Return to Transcripts main page


Terror Arrests Across Europe; US to Deploy Troops to Train Moderate Syrians; Investigation of Paris Terror Attacks; Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's Trial Won't Be Delayed; Denying Cancer Treatment not to Hurt Unborn Baby

Aired January 16, 2015 - 20:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Wolf Blitzer filling in for Anderson.

We begin tonight with breaking news about the terror operations under way right now in Belgium. Concern that there are some members of a terror cell that are still on the run, a possible ISIS connection, and new and disturbing details about what the cell was planning to do.

CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank has been getting new information from his counterterrorism sources in Belgium and that includes word that the cell targeted in this raid had obtained bomb making material.

Paul is joining us now.

Paul, the members of this cell that are still at large. What are your sources telling you about them?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Wolf, there's a significant concern about the members of this cell still believed to be at large in Belgium tonight. The fear that Belgium counterterrorism officials have is they could still strike, that they could still be armed and they may wish to strike to avenge the death in that shootout yesterday of two of the fighters who were killed.

Fighters believed to be linked back to Syria and to ISIS. They have been recruited by ISIS. The Belgians believe this was an ISIS directed plot. They have intelligence suggesting there was a middleman, a key operative in Greece who was running the operation from there. They reached out to the CIA to try to get help and try to locate this operative in Greece. But they weren't able to do that. He's still at large as well. So significant concern that ISIS is pivoting towards wanting to launch attacks in Europe against the countries involved in airstrikes against it in Iraq and Belgium is one of those countries.

BLITZER: The bomb-making material that they obtained in these raids, I understand it's the same material Al-Qaeda planned to use to attack New York back in 2009. Is that correct?

CRUICKSHANK: That's absolutely right. That was the (INAUDIBLE) plotted to attack subways in New York City in September 2009. This is a powerful explosive. Many times more powerful than what we saw in the Boston attacks, for example. Relatively tricky to make because it's so unstable, so you need to get some training.

So the Belgians believe that this cell likely got some training in Syria in how to make these explosives, Wolf. But the concern here is that this could have been a sort of terrorism spectacular. Because of the fact they found this explosive, because of the fact they found these police uniforms. That is suggestive of the idea that they'd want to try to and get access to a sensitive site somewhere in Belgium. Of course, Belgium where you have NATO, where you have the European commission. This is the heart of Europe.

BLITZER: Certainly is. Paul Cruickshank, thank you very much.

There's been a constant stream of terror-related arrests throughout all of Europe over the past week in France. Four people have been detained in addition to the 12 arrested in connection with the Paris attacks. Two suspects were killed in the raid in Belgium and there have been 13 arrests. Two alleged ISIS supporters have been arrested in Germany. And an 18-year-old yesterday, yes, an 18-year-old woman was arrested at an airport right near London on suspicion of terrorism.

Along fast moving developments in Belgium tonight. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is joining us now from Brussels.

Fred, what's the latest on the ground there in Belgium?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the -- I was just speaking to a senior official here in counterterrorism. And he was the one who told me that of these 17 people that were rounded up in these terrorism raids yesterday, that only three are actually still in custody. The rest have been released apparently that might be indicted at a later time. But of the three who were released is also the surviving member of that raid in Verviers.

Remember, Wolf, that yesterday there was one of those raids that went very, very violent with two people who were killed. One of those people survived. And the interesting thing is that the official tells me the reason why that man survived is because he was under the shower when that raid started.

However, the other two who were in the house in Verviers were heavily armed and they were ready when the police got there. The latest we got is that they had the guns and immediately fired open at the police officers when they started the raid and that's what led to the very long shootout and ultimately to the death of these two people.

The official we're talking to also tells us that he believes that it was those three who were at that site in Verviers who were the ones who were supposed to carry out the killings. He said the other ones were involved in that plot were doing logistics. These people were the ones who supposed to kill the police officers is also the site where those police uniforms were found. And that, of course, Wolf, what causing this great concern her in Belgium tonight. The police is on a high state of alert. Police officers are not allowed to walk around alone. They have to walk in groups. They always have bulletproof vests and they always have to have their weapons with them even when they're off duty, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. All of which makes an enormous amount of sense. There were this anti-terror operations, Fred, across all of Europe today including France, Germany, the UK. What more can you tell us about those operations?

