Return to Transcripts main page


Paris Terrorism Investigation Heats Up; John Kerry on Terror Attacks. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired November 16, 2015 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: They want to know the ballistics capability of those vests. And they're asking, how -- how far would they spew out?

What's the answer to that?



BALDWIN: On how much you use?

MAY: I'm sorry?

BALDWIN: It would it depend on how much material you would use?

MAY: Well, it would (AUDIO GAP) or not they have added fragment -- additional fragmentation or shrapnel to it.

Again, some studies have suggested that the typical fatality rate of a normal suicide vest, although you can't -- normal is an ambiguous term -- is about one to five people. The whole idea is, is the bomber needs to get in close proximity to his target. And whether or not there's been added fragmentation such as BBs, nails, or even marbles to avoid the metal detection capability, so it all depends on the vest itself.

BALDWIN: So totally gruesome, the idea of using these at all.

Anthony May, an explosive expert, thank you so much, sir.

To the aftermath of the deadly attacks in Paris.


We are here in the Place de la Republique here in France. There are many developments for you.

The headline, France is a country now at war, this declaration coming from French President Francois Hollande, as he sent in warplanes now for the second day to bomb the ISIS capital of Raqqa. There's even more activity here in France at home. Right now, there's a massive show of force on these streets, saying that they are at war -- when the president said that here, that also enabled him to activate a state of emergency.

It gives enhanced police powers. The investigation has the focus of a manhunt for this eighth suspect and anybody else who might have been involved in the attacks here, specifically the bomb builder, as you were just hearing.

Now, there is a Belgian-born French national believed to still be in position, possession of a suicide vest. He's known as this eighth attacker. He rented a car that was found outside the concert hall, which is of course where the deadliest of those attacks happened here, as they were all coordinated through the city. Dozens killed in the concert hall. Dozens more fighting for their lives right now in local hospitals.

In the chaos, this particular attacker was stopped by police on his way out of Paris. But because he wasn't yet connected to the attacks, he was able to go free.

Earlier today, Belgian special forces zeroed in on an impoverished suburb of Brussels, a neighborhood with a history of ties to terror plots and several of the men involved in the Paris attacks specifically. They did make an arrest, but it was not this eighth attacker that they are looking for.

All of these raids happening across Belgium and here in France obviously to the delight of ISIS, relishing the attention. They sent word in a new video promising to "strike America in its own stronghold in Washington."

What does this mean for the United States? President Obama, of course already under pressure to do more, just said hours ago he's standing steadfast in his strategy for the war against ISIS in Syria. He warned that adding troops, that a blanket rejection of Syrian refugees, both of those would be a mistake. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There have been a few who suggested that we should put large numbers of U.S. troops on the ground. It is not just my view, but the view of my closest military and civilian advisers, that that would be a mistake.


CUOMO: An obvious sign of support for the U.S. here in France is that Secretary of State John Kerry is now here in Paris. He will obviously meet with leaders to reinforce the relationship and also to promise help coordinating what happens next.

Let's dip in and take a little listen to what the secretary is saying.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: ... army arrived in France to join the allied front and his aide proclaimed, "Lafayette, we are here."

It was true in World War II, when America joined the courageous fighters of the French resistance in opposing and defeating the greatest evil the world has ever known.

And certainly it was true 14 years ago in the wake of the September 11 attacks in New York and Pennsylvania and Washington. "Le Monde"'s front page read (SPEAKING FRENCH) "We are all Americans." And it became clear at that moment that our centuries-long relationship had evolved into even more.

The United States and France, we're not only friends. We are family. And, today, the entire world joins our family in heartbreak yet again. Don't mistake what these attacks represent. This is not a clash of civilizations. These terrorists have declared war against all civilization.


They kill Yazidis because they are Yazidis. They kill Christians because they are Christians. They kill Shia because they are Shia, and on.

They rape and torture and pillage and call it the will of God. They are, in fact, psychopathic monsters. And there is nothing, nothing civilized about them.

So this is not a case of one civilization pitted against another. This is a battle between civilization itself and barbarism, between civilization medieval and modern fascism both at the same time. And that is why every single nation state in the region and around the world is opposed to Da'esh.

And so the violence, the terror, the senseless murder of 132 people and injuring hundreds more, including four Americans, this is an assault not just on France, but coming on the heels of brutal attacks in Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere, it is an assault on our collective sense of reason and purpose, an attack on civility itself.

And I want to thank the men and women who bravely reported to the scene of the attacks and those who continue to work around the clock to heal the injured, restore calm and provide relief.

Among those who died on Friday night was an American student, Nohemi Gonzalez. Nohemi had come to Paris for the same reasons that so many Americans do and have for centuries, to expand her horizons, enrich her education and experience the magic of this city.

As one of her former classmates put it, Nohemi's death, the world lost such a beautiful, shining light.

