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Two Turkish Pilots Kidnapped in Lebanon; Creative Credit Card Application; Terrorists Use the Internet; Patient Becomes Surgeon

Aired August 9, 2013 - 12:30   ET




Nobody at the moment knows the fate of two airline pilots who were kidnapped today from an airline bus by men with guns.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: This happened in Beirut, Lebanon. A pilot and co-pilot, both working for Turkish Airlines, they were on a bus between the Beirut airport and their hotel when witnesses say several gunmen stopped the bus, ran on board and grabbed the pilots.

HOLMES: Let's go straight to Beirut, live. Mohammed Jamjoom is standing there.

Mohammed, you know, this could be a very complex story to tell. You have got Turkish pilots in Beirut, the kidnappers likely to be worried about what's happening in Syria.

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, absolutely, Michael, this is a complicated tale to tell and one that's been hard to untangle.

This was a particularly audacious kidnapping that happened today in Beirut. It happened around 3:00 a.m. local time earlier this morning.

Now the Lebanese interior minister said that an investigation is ongoing. He's been in touch with the Turkish ambassador to Lebanon. Everybody's trying to make sure that these pilots can be released as quickly and as safely as possible.

But here's where it gets complicated. Many people here believe that this happened as a direct result of the fall out from the Syrian civil war.

Now here is why. The reason for this is because many people think that this kidnapping today was in retaliation for the kidnapping of Lebanese Shiite pilgrims that happened in Syria last year.

We've heard from the Lebanese state media apparatus that there's a group that claimed responsible that's saying they're demanding the release of these Shiite Lebanese pilgrims from Syria and then they will release these Turkish pilots.

The reason that Turkish citizens would be considered targets here in Lebanon is because the Turks have supported the Syrian rebels.

Here in Lebanon, this country is divided when it comes to the Syrian civil war, the sectarian lines here really mirroring the sectarian lines in Syria and because of that there's anger toward the Turks from some quarters here in Lebanon.


HOLMES: All intertwined across borders.

Mohammed Jamjoom, thanks so much. And, of course, there's doubt about what the government can do.

MALVEAUX: Whether or not they have any influence at all, right?

HOLMES: Exactly.


HOLMES: On that specific group, anyway. Yeah.

MALVEAUX: And we're also watching this. This is something they tell you always. Read the fine print, right?

HOLMES: I love this story.

MALVEAUX; Number one rule when you sign something, but one Russian man turns it to his advantage. He actually turns it on its head with a credit card and a bank that actually fails to read the fine print.

We'll have that, next.

HOLMES: Got you.


MALVEAUX: All right, read the fine print. That's the warning that's drilled in our heads all the time, right? Read the fine print.

HOLMES: Exactly. Whenever you're doing a contract, getting something legal, read the fine print.

But guess what? A Russian bank didn't follow that basic rule when it received a credit card application from a man who got creative with the paperwork.

MALVEAUX: So the customer, here's what he did. He scratched out all the fees, interest rates, zero percent, gave him unlimited credit, something we would love, right, and then the bank issues him the card anyway.

So we want to bring in Richard Quest from New York to talk about how this even happened in the first place.

HOLMES: Speaking of somebody with unlimited credit, Richard.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL'S "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": Can you lend me a fiver for the weekend?

HOLMES: Yeah, heard that before.

QUEST: It's really simple. Dmitry Agarkov is 42 and Tinkoff Credit sends him an application for a credit card. So far, so good. You and I have had many of those sent to us in the mail.

What he did was scanned it. He changed the terms and conditions. As you said, Suzanne, he took off the interest rate. He gave himself no credit limit and he took off fees and charges. He sent it back and they gave him a credit card.

Now here's the point. It's not just -- by sending him the card, they effectively accepted his counteroffer. Their document to him was the offer. He sends back a counteroffer and they accept it.

The judge basically said they didn't read the small print. He'd made a counteroffer to them. They'd accepted it.

He has to pay back the money, obviously, he spent. What he doesn't have to pay back, of course, is any of the charges or the interest.

Now here is just an example of the sort of document that you and I might face as we actually -- this is from a well known bank here in the United States. Keep reading, Michael. Keep reading.

HOLMES: You missed a bit.

