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Kenya Mall Siege; Who Are The Shooters?; 69 Dead In Kenyan Mall Attack; "Do We Care Enough?"; U.S. Navy Chopper Goes Down; Three Killed In Social Club Shooting; Tsarnaev Conference: Death Penalty Protocol; Pilot Lands On Chicago Expressway; New Overtures from Iran; Political Gut Check

Aired September 23, 2013 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Monday, September 23rd, six o'clock in the east.

A very big question to get answer this week, is this a new era for U.S. relations with Iran? The newly elected president of Iran is on his way to New York for the U.N. general assembly, but it is unclear whether President Obama will meet with him. It could be an important first step after decades of animosity between the two countries, but it does come with great risks. We'll take you through it.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Speaking of president or maybe the search to be president. Hillary Clinton opening up about her whole life, her daughter and, of course, whether or not she plans on running for president. it's a revealing new interview, and we're going to bring it all for you. We're going to talk about it all.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: And it is arguably one of the most annoying parts of flying, having to turn off all your electronics for take-off and landing. The FAA is meeting this week. And reportedly, they're set to recommend changing those rules, but the question is, how far they're going to go? Will cell phone calls and cell phones calls and texting finally be allowed?

BOLDUAN: We will see.

CUOMO: We want to take you right to Kenya, though, because it's a developing situation. More gunshots were fired overnight in an upscale mall where least 69 people have died. The government there says security forces have taken control of most of that mall in Nairobo where armed al Shabaab militants have been hold up since Saturday.

The attackers are believed to still be holding several people hostage. There's a report coming out right now that there have been hostages recently released.

So let's get right to CNN's Zain Verjee in Nairobi for the latest -- Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There was chaos. There was confusion. There was total catastrophe at Kenya's West Gate Mall. The situation is extremely tense. Right now, I am standing along the emergency response team. A lot of the casualties that have been coming through have been coming through that gate. West Gate Mall, guys is about 5-minute walk on that side.

We have been hearing one or two explosions over the past three-day siege. We have been hearing a lot of sporadic gunfire on operation along the Israelis and the Kenyans. It is happening right now in the mall. We don't have any visibility to what is happening. This is normal for a special operation like this. We are trying to understand the hostage situation.

This conflicting information whether anyone has been rescued what exactly is happening. The military saying they have. The Red Cross and other officials are saying they haven't seen any sign of any release or rescued hostages. So we are trying to figure that situation out right now. But in Nairobi, what I can tell you is that helicopters are circling and everybody is a little bit on edge to see what happens next -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Zain, thanks, so much on the ground for us in Kenya. Now back here at home, the FBI is now involved about proclaims by al Shabaab that American citizens are actually taking part in the attack. The Trail is leading investigators to the Minneapolis area in Minnesota. That's where we find our Chris Lawrence who is digging in these allegations this morning. Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. Yes, there was a supposed al Shabaab Twitter account that claimed two of the attackers are from right here in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Right now the FBI is trying to run down those leads to disprove or prove whether that is or is not true. But I can tell you that U.S. officials, some in the administration have been raising alarm bells about the recruitment of al Shabaab of Somali-American, mostly young men here in the community.

This is the largest Somali-American in the country. Right now, the FBI is working apart from this attack to try to stop al Shabaab from recruiting young men and then having those young men come back here to the United States. We know that about 40 Americans have joined al Shabaab over the last few years, 24 of them from right here in Minneapolis. Again, we don't know the link, but another U.S. official says a decision is coming in the next few days about greater efforts to prevent al Shabaab recruiting here Kate.

CUOMO: All right, I'll take it. Thank you very much, Chris. Joining us now from London is CNN terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank. Paul, can you hear us?


CUOMO: All right, Paul, thank you very much. Let's deal with the obvious. Tell us what you can about al Shabaab and what it means that this group that's responsible for the attack?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, al Shabaab is a Somali militant group, which is affiliated with al Qaeda. It's been responsible for regional terrorist attacks in the past. That attack that was carried out in Uganda in 2010 at the World Cup final night, but this is the most ambitious plots from the group to date. The most ambitious attack that kind of recalls the Mumbai attack in 2008, not that attack was 60 hours and this siege in Kenya in its third day now. So it's very ambitious attack from this group. The leader of this group has more closely aligned it with al Qaeda in recent months and joined it with that terrorist group.

