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CONNECT THE WORLD

Growing Outrage Over Siege of Homs; Western Journalists Killed in Syria; At Least 49 Dead in Argentina Train Wreck

Aired February 22, 2012 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Tonight on CONNECT THE WORLD: Killed reporting on the horrors of Homs. Two prominent Western journalists among the latest casualties of a Syrian city under siege.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: As the shelling intensifies, how many are so many are risking so much to get the story told.

Also tonight:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABDIWELI MOHAMED ALI, SOMALIA PREMIERE: This could price (ph) billions of dollars, maybe five, six, $10 billion dollars.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Somalia's premiere tells me why the West should sump up to help provide his country with a brighter future.

And giving racism the boot. Britain's prime minister vows action to clean up what many call the "Beautiful Game."

We begin with growing outrage over the siege of Syria's third largest city where more and more civilians. trapped by weeks of shelling, are losing their lives.

Government troops are keeping up a barrage on Homs, pounding the rebel stronghold with rockets and artillery fire. Among those killed today, two award winning Western journalists dedicated to exposing the horrors of this conflict. American Marie Colvin was the veteran correspondent for London's "Sunday Times." Remi Ochlik was a French photojournalist.

Just a day earlier, one of the main citizen videographers in Homs was killed by shrapnel. Rami el-Sayed's amateur videos gave us a chilling look at the crackdown's deadly consequences.

Some opposition activists believe Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik were deliberately targeted, today, but the Syrian government says it had, and I quote, "No information that they were in the country." The regime tightly restricts access to foreign reporters, so many ending up sneaking across borders in search of truth.

CNN's own Arwa Damon was just in Homs, she joins us now, live, from Beirut.

What do we know at this stage of these the circumstances of these journalist's deaths, today?

ARWA DAMON, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the shelling in Homs, especially in the neighborhood of Baba Amr is quite indiscriminate. This specific location, where Marie and Remi were killed, that is what has been coined a media house. It really is a hub for the opposition's media branch, and that is a location that activists say the Syrian government has been targeting for quite some time, now. Quite simply, trying to take out opposition activist's live signal trying to stop them from broadcasting, from uploading those videos to YouTube.

Marie, for her part, was fiercely determined to keep on telling the story. She profoundly felt that it was a journalist's responsibility to shed light on the ongoing atrocities inside Syria, but elsewhere, as well. She was very much a member of our industry who truly embodied what it was that we all tried to stand for, but she was the one who managed to achieve it. And she was incredibly heartfelt in all of her reporting.

Listen to what she told CNN's Anderson Cooper, just a few hours before she was killed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Marie, I mean, you have covered a lot of conflicts over a long time. How does this compare.

MARIE COLVIN, AMERICAN JOURNALIST: This is the worst, Anderson, for many reasons. The last one -- I mean, I think it's the last time we talked when I was in Misratah. It's partly personal safety, I guess. There's nowhere to run. The Syrian army is holding the parameter and there's just far more ordinance being poured into the city and no way of predicting where it's going to land.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAMON: And you hear just how calm and collected she was there, and that is exactly how Marie always was in all of these circumstances. She had also witnessed, whilst being inside Baba Amr and Homs, the death of two people and the death of a small infant, a 2-year-old child. All experiences that she said had profoundly moved her; all experiences that really fueled her determination to keep on telling the story.

ANDERSON: Arwa, I want you to stay with me. In what was one of Marie's last interviews, as you said, talked to Anderson about witnessing the death of a very young child in Homs. We have videos of what was a desperate struggle to save that wounded Syrian toddler and we need to warn you viewers that this story is very difficult to watch, but we think it's important. Here's Nick Paton Walsh.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Of the many infants to die in Homs, few have had their death so awfully public. This 2-year-old killed by shrapnel, shells still heard falling around him and his father.

FATHER OF CHILD KILLED IN HOMS: My baby, my baby, my baby. I will avenge your death. I will avenge your death, I swear. My son, what did you do? Who did you hurt?

No one could tell us his name, but another clip shot, earlier showed the frustration of doctors unable to deal with the injury under the young boy's arm. The images are graphic. The doctor clearly feeling powerless.

DOCTOR (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): This child needs to go to a proper hospital. Even the children are not allowed to get there. Where is the Red Cross? It was negotiating, yesterday.

WALSH: He struggles to breathe. They move to resuscitate, but fail.

