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CONNECT THE WORLD

Syria Residents Flee Military; Libya Rally Supports Gadhafi; Sixty Million Oil Barrels to be Released; Obama Pushes Plan for Afghanistan; Afghanistan Withdrawals Success; Prostitution the New Gang Business in California; Connector of the Day Sugar Ray Leonard Speaks on Life Behind Boxing; Parting Shots: Tom Hanks Takes Over; The Growing Refugee Crisis in Syria; UNODC World Drugs Report

Aired June 23, 2011 - 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: Tonight, two sides of the Syrian story. CNN is in Damascus and finding plenty of support for the state. But north of the capital, a very different view, as tanks roll in and desperation grows.

Then, designer drugs -- how legal ways of getting high are changing so quickly, the authorities around the world are struggling to keep up.

And dubbed a success story -- you decide. The Afghan town crawling with Taliban that's being hailed as a victory for NATO.

These stories and more tonight, as we connect the world.

One hundred days and counting -- as we mark that milestone in the Syrian uprising, we have a reporter for you tonight inside Damascus for the first time since anti-government protests took to the streets.

We're going to go to the capital in just a moment for you.

We begin, though, in Northern Syria, where hundreds more people are now on the run, fleeing a military advance. Tanks and troops massed near the Turkish border, the latest sweep to quell a popular revolt.

Now, they converged on this village north of Damascus, forcing many families to seek safe haven in neighboring Turkey. That area itself has become a shelter of sorts, hosting makeshift camps for some 10,000 Syrians who had escaped an earlier military offensive.

Well, about the same number of refugees have now crossed the border to take shelter in Turkey. We've heard chilling stories from those refugees about what's been happening in their towns. Officials in Damascus have an entirely different account.

CNN has now been granted formal access to Syria.

Arwa Damon is reporting from Damascus, accompanied, I've got to tell you, by a government official while filming pictures for her reports.

She joins us now from the capital.

What is the mood?

What's the picture there -- Arwa?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, as you just mentioned, there most certainly is, in stark contrast, it would seem, to those stories that we have been hearing for quite some time now from the refugees.

As we were moving throughout the center of Damascus, really, the heart of the capital, just outside of the old part of the city, what we saw was a fair amount of Assad support.

There was a large speaker that was blaring pro-government lyrics. There was a man who was selling anything from party hats with the president's photograph on them to t-shirts to key chains.

A lot of people were coming up to us and they were quite angry, realizing that we were Western media, voicing their frustration and their rage at the United States, at Western countries, they say, for meddling in Syria's internal affairs.

A lot of the people who were coming up to us in this specific part of Damascus were, in fact, blaming foreign interference for the uprising, very much in line with what we have been hearing for quite some time from the government.

Now, the government has continue to maintain that throughout this uprising, in this military crackdown, that it's quite simply targeting armed gangs.

But when it specifically comes to that refugee influx that we saw moving from Syria to Turkey, the government officials -- and we also heard the Syrian foreign minister questioning -- or, rather, stating it along the same lines. And they're wondering why it is that the international community is paying so much attention, focusing so much on 10,000 Syrian refugees, when, they say, over a million Iraqis were displaced due to the U.S. invasion in 2003.

So that, Becky, is pretty much the perspective from this specific part and from the government here in Damascus.

ANDERSON: Yes, Arwa is in Syria, of course.

This is the first time since the uprising began, reporting to you -- for you tonight from Damascus.

Arwa, thank you for that.

President Bashir Assad has urged Syrian refugees in Turkey to return home, promising no retaliation. But very few actually trust him, it seems.

Our Phil Black visited a refugee camp on the border. He found desperate conditions, but also a determination to wait out the crisis.

This is his report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The number of people staying in Syria's refugee camps is dropping. The people here say the Syrian Army has cut them off from the rest of the country, so there are no new arrivals. And as conditions become more desperate, more people are crossing the Turkish border.

(on camera): What is life here like?

NASIR AL-ABDO, SYRIAN REFUGEE: Life is bad here -- no water, no food, no home. There is disease. Children get ill, get sick.

BLACK (voice-over): Nasir al-Abdo's parents and youngest siblings are already in Turkey.

(on camera): Do you feel safe here?

AL-ABDO: No, I didn't feel safe. I didn't feel safe at all in Syria.

BLACK (voice-over): But he stayed because his older brother, Bashir, was missing. But Nasir has now learned his fate. He saw this broadcast on Syrian state television. It shows 26 -year-old Bashir and describes him as a terrorist. Bashir is heard confessing. He says he helped fabricate video to hurt Syria's regime.

AL-ABDO: I looked to the TV and see my brother talking about something. I never heard about it. They make him said that because he will never do that. He's a nice guy.

