tv BBC World News America PBS June 16, 2011 4:00pm-4:30pm PDT
>> this is "bbc world news america" reporting from washington, i'm jane o'brian. taking over al qaeda, bin laden's number two, ayman al-zawahiri is the new terror group leader and he vows to continue targeting the west. following the fallout from greece as the country struggles to put its economic house in order. the damage may spread far and wide. and another ancient site is under threat in afghanistan. welcome to our viewers on pbs in america and also around the globe. six weeks after osama bin laden
was killed, al qaeda has named a new leader. and to many, the choice comes as no surprise. ayman al-zawahiri has long served as the terror organization's number two and now, according to a web posting, he assumes the top slot. the u.s. state department dismissed any significance of today's announcement with the response that it barely matters. the bbc security correspondent, frank gardner, has more. >> al qaeda's new leader is a familiar figure. he worked hand in glove with osama bin laden for many years and has given al-qaeda much of its strategic direction. he's long been the group's most visible spokesman. here he is saying the war with the west will go on. disappointment has been largely welcomed on the extremist web site. bin laden and al-zawahiri collaborated closely. both were fugitives for years, hiding out in afghanistan and pakistan.
al-zawahiri, the natural successor to bin laden, is named the f.b.i.'s most-wanted terrorist, the leader of al qaeda. >> it's not a surprise that, from our perspective, that he's moved into that position. he and his organization still threaten us and as we did both seek to capture and kill and succeed in killing bin laden, we certainly do -- will do the same thing with al-zawahiri. >> so, what do we know about ayman al-zawahiri? well, he is a life-long egyptian extremist. he'll be 60 this sunday. he was the one who radicalized osama bin laden back in the 1990's and got him to think global. he was the operational brains behind the 9/11 attacks and the u.s. has long had a $25 million bounty on his head. al-zawahiri was radicalized long ago, imprisoned by the egyptian
state after the sadat assassination. the extreme moves of al qaeda have often been attributed to al-zawahiri. al qaeda's critics say he'll struggle to prove he has anything to offer. >> financially, it's reportedly drying up. its operational space is confined by drone strikes and leadership has been picked off. al-zawahiri has inherited an organization struggling to carry out transnational attacks. >> yet, this operative was carrying early plans for attacks on london's ritz hotel and eaton college, david cameron's old school. the plans were not advanced and it's not known if al qaeda's new leader knew anything about them. so al-zawahiri is taking over al qaeda at a crucial time for the organization. critics say it's fragmenting and
getting less behind in the middle east. others say it's done, but not out, still capable of lashing out against the west. >> frank gardner reporting. what do the shifts in al qaeda mean and just how much of a threat does the organization still pose? i discussed those issues with a senior adviser to the center for strategic and international studies and a senior analyst for cbs news. can anyone replace bin laden or as the u.s. and u.k. governments say, is this all really rather irrelevant? >> no one can replace bin laden. he was an iconic figure of the terrorist movement, the charismatic leader of al qaeda bund al-zawahiri is no bin laden but this is an important move for al qaeda because al-zawahiri is an ideological and strategic heavyweight for al qaeda. he's been with the movement in essence from the start. he's been a key voice for al qaeda, especially in the context of the arab spring, the voice from al qaeda has been al-zawahiri's voice. so the fact that he is now
leading the organization will try to coalesce the organization and try to reassert its significance and relevance in the middle east is incredibly important. >> given the disparate nature of al qaeda, so many offshoots across so many countries, can one man be a leader of this single organization? >> i think this is the major challenge for zawahiri, can he command this metastasized movement. can he command the lone wolves of those inspired via the internet the way bin laden has. i think that's a challenge because he's seen as a divisive character within al qaeda itself. but he is certainly going to try to reassert himself and the movement to keep the movement focused on its key strategic goals -- hitting the west and being relevant in the core of
its constituency in the middle east. >> how much of a threat is al qaeda? >> i think al qaeda presents multiheaded threat. i often call it the hydra, because you have a threat from the core, from zahiry and senior leaders still trying to hit the united states and the u.k., but you have affiliates, as well, trying to foment terrorist attacks not just locally but toward the west and now they're moving strategically to try to inspire a host of lone wolf actors to attack where they are and you've seen that from the messaging from senior al qaeda leaders and i think that presents multiple threats to counter terrorism officials around the world. >> you mentioned charisma, can al-zawahiri achieve the powerful, charismatic leader that bin laden was known for?
