Return to Transcripts main page


Public Backlash Causes Delay On Controversial Cyprus Bailout Plan; Indians Protest For Justice For Swiss Woman Gang Raped In Datia District

Aired March 18, 2013 - 17:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Backlash then backtrack. Tonight, why small savers in Cyprus could be getting a break after a change of heart from EU finance chiefs.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World.

FOSTER: Tonight, we examine the precedent this sets and what it could mean for your own bank account. Also ahead, still in Syria a defiant first lady says she and her husband are there to stay.

And who is the world's greatest athlete. A panel of sporting superstars tells us who they consider the best.

We start tonight with news that EU finance chiefs could be backtracking, at least a little on the controversial bailout program for Cyprus. The proposals would have imposed a one-off tax on all deposits held in Cypriot banks and caused chaos, some say, over the weekend.

CNN's Jim Boulden is in Cyprus and joins me now live. Jim, what has actually changed here?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the euro group, which is the finance ministers, they've been having a teleconference. They have come out with a statement. And this is what they're basically saying. They are allowing Cyprus some flexibility on how they reach that magic number of 5.8 billion euros to be raised as part of the bank levies. And I think this is very much the fact that the people here on the streets are very upset and the finance ministers have been listening.

And what it means now, it's now up to Cyprus to decide with this flexibility exactly how they get to that magic number.

You'll remember that several people -- there were two interest rate levies, one was for people with 100,000 euros or more. They would be levied a 10 percent tax. Those under would be about 6.7 percent. So there's a likelihood now that Cyprus could put in an even smaller levy under 100,000 euros. There could be one for even people with a lot fewer - - a lot less money than that as well.

And you remember, there were demonstrations on the streets today, very widespread demonstrations in some places, widespread disgruntled people here. They're very surprised and shocked that this decision was made over the weekend. And let's hear what some people had to say today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Three cleaning ladies spend our entire days trying to earn some money in order to feed our children. And now they are saying they're going to take it from us. It's unacceptable. No. Not a single haircut. We will not accept any kind of haircut.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If the government had asked us to donate what we could, we would have offered our monthly wages for one month, even two months. But what they are doing now chaos is being created.


BOULDEN: So what happens now, Max? Well, parliament is still expected to vote on whatever the new changes will be in this whole system of the bailouts. It was suspected to be Tuesday around 6:00 pm local time. I wonder whether that might be delayed as well now that we have this flexibility. It was originally supposed to be on Sunday, then today. It has been delayed until tomorrow. We'll have to see whether they change that as well.

We do know the banks will remain closed here, Max, on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was supposed to only be closed today. We did see people going to ATMs to try to get money out. Some people successful, some people not. But they will not be lining up the banks on Tuesday morning because the bank says we won't be open. We won't be seeing a run on the banks, as it were, Max.

FOSTER: Jim, thank you very much indeed.

So that's what's happening on the ground in Cyprus. This is what was originally proposed as a condition of a $10 billion bailout. Cyprus will impose a one-off tax of at least 6.75 percent on all savers deposits. That tax would rise to just under 10 percent for savings over $130,000.

Richard joins me now to make sense of all of this, because in a couple of days an awful lot has happened and this seems like a complete mess.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it -- excuse me - - and it's changing even as we speak.

The new word tonight is progressivity. Progressivity. Now what they're basically saying, the euro group, is that the Cypriot government can introduce lower rates, or they can take some people out of it altogether. We don't know -- it's all a matter of principle. Do they want everybody to pay something, in which case people at the bottom will just pay maybe a token amount, and it will get higher and higher and higher and higher up to 100,000 plus.

So, as a result of the EuroZone and the euro group's announcement tonight, progressivity is the word of the evening. And if you listen to the opposition leader from Cyprus talking to me earlier you see exactly why the status quo, the plan on the table, the original proposal was never going to fly.


GEORGE LILLIKAS, CYPRIOT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): The reaction of Cypriot citizens will influence the decision of the parliament during tomorrow's debate. I'm not sure if the political parties of Cyprus will vote and accept the agreement of the president and the (inaudible) with euro group. I believe there's a serious possibility for the parliament to reject such an agreement, which would leave with mathematical accuracy to a greater economic deflation, but at the same time we destroy Cyprus's role as the financial center in the eastern Mediterranean.


