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France Shooting Suspect Dead; Syria by Satellite; Etch A Sketch Candidate?; "Angry Birds Space" Released

Aired March 22, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.

I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

And yes, we begin in France, where a raid that turned into a 31-hour standoff has finally ended with the death of the man police say is responsible for a string of deadly attacks in and around Toulouse.

In the U.S., he should have been celebrating, but an aide's comment put Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the defensive.

And the sequel of one of the biggest mobile games of all times is out today. We'll take a look at what's new with "Angry Birds Space."

Dramatic events unfolding in Toulouse, France, over the last couple of hours. The man suspected of mowing down seven people in an eight-day killing spree is now dead.

For more than 31 hours, police had surrounded an apartment building where 23-year-old Mohammed Merah was hiding out, but talks with the suspected gunman broke down less than two hours ago. Police mounted their second raid.

After several minutes of sustained gunfire and explosions, police confirmed Merah was dead. France's interior minister explained what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLAUDE GUEANT, FRENCH INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): And when this video was put -- machine was put into the bathroom, the killer came out shooting most violently. The gunshots, there were many of them, very intense. A raid of specialists who is (INAUDIBLE) never seen such a violent reaction.

They tried to protect themselves. And in the end, Mohammed Merah jumped out of the window, a gun in his hand, while still shooting. He was found dead on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: We can go live to Diana Magnay, in Toulouse. She has been there at the scene since the start.

And Diana, it was an incredibly dramatic end to the standoff. Tell us more.

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Incredibly dramatic. A little over an hour ago now, two minutes, really -- I mean, short. At the end of these early hours we've been waiting for some kind of conclusion.

Two minutes' worth of gunfire. And we found out from the interior minister what exactly happened then.

Apparently, the commando team basically went in the door, was already shut away from the first raid. And some more went in through the window trying to find out where he was in the apartment.

They used sort of video technology to try and track him down, couldn't see him anywhere, and thought the only place he could be was in the bathroom. Now, apparently, he came out of the bathroom, shooting violently around him. And amazing, that sound bite we just heard, that the leader of the team, an expert in this kind of thing, had never seen such a violent reaction.

Shooting violently around, and then jumped out of the window and was pronounced dead at (INAUDIBLE). So all ending in such a short period of time, this sort of horrific story that has kept France kind of horrified for the last 10, 11 days, waiting to find out, first, whether this serial killer could strike again, then, you know, finding out so much detail about him over the course of the last 30 hours because of the discussions that he's been having with police over that time. And now, finally, it's all coming to an end, not quite as the authorities had wanted.

They wanted him to come out alive, Kristie, not dead.

LU STOUT: Yes. And more details on the operation itself, Diana. How many police were involved and who was leading the operation? Was it a French countertenor unit?

MAGNAY: Yes, these are the elite, sort of anti-terror raids units, they're called here, who were in charge of the sort of final push. But the whole operation was enormous.

There were around 300 police officers drafted in who have been circling that apartment block in this very quiet residential part of Toulouse, right next door to a barracks. And, in fact, just after the raid, we were filming those commando units basically coming in congratulating each other, patting each other on the back for a job well done.

You know, given the fact that he was so heavily armed, they were obviously treading very carefully, because safety for those teams is obviously paramount. In the first initial raid, two policemen were injured. And in this, two more were injured, also. But no loss of life, at least from the teams who went in to get Mohammed Merah out.

LU STOUT: Now, the standoff, it took over 31 hours and ended in the death of a suspect that the police wanted alive. So, Diana, will this bring relief to the people of France, or will it be seen as a security failure there?

MAGNAY: Well, it's difficult to tell which way it will go and how that will play out for the French president, especially in this sort of critical few weeks before the French elections.

As you say, it did -- there has been a success. They got their man. The fact that he is dead is probably of concern to the security authorities, because it means that they can't get as much info as they might have done about his supposed al Qaeda links and whether he had any affiliates operating within this country.

But the big question is -- you know, there was so much information known about him already, that he was known to intelligence agencies here. You know, how much are the French people going to be asking of Mr. Sarkozy why, if he was known, could he have got away with the crimes that he did?

He had a sort of record here in Toulouse. They've known him since he was a minor for violent crimes. He was also known to have traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan and trained in training camps there.

So why, if this man was fairly well known, was it so difficult to sort of put two and two together and get to him?

Kristie.

LU STOUT: And we'll be hearing live from the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, perhaps in the next hour.

Diana Magnay, joining us live from the scene there in Toulouse.

Thank you.

