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Al Qaeda's Al Libi Captured; Shutdown Drags on, Debt Ceiling Looms; Dismantling Syria's Chemical Weapons; Deadly Cairo Clashes

Aired October 7, 2013 - 05:00   ET


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now that 1998 U.S. embassy bombing is the threat that links us to the operation this weekend over in Somalia, deep in the heart of the al Qaeda-linked militant group al Shabaab. There the Navy SEALs Team Six say they were going after a man, we only know his first name known as Ikmana (ph). He was implicated in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings but the 2002 bombings here in Kenya.

Now, that operation was a little less successful. U.S. officials have said that Navy SEALs team six came under sustained gunfire, and judge that prudent to withdraw. So they cannot confirm to us that they did indeed get their man.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And al Libi was caught in broad daylight. So was he still active in al Qaeda?

ELBAGIR: Well, al Libi has, for a while now, said he has moved away from that organization, that he has renounced, if you will, any kind of militant sympathies but the reality remains that he is someone who knows an awful lot. That position by the side of Osama bin Laden for all of those years, it just gives you how trusted he was, how deep in the inner circle of al Qaeda he was.

And as we are still kind of picking up the trail, the trail of that militant hub of those 1998 bombings and 2002 bombings, we are seeing that trail reach as far as the Westgate Mall killings here in Kenya just two weeks ago. So any and every information that they can get from him is going to be really valuable, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Nima Elbagir, live from Nairobi, Kenya -- thank you very much.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Back here at home. One crisis widening and another looming on Capitol Hill. We are now if you can believe it, entering week two of a government shutdown.

John Boehner and President Obama both refusing to budge. The House speaker insisting no deal will be struck without concessions from the White House.

In a week and a half, the U.S. will hit the debt ceiling with no one offering up a plan to solve that crisis either. That one is really serious.

Here is Brianna Keilar. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ten days away from a possible economic disaster, the White House and the House Republicans are as far apart as they have been.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We are not going to pass a clean debt limit increase.

KEILAR: House Republicans continue to demand concessions as President Obama still refuses to negotiate on the nation's borrowing limit. The United States is set to default on October 17th if Congress didn't raise the debt ceiling.

JACK LEW, TREASURY SECRETARY: I'm telling you that on the 17th, we run out of our ability to borrow and Congress is playing with fire.

KEILAR: In a rare Sunday show interview, House Speaker John Boehner shifted, backing away from defunding or delaying Obamacare as an add- on to increasing the debt ceiling or funding the government. Instead, he wants an entitlement reform.

BOEHNER: My goal is to have a serious conversation about those things that are driving the deficit and driving the debt up.

KEILAR: As the government remains partially shut down for a seventh day, the White House wants a vote to fund the government, no strings attached. Again, rebuffed by Republicans.

BOEHNER: There are not the votes in the House to pass a clean C.R.

KEILAR: But President Obama, bolstered by many objective observers, questioned that assertion in an interview with "The Associated Press", saying, quote, "We know there are enough members in the House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans, who are prepared to vote to reopen the government today. The only thing that is keeping that from happening is Speaker Boehner has made a decision that he is going to hold out to see if he can get additional concessions from us."

The stalemate in Washington becoming good fodder for late night. "Saturday Night Live" featured guest host Miley Cyrus as Michele Bachmann celebrating the shutdown with Speaker Boehner in this risque parody.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


SAMBOLIN: Our thanks to Brianna.

And right now in Syria, a team is starting to dismantle that country's chemical weapons.

CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom is keeping an eye on that story for us from Beirut. So, Mohammed, I was reading that they are actually using some interesting objects in order to try to start the process of containing the arsenal. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. This is the first phase of this process. It started yesterday in Syria and what we are told from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is that some of the equipment that is being used to destroy or disable a range of items includes cutting torches and angle grinders and what is destroyed is missile warheads and aerial bombs.

They have not gotten to stockpiles of any nerve agents or sarin or mustard gas. That will come later in this process. But this is difficult, dangerous, and volatile work.

Now, Syrian personnel have so far taken the lead on this. They are being supervised and overseen by personnel from the OPCW, as well as personnel from the U.N. These teams got in there this past Tuesday and so far, there's been a lot of surprise that this process has already started and the Syrians have actually been complying with the order to do this.

