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Obama Administration: 'Long Slog' Ahead Against ISIS; ISIS Extending Its Reach Far Beyond Syria, Iraq; Interview With Senator James Risch; 2 of 3 Bikers Surrender after Mistaken Release. Aired 5- 6p ET
Aired May 19, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:13] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, long slog. The White House admits the U.S. faces a tough ordeal in trying to help save an Iraqi city captured by ISIS. As the American-trained Iraqi military has to be rescued from the clutches of the terror group.
Terror expansion. New details on how ISIS is extending its reach, getting weapons and money from beyond the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. Is this why the U.S. went after the terror group's chief financial officer?
Texas turf war. Fears growing about more biker gang violence after a brawl leaves nine people dead. Police are worried they may be the next target in a war that may never end.
And un-acceptable. Kim Jong-un is furious after he visits a turtle and lobster farm and finds serious shortcomings. While a group of women peace marchers, that group tries to ease tensions between North and South Korea.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ISIS is now rushing to take advantage of its stunning capture of a major Iraqi city, the Iraqi city of Ramadi. As tens of thousands of people flee the city in panic, the terror group is right now pushing farther east, attacking a town even closer to Baghdad.
After the collapse of U.S. trained and armed Iraqi troops, the Obama administration says the fight against ISIS will be a long slog.
This comes as we learn new details about the growing reach of ISIS, now extending well beyond the battlefields of Iraq and Syria. And there are growing fears right now that the terror group could use a new foothold in North Africa to infiltrate Europe. Will it also pose a greater threat to the United States?
I'll talk about that and more with Senator James Risch of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they're all standing by with full coverage. Let's begin with our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
Barbara, the national security adviser to the president, Susan Rice, says Ramadi will be, in her words, a long slog. Calling it a setback. What's the latest you're hearing?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that word "setback." Right now that is the administration talking point. But today the White House also got very defensive about it. Have a listen to what the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Are we going to light our hair on fire every time that there is a setback in the campaign against ISIL? Or are we going to take very seriously our responsibility to evaluate those areas where we succeed and evaluate where steps are necessary for us to change our strategy where we've sustained setbacks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: Setbacks. There are a fair number of people who might disagree with that. There is a good deal of discussion. Is this loss of Ramadi a strategic loss? Seventy miles from Baghdad. Extending ISIS's influence. And does it, in fact, demonstrate that ISIS, still, after all this time, can field a large offense force, and the Iraqis cannot fight back against it -- Wolf.
BLITZER: As you know, Barbara, the U.S. formally released the name of the -- the real name, I should say, of the ISIS commander killed in the weekend raid. How key was this terrorist?
STARR: Well, look. They are saying again, still, as they have since the weekend here in Washington, that this man was a top money man. He was involved in oil, gas and financing operations. His role in military affairs in ISIS in operations, his contacts with top leaders, had grown in the last six months.
But when you come back to that key word, "money operations." They are looking for intelligence about his involvement, his wife's involvement in hostages and even potentially American hostages being held there.
Ed Royce, the congressman who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House today even going a step further, mentioning the deceased American hostages: Kayla Mueller, James Foley and Steven Sotloff by name. No word from the military whether they found any intelligence about the conditions or what happened to those three.
BLITZER: And getting back to Ramadi, the future of that critically important town, that city in Iraq, any word you're getting that the U.S. might maybe not necessarily send in boots on the ground but at least Special Operations forces to try to help the Iraqi military retake Ramadi?
STARR: What we are hearing so far is don't look for any change. Airstrikes will continue. That will be very tough. It's an urban environment. How do you pick out the military ISIS target from any civilians maybe left there?
And of course, always on the table is exactly what you just said. Could you send in a small number of U.S. Special Forces to help pick out those targets in that urban environment? What we are hearing from the Pentagon right now, there is absolutely no indication that recommendation would be made to the president -- Wolf.
[17:05:10] BLITZER: All right, Barbara. Thank you.
ISIS also extending its reach far outside the war zones of Syria and Iraq. The terror group has now established outposts in North Africa, which is a source of recruits, weapons and funding. Brian Todd has been digging into this part of the story.
