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Journalist Held Captive by ISIS for 10 Months; Novelist and Gun Owner Calls for Saner Gun Laws; Family of ISIS Executioner Speaks Out; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired March 29, 2016 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: an exclusive from Brussels. The family of a notorious Belgian jihadist, who's promising more
attacks, speaks to CNN.
And live from Paris, former ISIS hostage and journalist, Nicolas Henin.
And gun violence right here in the United States. The Pulitzer Prize- winning novelist with his own amazing story about owning a gun.
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.
One week after the deadly terror attacks in Brussels, ISIS is vowing more in Turkey. A man who has his own personal tale of horrors in dealing with
ISIS is French journalist Nicolas Henin. He spent 10 months in an underground cell in 2013. He was held captive by ISIS with three other
Among them, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, who were beheaded shortly after Henin was released. He spent a decade covering the rise of the Islamic
State in Iraq and Syria. And he's turned his own rare insight into a book, "Jihad Academy: Looking at the Myths Surrounding Islamic Extremism." And
he joins me now from Paris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Nicolas Henin, welcome to the program.
NICOLAS HENIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Good evening.
AMANPOUR: You have written about this incredible phenomenon from a real bird's-eye view. You also talk about the myth of ISIS.
What is it that you've observed that we're getting wrong?
HENIN: Well, I think that the main problem with us, dealing with ISIS, is that we consider that ISIS is the evil. Oh, yes, for sure; I'm not going
to advocate for ISIS and say that it is not evil. The problem is, it's only a symptom of the evil.
The devil in the region (INAUDIBLE) it is the mass murders or the killings or the political violence that is pushing a huge amount of people in the
Middle East, as well as in our societies, into extremism.
I'm going to dig down a little bit more in a moment. But first, you tweeted, just a couple of hours after seeing the picture that was released
on CCTV of the three airport suspects, you tweeted that you recognized one of them, one of the brothers, Ibrahim al Bakraoui.
How did you know who he was?
HENIN: Just because I'm monitoring what is going on with terrorists across Europe and I'm just looking at the picture released by the police services,
looking after people. And I tried to remember their faces.
And I recognized him as soon as this picture was released. I mean, it was obvious. For the other, I had some trouble. I think I recognized also
Najim Laachraoui but I wasn't sure at the beginning. But regarding Ibrahim el Bakraoui, which was one of the brothers at the Brussels airport, it was
AMANPOUR: You know, it is a chillingly calm image of these three people who intend to commit mass murder, basically.
What is it that they are trying to say by their pictures and by what they're doing?
What do you interpret from those pictures?
HENIN: Well, I don't -- I'm not sure that they were conscious that they were filmed at that moment and that they were trying to send a specific
message when they had been captured by this CCTV cameras.
The point is that it is, yes, indeed, very impressive to see how calm they are and knowing that they are just about to not only meet their own death
but also cause dozens of deaths around.
AMANPOUR: Tell me a little bit about your experience because you say that you are --
AMANPOUR: -- still on social media occasionally with even some of those who held you hostage.
What do they say to you, what are you gleaming from what --
HENIN: Well, people trying to -- not them specifically but people from their group.
Yes, I mean, they still have fun with me. They still sometimes play with me and try to have a chat. Well, that usually isn't very interesting.
AMANPOUR: So nothing very interesting you glean from them in terms of plans, in terms of, you know, the big picture?
HENIN: Not -- oh, no, for sure.
No, they are more like trying to do propaganda work, you know?
AMANPOUR: Well, they are --
HENIN: -- trying to justify their deeds, just to try to convince me that they're ready to -- that they're right to commit attacks like the ones they
did last week in Brussels, for instance.
AMANPOUR: Well, they are threatening more and we have a report, which we'll play later on after your interview, of more threats from a prominent
You, though, say, that the idea of the West, for instance, President Hollande, David Cameron, President Obama, et cetera, labeling this a war
and reacting with military is -- you don't think that's effective. Or maybe it's exactly what they want.
You're saying you've got to keep calm and act and respond in a different way.
What do you mean exactly?
HENIN: Exactly. What they want is to bring us, to drag us on their terrain, to bring us to this war that they want. Because what they want is
just an escalation of violence.
