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THE SITUATION ROOM
White House Update on Ebola Response; ISIS Claims Beheading of Another Hostage; Search Expanding for Missing UVA Student
Aired October 3, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN GUEST HOST: I'm Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION ROOM. And we are monitoring this press conference at the White House about the federal response to the Ebola crisis. Let's continue to listen in.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISESASES: Why is there such an outbreak? If one goes to Liberia or Sierra Leone or Guinea, you will see the conditions that make it very, very clear that, coming into contact with bodily fluids, the most efficient way of transmission is, unfortunately, the very thing that holds families together. Someone gets sick, they take care of them, they touch them. If they're not aware of the fact that you can't come into personal contact without having the proper protective equipment.
Funerals are another way, as well as preparing the bodies and the customs, the long-range traditions that have gone with the funerals. So the mechanism of transmission, which we've all said, direct contact with bodily fluids, amply explains what is going on right now in the West African countries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're convinced no significant outbreak in the U.S. ...
FAUCI: The reason I say that, as I said -- let me just very briefly reiterate it. The reason there is an outbreak now is because the health-care infrastructure and system in those countries is inadequate and uncapable [SIC] of actually handling the kind of identification, isolation, rapid treatment, protection of the people who are come into contact, and contact tracing. That's something that we have very, very well-established here.
So we have a case now, and it is entirely conceivable there may be another case. But the reason that we feel confident is that our structure, our ability to do those things would preclude an outbreak.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me just take this gentleman's question here. It's a question of are we being notified? And this goes, I think, directly to what Dr. Fauci just said. We have a system, we have an infrastructure that is in place. We have a public health alert system, through which CDC has distributed information from -- and established a laboratory network for testing. So when there are potential symptomatic individuals who present
themselves in medical facilities, those precautions are immediately taken. Those tests are undertaken through a network of laboratories that CDC has validated and has provided a clear guidance to. So we have the structure in place, when we identify potential cases, to resolve those.
And if there are actually confirmed Ebola cases, as we have seen one of in Texas, we take the immediate steps, isolate them, provide the treatment, undertake the contact tracing, and our infrastructure works to make sure we are aware of those cases and take those steps.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So Secretary Burwell said we had a case at Howard but did not say we had another -- a potential case, I'm sorry. Did not say we had another potential case at Shady Grove Adventist. And the hospital has already put out a release. Are there only two -- are there more than those two in the Washington area?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've indicated and you've talked about the potential case at Howard. We'll see the resolution of that, as Secretary Burwell discussed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the potential case at Shady Grove Adventist?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those reports as they come in, they will be addressed. They will -- those tests will be undertaken. The public health infrastructure is reacting and is taking the steps necessary to isolate that individual.
I think perhaps Dr. Fauci will want to address this, or Secretary Burwell. But every hospital in this country has the capability to isolate a patient, take the measures -- put them in place to ensure that any suspected case is immediately isolated and the follow-up steps that have been mentioned are immediately taken...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lisa -- Lisa, so to what degree have you debated internally and are you ever going to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- when someone suggested today a travel ban for any passengers who may seek to come to the United States either directly or indirectly. General, if you could tell us, how do you think your deployed assets are, as far as catching up with what you intend to do. And do you think it's time at some point to have military medical people actually involved in the direct care, as opposed to setting up the infrastructure in which care will be taken out?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll take the travel ban question first. I know that that has been something, an issue that has been raised. I take note of Dr. Frieden's comments in this regard, which is to say that, in fact, right now we believe those types of steps actually impede the response. They impede and slow down the ability of the United States and other international partners to actually get expertise and capabilities and equipment into the affected areas. And as we've said and stressed from this podium and others, the most
important and effective thing we can do is to control the epidemic at its source. So what we want to be able to do is ensure we're getting the assistance, we're getting the expertise, and we're getting the providers into the affected region and not impeding that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before you go, many Americans might say, half a ban, not getting there, but exit -- are you considering that action?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, let me just respond to that. As I mentioned, as the measures are being taken to screen individuals who are departing from the affected countries, and we've spoken to that, CDC professionals actually have provided the assistance and the training and the advice to airport officials in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. And as a result of those measures and those screening steps that have been undertaken, many, many people, dozens of people have actually been stopped from traveling. So we see those issues -- those steps actually being effective.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. Sir, for us, the speed with which we're moving out is really focused on the Ebola treatment units to get them -- that will take us several weeks. We're working with the armed forces of Liberia. We're working with contractors, and we're working with a logistics chain of events to get the building materials there as fast as we can. But it will take us several weeks to do that.