What are you learning, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we've been speaking with U.S. intelligence and military officials who tonight are telling us of growing concern about ISIS's footprint in Libya.
One U.S. military official says the ISIS threat there is growing rapidly and, if left unchecked, it could present the highest risks to U.S. interests in North Africa.
This comes on the heels of an ISIS victory that's causing fallout all the way to Washington.
TODD (voice-over): With a relentless push, ISIS fighters route Iraqi army units and take the city of Ramadi. But tonight, there's chilling new information on ISIS's conquest beyond Iraq and Syria.
The terrorist group now has an operational foothold in Libya. U.S. intelligence officials selling CNN ISIS and its regional allies are increasingly using Libya where they can plot attacks.
FREDERIC WEHREY, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: They set up the first Libyan affiliate of the Islamic state here in the east. They later set up branches in the east in Benghazi, down on the south and also in Tripoli.
TODD: Tariq al-Harzi, a top ISIS operative, was on the U.S. government's global terrorist list obtained and shipped weapons from Libya, the State Department says.
Believed to be an operational leader, al-Harzi, known as the emir of suicide bombers, has a $3 million bounty on his head from the U.S. government. U.S. intelligence officials tell CNN the chaotic civil war between groups fighting for control of Libya has enabled ISIS to sweep into the vacuum. Analysts say the group's establishing camps, cells, recruiting networks, spreading horrific ISIS propaganda, like the images of Ethiopian Christians being beheaded on a Libyan beach.
And there's a new fear that Libya could provide ISIS with a lethal pipeline to Europe.
WEHREY: The fear in Europe is that ISIS will try to infiltrate through the smuggling networks, insert infiltrators into the smuggling boats and cross there to conduct attacks.
The fact that the coastline is not patrolled, and that Libya is only 325 miles away from the Italian coast, this is a huge concern for Europe.
TODD: Experts say ISIS is also trying to cultivate a niche in Tunisia, allied with Boko Haram in Nigeria, and has its sights set on South Asia.
MICHAEL WEISS, AUTHOR, "ISIS: INSIDE THE ARMY OF TERROR": In the sphere, actually the new story now is that they're positioning themselves as rivals to the Taliban.
TODD: How is ISIS financing its expansion? Analysts say the bulk of ISIS's money comes from extortion and thievery, not oil.
JONATHAN SCHANZER, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Racketeering taxation and just kind of crime syndicates that they are a blight on every community that they touch. They go in there, and they pillage. They take what they want. They tax people who are living under their control.
TODD: And experts say ISIS captures tanks, heavy guns and other weapons from cities where they've routed conventional military forces. They've taken Russian-made armaments from the Syrians and American weapons from the Iraqis.
Analyst Jonathan Chancellor (ph) say the only way to effectively stop ISIS from pillaging is to have boots on the ground standing in their way. And right now, of course, Wolf, they don't have that in Ramadi. Right back in Baghdad (ph). And they might not have it elsewhere in Iraq.
BLITZER: What about oil sales, that the ISIS forces are trying to achieve? And antiquities for that matter. They destroy a lot of antiquities, but they also sell some. What are you told about these potential revenue schemes?
TODD: I have some new information on that, as well. Jonathan Schanzer, an analyst who tracks terror finances, says ISIS now smuggles out about a million barrels of oil per day at over $50 a barrel. It brings them more than $50 million a day. But he says at one point they were selling 3.2 million barrels a day. So their oil exports are down.
He also says when they go into these ancient sites, they don't just smash up antiquities. They steal them and sell them. So that's a revenue stream for them, as well.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.
Let's dig deeper right now. Joining us, the Republican senator from Idaho, James Risch. He serves on both the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees. Senator Risch, welcome back. Thanks for joining us.
SEN. JAMES RISCH (R-ID), INTELLIGENCE AND FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEES: Good to be here.
BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about this raid, first of all, in Syria. We now know the real name released by the U.S. Real name, Fathi Ben Awn Ben Jildi Murad al-Tunisi. Al-Tunisi means "the Tunisian." What can you tell us about this guy?
