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FBI: Al Qaeda Group Could Attack; Alleged Plot to Attack New York Subway Revealed; Airstrikes Damage ISIS Oil Facilities; Syrian Rebel Groups Unite to Fight ISIS

Aired September 25, 2014 - 17:00   ET



Happening now, breaking news, terror warnings. The head of the FBI says an al Qaeda group targeted by U.S. air strikes may still be plotting an attack as word emerges of an ISIS plan to strike New York subways.

New air strikes. French fighter jets take out ISIS warehouses as the Pentagon reveals new details about the damage its inflicted on a major source of the terrorists' income.

Suspect arrested. The man wanted in the disappearance of a Virginia college student is in custody in Texas and facing extradition. Will he lead authorities to the missing young woman?

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KEILAR: We are following breaking news. Possible terror threats against the United States, including one by an al Qaeda group based in Syria. FBI director James Comey says despite air strikes, the United States has to assume the so-called Khorasan terrorists could attack at any time.

And just hours earlier, Iraq's new prime minister reportedly said his country's intelligence agency had uncovered an imminent ISIS plot against the New York and Paris subway systems.

We're covering all angles of this terror threat this hour with our reporters, our guests, and CNN's global resources; and we begin with CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown.

Pamela, what's the latest that you're hearing about this Khorasan group?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, tonight FBI director James Comey says Khorasan is still at the top of his list of priorities. He believes the group of hardened al Qaeda operatives is still intact and could still be actively plotting to attack the U.S. or Europe.


BROWN (voice-over): Despite a series of Syrian bomb attacks in western Syria this week, tonight the FBI director says he's, quote, not confident at all that the U.S. air strikes have taken out the Khorasan group, the al Qaeda offshoot sources say is planning an imminent attack on western targets.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: In one shape, way, form or another, the United States telegraphed the fact that they knew about this group and were preparing to come after them. So it's quite possible that some of these fighters and operatives managed to disperse before these cruise missiles took out their training camps.

BROWN: In a closed-door session today with reporters, FBI director James Comey said the FBI did not have enough intelligence to know specifics of the plot but believes Khorasan could, quote, "carry out the attack tomorrow, next week, or months from now."

According to U.S. intelligence officials, the group of al Qaeda operatives, including a former deputy of Osama bin Laden, had already acquired materials and was in the advanced stage of planning an attack against the U.S. or Europe.

Intelligent sources tell CNN at least one of the alleged plots involved recruiting westerners to smuggle bombs concealed in electronic devices or toothpaste tubes onto U.S.-bound flights.

And today for the first time, the FBI director also said U.S. officials have identified the ISIS member seen in the beheading videos of three journalists but won't reveal that name publicly.


BROWN: And intelligence officials say they may not publicly reveal the identity until the suspect is brought to justice. We don't know how exactly that's going to happen. But as one source told me tonight, it will either happen on the battlefield or in a U.S. or British courtroom -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And are you able to tell us how authorities can pinpoint the identity of this man in the video?

BROWN: Right. That's a good question, because you see he's wearing a mask. So what happened was officials had a group of initial suspects that they were looking at because of the accent we heard in the video. They were able to trace it to London. So through voice analysis and picking apart metadata in that video, and human sources also played a big role in helping them hone in on the person they believe it is.

KEILAR: Pam Brown, thank you so much for that report.

Let's get more now on the alleged plot to attack the subway systems in New York and Paris. CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is working this part of the story for us. And that's really the key, Jim. We say "alleged plot"... JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right.

KEILAR: ... because we're getting mixed signals here from Iraqi versus American officials.

ACOSTA: Absolutely, Brianna. This all got started earlier this morning when the new Iraq minister, Haider al-Abadi, told a small group of reporters gathered at the United Nations that Baghdad had information about an imminent threat, a terror plot that was going to be hatched by ISIS militants in the United States or in France on their subway systems.