We will get the -- we are also doing some of the ones in some fairly isolated areas that are hard to support and get the equipment out there. So those will take us the longest.
On the other one, right now, we are not anticipating that military personnel will be treating the people. And again, that will be a decision made in the future if that ever gets to that point. But the international community has said not right now. That's not what we need.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have folks capable of doing that, don't you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we do. We also -- right now, as you say, medical professionals, there are three labs that are operating out there that are done by military medical professionals right now. And that's doing a great job identifying who has the disease and who doesn't, which is focusing who they're able to treat the patients.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you considered a waiting period between issuing a visa and travel?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As Josh would say, I think we're going to move around a little bit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help me understand the stuff that you talked about in terms of preparedness here in this country, the conversations with hospitals, the coordination with the local authorities and all, seems very dissonant, I think, to people in the country who look at basically the first case or one of the first cases and see that the whole thing broke down. At every step of the way, there were breakdowns.
It broke down as the person back there was saying when he lied on the form. It broke down when the hospital turned him away. It broke down when the materials that were in his apartment haven't been thrown away. It broke down -- I mean, it feels like -- to Americans, like you guys are up here talking about, we have this great and perfect system that's going to be able to contain this virus because we've done all this preparation. And yet it doesn't look like it's working.
And what -- how does -- how should the regular, the average person have confidence that, whether it's the case in Howard or whether it's some case somewhere else in the country at the moment, that somebody isn't being turned away there, that somebody didn't get -- you know, their temperature got taken in Africa but didn't get caught, so they're on a plane as we speak? And what -- square the dissonance between your confidence and the fact that things don't seem to be working.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me respond to that announcement and see if my colleagues want to add. I think the American people should be confident for all the reasons that we have stated and the president has spoken to. And that is because the public health infrastructure we have here is so expert, is so extensive and is considerable.
And as Dr. Fauci has discussed and Dr. Shah has mentioned, the situation in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea could not be more opposite in terms of the public health infrastructure and the ability of officials there to immediately isolate an individual case.
What you're seeing in Texas is the isolation of that patient, the contact tracing that is being done meticulously by CDC and by local health professionals. The other thing I would say to your question is, it is true; we have a case in Texas. The Howard case that has been mentioned is a potential case.
And I would defer to the medical professionals at Howard to give the definitive view on that. But I think it's very important to remember. This outbreak began in March of this year. And since that time and since the screening measures that we've discussed from this podium began over the summer, there have been tens of thousands of individuals who have come to this country from the affected region. And we have now seen one case -- and as Dr. Fauci mentioned, it is entirely possible we will see another case.
However, I would point you and others to the fact that we have now seen tens of thousands of people in the time since March to the current -- to the current day, and we now have this isolated case in Texas.
But we have a public health infrastructure and medical professionals throughout this country who are capable of dealing with cases if they present themselves and, as Dr. Frieden has said, we're very confident that we can stop this and other cases in its tracks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you explain within that public health infrastructure what the lines of authority are. Once you have a confirmed case, for example, in Dallas, does the CDC, does the NIH, is there a federal authority? Is it up to the local health department? Who's in charge at that point?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With regard to one of the things, when any test is done, it is reported to CDC. So we have a network and we want the test to be able to go quickly. So part of the preparedness that we did was we created capability all around the country for the tests to occur so that they could occur quickly. We want that to happen so that they're not all just coming to CDC.
However, when that test occurs, CDC is alerted to the test occurring and the results of the test.
With regard to who controls the patient, I think is the question, that is done at the local level. And we support in that. And ten people were on the ground from CDC immediately, I think you all know, in terms of supporting the local health departments in doing the contact tracing and any other issues that they have, whether they're issues of the testing, whether they're issues of the contact tracing, we stand ready to do that.
And so while the local health officials -- because this is a local issue and that's really a big part of how you're going to do the contact tracing. And they make the decisions on the ground. We are there hand in hand in support, had ten people on the ground and work hand in glove with them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the contact tracings, some people in Dallas are concerned about the contact group being isolated in a highly congested apartment. Is that a protocol that that could be repeated in other communities, that the contact tracing group, that they're isolated for some period of time, that's the best place to keep them, in an environment where it may be a high-density apartment?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That goes to the earlier question with regard to how local officials are handling their situation specifically. I think Dr. Fauci has gone over the protocol when you have not had a high risk of exposure.
