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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Congressman Peter King; Terror Plot; Terror Group Claims Credit for French Attack; Paper: French Looking for Another Terror Suspect
Aired January 14, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: The group's affiliate in Yemen says it is responsible for the attack on the magazine "Charlie Hebdo." Were there missed signals as the terrorists communicated with each other?
Capitol terror plot. An Ohio man arrested by the FBI for allegedly planning to carry out an attack on Congress. What are his ties to ISIS?
And market horror, chilling new images of the terror nightmare as it unfolded inside of that kosher market. Who do these disturbing pictures tell us about the attack?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: We're following multiple major breaking news stories. The French newspaper "Le Parisien" says that investigators have identified a new terror suspect, a man believed to be an accomplice to Amedy Coulibaly who waged that attack at the kosher market, and that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula now claiming responsibility for the attack on the magazine "Charlie Hebdo."
In a just-released video, a top terror commander call the brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi heroes who fulfilled their tasks. Also, the FBI has arrested an Ohio man who allegedly aligned himself with ISIS and was plotting an attack on the U.S. Capitol.
We are covering all of the angles in the breaking news with our correspondents and guests, including Congressman Peter King, a member of the Homeland Security Committee.
I want to get straight to Paris now, where CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is there for us.
Give us the latest, Jim. Another suspect identified.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
Tonight, Brianna report of a fourth suspect involved in these deadly attacks in Paris. Two clues leading police that way, one a set of keys left in the apartment of Amedy Coulibaly belonging to a motorbike belonging to another man, also clues in the ammunition used in the kosher market attack and another attack on a jogger in a park just before. This additional suspect it is believed like so many others tracked to this case to have already fled the country.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): This is the location of an apartment thought to be Amedy Coulibaly's hideout. Find inside, according to the French paper "Le Parisien," keys to a motorbike belonging to another man now suspected of shooting a jogger in a park last week before driving Coulibaly to the kosher market attack.
Police believe this new suspect has likely already fled France, possibly for Syria.
The deadly Paris attacks were planned for years with orders coming directly from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, so claimed the terror group today.
The 12-minute video, which U.S. officials believe to be authentic, features pictures of gunman Cherif and Said Kouachi, with the group's commander praising the attack, calling it revenge for cartoons satirizing the Prophet Mohammed.
"We clarify to the Islamic world that the one who chose the target, laid the plan, financed the operation and appointed its emir," Sheik Nasser said, "is the leadership of the organization." But he provided no proof.
One of the plot's masterminds, he claimed, was American Anwar al- Awlaki, killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011. Despite the video claim, U.S. officials tell CNN it is not yet clear if AQAP executed direct command-and-control over the operation, or if it provided some training and funding, with the attackers selecting time, place and target.
Still, the investigation has already exposed a complicated and expanding jihadi network. The man seen accompanying Hayat Boumeddiene at a Turkish airport is tied to a Pakistani Afghan terror cell. Her companion, the kosher shop attacker, Amedy Coulibaly, pledged allegiance to ISIS in Iraq and Syria and is known to have communicated with the Kouachi brothers.
SCIUTTO: Those CCTV images were available to French police during this siege, providing them some important information and intelligence about what was going on inside the store before the police raid.
That's the reason you likely see the attacker ordering the hostages to take down the cameras. One other note, Brianna, this fourth suspect that they are talking about, of course not the only person or associate they are looking at. They call this one the fourth because it's believed it might be the fourth person to have had an operational role on the day of the attacks.
But, of course, there are other associates they're looking at, including the companion of Amedy Coulibaly who we saw in that video going from Turkey and it's expected on to Syria as well.
KEILAR: Yes, a lot more associates possible. We have heard that. Jim Sciutto, thanks so much in Paris for us.
I want to bring in now CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.
There are some big stories about -- or questions I should say about this video. Barbara, no one can say yet whether it's completely accurate. Did al Qaeda inspire the attack or directly order it? You are learning some new information about this.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That is the key question tonight, Brianna.
Did they inspire it? One or both brothers having perhaps traveled to Yemen in 2011, getting perhaps money, instructions, did they go back and just stew about it? Or here is the very real possibility U.S. and French intelligence services are looking into. Was there communication between the brothers between 2011 when one or both returned to France and the time of the attack?