PLEITGEN: Well, the big question is right now is whether or not these were conservative operations whether or not they have any sort of link to the Belgium operation. The Belgium keeps saying that they don't. And they also don't have any sort of link to the Paris operation. But it does seem like quite of a coincidence that all of these would be taking place almost at the same time.

There are sources who are saying that as many as 20 cells might be operational in Europe and those were the targets of some of these operations. That as many as 120 to 180 operatives might be involved in these cells.

And so therefore, there is grave concern in Europe as you've mentioned, in Germany, in the Netherlands, in France and in Belgium as well. And these are threats that, of course, are ongoing. One of the things our sources keep tells us is, yes, they have nabbed some people in Belgium. They have arrested some people in Germany. But they always say they can never stand out all. There are still people out there, these connections sometimes are very, very loose but there might be people out there who want to avenge, for instance, what happened here in Belgium yesterday, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Fred Pleitgen, in Brussels for us. Thank you.

CNN is also getting new information about what the United States knew about the terrorist plot in Belgium. Our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta joining us with more on this.

What are you learning, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you know, earlier today, President Obama and prime minister David Cameron from the UK, they said they are going to continue to do everything that they can to help France seek justice after last week's attack and work thwart terrorist plots something that has apparently unfolding, as you said, in Belgium and across Europe.

But my colleague, Barbara Starr, has been reporting that the U.S. intelligence community was tracking a plot taking shape in Belgium and was providing information to Belgian authorities.

And Wolf, I can tell you a senior administration official told me within the last hour that the U.S. is in close and continuing contact with Belgian counterparts and have offer what they call potentially relevant information that they believe might have the possibility of aiding that investigation.

This official did not want to confirm what that information might be. But Wolf, this is another indication of a major worry for the Obama administration and governments across Europe that these foreign fighters are flowing. Two Syrian countries like that back to the U.S., back to the west and can potentially carry out attacks on the home front.

BLITZER: And with President Obama and the British prime minister, David Cameron, today, there were points where they didn't necessarily all sound like they were on the exact same page when it comes to the global fight against terror, isn't that right?

ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. I mean, you heard the prime minister described what he called a very serious Islamist extremist terrorist threat across the world. The president still clear of that kind of language and urged Europe not to use a hammer or law enforcement alone in dealing with this issue. He also suggested that countries across Europe need to play catch-up when it comes to integrating Muslims in their societies.

Also, I thought it was striking. You heard the prime minister saying he wants high-tech companies like apple and Google to be more cooperative but still stunned by the Edward Snowden scandal saying privacy rights cannot be thrown overboard. So really, these two leaders while they were sounding tough today, they weren't exactly on the same page and they obviously have some disagreements to work through, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. That was clear to all of us who watched the news conference.

All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

Joining us now, the former FBI and CIA senior official Phillip Mudd. And on the phone, joining us from Brussels, Guy Van Vlierden. He is a journalist from the Belgium newspaper, HLN.

Phil, what's your reaction to Paul Cruickshank's latest reporting on this Belgian cell and its possible connection to ISIS?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Look, I think what we're going to see over time is an explosion of information out of these cells. You are going to pick up hard drives. You are going to pick up cell phones. I'm guessing that it will show a connection with people in ISIS who are directly responsible not for trying to take territory in Iraq and Syria, but for turning attention solely to try and train people who come back to Europe or potentially north America.

My guess is that in the forensic investigation here, that is picking up the data from cell phones and laptops and in the interrogations of these people over the coming days. We will find at least direct connectivity to trainers in ISIS who are responsible for training foreigners to go back home.

BLITZER: Guy, I understand your sources are telling you that another aspiration of this group was ISIS-style beheadings. That they wanted to post on the internet. Is that right?

GUY VAN VLIERDEN, JOURNALIST (via phone): That's right. That's one of the things brought out today. I have to say, the federal prosecutor's office today declined to elaborate on that kind of plot. They told us that is what the aim was to kill policemen but without giving any more details. But we got second confirmation from a very high ranking government source that was at least spoken about. We don't know for sure whether it was the final idea to commit at the attack, the idea of the law (INAUDIBLE), but at a certain point it was certainly discussed.

