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Will Sochi Be Ready For 2014 Winter Games?; President Putin To Pardon Mikhail Khodorkovsky; 2013: Year of the Extremist; A Look At the Man Who Invented Modern Football

Aired December 19, 2013 - 15:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Defiant until the end, two men are convicted of killing a soldier on a London street, one kissing the Koran as he was led away. Tonight, are we witnessing a growing global problem of lone extremists?

Also this hour, the promise of a pardon, what the son of jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky told me about President Putin's offer to his dad.



ANDERSON: It should be -- can I see it? Yes. There it is.


ANDERSON: Find out why my morning was spent doing this. A hint, it has something to do with the beautiful game.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Very good evening from London. The family of the British soldier killed at a military barracks in London says that his memory will live on. They will speaking as two men were found guilty of his murder.

Now Lee Rigby was mowed down and hacked to death in broad daylight earlier this year in the neighborhood of Woolwich. Police gave a statement on behalf of the family.


PETE SPARKS, DETECTIVE INSPECTOR, METROPOLITAN POLICE: This has been the toughest times of our lives. No one should have to go through what we've been through as a family. We are satisfied that justice has been done, but unfortunately no amount of justice will bring Lee back. These people have taken him away from us forever, but his memory lives on in all of us and we will never forget him.


ANDERSON: We must warn you that the images that you are about to see are disturbing. They show the aftermath of that murder. And the two men found guilty will be sentenced in the new year. They were found guilty of Rigby's murder, but not guilty of the attempted murder of a police officer. Atika Shubert recounts the case for you.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He says he has just killed a British soldier on a London street, but Michael Adebolajo makes no effort to flee or hide his bloodied hands. Instead, he approaches a bystander with a mobile phone to explain his actions.

MICHAEL ADEBOLAJO, CONVICTED OF LEE RIGBY'S MURDER: The only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers. And this British soldier is one. It is an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

SHUBERT: This is just one of the graphic videos the family and widow of Lee Rigby have endured during the trial of 29-year-old Michael Adebolajo and his co-accused 22-year-old Michael Adebowale at London's Old Bailey.

The two men, both British citizens, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Rigby who was killed as he walked to the Woolwich military barracks on May 22.

CCTV footage captured the moment the 25-year-old father was run down by a car before his attacker set upon him with knives and a meat cleaver in full view of horrified onlooker.

"He knelt down next to the man," witness Amanda Bailey said of Adebolajo in a statement read in court. "He grabbed the young man's head and began hacking."

The jury saw videos of what authorities said were the two men pulling Rigby's body onto the road. And as seen here, people watched as the pair lingered at the scene still brandishing their bloodied weapons.

Authorities say it was only when armed police arrived that Adebolajo ran, but it was at the officers and armed with a meat cleaver. He was shot. Within seconds, Adebowale was also shot after police say he aimed a gun at them.

The weapon was later found not to be loaded.

Both men pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of a police officer. Adebolajo telling the court he only ran at police to draw fire, because he wanted to die while carrying out what he described as a military operation.

In closing, the defense argued that Adebolajo was not a psychopath. The killing of Lee Rigby, they argued, was a political act of war, better defined as terrorism or treason, but not murder.

Now during the trial, Adebolajo expressed admiration for al Qaeda, saying I love them. They are my brothers. He also showed no regret or remorse for the killing of Lee Rigby, saying that he hoped his death would bring about a change in British foreign policy.

The prosecution dismissed Adebolajo's argument that the killing of the young fusilier was an act of war telling the jury that under British law the attack can only be defined as murder.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London


ANDERSON: Well, the British government has called the attack a sickening and Barbaric murder saying violence and extremism of any kind have no place in society. UK Prime Minister David Cameron added that the whole country was united in condemnation.


DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think it also shows that we have to redouble our efforts to confront the poisonous narrative of extremism and violence that lay behind this and make sure that we do everything to beat it in our country.


ANDERSON: But this is not an issue confined to the UK, as you and I are well aware. Let's speak to Usama Hasan senior researcher at the Quilliam Foundation which calls itself the world's first counterterrorism think tank.

Sir, before we provide some context and some global context for this, your response to the verdict today?

USAMA HASAN, SENIOR RESEARCHER, QUILLIAM FOUNDATION: Well, no surprise, of course, these men clearly carried out the attack and they are clearly guilty and they can expect a very long prison sentence in January, possibly never to leave prison.

ANDERSON: Kissing the Koran on their way out of the -- as being led out? I mean, you're platforming right?

HASAN: Yeah, it's an insult to the Koran, a massive insult because these men have no understanding of the depths of the teaching of peace and love in the Koran. And they've used a very twisted interpretation as al Qaeda do. They follow the al Qaeda narrative to justify this terrorism.

