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New Clues in Investigation Into Terror in Paris; Soccer Match in Germany Canceled Due to Fear of a Bombing Plot; Obama Hits Back at GOP Candidates Who Are Critical of Plan to Resettle Syrian Refugees Inside U.S. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired November 17, 2015 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT SHOW HOST: Paris police hunt for a second terror suspect, there is new clues emerge, cell phones that could belong to the attackers.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
Sources telling CNN a message on at least one phone contains a chilling signal between the terrorists. And investigators now believe there is a second suspect on the run.
Also, fears spread to Germany, a soccer match between German and Dutch players is cancelled due to fears of a bomb plot.
President Obama is hitting back of the GOP presidential candidates who are critical of his plan to settle Syrian refugees in the U.S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: At first they were worried about the press being too tough on them during debates, now they're worried about 3-year-old orphans. That doesn't sound very tough to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Mr. Obama talks about the battle against ISIS. We are going to have that coming up for you in this broadcast. We have a whole lot to get to tonight. CNN's Atika Shubert is in Paris for us. Drew Griffin is in Belgium, and Evan Perez in Washington.
Hello, to all of you. Atika, I'm going to start with you. What are we learning about a ninth suspect at large tonight?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is someone who French authorities believe may have been at the scene of the rue de Charonne attack. That's the bar on the La Belle Equipe.
According to eyewitnesses, there were several attackers there, possibly three, and in the video at the scene there appears to be possibly one other person driving the car. This is the black Seat car that was found on the outskirts of Paris in Montreuil. So, based on that, French authorities believe there may be another
suspect still on the run. Now in addition to that, yesterday, another car was found, a black Clio in the 18th arrondissement. When I was there, what is interesting about that is police fanned out in the area asking people when exactly that car was found there.
It turns out it was rented in the name of the other suspect still on the loose, Salah Abdeslam. And what's particularly interesting is in ISIS' claim of responsibility, they said there had been attacks in 10th, 11th, and 18th arrondissement.
In fact, there was no attack on the 18th arrondissement. But that is where the car was parked. So, now police are looking as to whether Salah Abdeslam was supposed to have conducted an attack there but something went wrong. Don.
LEMON: Atika, what more did we learn today about the suspected mastermind, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, had authorities tried to target him before?
SHUBERT: They had, indeed, tried to target him before. This was somebody who was very well known as a Belgian ISIS fighter. He was a very successful recruiter but perhaps more importantly, he was somebody who had tried numerous plots against Belgium targets.
Now, this is somebody who went, authorities believe and an intelligence estimate that was put out in May, that he faked his own death, possibly, even calling back to his -- even having his associates call back to his family saying he had died in Syria to enable him to travel more freely to Belgium and across to Europe.
So, this is somebody they have been watching for some time. And this is one because he had plotted so many times before, why they believe he may be the person behind these attacks.
LEMON: To Drew Griffin now. Drew, where is the manhunt focusing tonight on Salah Abdeslam and how authorities are tracking him down?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, that is a good question. The last time that police knew where he was, was when he was being driven back from Paris to Brussels by two of his friends. That's when police stopped the car. They had no reason to suspect them. So, they let them go.
Those two friends are now under arrest. They did tell the police that they did drive Abdel Salam back to Brussels. But that's the last anybody as far as we are being told in the press has seen of him. And judging by the many -- many raids that have happened since then, Don, particularly in this neighborhood he lived in, I'm thinking, looking right at his house where he lived, all those raids have come up dry, which leads me to believe that the police the not know where he is.
Which is why Belgium has raised its threat level, where there is a lot of presence of police on the street, and why you are still seeing a lot of ram shackle raids taking place, any which way because police don't know where he is. LEMON: Drew, as I understand, this family ran a bar until it was shut
down and a drug raid just a couple weeks ago. That doesn't sound like an observant Muslim.
GRIFFIN: You know, and this is very interesting in several of these kinds of plots that I reported on when we see the actual participants, a lot of them are, I would call them, stoners, petty criminals.
