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Khorasan Plot May Still Be Alive; Iraq PM Warns of Subway Terror Plot; ISIS Overruns Iraqi Base; Life Under ISIS: A Rare Look Inside Raqqa; ISIS Overruns Iraqi Base, Up To 300 Killed; Missing Student Suspect Questioned In 2002 Rape Case

Aired September 25, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, thanks for joining us.

In just one day today we learned that the terror group targeted in the opening shot of these airstrikes on Syria may still pose a threat here at home. And we got warnings as well of another alleged threat. It came in a strange, offhand way, from a source who's yet to prove reliable or not but cannot be dismissed lightly because he happens to be the new prime minister of Iraq.

He delivered the warning about an ISIS plot, he said, against U.S. and Paris subways while talking to reporters here in New York. Meantime, fighter jets carried out more airstrikes earlier today. This one by American warplanes on an ISIS oil refinery in a remote corner of the eastern Syria.

French fighters also hit four ISIS warehouses near the Iraqi city of Fallujah. As the bombs fell, new and horrifying details began emerging of a bloodbath there up to 300 Iraqi soldiers killed when ISIS fighters overran their base earlier this week. One surviving soldier saying they pleaded with commanders in Baghdad for help and got no help. He says they were abandoned.

It underscores one of two major concerns about the operation tonight and beyond, that being, can the Iraqi army, which we spent billions and billions of dollars training and arming, can it stand up to ISIS? The other being have the airstrikes made the United States any safer at home?

Today, concerning the threat from the Khorasan Group which was hit in the opening hours of the campaign, FBI Director James Comey told reporters in Washington he is, and I quote, "not confident at all that airstrikes have disrupted their plans."

Justice correspondent Pamela Brown is covering that angle. She joins us now.

So it is striking to hear the FBI director saying that he's not confident that Khorasan's plans have been disrupted.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. Even after the U.S. bombing campaign in Syria, FBI Director James Comey told reporters that he's operating assumption is that the al Qaeda group known as Khorasan still exists and is still intact.

Now officials said the group was planning an imminent attack on Western targets and Comey said because there's limited visibility and Syrian officials had to assume and act as though there could be an attack by the group tomorrow, next week or next month. Intelligence officials told us the group of seasoned al Qaeda operatives was in an advanced stage of launching an attack on the West.

And today, Anderson, Comey said the group will remain at the top of his list of concerns.

COOPER: Is there a particular reason why he believes the group may still be plotting?

BROWN: Well, he said he's still waiting the final strike assessment and until then the threat posture is the same as before. But I know there was concern among intelligence officials that these were seasoned terrorists. And they are known to de-centralize and disperse often. So it's not out of the question that some of the group's leaders left the area where Khorasan was based in Syria in anticipation of the U.S. bombing campaign -- Anderson.

COOPER: Also it's a very small group. So unless there is personnel on the ground who can actually look at bodies I imagine it would be difficult to actually figure out who's been hit.

BROWN: Right. And he talked about that today. He said essentially Syria is a safe haven for terrorists. And it's a black hole from an intelligence perspective. They had very limited visibility there. So, you know, there's really no way to know for sure.

COOPER: Right.

BROWN: Whether or not the group and its plotting was disrupted.

COOPER: All right, Pamela Brown, appreciate it. Thanks.

Beefed up security tonight on the New York subway system. Police maintaining high visibility on top of heightened measures already in place for the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama's visit, and of course the outset of the war on ISIS.

Now it comes after Iraq's prime minister said his country had received what he said was credible intelligence of an ISIS plot against American subways and the Paris subway systems. He was very specific, and I quote, he said, "There are networks planning from inside Iraq to have attacks. They plan to have attacks on the metros in Paris and the U.S."

He said, American and Western European prisoners were caught supporting ISIS who've said this. American officials quickly said they saw no indication of this plot. Late today, flanked by his police commissioner, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the same.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: Everyone should know the most important fact right now is, we are convinced that New Yorkers are safe. We are convinced people should go about their normal routine. Terrorists want us to live in fear. We refuse to live in fear. And we at the same time will be watching.


COOPER: The statements by the new Iraqi prime minister were, safe to say, a surprise today both in substance and how it came to light.

Chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto joins us with more.

