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Top Stories of 2005; Katrina Strikes; Wrath of Rita; Killer Tsunami; Remembering a Pontiff; London's 9/11; Michael Jackson Verdict; American Natalee Holloway Missing

Aired December 26, 2005 - 23:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up tonight, a special presentation on the biggest stories of a very nearly unbelieveable year. 2005 would have been remembered for generations, even if it had only been the year of the pope's death, or the year of the hurricanes, or the year of the tsunami, or the year of the London bombings. But it was the year of all those stories, and others, too.
Stay tuned for a remarkable hour.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm John King, in for Anderson Cooper.

Welcome back to a special hour of 360, where the top stories of 2005 come full circle.


ANNOUNCER: It started with the devastation left by a killer wave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's coming again!

ANNOUNCER: It continued with the passing of an inspiration and an era.

2005 saw the disappearance of one girl that remains a mystery, and the trial of a pop legend who remains an enigma.

There was terrorism overseas.

And a natural disaster, followed by a man-made mess here at home.


Tonight, a year we won't soon forget: remembering the stories you voted most popular on

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360: "'s Top Stories of 2005" from the CNN studios in New York.

KING: Every year, certain days become more than just a day. Four years ago, the world stood still for Americans on 9/11. 2005 was no different.

For the Gulf Coast, the day was a Monday in August -- 8/29. A nightmare was about to begin, a disaster that would expose ugly realities about poverty, power and privilege, and colossal failures of leadership.

Anderson Cooper covered it all.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Katrina slams into coastal Louisiana and Mississippi at dawn on August 29th: winds 140 miles an hour, storm surges as high as 3-story buildings. The storm rips at, rips up beachside communities, working-class neighborhoods miles inland for hours.

In New Orleans, a city built below sea level, officials pray the levees will hold. Most do, but most is not enough. A few levees erode. Some are overtopped. A churn of debris-filled water pours in, rises fast up to the rafters of two-story houses; 80 percent of the city is flooded. Thousands are stranded. In the first five days after the storm, almost 2,000 people are rescued by boats, more than 5,000 brought to safety by Coast Guard helicopters.

We were videotaping a helicopter rescue. Two people plucked from their home by this massive machine. The helicopter's rotors churned up filthy water, spraying it on our cameras, getting it into our mouths.

The standing water is foul by chemicals, gasoline, and the bodies of the dead, floating in the open, entombed in flooded houses, ungathered, uncounted.

All week I've been referring to the dead. I've seen its bodies and the corpses. I should be ashamed of myself. These are human beings, Americans, our neighbors. They have families, they have friends, and now they have nothing -- no life, no future. Not even dignity in death.

Despite 24-hour television coverage of the flooding in New Orleans, chaos at city hospitals, looting by both the greedy and the desperate, top federal officials are slow to mobilize large-scale emergency aid to the city. Forty-eight hours after the storm, I talked to FEMA Director Michael Brown.


COOPER: What about air drops of food or air drops of water? I mean, is that feasible? What about bringing things in on boats or bringing in the Army? Is that possible?

MICHAEL BROWN, FEMA DIRECTOR: Anderson, it is possible. And in fact, the president today said whatever I need, I have available. So what you're seen is unacceptable. We're going to speed that up. And we're going to help those people.


COOPER: Top officials don't seem to grasp the scale of the disaster.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In our judgment, we view this storm as a temporary disruption that is being addressed by the government and by the private sector.


COOPER: But conditions are appalling in the sweltering mass shelters in New Orleans. More than 20,000 people in the storm-damaged Super Dome; 15,000 people stuck in the New Orleans Convention Center.


CROWD: We want help!


COOPER: There's almost no food, water, medical care or sanitary facilities.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to need some help. We got babies -- oh yes, I got three kids. They need water, milk, bottles. They don't have nothing -- newborn babies, premature babies, everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got bodies in there. You got two old ladies that just passed -- just that died. People dragging the bodies into a little corner.


COOPER: It takes four days -- four long days before major government relief efforts are underway. Twelve thousand evacuees are bussed from the Super Dome to the Astrodome in Houston. Thousands more are air-lifted to other cities offering help. Forty thousand National Guard Troops are finally mobilized to restore order, distribute relief supplies to the suddenly homeless.

Everywhere we go, people ask us where is the help? When is it coming? Tent cities and emergency funds for the living, identification and burial of the dead. Where is FEMA, they ask?


BUSH: And Brown, you're doing a heck of a job.


COOPER: Government officials at the White House and in Congress at times seem oblivious, unaware of the failed slow federal disaster response.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congress is going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA --

COOPER: Excuse me, Senator --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- and the Red Cross up and operating.