BLACK: Nasir says his brother shot video of protests and the Syrian military on his phone and shared it online.

AL-ABDO: We want freedom. We want democracy.

BLACK: The people in this camp want the same, but their immediate needs are more basic. These women are preparing a Syrian dish that traditionally includes rice and meat. They're making do with rice alone. The only food and other supplies enters this camp now come from Turkey. Refugees spend their days making the difficult trek, crossing secretly, carrying back what they can.

TAMER, SYRIAN REFUGEE: Somebody just went for some milk for children, some underwear.

BLACK: Gunfire frequently echoes in the near distance, a sign, they say, the Syrian military is getting closer.

Despite all this hardship, there are people in this camp who are determined to stay. Children have found a way to escape the punishing heat. Families who have been here weeks are building new shelters. This man says he's pretending the pole is Syria's president. He's joking, mostly.

The people here say they don't want to cross the border because they still hope Syria's regime will be defeated quickly and they'll be able to go home.

Phil Black, CNN, on the Syrian-Turkish border.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: All right, so you have seen the picture in Damascus tonight where Arwa reports there is support for the state and the picture there on the border with people who just simply do not want to go home.

Well, the European Union is turning up the pressure on Syria. Today it approved further sanctions, adding 11 more individuals and four companies to its list.

But is this kind of targeted punishment really effective in forcing change?

I want to bring in our expert on the subject tonight.

Ted Kattouf is a former ambassador to Syria.

He knows his stuff.

He joins us from Washington tonight.

Arwa referred to the foreign minister earlier in her report. And I just want to remind our viewers what the Syrian foreign minister said in response to these EU sanctions. He said he roundly criticized them, calling them tantamount to war. And I quote, he said: "We will forget that Europe is on the map and we will turn to the east, to the south and all directions that extend a hand to Syria. The world is not only Europe and Syria will remain steadfast, as always."

Bluster or a real threat?

What's he saying here?

TED KATTOUF, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA: Well, I think what we're really hearing is that the Syrian regime is shaken by the EU sanctions, not because of what they will do, but because of their symbolism and because Syria is becoming increasingly isolated.

So I think the threat is empty. It is bluster...

ANDERSON: All right...

KATTOUF: -- but the -- the way it was expressed indicates that they're nervous.

ANDERSON: All right. OK. They're certainly looking toward Russia and China for support.

Former State Department P.J. Crowley, writing in "The Washington Post" today, has said that it is time for Obana -- Obama, President Obama, to declare that President Assad step down. He did it with Gadhafi, of course. He hasn't done it with Assad.

Is he right, P.J. Crowley, to be asking to hear that from President Obama at this point?

KATTOUF: Well, I respect P.J. Crowley, but I don't agree with him. I think the problem for us in calling -- that is, the U.S. administration, in calling for Bashar to be removed, it's -- it's empty. We don't have any means to do it. And the administration will then raise expectations that it can't fulfill. And we already -- we're seeing the criticism of what's going on in Libya now...

ANDERSON: Sure.

KATTOUF: -- back here in the United States.

ANDERSON: But this is the problem, isn't it?

We saw him declaring that Gadhafi should go.

If he doesn't do that with President Assad -- and we've son -- we've seen 1,600 deaths. We've seen 10,000 people flee their homes.

People will say, well, what's different here?

Is this really the devil we know, perhaps, for the U.S. administration?

KATTOUF: Well, I think there is the aspect of the devil we know. And, quite honestly, the administration, as far as I can tell, is worried about who may have infiltrated some of the people in the uprising. They don't know who will emerge on top of this regime in Syria falls. And that's worrisome to them.

ANDERSON: And that is the concern, of course, who are the opposition, who runs the opposition, and, of course, who would run any regime going forward.

What is the real evidence that Iran or Hezbollah are involved in Syria at the moment?

Of course, the EU also slapping sanctions on the chief of Al Quds. That's the elite Iranian force.

Give me some concrete evidence that Iran is actually involved.

KATTOUF: Well, I personally don't have the concrete evidence. Obviously, the administration believes that they've picked up signals and the like that indicate that Iran is helping with certain technical aspects of shutting down the Internet or ferreting out the identities of those who are trying to communicate with people abroad about the atrocities going on.

But I think we can pretty much assume that Hezbollah and Iran will do whatever they can when asked by Syria, short of sending troops, to help them...

ANDERSON: OK...

KATTOUF: -- stay in power.

ANDERSON: Ted, briefly, what happens next in Syria?

Does this go from bad to worse?

KATTOUF: Yes, it goes from bad to worse, because it's a stand-off. Assad never expected the people to come out time and again. And meanwhile, the people do not have the means of overthrowing the regime.