And according to American administration officials over here at the White House and up in New York, they have no information indicating that there's any sort of credible, specific threat at this point. According to one senior administration official over here at the White House, they still want to corroborate this with Baghdad, because they just don't have any confirmation of these details at this point.

And while they're not commenting publicly or on camera about this, the mayor of New York did come out in front of the cameras, and just about an hour ago to reassure New Yorkers that their subway system is safe. Here's what he had to say.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY: And I have a simple message for all New Yorkers. There is no immediate, credible threat to our subway system. I say that with confidence. People should go about their business as they normally would.


ACOSTA: One thing we should also point out is that, according to administration officials, Haider al-Abadi and President Obama did not talk about during their bilateral meeting yesterday in New York. And the new Iraqi prime minister also did not discuss this with Secretary of State John Kerry. That's according to administration officials who work for both of those two men.

And we should also point out, Brianna, that administration officials have been saying for weeks now that they don't believe that ISIS has the capability at this point to carry out terror attacks on U.S. soil. They're much more worried about groups like Khorasan, which Pamela Brown was just talking about a few moments ago.

BLITZER: Yes. It's all very confusing, and we'll be trying to figure out, really, the details here during this hour. Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you so much.

We're also learning more about the latest air strikes on ISIS targets in Syria and the damage done to oil facilities that help provide the terrorists with millions of dollars a day in revenue.

CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns is at the Pentagon joining us with this story. What are you picking up there, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, the campaign to degrade and destroy ISIS continued today mainly in Iraq, with the French government getting into the act. The United States flying several missions around Baghdad, in fact, with the Pentagon making it clear that, as far as they're concerned, more air strikes against ISIS in Syria are to be expected.


JOHNS: (AUDIO GAP) ... houses in Iraq a day after a French citizen was executed in Algeria by a group loyal to ISIS.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Munitions, 41 total.

JOHNS: At the Pentagon, a battle damage assessment from the latest strikes in Syria. About a dozen targets, using 16 fighter aircraft: 10 from Saudi Arabia and the UAE; six from the United States, hitting oil refineries controlled by ISIS, destroying part but not all of the targets.

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: It wasn't about obliterating the refineries off the face of the map, it's about degrading their ability to use these refineries.

JOHNS: Targeting office spaces at the refineries, communications equipment but leaving some areas intact so that future owners won't have to start from scratch.

These images reveal how one refinery looked before the bombing and the aftermath. Substantial damage for sure, but far short of demolition.

KIRBY: We want to keep some infrastructure available in the hope that refineries can be used again one day by, you know, the moderate opposition.

JOHNS (on camera): But that's actually where the real money comes from. The crude oil, the infrastructure, that's where the ISIS money comes from. So if you're really going to take out ISIS's financial capability. Don't you sort of have to...

KIRBY: We're not going to be using these refineries for some time.

JOHNS: One admitted problem for the U.S. and the allies is the lack of human reconnaissance in remote areas.

KIRBY: We don't have anybody on the ground going to these sites.

JOHNS: Making it hard to know the effectiveness of the strikes and the human toll. A monitoring group said at least 14 militants had been killed but also five civilians.

KIRBY: It's going to take a little while to work our way through that in terms of civilian casualties or potential collateral damage. (END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: So how much is all of this costing the taxpayers? That number is hard to pin down. The Pentagon says the best estimate for military operations in Syria and Iraq is right around 7 to $10 million a day -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Joe Johns for us at the Pentagon, thank you.

And let's talk about all of this -- so much news today -- with State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf.

Marie, thanks for being with us, joining us there in New York.


KEILAR: Let's talk first about this alleged plot against New York and Paris' subway systems. This is something that Iraq's new prime minister has put out there as a credibility. Is this a credible threat?

HARF: Well, Brianna, as Jim Acosta said a few moments ago, we cannot confirm this report at this time that I know the Iraqis have been discussing. We just don't have evidence to support it. We obviously take any threat seriously and will be working with our Iraqi counterparts to try and corroborate it on our end. But at this point, as Jim said, we cannot confirm it at this time.

