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CNN NEWSROOM

Boston Investigation; Canadian Terror Plot Foiled

Aired April 22, 2013 - 15:02   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN's special live coverage of the Boston terror attacks. I'm Jake Tapper live in Boston.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with us here.

Before we get back to the rapidly unfolding events here today in Boston, want to take you to Canada, where we're learning a little bit more about a planned terror attack that has been foiled by authorities.

For more on this, we to Paula Newton on the phone in Ottawa.

And, Paula, we understand there have been some arrests. What are you learning?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I am learning that the police will brief us within half-an-hour, Brooke, and one RCMP source telling me this was a plot that was to target transport links in Canada.

They would not say exactly what the nature of that was. And they say they had this plot, that people involved in this plot under surveillance for some time, they decided to make the arrest. Brooke, we should point out that as of now there are no links to the Boston Marathon bombings and no links to an earlier plot we learned of in Algeria earlier this year where two Canadians were also implicated.

Right now, this seems to be a plot that RCMP here in Canada are uncovering. They will give us more details in a few minutes. I should also say, Brooke, this was apparently extensive help from U.S. intelligence and authorities -- Brooke.

TAPPER: If I may, Paula, how long had authorities been watching these suspects? Is there any indication?

NEWTON: There is an indication it was at least several months. I can tell you from when I was briefed on some of these plots last year, that there are a handful of plots that RCMP are following at this very moment.

They found from a lot of different European investigations, they have told me that this is one of the best ways that they find that. When they get some intelligence, they then end up for lack of a better term bugging whether it's residences or cell phones and they listen to each and everything that is done in those homes, on computers, on cell phones and they think that is the best way to elicit evidence and keep the public safe so that they don't have to make arrests, premature arrests without getting the evidence they need.

We still have a trial that is about to open here in Canada, which was a situation, Jake, if you believe it, Canadian authorities actually went into a home and they were trying to set up bombs with circuit boards and they had gone into this home, replaced the real circuit boards with dummy boards and didn't -- and let the, you know, the alleged terrorists carry on with the planning for their plot until they were ready to arrest them. We will see in a few minutes if that's the nature of this kind of investigation as well.

BALDWIN: Frightening. Paula Newton for us in Canada. Paula, thank you.

Meantime, back here in the U.S. here, in Boston, this entire nation is paying tribute. The sole surviving suspect in the Boston bombings now knows which charges he faces. This afternoon prosecutors filed two offenses against him as he sat handcuffed in his hospital bed, one count of using and conspiring to use a weapon, a weapon of mass destruction, and one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death.

Although we know he's being charged with the death of three people killed in two blasts, he has not charged of the death of that MIT police officer who was killed on during a gunfight.

TAPPER: We know he's responsive and alert enough to be charged, and he's been communicating in writing and by nodding after his throat was wounded. We're still trying to find out how the throat was wounded.

A bullet left him speechless, at least for now. If convicted on the charges against him, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could get the death penalty.

I want to bring in two legal minds to help us better understand the charges and the case ahead.

Senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin join us from New York. And in Indianapolis is Larry Mackey. He's a former federal prosecutor who helped convict Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and his partner Terry Nichols.

Larry, there are a lot of legal terms we're using here. Explain the event today and how that differs from an indictment, which I'm assuming will happen soon.

LARRY MACKEY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, the criminal complaint is the first step in the federal judicial process.

And that's what this document accomplishes today. There will be a period of time after the filing of this complaint and the return of formal indictments and that's -- the latter document is the one that the defendant will then go forward at trial on. So there will be a period of time. In the McVeigh case, it was from April to August. Not sure how long it will lapse in this case.

BALDWIN: OK. Let me just jump in before we continue the conversation. We had brought a young runner to you earlier, Cassie. There is a group of runners right at this here who began running the last little bit of the marathon that so many of them did not get to finish, so here they are.

This is video of them wanting to finish, so we just want to let you know, we're keeping track of them as they're running here on the streets of Boston in this beautiful, beautiful blue sky, sunny day.

TAPPER: This is Cassie's first marathon. She had 0.7 miles left before the bombs struck. I think that's her putting her jacket back on. And she -- actually she more than finished because she spent...

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: She sprinted two miles.

TAPPER: She sprinted about two miles looking for family and friends. We know she can do it. But she's doing this in honor of the victims, both the four who were killed in this horrible week and also those hundreds wounded and also in honor of the first-responders and also for some of them in honor of charities they're involved in.

BALDWIN: Yes. So we will keep tabs on them, we promise.

Meantime, back to the charges here, Jeff Toobin, the question is, earlier you were saying basically this criminal complaint, the charges are a placeholder. Explain what you meant by that.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, this is the initial step in the judicial process. And this allows Tsarnaev to be held for the time being.

But when he goes to trial, if he goes to trial, it will be on an indictment that is returned by a grand jury and that grand jury investigation will begin in the next few days. This just outlines the charges in a general way, but the specific charges against him, and here, for example, we don't know if he will be charged in federal court with the murder of the MIT police officer Collier. That's not mentioned in the complaint. Those are the sorts of issues that will be dealt with in the grand jury this and that will see the full scope of what he faces in criminal court.

