Frontline World

About the Series


TITLE CARD:  This program contains graphic imagery and adult themes. Viewer discretion is advised.

TITLE:  From the Producers of FRONTLINE


ANNOUNCER:  Tonight on FRONTLINE/World, three stories from a Small Planet.

ANNOUNCER:  In Canada …Jihadist propaganda in cyber space is recruiting Muslim youth in suburban neighborhoods

(shots of kids at school)

Mubin Shaikh: Youth, anger, irrationality – that’s a powder keg

ANNOUNCER:  An undercover informant goes inside the “cell next door” to reveal an alleged terrorist plot

(Mubin boxing; mug shots of terrorist suspects)

Mubin Shaikh:  We met in a park and he had a detonator with him.

ANNOUNCER:  Then, in Russia…Women are watching a hot new television series – Moscow’s answer to “Sex and the City”

(scenes from show, woman watching TV, production crew)

Victoria Gamburg: Watching reality intrude into this make believe world makes me wonder what the actresses’ real lives are like

ANNOUNCER:  Finally, in South Africa …

(kids on play pump spinning, getting water from pump)

A merry-go-round that pumps water...becomes a celebrity cause.

(Laura Bush, President Clinton, Steve and Jean Case on stage)

SHOW TITLE:  FRONTLINE/World: Stories from a Small Planet

ANNOUNCER:  Major funding for FRONTLINE/World is provided by… the Skoll Foundation….



ANNOUNCERAnd by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.





REPORTED BY: Linden McIntyre

(shots of people going to work/ suspects/ van/targets)

Canadians call it “Toronto the good.” North America’s fifth largest city— It is one of the world’s most multi-cultural communities …Toronto is notably harmonious … famously safe.

 Then last summer, a shock: news of a home-grown terrorist plot …the unthinkable threat of truck bombs.

(archival: court scene)

Overnight …Toronto’s moderate Muslim community was in the glare of international notoriety …  the world’s media reporting that 18 mostly young Muslim men stood accused of planning bomb attacks on prominent public targets … including the offices of the Canadian Security Intelligence service, called CSIS --- 

(police van entering courthouse)

The courts have just begun to hear their stories and not guilty pleas… but whatever the final verdicts … Canadian authorities believe they have disrupted the kind of home-grown terror cell that has already caused havoc in Europe.

(Mubin Shaikh & family on street)

Tonight an exclusive interview with a man who infiltrated the group –and who will be a key witness at the trials of some accused.  Mubin Shaikh is a devout Muslim who shared much of the passion and piety of the young men now awaiting trial. He considers himself a fundamentalist … but he was appalled by what he thought they planned to do.

(Mubin Shaikh)

Mubin Shaikh: Storming Parliament, kidnapping, like holding hostage the MPs, beheading them one by one, unless Canadian troops are pulled out of Afghanistan and Muslim prisoners are released from prisons in Canada. Ah, hit the CBC building, take control of their cameras, broadcast the message and the demands.

(Shaikh and his family at a playground)

Mubin Shaikh has a growing family … four young children. His Muslim faith defines most of the details of daily life for him and his wife, a convert to Islam.

But he volunteered to work with the authorities to help thwart a plot he saw as dangerous to his family, his Muslim community and his country.

Shaikh: At the end of the day it comes down to this. This is home for me; this is home for me. I can't have things blowing up in my backyard. I can't have that.

The plots, allegedly, were nurtured in neighborhoods like this … just west of Toronto, the city of Mississauga … All the accused were either Canadian-born, or residents of longstanding …
(Exterior of Amara home)

One of the alleged conspirators rounded up in a sweep early last June was arrested here. 
(exterior of high school; students)
Three of the accused attended this Mississauga high school.  To their fellow students they seemed normal … if a bit too earnest …followers of an austere version of Islam called Salafism. Their intensity set them apart even from most of their fellow Muslims.
(graphic of yearbook pictures)
Yearbook photos offer little insight into the motives of a studious young man like Fahim Ahmad … 
Or the funny, sociable, but devoutly religious  Zakaria Amara— he and Ahmad  are believed to have been leaders in the suspect cell.
(still photo Khalid)
Or followers, like the younger Saad Khalid, said to have found religion following the death of his mother.
(Spy Lab)
Canadian intelligence monitors spotted Fahim Ahmad 4 years earlier as he cruised the internet … chatting with people already known to security analysts as potential risks.
(graphics of Fahim on the Internet)
Here he signed on as “Soldier of Allah”…
And over time he seemed to become the center of a growing circle of friends with increasingly radical Islamist views. By 2005 CSIS wanted someone to get close to him….

(Mubin boxing)

It didn’t take them long to persuade Mubin Shaikh to take on a potentially dangerous assignment.
 He was skilled in martial arts … he had military training … he had a reputation as a tough guy in the gym and on the streets 

(Mubin Shaikh)

Shaikh: I've done it all. Acid, mushrooms. I've got 5 tattoos. Twelve self-inflicted cigarette burns. When I'm sober I'm doing all this.

(Mubin boxing)

In a moment of epiphany he realized hat he was wasting his life … and just as suddenly, he rediscovered the religion he was born to, but had never taken seriously… Islam.