Shelling, Tuesday in Homs was the worst yet. Children caught in this barrage and its devastation, suffering the hardest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR UNNI KRISHNAN, PLAN INTERNATIONAL: Children are particularly vulnerable in the armed conflict (PH) situations. Many of them are separated from their families, they often lose their parents and conflicts leave lasting impacts on children, both physically and emotionally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH: Some will survive their injuries, yet, in the horror, many should have, but did not.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Nick Paton Walsh, there.

Well Arwa, Marie Colvin speaking to Anderson, last night, said that baby's death she witnessed, reminds here, and should remind all of us of the realities for some 28,000 men, women and kid hiding, being shelled, defenseless, there in Homs, quite possibly, as we speak, tonight.

And Arwa you've just come back. I just want to get your response to the sense of where you feel men, women and kids are. Where do they stand, tonight, in that city?

DAMON: Well, we do know from activists that the shelling is ongoing and it continues to be incredibly intense. A lot of those families that have been left in Baba Amr. And those 20,000 you refer to, Becky, that is just one neighborhood inside one city and that is the city of Homs. Many of them are trying to take shelter in bunkers, some of them are trying to just collect themselves in one room in the house that they believe is potentially going to be safe.

But as we keep seeing day in and day out, there really is no way for people to truly protect themselves from the ongoing artillery barrage. Parents are helpless to try to save their children, to try to protect them from the violence.

And there is, of course, this ongoing humanitarian crisis with food running in incredibly short supply. And then, of course, you have the medical situation. With many of those in need of emergency medical care, unable to get that treatment that they so desperately need. It's a satiation that is truly horrific. These people are living a nightmare, Becky.

ANDERSON: Arwa Damon, reporting out to Beirut, just recently out of Syria for you, this evening. Arwa, as ever, thank you.

Well, the French government is outraged by the death of Western journalists, today saying it's more evidence that the Syrian regime must go, they say. French war photographer, Remi Ochlik is being remembered today as one the greatest of his generation.

And we saw the pictures that he took, he covered conflicts from Haiti to the Democratic Republic of Congo to last year's uprising in Libya.

CNN spoke with one of Ochlik's friends, a fellow journalist, just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALFRED DE MONTESQUIOU, JOURNALIST: He was really good, good work companion. He was very cool-headed, very hardworking. Last week we were in Syria together, it was extremely difficult and extremely trying conditions, we were in (INAUDIBLE) that was captured by the army. We had to trek through the mountain for five hours in the middle of the night to escape back to Lebanon. He never complained, he never, you know, always went forward. He was a very solid guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Let's bring in veteran journalist to talk to us about the dangers of working in a warzone. Christopher Dickey, Middle East editor for "Newsweek" magazine joins us, tonight from Paris.

Marie Colvin's life passion, ultimately lead to her death, she will never have regretted this mission, of course. You knew her well. How will you remember her?

CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE: I'll remember her as the single bravest correspondent I ever knew. I've know Marie for what, 26 years, and every year, every decade, war after war, fight after fight, she would go to the middle of the action because she felt that was the only way you could see what was happening in a war, really tell the truth about what was happening in a war, and particularly what was happening with the civilian population and that's, of course, what she was doing when she was killed.

ANDERSON: She spoke, Christopher, at remembrance service, quite recently, for fallen colleagues. And at that service, she argued that there was a need for frontline objective reporting and she said it's never been more of a compelling need. And I just want to read you what she said, specifically.

"Our mission is to report these horrors of war with accuracy and without prejudice. We always have to ask ourselves whether the level of risk is worth the story. What is bravery and what is bravado?"

And those are questions you must have asked yourself over the years.

DICKEY: Well, those are questions that Marie was asking herself, even over the last few days. And what happens is you see a situation that's developing like Homs, you see the video that's coming out, you see some of the reports, Arwa's reports, for instance, and you say that's something that needs to be witnessed. People need to bear witness to what's happening there. And Marie was torn, she knew it was going to be incredibly dangerous, but she felt that this was a moment that she couldn't avoid, that she had to go in and see what was happening and report it as bravely as possible, with no bravado, but report it as honestly and with as much balance as she possibly could.

And what she saw appalled her and I think that we all see that in her writing and what she said on ANDERSON COOPER and elsewhere, yesterday.

ANDERSON: Yeah, and we must remember a number of other journalists also lost their lives, as have tens of thousands of people in the -- not just the city of Homs, of course, but across Syria.

She died as she lived, trying to ram home the horrors of life in a conflict zone. What do you think her legacy -- what do you think she'd want her legacy to be?