Now, the raid marks an explosive finale to a tense and long standoff. Police have been gathered outside Merah's hideout since the early hours of Wednesday morning. At 3:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday, that was when police launched their first raid. But following gunfire, they retreated. And after that, an impasse.

Now, mid-morning yesterday, local time, a weapon was tossed from a window. Explosions and volleys of gunfire followed later. The French interior minister even said that Merah had agreed to surrender, and that was after about six hours. But negotiations broke down and nothing materialized.

And then police had no contact with the man they described as a self-styled Islamic extremist overnight, as the siege continued into a second day. Soon after 11:00 a.m. in Toulouse this morning, more than 31 hours into the siege, police launched their second raid. And after a gunfight, Merah was pronounced dead.

So the raid is over and, presumably, the immediate threat of more terror attacks. But what does the future hold?

Paul Cruickshank is a CNN terrorism analyst. He joins us now live from our London bureau.

And Paul, the Toulouse suspect, Mohammed Merah, he is dead. But has he become a martyr?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, that is the danger, that he will now be seen as a martyr (INAUDIBLE) al Qaeda. This is someone who, from their perspective, went down in a blaze of glory. Al Qaeda script writers will see this as a Hollywood ending, that he jumped out of a window, he was still firing on French special forces.

So the danger is this could inspire other followers of al Qaeda in the West to act in its name, and there could be follow-up attacks somewhere else in the west. So I think that's one of the things that security services across the West are going to be looking at very closely -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: And what is it about Merah's background that radicalized him and made him seek training in Pakistan and claim these links to al Qaeda?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, it's not quite clear yet how he was radicalized. This is an individual who was in his early 20s, a French-Algerian involved in some petty crime. It's possible that he was radicalized in prison.

He also developed ties to a French extremist group, we understand, who was sort of championing al Qaeda's cause. He also had a brother, according to several reports, who was involved in radical circles. Not quite clear what radicalized him, but at a certain point he decided to go to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. He went there, we understand, in 2010 and 2011. And he's claiming that he received training from al Qaeda there and that he joined the al Qaeda terrorist group -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: You know, this looks like homegrown terrorism in France. If so, how many others are out there in the country like Mohammed Merah?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, in France, we've already been seeing rising radicalization in the last decade, radicalized by things like the Iraq War, the French presence in Afghanistan, the rise of the far right in France, the ban on the niqab in France. And this has all sort of been fueled by social media, which has allowed al Qaeda's ideology to resonate more deeply in France than before.

So you've sort of had rising homegrown extremism in France. Of course, it's not the only country where you see that played out.

And what you've seen is dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of French radicals go off to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region to get training there. Right now, European counterterrorism officials believe there are several hundred Europeans in that region with ties to extremists, and perhaps several dozen French individuals. So a lot of concern about both homegrown radicalization, but also these individuals who are going overseas and perhaps getting training, and the danger that they may pose when they come back -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: And your thoughts here? What do you think? Do you believe that the suspect acted alone or in concert with al Qaeda, a group that he has these alleged links with?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, that's going to be one of the biggest questions for the investigation. What he's claiming is that he was a member of al Qaeda, that he trained with al Qaeda in Waziristan. He hasn't specifically said that they directed him to launch the attack, but it's certainly possible that they could have. They may have encouraged him, or he may have just simply have gone there, got the training, come back, and then decided to launch this terrorist scheme of his own volition. These will be some of the most important questions in the coming weeks.

In terms of carrying out the attacks, it would appear that he acted alone. That's what French authorities are suggesting right now. And we've really seen a rise in the number of attacks by solo terrorists in recent terrorist plots in the West -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right.

Paul Cruickshank, CNN terror analyst.

Thank you very much, indeed, for that.

Now, Mohammed Merah's more radical views appear to have been shaped during trips that he made to Afghanistan and to Pakistan.

Our Sara Sidner has been following this story for us. She joins us live from Kabul.

And Sara, what do we know about his alleged connections to militant groups there?

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I want to make something very clear here. What we found out from Afghan officials, through NATO officials who sent us to the Afghans, is that they have no record of this person in their country.

What they can say is there's someone with the same name who was arrested around 2007, put into prison, but that person, even though they share the same name, they are very clear in saying that he was Afghan, his father was Afghan, and his father's fathers were Afghan, and they were all from Kandahar. That person escaped prison, along with many members of the Taliban, just a few years ago and has not been seen yet, but he is not the same Mohammed Merah that everyone has been talking about.

There was some reporting out there that he was. It turns out he was not, and so we want to make that clear.