TAPPER: Sunny, I want to bring you in here, and I want to read a portion from the criminal complaint against Tsarnaev.

It says, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, that's the younger, the surviving brother -- quote -- "then can be seen apparently slipping his knapsack on to the ground." That's how it describes him leaving the alleged bomb, and the criminal complaint then says this about what happened after the first explosion. "Virtually every head turns to the east and stares in that direction in apparent bewilderment and alarm. Bomber two," that's Dzhokhar, "virtually alone among the individuals in front of the restaurant, appears calm. He glances to the east, and then calmly but rapidly begins moving to the west, away from the direction of the finish line. He walks away without his knapsack, having left it on the ground where he had been standing. Approximately 10 seconds later, an explosion occurs in the location where bomber two," again, that's Dzhokhar, "had placed his knapsack."

So how strong is this evidence and should we expect much, much more when the actual indictment happens?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think there is no question that we will learn much more detail in terms of what kind of evidence the government will have to present against this defendant, because what you're reading from is the affidavit in support of this complaint. It is pretty bare-bones, but even in the bare bones, you see the detail, you see sort of the hints at what is there, the hint of the surveillance video, the hint of his actions right before and after the bombing.

And so I think there is no question that we will hear a lot more about this case. And, Jake, I do want to mention, sort of piggyback on what Jeff said earlier, that, yes, this was not an arraignment, it was a first appearance, but certainly the criminal process has gone. And typically what happens in this kind of appearance before a magistrate judge is that the defendant is read the charges against him as they stand now, and then he's also told -- he's -- it is discussed with him what not only the charges are, but some of his rights, the right to remain silent typically, the right to counsel, whether or not he can afford a counsel, and then bail is also discussed.

I do find it a bit odd at this point that no defense attorney is involved. I did reach out to the federal public defender's office in Massachusetts. They had no comment, but I suspect that he will be getting counsel if he hasn't gotten counsel already.

BALDWIN: Jeff Toobin, I hear you sitting there listening to Sunny and shaking her head. Why the head-shake?

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Well, because there was a separate announcement from the -- of the public defender. Actually, he was represented by a public defender at the appearance. Bill Fick, who is a senior defense lawyer with the public defender, is now his lawyer.

I shared Sunny's bewilderment as why there was no mention of a defense lawyer. It's just that they didn't mention it, so this was apparently a fairly normal initial appearance. He did have a defense lawyer, even though the announcement came separately.

HOSTIN: That's great, because it was...

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: You read through this. Hang on, Sunny. Jeff, you read through the criminal complaint. What do you find most striking of all these new details coming out?

TOOBIN: That this looks like an indefensible case. I mean, you know, obviously the scientific evidence is what is not there, you know, the fact that, you know, this bomb came from this canister which came from this apartment.

But even in the absence of this, this certainly at this point doesn't look like a whodunit. It looks like, why was this done? The defense here to the extent there is going to be a defense, it certainly seems like it will be about the relative culpability of the one brother, the younger brother vs. the older brother.

It doesn't look like there is any alternative scenario but that these two brothers set off these bombs.

TAPPER: And, Larry Mackey, let me bring you in here. If you were defending Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, what kind of defense would you be able to mount? Is really the only thing that is left given all the photographic and other evidence the idea that he fell under the spell of his older brother, not that I believe that, but that is that the only defense that really could be argued at this point?

MACKEY: Yes.

I think Jeff's assessment is spot on. If I were his counsel, I would be thinking first and foremost how to avoid the death penalty. And I would be mounting the evidence that I could present first to the attorney general and perhaps in the process to the jury in Massachusetts. I think this is more about what the ultimate punishment might be, as opposed to, you know, getting an acquittal.

BALDWIN: Jeff Toobin, I know you say it's indefensible. But how would you defend...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Jeff, go ahead, continue your thoughts.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: I was just going to say, if I was the defense attorney, there would be one word that would dominate my thoughts every day, and that is delay, delay, delay, delay. Everybody is completely fixated on this case, the country, Massachusetts. Boston is completely horrified. Time is the ally of the defense.

We were all outraged and horrified as well we should have been by the murders in Tucson by Jared Lee Loughner, including the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. That ended in a plea bargain. Jared Lee Loughner pleaded guilty to a crime that carried life in prison, rather than the death penalty. Time helps the defense and the defense is going to want to kick this can down the road as long as humanly possible.

TAPPER: All right, Jeffrey Toobin, Sunny Hostin and Larry Mackey, thank you so much. BALDWIN: Coming up next, we will talk to our correspondent Brian Todd who has been here. In fact, we are learning new information about this mosque in Cambridge. I was in Cambridge all day Friday and these two young men lived in this apartment on Norfolk street and just down the road was this mosque. Getting some new information about how -- from the imam, what was said about when they attended, a moment of disruption here.

We're going to talk to Brian Todd about all those details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin live here in Boston. Jake Tapper now stepping away preparing for his show, "THE LEAD," which starts at the top of the hour.