CUOMO: Obviously, we want all causes for optimism on the ground, but by all accounts, this seems this is less over than expected. What's your information?

CRUICKSHANK: Can you just repeat that, please, sorry?

CUOMO: We want it obviously to be a situation that ends as quickly as possible. But it does seem that this situation is less under control than we were led to believe?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, that's absolutely right. There seem to have been teams of gunmen involved here and this is still an ongoing seize. This is still an ongoing hostage situation and the longer this lasts, the bigger propaganda victory for al Shabaab -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, so now let's come back here to the U.S. for a second, a connection to Minnesota, very intriguing. I had been there doing an investigation into the Somali population. They talk about an amphetamine they use and officials were saying it's not just what happens here. It's where the money is going, where training could be done. It sounded farfetched at the time. What does this mean? Could there be a connection?

CRUICKSHANK: Well that, connection is by no means confirmed yet, but it wouldn't be a surprise because those around the 20 Americans who were believed to with the al Shabaab group in Somalia. There have been extreme of recruits that have gone from places like Minneapolis to Somalia. That's actually slowed to a trickle in the last couple of years because the FBI has actually got on top of the issue. Also this group al Shabaab becomes more and more extreme and closer to al Qaeda. It has become less popular in the Somali communities of the United States -- Chris.

CUOMO: The situation is usually exclusively male. Is there any reason to believe that may change here? There may be female involvement on the attacker's side.

CRUICKSHANK: Well, there have been reports of possible female involvement. That would be some precedent. There was a siege in a Moscow theatre about half a decade ago where there were some women suicide bombers involved. There has also been female suicide bombers linked to al Qaeda in Iraq. So there is some precedent for this, but that is not yet confirmed -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, last question, a quick take on this one. Is this just a target of opportunity or is what we are seeing here a new strategy to go after these types of civilian sites?

CRUICKSHANK: I think they go through it. It is quite planned out. It really fits the Aymen al-Zawahiri playbook. About a week ago, he put out strategic advice for all of al Qaeda's affiliates. He said to them you should hit western targets. Well. They've hit western targets here. You should avoid Muslim casualties. They have since tried to avoid Muslim casualties here. They say you should take hostages. Well, they're taken hostages here as well.

So I think this is a thought out attack by al Shabaab, a revenge attack against Kenya because of its military offensive in Somalia over the last couple of years, an attempt to raise the profile of this Jihadist group in Somali, which has had a number of setbacks and has lost territory in Somalia over the last year or so -- Chris.

CUOMO: Paul Cruickshank, thank you very much for the analysis this morning. Kate, over to you.

BOLDUAN: All right, Chris, thanks so much. Now, to a new showdown over guns, President Obama gave a stirring eulogy Sunday commemorating the Washington Navy Yard victims and also condemning what he called a creeping resignation about gun violence. But he stopped short it appeared of calling for new political battles, even if his opponents are ready for a fight. CNN's Pamela Brown has more on this. Good morning, Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Kate. It has been one week since 12 people were tragically killed in the shooting at the Washington Naval Yard. We are hearing the debate over gun control yet again. On one side, the president of the NRA calling for more guns in the right hands. On the other hand, President Obama saying the only way to prevent future mass shooting is change.


BROWN (voice-over): President Obama giving a passionate eulogy for the victims of last week's Naval Yard shooting and calling for a transformation of America's gun laws.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm not accepting these shootings as inevitable, but asking what can we do to prevent them from happening again and again and again.

BROWN: Earlier in the day, NRA President Wayne Lapierre appeared on "Meet the Press" with a controversial take of what went wrong that day?

WAYNE LAPIERRE, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: The problem is there weren't enough good guys with guns. When the good guys with guns got there, it stopped.

BROWN: Hours apart and in vastly different settings, Lapierre and the president's comments were almost a tennis match, a point counterpoint.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: There ought to be a cheque to all of us as a nation and as a people. It ought to load to some sort of transformation.

LAPIERRE: We need to look at letting the men and women that know firearms and are trained in them do what they do best, which is protect and survive.