BLITZER: And Guy, do you also know whether or not these alleged terrorists who have been picked up and others in this so-called sleeper cells, were they ready to become so-called martyrs? Were they ready to die in all of these operations against people in Belgium?

VAN VLIERDEN: We're not sure about that at the moment. Little is known about the identities, for example. So we can't trace them back to any past communications they have already given. I read about one of the people who was named, that's still very uncertain. I read one of his former messages on facebook, in which he told if I want -- once a guy in Syria and he told if I will come back to Belgium, it will be with a weapon. It will be to take revenge against people that have marred the devil. It will be only to revenge, to take revenge in the name of Allah. That was one of the things that guy, the adults, his followers on facebook.

BLITZER: That's pretty chilling stuff.

Phil, the breadth of these anti-terror operations across so many countries in Europe right now is stunning. If they're not all connected, why are they all happening simultaneously?

MUDD: I think one of the things that's happening is we're seeing something that's surprising me. That is the pivot of ISIS. Just last summer, we were talking about how quickly ISIS was taking over geography. For a terrorist group to turn around in six or eight months and start training people for operations in Europe is remarkable. So I think what you have is security services watching what's happening in Belgium and Paris and saying, we're sitting on a lot of cases. We better not sit on them too long because the speed with which they're going operational is faster than we're accustomed to.

One more thing as an operator, a former operator, Wolf, and that is, when you take cases like this down, you also shake the wires. That is, if there are other people out there, the likelihood that someone might make a mistake and communication goes up. So there's an opportunity created by these raids that might allow you to see things you didn't see three days ago as people get nervous.

BLITZER: Phillip Mudd, Guy Van Vlierden, thank you to both of you, very much.

A quick reminder. Make sure to set your DVR so you can watch "360" whenever you'd like.

Just ahead, we have more on the breaking news. The arrest in Paris related to last week's deadly attacks.

Plus, what we know about whether the Kouachi brothers were actually working on direct orders from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Also ahead, the United States now sending hundreds of troops to train Syrian opposition forces in the fight against ISIS and Al-Qaeda. A lot of concerns about that plan. We are taking a closer look at all the angles when "360" continues.


BLITZER: Let's get back to the breaking news tonight.

An international manhunt under way right now for terror suspects thought to be still on the run after those raids in Belgium.

Meanwhile, there have been new arrested in around Paris in connection with last week's shootings.

We're also learning more about the attack on the "Charlie Hebdo" offices and the siege on the kosher supermarket and the possible terrorism alliances between and behind those attacks.

Our justice correspondent Pamela Brown is joining us live from Paris right now with the latest.

Pamela, what, at least a dozen suspects detained last night in Paris? What can you tell us about that?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right. We've learned that the dozen suspects are eight men, four women, Wolf, who had an affiliation with Amedy Coulibaly, one of the terror suspects. We're told by the prosecutor that they ran in the same circles. That they were part of his entourage and that they provided him logistical support.

But we don't know is whether or not they were actually complicit with the terrorist attacks here or whether they unwittingly provided logistical support. Here in France, you can hold suspects or people of interest for several days. And then so they're going through the process now questioning them, Wolf, to see if they have probable cause to hold them any longer.

BLITZER: Pamela, the attacks last week, do the authorities there in Paris yet know whether or not they were specifically ordered by the AQAP, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, leadership?

BROWN: Well, despite Al-Qaeda's claim to responsibility in the recent video that just surfaced, I'm being told by sources that at this point it doesn't appear that there was command and control coming from AQAP. A source I spoke with today said this is more like highly franchised terrorism where they were giving loose general instructions, where they basically told, look. You pick the time, you pick the place. We want you to launch a terrorist attack.

I'm told that the brothers, the Kouachi brothers were legitimately aligned with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. We know one of them traveled to Yemen in 2011. But Amedy Coulibaly, that's less clear to authorities. They still don't know what his connection is with ISIS. He may have just been an ISIS sympathizer, Wolf. And that's still what they're trying to pin down at this point.

BLITZER: In terms of any coordination, Pamela, between Coulibaly, the man who attacked that kosher supermarket and the Kouachi brothers. What are your sources telling you about that?

