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New Airstrikes Target ISIS-Held Oil Facilities In Syria; President Barack Obama Spoke at the United Nations General Assembly

Aired September 24, 2014 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, new airstrikes in Syria tonight, this time targeting oil refineries, a major source of the funding for ISIS.

Plus the president makes his case to the United Nations and the world saying the world is in a crossroads between war and peace.

And one-on-one with President Bill Clinton on the threat from ISIS and why the Ray Rice scandal is so deeply personal to him. Let's go OUTFRONT.

A very good evening. I'm Erin Burnett at the United Nations tonight. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, American warplanes with two Arab partners hitting a dozen targets in Syria including oil refineries, which have been a major source of ISIS revenue.

This has President Obama speaks to world leaders right here at the United Nations where we are live tonight making it clear that he is determined to finish that mission of destroying ISIS.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: There will be no reasoning, no negotiation with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.


BURNETT: The language of force and using the word evil, good and evil. Stark choice presented here at the United Nations as the threat of lone wolves attacked in the United States rises in the wake of the airstrikes. What are the chances, though, that those airstrikes will even work?

Our Barbara Starr is following this breaking news from the Pentagon tonight. And Barbara, I want to start first, what you're hearing from your sources about this new round of airstrikes is going on, where are they heading?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. and its coalition partners went right after ISIS' pocketbook today, Erin. Against a dozen targets, small modular oil refineries, basically part of ISIS' oil smuggling operation in remote areas of Eastern Syria.

They went after them to get after one of the sources of revenue that ISIS has for its operations, for paying its operatives, paying its troops. All the aircraft turned safely. They believe they hit the targets that they aimed at.

This is a very remote area of Eastern Syria where the small oil refinery plants were. So they weren't too worried about civilian casualties, civilian damage, and environmental damage. They went after them. They had seen them operating there for some time and they knew they wanted to get to them -- Erin.

BURNETT: And Barbara, there has been a lot of criticism that the coalition does not yet involve, commitments for troops on the ground from coalition partners. However not the case on the air strikes. It was not just American planes that were striking successfully tonight.

STARR: Absolutely. This strike in particular, about two hours against about a dozen targets was very interesting because you had both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, flying their fighter aircraft, the word is that there were more coalition.

These two countries, aircraft in the air than the half dozen or so U.S. airplanes flying and that the coalition, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, dropped more bombs than the U.S. dropped.

So the strikes are going to ebb and flow, but this one alone that we're talking about tonight, certainly underscores what appears to be the growing commitment by Arab nations in the region to deal with ISIS -- Erin.

BURNETT: Barbara Starr, thank you very much. And that is a very significant statement indeed that you have Arab nations fighting another Arab nation in the midst of U.S. airstrikes in Syria. President Obama was here at the United Nations making his case for fighting terrorism.

Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, joins me now. You were here for that speech, which was described as one of if not the most important foreign policy speech of his presidency.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This was not a leading from behind speech. You heard the president really go after ISIS today, describing this terror group as a network of death, at one point saying in the speech that these fighters who were with ISIS should clear out from the battlefields, almost foreshadowing these airstrikes that we saw later in the day.

And then he called for the world to join this coalition that by the way was carrying out these airstrikes in Eastern Syria. And I think it was also interesting, Erin, that later on in the day he was carrying this message in his later meetings.

He met with the new Iraqi prime minister where he said basically that this fight will be going on for some time. It won't end quickly and finally when he chaired, presided over the U.N. Security Council, something he's only done once before, trying to go after this issue of foreign fighters.

Halting the flow of foreign fighters from the west in the U.S. to these battle fronts and back again. Basically warning and he did at one point saying that, you know, these fighters could wreak havoc on the home front. It's a problem that has to be stopped.

BURNETT: And you know, while there is a lot of criticism and much of it fair on how this has been handled. I think it's important to emphasize something that is historic and unprecedented and that is Arab nations flying these planes dropping these bombs. Not the United States fighting this war, but it actually was Arab countries doing it.

ACOSTA: That's right. And I've talked to senior administration officials who noted that there was a female pilot flying one of the planes for the UAE. So it is some sense a new day in the Middle East perhaps not all together because of this threat posed by ISIS.

