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Syria: Wave of Violence; Pakistan Blasphemy Case; Andy Murray Wins A Grand Slam; Interview with Naomi Hirose; Interview with George Butler; Peace Plan Offered; Leading Women

Aired September 11, 2012 - 8:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

And welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

And we begin in Syria, where the U.N. now says civilians are being killed virtually every hour of the day. That is that as the number of refugees who have fled the country exceeds a quarter of a million.

On the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, we have an exclusive interview with the brother of al Qaeda's leader.

And the 76 year wait is over -- how Andy Murray has crowned a perfect summer of sport for Britain.

Now, in the words of the U.N. human rights chief, civilians, including children, continue to be injured and killed virtually every hour of the day in Syria. And today appears to be no different.

Opposition activists say regime forces have been pounding the besieged city of Homs once again with tanks and mortar fire. They also report heavy gunfire in Daraa, where anti-government protests began 18 months ago.

And a warning now about our next video, which is very graphic. It was posted on YouTube and it purports to show the bodies of 21 Syrian Army soldiers in Aleppo. Most appear to have been bound and blindfolded. CNN cannot verify its authenticity.

Let's get more now from Mohammed Jamjoom.

He is monitoring developments in Syria from Beirut, Lebanon and he joins us now -- Mohammed, just more brutal accounts of the violence in Syria.

What's the latest?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, opposition activists telling us that at this hour, at least 40 people have been killed throughout Syria.

Now, we've heard reports today that there have been tanks entering the city of Daraa in the south of the country. That's where the uprising first began in Syria.

Also, we've gotten reports of continued shelling going on in Homs, also going on in Hama, and that there are clashes between the regime forces and rebel forces in and around Damascus.

But just a few moments ago, we got some very disturbing reports from opposition activists that a reserve bakery in the city of Aleppo had been shelled due to an aerial bombardment from the Syrian regime and that at least 15 people had been killed just from that shelling of that reserve bakery in Aleppo.

And if you will remember, just a couple of weeks ago, Kristie, we spoke at length about this issue because Human Rights Watch had put out a report stating that the Syrian regime had been shelling bakeries in the city of Aleppo. There was no reason, no tactical reason, given as to why the Syrian regime might be doing so, especially given the fact that there have been continued food shortages and bread shortages in the city of Aleppo since -- since those severe clashes erupted there in the past couple of months -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: And the shelling and the violence and the mass killings are being done by both sides in this conflict -- Mohammed, will there be any justice for the victims?

JAMJOOM: Well, Kristie, just yesterday, Navi Pillay, the -- the head U.N. human rights chief, was talking to the U.N. Security Council. And she said that the new normal in Syria's civil war involves mass killings, torture and sexual violence. And she recommended that -- that -- that Syria be referred to the International Criminal Court over its crackdown on anti-government protests.

It seems that more and more, these officials and these rights bodies are saying that there's no end in sight to the brutality in Syria and that it's only getting worse -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, Mohammed Jamjoom joining us live.

Thank you very much, indeed, for that.

And as the fighting continues, again with no end in sight, as reported just then, the U.N. refugee agency has just released new figures showing that more than a quarter million Syrians have fled their war-torn homeland. They are streaming across Syria's borders into Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. And more than 81,000 Syrian refugees are in Jordan right now.

Hollywood celebrity and U.N. ambassador, Angelina Jolie, is trying to draw attention to the refugees' plight. And she visited Syrian refugees in Jordan today.

Well, Sara Sidner joins us now from the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Mafraq, Jordan -- and, Sara, first, could you please tell us what you've seen there?

Could you describe the conditions at the camp?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a very, very dry and extremely dusty place, where there are tents that just go on and on and on. UNHCR has set up these tents for families that are coming over. And we're talking about 30,000 Syrians are now refugees living in these tents here in Mafraq.

We're about 20 kilometers from Syria. And the families have absolutely heart-stopping stories about how, first of all, they got over the border and made it safely here; and, second of all, once they got here, how difficult life has become, some of them saying it's becoming unbearable living this way, as well.

There are shortages of things like water, they say. And they say they're having trouble with the food, the children having issues with diarrhea.