BROWN: Well, this is really interesting because we know that Coulibaly knew the Kouachi brothers. That they were in the same circles. That they have been in trouble with the law around the same time. And Coulibaly released that video where he said he was aligned with ISIS and that he was coordinating with the Kouachi brothers or at least insinuated that.

And sources I'm speaking with that are part of this investigation say that's not yet clear. They have not been able to nail down yet whether there was actually coordination between the brothers and Coulibaly or whether `Coulibaly just saw their actions and then followed suit taking his own actions as, you know, as a direct response to what the brothers did. That's still unclear.

This investigation is still ongoing, Wolf, and there's still a lot of answers that investigators are looking for.

BLITZER: I suspect there's going to be a lot more arrests in the days ahead as well.

Pamela, thank you very much. Pamela Brown reporting from Paris.

And as Pamela mentioned, the western official is now telling CNN that the Kouachi brothers were, quote, "legitimately aligned with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an alignment by several accounts included training in Yemen."

CNN senior traditional correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is the only reporter from an American television network who is now on the scene in Yemen for us. He is joining us from the capital of Sinai.

This is dangerous operation for you as well, Nick. First of all, be careful.

What is the connection over there between the Kouachi brothers and Al- Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP, which is based in Yemen, where you are?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Kouachi brothers said in their phone calls (ph) to media that they were working for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and said that one of the key figures killed by U.S. drone strike in 2011, a U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki was in fact the man who helped organize what they were doing. That was a sentiment echoed by the statement we heard in the last 72 hours from AQAP. An 11 minute video in which they, too, said al-Awlaki had in fact been the organizer.

The key thing for investigators, though, is to work out if that's true. They have the two bits of matching jigsaw coming actually fit them together at this stage. That's the key for many Yemeni officials to answer here. They're working with western allies. One said interior ministry official today gave an interesting details

saying that as early as August 2009, the elder brother, Said, did come to Yemen. That's helpful because it means it's possible as now two witnesses here are telling us he briefly roomed with a man called the underwear bomber, Umar Abdulmutallab, who tried to bomb in Detroit in 2009.

But more details still have to emerge here. Most key is this interior ministry official goes on to say the suggestion that Said came in and out two or three times until maybe as late as 2012, did his younger brother Cherif come in on his passport in 2011. And most importantly, was 2011 when the brothers it seems made their last trip here, the end of their communications with AQAP? Did they become a sleeper cell or was there resources and planning or targeting passed from here in Yemen to that cell in Paris? Vital questions now for investigators across Europe to answer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And Nick, that overall situation in Yemen where you are right now, it's awful. Some people suggesting that it's almost like a failed state, get outside of the sauna. You don't know what is going on. And all of this, correct me if I'm wrong, is clearly helping AQAP.

WALSH: Well, the initial chaos of the Yemen civil conflict here created that vacuum in which AQ could find a place to exist here. But it's getting worse all the time. Right now, the country is dealing with an economy on the edge of collapse. There is a predominantly at pro sheer tribe that are swept in to the capital called the (INAUDIBLE). Checkpoints all over this city. That has got Al-Qaeda and many Sunni tribes here, Al-Qaeda are the dominantly Sunni, deeply concern that in clashes with them.

That's had an impact too on Al-Qaeda's ability to recruit because many nervous Sunnis here. In fact, joining up with them on the local battlefield. Now, what one diplomat said that's actually helping Al- Qaeda focus on attacks against the west. They've got more guns on the ground here. So that makes it easier for their people run as the external operations wing, to in fact focus on attacks like what's happening in Paris. And as the diplomat said to me, focus on grooming the next generation of bomb makers, chilling stuff indeed.

BLITZER: Nick Paton Walsh in Sinai, Yemen for us. One of our courageous journalist. Be careful over there, Nick. Thanks for your excellent reporting.

And as always, you can find a whole lot more on this and so many other stories at Just go there.

Just ahead, the Pentagon's new plan to defeat ISIS. Hundreds more U.S. troops will soon be deployed. We are going to tell you exactly what they'll be doing.

Plus, a key question. Is it too little too late?

Also, married to terror. Authorities are now tracing the ties between the wives of the Paris attackers. How close were they, how much did they know about their husbands, what they were planning on doing? New information coming in.