What needs to happen is basic temperature taking two times a day on a regular basis. High-risk exposure creates different needs. How a local official -- how local officials choose to implement that, we work in conjunction, we have given the guidance out. In terms of what we do. But those are decisions made at the local level.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two other quick questions. One is...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I have to do the Josh, move around thing. When Dr. Fauci comes back up, he'll do that. He'll take those questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is nobody concerned that there were these breakdowns in Dallas and are you really confident there's not going to be similar breakdowns elsewhere along the same lines?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I spoke to the fact that we continue to work on our education and continue to work with locals and put out more and more information, we put out more information and updated information, when there is anything that we see that we can do a better job on communicating, we will do that.
And so this is, as I think the general mentioned, too, we are -- we are going to learn every time and every step. But I think what we're confident about is these processes work. If you look at what's happened in Nigeria, in terms of the cases in Nigeria, what happened is we quickly activated and CDC was a part of supporting the country of Nigeria, both at the state and federal level to put in place the things that it needed to put in place. We know it's about detect, isolation, treat the patient, do the contact tracing. Those are the steps.
And now we see where we are in Nigeria in terms of the cases and them having moved through. And I think Dr. Fauci mentioned this.
And so we believe that, as we take these steps, these key, core, fundamental steps -- and we are in the middle of that in Dallas in terms of the contact tracing and making sure that the people that should be, you know, taking the temperatures are doing that. And so that's how and why we believe that this is going to work.
Let me go to Dr. Fauci in the back there.
FAUCI: OK. I'll answer the vaccine question in a second. But I just want to make the point that you were making. There were things that did not go the way they should have in Dallas, but there are a lot of things that went right and are doing right. If you look at it, the person is now in isolation, being properly taken care of. And the fundamental, core basis of preventing an outbreak, contact tracing, is now going on. And that's the important thing. And that's going on very efficiently.
The CDC sets down very clear guideline protocols about how to do that. And that's being done. Although certainly it was rocky, to the perception of people in reality. But the fact is the reason I said there wouldn't be an outbreak is because what's going on right now. Even though there were missteps there, there were good things that happened also.
With regard to the vaccine, I don't know who asked the question about the vaccine. Well, obviously, we would hope that vaccine could be a part of the response, even though public health infection control is still the core of getting this under control, vaccine historically is important.
So we have a vaccine, a couple of candidates. The one that's the most advanced is the one that we announced just a while ago, the first person in a phase one trial received a vaccine on September the 2nd at the NIH in Bethesda. That's the first phase of a multiphase trial to develop a vaccine. It's called phase one, because its primary endpoint is safety.
If we determine that it's safe and it looks good so far and also that it induces a response that you would predict would be protective, which we'll know probably by the end of November, the beginning of December, when you get through that phase, then the next phase is a phase two, which is many, many more people conducted in the environment where you could prove its efficacy. And that would be West Africa.
So the next phase sometime likely in the first quarter of 2015, we'll begin a trial to determine overall long-range safety and importantly whether it works or not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One last question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Fauci, for you if I could. I understand that the purpose of this briefing is to reassure the American public, and you've done that. But as a medical professional, as a doctor, what concerns you most about this outbreak and this particular disease, now that it's in the United States?
FAUCI: Now that it's in the United States, the concern is that I don't ever like to see people get sick and people suffer and die. But as a medical professional who has witnessed and experienced the whole 38 years since 1976, I never say I'm not concerned, because that's interpreted as taking something lightly. I take nothing lightly.
But I'm convinced by what we have all said today that the system that's in place with our health-care infrastructure would make it extraordinarily unlikely that we would have an outbreak. And the reason we know that is that if you look at the situations -- and Nigeria, as the secretary mentioned, is a classic example of that. The reason we're having this devastating, painful, very difficult situation in the West African countries is because they don't have the system to be able to contain it. If they had the system, we would not be seeing all of the suffering and dying in West Africa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just to follow up, if that's the case and if it's one case in the United States now as we know it is, why are we having news conferences like this and why are we all so afraid if there's no chance of an outbreak? What is it about this disease that frightens you and us?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we're having the press conference, because we need to get information out, because there is a lot of fear. And the reason there's a lot of fear is that there are many things when you have outbreaks. It's the unknown. It's the cataclysmic nature of it. Namely, it's acute. It kills in a high percentage, and it kills quickly. That in and of itself almost intuitively makes people frightened.
