and getting stronger from the safety of Pakistan.
(voice-over): Tensions are mounting. The British and American death toll at the hands of the Taliban is rocketing. Talking to Pakistani officials, I realize nothing incenses them more than insinuations they turn a blind eye to the very men who kill their coalition partners across the border.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL SHAUKAT SULTAN, PAKISTANI MILITARY SPOKESMAN: Let me make it very clear that who so over says Mullah Omar is in Pakistan, we would very clearly like to know the -- the evidence, so that we can move against it.
ROBERTSON: But the Pakistanis are moving against some Taliban, in a way you would not expect, by making peace with them.
(on camera): Roughly how many soldiers do you have on each border checkpoint?
(voice-over): To get the details, I head to Pakistan's tribal border area.
GENERAL AZHAR ALI SHAH, PAKISTANI ARMY: And they will go and (INAUDIBLE) to you the border, once you go up there.
ROBERTSON: The general in charge tells me the Taliban he targets are homegrown Pakistani Taliban, and it's costing his soldiers dearly. Hundreds have been killed.
ALI SHAH: At night, they will put some IEDs somewhere on the road. And, later on, once the -- one of the convoy is going, they will just blast it off from the remote control and all that.
ROBERTSON: The Pakistani Taliban have been releasing attack videos reminiscent of Iraqi insurgent propaganda. Even their terror tactics, like IEDs, seemed honed in Iraq.
ALI SHAH: They also started resorting to -- which was a new phenomenon in this area, to the suicide killing.
ROBERTSON: In this mountainous border area, where U.S. troops say Pakistani Taliban regularly cross into Afghanistan, Pakistani officials say Pakistani Taliban are growing evermore popular. So, they decided to negotiate, not fight.
(on camera): The Pakistani government is very keen to show the world that its new deal with the tribes in north Waziristan can work, that they can effectively put an end to any Taliban cross-border raids going into Afghanistan.
LIEUTENANT GENERAL ALI MUHAMMAD JAN ORAKZAI, NORTH WAZIRISTAN MILITARY GOVERNOR: We have not struck the deal with the Taliban. It is with the -- all the tribes of North Waziristan Agency, which includes Taliban also, because they are living there. They are the people of that area.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): The governor tells me, Pakistan will strike more deals like this. It seems they are taking care of their own problems first, apparently ignoring the Afghan Taliban on their soil. Indeed, Pakistani officials claim they can't spot them around the quarter-million Afghan refugees they say are in Quetta.
ALI SHAH: Who is Taliban amongst them, and who is not Taliban amongst them? You can't differentiate, because everyone is having the same beard, the tape turban, the dress, salwar and kameez.
ROBERTSON: Such cooperation hardly augurs well for the next five years. Afghan or Pakistani, all Taliban have a common ideology: driving Americans and other Westerners out of Afghanistan.
COOPER: Joined right now by CNN's Nic Robertson, also CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen, who is also the author of the book "The Osama bin Laden I Know," an oral history of Osama bin Laden. Peter also actually met Osama bin Laden back in the late '90s.
Nic, I mean, you were traveling in Pakistan. How is it possible that this cease-fire will actually work to benefit the war on terror, I mean, to actually benefit troops fighting on the ground here?
ROBERTSON: It's only going to work if the Pakistani troops on the border just a few miles away actually have support of the local communities.
And it was very difficult for us to gauge that when we were there. It will only work in that context, because the local communities are really the policemen all around. They're the ones that are going to turn in the bad guys. The bad guys live among them. Some of them are the bad guys. That's the only way it's going to work.
So, the -- whatever the Pakistan military is doing, as long as those fighters can get across the border with weapons, then these troops right here are going to be in danger.
COOPER: Peter, the Taliban, no doubt about it, has had a resurgence. They're on the rise. They're not yet militarily perhaps threatening the government of Hamid Karzai.
How is possible that the Taliban has come back five years after 9/11?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: I think a combination of factors -- obviously, profiting from the drug trade, a certain amount of dissatisfaction with the Karzai government, certain amount of dissatisfaction with reconstruction efforts.
COOPER: The drug trade here, the poppy harvest this past year is up 49 percent over the last year.
COOPER: So, there's billions of dollars being made.
BERGEN: Ninety-two percent of the world's heroin comes from here. So, it's...
