Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
France Unleashes Airstrikes on ISIS in Syria; Terrorist Held Syrian Refugee Passport; Should the U.S. Take In Syrian Refugees? Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 15, 2015 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:04] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: But is it really fair to divide the refugees among religious lines?
SEN. JOELLE GARRIAUD-MAYLAM, THE REPUBLICANS PARTY: Look, no, certainly not.
GARRIAUD-MAYLAM: Certainly not. It's a question of oppressed people. And I want to stress very strongly, we shouldn't make a confusion between Muslims and extreme Islamists and I'm very afraid of that as well. I'm afraid that some people are going to be so angry that they will want to sort of combat Muslims, whereas a vast majority of them want to live in peace. They are part of a society, they're part of us. We get along very well with them. And it's extremely important that they are not ostracized and I'm very worried about that as well. Because I'm sure such what daesh wants they want the Muslim population in Europe to feel rejected, to feel ostracized and to want some form of revenge.
HARLOW: And to cling to ISIS.
GARRIAUD-MAYLAM: Exactly. So we've got to be very careful. Especially among young people who know too well that they're being radicalized at the moment and so quickly just on the internet.
HARLOW: And many in prisons in Paris.
GARRIAUD-MAYLAM: Absolutely. And here, again, look carefully enough into that question of prisons. We've got some imams, religious figures, some of them are preaching hatred. How can we tolerate that? This is impossible. We need to train our imams, we need the religious Islam Muslim figures to help us in building, explaining everybody that Islam and the Muslim faith is not killing innocent people.
HARLOW: Good evening, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I am Poppy Harlow along with my colleague, John Berman. We're live for you in Paris where it's 2:00 a.m. It's 8:00 p.m. on the East Coast. And you see many people gathered behind us still honoring the victims at this vigil that is been built at Place de la Republique.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching a special live coverage here of the Paris terror attacks. And this is what we know at this hour. French authorities tell CNN, a source tells CNN that a Belgium-born French national suspected of being involved in the attacks was questioned by French police early Saturday morning, but then let go. This happened on the road in France to Belgium.
BERMAN: This man was in custody being questioned but then let go.
HARLOW: Right. Let go.
BERMAN: His name, Salah Abdeslam, 26-years-old. He's now at the center of a worldwide manhunt particularly in France and Belgium. Police are warning he is dangerous. If you see him, do not approach him. France also announcing today a major bombardment against ISIS in Syria. France striking back against ISIS. The French Air Force dropped about 20 bombs targeting an ISIS command center and a training camp. Also other sites.
HARLOW: Yes. The other major developments today that we want to get you up to speed on, we know that one of the suicide bombers, the one who exploded that vast outside of the soccer stadium, the Stade de France right outside Paris entered Europe as just another face in the crowd of refugees fleeing persecution. He was in embedded, we have learned, in a wave of Syrian refugees. We know that at least three of the terrorists involved did spend time in Syria. We also know that at least one of them that I just told you about was issued an emergency passport that helped him travel to the Greek island of Leros where he got that emergency passport and through several eastern European countries before, John, finally arriving here in France. So let's talk more about this.
Let's bring in CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto. And Jim, when you look at this and this stop, I think it's always easy to Monday morning quarterback and look back and say how could they let him go? But this was within three hours after the bombs went off, right?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Listen. It's stunning but only in hindsight. So, through some combination of luck, good police work, abundance of caution they stopped this man on the road to Belgium and it was only later that they realized that he was tied, he was in fact, a brother --
BERMAN: Very closely tied.
SCIUTTO: Very closely tied. It was a brother of one of the attackers who only hours later they would identify via fingerprints from his body, one of the suicide bombers at the French Stadium. And now you have in fact three brothers that they believe were involved. One of whom is dead. Blew himself up. One of whom is detained. And now this third who is the subject of this international arrest warrant.
BERMAN: Very interesting to see as these investigations spread both here in France and into Belgium. Because we know they were raised in Belgium. We know there are at least five people in custody in Belgium believed to be connected to these attacks here. And also interesting to see how these cells as they're maybe called are working. Three brothers now believe to be involved or connected to the --
[20:05:14] SCIUTTO: That's right. And Belgium is the center of Jihadism that the French authorities have been aware about it and we've been aware of because just after the "Charlie Hebdo" attacks in January --
SCIUTTO: There was a raid, there was a shootout on the streets of Belgium with some Jihadist there. And they know that it is also by population, by percentage of population, Belgium one of the most active countries in terms of sending recruits to the war in Syria and to the ranks of ISIS.