ANDERSON: Ted, we're going to leave it there, the former ambassador to Syria. He obviously knows the region extremely well.

We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us this evening.

Well, opposition activists want the world to reflect on exactly what's happened in these past 100 days. They issued a statement earlier saying -- and I quote -- "The Syrian people are still being killed before the eyes of the world, under cover of Arab silence and shy international condemnation."

They say their revolution is peaceful and nothing will stop their fight for a free and democratic homeland.

Your news on Syria this evening.

Coming up, a roundup of the other stories that we're following for you tonight.

The world financial markets reacting to a less than enthusiastic view of the U.S. economic recovery, sending stocks on a downward spiral.

Then, the United Nations finds that illegal drug use is dropping a little bit, but it's the legal drugs that are now causing concern. We're going to have that story in about eight minutes time.

And we're going to take you to one Afghan town where the U.S. troop withdrawal means an uncertain future. That is 19 minutes away.

You're watching CNN.

A very short break.

Back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back.

Sixteen minutes past nine here in London.

I'm Becky Anderson.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

Let's get you a look at the other stories that we are following for you this hour.

And a day of bleak business news took its toll on Wall Street. The blue chips managing to shake off a good deal of their early losses. The Dow closing down 59 points, or about .5 of 1 percent. It had fallen as much as 234 points earlier in the session. The late rally coming from reports that Greece has agreed to a five year austerity plan. You, of course, have been seeing it here on CNN. That's CONNECT THE WORLD.

Well, a decision in a high profile hate speech trial in the Netherlands for you. Controversial Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, has been cleared of inciting hatred amongst or against Muslims. The ultra conservative lawmaker was tried for inciting discrimination and hatred in a controversial film he made about Islam.

The court ruled that Wilders' comments were denigrating, but not illegal.

A long-running dispute between twin brothers and Facebook has finally been settled. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss originally accused founder Mark Zuckerberg of stealing their idea. In 2008, a $65 million settlement was meant to resolve the case, but the pair said that they were shortchanged. Well, today, they decided not to appeal against the ruling upholding that original settlement.

U.S. investigators can mark one more name off the top 10 most wanted fugitives list. The FBI arrested James "Whitey" Bulger Thursday after a 16-year manhunt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARMEN ORTIZ, U.S. ATTORNEY: The arrests marked the end of a long and exhaustive hunt for America's most wanted men -- for one of America's most wanted men. And this is a great day for Boston's law enforcement community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: That's right.

Well, the alleged gang leader is accused of 19 counts of murder and a slew of other crimes. He was also the inspiration for the film, "The Departed".

Lady Gaga is urging tourists to return to Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that, of course, struck back in March. The flamboyant singer is in Tokyo this week for a benefit concert to aid victims of the disasters there. It's hoped the star's presence could help revive Japan's tourism industry, which was down 50 percent in May from a year earlier.

Well, the U.N. takes a close look at drug trends around the world and finds some of the drugs growing in popularity may already be in your medicine cabinet.

And as U.S. troops prepare for the long road out of Afghanistan, some Afghans say the job of securing their country is not done. You're going to hear from them.

We're going to take a very short break.

Back with those stories, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Becky Anderson for you.

Now, more and more people are using prescription and what are known as synthetic drugs. Take a look at these. That's the big headline out of the UN's latest global drugs report. In fact, the rise in new drugs actually overshadowing gains made in tackling cocaine and heroin use. Users turning to new drugs for so-called legal highs, substitutes for illicit stimulates such as Ecstasy.

Now, one such drug not under international control is methadrone, which is often touted as a legal alternative to amphetamine or to cocaine.

Piper -- piperazine, I'm sorry. I pronounced that wrong -- was initially developed in the treatment of parasitic worms, we are told. It's best known derivative was further developed as an anti-depressant. Spice is a synthetic product that emulates the effects of cannabis.

Just some of what came out of the latest U.N. report on drugs.

Let's get you some perspective, shall we, on some of what are quite startling and remarkable facts, some facts that I think would surprise many of our viewers.

Joining me now is your expert on the -- on the case tonight, Sandeep Chawla, from the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime.

The headline surprised me. As the fight to tackle the use of cocaine and heroin, which we hear headline after headline about, as -- as gains are made, we suddenly see those gains being overtaken by the use of prescription and what are known as synthetic drugs.

I know what prescription drugs are.

Tell me what synthetic drugs are.

SANDEEP CHAWLA, U.N. OFFICE ON DRUGS AND CRIME: Well, synthetic drugs are drugs that are made primarily from chemical compounds without needing to have a plant in nature...

ANDERSON: Right.

