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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Manhunt in Paris Investigation Expanded to A Second Fugitive; Multiple Cell Phones Recovered That Killers May Have Used; Terror Attacks in Paris; Backlash Against Syrian Refugees. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 17, 2015 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:13] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Good evening from Paris. I'm Chris Cuomo. Anderson is on assignment.
And there are big developments in the Paris investigation to tell you about. The manhunt has been expanded to a second fugitive. Multiple cell phones recovered that the killers may have used, including one that authorities say contains a key message.
We are going to begin though with a new scare involving, just as it did here, a soccer stadium filled with fans and VIPs. The location, Hanover, Germany. And intelligent officials were poised for an imminent attack there.
We have CNN's Max Foster joining us from outside London's Wembley stadium where France was taking on England today.
Max, what are you learning about the German football stadium threats?
MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Ultimately, there wasn't a device, but the local Chile police chief told the national broadcaster, NDR there in Germany, that they had concrete intelligence that someone was planning an attack, an explosive device in that stadium. Ultimately, they didn't find one, but they cleared the stadium. They put the German football team under police protection, said they were very, very concerned. As I say, they said there was something concrete there.
So where did the tip come from? Well, according to two well-regarded German publications, (INAUDIBLE) was on them and Castigo (ph) was the other, the tip came from French intelligence. And they said it related to an Iraqi sleeper cell there in Germany.
CUOMO: So, what kind of meat can you put on those bones about the sleeper cell? What's the context for it?
FOSTER: Well, it is a very little more information around that, but it does raise a question, was it linked to France? It certainly lends itself to that theory, because the tip came from the French intelligence agency and also the timing, of course. But the French president, as you know, said that the Paris attacks was planned in Syria.
This was an Iraqi sleeper cell. I think we don't know whether or not they are linked. But it does really give a sense of the sensitivity around the world in relation to any sort of intelligence flying around at the moment that relates to attacks at public spaces like this.
CUOMO: Highlighting once again the need to share intelligence as well.
Max Foster, thank you very much.
Now, as we said at the top of the show, there are no shortage of new developments here, including the likelihood that instead of eight killers, there may have been nine. And instead of one fugitive, therefore, tonight there are now two.
We have CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, joining me here with the latest that he is learning.
So, investigators are now putting this out there, that they believe that there might not just be eight but nine. So let's unpack each of them. Where is this coming from? What then and what is the urgency on it?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Let's start with the eighth. Remember that ISIS when it claimed responsibility, said that there were eight suicide bombers. We know that seven attackers died that night. So you have this eighth that person identified as this brother, one of three brothers, Salah Abdeslam. There is an international arrest warrant out for him. They have a number of close calls. They thought with him. They still haven't found him. But we have an identity. We have a picture.
But now, they have presented this idea today there might be a ninth, and attention focusing on video shot by a witness to the attack on the (INAUDIBLE) restaurant, as where 19 people were killed. In that video it shows a black car, that is European compact car with three people inside. They know that one of those people, an attacker who blew himself up. He is dead. A second one is believed to be Salah Abdeslam. He has been identified and there is a third unidentified person in there. That may be this unknown suspect, at least unknown to us that they are searching for right now.
CUOMO: Now, obviously, they believe it is credible enough to put it out there for everybody else, a big concern with the eighth, was the vest that they believed he was supposed to be a suicide bomber as well that vest makes him extra dangerous, assuming he still has it. Is there any indication at all of who this ninth guy may be in terms of how he fits in?
SCIUTTO: They haven't said but they are clearly concerned enough that they are putting the word out here. And I think that, you know, from the beginning of this, the truth is they don't know exactly how many are out there. And even if it is just this nine, right, they have also said in public that they believe there was a broader group that gave them the support necessary, given the guns, the explosives, et cetera.
So, you know, beyond those immediate threats that they think might be tied to this particular plot, there are a whole host of other people out there who they think supported them who, if not equally dangerous, they are still dangerous.
CUOMO: And the bigger the number of associations, the more frightening and yet the more possibilities to get somebody who can give you information about how this happened.
CUOMO: Help stop the next one. Jim Sciutto, appreciate it. Thank you very much, pal.