If -- if AQAP was in touch with the brothers, that means the organization in Yemen had the ability to directly communicate with them and U.S. and French intelligence likely did not pick up those communications. Why is this so concerning? AQAP, the only organization the U.S. assesses to really be capable of putting bombs on airplanes, bringing an airliner down, if they still have the capacity to command, control, communicate with cells overseas and the U.S. doesn't know about it, it raises the prospect of that threat even further, raises the concern that there are additional threats out there that the U.S. might not know about.
Where does that leave everything? AQAP in Yemen, its top leadership still intact, its safe havens still intact. And U.S. officials will tell you the only way still to get to all of this is U.S. drone attacks, to step up the pressure on al Qaeda in Yemen, have more drone attacks, look for more targets.
But before they can do that, they are going to need more cooperation from the government in Yemen, which is already quite fragile and under siege by al Qaeda and other rebel elements inside of Yemen -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes, very difficult situation. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks.
I want to get more on the other breaking story that we're following, the alleged plot to attack the U.S. Capitol by an Ohio man said to be aligned with ISIS.
Let's bring in CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown.
An hour ago, we were talking about this right as it was breaking. You have some new information this hour.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, really disturbing.
We're learning that this 20-year-old Cincinnati, Ohio, man, Brianna, was arrested by FBI agents today. The FBI says he aligned himself with ISIS and he was allegedly plotting to murder U.S. lawmakers and employees at the U.S. Capitol Building.
BROWN (voice-over): The FBI says a Cincinnati man, Christopher Lee Cornell, planned to detonate pipe bombs around the U.S. Capitol and shoot people with semiautomatic rifles as they fled.
According to the complaint, the FBI began investigating Cornell several months ago, when a confidential informant alerted them to radical statements allegedly made by him on social media. The FBI says Cornell used Twitter to voice his support attack for ISIL, violent jihad and attacks in North America.
In one exchange with the undercover operative, Cornell allegedly said, "I believe we should meet up and make our own group in alliance with Islamic State here and plan operations ourselves."
The FBI arrested Cornell in the final steps of his plan after he allegedly acquired weapons for the attack this week. His arrest highlights the concern among U.S. law enforcement of lone wolves being inspired to act in the wake of the terrorist attack.
PAUL STOCKTON, FORMER ASSISTANT DEFENSE SECRETARY: There are two primary concerns. The first is that our own homegrown violent extremists will be emboldened by this attack. They will engage in copycat attacks.
BROWN: In response, the U.S. is putting law enforcement on heightened alert and ramping up security at U.S. airports.
STOCKTON: The Paris attack exemplifies the kinds of threats that could come back to the United States. We need to understand exactly how it happened, how the training occurred, how the movements and planning went forward.
BROWN: Meantime, Washington is working closely with French authorities to track down whether any Americans had communications with the Paris attack suspects and anyone in their cell, sifting through thousands of phone calls, e-mails and text messages.
BROWN: And take a look at a picture now from our affiliate WKRC that actually shows right here apparently according to this affiliate the takedown by the FBI of Christopher Cornell today in Cincinnati, this 20-year-old man who authorities say was plotting to kill U.S. lawmakers and that he was in the final stages of his plan.
But, Brianna, we are told that despite his disturbing plan that there was no threat to the public during the course of the investigation, but this picture apparently showing, according to our affiliate, FBI agents in the takedown.
KEILAR: Sounds like authorities may have been aware that he had these opinions and they waited until he was acting on them to intervene.
BROWN: Concrete steps. Yes.
KEILAR: All right, Pamela Brown, thanks so much.
Let's talk about all of this breaking news now with Republican Congressman Peter King of New York. He is a member of the Homeland Security Committee.
Congressman, thanks for being with us.
And you just heard this story about this Ohio man, an ISIS supporter. He was planning this attack on the U.S. Capitol. It seemed like he was about to get operational on it. How big of a threat is someone like this man, Chris Cornell, or other terror sympathizers, for that matter?
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Yes, this is something, Brianna, that ISIS has perfected more than any of the other Islamist groups.
And that's their social media is so sophisticated that they can appeal to the people on the edges. We saw that in Canada back in October. We saw it in New York in October, when the deranged person attacked the two police officers with an axe. Now, he had been following ISIS on social media.
