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On the Frontlines in the Battle Against ISIS; Iraq Stops Would-be Child Bomber for ISIS; The History of Islam in America. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired August 23, 2016 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:02] CLARISSA WARD, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, as Iraq's army battles ISIS near Mosul we hear from our reporter on the front lines and bring you a

shocking report on ISIS's deadly and disturbing new weapons -- child suicide bombers. I interview the governor of Kirkuk.

Also ahead, America's history of hostility. He's called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. but is Donald Trump's rhetoric anything new? My

interview with a top scholar on race and religion.

Good evening, everyone. And welcome to the program. I am Clarissa Ward in for Christiane Amanpour.

On the front lines in the battle against ISIS, Iraqi forces continue to make significant gains. The army has cut a key road used by the militants

and has recaptured six oil wells. The chokehold around Mosul is finally beginning to tighten two years after it was seized by ISIS.

While Arwa Damon has been on the ground near Qayyara within sight of the fighting, I spoke to her nearby Irbil just a little while earlier.


WARD: Arwa, it looks like Iraqi forces have been making some progress on the ground but give us a sense of the bigger picture here.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The advances that they are making are significant in the sense that not only have they been able

to push forward and capture key territory, they say that their own forces are -- feeling a boost in confidence. And this is largely because the

coalition airpower has allowed them to push forward, and they are feeling these psychological benefits of sensing that they are on the winning end of

all of this.

And they're also saying that they are seeing ISIS weakening to a certain degree in the sense that when they were going after targeting these

villages that were on the outer perimeter of the so-called caliphate, they would see wave after wave of suicide bombers coming to target them.

What they're also saying, they're saying is less foreign fighters, more local fighters. More fighters that are choosing to flee instead of fight

until the very end. But what does this actually mean for the battle for Mosul, which is the endgame? That commanders are unclear about. Could it

be that ISIS is running out of foreign fighters it has at its disposal or could it be that they simply pulled back the best of their resources to

protect Iraq's second largest city? But so much hangs in the balance.

WARD: When Iraqi forces are clearing these cities, what's happening to the residents from what you're seeing?

DAMON: It's a beyond horrific situation that they end up facing. The lucky ones are able to figure out some sort of a way to make a run for

their lives and flee. But in a lot of these cases especially these towns and villages that are being cleared right now, we've heard numerous first-

hand accounts that really make your hair raise -- stand on, and as to how ISIS will gather everyone into the center of the village or the town, and

actually use the houses that they are forcing these civilians, families, children to stand as firing points to target Iraqi forces. Effectively

they're using them as human shields.

And that is really the main concern when you speak to the top commanders here. They are now trying to approach this town of Qayyara and there they

are saying that there at least 10,000 families that are stuck inside. And this is a town that looks like it's about to be hit by the apocalypse.

ISIS has been burning crude oil fields. There is a thick cloud of black smoke that hangs above it to try to impede visibility from above.

And you can just imagine what it's like for families, for parents that are stuck in there trying to protect their children. Who knows if they're able

to leave their homes, who knows if ISIS is in fact using them as human shields. And the other issue when it comes to the civilian population is

that when they are leaving these villages and towns, whether it's before the operations begin or after they have been cleared, because these

operations are utterly decimating the areas that they are going to. There aren't any places that they can go to.

WARD: And you mentioned, of course, that the endgame here is the battle for the city of Mosul. Is there any estimate based on what you're seeing

on the ground? For a long time we've heard it could be days, it could be weeks, it could be months. What's your best guess as to when we might see

this final push on Mosul?

DAMON: It's really difficult to get a gauge on that. We spoke to the commander of the native operations command. He says that their aim at this

stage is still try to fulfill the goal that was set up by the Iraqi prime minister to have Mosul liberated by the end of the year, but the problem

is, as you know very well, that is a deadline that is being sent by a government promise, as supposed to conditions on the ground.

[17:05:06] That when it comes to this kind of a highly sensitive military operation was so much at stake for the civilian population. It really has

to be determined by conditions on the ground and those conditions are constantly shifting on a daily basis.