BROWN: And we are hearing from, as well, the prime minister telling reporters that the intelligence agency had uncovered this plot. You don't have the sense, then, definitely that he has the intel to back this up.

HARF: Well, we don't have anything to back it up on our side. Certainly, our intelligence community is very focused at looking at any potential plots. We take these reports very seriously, but nothing to confirm it at this point. We'll keep looking at it. But I know our folks are very focused on this or any other reported and alleged plot.

KEILAR: If he has this intel, wouldn't you expect that he would share this with the president or with Secretary Kerry? They've all been at the U.N. together. It's not like he didn't have the opportunity, even, to discuss this in person.

HARF: Well, that's right. We have a number of contacts with the Iraqi government, including with the prime minister. We have a huge team here still in New York, even though the president has left New York, talking to the Iraqis about all of this.

So we have constant communication with him. And we will continue to do so as we work to confirm it. But you know, I'm up here in New York, and I would feel as safe taking the subway here today as I was yesterday. So we'll keep working on it but nothing to confirm it at this point. KEILAR: And that's certainly very telling, and you say that,

that you would feel very safe taking the subway.

When it comes to this alleged plot, coming of course -- this information from the Iraqi prime minister, the new Iraqi prime minister, has the president, has Secretary Kerry or who in the administration -- I'm assuming someone has checked in with him about this.

HARF: Well, I don't know who specifically has talked to the prime minister, but I know we have a very robust intelligence sharing liaison relationship with the Iraqis. We have a number of people who talk to them about the intelligence we see and potential threats.

So I am sure that many people who focus on counterterrorism and those kind of alleged plots are talking to the Iraqis, looking at their information to see if we can back it up with our own information. But again, we just want to be very clear with the American people and particularly New Yorkers about what information we can back up and what we can't. We'll keep looking into it.

KEILAR: And now the prime minister, Abadi, very significant. He has replaced Nouri al Maliki, who is not seen as really the man for the job in terms of unifying Iraq. He had really ostracized Sunnis.

And the task at hand for Prime Minister Abadi is to unify the country. This is seen from the perspective of your administration as -- as essential to the success of combatting ISIS in Iraq. I wonder the question has been, is he the man for the job?

And I ask in relation to this, because it appears that he's either wrong about what he said or that he does have some intel, and he hasn't communicated it to the U.S. government. So looking at that, Marie, how is he the right guy for this big, big job?

HARF: Well, let's not jump to any conclusions about the information that he may have from his own intelligence sources. We're working with them right now to try and run down these reports that he has mentioned.

But broadly speaking, I know the president and the secretary are impressed by the vision that he has displayed for a different kind of Iraq going forward; for a more inclusive Iraq that brings together Sunni, Shia, and Kurds to have a better future.

And so we've heard him say the right things. He's done many of the right things. He's put forward a plan to bring his country to fight back against this very terrible threat. So we'll keep working with him, but he's really on a good path here, Brianna, that you're right, we hadn't seen under Prime Minister Maliki.

KEILAR: So you think Secretary Kerry is very confident in Prime Minister Abadi and his vision that you just laid out?

HARF: Absolutely. We're going to judge him by his actions over the coming days and weeks and months, of course. But what we've seen so far in all of our conversation, and the

work he's been able to begin putting in place for the people of his country, he really has been doing the right thing. And he, believe me, recognizes the significant threat that ISIL poses to its people and the only way to push back on this threat in the long term is to bring people together, get them invested in their own security forces and get them working together to really push back on ISIL. I think he knows that's what needs to happen now.

KEILAR: All right, Marie. Stick around with us. We're going to be talking much more ahead about the air strikes in Syria, the effect that they are having and if they really are negatively affecting ISIS as well as other terrorists in the region. Stay with us.


KEILAR: We're following the breaking news, including French airstrikes on ISIS warehouses inside of Syria and the effect that the U.S. and allies' airstrikes are having.

