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Cruise Ends Early After Fire; Murder Suspect May Have Terror Ties; Bomb Suspect Questions Linger; McCain's Secret Trip to Syria; Debate over Arming Syrian Rebels

Aired May 28, 2013 - 12:00   ET



S SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: A cruise ship fire forces passengers to return home. They're being flown back to Baltimore from the Bahamas. We're live at the airport in just a couple of minutes.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Then, missed warning signs. The lead suspect in the killing of a British soldier was deported earlier from Kenya. CNN follows his trial to the border of Kenya and Somalia where an al Qaeda-linked group thrives. Our CNN exclusive also coming up.

MALVEAUX: And she is a wife, a mother of seven kids, but this Arizona woman is being held in Mexico accused of drug smuggling. A Mexican state official thinks she was framed. Well, today in court, she's going to find out whether or not she'll be freed. That report coming up later in the hour.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company.

MALVEAUX: They were supposed to be basking in the Bahamas right now. Instead, passengers aboard the Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas heading to rainy Baltimore on chartered flights. Not a good situation. Not at all.

HOLMES: Not what - no, not what they planned, is it? The whole thing was canceled after a fire -- you see the results of it there -- broke out on the ship yesterday morning. The ship being moved to dry dock for repairs this afternoon. One passenger describes the initial chaotic moments as the trouble began.


DANIELLE MILLER, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER (voice-over): The first thing I thought was the boat could have been sinking because when we went to bed it was extremely wavy and we were rolling around in our beds. We were on the deck for about a half hour before they announced that it was a fire. But when we did get on the deck, we saw the lifeboats being lowered. So we were just freaking out. And we saw a light sparking and catching on fire. But other than that, we didn't see any smoke coming up from deck three and we didn't know it was a fire until they announced it.


MALVEAUX: Erin McPike, she's covering this story from Baltimore.

And, Erin, that is where the ship first started out on this journey here. Do they understand or know what actually happened when that fire caught?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, they don't know that yet. They're investigating. The Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board launched teams yesterday down to the Bahamas to be investigating that ship. Also the CEO of Royal Caribbean went to the Bahamas yesterday to start inspect the damage.

But all we know now is that the fire broke out just before 3:00 a.m. on one of the decks of the ship and lasted for about two hours.


HOLMES: Yes, and, Erin, too, what is happening to those passengers? Now they're heading back home. They're starting to. What -- the cruise ship industry's having a bit of a rough run aren't they? What are they doing this time to make it up to passengers?

MCPIKE: Yes. Well, first of all, the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is chartering 11 fights today to bring all of those passengers back here to Baltimore. The first of those 11 flights should be arriving in the next 45 minutes and then passengers will board buses and go back to the Port of Baltimore where they took off on Friday. Of course, they weren't supposed to be getting back until this coming Friday.

But those same passengers will get a full refund for this particular trip and they'll get a vouch for a future cruise. Now we also know that the ship, Grandeur of the Seas, is being dry docked in the Bahamas and it will be undergoing some repairs in the coming days. It was supposed to take off on yet another voyage on May 31st. That has been canceled as well. And the passengers who were scheduled to go on that trip will get a full refund as well, as well as half off of another cruise.

MALVEAUX: Erin, what's amazing is that, Michael and I were talking, and it doesn't seem to affect the cruise industry. People are still getting aboard these huge ships. Do you know what's going on here? I mean this is at least the third or fourth occasion that we've seen a real big problem with one of these ships.

MCPIKE: You know, I've talked to a couple of people in the last couple of days who follow the cruise industry pretty closely and they say this is pretty routine. It's par for the course. You know, there are problems that happen on planes all the time, in cars, and this is no different. But profits are still going gang busters so we hear.

HOLMES: Yes, indeed. Record profits, I think. Anyway, good to see you. Thank, Erin, for that. Erin McPike there.

It looks ugly when you see the ship.

HOLMES: It does, doesn't it?

MALVEAUX: I mean they say it's par for the course, but you see that thing, it looks pretty bad.