(Mubin Shaikh)

Shaikh: I got burned out. That's what happened. The fast lane was too slow. I was living in the passing lane. 

McIntyre:  I mean, a Christian would say you were born again.

Shaikh: Yeah.

McIntyre:  Can you identify with that?

Shaikh: I can relate to it. It's similar in the Islamic context there was as reawakening. And I took it upon myself again in a more observant manner. So much so that I'm more observant overtly than even my own father. In fact most Muslims.

(archival: Mubin and his wife campaigning for Sharia law)

By 2005 he was campaigning for recognition of Sharia law.

(Archival Mubin Shaikh)

Shaikh: I subscribe to Islam; I’ve taken Islam as my way of life.  But it doesn’t mean that it goes hand in hand with oppression of women. 

But by then he was also leading a dangerous double existence … working as an undercover agent for the government.

(Mubin Shaikh)

Shaikh: Just because I'm all for Sharia law doesn't mean I'm all for blowing up buildings in downtown Toronto. I mean the damage that this would do to Islam, to the Muslims here. Forget Canada even I was thinking; because my interests were Islam and Muslims, even over and above Canadian interests. But it just so happens that they're complementary that - because, you know, I mean it would have been disastrous because you would have still had the same security response, condemnation, maybe even more strict tight clampdown on the Muslim community.

(Robert Heft at restaurant)

Restaurant owner and moderate convert Robert Heft was also concerned about radicalism. Once, after Friday prayers a young man handed him a jihadi video…

(Jihadi video)

It glorified the 9/11 hijackers … as martyrs. The young man was Fahim Ahmad. Heft confronted him.

(Robert Heft)

Heft: And then he just started talking about Jihad and what’s going on over, over the world, and I agree with him that the Muslims are having battles all over the world in legitimate oppression and there’s legitimate reasons to fight Jihad in some places in the world, but it wasn’t legitimate for us to bring our grievances to the civilians here in North America so I started talking about qualified scholars and he had no qualified scholars who believed in his views. He only believed that the people who were teaching him are the books or the websites he was reading, was the proof.

(Linden at computer)

Scholarship is replaced by indoctrination … through the Internet. Extremist groups are flooding cyberspace with Jihadist propaganda and inflammatory images calculated to provoke the conscientious young … 

(Mubin Shaikh)

Shaikh:  Everybody’s on the computer, PC games. It's easy to get CDs and just play them. You know, invite some friends over, have some barbecue chicken or whatever, some halal food and let's watch some jihad videos.

(Archival: Jihadi video and Osama Bin Laden)

They have, for some time now, been the primary targets of Al Qaida and it’s messianic leader.

(Michael Scheuer)

Scheuer: Bin Laden very clearly says things like, we Al Qaeda’s senior leaders have been fighting since our youth. We were instructed in how to do this by our elders. We are passing these instructions and guidance on to you. It will be your job, not only to fight after we’re gone but to instruct the next generation.
(Archival: Jihaid video of Afghanistan and Iraq and Saudi princes)
Typical of the instruction is this … the widely circulated last will and testament of the 9/11 hijacker, Abu Al Abas … downloaded from the internet by the Toronto group.

It is a familiar litany of Muslim grievances: Western support for their oppressors--- Western invaders defiling Muslim lands.

He is 22 years old—the same age as the leaders of the Toronto group and while he speaks directly to them … the message is for all of us, according to Michael Scheuer.

 (Michael Scheuer)

Scheuer: We continue to be harangued by President Bush and Senator Clinton and former President Clinton and Senator McCain about how Americans must fight this war because we’re being attacked because we have freedoms and liberties and women in the workplace and a whole list of ephemera that have nothing to do with this war at all.

We're being attacked because of what we do, not because of who we are. And by refusing to talk about that, I’m afraid the American people at least don’t have a good idea of just how dangerous the threat is that we face.
(downtown Toronto)

A threat that now apparently hovers even over Canada … Canadians refused to enter the war in Iraq—but Canadian troops are now fighting in Afghanistan.  

(Mubin Shaikh)

Shaikh: You can't divorce it from foreign intervention, foreign affairs, foreign policy. People can be in denial all they want. They gotta stop. It's like rehab, you know. Let's admit that there's a problem. Yeah we're interfering in people's countries a little too much. We're imposing our way of life on people a little too much. People tend not to like that. And so kids who are here, they see that and they see, look, you know what, my government is being hostile to my people. So it's very easy for this person to say, you know what, I will reciprocate the hostility. 

McIntyre: It’s interesting the phrasing there – “My government is being hostile to my people.” 

Shaikh: Right.

McIntyre: Even though your people live in a country you’ve never seen.

Shaikh: Exactly. Don't speak the language I may not. But I know that they're Muslim and that's enough for me… And again, adding those factors, variables of youth, anger, prone to anger, prone to irrationality. That's just - that's a powder keg waiting to be lit.

(Archival: Madrid bombing)

Madrid … March 11, 2004. The powder keg exploded.

(Archival: London subway bombing)

London … July 7, 2005. It blew again … and like Madrid, the people who ignited it were people with local passports but a universal outrage.

