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THE SITUATION ROOM
Ferguson Officers Resign Over Racist E-Mails; Sources Say Menendez May Face Corruption Charges; Dismantling Ferguson Police PD?; New Video Shows Jihadi John as Teen; More Fallout as ISIS Bulldozers Ancient Biblical City; LaGuardia Scare Reveals Runway Dangers
Aired March 6, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, refusing to resign, city officials are starting to pay the price for a pattern of abuse and bias, as President Obama speaks out on the scathing Ferguson, Missouri report.
Can the Ferguson police chief survive?
Terrorists as a team -- we have new video showing the evolution of Jihadi John from a shy teenager with pretty good soccer skills to a notorious ISIS killer.
And dangerous runways -- shocking plane crash images show how close that airliner skidded to disaster. Many U.S. runways don't leave a lot of room for error.
So what are authorities doing about it?
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's get right to the breaking news. The shock waves are spreading from the Justice Department's Ferguson, Missouri investigation. And tonight, we're learning who is now paying a price for a very disturbing culture of racial bias and abuses in the police department and the city court.
In a CNN exclusive, we'll hear from the Ferguson police chief. There's a move afoot to oust him right now.
Can he keep his job?
Even as the nation prepares to commemorate one of the watershed events of the civil rights movement, President Obama is speaking out on the Justice Department report, saying Ferguson is not an isolated incident.
Our correspondents and analysts and guests, they're all standing by with full coverage.
Let's begin with our justice reporter, Evan Perez -- Evan, the Ferguson police chief, amazingly, he's still on the job. EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amazingly, Wolf, he is still on the job. This is something that local officials, who had really organized a deal and set up a deal with him some months ago to try to get him to leave before this report came out, they were hoping to avoid just this, which is the question of, how can this police chief, who oversaw the police department during all of these allegations that the Justice Department is making, how can he be responsible for reforming the department?
And that's a big question now. We know that some local officials are now trying again to see if he could be eased out and try to get new leadership for the police department, Wolf, because it is something that clearly is going to be a problem for them.
BLITZER: And the news that's breaking right now -- and you have it -- is that two of those police officers, they are now being forced to step down.
PEREZ: Right. Exactly. There are two police officers who have been forced to step down. And also, you know, if you remember the really racist e-mails that got everybody's attention depicting President Obama as a chimpanzee, one of them was -- one of the persons who was sending these e-mails was actually the head of the municipal court system. Her name is Mary Twitty. We have a picture on -- of her with a couple of other city officials, including Darren Wilson and the Mayor James Knowles. And, obviously, this is a small town, Ferguson, Wolf, so it's probably not unusual to have these folks all together in one place. But there you see a picture of Mary Twitty, who is chief clerk of the Ferguson municipal court system. And she has been asked to -- she was forced to resign as a result of this.
BLITZER: So she was fired earlier in the week. That's the mayor said one official...
BLITZER: -- we've now confirmed who that is. We've reached out to her. We have not gotten a statement from her as of yet, right?
PEREZ: Right, exactly. We have not heard from her yet. Sara Sidner is down there. She has been trying to also talk to the other two officers, the two police officers who were also forced out.
BLITZER: Yes, the two police officers were on leave. But now we're being told they are actually been fired -- they've been fired from the police department.
PEREZ: They've been fired, right.
BLITZER: All right, stand by.
I'm going to get back to you in a minute.
We have a CNN exclusive I want to share it with our viewers. Days after the damning report on racial bias in his department, the Ferguson police chief is still stonewalling, but seems to be leaving the door open to stepping down.
CNN's Sara Sidner caught up with him.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you think the department has a race problem?
Do they have a problem?
And are you going to fix it?
What are you going to do about it?
CHIEF THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON POLICE DEPARTMENT: I need to have time to really analyze this report so I can comment on it.
SIDNER: Why do you need time to analyze the report?
You know what -- you should have known what was going on in your department, correct?
(voice-over): He should have known and he did know. This is his e- mail, unearthed by the Department of Justice during its investigation. In the 2013 e-mail, the DOJ highlighted the chief boasting that "court revenue passed the $2 million mark for the first time in history." The city manager responds, "Awesome, thanks."