But I want to let you know that we're learning some new details about the older of these two brothers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, from a Cambridge, Massachusetts, mosque, just over the Charles River from where we are here, where Tamerlan Tsarnaev often came to pray. So back in January, the older Tsarnaev disrupted services at an Islamic Society of Boston mosque. This is according to a board member that Brian Todd talked to when he visited the mosque today.

And you have new information just about attending the mosque and this outburst that we keep reading about. Tell me about that.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Some more specific details about that.

This happened on January 18, around the time of the Martin Luther King holiday. It was a Friday. There was a sermon was going on according to the board member, Anwar Kazmi. He said that a leader of the mosque was giving a sermon at the time, extolling the virtues of Martin Luther King and the Prophet Mohammed saying that people who attended the mosque should do more to follow those two and adhere to their virtues.

Apparently, that did not sit too well with Tamerlan Tsarnaev. This board member, Anwar Kazmi, said he compiled some information from people who were in the mosque at the time, and here is what he said they told him about how they described that outburst.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANWAR KAZMI, ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF BOSTON: Some people said that he said something to the effect you cannot, you know, compare or make a parallel between our prophet and a non-Muslim. Some people said that he referred to the person who was giving the sermon as a hypocrite. The Arabic words is (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: And Mr. Kazmi said after that, people kind of sat him down and explained to him this was a violation of the etiquette of the mosque, that you shouldn't be doing that. Brooke, he said this really almost never happens during a sermon. During a sermon, he says you're never even supposed to speak. But at the time, he just got up and had this outburst. He said that this guy was a hypocrite who was giving the sermon. He said don't compare Martin Luther King to a non-Muslim. You shouldn't do that. He was outraged by it. They calmed him down, explained to him that was wrong. He left, but he did come back for Friday prayers after that.

BALDWIN: So you have this behavior. As you said, this is January. Were there any other examples or any other points in time where people who said there were red flags, that this older brother was becoming too radicalized, anything like that?

TODD: A key question. We asked this board member about that, and he said they had no indication. Another mosque official also said that, that they had no indication that he was becoming more radicalized.

And another mosque official even told us, look, if the FBI people who are checking into this now had no indication, we couldn't have any indication. So they really just are saying that there were no red flags as far as they were concerned.

BALDWIN: So many people over the last week or so, so many people thinking, I wish they had known, they wish they had seen signs, they would have done something, said something to stop what happened a week ago today. Brian Todd, thank you very much with that last bit of information from the mosque in Cambridge.

You're watching special coverage here. It has been one week from the day, from those two explosions on Boylston Street here in Boston. While we have our eye of course on what is happening here today, we want to take you coming up next to Canada, to this breaking story on this Canadian terror plot. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: And want to let you know, we're just about five minutes away from a news conference we're going to be watching for you involving the disrupted terror attack in the Ottawa area of Canada.

As we're getting more information, we should learn a little bit more as we hear from these officials in just a couple of minutes. And just to be crystal clear, this disrupted terror attack is not at all connected to what happened here in Boston one week ago today. So we're watching out for that.

But back here in Boston, Cassie Taylor, this young 22-year-old here who was running the marathon last week, and a couple of friends, because they couldn't finish the marathon last Monday, they have been out running. Here they go through the streets of Boston. They have just finished their run.

And Ashleigh Banfield is live with this group of runners.

Ashleigh, I love this story. I love the idea that they had to finish.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know.

Listen, Brooke, Boston strong. That's all we keep hearing, Boston strong. This is embodiment of Boston strong right here.

Congratulations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thank you, guys.

BANFIELD: You finished that last .7.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. It feels good to be in this area and pay tribute to those people that have been affected by this and know that we're doing our little part here.

BANFIELD: And you're wearing your Jacket.

And, Erica Costanza, you have got your sign that your mom and your aunt brought to the original marathon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they did. They were holding this in Wellesley and they were holding this at the finish line as well.

BANFIELD: And, first of all, so new friends. Over social media, you put this note out and you came up with a small but powerful group of you. Just met these two.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did, yes. I was out running. I heard one of the girls say, like to join us in a run in memorial? I said, sure, sure. I joined them.

And I just remember last week, a day like this and what had happened, it's sad. Still mourning for them, but it was good to remember them and this run and what Boston is all about.

BANFIELD: And the rest of these runners also, Brooke, joining in solidarity with you two.

I just want to, if we can, just point down to where they would have crossed. We're basically coming in, Brooke, on the opposite way. They would have run down towards your view right now, but you can see that entire area is blocked off. But the finish line is just a few blocks from here. They circumvented it, they finished 0.7 and they did it and they did it strong, just like everyone has been calling Boston strong.

So congratulations to all of you. You should be very proud.

Brooke, I'm going to send it back to you with just this endearing image, this is what it means. This city was hurt, but it's not taken down.

BALDWIN: I love it. Tell them we all say congratulations, Ashleigh Banfield. Thank you. I have got my Boston strong hat. See this, Boston strong. All the proceeds from these hat going to The One Fund.

When we come, we will check in on that news conference in Ottawa, Canada, about this disrupted terror plot, breaking news next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.