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The Inspiring Story of Malala; Iranian Insider on Talks with West; A True Story of Piracy on the High Seas; Imagine a World

Aired October 11, 2013 - 14:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to the special weekend edition of our program.

Tonight, stories of hope across the world, from the tribal frontier of Pakistan, to the Somali seas, to the diplomatic halls of power. We begin with my conversation with the bravest girl in the world, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban exactly a year ago for publicly defying them and insisting on her right and the right of all girls to be educated.

Malala was on her way back from school when the Taliban singled her out and shot her in the head. The bullet pierced her eye socket, narrowly missing her brain. But it resulted in severe and dangerous swelling. She was rushed to a Pakistani hospital and later flown to England. The doctors had to remove part of her skull and replace it with a titanium plate.

Incredibly, she survived. But what's more incredible, perhaps, Malala has not let the attack silence her. It's been a whirlwind year for the 16- year-old girl from the Swat Valley. Her strong voice on girls' education earned her a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, which in fact was awarded on Friday to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. They are at work now in Syria.

She's been invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen of England and she's been praised by celebrities from Madonna to Angelina. She spent her 16th birthday this summer delivering an impassioned speech at the United Nations. And her book, "I Am Malala," has just been published.

I sat down with her and her strongest supporter, her own father, on their trip to New York. The full special report airs Monday on this program, but here's a sneak peek.


AMANPOUR: Let me take you back to that incredible day a year ago.

Do you remember, Malala, what happened to you on that bus when somebody asked your friends, who is Malala?


He did not give me time to answer his question. And my friend told me, my best friend, Waniba (ph), that at that time we just squeezed my hand. He just pushed it with force. And you do not say anything. And then in the next few seconds, he fired two bullets. One bullet hit me, the left side of my forehead, just above here. And it ran down to my neck and into my shoulder.

And I think I was hit by only one bullet. And it also affected my eardrum, so now I have problem in listening as well. It also cut down my facial nerve.

But still, if I look at it, it's a miracle. My brain is spared. My spinal cord is saved. Everything is fine. I am alive and I still can talk. I can smile. So I thank God for that.

AMANPOUR: You still have huge dreams. They didn't take that away from you.

YOUSAFZAI: They only can shoot a body. But they cannot shoot my dreams. And I think my dreams are living.


YOUSAFZAI: The important thing, the important thing is that they shot me because they wanted to tell me that we want to kill and if -- stop your campaign, but it is a mistake, the biggest mistake.

They ensured me and they told me (inaudible) that even death is supporting me, that even death does not want to kill me.


YOUSAFZAI: And now I'm not afraid of death. First, I might have been, but now I'm totally not afraid of death. And when I look at the support of people, then I'm sure that this cause is never going to die. And we will see that a day will come, every time, with a girl or a boy, with a black or white, with a Christian or Muslim, he or she will be going to school, Inshallah.



AMANPOUR: An incredible girl who's already put her life on the line for peace through education.

Now as we said, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons did win this year's Nobel Peace Prize. And its members are now working hard to disarm Syria's massive stockpile of chemical weapons.

But perhaps an even bigger issue is Iran's nuclear program and how to ensure that it doesn't produce a nuclear bomb. All eyes, therefore, will be on a new round of negotiations that start in Geneva this week. And maybe it'll be the last best diplomatic effort at a solution, when the new Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, meets the United States and other Western powers to try to finally hammer out a deal that all sides can live with.

The new hope lies in the more conciliatory tone being sounded by Iran and the United States, in fact, since the election of a more moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, and a flurry of public diplomacy that happened right here in New York two weeks ago, when he said that Iran is prepared to engage in substantive talks.

And the president has backing from the important power centers in Iran, including the Supreme Leader and the conservative-dominated Parliament.

Now on the eve of these new talks, the speaker of Iran's Majlis, Ali Larijani, told me that he is cautiously optimistic. He's himself a former nuclear negotiator, and Mr. Larijani says that Iran is serious about proving that it is not after a nuclear weapon.