QUEST: It is difficult, Max, to overstate the amount of criticism and downright opprobrium that's been heaped on this plan for all sorts of reasons. One, it breaks the rule that depositors -- which hasn't happened elsewhere. Two, it's just bad policy. Three, it warns foreign investors don't invest in the Union. And as Paul Donovan makes clear, it's something that should never have happened.


PAUL DONOVAN, UBS: The word disastrous springs readily to mind. Someone forgot to mention to the euro group that monetary unions when they die, die because of bank runs. And bank runs happen when people have no confidence that they're going to get their money back. And today we have a situation in Cyprus where people have no confidence they're going to get the full value of their bank deposits back. This is not a good situation to be in.


FOSTER: Everyone seems to hate it. I mean, that was the sort of conclusion today, wasn't it? It seemed to be from every quarter.

QUEST: Well, because it was a very poorly constructed plan.

FOSTER: And in terms of precedents, that's what people are concerned about, because Cyprus is one thing, right -- and Jim has been reporting on how people are affected there. But it becomes a much bigger thing if it gets transferred elsewhere.

QUEST: And what will happen, of course, is that what happened with Spain or Italy or any other country that would ever need a bailout. A euro in a Cypriot bank is not worth the same as a euro in a Greek bank.

Listen to a CEO of a bank. This is the head of Saxo Bank as to why he believes the thing was so flawed.


LARS SEIER CHRISTENSEN, CEO, SAXO BANK: I think it's probably a dangerous game to play at the moment when already, you know, the trust in the EuroZone is fairly low. I think a lot of things happening in the EuroZone in recent years that are -- you know, it's not exactly driven by a rational approach and seems to be very, very sort of random and just trying to figure out solutions on the fly, which turns out to be more problems than solutions. And I'm pretty sure that this one falls into this -- into that category.

So I...


QUEST: It is extraordinary how they've managed to mess this one up.

Look at the markets and how they reacted during the course of the session. They were are sharply lower. They're not the worst of the day. The worst was Milan and Madrid. They were off the euro also fell sharply as well. Look at the euro came down -- rallied just toward the end up a bit, but substantially down.

So, Max, what we end up with is a classic case of the EuroZone snatching defeat from the jaws of victory all because they wanted to make a point against Russian oligarchs who have got their money in Cyprus and they believe that depositors should somehow share the pain. As if they won't already be sharing the pain of an economy that's headed straight into a serious recession.

FOSTER: Today's events badly handled as you describe, but there are those in other countries who have been suffering through the EuroZone crisis saying actually we suffered a lot more if you look at the bigger picture. This was on big mess up of deposits. And actually they haven't suffered as badly as other countries.

QUEST: You cannot, Max, have a situation where you have a supposed monetary union with a banking union on the way. And you say to the depositors in Greece you're OK. And in Ireland, you're OK. And in Portugal, you're OK. But you suddenly turn around under similar circumstances with a troika who is running the same problems and say to the Cypriot you have got to put -- we're going to confiscate -- it just doesn't work that way. It makes a nonsense of the concept of banking union. And it creates uncertainty and risk for countries like some of the central European countries that might need help and also Spain and Italy.

FOSTER: OK, Richard, thank you very much indeed.

Still to come tonight, after the UK hacking scandal and the Leveson Inquiry, British lawmakers have a late night deal aimed at regulating the press.

A protest in India as a rape case triggers outrage over the growing violence against women yet again.

The sporting power couple will tell you about Tiger Woods' and his new romantic partner. All that and much more when Connect the World continues.


FOSTER: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the Wold with me, Max Foster. Welcome back to you.

A surprise move by a notorious war crimes suspect. Bosco Ntaganda has turned himself in to the U.S. embassy in Rwanda. Ntaganda is accused of crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including rape, murder and the recruitment of child soldiers. He's been both a rebel commander and army general over the years, most recently leading to an insurgency in eastern Congo. The U.S. State Department says he's agreed to face justice.


