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Nairobi Mall Massacre; Al-Shabaab Recruiting In U.S.; Pirates 21-Year Wait Finally Over

Aired September 24, 2013 - 05:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This morning, could this be the last stand for the terrorists inside? And are some of the killers actually Americans? We will have the latest from the scene.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And rebuilding Colorado. The vice president touring all of the damage there and laying out really rough road to recovery.

BERMAN: And, the new definition of big gulp. How about huge gulp, wicked huge gulp. That's no slushy.


BERMAN: That is a bear headed to a convenience store not seen here.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my goodness.

BERMAN: But wait until you see what happens next.

SAMBOLIN: They're so adorable from far away, aren't they?

BERMAN: Until they're biting you.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): That is correct. Eating you, mulling you.

BERMAN (on-camera): Exactly. You're being mauled. Bears are adorable.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START. We're glad you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Thirty-one minutes after the hour right now.

SAMBOLIN: All right. We're going to start with a deadly standoff at a mall in Nairobi, Kenya. It is continuing this morning. It is day four after a terrorist assault left at least 62 people dead, nearly 200 injured. An explosion and gunfire was heard overnight. It's coming from the Westgate Mall. Several of the attackers may still be holed up in there. Kenya's foreign minister say some of them are American. It is not clear if any hostages are still being held. Red Cross officials in Kenya say 65 people remain unaccounted for as well. CNN's Arwa Damon is live in Nairobi. Arwa, what is the very latest there?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Westgate Mall is just down the road and around the corner. Earlier this morning, we heard an explosion there. There've also been very intermittent sporadic burst of gunfire. The Kenyan authorities saying that they were trying to sweep through the mall to secure it for everyone.

They've repeatedly been saying that they are in full control of the mall, but that seems to be a relative term, because we're also hearing reports from them that they are still trying to track down some of these gunmen that remain holed up inside there. There are also various reports, concerns that part of the building might be booby trapped that there might even be snipers inside.

It's unclear how many gunmen are still be inside the building, but we do know that three, at least, so far, have been killed according to Kenyan authorities. You were speaking about some of them possibly be Americans. The Kenyan foreign minister saying that they also appear to be, perhaps, Somalia or Arab origin.

The U.S. state department saying that it is investigating that report. Meanwhile, we're continuing to hear harrowing stories from those who managed to survive the attack.


NICK HANDLER, KENYA SURVIVOR: Heard a loud explosion or blast followed by some gunshots and I happened to be very close to the door. I just reached over, grabbed my daughter, just ran out the front door of that cafe.


DAMON: And mid all of the horrific stories, we're also hearing incredible stories of great heroism. People trying to use their own bodies to shield those of children. We've also spoken to a number of individuals that naturally remain incredibly traumatized including a couple that was caught up in the attack along with their child.

The mother took a bullet that grazed her skull. She ended up drenched in blood holding her baby drenched in blood. This was certainly at the stage as a country that really wants this ordeal to be over, that really wants to deal with putting itself back together again, but it's going to be very, very difficult, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Arwa, when we talked to you yesterday, you had run into a woman who was looking for one of her loved ones. Have you run into any more people like that that have actually found their loved ones?

DAMON: We have not directly. We actually stayed in touch with that woman throughout the night last night and she still hadn't had any word from her husband. He worked in the grocery store in the mall. They've been married since she was 24. When we met her, she was cradling her grandchild. She was still holding out hope that he could possibly be alive.

We visited one of the morgues here when we were there. There wasn't anyone claiming bodies, but some of the morgue officials did tell us that people had come in and were identifying their loved ones. The other great concern, though, is, of course, the 65 people that remain missing or unaccounted for.

Some volunteer workers that we've been speaking to say that there are still bodies that need to be recovered from inside the mall itself, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Then, of course, we don't really have an official number on how many hostages are still inside and alive. Happy to have you there, Arwa Damon. Thank you very much live in Nairobi for us.

BERMAN: I should tell you, the FBI is investigating the reports that Americans were involved in that mall attack in Kenya. Federal authorities have the concern about efforts by al Shabaab, that's the terrorist group, to recruit here in the U.S., particularly, in the Minneapolis area where there is a large community of Somali-Americans. CNN's Brian Todd spoke to one family that lost a son to that terror group.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was thousands of miles away on her TV screen, but it might as well have been at her front door. The attack in Kenya has torn open Abayte Ahmed deepest wound.

ABAYTE AHMED, SON RECRUITED BY AL SHABAAB (through translator): I automatically got traumatic memories of my son and what has happened to him.

TODD: Her son Jamaal Bana (ph), a handsome 19-year-old college engineering student in Minneapolis. His family says he gave up everything to fight with al Shabaab in Somalia. He was one of dozens of young Somali-American men in the Minneapolis area secretly targeted for recruiting by the terrorist group in recent years.