All right. So next, we are going to turn to CNN justice reporter Evan Perez. Now, he has more on the recovery of not just one cell phone that the killers may have used but several. And that can be a very big difference. Evan is joining us from Washington.
So what do we know? What is the latest?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, you know, investigators think that this could actually be a big break in helping to unravel the network that was behind this plot. Multiple cell phones and the cell phones had encrypted apps on them. But the phones still have a lot of value to investigators. For instance, on one phone, investigators uncovered a message apparently sent before the attacks began. And it was something to the effect of "OK, we're ready." Now that message could help explain how these terrorists were able to coordinate near-simultaneous attacks on Friday night in Paris - Chris.
[20:05:26] CUOMO: All right. So, they are going to be looking to these phones, hoping to have some kind of connection to a broader network. But also, this technology that you're talking about that is allowing encryption, what they are calling the ability to go dark, is very big, right? They have been concerned about it, how do they stay consistent with the technology? What's the hope?
PEREZ: Well, you know, that's big debate here and in European countries, you know, about the use of encryption. You know, privacy advocates says the government shouldn't have a right an automatic right to get into your communication. And the FBI director Jim Comey and other officials here in the United States and overseas have long warned that terrorists could use this technology to hide and to carry out attacks.
Investigators are seemingly -- are increasingly sure that that day has come. The question here remains though, you know, these attackers appear to have used other ways, Chris, to hide themselves, including perhaps changing cell phones, changing cars. There are other operational security things that they took to make sure that they were not uncovered - Chris.
CUOMO: And this, once again, not just adding clues to the equation, but also once again impressing the need to find one or two of these outstanding men to figure out more about how this all went down.
Evan Perez, thank you very much. All right, so there is a lot to talk about. There have been a lot of
developments what has been playing out in Germany, how it relates back here in France. Let's bring in senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward and CNN terrorism analyst, Mr. Paul Cruickshank.
All right. So, let's start with Germany, right. It is a big headline. And thank God it wasn't what they thought it might be. But what do you see in terms of how the intel came down and what picture it paints for the threat?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: It was very specific intelligence and they had no choice really but to act on it given the events of last Friday, given all the concern right now that there may be more attackers, at least two still at large. And so clearly, a lot of concern tonight, but they haven't found any explosive devices.
The concern, the intelligence points into the idea, this, by the way, came from the French, passed on to the Germans, pointing to the idea that a radicalized individual living near Hanover was going to drive a truck or large vehicle ladened with explosives to the stadium perimeter, to the sensitive area around the stadium. Of course, that would be the area that before a big soccer match like this. You would have tens of thousands of people streaming through or after the match coming out. And I think that was the hope with the Friday attack. That they would have got a bomber inside. One guy had a ticket and then that area would have panicked, you would have tens of thousands of people fleeing and the other would have detonated.
And so, obviously, given all that, they had no choice but to cancel the game tonight. It was very specific intelligence. It's either right or wrong, but they had no choice.
CUOMO: Right. Well, a bounced threat like this after something catastrophic after like what happened here in Paris, not that unusual. The good news is the French were communicating with the Germans, you know, that coordination isn't a given. So it is good hear that.
All right, so another headline from today is it's not just an eighth man that they are looking at, but a ninth man. What do you know this, Clarissa?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it is not just a ninth man even, Chris. I mean, we have seen, the night before last, more than 150 raids. Last night, 128 raids. There are raids going on in Belgium. We are hearing reports of also raids also in Germany.
This is a trans-European operation to drill down not just on those specific suspects who are still at large, but on a larger network. We know -- the one thing that we definitely know, is that it is highly unlikely an operation of this sophistication and complexity could have happened without facilitation and orchestration from a larger network. And they are not just looking at radical networks, they are looking at criminal networks. These men were using explosives. They were heavily armed. They had grenades. They had military uniforms. How did they get all of these materials together? Were there criminal involvements? We know that some of the men, at least three of them had criminal records.
