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Delta Force Captures al Qaeda Suspect; Looking for Budget Deal; Weather Threatens Flights; Crash at Indy Race in Houston; Markets Down on Debt Ceiling Fears

Aired October 7, 2013 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: We're following three big stories right now. Two secret U.S. terror raids, one a success, one a big unknown, an accused terrorists in Libya with a $5 million reward on his head is captured outside his home.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Also, Navy SEALs come under heavy fire trying to nab another accused terrorist in Somalia.

Also a week after the shutdown, hear what furloughed workers and Republican leader, John Boehner, are saying next.

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

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

Let's start with that daring raid in Libya. Delta Force members snatching a most wanted terrorist abroad in daylight outside his home in Tripoli.

MALVEAUX: So right now Abu Anas al Libi is in U.S. custody. He is being held on a Navy ship. There are a team of interrogation experts who will question him. They want to find out what does he know about al Qaeda. And, of course, that could be a lot. We're going to get details about how this top secret operation played out from Nic Robertson.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a big deal, 15 years on the run, a $5 million bounty on his head. Abu Anas al Libi captured in less than a minute. The former senior al Qaeda operative picked up in a dawn raid by U.S. authorities in his native Libya.

Believed to be a mastermind of the al Qaeda attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998, he is accused of conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, murder, destruction of American buildings and government, destruction of national defense utilities at the United States.

ROBERTSON (on camera): According to al Libi's wife, who saw the takedown outside their house in the Libyan capital Tripoli, he was on his way back from prayers early Saturday morning when 10 men rushed his car. And before he could snatch his pistol from the glove box, he was overpowered. It was all over in seconds, driven away in three cars.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): U.S. officials describe it as a lawful arrest under the terms of war.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States of America will never stop in its effort to hold those accountable who conduct acts of terror and those membered of al Qaeda and other terrorism organizations literally run you can't hide.

ROBERTSON: But it may not be so simple. The Libyan government is demanding answers, calling al Libi's capture a kidnapping. Questions also about al Libi's current al Qaeda credentials, believed by this former colleague to be retired from terrorism.

NORMAN BENOTMAN, QUILLIAM FOUNDATION: I don't think al Libi is a valuable source of information because, until now, I still believe he was a very low profile.

ROBERTSON: Benotman, himself a former jihadist, says al Libi returned to Tripoli two years ago, living in plain sight of the weak Libyan authorities, at the time when al Qaeda was setting up training camps, ramping up operations in the aftermath of the overthrow of Libyan Dictator Moammar Gadhafi. According to Benotman, there is no known ties between al Libi and the 2012 U.S. consulate attack in Benghazi that killed four U.S. officials, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Nevertheless, he says, a warning for al Qaeda, the U.S. now on the offensive in Libya.

BENOTMAN: It goes against, you know, al Qaeda narrative, you know (ph)? They tried to convince people, (INAUDIBLE) Muslims and the youth (ph) America's soft, Americans, they don't go to war, Americans, they are coward. That's exactly what they keep teaching them from the last 20 (ph) years.


MALVEAUX: I want to bring in Nic, who joins us from London.

So, Nic, tell us, first of all, tell us about the interrogation process here. He is in U.S. custody. What is legally allowed in terms of trying to get information that this guy?

ROBERTSON: Well, what we understand, he'll be in the hands now aboard this U.S. Navy vessel very likely in the Mediterranean Sea, to be in the hands of the high value detention interrogation team. And they will be able to sit him down, ask him questions, without torture, and try and find out what he knows. His wife has said that he doesn't know very much. She indicates that he left al Qaeda in the '90, says (ph) absolutely he knew bin Laden, but he's not been involved in the organization. This may be a man who's been living in plain sight in Libya, who's actually prepared to sit down and open up. We don't know that. We don't know how readily he will be trusted. But that's what we expect to happen.

HOLMES: Nic, he's said to have been close to, you know, Osama bin Laden. I mean he certainly played a role in the past. Of that there seems to be little doubt. Is there any suggestion or rumblings that al Qaeda might retaliate for this sort of action by the U.S.?