This family certainly fit that. They were known, very well-known to law enforcement because of their criminal dealings, their drug dealings, and the bar you mentioned, not very far from here, was being operated by Ibrahim Abdeslam.
[22:05:06] It was shut down by the city on November 5th, that's just eight days before this terrorist attack in Paris, shut down because they believed there was a lot of criminal activity going on there, drugs and various other things that happened in nightclubs.
So, you are absolutely right. There doesn't appear to be a very devout Muslim who was running this particular establishment? Nor does this guy have a track record of being a very devout Muslim. But then again in a fraction of a second you have him suddenly trained, operating, and blowing himself up down in Paris.
A lot of it doesn't make sense. And a lot of it still has to be sorted out through authorities to figure out exactly how this happened. And, Don, how it happened so fast.
LEMON: Yes. Absolutely. Evan Perez, you've been talking to your sources, I know about the cell phone, any cell phones recovered, have they been able to gather evidence from these phones?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, that's what they are working at, Don. Right now, we know they have recovered several cell phones. And on those cell phones, they actually found encrypted apps. Now we don't know whether those apps were used to plot this attack. That's something that investigators very much want to find out.
But the, you know, the cell phones, even if you can't break into those apps, immediately, the cell phones are very valuable. Because they could provide some information about who these people were talking to, in advance, perhaps where they've been. How long they've had these cell phones.
Again, this is all information investigators are trying to put together. One of the interesting things, at least one of the phones had a message on it sent apparently before the attacks began. And it said, simply, something to the effect of, "OK, we're ready," which indicates that perhaps this is the way these attackers were able to orchestrate and coordinate simultaneous attacks.
LEMON: Evan, is this -- is there an internal debate between investigators about how long this attack was really in the works? And what degree ISIS leaders in Syria were involved in this?
PEREZ: Well, you know, it's partly because there is so much that they don't know yet. That there is -- there are some officials who believe that this was planned and carefully orchestrated from Syria, with this cell that was living in Belgium and then came down to Paris.
There are other officials who think because you have eight guys, people who -- the more people you have in a conspiracy like this, the more a chance that officials will find out, that somebody might change his mind and back out.
So, they think that it had to be done in Brussels, or I'm sorry, in Belgium, and then very quickly orchestrated in Paris. So, that is something that is very much on the minds of investigators as they work this case. Don.
LEMON: Also very concerning, Evan, about the father of one of the attackers that may have traveled to the United States. What do you know about that?
PEREZ: That's right, Don, the U.S. has found indication, records of the father of Ismael Mostefai. He is one of the men who died in this attack. He was killed inside the Bataclan night club, concert hall. He's one of the ones that blew himself up.
His father travels here several years ago, no indication yet that the father has anything to do with this. He, and several other members of the family were, are taken into protective custody by the French police.
And we know that the FBI right now is still trying to determine everywhere that person, where the father went, who he met. They're trying to put together a picture just to make sure that nothing happened here. Again, there is no indication that he at all was involved. But the FBI very much wants to know everything about his business here.
LEMON: All right. Thank you. But I want all of you to stand back because I need to get to some breaking news. Thank you very much, everyone.
OK. This is just coming in. And I'm getting word of it, so, bear with me. It's breaking news. It's an Air France flight, it's from Los Angeles to Paris, an Air France flight from Los Angeles to Paris diverted to Salt Lake City. And here's a statement from the FAA.
It said, "It was diverted to Salt Lake City because of a security incident. You need to contact local authorities and TSA for more information." Again, this is breaking news concerning an Air France flight. We're working to get our reporters on the line to talk about this.
Again, more from our breaking news, an Air France flight from Los Angeles to Paris diverted to Salt Lake City. And again, the FAA, FAA releasing a statement saying it was diverted on to Salt Lake City because of a security incident and that you need to contact local authorities and the TSA for more information.
Again, this is concerning, of course, considering what happened in Paris just on Friday, just a couple of days ago. And again, now have you this flight that is being diverted because of security reasons and this flight on its way to Paris.