And actually, I'm just sorry to see that, to a huge extent, what I see from my administration, from our European developments is that they are now
adopting a very martial warding, talking a lot about war but mostly to hide fillers of their security and intelligence services.
Basically, they failed to prevent the attack that happened last year in Paris or, more recently, in Brussels. And to hide a bit this filler, they
are not saying, like, oh, you will see, we're going to go for a bigger intervention, hit them hard.
AMANPOUR: You know, there's another interesting report after a lot of sort of investigation that has been released, saying that it's no surprise that
the biggest attacks that we've seen recently are in the sort of francophone countries, that the common link is French.
And they talk about France having, quote, "an aggressively secular policy" to its various minorities.
Can you talk a little bit about that?
Do you agree with that?
HENIN: I'm not sure. I think that, to some extent, it is by chance or by bad chance, bad luck, that we are -- we have been hit recently. I think
that there are cells ready to operate and, well, pretty much every single European -- Western European country sent hundreds or more than thousands
of jihadis to Syria and Iraq in the last years.
We will have -- it's just a question of proportion. Even if, let's say, 1 percent, 2 percent or 5 percent of them come back with hostile intentions,
well, already it means that we have to deal with dozens of them. And, of course, the more we send people there, the more we will have to deal with
this question of returning (ph).
AMANPOUR: There's also this particular study by foreign affairs, links high unemployment to the rise of Sunni militancy. So, you know, there are
all these attempts to figure out what it is that creates this. And you've called it a political phenomenon rather than a religious phenomenon.
In your book, what do you think is the key --
HENIN: It's a little bit of both, actually. It has to do with politics -- it has to do with politics -- radicalization is just the result of a very
complex phenomenon. It has to do with politics. It has to do with sociology, because people who get radicalized mostly come from poor
It has to do, also, with religion. It has to do with a crisis inside Islam. So it's wrong to say it's only this or it's only that. It's just a
mixture of everything that produced this terrible phenomenon.
And finally, you know, there are more and more reports coming out. Look, we all reported about law enforcement in the West, talking about blowback
and what would happen with all these, you know, Westerners going there and coming back to create mayhem.
Well, now we're seeing it and now it turns out that this was an ISIS plan, as far as two years ago --
AMANPOUR: -- back in 2014.
I mean, does that jibe with what you know in terms of your investigation, that long ago, they had been planning to send operatives west, not just to
enlarge and consolidate their caliphate on the ground?
And why do they do that?
They do that to recruit. I mean an attack is not -- does not aim only at killing people; it aims at recruiting even more people. And this is why
the security answer after an attack is important, for sure, or to prevent an attack is even more important.
But the key in -- when you have to fight terrorism, the key is the narrative. Even more than killing militants, you have to kill the
narrative. And this is where we are selling at the moment, especially in France.
AMANPOUR: Nicolas Henin, thank you so much for joining us, the author of "Jihad Academy."
AMANPOUR: Now here in America, it's often said that more people are killed by guns than by terrorists. And next I speak to the Pulitzer Prize-winning
author, Richard Ford, who wrote "Independence Day." And he has the storyteller's take on what he calls an ever-more thuggish America. That is
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
America's presidential campaign has been such a circus that arguments about the size of candidates' hands and the quality of their wives are pushing
out debate about major issues like guns, for instance.
Just this week, authorities announced that they've arrested more than 1,000 people since February in a crackdown against gangs involved in gun
My next guest owns a gun but he says it is high time for saner gun laws. And he's the Pulitzer prize-winning novelist, Richard Ford. Perhaps his
best-known books are "Independence Day" and "Canada" and he joins me now from Waterville in Maine.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, Mr. Ford.
RICHARD FORD, AUTHOR AND GUN OWNER: Glad to get to talk to you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: You know, you've put out a very provocative statement, calling the NRA and what they do a sort of domestic terrorism. Tell me what you --
and why you decided to write this really interesting article at this time.
FORD: Well, what I meant by the NRA being an organ of domestic terrorism is this: that if you can do something to prevent the kind of calamities
that occurred in Newtown and you know how to do it and if, for ideological reasons, you don't do it, then it seems to me that you are tacitly making
the deaths and lives of small children collateral damage. And that, to me, means terrorism.
AMANPOUR: So you also have talked about the -- any culture's myth of their origin, origin myth. And obviously the very, very clear one in the United
States is the Second Amendment. I just want to play, because we mentioned how, you know, all of this is playing in the campaign.