VICTORIA NULAND, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: I can confirm that this morning Bosco Ntaganda, an ICC indictee and leader of one of the M23 factions, walked into U.S. embassy Kagale. He specifically asked to be transferred to the ICC and The Hague. We're currently consulting with a number of governments, including the Rwandan government, in order to facilitate his request.


FOSTER: British lawmakers have struck a last minute deal on press regulation. In the wake of the phone hacking scandal, Britain's three largest political parties have now agreed to set up an independent regulator. The news comes as The Sun newspaper was ordered to pay substantial damages to an MP for hacking her phone.

Atika Shubert has this report.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Britain's hacking scandal has claimed hundreds of victims, celebrities and ordinary citizens alike. It has killed one newspaper, The News of the World, an institution in fact, one of the oldest English language newspapers in the world. And it has threatened to take down the media empire of Rupert Murdoch. His son James had to resign as executive chairman of News Corp. And the company has paid out millions of dollars in damages to hacking victims.

The scandal was also front and center in an excruciatingly detailed judicial inquiry into press standards in Britain, an inquiry which itself cost some $9 million and recommended stronger self regulation.

Britain's parliament wants that new regulator to be an independent watchdog, one that ensures newspapers do not hack phones or computers nor pay police or government officials for scoops ever again.

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This system will ensure upfront apologies, million pound fines, a self regulatory body with independence of appointments and funding, a robust standards code, an arbitration service that is free for victims and a speedy complaint handling mechanism.

SHUBERT: But it's not over yet. One witness has provided police with information about 600 new victims of hacking by the tabloids. And the face of the hacking scandal, Rebekah Brooks, former News International CEO and close friend to Rupert Murdoch, still faces charges of corrupt payments to officials and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice -- charges she denies. There is still plenty of drama left in the hacking scandal.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London.


FOSTER: The gang rape of a Swiss tourist is deepening outrage over the rise in violent attacks again women in India. Protesters turned out today across Madhya Pradesh State where the attack took place. Six men were accused of assaulting a Swiss couple last week, beating the husband and raping his wife.

The suspects appeared in court today as Sumnima Udas reports.


SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hooded and berated for the cameras: a perp walk in India coming days after the latest shocking sexual attack targeting a foreign tourist. These six men accused of gang raping a Swiss woman. The 39 year old was on a cycling trip with her husband when they were robbed and the wife raped.

This latest incident is once again putting the spotlight on rampant sexual attacks in India.

(on camera): Government data shows a rape is reported every 22 minutes in India. It's a phenomena so common, most cases of rape would normally go unnoticed and unreported.

(voice-over): Bust since a December gang rape of a student in a moving bus in New Delhi, women's rights activists say the Indian consciousness has changed forever.

RUCHIRA GUPTA, WOMEN'S RIGHST ACTIVIST: The girl who was raped on December 16, her resistance has lit a match which has set fire to India.

UDAS: Thousands of rallied to demand justice for the victim who later died of her injuries and protest the cycle of discrimination against women in India.

GUPTA: Over the years, females have been devalued. You know, girls are in danger from the time they're born to the time they die.

UDAS: The victim became a symbol of the daily suffering of women in India and the same rape victims often have to endure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are protesting here because this is our every day issue. My father calls me up six times in a day just to check where am I, where am I, where am I.

UDAS: Cases of sexual violence against women are now being reported almost every day in the Indian media. It's unclear if attacks are actually on the rise, but awareness is up and many women are now feeling more emboldened to speak out.

Authorities acknowledged that action is needed and say they're taking steps to try to better protect women. New anti-rape laws are being debated in parliament, but women's rights activists say when discrimination is endemic, change will not come easily.

Sumnima Udas, CNN, New Delhi.


FOSTER: World leaders have been arriving in Rome today for Pope Francis' inauguration on Tuesday. Guests include the controversial Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. He's been accused of brutal human rights abuses and is under and EU travel ban, but that doesn't apply to the Vatican City.