The other thing that makes people frightened, can this happen to me without my even knowing it, without my having any behavioral change at all? That's the kind of thing that we have to keep over and over again, emphasizing we respect your concern. We understand your concern.
But the evidence base tells us that that is not going to happen. And we have to say that a lot. We have to say it today, and I'll have to say it tonight on TV. And Tom Frieden will say it tomorrow on TV. And we'll try as best as we can to continue to get the message out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One follow-up. Who bears responsibility for what did happen, the breakdown that happened in Texas? Is it the hospital? Is it the CDC that didn't send out clear enough guidelines in the beginning? And you say you're taking steps to make sure it doesn't happen again. Are you sending out clearer guidelines to make sure communicative -- what specifically is being done?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think, it's with -- as with most things, it is about making sure -- and I think Dr. Fauci just, in his response to the question, we cannot over communicate about this issue. And we cannot over communicate in two ways. One, because of the question that was posed with regard to how people feel.
And then the second is this is an execution game. In terms of both what's happening on the ground, and that's why it's so important to have the United States military because there is no one that can help with execution. It is the same in the United States.
So the steps that we have to take are about making sure execution, execution, execution. And that gets to your question, which is that is why we need to communicate and communicate again and communicate with clarity. And if there was anything that people -- that's why there are 100 different documents that have been put up on the CDC website, because we put up the document, we get the call. If there's a question, and for some reason people don't feel it's clear or have an additional question, we get it up. We answer their question.
But we're trying to disseminate that information more broadly. And so what we want to do is, because this is about communication and execution, is continue to do that and do it as much and as quickly as we can. Thank you.
KEILAR: Top Obama administration health officials there addressing the risks of Ebola, this Ebola crisis now that there is a case in Texas, trying to reassure Americans and certainly saying that there is a possibility that there will be another case or other cases.
But the U.S. is equipped to deal with it. We are following two breaking stories at this hour. In addition to Ebola, the terrorist group ISIS just released a short video showing the apparent beheading of British hostage Alan Henning. At the end of the video, ISIS shows an American aid worker, Peter Kassig and threatens his life.
Here in the United States, you just heard members of the Obama administration there talking about Ebola.
And right now, a hazardous materials team is finally at the Dallas apartment where relatives of Ebola patient Thomas Duncan are quarantined.
An American journalist who contracted Ebola in Liberia is now being flown to Nebraska for treatment. And here in Washington, Howard University Hospital says it has admitted a patient with symptoms that could be linked to Ebola. We have complete coverage of both of these major stories from our correspondents and our guests. Let's break down what we just heard with CNN's senior medical
correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.
Elizabeth, you were listening to this. Was there anything new that you were hearing coming out of this press conference at the White House?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I didn't hear a lot that was new. But what I did hear was just the efforts to reassure the public that they are safe and that government officials are doing everything that they can.
So for example, one of the officials said that they are confident they can stop this in its tracks. But of course, people wonder, well, then how did this man get through the Liberia airport by just lying on his form? How does that happen? How did that hospital in Dallas -- how did that happen, that they sent the man home, even though he had a history of traveling to Liberia recently and also had a fever? How did they send him home? Why did it take so long, days and days to get those dirty, infected sheets and towels out of their apartment?
At the end of it, it was interesting, Brianna. Sylvia Burwell said this is all about execution, execution, execution. I think a lot of Americans are wanting to see perhaps a higher level of execution.
KEILAR: And we heard one of the questions there, Elizabeth, was, look, when you look at this Texas case, one of the reporters said people have questioned, because you have ten people, I think, now who are at high risk. And you have people who are related to or who know Thomas Duncan. And they are essentially quarantined together in a congested area in this apartment. And you have people going, is that really the right move here?
And I didn't really hear an answer to that. It sounded like they were saying, federal officials have given recommendations to local officials. But I didn't get the sense that they were saying whether they were truly being followed.
COHEN: Right. Brianna, I think what you're seeing is you're seeing the sausage get made. I mean, this is the first time that this has happened in the United States. So I must say, when I was talking to, you know, health officials about this in the past few months, nobody mentioned quarantining anyone. They said, look, if someone's a contact, as long as they're not sick, they're incapable of spreading the disease. Nobody mentioned quarantining anyone.
But it's still unclear to me why they felt the need to quarantine this family. They talked about them being uncooperative, but they weren't very specific. I'm wondering if maybe they were afraid this family was going to bolt, was going to just leave, and then they'd really be in trouble because they couldn't find them. But yes, I think you're right. I think there wasn't a really full and complete answer to that question.