We heard from Secretary of State John Kerry, he's at an economic summit in Indonesia. He said earlier in the day that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should be praised and given credit for having complied with the U.N. Security Council resolution which was passed in late September. You'll remember before that, the U.S. and Russia had agreed on a range of terms, had negotiated a deal by which Syria would turn over their chemical stockpiles and start destroying them. Right now, really a lot of surprise, a lot of people cautiously optimistic that this process has started, many people thinking it started sooner than they thought or hoped that it would.

But we should remember, this is a long and laborious process. It will be going until at least the middle of 2014 -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: I know a lot of concerns about the ongoing civil war there. You know, everybody having the access that was necessary in order to pull this off. Are there any problems with that?

JAMJOOM: Well, right now, we have not heard about any problems. Clearly, if the U.N. or OPCW felt that their access was being hindered, we expect that we would be hearing about that. There's still a lot of concern that President Bashar al Assad might do something to delay the process.

There's a lot of skepticism in the Arab Street, countries like Lebanon. I'm here in Beirut. A lot of people skeptical that President Bashar al Assad will actually follow through on this. But, so far, people are pleasantly surprised.

We should remind our viewers, though, that a lot of the rebels in Syria, a lot of the opposition and including a brigadier general who defected from the Syrian military who told Christiane Amanpour just a few days ago they believe that President al-Assad will not really comply. They believe that he will hide his chemical stockpiles, that he will play games with the investigators.

And there are those are saying they believe that President al-Assad is actually trying to get his chemical weaponry out of Syria and into neighboring countries in Lebanon, where I am, or other neighboring countries like Iraq -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Mohammed Jamjoom, live for us in Beirut, thank you for that.

BERMAN: Pretty shocking breach of security to tell you about, involving a 9-year-old boy at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. Officials say a child, a run-away, somehow made it past security checkpoints and gate agents last Thursday and on to a Delta flight to Las Vegas. The boy apparently wasn't even questioned until the plane landed in Nevada.


TERRY TRIPLER, AIR TRAVEL EXPERT, THEPLANETRULES.COM: All of this since 911, has been to keep us safer and it has, but still we have gaping holes and this was a perfect example of it.


BERMAN: So, the boy is being flown back to Minnesota. Both Delta Airlines and the TSA say they are investigating the security breakdown.

SAMBOLIN: You know, I read a report out of a local newspaper there that says this little boy went over to baggage claim or the carousel, he grabbed the bag and ordered restaurant and ordered food and said had he to go to the restroom and just abandoned the bag. They call him a very clever boy.

BERMAN: You think? Wow.

SAMBOLIN: Police say around six bikers were involved in the beating of a New York SUV driver.

Disturbing video made national headlines. A couple and their 2-year- old daughter surrounded by a swarm of bikers. Two more men have been charged this weekend, including the man seen smashing his helmet through the SUV window. Another man accused of stomping on the driver's head. Police say the investigation is not close to being over.

BERMAN: A spectacular horrifying crash in the final lap of Sunday's Grand Prix in Houston. Three-time Indy winner Dario Franchitti just took flight there after some contact. His car slammed into the protective fence and scattering debris into the grand stand and bystanders were hurt, 13 people.

Franchitti, I supposed you can say, estranged wife Ashley Judd tweeted out thank you to supporters. She wrote, "Thank you for your prayers. I have clothes on my back and the dogs, but that's all we need." Franchitti suffered two broken vertebrae and a concussion and a broken fractured ankle. I got to say it's amazing that's all he suffered. He's in fair condition this morning. Three spectators as we said, were taken to the hospital. All of them reportedly doing well. Look at that, just lunged into the fence right there.

Broken ankle and vertebra problems is what he suffered.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, a brush fire that started at Camp Pendleton in California has now scorched over 2,500 acres. Several housing units of the base have been evacuated as well. That blaze started at a training area at the base Saturday afternoon and well over 300 firefighters are now battling it. They are hoping to have it under control at some point tomorrow.

BERMAN: Let's get the full forecast now and find out what the weather is going to across the country.

SAMBOLIN: What a fine idea that is.

BERMAN: Karen Maginnis live from the CNN Center in Atlanta this morning.