ANDERSON: We'll take a look at some of the examples from this year of westerners being involved in attacks in the name of Islam. Of course, first of all, the Boston bombings. We've seen al Shabaab with the Westgate Mall in Kenya. And we've seen jihadists, or would be jihadists of course traveling across the border from southern Turkey into Syria.

If I were to say this has been a sort of jihadist year, 2013, would I be right in saying that?

HASAN: It's certainly, given events in Syria, it has become a strong year for the jihadists if you like. But they've been doing that since 9/11 of course. Since 9/11 you've had jihadist years.

And it's important to get to the bottom of this, because these arguments keep being repeated. The 7/7 bombings, this is a war. I'm a soldier. Same as these guys, soldier of god. They honestly believe that the whole world is a war zone now between Islam and everybody else. And that's a very poisonous narrative which needs to be deconstructed and taken apart.

There are unfortunately many young people who subscribe to this kind of narrative. The whole country is not quite united in condemnation as the prime minister said, because there are really these fanatics around who celebrate this attack.

ANDERSON: You, yourself went to Afghanistan way back when. You were radicalized you yourself confessed. When you say we've got to kind of, you know, put an end to this. 12 years after 9/11 we are only seeing a sort of resurgence it seems, at least in sort of lone wolf sort of individuals who are perhaps not working for, you know, classic cells but radicalized and out there causing mayhem and damage, not just in individual cases like this, but across entire areas of for example Africa.

You know, you've been there yourself. What -- how do you put a stop to this?

HASAN: Well, terrorists are not born they're made. You know, these people were once decent innocent children. And the key thing is to try to reconnect with some of their good intentions. The guys who went off to Syria, I think most of them are well intentioned. They want to protect the innocent population which has faced a brutal regime, for example. The problem is when they're then poisoned by saying this is a war zone, but equally Britain and America and most of Europe are a war zone. Go back and carry out your jihad there as well.

Al Qaeda openly say that. And that's what needs to be challenged. And also to point out that the jihadists when they won in Afghanistan in '92, in Bosnia, in Syria now they fight each other a lot. And so the young men signing up to this are really in for some real trouble.

I mean, jihadists in Syria and Somalia -- an American almost killed by al Shabaab themselves. They turned on each other.

ANDERSON: Usama, I'm fascinated to hear you say that so far as you're concerned most of those who have gone or went to Syria were well intentioned, because those aren't -- the result of their actions certainly don't look well intentioned at present. I'm fascinated to hear you say that.

Why do you say that?

HASAN: Because as you said I've been there myself. I went to Afghanistan. And looking back, I was caught up in an Afghan civil war. But after that, dozens, hundreds, thousands from Britain went to Bosnia because the Bosnian Muslims were facing genocide, ethnic cleansing. And something similar with the Syrian war. And some of them spoke on the media recently. And they clearly were thinking that they are misunderstood. And some of them said that we would never do this in Britain, which is a good sign.

We actually need to continue the dialogue with these people. And those who hold the narrative of Adebolajo, you can't be soldiers in this country. This is not a war zone. And if you are a soldier, you would have to accept that other people could kill you, for example.

We need to discuss, you know, warfare ethics, a demilitarized society, what our civilian societies are all about.

ANDERSON: Yeah, there is a school of thought, and I buy this, which says thank goodness for people like you who, you know, understand where youngsters might be coming from and are out there trying to affect some change.

Usama, how often do you speak to people here in the UK who are radicalized? And what are they telling you? And what do you say to them in order to try and sort of bring them back as it were, off that perch or pedestal.

HASAN: The fundamental issue is to reconcile their basic values of Islam, I believe are the same as the basic value of the world religions and of western civilization. You know, truth, mercy and if you're a believer, love of god.

ANDERSON: Are they listening?

HASAN: It's a difficult task because of the politics, because of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places -- Israel, Palestine. Because of all these all conflict zones, people get very emotional and very angry about when they see the suffering of their brothers around the world, just as Jews do about their brothers and others do. And we face the global challenge of a dialogue of civilizations rather than a clash of civilizations. And I think there are -- most people in the world subscribe to dialogue, I believe, and living together. And we need to just be firm and keep plugging away...

ANDERSON: It's sadly been a terrible 2013. 2014 very briefly, in a word, better or worse do you think?

HASAN: I hope better. And if we can end the Syrian war that will really help.

ANDERSON: Always a pleasure.

And the conversation continues on where you can read this opinion piece talking about how fighting extremism doesn't need to threaten freedom of speech. That and much more at

Still to come tonight, a political pardon. Vladimir Putin says he might let his political rival out of jail, but why now?