KEILAR: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much. Let's go to the scene now. That's where CNN's Martin Savidge is. He is outside the apartment complex in Dallas where the Ebola-infected man stayed with his family. Give us the latest there, Martin?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, the clean-up by a hazmat team has been underway here for at least five hours now. And we are told that it's a combination of the Dallas County Fire Department, fire and rescue hazmat team, also working in
conjunction with a private contractor.
They've been doing a couple of things. First of all, they isolated the vehicle in the parking lot, completely sealed it up with plastic, presumably a vehicle that Thomas Duncan, the patient, may have had contact with. And then they're going inside that apartment, and they're cleaning and disinfecting and at the same time, removing the items that have been talked about.
People had mentioned at the press conference you just heard about the missteps. One of the perceived missteps here on top of the diagnosis being delayed was the fact, why did you leave four people inside of an apartment in a densely populated area with what may be contaminated sheets and towels? So they're trying to rectify that problem now.
As to those that were quarantined, they still are quarantined. Their health is still good. But it's believed they will be moved, according to officials here.
KEILAR: All right, Martin Savidge for us in Dallas, thank you so much.
I want to get details now on the task facing that hazmat crew, really crews at that Dallas apartment. Joining me by phone is Brad Smith. He is the vice president of CG Environmental Cleaning Guys. Brad, thanks for being with us. Explain what your cleaning team has been able to do. We heard Martin talk about sealing up a car, removing some of those contaminated items. What more can you tell us?
BRAD SMITH, VICE PRESIDENT, CG ENVIRONMENTAL - CLEANING GUYS (on the phone): Well, as far as sealing up the car, we made a decision to do that this morning when we came in so that we could work around it closely to keep from getting close to anything that was contaminated and not being fully encapsulated in a Level B suit, as well as just protect the car from where we're working.
SMITH: At that time since then, we've been able to enter the residence with some trained technicians, encapsulated in a Level B, PPE and remove some soiled items as well as starting to remove some of the bedding.
KEILAR: So you're starting to remove some of the bedding. What does that mean, Level B? That's what we see here, the yellow suits?
SMITH: Yes, ma'am. Fully encapsulated. The gray suits are actually Level B, the guys that are actually entering into the house. The yellow is a Level C. Those guys are outside the house just as support.
KEILAR: OK. So Level B, more elevated, secure suits they're wearing. How many crew members do you have in total working on this?
SMITH: Right now, on scene is 12. We have some more behind-the-scenes help and (INAUDIBLE) support as well.
KEILAR: You said at this point -- so you're removing some of the soiled linens, it sounds like. What is the challenge there, and does that take a considerable amount of time?
SMITH: Well, so far, we're -- this is phase one, stage one is complete. That was our first entrance into the residence. We worked inside for 40 minutes. We came out to give our guys a rest for approximately 30 minutes. It's been a little longer now. It was not a challenge to find these items, clean the items -- put the items in the proper containment to get them out and transported.
KEILAR: Brad, tell us about -- there were delays in this. Why were there so many? You were stopped from cleaning this infected apartment days ago. Who was stopping the crew from doing this?
SMITH: Well, as we know, this is the first time in Texas that we've had to deal with this. So therefore, the transportation of the waste has been the biggest issue. We are only here to clean the situation, to remove the items. We are not responsible for transporting the waste on D.O.T. highways.
KEILAR: Who does transport that, and how will it be transported?
SMITH: That will be separate entities. I'm not sure who's transporting it. We're not sure who was awarded the contract or the agreement to transport it. But we are not the company transporting it.
KEILAR: Have your crews had any contact with people in the apartment who are considered perhaps high risk?
SMITH: Yes, they have. They're in the apartment while we're working, so --
KEILAR: And what are they doing?
SMITH: They're just -- normal activities, watching TV, they're just there.
KEILAR: So you're removing any -- do they have any concerns about items that they may have discovered?
SMITH: Not that we know of, no, ma'am.
KEILAR: Are they exhibiting any symptoms that your guys can see?
SMITH: No. That's not our responsibility at all. We're not even concerned with that at all.
KEILAR: All right. And then when -- how long does the cleaning take? You said you've done 40 minutes inside. There was a rest for 30 minutes. And then your crew members have gone back inside. What is really the expected time that this takes?
SMITH: It should be two more stages, stage two, we'll get in and take care of the bulk items, the mattresses, things like that. We'll get those moved, transported down to -- downstairs where they can be transported. And then we'll go in for our final stage just to make sure everything's taken care of and go from there.
