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CONNECT THE WORLD
Problems at the Commonwealth Games; Peace in the Middle East?
Aired September 21, 2010 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: A foot bridge to a Delhi fort complex collapses. Just 12 days before the city host the Commonwealth Games. India promise a royal welcome to the world but many teams say the athletics village is fifthly and inhabitable, plagued with both infrastructure and security concerns. Tonight, can New Delhi get its act together before the games begin?
The ripple effects of today's biggest stories on CNN. This is the hour we CONNECT THE WORLD.
Well, it is billed to be an Indian celebration on par with Beijing's Olympics two years ago. But it is in danger of becoming a shamble. I'm going to put that to the one person who's accountable for its success.
I'm Becky Anderson in London for the story for you. Also tonight while he likes of President Ahmadinejad capture attention at this week's UN summit. Why talks from Middle East peace are the real back story.
He's an American citizen and a radical Yemenite Cleric who said to having fire terror across continents. We'll be live in Yemen to explore conflicting reports on whether forces maybe closing on Anwar al-Awlaki.
And to Brazil - Brazil dazzling disappearing rainforest. We find out what's being done to restore it to its former glory. And do remember you can connect with the program online via twitter. My personal address is @Beckycnn.
Do log on and join the conversation. First up this evening, filth, faulty infrastructure and security fears. Such are the problems that India is facing as it prepares to take center stage of host of the Commonwealth games.
The athletics are due to start arriving in New Delhi tomorrow. And that is where we find Sara Sidner. Sara?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, India it's been one thing after another here with the Commonwealth Games. But the Indian leaders say they will pull through and make this a big success. But it has been a very tough road.
A brand new foot bridge collapses, injuring some two dozen people. It was built to get spectators from the parking lot to India's main stadium for the fast approaching Commonwealth Games.
This is the latest in a long list of embarrassments that have plagued India's attempt to put on the biggest sporting event it has ever hosted. The Commonwealth Games is made up of teens from former British colonies.
Like the Olympics were to China, the Commonwealth Games are also being seen as a vehicle to highlight India Inc., as an emerging world economic power. So far executing the plan for the games have fallen far short of that. Since India won the bid seven years ago.
There's been a constant stream of allegations of corruption and mismanagement of funds. Also severely misconstruction deadlines. And now just two days before the athletes officially begin to arrive a strongly worded complaint from the Commonwealth Games Federation.
They say the conditions inside the rooms where the athletes were live are simply unlivable.
MICHALEL HOOPER, COMMONWEALTH GAMES FEDERATION: You know construction dust is still there. Filth, excrement, you know it really is disgusting in parts. And it really requires a professional deep clean throughout the entire complex.
SIDNER: From construction woes to security concerns. In the same week of the collapse in the games village complaint gunmen on motorcycles shot up a bus in Old Delhi putting two Taiwanese tourists in the hospital.
Moments later a car fire from what investigators now say was likely a crudely made pressure cooker bomb. The same an email message sent to the BBC Hindi Service threatening to disrupt the Commonwealth Games.
Apparently sent by the Indian Mujahideen an Islamic militant group. Police were quick to say the attack was carried out by local criminals not terrorist. But the former head of Indian Intelligence Suject Dovall (ph) says that conclusion maybe premature.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So there is something much more to this that normal (inaudible). I've not like and emphasize not arriving at any conclusion.
SIDNER: But what strikes me is you did say that judging from what you know that it is similar to attacks by the Indian Mujahideen a few years back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SIDNER: However, when it comes to preparations for the security at the games venue everyone agrees there will be the tightest security possible. With hundreds of police and military deployed in the city and electronic eyes everywhere.
India's leaders have come out to explore everyone to stop criticizing the games and help make it happen. And there are those who believe it will all come together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we can do it. (inaudible).
SIDNER: On a tour of the stadiums three weeks before the games organizers were very upbeat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Olympics did good for Beijing and the Commonwealth Games are doing very good Delhi. We got a world class airport. We got a metro running from the airport to the games village and to all the venues. We got all bridges coming up and new roads.
So it's becoming a world class city.
SIDNER: Billions have been spent to make that happen. But the latest mishaps have already prompted one athlete to pull out of the games. The question is will one cancellation turn into many? Sara Sidner, CNN New Delhi.
So far there are still thousands of athletes that are expected and no one is helping the India pull through this more than the tourist industry who's hoping that thousands of spectators also show up from around the world. Becky.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Sara thank you for that. India of course not the first country to face problems in the lead up to a major sporting event nor will be the last of course. Most recently ahead of the World Cup South Africa was plagued by security concerns of the country's high crime rate and widespread strikes cause construction there.
Well the Beijing Olympics were overshadowed by international protest over human rights and pollution levels of IOC said would affect the health of athletes. And Athens probably grew the greatest criticism over its Olympics games preparations.
Just three months before the 2004 opening ceremony venues remain unfinished and security fears escalated after a triple bomb attack. Well now India is in the spot light.