>> i think it will be hard for him. he starts at a deficit. he's a known quantity, not well liked within all al qaeda circles, considered part of the egyptian cadre. so it's going to be hard for him to do that. another thing to keep in mind in terms of al qaeda, it's not just the organization that requires a leader, but a matter of loyalty to the leader himself. people pledge loyalty to bin laden himself so whether or not he can command that kind of loyalty from the troops of al qaeda is a question to be answered. >> thank you very much for joining us. in indonesia, today, the radical islam cleric, abu bakar ba'asyir, has been jailed for 15 years for helping organize and fund an islamic militant group. he was previously jailed for two years in connection with the 2002 bali bombings. hundreds of his supporters gathered outside the court as today's verdict was announced
amid tight security. now to greece. a day after major protests in the streets, the political and economic drama continues to unfold. while the prime minister vows to reshuffle his government on friday in an effort to keep his own job, international leaders are scrambling to save the country from default and for the global market, uncertainty is wreaking havoc far beyond the borders of greece. >> the streets of central athens this morning, like the euro zone itself, in a bit of a mess. a new government is coming and a vote of confidence in parliament, in a country all but bankrupt, people reaching the end of the tether. i think the prime minister's trying, he says, but will it actually achieve anything? he's scared, she says, i think he's afraid. he should have taken action a year ago. yesterday, all the frustration erupted on to the streets again.
violent protests against massive austerity measures and job losses, much couched in nationalist terms. many greeks wonder whether the high price of staying in the euro is still worth paying and the rest of europe is worried. they've already given billions to greece but the medicine hasn't worked. they need to raise more money to keep greece afloat and are having to fight against a perception of paralysis, a sense that no one knows what to do next. >> we need unity. we've got to move beyond national quarrels, said president sarkozy this morning, we have to defend our currency and institutions. earlier this week, finance ministers discussed how to spend for a second bailout but couldn't agree. germany wants private bondholders to take their share of the pain but others say
imposing losses on the private sector could panic the markets. european leaders are meeting here next week to talk about greece. they will probably find a compromise eventually. the stakes are too high for them to fail. but if the greeks themselves no longer accept the terms of the deal, the crisis will deepen and that could affect us all. chris morris, bbc news, brussels. >> for more on that risk of contagion, i'm joined by a representative of the endowment for international peace. can you tell me, what happens if the greek economy does collapse, who will be hit first? >> europe. and greece is very intertwined with the rest of europe. greece will travel through the banking system. the french and german banks are heavily supposed to greek debt. credit rating agencies are
talking about downgrading the rating of french and german banks because of this. and the equities markets is going to go down, too, and then the whole issue of growth in europe and the rest and it can be quite messy and it can spread around the world very quickly. >> is there anything we can compare this to? is there any precedent in history? >> people are talking about argentina and argentina did default on its debt but it's not a very good parallel. it did happen at a time in which the world was growing and this is now happening to greece at a time in which the global economy is shrinking or is very frail and europe is especially frail. and also, that argentina had a write-down was about a third of what would apply in greece so we're talking and finally, a very important point that i should mention, is that
argentina was not part of a monetary system. greece is part of a european monetary system and that's quite important. argentina was not as intertwined with the rest of the world as greece is. >> so if greece is forced to leave this shared euro system, will that have an impact on the future of the euro itself? >> yeah, it's very likely, and that's why we are seeing european leaders trying to stop this from happening. it will be a huge threat for the stability of the european economy and also it can threat the european -- as a whole. >> is this inevitable? >> it depends more on what happens in the streets of athens and the greek cities and what happens in the corridors of power. we're seeing the powerful don't seem to have enough power to
contain the eruptions of raininger and resistance so it's more likely that will end up in political turmoil than in formal decisions. >> thank you very much for joining us. in other news, a russian envoy says he can envision a future for libya where colonel qaddafi remains in the country but power is given to the opposition. he told the bbc that qaddafi lost credibility from libyans and was urged to start a process of reconciliation. a bomb exploded outside nigeria's national police headquarters, killing a number of people. the device was in a car that tried to join a convoy escorting a senior official into the headquarters. for weeks, now, it is the story which has dominated the headlines here in the u.s. and today democratic congressman
anthony weiner announced he will resign at a raucous press conference in new york. his decision comes after he denied, then admitted sending sexually explicit photographs and messages to women online. >> from high-flying politician to national joke, all because of virtual bad behavior. at a raucous news conference, congressman weiner finally bowed to the inevitable, admitting he can no longer do his job. >> unfortunately, the distraction that i have created has made that impossible so today i'm announcing my resignation from congress. >> when his habit of sending half naked photos of himself to women he met online first emerged, the new york congressman tried to deny it. >> i did not send that tweet. my system was hacked. i was pranked. it was a fairly common one.
