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Two Terrorists Killed During Mall Standoff; Interview with Congressman Peter King of New York; New Overtures from Iran; Chicago Gun Violence; Navy Chopper Crash; Hillary Clinton Breaks Silence on 2016

Aired September 23, 2013 - 08:00   ET


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Hopefully everything is OK at Westgate Mall. We're hearing from government officials that everything is OK and they are in control. The smoke that we saw earlier they are saying was from the terrorists putting mattresses on fire at the supermarket store here in the mall called nacromat (ph). That's actually on the ground floor.

They insist that almost all the hostages have been evacuated and the two terrorists are dead and several are injured. They say, too, that the terrorists were all men and numbered between 10 and 15 people.

There were many eyewitnesses, though, that had told us and have said that they were women, white women that we're also carrying guns and we're firing. So, it's unclear. There are reports, too, there's a new CCTV footage that shows a white woman with a gun inside the mall.

So, we're going to take a closer look at that, but you know, there are still many questions on what exactly is happening inside the mall. Are these really the hostages or are they people that were hiding out and they were found and just released? How many hostages are there? How many hostages were killed?

Many people say that al Shabaab, and al Qaeda -- al Shabaab in particular have a pattern -- they have a hostage, they kill them. But the government is saying almost all the hostages are OK. So, we're waiting to find out.

Also when the hostages come out, are there any casualties they would usually come here because this is the emergency response and there's a triage center. We haven't seen anyone yet, so we're going to monitor the situation and let you know what happens.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Zain, thanks so much. We're trying to clear some of this up, clearly a lot of conflicting information as this is a fluid situation on the ground. We'll get right back to Zain as things continue to develop this morning.

But there is new developments about the attackers themselves. Kenya's interior minister said all of the attackers are men as Zain was mentioning, but some of them maybe were dressed as women. We've also learned at least three of the attackers could have U.S. ties.\

Let's get straight to Chris Lawrence who is live in Minneapolis with that side of this story.

Good morning, Chris.


Right now, federal agents are running down leads trying to determine if any of the attackers were American. A group claiming to be al Shabaab posted on its Twitter account that one of the attackers was from Kansas City, two others from right here in Minneapolis.

We know that this is home to probably the country's largest Somali- American community and a lot of families here have been fighting the efforts of recruiting of al Shabaab luring their young men over to fight overseas. They haven't always been successful. Dozens of young men have traveled to fight with al Shabaab. In fact, a recruiting video released just last month featuring one of those young men, he compared Somalia to Disneyland for jihadists and urged other Muslims to follow him into the fight.

Now, we know from a senior State Department officials that some in the Obama administration have been raising alarms about this potential recruiting, but an FBI source says they have been working with the Somali-American community here to try to prevent any of those who have traveled overseas from coming back here to the United States to commit acts of terrorism -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Chris, thank you for the reporting. An interesting wrinkle in the situation.

Let's try to get some perspective on this. Joining us now is the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, New York Republican Peter King.

Thank you very much, Congressman, for joining us. Always a pleasure. >

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Let's get right into this American connection part. We're watching the developing events there on the ground. We have a reporter there, we're using our analysts but this twist about maybe there are some of them connected back here, we're hearing Minnesota -- now, I had done some investigative work up there. There's the khat trade, that amphetamine based route, the hawala system, the money system, the concern money is getting sent back to North Africa.

What do you know about what's happening in Kenya now and people back here in the U.S.?

KING: When I was chairman of the Homeland Security Committee two years ago, I had two hearings involving al Shabaab, and there are activities in the St. Paul, Minnesota, area.

Chris, there's been about 40 or 50 young Americans who left St. Paul, Minneapolis, to go to Somalia to train. In some cases, there was evidence people in the mosques knew about this. There was actually facilitation process. Of that 40 to 50 who have gone over to be trained, we think at least 50 killed in fighting over in Somalia

The concern as we've said before is that any of these coming back into the United States or be a contact with operatives in the United States the FBI has been concerned about this. I'm assuming they're on top of the situation in St. Paul, Minneapolis, to see if there's any phone calls were made, any type contact, any type of travel back and forth that's been suspicious over the last several months. These are trained terrorists. These are Americans who went to Somalia to be trained as terrorists by al Shabaab.