But the problem here is that the country has just 12 days to fix their much lauded games. I spoke a little earlier to the woman in charge with getting it right. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit began by asking whether she agrees with critics who say the event is indeed a shambles.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEILA DIXIT, NEW DEHLI CHIEF MINISTER: Well it's luckily they're not in complete shambles. Most are not at all. There are some problems that we've had unusual rains, there have been some delays. But I'm quite confident that at the end whatever people are talking about just now they will all start praising the very same thing.
ANDERSON: With 12 days to go how do you explain the collapse of a bridge feeding what is the main complex?
DIXIT: (inaudible) it's a foot over bridge with just an accident which happens and it wasn't (inaudible) parts of conduct of the games. It was just a - you know a bridge was just made for (inaudible) but now we're working on an alternative and we have it ready.
ANDERSON: It's the bridge that feeds the complex.
DIXIT: If it's been unfortunate I'm sorry that it happens we've blacklisted the contractor and order (inaudible). And all this (inaudible) got hurt in it have been given compensation money.
ANDERSON: What about complaints that the residential areas are filthy and uninhabitable?
DIXIT: Everybody is expressing concern about it. But these very people who are talking against it today about 10, 12 days ago were praising it as the best day, a village that they have ever seen. And all the pictures that have been shown on the Indian television don't show anything that is dirty there at all.
It's all very pretty and nice. Maybe there are something's but all the cleaning which needs to be done is housekeeping cleaning which will be done in the two, three, four days before this guest arrive.
ANDERSON: Ok Sheila what about concerns about security? Given the incident with the Taiwanese tourist in New Delhi at the weekend?
DIXIT: Well that was - that was a natural concern. The police have already taken a lot of steps even further. Because daily life does go on in the (inaudible) it's a metropolitan city. It's an economic hub. So life has to carry on.
There has been slip up here and nobody knows what it is. They've got one person. They're going to catch her. Those things like this do happen. They do happen in our country but it doesn't mean that you get so frighten that you don't move forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: New Delhi Chief Minister speaking to me earlier. Well I'm joined know by Sajjan Gohel who works with the Asia Pacific Foundation a security Intelligence think tank based here in London. A regular guest on the show we thank you Sajjan for being with us.
The Indian Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for tourist attacks at the weekend. Who are they and how likely is it they were behind these attacks?
SAJJAN GOHEL, ASIA-PACIFIC FOUNDATION: Well one of the problems is that the Indian Mujahideen doesn't technically exist. In many ways it's a front group for the more established Boxstony (ph) based outfit (inaudible).
We saw a number of attacks in 2008 all over India that Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility. But in effect it was the LET planning these attacks. They have no leadership, no cell structure and no one's been able to identify them.
It's become a myth that the Indians talk too much and turn it in effect into reality.
ANDERSON: And the same people of course who it's been decided behind the (inaudible) attacks in 2008?
GOHEL: Yes, that's what we are talking about. Carried out the Mumbai siege attacks it was the attack that brought the attention of the international community because of the fact that they were so brazen to hotels, railway station and a Jewish cultural center.
This is the concern that that group infrastructure still remain intact in Pakistani including his leadership.
ANDERSON: You heard Indian officials in Sara Sidner's report they're insisting that these games will be secure. Do you share their confidence?
GOHEL: Well security cannot be 100 percent at any event whether it's in India, the UK or the United States. As Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5 recently talked about in a conference that security can only be successful to an extent.
If a terrorist group is planning an attack they will work out ways of trying to penetrate or test security. From what we can see the security seems to be at a level that is appropriate. The head of England's Commonwealth Games Association Sir Foster actually said that he is satisfied with it.
We'll have to wait and see what actually transpires.
ANDERSON: They'll be 8,000 competitors and what it seems tens or thousands of attendees those will be in the audience. And aside from the Indian Mujahideen chief just said described to us, who else will security forces be concern about at this point?
GOHEL: Well the incident that brought some concern was what transpired last week outside the big mask in Old Delhi in which two Taiwanese tourists were shot at in a coach. Now the Indian police believe that that was criminal elements.
There's been some claim of responsibility by the self-called Indian Mujahideen. The two may not be related. But certainly it's something to be aware of. There will be many tourists there; many of the athletes will want to visit the city.
There's going to be concern as to how they can travel, whether it's safe for them to move about. The big concern is groups like Lashkar e- Tayiba, whether they have the desire to carry on an attack. And certainly with all these problems they're certainly will be anxious to exploit the situation.
ANDERSON: Very briefly if you were to access this as a security hotspot how high up the rating would it go?
GOHEL: It's a concern, it has to be pointed out and it's something that we have to follow carefully. The authorities in the UK, the US and Australia have issued travel advisory warnings to their citizens.
But we've shown to go overboard. The Indians have put in an effective security apparatus. There have been a number of sporting events that have gone on very successfully since the Mumbai siege attacks.