COOPER: Sorry for interrupting. I haven't heard that because for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other -- you know, I got to tell you there are a lot of people here who are very upset and very angry and very frustrated.



COOPER: Truth is, people aren't frustrated here, people are dying here. They've died here in Waveland, they're dying still in New Orleans. So it's not just frustration. It goes much deeper than that.


COOPER: It becomes the largest migration of Americans forced from homes since the "Dust Bowl Days" of the 1930s. In New Orleans, a city of half a million, fewer than 10,000 remain one week after the storm.


COOPER: You drive down streets and don't recognize a thing. The water, the waste -- New Orleans is buried. You clear trees and debris and feel on your own. It's a flooded frontier, the edge of the world.


COOPER: People are scattered, most to nearby cities -- Houston, Baton Rouge, Atlanta. Others are farther flung -- Utah, Ohio, Massachusetts. Parents are separated from their children. Most of the missing are found in other shelters, taken into private homes. Others are not found until the levees are patched, until workers begin pumping water out of this city, until recovery teams can finally get into the most damaged neighborhoods.

The bodies of 34 elderly and disabled patients are found at St. Rita's Nursing Home. More bodies are recovered. A total of 400, then 800. As the death toll rises, so does outrage over the city's poor evacuation plan, over FEMA's weak, slow response.

FEMA Director Michael Brown is relieved of his duties and resigns.

It's been four months since Katrina. The great city of New Orleans is a shell of what it was.


COOPER: But the houses remain untouched. They've been searched, the bodies have been removed, but all the debris remains.


COOPER: Whole swaws (ph) of the city are empty, ruined. But the guidebook parts of the city, the French Quarter, Bourbon Street are alive again, restaurants serving a toufay (ph) and gumbo, jazz playing.

There are people on the streets, people coming back, vowing to rebuild.


RAY NAGIN, MAYOR: Read my lips. We will rebuild New Orleans and the lower night war (ph).


COOPER: For those of use who were in Katrina's path, who saw firsthand what this storm did, there are so many questions still to be answered. So many memories, vivid and often conflicting. Terrible human suffering and thousands of acts of human kindness. Memories of what the forces of nature can destroy and what human nature can withstand. So many examples of that, but one stands out.

A woman we met in the hell that was New Orleans, a week after the hurricane. An old, legally blind lady -- they call Ms. Connie -- waits with her companion, a lab named Abu.


CONNIE, LEGALLY BLIND: I'm not sure where I'll end up, but I'm very sure that God knows where I'll end up.

COOPER: God is still watching over New Orleans?

CONNIE: Absolutely. Absolutely. Will she rise again? Yes, indeed. Absolutely.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Gulf Coast had barely begun to catch its breath from Hurricane Katrina, when another monster storm began barreling toward it. In the early hours, it looked like Rita would be just as devastating as Katrina. CNN's Randi Kaye braced herself and reported the story, from beginning through the aftermath.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice-over): For a few tense days, it looked like the Gulf Shore's nightmare was about to get a whole lot worse. What Katrina hadn't already destroyed, Rita was threatening to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And right here, right where the two states come together -- Texas and Louisiana -- this is the area that I'm most concerned about.

KAYE: On the heals of Katrina, Rita first slammed the Florida Keys. Then back at sea in the warm deep waters of the Gulf, Rita grew to a monster Category 5 hurricane, the third strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic.

With the heartache from Katrina just weeks old, officials ordered mandatory evacuations. This time evacuations began three days before Rita was expected to hit.

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Homes and businesses can be rebuilt. Lives cannot.

KAYE: Residents listened. Patients were air-lifted from hospitals and nursing homes. People already displaced by Katrina, packed up and moved yet again. Millions of motorists, some waiting in traffic jams 100 miles long, fled the Coast.

Searching for safety, many found frustration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Traffic is not moving. We go a car length at a time. One car length, one car length, it's frustrating.

KAYE: In one case, the evacuation turned tragic. Near Dallas, a bus packed with elderly evacuees burst into flames after oxygen tanks onboard exploded. 86-year-old London England was one of the victims.

BETHANY WHITE, VICTIM'S GRANDDAUGHTER: He was trying to be safe. They were trying to keep him safe and he lost his life trying to be safe.

KAYE: In all, 23 people on board the bus died.

By the time Rita came ashore, it was a Category 3 storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like I'm being pressure-washed. This is the wettest hurricane I've ever seen.