KEILAR: Will you be taking all of the mattresses in the apartment?
SMITH: I believe so.
KEILAR: OK. All right, Brad Smith, thank you so much.
He's the Vice President of CG Environmental Cleaning Guys, which is employing the crew that is physically taking these contaminated items out of that apartment in Texas where the confirmed Ebola patient was living and also where his relatives are still staying at this moment.
We have much more ahead on both of our major breaking stories here.
The terrorist group ISIS just released a short video showing the apparent beheading of British hostage Alan Henning. At the end of the video, ISIS shows an American aid worker Peter Kassig and threatens his life.
And we're also watching those Hazmat crews working at the Dallas apartment where the Ebola-infected man stayed with his family.
KEILAR: Our other top story. A gruesome video from ISIS which apparently shows the murder of British hostage Alan Henning and threatens -- a threat as well to kill American hostage Peter Kassig. We have details that are coming in still as we speak and our Brian Todd is here with the latest -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, a video released just a short time ago by ISIS shows the apparent beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning. In that same video, the terror group threatened the life of American aid worker, Peter Kassig. One British official -- just got this from the British Prime Minister David Cameron's office saying, quote "Both the brutal murder of Alan Henning by ISIL shows just how barbaric and repulsive these terrorists are."
Now a U.S. intelligence official tells CNN that U.S. intelligence is aware of the videotape and looking into this as it has with other ISIS videotaped executions. This U.S. official says there's no reason to believe this latest videotape is not authentic. The official had no comment on the threat to American Peter Kassig.
Now Alan Henning is a taxi driver from near Manchester, England. He was part of a team of volunteers that had traveled to Syria in December 2013 to deliver food and water to people affected by the Syrian civil war. He was abducted the day after Christmas by a masked gunman. That was according to other people in that same aid convoy.
And last week the British Foreign Office released an audio file of Alan Henning pleading for his life, his wife made a public plea for ISIS to spare his life as well. Her appeals were joined by voices of Muslim leaders around the world which made that sequence fairly extraordinary.
Now if the authenticity of this video is confirmed this is going to be the fourth Westerner to be beheaded on camera by ISIS. This summer, ISIS beheaded American journalist James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Gruesomely showing their killings in videos posted online. Then ISIS claimed its first British victim aid worker -- excuse me, David Haines.
According to the video that appeared online on September 13th, Henning appeared kneeling in that video with an ISIS militant standing by his side. And of course there are a lot of questions surrounding that militant that now appears to be on all four of these videos -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes. And Henning described as a big-hearted man.
KEILAR: We saw that in the stories of him that you've done.
TODD: That's right. That's right.
KEILAR: Terrible news.
Britain's Prime Minister now responding to the video calling ISIS barbaric.
Let's turn now to CNN's Karl Penhaul in London and CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank in New York.
Karl, tell us what you are learning.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, again, looking at this video, something that jumped to my attention was that this video appears to be much shorter than the previous hostage beheading videos. This video the Sunni -- the version that I've seen, that seems to run at only about a minute, a minute 10 seconds. There is a statement -- a short statement by Alan Henning, a very short statement by the man with the knife, the ISIS executioner, and no statement at all by American aid worker Peter Kassig.
Certainly, the justification or apparent justification by ISIS for this beheading is because Britain's parliament voted one week ago to join the U.S.-led coalition in striking ISIS positions. Of course Britain only striking ISIS inside Iraq at this time.
And that is the other thing perhaps that jumps to my attention. In the other videos, there was also some key matter to locate when the execution, when the beheading may have taken place. But in this, the ISIS executioner states or talked about the British vote one week ago but nothing since then. That effectively could put the time of Henning's death at any time between now and one week ago -- Brianna.
KEILAR: So, Paul, where -- those are the things that Karl has noticed. Certainly this is shorter. We have some time markers in this video from ISIS. ISIS has a reason when they do this, when it comes to the timing. Why
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, this comes after the British parliamentary vote, as Karl was saying. The British have now launched airstrikes. And so this is direct retaliation for those British airstrikes on ISIS positions in Iraq. They're sending a message to their supporters. It's going to be tit-for-tat. You kill our people, we'll kill your people back. They're also trying to spread a message of fear here -- Brianna.
KEILAR: And Karl, we learned as well about this other hostage, Peter Kassig, ISIS now threatening him. This has become formulaic in their videos. But we're very familiar with this man. This is a story where there's a lot of video that we have of him. Tell us more about him and this video that was taken in -- I think it was 2012.