And you heard the president talking about that in his speech, trying to reach out to hearts and minds in the Muslim community, really challenging them to talk to their people in their communities to reject these hateful ideologies that lead to this type of violence.

Some people saying was the president lecturing these communities, but I talked to a senior administration official about this who said, you know, this is something that these countries can do.

If they are not going to do airstrikes, they can try to work on changing hearts and minds in their communities. We'll have to see if it's effective.

BURNETT: Jim Acosta, thank you very much. Here in New York, United Nations General Assembly, the president of the United States and his Secretary of State John Kerry had some mixed messages over whether America's allies are the ones that are funding the terror groups that the United States is now fighting. Listen in.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: That means cutting off the funding that fuels this hate. It's time to end the hypocrisy of those who accumulate wealth through the global economy and then siphon funds to those who teach children to tear it down.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: There has been a real focus on this financing and state sponsored support of these groups I believe is over. It has ended.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki. Great to have you with us, Jen. Why is the secretary of state so confident that state sponsored terror funding has stopped?

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: Well, first of all, he's talking about ISIL and we don't have evidence that individual countries are funding ISIL. However there are individuals and countries and we have designated a number of them.

There is more that can be done. Counter financing is a key part of our coalition building and this effort to defeat ISIL.

BURNETT: So how do you define state sponsored? This is where I get confused, right, because if a country is allowing middle men to trade ISIS oil, which is reported to bring in $2 million a day. A country knows that that's happening, does that count looking the other way?

PSAKI: Well, governments are not funding ISIL and that's an important thing for people to understand out there. There is a lot of misinformation and confusion about that. No, there is no question. There are still individuals in some of these countries and many need to do more. That's why it's so key that a lot of the countries signed on and agreed that they would do more to do counter financing.

BURNETT: So on this issue, the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations spoke out and obviously an interesting person to do that. But I want to play what he had to say because he talked about the coalition of some of the Arab countries on this issue. And he had kind of a valid point. I want to play what he had to say.


BASHAR JA'AFARI, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: USA needs reliable partners. They don't need Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey because these regimes are the ones that funded terrorism in Syria and Iraq and all over the area. You cannot be a terrorist while fighting terrorists.


BURNETT: He has a point. I mean, I was in Doha, Qatar this summer reporting on this very issue. There are people in that country and other countries who are openly raising money for extremists. They are doing it on Twitter and for weapons. It's in very small countries.

In this case, someone had even worked with the ministry in the Qatari government at one point. Is the United States going to be able to stop that sort of financing?

PSAKI: Well, we are certainly going to try and I think at one point it's pivotal there because this is an issue that is discussed, the secretary raises with countries as needed. It's a key part of our effort to build the coalition.

I think people need to focus on the fact that we've done air strikes. Those will continue, but what General Allen and Ambassador McGuirk are going to be doing is expanding this coalition to focus on things like counter financing, cracking down on foreign fighters because we need to do that in order for it to be successful.

BURNETT: I know it is something we've done a lot of work organization, but the United States Treasury designated a man named (inaudible) as a terrorist, right, we're familiar with his name, saying he raised millions to help kill Americans. But he's living in Doha, Qatar. Others are. Is that something

that the United States is working on, the U.S. says designated a terrorist still living in countries that are allies of the United States?

PSAKI: Well, absolutely. Counter financing and cracking down on individuals who are funding terrorist organizations like ISIL is a key part of our objective here. It's not just the airstrikes.

We are not going to be able to defeat ISIL if they're still funded as they are and that's one of the reasons they have been strengthened over the past several months.

BURNETT: All right, well, I know, a final question for you on this point. Have you made a lot of progress recently? Has there been pressure on these countries from the media, from other sources that has enabled you to make more progress on this issue?

PSAKI: We feel we have. I think a lot of these countries that have disagreements. I think we can all agree about a range of issues, have really unified against ISIL.

And there was a historic meeting yesterday in our view that you had Shia Iraqi prime minister standing with Sunni leaders of other countries and saying we all agree that we need to defeat ISIL. And we feel all of these countries will take more steps to crack down.