MALVEAUX: OK, but, Richard, the question is, can we all do this? Can we get away with it? Seriously?

HOLMES: Yes. In theory, of course, you can. Of course, you can. You just scratch out the bit you don't like. You put in the bit you want and you send it back.

If, what, of course, will happen, I guarantee you, is the bank will refuse it. The bank will refuse it.

And there will be a term in this that says no employee can change the terms and conditions anyway. But it's a straightforward contractual question.

The danger here, of course, from the bank's point of view is that by accident they accept it. I guarantee you, guarantee you, Chase, Citi, BOA, Wells Fargo --

HOLMES: I bet he guarantees us that because he's tried.

QUEST: -- would not accept it. And there's a clause on page 463, subsection 7 that basically says you can't alter it.

HOLMES: You would have read it, wouldn't you?

QUEST: I tried it once, but then suddenly life became too short. The weekend was upon us.

And anyway, hey, as long as the bank, as long as the machine still accepts it, what more do you want?

HOLMES: Ah, there you go.

MALVEAUX: You've still got to read the fine print.

HOLMES: A man with unlimited credit, Richard Quest, always a pleasure.

MALVEAUX: We got to see him.

QUEST: Where's the wallet?

MALVEAUX: Drinks on Richard.

HOLMES: All right, beers on you next week when you're back here in Atlanta, Richard.

MALVEAUX: Nice to see you, Richard.

These folks, they cannot use the phone to communicate because they're afraid of being tracked down. We're talking about al Qaeda leaders.

When they need to talk it's a very complicated chain of connections, so we're talking a look at how these terrorists communicate in this high-tech world.


HOLMES: Al Qaeda as an organization proves pretty good at covering its tracks, generally speaking, especially when it comes to how the terrorist communicate with each other. Just look at Osama bin Laden.

MALVEAUX: Yes, and analysts are saying that these terror groups, they're online, they're plugged in and some are even using Internet resources that we use every day. Tom Foreman's got the details.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When al Qaeda leaders in far flung corners of the earth need to talk with each other, they don't pick up the phone. Security analysts say they jump on to the Internet using a complicated chain of commuter connections.

FOREMAN (on camera): Although no one knows for sure, this is how they believe it works. The parties meet in a private internet chat room where they are extremely cautious, even shrouding their written communications with each other in encryption software, making it difficult to read what anyone is saying in one of those short meetings. Beyond that, they may even send proxies, deputies in a sense, to actually conduct the conversations so that at any given moment, none of the leaders can actually be connected to each other or to whatever is being orchestrated.

But it goes even further. Instruction from top al Qaeda operatives are believed to sometimes be sent by trusted couriers to Internet cafes where they log on to public computers, they encrypt the message, as they type it, and then they send it through an e-mail account set up specifically for that one message and no other. And minutes later, the whole trail disappears.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Some security analysts say this combination of technology, social media sites and Internet anonymity is the backbone of terrorist communications. And Laith Alkhouri, with Flashpoint Global Partners, says it works remarkably well.

LAITH ALKHOURI, FLASHPOINT GLOBAL PARTNERS: I think the -- they allow such groups to flourish and they certainly give the means for possible lone wolves to communicate with actual group and offer themselves as potential terrorists.

FOREMAN: Need proof? Prosecutors say the men accused of the Boston bombings used jihadi websites for inspiration and bomb building advice. Security analysts say Anwar al-Awlaki exchanged e-mails with the accused Ft. Hood shooter, Nidal Hasan. And Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is believed to have used a Hotmail account.

ALKHOURI: Al Qaeda started with one website a decade ago. And today we have, you know, at least a dozen al Qaeda web forms that host thousands of individuals.

FOREMAN: A few years back, when the hunt for Osama bin Laden was still raging, some intelligence forces believed al Qaeda was even developing its own intranet that was electronically hidden behind some Jihadi websites and accessible only to a few people. Whether they succeed or such a system still exists, like much of their communication structure, remained shrouded in mystery.

Tom Forman, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: Fascinating story.

All right, well a dad and his son found living deep in the jungle for 40 years.

MALVEAUX: Why they were actually living in isolation. That's up next.


HOLMES: Here's some numbers now to get your head around. For Japan, the country's debt has now topped one quadrillion yen. That's "q" as in quadrillion.