This is what Trump says about guns and the right to bear them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our Second Amendment is under siege. We are going to be so strong with our Second Amendment.
We're not letting our Second Amendment go. So we're going to be very, very strong. That's another one. They're chipping, chipping, chipping.
TRUMP: They're always chipping away.
Now they're looking at bullets. Maybe we can't do the guns, we'll do the bullets. Not going to happen, folks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FORD: He's got a way with words, doesn't he?
AMANPOUR: What do you say to the types like Donald Trump and others that, you know, if everybody wields a gun, then everybody will be safe and only
the bad guys will be killed and that whole idea?
That is one of their main statements, isn't it?
FORD: Well, yes.
I mean, yes, they are not they, OK?
There is the NRA and then there's Donald Trump and then there's Ted Cruz and then there's Mr. Kasich and there's Ms. Clinton. And they all have a
slightly different view of these things.
The thought that everybody should have a gun and carry it into public meetings and into college classrooms and into church is, to me, simply
terrifying. It has the effect of sort of a circular firing squad, to me. I mean, I don't feel safer.
I'm on a college campus this afternoon. I don't feel safer if I thought the young man who brought me over here was armed. So I think it's just --
it's not even a myth. It's just untrue that everybody will be safer if everybody's armed.
Everybody shooting in all different directions?
I don't know. It doesn't make sense to me.
AMANPOUR: It certainly doesn't make sense to a lot of people. And in fact, in fact, there are college campuses, as you've written about, which
have allowed certain students to conceal carry weapons. And I believe that you were going to be giving a speech or a presentation at one of these
Texas campuses and you refused for that reason.
Outline how that went.
FORD: Well, I just was asked to come down to Texas A&M University, which is in Texas, gun central, sort of, and asked to give a talk. And then not
long after that, I read in "The New York Times" that the Texas legislature had passed a piece of legislation saying that all of age, which is to say
21 years or older, students on public universities in Texas, can carry guns into classrooms, into public meetings, wherever the hell they want to.
And I just thought to me, I just, first of all, don't feel safe under situations like that.
And second of all, I don't want to be -- I don't want to be a sponsor of those kinds of pieces of legislation, because I think they're nuts,
frankly. And I think that the legislation itself is nuts. And I think the people who pass such legislation need help, really.
AMANPOUR: And play it just a little bit forward because we've also been documenting this whole idea of safe spaces on campus, the idea that, you
know, people get angry about what a teacher might say or a special guest might say and feel that they have the right to deny that person the ability
to speak on campus.
You know, it doesn't -- it seems like it could lead to very violent ends if these guns are allowed to be held in these kinds of circumstances.
FORD: Does to me, too. Does to me too. I mean, colleges and universities are places of free inquiry. Colleges and universities are places where you
disagree with people vigorously but not violently, where better is achieved through some sort of colloquy.
And if guns are involved in that, somebody's going to be intimidated, somebody's going to be injured. I just don't think -- I just don't think
And this is from a man who owns guns. I mean, I own sporting weapons. And so I -- it's not as if I'm wanting to erase guns from the American culture.
I don't necessarily want to erase guns from the American culture. I just want saner uses and saner laws.
AMANPOUR: Well, you bring that up and I was obviously going to ask you, because it's a remarkable story that you have. You do own guns, you are a
hunter, I believe your wife is as well. And you did have a conceal carry permit at one point. And you were held up by an armed teenager.
Tell me, did you have a gun at that time?
How might it have been different?
FORD: No. Well, I didn't have a gun, thank goodness, because, he was -- as you say, he was a teenager, 16 years old, rather inept at mugging. And
the way it all transpired, it took him a while to sort of get his gun out and get out of the car and point it at Christina and me.
And I, if I'd had a gun, could have smoked him for sure which I'm glad I didn't have a gun. And I think it would have, of course, killed him,
probably, ended his young life before he even had a young life. And it would have ruined mine, for sure, at age 62.
And the little scenarios that you fantasize, that gun owners fantasize about, what's going to happen when some malefactor jumps out of an alley
and threatens your wife and you, those kinds of fantasies, when they are borne out in real life --
FORD: -- are very different. And they have very different consequences.