BURNETT: All right, Jen Psaki, thank you very much, spokesman for the State Department.

OUTFRONT next, more on those new airstrikes that are pounding Syria tonight. We'll go live to the Turkey/Syrian border in the strike zone for an update.

Plus the threat of lone wolf attacks on the rides after those airstrikes. What intelligence officials are saying in the United States tonight?

And my conversation with President Clinton on how ISIS is trying to sucker the U.S. into a big one.


BURNETT: Breaking news tonight, American warplanes back in the skies over Syria targeting ISIS. This time, the strikes focused on oil installations that were seized by ISIS. These are significant strikes in a couple of ways.

One, oil, that is how ISIS gets a lot of its money reportedly up to $2 million a day. The military says it is still assessing the aftermath. Also significant the fact that these strikes were primarily carried out by American allies, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Arwa Damon is OUTFRONT live near the border between Syria and Turkey. Arwa, you are not far from where these attacks are taking place. You have been talking to Syrian opposition activists. What are they saying?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, when it comes to these most recent rounds of attacks given that they are predominantly targeting ISIS facilities, they're far away from residential populated areas. One opposition activist was saying this is exactly what they need. This is an opposition activist who is from the city of Raqqa which saw the intensity of the initial bombardment and is ISIS' stronghold.

He said, however, that there were concerns moving forward because ISIS had evacuated a lot of its main headquarters, bases and entrenched itself within the civilian population some two to three weeks ago in the anticipation of these strikes. He was describing the mood in Raqqa amongst the people as being quite conflicted. On the one hand, very happy that finally after all of these months, almost a year of horrors they have endured under ISIS, someone was coming to their assistance.

That being said, though, Erin, in other parts of the country, the mood is much more wary in Aleppo and Idlib provinces, for example, that also saw airstrikes in the initial round but not against ISIS targets. Instead, against other targets and other groups that the U.S. views as being terrorist organizations such as Nusra front. But that opposition activists say have played a critical role in fighting ISIS. And they have a clear message saying that the U.S. and its allies need to be careful about which organizations they are targeting, focusing on ISIS, but also where that targeting is taking place. Because a lot of these other groups, if America and the coalition's intent is to go after them as well, they are entrenched within civilian populations. Their headquarters are in the civilian population. We've already been hearing various reports about civilian casualties to include children from the first round of airstrikes. So the potential for even more bloodshed moving forward among this population that has endured so much bombardment by the Assad regime and the forest of ISIS is one that is very real, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Arwa Damon, thank you very much.

And the Pentagon says fighter jets from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates flew alongside American warplanes bombing at least 12 locations.

So you heard Arwa talking about some of those locations. But I wanted to talk more about this because this is crucial. This is at the heart of the entire crisis. Tom Foreman has been looking at this. Because, Tom, where these strikes were goes at the heart and by the heart I mean the wallet.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It really does, Erin. Because you've heard us say over and over again here, this is the most well funded terrorist group ever. Those are strikes from two day ago, those are strikes from the overnight. The strikes we're talking about right now, though, as you said, you go at the wallet. This is the border with Iraq right there. And this is where these strikes are occurring, right in this area where oil and gas are the name of the game. Arwa mentioned a minute ago, Raqqa right down here. This is a

city of about a quarter million people. Yes, if you move through here, you can find oil facilities here that are big and that would be big ripe targets for hitting. But among civilians, disrupting the infrastructure there, creating environmental damage, there is a lot of reasons not to hit big things like this.

But when you move out more toward the Markata (ph), that's where you get to where they're striking now. The smaller portable units out there and this is great big open country. It is easy to pick your targets here. It is easy to hit them. And yet, if you can cut into those $2 million a day, Erin, you're hitting ISIS where it lives. Because that money is absolutely critical for them establishing this Islamic state that they say they want to have. Without that money, many of the programs they're already building get into deep trouble fast -- Erin.

BURNETT: Deep trouble fast. And as one expert was telling me today, some of these fighters being paid $1,000 a day, that dries up, all of a sudden a lot of those people may not want to fight any more.

