Return to Transcripts main page


FBI Mounts Global Hunt For Man In ISIS Video; Border City About To Fall To ISIS; "7th Heaven" Dad Investigated for Child Molestation; Terror Plot Thwarted, 4 Men Arrested; Endangering Public Health Charges Against Dallas Ebola Patients Considered

Aired October 7, 2014 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, the FBI issuing an all-out alert for an English speaking terrorist seen in an ISIS video slaughtering Syrians. Is he American?

Plus tonight, new ISIS video, militants aspiring on a key town, on the border of Syria and Turkey, the city could fall to ISIS within hours. But sparking fears of a massacre tonight.

And he was a beloved TV dad, now actor, Steven Collins of "7th's Heaven" facing accusations of child molestation. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. And OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, the FBI in an all-out push to identify a masked terrorist seen in an ISIS video apparently carrying out a mass shooting. He speaks perfect English and the FBI wants the public's help to find him.

Find him before, they say, he will return to North America, possibly to execute an attack. This as a new ISIS video shows militants getting even closer to capturing a crucial border town.

We've been telling you about this town. It is called Kobani. Coalition war planes pounded ISIS targets with multiple airstrikes around Kobani through the day and the night.

They have been the most effective so far, but it is perhaps much too little too late. There are fears of massacre if ISIS takes the town where 12,000 people are trapped tonight.

We want to begin our coverage tonight now with our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, though, on the FBI's global manhunt. Pamela, this is a big step. We know he spoke English, but now this is much more specific and they are asking for public's help.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's really an extraordinary step here, Erin, by the FBI. It is turning to public for help now after weeks of trying to figure out the identity of this ISIS terrorist.

A law enforcement source tells me he could be an American and this reflects the concern in the intelligence community of not knowing Americans who are fighting or want to fight with ISIS.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are the brothers that captured them.

BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, the FBI is asking for the public's help identifying this Jihadi speaking fluent English in an ISIS propaganda video. For weeks the FBI has been using facial recognition and voice analysis trying to trace his accent and comparing what to find to other Americans the intelligence community has been watching.

FBI Director James Comey told "60 Minutes," there are about a dozen Americans currently fighting in Syria, but he is even more worried about the Americans not currently on his radar.

JAMES COMEY, DIRECTOR, FBI: I don't know what I don't know.

BROWN: The effort is part of a broader public appeal by the FBI to identify Americans seeking to join Jihadist groups fighting overseas. It comes on the heels of a 19-year-old Chicago man arrested on Saturday. CNN has learned that Mohammed Khan wasn't on the FBI's radar until very recently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without this digital footprint, I don't think this young man would have come on our radar screen at all.

BROWN: The FBI says Khan was in contact with someone online. He was allegedly trying to help him get into Syria to fight with ISIS. When police arrested Khan at Chicago O'Hare's International Airport, FBI agents were simultaneously searching his house where Khan's family members refused to talk to reporters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What should we know --

BROWN: Notebooks found inside Khan's home also indicated he paid $4,000 for a round trip ticket, flying from Chicago to Vienna, Austria and then into Istanbul, Turkey.

CULLY STIMSON, NATIONAL SECURITY EXPERT, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It tells me probably that he was trying to evade being caught by purchasing a round trip ticket versus a single one-way ticket by spending more than the el-cheapo ticket you could get and also by not going direct so that he is more likely than not, not raising a red flag for intelligence services.


BROWN: And Khan is expected to be back in court for a detention hearing on Thursday. We have reached out to his attorney once again today and have not heard back -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Pam, thank you very much. And as Pam said, pretty stunning development that they are asking for the public's help on this urgently.

Now the new ISIS video showing terror fighters on a hill top overlooking again that crucial town of Kobani. ISIS fighters in the video say they will capture the city despite airstrikes. Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT. And Jim, I guess, this comes down to the crucial question of the airstrikes because it seems they have been ineffective from stopping ISIS from gaining more ground.

But now U.S. officials are just saying, wait, that is not the whole point of the airstrikes? Is that really what they are saying?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I had a long conversation with a senior administration official today about this and they said in Syria the focus is ongoing after ISIS command and control, key infrastructure, the way it gets its money, selling oil, et cetera.