PENHAUL: Absolutely, Brianna. That video was shot by a CNN colleague and by a CNN team in Tripoli, Lebanon back in 2012. That was when Peter Kassig was working as an emergency medical aid worker helping to save the lives and save the limbs of Syrian civilians who had been wounded as a result of the Syrian civil war who had been -- who had been ferried out from the country for treatment elsewhere.
At that time Peter Kassig was 24 so I guess now that would mean that he's around 26 years old. He's a former U.S. Army Ranger. He left the U.S. military because of medical reasons but we do know that in 2007 he was deployed to Iraq. We don't know exactly what his role was there. That is certainly a function that will not be lost on ISIS. They will know either through their online checks that Peter Kassig had been in U.S. military also possible like many U.S. service men that Kassig may have tattoos on his body denoting the units that he belonged to while he was in U.S. military.
I can't tell you right now what the circumstances of his abduction where or what location he was abducted. Those are certainly things we are looking at because like many other of these Western hostage cases the Kassig's case was also subject to media blackout -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes. And this is as well a man with a big heart. We have learned that he went back to the U.S., found that going to school didn't give him enough purpose and he wanted to go back and help people who were suffering as we know his story.
Paul Cruickshank, Karl Penhaul, thank you to both of you.
And we have much more coming up on this story ahead.
Also coming up, three weeks after she disappeared, the search for a missing University of Virginia student is now expanding and in quite dramatic fashion.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KEILAR: The search for a missing University of Virginia student is expanding. This weekend marks three weeks since Hannah Graham disappeared.
And CNN's Athena Jones is in Charlottesville with the latest.
This investigation has become a whole lot bigger -- Athena.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna. And today bad weather grounded the helicopters that are searching for Hannah Graham. But authorities say that this weekend they expect as many as 150 people to come out and help look for her, part of a now weeks-long search they're hoping may finally yield results.
JONES (voice-over): It's being called one of the greatest search efforts in Virginia history. But there's still no sign of Hannah Graham.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somewhere out there there's a little girl that needs to come home.
JONES: Search teams are refocusing the effort on a eight-mile radius around Charlottesville's Downtown Mall where Hannah Graham was last seen in the early morning hours of September 13th with Jesse Matthew, the suspect in her disappearance. And as hunting season begins, officials are hoping hunters can help search.
COL. STEVE SELLERS, ALBEMARLE COUNTY POLICE: We're asking hunters as they establish their deer stands, as they scout the property that they have permission to hunt on to be our extra eyes and ears. 167,000 eyes and ears would be most helpful to us in terms of finding Hannah Graham.
JONES: Questions are still swirling about whether Matthew could be connected to other cases. His DNA being compared to evidence in another murder case at the request of a lawyer for an already convicted killer seeking to be exonerated.
Law enforcement sources have said DNA evidence links Matthew to the murder of 20-year-old Morgan Harrington who went missing in Charlottesville in 2009. And the FBI has said the suspect in the Harrington case matched the DNA profile from a 2005 sexual assault in Fairfax, Virginia.
Matthew has not been charged in those cases. Authorities in cities across Virginia are still reviewing unsolved missing woman cases for possible connections to Matthew. No links have been found. Matthew's next court appearance is set for December.
JONES: Authorities say they have received more than 3500 tips in this investigation. And while they say they're not right now using that drone they brought out a couple of days ago simply because they need Federal Aviation Administration approval each time they use it, they do say that over the weekend, they expect to use aircraft with high- definition cameras to take photographs of the search area -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right. Athena Jones reporting from Charlottesville, thank you so much.
Let's get a clearer look now at the cases that could be connected with Jesse Matthew. Joining me here in THE SITUATION ROOM is CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, he's a former assistant director of the FBI. And we also have investigative journalist Coy Barefoot joining us from Charlottesville.
I want to point out, Tom, this is what we're talking about. These are -- all of these dots represent cases where women were either murdered or sexually assaulted and the cases were never solved.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right.
KEILAR: For instance, in Charlottesville, which is where Hannah Graham went missing, this is Morgan Harrington, 20 years old, disappeared October 2009. Her body was discovered and authorities now linked DNA evidence to Jesse Matthew.