(Amsterdam scenes)

Europeans have been roused by large atrocities…. But a single murder on this Amsterdam bike path offers grim corollaries for North America.

(Still photo of Theo Van Gogh)

Theo Van Gogh became a target for Islamic anger in the Netherlands. The controversial filmmaker confronted Islamists, over their attitudes towards the West and particularly towards women.

(Archival: Van Gogh’s murder scene)

On the morning of November 2, 2004, he was ambushed, shot and stabbed to death by one of them. 

(Archival: Still photo of Mohammed Bouyerie)

Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch citizen, was part of a cell … the Hoffstad Network–which, like the young men in the Toronto group, talked of blowing up the offices of the secret service and of assassinating politicians.

(Rund Peters b-roll)

Since the Van Gogh murder Dutch government and academic specialists have redefined the problem of Islamist extremism … and their findings resonate for North Americans.

Ruud Peters is a leading Dutch Islamic scholar who was an expert witness at the trial of Mohammed Bouyeri.

(Rund Peters b-roll)

Peters: Two factors play a role. One of them is the rejection of Dutch society as they feel it. So they want to go back to Islam and they want to have their own Islam, a kind of universal pure Islam.

And the other factor is they want to take distance from their parents whom they- on the one hand of course they have affection for their parents but on the other hand they see them as losers.  If I look at the Hofstad group what happened there is the Bouyeri I think he was the one who took the initiative and who had gathered around him a couple of friends from his neighborhood and they started to recruit on the Internet.

And then they met this Syrian preacher who studied the ideas of the founding fathers of Islamic radicalism. And he put them on the rails, as it were. He continued on the rails by himself. Or not really by himself but he went to the Internet.

McIntyre: There seems to be an arc of development that they all follow.  They start with generalized alienation, find a guru or a sheik or a radical voice and then they go to the internet and find each other.

Peters: I think that’s right, yes. That could be, let’s say the standard trajectory.

(Archival: still photo of Jason Walters)

Jason Walters was only 16 in 2001 when he entered that trajectory … converting to Islam … quickly embracing extremist views. His father is an American.  
(Archival: Jason Walters arrest)
He was part of the Hoffstad group … caught in the Dutch security crackdown after the murder of Theo Van Gogh in 2004.  While the nation was transfixed by live coverage of the siege… one man watched in disbelief. 
(Carl Walters)
Walters: I was sitting glued to the television like fifteen million other Dutch people and I see this child walks out handcuffed and blindfolded and I could see that’s my son.

(Archival: still photos of Jason Walters)

Carl Walters: And it’s like a bomb dropped on me.

(Archival: still photos of Jason Walters)

Jason Walters’ parents are divorced. But his mother, who is Dutch, was separately watching the television coverage.

(Ingrid Walters)
Ingrid Walters: And I think huh is that Jason? All those police are there for Jason? You know it’s real strange but you cannot believe it. Sometimes I said this cannot be true. You know it’s like a nightmare.

(Carl Walters)

Carl Walters: Come on, he’s my first-born. I remember the second he came out he was always a fighter, stubborn, and a closed person.  And I knew I could always break through that wall, if anyone was capable of doing that that was me. So I felt guilty; I wasn’t there for him. 

(Ingrid Walters)

Ingrid Walters: Uh Jason was a very quiet boy, always, uh very serious in life, studied a whole lot because he can learn good. The other guys were hanging out on the streets and Jason was always serious, busy, reading, doing his homework. So all the kids start laughing they say oh, you know the professor and then he was all ready big so… I think uh when he met some Muslims, you know, they were uh very open. They… uh… they welcomed him.

(Carl Walters)

Carl: They were having these house meetings and they would invite only smart young Muslims to explain the Koran and make their interpretation.  So he was brainwashed -- him and several other guys.  

(Ingrid Walters)
Ingrid: I think he took a whole lot from the internet too, also he went to mosque and uh but also from the internet.

(Carl Walters)

Carl: Oh, that played a major role in his crime. He was constantly on the internet.

(Graphic: Walters on internet)

His parents didn’t know he’d received weapons training at a camp in Pakistan. Under the name “Mujaheed” he would later boast it about on the internet.

(Archival: siege)

During his subsequent arrest …he threw a grenade at the police.

(Carl Walters)

Carl Walters: Glass is flying, people are screaming you hear gunshots. It was like Afghanistan, Iraq, complete war here in Holland. And my son is in the middle of it.
(Archival: Jason Walters under arrest)
Jason Walters is now serving a 15-year prison sentence.

(scenes of Atlanta)

This is Atlanta Georgia – but the Walters case has resonance here… in the story of another young American caught on a trajectory toward violence.

(scenes of Georgia Tech)

It is the case of a promising young engineering student at Georgia Tech.

(Harris home)

He came from an upscale neighborhood. He grew up in a stable middle class family that moved to Georgia from Pakistan in the mid-90s.

(b-roll of dad and two sisters)

His father, Syed Ahmed is a college professor …His sisters, Samia and Tameema are students. His mother is too distraught by what happened to her son to appear on television.

(photos of Haris on fridge)

Haris Ahmed is in jail awaiting trial. He’s pled not guilty to four counts of conspiring to aid terrorists.

