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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Boston Bombing Suspect; Times Square Plot Revealed; Interview with Congressman Ed Royce; Carjacking Victim Tells His Story

Aired April 26, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman live in Boston where we begin with breaking news this morning. CNN confirming that the surviving Boston bombing suspect has been moved to a prison medical facility away from Boston. We'll have the developing details on that.

Plus, they were planning at least one more attack, the surviving Boston bombing suspects revealed their second target, Times Square.

And this morning, hearing from the man carjacked by the accused terror suspects. He is recounting the moment-by-moment detail of his 90- minute ordeal. Coming up, we're talking to "The Boston Globe" reporter who spoke to him exclusively.

And was the red line crossed? We have learned the chemical weapons have been used in Syria. We're talking to Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Ed Royce about whether the U.S. now has to get involved in the civil war in Syria?

Then, Congress gets involved in the airport delay drama. A late-night deal to ease FAA furloughs. We'll tell you what that really means.

It is Friday, April 26th. And a special edition of STARTING POINT begins right now.

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BERMAN: And we do begin with two big breaking developments in the Boston marathon bombing investigation to tell you about. The U.S. Marshals Service confirms that suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been moved from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center here in Boston. He is now being held at a prison facility in Devens, Massachusetts. That's about an hour west of Boston. This is a live look at the location right there. This is a former military base, a prison on a form every military base. It houses male offenders who require specialized, or long-term medical or mental health care.

We've also learned that the Tsarnaevs' parents, their parents, have left their home in Dagestan and the mother tells CNN that her husband's planned visit to the United States has been delayed indefinitely she says because of health concerns.

Now, all of this on the heels of new information that the brothers were planning what could have been another attack this one in New York City's Times Square. They reportedly had plans to drive there on April 19th, the night they wound up in a shoot-out with police.

So, we want to bring in Miguel Marquez. Miguel with details on this movement of the prisoners from Boston overnight -- really broke in the middle of the night.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very much in the middle of the night. Around 1:00 in the morning, police at Beth Israel Deaconess moved all media away from the area we were staged in, between 1:00 and 3:00. All the police pulled out. We clearly knew something was going on. And then early this morning, the Marshals Service confirmed he had, in fact, been moved.

There were still nine victims from the bombing itself who were at Beth Israel. Their families, their friends, very upset that Mr. Tsarnaev was still in the facility. Officials had been looking for a place for him to go to. He was listed in stable condition yesterday.

Doctors were concerned about moving him too early, but clearly there was a great desire to get him to a new facility and this facility, at Fort Devens, it sounds like sort of a perfect match for him, because it can house high value or high security prisoners on this medical facility.

There is a lot of individuals who have been there long-term with serious to severe psychological problems and are considered very dangerous. This is sort of place they can move him to so he can be cared for both medically, so he can get through trial, but also, that he could secure there, and there won't be any issues with him getting out.

BERMAN: And as we said, about an hour away from Boston. Part of what used to be a big military base. This is sort of secluded. Very much away from victims being cared for here.

Miguel, do we know for us whether this is where he might stay until he faces trial?

MARQUEZ: It is not. Clearly, there are other facilities around. There's a satellite prison connected to it. That's minimum security. So, it's unlikely he will be held there. Clearly, he will be tried presumable until Boston. And there would be some facility within driving distance certainly where he would be able to get to.

BERMAN: All right. Miguel Marquez, thank you so much for joining us this morning. Again, headlines, breaking news overnight: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev moved from Boston, about an hour away to Ft. Devens, Massachusetts. Thanks so much.

Other news, the father of the bombing suspects, he did have plans to travel to the United States today, but it does not look that will be happening for a while, if at all. The mother tells CNN that her husband is delaying the trip indefinitely because of what she calls health concerns. The suspects' mother who claims the Boston bombings were fake, conspiracy theory to say the least. She said she and her us have left Dagestan and are in another part of Russia. Meanwhile, we're alerting that the Tsarnaev brothers apparently wanted to follow the Boston marathon bomb bombing with another high-profile attack. They had spontaneous plans to set up bombs in New York City. The suspected marathon bombers intended to drive to New York on April 19th. That was the night they ended up in a shoot-out with police in Watertown, Massachusetts.