people make fun of my name all the time. >> tell me, definitively, is that a photograph of you? >> we're trying to find out where that photograph came from. >> so often, his attempt at cover-up only made things worse. he tried confession and apology. >> i'm deeply sorry for the pain this has caused my wife, huma, and our family. >> his pregnant wife is a top aide to hillary clinton, who knows a thing or two about marital sex scandals. it was a story in the u.s. media and the pressure on him kept growing. desperate to limit the damage for the presidential election next year, the democratic party closed ranks against weiner. >> i can tell you if it was me, i would resign. >> his brash style had marked him out and weiner was tipped as the future mayor of new york city but yet again, the u.s. politician has been brought down, not really for what he
did, but for trying to cover it up and lying about it. this is a sex scandal without any actual sex. congressman weiner never even met any of the women he sent his photos to. everything happened online, in the virtual world. but for him, it's had real world consequences with his political career now in ruins. andrew north, bbc news, washington. >> you're watching "bbc world news america." still to come, powering china into the future. one of russia's richest men is betting he can turn siberia's water into cold cash. to canada, where last night, the stanley cup was clinched by the boston bruins. it was a contest with the vancouver canucks which came down to a final game seven. the headlines this morning tell the tale. "the calgary sun" put it,
"canada's cup hopes were bruin'd." but it's the violence that erupted in the losing city that featured in this banner. and in vancouver, one paper went to the headline "mayhem" to describe the scene. >> they came expecting to see their team triumph. instead, the vancouver fans experienced only humiliation as boston trounced their heros to win the prestigious stanley cup. mayhem outside the stadium. vancouver was turned into a riot zone for several hours. there were running battles between some fans and the police.
others smashed shop windows and there were reports of widespread looting. for those not involved in the violence, there was only embarrassment. >> this is wrong for the city. this isn't the reputation we want. we did too much to bring this city to where it is today and this is what we do now? this is not what the city wants. >> the mob set light to vehicles and piles of rubbish. a plume of black smoke could be seen over the vancouver skyline. the city has paid a high price for sporting defeat. >> investing in china, it's quite a race. now one of russia's richest men is planning to pour billions into a scheme that would create
hydroelectric dams in eastern siberia and export the power to cash in on the region's booming economies. the bbc's moscow correspondent traveled to see one of the dams that is almost complete. >> putting the finishing touches on what will be one of the world's most powerful hydroelectric dams. this is baguchansir, built on the majestic angaria river. producing electricity from siberia's huge water resources is back in fashion. russian has woken up to the huge market for power on its doorstep. this enormous network of hydroelectric dams planned for eastern siberia has the potential to generate a vast amount of electricity. where i'm standing here is a good deal closer to china than
it is to the big population centers of european russia 2,000 kilometers away. leading the charge to turn water into cash is ala paska, one of russia's richest men. >> how soon could you ship significant electricity to china? >> five years. >> how much could you be shipping within five years? >> up to -- in four, five years, it's up to 15 -- 15 billion kilowatts. >> russia has an agreement with china to sell up to 50 billion kilowatts per hour in the next decade that could prevent the burning of 30 million tons of coal each year. most siberian towns have had to
be destroyed before the water's rise. in another almost abandoned village, we found this man refusing to leave until he was paid adequate compensation. >> nobody needs this hydropower plant anyway. there are other plants on this river which only work at half of their capacity and now it turns out this is all about export to china. >> at times, the resources hidden in russia's vast wildernesses seem endless, hydroelectric oil, gas, minerals, are there in abundance. it is irresistible to match them with the asian booming economy, but the landscapes will be swept aside in the rush for profit. >> that rush for profit is hardly isolated to russia.