Apparently not awesome enough, because in another e-mail, the city manager tells a colleague he asked the chief if he thought the P.D. could deliver a 10 percent increase, adding "he indicated they could try." The intense effort to get money through traffic tickets and court fines. And statistics show African-Americans bore the brunt of that.
(on camera): What do you think of the DOJ's report?
JACKSON: I'm still analyzing it.
SIDNER: You're still looking at it?
SIDNER: But don't you think you should have known some of the things that came out, the racist e-mails, the numbers?
Were you just trying to bilk people out of money instead of protecting them, telling your department to just go ticket them?
JACKSON: OK. Thank you. And I will be in touch. I'll get a hold of Jeff.
SIDNER: I've talked to everyone. I've given you literally every opportunity. We've been talking for days and days and days. All we want is an answer from you, what do you think of this DOJ report and what are you going to do about it?
Just any idea of what it is you are going to do yourself about this, as chief of the department?
JACKSON: I'm going to analyze the report and take action where necessary.
SIDNER: Does that mean you're going to stay around?
JACKSON: I'm going to take action where necessary.
SIDNER: Are you planning on resigning?
JACKSON: I will let you know. I've told you that.
SIDNER: Are you thinking about it?
JACKSON: And I've told you that.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: All right, so there you saw it. She finally caught up with the police chief there. He's thinking about it. He hasn't made a decision. It sounds like he's seriously thinking of stepping down, resigning.
I just want to be precise. The two other police officers, they resigned today. They were not necessarily fired, but they were forced to resign, that is what you understood?
PEREZ: That's right, Wolf. They were forced to resign. This was obviously -- the city decided they could not stay in their jobs given what the allegations are and given what they're facing, really, with the Justice Department.
BLITZER: And let's talk a little about this police chief.
How long can he stay there, given this scathing report that the Justice Department has released under his watch, what was going on?
PEREZ: Well, you know, I asked Justice Department officials if they were going to make his departure a requirement as part of the city's -- any settlement with the city. They said they're not going to do that. They -- all they want is to make sure that the police department is reformed, the municipal court system is reformed, and they don't care who is doing it. Obviously, they know, though, that Attorney General Eric Holder himself has called for regime change at the top of the police department down there.
BLITZER: You also broke another big story today, unrelated to Ferguson, but related to the United States Senate.
Tell our viewers what happened. PEREZ: Well, Wolf, Attorney General Eric Holder has approved for prosecutors to bring corruption charges, criminal corruption charges, against Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey. This is a Democratic senator who's been under fire for a number of years now.
The attorney -- the Justice Department had been investigating the senator for various issues. But the focus of this -- of the charges, we expect, will be his relationship with a prominent Democratic donor whose name is Salomon Melgen. He's a doctor down in South Florida.
Here's a comment from the senator's office. We expect to hear from Senator Menendez on this later on today. But for now, here's what he had to say, according to his office. "We believe all the senator's actions have been appropriate and lawful and the facts will ultimately confirm that."
Wolf, this is going to be a tough case, you know, for the Justice Department. He's been somebody that has been in their sights for a long, long time. And it's not going to be easy, because a sitting senator has a lot of constitutional protections and we expect that he's going to use all of those.
BLITZER: When do we think formal charges will be filed?
PEREZ: We expect they will come from the new attorney general, hopefully if she gets -- is confirmed in the next couple of weeks, Loretta Lynch. The attorney general, Eric Holder, has already approved those, though.
BLITZER: All right, Evan working hard for us.
Thanks very much, Evan Perez.
President Obama is speaking about -- speaking out about the blistering Justice Department report on Ferguson. And he's offering some blistering criticism of his own.
Let's go to our White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski.
She's got the latest -- Michelle.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. From the beginning, we have seen the president take this very balanced line, not wanting to accuse, not wanting to take sides. But now that we have seen this scathing DOJ report detailing even racist sentiment by the police toward the president himself, today he responds, finally, in blunt, specific language, speaking directly to the black community and calling Ferguson a clearly broken, racially biased system.
KOSINSKI (voice-over): Since the Justice Department's damning report Wednesday about the Ferguson, Missouri police and criminal justice system appeared to target African-Americans. President Obama has been silent on the subject until now. Speaking out in South Carolina, a traditionally black Benedict college... BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It systematically was biased against African-Americans in that city who were stopped, harassed, mistreated, abused, called names, fined. And it was an oppressive and abusive situation.