But again, LAX through Charles de Gaulle, it was on its way diverted to Salt Lake City because of security incident and that you need to contact local authorities and TSA for more information, especially if you think you have someone on that flight.
[22:09:59] Again, all of this is just coming in. Our sources are checking with the FAA as well as with Air France and as well as at the airports, at LAX and Charles de Gaulle.
One of our aviation correspondents on the phone now, Renee Marsh joins us with more. Rene, what do you know?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, I just got off the phone with a government official. He tells me this was an Air France flight 65. It was traveling from L.A. It was -- I'm told it left LAX at some point and had to divert to Salt Lake City after a bomb threat. Someone on the ground phoned in this bomb threat, according to this source and then told us that the plane landed safely.
That is all we know at this point. As you mentioned at the top there, of course, reaching out to Salt Lake City police. But again, I'm told this is an Air France flight 65. And this is an Airbus 380 and the issue here was a bomb threat that was called in to the airline itself. And they diverted to Salt Lake City, Don. And that's what we have at this moment.
LEMON: And Rene, of course, it is an utmost important at this plane was traveling to Paris.
MARSH: Right. I mean, we've seen throughout the day, really, a lot of these incidents in which you can call them scare, mid-air scares. I mean, earlier today, we had four people removed from a flight before it was preparing to take off. We had another issue mid-air on a flight that was leaving London and headed to Boston, the FAA telling us the woman was try to open an exit door while the plane was in flight.
You know, in the current climate, the aviation industry, whether it's the flight crew or other passengers on board, really on edge. And we're seeing a lot of that. And so, any incident is taken extremely seriously.
You will you see hyper reaction in some cases. These two previous cases I just mentioned to you where those four people were taken off board, they were checked. They found no connect to terrorism. But again, no one is taking a chance.
So, we have been seeing several of these people scared all throughout the day, now this evening, where this has been Air France flight, like we said, diverted to Salt Lake City, and the initial information is this was a bomb threat that was phoned in.
We do know these bomb threats unfortunately happen quite often in which they're called in. They are checked out. They're taken seriously. Many times more than often they turn out to be nothing. But again, in this climate, you have to check. You cannot take anything for granted and that's exactly what is likely happening here at this hour with this Air France flight.
LEMON: Yes. You're absolutely right, not taking anything for granted. Someone who just traveled this week and then also travelled yesterday, security is extra tight at airports here in the United States.
I was randomly checked for screening twice. Usually, Rene, I have what is known as a pre-check where you walk through and you don't have to take off your clothes, your jackets or your computer way in. And I had to twice, even being a pre-check passenger.
So again, security is very high. If you're just tuning in, Rene Marsh, who is our aviation correspondent joins us on the phone, CNN has just gotten word, Air France flight 65. I'm not sure what time it was supposed to leave LAX. What time it left LAX, Rene, but you can update us on that.
It was headed to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris diverted to Salt Lake City. Our Rene Marsh is reporting that there was a bomb threat called in from the ground that they diverted that flight to Salt Lake City and they had landed Air France flight 65 Airbus 380.
We can put the response from the FAA back up on the screen. An FAA representative says it was diverted to Salt Lake City because of a security incident. Because of a security incident you need to contact local authorities and TSA for more information. We have learned from Rene, Rene is reporting that it is -- was a bomb threat, Rene, from the ground.
MARSH: Right. And we don't have official word from the FAA just yet. But this information that I'm getting is from a government source with knowledge of exactly what was going on. So, we're still waiting for an official statement from the FAA, from TSA, from Salt Lake City Police Department.
But again, my government sources telling me that, indeed, this situation is a bomb threat, Don, and again no word of anything happening on board the flight. But, in fact, this was something that was called into the company and, of course, they diverted once they got that call.
LEMON: Yes. And you're looking at flight trackers up on the screen right now, Rene, and to our viewers, if you're looking at that. And again, we don't know if this is a legitimate, if this was legitimate, if there is indeed something going on.