That cities like Kobani, as much as of a tragedy as they are to watch, are frankly not the focus right now and that goes for Kobani, but any number of cities that are either under ISIS control already or being threatened by ISIS.

That is in Syria. They say in Iraq, gaining back that territory from ISIS is a priority, but when you look at the map, Erin, you can see that that progress has not come very quickly either.

BURNETT: You see those numbers. I was -- you have 271 airstrikes in Iraq, 116 in Syria. That is a lot of airstrikes and a lot of money.

SCIUTTO: It's $62 million, that is just for the munitions and not including the airplanes or getting the people over there, et cetera. But let's look at a map and what those strikes have accomplished.

Here is Iraq before the campaign started 60 days ago. ISIS at that time controlled 13 cities. So here is Iraq 60 days later, ISIS now in control of 14 cities and towns, the one they've taken on is the town of Hitt, which is just to the west of Baghdad.

Ramadi, a key town between Baghdad and Fallujah that is now being contested between Iraqi and ISIS forces. Let's look at Syria, in Syria, you don't even really need, Erin, a before and after photo because in Syria, 15 days ago ISIS controlled ten cities.

Today it controls ten cities and now Kobani looking like it may fall to ISIS. That is a real problem over time. Now what administration officials will say is they can still accomplish their goal of degrading ISIS in Syria without gaining back these towns by in effect keeping ISIS on the run.

Making it have to hide and move in smaller groups, destroying some of its infrastructure, the weapons, et cetera. But in terms of measuring success in territorial terms, it is frankly hard to see.

BURNETT: It is very hard to see and hard to understand big picture how you could say you are gaining ground when the other side is actually gaining physical land and controlling towns and cities. Thank you, Jim Sciutto.

And joining me now is former House speaker, Republican, Newt Gingrich, along with former deputy White House press secretary for President Obama, Bill Burton.

Newt, let me start with you. You just heard Jim. ISIS is gaining ground despite 387 total U.S. airstrikes, but administration officials are saying, look, that is not the point. They are targeting things like supply trucks to prevent ISIS from gaining a safe haven.

Is this a solid defense of airstrikes that have cost money and ended up with the enemy gaining control?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: No. The objective fact is we're never going to defeat ISIS by air power. That even to define it as geographic campaign when you have British and American and other foreign fighters when you have to worry now about Chicago and Oklahoma City.

You have to worry about beheadings in Great Britain. This is a worldwide campaign. The administration doesn't understand it and doesn't get it and their efforts so far I think are really very sad.

Because we have the sheer power to do a lot of things, but if you dribble it out like this, to suggest they can capture this city and not gain a major moral boost, I think is utterly foolish. It is hard to imagine who is advising the president.

BURNETT: And Bill, let me ask you that question, will the president reconsider at all this issue of boots on the ground. Leon Panetta today as you know criticizing him, saying, look, boots on the ground are needed in order to determine what the right targets are even for airstrikes.

He's been so categorical about this, Bill. I guess, the question is, you know him. Would he ever change his mind?

BILL BURTON, FORMER DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, the president, of course, is going to look at any situation as it develops and make the best decisions for advancing American interest. But for right now, the airstrikes are ongoing. They are having some successes and hitting the targets.

And the president and everyone in the administration has said from the get-go this is a long sustained effort. No one thought this would turn around overnight. People knew very well this was going to be months and months of us in there in order to really make a dent.

BURNETT: So bill, there was a lot of criticism, I just mentioned Leon Panetta and his book has come out. Today he spoke with our Gloria Borger about the decision, and I'm going to put that in quote, you'll see why in a second. The decision to not arm the Syrian rebels two years ago. Here's the clip.


LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: To a large except it wasn't that the president said no, we shouldn't do it. The president kind of never really came to a decision as to whether or not it should happen.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: What do you mean by that, never came to a decision?

PANETTA: I think it basically sat there for a while and then got to the point where everybody just kind of assumed that it was not going to happen.

BORGER: Is that the right way to do things?