BERGEN: And, finally, I think, you know, safe refuge in Pakistan just across the border from where we're standing. I mean, that's where the top Taliban leadership is. According to multiple U.S. military officials, that's where they're regrouping and rearming.
COOPER: It's interesting, Nic. I mean, we have all talked to intelligence sources, to U.S. military officials. They're very loathe publicly to criticize Pakistan, for obvious political reasons.
ROBERTSON: They need the support of Pakistan in this.
And if they criticize Pakistan, then President Musharraf, president of Pakistan, is going to be in a very difficult position with his people. The notion that, if the United States criticizes him, then that will allow the Islamists in his country to perhaps get more support, perhaps remove him. And, if they come to power, then forget the kind of cooperation you're getting right now. So, it's -- it's perhaps the lesser of two evils, if you will.
COOPER: Privately, though, Peter, what are you hearing from intelligence sources, from U.S. military officials?
BERGEN: Well, they -- I mean, privately, they say Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, is living in Quetta, a major city in Pakistan.
COOPER: Which is incredible. I mean, this is a man who has a bounty on his head, who -- it's incredible that he could be living in a major city like Quetta.
BERGEN: And they say the main leadership of the Taliban is in Quetta. And the secondary leadership is in Peshawar, another major Pakistani city. So, I think...
COOPER: And running -- running operations from the Pakistan cities here in eastern Afghanistan.
BERGEN: Some of these leaders never come into Afghanistan. They just stay in Pakistan.
I mean, the -- the guy who runs Zabul Province, which is a major province in the south, for the Taliban lives in Pakistan, according to U.S. military sources, never crosses the border.
COOPER: Why is support for the Taliban still existing here, in eastern Afghanistan? I mean, you guys were here under the Taliban. Their rule was oppressive. It was brutal.
ROBERTSON: And it still is.
I mean, that's the way the Taliban is still making friends, if you will, here, by intimidating people. But, also, what they're doing is playing into the local tribal structures. These areas have never been -- never had proper central governance. And the Taliban, in some cases, by marrying into the tribes, in some cases, just by intimidation, in this area, they become -- because they have the weapons. They buy them with the drug money. They control the ground. They get the support that way.
COOPER: Guys, we're going to check in with you a little bit later on, a lot more to cover.
One of the things the 10th Mountain Division here are trying to do is not only separate the enemy from the people here, but they're also trying to help the people in eastern Afghanistan, building roads, building schools. And there is so much need here. It is unbelievable, when you look at the statistics of what life is like for people here in Afghanistan. Let's -- let's look at the "Raw Data," just some numbers that give you a sense.
There are about 31 million people living in Afghanistan. On average, men and women here live just to be 43 years of age. Imagine that. By the age of 43, you die. That's the average life expectancy. The country has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world -- the unemployment rate, an incredible 40 percent. And the average gross income per person is a meager $250 a year.
You can understand why a booming drug trade is a -- is an incentive for a lot of people, and is contributing to a lot of corruption in the Afghan government. We're going to look at that over the next two hours as well.
When we come back: President Bush speaking tonight, on the anniversary of 9/11. We will show you what he said.
We will also take you to the last known residence of Osama bin Laden. We went to it just a couple days ago in Jalalabad.
Here's a quick look at some of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In the corner of it over here, we found this square hole. It's got a metal ladder going down. The walls are round. They're lined with brick and stone. I'm not sure what this was used for. So, we're going go down and check it out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SEPTEMBER 11, 2001)
BUSH: These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. I have directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was President Bush speaking to the nation on that terrible day, five years ago, on 9/11.
Tonight, he again spoke to the nation -- this as a new CNN poll shows that now nearly half of Americans blame the Bush White House for the 9/11 attacks. That is up significantly from just four years ago. Four years ago, it was about one-third of Americans blaming this -- this Bush administration.
CNN's Ed Henry has been following the president today and takes a look at how he spent this anniversary day.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fighting back tears himself, President Bush tried to console the families of those killed on 9/11, families in solemn visits to New York City, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon, culminating in an Oval Office address, where a politically struggling president tried to recapture some of the glow he gained immediately after the tragedy.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Winning this war will require the determined efforts of a unified country. And we must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us.
