tv BBC World News America WHUT March 22, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
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>> and now "bbc world news america." >> if we are reporting from washington. in toulouse, a massive fire fight, a jump from a window, and the man suspected of killing seven people in france is dead. questions remain. >> how did a 23-year-old petty criminal grow into a dangerous fundamentalist? and how did he get such an extraordinary arsenal? >> the death of an unearned teenager in florida sparks widespread protest, while the chief of police temporarily stepped down. and the changing faces of cuba. in old havana, two photographers have uncovered a different side of this island nation.
welcome to our viewers on pbs and around the globe. a radical islamist suspected of killing in france died as he jumped out of his apartment window, still firing weapons at the police. before his death, mohammed merah admitted to shooting jews and muslims in recent attacks. police had hoped to take him alive. the country is on edge. the president has warned the french public not to seek revenge. >> the final act of the most dramatic siege that had lasted over 30 hours. it was thought mohammed merah had taken his own life in the early hours of this morning, but as police moved in to clear the
apartment, there came intense gunfire that signified a ferocious last shooting. this is mohammed merah: about in his car. he was a 23-year-old criminal with a string of convictions for robbery and violence, a french citizen trained in afghanistan who claimed he had orders from al qaeda. for hours, he negotiated with police. late last night, he told them it was against his conscience to surrender. there were attempts to break his resolve. flash grenades were thrown at the apartment. with no response to the night, the decision was taken to send and commandos. they entered through the front, blowing off the door. using fiber-optic cameras, they picked their way slowly through the apartment, trying to locate mohammed merah until they reached the governor. suddenly, he appeared, armed
with a handgun, opening fire. two policemen were injured. mohammed merah jump from a ground floor window, wearing a bulletproof vest and firing wildly. outside was a marksman, who shot him dead. mohammed merah finished as he wanted, in a battle with police, with a gun. in three separate attacks, he had killed seven people. three soldiers from a parachute regiment, and three children and a rabbi at the jewish school. police said he confessed in negotiations that his only regret was not killing more. he had filmed his attacks, reveling in the gruesome way in which he had executed each victim. >> he told us he had been radicalized in prison and had begun reading the koran. but he did not show any sign of fundamentalism, although he was violent with other prisoners and had attempted suicide.
he had also traveled to the afghanistan, alone. he later emerged on the extremist websites. he raised enough money to buy an extraordinary arsenal of weapons, found in his car. >> -- today, nicolas sarkozy told the nation an investigation is underway to find accomplices. any person who goes on websites that glorify terrorism, will be punished by law. for a president facing a battle for reelection, it is an unsettling conclusion. throughout the week, he has been center stage in the crisis, overseeing the biggest manhunt france has ever known. questions have been asked by his own foreign minister. how did the domestic intelligence agencies lose track of such a violent criminal, who had traveled to afghanistan and was already on their radar as a dangerous fundamentalist? >> serious questions indeed. for the latest, i spoke to
kristin a short time ago. the police had hoped to take mohammed merah alive. what had they wanted to learn from him? >> that is right. that was the intention, to try to get him out of the flat alive so they could find out who his accomplices were, how he had been radicalized, what route he had taken to afghanistan, and how he bought the extraordinary cache of weapons in his apartment and car. that was not possible. he was determined and defiant. any attempt to pressure him through flash grenades -- it did not work. he wanted to finish with a gun in his hand, and he did. >> he had them on police watch lists before. the french public is saying, "why wasn't this guy caught earlier." >> very much so. he had been in prison between 2007 and 2009. he was a violent criminal.
he had a string of criminal offenses for violence and assault. he was known to the domestic intelligence agency. they knew he had been to afghanistan. they also knew he was serving extremist websites. how was it over the course of the last 11 days he was able to kill on three separate occasions? even after thursday, they had not picked him up. he cannot have been followed closely. the question is why. >> it might seem a bit callous to be talking about politics, but we have president sarkozy saying there must not be revenge and retribution. is that a fear, that in france there could be a turn against the muslim community? >> it is possible. i suppose. what we have seen is unity across the country, all sides coming together -- jews and muslims and christians marching together in toulouse and paris.
it has created unity in awful circumstances. in terms of politics, you have to watch the battle on the right. president sarkozy is trailing on the -- trailing in the polls. he needs votes from the far right, disillusioned voters who strayed. his talk about immigration, identity, race, and religion plays well on the right. his handling of this crisis will also play well. we will see whether he gets a vote in the polls. he has had more exposure than he would have gotten this week, because he has been managing the running of the crisis, and was here yesterday, meeting police. >> we will be watching that. thanks from toulouse. in the u.s., the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a neighborhood watch volunteer has sparked protests and a national debate. george zimmerman shot trayvon martin in florida late last
month. after climbing self-defense, he was not charged. criticism of police handling of the case has led to the chief temporarily stepping down. our correspondent reports from the town of sanford, where the killing took place. >> a memorial to trayvon martin, close to the spot he died. the 17-year-old carrying a bag of skills and a drink when george zimmerman shot him. the gated community take security seriously, but what happened almost a month ago is now a national issue. >> do you think he was yelling help? >> yes. >> what is your name? >> i just heard gunshots. >> emergency calls from residents captured the drama of the evening, but left questions hanging in the air. who attacked two? why did mr. zimmerman feel the need to shoot? did the police respond correctly?