The Australian cricket team is also visiting. So we should not panic. The real concern of the infrastructure and the projects that have been created to build the stadiums whether they are safe not necessarily the security of individuals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Alright Sajjan, we're going to leave it there. We thank you very much indeed for joining us. You heard it here first on CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London.
Still ahead. A controversial leader blames capitalism for much of the world's suffering. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the UN general assembly earlier today. We're going to see how at least part of his speech was literally lost in translation.
ANDERSON: Some of the most important work at United Nations summit often takes place on the sidelines. Here you see the General Assembly afternoon session about to get underway. But in the background during this gathering Middle East Peace efforts are being hotly debated.
The UN, European Union, United States and Russia are all expect to watch Israel to extend a settlement freeze that's due to expire within days. Now Palestinians are threaten to drop out of current peace talks if settlement activity resumes.
Well meanwhile, today is the second day of the UN summit on millennium develop goals an ambitious agenda to reduce global poverty, hunger and disease by the year 2015. We promise we'll get you back to New York as and when we hear something of substance.
While, diplomats gather on the sidelines there's also plenty of action on the main stage. Today we've had a number of world leaders address the UN General Assembly from Iran's President to the Pakistani Foreign Minister to help us analyze what was said, who said it and why they said it and when.
We're joined now by Fawaz Gerges is one of our big thinkers on this show. Let's start with a man I guess I'm calling the man of the moment. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the President of Iran. I want you and obvious have a listen to what he said earlier on and then we're going to talk about it. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Now that the (inaudible) order of capitalism and the (inaudible) approaches are facing defeat. And they're getting close to their end. All out participation in upholding justice and prosperous inter-relations is essential.
All should participate in a coordinated effort for putting in place the competent governance in the centers of the world power. And for securing serenity, welfare, friendship and sustainable peace and security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking a little earlier. Now we will hear from the Iranian President on Thursday when he is expected to get his big speech and probably a quite a long one. If history dictates because he's done that a number of times recently.
But we heard him speaking today. What have you learn if anything?
FAWAZ GERGES, CONNECT THE WORLD PANELIST: Well I mean nothing really of any kind of substance. I mean the big issue is have to do with Iran's nuclear weapons. It has to do with the questions of Iranian-American relations. There is nothing on this particular front that Ahmadinejad has been calling for a new just world order.
He believes that the current international order dominated by the United States and the Western powers. It's an unjust order based on double standards and he wants a new vision. A new vision that takes into account a third perspective.
Like Brazil, like Turkey, like Iran.
ANDERSON: And he's in quite good company when he talks about Brazil and Turkey and various others. Because we are seeing the kind of - it's a Euro General Assembly that we see where people sort of loyalties and respect lie to a certain extent.
We certainly know that the challenges of this world out of Venezuela and possibly the President of Brazil will be prepared to at least show some sort of support to a man like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which must be important to a man who is effectively isolated from much of the world until he gets to an event like this.
GERGES: Well I mean what really the Iranians have been trying to Becky is to create an alliance as critical powers like Turkey, Brazil and Venezuela and to show the world that they are not isolated. This is really they're response to the United States.
Because as you well know the United States have been has some tremendous pressure on Iran in order to force it to change its behavior and the Middle East, Iraq on the Arabs-Israeli conflict and of course on its nuclear weapons.
So creating a broad alliance of like-minded state is very pivotal. It's very pivotal for the survival of the (inaudible) regime and the Iran itself. And also he wants to show his own people Iran is not isolated.
Iran is not facing the United States alone. Iran has some major critical powers in the region and also throughout Iran.
ANDERSON: So some will call what he does ask the UNGA grandstanding others will say well he's there to effectively show that he has got friends and in high places and he can make some noise on a big stage like that.
There are bilateral meetings going on over the place in New York this week. We tend to hear about them more often than not when they don't happen rather than when we do - when they do. We've heard the Turks are not prepared this week to talk to Shimon Peres of Israel.
Let's now listen to what the Pakistani Foreign Minister said earlier on today. Ahead of what we believe is probably two or bilateral meetings with the Indians. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAH MAHMOOD QURESHI, PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: Until a few years ago we were on track to achieve a number of millennium development goals and targets. However, negative fallouts of security challenges caused by the ongoing fight against terrorism severely impacted on the economy.
The unprecedented floods which hit the country in late July causing massive lost to crops, dwellings, livestock's, services, industrial and communication infrastructure have changed almost everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: There's no doubt the crisis in Pakistan was going to be front of the center stage this week at the UN for all the right reasons. Bilateral meetings we assume going on behind closed doors. What do you think of what you heard from Qureshi today?
GERGES: I mean he is absolutely correct. Pakistan is facing one of the most dangerous situations in its history. Has an escalating situation. Multiple wars inside and outside. There's a major challenge to the existing order.
The Taliban in Pakistan have revived. And of course tremendous pressure on Pakistan to behave in Afghanistan and (inaudible) India. Tremendous security and of course even nature has conspired against Pakistan.