HENRY: But the soaring rhetoric could not mask the fact that Osama bin Laden has still not been captured.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: There's an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, wanted, dead or alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: And five years after the White House thought it had wiped out the Taliban to avenge the 9/11 killings, the war in Afghanistan is raging anew, while violence in Iraq has spiked yet again, and the threat from Iran continues, all factors in the president's continuing attempt to wrap all of these problems into the broader war on terror, seen as safer political ground for Republicans.
BUSH: We face an enemy determined to bring death and suffering into our homes. America did not ask for this war, and every American wishes it were over. So do I. But the war is not over, and it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious. If we do not defeat these enemies now, we will leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons.
HENRY: As war in Iraq has grown more unpopular, the president's words have grown dire.
BUSH: Osama bin Laden calls this fight the Third World War, and he says that victory for the terrorists in Iraq will mean America's defeat and disgrace forever. If we yield Iraq to men like bin Laden, our enemies will be emboldened.
HENRY: The White House said this was not a political speech, and most politicians stuck to the solemnity of the occasion, with two notable exceptions.
Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy fired off an e-mail, claiming bin Laden is still at large because of the war in Iraq, charging -- quote -- "Bush's folly has squandered thousands more lives of our best and brightest in a continuing quagmire, and needlessly diverted valuable resources from the real war on terror."
And Vice President Cheney could not resist mentioning a political buzz word, appeasement, that Democrats say unfairly paints them as weak on terror.
RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have no intention of ignoring or appeasing history's latest gang of fanatics trying to murder their way to power.
HENRY: A heavy focus on Iraq in the president's 9/11 speech, even though polls show a majority of Americans are not buying his argument that Iraq is the central front on the war on terror, that's giving Democrats tonight an opening tonight to charge, the president missed an opportunity tonight to unite the country -- Anderson.
COOPER: Ed Henry reporting -- thanks, Ed. Appreciate that.
I can tell you, the soldiers here from the 10th Mountain Division who are going out every day beyond this wire, putting themselves in harm's way, they feel very much that this is the place to be for them, that they -- they feel very secure in this mission, and feel that this really is the front line of the war on terror. They see it. They hear it every day. It is a very tough environment for them to operate in.
We will have a lot more about what life is like for the soldiers here over the next two days.
But, when we come back, we're going to take a look at -- at that terrible day five years ago, minute by minute, how it unfolded, some of the images that we will never forget.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SEPTEMBER 11, 2001)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there's more explosions right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, there's -- oh, there's...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on. People are running. Hold on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Winston (ph), hold on just a moment. We've got an explosion inside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The building's exploding right now. You got people running up the street.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on. I will tell you what's going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Just put -- put Winston (ph) on pause there for just a moment while he...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. The whole building just exploded some more, the whole top part.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The building is still intact. People are running up the streets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: If you were watching CNN five years ago on 9/11, that is what you saw moments after 9:03, when the second plane hit the World Trade Center. It is so difficult to hear those broadcasts again.
It is a cliche, of course, to say that that day changed us all, but, of course, some cliches are true. I think all of us remember where we were the moment we first heard about what was going on that morning. Certainly, all of us will never forget some of the images we saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SEPTEMBER 11, 2001)
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: ... see Miami, Florida, and a couple of live pictures of New York, including this one. That's the World Trade Center. It's going to be an award winner of a day here today.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: This just in. You're looking at, obviously, a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center. And we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just saw the entire top part of the World Trade Center explode.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I looked up. And, all of a sudden, it smashed right dead into the center of the World Trade Center.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Just moments ago, the second tower was impacted with what appeared to be another passenger plane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People here are -- everybody's panicking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have just been told that President Bush has been informed of this incredible tragedy happening in New York. We expect he will probably have some comments fairly soon, and we will bring those to you live the moment that we understand he is available.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today we've had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me what you know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, arriving at the Pentagon a short time ago, there was a huge plume of smoke which continues to rise from the west side of the Pentagon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This huge ball came up over the building.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a major fire at the Pentagon. And the Pentagon being evacuated. The White House being evacuated. And we have these two enormous explosions at the World Trade Center here in New York.
There has just been a huge explosion. That is about as frightening a scene as you will ever see.
GRAPHIC: United Airlines 93 crashes in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 10:28 a.m.