CNN's Richard Roth is in Times Square this morning with the latest on this angle.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.

It might have been a spontaneous act according to Ray Kelly, the commissioner of New York. But, of course, the results could have been catastrophic. Times Square, business as usual on Thursday, and we've got a weekend coming up. Times Squares, the crossroads of the world, coming to life here on a Friday morning.

The city of New York always on guard, especially after 9/11, and that horrific devastating day. There are many security cameras here in Times Square, a heavy police presence, but with 35,000 people at any time on the sidewalks of New York, a target-rich environment.

Now, the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, commented on the potential plot to attack here in Times Square.

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MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: The fact is, New York City remains a prime target for those who hate America and want to kill Americans. The attacks in Boston and the news that New York City was next on the terrorist list shows just how critical it is for the federal government to devote resources to high risk areas.

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ROTH: The suspects had in their vehicle a pressure cooker bomb and some other pipe bomb devices. So it could have been an aspirational plot or chatter in that car. This could have been a location, one of the suspects had been here and been photographed in Times Square.

I asked a New Yorker and a couple from Atlanta their reaction to the news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I have to tell you, I did think twice about walking through Times Square which I often do on my way to work in the morning. That was a little concerning, and I'm really concerned about the security and the fact that the FBI really didn't follow through with the tips that they had.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scariest thing in the world. I'm glad we weren't here at the time.

ROTH: Do you think about that now in Times Square? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just go on living. You can't worry about these crazy people and just go and do what you do. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROTH: New York City plans to follow up on the information. The information garnered from the interview with the surviving suspects. They, of course, have a heavy anti-terrorist squad and police, John, as you know, around the world, trying to get ahead of things before they come here to Times Square in the big city.

Back to you.

BERMAN: Richard, obviously, they will take any threats very, very seriously. Richard Roth for us in Times Square, this morning -- thanks so much for being there.

Congressman Ed Royce is the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. He joins us live right now. He's a Republican from California. He's here to talk to us about Syria, major developments yesterday on that and today as well.

But, Chairman Royce, first, I want to ask you about the attacks here in Boston. You are chairing this committee and holding hearings on Islamic extremism in Chechnya, which is obviously, a very important subject right now. Do you have any information, any new information connecting these brothers to Islamic extremism in Chechnya?

REP. ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, we do. The mosque that the older brother attended in Chechnya is one of the most radicalized. The types of doctrine that comes out of the mosque are al Qaeda inspired.

If you look at the Chechen assaults that have occurred, and the magnitude of the casualties in that region, you have you over 300 children killed, of course, on the attack on the skill, hundreds injured, you have the attack on the Moscow theater. But, again, took the lives of 120 people. You have the attack on the subway with hundreds and hundreds of casualties in Moscow. All done by organizations linked to this particular al Qaeda network, one which has the dream of the caliphate that extends beyond Chechnya but includes all of southern Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and that's why we see Chechen fighters killing troops in Afghanistan, carrying out attacks in Pakistan.

They have a wider vision of what they want to do with the caliphate, and apparently, the older brother, in the six months he was there was brought in to the fold in terms of that movement.

BERMAN: Of course, the big question is, whether their vision for that caliphate extends beyond Russia and maybe to the United States.

But let me ask about intelligence first, Congressman. Of course, now, there are differing accounts of how much the FBI did or did not ion 2011 when they got word from the Russians that there were concerns about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Are you satisfied right now that the FBI followed up all this as they should, or are you in the camp that there needs to be much more investigation here, perhaps even congressional hearings?

ROYCE: Well, the problem, of course, when a foreign government tips you off. In this case, not just the FBI, but the CIA as well, that they have concerns about terrorist ties with an individual like this, you probably want to flag that file, right? You would want to know in the future if that individual is going to travel.

I would think you would want to know and check the Web sites, because on the Web site, of course, you had terrorist videos, you had him visiting chat rooms.