(Tameema Ahmed)

Tameema Ahmed: Oh, it was shocking, of course, and I don’t know, you kind of don’t know to think that, or anything, and I never expected it and he doesn’t deserve it.

(Dr. Syed Ahmed)

McIntyre: The automatic kind of parental reaction would be, “They made a mistake.” Did you have that?

Dr. Ahmed: At the, at first, yes, that was the feeling.  But later on when I learned from uh, him, talking to him, uh, then I got the feeling that uh, that was not the case. 

McIntyre: What, what did you come to see as the case? What, what did he tell you?

Dr. Ahmed: He said that uh, he is sometimes uh, not happy with what is happening all over the world with the Muslims. So he was very sensitive, really emotional. And uh, he used to cry in his room that uh, what is happening and uh, he said, I should be able to do something.

(Syed Ahmed’s newspaper clippings)

In this home the father –a frequent commentator on public affairs —has always been a voice of moderation.

McIntyre: You comment on the Daniel Pearl murder, in which you use strong language.

Dr. Ahmed: Yeah, because uh, when he was uh, kidnapped, he was uh, about to be executed by those uh, people in Pakistan.  I said, no, they should not do that.  This is against Islam.  Islam does not allow any killing.

(Tameema and Samia Ahmed)

McIntyre: Did you notice anything different about your brother in the last year or two that might have indicated that he was sort of changing?

Samia Ahmed: He’d always been really, really religious, very quiet, just wanting us to be better Muslims, practicing Muslims, just talking to us, okay, let’s sit down and have a little discussion in the Qu’ran that’s important.

(Dr. Syed Ahmed)

Dr. Ahmed: He was misled.  He was brainwashed.  Uh, that’s what have happened uh, if you are too much exposed to uh, technology and uh, Internet websites, and uh, the only mistake that I think he did, he did not uh, talk to his friends, his uh, elders –

McIntyre: His father –

Dr. Ahmed: His father – I thought he was sending e-mails or he was just exploring or reading some newspapers. So I think that was my mistake. 

McIntyre: He was talking to strange people.

Dr. Ahmed: Yeah. Strange people.
(Greyhound bus in Atlanta)
Early in March 2005 Haris and a friend, Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, went on a trip. They had been talking with some strangers on the internet and they decided to go meet them in person…. 

(Greyhound bus in Toronto)
They traveled to Toronto…unaware that their new friends were under surveillance by a security task force that included the FBI and the Canadian intelligence service.

(Graphics at Spy Lab)

In Toronto Haris Ahmed would meet Fahim Ahmad, by then an outspoken Islamist. According to U.S. court documents discussions in Toronto included possible attacks on civilian and military targets … though Haris Ahmed’s indictment notes there was no “imminent danger” to the American public.
(Casing videos of Virgina fuel storage tanks)
They filmed potential targets like fuel storage tanks in Virginia … national landmarks in Washington  … the video was found later on the computer of a terrorism suspect in London, England.
(Satellite dishes)
They mistakenly thought that this was an important global positioning installation in Atlanta, when, according to a US investigator, they were casing CNN’s satellite dishes.

(Mubin Shaikh)

Shaikh: The chatter was that an attack of some sort was going to be planned. And the setup was is that the attack would be planned and the attack would be carried out and they would fall back over to the border in Canada... and we would give them logistical support on this end.

(Mubin Shaikh driving van)

Mubin Shaikh was part of a follow-up mission to scout potential hideouts in a remote area ten hours north of Toronto.
Shaikh: What we were going to do is provide a safe house for them and we even scoped the area out, did a little uh, reconnaissance - and the plan was to, to have like a, a, a resistance, or a Chechnya style resistance in northern Ontario, and in the bushes in, you know, in the back forty, if you will.  And that to have guys up there and we would fortify ourselves and that if they came looking for us, we were going to, you know, we were going to take them on.  And we looked at the roads and we, you know, we were saying, okay, we’re going to booby-trap this, we’re going to have snipers over here. It was like, it was planned out.

Throughout the long northern trek everything that happened in the vehicle was being secretly recorded by his government handlers.
Shaikh: The vehicle had intercept equipment, and uh –

McIntyre: What, what do you mean by intercept equipment?

Shaikh: Uh, equipment to catch audio, possibly video, um, and transmit accordingly.  And that –

 McIntyre: And is this, this was a van that was wired to the teeth was it?

 Shaikh: Oh yeah, it was wired to the T, yes.  But I can’t go into the specifics of the wiring, or uh…It’s top secret information.

(Spy Lab)

By then international surveillance of the Toronto group was intense. Zacaria Amara was believed to be scouring the internet for instructions on how to build a bomb … and, at a meeting with Mubin Shaikh … he indicated progress.

(Mubin Shaikh)

Shaikh: He had a detonator with him.

McIntyre: That he made...

Shaikh: That he made and he said that he could build a bomb, right now if he wanted to. But he was just in the stages of ah experimenting and making sure it wasn't going to blow up in his face.

(Spy Lab photo of Fahim)

And both Amara & Fahim Ahmad had other plans … requiring skills they’d recognized early on … in Mubin Shaikh.