WARD: Arwa Damon, thank you so much.


WARD: As Iraqi forces battled to recapture territory they are facing the horror of child soldiers groomed to be suicide bombers by ISIS. It's

estimated the group has at least 1500 children fighters in its ranks. This week dramatic video has emerged of Iraqi police restraining a boy in the

city of Kirkuk wearing a suspected suicide vest.

Our Nima Elbagir has the story.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barcelona legend Lionel Messi's name and number proudly on display. Just

another teenage boy. The front, though, ripped open. Hands forcibly suspended away from the trigger.

"We will take you down and goes to God together," the officer shouts. Police say 15-year-old Hussein is from Mosul. A city under ISIS's brutal

control. He told authorities he doesn't know whether his family are alive. ISIS took him in. Fed him on hate. His friend is believed to have

detonated his device the day before.

Here on the street, silence. It's getting tense. Almost there. Finally Hussein steps gingerly through the suicide belt into custody.

"Don't be afraid," the officer says. Hussein begins to cry. Then screamed. "Sorry, Uncle. I am sorry." Pleading with the adults that

surround him. Hussein and his friend believed to be part of the same sleeper cell, with more possibly out there, under coalition pressure.

Authorities here say ISIS is growing reliant on their child recruits. Their so-called cubs.

The police cars screeches away. No one here is taking any chances tonight.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


WARD: The suspected child bomber was stopped before he could reach his target. A Shia mosque in the city of Kirkuk. The city is also struggling

with a massive influx of Iraqi refugees.

Earlier I spoke to the governor of Kirkuk, Dr. Najmaldin Karim.


WARD: Thank you so much for joining us, Governor. We've just seen this terrible report. ISIS using children as suicide bombers. Tell us how long

has this been going on? When did you start to notice this trend?

DR. NAJMALDIN KARIM, GOVERNOR OF KIRKUK: Actually before even the incident that happened here two days ago we had information that ISIS has trained

about 60 youths in Mosul. And they were sending them to different places. And the information we have that five of these will be sent to Kirkuk and

that they have entered with the internally displaced who are supposedly, you know, leaving ISIS and coming to a safer and better areas.

One has to be careful because ISIS has been recruiting these people and training them and brainwashing them and this is a proof that they come and

do it. And actually they claimed the responsibility for these two terrorists.

WARD: Let me just ask you. You said there were 60 who were believed to be heading towards Kirkuk. Do you have the impression therefore that there

are other boys potentially still on the loose who may be planning to act as suicide bombers?

KARIM: We know we have three on loose and our security forces are on lookout for them. And it's not just these. Actually with these IDPs, you

know, thousands of thousands of these have become every day. They leave the areas that are under attack by security forces. They leave these areas

and they the head towards, for example, Kirkuk or other cities in the Kurdistan region or in Iraq. So we have to be on the lookout for them.

And it's not an easy task when you get hundreds of families with the women, older people, children, you know, with this heat and some of them are

hungry and thirsty.

WARD: When you said IDPs, you're referring to internally displaced people.

[17:10:02] What is the scale of the problem that you are dealing with in terms of IDPs. How many have been coming in to your city?

KARIM: We have received more than 550,000 of these people from different parts of Iraq, from Anbar Province, from Tikrit, from Diyala Province. And

these are all crammed in the city which and the population of our city where most of these people are is 950,000. So we got more than half of our

population now are people who are not from Kirkuk.

WARD: So it's obviously a dire humanitarian situation, but it's also a very difficult security situation. Give me a sense of why ISIS is using

children as suicide bombers? If you had to try to understand the psyche behind that.

KARIM: Well, they want to recruit for after they are evicted from the major cities and they are losing the battles in different places so they

want to recruit these to use them in the future or right away. And also I think part of it is a lot of people are not suspecting when a young boy or

girl comes and they say well, we lost our parents. We don't know if that's true or not so they tag along with the genuine people who are in need of

shelter and protection, and they slipped through. And they will do that here in Kirkuk, in the rest of the Iraq. They may do it in Turkey. They

will probably do it in Europe as well.