And so, clearly, enough was not done to monitor the activities here, especially given the fact that it wasn't one heads up we were given, but several.

So I do have questions, absolutely. And this is -- this is one of the things we are looking at with our hearing.

BERMAN: Congressman, another area of major concern right now, of course, in Syria, you are meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry today, following the news from the administration, that they now believe with varying degrees of confidence, chemical weapons were used by the Assad regime in Syria.

You know, Chairman Royce, do you believe a red line has been crossed here?

ROYCE: Well, clearly, the administration said if something like sarin is used, then it crosses a red line. I think the reason for the concern is just how lethal this particular chemical agent is.

Some of us remember the attack in the subways in Tokyo. Was it in 1995? Where you had, you know, half a dozen people killed as memory serves. But I remember there were thousands injured in that attack, or over 1,000.

So when we look at sarin as a chemical agent, something f you get that into the food or water, or even if you breathe it, in small doses, it's very, very lethal. And I think that's why the international committee is so interested. We had the king of Jordan here yesterday, speaking to us in the committee about this issue. Today, we'll talk to the secretary of state.

I think the international community is moving towards embracing sort of the -- the goal of the Free Syrian Army to try to overturn the Assad regime. That does not mean boots on the ground on the part of the United States, but it probably means assisting those who were resisting Assad in a more robust way, to make certain that we put a quicker conclusion or quicker end to this struggle in Syria.

BERMAN: All right. Congressman Ed Royce, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, meeting with the secretary of state today -- thank you so much for joining us, really appreciate it.

ROYCE: Thank you.

BERMAN: I want to show you live pictures right now, coming to CNN from Devens, Massachusetts. That's an hour west if you're a little bit north. This is an old military base that houses a prison facility that is housing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old suspect in the Boston marathon bombings. He was moved in the dark of night between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m., taken from Boston from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, taken to this present medical facility in Devens, Massachusetts, where he is now being held there.

There were so many victims' families staying in the same hospital here in Boston, who were extremely upset that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was in the same hospital. This, of course, alleviates that problem.

You know, I should say as well. We are focusing on the suspect in this case, we want to focus as much as possible on the victims as well.

Christine Romans in New York, I'm standing here at the memorial site in Copley Square, where people have brought running sneakers, flowers, teddy bears for the victims of these attacks. People have been coming here all morning. This is a very special site in Boston, very, very poignant and an important reminder of what happened here one week ago.

Christine Romans, back in New York with the rest of the day's top stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Your point of remembering the victims and talking about the people who are trying to recover is very well taken. There was a woman who had a press conference yesterday, she said, I don't know who these suspects are, I don't know how to pronounce their names, and I am just trying to get better and so are all of us here. So, I think that's an important thing to remember. Thanks, John.

Another news we're following here today:

A hospital fire in the Russian town of Ramensky leaves 38 people dead, 41 people were inside the hospital at the time, only three manages to escape the flames. The blaze may have been sparked by an electrical short. Tomorrow will be an official day of mourning in Russia for those lost in the fire.

Seattle police dusting off a skeleton in their closet. A 27-year-old video showing officers making fun of homeless people.

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ROMANS: This 1986 video part of a training film, the current interim police chief is in it. He says he wanted to be transparent and apologize.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) INTERIM CHIEF JIM PUGEL, SEATTLE POLICE: The attempt at humor clearly was wrong. And, again, I -- I am deeply sorry for it but I own it. Frankly, now that I'm in a much higher profile position, at some point eventually it could have come out. And I promised the media, I promised my officers, I promised the command staff, that I would be open and honest, and approach things head on.

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ROMANS: The department has been under fire in recent years over its treatment of minorities.

Massive flooding still a big headache for many Midwesterners this morning. This video shows dangerously high water levels in Des Plaines, Illinois. Now, the "Chicago Tribune" reports local officials are warning residents to be on the lookout for scammers taking advantage of the flood, offering fraudulent home repairs.