AMANPOUR: Dr. Larijani, welcome to the program. Thanks for joining me from Geneva. Just recently, you, the Parliament, the Majlis in Iran, approved of President Rouhani's trip to the United States and his initial diplomacy and the plan to try to engage and resolve the crisis over the Iranian nuclear program.

Are you sure all of the consensus in Iran backs this diplomacy?

ALI ARDASHIR LARIJANI, CHAIRMAN, PARLIAMENT OF IRAN (through translator): I think Mr. Rouhani, because of his long experience in diplomacy and because he has been active in different sectors, is very familiar with this issue. And his behavior and his attitude and also the - - all his ministers, they enjoy high capabilities to put Iranian diplomacy on the right track.

Therefore, they have the support of the Iranian Parliament. And he had a visit to New York. And we approved whatever he did there.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, Mr. Larijani, how long does Mr. Rouhani have for these negotiations?

What sort of timeframe are you looking at, is the president looking at, to complete these negotiations over the nuclear program?

LARIJANI (through translator): I think considering the fact that he has that experience in this matter, Iran's nuclear program can be resolved within a short period of time, provided that both sides are serious about it. From our side, I mean, from Iran's side, I can say that we are ready.

I mean, if the Americans and other countries say that Iran should not develop a nuclear bomb or should not move towards that, then we can clearly show and prove that we have no such intention. So it can be resolved in a very short period of time.

But if they want to bargain with us or if they have ulterior motives and they want -- are following other objectives, or maybe they want -- they want to somehow convince Iran to abandon its nuclear program, then it is going to take a long time.

So it all depends on their will.

AMANPOUR: So can I ask you then, you have said that -- and the president has said that you're willing to show more transparency and to convince the world that you are, as you say, not going for a nuclear weapon.

In return for that, and to get this diplomacy started, what are you specifically looking for in sanctions relief or in pledges to remove and start removing sanctions?

LARIJANI (through translator): I think these are the specifics, the details; the important thing is that Iran insists on having access to the peaceful nuclear technology. And Iran is not going to change its mind. They claim that Iran may have the intention to move towards developing nuclear weapons. But we can assure them that we are not moving towards that direction.

But if they want to bargain with us or do other things, then that's a different story. I think the Geneva talks are going to be a very important step.

AMANPOUR: And, of course, they start again next week and Mr. Zarif will be there. The U.S. secretary of state, who has been charged with leading the American side of the negotiations, has said that the P5+1 is now waiting for Iran to disclose to the world how it will, in fact, convince the world that the program is peaceful.

Are you ready to do that? Are you ready to go beyond the existing disclosures and add transparency?

LARIJANI (through translator): If they have any -- they think that something is ambiguous, then they have to tell us about it. So there are two things here: if we want to make this more complicated, if we want to achieve other results by this, then I think the negotiations will be -- will not be successful, will be futile.

But if it is what you are saying now, I mean, transparency, one, transparency, they want to be made sure, then Iran has no problem.

AMANPOUR: And finally, Mr. Larijani, you yourself used to be a nuclear negotiator. This is obviously a very critical time, both for Iran and for the West regarding this issue.

Are you optimistic that diplomacy has a chance this time?

LARIJANI (through translator): I think the atmosphere entails that I be optimistic. But the important thing is to see what happens in practice, because now everything is about the media.

But right now I have no reason to be pessimistic and I hope that the Geneva talks will be real serious and substantive talks. I'm telling you that Iran will be very serious about the talks. And Iran really wants to resolve the matter.

There are other important issues in the matter -- in the region, especially with regards to terrorism in Afghanistan and Syria and Iraq. Serious problems are there. So we have to try to resolve those important issues and mobilize our efforts on them.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Larijani, Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, thank you very much for joining me.

LARIJANI (through translator): Wish all the best.


AMANPOUR: "I have no reason to be pessimistic" -- an important signal from a top Iranian leader.

And after a break, I'll sit down with the actor who won an Oscar for his portrayal of the supremely optimistic shrimp boat owner, Forrest Gump, the man who said that life was like a box of chocolates, remember?