BLITZER: Today, the Pentagon said it will deploy more than 400 U.S. troops to train and equip moderate rebels in Syria and target ISIS. The training will take place in Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Over the past ten days, we've seen how strong the pull of ISIS is, other extremist groups as well. From the Paris terror attacks to raids on suspected militants across Europe to the pleas of an American mother whose son is charged with supporting ISIS.

Here's what Zarine Khan told Anderson last night in an exclusive interview.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Zarine, what is your message to those who would try to recruit kids to extremists, to ISIS?

ZARINE KHAN, SON ACCUSED OF SUPPORTING ISIS: To leave our children alone, please. That's my only message. To stop recruiting these children. They're too young. They don't know what's going on there. You know, they're small. They don't understand what they're getting into.


BLITZER: So one significant question tonight, with more training by U.S. troops make really any difference at all in the battle against ISIS in Syria or is it too little too late?

Joins us now, CNN's national security analyst, the former CIA officer Bob Bear. Also joining us our global affairs analyst, former delta force member retired lieutenant colonel James Reese.

Bob, U.S. personnel on the ground in these other countries, training these so-called moderate rebels. Do you think that's a pretty bad idea? Tell us why.

ROBERT BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's not such a bad idea as it's too late. We should have done this in 2011, form an army that can remove Bashar al-Assad. Right now, you've got the best fighters in the field there. There these ISIS, the Islamists, Jabhat al-Nusra.

Additionally, Wolf, I would talked about this before, but I think these areas of Syria, the Sunni areas in Iraq are pretty much gone. We are seeing the break up at the Middle East. We can try to, you know, put our finger in the dike. But at the end of the day, 300 is not enough.

The only way you are going to hold Syria together in Iraq is put American ground forces and that who knows for how long. But I just don't see this working.

BLITZER: Colonel Reese, what do you think? What do you make of what Bob just said because you believe the U.S. potentially needs to do more as far as what's going on in Syria right now is concerned, right?

REESE: Yeah, Wolf. I believe we're either all in or all out. And when I say all in, we need to get more folks there to do this training. We need to get the Jordanians, the Saudis all involved in a training aspect. If not, then step out and tell the Arab nations, hey, it's on you. But the other point is this. What are we going to do with those - with those spiders once we are trained? Are we going after Assad, which we've been seeing, he's the center of gravity on this whole issue for the last six months or are we going after ISIS and we're going to bypass Assad? That to me is another question, but 400 troops, half of them are support troops anyway in about a 2:1 ratio for operator/trainer to a support guy. So, you're talking 200 and when you are doing training at a 10:1 ratio, it's not real good when you are really trying to get these guys up to a higher level of fight what's out there in Syria right now.

BLITZER: Bob, what do you make about that point that Colonel Reese just made, that the U.S. has to do something that America just can't leave that large swath of Syria and now Iraq for that matter under ISIS control and clearly those U.S. and coalition airstrikes, they are making a dent, but I suspect not much yet.

BAER: Well, the colonel is absolutely right. I mean we can bomb them for the next 20 years, but that's not going to change things on the ground. The bombing has blunted the Islamic state's offensive against the Kurds and against Baghdad. They can't get out on the road. That's fine, but at the end of the day, this totalitarian regime has a complete hold over these people.

And, you know, Wolf, you're right, we just can't let this thing go, but there's something we need to do diplomatically, politically to fix this. I mean, when you defeat Bashar al Assad, what replaces him? Who's going to protect the Alawites? The other problem we have, is we can do the training quite well as we did in Afghanistan and beat the Soviet Army in the '80s, but once the weapons crossed the border and the trained personnel, you can't account for them. They're not under our control. So, you know, the flow of history will go the way it goes. You know, in spite of our best efforts.

BLITZER: It's been going on like that for hundreds of years, colonel. Once the United States goes in there, robustly with hundreds of thousands of troops, there's no doubt the U.S. can get the job done, but look what happens in those countries as soon as the U.S. pulls out. Look what's happened in Iraq, for example. And given the huge investment the U.S. made.