So, Jim, this supposed plot to attack subways, what are you learning about this? This sounds bizarre to me that this guy would just make a statement like this.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question, it went through the full cycle today. It started with the Iraqi prime minister saying that this was a -- this is a credible threat. We spoke to U.S. intelligence officials, administration officials and then later the mayor of New York. The police commissioner of New York forced to come out and say there was no specific credible threat.

And just tonight now, Anderson, the Iraqi prime minister himself according to the State Department saying that he wasn't talking about a specific credible threat either, that he was speaking more generally about a threat to the U.S. So it really went from almost panic to nothing by the end of the day.

COOPER: And this is a very different plot than the Khorasan plot which we still know very little about.

SCIUTTO: That's exactly right. Because the Khorasan plot, there is very real concern about U.S. officials have said that it is imminent. Now you and I have talked about it. It's a question as to how imminent it was. And U.S. intelligence officials have said that basically they don't know. And that's one of the problems here. Syria is a black hole in terms of intelligence.

But they have much more confidence that Khorasan, this al Qaeda-tied group, was targeting airplanes, specifically airplanes bound for the U.S., specifically using hidden explosives and personal handheld devices, et cetera. That's a very real plot.

What we heard today from the Iraqi prime minister unfortunately was something that got a lot of people worried including in New York, where you and I are both from. And we know that New York can get understandably worried about this for apparently no reason.

COOPER: All right. Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.

For more about what Jim Sciutto just mentioned, what appears to be damage control now by the Obama administration where the Iraqi prime minister is concerned, a short time ago I spoke with Brett McGurk, deputy assistant Secretary of State for Middle Eastern Affairs. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Mr. McGurk, what's your understanding of why the new Iraqi prime minister here in New York told journalists about an alleged threat to U.S. and French subway systems instead of calling the White House or the FBI or any other number of other American authorities?

BRETT MCGURK, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR IRAQ AND IRAN: Well, Anderson, I just saw the prime minister just about 20 minutes ago here after a meeting with the Vice President Biden. And we spoke in some detail about this. And he confirmed that there's no specific or credible threat against the United States. In the course of going after ISIL, the Iraqis are routinely detaining ISIL fighters.

They're also finding effects on the remains of the dead ISIL fighters. And oftentimes, there are aspirations from these fighters to attack interests outside of Iraq and Syria, outside the theater and of course in the United States. That's something that ISIL makes very clear in their own public statements.

Their spokesperson about three days ago called on attacks on Americans and on Frenchmen and others. So this is something that clearly, it is an aspirational goal of these types of global jihadists who join this organization. And when the Iraqi get that information, we work at them very closely in terms of assessing the veracity of it.

I think what the prime minister is discussing today was information streams that are always out there and then we have to work very closely to assess of the veracity of it. But he was quite clear with me and the vice president that there's no specific or credible threat to the United States based upon this information.

COOPER: Just to be clear, though, that's not what the prime minister of Iraq said publicly. What the prime minister of Iraq said, and he said he received accurate reports from Baghdad of arrest of French and Americans who are plotting attacks on metros of Paris and the United States, just to be accurate. You're just saying what he said was absolutely not true?

MCGURK: That is what he told -- what he told us, is that the veracity of this information has to be assessed. And I think the Iraqis has put out a statement in that regard as well and we're actively working with them as we do daily and -- what I think the prime minister is getting at, as I understand it, and of course he will speak for himself. But in the very detailed conversation we had is that here we are in New York, and the entire world is coming together united against ISIS.

Yesterday in the Security Council we had over 100 countries, co- sponsor resolutions specifically focused on foreign fighters.

COOPER: Right. I just don't get why the prime minister of Iraq, who we -- the United States is pinning basically everything on in Iraq, would come out and make a statement which is just completely, according to you, not true. I mean, he says this is accurate information that there are specific arrests of Americans and French in Baghdad. You're saying now he's going to put out some other statement saying essentially that's not the case?

MCGURK: No, Anderson, I want to be very clear. We're working with the Iraqis on this particular information stream. It has not been assessed as credible. We're actively working with the Iraqis as we do on a daily basis about the threat of foreign fighters --


COOPER: So does it worry you, though, that he's giving out not credible information, as the leader of the country?

MCGURK: The information he's talking about, Anderson, as I think I said it, it just came today. So it is not something that anyone can say is a credible or specific --


COOPER: So should he be talking about it publicly, casually to a bunch of reporters?

MCGURK: Again, Anderson, he was talking about the threat of foreign fighters to the entire whole world, including to the United States. And do these -- do these foreign fighters want to attack outside of the region and the United States and in Europe and the Gulf region? Yes, they do.