So this type person today seems as if he has mental issues and he was inspired by ISIS. So, in addition to actually planned, coordinated attacks, they now have been able to somehow plug into these people who are on the edges of society and motivate them to carry out these type attacks.
KEILAR: You have French security services now, they have identified yet another suspect in the Paris attacks, an accomplice of Amedy Coulibaly.
How much more could this unravel, do you think? And by that, I mean, are we going to see many more potential accomplices revealed?
KING: Well, Brianna, this certainly is an ongoing investigation.
There's at least several more, I think, who are going to be found to -- they detect who have been involved. And it could go beyond that. Right now, this is really -- it's just being uncovered day by day. And we know of at least several who left the country, who left before the attacks.
That indicates perhaps an actual cell that was there. And so, again, the French are doing all they can. They are working closely with us and all our partners really in Europe and the Middle East. So, this is something that really is of concern, because it certainly goes beyond the three. This goes beyond the four. And, again, how far it goes, it's really too early to tell. But it certainly is being run down as much as possible.
KEILAR: OK, much more to talk about with you, Congressman Peter King, a key voice on homeland security.
I'm going to sneak in a quick break and we will have more talking about AQAP in Yemen coming up.
KEILAR: We are following breaking news.
A French newspaper reporting authorities are looking for another terror suspect connected to the Paris attacks.
We're back now with Republican Congressman Peter King of New York. He is a member of the Homeland Security Committee.
And I want to ask you, Congressman, about this video from AQAP. We're hearing from the administration they believe it is authentic. They have confirmed it's authentic. The question is whether the claim of responsibility for the "Charlie Hebdo" attack is authentic. Do you believe it's al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula behind that attack?
KING: That's still being investigated.
What I do believe is certainly al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has involvement here. Their fingerprints are all over this. But if they actually directed it, if this was actually a cell or were these people who were just trained several years ago and sent back to take action when they thought it was possible to be effective?
For instance, in this case, Awlaki was killed almost 3.5 years ago. And to say that somehow Awlaki was behind this, that's really long-range thinking. If I had to bet right now, I would say that there was some training from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, they were sent back. And I don't know if they were actual sleepers or just sent back to take action when they thought it was worthwhile to take.
But I would doubt if there was that much coordination, certainly by Awlaki, because he's been dead for 3.5 years. I would say the main question right now is, was there any command-and-control that was going on at this moment or in the last several months and how are they communicating if there was?
KEILAR: And do you have any sort of idea of what the answer to that question is, if the Kouachi brothers were communicating with AQAP?
KING: That's the big issue right now. That's the question.
And if they were communicating, was it done electronically? Was it done by courier? How was it being done? And, again, what their methods of communication were, how sophisticated they were, that is really what has to be looked into, if they was in fact communication or if they were just left on their own three years ago to take an action when they thought it was worthwhile to take.
KEILAR: Yes. Have they found a way around those usual channels that intelligence normally can detect?
You mentioned -- you said it's unclear to you if the Kouachi brothers were sleepers, if they are part of a sleeper cell or they are a sleeper cell. You have the U.S. mentioned in this AQAP video. Do you believe that there are sleeper cells in the U.S. perhaps?
KING: I have no evidence that there's actual cells. There's no doubt there's supporters over here. There's no doubt there's sympathizers here.
And whether it's AQAP or ISIS -- now, for instance, with ISIS, we know a number of Americans have gone to Syria. They are being trained in Syria. And we have to monitor them as they come back. But we don't know if we know everyone that has gone there. We could have people who travel to Europe and then work their way down into Syria, go back up to Europe and come back to the U.S.
And, also, you do have people, again, who are sympathizers, we believe could be sympathizers. All of that has to be monitored. An actual sleeper cell, I'm not aware of any sleeper cell that is here. It doesn't mean it's not here, because we don't know what we don't know. And we have to assume that there are sleeper cells here or there could be sleeper cells here and act on that presumption.
KEILAR: Let's talk about these new pictures that we are getting inside of the kosher market attack. These are photos obtained by CNN just this afternoon.
They show this attack by Amedy Coulibaly. When you look at these, Congressman, are you seeing any evidence that perhaps this was more of an improvised attack?
KING: Yes, I believe -- again, I'm just making a guesstimate here -- is that this was more improvised.