Tom Foreman, thank you very much.

I want to bring in CNN senior political analyst David Gergen.

David, this issue -- and tonight, obviously, there is a lot for the coalition to be happy about. You have strikes that did not appear to hit civilians. You have strikes that were performed by Arab partners. However, I'm curious about the concept of strike. The U.S. embassy bombings, that was responded to by then President Clinton with tomahawk attacks and missile strikes against the then stronghold of Osama bin Laden. Three years later, 9/11. Air strikes didn't work then. Will they work now?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It depends on what you mean by work. If the goal is to defang ISIS so that they can be as hard for them to strike, they can have lone wolf strikes, yes, I think we can get there through airstrikes, very importantly, getting ground force. We don't have that in Syria. That's the jackpot question. How do you get a ground force that cleans this thing up?

But airstrikes can have a major, major impact. The squeeze or putting on the finances is very, very important. We don't know how much of a reserve they have. They looted all of banks. They stole millions upon millions of dollars from banks. And we don't know how much cash they're sitting on. They probably got other ways to get by.

But, Erin, the other thing about, you know, I think also this is a day for the United States to take some pride because, you know, after such a rocky start, the President of the United States has now emerged as the dominant figure here at the U.N. to this general assembly. His speech --

BURNETT: And this is a man who a couple weeks ago said I have no strategy.

GERGEN: Exactly.

BURNETT: And how, here he is --

GERGEN: In the speech, he's getting a Security Council resolution passed. And, of course, the Chinese leaders and the Russian leaders just skipped these meetings. So they're not represented by (INAUDIBLE). So the American voice, you know, for certain, Americans feels bad here. Now, we have a long road ahead, but at least the President is getting some traction. Now, if you're going to go in to a war as commander in-chief --

BURNETT: well, there is a moment where you are getting leadership from the United States which people may love and they may loath.

GERGEN: Exactly.

BURNETT: But they feel the lack when that leadership is not there.

GERGEN: It does not necessarily bring victory. But you cannot start one of these things very successfully unless you get the country behind you, unless there is sense of momentum. Europe is starting to come, Cameron is calling it parliament back in.

Notice what Europe is doing. In every case, they're saying we are going to come to your aide. We are going to work with you in Iraq. Nobody wants to go with us from Europe in Syria.

BURNETT: And that's why it's incredible that you have those Arab states who are now doing that and cutting down on some of the funding that is coming from there.

GERGEN: Absolutely.

BURNETT: David Gergen, thank you very much.

Well, earlier today, I spoke to President Bill Clinton and he is going to be our guest coming up.

The President of the United States has warned the Americans fighting with is could be coming home. The danger of lone wolf attack is on the lines. We have a special report as well.

And I'll talk to President Clinton about the airstrikes, whether he thinks they're a good idea after the "New York Times" today called them a bad decision.

Plus, breaking new in his the case of the university of Virginia missing student. Police giving a major update at this hour. We'll have that coming up.


BURNETT: Welcome back to the viewers in the United States and around the world watching our special coverage tonight. We have breaking news.

American-led airstrikes targeting ISIS oil facilities inside Syria tonight. On the second day of the American-lead war against ISIS, President Obama made his case to the world to join United States efforts against ISIS in Syria and Iraq and he made it broader. He also talked about fighting extremist around the world.

Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, these airstrikes tonight, Erin, are reminder that the U.S. is at war. And today at the U.N., the President in effect making the case for war and calling the world to join this whether by joining the military action or stopping the flow of foreign fighters to Syria, money, but also at home fighting the ideology, as well.

And the President even extending the conflict beyond ISIS, beyond Islamic extremism to the many challenges he sees now to the world international order.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): Speaking leaders from 193 countries assembled at the U.N., President Obama delivered an ambitious call to action to the world.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can renew the international system that has enabled so much progress or we can allow ourselves to be pulled back by an undertow of instability.

SCIUTTO: For the President, the sources of that fear extend from ISIS in Al Qaeda to Russian aggression in Ukraine to the outbreak of Ebola. But little more than a day after he took the U.S. and its coalition partners to war against ISIS in Syria, the President identified the central challenge as the cancer of violent extremism.

