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Fierce Fighting Rages in Mosul; Inside the Mind of a Former Extremist; Trump Resumes Attacks on News Media. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired July 2, 2017 - 02:00   ET



[02:00:07] NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Street empty and each human they meet is either desperate to escape or the enemy.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: On the ground in a city where every pile of rubble could hide an enemy. A look at the dangerous fight to liberate Mosul.

Also inside an extremist mindset. We talk to reformed jihadi about his life of violence and why he quit.

And the U.S. president burns up Twitter. We'll tell you what's on Donald Trump's mind.

Hi, everybody. Thank you very much for joining us. I'm Cyril Vanier from the CNN NEWSROOM in Atlanta.

Let's start with a CNN exclusive, the battle for Mosul. ISIS us on its last legs there but the fighting is not over yet. Photographer Gabriel Chaim followed soldiers as they pushed further into the ISIS stronghold. And we need to warn you, you may find some of the footage disturbing.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has the story.


WALSH (voice-over): From here to the river is all ISIS has left of Mosul. And this is the story of how it fell on the streets around the mosque they once held sacred but then destroyed.

Brazilian photographer Gabriel Chaim is on foot with Iraqi Special Forces. Every foothold could hit a booby trap. An eerie silence, holes in just about everything, endless soot.

Streets empty. And each human they meet is either desperate to escape or the enemy.

In the alleyways, two men approach them. One is carrying a bomb. They rush in to help their wounded.

The second man carrying a much larger device.

Gabriel struggles to breath. The dust also means they can't see if there are any other bombers or where their three dead and dozens wounded colleagues lie.

The advance continues up to and around the mosque. As civilians, human shields for weeks, stoop under gunfire or are even oblivious to it. Some never leave the underground. Loud, constant blasts in the darkness.

Unable to walk, the first man feigns ignorance but soon admits ISIS were on the roof and have mined the entire street. The interrogator later tells his team the man is, himself, ISIS.

For the past week, the desperate rush to life had continued. The U.N. estimated 150,000 people were trapped here. But in the end, nobody had any idea, or how many lie left behind them in the rubble.

"Water, water. I'm dying," she screams, her lips white. In crippling heat and panic, pray you never thirst like this, or what it is like to carry your family out, lifeless on a cart.

This is his mother.

"For God's sake, help me carry him," he cries. They try, running to the closest point in the narrow street a vehicle can reach. "Stop the blood loss," they plead. It's unclear if the boy survived.

Even when this trap of dust is cleared of ISIS, the killing in Iraq's fractured society won't stop. And her private hell of memories won't suddenly be washed away.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Mosul.


VANIER: And on Monday we'll explore the more human side of war in another CNN exclusive. In the Netherlands, Atika Shubert speaks with a Syrian mother who receives desperate message from her daughter stuck in Raqqa, Syria.


TEXT: I'm exhausted, Mom. I can't bear this life anymore. My son is sick, and there's no medicine or clean water or anything for my child. It was really hard to find some milk yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): No, I haven't seen him. My dear, I wake up in sadness. I go to bed in sadness. I don't know any other emotion than sadness. Every day, I live in fear of tomorrow.


[02:05:05] VANIER: Listen to the full conversation and how the mother responds to her daughter and comforts her. That's on Monday on CNN.

Now ISIS may be on the back foot in Mosul but it's gaining ground in other parts of the world like the Philippines, for instance, where insurgent groups like Abu Sayyaf are now fighting under the ISIS banner.

Ivan Watson recently spoke to a former Abu Sayyaf member. Here's another CNN exclusive.


TEXT: Inside the mind of a former extremist.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): What was the attraction in those days to join an armed militant group?

ABU JIHAD, FORMER MEMBER OF EXTREMIST GROUP: To us, it was a noble obligation to take part in jihad.

TEXT: "Abu Jihad" is from the Philippines Island of Basilan. For more than a decade, he was a member of Abu Sayyaf, the Philippines' most notorious extremist group.