Let's get more now with State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf. And Marie, one of the things that was really interesting to hear today was FBI director James Comey saying that really, he's not confident that air strikes inside of Syria have disrupted the Khorasan group, that group of al Qaeda veterans inside of Syria who are believed to be close to a plot against the U.S.

The question, then: is there some sort of imminent threat that still exists if Khorasan has not been disrupted?

HARF: Well, I think when you take direct military action against a group, it certainly has an impact. And you've heard the Pentagon, my colleague, John Kirby, say a few times over the past few days that these airstrikes we've taken in Iraq and now in Syria have had an impact. They've degraded ISIL's and the Khorasan group's capabilities. Every single day, we're going after these groups so they can't threaten America.

But I would say, as the president has made very clear, this is going to be a long campaign. This doesn't happen overnight. And in addition to the military strikes we're going to be taking, we need to use this as an opportunity to really get at the core causes of why people want to join the Khorasan group, why people want to join ISIL. That's going to have to be part of this, as well.

KEILAR: Kirby also said that it's hard to tell the impact, because there aren't really those boots, which obviously, guys there on the ground. So how can you be sure that there is an impact?

HARF: Well, I think just from a purely operational military perspective, when you drop that much ordinance on some of these targets, when you see it hit the intended target, you can see that it had an impact.

But what we do after these strikes is gather all the intelligence we can. It's true that we don't have boots on the ground to gather that information, but we have a variety of ways we can do that. We gather as much information we can about how they've impacted ISIL and these other group's capabilities.

And if you're talk about these oil refineries that we've struck just recently, that has been a major source of financing for ISIL. A majority of their funding actually comes from things like oil, things like kidnapping for ransom. And if we can really degrade that, we can go pretty far in terms of cutting off the ability of them to finance their terrorism.

KEILAR: Was the FBI director wrong, then, in saying he's not confident that Khorasan has been impacted here?

HARF: Well, I think he's right in the sense that this is a long- term effort. No one set of airstrikes is going to completely degrade any group's capabilities, certainly not a group like the Khorasan group that has such long ties to al Qaeda.

So this is a sustained campaign that we're going to be undertaking. No one set of strikes will completely get the job done. That's why we're going to keep doing it. You saw us act with five Arab partner countries in these strikes, and that will continue.

KEILAR: And speaking of those partners from those Arab nations, we're also seeing now at this point the Dutch foreign ministry is saying that they will be providing F-16 fighter jets and 250 troops to help carry out airstrikes.

Also right now, the Belgians and British are waiting whether to throw their support behind these air strikes, as well. Are you confident that you will get the help of the Belgians and specifically the British?

HARF: We are confident we will have all of the help we need to take on this threat. And each country will make decisions about how they contribute to that. There are many ways countries can do that. Not all of it's military. In fact, there are a number of other ways that other countries can contribute.

But we know we will have what we need to take on this threat. You've seen -- you know, it's extraordinary if you think about it. The five Sunni Arab countries have joined with the United States to attack a threat in another Arab country. That really is unprecedented and I think something that shows how everyone in the region and indeed around the world understand how serious and significant this threat is.

KEILAR: All right. Maria, thank you for being with us. And again pointing out, you said you personally would be very comfortable on the New York subway. You were there in New York as we talk about this threat that the Iraqi prime minister is talking about. Thanks so much for being with us.

HARF: Absolutely.

KEILAR: And next, we have a CNN exclusive: new details about the Syrian rebels getting together to fight ISIS.

And later, the strikes on ISIS have human rights activists pointing to what they see as a terrible abuse, practiced by a prominent U.S. ally.



KEILAR: We are following breaking news, today's airstrikes against ISIS targets. But we also have exclusive new details about a unity deal signed today by a dozen Syrian rebel groups. Two U.S. lawmakers helped arrange and sat in on this meeting.