[22:14:57] But according to the FAA now, the only official word we have is that was diverted because of some sort of incident and that it was -- it did landed safely at Salt Lake Airport.
It took off, it departed LAX at 4.04 p.m. Pacific Time. Landed safely, 7.11 Mountain Time, in Salt Lake City. but again, it was en route to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. And it had to be diverted. And of course, it is significant that this flight was headed to Paris because of what happened in Paris in Friday.
We all know the sad and deadly outcome of that. And as Rene has been reporting here, they are taking significant precautions now here in the U.S. and really all over.
Rene, stand by. I want to bring in now Cedric Alexander, CNN law enforcement analyst of the Cab County, Georgia public safety director, he is formerly the federal security director for the TSA at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. What do you make of this incident?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, you know, in this climate, we again, Don, I think you know that in the space is such as this, the FAA made that decision once they got that information to divert the plane to the safest runway.
What will occur once that plane is on the ground, those passengers will be released from that plane. There will be a thorough search and it conduct -- and certainly a very thorough investigation will ensue. So, this is just the climate we're in right now when all precautions, I'm quite sure are going to continue be taken particularly in the particular incident such as this.
LEMON: There are incidents that happen, and people call in bogus threats or what have you. But sometimes these are legitimate. How often does this happen in your estimation, Cedric?
ALEXANDER: Well, they don't happen quite often. And we can only hope and pray they don't continue to happen very often as well. This is a very serious incident any time you call in that type of threat to a commercial aircraft anywhere on the face of this planet.
So, it's going to be taken very, very seriously and then no doubt they're going to trace that call and they'll eventually find out who the perpetrator or perpetrators were behind it. But this is very serious. And it's something they cannot to be taken likely in this climate that we're going to take globally.
LEMON: This airbus is the biggest of the passenger liners, commercial passenger liner.
ALEXANDER: It is huge. That is a very huge aircraft. They can carry as many as 3, 4, or 500 passengers. That is a big aircraft.
LEMON: Juliette Kayyem joins us as well. Juliette, again, we have been talking about this climate and now having something called in like this, of course, the FAA and security officials are going to take this seriously and treat it with the utmost importance. What do you make of this, Juliette?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So, exactly what your previous analyst said, everything is being taken maybe more seriously than it would otherwise. Normally, when bomb threats come in, there is a validation process.
My guess is that this -- this diversion was triggered relatively early, given the climate that we're in, the fact it's a flight from Los Angeles to Paris of all places. Diversion of flights is released sort of -- sort of most draconian, obviously most draconian response to a bomb threat.
And so, I think right now we take this seriously until we hear sort of, you know, some explanation for the validity of the bomb threat. Right now, we know what's going on the ground, which is clearly a sweep of the airplane notification to the passengers of what's going on, allowing the passengers to contact family, and there's a protocol for dealing with this right now.
LEMON: And of course, in the airport, Rene Marsh, would have to be a certain size to take an airbus 380, and considering between LAX and Salt Lake. Salt Lake is one of those airports have -- there aren't many airports in that area, I would imagine. They have to figure out which one they're going to get this too quickly. Rene Marsh, are you there?
MARSH: Yes, Don, I'm here.
MARSH: Don, you cut out. If you can repeat that for me, please.
LEMON: We're talking about an airbus 380 is a large airplane with a significant number of passengers. And they would have to find an airport that is big enough, that has a big enough runway and that can also handle security and screening of these passengers in order for it to land.
MARSH: That's absolutely correct. I mean, at a point in which this bomb threat is called in, of course, the communications would begin from the ground to the pilot. The pilot would then discuss, you know, both with the air traffic controls, you know, the best route to, and the best route and the airport as well. Closest airport in which they would be able to divert the aircraft.
[22:19:56] You know, I've spoken to several law enforcement officials as well as, you know, members of the TSA when we have many of these sort of issues of these bomb threats. Unfortunately, it happens more than people know.