I think this person was trained. He was somewhat sophisticated. But I don't know how long-range this was. And we're not even certain yet at what his involvement was, if there was any actual with the other attack or he saw this then as an opportunity for him also to move.
He claims affiliation with ISIS. So, whether or not this was an impromptu move by him to sort of take advantage of the situation or whether or not he had been planning it for a while, if he is under anyone else's direction, again, these are all issues we have to look at.
And I know you mentioned earlier, I think, that -- we always make this distinction in the media and in government between ISIS and AQAP and al Qaeda, Al-Shabab. The fact is, there's a lot of cross- pollination. At the top levels, yes, the leaders might be separate. But on the ground, there has often been cooperation and collaboration.
So, these people often know each other. They carry out some attacks together on the ground, whether or not they are sanctioned at the top levels.
And this is something that is particularly interesting, because you have AQAP taking responsibility for the "Charlie Hebdo" attack, not the kosher market attack. You have Amedy Coulibaly, who appears to have executed that attack, pledging allegiance to ISIS.
So what is known, if anything, about Coulibaly's, I guess, his being in touch with ISIS in Syria or Iraq? Do we know anything?
KING: Again, all of that is still being investigated. It does appear there was connections between him and the brothers.
But, again, even -- everything here, this is only the first several days. And this is going to be so tracked so completely and so thoroughly that I think so much more is going to come out over the next days, weeks and months on this. And I think we're going to find more, rather than less, as we go forward.
And then Coulibaly, finally, his girlfriend or common law wife, Hayat Boumeddiene, she fled to Turkey. It appears she's now in Syria. Do you have any idea where she is? And can you tell us how important of an asset she is?
KING: I would say she would be very important, because obviously she was well-connected.
And it appears as if she knew something might be happening. And maybe that's why she left. And whether or not she could be any involvement with both ISIS and with AQAP, we don't know. So, I would say she's very important. And, again, odds are she's very important. I don't know where she is. And if I did, I couldn't tell you anyway. But I don't know.
And I would say that if they can get ahold of her, that would -- she would certainly have, I think, a lot of intelligence to give.
KEILAR: All right, Congressman, thanks so much for being with us. Really appreciate it.
KING: Brianna, thank you very much.
KEILAR: Congressman Peter King joining us there from New York.
And just ahead, we will go back live to Paris for the latest on the breaking news. It's a report of another suspect identified in the terror attack investigation. Plus, the chilling new images of the deadly siege of that kosher
market, what clues does it contain for investigators?
KEILAR: We're following the breaking news, a report of another suspect identified in the Paris terror attacks and a claim of responsibility by al Qaeda in Yemen.
CNN chief security national correspondent Jim Sciutto is in Paris for us.
Tell us, Jim, what you are learning about this additional suspect.
SCIUTTO: Brianna, two clues leading French police to this possible suspect, one, a set of keys to a motorbike left behind in a hideout apartment of Amedy Coulibaly. He's the man who took the kosher market hostage.
Two, ammunition, the same ammunition used by Coulimani -- Coulibaly, rather, in the kosher market tied to ammunition used to shoot a jogger in a park just before that attack, police also looking into the possibility that this additional suspect may have driven Coulibaly to the kosher market before he took over the store.
It's early. Police still investigating. But they also believe now, Brianna, unfortunately, that this suspect may have already left the country for Syria.
KEILAR: Al Qaeda in Yemen, AQAP, today releasing a video claiming responsibility for this attack. Jim, what is the reaction that you are hearing there in France?
SCIUTTO: Well, in France, additional shock, because, of course, AQAP, like with the U.S., here considered one of the most threatening international terror groups, with great capabilities.
So, of course, the concern is, if they could carry out an attack like this, might they be able to carry out additional attacks? But U.S. officials I have spoken to still raising question about -- questions about whether AQAP necessarily exercised command and control over this attack or perhaps gave funding and training to the fighters and gave them a fair amount of flexibility to choose the target, timing, et cetera.
It's early, though, Brianna, as you know. And these things change very quickly, based on intelligence that they're gathering over these coming days.
KEILAR: The big story there on the ground in Paris today has been this latest issue of "Charlie Hebdo." It was released today. How did people react to this, Jim?