COOPER: But -- OK. You can't say you're pleased with the prime minister of Iraq for saying something which he's now going to have to walk back, for basically publicly going forward and saying that there is credible information about something which there, according to you, is no credible information about it?

MCGURK: I can just -- he was quite clear with us, that what he's talking about was the threat of foreign fighters generally to the entire world, and specific threat of some of these foreign fighters who have passports, Western passports, to travel throughout the world. And the type of information we find from foreign fighters in Iraq. So he's quite clear about that.

But of course, this information we are in daily conversation with the Iraqi partners and with law enforcement partners from all around the region about the threat stream from foreign fighters. This is an ongoing thing. Again, he, of course, will speak for himself. I can just say what the conversation we just had with him about this specific stream of information.

COOPER: All right. Bret McGurk, I do appreciate your time, thank you.

MCGURK: Thank you so much.


COOPER: Apparently the Iraqi prime minister was quite clear with Brett McGurk and others in private, not so clear publicly, making the statement that apparently there is no actual evidence to back it up at this point. At least confirmed.

As always, a quick reminder. Make sure to set your DVR so you can watch 360 whenever you want.

Coming up next, more on the forces that we are counting on to be our forces on the ground in Iraq, the United States essentially trained, paid for, the Iraqi troops we trained.

The question is, what is happening to them on the ground right now? Why haven't they been able to stand up to ISIS? We'll explore that angle when we continue.


COOPER: More now on the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of Iraqis -- America's Iraqi partners in the fight against ISIS. The open question remains, can Iraq's military even defend itself?

We talked about it a lot in recent days and you've heard plenty by now about how the new Iraqi government is promising new changes. We're told there are changes being made even as we speak in some of the command and force structure and claims being made that this will turn the tide. So far, though, especially in light of the recent defeat in Fallujah, all those troops are allegedly left to fend for themselves.

Big questions remain about whether the Iraqi government can deliver on their hopeful words. Tonight a reality check from the ground for that. We turn to Ben Wedeman in Kurdish controlled Irbil.

Let's talk about what happened at this base in Fallujah because I saw some video from a soldier who said that he had tried to reach out to the command structure, to Iraqi generals, and no one picked up the phone. And basically these troops were abandoned.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this happened only about 25 miles to the west of the outskirts of Baghdad, at a place called al-Sinjar, which was the headquarters for the 30th Brigade of the Iraqi Army. It's in an area that was overrun quite some time ago by ISIS. But some of these bases were basically cut off and just barely surviving.

Now what happened was that yes, they did -- according to these survivors they tried to call up their commanders. They did not answer the phone. The Iraqi Army apparently tried to get them food and medicine and -- food and water, excuse me. But that couldn't be reached.

And in the midst of all of this according to a statement by ISIS, ISIS managed to drive inside this base an armored vehicle with two tons of explosives. It blew itself up in the middle of the base. At least 113 of these Iraqi soldiers are now dead, according to Iraqi Army officers. More than 78 are apparently missing.

Now this clearly underscores that this army is really -- in this area at least -- falling apart. The Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said he's going to launch an investigation as to why the commanding officers either abandoned their post or didn't come to the rescue of their men. Today, again, I spoke to another senior Kurdish official who said that the Iraqi Army at this point simply is not functioning. So definitely, this incident is sort of a replay on a smaller scale of what happened in June in Mosul with the Iraqi Army, essentially high- tailing it out of that critical city.

And it raises the question, how the U.S., which from 2003 to 2011, spent countless billions training the Iraqi Army, is now going to do it all over again?


COOPER: Right. And Ben, how far from -- how far from Baghdad was this base?

WEDEMAN: Twenty-five miles from the outskirts of Baghdad.

COOPER: It's incredible. That they --

WEDEMAN: A very, very short distance.

COOPER: The 25 miles -- that they cannot resupply a base 25 miles from the capital city with a military force in this country allegedly of 250,000 troops even if half of them are battlefield ready as some estimates claim, I mean, that's just -- it's just shocking and really terrifying for anyone who wants to see the U.S. succeed, you know, at least in the short term in Iraq.

Ben, I appreciate the update.

I want to dig deeper now with CNN military analyst, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Francona. Also Daniel O'Shea, former Navy SEAL and former coordinator of the Hostage Working Group at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, currently he's the vice president at GROM Technologies.