KAYE: In Galveston, with the hurricane at full force, firefighters fought a blaze in the historic district. At the same time, just up the coast in Bay Port, Texas, our CNN crew fought the wind and the rain. Rita was upon us, biting at everything in her path.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Over here, we still have these palm trees -- and it's pretty hard to turn actually into the wind.

KAYE: Like Katrina, some people decided to ride out Rita.

Cliff Shoke captured on home video what happened as flood waters began rushing into his home. CLIFF SHOKE, RITA SURVIVOR: I ain't seen no snakes yet. The house was breaking apart. So I made a decision. I crawled to the north side of the house and took my shotgun and blew the -- blew the wall out. Just in case it fell, we didn't want to be in the attic. I jumped out the window and swam across the road to the neighbor's house and got a boat. I mean, and as I was swimming across Highway 82 in about six foot of water, the Coast Guard helicopter was coming over, and I was like, man, that's good news.

KAYE: There was more good news in places like Cameron Parrish, Louisiana, where Rita made landfall. Residents had evacuated. Not a single person died in the Parrish. But thousands of cows did. Left stranded, now blinded by salt water and starving mad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll leave here and go down to Cameron.

KAYE: By helicopter, I traveled with Lt. General Russell Oneray (ph), to survey the damage. He was the man in charge of humanitarian efforts here. Homes and businesses were under 15 feet of water. In the town of Creole, the courthouse was the only building left standing. Still, having witnessed Katrina, everyone knew Rita could have been much worse.

Compare this operation if you would, to that of Katrina. How did Hurricane Rita compare?

RUSSEL HONORE, LT. GENERAL: Rita was a (inaudible) event, of (inaudible), lady named Katrina.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the other side of the globe, more destruction, more deaths. Remembering a killer wave, next.

And later, Michael Jackson in court, accused of child molestation. A trial with a circus, both inside and outside the courthouse. This is a special edition of 360 -- the top stories of 2005.



ANNOUNCER: A strong earthquake has jolted the (inaudible) island of Sumatra.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was actually no warning.

ANNOUNCER: Bill Dimple, II, has passed away.

Joseph Ratzinger will become the next pope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where a form attack on mainland Britain ever. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you heard a gunshot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just unbelievable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their children will read about this in their history books.


KING: Welcome back to this special edition of 360, the Top Stories of 2005. This one actually began in the last week of 2004, but its impact lingered into 2005 and won't be forgotten anytime soon.

Anderson Cooper takes us back to the day the killer tsunami hit the shores of the Indian Ocean.


COOPER: Seven in the morning on the day after Christmas 2004, when the first rumblings were felt. An earthquake measuring 9.3 on the Richter scale, erupted under the Indian Ocean. It was the second largest quake in recorded history. But what followed was an almost unimaginable horror.

First, in Sumatra, then Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, crushing everything in its path, destroying the richest resorts and the poorest of villages.

VITYA CHAKRABANDU, LE MERIDIAN, KHAL LAK: The water came through and it came through the whole building. And then knocked me completely down in the water. And most of the time I was behind that palm tree.

COOPER: With every onrushing wave, more lives were lost. And no one who lived through it will ever forget what they saw.

PAT ROONEY, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: As we walked towards the beach, you know, we saw our lives basically looked like they were coming to an end because this sort of a cartoonish wall of water was coming at us. And we've reflected back on the earthquake we felt that morning, thinking, oh my goodness, this is the result of the earthquake. We put two and two together, you know in a split second time, as you're, you know, just basically turning and running. We turned and ran and we figured that we were going to get crushed.

COOPER: It was a disaster that didn't discriminate. From local farmers and fishermen to tourists at the (inaudible) resorts, to the rich and famous, spending their Christmas holidays in paradise. They all came away with harrowing tales of survival and loss.

Supermodel Petra Nemcova lost her fiance, Photographer Simon Atlee.

PETRA NEMCOVA, SUPERMODEL: And I catch from my eye, like people running and I looked at -- out of the window and the people were running away, screaming, trying to jump into the pool. COOPER: Those fortunate enough to see the tsunami, racing furiously toward them before it hit land, ran for their lives. Some, holding onto anything they could to keep from drowning. Others, seeking shelter in the hills, staying there for days, in fear that another wave could wash on the shore at any moment.

ROONEY: There was that, you know, not knowing. And no one knew what the second tsunami, the quote, unquote "aftershock," was going to look like and was it going to be even higher? Did we -- do we need to get higher? And you know, we were ridiculously high. It would have, you know, it would have been unbelievable to think that we could have actually been, you know, damaged by another wave. But you don't know that. No one knows.