CUOMO: It's bad if we are exporting terrorists and money from here to help efforts abroad, also equally concerning, if we are basically home growing in the United States, people that do attacks like this here any concern of that type of coordinated effort?

KING: I was very concerned. That's the reason I held the hearings two years ago and we had a father actually a man who raised one of the young men who had gone to Somalia to be trained and wanted to come back to the United States and realized he had done the wrong thing and he was killed while he was over there assumedly by al Shabaab, that's who he was training with, and the father was telling us how difficult it was to get the support in the community that he wanted, that actually people in the mosque were intimidated, told him not to cooperate with the police or FBI.

Now, the overwhelming majority of them are outstanding people but there is this element and the question, it was only recently the State Department even agreed to declare al Shabaab a terrorist organization. They was maintaining it was confined to a civil war situation in Somalia, but as we see, these are terrorists who go beyond their borders and this attack in Kenya was extremely sophisticated, probably the most sophisticated of this type of attack since Mumbai.

CUOMO: I want to ask you this -- you know, al Shabaab is loosely translated as "The Youth", right, and this is an idea of this is the new wave of terrorist organizations. What does this mean in terms of the choices the United States has to make where to get involved?

You know, a couple weeks ago, should we get after Syria. Now, you have these attacks going on in North Africa. There are so many choices to make what to get involved in and what not.

Do you believe this is a situation that calls for direct military support, military action, to help stop something like this?

KING: I think it requires intelligence support. It requires training and cooperating in an intelligence manner. For instance you have al Shabaab is also trained with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen. It has involvement with Boko Haram in Nigeria.

And, obviously, we can't be sending troops to all these places but we can provide some support on the ground certainly give them intelligence, give them weapons if that's important. But also training -- training the local police, training the local armies, finding the elements within those societies we can work with but realizing that this is especially in Africa right now and Nigeria, in Somalia, in Kenya and joining up with al Qaeda in Yemen, these are real threats to the U.S.

But you're right. We can't be sending troops everywhere. We have to refine how we do it. We have to our intelligence agencies work with people on the ground and we have to provide technical assistance and training to those elements we feel we can trust.

But keep in mind too often we think because bin Laden is dead that somehow the threat from Islamic terrorism is gone. It's not. Many ways it's more dangerous than ever because it's morphing in many countries under then different names whether it's Iraq, whether it's Mali, whether it's Libya, whether it's Yemen, whether it's Somalia, whether it's Nigeria, all of these countries.

CUOMO: Well, but on the flipside, Congressman, and that's why there's concern on the American public side they hear maybe this is a situation that will demand military action. I mean, that was a lot of the pushback on Syria, don't you think? And now, when we see this attack in Kenya, brings that issue into focus. America has to make choices where it dedicates resources.

KING: Yes. We do, but again, I think that we can push off any need for military assistance if we can get involved at a much lower level -- lower level I'm saying more behind the scenes, as far as in supplying intelligence, providing training, not putting our boots on the ground but finding elements that we can work with in Somalia, working with the government.

For instance, in Yemen, the government has been cooperative. In Somalia, we've made progress working with the African Union and other troops, other support groups. We can't be going everywhere but on the other hand, we can't be isolationists and withdraw. But I would say right now, we can confine it to intelligence operations and also to again providing training and assisting those groups that we feel we can work with.

CUOMO: So window into how these division decisions are getting more complicated. Representative King, thank you so much. It's always a pleasure to have you on NEW DAY.

KING: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Chris, thanks so much.

So, is the U.S. on the brink of a break-through with Iran? That question could be answered this question as the newly elected president of Iran heads to the U.N. General Assembly here in New York. He's making new overtures to the West that would be historic if accepted. But are they real?

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is at the U.N. with the latest on this.

Good morning, Nick.


The real question is: will Barack Obama and the new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, actually meet here? Now, the idea of that was suggested a while back. Even yesterday, Rouhani himself on his Twitter account, where he's put some very friendly messages out recently, suggesting he'd be open to that, as long as there weren't any conditions.

Obama and Rouhani have been exchanging letters, leading many to think meeting is possible. But there are some who say perhaps the benefits -- getting Iran to drop its nuclear program and to help out maybe in some way in the civil war in Syria -- outweigh the risks if, for example, embarrassingly if it were to fail.