Col. Francona, I mean, 25 miles away from the capital city and they can't get food and water and resupply and reinforcements to the base?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Where did the Iraqi Army go? I mean, 26 brigades are supposed to be combat-ready. That was the assessment from the advisors that went in there. This obviously was not one of them. This is battalion level force out here. They've been cut off for some time. There are ways to resupply. But evidently the Iraqis couldn't even do that. This is just a complete breakdown in the chain of command. The lack of leadership is just appalling.

I understand that many of the senior Iraqi leadership has been let go but they haven't been replaced. So there is no one in charge.

COOPER: Brett McGurk said two generals have basically been fired in the wake of this thing. But there is no defense minister yet who's been named.


COOPER: There's no interior minister yet.

FRANCONA: Yes. But many of the Shia who was -- who were nominally in charge of these units have gone. And they haven't been replaced. And the Sunnis, who were in charge before, many of them have defected to ISIS, and we're talking earlier. Ninety percent of the Shire Council of ISIS is made up of Baathi and former Iraqi military officers. So all of the combat expertise is on the other side.

COOPER: Dan, I mean, it's really inexcusable in a military to have the senior leadership completely abandon these front line troops. And I mean, I talked to General Hertling a short time ago who said that, you know, he believes that there is a group of kind of lower level officer corps which is -- you know, have been battled tested, which was trained by the U.S., which could eventually take over some of these general positions, the generals who are completely corrupt and not answering the frigging telephone.

But that's going to take a certain amount of time. Does it shock you anymore to hear that a base 25 miles from Baghdad wasn't able to hold on?

DAN O'SHEA, FORMER HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR, U.S. EMBASSY-BAGHDAD: Well, sure, it's shocking. And the colonel said it exactly. It's lack of leadership, failure of logistics, command, control, the fact that they made phone calls and no one answered their calls. And more troubling, the fact that it's 25 miles from Baghdad.

It is really the facts as they are. And yet these soldiers, these Iraqi soldiers, they need to recognize they are fighting for their very lives.

COOPER: Right.

O'SHEA: There's been multiple bases that have been overtaken in the past and all the soldiers summarily walked out and executed. And these soldiers need to realize the stakes and fight to the last man. And that's what's missing, (INAUDIBLE) is missing with these -- with the Iraqi Army right now.

COOPER: Well, I mean, and maybe this is unfair of me. And I was saying this to you before the break, but I don't understand what the prime minister, this new prime minister of Iraq is running around New York, eating at the Waldorf Astoria, while, you know, this base in Fallujah, 25 miles from his capital, has fallen to ISIS and as many as 300 troops have been killed. Shouldn't he be rolling up his sleeves and getting out there and making sure the generals are picked.

FRANCONA: Normally you'd want this guy in Baghdad running things.

COOPER: Right.

FRANCONA: But he doesn't even have a defense minister, nor does he have a minister of the interior who runs the police forces. There is nobody in charge over there. And they're not going to make a decision while he is here. This is just -- you know, just unfathomable that this happened. And

it's not like the soldiers as Dan mentioned, don't understand what's going on.

COOPER: Right.

FRANCONA: I mean, this is how they took all these outposts. They surrounded, the cut off everything, and then they run some sort of a suicide bomber in there. This is templated and it is just over and over and over. It's like they don't learn.

COOPER: Dan, how does it work? I mean, if you have to replace large numbers of your senior officer corps, the generals, how long a process is that to actually get, you know, kind of lower level officers who are actually willing to fight and care about their troops to get them in a position where they can -- you know, operate things?

O'SHEA: Well, you're dealing with an entirely different chain of command and structure. And the U.S. military, if someone gets relieved of command he is replaced immediately. And you have multiple options of past commanders or upcoming commanders that can take that step in the breach, if you will.

You don't have that in that culture in enlargements. Not that there aren't soldiers that are dedicated and capable. Maybe the younger generation. But most generalships in the Arab world -- they're given by a patronage, not necessarily past performance. And now we're seeing that in full display. They're giving out colonel positions or generalships. It's having disastrous consequences because it's really a lack of leadership all around.

COOPER: And again, Col. Francona, there's only so much you can do from the air -- I mean, you -- this entire plan from the United States is based on the idea both in Iraq and in Syria of having some forces on the ground that are able to retake territory, hold territory in conjunction with these airstrikes.