Security is tight for tomorrow's festivities as Ben Wedeman explains from Rome.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Max, some here are calling him the unpredictable pope, which is exciting for people who would like to meet him and it makes our job far more interesting. However, there are some who aren't so thrilled about the fact that Francis is unpredictable.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): It was a thrill for the crowds, Pope Francis walking out on the street to press the flesh. But it wasn't a thrill for his security.

One Italian newspaper quoted a member of the pope's security detail as saying, "if he carries on like this, it will drive us all crazy."

But the Vatican spokesman isn't panicking.

THOMAS ROSICA, VATICAN SPOKESMAN: ...very competent security forces with the pope are there with him. They've been watching him. They'll adapt to his own movements and they'll do their best to adapt to new situations.

WEDEMAN: The bishop of Rome has been the target in the past. In 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot four times by a would-be Turkish assassin in St. Peter's Square.

In 2008, a German woman tried to drag Pope Benedict XVI to the floor. A year later, she tried to do the same thing.

Papal security has been provided by the Swiss Guard for centuries. Now they're bolstered by the Italian secret service and regular police who keep an eye on the tens of thousands of visitors who come here every day.

The Vatican City one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, but at the end of the day security can only do so much after which they have to put their faith in God.

And that seems to be the attitude of most popes, says former Swiss Guard Andreas Widmer.

ANDREAS WIDMER, FORMER SWISS GUARD: The first priority of the papacy isn't security, the first priority is his ministry. And he knows what he needs to do for his ministry. And we're going to cope with that.

WEDEMAN: No easy task when dealing with a pope who thus far has been most unpredictable.


But the pope is a head of state and he may have to change his ways given his high profile position -- Max.

FOSTER: Well, keeping with the charitable spirit of the new pope, a lawyer in Chicago has an offering of his own. Chris Connors bought the domain name in 2010 for just a couple of bucks, thinking one day a pope may go by that name. Now it has happened. He wants Pope Francis to have the webpage for free despite numerous offers from others to buy it.

Connor says in this age of social media, it may be a more informal way for Pope Francis to connect to the people.

Now Live from London, this is Connect the World. Coming up, banned for life, a young Greek footballer's international career is over after he made this controversial gesture.


FOSTER: A young footballer is defending himself after football officials in Greece issued some pretty harsh penalties for his Nazi salute during a match on Saturday. Don Riddel joins me with more. And people have their own thoughts on this, haven't they, Don?

DON RIDDELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely right. I tell you one thing, it's caused an absolute storm in Greece and right across Europe, to be honest with you, Max.

We're talking about the 20 year old Giorgos Katidis who just for a couple of seconds upon scoring the winning goal for AEK Athens at the weekend did this. Of course, very, very controversial not just because it's the Nazi salute, but because Greece itself was occupied by the Nazis. There's been a rise in the extreme right in Greece recently. And it just so happened that this came on the 70th anniversary of the commencement of the transportation of Greek Jews towards the Nazi death camps. So an incredibly insensitive gesture.

The Greek football federation acted almost immediately, Max, banning this player for life from ever representing the Greek National Team. And given that he'd captained the under 19 side, there was a very good chance he would have a good international career for Greece.

The player, as you say, has responded, Max. I can bring you some of his statement here. He said, "I feel terrible for those I upset with the stupidity of my act." He went on, "unfortunately I cannot take the clock back, but I want to clarify that I am not a fascist or neo-Nazi or racist."

He will get the chance to officially explain his actions when he meets with his club officials at AEK Athens on Wednesday.

FOSTER: That's an extraordinary story, isn't it?

There's a happier sporting story as well, thought, making the rounds on social media frankly today. This one, in fact, was confirmed on Facebook, wasn't it?

RIDDELL: It was indeed. And it had been rumored for some time, but both Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn, the skier, have now confirmed that they are an item. They say they've known each other for some time, but it's only in the last few months that they've begun a romantic relationship. And they both confirmed that, Max, on their Facebook pages.

Tiger said, "Lindsey and I have been friends for some time, but over the last few months we have both come very close are now dating."

Lindsey Vonn who only recently won the downhill ski championship once again said that the relationship has made her very happy. But she went on, "I don't plan on addressing this further as I would like to keep that part of my life between us, my family, and close friends."