WARD: And so what are you security forces looking for? How do they try to identify potential children suicide bombers and what they do when they do

identify them?

KARIM: Well, when we identify them or we suspect them, of course, we will interrogate them and then they will 0-- you know, if it's proven that they

are connected to ISIS, they will be given to the police and of course deal with them. Obviously some of these are minors like this kid that's caught

here, this 15-year-old. Obviously you have to put them in a special place where, you know, it will be dealt with, with the courts. That's basically

what it is.

WARD: And I just wanted to say, the U.N. estimates that as many as 900 children between the ages of 9 and 15 have been abducted by ISIS. I'm sure

many of them will be fighting on the battlefield against your own security services and I wonder what sort of a challenge does it pose to your

security services when you're dealing with potentially a 12 or 14-year-old suicide bomber?

KARIM: Well, obviously it's a very big challenge. I mean this kid, if you see his picture, his haircut and the way he was dressed, you would think

he's just a normal kid you will find a soccer field or someplace like that.

WARD: Governor, thank you so much for being on the program with us.

KARIM: Thank you very much. Thank you.

WARD: As Muslims flee the war and chaos, engulfing their homelands, we turned to the nation many refugees have tried to reach. A potential Muslim

ban has been one of the white-hot issues of this year's American election thanks to Donald Trump. We'll go back to the source of today's tensions

digging into the United States and its troubled relationship with race. That's after the break.


[17:15:19] WARD: Welcome back to the program. Just 77 days until election day in America, and Donald Trump's proposed and ever changing ban

on Muslims entering the country remains as contentious as ever.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our

country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.


WARD: He was set to give a major immigration address today. That's now been pushed back as the campaign says it's fine-tuning its message.

My next guess says barring Muslims from America is nothing new. It was written into law from the country's earliest days.

Khaled Beydoun, associate professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, joins me now.

Thank you so much for being on the program. Explain this idea to me that this is not new because I think too many Americans it sounds new. So take

us through the history a little bit here and explain what you mean by that.

KHALED BEYDOUN, UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT MERCY SCHOOL OF LAW: Yes, there's an extensive backdrop of discrimination and restrictions against Muslims

coming into the country but also becoming citizens of the country. It all started with a law that was enacted in 1790 called the Naturalization Act

of 1790, which essentially mandated that on an individual have to be white to become a citizen. And this law was in place up until 1952.

WARD: And I'm actually looking at the quote from that law. It says, "Any alien, being a free white person, may be admitted to become as citizen."

Do you have a sense, though, specifically why Muslims were considered not to be white people or why they specifically were excluded from immigrating

to the US historically?

BEYDOUN: You know, when religion has always been kind of a proxy for race. Islam and Muslim identity has always been viewed as anti-white, nonwhite,

and the civilizational kind of antithesis to the West, so an individual who would claim to be Muslim even if they appear to be white physically, you

know can make the case that they were in fact white. Their Muslim identity would essentially deny them or eliminate them from possibility of being

deemed white for purpose of citizenship.

And by virtue of Islam being positioned as kind of the foil of Christianity and Christianity being the hallmark of whiteness, Muslims up until 1952,

but specifically 1944 with the case we can discuss more closely were denied from -- were denied from becoming citizens in the United States.

WARD: So it's almost the idea was that you can't be a Muslim and be an American at the same time or this was the idea behind it?

BEYDOUN: Exactly, so Muslim identity was viewed as contradictory or oxymoronic with American identity. So there was that tension. Obviously

we see that tension playing out today rhetorically, you know, very plainly with Trump -- Trump supporters, not by law but obviously Trump is trying to

transition that rhetoric into full-fledged law with his proposed Muslim ban.

WARD: So you mentioned the law of 1790, the Naturalization Act, when did you -- when do we start to see attitude shifting in the U.S.? Because of

course there are now millions of Muslims in the U.S. More than 3 million in fact. When did the shift happened?

BEYDOUN: Well, the shift technically didn't begin to happen until 1965 because even after the dissolution of this act in 1952 you still had very

strict and rigid immigration quotas that made it really hard from individuals, from Muslim majority countries, to come into the States so the

population of Muslims in the states in 1951, a year before the dissolution of the act, was less than 200,000.