Now, I understand the sadness of those who knew Nohemi and other victims. The world is diminished by their deaths and no words of comfort or sorrow or even resolve can change that. We don't have the power to bring them back. So we must do instead what is within our power. And that begins with

a sense of fierce solidarity among good and decent people everywhere, with the vow that we will never be intimidated by terrorists, and with a promise that we will never allow these murderers to achieve their vile aims.

No one should doubt that the light still shines in the City of Light and that darkness will not ever, never overpower it. As history records, Paris has known even darker moments. And it has overcome them. The people of Paris, joined by their friends, partners and family across the globe, will stand up for and live by the values that light the world, the underlying principles that form the backbone of our laws and the essence of our common humanity, the pursuit of justice and the embrace of peace, the belief in the dignity and the worth and the rights of every human being.


Tonight, the U.S. Embassy in Paris joins the many other landmarks around the shining (SPEAKING FRENCH) lights of the French republic. We do so as a reminder to the brave people of France that your American sisters and brothers will stand with you shoulder to shoulder as we have stood together throughout history.

Tonight, we are all Parisians. And as the old motto of this resilient city says, and as Parisians have painted across the social media in recent days (SPEAKING FRENCH) buffeted, but not sunk.

We will not let our sorrow for the loss of life overcome us. We will not lose sight of all the good that we are working together to do. We will not change our course or cancel our plans, including our plans to come together in Paris later this month for the U.N. climate conference.


And President Obama told me today how much he looks forward to being here, being part of that important moment. Ultimately, we will defeat Da'esh and all who share their despicable ideology.

And we are on the course to do so. We will continue, also, to show compassion to those who seek refuge from the violence that the terrorists engender. We will fight to ensure that the world that our children inherit is richer in love and shorter on hate.

We will work to bring, light Nohemi Gonzalez, a beautiful shining light to areas and places that are couched in darkness. That's our responsibility. That's our duty. And we will do our duty side by side and we will prevail.

(through translator): We will defeat Da'esh, everything it shares, its despicable ideology, and we shall continue to show our compassion to all those who seek a refuge from violence perpetrated by terrorists.

We want to leave our children a world which will be richer in love and shorter on hate. And like Nohemi Gonzalez, we shall light up the darkness with a magnificent ray of sun. And we are going to take up that responsibility together and we will emerge victors.

Thank you very much. Long live France and the republic.

CUOMO: Secretary John Kerry finishing his address there to the French public and the world out in front of the U.S. Embassy in Paris. He spoke in English, he spoke in French. They are clapping now as you see the embassy lit up in the French colors of their flag, red, white and blue, right there.

Obviously, those colors uniting the countries, as does now this common purpose. Secretary Kerry landing here just a couple of hours ago to express the conciliation, but also the shared mission. To be honest, both countries now face the same threat. What happened here in Paris very easily could have happened in the United States.

Let's bring in now Jim Sciutto, CNN chief national security correspondent.

It is a message that needs to be heard, obviously. But it's also tough to take for the people behind us right now, the idea that we, the French, the Americans are on course to defeat ISIS. Hard to hear and understand as the truth right now.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And 48 hours after an attack like this, people here certainly don't see the evidence of that.

You could say you're on the course to taking it on, but defeat, particularly as ISIS has proven resilient at holding its ground in Iraq and Syria while at the same time gaining ground elsewhere -- they have outposts now in Sinai in Egypt and in Libya and taking it sort of the third ring beyond that out of the region into the West with an attack like we saw here.

CUOMO: How are we to understand the word that came up from the highest level, the CIA head, Brennan, saying we knew about this attack. There were warnings, not this specific attack here, but there were warnings just before the attacks here on Friday out of the Middle East that these types of attacks were imminent?

How are we supposed to take that information? How imminent could it have been that they were not able to do anything about it either?

SCIUTTO: In effect, he said, we were prepared for this kind of attack. It's true.

I have spoken to counterterror officials, as have you, I know, on the air where they say this is the kind of thing ISIS is plotting, particularly a Mumbai-style attack. I'm sure you have heard that. I have heard that from officials for months and months. And that's in effect what we saw here, a number of gunmen in a city with guns and in this case explosives. You can kill a lot of people that way, particularly in public places. He's talking about the threat in general, not this plot specifically.

But I hear you. The frustration, OK, if you were hearing about that and we know they are devoting so many resources, both U.S. and the French and other Europeans, how could a plot so international, so expansive like this one get through? And that's a hard, hard question for French authorities, European authorities and frankly American authorities who are helping them here.

CUOMO: Put some of your reporting into focus for us. Yes, the risk is great. The concerns are great here. Their geography works against them. Their demographics work against them. Their laws until recently worked against them. Now they have a state of emergency and they say that will change things.