BROWN: The president, once again, greeting Americans after four other major mass shootings during his presidency, in Fort Hood, Tucson, Arizona, Aurora, Colorado and in New Town, Connecticut, last December. What is clear, this debate will continue with both sides still unwilling to yield.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: This is the change that we need. It is a change overwhelmingly supported by the majority of Americans.

LAPIERRE: We will have this discussion told. It's on other channels. When the camera goes off, nobody is going to do anything.


BROWN: And Lapierre also talked about how mental health records are not in the system as a part of background checks with purchasing guns. The president said in his speech yesterday that the U.S. is not inherently prone to mental health issues, but it is easier to get a gun than other countries with strict gun control laws like the U.K. or Australia. He added that change may not happen in the next few weeks or months, but it will happen once Americans have had enough -- Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Pamela, thanks, so much for that.

CUOMO: Following a lot of news for you this morning so let's get right to Michaela for the latest -- Mick.

PEREIRA: Good morning, guys. Good morning to you at home making news. The search is on for two crew members of a Navy chopper that went down in the Red Sea. Three other crew members were rescued after the crash Sunday. The night hawk was operating with the guided missile destroyer "USS William P. Lawrence" when it went down. The Navy is now investigating, but it did say the crash was not due to any sort of hostile activity.

A gunfight outside an Elks Lodge in Michigan, three people are dead and at least four others were injured with bullet wounds. Police say one victim died after she was shot then run over by a driver trying to make a getaway. One person is now in custody. Police say there was a shooting in June at the very same place.

A pre-trial meeting today for accused Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, it will focus on death penalty protocol. His defense wants to discuss the timeline and procedure for prosecutors as they consider whether to seek the death penalty. Prosecutors will make a recommendation, but ultimately the decision to seek the death penalty rests on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

An unscheduled landing for a pilot in Chicago, check it out. The pilot was flying over the lake front when part of the plane's destabilizer broke. That pilot says the plane started to shake so violently, he thought it would break in midair. So he decided to land right there on Lake Shore Drive. A busy expressway on the city's east side. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The FAA is now investigating. A big night in Hollywood the biggest names in television gathering in L.A. last night for the primetime Emmy Awards. "Breaking Bad" took home the award for outstanding drama series. Jeff Daniels getting the award for lead actor in a drama, Claire Danes set the award for lead actress in a drama series for her work with "Homeland." Once again, "Modern Family" winning for outstanding comedy series.

I'm sort of delving into the Nischelle's territory here. She is going to bring us the full report on the Emmy's, big night -- it's television's big night they say, a little later in our program.

CUOMO: It's dangerous, though, no matter what the reason is.

PEREIRA: Absolutely.

CUOMO: When you take on somebody's turf wars.

PEREIRA: We will focus on that.

BOLDUAN: I will focus on the impartial part. Focus on the love.

CUOMO: They're both tougher than I am. Quickly, segue way over to weather with Indra Petersons keeping track of all the latest for us. Good morning, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. A little chilly, I don't know about you guys, but frost advisories, no thank you. That is dealing on our first day of temperatures. Yes, we're seeing some 40s and 50s. Not too bad, considering we are going to be slowly warming up over the next several days. Unfortunately, though, today, it's cooler than where we were yesterday.

Look at Boston, 73 goes down to 64 degrees. Here's the rebound. We are talking about 70s by about the middle of the week. We will stay there. It will feel very good. We had the cold front. We had one night of rain in the northeast, Saturday night through Sunday, but in the southeast, it hung all weekend long it is still there.

Take a look at the amount of rain they were dealing with. About two- and-a-half inches of rain anywhere from Louisiana all the way in through Florida and, yes, it's in the forecast. We'll tell you we are talking about that stationary front in place, behind it, another several inches to deal with suddenly one overnight of rain not so bad.

BOLDUAN: No kidding. Thanks so much, Indra.

CUOMO: Indra going for the mixed look today, both conjuring a sense of sun but also some autumn colors there.

PETERSONS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Very nice. It seems like we need transition now. Thanks, Indra.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Iran's new president is coming to New York and he wants to meet with President Obama. After decades of ice cold relations, are the U.S. and Iran ready to resume diplomatic talks at the very highest level?