OBAMA: There can be no reasoning, no negotiation with this brand of evil. The only language you said stood by killers like this is the language of force.

SCIUTTO: Military action, however, is only part of his solution. He demanded that Muslims themselves stand up to the root causes of terrorism.

OBAMA: It is time for the world, especially in Muslim communities, to explicitly, forcefully and consistently reject the ideology of organizations like Al-Qaeda and ISIL.

SCIUTTO: Together it is a new and more aggressive foreign policy for a President deal now defined by his decisions to end wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And avoid military action in others, including until now, in Syria. This was President Obama at the G-20 last year in Russia.

OBAMA: I was elected to end wars, not start them. SCIUTTO: And this was Mr. Obama today.

OBAMA: Those who have joined ISIL should leave the battle field while they can. Those who continue to fate for a hateful cause will find they're increasingly alone.


BURNETT: This is a President who has started to sound a lot like the President who preceded him. I mean, it is incredible. You are also talking though about there was U.N. resolution. And a lot of people may roll their eyes and say a U.N. resolution, that means very little.

SCIUTTO: A lot of pieces of paper come out of this building. But this piece of paper when you read is actually pretty tough. You know, normally, you'll see it kind of urges people to do this or encourages them to do that. This requires all member nations to stop the flow of money, stop the flow of fighters and different steps like they have to make it a criminal act now to send money to for fighters.

That's not the case in a lot of countries. And that is aimed that particular countries that are U.S. allies like Qatar which has this, you know, it took on the fence because it's joined this coalition, and you know this very well. But there are a lot of things masquerading its charities in these countries that are actually funding funneling aide there. So now, you have a document that required countries to stop that. Now, it is all going to in the delivery. Do they follow through?

BURNETT: I mean, as you say, the world require is important. And it is important for people to know that when you got a designation as a terrorist or terror funder, the U.S.-United Nation actually does not mean as much as United Nations say it is.

SCIUTTO: Absolutely.

BURNETT: That designation is something that require countries to do more.

SCIUTTO: And both Ban Ki-moon and the president made an interesting point tonight, that there -- the foreign fighters that are in Syria now, there are 15,000 of them, they come from 80 countries. So, it's not just a Qatari problem is a Saudi problem. It's an American problem. We know Americans are there. It's a French, it's a British problem. So they have to confront it.

BURNETT: All right. Jim Sciutto, thank you very much.

At the United Nations today, President Obama made it clear that he considers the destruction of ISIS the top priority in a bigger fight against terrorism. I talked to President Bill Clinton about the threat of ISIS earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BURNETT: President Clinton, the question this moment for this country is a very important moment and a momentous moment, as we're dealing with the threat from terrorism. Do you think the risk from ISIS is as significant a threat as al Qaeda under Osama bin Laden?

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I think it's quite significant. And it certainly threatens to change the whole landscape in the Middle East, redraw national boundaries, crash national governments and we know they're killing a lot of innocent people who don't agree with them. They ran the Christians out of Iraq who had been there since the dawn of Christendom. So -- they butchered Syrian soldiers. And, you know, we don't agree with the Syrian government, but the soldiers were uniformed personnel entitled to the rules of war. And, of course, they like to decapitate people on the Internet.

So, I think that this strategy that the president has adopted has a chance to succeed. I support what they're doing.

BURNETT: And the president today just speaking at the U.N. said that he thinks in the strongest words he's used yet spoke about the need for force. And I wanted to play a brief clip of what he just said at the United Nations this morning.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No God condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning, no negotiation with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.


BURNETT: The president said that this morning. "The New York Times" in a large full page op-ed has said that the strikes in Syria are a, quote, "bad decision". Are they right?

CLINTON: They say it's bad decision. No, I don't think so. I don't think they are right.

I think that success is not guaranteed. I think what ISIS is trying to do was to sucker us into putting a lot of soldiers on the ground so they could shift the blame from themselves to us for all the violence in the area.

And what we learned repeatedly is that when the Sunni tribal leaders who are not militant and not twisting Islam for their political objectives are willing to fight, they can reclaim their country. And we should help them do it. But it's not a fight we can win for them.