WALSH (voice-over): Tough high stakes call this week for Barack Obama at the U.N. should he take 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 thought afoot, as to if 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.

WALSHI: Hassan Rouhani does already with plans to meet with President Hollande who backs the rebels against the regime so perhaps a short one and one with Obama is not that far-fetched. Since he took office, Obama said he will 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, the many 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 limited very diplomacy between Washington and Tehran since the U.S. embassy hostage crisis in 1979, but sanctions haven't yet forced 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 is bold enough to meet this man.


WALSH: So, the question is, is this overture real? Now, U.S. ally Israel and other hawks think probably not and some point out while Rouhani is the new president, he actually works for the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, and maybe he's not shown any signs of softening to the U.S.

Will this meeting happen? We'll probably know of Tuesday's meeting with the French president still a high stakes deal here.

Back to you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Nick. Thank you very much for the reporting this morning.

We want to take you to Chicago now for a look at the fallout there after the latest round of bloody gun violence. The governor of Illinois has suggested bringing in the National Guard following Friday's mass shooting at a city park. But this weekend, surprising new signs of hope.

Here's CNN's Ted Rowlands.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The assault rifle shooting in a park of 3-year-old Deonte Howard and 12 others Thursday is an example of how bad Chicago's problem with gang violence can be. But Saturday, there was this example of hope, rival gangs together playing basketball.

DUANE HILL, EX-GANG MEMBER: You bring everybody together, you work as a team, comes and goes and you move on. Leave all the shooting and the gang banging to the streets.

ROWLANDS: Called the peace tournament, the gang basketball games included NBA star Derrick Rose and Hall of Famer Isaiah Thomas, both Chicago natives, all pushing for peace. The event is run by Father Michael Pfleger, who spent the last 30 years trying to stop gang violence.

FATHER MICHAEL PFLEGER, PEACE TOURNAMENT ORGANIZER: I want to just balance. There was this horrible thing of violence on Thursday, this wonderful thing of peace on Saturday.

ROWLANDS: How to find that balance is the problem. Illinois governor is suggesting bringing in the National Guard.

DIANE LATIKER, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: At some point, they're going to have to leave and then what? You're still left with the same issues. ROWLANDS: Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was booed by some people at the basketball game, is frustrated he hasn't been able to solve the problem.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO, IL: We will not allow children in the city of Chicago to have their youthfulness, their optimism, their hope, taken from them.

ROWLANDS: The numbers of Chicago homicides are actually down compared to last year, by 21 percent but no one will argue that when a 3-year- old is shot in a park with an assault rifle, there's a major problem here that needs to be solved.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Chicago.


BOLDUAN: That is absolutely right. Ted, thank you so much for that.

All right. There's a lot of news developing at this very hour. So, let's get straight to Michaela for the latest headlines.

PEREIRA: Good morning to the two of you.

BOLDUAN: Good morning.

PEREIRA: And good morning to you at home.

Making news at this hour:

The U.S. Navy searching the Red Sea for two missing crew members after a helicopter crash. Three other members of the crew were rescued. Military officials say the chopper went down during routine flight operations and that there was no hostile activity. That crash is now under investigation.

Just seven days to go before a government shutdown, key Democrats and Republicans saying they expect to put aside the partisan bitterness in order to avoid a shutdown. Friday, the Republican-led House passed a bill to keep the government funded only if Obamacare is defunded. The bill is now before the Senate where democrats vow to remove the provision to defund Obamacare.

Police in Middlebury, Connecticut shutdown electronic dance music concert in Quassy Park after seven people collapsed from suspected drug overdoses. Investigators believe stricken concert-goers at the Adventure Land concert had each taken a synthetic drug called 2C-P. Four of those who got sick were taken to area hospitals. Doctors say 2C-P increases the user's heart rate and blood pressure and can cause dehydration.

German chancellor, Angela Merkel, celebrating an historic third-term election victory. Merkel's conservative bloc winning more than 40 percent of the vote, the party's best election showing in more than 20 years. The 59-year-old chancellor is now on track to succeed Margaret Thatcher as Europe's longest serving leader. President Obama has issued pardoned, a pardon of a different kind to a five-year-old Louisiana girl who missed kindergarten so that she could visit the White House with her family. Alana Huyard (ph) asked President Obama to write a note for her teacher explaining her absence. The president granted her request.