Shaikh: So Fahim says, this guy is back on the wall, one leg up. And he's like, yeah, he goes if CSIS came to my door they'd know what I do and goes like that. Pow -

McIntyre: Bang.

Shaikh: Yeah. He makes the shooting indication that he's going to shoot them. So I said, well if that's the case, you know, I take out my wallet and I show him my possession and acquisition license. I have a possession and acquisition license. So he's like, his eyes just light up. Like oh, this is great.

(Archival: still photo of Mubin as Army cadet)

A license to acquire and carry weapons is hard to get in Canada — but Mubin Shaikh earned one while an army cadet and reservist rifle instructor.

(Mubin Shaikh)

Shaikh: So Zachariah Mauro who was beside him, they saw the window here, the benefit that I could have to the group.

(McIntyre and Shaikh at camp in snow)

They wanted a military trainer … they had already picked out a place for war games about three hours out of Toronto… And now they had a drill instructor.

During the 2005 Christmas holidays, Mubin Sahikh and about a dozen aspiring warriors spent ten days in the woods.

McIntyre: So this is camp?

Shaikh: This is camp. This is the sight right here.

McIntyre: If someone had straggled into this – what the hell would they think? You’re dressed up like this…

Shaikh: All of us are dressed up.  You know, one’s got a handgun, all got beards..Muslim guys, you know, we’re praying out here, you know,  

McIntyre: Praying in the snow…

Shaikh: Oh yeah, oh yeah – we just lay down the tarp.

McIntyre: Wow. Five times a day?

Shaikh: Five times a day. Reciting the verses of Jihad, right, in prayer.

They camped out for 10 days …in the snow and sub freezing temperatures …playing war games in the woods … with paint-balls and live ammunition … Only Mubin Shaikh knew the entire operation was being monitored by a small army of police officers.

What even Mubin Shaikh didn’t know was how completely the police had penetrated the alleged terror cell. He didn’t know that there was a second mole … another Muslim who is now in witness protection and unavailable to us … and that he too was providing damning inside information. That second infiltrator would learn of an attempt to purchase 3 tons of ammonium nitrate …a potential explosive material.

(Archival: ammonium nitrate and detonator)

 The games had gone too far.

 A Canadian anti-terrorism task force arrested the alleged conspirators. 

(Archival:  arrests)

It was a moment of mixed emotions for Mubin Shaikh … who says he could easily have been on the other side.
(Mubin Shaikh)
Shaikh: I was ready to go to Chechnya. I was ready to go to Afghanistan. I wanted to do some Jihad-oriented things. But I was lucky that I was exposed to people who, you know, who I could talk to who could correct my understanding.

McIntyre:  So is it that fragile? Is that all it takes is the wrong kind of influence at the wrong time in a young man’s life?

Shaikh: I would have to say yes. That's what it comes down to.

(Archival: court scene)
And then … to this …The trials of the Toronto 18 have just begun. It could take years to fully understand how a sinister ideology, assisted by benign technology …

(Pan back across  Mississauga Homes)

… seized the minds and souls of suburban teenagers …and set them on the road to self destruction.




(shot of crowd, Jay-Z)

ANNOUNCER: Later in South Africa, rapper Jay-Z raises money for clean water.

(still of TV show cast members)

But first, a television series about Moscow’s savvy single women.



REPORTED BY: Victoria Gamburg

(Moscow city scene)

(young people in wedding attire)

It’s wedding season in Moscow.  Couples parade on Red Square.

Gamburg: Congratulations.

Young woman: Thank you.

 Young man: One more.

At wedding halls, a new couple ties the knot every ten minutes. 

(sweeping up rose petals)

But it’s not all romance and rose petals for women in Russia today. 

(Kremlin bell ringing)

I’m an American filmmaker who was born in Russia.

(director on set with camera)

I’ve come to Moscow, invited by a Russian film director I met back in New York.

He wanted me to see the making of his new TV show about the lives of single women.  It’s Moscow’s answer to “Sex and the City.”

(scenes from Balzac Age TV show)

Man:  Are you happy now, marriage breaker?

Woman: I hope you die, jerk.

Like the American show, it’s a series about four women in their thirties.

Alika Smekhova (as Sonya): I'm 35 years old. And I have no children, no husband, and no job. Thirty-five years old!

Julia Menshova (as Vera): Girls, let's help Sonya tidy up her apartment.

Lada Dens (as Alla): Good idea.  But I have a better one.

The show is a comedy, and the scenes are often racy.

The series is filmed on location all over Moscow.  It’s a huge hit because it aims to be true to the new realities Russian women now face. 

(director giving cues)

Elena Medvedko: We have many independent, single women.  And the more successful they are - for example, in business - the more difficult it is for them to find their second halves and have their personal lives they want.

At lunch, the show’s stylist tells me that men are having trouble adjusting to this rising new class of career women.

(Elena Medvedko)

Elena Medvedko: We're faced now with a strange paradox. On the one hand, the husband wants dinner to be ready when he comes home.  He wants the apartment to be tidy and the children to be looked after. But on the other hand, he is not at all against having his wife work and not ask him for money.

(on set of TV show)_

 Director: More light.

 Crew member: That's too much.

After lunch, the actress playing Sonya is prepped for her love scene.  Before the action starts, her cell phone rings.