the african american community thinks it knows enough already. at a methodist church, they come with stories of police brutality and corruption. >> it is really getting out of hand. there are too many young people that have died. >> the shooting they believe is part of a long, dishonorable tradition. mr. duncan is angry, but not impressed with the community response. >> it is almost reflexive in the aftermath in the community to protest, rally. at the end of the day, we need, as i said, 21st century solutions for 21st century problems. >> for now, it is mostly about sound and fury. in orlando on wednesday, protesters gathered outside the office that issues gun permits. they want mr. zimmerman's license revoked. many think florida's gun laws are at fault.
the man who wrote the book says that are getting it wrong. >> many people are upset about the situation, understandably. they have a right to be. but it is not the law that is the problem. it is whether george zimmerman acted lawfully or unlawfully. >> preparations are underway for a rally tonight. it was to have been held in a nearby church, but organizers moved it here because they feel it will be a big turnout, with buses bringing people from outside florida. al sharpton has a reputation for fiery rhetoric, but emotions are already rocks. he might want to tread carefully. bbc news, sanford florida. >> coroner's looking into the death of whitney houston have ruled that she died by drowning, but that heart disease and cocaine were contributing factors. the singer's body was brought back to her home state to b buried.
the grammy award winning singer was found dead in her hotel room in february of this year. the president of mali is reported to be sheltering in army barracks protected by troops after a coup. the rebels have been on state television, claiming they seized power. they suspended the constitution, closed borders, and arrested ministers and generals. the u.n. human rights council has called on trumka to investigate war crimes -- sri lanka to investigate war crimes during the conflict with tamil tiger rebels. the united states says there were not doing enough to hold to account those responsible for violations. the syrian government is reportedly continuing its assault on rebel strongholds tonight, despite a u.n. security council statement urging the withdrawal of troops from population centers so aid can reach civilians. these pictures, which have not
been verified, so -- show selling -- show shelling in homs. so far, the international community has been powerless to stop this bloodshed. but our other options that have not been fully explored? i spoke to congresswoman jane harman, director of the woodrow wilson center. thank you for joining me. we keep hearing there are no good options in syria, but you talk about one possibility. >> i do. i think it is good that yesterday the u.n. security council unanimously agreed on a statement, but that is all it really was. it was a peace plan, but not a plan of action. while that was happening and again today, scores of people are being gunned down in syria. i suggested a few weeks ago, and i hope it is happening behind the scenes, that what we did in yemen -- we meaning much of the
wo -- helped do this -- could apply to syria. we granted personal immunity to the leader of yemen, who left for medical treatment in the u.s. then restructured a unity government to succeed him. his been vice president has since been elected president. there is still some violence, but the massacres of civilians -- at least 2000 died there. 8000 so far in syria. it ended. we are helping with counter- terrorism in yemen, so al qaeda will not harm us or others in the west. that idea might be thought about for syria. bashar al-assad and his wife and immediate family -- apparently, it is a close family. they could be granted immunity before that are categorized as
war criminals and charged in the hague. it is a narrow window. but they could be granted personal immunity. the unanimous world could help structure a unity government to succeed them, including perhaps bashar al-assad's sect, which is about 11% of the population. that would be face-saving for bashar al-assad and his family. without that, i fear more bloodshed. there may be more statements but no real impact. >> you mentioned the tricky issue of immunity, which is what president saleh got in yemen. you think human rights groups, now that 8000 people have been killed in syria, would tolerate personal immunity? >> it is not an appealing option. i agree there are no good options. but it seems to me less bad than continuing what we have, which is ongoing bloodshed, a massacre
of thousands of civilians on the ground, and no end in sight. russia, so far as we know, is still arming the regime. the russian foreign minister apparently is taking a sharper tone with syria. may be behind the scenes russia is trying to broker something like this. but i would say to those who are outraged by what is happening, and i am one of those, that personal immunity and the structuring of a stable government to come immediately after, is a lot better than perpetuation of massacre and the likelihood of civil war. >> you have very close links to the intelligence community in the u.s. what is your understanding of what might push president bashar al-assad to sell -- to accept such a deal? >> i am not hopeful yet that he will accept such a thing. but with russia and china now on
the same page as the rest of the world, with respect to the need for a cease-fire in syria, the russians in particular could have influence over bashar al- assad. they are a supplier of arms. we have not mentioned the effect on iran, the immediate neighbor to the east of syria. if syria could be broken away from iran, i think this would be another tool short of war that might persuade the iranian regime to change its policy of building nuclear weapons. >> thank you for an intriguing possibility. in an update on a story we have been following closely, 18 surging the wreck of the cruise ship the costa concordia has found five more bodies. there were discovered in a hard to reach the area of the hall of more than two months after the vessel sank off the italian