BERMAN: The real borders, there's no real distinction between being in Belgium, planning attack in Belgium and being here.
SCIUTTO: It's like crossing the state border in the U.S. really.
HARLOW: Isn't it easier -- but there are also states in the United States where it is easier to get your hands on illegal guns than other states. Belgium, for example, it's harder here in France. Isn't it much easier to obtain -- we're talking about AK-47s, Kalashnikovs, isn't it easier to obtain them there?
SCIUTTO: Well, it is not legally but it's a traffic and they're connecting these weapons to the Balkans where, of course, there was a war some 20 years ago. But that's a place that has trafficked weapons into Europe and you'll remember this attack that took, rather this arrest that took place in Germany a week before the attack, only significant after the attacks took place, German man who was believed to have been carrying weapons trafficked through the Balkans as well. So, you have that connection. Think of that. I mean, so many knowns in this network. Belgium, France, certainly Syria, ISIS, but the Balkans as well to get their weapons in.
HARLOW: And we heard Juliette Kayyem saying last hour, this was executed almost in her words, she said, I hate to say it, almost perfectly the fact that they can carry it all up.
BERMAN: One man arrived in Greece just a month ago.
HARLOW: A month ago.
BERMAN: So, he went from landing in Greece to blowing himself up here. That's an awfully short period of time. Short way to go in just one month. Jim Sciutto, thanks so much.
HARLOW: Well, also we know today reacting to what took place here on the streets of France just 48 hours ago, the French military, the Air Force bombing, at least 20 ISIS targets. Just a few hours ago, focused on Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS. We are getting reports that ISIS fighters there may have been prepared for that. They may have evacuated some of these key buildings that the French went after.
CNN's senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh with the latest for us this evening.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, John, it's very hard to define exactly what has been hit inside Raqqa. Simply because we're dependent upon information of activists mostly known as Raqqa slaughtered silently who risked their lives simply to tell us information from inside ISIS-controlled areas. It does appear that according to the first reports what's known as the clinical hospital, the stadium, the political building, the forensic (ph) area they have been hit. Now, those are names given to buildings that are now really been taken over by ISIS and used for completely different purposes and basically according to a source from inside the town we're talking to, these are really headquarters and jails used by ISIS.
Now, you have to look at this targeting with a degree of skepticism, frankly, because this happened so fast and it's so hot on the heels of what's happened in Paris. Clearly these targets may well have been known to the United States for a period of time. They've had jets in the skies over Raqqa for months now. So the fact that so many are suddenly available to the French Air Force to bomb, well, that may simply be too much of an opportunity to be entirely credible, but still, what this does do is provide the French public and Francois Hollande that sense of visceral reaction to the callous bloodshed on the streets of Paris.
We have no idea what level of destruction, effectiveness it's has against ISIS as a military machine but it does give a very clear message that France is now military so much more in the game than it has been before. Other key questions are, of course, is this the beginning of a lengthier campaign by an increased French military presence? Is there potentially a ground element to follow? What does this mean in terms of the ability for ISIS to resist the coalition campaign against it? Much to be answered. Much we'll still learn about what was precisely hit inside Raqqa, but a symbolic move here by France which may well have had some impact against ISIS -- Poppy, John.
BERMAN: All right. Our thanks to Nick Paton Walsh. And Nick, by the way, is in Irbil in Iraq right now. Nick was just embedded with Kurdish Peshmerga troops that helped take over the town of Sinjar which has been held by ISIS for some time. So, Nick has seen first- hand the battle against ISIS. And in some way, the rolling back of ISIS. So, it's interesting to hear Nick talk about this new round of aerial bombardment on the ISIS headquarters in Raqqa.
HARLOW: And how symbolic it is and also how strategic and effective it will be going forward. Let's talk more about this with our security experts. Juliette Kayyem is with us, she's our national security analyst, former Homeland Security Assistant Secretary. Kimberly Dozier also with us, CNN global affairs analyst.
Juliette, when you look at security measures, obviously we have 1,500 troops now across Paris we know in the wake of these attacks but also when you talk about protecting Belgium, when you talk about Germany, when you talk about European nations and the FBI stepping up their surveillance in the United States, talk to us from a security prospective of what has changed in the last 48 hours?