It reads, "Please excuse Alana from school. She was with me." Signed Barack Obama. She was part of the group of wounded warriors and their families who met up with the president at the White House. Alana's mama, Yolanda, was wounded while serving in Afghanistan.

That's a note that I think they'll hang on to -- well, I guess they had to give it to the teacher. Maybe they asked for it back, though.



PEREIRA: Can we keep this?

BOLDUAN: I think I remember this happening once before at a town hall. The kid just had asked the question, he's like, can you write me a note?


BOLDUAN: I think I remember something like that happening.

PEREIRA: Might also work.


BOLDUAN: Just play the tape. I think just live on CNN, you know? All right. Thanks, Michaela.

Let's get straight to Indra Petersons who's keeping track of the forecast. How many people are going to be asking for sick notes today?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, a lot. Me, one of them, if it's just cold.


PETERSONS: Keep going, I'm going to tell you. It's supposed to be like, you know, 70s when it's cold for average temperatures in the fall. Yes, I'm complaining. We're talking about 40s and 50s this morning, many places in the northeast 10 to 15 degrees below average even for you. Yes. Look at Boston. We're talking about temperatures in the 60s today and many people thought it was cold yesterday, but they really don't have an excuse, though.

Low 70s is not that bad, but the wind is out there. It's a little bit gusting and it's making it a little chillier. Temperatures, they are moderating so at least it gets better. We're talking about some 70s by the middle of the week, not a big deal. I think the real big story was that cold front that pushed through over the weekend. It exited, just brought a lot of overnight rain in the northeast Saturday into Sunday.

But if you were in the southeast, no, you were not so lucky. I mean, it is lingering. It is holding on. We have that stationary front and look at the rain that came out. A good two and a half inches of rain from Louisiana all the way through Florida where it really has not stopped raining for months now. I mean, it's just literally not ending and I wish I had good news for you, but unfortunately no, you have several inches of rain still in the forecast.

And once the stationary front does kick out of here, well, yes, look behind it, another cold front headed your way, so even more rain for you. So, no, I guess, they're calling in sick more in the southeast than we are here, right?


BOLDUAN: Thanks, Indra.

CUOMO: Any info when the ocean temperature starts coming down more here in the northeast?


CUOMO: Magic number is 62 degrees. (inaudible)


CUOMO: When the bass (ph) come and I catch it, they will all want some.


CUOMO: I like it.

Coming up on NEW DAY, we're going to be be following breaking details out of Kenya this morning. You're looking at a live picture, smoke still coming out now. It's been over an hour. The question is why? Different stories coming out. We're told by the government those are mattresses that have been set on fire. We know there are still hostages inside. So, we'll take you to Nairobi for the latest.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, Hillary, 2016. For the first time, Hillary Clinton, says she is indeed considering a run for the White House, but there's a lot of caveats in there. We're going to talk with two former advisers to President Bill linton about what's going on inside Clintonland.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. For the first time, Hillary Clinton is opening up a little bit more about a possible 2016 presidential bid. In her first really extended interview since leaving the state department, Clinton confirms to "New York" magazine that she's considering a run for the oval office, but there's a lot in between considering and I'm jumping in.

Joining us now are two former advisers to President Bill Clinton, writer for, Richard Sacorides, and CNN political commentator, Paul Begala. Great to see you, both.



BOLDUAN: So, Paul, I feel like you and I have been talking about is she in, isn't she in, is she in, isn't she in for longer than I think any of us would like to remember. So, what do you take away from this interview? What do you think her message? Where is her head and heart on this?

BEGALA: Well, i think her message, actually, to get her message, I found a poem from the 1600s, Andrew Marvell. It's a great poem. All of us took high school English. "Had we but world enough and time this coyness lady were no crime." Well, she has world enough and time. She can be coy. She needs to take her time. She needs to do her foundation work, write her book.

There's no need to rushes. I want her to run. I'm unabashed about it. Run, Hillary, run. But she doesn't need to be pushed into this. And I think the interview says it. She actually enjoys her life right now and why not let her have a life for at least a little while.

BOLDUAN: Yes. A little while. Richard, in part of the interview she says this when being asked about is she going to run. She says, "I will just continue to weigh what the factors are that would influence me making a decision one way or the other." That's not saying something but saying it with a lot of words.