RISCH: Well, first of all, he had several aliases. Obviously, when he was first gotten, they called him Abu Sayyaf. They've got his wife also at the same time. The position is a really critical position. And I think that that victory that we had this weekend was kind of overshadowed by the real setback in Ramadi.
But the way that this organization, ISIS, ISIL, DAISH, whatever you call it, one of the reasons they've been so successful, compared to al Qaeda, both from how quickly they've been successful and really, the overall success that they've had, has been because they know how to imagine finances. They bring in a lot of money, as was just pointed out. They get it from oil sales. They get it from kidnappings. They get it from extortion, theft. Whatever.
[17:10:33] And this gentleman played a real key role in that. And that's the reason that the United States was willing to take a high- risk operation. And this was a high-risk operation.
BLITZER: Was he also directly involved in killing American hostages?
RISCH: You know, I can't tell you that. I don't have that information at this point. They're still vetting who he was because of the various aliases that he had. But he was a real player in the ISIS organization. And particularly because he was so good at handling the money and being able to direct traffic as to how it would come in and where it would go.
BLITZER: Well, if he was the chief financial officer of ISIS, as he's been described, presumably -- he's dead now -- somebody else could come in and replace him, right?
RISCH: Well, that's true. But as you watch these organizations over there, one of the things that they're really short on is leadership. They don't have the same kind of leadership that you have, for instance, in a first-world country where, when someone steps aside, somebody else can easily step in and take their place. That isn't the way these guys operate. They're really long on foot soldiers and really short on leadership.
BLITZER: You've been briefed on this. Based on everything you know right now -- you don't know everything, but a lot. You know a lot more than the rest of us. Based on everything you know, was the president right in making the decision to risk the lives of these Delta Force commandos, go in on this high-risk mission into Syria and kill this guy? RISCH: First of all, they were going to try to capture him, as
opposed to killing him. But nonetheless, the operation that we've been briefed on, what I've seen and particularly the actual technicalities of it, I think there's no question that the president made the right call and indeed, because of what was in place in other things, it was...
BLITZER: And he was the target, this guy, right?
RISCH: He was clearly the target.
BLITZER: There was nobody else? They just found this guy, but the real target wasn't there? There's speculation and rumors along those lines. You haven't heard anything?
RISCH: No. This was the target along with his wife. You know, women don't ordinarily play high-role positions in this organization or, for that matter, the other organizations over there. But his wife actually played a much more strategic role than women generally play in these organizations.
BLITZER: Umm Sayyaf as they called her. What was her role?
RISCH: Well, she was involved in decision-making with him, from what we're able to tell. And in addition to that, there are at least claims that she was involved in the hostage situation.
And as you know, there was another woman that was taken that was -- supposedly has been called a slave. She was involved in those kind of operations. So she was -- she was much more pivotal.
BLITZER: She's a Yazidi sex slave, if you will. And she's now being interrogated by the U.S.
RISCH: She is. His wife is being interrogated by the U.S.
BLITZER: Any good information yet?
RISCH: They are getting information.
BLITZER: Is it good?
RISCH: They are getting information. Whenever you get information on these, you never take it at face value. It's always got to be vetted.
BLITZER: But she's talking?
RISCH: And they will get -- they will get what they can get from her.
BLITZER: She's talking?
RISCH: They're interrogating her, and she has answered at least some questions. And how deep that goes, I really -- I really can't go into.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks. Don't go away. We have more to talk about, including what's going on in Ramadi, because it doesn't look good. Pretty ugly picture. Much more with Senator Risch right after this.
BLITZER: The Obama administration says the fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi to ISIS means, in their words, a long slog ahead in the fight against the terror group. We're back with a key member of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees, Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho.
The -- Susan Rice, the president's national security adviser, she says it's a long slog. That's what the U.S. can expect. The White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, says it's a setback what happened in Ramadi, the defeat of the Iraqi military. ISIS takes over. Would you call it a long slog, a setback? How would you describe it?
RISCH: Well, I think setback is an understatement. The fall of Ramadi is a big deal. What you have here is really a key city in a key region, and it is occupied by Sunni people.
And they have been in other parts of both Syria and Iraq. The Sunnis have been sympathetic towards ISIS, because they're also Sunni. So it's going to be interesting to see how this plays out.