Karen, what's it look like today?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning to both of you, John and Zoraida.

We are looking at the Santa Ana winds dying down. They were dying down last night. Not completely. We're still looking at some gusty winds. The humidity is supposed to be coming up so that would be good news. And by Wednesday, there is going to be some pacific moisture that moves on in.

Frontal system heads toward the Eastern Seaboard, so if you're flying out of JFK or you're going to Newark, watch out because this afternoon you might anticipate lengthy delays as a frontal system makes its way into this vicinity. Right now, from Atlanta to Charleston, West Virginia, to Pittsburgh.

But this frontal system is moving fairly quickly and as it does, that will reduce visibility and the rain could come down fairly heavily. Could see a couple of inches right along this frontal boundary that is tapping that moisture associated with what used to be tropical storm Karen. It is just kind of being amalgamation right along this frontal system as it sweeps out, high pressure moves in behind it and those temperatures that have felt very summer like over the last several days, those temperatures in the 70s and 80s.

Well, look at New York. We will expect readings in the 60s as we go into Wednesday -- Zoraida, John.

BERMAN: Good week ahead of us. Thank you for that. Appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: Now to a real-life open for a fictional character. A chemistry teacher-turned-meth kingpin Walter White met his end in last week's breaking bad finale. "The Albuquerque Journal" commemorated his fictional demise in a real obit submitted by a local super fan.

The acclaimed series was set and filmed in the Duke City. The paper reports a 40 percent increase in single copy sale. Can you believe it? With fans inside Albuquerque and out saying it sums up their feelings about Walter White. He will be greatly missed.

BERMAN: I guess if you're wondering what would happen in the last episode of "Breaking Bad" and you didn't know. Now, you know, apparently, Walter White is dead. So sorry about that, folks.

Coming up, the streets of Cairo stained with more blood. Dozens killed in weekend clashes with the military. The question everyone is asking is Egypt on the verge of another major uprising?

SAMBOLIN: And prison guards in Pennsylvania accused of setting up a fight club behind bars. With inmates forced to do battle.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

Dozens dead and scores more wounded Sunday. Bloodshed returning to the streets of Egypt. These deadly clashes pitting supporters of the deposed President Mohammed Morsy against the militant-backed government. This all raises new fears about Egypt's ability to keep the peace.

CNN's Reza Sayah has more.


REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The day began peacefully but quickly devolved into dueling demonstrations ending with violent beatings and deadly clashes that put into sharp focus a nation deeply divided.

On one side, supporters of the military backed interim government who despise the Muslim Brotherhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are terrorists! They are proving this every day.

SAYAH: On the other side, Brotherhood supporters beaten and battered, but determined to keep their movement alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will fight for this.

SAYAH: About mid-morning, thousands of government supporters marched the iconic Tahrir Square to celebrate the 40 anniversary of Egypt's war against Israel and to praise Egypt's top general, Abdul Fatah al- Sisi, the man who toppled Egypt's democratically elected former president, Mohamed Morsy, and his Muslim Brotherhood-led government.

UNIDENTIFIED MAEL: General al-Sisi is a wise person. He loves this country and this country loves him.

SAYAH: When Brotherhood backers announced they, too, were coming to Tahrir Square, the stage was set for confrontation.

(on camera): All right. This is the first standoff in the day that we've seen and it doesn't get more dramatic than this. Behind me is Tahrir Square. This is a line people have set up and a couple of blocks down you find supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted President Mohamed Morsy and they are staring down police who are staring them down right back.

OK. It looks like security forces have decided to move them out. A few seconds ago, we heard the fire, tear gas, and off they went racing towards the protesters, chasing them away.

(voice-over): Brotherhood supporters never made it to Tahrir Square. Instead, they marched through surrounding neighborhoods, repeatedly clashing with police. The sound of automatic gunfire echoed through Cairo Streets. Dozens of Brotherhood supporters were killed. Who was doing the shoot was unclear.

On (INAUDIBLE), just a few blocks from Tahrir Square, our cameras captured the cost of being caught by Egyptian police. Police often accused by human rights groups of using excessive force. It was a glimpse of a political conflict where the government and its supporters say they are not backing down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not accept this. And we will not allow this.