I'm not sure how realistic that is, Max, because I think they've pretty much overnight become the world's biggest sporting power couple. And I'm sure everybody is going to want to know all about it.

FOSTER: Yeah, they've doubled their interest levels, haven't they? Triple it at this point putting two together.

Thank you very much, Don.

Later in the show, we have a little more sport for you. Last week was the Laureus Awards. Some of the top honors of the sporting world. Pedro was there in Brazil and got together a panel of experts, including Seb Coe and Michael Johnson to find out who they thought was the greatest athlete. Your thoughts on that, Don?

RIDDELL: Who I think the greatest athlete is? Oh, that's a very good question. It's hard to go against Usain Bolt. But I tell you what, LeBron James right now might be a good bet. I mean, he's leading the Miami Heat on this incredible winning streak, 22 games unbeaten right now. They're going to play the Boston Celtics within the next couple of hours, a 23rd consecutive win would make them -- or give them the second most impressive winning streak in NBA history. And LeBron is a big part of that. So I think he's a worthy contender.

FOSTER: Good stuff. Don, thank you very much. We'll hear what Pedro found out. And we'll have Don in an hour as well with World Sport of course.

The latest world headlines just ahead on Connect the World.

Plus, it's not quite the pledge that Syrian rebels want, but a message from the United States today could make it easier for them to get arms.

And ten years after the Iraq war started, Arwa Damon revisits one small town she last saw seven years ago to hear its unique story.



FOSTER: -- says the military imbalance in Syria should be corrected. Britain and France have been urging the European Union to lift a weapons embargo in order to arm Syrian rebels.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- route to get into bed with militarily, and the US is very reluctant. So, leaving that Europe if that happens. Max?

FOSTER: OK, Nick, thank you very much, indeed, for that. Well, Syria is quieting speculation that the president's wife there has fled the country. They released these pictures over the weekend showing Asma al- Assad making a very rare appearance in Damascus.

She's smiling and she looks pretty relaxed as she attends a fundraiser for mothers of government soldiers who've been killed in the war. It was her first public appearance in months.

Our next guest calls that appearance a desperate attempt by the regime to project a sense of normalcy. Rami Khouri joins us from New York. He's director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, and he's also a columnist for the "Daily Star."

And how would you define the significance of this appearance, because it seems so small in once sense, but actually it is symbolic as well, isn't it?

RAMI KHOURI, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF BEIRUT: Well, it's part of the campaign that the Syrian government has tried to wage over the last two years to try to convince the people that everything is fine and people are going around their normal business, the president and his family.

And of course nobody believes it. What's remarkable is that she hasn't -- Asma Assad hasn't appeared in public for, I think, over a year now. I don't remember exactly how long. But it's a very contrived and controlled appearance.

Obviously, it was also designed to quash rumors that she had fled the country with her children, like we have been told, that the president's mother and his sister are now in the United Arab Emirates. Some of this confirmed, some of it is not.

But the point is people are talking about these things, and if indeed the president's family is leaving the country, that's going to lower morale among many people, so making her appear in public hopefully, from the government's view, is a way to raise morale.

FOSTER: We're just going to get some context here, Rami, to the lady herself, Syria's first lady, Asma Assad. She's a Sunni Muslim whose family originally comes from the city of Homs. But Mrs. Assad was born and raised in London. Her father is well-known cardiologist. Her mother --


FOSTER: -- British prep schools before graduating with two degrees in computer science and French literature from King's College --


KHOURI: Well, that's true, and this is typical in a mediagenic age, and she's attractive, she's smart, she's photogenic. I'd met her in person. She's a very smart lady, and she fell in love with a person who was being trained to be a doctor, and suddenly he's now waging this incredible war in his own country against his own people.

So, I don't know this is what she signed up for when she fell and love and got married about -- what? -- 13 years ago or so in London. But she's obviously stuck by her decision.

She's a bit of a tragic figure, perhaps. She's perhaps caught in a web of behavior that may not have been what she anticipated when she got married. But she is an intriguing figure, obviously, because of her situation.