CUOMO: So bounced, some of these formative ideas that we have, that gun taker could have got this, a robust black market here in and around Paris, as there are in many big place. The vest are a different issue. The bombmaker, somebody they wouldn't have wanted to kill themselves most likely because their know-how is repeatable and they want to keep them. The TATP that was in the vest that chemical compound, very volatile, doesn't travel well, so, it was probably made around. How key is that still in this investigation?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, I mean, they want to get the bombmaker or bombmakers. Clearly, the people who have the knowledge how to make this are very valuable to terrorist organization like ISIS. Very disturbing that they would be on European soil for two reasons. First, number one, they can make bombs. Number two, they can train people with potentially hear in how to spread the knowledge that they learned themselves in Syria or Iraq.
[20:10:11] CUOMO: So, we are impressed by these big numbers and reasonably so, 128 raids, 115 raids, x-number detained, y-number arrested outright. And yet I'm hearing from sources close to these investigations that they are overwhelmed with connections and new leads of network that they suspected but now are painfully aware of. So, what do they do with all of this?
WARD: Exactly. There's a real limitation to how much surveillance they can do, to how much intelligence they can get. These men knew each other well, some of them. We know that the master mind, Abdel Hamid Abaaoud (ph). He was a gang leader inside Belgium. He knew other members of the attacker crew from Belgium. He was communicating with them from Syria. They were using encryption apps, they are using telegram, they are using surespot, they have that criminal know-how, they are used to ducking authorities, they know how to stay under the radar, and as French authorities have said to us many times, they have something like 10,000 people on their watch list.
And you know when you talk about the returnees, they come back from Syria, and everybody asks, why aren't they monitoring every single person who comes back from Syria and the answer is, Chris, because in Europe, you have these free and open borders. So they don't fly back to France. They fly somewhere else and then they make their way by land. And that's why you heard President Francois Hollande saying yesterday how important it is to have a passenger-sharing information network in place by the end of the year.
CUOMO: So you have detection, but you also have prevention. That takes two different shapes, right? One is working with your Islamic community that you have here, trying to figure out what's going on, have better integration in a place like Paris. The other part is information sharing, because these boundaries, they may be closed now under the state of emergency, but that's just not the Europe plan. So, how do you deal with that part of prevention?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, I mean, it's a huge problem. If you thought it was bad before 9/11 in the United States with different agencies not sharing information, there are all these different countries in Europe. There is no European FBI, intelligence services. The last thing they want to do is share sources and methods with other intelligence services. And so it's difficult for the other intelligent services to evaluate the information, should they treat it seriously and so on and so forth.
So, clearly, a lot more has to be done at the European level. The sharing information system, the way it works, is really quite shocking to me, that information isn't always shared with all the different member states, just shared with the party that launched the person in the information system to start with. And that's actually, in several plots and attempted attacks we have seen, that's led to countries not knowing absolutely vital information. We saw that with the train attack, we saw this with the Belgian -- the French ISIS fighter attacked the Jewish museum in Belgium, Chris.
CUOMO: Well, that's why the silver lining of what happened in Germany today is that you had the French being preemptive, dealing with the Germans, the coordination was there. It didn't amount to anything, but that's OK, the system worked.
Paul Cruickshank, Clarissa Ward, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
So there is a story of one man's captivity inside the Bataclan. We can't hear enough about what that experience was. This man saw the killers. He saw what happened when the raid that saved so much life. You're going to hear his story ahead.
[20:17:08] CUOMO: Another new development to tell you about. We have just gotten some photos that speak to exactly what French police ran up against when they stormed the Bataclan concert hall.
Take a look. This is one of the riot shields that they used, the bullet hole after bullet hole that got punched into it, testifying that the carnage inflicted that horrible, horrible night as well as the carnage that was prevented.
Now, one man who saw it all and survived is now speaking out. His name is Sebastien. He is not giving his last name. He is afraid. And he talked to French radio about actually talking to the attackers during the nearly two-hour siege. Here is the condensed version of what he had to say. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEBASTIEN, EYEWITNESS (through text): They explained that it was the bombs that were launched in Syria that pushed them to be here. And then they brought us into a room where the wounded were still suffering. They explained to us that this was only the beginning and that the war was starting now. That they were here in the name of Islamic State. And then they asked us if we were in agreement with them. You can't imagine the silence that felt at this moment.