What's striking about the report is a lot of this was just using e- mails from the officials themselves. So it wasn't like folks were just making it up.
Our goal should be to stop circumstances such as Ferguson or what happened in New York from happening again. That should be our number one goal.
KOSINSKI: And on learning what was in that lengthy report, the White House today said the president was not surprised, even by the revelation of starkly racist e-mails within the Ferguson police Department, including the portrayal of President Obama as a chimpanzee, taunting the first lady, as well.
The president addressed the Ferguson problem in radio interviews this morning with broadcasters having predominantly black audiences.
OBAMA: I don't think that is typical of what happens across the country. But it's not an isolated incident.
KOSINSKI: And this weekend, he will go to Selma, Alabama, the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march and violence there, known as Bloody Sunday, ultimately leading to passage of the Voting Rights Act. And he will bring Sasha and Malia.
OBAMA: Selma is now. Selma is about the courage of ordinary people doing extraordinary things because they believe they can change the country, that they can shape our nation's destiny. Selma is about each of us asking ourselves what we can do to make America better.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KOSINSKI: You know, as we're watching this town hall at this college, Wolf, waiting to see if the president will address Ferguson. The questions that were coming from these students, Ferguson was not at all at the top of their minds, not even close. All of their questions were about education and opportunity.
The one question about Ferguson came toward the very end. And during this town hall, President Obama put the responsibility on them to influence young people and to make America better by exercising their right to vote -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Michelle, thank you.
Michelle Kosinksi at the White House.
Joining us now for more, the president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Cedric Alexander.
Cedric, thanks very much for joining us. We're just hearing that two Ferguson police officers have now been forced, in effect, to resign over those racist e-mails. Another city clerk, she resigned earlier. She was effectively fired.
Is that enough, based on everything you know?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Well, I think what's going to happen going forward, Wolf, is that as this process continues to unfold, as this report continues to be revealed and show exactly what the president stated, oppressive and abusive behavior on behalf of the police department, I believe we're going to continue to see further firings and resignations to take place in that city.
BLITZER: The president, you just heard him say, he doesn't necessarily believe Ferguson is an isolated incident. You've got your finger on the pulse around the country.
What do you think?
ALEXANDER: Well, I certainly do agree with the president. But it's also important for us to move forward. And I truly believe that the president through the recommendations that have been made by the task force here most recently, there are many recommendations that have been made that is going to show how important it is for us to move forward. There are some action items, as well, too, in which we can utilize to move all police departments across this country forward.
But let me say this, as well, too, Wolf, is that every police department in this country has a responsibility to adopt and maintain good community relationships. And many police departments work at that every day.
But certainly, as you heard the president say, there is a lot of work to be done. And I don't think any of this we should take for granted. And we should just continue to progress and see Ferguson as something that we all can learn from. And it's a lot to be learned from Ferguson. But I'm in total agreement with the president of the United States in regards to his remarks that he made earlier today.
BLITZER: Now, you're a former police chief in DeKalb County down in Georgia.
What's your reaction to the way the Ferguson police chief, Tom Jackson, he's been ducking questions. Our Sara Sidner eventually caught up with him. But he's really not responding specifically to all those charges in that federal Justice Department report.
What do you think?
Can he stay on?
ALEXANDER: Well, Chief Jackson is going to continue to be part of this process. And I think as information continues to be revealed through this report and that community in which he is currently still chief, that community in and of itself will make a decision and help its leadership, I hope, make a decision to do what they feel is right for their city.
And I think that's pretty obvious to a lot of people what that may be. But that's a process in which leadership in that city is going to have to take accountability and responsibility for, and the community, as well, through the citizens there, as well, too, need to have a voice. And their voice needs to be heard, whatever it may be.
BLITZER: What I hear you saying is the handwriting is on the wall. There's no way he can still be an effective police chief given all that has happened.
ALEXANDER: I think it's very unhighly for Chief Jackson, at this time, to be effective ever again as a chief in that city. I think that's pretty clear to all of us.
BLITZER: All right, Chief, I want you to stand by, as well.
We've got a lot more to discuss.
We're following all the breaking news out of Ferguson.
Much more, right after this.
BLITZER: Ferguson's embattled police chief is still on the job even as two police officers resign now in the wake of the scandal over racist e-mails and other forms of bias.