COOPER: But it wasn't until the deadly waters had receded, that the true extent of the devastation became clear. Once luxurious hotels, reduced to rubble. Homes decimated, or simply gone. And everywhere -- everywhere, there was death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those -- I could see it -- dead bodies, children and women mainly. And the majority of them were children. I had to clear a path through the water by pushing these people away and heading as far inland as possible.

COOPER: On that day, with every hour that passed, the number of dead grew larger. From the tens to the hundreds to the thousands, to the tens of thousands. Photos of the missing appeared on walls everywhere. Their loved ones, desperate for any word that by some miracle, by some chance, they might still be alive.

Within hours, journalists descended on this part of the world. And what we found was shocking.

It's easy almost to become jaded to it all. There's so much debris, there's so much wreckage. And it's just foot after foot, block after block, street after street. It just keeps going on and on.

We saw the terrible toll the tsunami took on the region's people and on animals. So many dogs and cats, alone and abandoned, became strays, searching for their owners, starving in what was left of the streets.

There are dogs everywhere you go. It's -- and they're very persistent. This dog looks like its leg -- its left leg -- left paw seems to be broken.

Perhaps saddest of all, the thousands of children left orphaned by the wave. Their parents gone in the blink of an eye, not yet understanding that in a matter of moments, their lives had changed forever.

But through the terrible carnage, there were some small glimmers of hope. Who can forget this picture? 2-year-old Jonas Bergstrom (ph), found alone on a beach in Phuket, Thailand, bruised, but alive. Reunited with his father, days after the storm. And now, one year later, some towns, torn to pieces, crushed under the weight of the raging ocean, are just slowly starting to rebuild.

Homes and hotels are albeit slowly being repaired or replaced. And there is promise, too, that the precious tourist industry will return as well, with Thailand's tourist association predicting a resurgence in the first three months of 2006.

But the resiliency of the people of that devastated region doesn't surprise tourists who survived the tsunami. They remember not only the terror of that tragic day, but the kindness of those who lived there and those who lost so much.

ROONEY: And that's the thing that we take away from there, was, you know, it was a horrible, you know, natural disaster, but the compassion that my kids experienced and, you know, the kindness of the Thai people, they'll never forget that.

COOPER: Anderson Cooper, CNN.


KING: In April, around the globe, tears from faithful followers -- another top story of 2005, the death of Pope John Paul II. That's next.

Also ahead, vanished in paradise. The search for American Natalee Holloway, a mother's pain, her plea for justice.

This is a special edition of 360.


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. A special edition of 360, the Top Stories of 2005, on continues in a moment. But first, here's a look at some of the headlines at this moment.

Miami, Dade County, Florida, a suspected serial rapist back in jail. Just moments ago, police say Reynaldo Elias Rapalo was captured, six days after he escaped from the county jail. Rapalo is accused of raping seven girls and women, ages 11 to 79.

A bizarre scene in New Orleans today, as a man wielding a knife was surrounded by armed police officers. The man had run out of a pharmacy after hitting the store's manager, and was eventually shot and killed by police.

More violence in Iraq. An American soldier was killed in Baghdad today when his patrol vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. The soldier's identity has not been released, pending notification of his family.

This death brings the toll of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war to 2,167. Doctors in Israel announced today the country's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will have surgery in the next two or three weeks. The operation will repair a small hole in his heart that was found after tests following a recent minor stroke. Doctors say the procedure will prevent future blood clots.

A two-mile high column of ash and glowing rocks emerged from Mexico's giant Popocatepetl volcano yesterday. No nearby towns were affected.

Stay with us. Coming up, more of's Top Stories of 2005.


KING: As we continue to look at the Top Stories of 2005, we turn to the death of a man who was a spiritual leader to the masses. A man whose funeral was like nothing ever seen before. Remarkably, millions of people of all faiths came to grieve and to say good bye to this one man who left an impact on countless people around the globe.

Anderson Cooper now looks back at the life and death of Pope John Paul II.


COOPER: On April 8, Pope John Paul II was laid to rest. The pomp and ceremony, proof if his status as the spiritual leader of the world's one billion Catholics. The grief of those who came to mourn, proof of how much the shepherd was loved by his flock.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN FAITH & VALUES CORRESPONDENT: The thing that struck me about the funeral and the days leading up to it, as the people started to come, was first of all, the Vatican had never seen the number of people -- the sheer number -- the crowds. And it was all as if it was in slow motion because they were moving and some were praying and some were crying and mostly they were just walking around. There was a kind of stillness and a kind of disbelief. Which is so strange is you consider that Pope had been so ill. He was old. Everybody knew he was going to die.