Their only real demand that they had over the course of four or five calls was the police retreat and not come close. So somewhere, we concluded that they wanted to save their lives, but that seemed improbable to us after the carnage they caused. They also wanted, wanted to speak to journalists. The precision of the raid was lifesaving. The first bullet that was fired between two hostages. I started to tell myself that perhaps I was destined to live because it would have been so easy for him to have killed me at that moment. I was at his mercy. That moment, it will stay engraved, but it will also stay engraved as the beginning of hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Imagine the moments, was just seem like timeless for the people in that room.
Sebastien, thank you for giving your account of what happened.
Every aspect of the investigation, therefore, means so much to so many people, not just those who were lost and their families but those who survived in the rest of this community, this country that wants answers into why this happened and how to stop it. So there are new developments tonight concerning those rented rooms just outside town where authorities believe the killers stayed last week.
Let's bring in Nic Robertson. He is there for us tonight to help us understand this. Now, they are getting clues. That's good. But they are also putting together a picture of time and preparation with people who are on the radar, a scenario that was missed.
[20:20:02] NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When you're the investigators, obviously, you are working out from the event itself. So, you're working back. The cars were the first thing, now the apartments and the hotel rooms were they were staying. You can work back again from that with that information.
But even in the choice of this budget hotel on the south side of Paris, you get the impression that the attackers and perhaps had done some homework on that hotel as well. We understand there were no surveillance cameras there, the case, covering their tracks a little there. What's been found in the rooms? Empty pizza boxes, OK, food delivered, they were eating cheap, but syringes as well, and some rubber piping in there. Was this connected to the manufacture, the last-minute preparation of the explosive vests? It's really not clear at the moment. We know syringes have been used before to -- as part of a detonating system for an explosive device.
CUOMO: And they didn't find any sign of drug or drug activity?
ROBERTSON: As far as we know at this stage, that's not been apparent. We don't know the details of what was found in the apartment that they rented for the week around this attack. So, these are the clues. The police will be able to work back from this and, you know, find more details.
CUOMO: Point that was made to me by someone close to the investigation was that it matters that they were in a hotel. And it gives a small measure of relief to investigators that this cellular level of networking within Paris may not be as developed as they now fear because they weren't being held by somebody. They weren't in a safe house that was controlled by somebody else. So that maybe they were working more independently than is part of a pre-existing system that's still in place.
ROBERTSON: Yes, these eight or may possibly have been nine attackers in the three different teams, they had come together, as you say, without actually hiding out with a network of people. However, they had gotten themselves here and they had come from somewhere before that. Did the people they came from before that, is it all in Belgium? Were there others around France? We know at least one lived in a suburb of France until relatively recently. So, there's clearly a lot more digging to be done to get the full explanation of where they were prior to that.
CUOMO: The good news is there seems to be two men who can provide them these answers. The bad news is they don't have them yet. But the manhunt is big.
Nic Robertson, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
ROBERTSON: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. We are going to take a quick break.
Just ahead, the Paris attacks have led investigators straight to Belgium, which is certainly a hotbed for jihadists. How did this corner of Europe become a home base for so much terror? Answers ahead.
[20:26:26] CUOMO: It is another day of fast-moving developments here in France and beyond. Again, French police now saying that more than one suspect in the Paris attacks may still be at large tonight.
Meantime, the manhunt certainly continues for this Belgian man who police believe was directly involved. His brother was one of the attackers who died on Friday. Today, Paris police found another car that this attacker, number eight, let's say, would have rented it had Belgian plates.
Also today, two other Belgians were charged in connection with the attacks. Both are from a place called Mullenbach. Now, this is a city well-known to terror experts as a hot bed for jihadists.
So, let's go to senior investigative concern, Drew Griffin, joining us now from Brussels.
So, Drew, last night at about this time, we were reporting that Belgium had raised its terror level. What's the security situation there right now?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: It remains that high. It's at a level three out of four. They cancelled a soccer game today. There is increased presence of military on the streets in front of government buildings. But the bottom line, as you said, Chris is this missing number eight, Salah Abdeslam. They don't know where he is. They are worried. One prosecutor told CNN today that, listen, we don't know what he is going to do and that's why they are so nervous. They are conducting raids or checks when they get tips, but they are really clueless as to where this guy is and that's what has him so nervous, what is this man going to do?