BURNETT: I'm curious, though. The air strikes in Syria weren't just against ISIS, they were against a group that the American public hadn't even heard will of until last week, by the director national intelligence, a group called Khorasan. And some members include people part of the core group plotting the 9/11 attacks.

The country, of course, keeps being told that core al Qaeda has been decimated, but then you have a group that is part of core al Qaeda.

CLINTON: Well, the point is you can't --

BURNETT: Are we still fighting the same people?

CLINTON: No, some of them survived. Nobody said we ever had 100 percent kill rate on that.

Look, we're living in a time when information technology and other forms of technology have led to a big dispersal of power. And we're basically in a race in the world to define how we're going to relate to each other. And it's the contest of our time.

And we can't expect total victory through any military means, which is why if governments are required to spend more time to stop bad things from happening, the rest of us have to spend more time and money and effort to make good things happen.

BURNETT: So, ISIS obviously you have supported arming the rebels in Syria. Your wife supported this. The president is now actually saying that he's going to do that.

The question I have for you, though, is, is it worth the risk? Is it worth risk as everyone admits, even the administration, that some of those weapons will end up in the arms of people who want to kill Americans?

CLINTON: Well, they have reached the judgment that it is and I -- one thing we know will happen, if we don't help people who trying to create an open and inclusive secular society, they will lose. If we do help them and they lose anyway, somebody will get their weapons. But I don't think that will measurably change the balance of power.

Anytime you do anything, it might not work. We don't have 100 percent control. You just make a judgment over whether it's more likely than not to work. The president's made that judgment in the case of trying to arm the Syrians. Syria like Iraq and Lebanon are a very diverse country. And they're either going to live and work together or they're going to be dominated by somebody like ISIS. It's worth the gamble I think to try to make it work.


BURNETT: And I want to bring in CNN military analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona.

Colonel Francona, thank you for being with us.

This issue that President Clinton raised of ISIS trying to sucker the United States in, that this was intentional to get the United States in a ground war and then pin the civilian atrocities on the United States. Is he right?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, I think so. And we've seen that. You know, ISIS has constantly talked about getting the United States into a ground war because that gives them the opportunity to what level the playing the field. They know that they're going to suffer with the air strikes. And they know there's not a whole lot they can do about the airstrikes. But they know in a ground war, they can take a high toll on the American troops, because they will fight in an unconventional way that al Qaeda in Iraq did and the Shia militias did.

So, yes, they would like to get us into a ground war and I think that we'd be smart not to take the bait.

BURNETT: Not to take the bait. But then the question is, will the air strikes alone be enough? Back to this issue of the embassy bombings in East Africa, which then-President Clinton responded to with immediately with tomahawk missile attack --


BURNETT: -- with Osama bin Laden's bastion. Three years later, 9/11 happened. Air strike did not work then. Will they work now? I mean, they may temporarily appear to work, but will they?

FRANCONA: No, in the long run, they won't. And air strikes are never meant to be the only thing that would work. Air strikes are meant to be part of an overall campaign strategy. It's usually the first part and it's carried out throughout. But air strikes usually are preparing the battlefield for a follow-on ground war.

Now, I know ISIS is trying to goad us into are war and we'd be smart not to get into it, but somewhere, some day, someone is going to have to engage these people on the ground. I know the administration policy is to have the Free Syrian Army do that. I'm not sure that's going to work.

And in the end, we may have to actually put American troops there and take the bait even. But at some point, someone has to defeat these people on the ground, in Iraq, and in Syria. And the Syria part is the more important one because that is where they're unchallenged right now.

BURNETT: And again it comes town to this question of whose boots, whose lives will be on the line?

Thank you so much, Colonel.

And OUTFRONT next, the president says it's an immediate threat, foreigners fighting with ISIS returning home, lone wolves ready to attack.

Plus, breaking news. Police just announcing the man wanted in connection with the disappearance of a University of Virginia student is in custody. That is a huge break in the story. We're going to go to Charlottesville for the latest.

And more of my interview with President Clinton on why the Ray Rice scandal is very deeply personal to him.