There's going to be a huge battle over -- over there. Open sources today are reporting that the -- that the Shiite militia are converging on Ramadi. They're both Iranian-backed and non-Iranian backed. You know, we also watched what happened in Tikrit and see pictures of what's left at it.
I suspect by the time they're done with Ramadi, the pictures are going to be very similar. I'm so sure that the -- that the script isn't very close.
BLITZER: It's a city that used to have, not that long ago, half a million people. At least 120,000 have fled, refugees. And more are trying to get out right now. But ISIS presumably not necessarily letting them leave.
[17:20:17] These Shiite militias that are going in there to do the work of what the Iraqi military should be doing. That's going to really antagonize the Iraqi Sunnis in the area. They hate these Shiites.
RISCH: There's absolutely no question about that, Wolf. You just mentioned an important point that needs to be underscored, and that is that we all thought that maybe the Iraqi forces were going to step up. Remember right at the beginning they turned tail and ran when ISIS showed up.
BLITZER: In Mosul, they abandoned Mosul, the second largest city.
BLITZER: But these are American-trained, American-financed, American- armed troops. The U.S. spent a decade training the Iraqi military and the first sign of a bunch of terrorists come in, they flee. What happens?
RISCH: Well, I think really, what you have here is you have people that are not committed to the cause they're fighting for. People fight for a cause. And when we first saw them turn tail and run, that was the first thing that went through my mind, is that you can train them all you want. Training doesn't -- if they don't stand and fight because they don't believe in the cause they're fighting for, the training doesn't make any difference.
BLITZER: Because now the U.S. wants to send in more weapons to spend for money, U.S. tax dollar money to train more of these Iraqi troops when they simply, at least in recent experience, they run away, they leave the weapons behind. Those weapons wind up, including in Ramadi, in the hands of ISIS.
RISCH: And that's a very good observation. And again, I come back to it isn't the training. It's what they're willing to fight for. And so far we just haven't seen it.
BLITZER: So what's the solution here?
RISCH: I don't know what the solution is there. There in Tikrit, it was call in the Kurds. And unfortunately, of course, this area is too far south for the Kurds. Probably to even be interested. But it's going to get -- it's going to get ugly there as the Shiites pour in.
BLITZER: I want to show you some video released by the Iraqi defense ministry. Let me put it up on the screen. Take a look at this. You see Iraqi military helicopters flying over Ramadi. These are Iraqi soldiers, desperately trying to escape Ramadi right now, because they're fearful of what these ISIS terrorists are going to do to them if they capture them.
They run to the helicopter. They get out of there. They leave all their weapons behind. And this is going on and on. Now, the Iraqi defense ministry releases this video. The defense minister, by the way, of Iraq is a guy named Khaled al-Obeidi, who himself is a Sunni. And it's a tense situation between the Shia, Iraqi Shia and the Iraqi Sunnis. Why do you think they released this video, which is real good propaganda, if you will, for ISI?
RISCH: Yes, it is good propaganda for ISIS. I guess it's speculation as to why they would release something like that.
The other thing is that the reporting is pretty clear that ISIS didn't have nearly the numbers that the Iraqis had. The Iraqis outnumbered ISIS and still turned tail and ran.
BLITZER: And because the Iraqi military that was going there, a lot of them were Iraqi Shia in a Sunni area and they said, "You know what? This is not any territory, not my land. I'm getting out of here. Not worth dying for."
RISCH: Well, again, it comes back to what you're willing to fight for. Because they're not willing to fight for it. You can't -- training and weapons won't make any difference.
BLITZER: Should the U.S. continue to fund, train and arm the Iraqi military?
RISCH: Well, obviously, not if they're going to continue to act like they're acting.
We were hopeful when the -- when we had other Arab nations around there get together and talk about that they were going to put boots on the ground. There's no appetite in Congress or the American people to put boots on the ground.
But -- and we do a lot of good things with air power. But it is going to take some boots on the ground at some point in time, somewhere along the line. And right now the Iraqis certainly aren't showing that they've got the -- that they've got the fire in the bell.