[20:10:20] JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: So this is what we traditionally call the ratcheting up and it often happens after a horrible incident like this. Some of it is clearly, you know, theater. And I don't think that's necessarily bad, so you're going to see a more physical presence of police officers, troops, look, we're heading into the holiday weeks ahead. You're going to see that throughout Europe and of course the United States. There's ramping up of intelligence efforts, the sharing. Then just getting to what the FBI said today. To me it's less important what they said, but the fact they said it so publicly. To me, this is the FBI saying not only are we watching you, and we are going to increase surveillance, but don't mess around.
You know, because there's just too many people sort of playing around with ISIS right now in the United States. You know, don't flirt with them. Don't be curious about them. Don't think that this is fun. This is serious stuff. And so part of what the FBI did today was essentially try to shut down all the wannabes so that they can focus their efforts on a real threat. Possibly here. But, of course, assisting the French in their investigation. I just, you know, want to say, just picking up on what Jim said, how hard this investigation is. In less than three days, we have Iraq, Syria, France, Germany, Belgium, Greece, and the Balkans now all part of this investigation. Just in the Middle East and Europe. Not including the United States. This is -- this is going to be big and it's going to disclose who else was involved.
BERMAN: Kimberly Dozier, I want to bring you into this discussion. You're deeply sourced in the U.S. military establishment. There's an intelligence battle going right now. An intelligence investigation. But also a military campaign being waged against ISIS right now. What's your sense over the last few days after these attacks here where the military establishment thinks this fight is and where it is going?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, they'll tell you that their intelligence picture of what's going on inside Syria has gotten a lot better over the past especially five or six months with every raid that they've carried out, they've gathered technical evidence that's helped them build a map of the network. The problem is the network knows it's being hunted and so except for some places like Raqqa, whenever possible, ISIS fighters blend in to the local population, or they co-locate their facilities right next to something that they know the U.S. wouldn't want to hit. That makes this more difficult.
But the picture has slowly gotten better. And when they get those roughly 50 U.S. Special Forces advisers into Syria in most likely, say, Kurdish territory, they will also be able to better work with the people on the ground to build that picture. That will drive the strikes. The problem is ISIS has already had months to get people into position in Europe and in a sense, that's the issue that is going to run and run so it doesn't matter what you hit in Syria, the problem's already waiting and festering in Europe.
HARLOW: Very important point. Scary reality that everyone here is facing. Juliette, to you, when you talk about ISIS, we know that the funding is enormous, that they have become enormously wealthy and well-funded. Their abilities here to carry out six coordinated attacks but not just here. Three weeks ago the downing of the Russian jetliner that they claimed credit for, and then this week, dual suicide bombings in Beirut claiming 42 lives and now this. When you look at cutting off their ability not in a military sense, how do you cut off the funding?
KAYYEM: So there's a variety of means. And none of them are perfect. I'm willing to admit that. I mean, one is that you get serious about international norms for banking regulation. Most instances formalized banks are not being used but sources that help replenish terrorist organizations are often in banks. So you've seen the U.S. Treasury Department in the last four to six years get very serious about this.
KAYYEM: In terms of the black market which is, you know, just hand- to-hand sharing of currency, that is where good old-fashioned human intelligence comes into place. That is why when we talk about surveillance and we talk about military efforts, there is another piece to this which is either paying terrorists off so that we can find out what's going on in the organization, or getting good old- fashioned spies into the network to try to disrupt it. All of those are occurring. None of them perfect. But that's the kind of activity we anticipate over the next, you know, that has been occurring and then into the future.
[20:15:04] BERMAN: And one of the things we saw -- actually just from the last week is actually France started bombing some of the oil fields.
BERMAN: In Western Syria right now trying to hit perhaps some of way they get their fuel and get their money there. So that is one way to choke off the money there. Kimberly, I think we just lost -- we just lost our -- I'll ask this question. I'm not going to be able to hear the answer.
BERMAN: But Kimberly Dozier, the President has taken a lot of flak over the last three days for saying that ISIS has been contained largely in Syria.
HARLOW: Right. On the battlefield.