CUOMO: All right, now slow down. You want to listen to this very carefully. Some of the best news out of the FAA in a long time changing its rules for the use of electronic devices on board commercial airlines. Could you soon be able to use your iPad or anything you want during takeoffs and landings? Poppycock, you say in no, no, wait until you see what's next. What could be coming? Upright set restrictions relaxed. Let's not go too far to best.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

High drama expected this week at the United Nations. The newly-elected president of Iran is scheduled to speak in New York. He says he wants to talk to President Obama, insisting Iran has no nuclear weapons ambitions. If they were to meet, it would be a ground-breaking diplomatic move. But this morning, a top U.S. ally is warning against it. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins us with that.

Good morning, Nick. Great to have you here.


Israel, of course, as you know, Chris, is not particularly a big fan of this idea because Iran's position for so long has been Israel shouldn't really exist in regions. So the new president, Hassan Rouhani, a lot calmer, a lot more positive in what he's been saying. And the question really is, is Barack Obama prepared to take this pretty big gamble?


WALSH (voice-over): A top high stakes call this week for Barack Obama at the U.N., should he tame a bold gamble and try and meet with the new president of the state that is pretty much against everything the U.S. stands for, Iran. After decades of animosity, America, the great Satan to Iran, and Iran part of the U.S.'s old axis of evil, there may be a thaw afoot. As if to set that new tone, a very public invitation to meet came from Iran's president on Twitter. Hassan Rouhani said Sunday he was ready for dialogue without preconditions. While no meeting has been set, the White House is clear it may be time to talk if Iran is serious about giving up the desire the U.S. says it has to make a nuclear bomb.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have no meetings scheduled. We communicate with the Iranians through a variety of methods, as we've said in the past. President Obama and the new president, Rouhani, have exchanged letters, as President Obama noted in a couple of interviews.

WALSH: Hassan Rouhani does already plan to meet with France's President Hollande, who, like the U.S., backs rebels in Syria against Iran's ally there, the Syrian regime. So perhaps a short one-on-one with Obama is not that farfetched. Since he took office, Obama said he would welcome diplomacy with Iran. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

WALSH: But there are many, including U.S. ally Israel, who question how sincere Iran's diplomatic overture is, and remind Washington of how just one year ago with the U.N. General Assembly, Iran's last president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, railed against the U.S. and Israel.

There's been very limited diplomacy between Washington and Tehran since the U.S. embassy hostage crisis in 1979. But sanctions haven't yet forces Iran to drop its nuclear program and the clock is ticking. Is Iran cracking under international pressure or playing for time? That will be tough to answer even if Obama's bold enough to meet this man.


WALSH: And (INAUDIBLE) there's so much potentially that Iran could help U.S. with its foreign policy in the Middle East with at the moment, the Syrian problem, of course, Iran's own nuclear program. Is this meeting going to happen? Well, we'll get more of an idea after Tuesday when Hassan Rouhani's supposed to meet the French president, Francois Hollande. But, still, at the end of the day, many questioning how sincere is this new friendliness from Iran or are they just stalling for more time, Chris?

CUOMO: Something you have to entertain, though. I mean you have to stand by your old friends. But as we see with the Syrian situation, now in Kenya, you also have to have a broader net than the old - the old world.

BOLDUAN: Well, and - and it does come - and it does come down to that trust element, how much can you trust, because it is words and they always say words - obviously actions speak louder than words. But how do you --

WALSH: Such a big change in the year. And you saw just, you know, a year ago that Iranians against everything American and pro-American in the whole region and now suddenly everybody wants to be friends. A lot of suspicion at the moment.

BOLDUAN: All right.

CUOMO: Trust, but verify.

BOLDUAN: Applying in more than one scenario. All right. Thanks. Great to see you.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, the latest on the possible government shutdown that is quickly approaching little if any progress over the weekend as members of Congress just simply point blame. Our political gut check's coming up after the break.

CUOMO: And the Emmys are news. And there was a wild night there. Lots of surprises, tributes to stars of the silver screen. We'll let you know who took home top honors and who was snubbed. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: You're watching NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Monday, September 23rd.

Coming up in the show, I'm going to keep pushing this to make sure it actually happens. Some of your electronic devices could soon get the green light for use on airplanes during takeoff and landing, right? Come on, that's pretty good news for a Monday.

BOLDUAN: But how far does it go? That's what everyone wants to know.