in afghanistan, an ancient site is under threat. it's been 10 years since the taliban destroyed the ancient buddhas. now another site may be sacrificed for the sake of a chinese mining venture. >> in the hills, a site of what was once an al qaeda training camp, an astonishing discovery, a buddhist monastery filled with scientists and shrines more than 1400 years old. this is miz inac, the center of a buddhist kingdom before islam came to afghanistan. there's copper in the ground which made them rich and allowed them to build this grand monastery but the copper led to the creation of the settlement that will lead to its destruction because the chinese have bought the mineral rights
to this entire valley, will start mining soon and in a year, everything will be gone. the mine will bring millions in revenues to this desperately poor country. afghans and international archaeologists are trying to save what they can. >> what you see now is what is left, i would say. so you have this red color but you have to imagine that all these statutes were colored with gold leaf. the main thing for us is to document as much as we can of this site before it is destroyed. >> afghanistan has already lost so much. the taliban destroyed the buddhas, the national museum was looted during the civil war. its director says what is left must be saved. >> usually most of our cultural
heritage, destroyed, damaged, looted. the artifact, the human treasure belongs to everybody. >> these afghanistan treasures are on show at the british museum. they were saved from looters because they were hidden in presidential vaults. afghan museum staff kept the location secret for over a decade. now they travel the world because it's not safe for them to return home. but the museum in kabul, they're working to save what they can. these precious artifacts are some of the oldest buddhas in the world. in a country shadowed by war, facing so much uncertainty, what remains is more valuable than ever. >> our show is almost at a close but we couldn't go without showing you this footage from greece. he's one of the most committed
protestors who hasn't missed a riot for the last three years and he happens to be a dog. have a look. ♪ down the road is where i'll always be ♪ ♪ every step i make, i make a new friend ♪ ♪ just turn around and i'm gone again ♪ ♪ maybe tomorrow i'll settle down, until tomorrow, i'll just keep moving on ♪ >> well, that is all for this evening. i'm jane o'brian, for all of us at "bbc world news america," thank you for watching and have a very good night.
(exclaiming) (laughing) hey! announcer: funding for curious george is provided by contributions to your pbs station and from: and was made possible by: >> chuck e. cheese's, proud supporter of pbs kids, who know of all the things a kid can learn, one of the most important is learning to laugh. pbs kids, where a kid can be a kid. rainforest cafe, proud sponsor of curious george, reminding you that anyone can make the world a brighter place by conserving our natural resources. when you're saving one can... both: you're saving toucans! (toucan squawks) (lively drum intro) ♪ you never do know what's around the bend ♪ ♪ big adventure or a brand-new friend ♪ ♪ when you're curious like curious george ♪
♪ swing! ♪ ♪ well, every day ♪ every day ♪ ♪ is so glorious ♪ glorious ♪ george! ♪ and everything ♪ everything ♪ ♪ is so wondrous ♪ wondrous ♪ ♪ there's more to explore when you open the door ♪ ♪ and meet friends like this, you just can't miss ♪ ♪ i know you're curious ♪ curious ♪ ♪ and that's marvelous ♪ marvelous ♪ ♪ and that's your reward ♪ you'll never be bored ♪ if you ask yourself, "what is this?" ♪ ♪ like curious... ♪ like curious... curious george. ♪ oh... captioning sponsored by nbc/universal (chattering excitedly) narrator: it was morning in the country and george was eager to get outside. (gasps) (chatters "rain") oh... it's just a little rain.