But at least two of these men were already known to authorities and one of them was supposed to be being watched. How do we see that information? What does that mean about what happened?

SCIUTTO: There were a lot of missed signals. Two of the attackers, at least two known to authorities, one for terror offenses, the other for being radicalized.


Keep in mind, that list in Paris is 11,000 -- in France, rather, is 11,000 names long. Imagine that in the States. Just so they have an order of magnitude bigger in terms of the problem. That's one missed signal.

The other six of these attackers went to Syria to fight and return to Europe. That's another missed signal because we know enormous resources have been devoted to try to stop that flow and particularly -- most importantly when they are coming back stop them coming back or at least watch them.

In addition to that, I learned earlier today speaking to someone close to the French investigation they believe they have identified the ringleader of this. This is a man named Abdelhamid Abaaoud, someone else known to French authorities. He's Syria. He's close to the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. That's significant as well.

And he had been in touch with Belgium jihadis who carried out this firefight with Belgian police in January right after the "Charlie Hebdo" attacks. I'm sure you remember. Our viewers might not remember it. But he's someone who was involved in plots before.

So, you have a number of places there where they were aware, where they were on the radar. The trouble becomes then, OK, there are a lot of people on the radar. What do you do with them? Do you pick them all up based on the suspicion? That's what's happening now in effect with these raids that happened last night. They have 100 people under house arrest who haven't committed terror crimes, but they are now raising the alert to an even higher level.

CUOMO: They will have to see what fruit it bears, because the truth is, as we hear in the U.S. all the time, you can't stop them all. SCIUTTO: No.

CUOMO: And everyone is afraid of something just like what happened here on Friday. Jim, thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: Thanks very much.

CUOMO: Stay with me.

Right now, we want to go from what's happening here in France though to the response from the French abroad.

Let's go to Iraq and Nick Paton Walsh, the CNN senior international correspondent there.

Nick, as we know, there's been waves of bombing going on in Syria from the French and other coalition partners. What do we know about the impact?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Two key things stand out in the last 24 hours, Chris.

And in fact it was about 24 hours from now the first strike seemed to land around Raqqa. They were the French, 20 devices dropped by about 12 aircraft, 10 of whom did the bombings, say the French, launched out of Jordan and the UAE.

The target, according to some activists on the ground, in the outskirts around the city center and what is called the stadium and the museum inside the city. Not used in those purposes, really headquarters and jails for ISIS now.

We're hearing from activists though that today and often during daylight ISIS were not seen on the streets. They have been putting awnings over the streets for some time now to prevent drones from working out where their fighters are, but a subdued sense and no real notion of how many casualties ISIS had inflicted on them. ISIS say none.

But activists in that town say no civilians were hurt as well. The first impact there and then way out east in Syria near a place called Al-Bukamal, the coalition jets, 116 airstrikes against oil trucks, moving oil on the black market to assist ISIS in one of its key revenue streams. They were taken out by AC-130 gunships, A-10 anti- tank jets, a vast amount of firepower, part of the key strategy part of the Pentagon has here, hit them hard in that revenue stream and perhaps begin to sap away at something ISIS badly needs, money -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Nick Paton Walsh, stay safe. Thank you very much for the reporting.

The military impact is immediate and obvious, but there's a lot of political impact as well. We're going to break right now.

When we come back, we know what's going on not just here in France, but also in the United States. We will have Jake Tapper with us to talk about what this means in the United States, the politics of the presidency and beyond. Stay with us.



BALDWIN: Welcome back to our special coverage here. I'm Brooke Baldwin in New York.

The attacks in Paris creating a backlash against the Syria refugee crisis specifically here in the United States. Migrants running for their lives now are being shunned more than ever before.

This comes after French investigators revealed one of the attackers slipped into Greece by posing as a refugee. President Obama called the backlash "shameful." He is encouraging nations and states to keep their borders open, saying the world must show compassion to everyone.

More than a dozen U.S. states now say for now they will not accept refugees. You see the list of states here.

Joining me on this, Martin Savidge. .

Martin Savidge, how many precisely?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're up to 15 now, Brooke, states that have said -- their governors at least have said they are no longer willing for their states to accept Syrian refugees.

Some of these states have a few Syrian refugees already. But the United States has committed to saying that it would take roughly 10,000 refugees. That is what has them worried in light of the attack that took place in Paris.

It would be easy to say all of these states certainly predominantly are led by Republican governors, but not all. Massachusetts is on the list of refusers -- or I'm sorry -- New Hampshire, rather, and they have a Democratic governor.

This has also jumped very quickly to the race for the president of the United States. Ohio Governor John Kasich has come and said, no, they don't want any Syrian refugees or anymore. And so now other Republican candidates are speaking out. That includes Donald Trump and it includes Ted Cruz, which interestingly enough he comes from parents who themselves came to this country to avoid political oppression.