CUOMO: You see and there's the cloud.

BOLDUAN: But as everyone was waiting for the fingerprint scanner on the new iPhone, well, including hackers, it appears. We're going to tell you what Apple is doing to keep your phone secure after hackers posted a video on the web of how to get around the scanner already. We'll see.

CUOMO: We have breaking news for you coming out of Kenya. Let's get right to Michaela.


PEREIRA: This situation is developing by the minute. We want to bring you the freshest information right now.

There is smoke seen rising above the mall in Nairobi. Gunfire can be heard in the distance. We're going to show you a live look at the scene now. It's believed that bloody siege may soon be over. Kenya's military sending out a tweet. Quote, "most of the hostages have been rescued and security forces have taken control of most parts of the building." The attack by al-Shabaab militants killing 69 people, injuring about 175 others. The militants are believed to still be holding about 10 people hostage. We are going to bring you a live report as soon as possible. Our CNN crew had to scramble to get out of harm's way.

Back here at home, President Obama says the United States cannot accept last week's killings at the Washington Navy Yard as inevitable. Speaking at a memorial for the 12 victims Sunday, the president says the shooting should be a shock to all of us and leads to some sort of transformation on gun violence in the United States. The NRA, meanwhile, arguing there weren't enough armed guards on patrol at the Navy Yard. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that, quote, "when the good guys with guns got there, it stopped."

Newly released evidence that North Korea may have tested a long range rocket engine. Satellite images from John's Hopkins 35 North Blog (ph) taken in late August show signs of a probable test, including a stage, propellant tanks and scorched vegetation. It is not clear if the possible test was for the second stage of a rocket North Korea successfully tried out last December.

And you have heard of rain delays when you're traveling, right? How about - or not traveling, actually, at baseball games. You heard of a bee delays?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not a fan of bees.


PEREIRA: Yes, check it out. Not a fan of bees either. A swarm buzzed into Angel's stadium in Anaheim. They invaded the outfield and a bull pen. Officials actually had to stop play twice. The ground's crew blasted the little buggers out with a fire extinguisher and they carried on.

Look at that. That's crazy. Whew.

CUOMO: That's the video we needed to see right there.

PEREIRA: Well, we got it for you. There you go.

BOLDUAN: You ask, we deliver.

CUOMO: Look at that. The story takes on a whole new dimension when you see that.

PEREIRA: I know, when you see the bees.

CUOMO: Geez.

BOLDUAN: All right, let's move on to a different swarming set of bees. It's time now for our "Political Gut Check."

Over the weekend, a blame game between members of Congress. Just seven days, count them, before a possible government shutdown. Now the battle between funding the government and defunding the health care overall moves to the Democratic controlled Senate. Here to break it all down for us is John Avlon CNN political analyst and he executive editor of "The Daily Beast," in for John King this morning.

So, I don't think there was much wisdom won over the weekend it appears as we were talking last week.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, there's not a great coming together of the minds in Washington. It's "Groundhog Day" all over again with the shutdown looming.

BOLDUAN: Surprise, surprise. I mean at this point they're just pointing figures at each other, who's to blame for what seems to be a foregone conclusion there's going to be a government shutdown. Is there any way, John, that you see this resulting in anything other than exactly what we think is going to happen?

AVLON: I mean for all this - BOLDUAN: Democrats are going to pass their version in the Senate.


BOLDUAN: Send it back over to the house and then it's going to be up against the deadline.

AVLON: You know, I mean, look, we are heading towards that cliff and it's looming. But here's the good news, here's the silver lining.

BOLDUAN: Please.

AVLON: Republican leadership doesn't want this to happen. I mean the responsible Republicans realize that a government shutdown would be disastrous politically, it would be disastrous practically and doesn't really have any upside for them. In private, you know, they're calling these folks who are pushing for the defund, defund jihadis. I mean this is really serious stuff. They realize they have a problem in their own ranks. So they're going to look for a way out of this. But it's going to, as you say, we're going to - the Senate will have to pass something if it overcomes this filibuster threat from the far right. And then it's going to go to the House. And that's where the timing gets really tight.

BOLDUAN: Well, you say that there isn't much of an upside, or at least Republicans - many Republicans don't see the upside in this fight. More downside than upside.