Not to mention a highly polarized political system that politically in Pakistan is divided. The security forces basically run a huge chunk of the country and of course you have the question of Afghanistan and the role and relationship between Pakistan.
ANDERSON: So Qureshi there using this as a highly significant moment to really appeal to the world about a story which we know we've been doing on this show now for a couple of months. A story that perhaps the world keeps forgetting about as time goes on.
So I can understand why it's an important moment for Pakistan an incredible one at the UNGA. (inaudible) though taught the President of Cyprus had to say earlier on about being in New York this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIMITRIS CHRISTOFIAS, PRESIDENT OF CYPUS: In fact the first 10 years we have spoken a lot but have not done enough. In the five years remaining we have to intensify our efforts to make up for lost ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: The Cypriot President went on to say today there is an awful lot of talking down at these UNGAs over the last 69 years and to a certain extent and I'm paraphrasing what he said. But said I'm not quite sure why we're here. What's achieved? Does that regulate with you?
GERGES: Absolutely. It's the United Nations. I mean this is what happens, negotiations, talking, alliances. Remember the major audience, if you ask me about Ahmadinejad the President of Iran. His major audience was not the international community.
His major audience was a town that he is the Iranian public. You ask me about the Pakistani Foreign Minister. His major audience was back at home. And the same thing with these Israelis and the Turks and the Palestinians and of course the other.
So the United Nations is an international umbrella. It's a place where the world comes in to speak to its own people. And of course show their faces like the Iranian President Ahmadinejad.
ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff. It continues all week we will do more of the UNGA on this show and I hope you'll join us for that as we move through these powers (inaudible).
We're going to hear more of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has to say right here on CNN. The Iranian President will face questions about his country nuclear program. The fate of two Americans still jailed in Tehran that is on Larry King Live, Thursday at 10 in the morning London time 11 central European time.
That's Larry King Live for you here CNN with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That is on Thursday. Tonight lots more ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD. We'll be right back.
ANDERSON: Up, up and away. Here on CONNECT THE WORLD we are going green all this week. A look at how we are changing the planet and what pioneering echo projects are failing high around the world.
We begin - or we began at least with a Birdseye view of Paris where this tourist attraction is also getting attention from the ground up. Doubling as a giant air pollution indicator. Well tonight we're looking at deforestation in the country with the highest terrestrial bio-diversity on the planet.
According to the Global Canopy Program and yes there is such a thing. Brazil's eco system holds 12 percent of all earth's natural life. Well it's not the Amazon that's got conservationist so concern. Indeed this habitat is in more danger.
Rafael Romo looks at efforts to save what is the disappearing Atlantic Forest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the middle of a dense forest the search is on.
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Do you see where it goes or (inaudible)?
ROMO: It doesn't take long before the fury creature appears but it runs away when we get to close for comfort. Its name is Aguti (ph) the tiny rodent only 20 inches long eats fruits and disperses seeds everywhere it goes.
This is crucial for the survival of trees in the forest.
BRUNO CONTI, ENVIRONMENTAL STUDENT: The Aguti's (ph) very important dispersers especially for the live seeded plants that have seeds and fruits that cannot be dispersed by the wind or by smaller animals.
ROMO: Bruno seed is one of several students working under the direction of Professor Fernando Fernandez to reinstitute a good (inaudible) forest. Fernandez is in charge of a project that seeks to revitalize Tijuca Forest.
Surrounded by Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area Tijuca is one of the last remaining patches of what is known as the Atlantic Forest. One of the most biologically eco systems in the world. Some experts call this forest empty. Meaning large animals do not exist.
The largest animal found here is a rodent.
FERNANDO GAMBOA, FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF RIO DE JANIERO: It estimates say about seven percent of what was here originally.
ROMO: So it's pretty much gone?
GAMBOA: Yes pretty much gone.
ROMO: This map shows how the Atlantic Forest has shrunk over the last 500 years. It once covered 330 million acres. Professor Fernandez says half the population of Brazil now lives on lands that were previously part of the Atlantic Forest.
There are fears the loss of the Atlantic Forest biodiversity may spell doom for many species of plants and animals.
GAMBOA: That causes a lot of genetic problems and also demographic problems. These populations are hardly viable in the long-term.
ROMO: I am in the middle of the city of Rio de Janeiro. In fact, once upon a time it all looked like this. The Tijuca Forest is now an Island in the middle of a crowded metropolis of millions of people and it accesses the lawns and hearts of Rio.
As Brazil has grown into a country of more than 190 million people vast portions of what use to be Atlantic Forest have been cleared for cattle and sugar cane farming. Even lands designated as environmental protection areas show signs of severe erosion.
Brazil is facing a difficult dilemma, according to Green Party senator Fernando Gabeira.
FERNANDO GABEIRA, GREEN PARTY SENATOR: We have a pressure to produce more. We need to produce more. At the same time, we have a pressure to protect nature.
ERHARD KALLOCH, ENVIRONMENTALIST: So, this is an avocado tree?