BERMAN: On the battlefield. The problem is he said that within the 24-hour period that the attacks here in Paris happened. He said that after what happened with the Russian jet, he said it after the bombings in Beirut. But let's talk for a minute about what he was specifically referring to in Iraq and Syria. We saw Sinjar, we saw ISIS lose control of Sinjar to the Kurdish Peshmerga. We've seen as you've said perhaps better intelligence on the ground inside Syria. Do you think that will lead to territorial gains in the near future?
DOZIER: Well, you are seeing slow territorial gains inside Iraq. The Kurdish Forces sort of playing zone offense. They have been attacking ISIS fighters in their region. The Iraqi army has still been working to encircle the Ramadi area and take that city eventually. So, you do see a slow sort of march as the troops get better on the ground, as they get better weapons, better logistics, and you're also seeing a sort of a spreading of the ink blot inside parts of Syria. But at this point with the foreign fighter flow into the country still continuing, that means that ISIS still has the manpower it needs to keep up with the fight.
BERMAN: All right. Juliette Kayyem, Kimberly Dozier, thank you both very much. Again here in Paris tonight, still mournings, people still coming to pay their respects here at the Place de la Republique where you can see candles. You can see small groups gathered. It's really a 24-hour period right now as people just keep on coming by.
HARLOW: And we have seen this all over Paris. Makeshift memorials. The one that I saw yesterday outside the Bataclan Theater, now piled feet high with flowers. People paying their respects. We'll be back in the moment live from Paris when our coverage of the terror attacks continues.
[20:20:26] HARLOW: Welcome back to our continuing live coverage in the wake of the devastating terror attacks here in Paris. I'm Poppy Harlow along with my colleague John Berman at the Place de la Republique right in front of an absolutely beautiful makeshift memorial. As we continue to assess what has happened here, who is responsible. A major question in the United States, could a coordinated attack like the one that happened here on Friday night happen in the U.S.? Several Republican presidential contenders say, the White House has planned to take in more Syrian refugees makes this country, makes the United States too vulnerable.
CNN's Chris Frates reports.
CHRIS FRATES, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good evening, Poppy. President Obama's plans to bring in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees is under attack from the Republicans running to take his job. Donald Trump called the idea insane. And former Governor Mike Huckabee said taking in refugees is the craziest thing the country could do. Several of the GOP contenders today criticized Obama's proposal because of security risks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can't pick up the phone and call Syria and that's one of the reasons why I've said we won't be able to take more refugees. It's not that we don't want to. It's that we can't. Because there's no way to background check someone that's coming from Syria. (END VIDEO CLIP)
FRATES: The administration defended its plan to take the refugees saying the U.S. is being careful. Here's Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes today on "State of the Union."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We are carefully vetting against all of our information. And let's not forget, Jake, that some of these people are people who suffered the horrors of war. They're women, they're orphans. They're children who've suffered at the hands of ISIL. We cannot close our doors to these people. We can focus on keeping terrorists out of the United States while having an open door to people who deserve a safe haven.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FRATES: Today the governor of Michigan who was going to welcome additional Syrian refugees put a hold on that. Citing the attacks in Paris. He wants a better idea of how the refugees will be screened before moving forward. A sign the controversy will likely continue -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Thank you very much, Chris Frates for us reporting from the United States. We also know two U.S. law enforcement officials tell CNN the FBI right now planning closer monitoring, that means more wiretaps of suspected ISIS sympathizers in the U.S.
BERMAN: All right. In the Paris attacks we know at least one of the terrorists hid among refugees coming to Europe. He said he was from Syria. He presented a Syrian passport. He tried to hide among the influx of refugees leaving that war-torn nation heading to Europe, landing on the Greek island of Leros. Earlier today, the White House deputy national security adviser said that plans to accept U.S. Syrian into the refugees into the United States will not change, they are heavily vetted, he says.
HARLOW: And he absolutely did. It's still a disconcerting thought to some. And many say this is the national responsibility to help those most in need.
Joining us now, Congressman Joaquin Castro, Democrat from Texas. Thank you for being with us, Congressman. And you have argued, you've been one of the loudest voices on this saying the United States needs to accept more Syrian refugees. In September, you tweeted this, "The U.S. should accept more Syrian refugees. I have called for a Congressional hearing to spur action on this issue." Given the development that John just talked about, given the fact that we know that one of these attackers posed as a refugee, and, therefore, got into Europe via the Greek Island of Leros, does it change your position at all?