ROBERTSON: Al Qaeda's been digging into Libya, specifically since Gadhafi was overthrown. Ayman al Zawahiri, the head of al Qaeda, has sent operate of Libya to establish training camps. They've been able to do that, broaden their footprint there. So, absolutely, there are operatives who are going to take this, if you will, very baldly. Whether or not this guy has had dealings with them, who he may have dealt with.

Beyond al Qaeda, there are other strong Islamist elements in the country that will want to take advantage of this. They will want to push this in the Libyan government's face, show them that the country -- they don't have control over their sovereign country. So there's a lot of different elements that many want to try to attack U.S. targets, try to weaken this current Libyan government. So we're going to see, perhaps in days, perhaps weeks, what they will try and pull off, Michael.

HOLMES: All right, Nic, thanks so much. Nic Robertson there with the latest on that.

MALVEAUX: And we told you U.S. forces grabbed al Libi, this is outside of his home, while only one person was inside the house who witnessed this. And this, of course, was his wife. And she is speaking out now.

HOLMES: Yes, she had an exclusive interview with our Jamana Korache (ph) who's - and she defends her husband. She says he used to be in al Qaeda, as Nic said, but isn't any more.


UMM ABDUL RAHMAN, ABU ANAS AL LIBI'S WIFE (through translator): He's my husband and I know him. He was not in contact with anyone since we got back to Libya. I came back before he did, by a year and a month or two. He had no contact with anyone. The accusations against him are fabricated. It is true my husband was a member of al Qaeda, but he left al Qaeda in 1996, two years before the bombings. He did not take any part in any bombings anywhere in the world.

I am sure of what I am saying. He did not take part in any bombings anywhere in the world. He participated in the jihad in Afghanistan. He was a member of al Qaeda and he was personal security for Osama bin Laden. That's the truth. But he did not take part in any operations.


MALVEAUX: She says she doesn't know who actually took her husband, but she describes them as men who looked like they were Libyans, that they spoke Arabic with Libyan accents. And you have to wonder whether or not this makes any difference at all, whether or not he was involved in the twin bombing or it's just - it's a treasure trove of information -


MALVEAUX: Dealing with Osama bin Laden back in the day, those planning days.

HOLMES: Exactly. And separate to that, Nic touched on this too, it's interesting what it says about the state of Libyan governance that a government who's ostensibly a friend of the U.S. wasn't involved in this, it would appear, weren't trusted with that information. So, you know, that -- Libya is a country that still is having a lot of problems in terms of governance.

Now, Nic was saying this suspect now faces interrogation. How is that going to play out?

MALVEAUX: Yes, because you've got all kinds of legal implications, questioning this guy while he's still in military custody without his Miranda Rights, and you've got some answers from - we're going to a former Homeland Security official, Clark Kent Irving (ph), at the half hour to help us -


MALVEAUX: Solve it all out of this. (INAUDIBLE).

HOLMES: See what's right and what's not.

All right, now we're heading into the second week of the partial government shutdown, no end in sight.

MALVEAUX: Still looming, an even bigger potential crisis. Of course, that October 17th deadline. The government is no longer going to be able to pay its bills if Congress does not raise the borrowing limit, the so-called debt ceiling.

HOLMES: Yes, and without that raise, as you probably know by now, the country could default on its loans. And that is a big deal. Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz wants to tie any increase in the debt limit to Obamacare. Now he talked with Candy Crowley on "State of the Union" and reiterated, he is dead set on killing the president's new health care law by tying it to any vote on the budget.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: The debt ceiling historically has been among the best leverage that Congress has to rein in the executives (ph).


CRUZ: Yes, Yes.

CROWLEY: OK. All right.

CRUZ: And - and -

CROWLEY: And -and - and what else?

CRUZ: But my point is that -

CROWLEY: To the attachment? CRUZ: My point is that there's great historical precedence. Since 1978, we've raised the debt ceiling 55 times. A majority of those times, 28 times, Congress has attached very specific and stringent requirements.