In 2009, Jamaal, like many others, simply disappeared one day with no warning. A few days later, his mother says, he made his only call home.

AHMED: He called me saying, "Mom, I'm in Somalia." And I said, "Why? What are you doing in Somalia? Why did you go? And when?" And he said, "I will tell you. I just wanted to let you know that I'm OK.

TODD: But within days, his family saw a picture of him on the internet dead in the streets of Mogadishu from a bullet wound to the head. To this day, his mother doesn't know how the al Shabaab recruiters lured him away. Community activist, Abdirizak Bihi, who lost his nephew to those recruiter says one way they do it. ABDIRIZAK BIHI, SOMALI COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: If al Shabaab guy who tends to be a nice person comes and protects him out to the America(ph) having play games, takes him to the movies and gets him touring and helps him in school.

TODD: That's what they do?

BIHI: That's what they do. And to direct his anger at what they want to, the infidels (ph).

TODD: Bihi says he and others in this community have created mentorship programs for young Somalis here, have local imams speak to them, have repeatedly shown them TV images of al Shabaab's terrorist attacks to try to counter the recruiting. But he says the recruitment is still going on. Emotional torture for one mother.

What did they take from you when they took this boy?

AHMED: They took my heart. Before he left, I was a whole person. He was very active in doing everything for herself, raising a family. Since he left, up to today, I'm on medication. I live by medication.

TODD: Abayte Ahmad has testified against her son's recruiters.

(on-camera) Some of those recruiters have been indicted and imprisoned in the U.S. over the past few years, but the threat of young Somalis with U.S. passports coming back into this country possibly to the city and launching an attack on a soft target like a shopping mall is as one federal law enforcement source told us what keeps us all up at night.

Brian Todd, CNN, Minneapolis.


SAMBOLIN: And Vice President Joe Biden getting a good look at Colorado and all of the flood damage there. Biden, Colorado governor, John Hickenlooper, and a combined state and federal team spending more than an hour serving the devastation firsthand. They were there by helicopter. Biden reassured Coloradans that aid won't be affected by the looming government shutdown.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want folks who had here in shelters or watching on TV seeing the dysfunction of Congress and thinking that all, all of the relief efforts that they're now benefiting from or likely to continue to benefit from are going to shut down. They will not shut down.


SAMBOLIN: Hickenlooper's office now says fixing roads will cost several hundred million dollars, far more than the $135 million state and federal estimate. But look at all that devastation.

BERMAN: It's so much damaged. People dealing -- everyday.

All right. Let's get sense of the weather now. Let's go to Indra Petersons. Hey, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: More good news for Zoraida, right? Cold, cold, more cold.


PETERSONS: So, you guys want to hear. We have these frost watches and advisories in the morning because it is chilly out there. The good news, we are not in the 30s yet. They got us a little spin on it, right? But some 40s and 50s. OK. Scranton, you got 38 but for the most of you, 40s and 50s this morning. New York, you're about 50 degrees, Atlantic City, 42, Philly this morning, 50. Even better news by the afternoon.

We're actually going to be rebounding. So, it's not going to be as cool as it was the last several days. In fact, many places in the northeast will be seeing average temperatures today which are in the 70s, not that bad. So, overall, a nice day. Now, in the southeast to complete different picture, we've been dealing with that rain.

But look at the bulk of the country, pretty dry out there. The unique thing that we're going to be watching especially tonight, look out in the Pacific Northwest. Here comes a very early cold system that could be our first big snow of the year. I can't believe I'm talking about this yet. Snow into the cascades and then possibly in the foothills and the Northern Rockies.


PETERSONS: Nice. Yes. There's an upside at least over there. Yes.


BERMAN: That's two feet of snow you're looking at in the higher elevations.

PETERSONS: It's just raw (ph) on another level.

BERMAN: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: -- up there somewhere. Thank you.

BERMAN: I know this is a story you've been watching very, very closely. A little Cherokee girl at the heart of a long running custody dispute, she'd been handed back to her adopted parents. Veronica was handed over last night after the Oklahoma Supreme Court lifted an emergency stay. She had been adopted by Matt and Melanie Capobianco, but later taken from them and returned to her biological father, Dusten Brown. The adoptive couple petitioned.

The U.S. Supreme Court, the Supreme Court, which ruled in their favor, but Brown had appealed to the Oklahoma courts. The girl's mother, Christina Maldonado, stands by the decision to put Veronica up for adoption and says the father consented in the first place.


CHRISTINA MALDONADO, VERONICA'S BIOLOGICAL MOTHER: He let me know that he wanted to sign his rights away, and that he had spoken to his family and they had all agreed that it would be best for him if that's what he did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you saved that test?