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: No, it doesn't. And for a few reasons. First, it's natural that after something like what happened in Paris, it's very natural for us to be concerned about who's coming into the country. I think every American shares that concern. But the process coming into Europe as a refugee is very different from the process of coming into the United States. In fact, since the Syrian conflict started in 2011, we've only allowed in about 1,500 Syrian refugees. And so, there is a very different vetting process. In the United States, that involves the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and other intelligence agencies. So the administration is right. We could be very careful in selecting who we let in.
BERMAN: Congressman, it's just been 1,500 so far, but the President wants to let in an additional 10,000 over the next year. You want to let in even more than that --
CASTRO: Right. But if you look at those --
BERMAN: -- are not to mention across Europe.
One second, Congressman. In the United States -- go ahead. Go ahead.
CASTRO: Sure. No, and as I mentioned, it's natural to be concerned about that. But the process is also taking about two years for the folks who start to the time when they come in, so it's very likely that the 10,000 that the President is trying to take in in 2016 are folks who are already in the pipeline, in other words, not any of the folks who just left recently.
[20:25:17] BERMAN: But if you want to take in, or Hillary Clinton wants to take in 65,000. How do you process that many and keep it safe?
CASTRO: Well, it's a process that would take quite a while. Remember, nobody's arguing that the process should be less restrictive or there should be less vetting done. And because we believe that that process is a thorough one, we believe that we can lift that cap.
HARLOW: Let me ask you this. When you look at our borders, obviously in this election, when you look at U.S. borders, a lot of focus has been on the U.S./Mexico border. Our Kyung Lah has done some fascinating reporting on some refugees, some Syrian refugees who have come in via the border from Mexico into the United States. And as she reported, when they have no documentation and say they are being persecuted in their country, they are allowed -- ICE has to allow them into the United States. Is that a concern of yours? Is there something that should be done on that front where you think the states can walk the line between helping those who need it most and also protecting the country?
CASTRO: We absolutely have to. I think this is a country whose history is one of showing humanity toward others. Of accepting people from around the world. But, yes, we have to be very careful. No matter where they come from. Whether they come from Central America, or whether they come from the Middle East or North Africa.
HARLOW: What does that look like being very careful? What does that look like to you in terms of ICE and other agencies changing policies or practices?
CASTRO: Well, no, I think that what they've got to do is make sure that the process that's being followed now is followed throughout. Remember, there are multiple layers of intelligence work and intelligence gathering that goes into figuring out who's going to be allowed to come in here. And so it's a fairly thorough vetting process. And we need to make sure that we keep that up.
BERMAN: Would you feel safe if you were in Paris right now with ISIS admitting and succeeding in getting terrorists in through the refugee process? Would you feel safe here?
CASTRO: Well, let's be honest. It gives everybody, Parisians and everybody from all over the world pause, and, of course, it's natural as a human being to fear for your safety after an event like that. But I trust that the French government and the mayor in Paris and everybody there is taking all the steps that they can to make that city safe.
BERMAN: Congressman Joaquin Castro joining us from San Antonio tonight. Thank you so much.
HARLOW: We appreciate your time, sir.
CASTRO: Thank you.
HARLOW: We will be back live from Paris with our continuing coverage of the terror attacks in just a moment.
Also CNN's interview with the U.S. ambassador to France. You will see that only here, next.
BERMAN: All right. After the attacks here on Friday, President Obama very quickly expressed his solidarity and support with France reminding the world that France is America's oldest ally.
HARLOW: He absolutely did. The U.S. ambassador to France Jane Hartley sat down for a one-on-one interview with our Jim Bittermann earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENT: Ambassador, thank you very much for joining us here on CNN today. I just wanted to ask you to begin with, do we have any late information about any American casualties? I know there was one young lady who was killed, anything further?
JANE HARTLEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO FRANCE: All we know right now is that, one young lady was killed tragically, and that we have four wounded. We don't have further information.
BITTERMANN: Their conditions are -- they're being treated, the ones that are wounded?
HARTLEY: They are being treated and, you know, we can't really give out conditions, but they are currently being treated and we are in contact with them and with their families.
BITTERMANN: What kind of advice is the embassy, the state department giving out to Americans who may want to travel here, that may have trip schedules?
HARTLEY: We are not giving out travel, you know, travel advisories in any way. But anybody has any questions though, we're telling them to go our embassy website which is state.gov.
