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Correspondent Wednesday, 5 February, 2003, 17:48 GMT
'My holidays in the axis of evil'
Ben sitting on ancient privvi
Libya's ancient answer to the outside privvi
Ben Anderson reports from President Bush's countries named as the Axis of Evil after entering each one as a tourist.

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In 2002, George W Bush named North Korea, Iraq, and Iran as the world's most evil countries and called them "An Axis of Evil".

Very quickly, Syria, Libya and Cuba joined the exclusive club.

They are all accused of harbouring terrorists and attempting to build or acquire weapons of mass destruction.

But, there is another connection between the six countries - you can go on holiday there.

Journalist, Ben Anderson, went on holiday through the Axis of Evil countries in an attempt to meet the enemy and find out what the locals feel about being branded as "evil".

Iran, Syria and Libya

This film was repeated on Tuesday, 1 April, 2003 on BBC Two at 1930 GMT

Syrian political pictures
Syrian political figures dominate the skyline in Damascus
Syria would cease to be a rogue State, or so it says, if Israel would only give back the Syrian land it conquered in the 1967 war.

They did give back some land, but not before bulldozing and dynamiting entire towns first.

Anderson visited the town of Quneitra, once a town of 33,000 people, but now a derelict wasteland.

It has been left as it was, as a monument - as Anderson put it: to 'Israeli brutality'.

Iran revealed to Anderson just why people there were too afraid to say anything.

He said: "During an interview three men burst in and arrested us.

"As they were tearing our hotel room apart, they found tapes, which they kept, and our tourist visas, they also decided we weren't journalists, but spies.

"I didn't admit to anything, and they let me go after seven days."

Libya has long given up on being able to do anything about Qaddafi or America.

So they prefer to watch European football and pirated Western movies.

Conversations on the street are revealing. Anderson recalled being told: "Bin Laden and Bush are both extremists, but when Bush said: 'You are either with us or you are with the terrorists', I thought, OK - I'll go with Bin Laden rather than you. I am surrounded by extremists."


This film was repeated on Tuesday, 8 April, 2003 on BBC Two at 1930 GMT

Ben and the men of Alpha 66
'Come the revolution'
To get to Cuba, Anderson first travelled to Miami.

Here, he was taught how to fire a machine gun by Alpha 66, a Cuban Militia.

They were training with live ammunition, with an aim to overthrow Castro.

They are one of many terrorist groups that America supports.

Anderson also met Alina Fernandez, Castro's illegitimate daughter. She runs a late night talk show in Miami, devoted to berating Castro.

"Cuba itself was a disappointment", said Anderson.

"Castro has had to choose tourism over socialism, and the revolution has been compromised.

"Tourism is the main income now.

"Those who don't have access to the dollar, hustle or beg where they can.

"But all this means the young do not care about the revolution, as they are expected to struggle by on a meagre $30 a month salary."


This film was repeated on Tuesday, 18 March, 2003 on BBC Two at 1930 GMT

Iraqi post card
Wish you were here ....?
In Iraq, travelling with an archaeology tour, Anderson's team traversed the country.

Their journey included southern Iraq where people have faced a mixture of war, sanctions, allied bombing and Saddam for the last 20 years.

As a legacy of the Gulf War, one allied missile attack had hit a target about 300m away from an ancient sight they were visiting.

Iraq has some of the most ancient and holy sites in the world, for Christians, Jews and Muslims alike.

Anderson was bemused by their politics, saying: "We were also there to witness Saddam's campaign for re-election. He won with a 100% of the vote, 11 million people voted for him to stay in power for another seven years.

"And surprise, surprise - there were no opposition candidates."

North Korea

This film was repeated on Tuesday, 25 March, 2003 on BBC Two at 1930 GMT

'Great Leader' Comrade Kim Il Sung
North Korea is full of monumental surprises
North Korea is divided by the 280 mile long de-militarized zone (DMZ).

It is an absurd name as it is one of the most heavily militarized areas on earth, complete with hundreds of thousands of troops, landmines, barbed wire and, allegedly, nuclear weapons on both sides.

Uniquely, as a tourist, you can visit the DMZ and have a look around.

Anderson was expecting a grim faced and hostile reception in the North.

He said: "The plan was to go along with the tour for a few days, swallow all the propaganda, and then start pushing our luck.

"And on the last day, we would confront the guides and tell them what we really knew about North Korea.

"But our guides couldn't have been nicer, and more willing to discuss things openly, and let us film almost anywhere."

Series Producer: Will Daws
Reporter: Ben Anderson
Executive Producers: Karen O'Connor & Lucy Hetherington
Online Producer: Andrew Jeffrey
Holidays in the Axis of Evil

Holidays in the Axis of Evil

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