COOPER: The first signs of the pope's decline became more than two months before, on Sunday, January 31, as the pontiff delivered his regular homily to the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square. His voice was hoarse, his body frail, both from age and from his long battle with Parkinson's disease.

Two days later, the Vatican announced the pope was sick, suffering from the flu and problems with his breathing. For the first time in two years, illness caused him to cancel his public appearances. And hours later, he was taken to the hospital.

The faithful flocked to churches to pray for the man who was their pastor for nearly 27 years, and he seemed to grow stronger. Holding mass by his bedside, waving to the crowd through his hospital window. And on February 10, he left the hospital, went home to the Vatican and that Sunday, blessed the crowds that once again gathered in the square.

GALLAGHER: Amongst the people who followed him very closely, there was still a sense in February, two months before he died, that it might not be that serious.

COOPER: Their joy, however, would be short-lived. On February 24, word came from the Vatican that the pope's health problems had worsened. He was once again rushed to the hospital, where doctors performed a tracheotomy and placed him on a ventilator to help him breath.

GALLAGHER: Everybody was almost assuming, even at the point when he was having the tracheotomy, that things would be okay in the future. Only some very serious naysayers were sort of saying, oh this is the end. Now, part of that, I think, is because nobody wants to say what might be right in front of their face, but part of that is also because over 26 years, this is the man who led everyone to believe with good reason that he can come back from anything.

COOPER: At the start, it might have been hard to predict that this man, Karol Josef Wojtyla, would one day be pope. He as born in Poland in 1920. His father, Karol, was a tailor and a retired army officer. His mother, Amelia, a teacher. Young Karol was said to have been an excellent student and a natural athlete. But his family life was beset by tragedy. An infant sister died before he was born. His mother died just before his ninth birthday. And when he was 12, his older brother died of Scarlet Fever. His passion for poetry and theater, led him to join an experimental theater troop, but his passion for the church was never far from his mind.

When the Germans invaded Poland and eventually began rounding up Polish men, he sought refuge in a residence of the archbishop of Krakow. He studied at an underground seminary and was ordained a priest in 1946. During the reform process, known as Vatican II, his was a voice for modernizing the church. In 1962, Wojtyla was named acting archbishop of Krakow. In 1967, he was elevated to cardinal, and in 1978, came the stunning news from the college of cardinals, Karol Wojtyla had been elected pope.

GALLAGHER: John Paul II was elected on the eighth ballot. So he wasn't an automatic choice, as we saw with Benedict the 16th, who came in on the fourth ballot. And he was a revolutionary choice.

COOPER: He was just 58 years old, the youngest pope in more than 130 years. The first non-Italian pope in more than 450 years. He would become the most traveled pope in history, with more than 100 trips abroad, winning the hearts of the faithful wherever he went, packing stadiums and public squares.

GALLAGHER: I heard one thing over and over from people young and old, really. Everybody said, he reminded me of my grandfather. He reminded me of my father. And there was always this analogy with their own family. So, sort of a member of the family. And it sounds almost trite to say that; and yet, people from all different cultures, all different religions, had that sense about him. COOPER: But early in his papacy, as he greeted a crowd in Rome, a young gunman fired from the crowd, nearly killing the pope. After months of an agonizing recovery, John Paul practiced the love that he preached and forgave the man who shot him.

He devoted his papacy to the fight for peace and justice, taking world leaders to task, challenging Mikhail Gorbachev on communism, Fidel Castro on human rights, and Ronald Reagan on nuclear arms.

JOHN PAUL II, POPE: Peace is not only the absence of war, it also involves reciprocal trust between nations.

COOPER: He'll also be remembered as the pope who worked to bridge religious divides. He was the first pope to visit synagogue. And his image is immortalized in Jerusalem's Western Wall. He was by any standards, a staunchly conservative pope. And he was criticized for his stance against birth control and abortion, and for refusing to give women a greater role in the church.

In John Paul's later years, the church was beset by the sex abuse scandal. It was also a church with a steadily declining membership, especially in its European heartland. But his power to connect with the public, never left him and drew tens of thousands to St. Peter's Square when word came that the end was near.

And late in the evening on April 2, the end came. The pope died. His last words, let me go to the house of the Father.

An estimated two million people lined up to say one final good bye to John Paul II, to walk by his coffin as he lay in rest. And the world watched as hundreds of thousands gathered in the square on April 8 for his funeral, a simple mass steeped in ancient ritual, the final image of John Paul II in a simple wooden coffin, carried back into the vicilica (ph) that was his home.