CHAWLA: -- to produce them. So the natural drugs are botanically based. Like you get heroin from the opium poppy plant and you get cocaine from the coca bush. (INAUDIBLE)...

ANDERSON: And they are illegal.

CHAWLA: These new synthetic drugs are legal insofar as there is no real control system for them. And they are made by innovations in the illicit market where a small change in the -- in the chemical molecule takes it out of the control system.

ANDERSON: So have regulators decided that they are equally bad for us, as other illegal drugs, do you think?

CHAWLA: It's difficult to -- it's difficult to give you a definitive answer to that question because we don't know. These are new compounds. They are new on the market. They haven't been tested. They haven't been tried. So...

ANDERSON: Who's producing them and where?

CHAWLA: They are being produced all over the world, but primarily in the developed countries, primarily in countries which have developed drug markets. So they are responding to user demand for more and more psychoactive substances.

ANDERSON: Will or do you see the drug cartels also getting involved in the provision of legal drugs, prescription drugs and synthetic drugs, because if we're seeing a -- a decrease in the use of those drugs that they've been involved with before, one would assume there will be involvement from -- from them in -- in these new drugs.

CHAWLA: Yes, there certainly is a possibility. There are certainly the networks and the markets for organized criminal groups who run trafficking networks to get involved in this.

The difference, however, is that the traditional trafficking chains are usually intercontinental in nature, because there is a big differentiation and a big geographical divide between areas of production and areas of consumption.

ANDERSON: We're talking about billions and billions of dollars worth of industry here.

CHAWLA: Yes.

ANDERSON: The global use of drugs is increasing. That is a fact.

So why the continued fixation with prohibition?

While we've been prohibiting the use of so many of these drugs, we have seen an increase in their -- in people taking them.

Why do we carry this on?

Why not just decriminalize these things?

CHAWLA: OK. First, I have to contest what you said. I don't think it's incontestable that the global use of drugs is increasing.

ANDERSON: There's certainly a lot of evidence to suggest that it is.

CHAWLA: There's -- there's a lot of evidence in terms of anecdotal evidence. If you read the report -- the -- the evidence provided in our report, which is data put together from every member state that reports to us over the year...

ANDERSON: OK.

CHAWLA: -- the evidence is that for most of the drugs, the do you use problem is stable.

ANDERSON: Right.

CHAWLA: The evidence is that illicit drug use has been contained to less than 5 percent of the adult population of the world.

ANDERSON: So my question was, why not just decriminalize that?

Even -- even if those stats are correct?

CHAWLA: OK, now, if it is correct, then when you compare it, for instance, to something like tobacco, which is an illicit substance available for users. It's every bit as psychoactive as the other drugs. It's every bit as addictive. Even with all the non-smoking campaigns going on in the world today, the use of tobacco as -- as current use, is about 25 percent of the adult population.

ANDERSON: In some parts of the world...

CHAWLA: No.

ANDERSON: -- though, more than (INAUDIBLE)...

CHAWLA: The global average is 25 percent. So in some parts of the world, it's increasing. In some parts of the world it's decreasing because of the non-smoking movement. Whichever way you look at it, the average is 25 percent. The average of drug -- illicit drug use is 5 percent. It's been contained at that 5 percent because of the control system.

ANDERSON: We'll have to leave it there.

I've got to take an advertising break.

We thank you very much, indeed.

We'll have you back on the show shortly.

Well, according to the report, cocaine use in Europe has deliberated in the past decade, much of it trafficked out of Africa.

Jon Mann now takes a look at a recent bust in the African nation of Benin that shows the global reach of the drug cartels.

Have a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police in the West African nation of Benin are literally taking apart a major drug operation. These metal valves were actually packed with illegal drugs -- 50 kilos worth, most likely cocaine.

FLORENT DJIMASSE, BENIN POLICE SPOKESMAN (through translator): This is a huge cache. The shipment was loaded in Brazil. There were ports of transit, namely, Spain, Oman, Togo and then Benin. This is the result, I would say, of an effort that cost us several days of surveillance.

MANN: Police made the bust on Saturday, arresting several suspects. While you may not think of Benin as a major drug trafficking hub, security experts say it's just the tip of the iceberg.

SCOTT STEWART, VICE PRESIDENT OF TACTICAL INTELLIGENCE, STRATFOR: There's so much corruption, so much poverty in West Africa, that it's -- it's really a place where there's all kinds of illicit commerce.

MANN (on camera): But take a closer look at the strange circuitous trafficking route. Now, the drugs probably came from the Mexican cartels. They were manufactured in the Andes. But they headed first to Brazil. That wasn't their final destination, not by a long shot.