Now, whether or not he was on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, that seems to be the case. What we're hearing, that he may have been in Waziristan, but on the Pakistan side. So we have to be very careful, because here, in Afghanistan, officials say they are looking through records, they are trying to see if maybe they missed something. But they have no record of anyone of French nationality and of Algerian descent being arrested in the past 10 years in this country -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right.

Sara Sidner, thank you very much, indeed, for that clarification. No record of Mohammed Merah being inside Afghanistan. Waziristan, another story.

Sara Sidner, joining us live from Kabul.

Thank you.

Now, turning now to the massacre of 16 civilians in Afghanistan and expected charges against the American soldier held in the killings. Staff Sergeant Robert Bales' lawyer says several charges including homicide could be filed against his client on Friday. Now, Bales is being held in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Afghanistan's foreign minister met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, where he called for a swift and transparent investigation.

You're watching NEWS STREAM, live from Hong Kong. And coming up, a diplomatic breakthrough at the U.N., but will it make any difference to the bruising pain being felt in Syria?

Kidnapped at gunpoint, and now free at last. A British hostage speaks out about six months in captivity in Somalia.

And sketching a picture of Mitt Romney, the Etch A Sketch comment that his rivals have pounced on and Romney is struggling to shake off.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

And to Syria now, where they are bracing for more bloodshed this Thursday.

Now, this time in Hama, where activists say Syrian forces are again shelling the besieged city. And across the country, activists say 14 people have already been killed today. That is despite Wednesday's statement from the U.N. Security Council, including China and Russia, calling on the government and the opposition to work toward a peaceful settlement of the crisis, a rare moment of global unity in a year of unrest. And it came on the same day that opposition groups say 82 people were killed in clashes across the country, 45 in the flash point city of Homs, where government forces reportedly pounded the densely-populated neighborhood of Khaldiya.

The opposition says Syria's death toll has now surpassed 10,000, and U.N. officials put the yearlong death toll at more than 8,000.

Now, satellite images are providing a rare glimpse of the Syrian army's movements in some of the places we have just shown you. Tom Foreman has the pictures and what they mean.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From the beginning, one of the issues has been the lack of reporters on the ground in these cities in Syria, but these new images from Digital Globe and the U.S. government are showing us for the first time, really, what's happening there.

For example, you can see here the massing of artillery out here near one of the cities in question. Here, you can also see what's going on, where you see an empty street, and then, again, you see armored vehicles that have gathered in the same spot over here, giving a sense of the movement. And this is just in the past several days. Here, you see the same sort of thing, large armored vehicles here, some on the move, some already parked and that sort of thing.

What are we talking about on the ground? What exactly does this look like up close?

Well, for example, if this is what we think it is from the air, you're talking about infantry fighting vehicles like this. They have a shelling range of about a mile and a half. That's quite a distance. You can park right outside of a town and really pound away at it from the outside, plus bring some people in that way.

But if you're talking about some of the bigger items like this, where you have tanks right in this area, their tanks are mainly Soviet-made tanks. Some of them are older. They've got about 4,700 overall, about 1,700 of the newest T-72s and the T-72Ms. They have a shelling range of about 1.8 miles, so they're mobile, they can sit two miles outside of a city or a neighborhood and pound away at it. Just as importantly, they can go inside and just batter their way through a city if need be.

But one of the bigger questions when you look at all of these emplacements around cities that have been captured in these satellite images actually is artillery, because they have a lot of artillery in this country. Some of it is older, but look at this, a shelling range of 14 miles. That allows them to move in around a neighborhood like Homs, for example, and just pound and pound and pound away at it. And we have seen, day after day after day, what the results can be, tremendous, tremendous damage that simply cannot be stopped, in part because whatever the rebel forces are doing, when you're being attacked from that far away, there often is nothing to do but simply sit there and watch the attacks come and hope for some kind of relief from the outside.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now, coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, a popular children's toy takes center stage.

And the U.S. Republican presidential campaign. We'll tell you why Mitt Romney's aide may be wishing he could wipe the slate clean and start again.

That story just ahead, right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching NEWS STREAM.

Now, Mitt Romney should be feeling pretty good about his political future right now. The Republican presidential candidate handily won another state election on Tuesday, and his campaign just picked up a major endorsement. But a comment made by one of his aides is threatening to overshadow all that.

Jim Acosta has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, thank you.

AUDIENCE: Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was as if one of the biggest names in Republican Party politics was listening to Mitt Romney's call for unity after the Illinois primary.

ROMNEY: Join us. Join us.

ACOSTA: About 12 hours later, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush released a statement announcing his endorsement of Romney. "Now is the time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney," Bush said, "and take our message of fiscal conservatism and job creation to all voters this fall."