What are those factors that you think she needs to be weighing is weighing right now?

SOCARIDES: Well, I, too, want her to run and I think that people who know her and know her commitment to solving the problems that we face as a country wanted her to run. But I think there are several factors. I mean, I think like anybody, she's looking at, can I win if I run? What would it cost me about in terms of how much money I would have to raise and what it would cause her emotionally and the family?

I also think she's looking at, do I have it in me? You know, she's 65 now. I think that's pretty young, but this takes a toll and it wouldn't just be a commitment to running, it would be a commitment to serving one, perhaps, two terms and then I think also she's thinking what happens if I don't run?

What is going to happen in my party? What is going to happen in the country that she obviously cares so deeply about if she doesn't run? Who is likely to become president if she doesn't run?

BOLDUAN: So, Paul, you kind of alluded to it. If you want to lay low, if you want to have time to just be Hillary, get off the high wire that she's been on for 20 years as she said in the interview, why do the interview? Why put yourself out there for this big spread in "New York" magazine?

BEGALA: Well, because I think all of us would like to have things both ways and why not let her? She can, right? You know, she can speak out when she wants to and she can hang back when she wants to. She spoke out -- I think her first public statement after she left the state department was to endorse marriage equality, which I think was a wonderful thing that she did, and then she, you know, kind of went back to writing her book and doing her foundation work.

Now, she's given this interview. You know, she's allowed to. She's a private citizen. No longer, as she said, for the first time in 20 years, she's not obligated to, you know, meet with the press or to answer questions, but she's also not a hermit. She's a very public person. I thought it was a good interview. I thought it was an interesting look at her life right now.

BOLDUAN: And also an interesting part of this, Richard, is the writer, Joe Hagan, points out, he really brought Chelsea and her role into this article and he called Chelsea the gatekeeper for both Bill and Hillary. How do you -- what's the Chelsea factor as they're weighing this?

SOCARIDES: Well, I think that's right and I think this is a big week for the three of them, Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton. This is the opening of the annual meeting for the Clinton Global Initiative. It's the first time that they've done this now with the foundation being renamed the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

So, it's a big moment for them as a unit and I think Chelsea is obviously playing a very much more prominent role in this and that's part of the reason probably why she did the interview.

BOLDUAN: That's a good point. So, when it comes down to it, Paul, what's the timing here? When do you think someone, be it Hillary Clinton or someone else in the Democratic Party, when do they need to announce?

BEGALA: I think those are two very different questions. Anybody else has got to start to try to lay the groundwork as you see some people doing. You know, Vice President Biden, by the way, pretty impressive guy, enormously impressive, very, very popular, he's obviously (ph) just in Iowa recently, get the Tom Harkin steak fry, the governors of New York, of Maryland, possibly even Massachusetts, may be looking at this.

But Hillary has more time than anyone else. And that's why I think her friends and I'm one of them are saying she can take her time. She doesn't need to build name identification. She doesn't even need to build a roster of donors. So, her time horizon and the whole rest of the party's time horizon are very, very different.

BOLDUAN: What do you think, Richard?

SOCARIDES: I think that's right. I think probably after the midterms right around Thanksgiving next year, not this coming Thanksgiving, but Thanksgiving 2014 after the midterm elections, I think, she'll wake up one morning and decide how does it feel, how do I feel? She'll probably talk to her husband and her daughter and that's probably about it and then she'll make a decision.

BOLDUAN: She'll wake up that moment and she'll announce and there are already be that Democratic machine behind her ready to go, already placing calls for her. That's just how it works. Paul, Richard, great to see you.

SOCARIDES: Thank you.

BEGALA: Thanks, Kate. Great to see you.

BOLDUAN: All right. We'll talk much more about this to be sure -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Kate. We're going to take a break now on NEW DAY. When we come back, we're going to go back to Nairobi, Kenya for the very latest on the ongoing hostage situation here. Reports all morning of gunfire, explosions. You're looking at the scene live right now. The source of that smoke is in dispute. We know there are hostages inside. We'll bring you the latest developments.

And, Rihanna's cuddly close-up in Thailand is causing some problems. I don't know what kind of animal that is, but it is endangered. It's called a slow loris. And now, two men are under arrest because of the situation. We'll tell you more.