We're back with Cedric Alexander, the president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
Cedric, we're just getting this in from Reuters that the U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder, he's now saying -- he's now saying that the Justice Department here in Washington, the federal government, will use its full authority, he says, to reform the Ferguson Police Department; also said he wouldn't rule out the possibility of dismantling that Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department. I want to get your reaction to that.
ALEXANDER: Well, I thoroughly agree with whatever Attorney General Eric Holder feels from the position that he holds and the leadership that he's been providing this country since the beginning of this. And if he and his office feel that's the direction that he needs to go in, then, certainly, myself and NOBLE and millions of other people across this country, as well, too, are in full agreement with the decision that he feels is appropriate to make.
BLITZER: If he dismantles the Ferguson Police Department, who's in charge? Who takes over? The federal government? Federal agents come in?
ALEXANDER: Well, you know, I don't -- I can't speak to that, Wolf. I'm not familiar with that process. But the only thing that I can say is -- will say at the end of the day, whatever decision that is made, I am more than confident some leadership will show up there, however they get assigned there, so that that city can continue to move forward and make reforms that are so necessary to that community there in -- there in St. Louis.
BLITZER: Once again, the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, he's only got a few days left before he leaves that position. He says the Justice Department will use the full authority of the United States government to reform the Ferguson Police Department and wouldn't even rule out the possibility, if necessary, of dismantling that police department.
We're getting more information on all of this. Cedric, I want you to stand by. But I also want you to take a look at this picture. I'll put it on the screen. It was taken before Michael Brown's death, shortly before his death. It shows the Ferguson mayor, James Knowles, and Darren Wilson -- he's the police officer, former police officer, with his arm around Mary Ann Twitty.
Twitty was fired as court clerk for Ferguson and after the Department of Justice released their scathing report earlier in the week, finding lots of evidence of racist e-mails and bias sent by city employees, some of which belittled black residents, also made fun of the president of the United States and the first lady of the United States.
We know, Cedric, this is a small community, but if city leaders like Twitty were involved in this kind of systemic racism, you think Ferguson as a community, as a government there, really can be trusted to clean up its act alone?
ALEXANDER: Well, you know, the Justice Department findings are very clear. They're very pointed; they're very clear. You cannot argue them. You cannot, in any kind of way, deny what the evidence has revealed as it relates to that community.
And I think anything that we pretty much see now and that we are hearing that is coming out of Ferguson creates a great deal of pause, such as the picture that you just showed. I can't read into that, but I think every other -- every citizen in this country that sees that picture has to draw their own conclusions based on their own experiences of what that may reference or mean to them.
However, I think it's important, too, to keep in mind. And this is the most important thing of all of this, is that we must look at reform for that community. And we're going to have to find a way to move forward, and I am more than confident in our attorney general, Mr. Holder, who has here again from the beginning taken a real leadership role and has done an investigation that has been revealed to the American people across this country.
And I think that we can look at that report, we can read it, we can digest it for ourselves. We can look at the evidence that's constantly being presented every day across this country, and I think we can draw some pretty clear conclusions about the leadership there and what's going to -- may need to happen in order for that community to move forward. BLITZER: Once again, we did reach out to Mary Ann Twitty, the
Ferguson court clerk, for -- to get reaction from her. We have not been able to get any reaction yet. We've also learned that only in the past half hour or so that two police officers now have resigned, as well, in the aftermath of this scathing Justice Department report.
Cedric Alexander, thanks very much for joining us.
ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me, Wolf. Good seeing you.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Coming up, after the destruction of priceless antiquities, there's a stunning new atrocity by ISIS, this one directed against an entire ancient biblical city. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Once again, the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, has been speaking to reporters. He's just said that the Justice Department will use the full authority of the federal government to reform the Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department. Said he wouldn't rule out the possibility of dismantling that Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department.
We're also tracking the new fallout from the revelations of abuse and discrimination in Ferguson. Two police officers have now resigned over racist e-mails. A court clerk was fired earlier in the week.
Let's go in depth with our CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes. He's a former FBI assistant director. Our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin; and our CNN commentator, L.Z. Granderson.
But Jeffrey, what does that mean? He wouldn't rule out the possibility of dismantling the police department in Ferguson, Missouri. Who's going to be responsible for law and order there if that police department is dismantled?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There's precedent for this, even right in the area. The Jennings, Missouri, Police Department was shut down and new officers were hired. There was consolidation with other departments and clearly that's what should be done here.