HOLMES: It looked big, yes.


College graduation trip now turning into a terrifying ordeal. This is for three young women aboard that cruise ship. One of them sharing her photos on an i-Report site. Nicole Woodward (ph) says that she and her friends, they woke up, it was about 1:30 Monday morning, when they heard all this commotion that was going on outside their cabin.

HOLMES: Of course they opened the door and they see crew members running. That's going to make you feel good. Their room was filling with smoke. As I said, they took off and they banged on other cabin doors to wake people up as they headed to the deck.

MALVEAUX: So Woodward says that the crew yelled out passengers' names and the room numbers just to make sure that everybody was OK.

So it certainly seems like there have been a lot of issues aboard these ships lately. In the next hour, we're actually going to take a look at how the industry is doing in light of all of that and how you could actually benefit because of some of these problems.

HOLMES: Look forward to hearing that.

MALVEAUX: Free tickets, at least.

HOLMES: Yes. Well, yes, that will make it up.

MALVEAUX: I don't know if you want to take them up on it, but, hey.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes, it will be straight back out there.

All right, now we want to do a quick check of the markets. Why? Well, the Dow Jones charging ever higher today. There you go. You see there. The Dow up 155 points. It was up over 200 points, 1.3 percent a little bit earlier. Investors started buying as soon as the markets opened after the long weekend.

MALVEAUX: What seemed to spur things on was a positive statement. This was coming from the Bank of Japan on its economy. Plus new reports showing that home prices, they are going up and Americans have more confidence now in the economy.

HOLMES: Yes, confidence, the highest in five years.

All right, in London, roughly 500 officers are investigating that killing of a British soldier. Lee Rigby stabbed and hacked to death on a street near a military barracks last week. There have been 10 arrests so far.

MALVEAUX: Two suspects who were shot at the scene, they still remain in the hospital. We are learning more today about one of the suspects, Michael, Adebolajo. Well, he was captured on video, as you see here. We've seen this before, holding this bloodied meat cleaver, saying that this killing was carried out because, quote, "Muslims are dying every day."

HOLMES: Now, and in a CNN exclusive, we follow his trail to Kenya and possible ties to an al Qaeda-linked group. Nima Elbagir with the details.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The winding waterways of the (INAUDIBLE) coastline on the eastern shores of Kenya, lying just south of Somalia. For years the al Qaeda-linked militant group al Shabaab cast a long shadow here, kidnapping tourists, smuggling goods and people. And it's along these waterways that we trace the route taken in late 2010 by Michael Adebolajo, the man accused of hacking to death British Soldier Lee Rigby on a London street.

ELBAGIR (on camera): This is Kitsingini (ph) Island. We are only about 20 kilometers from the Somali mainland here. And back when the Somali Port of Kitsmia (ph) was in the al Qaeda-linked militant group al Shabaab's hands, Kenyan (ph) authorities say that this was a major way point for young men seeking to join up with al Shabaab. And it was right here on this beach that Kenyan police tell us they picked up Michael Adebolajo and three other young men waiting to catch a boat.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): The four men, we're told, had arrived at neighboring Spazer (ph) Island by boat on the cover of dark. Before walking to the island's hotel, run by Hamid Hassan's (ph) sister, Nyalali, and her husband.

HAMID HASSAN: These people came at night. They wanted a lodging. We see -- we saw it was just a normal lodging. So my sister accommodated them. Late the next day, around 6:00 p.m., a police came here and they took the husband and the wife alleging that they had hosted four people who were said to be al Shabaab. They were going to Somalia.

ELBAGIR: For Nyalali and her husband, it was the beginning of a terrifying ordeal. After their arrest she tells us they were transferred to prison in Mumbasa (ph), appearing twice in court before charges were eventually dropped. She tells me Adebolajo disappeared on the third day of that joint detention. Kenyan authorities later telling her he'd been deported, sent back home to England.

ELBAGIR (on camera): What did you think when you first saw Michael Adebolajo? What were your impressions of him?