ROMO (voice-over): Erhard Kalloch is a German environmentalist who says there's hope for Brazil.
KALLOCH: It's idealism which makes the difference.
ROMO (voice-over): Twenty years ago, Kalloch settled here in Brazil's Serra dos Orgaos region after acquiring 20 hectares, just under 50 acres, of land. Little by little, Kalloch has shown Brazil and the world that sustainable living is entirely possible. Kalloch says he produces in his property about 80 percent of what he needs with no impact to the environment.
ROMO: Do people ever tell you, "Come on, Erhard, be realistic here"?
KALLOCH: I'm realistic. I'm living this.
KALLOCH: I'm living this. And I can show everybody who's coming around here that you can do it, too.
ROMO (voice-over): Kalloch says he hopes his project can be replicated throughout what remains of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Rafael Romo, CNN, Brazil.
ANDERSON: All right. Well, our Green Week continues tomorrow with a look at the illegal wildlife trade in Asia. Booming, multi-billion-dollar industry. We're going to travel to Vietnam to see why the trade in endangered species is such big business, and what can be done to ensure these creatures just don't disappear. That is this time tomorrow, right here on CONNECT THE WORLD. Tonight, at about 31 minutes past the hour, we're going to be back with the headlines after this.
ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back. You're watching CNN and CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London. Coming up, he's a radical Muslim cleric who vowed to bring America to its knees, but is there progress in the hunt for Anwar al-Awlaki? We're going to get reports from the Yemen for you.
Our Connector of the Day today, the international DJ Erick Morillo. He's answering your questions.
Both those stories are forthcoming in the next 30 minutes. Let's get you a check of the headlines this hour at this point, here on CNN.
New Delhi police say a pedestrian bridge under construction has collapsed, injuring 24 people. It's being built for the next month's Commonwealth Games. The incident is raising concerns about whether India as ready to host the international sporting event.
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed capitalism for the world's woes during a speech at the United Nations earlier today. It was part of a three-day summit trying to alleviate global poverty. Critics are planning a major demonstration against Mr. Ahmadinejad on Thursday.
US senators have blocked a bill that would repealed the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays and lesbians in the military. The policy requires them to keep their orientation secret. It would have taken 60 votes to advance the bill and there were only 56.
A Yemeni government official says a wide-scale offensive is underway against al Qaeda in a southeastern province of the country, but officials have not confirmed reports that a key leader, American Anwar al-Awlaki is surrounded. The offensive is in response to militant attacks last week on a natural gas pipeline.
I want to take a very short break but, up next, we're going to be live in Yemen for an update on the situation with the radical cleric there, and details on why he is such an important figure. We'll be right back, you don't want to miss this.
ANDERSON: You're with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. Let's get you onto a developing story out of Yemen this evening. The government says it's launched a huge offensive against al Qaeda there, and some reports suggest that security forces have cornered Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric wanted by the United States.
Now, it hasn't been confirmed, and we're actually hearing some fairly conflicting information. So let's bring in our man on the site. Mohammed Jamjoom is on the line from Sanaa for us. Mohammed, what do we know at this point?
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Becky, a high-ranking Yemeni government official confirmed to me a few hours ago that there was a major offensive that was taking place in Shabwa province. That's a province that's known as a stronghold for al Qaeda here in Yemen. It's in the southeastern province of the country.
The official told me that forces were dispatched. They were backed by heavy weaponry, jets, and choppers, and they were surrounding the province. Now, this is a very rugged and mountainous area in southeastern Yemen, and lot of people here believe that Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American radical cleric who's known as one of al Qaeda's key leaders and recruiters in Yemen, that he is there. That's his tribal homeland, and many people think that he is there right now.
Now, earlier, as you had stated, a Yemeni website published a report that the military had possibly homed in and surrounded al-Awlaki, but all the officials that I've talked to today say that that report is not credible.
One other high-ranking source here told me that, while he believes al- Awlaki is in Shabwa province, and while 95 percent of Yemen and its government believe al-Awlaki is in Shabwa province, there's still a lot of conflicting information out there right now. And he doesn't believe that he is surrounded at the moment, or that the government is carrying out this operation in order to capture him.
On the contrary, another government official told me earlier that this offensive had started three days ago, it was not in response to al-Awlaki, but it was in response to a militant attack that happened last week on a gas pipeline in that province. This official said that this multi-mil -- this multi-billion-dollar pipeline is the lifeline of the region, and that's why they were going after the militants in this region that attacked that pipe. Becky?
ANDERSON: Well, there's no doubt, Mohammed, that he is a high-ranking or high-profile target. Stick with me for one moment. The Obama administration earlier this year put him on a hit list, authorizing his killing. An extraordinary step against a US citizen, of course.
Deborah Feyerick takes a closer look for you now at why the US government believes this man constitutes such a threat from so far away. Her report first aired back in August. Have a listen to this.
ANWAR AL-AWLAKI, RADICAL MUSLIM CLERIC: Brothers, that's what they're doing today. They're plotting to kill this religion.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the safety of his hideout in Yemen, American Anwar al-Awlaki poses a threat to the United States unlike any other.