So there are issues here. But they also say they really have no choice. Many of them talk of their homes being completely bombed out, having to literally run away from their homes and live in other homes while they gather their family members. One tent filled with 18 people, the Zawi (ph) family, all living under one roof in sweltering conditions.

That being said, the foreign minister showed up here today along with American actress, A-lister from Hollywood, Angelina Jolie. And they talked of the fact that they -- they think that Jordan is doing the best it can, but it's also being taxed. Extremely, extremely difficult for Jordan to deal with the number of refugees and what that does to its infrastructure. It's a small nation of about six million.

And just as you said, we're talking about more than 80,000 refugees in the country right now. And they're asking the international community to do more, to give more to try and help these refugees and the countries who are also opening their doors to them.

LU STOUT: And -- OK, sorry. I thought we were going to hear more from the U.N. ambassador, the spokesman to Angelina Jolie just then.

Let's go back to our Sara Sidner, who's on the scene at those refugee camps there in Jordan -- Sara, you were just reporting that there are more than 80,000 Syrian refugees there. Jordan is struggling to cope with that number. And that the number will likely rise.

How likely is it that their appeal will work and whether it's other countries or more aid agencies, will step in help them handle this crisis?

SIDNER: I think you -- that is why you're seeing a celebrity like Angelina Jolie coming here to do that appeal. She gets a lot of attention. There were dozens of cameras from all over the world who followed her here to hear her message.

And she had a very strong message, because she was able to go to the border last night with the Jordan military. And she described a couple of very touching scenes where she said it is very rare that you are there to witness yourself the moment when someone becomes a refugee, when they tell you, their children tell you, that all they have with them is the clothes on their backs, that they left everything behind, including family members who were killed, children talking of absolutely horrific scenes of people's bodies being blown apart.

She said she had a very difficult time listening to these stories, but she wanted the world to understand what is still going on in Syria and to do something about it.

Obviously, she said, a political solution is necessary. But in the meantime, there are people, real people, real families, including many, many children, who need the international community's help. They are hoping that some of the appeals that are coming from the foreign minister, from Angelina Jolie, from the head of the UNHCR, will actually do something to move countries and organizations to bring in more donations to help all of these refugees now.

LU STOUT: Over 80,000 refugees in Jordan alone, a quarter of a million across the region.

Sara Sidner reporting live from Jordan.

Thank you.

Now, Yemen's defense minister has survived what appears to be an assassination attempt. Now, the state-run Saba news agency says a car bomb exploded in the capital and it took place outside the prime minister's office.

Major General Mohammed Nasser Ahmed was near the building at the time. The explosion killed at least eight people, believed to be the defense minister's guards. So far, there's been no claim of responsibility.

And this attack, it comes one day after Yemeni forces said that they killed the second in command of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.

Now, Istanbul, Turkey has also been rocked by a bombing. Now, this one a suicide attack outside a police station. Now, one police officer was killed. At least four people were wounded. And police say the attacker first threw a hand grenade and then detonated his suicide bomb at the entrance to the building.

Now, the teenage Pakistani girl accused of burning pages of the Koran has been released on bail and is now back with her family, but she still fears for her life.

Now, 14-year-old Rimsha Masih spoke to CNN's Reza Sayah about the blasphemy case that has attracted global attention.


REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a span of roughly three weeks, 14-year-old Rimsha Masih was arrested, accused of blasphemy, locked up in an adult jail, covered up and moved around by gangs of armed police officers and finally whisked away to an awaiting helicopter and reunited with her family after a judge granted her bail.

It's little surprise Rimsha says she's relieved to be surrounded by familiar faces again.

That's Rimsha's voice saying she's happy, talking publicly for the first time since her arrest she spoke to us by phone from a place she and her family are using to hide out after an ordeal that still has her terrified.

RIMSHA MASIH (through translator): Yes, I'm scared. I'm scared someone might kill me. I'm scared of anyone who might kill us.

SAYAH (on camera): That fear came last month here at Rimsha's neighborhood when she was suddenly accused of burning pages of the Koran, a violation of Pakistan's blasphemy law punishable by life in prison.

(voice-over): Rimsha is Christian. Her lawyers say she was set up by a neighbor she didn't get along with and a local Muslim cleric who wanted to scare away Christian families from the neighborhood.