MALVEAUX: So, see how many numbers there are. Unbelievable. It sounds a little bit better when you calculate it, however, in U.S. terms because then you're looking at, oh, a mere $10.5 trillion U.S. dollars. Still, a heck of a lot of money. Japan has more debt as a percentage of its gross domestic product than any other developed nation. Big numbers.

HOLMES: All right, now an incredible story out of Vietnam. We're talking about a father and son who emerged after living in isolation in the jungle for 40 years.

MALVEAUX: This is according to multiple reports there. You see the father took his infant son and escaped into the jungle after his wife and two other children were killed by a bomb or landmine. Now, the father and the son, they've been living in a tree house 20 feet above the ground. They were finally coaxed out of that tree house this week. I wonder how they're doing.

HOLMES: Dr. Silke Niederhaus is a transplant surgeon who has a very special bond with her patients.

MALVEAUX: She is a transplant patient herself. And our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces us to today's "Human Factor."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a transplant surgeon, Silke Niederhaus has transplanted more than 100 kidneys. It's what she's wanted to do for as long as she can remember.

SILKE NIEDERHAUS: I kind of was interested in being a doctor at age four.

GUPTA: By the time she was eight, Niederhaus, who grew up in Zendelvegan (ph), Germany, was in the fight for her life.

NIEDERHAUS: I started having blood in my urine and we couldn't figure out why. It came on so acutely all of a sudden.

GUPTA: She was diagnosed with a relatively common kidney disease that caused severe inflammation.

NIEDERHAUS: By the time I was 11, in March, I had to start on dialysis.

GUPTA: Nine months later, she received a new kidney. And it worked immediately, at first.

NIEDERHAUS: About a week later, I had my first rejection episode.

GUPTA: And then a second. And a third. All of it within a month.

NIEDERHAUS: They said, this kidney's had so many rejections, it will probably never work.

GUPTA: On average, a donor kidney lasts about 10 years and doctors gave her kidney a 50/50 chance to last one. But Niederhaus was not about to give up. She became the first child to try an experimental drug. And it worked.

NIEDERHAUS: And I had something that I wanted to do, you know, and that was to be a transplant surgeon.

GUPTA: After high school, Niederhaus and her family moved to the United States so she could go to medical school and pursue that dream. Now she shares her own story with her patients. NIEDERHAUS: The kidney was absolutely not working at a few points in time, and I walked away with 24 years later excellent kidney function.

GUPTA: That allowed her to fulfill another dream, which was to have a baby with her husband John. Transplant patients typically have high risk pregnancies. She did develop anemia and high blood pressure. But in June, Noah was born. He was early due to complications, but he was healthy.

NIEDERHAUS: If you've had a goal all your life and then something gets in your way, you know, set yourself a goal and work towards that goal and then you'll get there. And then you have something that doesn't let you give up because you have something to look forward to beyond that.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


MALVEAUX: An amazing story. I love that story.

HOLMES: It is. Yes, wonderful.

MALVEAUX: Incredible.

Well, this is another amazing story. He worked for eight U.S. presidents from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan. We are talking about his life being the inspiration for the movie "The Butler."

HOLMES: You're a lucky lady because you get to speak direct to Lee Daniels, actor Forest Whitaker next hour to talk about Jean Allen (ph) and the new film. I'm sticking around. I've got to watch that.

MALVEAUX: That's next hour.


MALVEAUX: Incredible photos we wanted to show you right now. Take a look at these remarkable pictures. This is from Israel's Negev desert. You're looking - this is a glow in the dark scorpion.


MALVEAUX: Look at that. That's really amazing. He is yellow by day. Glows under ultraviolet light, though. Isn't that cool?

HOLMES: Yes. The lesson is, carry an ultraviolet light if you're walking across the Negev desert. Scientists are trying to figure out why some scorpions do this. in the meantime, these photographs have you looking at them in a whole new way.

MALVEAUX: Yes, that's pretty cool.

HOLMES: That will do it for me. Thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD. Have a good weekend, won't you?

MALVEAUX: Yes, you too. Your weekend starts right now, yes?

HOLMES: Yours does not. Carry on.

MALVEAUX: No. I will carry on for another hour. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.