REESE: Well, Wolf, I'll be very candid with you. If you talk to the mid-level commanders out there over the last 15 years, guys, you know, in my year groups coming through and the folks on the ground now. You know, they look at this like a, you know, a Nazi Germany with Hitler and how it all lays out. And one of the things we have to do is either commit or not commit. And we always sit in the middle and we go back and forth in this middle ground in the gray zone. It's either black or white. Just like in Germany, we committed there for 50 some years and I think if we are going to do this right, we've got to commit that way also. BLITZER: What a dilemma indeed. Guys, thank very much. Bob Baer,

Colonel Reese. Always good to discuss with you. Just ahead, what investigators might be able to learn from the wives of the Paris attackers? The three women. They knew each other, but did they know what their husbands were planning to do? And how deep are their ties to each other?

Plus, have the Paris terror attacks tainted the jury pool in the Boston bombing trial? Lawyers for the accused Dzhokhar Tsarnaev say they won't be able to seat an impartial jury. Why the judge isn't buying it. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Tonight, authorities are still untangling the puzzle of who may have helped the Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly plan and carry out their Paris terror attacks. As Pamela Brown told us only a few moments ago, it's still not clear if there was any formal coordination between these three men. What's also unclear, is whether their wives knew anything about the attack or may have helped them. Coulibaly's wife, Hayat Boumeddiene, is believed to have traveled to Syria days before he shot a police woman, stormed that kosher supermarket in Paris killing four Jewish men. It also turns out she knew the other wives. Prosecutors contend they were close. So what evidence is there? What does the evidence show? Tom Foreman is joining us now with more on this, part of the story. I know you've been digging deeper on these connections, Tom. What have you found out?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there is no question that authorities think there's a web of terror among these men, but they are looking hard at the wives. Obviously, they're looking for her, but they also want to find out what was going on in all these communications. 500 phone calls between her and the wife of Cherif Kouachi.

There's been denial generally from the women who were left - from past investigations that they knew anything but the question is were these connection all benign or did they have some notion that something was going on or were the women in fact active conduits and participants? Did the men know they were being watched? And they were using the women's phones, and they were using the women's contact to go around that surveillance, Wolf, this is a real concern out there and something authorities are looking at very closely now, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yeah, because for a long time now, we've been hearing from terrorism experts they've been warning that women are becoming more involved at the operational level. This does seem to fit into that trend, right?

FOREMAN: It absolutely does. I was reading a military report of this and basically, the reason that women are being recruited is first of all, number of combatants. These groups are feeling the pressure of people being killed, people are afraid to join them, and there's all this international military force against terror groups. By allowing women in, they double their number of combatants. Surprise, women are still able in many cultures to go places that men can't because they're just not suspected in the same way. Media value. When women attack in a terror attack, if it's big enough, they get much more coverage than men do. That helps create a bigger for these groups and lastly, their shaming value. Basically, if you have a group where the men are the power centers and they are able to say, the organizers can say, look at the women out there doing what you ought to be doing, it helps draw men into it. All these are reasons that terror groups have been aggressively recruiting women more, and why the investigators in this case are looking at the women so closely, Wolf.

BLITZER: As they should. All right, thanks very much, Tom Foreman. Good explanation. I want to bring in our national security analyst Juliette Kayyem. She previously served as the U.S. assistant secretary for homeland security. Julia, what do you make of all of this? How much do you think these women connected to the Paris attackers actually knew or didn't know, how crucial is it for the authorities to figure this out?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's absolutely crucial as it is in any case because they were close to terrorists. I mean, whether they knew everything, only had some partial information or were completely out of the loop, they can testify or give information about where they were, who they knew and who their partners were communicating with. We keep talking, as Tom just said, we keep talking about these hundreds of phone calls between Hayat and one of the girlfriends. What we don't know now is were the men actually using the women's phones because they were fearful that their own phones were under surveillance? So, the women many have not known anything, but they were just an easy front for the men to take advantage of their communications, their emails or their phones, because that's a lot of phone calls between two women whose partners just happen to then launch terrorist attacks.

BLITZER: So, I just want to be precise, what you're suggesting is that the male terrorists might be using these women in their lives as cover ...

KAYYEM: Absolutely.

BLITZER: For some of the communications, some of the plotting. Because people tend not necessarily to suspect women in this kind of aspect.