From Brazil, they went all the way to the Persian Gulf nation of Oman. And from there, they went over to West Africa, to the coastal nation of Togo, but then on to Benin, where they were intercepted by the authorities.

That wasn't even their final destination. Analysts say the drugs were probably really headed to Europe.

STEWART: The narcotics are going to go to where the big markets are. And in this case, the markets are in Europe. And one of the ways that you can get into Europe when the interdiction efforts make it impossible to go directly, is to go into Africa and then enter Europe through the soft underbelly, you know, through places like Morocco into Spain or even through Cicely in -- into Italy, into Southern France from Algeria.

MANN (voice-over): And with the U.S. cracking down on illegal drug imports, cartels are turning to secondary markets, like Europe and even Australia -- markets worth billions of dollars.

Jonathan Mann, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: Next on CONNECT THE WORLD, entering the end game. But once Western troops leave Afghanistan for good, what sort of country are they going to leave behind?

Plus, the boxing legend who spent two decades in the ring. In just 20 minutes time, Sugar Ray Leonard tells us about the highs and lows of his glittering career.

A short break.

Back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BECKY ANDERSON: Welcome back this is CONNECT THE WORLD. It's just after half past nine in London. Let's get you a quick check of the headlines this hour here on CNN.

Hundreds of people are on the run in Northern Syria, fleeing into Turkey to escape a military advance. Syrian tanks and troops are amassing near the border part of a wide suite of quail, a popular revolt.

Hundreds of women and children took to the streets of Tripoli to show support for Muammar Gadhafi earlier. A Libyan leader criticized NATO members on Thursday in the wake of an air strike allegedly killed civilians.

After months of high oil prices the international community is acting. International Energy Agency is releasing 60,000,000 barrels of oil into the world market over the next 30 days. Half of that will come from the United States.

There President Barrack Obama has defended his plan to bring home 33,000 troops from Afghanistan. Speaking to soldiers in New York, he said the withdrawals would take place steadily to ensure that recent gains would not be lost.

At this point, those are your headlines.

Too fast. Too slow. Or, too little too late. The reaction to Obama's decision has been mixed. In from America's top military officer, Admiral Michael Mullin wishes that the troop withdrawals were more aggressive and involved more risk than he was originally prepared to accept. But, he added, they wouldn't jeopardize the mission.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL MULLEN, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: While there's more risks, I don't consider it significant and I don't consider it in any way shape or form putting the military in a position where it can't achieve its objective.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: So with American forces on their way out, what sort of country could they leave behind. Let's find out. Nick Paton Walsh traveled to Lashkar Gah. These days a relatively peaceful city, but, one which is far from perfect.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When President Obama talks of handing Afghanistan back to the Afghans, the city of Lashkar Gah, a bustling enclave and violent helm and province is the model that NATO points to.

This is what peace here looks like. Hundreds of NATO troops who have died fighting for Helmand, but Afghans are in charge of security from July for better or worse. Fewer NATO troops, some hope, means less violence from resurgents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): People don't like foreigners here he says. Adding that without them he hopes security will be better.

NATO promotes Afghan solutions to Afghan problems, but here the Afghan solution, the police are, to some the problem. One man told us anonymously how, this month, he was badly beaten for speeding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): I was driving fast on a motor bike to move my sick friend to the doctor. Police stopped me for speeding and when I talked back they beat me, kicked me and punched me for a few minutes. As civilians here we are afraid of both the police and the Taliban. And, I can't say which one I fear more.

WALSH (voice over): It's this rough form of the law, its corruption, abuse, that is often used to explain how the Taliban's swift, blunt justice became popular. And, in Lashkar Gah, the handover doesn't mean they've fled. In fact, the Taliban are still very much a part of life here.

WALSH (on camera): While the handover means the Afghan police taking responsibility of security in Lashkar Gah, many people here off camera, tell us the Taliban retain a strong presence.

WALSH (voice over): Some laugh it off.

UNIDENTIFED MALE (via translator): Many people buy from me. I don't know who's Taliban.

WALSH (voice over): But others, like this pharmacist, part of the local sick minority, admit they're customers too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): Yes, definitely. The Taliban are coming here for their shopping. They buy headache pills from me.

WALSH (voice over): Commerce is booming in Lashkar Gah. The luxury of meat selling fast as aid money pours into the town. Easy cash that means all sides want to keep this city an enclave from the war swirling around them.

But this compromise, the allegedly thuggish police, the Taliban waiting in the wings is far from NATO's original game plan. Is this the life America really wanted to hand back to the Afghans? We asked a senior American here. You are happy to give Afghan's that kind of justice?

ANDREW ERICKSON, USAID REPRESENTATIVE: I think that is a bit of a --

WALSH: Inside you, you must know do you feel happy about where the police are.