CNN senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin is near the Turkish-Syrian border with more on this. Tell us about this, Drew. This came as a bit of a surprise.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: A bit of a surprise; incredible meeting. Twenty different commanders, basically, in one hotel, trying to organize this and show the U.S., I think, that there is a significant amount of moderate rebels ready to take to the ground in Syria and go after ISIS and Bashar al-Assad.

Included in that this time around is a contingent of Christian rebels. That, they believe, is a sign that they are, indeed, open to a much more inclusive Syria down the road and, hopefully, to immediately getting more support to the U.S.

The rebel leaders I talked to, very, very harsh against U.S. policy, which they are calling half measures, and they want arms now on the ground, Brianna. So I asked one of those rebel leaders, a spokesman for the -- one of the groups, just who are you guys and how can the U.S. trust who you are not to be getting these weapons into the hands of terrorists? Here's what he had to say.


KHALID AL SALEH, NATIONAL COALITION FOR SYRIA: There has been vetted, trusted attaches (ph) that has been receiving support for quite a few months. They have received some advanced weapons from the international community. They've shown how they use these advanced weapons. They were able to use advanced weapons against ISIS. They were able to use these advanced weapons against Assad. At the end, it's a question of why the limited support that these brigades are receiving, especially since they are vetted, they are trusted, we need to increase that flow.

GRIFFIN: And getting that flow 12 months from now could be much too late.

SALEH: Those brigades might not be here and then, I think, the international community is going to have a much larger crisis at their hands. It's a question -- you know, ISIS is not the Syrian problem anymore. It's a problem that threatens the whole region, threatens Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and we might see suicide bombers anywhere in the world. So we need to act, and we need to act quickly.


GRIFFIN: Brianna, very critical about these air strikes only targeting ISIS or terrorist organizations within Syria without Assad getting bombed. They say that nothing is going to help there.

And they also were very specifically critical about the fact that they have had absolutely no coordination, no information on where those airstrikes were going to be so that they could move in and take advantage of that in a strategic sense in their battle -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Very interesting point there, Drew. This is a fascinating, fascinating story. Thank you so much for bringing this to us from the border there.

I want to explore this further. I'm joined by two men who have extensive experience in Iraq. CNN military analyst and retired Army General Mark Hertling and retired Army Colonel Derek Harvey. He was a top adviser to General David Petraeus.

Colonel, to start with you first, you heard Drew there asking that representative of the rebels, how can we trust you? And that rep basically saying the U.S. already does in a way. These are tried and true rebels. Is that true? Is that your assessment?

COL. DEREK HARVEY, U.S. ARMY (RET.): I believe that we have good knowledge about a number of these organizations and I think it's reflected in the fact that these rebel groups have been in the fight, they have been fighting Assad, ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and others. They are tested, they're vetted, and I really do believe that we should reinforce and support them because they are the ground component in this fight in that part of Syria.

KEILAR: General Hertling, what do you think about the idea, and this is an argument that some have made, that these rebels could just turn around and use the weapons to fight Assad? They are banding together not just to fight ISIS but to fight Bashar al-Assad which is something the U.S. isn't doing.

So how tricky is it to give them arms? Or does this not really trouble the U.S. too much, they just don't want to be doing airstrikes against Assad?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, this is very tricky, Brianna. And I'm not sure I agree with Colonel Harvey on this one because my experience has been whenever there's an opportunity to potentially get arms, everybody becomes America's friends and everybody starts fighting the forces that we fight.

The whole issue here is what caused such dissension among the National Security team of the president when we were looking at getting involved potentially in a Syrian civil war. That is not what we are doing in -- in northern Syria right now. We are fighting a potential terrorist threat that's trying to build a state. We do not necessarily want to get between the Free Syrian Army

and Bashar al-Assad. That's where things started taking a different turn. While we certainly want these groups to help us fight ISIS and we wouldn't mind them overturning Bashar al-Assad, I think their attention is going to be on one versus the other.