And as the crisis continues in the Central African Republic, we hear about violence in and around that war torn country.

Plus, the billion pixel cameras, it could help to decipher the mysterious Milky Way. All that coming up.


ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson for you in London.

Now Russian President Vladimir Putin says that he would pardon the jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He was once Russia's richest man and has been one of the Kremlin's fiercest critics.

Well, Putin made the announcement a day after Russia approved a sweeping new amnesty law. Kicking off, Jill Dougherty with more from Moscow.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Vladimir Putin held his annual news conference and it was a mammoth event, some 300 journalists in the hall, and lasting for more than four hours. But the real bombshell, the real news, came after the newsconference as President Putin exited that hall when he talked about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the oil magnate who was arrested on fraud charges and has been serving some 10 years, a decade in war camps and prison. And President Putin saying that he will pardon him.

Here is how he explained it.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Mikhail Khodorkovsky should have submitted an appropriate paper, an application for pardon. He did not do that. But very recently he wrote such a paper and applied to me with a request to pardon him. He has spent over 10 years in prison. This is a serious punishment. He refers to the circumstances of humanitarian character. His mother is ill and I think taking into consideration all these circumstances one could take an appropriate decision.

DOUGHERTY: President Putin also was asked about the NSE (ph) spying and Edward Snowden. And in a very interesting answer, he said he kind of envies President Obama for being able to monitor all that information. But he ended up defending to a great extent that monitoring.

PUTIN (through translator): relations to Obama following Snowden, I envy him, because he can do this and there will be nothing for him because of this. But there's nothing specific to be pleased about, or to be upset about. Everything has always been like this, first of all -- spying has always gone on since ancient times.

DOUGHERTY: I asked President Putin about moral and ethical values, it's something he's been talking a lot about recently, especially in light of the anti-homosexual propaganda law that has been criticized by human rights groups. He said he was defending it, that it was important to protect Russian society against groups, as he would argue, that are trying to force their views on society.

And he ended up saying that he is, in essence, a proud conservative.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, Moscow.


ANDERSON: Well, I spoke to Mikhail Khodorkovsky's son just last night at this time on this show. And I asked him about a possible pardon and what factors would drive such a decision. Have a listen to what he said this time last night.


PAVEL KHODORKOVSKY, MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY: I think this is frankly a face-saving technique for the Russia government ahead of the Olympics. And my father is not to be shown any leniency.

There is always in the absence of the rule of law as such in Russia, there is always a possibility that something else would come up. But as this amnesty shows, the Russian government is actually sensitive to international pressure. I see it as clear reaction to the fact that there has been international pressure after the Greenpeace activists have been in court.


ANDERSON: Well, there's certainly no word on his father at that stage last night.

Well, given today's news from Moscow I contacted Pavel by phone just before we came on air tonight. And he told me, and I quote, "doubt the veracity of the story. The stakes," he says, "are very high for Putin at president." But, he says, until he is able to speak to either his father or his dad's lawyers, he can't substantiate the Kremlin's claims.

Well, for Pavel his father's potential pardoning is directly tied to the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi. The Russian government has spent billions of dollars on the games. And President Vladimir Putin has placed his personal prestige on the line. And with the opening ceremonies less than two months away, it's clear where Moscow wants the international focus to be.

Our Amanda Davies braved the snow to find out if Sochi will be ready to play host despite -- in spite of this controversy.


AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Snow has arrived in Sochi, much to the organizer's relief. It is still early days, but after months of pictures of bare rock faces and stockpiled snow, this is a very welcome sight for the organizing committee and for those internationally.

YVES DIMIER, SPORTS MANAGER, APLINE SKI SOCHI 2014: It's good to have this kind of weather, because it makes everybody more confident and relaxed, because for such an event you know that there is a lot of pressure and it's better to have the snow now than coming in January.

DAVIES: After seven years of planning and preparation, they're very much into the final stages here. Of the 10 venues both here in the mountain cluster and by the coast, they are all complete.

DIMITRI GRIGORIEV, GENERAL MANAGER, ADLER ARENA: While we can only put our feet up when the games end and the last athlete leaves the village and goes -- and arrives safely at home, but I think we are as ready as -- as ready as we can be.

DAVIES: But organizers aren't able to get too carried away. President Putin continues to crank up the pressure. When he was here earlier this month, he announced that the new year is canceled for the workers. No one is getting a day off. As he put it, a lot has been done, but it is far from perfect.

The pavements are being laid, the flower bed set, but the biggest concern has been the arena that will host the opening and closing ceremonies, the Fisht arena. It was due to be completed in august, but is now set to be ready by the end of the year. That leaves just a month for rehearsals to take place in situ before the eyes of the world descend.