Alika Smekhova: Hello. Tanya, what does he want to eat?

It’s from her six year old’s nanny. 

Smekhova: Please, anything but kielbasa. Yogurt or rolls are fine. Or even porridge.

Dmitry Fiks: Come on, let's get moving.

Smekhova: I don't want him to eat kielbasa at bedtime.  Yogurt or something like that. Just no kielbasa.

Fiks: We can't wait anymore.

(promotional photo from TV show)

Watching reality intrude into this make believe world makes me wonder what the actresses’ real lives are like.

(in recording booth)

Zhana Eple plays the innocent Julia.

Zhana Eple (as Julia): Will he be out of work for the rest of his life?

Today, she’s in the studio to re-record lines of dialogue.

Eple: As soon as I see her, I become my character.  (laughter)

(editors watching show in edit room)

Her character lives with her mom and drives a gypsy cab. 

(scene from TV show)

While driving her cab, her character meets someone she hopes will finally be the man of her dreams. 

(Zhana Eple)

Eple: I'm not much like my character. Although in some situations, I'd like to be more like her.

(scene from TV show)

Man hiring Julia’s cab: How much to the suburbs? Are we going, or not?

(Zhana Eple)

Eple: My life situation is a bit different.  So I can't be as childish as she is.

(scene from TV show)

Eple (as Julia): Sorry, I just can't get used to a stick shift.

(Eple driving car)

Eple: In reality, you know how long I've been driving a car? Twenty years. It's hard to drive a car and make it look like you don't know how.

Zhana divorced last year.  As a busy single mom, juggling a career, she’s often pressed for time.

(Eple and son in shoe store)

Eple: Try these on so we can find your size.

She’s asked her ex-husband to help with buying clothes for their children.  But he’ll only do it if she asks.  And she’s tired of asking.

(Zhana Eple)

Eple: He didn't really like the show.  Because in the first season, I had too many sex scenes. Maybe it was me that he didn't like in the role.

(family photos of Eple)

She says another reason her marriage fell apart is that she became too successful.

Eple: He felt he had lived with one woman for 15 years, and then in these past three years, another woman.  I could say that the show was the beginning of the end of my marriage.

(Eple playing with her son)

Now she’s single for the first time in 20 years with two kids to raise.

Eple: It's not easy. When you get home from a shoot at two or three in the morning, and then have to get up at 7 am to get them ready for school, and then drop them off…it’s not easy.  I want to sleep all of the time.

(Eple getting her son getting dressed)

Eple: What are you doing?  Get dressed.

(cars on street; Gamburg riding in ar)

Not far from Zhana’s, I go to visit a woman I met who is also facing the consequences of success.

(Evgeniya at work in office)

Evgeniya’s a senior advertising copywriter in an international ad agency.

She came to Moscow from Novosibirsk in Siberia.  Her career flourished.  But her boyfriend Victor, who came with her, floundered and now spends his days drinking.

(Victor Lapin)

Gamburg: Are you ashamed to be an alcoholic?

Lapin: No.  No, I'm not ashamed because... because there is no reason to be ashamed of one's illness.  Illness must be treated.  It must be dealt with and treated.

(Victor at park with statues and monuments)

While Evgeniya’s at work, Victor takes me on a tour of a Soviet-era park.  His favorite monument celebrates the old ideals of Soviet femininity – women as mothers and workers. 

(Evgeniya and Victor in kitchen)

Evgeniya’s applied for a new job in Kiev and is thinking about breaking up.  She thinks it might be best for Victor, too.

(Evgeniya Timonova)

Timonova: He's got some sort of umbilical cord attached to me.  In order for him to start to live normally, the umbilical cord must be cut.  He needs to be born.

(Evgeniya and Victor in the kitchen)

Timonova: There was a demographic problem after WWII when we had a serious decline in the male population. But the attitude that women will take care of everything comes from that. Women are a shoulder you can lean on. Women are the people who solve problems. And men are a kind of luxury, who say, “just be grateful that I exist.” This gives birth to infantilism.

Lapin: Keep in mind that this is her subjective point of view based on her lack of personal experience. No, no, this is not how it is.

Evgeniya and Victor have been through this before.

Timonova: Infantilism gives birth to irresponsibility. And irresponsibility gives birth to the need to run from problems. Men in Russia don't deal with their problems. They run from them.

Lapin: She’s a businesswoman. Her career is important to her. This is a big difference between us and it makes me sad. I think that there is nothing more important than family. You can lose that everything…work, money, and so on. But if you have a family, you can’t let it be lost.

(Victor on floor kissing her feet)

Lapin: Now I'll kiss your feet. My darling, my sweetheart.

Timnova:  You never hold back, Victor.

Lapin: Come on. I always worship you.

Timonova: When will you finally quit drinking?  Such a great guy we're losing.

Lapin: Who, me?

(scene from “Balzac Age” TV show)

The bittersweet disconnect between men and women is often a theme in the show.  In this scene, the character Alla encounters an old flame from high school.  She’s a high-powered attorney and he’s now a handyman.  Both are embarrassed by his lack of success.

(Gamburg walking around Gorky Park)

At a café in Gorky Park, I meet a woman named Vera who recently moved to Moscow.