CUOMO: I know that they are agonizing because they believe they had these guys but it was unreasonable to hold them at the time. They didn't know anything about their connection as they were approaching them on their way to the border. So, give me a quick checklist or a punch list of why Belgium, why this neighborhood does this place which seems, you know, relatively benign have such an intense focus of potential jihadis.
GRIFFIN: You know, it's an interesting combination. First of all, this neighborhood that I'm in, this Mullenbach, right, it's actually little cove of Brussels where it's just filled with Muslims from all different regions. So, you have a melting pot of the Muslim community here from Africa, from the east, from everywhere, that are very comfortable here and very comfortable in their own niche little communities within the Muslim community. That has been very hard for the police here to penetrate and get any kind of intelligence on.
You add to that the fact that there is a lot of organized crime here and petty crime. These -- many of these people who have been involved in this attack were very known to police here, Chris. They were known as petty criminals, drug dealers, they were not known as being radicalized terrorists. And that's why they weren't on any watch list. And that's why many are pointing the finger at the counterintelligence services here in Belgium for letting the guard down, that they weren't spotted in time.
CUOMO: Well, they are seeing this connection between crime and radicalization, an answer merging part of the puzzle for them.
Thank you very much, Drew. We will check back in with you. Let us know what else you hear.
So this discussion of why would they do this, why would they turn if they are petty criminals, why would they become radicalized?
Let's discuss this with somebody who understand the phenomenal all too well.
Maajid Nawaz, a former Islamic extremist himself, an author of "radical, my journey out of Islamic extremism." And back with us, we are also going to bring in senior international correspondent, Clarissa Ward.
Now, let me start with you real quickly. You taught me about this newfound connection of street gang toughs, common criminals who are then transitioning I guess would be the right verb into this radical life. Why would one lead to the other?
WARD: Well, if you talk to various jihadi as I do, some of them are seeking more meaning in their lives. Some of them want to have some kind of an impact. They want to make a mark. They want to go down in history. I have heard them described by one person who was held hostage by ISIS as street kids who are drunk on glory and ideology. And that really resonated with me, certainly based on the conversations that I've had.
But coming back to the issue of Belgium and why Belgium, I think one important thing to note here, Chris, is that we have seen a very different way in terms of how these groups are recruiting. It used to be back in the days of Osama bin Laden that you were talking about Arabic-speaking sheiks who were living in caves in Afghanistan, recruitment was done through mosques. Nowadays, these men are all recruiting each other. You had one town in Belgium, one small, rural town where a dozen Jihadis all went and that's because they are talking to each other and they are recruiting each other in line. It's no longer abstract to them. It's no longer foreign to them. It's in their language. It is being done with propaganda that appeals to them.
One counterterrorism official calling it to me, bedroom jihad, because it's happening online, behind closed doors, friends talking to each other on social networks. Often, families don't even know what is going on, let alone authorities.
CUOMO: We saw that here in Paris, right? Not an unfamiliar scenario, where the family says they had no idea. All right. So, Maajid, you heard the discussion here, it's all too familiar to you. Who are they looking for? Why would a gang kid or a petty criminal be a perfect target for someone looking to indoctrinate jihad?
MAAJID NAWAZ: Yeah, thank you, Chris. I just want to re - endorse, actually, what we have just heard from Clarissa. That's exactly what's happened in the jihadi scene. To draw an analogy with Soviet communism, it went from the intellectualism of Marx to the Bolshevik revolution of Lenin and it descended to the brutality of Stalin and that's exactly what's happened with Islamist extremism. It started very high end over the course of the last two decades, pseudo- intellectualism, and desire to bring about some form of intellectual utopian, and it descended to a point, as happens with all dogma, to a point now where it has basically become militarized, it's become all about the action, implementing the ideology as opposed to talking about it as it used to be when I joined.
And now, what -- the action-orientated focus of this ideology, the sort of people that find that appealing are people that have petty criminal records, the people who are prepared already psychologically to break the law and absolutely, it's spot on what we have heard from Clarissa, they are looking for a cause, a sense of belonging and this ideological narrative that they eventually end up subscribing to, I call it the Islamist ideology provides them that sense of belonging, it provides them this higher cause to aspire to. It makes them feel better about their own petty lives.