DICKEY: I think what she would really want her legacy to be is some kind of end to war. That's not going to happen, but I think that any correspondent who's really conscientious and who covers wars comes to really hate wars. You know, there may be some people who are adrenaline junkies, who like the action, who like the thrill, but that wasn't Marie, that wasn't Anthony Shadid, who died last week, that's not anybody who's responsible.

War is really horrible. And I think that the politicians and the people who sometimes say, let's go to war, let's annihilate this country, let's annihilate that country, they don't have any clue what it's about. And I think Marie was all about giving people that clue.

ANDERSON: Christopher, we appreciate your time, tonight. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

Christopher Dickey out of Paris, for you.

DICKEY: Thank you, Becky.

ANDERSON: This evening, we have much more on Syria, ahead this hour, including a live interview with another man who risked his life to reveal the truth about the situation in Homs. I'm going to speak with citizen journalist, Danny Abdul-Dayem in about 20 minutes time.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN, out of London.

Still to come, morning rush hour in Argentina. What authorities think went wrong at a Buenos Aires train station.

Also ahead, what it's like to find out your son is being recruited by Shabaab militants in Somalia. A Kenyan mother speaks out.

And call to crush racism on the football pitch; that from the British prime minister, tonight. All that and much more, still ahead, after this short break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN, the world's news leader. I'm Becky Anderson.

At least 49 people are dead and more than 600 are injured after a train crash in Argentina. It happened during rush hour in Buenos Aires. An emergency services official says the death toll could rise. Luis Carlos Velez has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LUIS CARLOS VELEZ, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Morning rush in Buenos Aires turned into a bloody mess in what's believed to be Argentina's worst train crash in decades.

A packed commuter train plowed into a platform at this busy station, smashing the front of the train and crunching several other cars behind it. Rescue workers scrambled to pull people from between the crushed cars, but many were killed on impact.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I was shocked, it was full of blood. There were injured people everywhere, bodies flying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): People started to break windows and get out however they could. Then I saw the engine destroyed and the train driver trapped amongst the steel. There were a lot of people hurt, a lot of kids, elderly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ: Argentina's transport secretary told reporters on the scene that the train may have lost its brakes as it sped into the station.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUAN PABLO SCHIAVI, ARGENTINEAN TRANSPORTATION SECY: The place where they're pulling people out IS between the first and second stations. There are people trapped, there are people who are alive and they're could be victims.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ: Authorities say, this is the country's worst train accident since 1970 and the fifth crash since December 2010. Despite that, thousands of Argentineans travel by train into the capitol from the suburbs every day.

Luis Carlos Velez, CNN New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: A look for you at some of the other stories that are connecting our world, tonight.

In Afghan, President Hamid Karzai reportedly appealing for calm as the rage over the burning of Korans intensifies. At least five people have died in the protests. NATO's commander in Afghanistan says the Islamic religious materials were gathered for disposal and were turned over to troops for burning by mistake. His apology hasn't quelled the anger. Demonstrations have spread to NATO's camp Phoenix, there, Kabul's airport and to Jalalabad.

Well, eight more bodies have been found in the wreckage of the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship hit rocks, you'll remember, off the coast of Italy and rolled onto its side. Now, it's known, four of the bodies have been removed, including those of a woman and little girl. The number of confirmed dead is now 25 and seven people are still missing. The ship's captain is under house arrest facing possible manslaughter charges. Seven crewmembers are also under investigation.

And attorney says a final verdict in sentencing for Egypt's deposed president will come on June the second. Hosni Mubarak has been on trial on charges of corruption and ordering the deaths of hundreds of people who protested his regime, last year.

Now, prosecutors say that they will seek the death penalty. Mubarak has denied giving orders to shoot. Amnesty International estimates 840 people died in that out-rising.

London's security forces spent most of Wednesday responding to simulated terror attacks at a disused underground station. They want to be at the top of their game when the Olympics arrive the British capitol, this summer. Well, so far, the two-day exercise aimed at keeping millions of visitors safe, is receiving a positive response from emergency staff and indeed, the U.K. government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA MAY, BRITISH HOME SECURITY: We've obviously done an awful lot of planning over the years, indeed, the planning for the security of the Olympics (INAUDIBLE) started before we even won the bid and that planning has continued, but it is right that we put that planning to the test through live exercises such as this. And this is not the only live exercise that is taking place. It's not the only test that's taking place. We want to make sure we put our plans to the test and learn any lessons that need to be learned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: That is a quick rap of your news headlines.

Crunch time, coming up. Britain's prime minister holds a summit to tackle discrimination in football Pedro Pinto has all the details on that, just ahead, for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Twenty-three minutes past nine, out of London. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky Anderson.