MALVEAUX: House Speaker John Boehner seems to be siding with Senator Ted Cruz and the Tea Party faction of the House Republican caucus. And here's what he said on ABC just this weekend.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The American people expect, in Washington, when we have a crisis like this, that the leaders will sit down and have a conversation. We're interested in having a conversation about how we open the government and how we begin to pay our bills. But it begins with a simple conversation.

And the vote are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit. And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us. The debt limit is right around the corner. The president saying, I won't negotiate. I won't have a conversation. Even though President Reagan negotiated over Democrats who controlled the Congress back then, even though President George Herbert Walker Bush had a conversation about raising the debt limit. During the Clinton administration, there were three fights over the debt limit. You and I participated in several of those. And even President Obama himself in 2011 went through a negotiation. Now he's say, nope, I'm not going to do this. I'm going to tell you what, George, the nation's credit is at risk because of the administration's refusal to sit down and have a conversation.


HOLMES: All right, so the speaker couldn't be more clear there, he doesn't have the votes on the floor to get a so-called clean budget passed that would reopen the government and, you know, lift all the tension about the debt ceiling. But New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer says that's not the case. Listen to what he told CNN this morning on "New Day."


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I'd reissue my friendly challenge to Speaker Boehner. Just put it on the floor. Let's see if we have the votes. There are 21 Republicans who have publically committed to voting for the bill that passed the Senate. So I have very little doubt that if Speaker Boehner put it on the floor it would pass. I think the real reason he doesn't put it on the floor is it would enrage the Tea Party.


MALVEAUX: So let's bring in Jim Acosta at the White House.

So, Jim, first of all, let's sort this out. I'm sure you can take a tally and figure out what the real deal is. Do they have the votes or not to pass a clean bill here, a clean resolution?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what White House officials have been saying for the last 24-hours after John Boehner made those comments on one of the Sunday talk shows. Dan Pfeiffer, a senior advisor to the president, Jay Carney, the press secretary, were both on Twitter yesterday saying, well, let's prove it, just have a vote in the House of Representatives and let's see if the votes are there.


ACOSTA: But, Suzanne, I want to give you just a little bit of news on this debt ceiling front because as you've heard over the last couple of weeks, there's been almost no movement from either side, either House Republicans or the president when it comes to raising the nation's debt ceiling, but perhaps some conciliatory language coming out of this White House this morning, Suzanne and Michael. I want to bring this to you because, according to this White House official who spoke to CNN, the White House is now open - is now negotiable when it comes to the length of the debt ceiling increase. I talked to a White House official earlier this morning who said, quote, "it is up to Congress to pass a debt limit increase and up to them for how long and when they want to deal with this again."

Why is that important, Suzanne and Michael? Because if the president and the Congress could agree on, let's say, a short-term debt limit increase, perhaps until the end of the year, that would give both sides some breathing room to work out perhaps a larger compromise that gets the country maybe a year down on the road on the debt ceiling, a year down the road on the budget, and it sort of takes away this specter of this big debt default on October 17th. So that is interesting. Maybe just a little bit of movement there. Maybe, you know, perhaps just a millimeter, but perhaps at least a sign of some conciliatory language coming out of this White House.

HOLMES: But, again, in terms of - in terms of the insecurity all of this has created, I mean isn't -- that is the classic kicking the can down the road, isn't it?

ACOSTA: That is kicking the can down the road, Michael, but they've been doing that here in Washington for some time now. But it does raise the possibility that perhaps they can kick the can a lot farther down the road if they can get this short-term debt limit increase in the short term, if they can do this sooner rather than later and not go into default on October 17th, that might get everybody some breathing room.

So, again, you know, can't - not sure as to how much we can read into all of this. I want to point out that Gene Sperling, one of the president's top economic advisers, he was at a breakfast this morning hosted by Politico and said, the era of negotiating over the debt ceiling is over. White House officials want to stress that they're not offering any kind of concessions, you know, toying with Obamacare, budget concessions, that sort of thing, in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, but they are indicating perhaps a willing to accept a short-term increase in the debt ceiling to get the country past this crisis right now.