FRANCONA: You are absolutely right. This deals a severe blow to our plan. The plan was that the American and coalition air power was going to blunt the offensive, which they did. They pretty much have stopped ISIS from moving down those valleys and taking much more territory. But you have these small incidents like this.

And what was supposed to happen was now that you've got the air to support the Iraqis, the Iraqis were supposed to then now move and take back this territory. It does not appear that they are capable of doing that. So where are we in this? Are we just going to continue to pour more air into this?

COOPER: Right. And Dan, to your point, which you've made on the program in the past, at a certain point, if it continues down this road, I mean, we're only what? Three or four days into this bombing campaign? There is going to be that -- that next step of well, OK, so far just the bombing is not working. So what is the next step? And the Iraqi military is not up to it. So then is it U.S. forces on the ground? But that promise has been made that that's not going to occur. So do you see that step as inevitable?

O'SHEA: Well, again, I can only use Afghanistan as a model that -- with a small footprint of our special ops we were able to turn the tide very rapidly. But they had to be -- they had to be imbedded with capable units and that assessment team on the ground has been able to identify which battalion will take the fight to the enemy, where there's good leadership.

But, yes, we're approaching a critical mass. We have to -- we cannot constrict ourselves because as the -- you know, Murphy is always on the battlefield. Murphy always has an option in the play here. And all the best plans you make as we all know, they don't survive first contact.

COOPER: Right.

O'SHEA: You need to have, you know, multiple courses of action. And never limit yourself because you can't say we're going to do one thing only.

COOPER: Right.

O'SHEA: Because pretty soon the enemy will counter that, and that's what we're seeing right here in Iraq.

FRANCONA: And what he's describing is probably exactly what has to happen. Unfortunately, this is the very definition of mission creep.

COOPER: Right.

FRANCONA: Because we're going to put more American advisers to replicate the Iraqi command structure.

COOPER: All right, Col. Francona and Dan O'Shea, good to have you on.

As always you can find out more on ISIS and other stories on

Just ahead, a rare and frankly chilling look inside a Syrian city that is now under the control of ISIS. A woman who risked her life to capture these images and more of the images that we're going to show you. She was using a hidden camera. The riveting about what life is like under ISIS. We'll be right back.


COOPER: First word that airstrikes had begun in Syria came from a Twitter user in Raqqa, who said large explosions were shaking the ISIS stronghold. Raqqa is the terror group's self-declared capital which explains why it was one of the first targets in the ongoing offensive.

ISIS took control of the city in Syria months ago and imposed its brutal former of Islamic law. Tonight, we're getting a rare look inside Raqqa. A very brave woman who went undercover to show the world what life is really like under the control of ISIS.

CNN International's Jim Clancy has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: With a hidden camera, recording as she walked, the Syrian woman risked arrest or worse to document the scene inside Raqqa, Syria, the so-called capital of the Islamic caliphate. The video was taken in March of this year.

Walking through the heart of that north central Syrian city completely under the control of ISIS she showed how the city had changed. The ISIS flags, the spray-painted slogans, and even incidents where people were forced into public prayer. She went out of her way to interact with ISIS militants, showing women in conservative dress, one carrying an AK-47, and even her own experience being stopped.

What some might find astonishing is the enthusiasm some women have for life under ISIS. Her visit to an internet center revealed how women speaking fluent French interacted with concerned family members in their home countries.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I don't want to come back because I feel good here. It's not a question of coming back or not. If I want, I can come back. I just don't want to come back because I feel good here.

CLANCY: Clearly, this family member was not convinced and was pleading for this young woman to come home from Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Stop it, it doesn't help me if you're scared or if you cry. Do you hear me? I'm telling you, there is not a point to you crying or being scared. What you see on TV is wrong. Do you understand? They are exaggerating everything on TV. They amplify everything, everything, everything.

CLANCY: That was in March. Fully six months ago. Today, the situation has changed. In the wake of U.S. airstrikes on Raqqa, activists told CNN many ISIS leaders had fled the city. Many civilians, including women and children, were also moving out. Others were keeping a low profile.


CLANCY: Many are in fear civilians will be caught in these intense airstrikes. Some ISIS fighters we were told had moved into civilian areas effectively making the local population human shields in what is expected to be a long fight for survival. Jim Clancy, CNN.

COOPER: Joining me now is Bobby Ghosh, CNN global affairs analyst and managing editor of "Quartz," and also Kimberly Dozier, CNN global affairs analyst and "Daily Beast" contributor.