But other images would follow, images that would represent the future of the Catholic church. The white smoke billowing from a chimney, told the world the college of cardinals had elected a new pope, Benedict the 16th, the man whose job it would be to fill the shoes of the fisherman.

Anderson Cooper, CNN.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: We take you to London, next, where terror struck underground and above. A deadly morning rush hour. Then weeks later, another attempt. Another Top Story of 2005, ahead.


KING: In London, they called it their 9/11. July 7, 2005, 7/7, the day the terrorists struck. Four bombs that shattered an ordinary weekday morning. Within days, it would become clear that the attacks were not the work of hateful outsiders. The enemy was much closer than that. Here's CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The earliest reports of a disruption on the London Underground during the morning rush hour, said that it was due to a power surge. But those first reports were wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard a very loud bang to my (inaudible) and the carriage filled with smoke.

AMANPOUR: Terror underground. Three nearly simultaneous explosions on three separate trains beneath Central London at about 8:51 a.m., on July 7. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a flash of light, people screaming. (Inaudible) had to get out of the train.

AMANPOUR: Then at 9:47 a.m., another blast. This time, above ground, on a London bus, in Tavistock Square. London was in shock. Four bombs on the mass transit system, just one day after the city had celebrated winning the 2012 Summer Olympics.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: There have been a series of terrorist attacks. And our thoughts and prayers, of course, are with the victims and their families.

AMANPOUR: The victims, they were a cross-section of London's metropolitan culture. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, British, Nigerian, Israeli and Turkish.

KEN LIVINGSTONE, MAYOR, LONDON: And what those bombers wanted was that we would turn on each other like animals in a cage. Nobody did that.

AMANPOUR: There was no prior warning, but police thought they knew who was responsible.

SIR IAN BLAIR, METROPOLITAN POLICE COMMISSIONER: This explosion has the hallmarks of Al Qaida.

AMANPOUR: It was calls from two families whose sons had not returned to the northern city of Leeds, that gave police their biggest clue to the identity of the bombers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so this afternoon, I can confirm the identity of the man who traveled from West Yorkshire and who died in the explosion at Aldgate. He was Shehzad Tanweer, age 22.

AMANPOUR: He was one of four young British men. We would come to know them as homegrown terrorists, who on this closed-circuit TV photo, taken the morning of the bombings, showed no signs of nervousness, no hint that backpacks were full of explosives.

The oldest, Mohammad Sidique Khan, was a teacher's aide, who worked with young children. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my son, he said, this is Mr. Khan in my school. I said, no, this is not him. Yes, this is Mr. -- Oh my God! What? This is your teacher? Yes. I'm very scared.

AMANPOUR: Their families and their friends kept saying they couldn't understand it. Some wondered if the plan was hatched when two of them traveled to Pakistan last year.

BASHIR AHMED, SHAHZAD TANWEER'S UNCLE: So, I can't see how could he do that.

AMANPOUR: Then two weeks to the day later, on July 21, there were attempted bombings on the three London subway trains and a bus. This time, however, the bombs failed. They didn't explode.

ANDY HAYMAN, METROPOLITAN POLICE: Do you recognize any of these men? Did you see them at the three underground stations or on the bus?

AMANPOUR: If the city was on edge, the police were even more so, shooting down an innocent Brazilian man they thought was one of the bombers, the day after those attempts. The man was unarmed.

By the next week, the police did get their suspect. After a dramatic standoff, two were captured in a London apartment, another was picked up in Rome after he had fled there.

Despite the timing, investigators now say there was no apparent connection between the bombers of July 7 and July 21.

(On camera): The passengers have returned to the London Underground. The memories of the July bombings are receding. But for the British, important questions remain. How could this happen here? How could four young men, all British born, turn themselves into suicide bombers?

(Voice-over): One of those four July 7 bombers left a clue behind. In a videotaped last will and testament, released by Al Qaida in September, Mohammad Sidique Khan made it clear that he did this in the name of Islam.

MOHAMMAD SIDIQUE KHAN: We are at war, and I am a soldier. Now, you, too, will test the reality of this situation.

AMANPOUR: Khan's words were a clear reminder that on July 7, the war between West and radical Islam had reached yet another western shore. Christiane Amanpour, CNN, London.


KING: Back to the U.S., in a legal fight for Michael Jackson, the music star. In court, accused of child molestation. A Top Story of 2005. Coming up, see what he's up to now.

Plus, vanished in Aruba. American Natalee Holloway and her mother's anguish. This is a special edition of 360.