MALDONADO: Yes. And it broke my heart.


BERMAN: The girl was initially given back to her father because of the Indian Child Welfare Act, which is in place to promote the stability of Indian tribes and families. That is her biological father she's with right now. And again, very complicated. A lot of players involved, but the end, she is being given to the adoptive parents. She's been handed over --

SAMBOLIN: So, the big question now remains as whether or not he be involved in her life and we don't know. There's a gag order there. So, hopefully, you know, at the end of day, they'll able to figure this out.

BERMAN: By all accounts, everyone involved here treated this child very, very well.

SAMBOLIN: She's incredibly loved. And I do have to say that Brown did say that he did relinquish his parental rights but that he never knew that she would be placed for adoption. So, that's what he had issue with, that he never knew that. Anyway, you know, it's tragic in one sense and great for this little girl who is loved by so many. Hopefully, they'll work it out.

All right. In a very different kind of reunion story. A boy is back with his father 13 years after authorities say he was kidnapped by his own grandmother. The alleged kidnapper is 60-year-old Sandy Hate (ph). Police believe she took the boy in Florida while his father was at work. This was back in 2000. The boy's father recently hired a private investigator who tracked Hate and the boy to Missouri and Iowa this summer.


LARRY JONES, OWNER, BLACKHAWK INVESTIGATIONS: When I located her in Putnam County, I decided that i should probably brief the incoming officer. He informed me that grandmother and the boy had moved a month and a half previous.


SAMBOLIN: Well, authorities caught a break when Hate recently tried to enroll the teenager in school where officials got suspicious and they called police. The grandmother now faces child abduction charges. The boy and his father are being reunited behind closed doors.

BERMAN: All right. A much different kind of story now. Some people who went to a 7-11 near Orlando. They got a big gulp, a big gulp of a bear. This bear had apparently wandered out of the state park nearby and spent most of the day in a tree outside the convenience store. Outside. You know, he could have gone inside.

SAMBOLIN: He was staking out the joint.

BERMAN: All the best snacks are inside. He didn't go in there. Eventually, he got tired of that tree, apparently and wandered off. let's hope he is back --

SAMBOLIN: You know what happened, he said there are too many humans down there. I'm going to get into trouble. So, let me just wait. See until it gets a little dark and I'm going to wander back off into the woods. Smart, smart, smart --

BERMAN: Can you imagine going to a 7-11 and seeing a bear?

SAMBOLIN: Oh my gosh! No.

All right. Forty-three minutes past the hour. Coming up, -- no way.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I pulled my hand out. Oops.



SAMBOLIN: Do you want to guess? Another shark attack in Florida, but this surfer lives to tell his fish tale. That's coming up next.


SAMBOLIN: Forty-seven minutes past the hour. I can't believe I'm talking about this again. A Florida surfer apparently bitten by a shark says he simply cannot wait to get back into the water again. Twenty-four-year-old Brandon Dugan says he was heading back to shore after surfing in the waters near Jupiter Saturday when he felt a sharp pain in his forearm.


BRANDON DUGAN, BIT BY SHARK: I was done surfing, was in about stomach-high water, grabbed my board and as soon as my other hand touched the water, I just felt something like electric heat pretty much and I pulled my hand out.


SAMBOLIN: OK. So, Dugan had to get 15 stitches. He said he was wearing a shiny blue watch that day which he says may have gotten the shark's attention. BERMAN: We have one programming note here, shark attacks, they're scary.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. No kidding. And he blames the watch. So, I guess leave the watch at home and go in the water. I would never go in that water again. Ever.

BERMAN: Certainly now without watch, at least. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Talk about shining watches. Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan join us now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No watches. Sorry. We are timeless.

BERMAN: -- segue. Talk about shiny watches.



BERMAN: What's coming up on your show involving shiny watches?


BOLDUAN: Oh, John, let's see.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're going to go hard on this question of whether or not Americans were involved in the attack in Kenya. We hear these rumors about Minnesota and other places where there might be immigrant populations have been cultivated by organizations abroad. We're going to have police Commissioner Ray Kelly on to tell us what is known and what is being done to harden up so-called soft targets here in the U.S.

BOLDUAN: And a very different story but a very important one. We're going to be talking he's on top of the world, some would say right now. Justin Timberlake is starring in a new movie, "Runner, Runner," alongside Ben Affleck. Well, our Nischelle Turner sat down with the very private star he normally is. She's going to join us to talk about this revealing interview. A lot going on in that guy's life right now and we're going to get the update.