This is a department that deserves the death penalty. They should not be in existence anymore and by the way, if you fire all the current officers and let them apply for new jobs, that takes care of your community policing problem right there. You don't have the huge racial imbalance anymore.
BLITZER: That Police Officer Darren Wilson came from Jennings and then he went to Ferguson, which has raised a lot of suspicions as well.
So would the federal law enforcement, Tom, federal agents actually have to come in for an interim period until they could get a new police department organized? TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No. No. They would still
be from within the state of Missouri, St. Louis County, some -- you know, the surrounding police departments, as Jeffrey mentioned. It would not be the federal -- it would not be the FBI or any federal agency coming in.
TOOBIN: And that's probably a good idea independent of this whole racial problem, that the inefficiency of having all these little police departments is just a terrific waste of taxpayer money.
BLITZER: L.Z., the president of the United States today said he doesn't believe Ferguson in his words is an isolated incident. An isolated event. You agree, I assume, with the president?
L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. I mean, I live in Chicago and just last week, there was a story about these black sites that were run by the Chicago Police Department in which they would take suspects, many of them black and brown men, and not book them officially at the police station but take them to these isolated warehouses where they would chain them up and interrogate them and sometimes keep them from 24 to 48 hours.
That was just reported last week in Chicago, the third largest city in the country. So no, I don't think Ferguson is isolated. I don't think it's the norm. But there are certainly enough pockets all around this country big and small to let us know that there is still a very significant racial problem when it comes to our criminal justice system.
BLITZER: You know, the problem is that the numbers in that Justice Department report, Jeffrey, were so staggering as to how many people were arrested. More people were arrested than actually lived in Ferguson when you look at those numbers.
TOOBIN: Well, they were a business. The arresting of individuals, almost all African-Americans, were a business to fund the operations of the government and there was a corrupt system in place where the fines, the excessive fines that were levied on these people was a substitute for tax revenue and that is something that should be investigated around the country in particular.
BLITZER: I want to play the clip. This is the attorney general, Tom, of the United States, Eric Holder, speaking just moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: That means everything from working with them to, you know, coming up with an entirely new structure.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And does that include dismantling the police force?
HOLDER: If that's what's necessary, we're prepared to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You just heard him say if necessary, they will dismantle that police force in Ferguson.
FUENTES: They could do that but the downside, Wolf, is that the local people of that town lose control of their own police department. So you're going to have officers from, you know, some other department, some other part of the county, come in and patrol their streets. The idea of community policing, of getting to know your police officer, that will be out the window if they dismantle that department.
BLITZER: Hopefully that will be for a short -- relatively short period.
BLITZER: Until they can get their act together.
Guys, stand by. We have much more coming up.
Also another major story we're following. New outrage as ISIS -- its thugs take bulldozers to the irreplaceable ruins of a 3,000-year-old city in its entirety.
BLITZER: We're getting word of a victory for the Iraqis in the war on ISIS. The Pentagon now says Iraqi troops and tribal militias, mostly Shiite militias with the help of coalition air strikes, have retaken the town of al-Baghdadi, just outside a huge air base where there are U.S. trainers, mostly Marines. They are working with the Iraqi military.
We are also getting reports of a new ISIS atrocity. Iraqi officials say militants used bulldozers to destroy what's left of an ancient historic city.
Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is joining us now. He has details.
Nic, this is really awful, what is happening. Explain to our viewers what we know.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. Just to give our viewers an idea here, this is a city that's about 3,000 years old. It's about one and a half square miles. So that's about 770 American football fields. That's a big area.
This was the capital of one of the first or the first empire on earth and it gave stability in that area so what happened there within those walls of this incredibly old town, they developed some of the sort of religious, the social and the economic foundations of society today. You can trace some of our banking norms and our social laws back to that city. So that's what it means, a unique site.
Only 30 years ago, the Iraqi government found the site -- found the tombs of two long-dead queens. There are a huge number of rich artifacts, you know, huge stores of ivory have been found there. And now you have ISIS going in there wantonly destroying it, cultural annihilation.
You know, the UNESCO director general today said that this is in effect a war crime, Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly is. And we know that only a few weeks ago, they went into a major museum in Mosul and started destroying ancient artifacts, museum pieces, just going crazy in there as well.