Guys, back to you.

HOLMES: All right, Jim, thanks for that. Jim Acosta reporting there.

That is one beaten up and battered can, that's all I can say.

MALVEAUX: You know, we saw this many, many, many times.


MALVEAUX: And, you know, the thinking, the political wisdom here, the thinking is that they're going to just move it forward until after the election.

HOLMES: And just keep it going. Keep it going. Keep - keep kick -

MALVEAUX: You know, just keep short term, short term. No the way you run a government really.

HOLMES: It doesn't - it doesn't solve anything.

By the way, tonight we're going to hear what Arizona Senator John McCain thinks about the shutdown showdown. He's going to be on Piers Morgan, "Piers Morgan Live," tonight.

MALVEAUX: Here's more of what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD.

Hear why billionaire investor Warren Buffett thinks that messing with the U.S. debt ceiling is like playing with a nuclear bomb. That's right. His words.


MALVEAUX: Severe weather threatening potential flights in the Baltimore, Washington area, I want to bring in our Chad Myers.

Chad, give us an update on what do the skies look like and the ground below?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Big storms just rolled through D.C., rolling through BWI will get to Philadelphia and New York City in a matter of hours, and so planes are absolutely going to be delayed today across the northeast.

What we have now, you're sitting in sunny Dallas, and the pilot says, sorry, we can't take off right now because there's weather in D.C. It's called a ground stop.

It doesn't mean anything really on the ground in D.C. has stopped. People are still landing. People are still taking off.

The FAA doesn't want any more planes in the air maybe having to circle later in the day, so they stop you, at least for a while.

Right now about 30 minutes for D.C., 45 minutes for Baltimore and that is going to be extended far, far to north because there's a lot more weather where this came from, in fact, all the way here, right though about Laurel and Annapolis and then all the way up toward Binghamton. And that right there is Philadelphia.

And I'm going to prove it to you that there's still 5,233 planes in the sky. There are still planes and plenty of them. We call this "ants on candy."

The good news is, the airplanes aren't that big or we would never see the sunshine.

MALVEAUX: All right.

HOLMES: Oh, boy, that looks busy out there.

I'm not sure I ever want to the see that map ever again.

Thank you, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

HOLMES: Chad Myers, there.

MALVEAUX: That's a little intimidating.

HOLMES: It is. Hopefully, they're all at different heights, yeah.

MALVEAUX: Sad news -


MALVEAUX: -- a horrible crash at the Grand Prix of Houston leaving a three-time Indy 500 winner injured, and a lot of other fans hurt as well.

We'll have that after the break.


HOLMES: Now to Houston, incredible pictures, here, they come, right there, that violent crash at the Grand Prix in Houston.

A three-time Indy winner, Dario Franchitti, was seriously injured in this wreck. He did get a concussion, a fractured spine, broken ankle, but is listed in good condition. Thank goodness.

MALVEAUX: Good lord, when you see that, it's just unbelievable. It's unbelievable that he survived. it just flew into the fencing there and the debris came down on so many people.

HOLMES: Like shrapnel, yeah.


HOLMES: Listen to one eyewitness, actually.


CARL DANIEL, WITNESSED ACCIDENT: They were working on the last lap. And I knew to start filming there because I thought that this would be the most intently fought lap of the race.

So when they were coming out of the corner, the last turn, I noticed that one of the drivers was actually attempting to pass the other driver, and his right front tire actually drove up onto the left rear tire of the driver he was attempting to pass.

The car went into the air, and it started coming toward the fence. This all happened less than a second. There was no time to move. There was no time to run away.

The thought in my mind was that these were going to be the last moments that I was going to be experiencing on Earth. It was truly shocking.

The car struck the fence and literally people say they heard a bomb. It sounded like there was a bomb that went off, and the car turned into debris. It was once an entire car, then nothing but particles rained upon us.

The fence exploded in on us. It was truly shocking.


