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Terrorists Kill 12 at French Newspaper Office; Interview with Senator Lindsey Graham

Aired January 7, 2015 - 11:00   ET



We wish our friends in France well, and we stand in strong solidarity with them. I know our friends in Poland understand these acts of terror and this challenge as well as any people, not just in Europe but on the planet.

And so I'm pleased to be standing here with the foreign minister today. Poland is a strong stalwart advocate for and supporter of freedom and of democracy and they've stood on the front lines for a long time.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": So there you heard the secretary of state of the United States John Kerry both in English and in French uttering very strong condemnations of this terror attack against these journalists, these police officers in Paris vowing they will be brought to justice, pledging support for France during these difficult hours.

We're going to continue our special coverage here on CNN and CNN International.

I'll be back later today 1:00 p.m. Eastern. In the meantime, John Berman and Michaela Pereira pick up our coverage right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. I'm Michaela Pereira.

We welcome our viewers once again in the United States and around the world, and we begin with breaking news, terror in Paris, three gunmen on the loose in the French capital after storming office of a satirical magazine, killing 12 people.

BERMAN: Just a short time ago, French authorities picked up an abandoned car found in the northern outskirts of Paris. Now this car appears to be the same model, the same color of the car used by the gunman.

An eyewitness captured a chilling video during the attack. Look at it for yourself.

You can see two, heavily armed gunmen dressed head to toe in black. The gunman did eventually escape in what appears to be a very similar if not the same black vehicle that was just recovered.

PEREIRA: This is also a disturbing picture of one of the attackers pointing a machine gun at a person who is lying on the sidewalk. After this picture was taken, that person is summarily shot in the head and killed. That image was posted -- this still photo was posted on Twitter.

Now, all of this, this attack happened in the middle of broad daylight. A witness says the terrorists were armed, heavily armed, with Kalashnikov submachine guns and possibly even a rocket-propelled grenade.

We are told they heard shouting, quote, "We avenge the honor of the prophet."

BERMAN: We're covering all angles of this horrific attack. Our senior international correspondent Jim Bitterman is in Paris. Chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour is in London.

Jim, I want to start with you. Let's get the very latest on what is being said right now. French President Francois Hollande says without any kind of hedging at all this is a terrorist attack. Now they have a car they think is connected to this attack.

JIM BITTERMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It looks like it, John. That hasn't been confirmed about the car, but they did pick up this car on the edge of Paris.

It had been abandoned, and it was right near an area which is a sort of downtrodden area north of the city where there's a heavy concentration of Islamic and immigrant populations. So it could very well-be that that's where the gunman abandoned the car. But that hasn't been confirmed.

We may get some more confirmation, though, within the hour because in 45 minutes from now or so, the French -- the Paris prosecutor is going to hold a news conference, and in the past he has been the source of much of the information we get on these terrorist attacks, and that's going to be coming up in about 45 minutes from now.

In any case, we're also expecting an address to the nation tonight by President Hollande at about 8:00 local time. That's when normally you have the national news on. So he's taking prime time to go on the air.

And I'm sure it's going to be an attempt to reassure the French public, because this has really rattled people. This kind of an attack, as you mentioned, in broad daylight in a soft target like a newspaper, the prime minister has announced that other soft targets are going to be under very close surveillance.

He's ordered the highest level of alert, more police, more military on the streets, particularly protecting schools, transport hubs like train stations and airports and other targets that could be soft targets for any kind of a terrorist or potential terrorist.

John? PEREIRA: Jim, I'll take it, Michaela joining -- pardon me -- joining

here. We know that this office of "Charlie Hebdo" has been under attack before, not to this level or this magnitude.

We are hearing reports that specific people were targeted in that shooting. What can you tell us there?

BITTERMAN: Well, whether or not they were specifically targeted, they are dead and that is the -- that's just the bottom line. But, basically, the editor and three cartoonists have been confirmed are dead, and probably if you're picking targets, they would be among the top because the cartoonists, particularly the three cartoonists, are known for their very acerbic, very pointed cartoons.

One in particular just recently a cartoon depicting Islamic terrorists, kind of making fun of them. It's also true the magazine has taken on the prophet Mohammed back in 2011. That's the last time their office was attacked. It was attacked by a firebombing.

So, yes, they definitely were targeted. Whether the individual was targeted we'll have to see what the prosecutor says.