SCIUTTO: Well, they reacted in probably the most telling way possible, by going out and buying up all the copies extremely quickly. Three million already off the shelves. They're going to print another 2 million just to meet the demand. Keep in mind, that's 100 times more than the typical weekly print of this.
And people buying it partly because of interest but also partly as a show of support for the magazine and as a show of strength for France. They're viewing this, in a way, as a way to show their unity, like they did in that march on Sunday.
Even the French national carrier, Air France, apparently buying 20,000 copies to give to all the passengers on their flights. This is something of a sort of show of force, a collective show of force here in defense of what they say is the freedom of expression.
KEILAR: All right, Jim Sciutto. And we know there are more copies on the way, too. So much demand. And not enough supply, as it turned out, for a publication that normally has 60,000 -- a circulation of 60,000.
Jim Sciutto, thanks so much.
I want to get more now with CNN national security analyst Fran Townsend. We have CNN global affairs analyst, Lieutenant Colonel James Reese. We have Philip Crowther, Washington correspondent for the French news channel France 23; and we have CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes.
Tom, let's talk about this -- what appears to be a foiled plot here in the U.S. today, a man in Ohio, a sympathizer or supporter of ISIS, arrested as it appeared that he was starting to become operational on a plot to attack the Capitol. How big of a threat was this?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think, fortunately, the fact that he was on social media trying to recruit people indicates that he didn't have a super-secret cell that was asleep and then activated. So it doesn't sound like he's part of command and control from ISIS or AQAP or one of the overseas cells of al Qaeda.
But this is the fear, that people, the lone wolves that just get radicalized and operate themselves, try to become operational on their own.
KEILAR: Certainly. And Colonel Reese, it looks like this is a plot that may have been foiled early. Perhaps this planner was not doing his best to evade the authorities, going on social media.
At the same time, there will certainly be other folks who may be a little more clandestine about this. And there's really no way that law enforcement can tackle all of these individuals, right?
LT. COL. JAMES REESE (RET.), CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: That's correct. Like we've talked about, there's a threat matrix out there. There's smart people out there who are prioritizing that metric every day and putting the surveillance against it. And we just -- law enforcement and the intelligence services also
have to get help from the public. If they see something, they have to say something, which is a big part of the surveillance picture out there.
KEILAR: All right. And speaking of pictures, we did just get one. Let's put it up. This is of this suspect, this man in Ohio. His name is Chris Lee Cornell. He looks young because he is very young. About 20 years old, as we understand. So that is our first look at him, coming to us from our affiliate, WKRC.
I want to turn now, Fran, and talk about the attacks in Paris. This video released by AQAP, there's a claim in it that's key, that the now deceased U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki had a role in this attack. He's not just deceased; he's been dead since 2011. So if this claim is legitimate, why did it take so long for the Kouachi brothers to carry out the attack?
FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know, Brianna, it's not that unusual. Anwar al-Awlaki, remember, he was tied also to the underwear bomber, Abdulmutallab, al-Awlaki. And in that case, what happened was he told him, "I want it to be a U.S. airliner. I want it to blow up over U.S. soil." And then they released him to do -- pick his time, pick his target. And so it's not that unusual.
The timing -- the lapse of time, this is longer than you might expect. You don't know what could have interrupted this. It's likely the brothers, when they were in Yemen, received training from AQAP and may, in fact -- investigators are looking to try and determine whether or not one or both brothers might have met Anwar al-Awlaki before he was killed in a U.S. drone strike.
You know, they don't have to exercise direct command and control, hit this target on this day and in this way. Typically, they -- that -- it's just too complicated.
The other thing I would say is investigators really want to know whether or not there was additional contact between AQAP and the Kouachi brothers when they were in France. Remember, Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber, he used -- he was instructed to use encryption to be able to continue contact after he deployed to conduct the bombing.
And so if that's the case, despite all the drone strikes, despite progress against AQAP in Yemen, they've managed to maintain some amount of command and control. And that will be key in this investigation.
KEILAR: They may still be finding channels to evade surveillance. All right. Thank you.
And Philip, I want to ask you about the weapons. We see pictures of the weapons that were used by the Kouachi brothers, by the kosher market attacker. What's the chance that these were obtained in France? PHILIP CROWTHER, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, FRANCE 23: There are
possibilities. These are the kind of weapons that have been used by gangs in the Paris suburbs in the past.