ERICKSON: Yes. What I want to say here is I want to say that I feel that that's imposing our values upon the Afghans. What matters to the Afghans is do they have an adequate security force to meet their own needs. And the Afghans made the decision that they wanted to transition Lashkar Gah. Now, I think it would be presumptuous of me as a foreigner right now to judge the security forces that they have in place. These guys are pretty effective at the level they need to be effective in this environment today.

WALSH (voice over): Today money has brought a pause in this city's violence. A brief chance of hope after 30 years of war, but yesterday's allegiances and fears are still nearby, leaving tomorrow so uncertain.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Lashkar Gah.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: An uncertain future indeed. But, is the example of Lashkar Gah the best that NATO can hope for? Earlier I spoke to Rory Stewart. He's a British politician and former army officer. He's both lived and worked in Afghanistan. I was seeing if he was satisfied with what he is seeing there. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

RORY STEWART, FORMER BRITISH ARMY OFFICER, BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, AUTHOR, THE PLACES IN BETWEEN: I think the picture is very, very unsettling. And, Helmand province, which may consist in discussing as a place where we've gone from 200 troops to 32,000 international troops over the last for years. And it occupies only about one percent of the land mass and three percent of the population Afghanistan. If the international forcers were not able to get it right there, I think we need to be very, very honest and realistic about the fact that we've achieved far less than people were pretending nine years ago.

ANDERSON: So what is your reaction to what we've heard from Obama? Thirty - three thousand surge troops coming home by September 2012, and indeed what we've heard from the French and the British today?

STEWART: I think it's exactly the right decision. I think the president is being courageous. He needs to stick to his guns. The military will always say just give us another two years and we're going to crack this one. He needs to be firm. He needs to say that in his assessment, we've put in a really good effort, we've tried very hard for nine years, but we haven't seen the results that we were hoping for. And, that this can not continue forever and it's time to transfer to Afghan lead.

ANDERSON: But Rory, it's a mess. What's U.S. strategy here? He's certainly not nation building, he said that himself. He said he was nation building at home. The counter insurgency, it seems, with this withdrawal of troops is over. There are clearly very few Al Qaeda sells left, so no need for counter terrorism. What's the mission here for the 70,000 U.S. troops left?

STEWART: The aim is to try to make sure that Afghanistan becomes a little bit more prosperous, a little bit more stable, a little bit more chumane (ph). And, I'm putting it in very limited terms. So, one objective would be to keep a counter terrorism force to make sure that Al Qaeda didn't re-establish itself. I think that should be doable. You may also want to try to do what you can to decrease the likelihood of a civil war and increase the likelihood of a political settlement. But, the bottom line is that it's no longer in the west's gift to micro manage the direction in which Afghanistan goes.

ANDERSON: So, without a clear exit strategy, what you're saying is, let's get out. It's over.

STEWART: No, what I'm saying is that what you want to do is you want to get to a situation where you're containing and managing the situation.

ANDERSON: But how do you do that Rory? Sorry. Let's be explicit here. How do you do that?

STEWART: What you do is I say is that you keep counter terrorist forces who focus on trying to make sure Al Qaeda can't significantly enhance its ability to harm the United States or the United Kingdom. You continue to keep, perhaps, some air power in Kabul, so that you make it more difficult for the Taliban to take a city (ph). And you put all your energy into political negotiation.

ANDERSON: Talking to the Taliban who are, clearly, still the enemy. It -- to many people watching this show they'll say why to somebody you are fighting?

STEWART: Well, all conflicts end in the end. And all conflicts end with political negotiations. You have to talk to the Taliban because, to put it bluntly, they're not going away. They're there. They're permanent forces on the Afghan political landscape. Pretending they don't exist is still saying, because they are somehow an enemy, we can't talk to them. It would involve you being stuck in Afghanistan forever.

ANDERSON: You referred to civil war just earlier on. Is civil war now likely?

STEWART: Civil war is definitely a possibility. As the troops come down, you've got the Taliban there, you've got the Northern Alliance, they don't like each other. So one of the biggest objectives, probably the biggest objective for the international troops, and for the international civilians, is to try to make civil war less likely and a political settlement more likely.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: Rory Stewart, your expert on the subject this evening. After this very short break, a woman trapped in a gang forced to be a prostitute. Find out what finally made her decide to risk her life and escape.

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ANDERSON: The following report is one of a series of stories which we believe must be told. CNN is devoting an entire year to bringing you a special series of reports that uncover the dark and disturbing roles of modern day slavery. In tonight, the story of one woman trapped in a violent gang and the horrific situation she was forced to endure. Thelma Gutierrez reports.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

"JESSICA": If I wanted to post an ad.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Each day, this young woman we'll call "Jessica" spends hours on the internet, posting provocative photos of herself and fishing for clients. People who would pay her to have sex.