WATSON: What was the justification at that time for killing people?

JIHAD: At first, we thought that the organization is for religious purpose. It is for the propagation of the Islamic teachings. It is to establish the Sharia. We never thought that the group would resort to kidnappings, bombings, and many other atrocities.

TEXT: Over the past quarter century, Abu Sayyaf kidnapped scores of people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- had received $15 million in ransom for the release of 20 of 21 hostages kidnapped 4 1/2 months ago.

TEXT: The militants ransomed and released some victims. Some were beheaded.

JIHAD: Especially during the start of the group, the foreign connection, foreign support is very important.

TEXT: Abu Sayyaf allied itself with the al Qaeda in the 1990s.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Among those sent to train Abu Sayyaf, al Qaeda member and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

WATSON: What kind of things did these men teach you?

JIHAD: They provided us with their experience in Afghanistan, how to conduct ambush, and what are the things needed during warfare.

TEXT: Extremists have long taken advantage of Southeast Asia's porous maritime borders.

WATSON: Did you use the islands and boats to smuggle people and money and weapons?

JIHAD: Yes. It was very easy for us. By using the fastest speedboats that they have, they can easily transport firearms and money very easily.

WATSON: How much money would be on a boat?

JIHAD: Millions.

TEXT: At least 14 different insurgent groups have joined ISIS in the Philippines.

JIHAD: This has never happened before, that militant groups in the Philippines have come together.

TEXT: Abu Jihad was arrested and jailed in 2002. He has since renounced violence.

WATSON: Do you feel any guilt about your time with the militant group?

JIHAD: Yes. Yes. I resented having joined this kind of organization, having known people who brought these destructions.


VANIER: The diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its powerful neighbors could escalate even further. Monday's the deadline for Qatar to comply with 13 demands from several Gulf Arab states. But it looks like that deadline is not going to be met. In fact, Qatar's Foreign minister says those demands were never intended to be accepted. He's also calling for further dialogue.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have all cut diplomatic ties with Qatar accusing it of supporting terrorists, something which Qatar denies. Among the demands made on Qatar, shut down all Al Jazeera channels, stop developing a Turkish military base in the country, reduce diplomatic ties with Iran, and cut ties to terrorist organizations.

Let's go to the U.S. now where Donald Trump is away from the White House this weekend spending time at his resort in Bedminster, New Jersey. But the U.S. president did return to Washington briefly on Saturday night for an event at the Kennedy Center.

A Celebrate Freedom concert was to honor U.S. veterans. However the president used this occasion to unleash another salvo against one of his favorite targets -- you guessed it -- the news media.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fake media is trying to silence us, but we will not let them because the people know the truth.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: Because the people know the truth. The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House, but I'm president and they're not.



VANIER: In fact Mr. Trump went out of his way this weekend to keep alive an ongoing feud with two TV journalists.

Ryan Nobles has more on this.


[02:10:01] RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The president of the United States started his holiday weekend early Saturday by tweeting about Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, continuing his feud with the MSNBC hosts. Trump tweeting, quote, "Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb-as-a-rock Mika are not bad people, but their low- rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad."

It wasn't the only thing the ;president tweeted about. He also went on a Twitter rampage accusing the media of trying to get in the way of his social media usage, suggesting that his Twitter feed is among the reasons that he is currently the president of the United States.

But there are many Republicans in Congress that are concerned about the president's use of Twitter and that it's getting in the way of his agenda, including some important things happening this week like his trip to Europe for the G-20 Summit and the debate over health care.

Still, his aides say the president is diligently working on health care. He is expected to make calls to lawmakers over the July 4th recess with the hope of coming to an agreement to repeal and replace Obamacare when they return on July 10th.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, at the White House.


VANIER: All right. Stay with us. "CNN INSPIRATIONS: WILD DISCOVERIES" starts right now. We're back in 15 minutes with the headlines.