Tom Hanks has a new ship and a new film. It's a harrowing true-life account of modern piracy on Somali's high seas, setting sail with "Captain Phillips" when we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

With an in-depth look now at a story of hope and survival, the real- life events behind the gripping new film, "Captain Phillips." It's a high- wire, high tension thriller on the high seas, hostage taking by Somali pirates, starring none other than Tom Hanks and directed by Paul Greengrass, who's a master of the suspense thriller.

They joined me in the studio as the film opened around the globe.

In 2009, four armed men forced their way aboard the U.S. container ship, Maersk Alabama.

The captain, an American named Richard Phillips, was taken hostage by the pirates, leaving his crew and his ship safely behind. The ensuing five-day ordeal and its extraordinary denouement came to life in edge-of- your-seat detail in "Captain Phillips," the movie.

Both Tom Hanks and Paul Greengrass are amazingly accomplished at telling the dramatic human stories behind real-life events. Between them, they've covered everything from "Bloody Sunday" to "Saving Private Ryan," to "United 93" and "Apollo 13."


AMANPOUR: Tom Hanks, welcome.

Paul Greengrass, welcome to the program.

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Look at us; we're on the Christiane Amanpour (inaudible).


AMANPOUR: You are indeed, with a phenomenal film, I mean phenomenal film, full of suspense, full of foreboding, right from the very start.

I'm going to play one of the clips, and that is when the Somali pirates start to come on board and when you first meet the lead pirate.


HANKS, "CAPTAIN PHILLIPS": We've got a problem.

BARKHAD ABDI, ACTOR, "MUSE": Come on, come on.

"PHILLIPS": We pushed the ship too hard, we're off the grid. That means the computer's now offline.

"MUSE": Captain.

"PHILLIPS": The ship's broken.

"MUSE": Captain, no one gets hurt if you don't play no game.

"PHILLIPS": Now it's -- the ship's broken. We had to go --

"MUSE": Nobody gets hurt if --


Look at me.


"MUSE": Look at me.


"MUSE": I'm the captain now.

(From captions): Watch this ugly one.


HANKS: Paul had kept us separate. We had never met those actors before. We were in Malta; we saw people that looked like they could be Somalis on the periphery of the staging areas, and sometimes often see they were on the horizon working in the skiffs.

AMANPOUR: So you kept them away, Paul.

But where did you find them? Where did you find these Somali actors?

GREENGRASS: Well, it was the big challenge of the film, really. I knew that we had to cast Somali actors to play these parts because no obviously Somali acting community in Los Angeles or New York. So we went to Minneapolis, where the main Somali community in the U.S. is.

And to be honest, I thought it was going to be very, very hard to find four actors that could play opposite Tom; that's no small task.

But when we got there, it was something like 700 or 800 people turned up for the first casting. There were more quality actors than you could shake a stick at.

AMANPOUR: You talked obviously a lot to the real Captain Phillips. What sort of struck you about what he'd done? I mean, he saved his ship. He saved his crew. He'd allowed himself to be hostage.

HANKS: You know, the name of his book is "A Captain's Duty," and I think the word "duty" there is what -- there is one guy who was responsible for that entire ship, and that's him; whether for good or for bad, he was the captain and he's the guy who has to solve every problem that comes that way.

And in this case, there was -- the primary motive was get these guys off this ship.

But he would never use the word "hero" in regard to himself. He says, "I was waiting for the heroes to show up."

AMANPOUR: Apparently a lot of this piracy is because their fishing waters have been depleted.

How does that strike you?

HANKS: Well, it's one of the real tragedies that go on, that is one of the -- that contributes to one of the problems. It was commercial fishing from other nations have come in, with big trawlers and they have swept the place clean of -- I think some of the marine life is coming back now, oddly enough, because of piracy.


GREENGRASS: That was -- I think in the '80s and '90s, that was the response, you know, overfishing, toxic dumping, fishing communities -- very, very quickly what you -- what you saw was criminal bands get in there and the godfathers start organizing it because it becomes what it is today, which is hugely lucrative international organized crime.

I think the idea that these are just fishermen, one of the things I think that was quite successful in the film is we show how that actually is not true, that that may have been once true; now you're talking about international organized crime with its roots way away from the coast of Somalia. They lie in Kenya and Nairobi, in Europe and in some cases in the U.S.