But she's made the choice to stay where she is and to allow herself to be used as an instrument of regime propaganda. So, it's no longer, I think, a situation where you have to feel sorry for her. But she's obviously OK with the way that she is being portrayed in public, and she seems to be sticking it out. Maybe this is love conquering everything else, I don't know.

FOSTER: Well, that's the interesting thing, isn't it? This sort of loyalty many people see as -- an example of how in love she is, which if it's reciprocated would also imply that she has a lot of power because she's so close to the president. How much power do you think she does have, actually?

KHOURI: Oh, I don't think she has much power. In most of these situations around the Middle East where you have first ladies who appear in the limelight sometimes, they -- I think they project the image of having power, but they don't have any public political power.

It's possible that she may have some private influence on her husband. If she has, then we're in much deeper trouble than we think, because if you look at how he's behaved and the way that he's using violence against his own unarmed civilians, then this is a real problem.

So, I don't think she has any power at all. She's just a mediagenic, attractive lady. And because very little is known about her, it makes it even more intriguing.

FOSTER: Rami Khouri, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. Live from London, you are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Ten years after the Iraq War started, Arwa Damon revisits a small town rocked by the war. Hear one resident's remarkable story next.


FOSTER: Ten years ago, the war in Iraq began with Shock and Awe. By the time it ended, more than 130,000 Iraqis had been killed. Arwa Damon has been back to a town that was overrun by terrorists seven years ago.

She was looking for a man who dared to ask Americans to save his town from al Qaeda. Arwa tells us his story, but we do have to warn you that you may find some of these images disturbing.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We're heading along the Euphrates River valley in Al Anbar province, land that once made up part of al Qaeda's kingdom in Iraq, driving towards Husayba, a town close to the Syrian border. The market is vibrant, alive. So different from the last time I was here.


DAMON: It was November, 2005. I was embedded with US marines on Operation Steel Curtain. It was similar to countless other incidents --

UNIDENTIED MALE: He's been fingered as a bad guy.

DAMON: -- troops going house to house, civilians filing out, petrified. A man named Mohammed Rejeb was among them, and he told me --

MOHAMMED REJEB, HUSAYAAB RESIDENT (through translator): We want them to save us from the terrorists. We want stability.

DAMON: A simple wish, perhaps, but al Qaeda killed anyone who spoke out against them. No civilian I had ever met had dared do so so openly. I was in awe of Mohammed's courage.


DAMON: The battle for Husayba was intense.


DAMON: Fighters worked in alleyways, hid behind doors.


DAMON: The ground shook in the US bombardment, but it wasn't only al Qaeda they hit. In one strike, one entire family was killed. People had buried the dead in a garden. A curfew prevented them from going to the graveyard.

When we arrived, they were digging up and moving the bodies. All but one were women and children. And there was Mohammed Rejeb, still searching for victims. The dead were his relatives. As the body of 11-year-old Abdullah was recovered, Mohammed said --

REJEB (through translator): Look at him! Look at him! You would swear that he was sleeping.

DAMON: Seven years later, I want to find Mohammed again.

DAMON (on camera): So, we gave one of our stringers who kind of works in this area a photograph, a screen grab from the footage that we have of Mohammed, and we told him the story, and then he began trying to track him down. And it turns out, he's pretty well-known, but we think his shop is right around the corner here.

DAMON (voice-over): I want to give him a hug, but that's not appropriate here. I tell him he hasn't changed, and that I had thought often of his family.

REJEB (through translator): Look, that's my son. Remember the one who had the little baby? He was shot in the stomach by the Americans when he was in his car.

DAMON: His tone matter-of-fact. He is so welcoming, it's humbling. We walked towards his house.


DAMON (on camera): So, he remembers exactly how the military unit that I was with, actually, approached his house on this street, and we'd come up from this narrow alleyway, and this pat I do remember, but in that house right there, there was a foreign fighter who had just been killed by the US forces.

DAMON (voice-over): It's a bleak tour. He points out another house that al Qaeda had taken over.

DAMON (on camera): And al Qaeda at the time actually threatened him because he was complaining some about the fact that they were endangering people in the neighborhood by their presence there, and also because they were bomb -- making all of these bombs and whatnot.