KING: One of the most covered stories of 2005 unfolded in a California courtroom. Measured by minutes of airtime and inches of print, the trial of Michael Jackson was hard to outdo. As for sheer drama and weirdness -- by those measures, too, it was in a class of its own. Here's CNN's Rusty Dornan.


RUSTY DORNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A man under suspicion. Always the showman, Michael Jackson facing child molestation charges, hops atop an SUV in front of the courthouse. The antics toned down when the trial began, sort of. There was the pajama day. Once he turned up so late to court, the judge threatened to have him arrested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pain in the neck!

DORNAN: Outside the courthouse, the circus ring. Thousands of media and hundreds of fans from around the world, as well as the protesters.

Inside the courtroom, prosecutors promised many things. Jackson, they claimed, molested a 13-year old boy after supplying him with alcohol. And the superstar conspired to hold the boy and his family captive inside Neverland.

But the prosecution's strategy often backfired on the witness stand. One of the weakest witnesses was the accuser's mother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She put on a German accent. She snapped her finger, she performed. And her answers were sometimes contradictory. They brought out facts about her having lied in the past, and she admitted it.

DORNAN: There was plenty of salacious court testimony about Jackson's behavior around young boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sleeping in a bed with children --

MICHAEL JACKSON: No, you're making a -- no, no, you're making it all wrong.

DORNAN: And there were Jackson's own remarks in this documentary, "Living with Michael Jackson," by British Journalist Martin Bashir. But the defense pointed out, it wasn't until after the film was released, that Jackson's accuser claimed he was molested. Something they contended, didn't make any sense.

Then there were the celebrity witnesses, like Larry King and Jay Leno. And of course, McCauley Caulkin. The former Child Star Caulkin said he slept in the same bed with Jackson, but told the court nothing ever happened. Legal analysts said it was irrelevant to this case whether Jackson had ever had relationships with other boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about the accuser. There's only one accuser. Only one alleged victim in this case. And if you don't believe that accuser, and if you don't believe his brother, Michael Jackson has to be acquitted.

DORNAN: Money was another headline for prosecutors. Was the man who built a fantasy land in his own backyard going broke? Prosecutors claimed he'd mortgaged everything to support his extravagant lifestyle, including his collection of Beatles music. That was the reason prosecutors alleged Jackson held the accuser's family hostage, to protect his own reputation and his millions.

As the trial wore on, Jackson's pale, thin appearance, plus two hospital visits, sparked speculation about his health.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was not because he was sick, but because Mr. Gregory said, you look a little dehydrated and I feel that you need electrolytes.

DORNAN: Never far from his side during the entire trial, Jackson's mother and sometimes his father. As the case drew to a close, his siblings again joined the parasoled entourage.

Jackson's final wave to fans as he left for Neverland to await his fate. Ten days later, on June 13, the verdicts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury in the above-entitled case find the defendant not guilty of conspiracy as charged in count one of the Indictment. We the jury find the defendant not guilty of a lewd act upon a minor child.

DORNAN: For several jurors, it was the accuser's mother who tipped the scales in Jackson's favor. Foreman Paul Rodriguez says she just wasn't believable.

PAUL RODRIGUEZ, FOREMAN: We just thought that she was not a credible person.

DORNAN: To you, was that one of the biggest factors in your mind, raising reasonable doubt?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, actually, yes, it was. Yes, it was. When we listened to her and the way -- there were just so many things that came up.

DORNAN: On judgment day, just hours after Jackson was exonerated, Juror Ray Holtman (ph) told Larry King he had doubts.

RAY HOLTMAN (ph), JUROR: I feel that Michael Jackson probably has molested boys.

DORNAN: Doubts that have turned into tell all book deals for Holtman (ph) and another juror. Jackson headed to the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain after the trial and has remained in seclusion ever since. His publicist says he's working on a song to raise money for Hurricane Katrina victims, but his own financial future is more precarious than ever.

Yet the man who no longer tops the pop charts remains the subject of endless fascination. Rusty Dornan, CNN, San Francisco.


KING: Another legal drama. This one, in Aruba. American Natalee Holloway, missing. A massive search. Still, no answers. Coming up, her mother seeks justice. But will it ever happen?

This is a special edition of 360, the Top Stories of 2005.


KING: May 30 is the day that haunts the family of Natalee Holloway. It's the day she disappeared. 2005 was supposed to be a milestone year for the Alabama teenager. The year she graduated from high school and began college. Instead, her story became a cautionary tale for parents everywhere. Here's CNN's Rick Sanchez.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Family and friends were stunned. Natalee Holloway was just not the sort of girl who would vanish without explanation.