And unfortunately, it's reached the level, you know, the pope and I think the king of Jordan have said third world war. I wouldn't call it that. I would call it a global jihadist insurgency. It has reached a level where it has -- it has residual support within communities, the communities it seeks to recruit from. It has become a brand in itself and unfortunately, when things get to that level, friends who know friends end up joining simply because their groups of friends are involved. And when it reaches that level, you know, the French are saying that they are monitoring 13,000 suspects. That really truly is insurgency levels and I think it's about time we started implementing counter insurgency measures, hearts and minds policies, as opposed to thinking we can just shoot our way out of this problem.
CUOMO: How would that look, in terms of doing what we are starting to hear more about now, in terms of prevention? How would that look? How do you counter this type of message with these kinds of young men?
NAWAZ: Well, you know, again, drawing from the analogy with previous ideological, global ideological movements, we had what was known as the communist international that was responsible for exporting its ideology into third countries. We also know another thing, the lesson we learned from history is during the Weimar Republic years before the rise of Nazism, there were certain grievances that the Nazis deliberately played upon to recruit people to their organization and in particular, the German psychological reaction to the Treaty of Versailles. So in understanding these dynamics, we must understand that today we are dealing with the equivalent of the communist international, it's the jihadist international who also play on grievances to build up their notion of kind of, you know, the cause and what they are fighting for and understanding that psychology and understanding how ideological dogma works, we have to begin by being able to name it.
I have just named Soviet communism, I have just named Nazism. I think President Obama missed a trick in the speech he gave at the G-20 summit in not calling out the theocratic tendency that exists among some Muslim communities, and that's Islamist extremism.
CUOMO: Well, it has certainly been a struggle in the United States about what to call it. You don't want to paint all Islam with this brush and there's a concern that any word that has Islam in it is going to be misleading, but others say not mentioning it has only fed the distrust.
Now, Clarissa, as is the case with Maajid, you know, you have talked to people who have gone over and fully embraced this understanding. The idea of talking sense to somebody who has embraced something so completely, you know, is that -- is that asking too much almost?
WARD: There is, I would say, a point of no return and I will give you an example. I talked to a fighter who went initially in 2012 to Syria. He was moved by the plight of Muslims. And let's not forget this is how it all started, innocent Syrians being bombed into oblivion by a ruthless dictatorship. Let's be clear on that. That's why a lot of these guys went out there in the first place.
The problem is ...
CUOMO: They felt victimized, it was justifiable and rationalized. WARD: They felt that nobody - they felt that nobody was defending the
Syrian people. They wanted to go help. The international community was essentially turning a blind eye. They went. But what happens when they go, they become desensitized to violence. They become brutalized by the things they have seen and they are very, very vulnerable to this type of indoctrination. ISIS puts them in training camps when they join. Three weeks in one of those training camps and you are beyond the point of no return.
CUOMO: Clarissa Ward, thank you very much. Maajid Nawaz, thank you very much for the perspective on this. It's a conversation you can't just have once and unfortunately, we'll have way more opportunity to do it.
We are going to try and take a look at what's going on here in the investigation from a lot of different parts. You know, there's no question that Syrian refugees are a big part of the dialogue right now and that they are facing backlash tonight from U.S. governors. The governors are saying it's just not safe to give shelter to strangers who could turn out to be terrorists and they are pointing right to what happened here in Paris. We will talk about it when we come back.
CUOMO: Now, as we have been reporting, the Paris attacks are also fueling a backlash against refugees from Syria. Authorities believe that one of the suicide bombers who blew himself up outside a stadium here on Friday did make his way to France by posing as a refugee. That revelation is fueling a bitter debate in the United States. As of tonight, 31 governors now say they will actively oppose allowing Syrian refugees into their states. Alabama Governor Richard Bentley was one of the first to come forward. Here's what he told me this morning about why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICHARD BENTLEY ( R) ALABAMA: Well, I have been told by my law enforcement agency, by Homeland Security, that there have been some major threats against the United States after 9/11 and all of those individuals came out of refugee programs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: You have been told that all of the people who would want to harm the United States have come from refugee programs, is that what you're saying?