coast. this brings to 30 the number of bodies found in iraq. two others remain unaccounted for. still to come, grinding to a halt -- workers in portugal take a stand against tough austerity measures. australia's most wanted fugitive has been captured after seven years on the run. duncan kennedy has the details of how it unfolded. >> bearded, hooded, and wounded. he limped out of the hospital after receiving treatment for a police dog bite, one of a number of injuries he picked up after police raided the house he was using in northern new south wales. they had been alerted after he activated a motion sensor officers had placed in unused holiday homes. >> he came out of the premises, out of a doorway, where he was
confronted by police. he quickly retreated into the house and attempted to exit out toward the back. the policeman again confronted him on that side. we had the building contained. a short scuffle ensued. he wasn't arrested. malcom naden is wanted for murdering two women and indecent assault of another. he spent years on the run, living off the land, even stealing food from a zoo to stay ahead of the police. so adept was naden at avoiding capture, he was like ned kelly from the 19th century. for police, the nearly seven years were spent with a wanted man who would make a mistake. naden appeared in the heavily- guarded court room, where he was
accused of murdering a 24-year- old woman and wounding a police officer. naden has been taken to a maximum security jail. liberty for this resource will but dangerous fugitive is over. bbc news in sydney. >> it takes a bold person to say the worst of the eurozone debt crisis is over. today, the head of the european central bank used those words. but for many across europe they ring hollow. in portugal, there were mass public-sector protests today. thousands took to the streets as part of a general strike staged by unions angry at the deep recession, record unemployment, and biting austerity measures. we meet some of the family's most affected by the cuts.
>> a middle-class suburb on the edge of lisbon. fernanda lives here with her 84- year-old mother and 11-year-old son. she is a civil servant. in the past few months, her modest earnings dropped by a quarter. she now relies on basic food handouts from her son to school. -- son's school. she says public-sector workers like her are being hit too hard. a few doors down, we need ms. costa, a teacher married to a teacher. both are earning less after government cuts. >> i do not think it is right. i have less money to spend. but i think it is necessary, because i think we lived beyond what -- our capacity. >> across the road, one of many small plots of land dotted around lisbon.
with tax increases, food is more expensive. now more people grow their own. at the local school, the head teacher says families who not long ago were the new rich are now the new poor. he says violent behavior has risen and more kids now arrive in the morning without eating breakfast. one obvious effect of the eurozone crisis is that countries like portugal have a shrinking public sector. while some argue the scale of government cuts is starving the economy of a vital source for growth, others see the crisis as an opportunity for a more efficient form of government. that is the mission of the government voted in last summer. after its bailout from brussels, portugal is on track to get public finances in order. >> if you look at our economy, our big problem was the creation
of companies, to get our judicial system quicker, to get our tax system consistent. all of that, we are working very hard so we can attract more companies. that is the secret of economic growth. there is no magic. >> there is a mood of the acceptance in portugal. many believe a short painful period of adjustment will set the scene for future growth. others are not so optimistic. bbc news in lisbon. >> the eurozone debt crisis -- is it really over? next week, cuba will host posed an addict, his first trip to latin america -- will host pope benedict. when he arrives, it will be hard to disguise the impact a punishing u.s. embargo has had on the country's infrastructure.
but the city is undergoing change. here is the first-person account. >> what is old havana? most americans see fidel castro and cigars. for me, it is the people. they are incredibly gifted, wonderful people. second of all, it is the chaotic visual of a city that has gone into decline. i have just finished a book about old havana, which to me captures the essence of what is going on in old havana. i am not a street photographer. i am and lance photographer. -- i am a landscape photographer. >> we tried to get a feeling of old havana. you get a special feeling, because you move to a different neighborhood. it is different. everything is different. we have a lot of color here.
the people are different, so friendly. they are very open. >> you can see the change in the way the people are receiving information. you can see they are starting to open businesses. they are facing such severe problems that they are having to change, and you can see it on the street level. i think the exciting thing is that cubans will finally see, in the last four years, that there is change coming. i have to say it took me awhile to get my sea legs, to be able to understand what i was photographed in. i wanted to be able to portray it from the heart, from my heart. there is renewal in old havana of for me it back to what it once was, the elegance. there are places that are falling down, with no hope. what i tried to capture is a sense of place that most people have never seen and have no
concept of. with that probably comes the good, the bad, and the ugly. >> you have to pass through the second place all the time, every day. the place could be different every moment, because have been is very alive, very vibrant. you have to move all the time. you have to train your i -- eyes to change perspective. we discovered all the time. it can be different any time. >> chip cooper and nestor marti. we will have full coverage of benedict'stc's -- historic visit on tuesday. thanks for watching.
>> make sense of international news at bbc.com/news. >> funding was made possible by -- the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu, newman's own foundation, and union bank. >> at union bank, our relationship managers use their expertise in global finance to guide you through the business strategies and opportunities of international commerce. we put our extended global network to work for a wide range of companies, from small