(Vera at kabob stand in Gorky Park)

She tells me the women in the show are role models.

(Vera Zakutkina)

Vera Zakutkina: The actresses in the series play women with roots in Moscow. They don't have problems finding a place to live or figuring out how to pay for it. They have stable work and their friends live in Moscow. These are all things I must work to get.

Vera’s a retired teacher of Russian literature from the provincial city of Krosnodar.  At 49, she came to Moscow to start a new life.  She works at this kabob stand six days a week.  She told me she makes $600 a month, but said it’s not enough. 

(Vera at home)

Vera agrees to take me to see where she lives – a small two-room apartment she shares with her daugher, her sister, and her brother-in-law. 

(Vera feeding pigeons on windowsill)

Vera Zakutkina: Eat, my darling.

(Vera waking up Tatyana)

Vera Zakutkina: Daughter darling, time to get up.  Get up, dear.

(Vera and her daughter at breakfast table)

Tatyana Zakutkina: I don't have time to finish my tea.  I need to go.

Vera Zakutkina: Have a good day.

Vera also has a second job selling a special line of products just for women.

(Vera giving sales pitch to another woman)

Vera Zakutkina: For the most part, it is not men's fault that women don't experience orgasm.  We just have a different physiology.  And this product removes the difference in arousal levels between men and women. You know, even if a woman doesn't have a problem - with orgasm, I mean - with Voluptait it will be more intense.  It will be more satisfying, for example like black and white versus color TV.

This frank discussion of sex would never have happened in the Soviet era.  Vera says she takes some of her cues from watching Moscow’s Sex and the City.

(Moscow city streets;

on location at café for “Balzac Age” TV show)

I catch up with Zhana as the crew films in the heart of Moscow.  A huge crowd has gathered to gawk at the famous actresses.  Russia never had a women’s movement, but I’m starting to wonder if its time has come.

(Gamburg and Eple in actor’s trailer on set)

Eple: I'll tell you how feminism is manifesting itself today. In Soviet times, grandmothers always helped our mothers care for the children.

But now, Zhana tells me, even grandmothers are working.

(Zhana Eple)

Zhana: They prefer to go to other families and work as paid nannies instead caring for their own grandchildren for free.  Isn’t that the beginning of feminism?

Gamburg: No, it’s capitalism.

Feminism or not, it seems to me that women in Moscow today have the freedom to make choices they couldn’t before, even if that means leaving men behind.

(Evgeniya packing suitcase)

Back at Evgeniya’s, Victor is tense. Evgeniya has decided to make some changes.

(Evgeniya Timonova)

Timonova: I look at my friends. They are all independent women. They all have children. They either have men in their lives or they don't. But in any case, men don't dictate anything. The main thing is that I want it and I am going to do it.

Evgeniya decided to take the job in Kiev and is leaving Victor.  After seven years together, it’s finally over. 

(Evgeniya getting on train; Victor walks away from train)

Evgeniya turned 30 recently, and unlike the characters in Moscow’s “Sex and the City,” she tells me she thinks she’ll be happier on her own.

(street scene Moscow)

Before I leave Moscow, I visit Vera one more time

(Vera and her sister watching TV)

Watching the show with her and her sister, I realize that the new Russian woman is still hard to describe.

Vera Zakutkina: You're wondering what a typical Russian woman is like. Right?


Vera Zakutkina: And here I am, not quite typical. Look, I know that I am not a typical representative of Russian women. And at the same time, I know that many Russian women have an enormous potential inside themselves. Even in the show, there’s a scene about how to become a successful woman. We were never taught these things before. Never. Now there are many new opportunities. I know that after some time passes, it will be women who will change Russia. Everything depends on women.

(scene from TV show “Balzac Age”)

 Lada Dens (as Alla): And with this, I declare the matter closed.


(theme music)



(kids spinning on play pump, Trevor Field and Amy Costello in factory, kids getting water from tap)

ANNOUNCER:  Finally tonight, how a small idea becomes a global solution.


South Africa: PLAY PUMP

REPORTED BY: Amy Costello



(Est. shots, South Africa)

In many parts of the world, it is impossible to find clean drinking water.  Especially here in South Africa where some five million people have no access to safe water. But one man is trying to do something about it.

(Trevor Field)

Field: We’re going towards an area called Stinkwater. A lovely name. Obviously, an Afrikaans name. And the reason it was called Stinkwater is because the water stinks. 

Trevor Field is obsessed with solving South Africa’s water problems. He took me to Stinkwater to show me what he's up against. Here, people get their water from leaky, contaminated hand pumps. And the work involved is exhausting.

Costello: How's that feel Trev?

Field: Hey, man, you don’t need to go to the gym, hey? You can cancel your subscription to Virgin Active! You just do this for a couple of hours a day. And every day, you know?

Once they’ve pumped the water, women still have to walk long distances back home, carrying water on their heads or in wheelbarrows.

Field: Now the amount of time that these women are burning up just collecting water when they should be in their homes looking after their kids, teaching the children, just being loving mothers, you know. What women should be doing, not beasts of burden.

(Trevor talks with women)

Field: Hi guys. 

