Wednesday, July 19, 2006

CNN Announces Chilling Documentary IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BIN LADEN

Osama Bin Laden - In the Words of Those Who Know Him

CNN Announces Chilling Documentary Reported by Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour

CNN, the first television news organization to interview Osama bin Laden in 1997, will premier an ambitious documentary on the life and mission of the world′s most notorious terrorist, using firsthand accounts of the people who have known him best throughout his life. The two-hour investigation, reported by CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour and based on The Osama bin Laden I Know by CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen, offers numerous new details about bin Laden′s transformation from a quiet, well-bred boy to the Western world′s most wanted terrorist. Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S. announced at the Television Critics Association that In THE FOOTSTEPS OF BIN LADEN will premiere on Wednesday, August 23 at 9:00 pm The documentary will re-air on Saturday and Sunday, August 26 and 27 at 7:00 pm with a replay at 10:00 pm On Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10, the eve of the fifth anniversary of 9/11, the documentary will air at 7:00 pm. and 10:00 pm., all times Eastern.

"This is the kind of sweeping project that CNN is uniquely suited to produce," said Mr. Klein. "To uncover, for the first time on television, the real man lurking under layers of myth and misinformation requires a combination of world-class reporters, global resources, and complete commitment to covering the most important stories of our time." Filmed in 10 countries on four continents, IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BIN LADEN features 21 first-person accounts of bin Laden from his relatives, childhood friends, a former schoolteacher, co-jihadists, a bodyguard, even the wife of an al-Qaeda suicide bomber--many of them breaking their silence for the first time. "Each person that we interviewed knew bin Laden at some stage of his life and each has an incredible story to tell. We′ve obtained never-before-seen photographs, video...even the minutes of the meeting in which al-Qaeda was created," said Mark Nelson, vice president and senior executive producer for CNN Productions.

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BIN LADEN ties the evolution of bin Laden′s philosophy to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism from the late 1970s--through the unique personal perspective of Amanpour.

"The story of militant Islamic fundamentalism did not begin with September 11th," she noted.

"My family and I lived through the Islamic Revolution that swept Iran in 1979 and forced the pro-American Shah from power. We witnessed the beginning of Islamic fundamentalist politics and the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Fundamentalist Islam had awoken as a movement in the Middle East, and the entire world is feeling its shockwaves today."

"The events of 9/11 made Americans aware that events halfway across the world can hit us hard right here at home," said Mr. Klein. "We are unique among American news networks in making international coverage central to our daily programming. We′re the only American television network that produces a daily newscast focused entirely on international news, and our prime time programming regularly features international coverage--not only daily accounts from the front lines of Iraq, but also detailed reports on the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, rape victims in Congo, refugee children in Uganda, earthquake survivors in Pakistan, and life inside the North Korean dictatorship. In THE FOOTSTEPS OF BIN LADEN exemplifies our mission: to bring context to domestic and global news," Mr. Klein said.

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BIN LADEN is partially based upon The Osama bin Laden I Know, by Peter Bergen, an author and a Fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC. Mr. Bergen was a CNN producer at the time of the now famous interview with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in March 1997. Bergen, along with others, is featured in the CNN documentary and is credited as a co-producer.