ANTHONY SCHAFFER, LIEUTENANT COLONEL, CENTER FOR ADVANCED DEFENSE STUDIES: I believe Anwar al-Awlaki represents the heir-apparent to the overall al Qaeda global effort.
AL-AWLAKI: False role models --
FEYERICK (voice-over): Al-Awlaki, not yet 40, has vowed to bring America to its knees one terrorist at t time. An army of lone-wolf insurgents.
SAJJAN GOHEL, ASIA-PACIFIC FOUNDATION: He is the individual that is continuing the doctrine that people like Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri started.
FEYERICK (voice-over): His credentials as an American citizen fluent in English and Arabic give him a unique authority among social media-savvy wannabe jihadis.
AL-AWLAKI: And I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad against America is binding upon myself just as it is binding on every other able Muslim.
GOHEL: He, unlike others, has been able to recruit --
FEYERICK (voice-over): Counter-terrorism expert Sajjan Gohel.
GOHEL: Al-Awlaki, through his internet sermons, are preying on these young people, encouraging them to go off to faraway lands, which they have no real relationship with, to link up with terrorist outfits.
AL-AWLAKI: The simple answer is, America cannot and will not win.
FEYERICK (voice-over): As a spiritual guide, ideologically condoning violent acts, this YouTube jihadist has inspired dozens of young men. In the last few years, alleged plotters include the Times Square bomber, the young Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a US jetliner over Detroit, the alleged Fort Hood shooter, young American Somalis bent on jihad, and others, all following a man born 39 years ago in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Awlaki spent his teen years in Yemen before returning to study in the United States.
FEYERICK (on camera): Anwar al-Awlaki was 19 years old when he came here to Colorado State University to study engineering. He'd received a $20,000 federal grant, courtesy of US taxpayers. Applying for a student visa to come here, he lied and told authorities he was born in Yemen, not here in the United States.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Years later, that lie almost got him arrested. He was investigated for passport fraud following 9/11, but the arrest warrant was rescinded, and al-Awlaki left America in 2002, never to return.
ANDERSON: Deborah Feyerick there, giving us some background on Anwar al-Awlaki in a report filed last month, August.
Let's get back briefly to Mohammed Jamjoom in Sanaa. So, that's the profile of a man who is much wanted in Yemen. Is he much loved in the country, Mohammed?
JAMJOOM (via telephone): Well, you'll hear from some officials here that he is. He is seen as somebody who is very dangerous here, because the government knows that this is somebody who's plotting attacks against American targets, plotting attacks against other countries in the region, but also somewhat of a popular figure here. He's very popular on the internet, he's seen as a key recruiter for al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula.
And one of the other problems that the government has here is the fact that al-Awlaki is really being sheltered by his tribe. The tribe had stated in the past to officials that if anybody harms one hair on the head of Anwar al-Awlaki that they will go after them.
And what you're dealing with here in Yemen is a government that is very strong in Sanaa, in the capital, but when you get out into the more tribal regions an the more rugged regions here in Yemen, they don't have so much control there. They're really at the mercy of the tribes and their affiliations with the tribes. So the Yemeni government has to be very careful as far as how much it tells about their targeting of Anwar al- Awlaki.
Obviously, the US government is very much keen on capturing him or killing him. They Yemeni government has acknowledged that the US government has in the past assisted them on these types of raids, although they still claim that they have their sovereignty here, that there is no American involvement directly on the ground here.
JAMJOOM (via telephone): Nonetheless, it's a huge problem. They do need to take care of this target. They're aware of it. But how they deal with it, it's very sensitive for them. Becky?
ANDERSON: Let's just remind ourselves. Last time I spoke to a high- ranking government official in the US, they worked on the premise that they were possibly 1500 to 2,000 al Qaeda sympathizers in Yemen at any one time, possibly more. When you think about the fact that there -- there could be as few as 50 to 100 in Afghanistan at any one time, then you begin to see just why this is such an important and terrifying place for many people in the US administration.
Let's just remind our viewers, then, how we started off this discussion. We know that there is an operation ongoing. We do not know who has been caught in that operation, nor where al-Awlaki really is. Is that right?
JAMJOOM (via telephone): That is correct, Becky. We have heard reports that al-Awlaki is being targeted, that the military here has homed in on him. That was done by a local Yemeni website earlier in the day.
But all the officials that I've spoken with have said that that report lacks credibility. That, in fact, this offensive is being done for another reason. It's being done because there was an attack on a multi-billion- dollar pipeline in that region that happened last week, and that this offensive is in response to that.
That having been said, though, it's very important to point out that two of the officials that I've spoken with today have said, "Look, it is possible that al-Awlaki is in that area. We do believe that he's in that area. Possibly, he's being surrounded right now. But we don't think that he's being targeted."