Following breaking news tonight for our viewers in the United States and around the world here on CNN tonight. American-led air strikes are targeting ISIS oil facilities in Syria now as a major source of funding for the terror group. This as the White House says dozens, that's the number, dozens of Americans are now among the terrorist fighters in Syria fighting alongside ISIS and other terror groups.

President Obama warning the United Nations Security Council where we are tonight that these foreign fighters are a serious threat.


OBAMA: These terrorists exacerbate conflicts. They pose an immediate threat to people in these regions. And as we've already seen in several cases, they may try to return to their home countries to carry out deadly attacks.


BURNETT: Deborah Feyerick is OUTFRONT tonight with more on who these foreign fighters are.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Across the nation, it is one of the top security concerns. Foreign fighters currently in Syria and Iraq returning home to America to launch a lone wolf attack.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The minds of these young men and women are poisoned by terrorists who brainwashed them into committing unspeakable atrocities.

FEYERICK: Interpol enhancing its multinational databases to help border control agents around the world better identify terrorists and more effectively share that information globally.

JOHN CARLIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: Working closely with Interpol in order to prioritize the information that they keep on foreign terrorist fighters and to have a system so that they can put notices so that when individuals from one country or another and Interpol have identify as a for terrorist fighter cross borders, that they hit, register and you can share the information.

FEYERICK: The Interpol alert system can help countries identify suspected terrorists quickly and get the data to other officials. Red notices or wanted identify terrorists for arrest and prosecution in U.S. courts. Blue notices or be on the lookout flag possible terrorist suspects. And green notices alert authorities to hundreds of foreign nationals who have been to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

CARLIN: And we need to identify them, working with our partners, before they come back and cause harm. FEYERICK: During the U.N. General Assembly this week, America's top

national security prosecutor John Carlin has been mounting a full press with 30 global counterparts to use the Interpol system to shut down foreign fighters.

(on camera): How do you think this will help stem the flow?

CARLIN: One of the most critical aspects to stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters is making sure each country as they gather information about who these individuals are has a mechanism for sharing it and sharing it quickly.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Countries including Turkey, Canada and the U.S. will continue to have access to Interpol data and biometrics to identify and stop jihadi fighters before it's too late.


FEYERICK: And, Erin, another thing that U.S. security officials are trying to push, as well as prosecution, trying to go after these young men who want to be fighters, before they even set foot out of the country by charging them with things like material support of terrorism -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Deb Feyerick, thank you very much.

The U.S. has said it's now the greatest threat to the American homeland tonight.

OUTFRONT next, the breaking news the man wanted in the disappearance of a University of Virginia student, Hannah Graham. This is huge breaking development tonight. He is now under arrest and we are going to go live to Charlottesville.

And President Bill Clinton on the Ray Rice scandal.


CLINTON: I know a lot about this subject. I grew up in a home with domestic violence.



BURNETT: Breaking news, in the disappearance of Hannah Graham. The University of Virginia student has been missing for almost two weeks tonight. Police announced in just moments ago, though, a major, major break in this case. They're saying Jesse Matthew, the man accused of abducting the 18-year-old student is now in custody.


CHIEF TIM LONGO, CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE: We're here tonight to announce that because of the collaborative efforts to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and state and local law enforcement across this nation, Jesse Matthew is in custody in Galveston, Texas, the extradition process is currently under way.


BURNETT: Jean Casarez is OUTFRONT live in Charlottesville.

And, Jean, obviously, this involved many states. This was a manhunt. What more did you learn, though, about the arrest?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he was arrested and it was the local deputy from the Galveston County Sheriff's Department that actually found him and arrested him in custody. They say that extradition is on its way now. We don't really if he's going to fight extradition or if he will just voluntarily come back to the state Virginia.

But, also, this in part has been because of the Virginia state police, in assistance with the FBI. In this press conference is waiting for the FBI to get there.

You know, Galveston is really a remote part of Texas. It's not connected to Mexico at all but it is very, very remote and it is a long way away from Virginia.