Terrifying moments for two people aboard a twin engine plane. They're landing gear failed to engage on approach to the runway at this airport in Gardner, Kansas. This was yesterday. The pilot forced to land on the plane's belly. The pilot and the co-pilot were not injured. But wow! Imaging on approach, all of a sudden, John, landing gear doesn't deploy. Glad they're safe.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Glad they're safe, indeed. All right. Thanks, Christine.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, he spent 90 terrifying minutes with the Boston bombing suspects. We're going to speak with the reporter who interviewed the man allegedly carjacked by the Tsarnaev Brothers. How he was able to escape? This is an incredible story. We'll tell you about it next. You're watching STARTING POINT.

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BERMAN: Welcome back to Boston, everyone. John Berman here for STARTING POINT. We're about a block away from the finish line of the Boston marathon in Copley Square, the site of the memorial that has (INAUDIBLE) up here, a poignant reminder of the attack that happened here now more than one week ago.

And this morning, we are learning more about the harrowing ordeal of the last person who spent time with the Boston bombing suspects. We only know him by his American nickname. He's called Danny. He's a 26-year-old Chinese entrepreneur and he spent 90 minutes fearing for his life after the suspects allegedly carjacked his Mercedes SUV.

Now, Eric Moskowitz is a reporter from "The Boston Globe." He sat in Danny's apartment, going over every detail of what happened last Thursday night. Eric, thank you so much for being here this morning to tell us about this. You were really the only person who has spent time with this man, Danny, the carjacking victim. What was -- what stuck out to you?

ERIC MOSKOWITZ, REPORTER, BOSTON GLOBE: I mean, what stuck out to me is that Danny really has probably, you now, of all the millions of people in greater Boston, the perfect combination of innocence, and poise, and calm. If it would have been almost, maybe, anyone, any one of us or, you know, sort of little different twist here or there. Danny wouldn't have survived and the brothers would have gotten on to New York. I mean, it's really just an incredible story. Danny is an amazing guy.

BERMAN: Ninety minutes he spent in that car with one or both of the brothers at different times. How did he manage to escape?

MOSKOWITZ: Sure. So, I'll take you back to the beginning. I mean, first of all, it starts with Danny stopping his car to send a text message. So, if you question if anyone actually does it, it's Danny. They pull up immediately behind him. The older brother gets out, wraps on the window. He doesn't hear him. He lowers it. Tamerlan sticks his hand through the window, opens the door, and pulls a gun on him.

Takes what money he has, tells him to drive. Partly, they're driving with him. The other brother is following behind. Then, they go and they consolidate what Danny thinks is luggage, but it's actually the bombs from their car to his car. They're driving around for 90 minutes, constantly threatening him. And Danny is just trying to think, how do I stay alive?

I don't want to say the wrong thing. You know, at one point, he gets a text message from his roommate in Chinese saying, you know, "Where are you? How come you haven't come home?" And Tamerlan takes a Chinese to -- sorry -- English to Chinese app, text back, "I'm sick. I'm not coming home. I'm with a friend. That seemed (ph) where the Danny's roommate. There's another text, then a call. They don't answer. There's silence in Danny's car.

They call again. Tamerlan says you answer. If you say a word in Chinese, because he knows he's speaking in Chinese, you might write them out, I'll kill you. And don't be stupid. So, Danny says, answering to someone talking to him in Mandarin in English. "I'm sick. "I'm with a friend. I'm sorry, I've got to go." And he's just trying to think, you know, where can I get out? When is my moment?

Lucky for Danny, the car was running low on gas. They had to stop at a gas station, double stroke of luck, wouldn't take the credit card. The younger brother has to go in to pay with cash. At least Danny alone with Tamerlan. Think about Tamerlan's been on the run all day. He's, you know, killed an MIT police officer five hours earlier. He puts his guard down for a second. He puts the gun in the driver's side pocket of Danny's SUV.

He's got both hands fiddling with the GPS and Danny realizes if I'm going to get out, now is the chance. I've got to unbuckle the seat belt, open the door, and go in one swift motion. At a certain point, he stops thinking about it. He does it, and it's like really the perfect place. He goes between the car and the gas pumps and if Tamerlan is going to shoot him, he'd have to go through the window, you know, it's just like an impossible shot.