So, again, it just shows you the sensitivity of the issue here. They know what a popular figure al-Awlaki is. They know how popular and influential his tribe is. But the fact of the matter is, even though the Yemeni government has said in the past that they are targeting him, the US government has said that they are going after him, either to capture and-or to kill him, it's a very delicate situation here. And it has to be done in a very, very sensitive way. Becky?
ANDERSON: And these wouldn't be the first reports. After all, he's been targeted a number of times in the past, conflicting reports as to just how close people got. Mohammed, we thank you for that. Mohammed Jamjoom on the ground there for us here at CNN in Yemen.
I'm Becky Anderson at CNN in London. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Up next, our Connector of the Day for you. You'll find him spinning the decks across the globe. Find out what it's like to DJ for 80,000 party-goers. We're going to talk to Mr. Erick Morillo about the dance music world and why he's determined to give something back to the Colombian city that he was born in.
ANDERSON (voice-over): There's not much in the world of music that Erick Morillo hasn't turned his hand to. A platinum-selling artist, he's topped the charts as a producer. And he's the man behind a bewildering array of dance hall tracks, including "Believe" and "I Feel Love."
Raised in Colombia, and then New Jersey in the US, the DJ grew up listening to a mix of Latin, Reggae, and Hip Hop music. He started spinning the decks at the age of 11 and, from then on, his path was set.
Morillo, whose remix tracks by Whitney Houston and Basement Jaxx, played at events around the world, from Buenos Aires to Ibiza and Sydney.
Right now, he's branching out into the world of fashion. And Morillo is in the early stages of setting up a children's foundation in Columbia.
A DJ with a conscience as well as being a successful businessman, international DJ Erick Morillo is your Connector of the Day.
ANDERSON: Yes, he is. And I caught up with Erick Morillo, your Connector of the Day, a week or so ago and asked him the obvious questions. So, what's Ibiza all about?
ERICK MORILLO, DJ: There's only place like Ibiza in the world. I think that it has had a history of 40 years semi -- 40 years of dance music, if you will. All kinds of music, but dance music in particular.
And I think that Ibiza just has -- it's the world's stage. It's the only place in the world where you can go and play one night and touch people from all around the world. You have everybody from -- whether it's South America, Australia -- everywhere, basically going there to party and have a great time.
ANDERSON: Being a DJ is not the be-all and end-all, is it? I mean, the job is so much bigger than that. Give me a sense of -- or our viewers a sense of what it is you do across the board.
MORILLO: Well, for me, I -- not only do I get to DJ and travel the world, and I literally am on a plane every weekend, traveling the world, doing that. But I also, like I said, I have a record company, and we're doing releases across three different labels. We're doing something like three or four records a week, if you will, at the moment.
So I A&R all that. I have relationships with all other producers and DJs around the world, and get music on a daily basis. Promos alone to DJ, I'm going to be receiving something like 250 records a week.
ANDERSON: I've got some questions from the viewers. Dvanveer asks, "What influences you and keeps you going?" And he says, "Are there any specific artists around the world who have made a real difference to your music?"
MORILLO: I think people like -- as I was growing up, people like Little Louie Vega, who's a DJ on the scene who's been around forever, and really touched me. And watching him DJ and make the music that he does, and staying true to what he does, he has been a real inspiration in my world.
Some people like Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, Pete Tong as well. He's really been someone who has helped me in my career in the music that I've done. So there's been a lot of people within the industry who have helped me.
And I think that what keeps me passionate about it is, again, touching people and knowing that I make people happy every week. I really get to them.
ANDERSON: How much does your background influence your music?
MORILLO: I think a lot. I grew up in Colombia and in New York. My mother was always into music. Every Saturday afternoon, I could always expect music all day long. She would play her albums, Salsa music, Meringue, a lot of the Latin stuff. And I really grew up with those Latin drums. I think that when I make my music and I play my music, there's a lot of that influence in what I do.
So, for me, Latin rhythms are really, really important in my music, and I think that it really makes people shake and dance. And I think it's really sexy and I think that that's really important in helping shape the sound that people know as the Erick Morillo sound.
ANDERSON: I've been into one booth once in my life in a club, stood with the DJ, and watched what was happening out in front. And it was one of the most powerful emotions, I think, I've ever felt. Just describe for the viewers what it feels like when you've got some of that passion packed in, what, 50,000 people possibly at any one time?
MORILLO: Oh, at any one time. I mean --
ANDERSON: And you see them. What's that sense? What's going through your mind?
MORILLO: To be honest, even after all these years, I still get the little butterflies before I play every, single gig. But it's such a -- it's one of those things where it's because I still love what I do.
But it's such a rush. When you connect with a crowd, and you really connect with them, it is such a rush. And, for me, I get lost. People say I go in a trance, and I just put my head down, I look at everyone, and I just start to dance, and I feel that energy. And it's just such a -- I don't know. I'm addicted to that feeling, I really am.
ANDERSON: Jose Marrero has written to us. He says, "As an aspiring DJ, what tips do you have that I can try so that I can get a bigger name in the music industry?"