KEILAR: Yes. And Colonel Harvey, I wonder, today I spoke to Brigadier General Mark Kimmit, and he said that you kind of have to pick the lesser of the two evils here. He said that he thinks that perhaps the best outcome for Syria would actually be keeping Assad in a reduced power position, essentially he would be the mayor of Damascus, and then there would be sort of protected areas around that in Syria. Do you think this is the end game?

HARVEY: Well, I don't think we understand what the end game is at this point. Clearly there's going to be a devolution of power and the Syria that we have seen is not going to exist in the future. So what is the political outcome going to be and how is power going to be shared ultimately has to be addressed and until we get better clarification on the power base and the fighting between these groups, which will take some time, we're not going to see a political end game here that's going to be clear to us.

KEILAR: And this was what we were talking about, General, earlier with Kimmit, was what does Syria end up looking like? Does it look like Libya where Gadhafi was gone and then there's a big power vacuum, or does it look more like Iraq post the first Gulf War?

Do you think --

HERTLING: Yes, that's -- yes, that's the -- that's the critical question, Brianna. It is the potential power vacuum, where it's a very good thing to say from the Free Syrian Army, we want to replace Bashar al-Assad. There's another thing to say, OK, well, what are we replacing him with, and what group is moving forward? This is always the danger when you start talking about regime change, especially in a society that has been held together at times, even though it's a horrible society, been held together by a brutal dictator.

And that's what we're talking about right now. I don't think we want to open up another element of chaos in this area right now.

KEILAR: And unpredictability, what happens, that's really the question. Does it get better, does it get worse?

Colonel Harvey, when you assess really I guess the strategy here, this mix of armed Syrian rebels and airstrikes, will this keep ISIS at bay?

HARVEY: Well, I think what we need to keep in mind here with the strategy in keeping ISIS at bay is none of the strikes in the operations to date have been decisive. They're in the first stages of a long campaign and there are multiple lines of operations going after finances, foreign fighter recruitment and delegitimizing the Islamic State. So this is going to take a long time. And the fact that there's

no ground component is an important element. We don't have a ground partner, we don't have political partner in Syria and there are key pieces in the diplomatic coalition building that are missing. Most importantly, we do not have Turkey solidly on side with the coalition yet and they are critical to getting after the Islamic State.

KEILAR: All right. Colonel Harvey, thank you so much. General Hertling, great expertise. Really appreciate you guys being with us.

HERTLING: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: And coming up, as the world recoils from the atrocities of ISIS. New focus on what happens in some of the countries that are fighting alongside the U.S.?

Plus, a major development in the disappearance of the Virginia college student. A suspect now in custody and we are learning new details.


KEILAR: A war against ISIS prompted in part by the horrific beheadings of two American journalists. But a key ally in the U.S.- led coalition has a disturbing history of beheading its own citizens. Dozens of them this year alone.

CNN's Brian Todd is working this story for us.

What are you finding out, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, the government of Saudi Arabia has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Americans and is helping lead the charge against ISIS. But in the span of just a couple of weeks last month, the Saudis beheaded at least eight people, all in the name of law and order.

We have to warn you some viewers might find some images in this story disturbing.


TODD (voice-over): It's a military campaign triggered by outrage over the brutal practices of ISIS, outrage fueled in large measure by the videotaped beheadings of Westerners in ISIS captivity. Striking back at ISIS for that, a powerful coalition, including five Arab nations.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are joined in this action by our friends and partners, Saudi Arabia --

TODD: What gets less attention, human rights group say the Saudi government routinely beheads people, even for nonlethal crimes.

SEVAG KECHICHIAN, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: The numbers now from the beginning of the year up until the current, so up to the month of September, is basically stands at 59 people executed, almost all of them by beheading.

TODD: These scenes from videos posted on the Web site Live Leak. Amnesty International and the U.N. say some crimes people are beheaded for in Saudi Arabia include adultery, apostasy, witchcraft, drug- related charges.

KECHICHIAN: Four members of the same family, four brothers who were beheaded or executed in Saudi Arabia because they were charged and found guilty of possession of drug, although they were not found guilty of drug trafficking.