AMANPOUR: Tom, you've spent so much of your career doing things that are really in the news, really political, a lot of them, really cultural, just things that matter, not least when you did "Philadelphia," all those years ago, 20 years ago, I think it was -- at least that's when you got the Oscar.


HANKS: Yes, yes, yes, 20 years ago --

AMANPOUR: Yes, 1993; it was at the height of the AIDS crisis and who knew how this was all going to work out.

Could you imagine then that now gay marriage is legalized in many states, that now you can be openly gay and serve in the United States military, that now being gay is a much more acceptable thing here in the United States?

HANKS: I could. And part of that is just my basic -- what's the word I'm looking for -- positive attitude as far as where we are as Americans. We always seem to be moving forward on some sort of righteous front. We always seem to becoming a better version of ourselves.

And with "Philadelphia," what was happening there, it was -- it was the beginning of the public acceptance of the debate. It was no longer gay strangers who danced in clubs in urban centers that were dying of the disease. It was the bank tellers at our bank and it was the people that we went to church to and it was people that we went to high school with.

And that meant to me at the time that I said this is just an example of America constantly redefines itself and the way we always redefine ourselves for the better, despite all the problems.

AMANPOUR: Well, you won the Oscar for that film in 1993 and you, in your speech, talked about many gay men and women who had inspired you.

You also went onto say this:


HANKS: I wish my babies could have the same sort of teacher, the same sort of friends.

And there lies my dilemma here tonight. I know that my work in this case is magnified by the fact that the streets of heaven are too crowded with angels. We know their names. They number a thousand for each one of the red ribbons that we wear here tonight. They finally rest in the warm embrace of the gracious creator of us all.


HANKS: Well, I'm sorry; that's the way I feel.

AMANPOUR: No, but you were emotional then. And even now you tell me you believe in the glass half-full and the inexorable progress --

HANKS: And that word correctly (inaudible).

AMANPOUR: No, really.

But then did you? Did you think then because you were so worried and sad about it back then?

HANKS: Well, that's a very emotional moment that plays itself out in front of billions of people.

But I did feel that the time would come where a common sense would prevail and we'd be able to understand our brothers' dilemma, more than we care about our own narrow sense of some brand of law that is beyond that, it would be made by men.

AMANPOUR: Tom Hanks, thank you very much indeed. Good luck.

HANKS: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Paul Greengrass, thank you very much. It's a wonderful film.

HANKS: Thanks.



AMANPOUR: It's been 20 years since the United States military disaster depicted in another pulse-pounding movie "Black Hawk Down." We'll look at how far and not so far Somalia has come since then, when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, just as "Captain Phillips" offers a gripping view of Somalia's recent turbulent history, an earlier and equally powerful film, "Black Hawk Down," portrayed the nightmare of a U.S. military raid gone terribly wrong on the streets of Mogadishu.

Imagine a world where the fiefdom of pirates and terrorists has come a long way and yet still has a long way to go.

Twenty years ago, the renegade warlord, Mohamed Farrah Aidid, who we later learn was backed by an emerging Al Qaeda then, held sway over the country and the raid was meant to end his reign of terror.

As the world knows, it ended in disaster with young Somalis dancing on the wreckage of a Black Hawk helicopter. I was there in Mogadishu after that incident.


AMANPOUR: Three years after that bloody battle between Americans forces and General Aidid's troops, all that remains is this scavenged wreckage of a helicopter and the ruins of a U.S. policy that aimed to restore hope, but for the Clinton administration, ended in humiliation, defeat and retreat.


AMANPOUR: America took a long time to recover from that damage to its pride and to its foreign policy. And yet in the intervening decades, the grip of the warlords has given way to a constitution and a parliamentary government and its first female foreign minister, Fawzia Yusuf Adam, a recent guest on this program.

And while piracy has diminished, Al-Shabaab, as we've seen, remains a threat. And Somalia remains a nation in progress.

And that's it for tonight's program. Meantime, you can always contact us on our website, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.