And then there's also Dr. Ben Carson, who has said he wants to defund any programs that would support Syrian refugees. Lastly, I should point out there are a number of states, four to be exact, that have stepped forward and reaffirmed that they are willing to accept Syrian refugees.

And at this point, they stand at Delaware, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington state. You really need a program to keep up with this. It is moving so quickly on the home front politically, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Martin Savidge, we have that. We have you to help us with this that, and thank you so much.


Chris Cuomo, to you in Paris.

CUOMO: Brooke, let's bring in Jake Tapper, chief Washington correspondent, anchor of "THE LEAD," anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION."

Many hats, my friend, and you need to wear them on all this issue because they aren't playing politics, these governors. They are playing practicalities. We now know that at least one or two of these attackers came here through bogus refugee migration and that's their concern at home. What's the dynamic that is playing out?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: There is a degree of, as Martin touched on, Republican vs. Democrat, with Democratic governors saying they want to support the refugee program, this is what the United States stands for, and Republican governors in general saying we need to protect our people and we can't take the risk that we still have the bad results in Paris.

I think there's a lot of hometown politics, in other words, people concerned about what their voters want more so than opposing President Obama on this issue, hearing from constituents who are genuinely scared. They see this happening in a Western country like France and they see the bloodiest day in Paris since World War II because of ISIS, because of this threat that they're already -- according to CNN poll from last month, the American people already think that ISIS is the biggest threat to the United States that exists, far bigger than Russia, far bigger than China, far bigger than cyber-warfare.

So there is that. I do wonder, however, and you have I have covered these stories for so long, there's always a secondary, third, fourth, fifth residual effect. You never know what that residual effect is going to be. Obviously, nobody wants to admit any extremists, any terrorists into this country, but then you wonder, OK, what happens if the United States becomes a country that doesn't accept any of these refugees and what happens if there is some sort of horrific refugee camp because other countries -- because it's not just going to be the United States.

It's going to be across Europe. There's going to be a lot of this refusal to take in refugees. Is that a long-term plan that's counterterroristic or might that actually have some sort of third, fourth, fifth effect?

CUOMO: And as Arwa Damon is reporting on your show and mine all the time, they already have horrific situations driving the desperation to get away from these war-torn areas that already we have too many people caught out in need.

TAPPER: Refugee camps breed extremism in a lot of cases.

CUOMO: Absolutely.

You do have a vulnerability though on the part of the administration with how this is being done. This is an emergency refugee situation. That means there isn't the vetting that let's say Ted Cruz's parents got when they came because that wasn't an emergent situation. Do you think that is a particular point that will need to be negotiated and soon in terms of the process of bringing in these refugees?

TAPPER: There are two issues here.

One is the public's faith in the government, Democratic or Republican, is just very, very low. People don't have faith in the government, whether you're looking at George W. Bush and Katrina whether you're looking at Barack Obama and There's no faith in government to vet these refugees in a proper way that will guarantee the safety of the citizenry.

And then, frankly, there is not a lot of confidence right now in President Obama in how he's handling the war against ISIS. Vast majorities think he's not handling it well. That cuts into not only Republicans, but also independents and some Democrats.

CUOMO: One window quickly of conversation that needs to be had and is ongoing, we have been chasing the investigation all day here. You got a chance to go out and look at the scene. You met a man who was Muslim. And you asked him about the obvious. Like, what does this mean to you?

Tell us about how you met and what he said.

TAPPER: We met a French Muslim who came originally about 40 years ago from Tunisia.

And we had a long conversation. He just started showing us the bullet holes all along this area in restaurants, in various restaurants that were fired into. Thankfully, in these restaurants, no one was hurt. One of them was a Muslim sandwich shop, a halal, the Muslim version of kosher, sandwich shop.

And I said these people are doing this in your name. He said: "No, no, they are not."

I mean your religion.

"No, they're not. These people will go to hell. It says in the Koran if you kill an innocent, you take innocent life, you will go to hell. That's what is going to happen to these guys."

CUOMO: It's a voice that needs to be heard. People are asking to hear from them. And we see here they have been sending out wishes at night.

TAPPER: Oh, they're beautiful, yes.

CUOMO: They're air -- paper balloons that they send up with claps and they sing because they want to remember what happened here and remember that this will not be forgotten. It just has to be remembered the right way.

Brother Tapper, thank you very much for being with us.

Our coverage is going to continue. This is not just about who was lost, but keeping any others from being lost. That means they need to fight out who did this. There's a manhunt going on for this eighth attacker, but also the masterminds behind this.

Also, ISIS obviously enjoying this type of attention, having a new video out now warning that attacks are coming and they're coming for the United States, specifically Washington.

The director of the CIA makes a very big revelation on that front about what could be in the pipeline.

Stay with us for the answers on CNN's special live coverage.