MORILLO: I think it's really important to create music. Take it from me, I didn't have any musical upbringing, if you will. I didn't learn how to play keyboards early on or guitar or anything like that. But I did have the passion for music.
So, I think that anybody can create music, especially nowadays with all the software that you have out there. It really makes it easier for you to learn how to create music. So I think it's really important to create music and just get it out there.
ANDERSON: Christina Georghiou says, "Have you got any plans to work with any mainstream artists?"
MORILLO: I'm currently working on some new tracks and a new album for next year, and that is definitely the idea, is to collaborate with as many people -- I mean, I'm reaching out to people like Prince at the moment. I would love to work with someone like him.
MORILLO: I think that some of the guitar riffs and his vocals on some of the tracks that I'm working on would be amazing. So, absolutely.
ANDERSON: Last question to you. You were born in Columbia, and now you're in the early stages, I know, of setting up a charity there. Who are you trying to help, and how are you going to help them?
MORILLO: For me, it's about helping children who don't have much. I grew up in very poor household, and I know what it can be like. I thank God I had a good family, but I just want to give back to kids. I've had such a great career, and I've been given so many things. I've seen the things that I would never think I would see, and rubbed elbows with so many people that I feel like now it's time for me to give back.
ANDERSON: Erick Morillo, what a joy. Well, we are taking you to the United Nations for tomorrow's Connector of the Day. We told you earlier how heads of state are meeting to discuss the millennium development goals. Well, that is the effort to cut in half by 2015 the number or people living in poverty, extreme poverty worldwide.
Singer and activist Bob Geldof is in New York as well, demanding that all countries, rich and poor, simply do more to meet those commitments. He's taking your questions about what you think needs to be done, and what he would say, given the chance, to address the assembly. Go to cnn.com/connect to find out more. Leave your questions and comments there. We'll put them to Sir Bob tomorrow. Tonight, we'll be right back.
ANDERSON: From the ingredients in sausages to forms of alternative medicine, you're really coming through with some terrific Global Connections for this week. This is where we put two countries that may not appear to have very much in common and get you to make the connections.
This time, we are traveling from the country that gave the world chess, that is India, to the one that invented the printing press, and that is Germany. You see the little spots there on our map. They, of course, both have those iconic structures that are immediately recognizable, whether it's the Taj Mahal or the Brandenburg Gate.
But with this project, we are digging deeper into the unexpected links. Curt notes the culinary ties, pointing out, "What would strudel be without sugar or cinnamon, or bratwurst without mace or nutmeg?"
Several of you point out that homeopathy was actually developed in Germany. Dheeraj points out that not only is homeopathy popular in Germany -- in India, sorry -- German homeopathic medicines are a first preference.
One woman tells us how her husband's family immigrated to the US from Germany, while hers immigrated from India, and how they love each other's culture.
Those are the sort of stories that we really like to hear, the personal ones, the connections that come from your own experiences. So, join in the discussion. We'll be featuring the best submissions on Friday, cnn.com/global connections is where you can take part.
Just before we go this evening, it's the part of the show that we call Parting Shots. It's a quirky thought of the day told through pictures. And before we get there I want you to listen to a comment from Bhutan's prime minister at the UNGA today. It wasn't about world peace or about poverty. Something a lot nicer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIGMI THINLEY, PRIME MINISTER OF BHUTAN: My delegation would like to propose that we include happiness as the ninth MDG. I heard some laughter, and I see a lot of smiles.
THINLEY: Thank you. It is a goal that stands as a separate value while representing as well the sum total outcome of the other eight. Its relevance goes beyond the poor and developing member states to bind all of humanity, rich and poor, to a timeless common vision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: He's referring to the global happiness index, of course, so who is in the ranking? Who's who? Costa Rica, believe it or not, is the happiest nation in the world, closely followed by its Caribbean neighbor, the Dominican Republic. Surprisingly, Bhutan itself isn't quite as cheery as one would expect, coming in at about number 17. The United States is a ways down, ranked 114th, but it does come in ahead of Zimbabwe, which is rated as the unhappiest country in the world.
So, where do some of the other countries fit in? This is Vietnam's president of the UNGA. He looks like a happy fellow. Indeed, his country is ranked number 5 on the index.
What about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Well, his face possibly reflecting Iran's ranking of 81.
Norway's prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, is looking a little miffed. His country appears to have a touch of the sads, ranked at 88th.
Here's the Togolese prime minister, not the happiest look, but then, the West African nation does come in at a lowly 135.
And Finnish president Tarja Halonen isn't exactly a picture of joy, not here anyway. Finland coming in at number 59.
So, does the king of Bhutan have a point? Is happiness a key to a country's success? Well, here's a thought. Do politicians really focus on what makes people happy, or on what serves their political or economic purpose. Do we elect them to make us powerful or to make us happy? Think about it. And that is our Parting Shot this evening.
I'm Becky Anderson. That is your world connected. "BackStory" up next, right after this check of the headlines.