TODD: The sources of its information, according to Amnesty, accounts from suspects and others on the ground who've in some cases provided documents. Amnesty says it's also gathered photos, like this one, and medical reports. This photo is from an Egyptian newspaper Al Aram. Analysts say the Saudis have a court system based on Islamic law, defense attorneys for those who can afford them, and an appeals process for those convicted. Appeals they say which usually don't go far.

But one analyst points out, with America's own record of executions, the Saudis may not be receptive to American moral indignation over their beheadings.

THOMAS LIPPMAN, MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE: They know perfectly well that we execute people. We have different forms of execution but we occasionally botch in what amounts to torture of prisoners.

TODD: A State Department official tells CNN it's made clear the concerns about human rights conditions in Saudi Arabia. Analysts say in this military campaign, the U.S. has to make a concession.

SETH JONES, RAND CORPORATION: It needs the support of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf and Muslim states so it's not seen as a crusade or a propaganda coming out of the Islamic State, Jabhat al- Nusra, and other jihadist groups.


TODD: We tried repeatedly in calls and e-mails to get response from Saudi officials at their embassy in Washington and their -- with their outside representatives to these accusations from human rights of groups of inhumane practices with beheadings and the overall treatment of people accused of crimes. The Saudis did not respond -- Brianna.

KEILAR: An element to this, right, is that the Saudis are facing some pretty serious accusations about how they're getting convictions in these cases?

TODD: Absolutely. The U.N. and Amnesty International say people accused of crimes are often tortured, otherwise coerced into giving false confessions for these alleged crimes. And again, we tried to get a response from the Saudi government to those accusations. We did not get any response.

KEILAR: Brian, thank you so much for your report.

And next, a scary turn in the search for a missing University of Virginia student.

And at the top of the hour, what New York Police are doing to keep the subways safe after today's surprise new warning about possible terrorist threats.


KEILAR: We have much more ahead on the breaking news out of Syria and Iraq. But there are important new developments and also a scary turn in the search for a University of Virginia student, Hannah Graham, who vanished almost two weeks ago.

CNN's Erin McPike is in Charlottesville with the latest.

There was -- we learned some new information this afternoon, Erin. Tell us about it.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, the suspect in this case, Jesse Matthew, was found in Texas. Then he could be coming back here to Virginia as early as tonight, latest by Saturday. And he'll be charged with abduction and the intent to defile. If convicted he could face a life in prison.


MCPIKE (voice-over): Finally captured after an exhaustive manhunt, Jesse Matthew, the man arrested in the suspected abduction of 18-year-old University of Virginia Hannah Graham, isn't fighting his extradition back to Virginia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you are, in fact, agreeing to later charges.

MCPIKE: But although Matthew is behind bars, police in Charlottesville, Virginia, say the whereabouts of Hannah Graham are still a mystery.

CHIEF TIMOTHY LONGO, CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE CHIEF: This bright, really intelligent and athletic, friendly, beautiful 18-year-old college student who has been part of our community for the last two years is still missing. We have no idea whatsoever where she is.

MCPIKE: 1500 tips led law enforcement 1300 miles away from the site of Hannah's disappearance to a beach in Galveston County, where Matthew was found camping in a tent. He's being held without bail as three Charlottesville police officers are in Texas to escort him home.

Hannah Graham, missing for 13 days. Matthew was seen following her in surveillance videos from Charlottesville's Pedestrian Mall. Police searched his apartment and car, seizing items for forensic testing. Authorities say he walked into the police station over the weekend, asked for an attorney and left. That changed two days ago when police said they finally had probable cause to charge him with abduction and the intent to defile.

LONGO: The evidence that was obtained from the house and the car, that evidence was sent to the lab for processing. I'm not at liberty to disclose the type of evidence or the results of that process. Those two issues will be very relevant at his trial. To discuss them in too much detail at this point may risk being prejudicial.