Right, it's one of the biggest issues plaguing world football, I'm afraid, today. A problem the English game thought it had banished forever, but after two high-profile racist incidents, this season, the British prime minister, no less, has called a summit to discuss discrimination in sport - - in this sport, in fact, representatives from England's football association. The Premier League joined famous ex-players like, John Bon (ph), as you saw there (INAUDIBLE) to discuss how the game can be made more inclusive.

Pedro Pinto here with more.

It is specifically on football, although we wouldn't want racism in any sport, of course. The prime minister really having a go at this one.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It's a great initiative to see, Becky, because you would really like this issue to be taken as seriously in other countries. And in Great Britain, of course, this season, we've seen two high-profile incidents. One of them, involving Luis Suarez who then was charged with racist abuse. He got an eight match ban. And you have an ongoing investigation concerning the England national team captain, John Terry, and he has to go to court after the Euro 2012 tournament to answer charges of racism, as well.

So, what happened today was at No. 10 Downing Street, David Cameron invited several power brokers in the world of football. David Bernstein, the chairman of the affair, was there. The head of the Football Players Association was also there. As you mentioned a couple of former internationals. And this is something that's taken very seriously, indeed, and it's an anti-discrimination summit that will last a few days. And David Cameron said that he realizes a lot has been done recently to improve the situation in English football, but there's still a long way to go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID CAMERON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: And the point of the meeting today is really to recognize the success of the past, but to recognize we do have some problems still, today, and some problems that have crept back in. So, I think I've been very much admiring what a number of people around the table have been saying about how we need to act quickly to make sure those problems don't creep back in.

And I hope what we can agree, today, is to make sure that everyone who has an ability to deal with this issue, takes the steps that they can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PINTO: It's a topic we'll be discussing later this week on CNN, for a special that examines the history of racism in English football on and off the pitch. You can watch later this week. What can be done to kick it out of the game? We'll speak with some of the key players impacted over the years. That's "World Sport Presents: It's not Black and White," Friday at 8:00 p.m. London Time, 9:00 p.m. in Berlin.

And David Cameron did say that swift action is required to crush racism and the return of racism in English football.

ANDERSON: Yeah, nobody wants to see that.

Let's talk about (INAUDIBLE) part of the game and what's going on, tonight. What I'm -- kind of, these two matches that are going on. Two champions league matches in process. What's going on there?

PINTO: Well, we've got two games going on at the moment, one in Switzerland and no goals to tell you about, I'm afraid, Becky. It's been quite boring, so far. Nil-Nil between Basil and Bayern Munich in Switzerland. Nil-Nil also between Marseille and Inter Milan in France, so we'll see if any goals are scored in the last five minutes or so of those games.

ANDERSON: Good, thank you. You're back in an hour with WORLD SPORTS.

PINTO: WORLD SPORTS will be back.

ANDERSON: And we'll be back with you at half past 10:00 London Time. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky Anderson at half past 9:00, just approaching, in London.

Still to come, speaking truth to power.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: A citizen journalist known as Danny has been getting the word out about Syria's brutal crackdown. He'll be with me live, here in the studio in five minutes time.

Plus, billions of dollars, that is how much war-torn Somalia wants from the international community. I sat down earlier with the county's prime minister to find out why and what he thinks he will do with it.

And later, an oasis in the desert, it's why more film stars and studios are putting down roots in Dubai.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, welcome back and if you're just joining us, this is CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN. Let's get you a check of the world news headlines, at this point.

Emergency workers raced to rescue passengers after a train crash in Argentina. At least 49 people were killed, some more 600 injured when a train rammed into a barrier during morning rush hour in Buenos Aires. Authorities believe brake problems are to blame.

New attacks on the Syrian city of Homs now in its 19th consecutive day under siege. Activists say at least 20 people were killed there today, including two award-winning Western journalists. Dozens more deaths were reported across the country.

Anger over the burning of Korans at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan is intensifying and spreading. At least five people were killed in protests on Wednesday. NATO's commander apologized, saying materials were gathered for disposal and mistakenly given to troops to burn.

And eight more bodies have been found onboard the shipwrecked Costa Concordia. The discoveries raised the number of confirmed dead to 25. Seven people are still missing. The ship struck rocks off the coast of Italy last month.