BURNETT: Absolutely, but what does all of this mean, Jean, in terms of Hannah Graham herself, and in terms of the charges when they were trying to arrest him and looking for him. It was kidnapping, it wasn't for murder.

CASAREZ: That is right.

BURNETT: So, do they have any sense of whether or not she is alive?

CASAREZ: That's such an extremely important point because he was arrested alone. At least we didn't hear anything about Hannah Graham. There is an all points bulletin looking for Hannah Graham.

What they're asking land owners to do here in the Charlottesville area, if you own large plots of land, to look all over your land, be the eyes and ears for law enforcement, so that obviously would be a different charge, rather than abduction, you're right, kidnapping of someone who would be alive. But at this point, they're still searching for Hannah. And now, Jesse Graham might be on his way back here to Charlottesville, Virginia.

BURNETT: Jean Casarez, thank you very much.

And I want to bring in our legal analyst Paul Callan, because I want to try to understand this a little bit better, Paul. I mean, obviously, Matthew innocent until proven guilty. But you also have the situation where they have arrested him but they do not know what happened to Hannah Graham. They don't have a girl. They don't have a body.

CALLAN: It puts them in a horrible situation, Erin, because on the one hand, if they try to force the information out of him, if he in fact, he does know where she is, because maybe they think she is still alive, they can jeopardize the prosecution subsequently.

On the other hand, if they just sit back and treat it like an ordinary criminal case, you may have her in captivity someplace not being rescued.

So, law enforcement authorities are in a terrible situation. But, frankly, it's better than they were before when they let the guy get away.

BURNETT: So, what can possibly happen to him now? I mean, how are they going to get this information? You're saying that the only person who knows is him. And now, if they asked him, they jeopardize the ability to prosecute.

CALLAN: There is only one way to get the information. That is to cut a deal of some kind with him. He'll have the right to fight the extradition, and I'm betting the evidence against him is probably very, very weak since they don't know where she is and they don't have eyewitnesses.

So, they probably will go to the lawyer and say, we're going to cut a deal if he tells us where she is and where she can be found.

Bear in mind, Virginia has the death penalty and you can even cut a deal saying we'll take the death penalty off the table if he comes forward with information that helps us find the young student.

BURNETT: So, Paul, I guess my other question is you're saying the evidence must be very weak. But it doesn't seem like they have anybody else. Back to this question her parents are hoping desperately that she still is alive, that she is alive tonight. Are they even looking anywhere else now?

CALLAN: Well, we don't know what is going on behind the scenes. We have limited information. We do know that when he showed up at a police station, they let him leave when he asked for a lawyer.

I suspect they probably decided to tail him and see where he was going. And then he started to speed up and he shook the tail. Now, of course, the police have said they didn't have a right to engage in a high speed chase. We'll see what really went on with that, but they lost him.

That says to me they didn't have enough evidence to arrest him before he started getting in the car and start speeding to arrest him. Now, ultimately, they have an arrest warrant, so they have something. But it can't be very strong at this point.

BURNETT: Paul Callan, thank you very much.

CALLAN: OK. Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Bill Clinton on the Ray Rice scandal and why domestic violence is a very personal subject for him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Today, the NFL Players Association hired a former federal prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation into the Ray Rice scandal.

Earlier, I had a chance to speak with the former President Bill Clinton, and he got emotional when I asked him whether the scandal affected his view of the NFL.


BURNETT: Have you changed at all your viewing habits as a result of the Ray Rice scandal?

CLINTON: No, but partly because I -- until the playoffs I'm always more of a college football fan than pro.

But -- I know a lot about this subject. I grew up in a home with domestic violence. And -- God, I hope that it works out all right for -- I hope he really is OK and he never does it again. Sometimes people don't, but it's rare.

And -- I think what bothers everybody is that it seems that the NFL diminished the importance of it early on.


BURNETT: You're going to hear much more of what the president had to say about that issue. And I think you're going to be very surprised on whether he thinks the NFL should have a zero tolerance policy on domestic violence or not. We're also going to hear him tonight talking about arming the Syrian rebels and the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, and race relations in America. That's tonight at 9:00. "President Bill Clinton: A CNN Special Town Hall." We'll see you then.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts now.