But Bush's endorsement comes less than a month after he warned a crowd in Texas the current Republican field was alienating centrist voters. He summed it up this way to a local station.

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I think, though, it's important for the candidates to recognize though that they have to appeal to primary voters and not turn off independent voters that will be part of a winning coalition.

ACOSTA: But text from Bush's speech that day sounded more urgent. "I used to be a conservative," Bush said, "and I watch these debates and I'm wondering. I don't think I have changed , but it's a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people's fears and emotion."

Erasing Bush's comments may be easier than what one of Romney's longtime aides, Eric Fehrnstrom, said on CNN's "STARTING POINT" when he was asked whether the GOP front-runner has tacked too far to the right to win the nomination.

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, SENIOR ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. And everything changes. It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.

ACOSTA: That blew up on Twitter. Internet researcher Andrew Kaczynski posted an Etch A Sketch of Seamus the dog on top of the Romney family car. An aide to Rick Santorum tweeted out a picture of the former Pennsylvania senator doing his own Etch A Sketching.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That should be comforting to all of you who are voting on this primary.

ACOSTA: But Santorum said the comments are a signal to voters that team Romney plans to run as a blank slate in the fall.

SANTORUM: Remove all trace of any kind of marks and be able to draw a new picture, maybe a picture like similar to when he ran for governor of Massachusetts, not as a conservative.

ACOSTA: Newt Gingrich offered his own Etch A Sketch to a toddler in Louisiana and said politics just might be in her future.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She could now be a presidential candidate.

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: She has her very own Etch A Sketch.

ACOSTA: And the DNC piled on with a new Web video that says there are some things you can't shake off.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: OK. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, he is now speaking about the siege in Toulouse that just ended hours ago. Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): I'd like to express the condolences of the national assembly. I'd like to say to the forces of justice, the Ministry of the Interior, and the police, and what extraordinary work they've done, everything was done for the killer to be brought to justice. But it was inconceivable to risk lives to achieve that objective. The (INAUDIBLE) would have been too many deaths.

There is an investigation under way to see whether there were any accomplices. Dealing with terrorist aggression, where the violence is unabated by the abject nature of it, France kept its cool, remained a unified, gathered nation.

Today, the French people have to overcome their indignation. They should not give free rein to their anger.

Muslim compatriots are in no way involved with the mad motivations of a terrorist. There should not be any kind of confusion.

Before targeting Jewish children, the killer shot at pointblank range Muslims. I know that I can count on the fraternity and the vigilance of all religious leaders. The republic has to be impeccable in defending its values.

They will not tolerate any kind of ideological conditioning or sectarianism on its land. I've brought together the prime ministers and the ministers involved to look at the conclusions of this tragic event.

Hence forth, any person consulting in a usual way Internet sites which are an apology for terrorism or call for hatred and violence, any such person will be subject to criminal proceedings. Any person going overseas, going abroad to be indoctrinated in ideologies leading to terrorism will be punished through the criminal process. Propagating and claiming extremist ideologies, this will be an offense in the criminal code, using the means which were already available in the fight against terrorism.

And finally, with the prime minister, I've asked (INAUDIBLE) to think in depth on the propagation of such ideologies through the prison environment. We cannot accept that our prisons should become soil for indoctrination in hate and terrorism ideologies.

Muslim compatriots of France has been through a trial and these are our conclusions to be drawn from them. Gaining (ph) together unity, that has to be our priority. Being firm is the means which we can use to serve the values of the republic.

Thank you.

LU STOUT: All right. That was French President Nicolas Sarkozy there.

He said, "Everything has been done to bring the killer to justice, but it was inconceivable to risk any lives." He also said an investigation is under way to see if there were any accomplices. And the French president also said just then, live from Paris, that Muslim compatriots were not involved in any way. And lastly, he said, "Any person going overseas to be indoctrinated by terrorism will be punished by the criminal process."

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France speaking just then.

You're watching NEWS STREAM. We'll be back with more after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong.

You're watching NEWS STREAM, and these are your world headlines.

Now, the man suspected of gunning down seven people in an eight-day killing spree in southern France is dead. France's interior minister says Mohammed Merah jumped from a window while still shooting when police launched a raid on his apartment in Toulouse. Now, the raid came after a more than 31-hour police standoff.

In Syria, activists say the city of Hama has come under renewed government shelling. It comes after another day of bloodshed on Wednesday. Opposition groups say at least 82 people were killed across the country. The U.N. Security Council is calling for the violence to end, and diplomats there have backed a peace plan proposed by Kofi Annan.