DAMON (voice-over): And then, he proudly introduces us to his family.

DAMON (on camera): This young man, now, Hamid, was the baby that he was carrying in his arms when he first walked out of the house when we first met him.

DAMON (voice-over): And then I ask, why did he speak out and beg the Americans to save them?

REJEB (through translator): We had nothing left to lose. We wanted security, we wanted to get rid of this chaos.

DAMON: Then came the airstrike.

REJEB (through translator): I never imagined we would pay this price. We never imagined the Americans wouldn't differentiate between friend and foe. It was all the same to them.

DAMON: He's unable to articulate his emotions that day. The rubble of the house that was pulverized is long clear, another home built on the lot. Grass covers the place where those bodies were temporarily buried. Rows of tombstones just a short distance away.

DAMON (on camera): Some of these graves still have what was used as the original tombstone lying next to them with the name just crudely carved into the rock, and it was all that they could do at the time so that they would remember who was buried where.

DAMON (voice-over): Today, Mohammed's views about the US invasion are very different.

REJEB (through translator): I wish that the Americans had never come. They ruined our country. They planted divisions and brought in things that were not here.

DAMON: Ten years on, Iraqis are still paying the price for an invasion they had no say in.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Husayba, Iraq.


FOSTER: Well, take a look, now, at the Iraq War by numbers. More than 4800 coalition troops were killed in the eight-year conflict. The Iraqi casualty count is much higher to track -- much harder to track, rather. But several groups estimate more than 116,000 Iraqis have been killed.

And the US price tag for the war has topped $800 billion, but several analysts say the ultimate cost to the US could run into the trillions.

Tomorrow on CONNECT THE WORLD, we'll be taking a closer look at whether the Iraq War was actually worth it. We'll be speaking to the former US administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer, and ex-chief weapons inspector Hans Blix. That's Tuesday, 9:00 PM in London, 10:00 PM in Berlin.

And before that, join us for a CNN special presentation, Iraq Ten Years On. Arwa Damon shares her reflections on Iraq from the early days of the war until now. That's Tuesday at 5:30 in London, 9:30 in Abu Dhabi.

Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, we get a panel of sporting experts in one room and ask the age-old question: who is the greatest athlete of them all? Find out what they say next.


FOSTER: Well, last week, the red carpet was rolled out for the world's sports stars. It was the Laureus Awards, hosted in Brazil, for the world's greatest athletes. Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis were named sportsman and woman of the year, but Pedro Pinto was there with a panel of experts to ask just who is the best of them all.


PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Sporting scandals have been coming thick and fast of late, whether it's doping, match-fixing, racism. But one thing it's taught us is how influential the current sportsmen and women of today are. And for every scandal, fortunately, there are hundreds of awe-inspiring performances.

But who inspires the most? Who is the greatest athlete participating in sport right now? I'm pleased to say that I have four people alongside me who are pretty well-placed to give their opinion. Let me start putting you guys on the spot, then. One athlete that inspires you right now?

STEVE WAUGH, FORMER AUSTRALIA CRICKET CAPTAIN: Me personally, I think it's Usain Bolt. The way he's just dominated the last two Olympics, he's taken sprinting to another level. I think he will go down as one of the all-time great athletes.

Been privileged enough to see him at both those Olympics, and for me, that -- having watched a lot of sport, there was just a highlight to see him walk in the stadium, on the starting blocks, the way he sort of -- I think, his body language is very intimidating, and then when he gets on track, the way he demolishes the opposition. I think he's just great to watch.

PINTO: One gentleman who had a privileged position during the London Olympics is Mr. Coe, who was running the show. So, Seb, how was Usain Bolt, and did he live up to those incredibly high expectations?

SEBASTIAN COE, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: He did, and actually, probably on balance, if you think where he was about a year out from London, I think he probably for some exceeded that expectation.

For me, the performance, the single performance of the London Games, was David Rudisha, 800 meters. The ability to run from gun to tape in an Olympic final, and then to do it in the faultless way that he did it, that for me was the performance of the Games.

PINTO: What's the X factor that a star athlete needs to have? Marcel?