Syrian activists say they will not give up their goal of freedom and dignity. They'll even put themselves in harm's way to get the word out about the onslaught against Homs. But the activists in a makeshift media hub are growing more worried about what they call an "ocean of blood." CNN's Arwa Damon visited them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(ROCKET FIRE)

(EXPLOSION)

(MAN SHOUTING IN ARABIC)

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "It hit us, it hit our house. There is something burning!" the voice on the tape cries out. "The media house in Baba Amr has been hit!"

(MAN SHOUTING IN ARABIC)

DAMON: "Drop the live camera!" someone shouts. "They have discovered our position!" But nothing, they swear, will shut them down.

We survey the damage.

DAMON (on camera): To get to the upper floors, you really have to hug the wall, because there's one window that's exposed.

This is where you really see the full impact of the damage that was caused by the incoming rounds. I mean -- this right here, it just speaks for itself.

DAMON (voice-over): It's not the first time this house has been hit.

DAMON (on camera): This floor has obviously been completely trashed, and the activists were telling us that the bombardment --

(EXPLOSION OUTSIDE)

DAMON: We keep hearing it, over and over again, the sounds of artillery falling. It's nothing compared to what they've been through before. But this was once an ordinary home, an ordinary family lived here. And we don't know what their story was. There's just bits and pieces of their lives that have been left behind, including this children's toy.

DAMON (voice-over): Now, this battered home is the opposition's media hub, buzzing with activity. Some of the activists don't want their identities revealed. They are all wanted men, most in the 20s. Many of those Homs videos you see on YouTube are uploaded from here.

In the face of great danger, teams go out to shoot videos like this one. Others post images to Facebook and other social media sites.

DAMON (on camera): One of the biggest accomplishments for the media team here was getting up a live stream so that they could show the world exactly what was happening in real time. And they believe that this really aggravated the Syrian government.

Now, this is one of the live cameras that they had set up outside, and they're telling us that it was shot by a sniper's bullet that went in right there, and then came out the other end.

But even though the government managed to bring down this live feed, they still had other cameras set up, still managed to get the images and the message out.

DAMON (voice-over): Every morning, 29-year-old "Raji" (ph) writes slogans to help keep up the team's resolve. The message this time, that they will fight until the nation's pain is lifted. The killing stops. The fear is gone.

But by nightfall, his words of encouragement will be replaced with the names of the dead. Raji is the father of two small children and says he does this in the hope that they will grow up with freedom and dignity.

"But," he warns, "if there isn't outside interference, it will be an ocean of blood. An ocean of blood if this situation continues like this. People will explode. They won't be able to take it anymore. They won't respond to us. It will be a cycle of you're attacking me, so I have to attack you. Once that demon is unleashed," he says, "no one will be able to control it."

Raji and the others go back to the job of telling the world about the incessant terror that is live in Baba Amr.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Homs, Syria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, the city of Homs has been under siege for nearly three weeks, now. It's battered Baba Amr neighborhood is seen as an opposition stronghold. While it's been bearing the brunt of the crackdown, a citizen journalist, Danny Abdul Dayem, has been bearing witness. His reports, like this one, went viral.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANNY ABDUL DAYEM, CITIZEN JOURNALIST, REPORTING FROM HOMS: You can see them on the street. The bodies are in there. There's bodies in that house, pieces of bodies in that house. This is a civilian house. This is where civilians live.

These are civilian bodies, this isn't the army. This is children, men, women being killed. Look at these children. Is this how the Assad regime is taught to treat our children? Now you see why the Assad regime is killing children. What is the UN going to do about this?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: And Danny is with me here in the studio, now. Danny, why were you there?

DAYEM: Well, it's my country. My friends were killed there right in front of me. It's freedom. We're asking for the word freedom. I've been in the revolution from the first day. I know what this regime is, I know how it was treating us. So, we just want freedom, and I'll help in any way. Any kind of way.

ANDERSON: You were watching Arwa's report, you recognized that media house --

DAYEM: Of course.

ANDERSON: -- that Arwa was reporting on there. You are what we call a "citizen journalist." You're -- the sort of information that you have been able to deliver to organizations like ours when our journalists haven't been able to get into Syria has been absolutely crucial to tell the story. How tough was it for you?

DAYEM: It was actually quite hard to get the information out in the beginning. First of all, we have no internet. We have no connections, so we had to get big -- satellite internet to get uploaded -- the videos up.

But after we did that, it was actually quite easy. But the started bombarding us. Rockets. So, every time we get out of the house, you know a rocket might land on you and it might kill you.

The journalists were coming in and helping us a lot by getting the truth out from Baba Amr, which is in Homs. Where Arwa was.