Bobby, there was no doubt the woman who took the video could have very easily been killed. She was risking her life to take that.

BOBBY GHOSH, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, absolutely, even yesterday we heard about a woman, an NGO worker from Iraq who was essentially executed in another Iraqi city, Mosul that ISIS also holds. So they have no problem executing women. Women have been jailed, tortured, raped. So this woman was taking enormous risk.

COOPER: I mean, Kimberly, it is similar to me when the Taliban took over in Afghanistan, the laws they put in place, not having music. Women having completely to cover themselves, in that video she is told by a guy in a car that she is not covered enough. That her veil is a little bit transparent, she says.

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: And yet you have to remember that this is the same kind of regime that exists in some countries like Saudi Arabia where you can be bothered if your veil is not in the right place. And also, the people being filmed are probably mostly Sunni Muslims.

They were not doing well under the mostly Assad regime. So for some members of that population this is the first time their people from their religion have been in charge. The other thing that occurred to me watching that internet cafe video is I've been under Syria, under Assad, in Baghdad, when it was under Saddam.

People know that everyone around them is probably listening so they also know how to say the right thing to protect themselves and protect their families.

COOPER: I mean, probably listening to the women in the internet cafe you say it is almost like listening to a person in a cult?

GHOSH: Yes, exactly, it is like listening to a person in a cult. You have seen this before, there is a sort of dispassion, this woman is saying to her parents don't cry, this doesn't help me, you're being afraid for me doesn't help me.

There is an almost monotone, there is no empathy. There doesn't seem to be any love or sympathy on her part. It's very, very cult like and Kimberly is right. Perhaps she is conscious of the people around. And that is what is quite unusual, you have been in these situations where yes, women in Saudi Arabia are out in the streets will be fully covered.

When they go in a place like that where everyone around them is a woman they take off the veil. When they are surrounded by women they don't feel like they have to sort of cover themselves up so much. The fact that they were still covered even in that all-women environment speaks to the level of fear they have.

COOPER: And Kimberly, this was taken six months ago where ISIS has only been able to kind of tighten their control since then?

DOZIER: Absolutely, I think one of the things, it gives us a view into is the world that they're establishing so the outside world can see. I mean, ISIS wants this to be the way everyone lives.

There are conservative Christian, conservative Jewish communities without the violence they have. But this is a new paradigm that gives no one any choice. And what this brave woman has done is given us all a choice, do you want to live like this? COOPER: And Bobby, just briefly before I let you go, does it make any sense to you that the Iraqi prime minister is here in New York all week long, while 25 miles from Baghdad you know, some -- as many as 300 of his troops have been surrounded and killed and his generals completely abandoned those troops?

Shouldn't he be rolling up his sleeves in Baghdad on the front lines or rallying people? I mean, I don't get -- isn't there a lack of a sense of urgency here?

GHOSH: Especially when there is no defense minister, there is nobody who is his proxy, who is taking on that role, it is astonishing that he is still here in New York. If he wanted to come and speak with the president. That happened yesterday.

COOPER: And they have telephones or internet connections.

GHOSH: You can do a telepresence these days from Baghdad. The thing is, it is a reminder that he is cut from the same cloth as Nuri Al- Maliki. He comes from the same party, the ethnic and religious background. He was like Maliki, an obscure figure with no real political mandate of his own. You know, this is not an inspirational leader for Iraq. This is a compromised candidate.

COOPER: This is the guy upon whom everything rests.

GHOSH: Yes, we're kind of hoping that he will be larger than the sum of his parts. It is a big gamble.

COOPER: All right, Bobby Ghosh, thank you. Kimberly Dozier as well.

Coming up, how the United States' complex relations with Saudi Arabia was key to building a coalition for airstrikes against ISIS, and the roots of ISIS ideology, and are they reflected in Saudi Arabia itself. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Tonight, a closer look at how the United States was able to build a coalition of Arab states to join the fight against ISIS and the pivotal and complex role that Saudi Arabia has played.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, the partner nations obviously include Bahrain, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. And in an article for the "Wall Street Journal," Adam (inaudible) describes how U.S. talks with Saudi Arabia were actually the linchpin in building the coalition.