PANETTA: I think it would have been far better had he just made the decision.


BURNETT: So that is a criticism of the president's policies, all right, but more significantly of his leadership. He didn't make a decision.

BURTON: Well, look, just for starters, on Secretary Panetta. He is a guy who has had a long and storied career in Washington and has really served his country well. And it is kind of sad that in its twilight he's done such a dishonorable thing by -- at a time -- by going after the president that he served at a time when a lot of different instabilities around the world.

I think if you ask the question, do you think that Leon Panetta's book helps or harms our interest? Does it help or harm the credibility of this administration as the president is conducting the job of foreign policy and keeping our nation safe, it is hard to say yes.

You know, on the substance, this president has shown his leadership time and again. He's made some tough calls. He's advanced our interest in very real ways. He got Osama Bin Laden. He got our troops out of Afghanistan. He has moved this country in the right direction and to attack his leadership I think is small and petty.

BURNETT: And Newt, let me ask you -- go ahead.

GINGRICH: Look, wait a second. This is absurdity. Secretary Gates and Secretary Panetta, the two secretaries of defense, both felt that they owed the American people, not Barack Obama, the American people a report on how bad it is.

Now I think it is a little bit disingenuous to suggest that there is something dishonorable about Leon Panetta who has served this country in many different ways under many different presidents somehow feeling he should tell the truth about his feelings and disagree --

BURTON: Speaker Gingrich, let's keep in mind that you thought that he should resign in the middle of his time in office.


BURTON: It is not that you have a glowing opinion of his leadership when he was in office.

GINGRICH: Leon and I have had a lot of different fights over the years. The point is for you to suggest that there is something wrong when you had both Gates and Panetta, one and not the other, you would have a case maybe.

But if both Secretary Gates and Secretary Panetta feel the national security problem is so bad, they have both written major books talking about how bad it is and there is something deeper than this.

You use the term I think that is very revealing. You say we are going to dent ISIS. The administration talks about eventually degrading ISIS. We didn't dent Nazi Germany. We didn't degrade the imperial of Japan --

BURTON: Speaker Gingrich, when I said dent, that is not implying that is all we want to say about ISIS. My exact words, is it would take a while before we made a dent. The president has been clear that our role here is to degrade and eventually destroy ISIL. It's not to make a dent. So I wouldn't play the Washington game of just taking out one word and making an argument around that.

BURNETT: All right, but I will say, Bill, you are saying though that the hit from Leon Panetta is significant and a quick final word to you, Newt, would you agree that this criticism from someone who is a 16-year member of Congress, both a Democrat and a Republican, chief of staff for Bill Clinton and served under President Obama, that this is a significant hit?

GINGRICH: It is a very significant hit particularly coming on top of Secretary Gates and I think it will frankly shake a lot of Americans to have two secretaries of defense say that this president is not doing his job.

BURNETT: Thanks very much to both of you. We appreciate it.

Up next, the breaking news, coverage continues. Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan could face possible criminal charges. Did he, quote, "intentionally and knowingly" expose the public to Ebola.

Plus does race factor into how Duncan has been treated since he arrived in Texas. Jesse Jackson is OUTFRONT.

And he was one of America's favorite TV dad, now "7th Heaven's" star Steven Collins is under investigation for child molestation.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news tonight, the man at the center of America's Ebola scare is in critical condition. Thomas Eric Duncan is on a ventilator receiving dialysis right now. There are lingering questions though about whether he knew he was exposed to Ebola when he boarded a plane to the United States and knowingly put countless lives at risk and now the Dallas County Prosecutor is considering criminal charges against him.

Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT from Dallas.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While Thomas Eric Duncan fights for his life inside this Texas hospital, Dallas prosecutors are deciding if there is enough evidence for file criminal charges against him for knowingly exposing the public to the deadly Ebola virus. But the question is did Duncan know he was infected with Ebola when he boarded the plane in Liberia and flew to Dallas, Texas?

RUSSELL WILSON II, DALLAS COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: That is a dangerous act and that there must be some type of consequence if a person engages in that type of conduct and recovers from virus.