But there is some pretty good reporting coming out of Belgium from Belgium newspapers and from regional French newspapers, as well, that these weapons might have been bought in Brussels or around Brussels. These are the weapons that were used by Amedy Coulibaly in that grocery store. That is one clear possibility now.
Usually, with those weapons, as far as I know, they tend to come from Yugoslavia. Bosnia is mentioned quite a lot. These are not common weapons in France. There's one thing you absolutely have to remember. Weapons in general are just not very common in France. They are very difficult to buy. You certainly can't buy them legally. And certainly not this kind of weapon. We're talking of AK-47s and possibly rocket launchers, as well. That is certainly not a common occurrence.
KEILAR: No, certainly not. Different in the U.S. Interesting to point out as well.
All right. Stick with me, panel. We are going to be back in just a minute. I want to squeeze in a break. And then we have many more questions in just a moment.
KEILAR: We are following breaking news, including new pictures from inside the Paris kosher market where four people were killed in the terror attack carried out by Amedy Coulibaly.
Tom Fuentes back here now with me to take a closer look. We've gone through some of these photos, but this is the one that I wanted to discuss with you. This is what appears to be Amedy Coulibaly. What do you read as happening here?
FUENTES: Well, it appears that he's supervising one of the employees, probably locking the fire doors to the back or the side entry to this location so the police can't come in from that way and sneak up on him. So he appears to be supervising. Obviously, he's wearing his gear, backpack, load-bearing vest -- bullet-proof vest.
KEILAR: Is this a gun?
FUENTES: I can't tell, actually, from this picture if it is or if it's a handgun below the -- you know, behind whatever it is here that's hiding it. So I'm not sure that he's got the gun in that hand.
KEILAR: OK. So he's securing the door here. And then there's something else that happens. And we have many photos of this.
The ladder goes up towards one of the security cameras. You can see a man down here who we believe is a hostage, according to witness accounts. And then, look, he starts to dismantle the cameras. What does this tell you about how much improvisation is going on and what Coulibaly wanted to happen?
FUENTES: I think it tells me that he might have thought that the security cameras had a live feed to the police and that, if he walked in front of a window or something and it's noticed by the police, they can use these video feeds to determine that it's him and maybe take a sniper shot to take him out. So I think he wants to take that out and eliminate, maybe, being seen or shot through the windows from the front of the building.
KEILAR: OK. And then I do want to revisit something, this photo here. This is of what appears to be eight or nine hostages. What do you think they're doing here in this picture? They're -- I mean, they're obviously cooperating with what whatever the demands are, right?
FUENTES: Yes. This looks like a meeting where they're being told something by someone. You would presume that Coulibaly may be the one that's telling them. But they seem to be paying particular attention to whatever is being told or shown to them.
KEILAR: OK, Tom Fuentes, thanks so much.
I want to bring in Colonel Reese on this. You're looking at some of these photos, Colonel. Tell us what stands out to you.
REESE: Well, a couple things, Brianna. We talked earlier today about the equipment that Coulibaly is wearing. The -- I call it a flak vest, really, because it's not -- it's not a new-generation Kevlar vest. That flak vest has the same patterns that I saw in the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in '01 and '02. And that pattern was the same pattern that was worn by the German and the Belgian forces.
So that tells me he's got surplus military equipment that some of this money that was used from the financing of this operation was used in the gathering of the pieces, along with the equipment vest and some of the other pieces of equipment he's carrying.
KEILAR: Fran, does anything stand out to you? I talked with some experts today. And they seem to say that perhaps he hadn't really cased the place. It seemed really improvisational to them. What do you think?
TOWNSEND: You know, the one thing, I agree with that, Brianna. But the one thing I will say, there are a bunch of small pieces that we ought to -- I think it's fair to say we can't presume it's coincidental.
After the "Charlie Hebdo" attack, there was a car set on fire. Where was that? That was outside of a synagogue. The shooting of the police officer was near a Jewish school. The fact that this is a Jewish market, clear -- a kosher market.
Clearly, this is -- the particular market may have been a randomly chosen. I think we've got to assume that Coulibaly went about this in a pretty deliberate way in terms of choosing his targets, and he was targeting Jewish worshipers and Jewish institutions.