We are going to hear from him in a moment, but first here is what President Obama said after the first airstrikes thanking the coalition nations.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are joined in this action by our friends and partners, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, and Qatar. America is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these nations on behalf of our common security. The strength of this coalition makes it clear to the world that this is not America's fight alone.


COOPER: Adam Entous of the "Wall Street Journal" and David Kickpatrick of "The New York Times" each wrote pieces about Saudi Arabia's relationship to the United States and with ISIS ideology. I spoke to them earlier.


COOPER: Adam, your reporting on how Saudi participation came together, it's really fascinating particularly, the strategy that Saudi Arabia and the UAE used to make sure that the U.S. stuck to its word. Can you explain what the strategy was and how it played out?

ADAM ENTOUS, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Yes, we have to understand that the Saudis and the UAE watched the U.S. come to the brink of launching strikes exactly a year ago after the August chemical attack --

COOPER: Against Syria?

ENTOUS: Correct. And they really felt burned by that, as did some European allies, particularly the French. So they decided going into this move by the U.S. towards doing strikes, expanding to take on ISIS in Syria, they decided to basically give the Americans whatever they asked for.

The idea of doing so was that you know, the opponents of expanding the strikes into Syria wouldn't have the -- wouldn't have that ammunition to use in the internal debate to try to slow the process down on the American side.

COOPER: David, for all of Saudi Arabia's talk about how they wanted to destroy ISIS, they don't really acknowledge the fact that ISIS' belief system basically stems from a movement that has its roots in Saudi Arabia.

DAVID KIRKPATRICK, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": No, they certainly don't. And more than a movement that has its roots in Saudi Arabia, it is Saudi Arabia's official religion. And we've seen a concerted effort by the Saudi authorities to try to pin the blame elsewhere on the ideology, with a group of early heretics.

Nobody really believes that in the world of scholars who study political Islam. And certainly least of all the theologians of the Islamic state themselves. They're very clear they draw their reasoning and their inspiration from the works from the original thinker of the Saudi Arabian flavor of Islamic orthodoxy.

COOPER: And it is not something they just practice at home. It is something they have been trying to support around the world, they are supporting Madrassas for a very long time teaching much of the same ideology that ISIS subscribes to. You even write that ISIS in schools it controls they use images of religious textbooks from Saudi Arabia.

KIRKPATRICK: Yes, that's right. What I mean there is that they're passing out photographs online that show them using Saudi textbooks in their schools. They have a kind of missionary kind of band that roams some of the streets with those writings.

They're absolutely frank they're getting their inspiration from this area. A lot of people including Saudi Arabia have an interest in pinning the ideological blame elsewhere. I try to associate them with al Qaeda and with the Muslim Brotherhood, and lots of other factions.

COOPER: Adam, you say that officials on both sides see this U.S.- Saudi partnership as a way to rebuild the trust between the two countries. Is that happening in the way this whole thing is played out?

ENTOUS: You need to consider that Saudi Arabia has not done something like this really since the first gulf war. This is a big deal for them to put aircraft over another country's air space and actually drop ordinance, which they're doing in this case. So this is a big deal.

The relationship with Obama between the Saudis and Obama really deteriorated after the fall of Mubarak, and the relationship really continued to deteriorate after the speaking of the moderate opposition.

And in the eyes of the Saudi, never delivered. So I would say this is a tentative patching up that is taking place and certainly both sides see it that way.

COOPER: David, I mean, is there any sign that Saudi Arabia has reached some sort of a tipping point beyond their involvement in this coalition in terms of exporting these ideas around the world?

KIRKPATRICK: Well, it should be said that the Wahab is in practice in Saudi today, has been tamed. In Saudi Arabia, a major tenet is that you need to respect the earthly ruler. The Islamic State have abandoned this approach, a revolutionary approach.

So there is a really difference there, I think what we'll see is Saudi Arabia trying to export a version of Islam, which is Salafi, which is very conservative morally, but also very respectful of earthly rulers. They're a status quo power and they like the status quo religion.

COOPER: David Kirkpatrick, fascinating reporting. Adam Entous as well. Thank you so much.


COOPER: Saudi Arabia's restrictive laws against women driving cars certainly getting a lot of attention from the UAE. They have some draconian laws on the books, but is in many ways a lot more progressive. Take the case of the first female fighter pilot and she led its airstrike missions against ISIS this week.

Back in July, since Becky Anderson spoke with her, she said she signed up for the Air Force as soon as she possibly could.