ELBAGIR (voice-over): "They were all about the same age," she says, "and so young. They looked like school boys."

Nyalali is nervous telling us even this, worried the events of that night late in 2010 have come back to haunt her. Hassan says his sister knows Adebolajo is suspected of some sort of crime, but he's trying to shield her from the horrific details.

HASSAN: But what is happening in London she doesn't know at all.

ELBAGIR (on camera): You haven't told her?

HASSAN: I haven't.

ELBAGIR: You don't want to tell her?

HASSAN: I don't want to tell her, actually.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): The route into Somalia Adebolajo is believed to have attempted is now tightly monitored. But security sources say, as long as militant groups still exist further along this coastline, other young men will try and find new ways to succeed where Adebolajo failed.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, Lama (ph), Kenya.


HOLMES: Extraordinary tale. It's not yet known, by the way, what Kenyan authorities from their knowledge passed on to the British authorities so they might have had a bit of a heads up about that. That's still very unclear Nima was saying, which you'd think there would be an exchange of information there, but nobody's sure exactly what was said.

MALVEAUX: And 10 people -- 10 people who are actually in custody here. But we don't know if that's a round-up of people or if these are all people that they believe are involved.

HOLMES: That's light. And not all in custody now. Some have been released on bail. Two were let go without charge. But, yes, they're looking at a conspiracy theory here. So it's going to be interesting to see what happens in the fallout.

Meanwhile, here's what's coming up on AROUND THE WORLD. We've got the latest for you on the Boston bombing suspects as well.

MALVEAUX: A trail leading us half a world away, but the key to actually understanding their connection to this place is now gone.

And an Arizona woman arrested for allegedly smuggling drugs from Mexico to the United States. Her family, even a Mexican official, says that she is innocent.

HOLMES: Yes, and today a court's going to decide if she is freed or held for trial. You're watching AROUND THE WORLD. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She just told me that she was going to get out, for me to be strong and that she was innocent.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: Now to one of the lingering questions in the Boston bombing investigation. And CNN traveled to the Dagestan region, that's in Russia, in search of answers.

MALVEAUX: So the question is this, what did the bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev do during a six-month trip to Russia last summer? Well, authorities especially want to know whether or not he met with a radical Islamic militant. Our Nick Paton Walsh, he returned to the region and uncovered new information about Tsarnaev's time in Russia.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a while since the parents of the alleged Boston bombers were in the public eye.

WALSH (on camera): (INAUDIBLE).

WALSH (voice-over): Now they're back in Dagestan and tired of questions.

WALSH (on camera): (INAUDIBLE). Good morning.

WALSH (voice-over): Collecting the sick father's medicine, they're distraught.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're (ph) talking about?

WALSH (on camera): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're not hearing us, OK?

WALSH: I just - I feel -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're not - they see everything. They see what the -- all evidences are right, you know, right there.

WALSH (voice-over): They and a group of Internet supporters insist the Tsarnaev brothers are being framed.

Unanswered questions remain about Tamerlan's six months here. Relatives saying he innocently prayed, went to the beach, even as radical Islamist militancy swirled around him.

(on camera): Now I've been showed a rare video of Tamerlan Tsarnaev when he was here in Dagestan last summer, playing around with three to four friends of his on a beach like this just outside of Makhachkala.

The people who showed me the video wouldn't let me hear the audio or broadcast it, but it shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev with a thick, black, bushy beard and silver-rimmed aviator sunglasses and the characteristic slicked-back black hair.

But all friends and him wearing swimming trunks and some of them are buried up to their necks in the sand, the demeanor of relaxed, playful men at a time when, in the city and its outskirts just behind me, police were regularly in clashes with radicalized militants.

But U.S. officials have one question, did Tamerlan meet with a key militant, Mansur Nidal (ph)? The half-Palestinian 19-year-old was killed in this stand-off with Russian special forces last May.

Police video shows women and children allowed out, but negotiators told us he didn't want to give himself up, so Russian troops moved in.

