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Does U.S.-Led Coalition Lack Strategy for ISIS Fight?; Dissecting the Root Causes of Conflict in Mindanao; The Book that Cast a Spell Over the World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 26, 2017 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:15] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, ISIS may be losing its state, but a former top aide in the U.S.-led military coalition says the

terror organization can't yet be counted out?


KARIN VON HIPPEL, DIRECTOR GENERAL, ROYAL UNITED SERVICES INSTITUTE: Mosul and Raqqah were going to be the end game of the so-called caliphate, but

that's not the end of ISIL. And so the concern about what ISIL 2.0 might look like and how we disrupt that, that's still to be determined.


AMANPOUR: On the back foot in Iraq, but is it popping up in the Philippines now? A special report from the city that ISIS recently

captured, as soldiers and civilians pay a heavy price.

And later in the program, we take time out to celebrate some wizardry as Harry Potter turns 20.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

ISIS faces imminent defeat in both its Iraqi power base in Mosul and its base of operations in Raqqah, Syria. Coalition forces estimate that just a

couple of hundred ISIS fighters remain in Mosul today. And in Raqqah, Syrian Democratic Forces are fighting their way into the heart of ISIS

self-proclaimed caliphate.

But if the Islamic State loses its state, does that mean the end of ISIS? We've seen the group project terror across the world, from Tehran to San

Bernardino and of course, here in London.

And later, our Ivan Watson takes us to a new frontier in the Philippines. But first, to Mosul, where the destruction is staggering, as people flee

for their lives.

Can the Iraqi government pick up the pieces properly this time? And what about Syria, where the Assad regime, its Russian and Iranian proxies, the

U.S.-led coalition, and the Syrian fighters it supports could all be jockeying for position after ISIS clears out.

So what happens the day after ISIS is defeated?

Karin Von Hippel is director general of the Royal United Services Institute. It's the world's oldest military think tank located here in

London. She was former chief-of-staff to General John Allen, who was President Obama's director of the anti-ISIS coalition.

And I spoke to her about this earlier.


AMANPOUR: Karin, welcome to the program.

VON HIPPEL: Thank you.

How would you describe, is it the end game? Is it even more than the end game? I mean, the fact that ISIS is trapped now in a very small part of


VON HIPPEL: Yes, I would say this is the last gasp of one phase of the counter-ISIL campaign. So Mosul and Raqqah were going to be the end game

of the so-called caliphate, but that's not the end of ISIL.

And so the concern about what ISIL 2.0 might look like and how we disrupt that, that's still to be determined.

AMANPOUR: Oh, wow. I mean, that's just very, very disheartening, isn't it? Because ISIL took Mosul in the summer of 2014. It has taken this long

to go back against them.

What do you mean 2.0? What do you think could happen?

VON HIPPEL: Well, let's say there's two challenges. The challenges inside Iraq, governance in the longer term, but of course, shorter term,

stabilization challenges. And then the longer term, where will these foreign fighters and others go. Even if Baghdadi is no longer with us,

there will be other leaders that will try to direct attacks, you know, make sure that the affiliates in many parts of the world are still strong and

inspire others in many parts of the world to carry out attacks.

Some of these people who carried out attacks were not members of ISIL, but they were inspired by ISIL. Others were directed by ISIL.

AMANPOUR: That's around the world you're talking about, whether it's in San Bernardino or in Manchester.

VON HIPPEL: Right. Right. Westminster.

AMANPOUR: Or Westminster, exactly.

VON HIPPEL: Several layers of challenges. The fighting has been incredible for the last eight months. It's been a huge challenge. Mosul

was always going to be the last battle, because it was going to be the hardest. But, actually, the really difficult work is still to come.

AMANPOUR: In the last few days, the prime minister of Iraq has said that ISIL blowing up that historic al-Nuri mosque there signifies their defeat.

Maybe not their surrender, but their defeat. You disagree, then?

VON HIPPEL: I think it's really hard to say. Will they cut and run, or will they fight for the last man and woman? There might be some women in

there, too, fighting. And it's just hard to say. The same in Raqqah and Syria.

Mosul and Raqqah always have to happen around the same time, so that if you squeezed one, they didn't appear in the other place. And they mostly have

been able to keep to is that schedule, but they each have their challenges.

[14:05:00] AMANPOUR: So we were always told that if the caliphate is gone, that is the rationale for ISIS. Islamic State is gone. Yes, they may pop

up, and call it whack-a-mole, and we're going to have more reports from our Ivan Watson in the Philippines after the break.

But can they actually metastasize as ISIS? Or does it have to be something else? They have no more caliphates?

[14:05:20] VON HIPPEL: Yes, it's hard to say, right? Because al-Qaeda did not have a caliphate --


AMANPOUR: But they never claimed to have one.