So, he tries to reach for him. Can't get him. He hears him curse, sprints across the street to safety at another gas station, calls 911.

BERMAN: Because he called 911 there, they were able to trace the car using his cell phone, also the Mercedes satellite technology. This man, Danny, who was minding his own business (ph), may have saved lives. He certainly helped, you know, catch the suspects here.

MOSKOWITZ: Absolutely. I mean, this is -- take you back last Thursday, early Friday morning, just after midnight, it was only a matter of minutes between when the police got to Danny and when they caught up with the Tsarnaev Brothers. And you know, without Danny's cell phone, without his poise, without the satellite technology in the car, who knows how long it could have taken?

BERMAN: What does Danny say the brothers said about New York?

MOSKOWITZ: So, two things. When I spoke to Danny, they were speaking English. When they spoke to each other, it was a language then he didn't understand. He's trying to list in without making clear that he's listening, because Tamerlan said if you look at me, if you see my face, I'll kill you. So, Danny very wisely said, I didn't see you. I don't remember you.

But he's trying to hear him, and he hears the word "Manhattan" come out in this language he, otherwise, doesn't understand. So, that gives him the indication they might be going in New York. And then, they asked him, can your car go out of state? He doesn't know what to make of that question. So, he says what do you mean? And they mean like New York. So, he says, yes, yes, my car can go out of state.

BERMAN: What an unbelievable story. What an unbelievable story you told today on today's "Boston Globe," the story of Danny, the man who survived the carjacking and helped chase down these people who killed allegedly three people to bombings here and then Officer Sean Collier, the MIT also. Eric Moskowitz, thank you so much for being with us this morning. Really appreciate it.

MOSKOWITZ: Thank you for having me.

BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, I had a chance to sit down with a family, one who was near the finish line here at the Boston marathon. Three members of this family affected by this bomb blast, injured. One was hit by shrapnel. The father lost his leg. But they say they are not bitter about the attack despite all that has happened to them. They have an amazing story to tell.

And then new this morning, Congress putting an end to furloughs and air traffic control towers, but is this really as good as it sounds? We will have a live report coming up next.

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ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. New this morning, the House could vote today to put furloughed air traffic controllers back to work and end a rash of airport delays. The Senate approved a plan last night that would hopefully get those planes running on time again. CNN Zain Asher at New York's LaGuardia Airport. In the meantime, though, there could be delays today. Good morning, Zain.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christine. Yes. So, one pilot describing to me, an absolute torture. Monday through Wednesday, 3,000 flights canceled or delayed specifically because of budget cuts. Essentially, the FAA is trying to save $600 million between now and September. As a result, they're reducing staffing at air traffic control towers by up to 10 percent.

So, of course, you can image the chaos. What you're getting is more space in between planes, also when you walk into the airport, it might say on the monitor that your flight is departing on time, but you won't actually know if that's true until you're sitting on the tarmac. That is where a lot of delays are coming from.

Also, you're seeing more planes circling in the air for a lot longer before landing. Earlier, I spoke to one pilot from American Eagle. He's what he had to say.

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ADAM CHRONAS, PILOT, AMERICAN EAGLE: It'd been horrendous. We've been having three, four-hour delays. It could happen at any time of the day, in the morning and night. It's weird. Usually, they happen late at night or if the weather is bad, but lately, they've been happening at all times of the day, even on good weather days.

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ASHER: So, bottom line, if you are traveling today, you can expect delays. Just make sure you talk to the airline and the airport in advance of leaving -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Zain Asher at LaGuardia for us this morning. Thanks, Zain.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, John Berman sits down with survivors of the bombing and talks about the terrifying experience they had and the lasting wounds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went to the hospital. They actually had the round pieces of metal in them. They were like BBs basically.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Plus, what they'd say to the 19-year-old suspect if given the chance, next.

A new warning about cucumbers and salmonella. That's when we come back.

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