"No, no," Rimsha said, when we asked her if she burned pages of the Koran.

Rimsha's father, a house painter who takes home just dollars a day, said no one in his family would dare damage the Koran.

"We respect the Koran, just like the Bible," Rimsha's father told us. "We couldn't imagine committing blasphemy, let alone actually doing it. Our children would never do this, either. These are false accusations."

Rimsha's lawyer says several aid groups have offered to give her and her family a home away from Pakistan. For now, Rimsha says, she's not going anyway.

MASIH: I won't leave my country because I love it. I love Pakistan and I won't ever leave my country.

SAYAH (on camera): On the phone, Rimsha sounded like a normal Pakistani teenager -- healthy, shy and clearly a little nervous.

She says she's still willing to come back and live in this neighborhood if she's sure no one is going to hurt her.

In the meantime, the cleric accused of framing her is in jail. Rimsha's lawyers are hoping if he's charged, prosecutors will droop the case against Rimsha.

Reza Sayah, CNN, Islamabad.


LU STOUT: You're watching NEWS STREAM.

And coming up, a sports fairy tale in New York. Britain's Andy Murray finally wins a grand slam.

And China ups the ante with Japan by sending two ships to a set of disputed islands.

And 11 years on, paying tribute to the victims -- 9/11 is remembered in the United States.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

And you're watching NEWS STREAM.

And this is a visual rundown of all the stories that we have covered today.

We showed you the situation in Syria.

And later, we'll be live in New York on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

But now, I want to look at the end of a very long wait for British sports fans, as Andy Murray wins his first grand slam.

Let's get more on Andy Murray's historic triumph at the U.S. Open.

Amanda Davies has game, set and match -- Amanda. AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie.

It's certainly been a long time coming, but it's worth the wait. And Andy Murray has finally claimed his first grand slam title.

And he becomes Britain's first men's major champion in 76 years.

There's some seriously tired heads and eyes this morning in Britain, as thousands stayed up until 2:30 to watch the world number three beat the defending champion, Novak Djokovic, to claim the U.S. Open title.

It was an epic four hour, 54 minutes of sensational tennis in front of Sean Connery, Kevin Spacey and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Murray went into a two set lead in some really pretty tough conditions at Flushing Meadows. Only for Djokovic to pull level at two sets apiece. It was starting to bring back memories of Murray's previous fall grand slam final, so close, yet so far. But in the end, the Olympic champion stepped it up again to claim the title that's eluded him for the last 27 grand slam attempts.

And CNN's Don Riddell was lucky enough to be there.


DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is always an odd man out in the big four. Andy Murray was the only one never to have won a major championship. Roger, Rafa and Novak had all done it. And now, Murray can legitimately claim to be a member of that right here exclusive club.

And in doing so, he becomes Britain's first male major champion since Fred Perry, all the way back in 1936.


ANDY MURRAY, 2012 U.S. OPEN CHAMPION: I'm sure he's smiling from -- from out there, that someone has finally, you know, managed to -- to do it from Britain. So, yes, I'm very, very happy. And I just hope it's not -- it's not a long, long way. I hope I can see another British player, in my lifetime, win a grand slam.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC, 1-2 IN GRAND SLAM FINALS IN 2012: Andy has all the capacity he needs, all the talent on the court. Us four, you know, we are taking this game to another level. And it's really nice to -- to -- to be part of such a strong men's tennis era, you know?

MURRAY: I'm just so, so relieved, like I said, to -- to finally have got through and I can put this one behind me and hopefully -- hopefully win more.


RIDDELL: Murray has made history in more ways than one. He's also the first man ever to have won the Olympic title and the U.S. Open in the same year.

Four different men have won the four major titles in 2012. Men's tennis has, arguably, never had it so good.

Don Riddell, CNN, New York.


DAVIES: And there were some amazing scenes in New York and great scenes in Britain, as well.

This has been a long time coming, as we said. The support for the British number one nowhere is stronger than in Dunblane, which is Murray's hometown in Scotland. His friends and family here cheered him all the way, as Murray now replaces the legendary Fred Perry, the British tennis player that future generations will now be compared to.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's always Scottish, really. We're always so close and so far. But he's done it again. Olympics and then this. Well, what can you say, it's just awesome. And to be here in his hometown (INAUDIBLE) is coming home. So, Andy, come on home. Come and -- come and see us.