BERMAN: All right, our Jim Bitterman in Paris, thanks so much. Let me read you the names of at least four of the people that were killed, because there were people who were assassinated, people were gunned down today, and I want to get their names out there.

The editor of "Charlie Hebdo," Stephane Charbonnier, cartoonist Jean Cabu (ph), who is famous for doing some of those cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, also cartoonist Bernard Berlof (ph), those are just four of the names we know. We know that 12 people total were killed.

PEREIRA: Joining us on the phone we have the deputy mayor of Paris, Patrick Klugman. He joins us now. I just want to make sure you can hear us, Mr. Mayor.

PATRICK KLUGMAN, PARIS DEPUTY MAYOR (via telephone): Yes, I can.

PEREIRA: Please tell us the information you know because I think the biggest concern in the city of Paris is the fact that these gunmen are still on the loose.

Can you update us on any information there?

KLUGMAN (via telephone): First, I was at "Charlie Hebdo" this morning. We arrived a few minutes before President Francois Hollande with the minister of the interior. so we had information at the very early stages.

Since then, of course, the gang is still running and the police are after them of course, and there were, as you mentioned before, 12 persons shot dead. Ten of them are journalists, cartoonists, mainly the editor, Charbonnier, the three or four names you gave are the most famous cartoonists of this paper, the most famous cartoonists in France at all since 40 years.

So it's a very big and deep shock for all the press and for all the world of the drawings and the cartoonists. It's a major, major loss. Never a newspaper has been aimed by this violence so of course we are now in the city of Paris at the highest level of alert. It's a plan that's been activated at this level since 1995 when Islamists attacked at this time.

But I would say that we are at war of the values of freedom, on the values of democracy and this no one can control so since we heard about the attack this morning about 12:30 a.m. Paris time all the papers had launched demonstrations for tonight and this demonstration is gaining more and more and more and more support every minute.

That's been that we are -- we don't have fear, we will gather, we will demonstrate and we will shout the values that have not been killed with the journalists and the journal that has been hit earlier today.

BERMAN: Our secretary of state, the American secretary of state, John Kerry, said a short time ago every American stands with you, and I think that's true. Everyone in this country thinking of you in that wonderful city.

He also said this was an attack on freedom and called the journalists, the cartoonists, the editor, the people who were killed at that newspaper called them "martyrs for liberty."

We reported just a short time ago, Mr. Deputy Mayor, that there was a car recovered in north Paris, looked very much like the car that the gunmen seemed to escape in the video.

Can you confirm at this point authorities believe that was the car they used?

KLUGMAN (via telephone): We have no confirmation of this. We know that they changed the car in a northern area of Paris after the attacks and they escaped from there in the 19th district of Paris and after the that the track of the gang was lost. I have no more updated information at this stage.

I take the opportunity to say that, of course, we heard the support coming from all over the world, specifically from the free world and the U.S., the United States. And we are in a common world, our forces are sometimes together against terror, we have been since 9/11. and we stand together in front of terror.

PEREIRA: I think there would be many, many voices, if not all of America, voicing their agreement with you there, sir.

I want to ask you, because we know nightfall, if it hasn't fallen, now nightfall is shortly coming to Paris, a city that so many Americans know so well.

I want to ask you about that because the question is are Parisians going to bed afraid of the fact that these three gunmen are still on the loose? What is being done to tell citizens there how to proceed in the next coming hours and even tomorrow?

KLUGMAN (via telephone): Well there has been a lot of events cancelled in the museums. The military forces are coming over to protect the public places in the city but you know what it's like to live in a country that is hurt by a terrorist attack.

We must protect the population to a higher level but also to continue to live because if not, the terrorists will win the battle and this we can not accept.

We will protect, we fight but we will also fight for our values of freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of believes and that's how we think to face as a democracy.

BERMAN: Mr. Deputy Mayor, let me just confirm one fact you said earlier. You believe now that the gunmen after they fled the scene of "Charlie Hebdo," after they left the paper, they changed cars in northern Paris leaving behind that black car we've seen and moved on in a different car.

Do you have any information on the different car they may be using now?

KLUGMAN (via telephone): Yes. They did change cars after the attack. The shooters, there were three, there were two shooters in the building, and one was outside and the three of them apparently escaped very quietly.

And after they changed the car in that area of Paris and then escaped from there.

PEREIRA: Again, 12 killed in that attack in Paris. Go ahead, sir.