"JESSICA": Mine (ph) used to say Latina, variably 18 years old.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): "Jessica" worked as a prostitute in the booming internet sex trade. But she didn't work for herself. She says she had a pimp who set a quota of $1000 a day. Money that took about 10 days to earn. "Jessica" told me she was afraid of her pimp. But, if she didn't work, she didn't eat. Faint, she once went five days without food.

"JESSICA": I thought I was going to die of starvation.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): You had to work not for pay, but to get fed.

"JESSICA": To get fed.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): "Jessica" is afraid to be identified because she says her pimp is a gang member. Two years ago when she was a 19 year old runaway she said she became the physical property of a California gang. Where prostitutes, many of them underage, are often branded with tattoos, bearing the gangs insignia or their pimps' names.

Lieutenant Valencia Saadat says law enforcement is beginning to look at prostitutes as potential victims of sex trafficking.

VALENCIA SAADAT, LIEUTENANT, OCEANSIDE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Rather than just focus on the -- the women that are out here in the streets, focus on the reason that they're here. The people who place them here.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): Three warring gang factions in Oceanside, California, laid down their weapons to form, what investigators say, is a profitable business enterprise. To traffic and prostitute women and girls throughout California.

ADAM KNOWLAND, SERGENT, OCEANSIDE POLICE DEPARTMENT: This is one of the biggest investigations we've had in Oceanside's history, actually.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): Sergeant Adam Knowland says Oceanside vice Detectives led the 18 month long investigation into the Crips' enterprise and found the business was moving away from selling drugs to selling women. And, the internet was there most powerful tool.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): This is new territory for the gangs,

KNOWLAND: Yes.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): Profitable?

KNOWLAND: Very profitable. If you sell your drugs you have to go replenish your supply. Here you have a girl that you're prostituting out; you don't have to find another girl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FBI, search warrant, open up.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): The investigation resulted in the federal indictment of 38 people, including suspected gang members, their associates, even hotel owners where the alleged prostitution was taking place. Suspects were indicted on multiple charges including racketeering and sex trafficking.

As for "Jessica', the turning point came after she witnessed another prostitute, who was her friend, being beaten by their pimp. She says she watched horror as he sprayed mace in her mouth and forced her to swallow it. Then, she says, she knew she had to escape.

"JESSICA": Nowadays people seeing prostitutes, they call them names. They don't know what we're going through, if we were fed last night. If we're being raped.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): "Jessica" says she was abused as a child and never would have resorted to this life if she would have had a family who protected her.

"JESSICA": I don't have a dad. I have never had one. I think I waited like 18 years or 19 years for him to call me on one of my birthdays and never did. It's painful.

GUTIERREZ (voice over): "Jessica" says she worries about all the other vulnerable women and girls who get trapped in a life they can not escape.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Oceanside, California.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: (INAUDIBLE) okay. Just one of the series of reports as part of what we call CNN's "Freedom Project".

Still to come this evening here on CONNECT, well (ph) he was king of the boxing ring, but Sugar Ray Leonard also fought many personal battles throughout his career. Your "Connector of the Day" shares his story. Up next.

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ANDERSON: Flashy and fast fisted, tonight's "Connector of the Day" is widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time. Don Riddell spoke to this sporting icon about his battles both in and out of the ring.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A champion in the boxing world inspired by heroes of his own.

SUGAR RAY LEONARD, FORMER PROFESSIONAL BOXER, AUTHOR, "THE BIG FIGHT", CONNETOR OF THE DAY: I would watch all the great fighters. Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Jersey Joe Walcott, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano. They all had this look and they all had this -- this appearance. When they got to the ring, you know that they were winners. And I -- again I trained hard. I trained, I watched films. I was such a student of the sport of boxing.

RIDDELL (voice over): Sugar Ray Leonard was a dominant force in the ring for more than two decades. Winning an unprecedented five world titles in five different weight classes. But it was a sport he had to be dragged into by his brother.

LEONARD: I was not athletically inclined. I was not an athlete. I was kind of a mama's boy. And, he took me to the gym and put the gloves, and right away, right away I knew that this was my sport. This was something that I could be good at. And I continued for a couple of years and all of a sudden the 1972 Olympics was in focus. I tried for that, I made it to the quarter finals. So, 1976 was my year. I mean I was so dedicated. I was so - - so disciplined at 14, 15, 16 that I made my chances of making the Olympics quite possible.