DAVIES: Kristie, it really is the monkey off the back.

But a sad thing for Andy Murray, because it happened so early this morning, none of the papers are reporting it. So maybe he'll get his day tomorrow.

LU STOUT: That's right, as you look at the headlines then. But you could feel the elation coming through that the video just said. What an incredible victory and an incredible summer for British sport.

Amanda Davies there.

Thank you.

You're watching NEWS STREAM.

And coming up, he has one of the most difficult jobs in Japan -- rebuilding TEPCO after the nuclear disaster.

So is the new president of the company up to the job?

Plus today marks the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. And the names of all those who died that day will be read out in tribute. We'll take you to the memorial services across the US.

Live pictures of Ground Zero on your screen.

You're watching CNN.


LU STOUT: We're live from Hong Kong.

You're back watching NEWS STREAM.

And turning now to the group of islands at the heart of a bitter diplomatic stand-off between Japan and China.

Well, China's official Xinhua News Agency says two Chinese patrol ships have arrived near the islands in the East China Sea to reassert Beijing's claim over them. This comes as Japan approved plans to purchase the islands from a Japanese family for more than $26 million.

Now, the group of islands, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, are located in popular fishing waters and are believed to be rich in oil resources.

Now, the Chinese Foreign Ministry put out a statement on Tuesday saying this. Quote: "Long gone are the days when the Chinese nation was subject to bullying and humiliation from others. The Chinese government will not sit idly by watching its territorial sovereignty being infringed upon." now, the statement also condemned Japan's plans to purchase the territory, calling that illegal and invalid.

Now, staying with Japan, Naomi Hirose is a company president with one of the most difficult jobs in the country. He is in his fourth month or so as the chief of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

And he sat down exclusively with Paula Hancocks and told her what's in store for the company and how he will try to regain Japan's trust.


NAOMI HIROSE, TEPCO PRESIDENT: We have to change many things. One of the things -- one of the principles that the new TEPCO is trying to introduce is openness, transparency or positive information disclosure, that kind of things.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, some nuclear power plants have been brought back online over recent months. I'm sure you would like a lot more to be brought back online.

How can you convince people that another Fukushima disaster will not happen?

HIROSE: We are a nuclear power operator of the Fukushima accident. But the same nuclear operator is now trying to restart nuclear reactors in their hometown. That's a very, very understandable concern.

So what we have to do is, first, we examine thoroughly what's the real cause of the accident that took place in Fukushima. And then hopefully we take every major to avoid a recurrence of the accident.

HANCOCKS: Now, we are very close to hearing what the Japanese government's mid-term nuclear policy will be, whether it will be, as it was before the disaster, 30 percent of all power being provided by nuclear, or whether that will be reduced or even brought to zero.

What do you think the decision will be?

HIROSE: If they, the Japanese national policy changes, we have to -- we have to -- first of all, we have to listen to that change and then we have to adjust ourselves. Since we do not have enough indigenous energy sources, we'd better have a lot of options.

HANCOCKS: Do you think it could ever be the case that Japan has a zero nuclear policy?

HIROSE: It's -- it's -- at this moment, it's impossible. It takes time. Everybody is very much heated up now and we've got to have the (INAUDIBLE) discussion. We have -- the energy policy is very, very important, particularly in Japan -- a country like Japan. And, yes, I -- I think it's not that easy thing to change policy from right to left, left to right.

HANCOCKS: Finally, I'd like to ask about the employees at the -- the Fukushima power plant. I mean, obviously, in Japan, they are seen as heroes. Around the world, they're seen as heroes, with -- with the work they're doing to try not to make the situation worse.

But still, a year-and-a-half later, you hear reports that the working conditions are not good, that the sleeping conditions are not good.

If I can ask you directly, how are the conditions for these employees?

HIROSE: Through one-and-a-half years, the situation got better. It's still not very good. And then we are now trying to, of course, improve the situation. And then first, in order to do so, first, we have to make wider the area where people do not have to wear masks. And also food has to be improved. We have a sort of condum -- condos or apartments where they can have -- take a bath.