AARON BROWN, FORMER CNN ANCHOR: Oh, my God, I have never seen anything like this my entire life. There had been attack in two American cities, New York and in Washington. The trade centers here in New York have been hit by airplanes. In Washington, there has -- there is a large fire at the Pentagon. The Pentagon has been evacuated.
And there, as you can see, perhaps the second tower, the front tower, the top portion of which is collapsing. Good lord. There are no words.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope I live. I hope I live. It's coming down on me. Here it comes. I'm getting behind a car.
BUSH: The search is under way for those who are behind these evil acts. I've directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.
COOPER: Well, of course, five years later, the search is still on for some of the terrorists who committed those evil acts and in particular, Osama bin Laden, the man who planned it, the man who organized it, the man who funded it.
He is still out there, believed to be not too far from this location where we are now, across the border in Pakistan. That's what intelligence sources say, though frankly, they don't know an exact location. If they did, of course, it would be a very different scenario.
Coming up after the break, we'll show you why the hunt for Osama bin Laden is so difficult in this part of the world. And we'll investigate whether or not Pakistan is really doing all they can to find the world's most wanted man.
COOPER: The mountains of Pakistan, as seen through the wire here at this forward operating base. It is very close, indeed.
And somewhere in those mountains, perhaps further north in northern Pakistan along the border Osama bin Laden may be hiding. That is the best guess of intelligent sources that we've been talking to.
As CNN's Nic Robertson found out recently, traveling in Pakistan, traveling in the very dangerous areas, unless the local people in these regions, the region which the Pakistan government doesn't really even control, unless the local people are willing to work with the Pakistan government and help them find Osama bin Laden it may be virtually impossible to find the reclusive terrorist.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's daylight as this elite Pakistani police unit enact their greatest-ever takedown, the first post-9/11 capture of an al Qaeda leader, Abu Zubayda. It was September 2002.
Commander Malik Muhammad Halid (ph) had only moonlight as he directed the operation, triggered by U.S. intelligence gathering. As he explains to me, it wasn't going as planned. Abu Zubayda was getting away.
Commander Halid (ph) rushed to the roof. Abu Zubayda was hit with gunfire. Commander Halid (ph) had him by the neck. Strangely, he seems less than proud. Reticence or remorse? Some here harbor deep sympathy with al Qaeda. Commander Halid (ph) says he's not among them.
(on camera) If they can catch Abu Zubayda on this roof four years ago, why haven't they able to catch Osama bin Laden since then?
(voice-over) To answer that I start a journey that will take me across Pakistan and into Afghanistan. The conclusion is startling. The leads are limited. No one's seen him in years.
Most recent intelligence reports have him located towards northern Pakistan, the Chitral region, possibly slipping northward across the remote, lawless border into Afghanistan and possibly north again into the equally remote and lawless Tajikistan.
Or he could be hiding here on a quiet suburban street in one of these nice big houses, or he could be hiding on this crowded street, or in one of these buildings just 10 feet away, and we wouldn't know. Or maybe he isn't in the country at all.
(voice-over) The reason we don't know, Pakistan's former intelligence chief tells me, is simple. People like bin Laden better than they like the west, and they won't rat him out, even for the $25 million reward.
HAMID GUL, FORMER PAKISTANI INTELLIGENCE CHIEF: Because there is no cause on the basis of cause. You get glean information and intelligence, which is real work, but by just donating out money. You cannot get that kind of information that you're looking for.
ROBERTSON: That's one strike against catching the world's most wanted man.
Another, I'm learning from a religious leader who knows Osama bin Laden, is just how easy it is to evade capture, even in Pakistan's capital. He was accused of plotting to blow up government buildings and the U.S. embassy.
ABDUL RASHID GHAZI, PAKISTAN MULLAH: And there was a time in 2004 when the whole army was after me. They were searching me. And I was living in Islamabad. They were searching over there in Pakistan. And I was living in one small house in Islamabad.
ROBERTSON: And if that Pakistani security failure isn't shocking enough, he tells me more.
GHAZI: I have one man who was going and taking my messages. I would leave my message (ph). And that's it.
ROBERTSON: Sounds familiar. Bin Laden continues to release audio messages. Journalist Amir Mir, whose outspoken criticism of President Musharraf has cost him several jobs, tells me what many here think but few dare to say.
AMIR MIR, PAKISTANI JOURNALIST: As long as Osama is at large, Musharraf thinks that even continue to rule this country, the full blessings of the U.S.