SAYAH: And where Brotherhood supporters say they are ready to die for their cause.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Until my last breath.

SAYAH: Reza Sayah, CNN, Cairo.


SAMBOLIN: Our thanks to Reza.

Four gunmen have been named in that horrific terror attack that left 67 dead inside a Kenyan mall. As new and chilling surveillance footage surfaces of the brazen killers, Kenya police now say four to six terrorists were involved, not 10 to 15 as they first thought. All are now thought to have been killed by police. Al Shabaab, a Somalia- based militant group has claimed responsibility there.

BERMAN: Murder charges for the father of a Michigan infant who went missing two years ago, baby Kate Phillips, adorable. Just 4 months old when she disappeared. Now, her father 23-year-old Shawn Phillips (ph) is charged in her death. Phillips was arraigned Friday after police say new evidence emerged. The little girl's body has not been found. SAMBOLIN: An alleged fight club inside a Pennsylvania prison. Three York County correction officers charged with arranging fights between the inmates. Investigators say two were targeted made to fight each other, and in some cases, the guards. All three officers have been placed on unpaid leave. And coming up, gas prices plunging. We will let you know how low they might go.

BERMAN: And Twitter is preparing for its big IPO. Analysts say the firm could be worth up to $40 billion. That's with a "B."


BERMAN: So how is that possible if the company can't even turn a profit?


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

Alison Kosik appreciates a good sense of humor and charm. She joins us this morning with a look at "Money Time."

SAMBOLIN: It has been accolade after accolade for John Berman.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Whoever doesn't follow John Berman on Twitter, the guy is really funny.

BERMAN: You're the best. You're a terrific reporter, Alison Kosik. Thank you.

KOSIK: The check is in the mail.

Let's about money news. You know, as we begin week two of the government shutdown, investors around the world are making it clear they don't like it.

Stock futures sharply lower this morning as little progress seem to be made over the weekend on ending the stalemate. Investors have been giving us thumb's down to Washington, the shutdown, of course, there since it started and even before it began. The Dow lost 186 points last week. And in the past two weeks, the Dow is up 379 points.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, he continues to pound the table over the shutdown and potential situation that would be much worse -- a default by the U.S.

On CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY," Lew said the U.S. will exhaust all extraordinary measures to stay below the $17 trillion debt limit by October 17th but all bets are off -- once we are past that date, that's when the government won't have enough cash to pay its bills.


JACK LEW, TREASURY SECRETARY: The 17th, we run out of our ability to fire. Congress is playing with fire if they don't extend the debt limit. We have a very short window of time before those scenarios start to be played out.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: Would you consider paying the interest on the U.S. debt and, therefore, not defaulting? As you've --

LEW: Candy, if the United States government for the first time in its history chooses not to pay its bills on time, we will be in default.


KOSIK: One piece of good news for workers affected by the government shutdown. United Technologies, that's the sixth biggest government contractor, won't furlough as many as 4,000 workers. The maker of Blackhawk helicopters will keep them on the job after the Pentagon said it would bring back 90 percent of its 350,000 defense workers who had been furloughed when the shutdown began. They included military inspectors who will now be back at work in United Technology factories, allowing the company's workers to get back to their jobs, but you can't forget, thousands of other workers are just sitting around today not working because Washington can't get its act together.

BERMAN: And apparently not ready to talk at all. Alison, thanks for being here. Appreciate it.

KOSIK: Sure.

BERMAN: Coming up: U.S. Special Forces pulling off two stunning raids over the weekend. A top al Qaeda operative wanted by the FBI is now in U.S. custody. What that -- will that slow down the terror group or will it help step up their attacks? Nic Robertson joins us next to discuss this.

SAMBOLIN: And Russian President Vladimir Putin light the Olympic flame and then it went out. Is that a bad omen for the Olympic Games?



BERMAN: Bringing terrorists to justice. U.S. Special Forces conducting a pair of raids in Africa this weekend. Top terror target apprehended and the dramatic details on these strikes.


LEW: We've never gotten to the point where the United States government has operated without the ability to (AUDIO GAP).


SAMBOLIN: It is dangerous. It is reckless. The administration lashing out at Congress. The debt ceiling battle is just beginning as the government shutdown continues now into its second week.