MAJOR MARIAM AL MANSOURI, UAE'S FIRST FEMALE FIGHTER PILOT: Actually, after I finished my high school I put up my mind to be a fighter pilot. But at that time, the doors were not open for females to be pilots. So I had to wait almost ten years. And I feel that I have to be up to this responsibility and prove that I can be -- that I can be a great fighter pilot like any other male in this field.


COOPER: Well, just ahead tonight, breaking news in the UVA missing student case. New information about the suspect, Jesse Matthew in a 2002 investigation he was involved in.

Plus an apology from the police chief in Ferguson, Missouri, who is under fire for his department's handling of the Michael Brown shooting and the protests that sparked. What he told Brown's parents tonight.


COOPER: There is breaking news in the case of missing college student, Hannah Graham. The University of Virginia sophomore vanished back in September 13th. Tonight, we have new information about Jesse Matthew, the suspect who was arrested yesterday in Texas.

Today, he waved extradition and will return to Virginia as soon as tomorrow. We are now learning details about a 2002 investigation that also focused on him.

CNN's Jean Casarez joins me with the latest. So this was rape investigation in 2002. What are the details?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was. Well, Liberty University, which is in Lynchburg, Virginia, confirmed with us that Jesse Matthew was a student there from 2000 to 2002 so for three years.

They also say he was a football player, but they also say that there was a sexual assault investigation by the Lynchburg Police Department, but they will go no farther.

The Commonwealth attorney for Lynchburg in the county does confirm with us that Jesse Matthew was the one that was investigated for sexual assault October 2002.

They say that at the time Matthews said there was consent and the issue became that there was not enough evidence because they couldn't prove there was not consent. Also, the alleged victim did not want to go forward. There were never any charges -- Anderson.

COOPER: I know you have been speaking with authorities. What's the latest on this investigation?

CASAREZ: Well, law enforcement in Galveston, Texas and they will be bringing Jesse Matthew back here to Virginia. They continued to ask for help with the community, but it is very interesting because they want people who have large plots of land to look all over their land.

And now they increased that today by saying if you have cameras on your property and they specifically called wildlife cameras, to go through your footage. Look from September 13 to present all of your footage to see if you see anything at all.

They don't want people to touch anything or disturb it, but call them and they will come out and see if it is relevant to the investigation. I also said could Hannah be from here to Galveston?

I mean, how do they know she is right here in Virginia? They think that she is in Virginia, but they don't want to discount anything at this point because there is a 40-hour delay and it is a gap. We'll tell you about that.

COOPER: All right, Jean, thanks very much. A wildlife cameras are sometimes put up by hunters to mark an area that they are in to see what kind of wildlife is in that area. We'll see you in the next hour. We'll see Jean.

She is going to have more on the restaurant where police say Hannah Graham was seen with Jesse Matthew the night she vanished. She talks to the restaurant's owner who disputes that version of events.

There is a lot more happening tonight. Randi Kaye has a 360 Bulletin -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Eric Holder is stepping down after six years as attorney general. He announced his resignation today. Holder has agreed to remain on the job, though, until his successor is confirmed.

Ferguson, Missouri Police Chief Thomas Jackson apologized publicly to Michael Brown's parents nearly seven weeks after the teenager was shot dead by an officer.


CHIEF THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON POLICE: I want to say this to the Brown family, no one who has not experienced the loss of a child can understand what you're feeling. I am truly sorry for the loss of your son. I am also sorry that it took so long to remove Michael from the street.

The time that it took involved very important work on the part of investigators who were trying to collect evidence and gain a true picture of what happened that day. But it was just too long and I am truly sorry for that.


KAYE: Four hours, that is how long Brown's body lay in the street. Chief Jackson also apologized to those who feel he didn't do enough to protect their right to protest. CNN's Ana Cabrera sat down with Chief Jackson today and her interview is ahead in our 9:00 hour. And take a look, that woman crouching on that rooftop is waiting for police to respond to her 911 call. You see her there? Moments earlier the man behind her had kicked in her front door. And that is according to the police, Anderson.

They arrested the intruder. The woman was not hurt, Anderson, but they say she did everything right. She didn't get very far, but the key is to get out and that is what she did.

COOPER: Incredible. Randi, thanks very much. Our special live coverage continues in the hour ahead. We're live all through the next hour. We'll dig deeper on today's warning from Iraq's prime minister about an ISIS plot against the U.S. and Paris subways. Details on that ahead.