Among the ruins, neighbors ask why.

He was afraid to get into their hands, this man says, afraid that something worse than death awaited him if he got him.

It may be that in the violence that engulfed the house the victims of the Boston bombings lost the clearest chance they had of learning whether or not one of the alleged bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had key meetings with a militant here in Dagestan.

Answers that may, in the cycle of violence here, never be heard.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Makhachkala.


HOLMES: Well, the Boston bombings turned pressure cookers from kitchen appliances to objects of terror. All of a sudden everybody's suspicious of the nearest pressure cooker.

Case in point here, a pressure cooker left in a restroom at a hotel in Dearborn, Michigan.

MALVEAUX: So police say it didn't contain any explosives here, but it did lead authorities to evacuate the guests, cancel a meeting by university Muslim association. Police say that the Boston suspects used these pressure cookers to build their bombs, and that is why people are reacting this way.

HOLMES: If you saw one in a restroom or something, just sitting there, you probably would be a bit suspicious, wouldn't you?

MALVEAUX: Perhaps.

Senator John McCain slipping into Syria, his visit is drawing more attention to the call to arm the rebels there.

HOLMES: But is that the answer? A lot of people say, no. We're going to have a look at the crisis in Syria. There are many developments on that score. That's coming up.


HOLMES: All right. The question of whether or not to arm Syrian rebels is one countries have been debated around the world, Europe in particular. The White House, for its part, has been very hesitant to get directly involved, instead calling on Bashar al Assad to stand down. MALVEAUX: Well, what we saw yesterday, Senator John McCain, meeting with 18 commanders of the rebel Free Syrian Army. This is just outside -- inside Syria, rather. McCain has, as you know, been a staunch supporter of arming the rebels, but he has expressed some concern about the weapons falling into the wrong hands.

HOLMES: Yeah, McCain isn't alone, the European Union lifting its arms embargo, or rather letting it expire. Had an embargo on Syrian rebels getting weapons. This happened on Monday. It was a move that might level the playing field between rebel and government forces, if those arms go in.

MALVEAUX: So, of course, there are many facets to the story. We're going to break this down for you.

I want to bring in our Nick Paton Walsh who's in Beirut. And, Nick, let's first start off with this lifting the E.U. arms embargo. This is something that was pushed by British and France as well, not necessarily what the U.S. wants here.

But what kind of signal does this send to the Assad regime? Is it even effective? Do we think that they're going to start sending arms?

WALSH: Well, when the British and the French first seized upon this, the idea to was to hang out the threat of supplying arms to the rebels to make Bashar al Assad more serious about political negotiations.

Things have moved on since then. They did, late last night, manage to get the agreement to expire.

The real issue facing them now is when those arms may actually start to flow. They've left a two-month-plus window now for further political talks, a bid at a peace solution, until the 1st of August when they'll address, again, at E.U. level, quite whether arms can be supplied and who to. It could military training, other different ways of providing assistance.

But a key move from the E.U. to try and suggest they're willing to up aid to the rebels.


HOLMES: Yeah, and, Nick, of course, the rebels are saying, well, that just gives two more months for Bashar al Assad to kill people.

I spoke a little earlier on CNN International with Louay Safi of the Syrian National Coalition, I know you know him, raised the fears of where these weapons could end up and the extremist elements within the rebel ranks.

Have a listen to what he said and then we'll chat.


LOUAY SAFI, SYRIAN NATIONAL COALITION (via telephone): Our friends have shown little interest in providing us with enough support to organize the FSA and create more ordered fighting force. By the way, (inaudible) is not part of the FSA. It's outside of FSA.

HOLMES (voice-over): That's the point. That's the point, Louay. There are multiple sources.

SAFI (via telephone): That's true, but I mean, you have to look at proportions. I mean, in any place, you have radical elements. Tell me where in the world you have everybody is mainstream and, you know, balanced in there views.

But there are things that have been blown out of proportion with regard to the press sense of the groups.