RIDDELL (voice over): To the world he was a champion, but amid the glory, one of the darkest points in his personal life. In his new autobiography, "The Big Fight", Leonard claims that he was sexually abused by an Olympics coach.

RIDDELL (on camera): Why did you decide to talk about that now?

LEONARD: It's -- it's such an uncomfortable, awkward, personal situation for me, and I guess for others, I kept it to myself over 30 years, and it was killing me. And, especially when nothing -- when I didn't have my career in play. Because, when I retired back in 1982, that's when it really started to haunt me. It started to bother me, that I indulged into excessive alcohol consumption, drugs, cocaine, pills, I did it -- whatever, whatever was available I did those things. My marriage to my incredible wife, Juanita, was deteriorating, and, I don't blame the drugs or alcohol for what I did. What I didn't do with her. I was a bad guy. I was just a selfish guy. And, my life started to explode. My life started to deteriorate. We got separated, got -- eventually got divorced and I was lost and I did what most people, I think, would do. I continued to drink and do drugs and kind of cushion the emotional pain that I felt.

RIDDELL (voice over): Despite this personal fight, Leonard was one of the hardest men to beat in the ring, taking on some the biggest names in the sport.

RIDDELL (on camera): Samuel Waft (ph) wants to know, who was your toughest opponent?

LEONARD: Without question it was Tommy Hearns. He was such an amazing champion, fighter, warrior. Tall -- he was such a freak of nature at 147 pounds. He, without question, was my toughest, toughest opponent.

RIDDELL (on camera): Craig S. Osborn (ph) wants to know, can you describe what a Marvin Hagler punch feels like?

LEONARD: I can show him. It -- Marvin Hagler's hands were so, it's what they call heavy-handed. Whenever he laid a glove on you, it felt like bricks. He punches that hard.

RIDDELL (on camera): Has anyone ever told you what a Sugar Ray punch felt like?

LEONARD: It goes so quick, you don't know.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sugar Ray Leonard. Oh my god. Have you seen that video?

RIDDELL (voice over): Also quick, Leonard's appearance as himself in the acclaimed film "The Fighter". The biographical drama in which Christian Bale plays boxer Dicky Eklund.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIDDELL (on camera): There's a question that lingers all the way through that film when you fought Dicky Eklund. Did he knock you over, or was it a trip? Can you answer that question for us?

LEONARD: Read my lips, I slipped. There was no knock down. But, it depends on who you ask.

RIDDELL (voice over): It could be argued that the heyday of boxing is over, but Leonard believes other great champions will emerge, given the chance.

LEONARD: That is indeed a problem for the sport. Also, back in the day, there was amateur boxing at its best, Golden Gloves, the Pan-American Games, The Olympics, I mean those were the tournaments that really excelled and really gave you the experience to be a great fighter professionally. And, also, boxing used to be on free television, network television. We need to get back to the basics.

RIDDELL (voice over): And, speaking of getting back, just one question remains for this fighting 55 year old.

RIDDELL (on camera): Now you retired, what, five times in your career. This fascinates me. Did you get to three or -- Did you get to three or four and you were thinking, not really.

LEONARD: I guess I was trying for the record of retirement. I -- I think I succeeded. I don't know. I retired five, ten, eight times. I lost count.

RIDDELL (on camera): And you're not coming back this time for sure, right?

LEONARD: Trust me. Where I am in my life now, at my age, they hurt now. The punches do hurt.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: Sugar Ray for you there. Being interviewed by Don Riddell. Next week one of our Connectors is Hollywood superstar Tom Hanks. Now the day that we recorded the interview with Tom, he just stopped by our studios -- of sister network CNN USA. Now, he spent some time with my colleague Kyra Phillips either before or afterwards, and even tried his hand at presenting some of the news. The result is our parting shots tonight. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: The Texas Rangers gave out sunglasses last night's game. At a night game with the Houston Astros. That's so you wouldn't have to see the game. Thirty-three thousand fans, including George W. Bush, former president of the United States, and the Rangers team president Nolan Ryan put on the shades and pretended to be other people than they actually are. That was at the end of the sixth inning. They looked cool. They went home and made love to their wives and girlfriends. The Rangers were hoping to set the record for the most people wearing sunglasses in the dark, as though that matters.

And now, John Hudson heads to South Carolina today after declaring for the White House and the conservatives want to know if he's flip-flopping on a healthcare mandate. Yes or no. How was that?

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If I get fired will you please give me a job?

HANKS: Geez, I'm exhausted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Get him off the set. You can never have too much Tom Hanks. They (ph) said he's an absolute charmer. Another day's here as your connector, on CONNECT THE WORLD next week. I'm Becky Anderson. Thank you for watching. The World News Headlines and Back Story will follow this short break. Don't go away.

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