Now, renegade soldiers in Mali say that they have overthrown the government in a revolt over its handling of an insurgency in the north. The French news agency AFP is reporting that President Amadou Toure is in a safe location. That's quoting a government source there. Now, the mutineers have suspended the constitution and dissolved all state institutions.

Now, let's go back now to our top story, the death of Mohammed Merah in France, suspected of killing seven people.

Authorities say Merah claimed that he trained with al Qaeda, but told them he acted alone. Dan Rivers has a closer look at Merah's background.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RIVERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The dead of night and police move into an area of Toulouse. The dark silence pierced by gunshots echoing across an empty street, a dramatic climax to the biggest manhunt in France for decades.

In the cold light of a wet morning, police reinforcements arrive and surround suspected terrorist Mohammed Merah. Toulouse feels like a city consumed with terror, the wail of sirens echoing and everyone asking whether Merah was alone or if there are more terrorists here.

RIVERS: Some of the victims were Jewish -- a rabbi, his two sons, and a seven year old girl sent to Israel for burial. And soldiers were apparently targeted because of France's 4,000 strong military presence in Afghanistan. Merah, perhaps unaware he'd shot fellow Muslims.

This is the tough neighborhood of Toulouse that Merah came from. Off camera, this gang of young men who knew Merah attacked us as we tried to talk to them.

It was pretty scary. Within minutes of us arriving, we were rushed. Someone grabbed my phone. We were roughed up. Someone made a grab for our camera. And we were very lucky to get away without being seriously injured.

French officials say Merah visited the Afghan-Pakistan border area twice. The first time he was detained and handed over to French troops and was then repatriated. The French interior minister says he belonged to an obscure Salafist group called Forzane Alizza known for its opposition to the ban on full veils in France.

A YouTube video reports to show Forzane members staging simulated firefights with paint guns and practicing hand to hand combat. CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of this video. But French authorities tell CNN Merah has been under surveillance by French intelligence. And his lawyer confirms Merah had even been jailed just last month for motoring offenses, the latest in a series of convictions for more minor crimes.

CHRISTIAN ETELIN, LAWYER (through translator): The neighborhood of Azard (ph) is characterized by delinquency due to drugs. He never had a history of this, but he had a history of theft.

RIVERS: But it's left analysts wondering whether French intelligence has failed catastrophically to intervene.

JAMES BLAKE, INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: It seems to me at this stage that there's been a failure in the sense of this guy not being given enough priority in terms of the threat he actually caused to France itself.

RIVERS: A lone wolf terrorist gunman is the nightmare scenario for intelligence agencies. But everyone in France is wondering if there are others like Mohammad Merah waiting to strike.

Dan Rivers, CNN, Toulouse.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now the victims of the recent killings in France were all members of ethnic minorities. And the attacks come in the midst of a heated presidential campaign where immigration has been a hot topic.

Now journalist Christian Malard joins us now from Paris. And Christian we heard from the French president just then. And he calls for unity. I wanted to get you -- your thoughts on the political ramifications of this standoff. What impact does it have on Sarkozy weeks ahead of the presidential elections?

CHRISTIAN MALARD, JOURNALIST: Well, definitely as you know, Kristie, until now there was a huge gap between Sarkozy and his main rival, or political contender, socialist leader Francois Hollande. But it seems during the last few days, before this event, the gap was narrowing.

But let me say this, after what happened, this tragedy we have been getting through in France right now, having killed these terrorists, the young guy, definitely Sarkozy very cold-blooded (ph) show himself as very responsible with his government with the secretary of interior and the forces of police. He has been handling the situation in the quite perfect way. And it's clear that people will understand that Sarkozy in tough circumstances, in difficult period, has always been the man of the situation.

Now there is a beginning of a political discussion. I just heard of my way to CNN here in Paris -- in Paris bureau -- that one of the security adviser of the Socialist leader, Monsieur Hollande, starting saying -- but it's difficult how can we explain that it took 30 hours to the French elite forces to attack and to kill this terrorist. Come on, let's be serious. Did not know if the guy had explosives, a belt with explosives around himself could have made the building in which he was staying explode and everything. I think this purposes have been heavily responsible.

And right now, Monsieur Hollande and one of his spokesperson just very aware of the fact that a big blunder has been made by the security adviser of theirs just coming up and saying they want to congratulate the police forces.

So it's going to become political again. And Madam Le Pen, the extreme right representative, will put the finger, put the emphasis on the fact -- it's true in a certain way -- we have fundamentalist networks in France, in Paris, in the suburbs in different cities and nobody, nobody until now, neither the left nor the right, have been able to tackle the problem.