ROBERTSON: It forces me to ask Pakistan's army spokesman how serious they are about the hunt for bin Laden.
LT. GEN. SHAUKAT SULTAN, MILITARY SPOKESMAN: It stays a major task, even with us, but this is not the only task. This may be one task in the whole campaign. The whole campaign has a lot of other things to do.
ROBERTSON: I'm realizing bin Laden has more than gone underground. He's slipped off the radar. We're walking already into Afghanistan here. It's what, just a few hundred meters away? Ahead towards Afghanistan from the Pakistan side of the border, I ask the general in charge about the hunt.
(on camera) Do you think if Osama bin Laden were here today the people around here would tell you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would hope so, certainly.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): He seems less than convinced. And for sure, it's not a daily priority for his troops.
(on camera) Just a few miles away over here on the Afghan side of the border, bin Laden has also slipped down the daily to do list. Today's patrols are for more focused on today's clear and present dangers, foreign fighters, the Taliban and criminals.
(voice-over) Patrols still go out, but the environment is increasingly hostile. Taliban, al Qaeda's ally against the war on terror, hold more sway, that threat of violence enough to intimidate most Afghans into silence.
COL. JOHN NICHOLSON, U.S. ARMY: We're here to defeat the insurgency in Afghanistan and to enable the government of Afghanistan to extend its reach out to all of its people. And that is our primary focus. Now, if in the course of that we run across Osama bin Laden, we would be very happy to roll him up and bring him to justice.
ROBERTSON: I'm reminded of my conversation with Pakistan's military spokesman.
SULTAN: For a long time we haven't gotten information about him or his activities.
ROBERTSON: Absolutely nothing?
SULTAN: No information.
ROBERTSON: The trail has gone cold?
SULTAN: Well, I won't like you to put these words into my mouth.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): No one wants words put in their mouth, but it does seem to be the truth.
COOPER: Well, no one knows where Osama bin Laden is living now. We do know where he last lived here in Afghanistan, in Jalalbad. When we come back from the break we're going to take you to his former residence, an Al Qaeda compound. We'll give you a tour of it. And we were surprised to find weapons still visible deep underground inside the compound. Take a look.
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COOPER: Climbed down into what I thought was a bomb shelter. Now appears is perhaps some kind of a weapons storage facility because there's an RPG round down in the bottom and a mortar round.
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BROWN: Two of the most recognizable buildings in the city of New York have been attacked. And both of them appear to have collapsed, at least in part. The second of the two collapses taking place just a moment or so ago.
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COOPER: Well, that was than five years ago today. And this is the scene now. The tribute in lights, an amazing picture commemorating those lives lost, remembering that day. And at Ground Zero, another live shot, people coming to pay their respects to just pause, to look, to meet with one another and to remember what happened five years ago on this day.
Of course, it was soon after 9/11, October 7, when the U.S. began bombing here in Afghanistan in retaliation, trying to drive al Qaeda and the Taliban government which supported them out of this country. And they did that very effectively indeed.
Osama bin Laden, when the bombs started to fall, began to move, first to Kabul and then to a compound in Jalalbad. That was his last known residence. We wanted to take you there to show you what it was like.
COOPER: Leaving Kabul isn't as easy as it once was. To drive Osama to bin Laden's last known residence, you now need a half dozen SUVs filled with armed guards. These days, no place is safe in Afghanistan.
(on camera) When the United States began bombing Afghanistan back in October of 2001, bin Laden was in the southern city of Kandahar. He then returned to Kabul and then began traveling down this road toward his compound closer to the Pakistan border in the town of Jalalbad. (voice-over) It's about a six-hour journey through a countryside that's changed little in generations. A new road is being built, but life for ordinary of Afghans remains a struggle. When you finally get to Jalalbad, bin Laden's house isn't hard to find.
(on camera) This is the compound that was used by Osama bin Laden and several hundred other terrorists here in Jalalbad. It's -- it's been destroyed. It looks like it's been bombed. You know, a lot of the roofs are gone obviously. Locals say, though, however, that it wasn't bombed. It's just been looted.
This complex is about two acres. The entire thing is walled, as most of the complexes are in Jalalbad. There are about 70 rooms in it. There's cooking facilities in a little area that was a mosque.