LAVANDERA: Duncan arrived in Dallas on September 20th. Liberian officials say he did not have a fever and answered "no" on a form asking if he had contact with Ebola patients. But just days before leaving Liberia, Duncan's friends tell CNN he helped a pregnant woman who had collapsed, the women died of Ebola. CNN spoke with the victim's sister.



LAVANDERA: Nine others who are also around the pregnant women are dead or seriously ill. Five days after arriving in the United States, Duncan turned up at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. He was sent away with antibiotic only to return three days later with full- blown Ebola symptoms. Some had suggested Duncan boarded the plane knowing he was infected to get medical treatment in the United States but his family insists this isn't true.

WILFRED SMALLWOOD, THOMAS ERIC DUNCAN HALF BROTHER: I would never believe that my brother have come here knowing he had Ebola.

LAVANDERA: His half brother told CNN that Duncan planned the trip and received his travel visa two weeks before he became ill.

SMALLWOOD: He calls; I got a visa from the embassy. U.S. Embassy gave me visa, now I can come to --

LAVANDERA: Duncan's nephew says he asked his uncle directly how he got infected.

JOSEPHUS WEEKS, THOMAS ERIC DUNCAN'S NEPHEW: He said he didn't know where he got it. And the answer to that is described in the newspapers and on that media that he didn't touch that woman, he wasn't living in the area when that happened.

LAVANDERA: If Texas prosecutors push ahead with criminal charges some legal analyst say it's over reaching by prosecutors and call it a difficult case to make.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Prosecutors would have to be able to prove that he knew he had Ebola and he was acting recklessly in traveling and filling out health documents. I suspect they may not be able to prove that.

(END VIDEO TAPE) LAVANDERA: Thomas Eric Duncan is still listening critical condition and he's connected to a ventilator. Meanwhile while all that is going on, prosecutors here in Dallas say that there is no timetable on if or when these charges will be filed -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right Ed, thank you.

Well, Nima Elbagir is OUTFRONT from Thomas Eric Duncan's hometown in Monrovia Liberia. She's been doing investigative reporting. And now Nima, you know, Duncan's nephew told me, look my uncle was never near the pregnant woman with Ebola, he told me he wasn't even living in the area she was leaving at the time. But I know you've been the ground, you've been investigating this, you've talked to several people on the ground who say, that is not true.

ELBAGIR: We've spoken to multiple witnesses who say they were Duncan's friends and neighbors. We spoke to the Ebola officials here in Liberia who has been tasked with contact tracing every single individual who is in touch or in contact with Marthalene Williams, the patient at the center of all this and they have Thomas Eric Duncan's name down now.

I think it is important to be clear, nobody is implying that here that we've been speaking to them, there was any malicious intent, that he intended to lie on that form. What they are simply saying is they don't believe he knew. And these are people, Erin, who are quarantine, whether or not Duncan is unwell. They are living with these reality and these threats. They have no reason to lie -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right Nima, thank you very much. Nima as we said, on the ground tracking this down.

OUTFRONT now, Reverend Jesse Jackson.

And Reverend Jackson, thank you so much for being with us. I know you've been meeting with the family. You're speaking on behalf of the family.

First of all, how is he doing? What is his condition right now?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, PRESIDENT, RAINBOW PUSH COALITION: Well Erin, his blood pressure is back up, his temperature is normal, his diarrhea is has slowed down and his liver numbers are better. He is still son medical sedation because of real infection in his lungs and in his kidney. He is on dialysis. So he is still on the critical list, but in my judgment his signs are looking up.

BURNETT: And I -- I just want to -- you can still hear me, right? I know you're just working on your ear piece so interrupt me if you can.

JACKSON: I can hear you.

BURNETT: But you got me. OK.

So you just heard Ed Lavandera reporting, look that the Dallas County Prosecutors considering criminal charges against him and they're looking into this situation. Did he intentionally and knowingly expose the public to the virus because CNN reported he was helping someone with Ebola? The question is did he know she had Ebola and that he was helping someone and checked on the form he had not done so.

What's your reaction when you hear the possibility of criminal charges?