LU STOUT: You know, this will be seen as many as a security blunder. As you pointed out, it took over 31 hours to meet the end of the standoff. And they never had an opportunity to apprehend the suspect, to question him, to enter investigation with him about what's been going on.

Will Nicolas Sarkozy be able to distance himself from the security fallout?

MALARD: Well, President Sarkozy has been following the whole case since the very beginning through his secretary of interior. And of course they have been trying to talk, until there was a break in the conversation they had with the terrorist, with Mohammad Merah. So they have been trying to talk to the guy and tell him stop it, surrender. But when you have to face somebody linked to al Qaeda networks, somebody who doesn't respect the human values, somebody who has been killing Muslim soldiers, Jewish young kids, innocent young people, death responds to death. This is what happened. We have the result of it.

And I know Mrs. Le Pen, Madam Le Pen is trying to try to take advantage of the fact that she has always been put up in the air the problem of Muslim fundamentalist networks in this country.

LU STOUT: Now I want to talk about the burka ban in France next. Sarkozy, of course, is the champion defender of the burka ban there. And the suspect now dead, he had cited the burka ban as part of his motive behind the shootings. So how does this event ad the fuel to this debate and this policy decision by Sarkozy?

MALARD: Well, let me -- Kristie, let me remind you one thing, we have 6 million Muslims in this country, most of them -- let's say 50 percent of them from Algerian origins in North Africa. A lot -- most of the majority of these Muslim people are respectable and understandable people who have no problem. It's a minority which belongs to these networks, these Muslim fundamentalist networks.

We are not in a Muslim country. We have a population of 62 million in this country, 6 million Muslims. So the burka ban here -- are we in Afghanistan? We are in Kabul? No. The answer, we are in Paris. We are in the western world.

And let me say this, as a journalist, as an observer above the political scrimmage, we don't need to have burka people here, burka woman with the veil on here. We are in a western world country.

LU STOUT: President Sarkozy seems to be concerned about his relationship with the Muslims of the country. Just then, we heard comments from him saying that Muslim compatriots have nothing to do with what happened in Toulouse with this suspect who eventually died. Is that enough to bring everyone together, for there to be in Sarkozy's words unity in this country?

MALARD: Yes. I think President Sarkozy and all the political leaders, of course, should not stigmatize Muslims (inaudible). The Muslim population has been (inaudible) to Muslim fundamentalist. Muslim fundamentalist, Islamism has nothing to do with moderation. Most of the population in this country are moderate people, Muslim people who are respectable.

But, let me put it this way again, let me reiterate what I said, Kristie, we have, we know, we have young people living in the suburbs of Paris with no education where people and their families stop educating them who have been manipulated by these networks and they've been trained in the tribal part between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

We have 20, 30 of them. They have been looked after by the secret service. Maybe we knew about Mohammad Merah. Maybe as the secretary of foreign affairs, Monsieur Joppe said this morning, we should double check if there was not a failure in our security service, because they knew for a long time about Mohammad Merah. But the problem is to arrest him, to put him in Jail, you have to take him when he's acting.

He acted. We arrested him. And we killed him.

LU STOUT: All right. Quick last question for you. Is President Sarkozy in a stronger or weaker position in the aftermath of the standoff in Toulouse in the weeks up to the presidential election? Stronger or weaker?

MALARD: Stronger. No doubt about that.

LU STOUT: All right. Christian Malard...

MALARD: ...situation. He has been responsible.

LU STOUT: Thank you very much indeed.

MALARD: Thank you, Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, Christian Malard joining us live from Paris.

Now we'll have much more on the aftermath of the death of the man blamed for a series of shootings in Toulouse in the hours ahead, but let me take you back to a story that we tried to bring you a little bit earlier in the show, it was about the Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. He is on the defensive after a very interesting comment made from his aide and it was leaped upon by his rivals.

Jim Acosta explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, thank you.

ACOSTA: It was as if one of the biggest names in Republican party politics was listening for Mitt Romney's call for unity after the Illinois primary.

ROMNEY: Join us. Join us.

ACOSTA: About 12 hours later, former Florida governor Jeb Bush released a statement announcing his endorsement of Romney, "now is the time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney," Bush said, "and take our message of fiscal conservatism and job creation to all voters this fall."

But Bush's endorsement comes less than a month after he warned a crowd in Texas the current Republican field was alienating centrist voters. He summed it up this way to a local station.

JEB BUSH, FRM. GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: I think, though, it's important for the candidates to recognize, though, that they have to appeal to primary voters and not turn off independent voters that will be part of a winning coalition.

ACOSTA: But text from Bush's speech that day sounded more urgent. "I used to be a conservative," Bush said, "and I watch these debates and I'm wondering, I don't think I've changed. But it's a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people's fears and emotion."