KEILAR: Yes, sending a message, definitely --
KEILAR: -- it seems like by his choices of targets.
Philip, it appears that Coulibaly might not have been in this alone, that he may have had some help. There is another man who has been identified. It seems he may have fled France. What do you know about this?
PHILIP CROWTHER, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, FRANCE 24: Identified, yes, but no name given and no location. So, there's a distinct possibility that this person if he is or she is a suspect, might have fled all the way to Syria. Syria is mentioned in the reporting by the "Le Parisien" newspaper. They are who got their quotes from Paris investigators and from the anti terrorism police unit. That's where they've got their information from at this point.
So, this is a possible accomplice who might have driven Amedy Coulibaly to this grocery store. That's one of the elements of this investigation at this point.
This is just one additional suspect. We're looking at plenty more. Remember, for example, there was that video filmed of Amedy Coulibaly in which he says he is doing this for ISIS.
Who might have filmed that video? That might possibly have been that same person. That is another possible suspect. There are plenty.
Also, there's another Frenchman being held in Bulgaria at this point who will be extradited possibly to France by the end of the week, by Friday. That's another person who might have additional information. It's a real spider web of suspects at this point.
KEILAR: Yes, we heard one report out of France today. It could be a lot more in terms of accomplices. So, we will be waiting to see if that does come to fruition.
All right. Philip Crowther, thanks for being with on here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Tom Fuentes, always good to have you. Fran Townsend, thank you. And, Colonel Reese, really appreciate you talking with us as well.
All right. We have more breaking news ahead. There's a report of authorities looking for another terror suspect connected to the Paris attacks.
And we have new details of the incredible plot to poison House Speaker John Boehner.
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REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Good morning, everyone. The situation in Iraq --
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KEILAR: Breaking news here in the CNN SITUATION ROOM: the FBI has arrested an Ohio man, a 20-year-old, for allegedly identifying with ISIS and planning an attack on the U.S. Capitol.
I want to bring our panel back in here -- Fran, Philip, Tom and Colonel Reese.
Fran, this is the question I have. We're seeing a pattern here -- young men who are inspired to extremism. How many -- do we have any idea how many people we may be talking about here in the U.S., who might be interested in doing something like this young man?
TOWNSEND: You know, we really don't. And the problem with this is, is it's an ever growing population. Brianna, I think we've spoken before. I started a non-profit called the Counter-Extremism Project, because, frankly, social media platforms, which are, by and large, been a force for good, have now been subverted and used by extremists to sort of disseminate their propaganda.
It's a recruitment tool. It's an inspiration. There are sorts of disgusting images, videos of beheading, pictures of beheadings, calling for action.
And it seems like this Ohio man was just such case. He's on there. He's sort of likes the ideology and looking for an opportunity to act. With all these bad actors using social media to sort of disseminate their propaganda, it's a very dangerous environment and it's almost impossible to predict when someone goes just from supporting the ideology and talking about it on social media, to actually acting.
The FBI interrupted this one, but there are too many for them to be able to do that every time.
KEILAR: All right. Let's take a look at a couple of photos we've got from our affiliate WKRC. One is the yearbook photo of the young man. You can really see just how young he is. This -- yes, 20- year-old Chris Lee Cornell, and there's also pictures of authorities really taking him down, getting him there and then arresting him. And, currently, he is in custody at this point.
So, this is an example of a potential lone wolf. How big of an issue is this?
FUENTES: Well, as Fran says, social media is their best friend for recruiting and for, you know, trying to get support. It's also their worth enemy because now, with outreach of U.S. law enforcement, the FBI, state, local police going into the communities, when these postings go on social media, very often, the authorities are notified, hey, take a look that the guy. And that's what's helped so many cases like that, and that's, you know, what we hear doesn't happen as much, that kind of outreach in many other parts of the world.
KEILAR: Colonel Reese, I know this is a very new and developing story. But when you look at the case of this young man, what stands out to you?
LT. COL. JAMES REESE (RET), CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Brianna, I think a lot of the folks are starting so see, especially the males, is they're disenfranchised. They're looking for something to belong to. It's their chance to get in the spotlight, to get on the show, to be seen on YouTube, and it's something that draws them into. And ISIS and some of these other organizations are good at this information age of drawing in kind of a Hollywood platform to be part of.