BLITZER: The U.S. now has 3,000 troops in Iraq supposedly training the Iraqi military. Lindsey Graham was here yesterday. He said that number should go up to 10,000. Do you agree with him?
RISCH: You know, I'm going to leave that to Lindsey for his estimate. He's closer on the military things than I am. The Iraqi troops have got to do better than they're doing or it doesn't make any difference how many trainers you put there or what kind of training you give them.
BLITZER: Fair enough. All right. Senator Risch, thanks for joining us.
RISCH: You're welcome.
Coming up, are nuclear submarines vulnerable to terrorists? Shocking moments about security from an insider turned whistleblower. We're going to hear from our own terror experts.
And a manhunt for three bikers mistakenly released from a deadly brawl, a shootout. Nine people are dead. Police are now giving threats. Does more violence lie ahead? Lots of news happening. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:29:27] BLITZER: We're learning new details about the ISIS leader killed in a U.S. raid inside Syria. He'd been linked to financial and hostage operations but was he the one the U.S. commanders were looking for.
Let's discuss this with a former CIA official, CNN national security analyst Peter Bergman and CNN military analyst, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.
General Hertling, you heard Senator Risch say yes, this was the guy they were lacking for, even though he wasn't well-known, wasn't on the U.S. most wanted list, there was no bounty for him. What do you make? Was it worth sending in Delta Force command in a high-risk mission like this to fly into Syria to go after this guy?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I can tell you this, Wolf, having been involved in these kind of operations in the past, it was worth it. They wouldn't do it if it wasn't worth it. You have all sorts of risk mitigation procedures and operational design planning that goes along with any kind of strike by Special Operations command.
So you know, to go to our other question, were there more? Possibly. Don't know. But this was certainly one of the targets. There's a pretty good feel for what's on the ground and what kind of targets you're going after. If they send the operators in, it's worth it.
BLITZER: We also heard from Senator Risch, Phil, that the wife, Umm Sayyaf, as she's called, is talking. She's under U.S. interrogation right now. But what would she know? Presumably, the way women are treated by ISIS, there's a limitation of how much involvement she really had, I would assume.
HERTLING: That would be my question. Look, I don't care whether she's talking. She might be talking about what kind of a guy he was, what the sense was around the house, pattern of activity.
If I'm an intel guy, I want to know actionable information. That is who came in, when did they come in, what are their vulnerabilities? The likelihood that a woman living in a separate part of the house knows operational detail that could lead to another strike on another facility, in my mind is low. I don't care if she's talking. I want to move on some information she provides, and I doubt she's giving it.
BLITZER: Where there might be information, Peter, the computers, the software, the thumb drives, whatever they found over there in that -- in that building where they went in and killed this guy.
PETER BERGEN, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, but I would add on the female, the one thing that she might know about it in some detail. If indeed these people were taking hostages including Americans, she may well know something quite significant about Kayla Mueller. Because it was the American aid worker who was executed by ISIS.
You know, they -- ISIS would not allow men to handle her. So they would went a female. And that I'm sure is, fairly sure that is what they're talking to her about.
BLITZER: May have been involvement on that.
Mike Morrell, the former deputy director of the CIA, says ISIS is bad, but it's not the worst of the worst. There are other terror groups more threatening, more dangerous to the United States right now. He says it's not the most significant threat to the homeland today.
What other terror groups are greater threats to the U.S. homeland?
BERGEN: I think Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, because they keep putting hard-to-detect bombs on American-bound planes. They haven't succeed, but they keep trying. And also the Khorasan group, which is a sort of part of al Qaeda that's based in Syria, which has links to al Qaeda in Yemen and similarly, ambitions to attack American aviation, western aviation in general.
BLITZER: So they're a bigger threat.
So General Hertling, the U.S.-led coalition, they're dropping leaflets in Raqqah, the sort of capital of the ISIS-controlled parts of Syria, and they're addressing ISIS, obviously in Arabic, "Your end is approaching, the zero hour. It is very close. We're not going to stop. Your destiny is to lose this war. The end is approaching, blah, blah, blah. We can strike you inside your alleged area and take one of your emirs, but you can do nothing about this."