Gracing Bush's comments may be easier than what one of Romney's longtime aids Eric Fehrnstrom said on CNN's Starting Point when he was asked whether the GOP frontrunner has tacked too far to the right to win the nomination.

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, ROMNEY COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch a Sketch, you can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.

ACOSTA: That blew up on Twitter where internet researcher Andrew Kazinski (ph) posted an Etcha a Sketch of Shamus the dog on top of the Romney family car. An aide to Rick Santorum tweeted out a picture of the former Pennsylvania senator doing his own Etch a Sketching.

RICK SANTORUM, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, that should be comforting to all of you who are voting in this primary.

ACOSTA: Santorum said the comments are a signal to voters that Team Romney plans to run as a blank slate in the fall.

SANTORUM: Remove all trace of any kind of marks and be able to draw a new picture, maybe a picture similar to when he ran for governor of Massachusetts not as a conservative.

ACOSTA: Newt Gingrich offered his own Etch a Sketch to a toddler in Louisiana and said politics just might be in her future.

NEWT GINGRICH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She could now be a presidential candidate. She has her very own Etch a Sketch.

ACOSTA: And the DNC piled on with a new web video that says there are some things you can't shake off.

Romney strategist Eric Fehrnstrom sketched out a response to the controversy over his comments saying he was only talking about the race and not his candidate. But the Santorum campaign is trying to keep this issue alive. The press secretary for Santorum was handing out these Etch a Sketches just outside the Romney event in the parking lot.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Arbutus, Maryland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Now after Jim Acosta filed that piece, candidate Romney, he responded to the Etch a Sketch flare up saying he won't change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The issues I'm running on will be exactly the same. I'm running as a conservative Republican. I was a conservative Republican governor. I'll be running as a conservative Republican nominator -- excuse me, at that point, hopefully, nominated for president. The policies and positions are the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: Now Republicans in Louisiana, they won't get to send a message to Mitt. The southern state holds its primary on Saturday.

Now you're watching NEWS STREAM. And still to come on the show, punishment for the not so stately behavior of the New Orleans Saints. World Sports' Pedro Pinto will explain next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now the National Football League has handed out a historic punishment to the New Orleans Saints for their involvement in a bounty program. Pedro Pinto joins us. He's got all the details -- Pedro.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kristie. The NFL came down very hard on the Saints and their personnel after an extensive investigation found an active bounty program had existed in the last three season which was in violation of league rules and endangered player safety.

Head coach Sean Payton paid a heavy price, quite literally. He has been suspended without pay for the entire 2012 NFL season. Payton, who guided the Saints to the 2009 Super Bowl will begin serving his suspension on April 1.

There were other sanctions handed down on Wednesday. The Saints team was fined $500,000. And they'll have to forfeit their selections of the second round of the next two NFL drafts. New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended eight games without pay. And former defensive coordinate Gregg Williams, who currently is with the Saint Louis Rams has been suspended indefinitely.

The league investigations show that Williams to be considered the mastermind of the bounty program in New Orleans.

Let's listen to what the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had to say about the scandal and the punishment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: You're disappointed. You're angered. There are a lot of great people who coach, play, and are involved with this game. And they care deeply about this game. And the game doesn't need to be played this way. And that's made clear by players, by coaches that I've spoken to. We need to change the culture. This is another step in changing that culture. This type of behavior and accepting this type of a program is not going to be tolerated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PINTO: Later on Wednesday the Saints issued a statement that read in part the following, "to our fans of the NFL and the rest of our league we offer our sincere apology and take full responsibility for these serious violations. It has always been the goal of the New Orleans Saints to create a model franchise and to impact our league in a positive manner. There's no place for bounties in our league. And we reiterate our pledge that this will never happen again."

Here in England, Manchester City boosted their title hopes by beating Chelsea on Wednesday. And they did it, thanks in part, to Carlos Tevez. The Argentine star played for the first time since September of last year after a row with manager Robero Mancini.

Chelsea took the lead at Etihad Stadium. Gary Cahill putting the Blues in front in the 60th minute. But Sergio Arguero equalized with a penalty. And then Tevez, on as a substitute, set up Sami Nasri's winner in the 85th minute. City won a record 20th straight home league games.

Let's take a quick look at the rest of Wednesday's results in the Premier League. Tottenham's draw with Stoke City combined with Arsenal's 1-nil win at Everton meant the Gunners leapfrog Spurs into third place on the table.

And that is a quick look at sport for this hour. Kristie, back to you in Hong Kong.

LU STOUT: Pedro, thank you.