VON HIPPEL: They never claim they didn't want one. And that was part of the reason the two split when they did. But -- and it's probably part of

the reason why ISIL was so appealing.

Don't forget we have 1,000 to 2,000 people traveling out to the region in 2015 and 2016. Al Qaeda never had such high numbers of volunteers. It's

not all we're going to fight as you know. And so it really is a different appeal, but I'm not so sure if it's a so-called caliphate or if it is

extreme violence or if it's just a really savvy communications strategy. It's not really clear to me why it has been so popular.

AMANPOUR: It has been said that the United States, and you worked for General Allen, who was directing the anti-ISIL coalition, that since 9/11,

one of the criticisms of the U.S. is that its wars have been all about tactics and not about strategy. They've been, you know, further defeat the

so-called terrorist bad guys, but it hasn't brought up a new political framework to advance some kind of post-terrorist world in those two


VON HIPPEL: Yes. I mean, I would say U.S. foreign policy can be partially to blame, especially the invasion of Iraq. ISIL really grew out of al-

Qaeda and Iraq and it was allowed to fester because many countries dropped the ball on Iraq and pressuring them to make the necessary political


But I don't think it's just, you know, lack of U.S. foreign policy or lack of proper counterterrorism strategy. I think this --


AMANPOUR: Exactly, it's a strategy. Counterterrorism is different from actually a strategy, which includes the politics. So the politics on the

ground, what hope do you see for the politics on the ground in the Iraqi political system, in the Afghan political system?

VON HIPPEL: It won't be resolved overnight. And it not only requires brave political leaders, but an ability to balance countervailing forces.

In the case of Iraq, obviously, it's Iran versus the U.S. and other countries. But it's also the cases.

These groups have been around for decades. And they will be with us in the future. The challenge is to make them not such a threat that they are


AMANPOUR: And how does one do that?

VON HIPPEL: I don't think we're on top of that yet. There is much more needs to be done on the soft side and the hard side.

AMANPOUR: So you can't fight your way out of it. You can't drone and bomb and --


VON HIPPEL: Right, right. And that's understood by most --

AMANPOUR: But is it working? You say it's understood?

VON HIPPEL: It's understood, but there isn't really a very good strategy right now to do that. There is this U.S. coalition that the Brits and

others are part of. And that strategy is fairly comprehensive, but it really has been focused mostly on Iraq and Syria. It hasn't tried to

address the out of area threats.

And partially, this was because they were worried that they would lose focus on Iraq and Syria if they started focusing on the Philippines and

Afghanistan and Yemen and these other places, where ISIL groups have declared themselves.

AMANPOUR: Do you have confidence in the current White House and its military and national security and counterterrorism infrastructure to get

this job done?

VON HIPPEL: Good question. Because we don't really know what Donald Trump's foreign policy is on anything yet.

Do you remember, he said within 30 days, there will be a new ISIL strategy? I haven't seen that. I don't know what his strategy is on Syria, much less

on Russia, much less on the U.S. place in the world. So I don't think we're there yet.

AMANPOUR: Karin Von Hippel, thanks so much.

VON HIPPEL: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: So while Mosul may soon be liberated from ISIL, as we said earlier, its tentacles have reached the Philippines. And we go there,


But, first, to the United States, where the Supreme Court has just ruled that part of President Trump's Muslim ban can go into effect after being

blocked by lower courts since January.

As of today, people from these six nations who do not have, quote, "a bona fide connection to a person or entity in the United States won't be allowed

to enter."

It is unclear exactly what that means in practice, and the Supreme Court will hear the travel ban case when it reconvenes in October.


[14:10:50] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Before the break, we talked about a breakout of ISIS in the Philippines, half a world away from Iraq and Syria. They are battling the government

street to street.

In Marawi, a city of 200,000, which they captured last month, American forces are on the ground helping in that fight and President Duterte has

declared martial law.

Their leader is the elusive Isnilon Hapilon. And our Ivan Watson has spoken to a former Jihadi who fought alongside him.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Do you think he enjoys killing people?

Yes. When I spoke to him many years ago, he always think that killing non- Muslims satisfies Allah, makes Allah happy. And I was shocked.


AMANPOUR: And Ivan joins me now from Hong Kong.

Ivan, you've been doing some pretty groundbreaking reporting there about this ISIS upsurge.

What have you been finding out? How deep is it? I mean, is it really ISIS or is it masquerading as some other group there?

WATSON: It looks and sounds like ISIS, Christiane. What the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines has had for decades where an

assortment of different Islamist insurgent groups. The most famous of them probably Abu Sayyaf which was allied with al-Qaeda.