Anyhow, still, we have many, many things to do to improve their living situation or working sit -- conditions.


LU STOUT: The chief of TEPCO there.

You're watching NEWS STREAM.

And coming up, a unique perspective on Syria's civil war -- a photographer and a water color artist bring us startling new images of the conflict.


LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

You're watching NEWS STREAM.

And these are your world headlines.

Now, at least one police officer has been killed in a suicide bombing in Istanbul, Turkey. The explosion happened near the entrance to a police station. Police say at least four other people were wounded. It's not known who is behind the attack.

Now, Andy Murray has won the U.S. Open. (INAUDIBLE) the defending champ, Novak Djokovic, in five grueling sets. They battled for nearly five hours in New York. And Murray is the first British man to win a major tennis tournament in 76 years.

His victory follows his gold medal win a few weeks ago at the London Olympics.

Now, China has sent two patrol ships to a set of islands in the East China Sea that are claimed by both Japan and China. The Japanese announced plans yesterday to bring what they call the Senkaku Islands under public ownership. Beijing refers to the territory as the Diaoyu Islands and says they're Chinese.

Now, the death toll is rising in Syria's civil war. Opposition activists say at least 25 people have been killed today by Syrian military troops. And there are reports that dozens more died when shelling decimated a bakery in Syria's commercial hub of Aleppo.

Now, for the past 18 months, we have shown you images of Syria's civil war, much of it amateur video like this, posted to YouTube, with scenes of shelling, fighting and the awful aftermath. And we've also which had protests and funerals streamed on sites like Bamboozer (ph).

But now, we want to give you an entirely new perspective on life inside Syria.

Now, British artist George Butler recently visited the embattled country. And with water color and ink, he captured lives turned upside down by the conflict.

And I asked him why he uses those techniques in a war zone.


GEORGE BUTLER, ARTIST: I think the time lapse is a -- is a great advantage. You're -- you're sitting down and learning about what you're drawing, who they are and sort of how they react and what they -- what their habits are.

But -- but the idea is not to compete with photography, because it does such a -- such a wonderful job of capturing the moments.

LU STOUT: And most often your water colors, they take place in the city of Azaz in Syria.

Was it difficult for you to get access to Azaz?

BUTLER: Not once you knew sort of who to talk to and that that's what you wanted to do. You could -- you could walk from -- from the Turkish border to -- to the new Syrian -- Syrian border, which is run by the Free Syrian Army now. And when I started to explain to them what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go and -- and how -- for how long, I was -- I was effectively their guest and they looked -- they looked after me.

LU STOUT: Let's talk about your works one by one.

And first up, we have a water color. It's depicting children playing on a destroyed tank.

BUTLER: I mean it's quite a -- I suppose, quite a cli -- a cliched image, but it, sadly, does -- does happen. And it -- and now, I suppose because there's no schools and there's no jobs, it wasn't -- it wasn't just children who were sort of coming out to play, it was the people returning from Aleppo or from the countryside to see -- to see what these machines were and why they were -- why they were there and -- and it was, I suppose, as -- as strange for them as it was sort of for me, seeing it for the first time.

LU STOUT: Now, here's a photograph of you, George, at work after you -- you're sketching. You're doing the water color of a child, who seems to be posing on top of that destroyed tank.


LU STOUT: Was the child posing for you?

And -- and could you describe just the artistic process here?

BUTLER: Yes. The -- it's go -- the idea is that you -- that I'm trying to record the -- the scene as if I'm not there. But in a situation like this, especially with children, they're so fascinated by what you're doing and they want to be involved, you are left with -- with them standing posing on the tanks, making V signs like they've seen on the news or like they've seen other people doing.

LU STOUT: And here's another image that depicts the strange contrast between war and normal daily life. We see a herd of goats in front of a destroyed tank.

Describe the image for us.

BUTLER: It's this -- one of the main battle scenes in Azaz. The tanks came in from one side and then I presume, although I wasn't there, met the Free Syrian Army from the other. And everything in between was -- was destroyed.

And then this was 10, 15 days later in the same place. And life was beginning to sort of carry on as normal or as close to normal as possible amidst this -- this -- this battle scene.