You also have this case, this is a woman who survived but she was abducted and sexually assaulted in 2005. This was in Fairfax City, not far from Washington, D.C., and the DNA linked to that found on Morgan Harrington. And then you'll also see other ones, for instance, here in Lynchburg. Cassandra Morton, 23 years old, this was October 2009. Very close in time to when Morgan Harrington disappeared and her body was discovered as well.
These other cases, Newport News, Lynchburg, these were investigations of Matthew when he was in college. So you're looking at all of these dots. And what does this -- tell you, Tom?
FUENTES: Well, it tells you that the police want to be extremely diligent in reopening every investigation where there's a possible connection to Matthew, even if they don't know of it right now. So these other cases, with like Newport News where he went to school, this incident happened but he wasn't charged and as the police said in that case, it was kind of a he said/she said.
These other cases up and down -- this is Route 29. It runs from Fairfax all the way down this corridor here. And it's about a two- hour drive from Fairfax to Charlottesville. But it's a long Route 29 so they have -- in common that he was a taxi driver at certain times or he worked at a place along Route 29 where he currently was working at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville along Route 29.
So that's what they have in common, the proximity to him and where he was at that point in his life. And in the case of Morgan Harrington, from Charlottesville in 2009, to the woman in Fairfax, is that DNA linked these two cases. So the police at the time obtained DNA, but they didn't have anyone to compare it to. So they had this DNA, kept it on file that it was not the victim's DNA but someone else had DNA.
KEILAR: Yes. Now -- and now they have linked it to that --
FUENTES: And now they've linked it -- well, they've linked Morgan for sure.
FUENTES: Morgan Harrington to Matthew's.
FUENTES: So that's the connection now is how far they go in those investigations to -- where they get to a point the real Matthew be charged.
FUENTES: Particularly in the Morgan Harrington murder. Her body was found a year later, and it was clear that she was murdered.
FUENTES: That she was assaulted sexually.
KEILAR: Yes. And I want to bring Coy into this really quickly.
Coy, you're talking to authorities there in Charlottesville. How convinced are they that Matthew -- I mean, obviously these cases where there is a DNA link, those are certainly ones where I think there's a lot more confidence. But how confident are authorities that Matthew could be connected to all of these other missing women?
COY BAREFOOT, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: I am getting from -- you know, from my law enforcement sources that there is an absolute commitment that they will not rush to judgment. They are doing solid police work here. And that's slow and that's methodical and that's meticulous and its deliberate, and they want to make absolutely sure they have the right guy.
Just a quick correction. Morgan's remains, she went missing October 17th, 2009 here in Charlottesville and her remains were discovered on a farm about 10 miles south of Charlottesville three months later. Her shirt was not with the remains. Her shirt was found about two weeks after she had disappeared, and interestingly enough, the farm where she was found was the location where Mr. Matthew used to party in high school.
And I actually spent some time last night with some people who know him very, very well and they said that LJ is a camper. That he is, among all the friends that they have, that he is a guy who is very, very comfortable in the woods. He grew up here. And anybody who's spent time in Central Virginia knows that there are woods after woods, after mountains, after woods, and he knows these woods probably better than anybody.
If, and police believe he does, if he has anything to do with the disappearance and the abduction of Hannah Graham, she could be anywhere. But right now at this moment as I'm talking, she's out there and we're going to keep looking until we find her.
KEILAR: And important to note, of course, that Jesse, LJ as he's called, Matthew is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
That said, Tom, listening to what Coy has said there, these are all places, and we've learned of some of these connections about places where he lived, places where he went to school. The idea that this was an area where he would have partied in high school.
FUENTES : Right. He would be very familiar with the whole area. You see this mountain range here that parallels Route 29. That's Skyline drive on top of that, the Shenandoah National Park. So from Charlottesville to Front Royal, Virginia, the front of that is about 105 miles of mountains and forests where he also would probably be very familiar with.
FUENTES: But as Coy mentioned, the police are going to be very deliberative, very careful and cautious in doing it. But in a sense, there is a certain desire to expedite the investigation.
KEILAR: Yes. Sure.
FUENTES: Because if they bring charges in one of these other cases, it could give them additional leverage to put pressure on him, to say, I'll take you to where --
KEILAR: And that is --
FUENTES: Where Hannah Graham is, and then in exchange for not having the death penalty imposed.
KEILAR: And which is in play in Virginia.
Tom, thank you so much. Coy, thank you so much to you.
Coming up, our breaking news. Stepped-up efforts to prevent the spread of Ebola in the United States. We are waiting for a news conference from officials in Dallas where relatives of an Ebola patient are under quarantine.