Ticket sales are going well. And the torch relay continues across Russia. It has been to the north pole, up to space, to the bottom of Lake Baikal. But the international news agenda continues to be dominated by the issues of gay rights of human rights and of security. You can guarantee, though, that everybody here is doing all they can to ensure that they will all be put to one side when the games begin on February 7.

Amanda Davies, CNN, Sochi.


ANDERSON: Well, Russia's new anti-gay legislation has also cast a cloud over the upcoming games, but in a clear message to Moscow, the U.S. has named a number of openly gay athletes, including tennis legend Billie Jean King to its delegation attending the games. She spoke to my colleague Christiane Amanpour a short while ago. And this is what she had to say about the appropriateness of any demonstrations by gay athletes in Sochi.


BILLIE JEAN KING, TENNIS LEGEND: Well, maybe it wouldn't be appropriate, but why not? I think they -- it's OK to say what you feel and think, as long as they're protected. But if you look back at the '68 Olympics with the fists and whatever, if there is something they want to...

AMANPOUR: The Black Power...

KING: ...maybe we should wave rainbow flags or something, I don't know.

There's no reason, as long as we're not being malicious, but we can show our feelings, I think that's fine. I think it's OK. But by even being present and not boycotting sends a very positive message.


ANDERSON: And of course as you see on your screen you can watch that full interview at 10:00 London time, about an hour and 40 minutes from now.

Well, the attorney for an Indian diplomat whose arrest in the U.S. sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries says the allegations against her are baseless. Devyani Khobragade's lawyer says his client was deliberately mishandled by U.S. authorities during a release. Khobragade is India's deputy consul general in New York and was arrested and stripped searched last week on charges of visa fraud related to her treatment of her housekeeper.

Well, fears are growing that the world's newest country is on the brink of civil war. South Sudan's army says rebels are gaining ground and have now captured the key town of Bor. Hundreds of people have been killed since fighting broke out on Sunday and now the president's own former deputy is calling on the army to overthrow him.

Much more on this story ahead this hour.

Meanwhile, former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman is back in North Korea. He's there to train a basketball team for an upcoming match. And he says he isn't focused on the recent political upheaval in the country.


DENNIS RODMAN, FRM. NBA STAR: It has nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with me. I mean, whatever his uncle has done and whoever done anything in North Korea, I mean, I have nothing -- I have no control over that. I mean, these things have been going on for years and years and years.

I'm just going over to enjoy a basketball game and have some fun.


ANDERSON: Dennis Rodman for you.

Well, live from London, this is Connect the World. 23 minutes past 8:00 here.

Hacking the royals. Coming up, a court in London hears new details about the phone hacking scandal, this time involving this royal couple.

A star of the modern game tells me how far football has come since the days of its founding father 150 years ago. Those stories here on CNN.


ANDERSON: This is Connect the World live from London. I'm Becky Anderson.

Well, football is the most popular sport on Earth and this is partly because of its universal rules. You can play it anywhere and it's the same game.

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the first match ever played under what is this set of common football association laws.

Well, earlier I went on the hunt for the man who way back when revolutionized the game.


ANDERSON: I've got my bearings right, it should be just over here. I think I can see it. Yes.

This is a disused cemetery in Barns (ph) in southwest London. You can see the graves in here are completely overgrown. But there's one just over here which has been renovated. It's the site where a very special man was buried on the 20th of November 1924 aged 93, Ebenezer Cobb Morley died. This is the man they called the father of the modern game of football.

A lawyer by trade with a passion for football. A young Morley started a local club in Barns (ph) in the early 1860s at a time when the game could best be described as chaotic with competing versions being played all over the country.

How significant was Ebenezer Cobb Morley's contribution to the global game of football?

GREG DYKE, CHAIRMAN, FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION: Well, he created it. I mean, up to then football was pigs blatters being kicked around between villages. And he sat down and said there ought to be some rules. So he wrote 13 laws in a little house just over there 150 years ago. And from that, we've got the international game today.l

ANDERSON: After a series of ill-tempered meetings at this public house in London, agreement was reached to form an association with one set of rules governing the game.

We've come here to Wembley Stadium, the home of English football and this little known national treasure. This is the original notebook in which Ebenezer Morley jotted down the minutes of that series of meetings that led to the modern game. And you can see here rule 1...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The maximum length of the ground shall be 200 yards. The maximum breadth shall be 100 yards.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The winner of the toss shall have the choice...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: a place kick from the center of the ground by the side losing its approach within 10 yards of the ball until it is...

ANDERSON: And from the 13 original law in Morley's handbook we get this. There are 17 laws these days which make up the basis for the FA handbook season 2013 and 2014.