Coming up next here on NEWS STREAM, they are still angry. But now the birds are in space. Rovio's new game could become your next addiction. And we'll show it to you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: The popular game Angry Birds soars into new territory today. Rovio is releasing Angry Birds Space. The Finnish firm has pulled out all the stops to promote its latest offering. Now Rovio in fact teamed up with NASA for what it calls the first ever game announcement from space.

Those of you still unsure why these birds are so angry, here's astronaut Don Pettit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON PETTIT, NASA ASTRONAUT: Of course pig is the arch enemy of Angry Bird. And Angry Bird had some eggs, and pig stole the eggs. And don't ask me how I got the eggs on space station.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: Now Angry Birds debut on the iPhone in 2009. And it is the number one paid iPhone app of all-time. It is now available on multiple platforms and has been downloaded more than 700 million times. Angry Birds Space joins these three games in the franchise.

Now Rovio had 51 flops before its big success. And critics say the same game has simply be rescanned over and over. But the company insists Angry Birds Space is completely new.

Now it introduces six new characters and gives old favorites different super powers. We asked Rovio's senior vice president of Asia about the game's evolution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HENRI HOLM, SENIOR V.P., ROVIO ENTERTAINMENT ASIA: The fans are very demanding. They want to see new features. They want to see new gameplay. They want to see new colors, visuals, places where we can go. Space is now the next place we go.

LU STOUT: So is fan feedback instrumental in the developing of your games, including the latest one?

HOLM: Absolutely. That's what we do. We connect with the fans. So it's all about fans, less about features.

LU STOUT: Understood.

OK. Show me the game.

What are the rules in Angry Birds Space.

HOLM: Well, the gravity -- you see, the gravity is pulling all the objects to what the largest mass. Like here, the ice planet. And they accelerate to what's the planet's surface.

LU STOUT: So, the closer you move towards a planet, the rules of gravity apply.

HOLM: That's right. So the game engine itself takes into consideration the gravity of the objects.

LU STOUT: OK. This is called pig bang.

HOLM: That's right. So everything goes with the character names. And this is a very typical level of getting people oriented into the game. The game has been built so that you don't have to read the manuals. What you do, you want to play so you play. You play and you learn. By learning, you actually excel to the next level and achieve stars. Three star is a different achievement of a one star. So you can actually differentiate your own score by looking into the stars.

And this is important, again, because then you can build into the same game many different level of difficulties.

LU STOUT: OK, so players can learn about the physics of the game world, but can they learn about the science of space?

HOLM: Well, they (inaudible). So we have here so collaboration with NASA which brings you to the microsite. So if you would like to learn about the space and NASA you will just click here and you learn more.

LU STOUT: So how many people do you think will be driven to the NASA website as a result of this game?

HOLM: Well, tens of millions of people, definitely. It's going to be a very popular site.

LU STOUT: And how will Angry Birds Space factor into your pretty aggressive marketing and merchandizing push?

HOLM: Well, it's part of bringing the online to offline strategy. So simultaneously we are able to now address both offline retails as well as...

LU STOUT: Like your hoodie.

HOLM: Well, hoodies, you know space merchandise we will launch throughout the world in retailers. And then of course the game is available in all platforms.

LU STOUT: You've pushed in so many areas -- clothes, plush toys, et cetera. Why does Rovio push so hard in these areas whereas other successful game developers kind of stay away?

HOLM: Well, I think, you know, we have this gaming background which then brings us to a totally new zone of entertainment. 21st Century new media companies need to look beyond just your own core. Our DNA is gaming, but that DNA is then brought into everything what we do.

The fast pace of introducing characters, merchandise, it's like the entertainment industry in the 21st Century.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: Rovio's Henri Holm there.

And as Rovio basks in the success of Angry Birds, what is the next big mobile hit? Now one company is betting that it's Draw Something. Now the app is currently top of the iTunes app store charts. It's been downloaded more than 35 million times since launching just six weeks ago. And it's success have prompted the game company Zynga to buy the company behind Draw Something for $200 million.

So, how does the app work? Well, it's a little bit like the game Pictionary. You have a selection of words that you have to draw for your opponent. Let's pick the word blimp. And here is my producer's attempt at drawing a blimp. And now what makes Draw Something a lucrative app for the company that owns it is this, if you want to unlock new colors to use in your drawings you have to spend some of the coins you earn in the game. And if you need more coins you can spend real money to buy more.

Now is that worth $200 million? Well, Zynga thinks so. And they should know, they're the company behind Farmville.

And that is NEWS STREAM, but the news continues at CNN. "WORLD BUSINESS TODAY" is next.

END