MARCEL DESAILLY, WORLD CUP EURO 2000 WINNER: I think mentally, is the main thing. You can have a lot of talent, but if mentally you don't want to be the best, and at any time, you cannot last. You fail very quickly because you compete against somebody, you compete against the challenges, then the mental aspect, I think, is the main --

Obviously, physically, also, you need to respect the rules, the diet, the sleeping, the everything. But mentally is the key.

PINTO: That's what I'm really impressed by is the discipline and the sacrifices that all of you had to make.

COE: They're not sacrifices. They're choices. And that's a really important difference. I don't think any of us sitting around here would say that we sacrificed to do what we did. But fundamentally, I think -- we haven't really discussed this, but I'm guessing that all of us probably dedicated over half our young lives to doing what we ultimately went on to do.

So, I don't think I ever saw that as a sacrifice. I think it was something that I wanted to do, and I was very lucky that I had the right people around me to help me get there.

MICHAEL JOHNSON, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: It's funny you say that, because I was actually -- I was having this conversation with Daley Thompson, and we were talking about it, and we both looked back and thought, no, I don't think I made any sacrifices or -- because it comes naturally. It's just what you do.

As an athlete, if you train Monday through Friday, and Christmas falls on a Tuesday, you wake up on Christmas Day saying, it's Tuesday, got to train. You know? It's just the way you are. It's the way you're programmed as an athlete.

WAUGH: I think you've got to have that love of the battle, too. You've got to want to be there, put yourself in that tougher circumstance against the best opposition and want to be there. That's how you come back from adversity, because you're not going to succeed every day, so that's how you come back the next day. That's where you show your true colors. So, it's got to be the fire in the belly.

PINTO: Coming back to the big names and to the successful names, what are some of those names that jump out to you when you think of athletes you respect right now?

DESAILLY: Right now? No. I have Jordan, Michael Jordan, obviously - -


DESAILLY: -- who is an example. No, all the successful, we have many names --


WAUGH: I think Federer -- I think Federer is quite amazing --

DESAILLY: Federer.

WAUGH: I think longevity in any sport is quite amazing and hard to achieve, particularly in a worldwide sport like Tennis, so I think Roger Federer really stands out. He's won so many Majors, but he still has that hunger.

PINTO: So, let me pin you down to wrap up this segment: the biggest sporting icon in the world right now is? And we'll go around. No pressure.



JOHNSON: I would probably say Usain Bolt


JOHNSON: I would say Bolt.

DESAILLY: Easy for me, I agree for him also


WAUGH: It's hard to get past Bolt, but I think Tiger Woods also gets a mention. He's on the comeback trail again, and no doubt he's going to win some more majors going forward and probably become the greatest golfer ever, so --

PINTO: You're going for Tiger?

WAUGH: Well, I'll be a variation, but I would've gone Bolt first as well.


PINTO: OK, but you didn't want to copy, so you go Tiger.

WAUGH: Yes, yes.

COE: Well, I am going to go Bolt, but I would also throw into that pot Lionel Messi --

PINTO: Sure.

COE: -- for all of the things we've just talked about. I think his conduct off the pitch, the role model aspect, and just the sheer continuity of his game.


FOSTER: Well, Bolt pretty much has it from the experts, but do you agree? Who do you think is the best athlete? You can have your say on our Facebook page,, and you can tweet us @CNNconnect. That is @CNNconnect.

And now, a hijacked helicopter, a daring escape from prison, and a police manhunt may sound like a new Hollywood action film, but this story for our Parting Shots is straight out of reality.

Two men in Canada hijacked a helicopter before ordering the pilot to fly over a nearby prison. Hovering above the detention center, they dropped a rope, and in broad daylight in front of stunned witnesses, two prisoners climbed on before the helicopter whizzed off.

A huge manhunt followed, ending in a car chase and gunfight between the men and police. No one was hurt and the police eventually arrested the three men. The fourth man was found hiding in a sugar shack, and that was the end of any sweet getaway. But an extraordinary story you just couldn't make up.

Now, I'm Max Foster, that was CONNECT THE WORLD, thank you so much for watching. We'll have the headlines for you coming up.