BENTLEY: Major threats that have occurred since 9/11, not necessarily all, but the major threats that have been stopped, those individuals came out of refugee programs. That's what I've been told.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Now, I asked him twice, because I had not heard that before. Governor Bentley says that that is what he was told by Homeland Security, but keeping them honest, is that information accurate? We had Tom Foreman look into it. He joins us now. So, you know, look, there's a big issue about legally, can a state have anything to do to override the federal -- let's put that to the side. This is about what's driving it. And the idea that the governor put forward is something that a lot of people are saying. So let's test it, that he heard that major threats after 9/11 against the United States that have been thwarted involve refugees. What do you got?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Refugees. That's a good emphasis on that word, Chris. This is the statement this is the claim. Let's look at some of the big plots or the big things that have happened. The Boston bombing, the so-called underwear bomber, New York City Times Square bomb plot, Brooklyn Bridge bomb plot. All of these, yes, involved people with ties to foreign nations. Only one of these actually involved people who were refugees.
The Tsarnaev brothers came over here as children, basically, and they were radicalized here. It's not like they came sneaking in as radicals and somehow wanted to launch a plot. It happened while they were here. So, these are the big plots out there. So, what are the other possibilities out there? Maybe, Chris, this is confusion over the term refugee versus migrant or immigrant. There are plenty of people who come here from other places, plenty of people who may come who have ill designs. That does not make them refugees. Refugees are a distinct class of people out there, and there's not a lot of evidence that they have been involved in a plot.
CUOMO: There's no question that it's a legal term of art. And even if you give the Tsarnaev brothers as qualifying, that wasn't a plot that was stopped, OK, that plot happened.
CUOMO: So, to the statement that all the ones that they have stopped are linked to refugees, is there any calculus that we can do to substantiate that? It seems like you're saying, no, not really.
FOREMAN: The numbers don't look good for such a claim to be made, Chris. If you look at this since 9/11, 745,000 refugees have been admitted to the U.S. Out of that entire number, we are told by authorities out there, that only two cases of terrorism arrests have occurred at all out there. And when you think about that, in the big picture of things, that's a really small number. And this year alone, of the 51 people who have been arrested in this country for any kind of a tie to ISIS, not one of them has been a refugee, Chris.
CUOMO: You know, when you said that number right there, that 51 people in 2015 have been arrested for connection to ISIS, all these eyebrows went up, they probably haven't even heard that before, let alone connecting it to the idea of refugees being a problem. But you know what, the numbers are helpful, Tom Foreman, but this conversation is going to continue, even though many states don't even have any skin in the game yet. Alabama, for instance, has no refugees resettled there as of this date. Tom Foreman, thank you very much. All right, I want to turn next to our senior political analyst, David
Gergen, who has got some thoughts on all of this. David, you have pretty much seen it all in government. And look this type of xenophobia is not new. And by the way, it's got rational basis right now because of what we just saw in Paris, but in terms of the political dynamic, President Obama says that's not who we are as Americans. The other side says, well, being American is about being safe also, and we just don't know who could come through as a refugee. Look at Paris.
Where does it go from here?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, Chris, I was earlier today with your brother, New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo. And as you know, he has come out today, later today, saying America would lose its soul not to allow in these refugees from Syria. And I think he has a good point. And yet, he, too, says we have to be cautious about this. And talking to people around the country, I must tell you that overwhelmingly, the sentiment I hear, even from liberals, is, wait a minute, what we do know is -- no matter what the numbers are in the U.S. right now, what we do know is that Paris just got hit really hard, that one of the first stories out of it was that one of the people involved came in as a refugee, got through - you know, came out of Syria. And what we also know, I talked to Mayor Giuliani, for example, I talked to him about this and others, and what they will -- what people like that will tell you is, look, Syria is different from most of the countries we deal with. Almost all of the countries we deal with, because we have no database about their backgrounds, people coming out of Syria. We have no people on the ground to check this out, which helps in Iraq. We have no way to compare and understand anything more than what we get in the interview and what they tell us and that is not sufficient for a lot of Americans who fear they could hit here next when there have been threats to the United States. So, I must tell that you I'm sympathetic with those who say let's hold off on this until we get a system in place that can reassure the American people that this is going to be safe.