MALVEAUX: That guy is just lucky.

HOLMES: Unbelievable.

MALVEAUX: He's absolutely lucky.

HOLMES: All those small bits of debris, it's amazing more people weren't injured, but yeah, quite a few were. Fortunately, no one died in that.


And we're also taking a look at the markets here. You see the Dow at 14,000, down 81 points or so.

Analysts say that the markets are slipping because there are concerns, of course, that the U.S. is getting too close to breaching the debt ceiling.

And how big of a deal is this all of? Well, one of the most respected in the world, Warren Buffett, well, he said it's now being used as a political tool.

HOLMES: Yeah. Have a listen.


WARREN BUFFETT, CEO, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: It makes absolutely no sense to let it be used as a lever for other things. I mean, if you want to change laws on abortion or immigration or you name it, tax laws, whatever, let that being a piece of legislation that people hammer out.

But to tie it to something about whether you break the promises of the United States government to people all over the world, as well as its own citizens, just makes no sense.

So it ought to be banned as a weapon. I mean, it should be like nuclear bombs, I mean, basically too horrible to use.



HOLMES: Yeah, Richard Quest joins us now.

You know, Richard, pretty blunt criticism from a respected investor. The Dow down 80 points, half a percentage point. It was down a lot more at the start of trading.

Tell us about what kind of threat this is to the economy and to the market.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL'S "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": OK. You've really got the biggest threat at all, of course, is not the budget shenanigans at the moment.

The U.S. government will eventually reopen. A deal will be done. There will be a bounce back.

It'll take maybe -- Barclay's this morning was estimating a tenth to a quarter percent of third quarter GDP. So the debt -- the budget crisis on its own is really politics pure and simple.

It's this debt ceiling issue that keeps coming back, bedevils and is by far and away the most serious. And the reason is very, very simple to understand.

The U.S. debt is the backbone of the global economy, and there are trillions and trillions of dollars, 16 trillion, 13 trillion from the U.S. Treasury, several more trillion in various other assets and backed securities.

And that is -- they are the pillars holding up, if you like, the entire global financial system.

Now, Michael and Suzanne, if I say to you, look, I'm not going to pay back my debt to you. You'll say, thank you very much. That's the last time we lend you any money. And nobody really cares much about it.

But if the U.S. government does this, it's as if you're being told the sun isn't rising in the east. It's as if you're being told that the Earth is no longer round. It's as if you're being told that gravity no longer exists.

Some fundamental truths that the entire financial world relies upon are suddenly found to be wanting.

MALVEAUX: So in light of all of those comparisons, I mean, investors outside of the United States must be pretty concerned, pretty worried about this.

I mean, you're talking about trickling down to the Far East as well as European investors.

Have they -- have you started to see any movement, any action on their part?

HOLMES: Yeah, you look at Europe and Asia today, they're all tanking, or going down.

QUEST: Yeah, the reason that we're not seeing panic and we're not seeing manic activity is a combination of rose-colored spectacles.

Nobody believes that the U.S. government would dare do it. Nobody believes that there will be say default accident or a technical default.

Nobody -- putting it crudely, nobody believes that the parties involved could be either so naive nor stupid as to take this thing right to the edge of the cliff on the off chance it might go over.

Now, I do promise you one thing, though. If we get to the end of this week and into next, and John Boehner is still saying there will be for deal, and the White House is still saying they won't negotiate unless it's a clean -- they'll only negotiate for a clean debt ceiling, I promise you, you will start to see a reaction, and it won't be pleasant.

HOLMES: Yeah, it won't be pretty. Richard, thanks so much, Richard Quest there in New York.

MALVEAUX: We're getting pretty close.

HOLMES: The world is watching.

MALVEAUX: We're getting very close to the edge now.

HOLMES: The world is watching, yes.

MALVEAUX: An elite Delta team captures an accused terrorist in Libya, but without formal charges, what kind of interrogation can take place while he's still in U.S. military custody?

HOLMES: We'll talk to a former Homeland Security official about just that when we come back.