Here's the question, Nic. And you covered this story for a long time. Why would ISIS invest time and energy in destroying these priceless, these historic exhibits and indeed, this ancient biblical town?
ROBERTSON: Well, Wolf, we should also note here and let our viewers know that ISIS is also making money out of some of these sites as well by looting them and taking, you know, rich artifacts out, selling them. This is how they are buying their weapons in some cases. But what ISIS is involved here, OK, you've gotten the destruction there, you got a week ago the museum in Mosul, you have had shrines destroyed, historic shrines destroyed by ISIS left and right through the areas they control.
But not just that, Wolf. We're seeing them just last week pushing out Assyrians, an ancient Christian community from their homes. We saw them last year driving out thousands of Yazidis to the mountaintop, many of them dying, gunned down, dying of hunger.
This is not just a sort of historic destruction of historic sites. It is a cultural annihilation, an effort to culturally wipe that area in Iraq and Syria from anything that they don't like -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, it's a really, really sick situation. Terrible.
Nic, thanks very much.
Also coming into THE SITUATION ROOM newly released video of the ISIS terrorist known as Jihadi John when he was a teenaged school boy. The video is just one aspect of a growing problem. ISIS propaganda raging all over social media.
CNN's Brian Todd, he's here in THE SITUATION ROOM with a closer look of this disturbing part of the story -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very disturbing indeed, Wolf. Tonight we have more startling images of the man who's horrified Western audiences for months in those beheading videos. These new pictures show a very different young man, reserved, camera-shy. No indicators of the person we would come to know as Jihadi John.
TODD (voice-over): He flashes his foot skills. He is apparently among the first picks for a soccer game in the schoolyard. This shy 15-year-old hiding his face as the camera catches him is the same person hiding his face in the ISIS beheading videos.
In this video obtained by CNN, we have the first extensive look at Mohammed Emwazi, unmasked.
MATTHEW LEVITT, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: This is a normal kid like any other kid, playing in a play ground, a little shy, maybe, looks amazing and newsworthy is only what becomes of him.
TODD: Emwazi is now identified by Western officials as Jihadi John but in this video recorded more than a decade ago at the British academy Emwazi attended, he is shown sporting a gray hoodie and a backpack, jokingly pushing past two other boys. His former headmaster says he was bullied because he was so reserved.
British media reports say he received anger management therapy. According to British court documents, he later became part of a network of London boys who supported jihadists in Somalia. Analysts say many of them had a common thread.
LEVITT: There will be some type of local grievances, situations that are particular to them, that create a cognitive opening into which ideology seeps in.
TODD: Emwazi later became part of ISIS' propaganda machine which includes legions of supporters on Twitter. A new report estimates there are 46,000 Twitter accounts openly supporting ISIS. Most claim to be from Saudi Arabia, followed by Syria, Iraq, the U.S.
DAVEED GARTENSTEIN-ROSS, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: All these supporters considered as force multipliers. They can be radicalizers, they can prompt people to action, they can amplify ISIS' message.
TODD: It illustrates the pull of ISIS to the younger crowd, an attraction that can change a life.
LEVITT: Your kid, my kid, they're all playing in the playground together. How disturbing is it that a kid playing soccer in the playground with his buddies ends up engaging not just in criminal behavior but this kind of barbaric behavior? It's more than a little shocking.
TODD: And apparently shocking to Mohammed Emwazi's family. Despite the schoolyard video and other information, a man who says he is Emwazi's father told a Kuwaiti newspaper there is nothing that proves the man known as Jihadi John is his son and his lawyer is threatening to sue anyone who makes the connection. But the links made by Western authorities and court documents saying that the ISIS executioner is Mohammad Emwazi, they seem to only be getting stronger-- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, thank you. Thanks very much.
Coming up, the frightening accident at New York's LaGuardia airport raising new questions about runway safety at airports all around the country.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: New tonight, close-ups of the damaged Delta jet that skidded off an icy runway at New York's LaGuardia airport. The close call is racing new questions about the riskiest part of any flight at any airport. The runway.
CNN's Tom Foreman is joining us from Washington's Reagan National Airport, right next to water as well.