This is a man called Ishmael (ph), who, he was -- who was just watering his goats with a -- with a kid helping him out in -- in that square.

So quite a sort of contrast of life and -- and the larger context for it.

LU STOUT: And next up, we're -- we see a water color image of prisoners inside a Free Syrian Army jail cell. And in full focus, we see not the faces, but the bars and this large metal lock.

What was that like...

BUTLER: Well...

LU STOUT: -- the sensation of -- of drawing people inside a cage?

BUTLER: It was quite strange for me. I felt like I was an intruder. They were prisoners -- my -- the impression I got was they were prisoners from before the war. The -- the police station is now run by the Free Syrian Army.

And, yes, quite an odd -- an odd feeling to draw people who you don't -- you don't know why they're in there.

LU STOUT: OK, now one more image we want to talk to you about is that of Syrian refugees. And you caught the moment of them fleeing by car, fleeing the violence.

How were you able to get that image, especially using water color as your tool?

BUTLER: Each day, so between 500 and 700 people were -- were leaving by car. So it wasn't -- it wasn't an ab -- an abnormal image. It was just a kind of sitting there. They were stopped at the border and you -- you drew as much as possible as quickly as you could without -- without being in the way or intruding on their privacy too much.

LU STOUT: When you set on your journey to Azaz in -- in Syria, what were you out to do?

And did you accomplish that?

BUTLER: I was -- my original plan was to draw the refugees as they came across the border, because I think quite -- there's something quite difficult to -- I would find it quite difficult just to take photographs of them in a very personal moment.

And then that soon changed and Azaz became the focus when it became relatively safe to -- to go there. And the sort of self-written brief was to try and document life, sort of trying to carry on what -- after -- after a war had happened in that -- in that -- in that town.

LU STOUT: And what impact do you think your works of water color have had on the uprising in Syria and the people who are struggling inside?

BUTLER: I suppose outside Syria, so that people that can -- can understand a little bit more about the human side of it or what happens once -- once the sort of war is finished in these areas. And in terms of inside Syria, hopefully to give them some encouragement that the outside world is not sort of turning the other way or that -- that we -- that we are still interested in -- in trying to help.


LU STOUT: Now, Butler says that he hopes to return to Syria, though he has no plans to go at the moment. And he is unsure what has happened to the rebel fighters who protected him.

As Butler admits, photography is a powerful medium for quickly capturing moments. And one journalist caught a shocking scene in Aleppo last week.

Tracy Shelton, a senior correspondent for "The Global Post," was embedded with a group of rebel fighters there. You can see them cleaning up in this picture. It's taken from the video that Shelton was shooting at the time.

And then, a call comes about tanks nearby, so they pick up their weapons. But they were hit by an unexpected explosion.

Now, Shelton says debris and smoke filled the area and only one member of the rebel team made it out.

He checked his wounds and then went back to search for more survivors, but none were found.

Well, this a startling set of images.

And it is a somber day in the United States. At about this time 11 years ago, the first hijacked plane crushed into the World Trade Center. And today, America is marking the anniversary of that terrible day. And just minutes away, the moment of silence to observe that very moment the first plane struck the North Tower. That will take place and we'll bring that to you live.

You're watching NEWS STREAM.


LU STOUT: Now, the United States is marking the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, which targeted New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. And you're looking at live pictures from the South Lawn of the White House. And that is where President Barack Obama and the first lady will soon observe a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims.

And also happening right now in New York, several moments of silence are also being held at Ground Zero to mark when the hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center and when those towers fell.

And that moment of silence due to begin just minutes from now.

And in the decade since 9/11, the United States has used its military might to diligently hunt down al Qaeda, killing Osama bin Laden in May of last year.

And now new video has emerged on Islamist Web sites from the al Qaeda leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri. And in it, he pays tribute to his second in command, Abu Yahya al-Libi, confirming that al-Libi is dead. Well, U.S. officials say al-Libi was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan in June.

Now, Ayman Al-Zawahiri's brother Mohamed is proposing a peace deal between the West and Islamists.