I remember during the first Gulf War, and the second Gulf War in Iraq, the U.S. started dropping these kinds of leaflets. How effective are they against the enemy?
HERTLING: Well, when you saw it in the first Gulf War, Wolf, it was probably called I.O., or Information Operations. It's now called MISO, Military Information Support Operations. Same thing, different day.
What I'd suggest to you is this is the basic stuff that they're doing. And there's probably -- well, no. I'll say this. There is a whole lot more going on than you even know about or we even know about.
This is the stuff that's dropped on the surface. It gets the individual fighters. It plays with their minds. But it's reinforced with a lot of other things, some of which are in the top secret category. This is a part of the battlefield.
BLITZER: Psychological operations. I assume the U.S. released all of the information into the raid in Syria going after this chief financial officer, part of a psychological operation against ISIS, as well. "We can get you. You can run, but you can't hide," something like that?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: It's surprising. We sit here in THE SITUATION ROOM and talk about some of the ineffectiveness of U.S. operations. When I watch terrorists talk, when we talk to terrorists, they build us up as ten-feet tall, as well. Drone strikes are something they hate. And now they've got to have an added dimension. If we think we're safe in Syria, and had to just worry about barrel bombs, President Assad, now Special Forces are coming after us, as well.
BLITZER: Very quickly, if you do. A royal navy submariner, a whistle blower, he said this. He said it's only a matter of time before we're infiltrated by a psychopath or a terrorist; and a royal navy nuclear submarine, it could become a nuclear disaster. Here's the question. Are nuclear submarines that vulnerable?
BERGEN: I'm not an expert in that area but I'm very skeptical. I mean, these there the crown jewels of every country and there are a lot of safeguards.
BLITZER: Do you agree, Phil?
MUDD: Look, there's two questions here. One, does he raise things that the royal navy should look at in the U.S.? Absolutely. They're looking at terrorists. The first thing they're thinking about is not how to infiltrate a top secret environment. They're first thinking -- they're thinking about how to blow something up. This is about the last thing on their agenda, if I'm looking at it.
[17:35:04] BLITZER: General Hertling.
HERTLING: Absolutely, Wolf. I've been on a submarine. And I'll tell you, everything the Navy does on the submarine is checked and double checked. You have buddy teams. They have terms for it. But you're not going to do anything as an individual on a U.S. nuclear submarine.
BLITZER: Or a British nuclear submarine?
HERTLING: I can't speak to that.
BLITZER: All right. Well, hopefully, they can't. Guys, thanks to all of you for coming in.
Coming up, prominent women from around the world, including Gloria Steinem of the United States, they are right now in North Korea. Will Kim Jong-un allow them to go ahead with a peace demonstration and a march across the DMZ?
But up next, breaking news from Waco, Texas, where they're hunting for several dangerous members of biker gangs. They were arrested after a shootout. But get this. They were let go by mistake.
[17:40:25] BLITZER: We're following breaking news from Waco, Texas, where a manhunt has been under way for three bikers detained after a deadly brawl and shootout, then released by mistake. Police are getting threats. They are warning there's still a chance of more violence.
CNN national correspondent Kyung Lah is in Waco for us. Kyung, what's the latest there? Why were these three bikers released?
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're just getting some developing news. There had been a statewide manhunt throughout the day, Wolf, and we are just learning from our affiliate KEYE News, that two of the three who were mistakenly released, they have now surrendered to the authorities. This was something that the police were sort of hoping for, that they wouldn't have to chase every single one of them down.
But they are still looking for one outstanding suspect. This suspect, the third one who is still out there, they were all mistakenly released. How did this happen? Well this is an extraordinarily large crime scene for the city. There are still cars that they're going through one by one. There's still just 30 minutes ago, our camera man shot long guns being
pulled out of a vehicle, a bulletproof vest. They're still trying to collect the evidence.
So when they arrested the 170 suspects, three of them who were booked early on, they had their bond mistakenly set at $50,000 before the 1 million bond was set, and they were let go because they paid the 10 percent, the $5,000, and they walked out.
So two of them now back into custody. One still being hunted for by the police.