At the same time, there is much to be said for what Hillary Clinton has been arguing and that -- all along and that is why don't we help to create safe havens back there using our air power, working with our allies, like the French, to create some place where these people can live and they don't feel so desperate about the need to come.
CUOMO: Well, look, that would be nice, right, but you're dealing with a situation right now where that's not happening. With all due respect to the governor of New York, you know, a lot of this insecurity also has a second rational basis. Not only did we just see it in Paris, this connection to being a refugee was actually a terrorist, but that they don't trust government to be able to do this well and that the vetting assumes that it will be done well by something that very few people trust right now. So, this is going to continue. David Gergen, thank you very much for your thoughts on this. We are going to be seeing it play out, I think, for weeks to come. All right, we are also going to take a look at what other reactions
are happening. We are learning that U.S. Marines are being called in to beef up security at U.S. embassies overseas as a result of what just happened here in Paris. We are going to talk about that and also look at what's going on domestically in the U.S., how law enforcement is preparing to keep people safe given what ISIS just said about threatening Washington. Stay with us.
CUOMO: We are learning tonight that more Marines are being deployed to protect U.S. embassies in Europe. Additionally, the FBI today said they were sending over a handful of agents here to Paris to help in the investigation. Now, back in the U.S., many different cities, their police departments have added patrols and taken other precautionary actions because of what is perceived as potential threats. But the U.S. authorities say there are no specific or credible threats at this time. Again, no specific threats to the homeland. Let's bring in Deb Feyerick joining us from New York. What are you hearing from your sources about what they are doing and why they are doing it?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, one interesting thing just to sort of play off the whole no specific credible threats, that's assuming that they know what the threats are and that's what changed everything in Europe, because the CIA director came out and said as much that some of these attackers were not even on anyone's radar. They just came out of nowhere. And you would think with all the intelligence that exists right now that somehow, some of these people would have raised a flag sufficient enough to have been identified in the plotting of all of this. But these attacks are really a game changer and law enforcement knows that. It's the soft targets that were -- that were hit, the concert, the football stadium, the restaurants and it is almost impossible to protect that. And that's what law enforcement is up against. You also have the CIA director saying effectively that there are likely other attempts that are in the pipeline and so, the man who guards everything guards nothing, but law enforcement understands that absent intelligence of some sort of plot, absent somebody red flagging on a watch list, they are the first line of defense and they have got to put in place at least a visible show of force so that people who rely on police can at least feel safe. And that's what they are dealing with right now and the FBI knows that, the NYPD knows that and that's why they are trying to get as much intelligence, as much information, as much data on these attackers, what they had with them so that they can hopefully counteract any potential threat here in the United States.
CUOMO: As if we needed more proof about how difficult it is to stop these terror plots, some of the guys weren't known about, other guys were known and not watched closely enough so there are challenges each way. Now, is it true that one of the reasons that the U.S. sent law enforcement over here, of course to help, but also to learn and see what happened here and try to bring that information back to the U.S. to deal with potential situations there as well? FEYERICK: Yeah. There's no doubt about that. As a matter of fact,
the NYPD sent over three police detectives, they are sitting in meetings at the command center in Paris. They are trying to get whatever details they can. So, they want information on how these suicide vests were made, how -- what kind of devices they used, what kind of smartphones, what sort of apps were they using, because all of this hopefully will help law enforcement at least identify the way they were communicating, Chris.
CUOMO: And also just this scenario on its face here, different venues, different times, coordination, the use of vests locally made in all likelihood, much more elaborate than they are used to seeing, Deb Feyerick, thank you very much.
All right, so coming up, we have this incredibly touching conversation between a French father and his young son on the bad guys. Please, stay with us and watch this.
CUOMO: Think about it, it is difficult enough for us adults to make sense of what happened here on Friday, let alone try to explain it to our children. Here's what one man told his young son at the memorial in front of the Batalclan Theater after a French TV reporter asked a child, do you understand what happened?
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UNIDENTIFIED CHILD (speaking French)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (speaking French)
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