HOLMES: Now, Nick, you've been covering this for so long now. Clearly he's playing down the impact or influence of al Nusra, which is linked to al Qaeda and others.

We see missiles being fired into Lebanon from Syria just in the last 24 hours. If weapons from the West ended up being fired into Lebanon, it's game on.

What's the reality on the ground when it comes to those groups?

WALSH: Well, (inaudible) al Nusra rose to prominence because of their prowess on the battlefield, many instilled from fighting against the Americans in Iraq, and that, of course, led the Syrian people a degree of gratitude.

They also proved efficient in managing the societies that came under their control. The FSA often bungling in terms of how they managed to manage operations.

But things have changed. (Inaudible) al Nusra have experienced a few problems in terms of their affiliations with the Islamic state of Iraq. Are they are or are they not the same group? Are they al Qaeda-linked? They've been blacklisted by the U.S.

Things have gotten more complex for them, certainly, but they are the groups people are keeping an eye out when it comes to supplying weapons from the West. Do they fall into the wrong hands?

Would the al Nusra Front, for example, decide that it had an issue with Hezbollah here in Lebanon or even Israel? People watching out for that.

But the key center here, is there a key military controller of the FSA and all of those groups inside Syria fighting for the rebels? And the answer simply is no.


MALVEAUX: Nick, let's talk about Russia's role here because you have Russia's foreign ministry slamming this move to allow these weapons to come in, saying it undermines the peace process. They're trying to get these talks under way within a couple of months or so. But Russia is also still delivering these S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Syria and they're justifying that. How do they do that? How do they explain themselves?

WALSH: Well, certainly Russians say this is all part of a longstanding deal they had and that they, today, clearly in reaction to the E.U. lifting its embargo, said they will continue with that delivery.

It's got the U.S. and Israeli officials worried. These high-tech missile defense systems that could potentially, in the unlikely event NATO intervened, cause the U.S. and other Western countries a bit of a problem there.

The Russians really, I think it's fair to say from judging how they deal with global politics, view the world as a chessboard in some ways. Syria for them isn't the be-all and end-all of their foreign policy. It's just something else they would like to discuss with the U.S. and NATO.

At this point, I think they're pushing their cards as hard as they possibly can because they don't see any reason to give up their position just yet. And the S-300 missile defense system that's delivered is just another pawn they can use to exact what they can ahead of these peace talks in Geneva, Michael.

HOLMES: Yeah, Nick, thanks so much. Nick Paton Walsh there in Beirut.

And, of course, the interesting thing, too, we've heard Israel say, if those missiles do go in, they fear they could be fired into Israel, potentially, and say that they are offensive weapons as well as defensive.

And they said, the quote coming out of Israel today is, if those missiles go in, we know what we can do.

MALVEAUX: And the tough part about what is taking place on the ground in Syria is really there is no control right now where those weapons -- where they go, who actually controls the rebel groups and whose hands they get into. That is the big issue. You can't tell.

HOLMES: It's a truism. Once those weapons go across the border into Syria, the West loses control over where they go. And one group can take them off another.

And if Israel sees those Russian missiles as a threat, and they arrive in Syria, Israel's already done air strikes into Syria. They've destroyed weapons that were bound for Hezbollah.

I mean, so many regional implications here. You've got Iraqi fighters there. You've got Hezbollah involved from Lebanon. It's such a -- it's a very important, pivotal time for that ...

MALVEAUX: And it's a proxy war.

HOLMES: It is.

MALVEAUX: I mean, it really is. You know, on the one hand, Israel, United States, and then Iran, Russia on the other.

HOLMES: It's very important and people need to keep on eye on what's going on there. Yeah.

MALVEAUX: All right, she is a wife, a mother of seven kid, but this Arizona woman, she's being held in Mexico. This is for drug smuggling.

A Mexican state official thinks she was framed. But today in court, she's going to find out whether or not she's going to be free.

HOLMES: Yeah, the latest next on AROUND THE WORLD.