BERMAN: Sounds outstanding! J.T. coming up. All right. Thanks, guys. Can't wait to --

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Coming up, it has been 21 long, long years, but Pittsburgh Pirate fans, they finally have something to celebrate. Good for them. Great for Andy Scholes who has all the details in the "Bleacher Report." It's coming up next.


BERMAN: All right. This just in, folks. Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos, really, really good. (LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Last night, Manning once again made it look easy as the Broncos just beat the heck out of the Raiders. "Monday Night Football" kind of a blowout. Andy Scholes joins us now in the "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning, guys. Well, Peyton Manning and the Broncos, what can you say? They look absolutely unstoppable last night. We're only three games into the season and the team is already setting records. Manning, he threw three more touchdowns all of them coming in the first half.

He now has 12 on the season which is the most ever by a quarterback in the first three games of a season. The Broncos beat the Raiders easily, 37-21. Get this. They now scored 127 points this season. No other team has even scored a hundred.

All right. The long wait is now over for the Pittsburgh Pirates after beating the Cubs last night. The Pirates secured a playoff spot for the first time in 21 years. The last time the Pirates were in the postseason, gas was just over a buck and George Bush Sr. was in the White House. Since 1992, the team has had 20 straight losing seasons. That was the longest streak in professional sports.


SHAQ O'NEAL, FORMER NBA PLAYER: (INAUDIBLE) taking pictures and send it to him. I don't care.


SCHOLES: All right. That was Shaq back in 2002 calling the Lakers rival, the Sacramento Kings, the Sacramento Queens. Well, in a strange turn of events, Shaq is now part owner of the team he famously made fun of! Shaq has been working with the Kings as a consultant this summer and the Kings are scheduled to make Shaq stake in the franchise official today. No word yet on if they're going to change the team name to the Shaqramento Kings!

All right. In the lineup section of today, you can read about how the NBA is considering replacing last names with nicknames on the back of their jerseys. The league is kicking around the idea of trying it out with the Heat and the Nets this season so you could see King James, Flash, Birdman instead of just James, Wade and Andersen.


SAMBOLIN: -- depending on what the nicknames are.

BERMAN: -- about here. Thank you, iceman, Andy Scholes.


BERMAN: Appreciate that. SCHOLES: Not bad.

SAMBOLIN: What should we call you?

BERMAN: Mister. I don't know.


BERMAN: King Berman?

SAMBOLIN: No. I don't think it'll be King Berman. Send my some ideas. We'll be right back.


BERMAN: Our work is done here. That is all for EARLY START.

SAMBOLIN: Take it away, Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Guys, thanks so much. We'll see you a little later in the show.

CUOMO: All right, everybody. It is time for your "NEW DAY" to begin.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had the box 3035 (ph) telling get down, get down.

CUOMO: Is the U.S. exporting terror? New details on the Nairobi mall massacre? Were some of the terrorists Americans? We have details.

BOLDUAN: Finally over. A heartbreaking custody battle that lasted four years comes to an end. Little Veronica is returned to her adopted parents. We'll bring you the latest.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Playing the blame game. The captain didn't go down with his ship. Now, it's a case of finger pointing over what caused the "Costa Concordia" to hit the rocks. That courtroom drama ahead.

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is "NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning and welcome to "NEW DAY" this Tuesday, September 24th, six o'clock in the east.

Will they really shut down the government if they can't get the job done down in D.C.? We will take you through the spending bill that on one level has about the desire to defund Obamacare, but on another level, could be about the future of a political party. Not just the usual two sides can't agree deal this time. This time, Senator Ted Cruz has his own party divided against itself. We will debate what Republicans must do to survive this fiasco.

BOLDUAN: Good question.

Plus, reunited at last. A boy abducted as an infant finally meets the father that he never knew 13 years later. And the woman accused of kidnapping him, related to the family. How did they stay undetected for so long? We're going to have look at it.

PEREIRA: And then, do you rely on those online reviews to make decisions about everything from maybe picking a restaurant or choosing a new dentist. Well, it turns out that thousands of those posts are fake.


PEREIRA: One state is finally cracking down. We're going to tell you what this means for you, coming up.

CUOMO: But first, several gunmen are still holed up inside that mall for the fourth day. At least 62 people have been slaughtered in Nairobi and it isn't over. Overnight, an explosion and gunfire could still be heard coming from that big mall. Authorities in Nairobi insist this morning they've got the four-story building under control as disturbing new information begins to emerge about some of the gunmen possibly being American.

Senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, is live from Nairobi, Kenya this morning. Good morning, Arwa.

DAMON: Good morning, Chris. And that definition of under control might be fairly relative. This morning, we were still hearing an explosion from the direction of the Westgate Mall. It's just down the street over in that direction. We also have been hearing sporadic bursts of gunfire as Kenyan security forces tried to bring the situation here fully under control.