It's important to note, you know, that the big 21 conferences happening here at the end of the month, and our president of the United States is still coming.
BITTERMANN: So that's a sign of support.
HARTLEY: I think so.
BITTERMANN: What other kinds of reactions have you gotten from the United States, from here and the local community, American community here?
HARTLEY: Well too, I mean as you know, our leaders, President Obama, Vice President Biden have made -- Secretary Kerry have made a very, very strong statements. President Obama said this was, you know, not just an attack on France but an attack on humanity. What's interesting personally, I've received so many e-mails, so many notes from my friends in New York. And as you know, we've been through this and all Americans I think. All New Yorkers say, we stand with the French. And I've heard just this weekend, at the New York Philharmonic, the French anthem was played and everybody rose and stood as a sign of respect, and our Statue of Liberty which I think signifies freedom more than anything else was lit up in the colors of the French flag.
BITTERMANN: Right, Statue of Liberty which was a gift from the French.
HARTLEY: Statue of Liberty which is a gift from the French.
BITTERMANN: So a real outpouring of emotion. I think, you feel there's benefication (ph) between the United States and France, some similarities between 9/11 for example?
HARTLEY: I think huge similarities. First of all, you know, France and the United States are old friends, probably are oldest friends and we've been through this before from the days of Lafayette supporting George Washington. We tend to stand together for freedom and during 9/11, the French were huge supporters of ours and we wanted to do the same now. Vice President Biden said, "We should stand shoulder to shoulder with the French."
[20:35:00] BITTERMANN: The president said that there would be all the help to the French needed would be given to them. Is there going to be intelligence sharing, is there going to be, I understand FBI agents maybe, brought here?
HARTLEY: You know, I can't give details but we are working very closely together. Before this we were working closely together, if you ask about you know, our military for instance, there's never been as much sharing and as many joint projects as we've seen over the last couple of years. But I think now, we have said to the French, we are there for you and I think if they need our services, we will be extremely helpful.
BITTERMANN: At a foreign policy level, what do you think the U.S. should do about this? What should the French reaction be in terms of dealing with the ISIS phenomenon?
HARTLEY: You know, President Obama has been very clear on this. We will not give in. This is a fight for freedom. To some extent, this is a fight for all of us. This is a fight for civilization as we know it. And we're going to work with the French and we're going to work with our coalition partners and, frankly, I hope this is -- I don't know if I want to call it a wake-up call, but I think all nations should be looking at this and seeing what they can do because we have to be in this together. As Obama said, this is a fight against -- this was an attack on the French but it's really an attack on all of us.
HARLOW: Jim Bittermann there with U.S. Ambassador to France. We will have much more special coverage from France in the wake of the tragic terrorist attacks here. Stay with us.
HARLOW: Welcome back to our special coverage of the terror attack in Paris. I'm Poppy Harlow live in Paris this evening alongside my colleague, John Berman. We are following a number of significant developments for you this evening. It is the middle of the night in Paris and developments to continue to pour in.
What we know right now from authorities an all-out manhunt is underway for a Belgian-born French national, one of three brother suspected of being involved in this terror ring that carried out the six coordinated attacks in Paris on Friday night.
A source tells us at here at CNN that police actually stopped and questioned Salah Abdeslam, a 26 year-old on the road driving from Paris to Brussels which is just a few hours after the massacre broke out here on Friday night. However, they did not know he had any connection to these attacks at the time and they did not detain him.
BERMAN: Yeah, now an international manhunt on the way particularly here on France and in Belgium authorities warning if you see that man, do not approach him. He could be very, very dangerous. Meanwhile, France has struck back retaliating against ISIS for these attacks. Just a few hours ago, France fighter jets dropped 20 bombs on target in and around Raqqa in Syria, the de factor capital of the ISIS, what they call their caliphate.
One of the site hit a stadium use by the group as both this headquarters, also a jail, ISIS claims -- ISIS claims there were no casualties on the ground and the sights were hit were abandoned although we will wait to try to get some kind of independent intelligence assessment from that.
President Obama has ordered all flags on public buildings in the United States to be lowered to half-staff in honor of the 129 people, the innocent people who lost their lives here in Paris Friday night. Those flags I believe will remain at half-staff until Thursday night so really the better part of the week in United States.