And he spoke exclusively to CNN's Nic Robertson about the plan and his offer of mediation.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If the man next to me looks familiar, it's because he is. He is the brother of al Qaeda leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

We are meeting Mohamed Al-Zawahiri because he says he has a plan to end al Qaeda's jihad against the West.

"I only speak as a mediator for the Islamic movement, I don't represent certain groups. My role is a mediator between the West and them," he says. "Our people like death the same way others like life. But we don't want to get into this endless cycle of violence. We like for others and us to live peacefully."

Mohamed Al-Zawahiri was released from an Egyptian jail barely five months ago, after serving 14 years on charges including terrorism -- charges he denies. Before jail, he and his brother were fellow jihadists. They still share the same ideology, he says. "There is no difference between my brother's thinking and mine. The portrayal of my brother's ideologies and mine, that it's bloodthirsty, barbaric or terrorist, is not true at all," he says.

His six page proposal offers a 10 year truce if "US and West stop interfering in Muslim lands, U.S. to stop interfering in Muslim education, U.S. ends the war on Islam, the U.S. to release all Islamist prisoners."

It also calls on Islamists to "stop attacks on Western and U.S. interests, protect legitimate Western and U.S. interests in Muslim lands, stop provoking the U.S. and the West." it is similar to a proposal bin Laden made in 2004.

(on camera): Then came the attack in London in 2005.

Is your proposal like this, if it isn't accepted, then there's more attacks?

(voice-over): "I am sorry to say those who caused the London attacks were the West, because the oppression was continuous. Either you stop the oppression, or accept reconciliation," he says. "You have to be logical. If you want to live in peace, then you must make others feel that they will live in peace."


ROBERTSON: To make his point, Zawahiri leads me to a protest outside the U.S. Embassy.

(on camera): And this is the protest calling for the release of Sheikh Abdul Rahman.

(voice-over): The so-called blind sheikh, jailed for his part in the 1993 World Trade Center attack in New York.

We meet the sheikh's son.

(on camera): And when you call for prisoners to be released as part of your document, you're talking about Sheikh Abdul Rahman?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course. Of course.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first one we are calling (INAUDIBLE)...

ROBERTSON: The first one?


ROBERTSON: And if Sheikh Abdul Rahman is released, this can help him prove the relationship.

How -- how does that work?

Why does it change people's minds?

(voice-over): "Because," he explains, "it reduces the impression of U.S. arrogance."

Zawahiri denies he is in contact with his brother, but says he could be if the U.S. allows it.

(on camera): Do you think it's realistic that the United States would release somebody like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man accused of masterminding September the 11th?

(voice-over): "As you see, Sheikh Mohammed's hand is stained in blood of the Americans," he says. "We also see the hands of American leaders and soldiers stained in the blood of the Muslims."

Those imprisoned with the Islamic movement would also be released. "We want to turn a page and forget the past."

Zawahiri has faith his brother wants to turn the page, too. But it wouldn't be the first time the terms were unimaginable for Western leaders.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Cairo, Egypt.


LU STOUT: And we're turning now to the 9/11 commemorations in the US.

At Ground Zero, family members of the victims are participating in the reading of the names. You're looking at live pictures there from the White House, where, in just moments, there will be a moment of silence to mark the very moment, 11 years ago today, when the first plane crushed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

U.S. President Barack Obama approaching, along with the first lady, Michelle Obama, to mark the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The moment today, the United States and the world pausing to remember all that was lost on this day at this moment 11 years ago.

Now, these are live pictures from the South Lawn of the White House. President Obama and the first lady ready to observe a moment of silence.


LU STOUT: The moment of silence there observed in New York, at the White House, on the South Lawn, and also at the Pentagon. A moment of silence marking the exact time when the first plane struck the Twin Towers.

And after observing that moment of silence, we know that President Obama and his wife, the first lady, will move on to the Pentagon for a wreath-laying ceremony there.

We've been marking the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, pausing to remember all that was lost on this day, at that very moment when the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center 11 years ago today.

You're watching CNN.

We'll be back after this.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

And in our Leading Women series this week, we take a look inside the fantasy world of Cirque Du Soleil and introduce you to the company's casting director, Krista Monson.

Now, she is the guardian of talent. She oversees a dynamic pool of artists that even includes former Olympians.