The house she was sitting in was actually bombarded before she came, four days ago, while I was sitting there. That's the video you've got on right now. That's the same house, right on top, they hit it with three rockets. After that, they hit it with a helicopter. And when Arwa came, they hit it with a rocket. And these two journalists that were killed, they were killed in the same house.

ANDERSON: Do you realize how important this sort of footage has been?

DAYEM: I actually -- no. I'm just trying to get out the truth. I just want the world to know what's going on inside. Everyone thinks that we're armed gangs, that we're al-Qaeda, we're a set of thieves, we're Muslims going out, terrorists, and --

ANDERSON: Who are you?

DAYEM: We're just the people of Syria, asking for freedom, which gets shot in the head for saying the word "freedom." That's who we are. Children being killed, women being killed, just saying "freedom."

They've got used to seeing bodies on the floor. They've got used to losing members of their family. It's becoming something normal.

ANDERSON: How many other people did you meet doing what you were doing, as what we call an amateur, to all intents and purposes, but everything that you provided for us has become a professional product. But how many other people did you meet doing this sort of work, citizen journalism?

DAYEM: In the same house I was sitting in, there's more than 20 guys sitting there with me. In the same floor, in the same floor -- it's funny, but we had two -- we called it a press office. We've got to press offices which they try to bombard half the time. They don't want press offices.

We have the -- they bombarded one of the field hospitals. They don't want us to have any kind of safe zones. They don't want us to have any hospitals. They don't want us to have any way to get the information out.

Believe me, if it wasn't for the media, there'd be more than 300,000 people dead in Syria now. The media is the strongest weapon that is getting out our voice out to the world.

When we put out there the live transmission on the roof, we've got it live. He stops the bombarding 50 percent. The army, the Assad mercenaries stop the bombarding. They don't hit us that strong anymore because the world can see.

If it wasn't for the media, believe me, he would have hit us with chemical weapons, with planes and everything.

ANDERSON: You're British born.

DAYEM: Right.

ANDERSON: Syrian parentage. You've come back. Why?

DAYEM: Well, I came back out, you mean. I've come back to do some work but caught up by the media. I'm going to try and do a tour, try to get awareness outside. I'm going to America. Trying to let the world know what's going on inside Syria.

ANDERSON: You didn't mean for these videos to go viral, although they did. You told me before this started, your mates got them up at night.

DAYEM: They took them from me and put them up on YouTube, and they started giving them to news channels. I didn't know they were to go out this fast, but they did.

ANDERSON: What do you think's going to happen next?

DAYEM: What's going to happen next? If no one interferes, next he'll start bombarding us with planes. After the UN did nothing about this -- believe me, the UN gave him the green light, the "OK, you can hit them more."

It was the first time he ever hit us with rocket launchers after the UN did nothing. It was 5:00 AM in the morning, he started hitting us with rocket launchers. Every ten seconds, four rockets landed.

After -- if no one does anything now, if no one shows us any help or that they're going to help, he will start bombarding us with planes. He will start hitting us with chemical weapons. Because he's got -- he knows he's going to be safe. Until now, no one has done anything.

ANDERSON: We're going to take a short break. We thank you very much, Danny --

DAYEM: All right, thank you.

ANDERSON: -- for coming in. Your citizen journalist bringing you much of the footage that you've been seeing over the past few weeks. Thank you, mate.

Well, sometimes the words need to get out of the way, don't they? And the pictures alone tell the story. And that is what Syrian activist and photographer Rami al-Sayed did for the world. The 26-year-old father showed us the military assault on Homs, but he lost his life in that city on Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TEXT: "I do not want people to simply say our hearts are with you!"

(MEN SHOUTING)

(EXPLOSION)

(MAN SHOUTING)

(MAN TALKING IN ARABIC)

(EXPLOSION)

(MAN SHOUTING)

(MAN TALKING IN ARABIC)

TEXT: "No one will forgive you for just talking without any action!"

(SILENCE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back. Now, just ahead of a key international conference on Somalia, transitional government forces have seized a significant town in the country -- in the south of the country.

Baidoa was one of the most important al-Shabaab bases. The offensive comes before a big meeting here in London. These are pictures of the British prime minister greeting heads of state just a few hours ago.

Forty governments and international organizations have been invited to attend this conference on how to restore stability in Somalia. Remember, this is a country which has not had a functioning central government since 1991.

Al-Shabaab rebels have been waging a war against Somalia's transitional government since 2006. The al-Qaeda linked group controls much of southern Somalia, or at least they say they do. Just today, the UN has announced it's beefing up the African Union forces in Somalia, giving it a tougher mandate to attack militants.