(voice-over) There's not much left: a drain pipe perhaps for a sink or a toilet, broken bricks, a few shards of pottery.
(on camera) There are actually two facilities bin Laden and his associates used as a headquarters here in Jalalbad. This is the second one. It's just a couple hundred feet away from the first complex.
In the corner of it over here, we've found this square hole. It's got a metal ladder going down. The walls are round. They're lined with brick and stone. I'm not sure what this was used for, so we're going to go down and check it out.
(voice-over) The ladder goes down nearly all of the way to the bottom. That's where we notice weapons, still clearly visible.
(on camera) Climbed down into what I thought was the bomb shelter. Now appears was perhaps some sort of a weapons storage facility, because there's an RPG round down in the bottom and a mortar round.
It's amazing that, nearly five years after this place was evacuated, there's still weapons laying around.
The significance of this place is this is the last place that Osama bin Laden was known to live here in Afghanistan. The Tora Bora Mountains on a clear day, they're visible from here. It's about a two, 2 1/2 drive to get there from there. From here, Osama bin Laden fled with his followers into those mountains and then disappeared.
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORIST ANALYST: This is the place that he knew best. As the United States forces began really attacking Kabul, bin Laden fled here. Last known to be here November 30, 2001.
COOPER: Peter Bergen is a CNN terrorism analyst. He says it's impossible for us to try to reach Tora Bora.
BERGEN: It's now so dangerous in Afghanistan you can't go to Tora Bora. It's sort of a free fire zone, even if we have -- I know we have security here. But even if we had a lot of security it would still be a very dumb idea. Because what they do is it's one road, and they can see you going up that road. And by time you come back there's IEDs on the road.
COOPER: Bin Laden and the Taliban, which allowed him to operate here, may be long gone, but they remain popular in this part of Afghanistan.
"It was much better under the Taliban," says 17-year-old Abdullah. "It was more secure. Right now it's insecure. And the problems like lack of power, we didn't have them."
"The Taliban was much better than this government," 12-year-old Sadullah (ph) says. "Back then there was a clinic. There was power. Now there's not."
Nearly five years since bin Laden and the Taliban were driven from Jalalbad into the mountains of Tora Bora, it seems their memory and their power remain very much alive.
COOPER: And that, of course, is part of the mission for the soldiers here at this forward operating base in the 10th Mountain Division. It's not just about killing the enemy, which is something that they do here, but it's really about trying to build bridges with the local communities, trying to win over people here by literally building roads and building wells and building schools.
It is a difficult task, but it is one that they are doing every day as they go out and patrol and meet with local officials. We'll have more of that over the next two days of coverage here from this forward operating base.
When we come back we're going to talk more about the hunt for Osama bin Laden with Peter Bergen, CNN terrorism analyst, also Nic Robertson and Gary Bernsten, former CIA officer who actually hunted for bin Laden in the mountains of Tora Bora.
Also, we'll show you a little bit around this base, in particular this Howitzer, 105 millimeter Howitzer behind me. It is a gun that is in use just about every day here as they are returning fire and taking a lot of incoming fire. We'll have a lot more when this special edition of 360 continues.
COOPER: We've been coming to you all this evening from this forward operating base, very close to Pakistan border. Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division are in charge here.
And this is an active combat zone. These guys take incoming fire just about every day. We were shelled earlier today, right when they were setting about to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11.
They returned fire. And this is the weapon they used most often to return fire. It's 105 millimeter Howitzer. It's got an effective range. They can put a shell about 12 miles off in the distance. That's the maximum effective range. These are the shells that they actually fire. This is 105 millimeter shell. This one is filled with TNT. This is an explosive round. They also have smoke shells and shells that are used to illuminate the battlefield.
But this has a kill rate of about 50 meters from the impact zone. So it is a very deadly weapon indeed. And again, they are firing these really throughout the day, not only to return fire, to hit mortar positions or rocket positions that the enemy around here has.
But also they hear their troop movements. They try to lob shells wherever they hear the movements. We'll have a lot more about what life it's like here on the base. We'll also have a look at how it's possible that five years after 9/11 the Taliban has been able to come back.
We'll have all that ahead on this next hour of 360.
COOPER: We are coming to you today from Afghanistan, where the fight began and the fight rages on and some believe a new generation of terrorist is being created.
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