After passage of this act it grew fivefold and approached the million. So it wasn't until 1965. As a consequence of Civil Rights Act legislation,

after the Civil Rights Movement, obviously, that things began to change, but I would kind of content or grapple with the idea that attitudes shifted

because I don't think attitude shifted alongside the law much.

WARD: But in some of your articles you talk about essentially a geopolitical shift as well that contributed to America let's say opening

its arms a little more to Muslims. Talk to me about that.

BEYDOUN: Yes, you know -- you know it wasn't as much to talk about that in the "Washington Post" piece.

[17:20:02] You know it wasn't as much an attitudinal shift. There was more of an interest convergence shift. We saw after the Second World War

America, obviously the United States becoming the global hegemony, a global power, and it really wanted to resonate with many of these Arab states,

Muslim majority states, in the Middle East politically, specifically Saudi Arabia and at that time obviously he was forging a close relationship which

was motivated by access for oil.

So in 1944, you had an immigrant who was of Saudi origin come before an American court. He was Muslim also. He deemed himself to be somebody

followed Islam. The court was kind of a predicament at that point. They knew that denying this individual citizenship might, you know, compromise

or diminish their interests or business interest or political interest in Saudi Arabia specifically, so I argue with that piece in the article that

the United States kind of decided to do away with this per se, Muslim band, and granted this individual citizenship as a means not to disrupt its

burgeoning economic and political relationship with the Saudi Arabia and his broader interest in the Muslim world at large.

WARD: As we're having this conversation about this historical tension, though, it's worth mentioning of course, you know, Thomas Jefferson --

President Thomas Jefferson very famously owned a Quran. He also in this precursor to the Constitution refers specifically to Mohammedans. How does

that fit into your larger understanding of this tension or perceived tension historically between Islam and the U.S.?

BEYDOUN: Yes, there are some complexity around Thomas Jefferson who was very much a champion of free exercise of religion. The First Amendment.

He owed a Quran. There's been several books and several accounts celebrating that. But that has to be juxtaposed. I think, which much of

the rhetoric espoused by Thomas Jefferson. Now he perpetuated some of this, you know, stereotyping and caricaturing of Islam as being autocratic,

totalitarian, and also an ideology that was in conflict with American notions of democracy and liberalism, so I think that there is kind of a

celebratory stereotyping of Jefferson as being a -- somebody who was laudatory towards Islam.

But I think once you juxtapose the fact that he owned a Quran with the idea that he, you know, very much espouse this, you know, and not very welcoming

rhetoric, you know, paints a more complex picture.

WARD: So let's fast-forward to where we stand now. Of course we've had a lot of discussion about Donald Trump and the proposed ban on Muslims. At

the same time there are more than 3 million American Muslims, a thriving community, and we have of course the congressman who was sworn in, Keith

Ellison, back in 2007. Where do you see things now?

BEYDOUN: I think it is a critical impasse. Obviously with Donald Trump wanting to, you know, introduce this kind of legislation which can have,

you know, really destructive and nefarious impact on Muslim Americans at large. But it is also I think key to be mindful that there still is

legislation on the books today that is compromising the civil liberties and rights of Muslim Americans as we speak.

National security programming, counter radicalization programming, which was pioneered in the UK but, you know, imported here stateside, which is

essentially linking individuals who, you know, express their Muslim identity conspicuously so men who wear beards, women who wear the hijab,

that is linked to radicalization or terrorism. So the Muslim ban I think has, you know, fairly received a lot of attention for the kind of fear-

mongering it stirred, but there is a lot of legislation and policies in place right now that make it really challenging for individual --

WARD: Thank you. Thank you.

BEYDOUN: To practice their faith really.

WARD: Khaled Beydoun, thank you so much. I'm sorry to interrupt you. Thank you so much for all of your insights.

When we come back, imagining the Scottish football fans in the midst of the latest Israeli-Palestinian controversy. It is all kicking off next.