What we've seen new here is under the leadership of this man, Hapilon, who came from the Abu Sayyaf group, he's managed to for the very first time

organize a coalition of these diverse insurgent groups under the black banner of ISIS, and they mounted this audacious attack on a city and

captured it and have succeeded in fighting the Philippines' military to a standstill there for more than a month.

And it has, in effect, been the longest and deadliest battle that the Armed Forces of the Philippines have faced, urban battle that they faced in



WATSON (voice-over): The ambulances arrive in a torrential downpour. Unloading the most recent casualties from the Philippines' month-long fight

against ISIS militants hold up in the besieged city of Marawi.

(on-camera): In almost four weeks of fighting, this hospital has treated some 340 casualties and more wounded soldiers keep coming every day.

(voice-over): Among those treating the wounded, Lieutenant Colonel Jonna Dalaguit, who runs this military hospital. She's been an army doctor for

20 years.

(on-camera): Have you ever seen casualties on a scale like this before?

LT. COL. JONNA DALAGUIT, CAMP EVANGELISTA HOSPITAL: No, it's the first time. It's the first time that I've seen this huge number of casualties.

WATSON (voice-over): Among the wounded, this sergeant who we've been asked not to identify.

Sprayed with shrapnel from a mortar round, he gets help from his 65-year- old mother Teresita.

(on-camera): What do you think about ISIS right now?


WATSON: You hate them?


WATSON (voice-over): The sergeant is a 17-year veteran of many other counterinsurgency operations, but he tells me the ISIS militants entrenched

in Marawi includes skilled foreign fighters ready to die in battle.

The military says they've rescued hundreds of civilians from the war zone. But in their struggle to save the city, they've also been bombing the city.

In a recent visit to the region, Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte apologized for the extreme measures.

RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES: You will find in your heart to forgive my soldiers and government and me for declaring martial law. I

have no choice. They are destroying Marawi. I have to drive them out, but I am very sorry.

WATSON: The government is struggling to cope with the many people now suddenly made homeless.

(on-camera): This is what happens when the conflict comes to this corner of the Philippines.

[14:15:00] (voice-over): More than 200 families, more than 1,000 civilians, packed into this school gymnasium, and this is just the tip of

the iceberg.

In fact, more than 340,000 people have fled their homes in the last month. Among them, Tarhata Musari (ph) and her infant son.

What's your baby's name?


WATSON: You named your child Martial Law?


WATSON: She gave birth in Marawi on May 23rd, the day ISIS invaded the city, amid explosions and gunfire. Just one hour later, they fled on foot.

The baby may be safe, but Murasi (ph) lost her father in the panic. She says she has not seen him since.


AMANPOUR: Ivan, that's extraordinary. That young woman, who said that she called her baby, Martial Law, I wonder whether that's a sign of hope that

the president can actually defeat this, or what?

I mean, you heard him apologize for that. It's an unusual scene to see President Duterte apologizing. He's known as the punisher. Put this into

the bigger context of his harsh crackdowns?

WATSON: Well, this has come as an immense shock to the Philippines -- government, the armed forces, the intelligence. The sudden appearance of

these tenacious fighters, armed to the teeth with stocks of ammunition, enough that they could hold out to this very day, in parts of that city of

Marawi against the might of the Philippines' armed forces.

It also comes as a surprise, because for the past year, President Rodrigo Duterte has been presenting illegal narcotics as virtually an existential

threat to the Philippines. And somehow overlooked the tipping -- ticking Jihadi time bomb that was growing on his home island of Mindanao.

It's even more surprising, because he is the first president ever in the Philippines to come from the island of Mindanao, and there were

intelligence failures, security failures that failed to see this threat coming.

I was surprised in listening to his speech, to hear how conciliatory he was. He clearly wants to make peace with the ethnic and religious minority

on Mindanao, the Moro people, the Moro Muslims, who have had insurgent groups fighting the government for decades. And there are some leaders

from within that community that sound much more harsh against these ISIS militants than Duterte himself did sound.

I was surprised at how restrained Duterte sounded when he was talking about the fighters just up the road who had succeeded in driving some 300,000

people away from their homes.


AMANPOUR: Ivan, thank you. Great reporting. And of course, you'll have another report from that area, which will be on CNN tomorrow. So thank you

very much.

And as you mentioned, you know, even the top-level people involved in the fight against ISIS as you heard earlier, they don't fully know how to

disband this group.

Ruben Carranza is a former assistant secretary of National Defense in the Philippines. He's now director of the international center for

transitional justice, and he joined me moments ago from Manila.

I started by asking him, how he thinks the insurgency fits into the ISIS phenomenon.


RUBEN CARRANZA, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE: Many of the individuals, especially in the leadership of this group,

particularly Isnilon Hapilon, these are home-grown fighters who go a long way back to the Abu Sayyaf group 15 years ago.