KLUGMAN (via telephone): Our first fear at the moment is that they tried to commit murder, their attack. Because these are people with we do not want to run free. The mentality of the shooter, the terrorists, is to shoot until they get killed. So the first fear is another -- other acts that can be committed.

PEREIRA: Yes, that is certainly a fear indeed. Deputy mayor of Paris, Patrick Klugman, we thank you very much.

We should also point out that we have received word that here in New York city that the NYPD is adding extra officers at sensitive sites around New York City however they went on to reiterate that there is no known threat but they did want to let people know that that was happening here.

BERMAN: That is standard operating procedure. That happened in Sydney where there was that siege or that hostage incident in the chocolate cafe. They did the same thing in New York. They're doing it here in New York. Perfectly understandable.

PEREIRA: Let's turn to our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour. She joins us now from London. So many of us struggling to understand what went on, Christiane, here, I know that you have had a chance to speak with one of the magazine's chief cartoonists over the years.

And I imagine that given the fact that we've seen threats and attacks and violence there, a fire bombing, a few years ago at "Charlie Hebdo," there must have been a sense that they were essentially playing with fire.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I did ask one of the chief cartoonists, Luz, that a few years ago because that was right at the time when one of their covers, some of their cartoons had caused such a backlash that, in fact, as we've been reporting, their premises were firebombed. So at the time, I had asked him, you know, what did he think about using his freedom of expression, which obviously we all thoroughly believe in, obviously, in certain times of heated environmental -- sort of temperature, if you like.

Again, remember, this was several years ago, and he said, look, we are not doing anything to shock or insult, we are merely using our position as satirists, our position as long time freedom of expression in - you know, for hundreds and hundreds of years, to do what we've always done in this country and that is to point out the absurdities in the extremes wherever we find them. And obviously, for many, many years that's been in the Islamic militants' violent extremist corners where there's such extremes and absurdities that some have used satire to try to understand or explain it. So I had that conversation with him and indeed at that time, you know, again, this is all in hindsight and it's really actually quite difficult to talk about -- when ten of our colleagues potentially, or 12, have been murdered -- that there were criticisms that perhaps they were going over the top on this.

But I'm trying to find this incredible statement that Stephane Charbonnier himself, the editor in chief of the magazine, said. Essentially, he basically said, I am not killing anybody with my pen. I am not the violent person here. Those who react violently, the responsibility is on their shoulders. And he said, only the people who want to be shocked will be shocked by these cartoons. And today, several years later, he is among the dead and those words were incredibly prophetic. Here in Great Britain, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who's meeting with Angela Merkel, they had a pre- arranged meeting here today, and he also obviously spoke of solidarity with France of the continued commitment for the whole of Europe and the Western world to fight terror together, but he also said to also defend the principle of free speech and freedom of expression. Because as we've said, this was not the usual terrorist attack.

This wasn't targeting a military installation or personnel, this wasn't targeting civilians in order to create real fear and terror amongst the general population by going on transportation and other such public services, as they have done in the past here in Europe. This was a direct attack against people who are using their pens, their computers, their voices to express themselves in a free and Democratic world. BERMAN: Secretary of State John Kerry, just moments ago, called the

journalists killed "Martyrs for Liberty." It is an apt description. Christiane Amanpour, thank you so much.

Just moments ago, we heard from the Deputy Mayor of Paris. He said they have information that the gunmen changed cars in northern Paris and left their escape car behind. We saw the video, there was use of automatic weapons, evidence of some sort of military training. Who were the people behind this attack? We'll break down what they did and what the French are now doing to try to capture them, a manhunt under way in Paris at this moment.


BERMAN: The breaking news happening right now, terror in Paris. There's a huge manhunt underway for three heavily armed gunmen who opened fire on the offices of a satirical magazine. At least 12 people are dead, several others injured. The Deputy Mayor of Paris told us just moments ago that he believes that the gunman changed cars in northern Paris, leaving that car you're seeing right there behind and getting into another. The president of France said there is no doubt that this was a terror attack. The worst that that country has seen in decades.