Why $1 million bond? The sheriff of this county says he is trying to send a message to the biker gangs. Here's what he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF PARNELL MCNAMARA, MCLENNAN COUNTY, TEXAS: So many times it's like a revolving door. People commit a crime, they will commit robbery, put a bond on them, call a bondsman and they get out immediately. They're back out on the street, and we deal with them over and over and over. And there's so many of these people that we have in custody now on these charges that it will be a way to keep them in jail or at least ensure that they will show up for court if they make that bond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: So how are they going to ensure that they actually -- that bond stays high? Well, for the most serious offenses, every single one of them, all of these 170, are going to have to go before a judge to ask the judge to lower the bond. They are hoping to keep this as high as possible for as long as possible, Wolf.
BLITZER: What are authorities saying, Kyung, about more violence in the days and weeks ahead? What's their assessment?
LAH: Their assessment now is that this was a very, very real threat. In the first 24 hours, you could feel the tension here. The police presence was extraordinarily high. There were snipers on top of some of these buildings in this commercial shopping strip. In the first 24 hours it was very real. The police are calling it a green light threat against officers in this state.
Well that has since abated, in part because police are reaching out to the biker gangs. They're asking for calm. They're also asking for a truce among the biker gangs. They are hoping that this bloodshed will end, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Kyung Lah in Waco, Texas, for us, thank you very much.
Let's get some insight now from our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes. He's a former assistant director of the FBI when you were in the FBI. You know a lot about these biker gangs, don't you? They're pretty dangerous, aren't they? TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right. The FBI has taken
them on for years, and then lately, ATF is heavily involved in investigating them. The marshals involved, the DEA. All of the agencies have had undercover operations assisting state and local police throughout the county.
The Bandidos in particular are in almost every state. They have 93 chapters all over the United States. They have 13 international chapters in Australia, throughout Europe. So they're a very big organization, 2,000 to 2,500 members.
BLITZER: You were just in Australia, and they're very concerned, even in Australia about this biker gang called the Bandidos.
FUENTES: They have a similar incident in a restaurant recently in Queensland, and the result was not having nine people shot, but they had a major brawl. The police came in. And Australia had passed a number of stringent laws, including not more than three of them can be together wearing the colors. They can't congregate. Belonging to the organization is illegal. That's all being tested in the Australian courts.
They have taken this very seriously because of the high rate of murder, drug trafficking and all of the activities. This is not a social club like this guy that was interviewed yesterday. These guys are organized crime members.
BLITZER: And Australia and in parts of Europe, they've got much stricter laws about these biker gangs, right?
FUENTES: Well, they have stricter laws. And basically, you know, tried to use much of the tools, I mean, that are similar to our RICO statutes to address them. And as significant organized crime, as we still do.
Bandidos aren't even No. 1. We still rank Hell's Angels No. 1 in the U.S., followed by the Bandidos and others.
BLITZER: What about this other group, the Cossacks?
FUENTES: Cossacks are less important and it's thought that purpose of the summit meeting that they were having at this restaurant was for the Bandidos to kind of lay out the law and then here's what you can do, here's where you can do it, stay out of your way and just basically put them into their place. And then this violence erupted.
BLITZER: So you think they might even take revenge and target police in Waco or other parts of the country?
FUENTES: I actually don't think they'll do it in a big way. I think they may resort to ambush and sniping at police when police are vulnerable, which police are always vulnerable in uniform, in marked cars, night and day, so they're a significant target that could address.
I don't think they're going to want to have a war with the police in this country which means all federal agencies, state and local agencies. I just don't -- I don't think they're going to be that stupid over the long run. Maybe for a couple of days. They talked about it being angry on Sunday. But I don't think -- I think cooler heads will prevail. And not to mention, a lot of these guys now, if they're going to be on bikes, they're going to be on bicycles because the police impounded their motorcycles. So, you know, that's another thing.
BLITZER: So many of them are now being charged with capital murder which in Texas carries the death sentence.
FUENTES: It does. And that's going to be a long investigation. They're going to have to do the autopsies on all of the bodies, pull the bullets to match to all of the firearms that were fired that day, look at all the videos, all the witness statements. It sounds like the restaurant owners or employees have not been cooperative. They were telling the police originally there was no violence, there was nothing wrong inside the restaurant, the crime scene investigation is showing blood and violence in the restaurant as well as the parking lot. So it's going to be a very long difficult investigation.