Former England striker Gary Lineker says we have a lot to thank Morley for.

GARY LINEKER, FORMER ENGLAND STRIKER: Well, the actual game itself I think is in great shape. I think it's more entertaining and better to watch than it's ever been and the better facilities lots of it on television. So -- and the sport is growing and it's becoming more and more popular.

ANDERSON: FIFA's latest stats suggest 265 million people around the world enjoy having a knock, as it's known here. And hundreds and millions more are passionate supporters.

An inauspicious then may be, but the FA's grave dedication a fitting tribute to the man fans can thank for the worldwide phenomenon we now know as the beautiful game.


ANDERSON: And all over the years -- a lot has changed in terms of football fashion. Hats were all the rage at the very start, because back then headers, I'm told, didn't exist. And it wasn't only the guys, either. Here are some women in hats in the first match of the ladies football club, which was back in 1901.

By the 1930s the hats were gone, but the rest of the kit was still fairly bulky, wasn't it?

By 1970s, kits start sponsorship and the shorts have moved dramatically up the thigh.

As the 90s hit the fashion catastrophes begin with this example of -- I remember this -- Arsenal's away kit still being thought of as one of the worst kits of all time.

Still play good football, though, whatever their kit.

The latest world news headlines are just ahead. Plus, the world said never again after Rwanda. And yet could we now be witnessing the beginnings of yet another genocide in Africa?

And we'll be taking a look at a computer screen that's as light as air.

And mapping our way in the Milky Way. How the biggest world's biggest satellite camera will tell us more about our galaxy.


ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, this is CNN, the top stories this hour.

A London jury has convicted two men in the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby. Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale ran over Rigby with a car near a military barracks, then hacked him to death. Adebolajo claimed he was exacting revenge for British soldiers killing Muslims.

One of the Kremlin's biggest critics may get out of prison sooner than expected. Russian president Vladimir Putin says he plans to pardon oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He's been behind bars for ten years on tax and fraud charges.

US president Barack Obama says he would veto a new Senate proposal to propose conditional sanctions on Iran if Congress passes it now. The White House spokesman Jay Carney says the measure would undermine negotiations on preventing Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.

A big development in the international criminal case against Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta. The prosecutor in the Hague says she no longer has enough evidence to try him for crimes against humanity. She is asking for a delay after key prosecution witnesses pulled out.

And a British court has heard new details in the media phone-hacking scandal involving hacked voice mail messages from Prince William to his future wife, Kate Middleton. Erin McLaughlin with the details.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the first time we're actually hearing transcripts of voice mail messages relating to allegations that the Duchess of Cambridge, then Kate Middleton's, voice mail was hacked by the now-defunct publication "News of the World."

Today in open court, prosecutors reading transcripts of messages they say was found through the course of a police investigation, part of those transcripts, a message left for Kate by Prince William in 2006 when he was training at Sandhurst, part of military training exercises when he describes nearly being shot at by blank rounds.

In that voice mail, read openly in court, the prosecutors say that Prince William says, quote, "Hi, baby. I'm sorry, I've just gotten back in off my night navigation exercise."

He goes on to say, "I had a busy day today again. I've been running around the woods of Aldershot chasing shadows and getting horribly lost, and I walked into some other regiment's ambush, which was slightly embarrassing because I nearly got shot, not by live rounds, but by blank rounds, which would have been very embarrassing, though."

Very embarrassing for Prince William to have an intimate phone message like this read out in open court. The prosecution says that this voice mail record was followed by an actual story that appeared in an edition of "New of the World" in which in that story, they describe an incident in which Prince William was actually shot at -- or shot by blank rounds.

The prosecution saying that this shows that "The News of the World" was hacking into voice mails, using these kinds of transcripts to inform their stories.

The latest revelation of an ongoing trial of two former "News of the World" editors, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson and five former "News of the World" charged with conspiracy to intercept voice messages between 2000 and 2006, among other charges, charges that they have denied.

Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: When neighbors are -- excuse me -- killing neighbors, it becomes almost impossible to stop. That warning today from Human Rights Watch about the spiral of massacres in the Central African Republic.

United States UN ambassador known for her expertise in genocide arrived in the country today to assess the crisis firsthand. Samantha Power warns that the people there are in, and I quote, "profound danger." CNN's Nic Robertson explains how sectarian tensions recently exploded into what is a deadly rage.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a hospital in the Central African Republic, the unimaginable: children wounded in a machete attack. These and other chilling atrocities documented in the capital earlier this month by a team from Amnesty International.

JOANNA MARNIER, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: What we saw particularly on December 5th was really armed groups deliberately killing large numbers of civilians.