Well, those rebel fighters are traditionally recruited from the Somalian diaspora, but as CNN's David McKenzie reports, Kenyans are now increasingly joining the fight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a radical Nairobi mosque, the message on this child's t-shirt is clear. The sermon, posted on the internet, is delivered by a Kenyan, Sheikh Ahmad Iman Ali.

Asha Mohamed says the sheikh's message brainwashed her son, Harun (ph).

ASHA MOHAMED, PUMWANI RESIDENT (through translator): Every time he went to the mosque, he came back changed. It was as if someone was inciting him with these ideas.

MCKENZIE: Harun, just 15 years old, became obsessed with the conflict in Somalia. And when he vanished at 4:00 AM one September morning, she feared her Harun had gone to fight. His text from Somalia confirmed it.

MOHAMED (through translator): Somalia, that's not his war. I don't even know why they are fighting, so why should he leave here and go fight in something he doesn't even understand?

MCKENZIE: She says that Harun and six of his friends were recruited from the sprawling slum of Pumwani.

MCKENZIE (on camera): People in Pumwani say that scores of young men and children have been recruited to join al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab. Seems now that Kenyans are joining the jihad.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): A recent UN report described Sheikh Iman as a key recruiter for al-Shabaab. He moved to Somalia in 2009, and it's believed he commands between 200 and 500 Kenyan al-Shabaab fighters.

The report alleges that funding for a new mosque in Pumwani and money collected from this market, are being funneled to al-Shabaab.

Before Sheikh Iman became a commander, he helped lead this mosque, described in the UN report as a key pillar of Kenyan support for al- Shabaab. The sheikh is remembered fondly here, and his mission supported.

ABDULLAH KILUME, MARALIB ISLAMIC CENTER: Like him, we are Muslim. I like the Sharia law, too, to be implemented. And that's what they want to do in that part of Somalia. And I've got nothing against that.

MCKENZIE: Here, Sheikh Iman is known for fighting corruption, getting children out of gangs and into the Koran. He organized scholarships for many boys to study, and recruited them for jihad in Somalia, says this mosque leader.

KILUME: They used to listen to him, whatever he said. Yes.

MCKENZIE: And do they still listen?

KILUME: They listen. They listen to him.

MCKENZIE: The message is clear and shocking. In January, this video of the sheikh was posted on jihadi websites, though it's not known when it was recorded.

SHEIKH AHMAD IMAN ALI, AL-SHABAAB LEADER (through translator): Raise your sword against the enemy that is closest to you. Jihad should now be waged inside Kenya, which is legally a war zone.

MCKENZIE: The danger is that if more Kenyan Muslims heed Sheikh Iman's call to join the fight in Somalia and at home, the cancer of Somalia's chaos could spread.

David McKenzie, CNN, Pumwani, Kenya.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, it's that fear which has galvanized this meeting tomorrow in London. The Somali prime minister says he expects the international community to put a marshal plan in place, as he calls it, for the country.

Well, I sat down with the prime minister, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, who's in London for the conference, a little earlier today, and asked him how much money his country needs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABDIWELI MOHAMED ALI, PRIME MINISTER OF SOMALIA: I can say in the billions of dollars, because 20 years of lawlessness, 20 years of civil war, 20 years of chaos has taken its toll on the economy of Somalia, on the infrastructure of Somalia.

So, to reconstruct the country, to bring Somalia back to the community of nations, needs a quite a lot of money.

ANDERSON: Have you got a figure in mind?

ALI: This requires billions of dollars, maybe $5 billion, $6 billion, $10 billion. But say --

ANDERSON: And if $10 billion committed tomorrow, you would be satisfied, would you?

ALI: Of course we will. Of course we will. That -- the blood is not paid doesn't mean much.

ANDERSON: The government's influence doesn't extend beyond Mogadishu. What sort of impact do you think 6,000 extra troops on the ground is really going to have?

ALI: This mantra that the government controls only Mogadishu is not true. We control the whole southwestern part of the country. We control a large swath in the deep south, and also in central Somalia.

The friendly regional administrations are also controlling in some parts of the country, especially in the north.

So, the assertion that we only control Mogadishu is not true, and we are trying to take that safety to other parts of the country. And that security operations are succeeding, actually in our lifetimes.

ANDERSON: But it would be fair to say there are certainly parts of the country, still, that are insecure and run by the insurgents.

Let me ask you this. Do you support any plans for air strikes for, example, by the British and other EU countries?