LU STOUT (voice-over): Her name can inspire fear when uttered in audition hallways.


LU STOUT: But with her warmth and tone of voice, she is anything but an imposing figure.


Hi. Welcome and thank you for that. You're a very precise and disciplined and beautiful singer.


MONSON: So thank you.

I really try hard to always keep that level of humanity in my relations with artists and everybody.

LU STOUT: As a casting director for the multi-dimensional Cirque Du Soleil, is one of the few gatekeepers for this extremely competitive arena. She stands at the cusp of the most talented pool of artists in the world.

MONSON: Examples of Olympians in our shows, we have divers here at Oak (ph), artistic gymnasts. We have synchronized swimmers who are Olympians.

LU STOUT: She oversees a team of scouts that look for performers in the Western U.S. and Canada who could be used by Cirque Du Soleil's shows worldwide. Her team also picks performers for the company's 10 year round U.S. shows.

MONSON: Good morning.


MONSON: Good morning.

LU STOUT: This guardian of talent, former dancer and choreographer, mother of two boys and wife to a Cirque Du Soleil band leader, is Krista Monson.

The fantasy world of Cirque Du Soleil -- it pulls audiences in with its breathtaking acrobatics, other-worldly scenery and stunning choreography. And in any of the company's 21 shows, you can see singers, dancers, jugglers, clowns, contortionists, acrobats and more.

MONSON: These are great choices. I'd maybe put her first.


LU STOUT: Krista Monson is one of a handful of casting directors bringing them in.

The needs of Cirque Du Soleil are so varied, Monson's team has to be across seven what they call disciplined families. And nearly 500 artistic and acrobatic profiles fall within those families.

MONSON: Sport, circus, instrumentalists, singers, dance, actors and clowning. Under the sport of (AUDIO GAP).

LU STOUT: The job of Monson's team is to know what the shows need and then to find it. It is a massive mission and though Monson is a former dancer and choreographer herself, she admits the needs of Cirque Du Soleil go far beyond her base of knowledge.

MONSON: You can't be an expert at everything. It's impossible. And what is -- what is possible, though, is to have experts as part of the casting team that understand those communities, understand how musicians work, understand how clowns work and react to our approach and what will help inspire those artists to want to work with us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The audition was we invited 82 people and we kept 14 as potentials.

MONSON: So even if you're talking about an Olympic diver or an Olympian, artistic excellence is usually something that's not in their vocabulary. They're seasoned pros of what -- as -- in what they do. They've been doing it for years and years and years and years and years. And they're at a -- a very high level.

And we want that high level. But we also want them to be open-minded. We want them to take risks. We want to get them out of their comfort zone.

LU STOUT: Monson's team searches for the best talent in the world and for performers with unexpected skills. And their quest may take them from street festivals to the Internet.

MONSON: What does Hannah (ph) do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's -- she does a little bit of everything. She's a mermaid.

MONSON: She's a mermaid?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's a mermaid. That's her skill set.

MONSON: A professional mermaid?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, a professional mermaid.

MONSON: We -- we are hit occasionally with a certain artist that comes to us and we cannot categorize them. And we actually like those moments, because we know we're hopefully discovering something new.

LU STOUT: Monson's soothing, welcoming demeanor is the same whether she's leading a meeting of her staff or directing a singer during an audition.

MONSON: Thank you, Sijana.

Thank you for your fearlessness.

We really are proud that our auditions are, hopefully, not a cattle call, you know, with that -- they are an experience for an artist. And that's the opportunity for -- for me to -- to say, hey, we're all -- we all got here somehow and we're all human beings and let's -- let's work hard. And if you feel uncomfortable at some point in this audition, it means you're doing something right.

LU STOUT: Monson certainly leads a creative life.

MONSON: See you soon.

LU STOUT: We'll see in the coming weeks, it can create challenges trying to raise two boys when both she and her husband work in the theater.

MONSON: We have a bit of a crazy life. So we try to make sure they're not -- that they're getting the best out of our crazy life.


LU STOUT: And we'll hear more from Krista Monson over the next few weeks.

But if you can't wait that long, head to our Web site. You can find out more about all the leading women from around the world,

And that is NEWS STREAM.

But the news continues at CNN.