KAYYEM: That's right. No, the woman could be involved, but one thing investigators absolutely will be looking at is were the women's phones used because it was a way for the men to communicate with phones that might not have been under surveillance? Because if the men are already being targeted by European intelligence agencies, they may have been fearful that, you know, through wiretapping or through eavesdropping that they were under some scrutiny. So we're going to be looking at those phone calls, not just that they happened, but what was the content and who was on the other side of the phone?

BLITZER: Juliette, in Massachusetts, I know you're from there. The widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev who was killed in that manhunt after the Boston bombing. She's never been charged. She's maintained she didn't have any knowledge of what was happening. Is that tough for you to believe?

KAYYEM: It isn't. I'm just given the dynamic of some of these relationships, which is there's a big power differential, so there's a different relationship between the men who may be more domineering and the women who may suspect something is going on, but be too afraid to ask. And so that may be the dynamic that we're seeing - that we saw with the Tamerlan case. The investigators did talk to her. She's not under indictment and what we don't know at this stage because the case is unfolding is will she eventually turn - and give testimony that will be helpful for proving the guilty case against the younger brother? So, in some ways, the federal government is probably keeping its cards behind its hands about what she knew only because she might - she will end up being a great witness if she's willing to testify for the United States.

BLITZER: Juliette Kayyem, thanks very much for that analysis.

A judge says, no way the Boston bombing suspects trial can be delayed over the Paris attacks. Jury selection is now under way. But can an impartial jury be found in the city? Our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is standing by.


BLITZER: Jury selection is underway in the Boston bombing trial. The judge and the lawyers are tasked with a difficult job. Finding 12 jurors and six alternates who are impartial. The jury must decide if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is guilty or not and if he's guilty they then must decide if he should receive life in prison or the death penalty. Three people were killed, hundreds more were wounded in the double bombing near the finish line of the Boston marathon nearly two years ago. Prosecutors say Tsarnaev plotted the attack with his older brother who died in a shootout with police days later.

Our senior legal analyst former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin is joining us now. Jeffrey, is finding a truly impartial jury almost an impossible task here? I mean I would think that they've got - there's got to be very few people in the Boston area who didn't have preconceived notions about Tsarnaev's guilt?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: One of the funny things about these high profile cases I find, Wolf, is that those of us who are journalists, think this is impossible. Because we follow this matters so closely we think everyone does. In fact, they don't. It's not a disqualification to have heard of the bombings. Of course, everyone has heard of the bombings. But the people who didn't follow it closely, who don't have preconceived notions, they're eligible. There are more than 1300 people who have been brought in for jury selection. I have no doubt they will be able to find a jury in this case.

BLITZER: And the fact that every member of the jury and all the alternates, they have to be open to sentencing Tsarnaev potentially to death. That's got to narrow down an already small pool even further, right?

TOOBIN: That's right, because and that actually plays into a big debate about death penalty cases in general because there are a lot of people who say, you know, I could definitely be fair in rendering a verdict. But I could not sentence anyone to death. Those people are all excluded. And so the only people who are on death penalty juries in the United States are people who will consider it and that creates, some people think, a more conservative group of potential jurors. But here again, I don't think there will be a problem given the vast number of possible jurors out there.

BLITZER: The lawyers, as you know, they actually petitioned for a change of venue. That request was denied. Would a change of venue really have made much of a difference in your opinion?

TOOBIN: You know, that's a very tough call. And I know the judges and even the appeals court were divided 2 to 1 in favor of keeping the trial in Boston. It's - given the magnitude of this event and given the fact that the whole metropolitan area was involved in some way or other, you could see why some judges might move it out of town but I'll tell you one thing about this case. It may not be the worst thing in the world for this defendant, for Tsarnaev, to have a Boston jury because yes, so many people were traumatized, but it's also one of the most liberal places in the United States. There hasn't been an execution in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1947. It is not a death penalty hotbed. And I think they may well get jurors who say, guilty, but at least one juror saying no death penalty and that would be enough to stop the death penalty in this case. So I think Boston is kind of a mixed bag for both sides in this case.

BLITZER: Good analysis, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very much. Let's get the latest on some other stories we're following. Amara Walker has a "360 Bulletin." Amara.

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry or if states can ban them. Justices will consider four cases from Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio combining them into one.