ROBERTSON: In Amnesty's video, these horrific images shot in the hospital's corridors. Those less fortunate than the children, evidence, the human rights group says, of war crimes.

MARNIER: And that is pretty much a classic example of a war crime, and when it's carried out systematically, as it was on December 5th, it's a crime against humanity.

ROBERTSON: During their two weeks in Bangui, Amnesty International says close to 1,000 people were killed in sectarian blood-letting. First, a predominately Christian militia, killing Muslims, followed immediately by revenge attacks by a mostly Muslim militia, killing Christians.

It's been bloody since the government was overthrown by Muslim rebels in March, causing its president to flee the country. Witnesses describing the barbarity: "He fell in the hands of thug combatants," he says. "His throat was cut. You've seen his neck, cut with a knife. Then they cut his hand, his genitalia. He was cut piece by piece, as you can see."


ROBERTSON: Nearby, Christians destroy a mosque in anger. The concern now, what began a few months ago as militia violence has infected everyone.

CHRISTIAN MUKOSA, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: We are in the situation where neighbors are killing neighbors. We move from a situation to a new development, which is horrifying, because now there are people who have been living together for years who are killing each other.

ROBERTSON: Hundreds of kilometers to the north, another charity, Human Rights Watch, were witnessing similar trauma. Tens of thousands on the run, living in fear. And this extraordinary moment --


ROBERTSON: Human Rights Watch says they found a baby, lost by fleeing parents.


ROBERTSON: But what happens next for this child and all the others is uncertain.

MARNIER: It really will depend on the actions of the international community and the proper deployment of international troops to protect civilians and stop the violence.

ROBERTSON: In a country with no army, no police, no justice, no way of ending the violence itself, that is a very big question not easily answered.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: I've got Nic with me in the studio, but before we talk, some news just coming into CNN. A rescue operation is underway at one of London's West End theaters after part of a balcony is thought to have collapsed during a show. That is according to the British Press Association.

The theater currently showing "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." People are reported trapped, according to eyewitnesses. Police say some people have been injured.

It is only moments away from where we are in this bureau, so we will - - and are dispatching staff to that site and we will get you more details as we get them, but a rescue operation underway after part of a balcony in the Apollo Theater in central London is thought o have collapsed during a performance. More on that as we get it.

All right, let's get you up to date on what's going on in the Central African Republic and, indeed, elsewhere. Nic is here with us now. We were just listening to your report before the breaking news there, Nic. What does the international community need to do to prevent what some are calling potential genocide here?

ROBERTSON: Act fast. That's the consensus here, is get troops in on the ground. Samantha Power, US ambassador to the United Nations there today, she said that this was important because unless you fix these sectarian problems quickly where neighbors are now killing neighbors, were people are no longer getting along, unless you solve those problems quickly, it's very hard to unravel this.

And she also said something very important as well, which is a message for those involved: they will be held accountable. This is what she said.


SAMANTHA POWER, US AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS (via telephone): I don't think we even yet -- neither we, government, nor organizations like Amnesty International, yet even know the full scale of what has happened here in recent days, weeks, and months. That will be a picture that emerges gradually.

But I certainly agree that what appear to be crimes against humanity have been committed. They've been committed not only by the so-called Seleka militia, but also by these Christian self-defense forces.


ROBERTSON: So one of the things the United States is doing here is helping troops like Burundian troops, who are part of the African Union force there, get in faster, give them some training, flying them in there. That is -- so it's all about speed. That's what the international community, the consensus is emerging.

ANDERSON: All right, Nic. Moving away from the Central African Republic, of course, let's not forget there's also a very dangerous crisis, viewers and you will be well aware of this, I'm sure, in neighboring South Sudan.

This man, former vice president Riek Machar is now calling on the army to overthrow the new president, Salva Kiir. His rebels have been battling government forces since Sunday. The conflict has killed some 450 people and forced, we are told, as many as 100,000 others to flee their homes.

Rights groups there warning attacks are based on ethnicity and they are on the rise. It's not just the CAR. We've seen violence, of course, in neighboring South Sudan.

ROBERTSON: We are. And although these countries are obviously right next to each other, perhaps the significant difference is in CAR we're talking about sectarian violence, and in South Sudan, we're talking about ethnic violence, the Nuer versus the Dinka people.

And the real concern there is that this could really ignite into some sort of long-held inter-ethnic differences that stretch back as far as the sort of colonial era there.

And it's not just South Sudan. These issues in the region there have their roots linked to the economy. South Sudan, a new country, struggle for power in that country.

But one of the issues that's affecting the way people view the problem in Central African Republic right now is that part of the stabilizing forces are from Chad, and people there believe that these are Muslims from Chad and they're interfering in Central African Republic.