The president said, quote, "The skies have been darkened," in the aftermath of the terrorist killings spree here in Paris. The president called the massacre an attack on the civilized world. He did that during the opening remarks at the G-20 Summit in Turkey, a meeting of world leaders right now. They were there to meet on several subjects you can bet at this point what happened here in Paris dominating the discussions.
CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta is there with more.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Here at the G-20 all of the talk is about ISIS. The White House says it agrees with the president of France that the Paris attacks were an act of war and President Obama vowed to redouble U.S. efforts to defeat ISIS here at the G-20 but the question is just how far Mr. Obama is willing to go.
Top White House officials are not indicating any new ISIS strategy and aides continue to say U.S. troops are not going to be part of the solution, but the White House says it will be intensifying the anti- ISIS campaign.
BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We have to do more of that, and we're going to be able to do that, for instance, with the special operations contingent that will be going to Syria to help facilitate those operations.
So we are in an effort to intensify those elements of the strategy that are yielding progress, even as we have to constantly evaluate how the threat is changing and what more it needs be done to deal with the threat.
ACOSTA: And President Obama could potentially have a new partner in the battle against ISIS and Russia's Vladimir Putin during an intense 35 minute meeting in front of the cameras.
The two presidents agreed to a political transition process in Syria where ISIS has exploited the bloody civil war there. The White House is calling the president's chat with Putin, quote, "constructive". That is significant as the White House has spent years butting heads with Putin as well as accusing Russia in the last few weeks of intervening in Syria, solely on behalf of its leader Bashar al-Assad.
Now, the Obama administration is praising Moscow's strikes against ISIS and there are also new questions about the Syrian refugee crisis after French officials determined that one of the Paris bombers posed as a migrant fleeing the country. The Obama administration says those refugees must still be vetted and welcomed.
Jim Acosta, CNN, Antalya, Turkey.
HARLOW: Jim, thank you very much.
We'll talk more about the attacks here. ISIS claiming responsibility but a big question now becomes how are they able to pull off such sophisticated attacks at exactly the same time here in Paris?
And by the way, John, it's not just what happened here in Paris, this has been three weeks of horror with the downing of the Russian jetliner, the dual bombings that killed 43 in Beirut this week and now this.
Let's talk more all of that with CNN Global Affairs Analyst Kimberly Dozier. She is with us.
Kim, you just wrote about this saying that it is not out of the question according to your intelligence sources that ISIS had help, from whom?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE DAILY BEAST: From anyone from al-Qaeda, there have been various sort of truces on the ground between lower-level al-Qaeda and ISIS operatives on a case-by-case basis.
[2045:00] There have also been some high-level meetings that U.S. officials have been tracking, worried that it could indicate some sort of new cooperation between two groups that have been mostly lager heads because of their leadership personalities disagreeing with how to move forward on building a caliphate.
Obviously, al-Qaeda has said, it's not for indiscriminate attacks. ISIS has found indiscriminate attacks that kill civilians get it more and more followers. So U.S. Intelligence Officials who are looking at some of the stuff coming out of the French investigation and they will tell you they're not getting a lot at this point because the French are so consumed with analyzing what they've got, but they're not ruling out that maybe in a week or so they might find a connection or possibly one of these, they'll find that one of these bombers was in a database connected to another militant group not ISIS. Poppy, John?
BERMAN: Kimberly, I want to talk about what Isis did here and what you think was the most complicated aspect of that because there were six separate attacks across the city of Paris that happened within a very quick period of time. There was the weapon involved, the Kalashnikov rifles, the explosives...
HARLOW: The suicide vests.
BERMAN: ... made of TATP which is a highly volatile explosive. It does take some knowledge to know how to build these suicide vests even if all the products and what goes into it are commercially available.
There was that, there was also getting the people here. There were some French nationals but we do know at least one of the people involved in these attacks who is now dead didn't land in Greece until one month ago. So, where was the coordination needed?
DOZIER: Well, it's interesting, when I've spoken to law enforcement, FBI types, they've said, look, this was very sophisticated. When I've spoken to military types who've operated in war zones against this kind of adversary, they said, "Ah this is kind of stuff we've seen before and they used really simple techniques to attack and are hard to stop."
So, look, on the complicated side, you had at least eight, probably more, people who were trained in -- somewhere in the Middle East. People who were comfortable in a military or paramilitary environment, they were comfortable with their weapons. They knew how to move under fire without panicking.