A federal judge has ruled the Ohio man suspected of plotting to attack the U.S. capital should remain in jail without bond. The FBI says Christopher Cornell bought two rifles, 600 rounds of ammo and planned to bomb the Capitol, then shoot lawmakers and others as they fled. The NCAA has agreed to reinstate 112 wins to Penn State making the late Joe Paterno once again the winningest coach in college football history. Now, the wins were wiped out due to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

And today's decision was part of a settlement to a lawsuit brought by a Pennsylvania State lawmaker challenging the NCAA's actions.

And more than a decade after it went missing, a European spacecraft has been spotted on Mars by a NASA probe. NASA's images show the Beagle II landed safely but only partially deployed. It cannot analyze rocks, soil, and the atmosphere for signs of life. But hey, now we know in the very least, it landed on Mars. BLITZER: That mystery resolved. That's pretty amazing, Amara, isn't


WALKER: Yes, absolutely, it's much more of a success than initially thought. So, I'm sure it's heartening to the astronauts.

BLITZER: And Amara, welcome to CNN. Good to have you aboard.

WALKER: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for that update. Up next, an incredible story, an incredible mother pregnant and diagnosed with cancer. What she decided to do may surprise you.


BLITZER: A woman in California faced the decision she never expected. Should she end her pregnancy to save her own life? Stephanie Elam has her remarkable story.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For Ashley Bridges, life was good. She and her boyfriend Jonathan were in love, and along with their young son Bredis (ph) they were excited to become a family. The only distraction was her knee that began aching in the spring of 2012.

ASHLEY BRIDGES, MISDIAGNOSED WITH ARTHRITIS: I had gone to the doctors multiple times and it was like, it's probably just arthritis or bursitis, finally I got to where I was like, I can't walk anymore.

ELAM: It was now the fall of 2013. But before she made it to a specialist, the pain became so intense that Ashley had to go to the hospital.

BRIDGES: They did an x-ray and the doctor came in and said, you have bone cancer.

ELAM: A cancer known as osteosarcoma. She was just 24 years old.

(on camera): If it got earlier, do you think that your story would be different?


ELAM: How does that make you feel?

BRIDGES: I'm - I'm angry.

ELAM (voice over): Ashley had surgery. They replaced her knee and removed the majority of her femur. The doctors also said she should start chemotherapy immediately, but there was a big risk. She was ten weeks pregnant with a baby girl.

BRIDGES: They told me that, you know, what would likely happen to Paisley and I'm not going to kill a healthy baby because I'm sick. Her life is just as important as mine, if not more important. Like, as a mother, my job is to protect my kids.

ELAM (on camera): Did you think you were going to beat it?

BRIDGES: I did. It's one of the things where you're like, naive.

ELAM (voice over): Well, Ashley was unwavering in her decision to delay treatment, a choice that could ultimately cost her her life. She knew Jonathan and her mother would support her no matter what.

RENEE THOMAS, ASHLEY'S MOTHER: I always tell her it's not over until it's over. You never know. You might get that miracle.

ELAM: But after giving birth to Paisley in July, a full body scan revealed the cancer had spread throughout Ashley's body, even into her brain.

BRIDGES: It's hard to be in pain all the time.

ELAM: Her doctors say she has six months to live.

(on camera): But you're not buying it.

BRIDGES: No, I'm really pushing for Paisley's first birthday.

ELAM (voice over): After the terminal diagnosis, Ashley and Jonathan moved their wedding date up a couple of months to November.

BRIDGES: To make sure I could enjoy it because things change so quickly. You know, I could not be walking in a month.


BRIDGES: It's just magical.

ELAM: Lindsay (INAUDIBLE) planned the wedding. She's also photographed Ashley's recent milestones: from her pregnancy and the newborn to her engagement and holiday pictures. Documenting many of life's firsts which in Ashley's case, may very well be her last.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the end of the day, those moments aren't just for her, they are for her kids, because she won't be here.

BRIDGES: It means everything. My kids are going to have these. You know, they're going to have these memories.

ELAM (on camera): What do you think your legacy will be?

BRIDGES: I want my kids to know how much I love them and how much I fought for them.

ELAM (voice over): Fought for them and gave her daughter life, even if it means sacrificing her own. Stephanie Elam, CNN, Menafee, California.

BLITZER: An amazing mom.

That does it for us. Thanks for watching.