You have instability further north in Libya, for example. You have, obviously, the remnants of those conflicts that were going on in Darfur very close by. You have the Congo close by as well.

ANDERSON: And you've got the map up here, and look where Mali is, for example.

ROBERTSON: Exactly. Instability. And perhaps if you can -- and they're all different. But if you can find a common thread here, a lot of it has to do with the economy. For example, again, Central Africa Republic, the traders there viewed as being -- the traders there quite often Muslims. A little economically more advantaged than the Christians, who are --


ANDERSON: Might I suggest that there is a phrase that comes to mind here, 'twas ever thus?

ROBERTSON: 'Twas ever thus. And look, during the colonial era, to go back to South Sudan, the colonial era occupiers, if you will, at the time, us -- the Europeans -- were exploiting their differences, the ethnic differences between the Dinka and the Nuer --


ROBERTSON: -- to help hold power. But -- and again, there are differences between these people, not just ethnicity, but historically, the Nuer tend to be the cattle herders.

ANDERSON: Just because we understand it doesn't mean that we're in a position to do anything about it or make these things better, though --


ROBERTSON: But -- but --

ANDERSON: -- we don't seem to read our history books, Nic, do we?

ROBERTSON: In a way, we don't. But in the Central African Republic, of course, doing something about it is, again, because they cannot help themselves, there they don't have a government, the international community doing something is important.

And you could ask the same in Libya, where there's instability. You could ask the same in Mali, where the French recently sent troops in again. People will look to the international community, whether it's the African Union or larger, the UN.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Nic, always a pleasure. Recently also back from Libya. Thank you.

I want to get you bang-up-to-date, viewers, on the breaking news that we've had into CNN in the last few minutes. A rescue operation underway at one of London's West End theaters. It is a very busy time, pre the festive break here, of course. The theaters are very busy.

Part of a balcony is thought to have collapsed during a show at the Apollo Theater. That is, at least, according to the British Press Association. The theater is currently showing "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." People are reported trapped, according to eyewitnesses. Police say they are aware of a number of casualties, but have no further details at this stage.

We will get more on that as we get it into CNN London. Live from London, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Still ahead, a computer screen that's as light as air, quite literally. The touchscreen that requires no touching at all.

And on a mission to understand our galaxy. How a new satellite can tell us more about where we live. That after this.


ANDERSON: News just into CNN. A rescue operation -- if you've been listening, you'll have known this -- underway at one of London's West End theaters after part of a balcony is thought to have collapsed during a show. We're getting this information at present from the British Press Association. This is a Google map, which gives you a sense of where that theater is in the West End.

The theater currently showing "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." People are reported trapped, according to eyewitnesses.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police have said, "Police were called at approximately 20:15," that is about 32 minutes ago, "on Thursday, the 19th of December, to reports of a ceiling collapse at the Apollo Theater Shaftesbury Avenue West One.

"Officers are on the scene," they say, "with the London fire brigade and London ambulance service. We are aware of a number of casualties," they say, "but we have no further details at this early stage." Be sure, of course, that we will bring you bang-up-to-date as we get information here into CNN.

From SmartPhones to screens, many of us are familiar with the thrills of touchscreen technology. Now, designers in Russia are working on the interface of the future, a screen where you touch nothing at all. It's all about the air, apparently. Check this out.


MAX KAMANIN, CEO AND FOUNDER, DISPLAIR: My name is Max Kamanin. I'm CEO and founder of Displair. My invention is an air screen of the future. This is where the only air screen in the world that can be manipulated by your hands right in the air.

MAX SOKOLOV, SENIOR RESEARCH ENGINEER, DISPLAIR: All you need for Displair is the water. It's a container with water. In this spot, this forms that water into dry mist.

KAMANIN (through translator): Displair has many functions that make it totally unique. For example, it's always clean. Every single other multi-touch display in the world is left with fingerprints and dirt after use.

SOKOLOV: We want to help our clients and partners to create a magical experience, to amaze and attract people. For example, retail, corporate events, meetings.

VLADIMIR PIROJKOV, DESIGNER: I'm Vladimir Pirojkov, Russian industrial designer, working most of the time on heavy industrial things, like spacecraft and airplanes, but I have a chance to design the Olympic torch for Saatchi Olympic Games.

Whoa! It's an interesting object. You created something completely different. For me, for example, big question, for what? It's wow. The very first effect, wow, it's very important. So, I'm practically ready to pay. But how to make this thing obvious and necessary so everyone can say, wow, I need it?