They got to France. They must have met or communicated somehow beforehand probably by encrypted means and then they also got married up with these, of using the term that counterterrorism officials use when they describe these operations. They got put together with both AK-47s and each one was outfitted with a vest that they knew how to use, and that type of explosive also is twitchy.
You can't be wearing it all day because it might blow up so all of those things are -- the complicated part. The simple part, just to wrap it up, is that you could pick 9:00 everybody hit the targets that we previously discussed, starting at 9:00, as they present themselves to you.
BERMAN: And shoot until you're dead which is a horrible thing.
HARLOW: Absolutely. It is a scary reality that everyone here in Paris is living with right now and Kimberly Dozier, thank you. We appreciate the analyst -- the analysis.
We're going to be back live in just a moment from Paris as our continuing coverage of the terror attacks. We'll be back.
BERMAN: Finally, we're back with our special live coverage from Paris, John Berman along with Poppy Harlow.
This city reeling from the string of gruesome and deadly attacks on Friday, 129 people dead, hundreds more injured. ISIS is claiming responsibility. The question, why France? Why is France such an important target for that terror group?
Senior International Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh explains.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH: In this cult of hatred, something special is reserved for France, propaganda in French. 800 foreigners in Syria or Iraq, French, passports French burned in French.
WALSH: Rejecting a country 246 French with Isis used their passports to return to. Air strikes and prohibitions on Muslim dress listed as why France must be attacked as they goad their audience in France on.
WALSH: Another says they made hatred or migrated to the caliphate.
WALSH: It is baffling how the psychosis finds new depths for a country so many of them used to call home, where their parents may once have been grateful migrants. Perhaps they hoped to lure some of the 5 million young French Muslims but the loathing seems endless.
Even their spokesman Adnani has said how before they take the ultimate target for the caliphate of Christian Rome, they want to take Paris.
Executioner, Salim Benghalem, also French, also goading killers on.
WALSH: Another complaints France's military doesn't have the courage to face them here on the ground. So many in France may now demand he gets his wish. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Irbil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Nick, thank you for that. And today, John and I have been witnessing all day this country, the people of Paris coming together as one really revolting against the terrorism that took place here 48 hours ago honoring the victims of the attack.
All 129 who were killed, 352 injured, just hours ago, a memorial service held at Notre Dame Cathedral. Some of those who attended spoke with me about why they were there and what it means to them tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: You came to Paris for three months.
ALMA ENWIYA, ATTENDED PARIS MEMORIAL: Yes.
HARLOW: And this happened. You're here... ENWIYA: Unfortunately.
HARLOW: You're here tonight at the mass at Notre Dame. What was it like inside?
ENWIYA: Like I said, it was a mystical night. It touched me deeply and I'm really sorry to what happened. And I went to all the sites except the stadium. Hopefully tomorrow I will go. And I paid my -- contribute to these innocent people. And tonight, this is the best place to be. It's a spiritual place. It's my favorite, you know, place. And I'm glad I'm here to, you know, to share my feelings with the French people.
HARLOW: Many in the government asked Parisians to stay inside last night, tonight, but as we see thousands around Notre Dame, now hundreds descending on Place de la Republique.
HARLOW: They are standing together in solidarity. What is your message?
ENWIYA: We have to be compassion, understand each other. We don't have to go through the massacres. People killing people really there's no good reason. There's no answer to it. Should not happen, never.
HARLOW: You just came out of the memorial, the mass. What was it like?
JOSEPHINE, ATTENDED PARIS MEMORIAL: Yes. We have them (inaudible) he said we have to pray for the victims. And we have to forgive because we are Christian.
HARLOW: Can you find it in your heart to forgive?
JOSEPHINE: It is very difficult, very difficult. We will try, but it's very difficult.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Just some of the people tonight grieving, mourning for those that they lost. I'm Poppy Harlow along with John Beman.
Thank you so much for being with us tonight.
BERMAN: You know we have some pictures that I want to share you of the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower which is dark tonight, of course just one of the many monuments, landmark here that have been closed over the last several days.
This place behind us, though, not closed. There were people here all day. They were singing, they were joining together, they were praying, they were remembering those who are lost, 129 dead more than 350 injured.
HARLOW: Thank you so much for joining us. Our live coverage from Paris of the terror attacks continues in just one hour. Stay with us.