They were very active in kidnapping, they were very active in harassing villages, harassing local government elsewhere in the south.

The fact that they now styled themselves as Daesh and have, you know, want to project that they are part of this larger global armed group is, I

think, the more concerning part of it. But they -- I don't think that they represent a particular expansion of ISIS itself into Mindanao.

AMANPOUR: That is interesting, because, obviously, everybody watching is very concerned to see where ISIS does, in fact, you know, kind of raise its

ugly head again, once the caliphate is destroyed.

So is it, in that area, is it historical grievances? Is it the president hasn't actually confronted this issue? Why is it suddenly raising again?

CARRANZA: The president has apparently been focused on, you know, his, a very narrow set of issues, including his war -- supposedly war against

drugs and the use of the police and the military, in some cases, in this drug war. And you would otherwise need intelligence, monitoring, resources

to follow what's been going on.

[14:20:07] And this is not the first time that this particular group has taken over an urban center and done what it is doing now. A few months

ago, the same group actually did a dress rehearsal for what it is doing now, and that should have been a very clear signal, a very clear warning to

the government that they were going to do it again because they got away with it in a sense.

Now, the longer and deeper costs, of course, are our historical grievances that have generated a succession of -- secessionist movements in Mindanao.

And there were attempts in the last administration to enter into a peace agreement which to an extent was very successful. And then to sign a more

profound, more comprehensive autonomy law, which, however, members of -- that are politicians close to the president scuttled.

And so it posed as a problem, because this only feeds into grievances over land, over identity, over discrimination that allows groups like this,

small, to actually expand.

AMANPOUR: So what do you think is the way to face them down? How does one eradicate this threat? Is it possible?

CARRANZA: Well, certainly, there is no choice but to use force when an armed group such as this escalates their activity to a point where it's no

longer, obviously, just criminal activity but an armed attack on civilian populations.

This constitutes a war crime or at the very least a crime against humanity. And so the response to that is legitimate use of state force. But that has

to observe standards that are applicable in international humanitarian law and one of them is proportionality. And the response so far is arguably


AMANPOUR: I mean, the entire presidency of Mr. Duterte has been criticized for a disproportionate response, particularly in the drug war. He's been a

year in office. He's known as the punisher.

What are the tangible effects of his campaigns? Have they made things better?

CARRANZA: Well, in general, I think they've contributed to a, to an atmosphere of instability, of incoherent policy making, that's only fed

more violence, because of the resort to violence that the president often does in response to questions that are fundamentally more complicated than

what we does in response.

It's, he has a hammer and everything is a nail. And a year into his presidency, a drug war that has killed thousands. Now a city in ruins, and

still a month later, the president has not been able to decisively end this takeover of a city.

I think there's a lot to -- for him to answer for. And the literal problem right now is that the president is apparently absent. He hasn't been seen

for almost a week now.

AMANPOUR: And why not?

CARRANZA: Well, there are speculations that he's seriously ill. It's hard to know for sure, because his own spokesperson does not confirm that,

despite the fact that the Philippine constitution, in fact, requires that the health of the president be disclosed publicly.

So, it's a have vacuum in leadership at the time when leadership is needed most.


AMANPOUR: Very worrying leadership vacuums all over.

And when we come back, a break from this relentless reality, to imagine a fictional boy wonder who's transformed the world.

Happy 20th birthday, Harry Potter. His global impact, next.


[14:26:15] AMANPOUR: Finally, tonight, imagine emerging from a long battle against depression with a children's story where light conquers the


20 years ago today, that is just what one J.K. Rowling did, as she imagined the wizarding world of Harry Potter. The hero who lived in a cupboard

under the stairs grew year by year with an avid audience who read his adventures in 68 languages.

Rowling's universe saw epic battles between good and evil, as her protagonists, Harry, Ron and Hermione fought intolerance and hatred with

openness, selling hundreds and millions of books and seating millions of behinds in theaters to watch eight wildly successful Potter films.

There are Potter universe spin-offs, a play, theme parks and more. All making the once-destitute single mother the world's first billionaire


Speaking to a BBC children's show when the first book, "The Philosopher's Stone" hit the shelves back in 1997, Rowling was sitting in the Edinburgh

Cafe where she had conjured Harry up.


J.K. ROWLING, "HARRY POTTER" AUTHOR: The way I arrived at writing a book was that, I had been writing for years and years and years. I was very

young. I was outside school. And I think you need to practice. You need to practice and work out what worked and what didn't work. I kept going

and probably start by writing about things you know about.


AMANPOUR: Well, it certainly worked. And in two weeks, tune in for a special program here, my exclusive interview with J.K. Rowling. How she

conjured Harry Potter's magic spell, Lumos, into her children's charity of the same name. That and much more from J.K. Rowling.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at, and follow me on Facebook and


Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.