PEREIRA: Hooded men, as you see, dressed in black burst into the building in the city's 11th district. They were carrying automatic weapons. Reports say they were heavily armed. The office of the magazine called "Charlie Hebdo" is the very same one that was firebombed some three years ago in response to its publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

BERMAN: I'm going to go to Capitol Hill right now. Our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash is standing by with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina. Lindsey Graham deals with so many security issues and foreign policy issues for the United States. Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORESPONDENT: Thanks, John. And he's a member of the Armed Services Committee. Senator, thank you very much for joining us. You've been digging on what has been going on. What's your take? Do you think that this is ISIS or ISIL?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I would be shocked if it's not at least inspired. Whether or not it's command-and-control, I don't know. We're going to get a briefing either today or tomorrow from our intel folks about what happened in Paris and the questions is, what can we learn from this? I think Secretary Kerry spoke very eloquently about the people who died, and they are martyrs for the right causes. But people in your business need to be concerned. You're soft targets and they hate the idea of being able to tell a story.

BASH: Are you saying that based on intelligence?

GRAHAM: Just based on common sense. They're moving away from military-style targets. They're beginning to target soft targets. BASH: Do you believe that there is any correlation to what we are

seeing here, what we should fear here in the U.S.? Should the U.S. raise the terror threat?

GRAHAM: I think we should raise it today. But the cuts under sequestration, the budget cuts, are destroying the ability to gather intelligence and defend this country. Mike Rodgers, the admiral in charge of the NSA, said that if sequestration kicks back in 2016, our capabilities on the intel front are going to be dramatically reduced. The only way you protect America is to find out about these things before they happen. Between budget cuts on the intel defense side and the Obama administration's policies of not interrogating or detaining terrorist suspects anymore, reading them their rights, is leading to less intelligence.

BASH: But you all, the Republicans, are threatening to cut homeland security budgets even more to retaliate for immigration. Are you rethinking that?

GRAHAM: I hope so.

BASH: You hope so?

GRAHAM: I hope that we can challenge the executive action of the president in a mature fashion. I've never been for shutting down homeland security. Stopping that part to implement the executive order makes sense, but what can we learn from this? If Congress doesn't relieve the budget pressure created by sequestration on the intelligence --

BASH: -- force budget cuts.

GRAHAM: Yes. Our ability to detect attacks like this on our homeland are greatly reduced. And if we don't take the fight to ISIL, if they're still in business three years from now, you can expect more of these attacks thought the world.

BASH: Senator, before I let you go, why do you believe there should be a raised terror threat here on the homeland? Here in the U.S.?

GRAHAM: Because copy cats are likely, and I am convinced there are people already in our homeland ready to do attacks like this. And right after 9/11, we raised the threats for weeks and months after.

BASH: But that was an attack on the homeland. This is in France.

GRAHAM: Well, I think the attack on the common values, even though it's in France, is an attack on us. What these people were doing in France is what we do every day.

BASH: Senator, thank you very much for joining us. Appreciate it. John and Michaela, back to you.

PEREIRA: Dana, thank you so much. Getting some new information that we'll turn to our Jim Sciutto for. We understand that U.S. counterterror officials are looking at a number of possible groups that are behind the terror attacks. Did they miss signs? Who are they looking at as being responsible for this attack? We'll talk to Jim Sciutto after a break.


BERMAN: Alright, the breaking news this morning, terror in Paris. Welcome back to our continuing coverage. Hello everyone, I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira. I want to welcome our viewers here in the United States, and of course, around the globe.

BERMAN: I want to bring in our chief national correspondent Jim Sciutto, also Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. Jim, you have some new information about whom counterterrorism officials are honing in on right now, the possible groups that could be involved.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John and Michaela, and it's a rogue's gallery of the most threatening terror groups. A U.S. counterterror official telling me that right now U.S. counterterror considering ISIS, al Qaeda, Arabian Peninsula, as well as core al Qaeda as the possible perpetrators and planners of this attack, or being tied to these gunmen here. Of course, we should caution, as always, that it is early. But one thing that gives them an indication of an organized group is just the level of sophistication and the skill and training that was apparent as we watch this video here of the gunman who carried out this attack. How they found their target, how they killed those in and around the target, how they engage with police, all signs of sophistication, which is one indicator that leads them to those larger groups.

PEREIRA: And, Jim, interesting, too, that we've seen the fact that they were covered -- they had covered their heads. We've also heard earlier, I think it was Bobby Ghosh who was talking to us earlier on "NEW DAY," about the fact that often times you hear ISIS leaders saying, don't cover your head, show who you are, stand for your convictions. These men are hooded, as you mentioned, heavily armed, but they are hooded.

SCIUTTO: That's right. And I heard Barbara Starr make the point earlier that ISIS had been encouraging its fighters to show their faces. So that's an interesting fact here, as well as the fact that they were not suicidal. They had an escape route and they got away.