(On camera): Is there anything about Natalee that would make her want to in any way go away, run away --


SANCHEZ: -- disappear?


SANCHEZ: Nothing?


SANCHEZ (voice-over): Natalee was a straight A student, popular, on her way to the University of Alabama on a scholarship. But first, there was to be one last high school hurrah, a senior trip to the Caribbean island of Aruba.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We went out on the beach every day, hung out together. Our grade's really close and everyone hung out together the entire time.

SANCHEZ (on camera): The fact that students here at Mountain Brook High School decided to take their graduation trip out of the country is really not unusual. As a matter of fact, for students all over the country, this is becoming a right of passage. But for Natalee, there would be no such rite. On May 31, as the rest of her classmates were gathering in the lobby of this hotel, to return to Alabama, Natalee didn't show. In her room they found her luggage, her money, and her passport.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We immediately knew something was wrong. Because she was the first one to wake up. And when her roommates knocked on my door and said that they didn't know where she was, we went straight to the chaperones.

SANCHEZ: Natalee's mother, Beth Holloway Twitty, boarded a private plane for Aruba, where she made this promise.

TWITTY: I will stay here until I find you, Natalee.

SANCHEZ: Within a week she was getting help. A massive search effort that included the Aruban police, local volunteers, the Dutch military, even assistance from FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. At first Aruban authorities focused their inquiries on two hotel security guards. They were held for a week and then released. The first of many false leads. But while they were detained, police arrested three more suspects, 17-year-old Joran Van Der Sloot, and brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe.

Police say the three were seen leaving this night club with Natalee the night she disappeared. They told police they dropped Natalee off at the hotel, the Holiday Inn. So that's where police focused their search until they questioned Joran Van Der Sloot again.

(On camera): And by then the story had changed. Joran was now telling police that he had left Natalee right here on this beach, behind the Marriott Hotel, leaving police to wonder what else could have happened that night that Joran had not told them?

(Voice-over): His mother defended Joran. His father, a local justice official, was arrested for allegedly coaching his son. He was held for three days and released.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe in my husband. I believe in my son. I believe in my family.

SANCHEZ: By then, Natalee's disappearance and the twists and turns in the case had attracted international attention. There seemed to be as many reporters on the island as there were theories about what happened to her. One lingering question, though. Why had Natalee, dead or alive, not been found? Search and Rescue Expert Joe Houston.

(On camera): But if you take a body, for example, five, 600, 1,000 feet out, and just leave it there. Because of the winds and the currents, it would do what?

JOE HOUSTON, SEARCH AND RESCUE EXPERT: It would have a tendency to float, to go away from the island.

SANCHEZ: Away from the island? HOUSTON: Yes.

SANCHEZ: So that means there's a possibility in a case like this, if the worst were to have happened and we were to be talking about a body in his case, that you'd never find it?

HOUSTON: Exactly.

SANCHEZ, (voice-over): On July 4, after a month in custody, the Kalpoe brothers were released from jail.

TWITTY: These criminals are not only allowed to walk freely among the tourists and citizens of Aruba, but there are no limits where they may choose to travel.

SANCHEZ: She later apologized for making those remarks, but by then the bad blood between her and Aruban authorities was running deep.

SANCHEZ, (On camera): Are you convinced that Joran had something to do with your daughter's disappearance?

TWITTY: Absolutely. I'm convinced that all three of those individuals have something to do with her disappearance. All three -- all three are tied together -- in my mind, as her mother -- as tightly as they can be.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): There were countless false leads. July 26, authorities drain a pond, but find nothing. About the same time, a blonde hair attached to duct tape is found, but DNA tests determined it was not a match.

August 26, the Kalpoe brothers and another unnamed suspect were re-arrested. Prosecutors say they had new evidence, but the evidence seemed to lead nowhere, and they were released again. About the same time, Joran Van Der Sloot, who'd been held since early June, was also freed from jail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joran, how does it feel to be going home?

SANCHEZ: As for Beth Holloway Twitty, she finally left Aruba, two months after her daughter's disappearance. She returned to Alabama, where she joined Governor Bob Riley in calling for a nationwide boycott of the island, accusing authorities there of not taking the case as seriously as they should.

The year ends with no fresh clues about Natalee Holloway's fate and no end to her mother's anguish. Rick Sanchez, CNN, Atlanta.


KING: This special edition of 360, the Top Stories of 2005, continues in a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Thanks for watching this special edition of 360, the Top Stories of 2005. I'm John King, in for Anderson Cooper. "LARRY KING" is next.


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