MCPIKE: Matthew's father said he spoke to him this week and urged him to go back to police but insisted he isn't responsible.

JESSE MATTHEW SR., FATHER OF MAN IN POLICE CUSTODY: The only thing I can see him -- maybe trying to give the girl a ride home or help her out to kill or hurt somebody. That's not my son.


MCPIKE: Now the police chief said today that he still has hope that Hannah is alive. Of course, that hope diminishes some with each day but he is urging residents in this area to search and research their property for anything she might have been wearing, even strange tire tracks, any clues that could lead them to where she is because, Brianna, they still have no idea.

KEILAR: All right. Erin McPike for us in Charlottesville, Virginia. Thank you so much for that report.

With me now here in THE SITUATION ROOM, CNN law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes.

Tom, we're actually going to recreate Hannah's steps that evening. This is Charlottesville. The campus is right over here, of UVA. And she started that evening at her apartment right here, and then she went to a friend's apartment for dinner and drinks. She was seen at McGrady's Pub intoxicated at 12:46 a.m., and then she was caught on camera at the Shell gas station as well as here at Sal's Pizza, and then a little later she is seen on a camera at Tuel Jewelers.

I want to show the video of this. This is actually pretty interesting. You may have seen this. This is her walking with someone who authorities believe to be Jesse Matthew. And then after that, there is another man walking behind who later got in touch with police, even before this video came out.

But what sort of fascinating I think about all of this is that in the end, she ends up toward the end of her journey that evening. She is at 1:08 a.m. She is at the Tempo Bar. This is where she's seen with Matthew, who leaves in a car right here, and then it is 12 minutes later, right, where she is here and she sends a text saying that she is lost near this area.

What do you make of this? This is a 25-minute walk, but it's 12 minutes later when this text is sent.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, when you have her going past the Tuel Jewelers, and then you have the same time that she's at Temple Bar, so obviously she's right in this vicinity here and we have witnesses saying that she's gone into the bar. Into Temple Restaurant with Mathews.

And that there are about 15 minutes or so (INAUDIBLE) of time. He orders alcohol. We don't know what he did, if he drank or she drank. But he ordered some. And then they leave together. And --

KEILAR: He's seen leaving in a car.

FUENTES: And the witnesses apparently say that they leave in the car together, and she drives him.

Now here we have a short time later at 1:20 a.m. that she's sending a text saying she's here. But we don't know that she was in fact there.


FUENTES: Which is only a block or two from her residence so you would think you would not be lost if you're in your second year of school at UVA.


FUENTES: And you're a block from where you live.

KEILAR: Sure. And I mean this is --

FUENTES: You shouldn't be lost.

KEILAR: This is a four -- we timed this out. This is a four- minute walk, not even drive. But let's say, for instance, we know that she was intoxicated. I mean, is there a possibility that she could have been there? And it's a walk towards campus mind you. Is there a possibility that she could have been lost?

FUENTES: Yes, there's a possibility she could be lost. There's a possibility that he took her phone and texted, although he wouldn't know who to text, we would think theoretically unless they received one to say that she's lost at this location. It could be that he'll claim that he gave her a ride somewhere, and she said this is -- this is where I live, let me out, and then she got out but was disoriented and didn't know exactly that she was a block from her house.

So that's a possibility. And someone else came along and took her. I mean, we don't -- we don't know that. We don't know what forensic evidence the police found in his car and during the two searches of his apartment.

KEILAR: And this is what we are trying to figure out. And certainly some of the, I guess, fact points that police are dealing with as well.

Tom Fuentes, thank you so much for piecing this together with us.

We have breaking news next. A new round of airstrikes on ISIS targets inside of Syria. And we're getting new information on that.


KEILAR: Happening now. Breaking news in the war against terrorists. New warnings from officials about alleged plots to attack Americans. We have new information about a claim that subways here in the U.S. may be targeted.

And this hour, we're learning more about ISIS oil supplies that are under attack and the secret black market smuggling that's making the terror group so rich.