BLITZER: We're told the police in Waco are going to have a news conference in the coming minutes. We're going to monitor that. Just don't go too far away. We'll get their analysis as well.
Also other news we're following, North Korea's dangerous dictator Kim Jong-Un has found a new reason to become angry. This is because of plans for an upcoming peace march. It's because of a shortage, get this, of lobsters. We'll have details.
[17:51:36] BLITZER: Breaking news. We're standing by for more information from police in Waco, Texas. We're seeing reports that two of the three biker gang members who were released by mistake now have surrendered. They're in jail. We're going to stay on top of this story and update you as we get more information.
Other news we're following, including the progress of a peace demonstration, peace demonstrators arriving in North Korea. But its state-run media is paying attention to a much different story today. It released pictures of an angry Kim Jong-Un making an inspection visit to an aquatic farm and pointing out what he calls serious shortcomings in its production of turtles and lobsters.
The peace demonstrators, meanwhile, from around the world, including Gloria Steinem from here in the United States. They're in Pyongyang right now. They're preparing for their march across the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea.
CNN's Will Ripley is joining us now from Tokyo.
Will, you're monitoring what's going on with these demonstrators, these peace marchers. Explain what these 30 women from the U.S. and around the world, some Nobel laureates, what they're trying to achieve. WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've received permission
from both North and South Korea, Wolf, to cross the Demilitarized Zone, which we visited recently during our trip to North Korea. It is one of the most heavily fortified dangerous borders in the world where you have soldiers from both sides that are staring each other down constantly with loaded weapons.
And yet here you have several dozen women, including Gloria Steinem, a prominent peace activist, a feminist from the '60s and '70s, who will be essentially walking across both sets of soldiers. Critics have accused them of essentially being propaganda pawns for the North Korean government because, of course, their goal is North Korea's goal, which is to end the isolation, as they put it.
But these women insist they're not prioritizing the interest of the North or the South, simply trying to call attention to the division on the Korean Peninsula.
BLITZER: So what -- I know there are a lot of landmines separating North and South Korea. You were just there. I've been there as well. I assume there is an area that's been cleared. If the North Koreans have approved this march, the South Koreans have approved this march, there is a pathway where they can go through safely, right?
RIPLEY: Yes, you've seen it during your visit to North Korea, Wolf. The DMZ is very heavily built up there. There are structures on both sides. And there are safe places to cross. It's not unprecedented, it's been done before. Last year there was a motorcade that went across -- there was also -- there have been motorcycles that have driven across. But they all use one specific road. And in this case, these activists are insisting on crossing Panmunjom, a village, a peace village.
North Korea has given permission for that, but the South hasn't. So there is a potential for confrontation when they get to that spot if they're not allowed to cross.
BLITZER: It's one of the most dangerous if not the most dangerous spot on earth. A million North Korean troops, nearly a million South Korean troops, some 30,000 American troops along the DMZ as well.
How is this whole peace march being received in South Korea?
RIPLEY: Well, again, anything that happens in North Korea is greeted with skepticism by the South Korean media. Often the reports out of South Korea are not favorable towards the North. And so again, these women have been accused by some critics of playing into the North's propaganda. They in Pyongyang, they're taking tours of some of the best government projects that Kim Jong-Un has to offer. But of course we know, Wolf, that's not the reality of life for millions of people in that country.
[17:55:09] BLITZER: And you were just there in North Korea the other day. We'll stay in close touch with you, Will. Hopefully we'll be able to speak with some of those women in the coming days as well.
Will Ripley reporting for us from Tokyo.
Coming up, the White House calls the fall of a major Iraqi city a setback, and says a long slog lies ahead in the war against ISIS. Are Iraqi forces up to the task?
And faulty air bags. More than 30 million cars may have them right here in the United States. Is your car affected by a safety record recall?
[18:00:07] BLITZER: Happening now, bloody purge. ISIS terrorists pushed beyond a newly captive city.