ALI: We support targeted air strikes against al-Qaeda. We don't support air strikes that will harm the Somali citizens, Somali property, Somali lives. As the government, we have to protect the life and the property of the Somali people.

But targeted and measured -- targeted and measured air strikes against al-Qaeda elements in Somalia, and al-Qaeda several training bases in Somalia is welcome.

ANDERSON: Have you requested what are known as, I hear, over the beach-type air strikes?

ALI: No, we haven't. But we have to have. Even if that's taken place, we have to coordinate with us.

ANDERSON: What about US drone strikes?

ALI: It all depends what those strikes are -- what will they gain us? If they are targeted again, air strikes, whether strong or otherwise, against rotten elements in Somalia, of course. This is a global first organization. And it's not only Somali problems. So, it has to be addressed globally.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Extensive coverage, as you would expect, from us on that conference tomorrow here on CNN.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, just four days before the Oscars are handed out in Hollywood. We'll look at where an increasing number of studios are now putting down their roots. You might be surprised by this. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, the hottest event in Hollywood is just four days away, when the biggest stars in the world turn up to pick up their Oscars, and while many of the top films every year come from well-known studios in the US and Europe, of course, there is a growing number that have gotten roots in the Middle East. CNN's Leone Lakhani explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEONE LAKHANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The scene is now part of cinematic history: Tom Cruise's character Ethan Hunt scaling the world's tallest tower, Dubai's Burj Khalifa.

The death-defying stunt is one of the seminal themes in the latest installment of the "Mission Impossible" series and brought new focus to Dubai from international filmmakers.

BRYAN BURK, PRODUCER, "MISSION IMOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL": We're dumfounded that this city literally just rose out of the desert. We just knew we wanted to make a movie here.

LAKHANI: The United Arab Emirates has put new focus on the film industry, staging two film festivals annually, boosted by appearances from Hollywood royalty. In 2011, the film industry is said to have contributed more than $40 million to Dubai's economy.

The "Mission Impossible" shoot in Dubai was facilitated by the production company Filmworks. Established back in 1998, the company's CEO has seen the growth in the UAE's production capabilities, transitioning from business that largely focused on TV and commercial productions.

LAKHANI (on camera): What do you need to do to increase the growth in the feature film industry, then?

TIM SMYTHE, CEO, FILMWORKS: We just need more government support.

LAKHANI: So, you mean, like incentives?

SMYTHE: Incentives, film festivals. Things to attract films that make it affordable to shoot here.

LAKHANI (voice-over): Incentives not only to put the UAE on the world cinematic stage, but also develop its own talent.

EMMA STONE AS SKEETER PHELAN, "THE HELP": The what?

BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD AS HILLY HOLBROOK, "THE HELP": A bill that requires every white home to have a separate bathroom for the help.

STONE AS PHELAN: Maybe we should just build you a bathroom outside, Hilly.

LAKHANI: Abu Dhabi's Image Nation co-produced Hollywood hits like the Oscar-nominated movie "The Help," but it's keen to cultivate its local film industry.

MICHAEL GARIN, CEO, IMAGE NATION: We're blessed with having many financial resources, and our scarce, most precious commodity is human capital. And we can't afford to lose that. And therefore, we need to provide young people with the opportunities to grow and develop here.

LAKHANI: Image Nation has invested in Hollywood blockbusters like "Contagion" and says the proceeds from its international successes will be reinvested domestically.

GARIN: We want to stay on the same test that Warner Brothers or Paramount or MCA has to pass, which is we want to make films that other people want to see and make money.

LAKHANI (on camera): Grand ambitions for a nation that has plenty of resources, but it's a film industry that's still in its early stages, and it's up against not just the Western market, but the more developed industries in the region, like Morocco, Egypt, and Lebanon.

Leone Lakhani, CNN, Abu Dhabi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: I'll give her an Oscar for that performance.

Well, he may be eligible for an Oscar, but a performance -- or may not be, in fact. He may not be eligible for an Oscar, but a performance given by US president Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday is getting a lot of buzz, and that is our Parting Shots tonight.

It was at the end of a blues concert. The president thanked the musicians on stage, and they invited him to join them in a sing-along. And after an initial moment of reluctance, well, he got involved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (singing): Come on, baby don't you wanna go.

(CROWD CHEERS)

OBAMA (singing): Ain't no place, sweet home Chicago.

(CROWD CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: He hasn't had that much fun in weeks, has he? I'm Becky Anderson, and that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for watching. The world news headlines and "BackStory" up after this short break. Don't go away.

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