What do we know, Tom?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we know a lot of people worry about coming in over water, that sort of thing, in part because the takeoff and landing are the most dangerous parts of any flight. NTSB investigators now have the data recorders from that flight back here in Washington to examine them. They want to try to figure out what went wrong. They might have some answers by Monday. But the entire airline industry wants to know what's going wrong on the runways.
FOREMAN (voice-over): A smashed nose cone, a badly damaged wing. New Twitter pictures from New York's NBC 4 underscore how nearly disastrous this crash was. And new information is pushing the question, was it avoidable? Amid the snow and ice, the incoming pilot asked about the runway and was told two other flights had just landed safely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By an Airbus and a (INAUDIBLE).
FOREMAN: But another Delta pilot decided not to take off because of a quarter inch of snow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. 2498, a quarter inch is a little bit much for us to go right now.
FOREMAN: Still the incoming jet swooped down, started skidding and slammed into an earthen wall just feet from the icy bay, raising many questions for investigators.
JUSTIN GREEN, NASA DIRECTOR, PLANETARY SCIENCES DIVISION: The question ultimately is a judgment issue. And the question is whether the Port Authority, whether the Federal Aviation Administration and ultimately, whether the pilots made the right decision on that day.
FOREMAN: The incident has also renewed concerns about LaGuardia where traffic is high and runways short. In 1996, another jet hit pilings at the end of the same runway and crashed. NTSB investigators called it pilot error. But listen to Rick Dake, who is close to 40 years of airline experience.
RICK DAKE, COMMERCIAL AIRLINE PILOT: LaGuardia is one of those runways where when you come in, you have to be -- you have to have your A game with you. And you've got to be right on in everything you're doing because there's not a lot of room for error.
FOREMAN: Recent runway accidents have the whole industry on edge. Last year a private jet crashed trying to take off outside Boston killing seven.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many more we got down?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three total.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three total?
FOREMAN: In 2013, an Asiana Airline jet hit a sea wall in San Francisco killing three and injuring 181. And in 2006, a plane in Kentucky steered onto a runway too short for takeoff and 49 people died.
FOREMAN: The FAA numbers on this do not look good right now. Last year alone, there were more than 1200 potentially dangerous runway incursions. Most of them weren't a big deal but that's still more than three a day and up 24 percent from just a few years ago.
That, Wolf, is why the airline industry is taking this matter so seriously.
BLITZER: As they clearly should.
Tom Foreman at Reagan National Airport, here in Washington, thank you.
Let's get some more now, some more insight from our aviation correspondent Richard Quest.
All right, so, Richard, we know these runway incursions, the most common form of aviation accidents. Why is that?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It's really very simple because once the plane has taken off, there's space between the aircraft and other aircraft. It's not as much a critical moment of flight once you are actually in the air. The plane is pretty much performing as it is supposed to. But when you're talking about moving these pieces of metal around on the ground, they are in very close proximity to each other.
Literally when you think about it, Wolf, you're taking a piece of metal and you're hurling it towards the ground and you're doing it in a controlled fashion. Now if anything is going to go wrong, putting it bluntly, the result is likely to be bad. Thankfully in this Delta case, not as bad as it could have been.
IATA, which is the international airline association representing airlines, are well aware of this. And time and again, the annual safety audit, which ironically comes out next week, always shows up to half of all incidents relate to runways, which is why, Wolf, finally so much effort is being put into runway radar, runway communication and better information about the quality, the contamination of the ground.
BLITZER: LaGuardia airport in New York, is it safe? QUEST: Yes. The runways are short, 7,000, 8,000 feet. They are
short, but, you know, pilots know they are short. Remember, U.S. Airways plane, it went off the end of the runway in the early '90s. So yes, not much room for error, but perfectly safe, which is witnessed by the fact so many aircraft do take off and land there every day. A bit stomach churning for passengers particularly on that late left turn to one of the approaches.
BLITZER: Are they too crowded, these runways?
QUEST: That's the issue, Wolf. That is it. There's so much air traffic now. And so many airlines trying to cram so many planes to fill their schedules that, yes, they are -- technology is at its extreme for keeping these planes moving. And then you get something like the A-380, the super jumbo where you have to reconfigure taxiways because the plane is so big.
BLITZER: Richard Quest, thanks very much for the good information.
And coming up, we'll have much more on our breaking news. City officials now paying the price for bias and abuse in Ferguson, Missouri. Two police officers resigning over racist e-mails. Could the police chief be next?
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