KEILAR: And, Philip, really quickly before we go, that's really the universal aspect here, right? This being ostracized or feeling ostracized by mainstream culture and looking for belonging somewhere else. We see that in France as well, very much.
CROWTHER: That's the fear throughout Europe as well. What's this term that comes back -- the possibly lone wolf attack.
That is something that has been mentioned all the way up to the U.S. president himself. That is something that was associated with this attack in Paris as well. Though, at the end of the day, this was a group of attackers who were better armed and clearly better trained for that one person might have been -- might have been inspired by some kind of ideology at home. The plot that we're looking at in Paris is much more complex than what you just call a lone wolf attack.
KEILAR: Certainly much more sophisticated.
All right. Thank you so much to everyone on the panel. Really appreciate you being here.
We have another major story that's breaking right now. It's major shake up at the Secret Service. Four top officials asked to leave their jobs. This coming after a series of security breaches at the White House. You remember this one in September when man with a knife jumped the fence and got inside of the White House.
We're also learning new details of -- this is an incredible plot quietly frankly, to kill House Speaker John Boehner.
CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash working this story.
Dana, this is just eye popping. What are you finding out?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is. But we're seeing more evidence today, including newly released 911 calls that show how disturbed this man appears to be and possibly capable of anything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Speaker.
BASH (voice-over): It's like the plot of a Hollywood thriller. Country club bartender threatens to poison the speaker of the House.
But this indictment is very real -- charging Michael Robert Hoyt with threatening to murder John Boehner. The disturbed Hoyt telling police he was Jesus Christ, even blaming Boehner for Ebola.
BOEHNER: Can't make this stuff up.
BASH: That was Boehner's response when CNN asked about the threat, which he has known since it happened last fall. Boehner and his wife Debbie knew Bartender Mike as he was called, for years.
He even had Debbie Boehner's e-mail address and sent her this chilling note after he was fired from their Westchester, Ohio country club, writing, "If I had any intention of hurting Mr. Boehner, I could have poisoned his wine at Wetherington many, many times."
"What is this about?" Debbie Boehner responded. Hoyt's rambling answer in part, "Mrs. Boehner, I was fired. I could not e-mail Mr. Boehner directly because of the zip code block on his e-mail."
The next day, he placed an unintelligible call to 911.
ROBERT MICHAEL HOYT (via telephone): Yes, this is Mike -- I messed up.
BASH: When police went to his home, Hoyt said he had heard the devil's voice telling him John Boehner was evil and he planned to shoot Boehner with an automatic weapon.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MAJORITY LEADER: It's sad situation. I think this individual needs a great deal of help but the speaker also needs to be protected.
BASH: After September 11th, security was stepped up on Capitol Hill. This armored vehicle known as BearCat sits outside.
But when most lawmakers are at home, they're on their own, a fact on deadly display four years ago when an assassin tried to kill then- Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
But Capitol police do protect congressional leaders and the House Speaker, second in line to the presidency, has more protection than any other. He does not make a move inside the Capitol or out without security detail. But nothing is absolute.
DOUG HEYE, FORMER GOP DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: There may be security at table next to them, but they're patron like any other customer.
BASH: Doug Heye was a top aide to former House leader Eric Cantor when a bullet hole was found in his Virginia office.
(on camera): How common is this kind of thing? HEYE: Unfortunately, it's more common than anybody would expect.
They all get angry letters every day from Republicans, from Democrats, from independents. But every once in a while, somebody steps over the line, says something they shouldn't do, makes some overt threat. And every time, the Capitol police investigates it.
BASH: Capitol police are reluctant to talk about the specifics about running down threats to lawmakers, but we do know there's an entire division of the department dedicated to it. It's called a threat assessment section.
And, you know, when attacks like what we saw with former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords happen, Brianna, especially at the hands of people who are disturbed, there's a lot of should have, would have, could have, the good news is on this case, police jumped on signs of trouble and prevented something potentially devastating from happening, Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes, very good news in this case, but very alarming as well.
Dana Bash --
BASH: No question.
KEILAR: -- thank you so much. Really appreciate the report.
And remember that you can always follow us on twitter. You just tweet the show @CNNsitroom. Be sure to join us tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM.
That's it for me. I'm Brianna Keilar. We were in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.