Design-wise, shape-wise, it's no problem. It's really good. Next thing is, think about color of the object, because if you are empathizing white piece, you pay much more attention to the piece itself, not to the screen. You have to show the screen. The device itself, nobody wants to know.

Looks quite impressive. I like that. The question is, at the moment, I have light going towards me, it's disturbing me from there. If you don't find a way to get rid of this light, which I think is kind of difficult --

KAMANIN (through translator): It doesn't matter that Displair si not totally perfect yet, we still need to improve it a lot. We know for sure that in the future, all the displays will be like Displair.

PIROJKOV: If you have something functional and desirable in one package, it's great. That doesn't often happen. And in our country, we need to do this twice as intensive. I love these guys, because they're not afraid. The more young kids like this we have around, the better it will be for all of us.


ANDERSON: Right. We've been bringing you some breaking news to CNN about an incident which is actually just down the road from this bureau as we speak. A rescue operation underway at this, one of London's West End theaters after part of the balcony is thought to have collapsed during a show there. The theater currently showing "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time."

People are reported trapped, according to eyewitnesses, and in a statement, the Met Police said, and I can quote them here, "Police were called at approximately 20:15," about 40 or so minutes ago, "on Thursday, 19th of December, to reports of a ceiling collapse," as they describe it, "at the Apollo Theater Shaftesbury Avenue West One.

"Officers are on the scene with the London fire brigade and London ambulance service in attendance. We are aware of a number of casualties, we've got no further details at this stage." I promise you that, obviously, our journalists are on this story for you, and we are looking to get Erin McLaughlin up. I think I've got her now.

Eyewitnesses at least say they saw people being escorted out of the building covered in dust and debris, and I know that Erin has just got back to the bureau here. And Erin, what do we know at this point?

MCLAUGHLIN: Hi, Becky. Well, the London Metropolitan police tweeting at this point that they are responding to an incident that happened in London's West End, which is a very busy -- it's a very busy time during the year, at the Apollo Theater.

According to the Press Association, a rescue operation is underway after a part of a balcony at the Apollo Theater is said to have collapsed during a performance. The Press Association saying that police -- people have been trapped inside, according to eyewitnesses, Becky.

We're still getting details as to exactly what happened, the events that unfolded there in the West End. As I said, it's a very busy time period during the Christmas time period in London, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, and let's just bring up a Google map, for many of our viewers will have spent time in London, I'm sure. For those who have and perhaps haven't, let's just bring that Google map up again, Erin, and just describe to us where this theater is.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this is in the West End, it's not far from the bureau here in Soho in London, and every year, millions of shoppers pour through London's West End to take advantage of some of London's premier shopping. It's also a hub for Broadway -- a host of various theater shows that take place here during the evening time.

So it appears that this happened, again, during a very busy time with London's theater shows currently underway.


MCLAUGHLIN: The Press Association saying this took place during a performance of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, frightening stuff for anybody, and for those who are there, we hope that they're OK. Erin, I'm going to let you go, because I know you need to get more on this story for our viewers.

Whilst you do, let me just read you what we have got again here. London police called to the Apollo Theater in central London, they say, because of reports of a ceiling that collapsed.

The Met says on Thursday on its official Twitter account, "London emergency crews are on the scene" and police say they have reports of multiple casualties, they say. They cannot provide any further details.

This happened, as far as we can tell, about 45 minutes or so ago, now. We will get more on this story, of course, in the next hours to come. This theater on Shaftesbury Avenue, the play, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" on there.

And these theaters are, many of them, fairly old. No suggestions or allegations being made as to why this ceiling has reportedly -- or balcony, as some are describing it, reportedly collapsed. But certainly what we are hearing is that there are reports of multiple casualties.

No further details as we know them at present from the London Police, but certainly the Met tweeting on their official account that they have been called to the Apollo Theater, pictured here, because of reports of what they describe as a ceiling collapsing. And London emergency crews, as you would expect, on the scene.

And just to remind you and recap through what is this Google Earth here, Shaftesbury Avenue is right in the center of London, up from Piccadilly Circus, right in the center of London. This is the heart of theater land, an incredibly busy time this time of year, just up from the shopping district.

Let's just recap for you there. The Apollo Theater where there has been an incident this evening. We'll get more on that as we get it. If you are an eyewitnesses and you are watching CNN now or using one of the CNN branded sites on one of your devices, do please get in touch with us at, of course, is our specific site for the show. You can always tweet me @BeckyCNN. That is @BeckyCNN. BeckyCNN is where you'll find us on Instagram. You can watch my daily preview of the show. I'm not sure we did one because I think we were a little busy today, but I promise you, they're normally there.

I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD, thank you for watching. More on the breaking news at the top of the hour. For now, we'll take a very short break. Back after.