Women: Hello.

Field: How are you doing?

(Trevor with kids, points to pump)

Trevor’s an entrepreneur who made his money in the advertising business, and at the age of 42 decided he wanted to give something back.

(kids run to pump)

He teamed up with an inventor and the Roundabout Outdoor Play pump was born.

Field: Yah, so what happens is as the kids spin here, and it doesn’t matter which direction they go, it works in both directions. Water is pumped from an underground bull hole, comes across here underground, into this part and not only can you hear the water going into the pump you can actually feel that it’s getting very cold. And from there there’s an outlet pipe and it goes across to that tap. When you turn it on you just get cold clean fresh drinking water coming out of there.

(kids on play pump)

The play pump costs only 7000 dollars to install and can pump up to 400 gallons an hour. Trevor installs most play pumps at schools where jungle gyms and swing sets are rare. The principal says it’s a hit.

Principal: First time when they arrive at school in the morning. The first child who comes in goes to the wheel, downs his book or a book, and goes to the wheel until the bell rings. They enjoy playing here. (laugh)

Schoolgirl: I felt so impressed and I appreciated it … And, me and my friends, we’re just running. Even though the teacher call us, we didn’t listen to him. We just running to the merry-go-round. There were no toys at school that we could play with so I thought this merry-go-round I could play with and have some fun.

Costello: And what?

Girl: Some fun. (Laughs)

(kids run to pump)

It’s fun and the water’s better, too.

(Amy gets tour of old well)

Costello: So this used to be your drinking supply?

Patricia Mohole: Yes.

Costello: This is where you drink water from?

Mohole: Yes.

Costello: Okay. So what do we have here?
(Amy bends down to well)

Patricia Mahole, a teacher, says for years they never realized the groundwater here was polluted.

Mahole: We thought it was safe. But the kids used to get diarrhea, you see, and vomit, get sick.

(pulling water out of well)

The play pump changed everything by drawing clean water from deep underground.

(kids on wheel with billboard)

Trevor sells ad space on the water tanks and uses the money for maintenance to keep the play pumps working.

(pan up to billboard)

And then he had another idea…

Costello: What is this?

Field: This is the love life campaign. This is an HIV/Aids awareness campaign. This is a focal point of the community so my idea was if we put messages for HIV/Aids awareness it should have the same effect on these kids. And we’ve got to get the message through to them before they become sexually active.  That’s the way I see it.

(music up)

(driving to eastern cape)

Trevor invited us along as a new play pump was installed in the Eastern Cape, in a remote rural village. When we arrived, the taps had been dry for a week. The play pump can transform a place like this, giving enough drinking water for 2,500 people.

(installing pump)

And with only seven men and a day’s work, the pump was ready to go.

(kids walking to pump)

And it didn’t take long for the kids to show up.

(music up)

(kids play on pump)

Trevor wants to expand beyond South Africa and bring the play pump to neighboring countries.

Field: If we could put a thousand pumps in each country that’s water stressed, we'd make a monster difference to rural water supply.

(kids spinning on pump)

The World Bank recognized the play pump as one of the best new grassroots technologies.  And these days, Trevor is busy raising the funds to fulfill his dream.

Field: It’s a big operation to put 1,000 pumps in any country but it would make a major difference to the children on the ground. And that’s where our passion lies, to make a difference to the kids. Because the kids are the future. 

(kids on pump)

Since we first aired this story, Trevor’s dreams have started to come true.

(Laura Bush, Bill Clinton, Case Foundation on stage together)

Laura Bush: Together with our partners, we commit to bringing the benefits of clean drinking water to more than a thousand communities and schools in sub-Saharan Africa through the Play Pump water system.

Last September at the Clinton Global Initiative conference, First Lady Laura Bush announced that Play Pumps International would be receiving $16.4 million.  Among the donors are the U.S. government and the Steve and Jean Case Foundation.

(Amy and Trevor touring factory)

Back in South Africa, social entrepreneur Trevor Field was thrilled with the good news.

(Trevor Field)

Field: It never ever entered my head that the First Lady of the USA would stand up on stage and make an announcement, well we’re gonna give $16.4 million to Play Pumps. You know, I mean that was from outer space.

(Jay-Z in concert)

But that wasn’t all.  The Play Pump has become a celebrity cause.  Hip hop star Jay-Z pledged to raise $400,000 for Play Pumps International through his Water for Life concert tour here in Africa.

(shots of workers in Trevor’s factory)

Trevor moved into a larger factory and plans to triple the size of his staff.

Field: We can make a monster difference, a huge difference to the world.  And now we’ve got the money to do it.  And now we’ve got a facility to do it, and the backing of some very, very powerful people.

The goal now is to raise $45 million more, which would put 4,000 Play Pumps in Africa by 2010.  That would mean clean drinking water for some 10 million people.

(Trevor Field)

Field: We’re gonna do it.  We’re gonna take this through Africa.  And we’re really gonna change the world, I think.

(shadow of children playing on Play Pump)



ANNOUNCER: There’s more of the world to explore on our web site. More on anti-terrorism efforts in Canada, women's lives in Russia, and the future of the Play Pump program. Discuss the world and tell us what you think of our stories from a small planet at