AMANPOUR: Really sobering reminders of all of this. And thank you very much, Richard Ford, for being with us today. Thanks so much for joining
FORD: You're quite welcome.
AMANPOUR: Now in the days after the Brussels terror attacks, Belgium's most notorious jihadist Hicham Chaib posted a most chilling video online
from Syria, bragging about the violence and warning the West that it's, quote, "a taste of what's to come."
CNN's Michael Holmes has been speaking to Chaib's horrified family in this exclusive report that he filed from Brussels.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In an organization that revels in barbarity, the hands of this man are more soaked in blood than
most. Hicham Chaib, Belgian born of Moroccan descent, praises the Brussels terror attacks and promises more to come.
Chaib is a murderer of many, by beheading, crucifixion and gunshot. He ends this video warning to his country of birth by killing another man.
MOHAMED AMIN CHAIB, BROTHER OF BELGIAN ISIS FIGHTER (through translator): He was someone who couldn't hurt a fly and went through life laughing.
It's just disbelief and still the family doesn't believe this could happen.
HOLMES (voice-over): The brother of a killer: Mohamed Amin Chaib is sickened by what he cannot yet bring himself to watch, the actions of a man
he no longer recognizes.
HOLMES: What good memories do you have of him when he was younger, before all this took hold?
What are your memories of him as a young man, as a child?
CHAIB (through translator): What I remember is an older brother, who was always there. That's what I remember. If I had trouble, he was there.
HOLMES: Hicham Chaib grew up in this suburb of Antwerp in Belgium, by all accounts, a normal upbringing in a moderate Muslim family of 13 until, his
family, says he met people, radicals, who turned him to a view of his religion unlike that he was raised in, what his brother calls a twisted
CHAIB (through translator): That's an Islam that they fill in according to their own interpretations, colored by their own frustrations.
HOLMES (voice-over): Twenty-two-year-old Mohamed Amin has not seen his brother since 2013, when he left Belgium for Syria. Since Hicham Chaib's
latest grotesque video, the family who disowns his actions has received threats to their own safety.
CHAIB (through translator): With the latest video, we've had threats, hate messages. It's a major influence on our family, not just emotionally but
also out of fear. Our parents are very fearful that something might happen with their sons or daughters.
HOLMES: The family's angst does not end with Hicham, though. Another brother, Anwar (ph), faces charges after authorities say he, too, allegedly
tried to go to Syria, although his lawyer says Anwar is no Hicham.
MATTIAS LEYS, CHAIB FAMILY LAWYER (through translator): My client has taken notice of the video images in which his brother is seen and he wants
to absolutely distance himself from it. He rejects the acts and the words of his brother and is shocked by what recently happened in our country.
HOLMES (voice-over): Mohamed isn't sure if he'll see his brother again. But if his brother sees this, he has a message from a family paying for the
sins of a son.
CHAIB (through translator): Hicham, think hard, because you have a family here. Your own mother thinks about you every night and cries always about
you. Your father's old. He also always loves you. Think about the consequences for your family, because they're enormous.
HOLMES (voice-over): By his past actions, Mohamed Amin's plea, unlikely to be heeded -- Michael Holmes, CNN, Antwerp, Belgium.
AMANPOUR: Incredible insight.
And now, it may seem a little 1960s, but we're answering all this violence with some flower power.
This week, cherry blossoms across the world entered peak bloom, painting Washington's gardens pink and pearly white, as well as countless spots
across Japan and the rest of the world.
But while new life flourishes with an early flowering, we imagine a world beneath the waves, where the blooming of white spells disaster for
Australia's barrier reef. That's next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where the dazzling diversity of the Great Barrier Reef becomes a pale imitation of its former
self; 95 percent of the reef spreading from Cannes, Australia, to Papua, New Guinea, is severely bleached.
This unparalled crisis has been caused by raising sea water temperatures, which makes coral calcify and expel the algae, which gives them their
With more than 90 percent of the Earth's increased heat being absorbed by the oceans, climate change could turn the reef into a watery ghost town.
We'd be losing the world's largest living ecosystem so huge in scale that it can even be seen from outer space.
The reef can recover, although it may take decades. But with El Nino whipping up ocean temperatures, it may be too late for much of this coral.
And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can now see us online, of course, listen to our podcast and always follow me on Facebook
and Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.