But, Don, as you have been saying all tonight, you know, when you are in this climate where airport security is the top of mind, at a point where just today, we got confirmation that it was, indeed, an explosive planted on board a passenger plane, it's a climate that has everyone tense...
MARSH: ... from flight crew, from pilots I've spoken to, to passengers themselves.
MARSH: Everyone takes...
LEMON: I want you to stand by because I need you and the rest of our experts to weigh in on this. Again, I'm just getting this information. Also getting in, from -- CNN is just getting is an Air France flight 55 from Dulles Airport to Charles de Gaulle also been diverted to Halifax. Passengers and crew are safe.
Again, there is another incident. The first one is Air France flight 65, that was from LAX to Charles de Gaulle, diverted to Salt Lake City, landed safely at 7.11. I would imagine there is a very extensive screening process happening right now.
And now, we're just getting word that Air France flight 55, five-five, from Dulles to Charles de Gaulle, also has been diverted to Halifax and passengers and crew are safe. Rene Marsh, continued with this new information. Rene, are you able to hear me?
OK. Rene is not there. I'll continue to update you. Again, we're getting word of two passenger planes here, if you're just joining us, breaking news on CNN. The information is just coming in. Both of them Air France flights. The first one is an Air France flight 55 from LAX to Charles de Gaulle had to be diverted because of reporting from our correspondent Rene Marsh is that there was a bomb threat called from the ground, diverted to Salt Lake City, landing safely, 7.11 p.m. Mountain Time, 7.11 mountain Time.
And now we're getting word that Air France flight 55 from Dulles Airport to Charles de Gaulle also has been diverted to Halifax, passengers and crew are safe on that one.
Our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh joins us, also security analyst and expert Juliette Kayyem joins us as well, and Cedric Alexander who also is a director of the TSA, a regional TSA office joins us as well. Cedric Alexander, now another flight diverted. Dulles to Charles de Gaulle.
Alexander: Well, this is of concern. Certainly it's going to be a major concern to homeland security and federal law enforcement throughout the rest of the evening. Something certainly is taking place here. And I think that we're just going to have to wait very cautiously, Don, and not draw too many conclusions too early on any of this until we gather more information.
But this should be of concern at this point to us when you have two major aircraft potentially traveling into France, having to be diverted. It's a clear indication that a great amount of attention is going to be given to this throughout the evening throughout the night going into tomorrow as well, too.
LEMON: Yes. Juliette Kayyem, again, there is now a second flight that we are reporting now. Flight 55 from Dulles to Charles de Gaulle being diverted now to Halifax Airport. KAYYEM: Yes. So, this doesn't happen often. You just don't get
diversions like this, and obviously, since we have been saying that there is a heightened alert. So, we're take -- government officials will be taking any threat seriously. They'll take bomb threats on airplanes very, very seriously.
Based on my experience and just what we know so far, two bomb threats coming in is actually oddly good news. It may mean that and I don't know who the culprit is. It may be someone from abroad or someone domestically, but, you know, it has the smell and the taste right now of someone who is trying to mess with aviation, but from a phone.
We will see what is on the airplanes and if these are real bomb threats, but, I will tell you if this is a hoax and it's a, someone we can get our hands on, this is no joke and people need to understand that this stuff is real right now.
People are very tense. But just based on my experience, you know, many years in this field, the second hoax is that, the second call-in is actually making me feel a little bit better...
KAYYEM: ... oddly enough.
[22:25:04] LEMON: Juliette, stand by. I don't know, do we have the new image in the system of this airplane? There is an image that we are waiting, it is of this Air France plane that was diverted to Salt Lake City. We'll get that up for you in a moment, and you can see there once it is up.
Juliette and Cedric, the number of security people, emergency personnel on the ground taking care of this plane at Salt Lake Airport. But again, this is very serious, and anyone who is calling it a hoax, especially, you should never call in a hoax.
There that images if you can see it. Obviously, no one should ever call in a hoax. But at this point in time considering so many people lost their lives in a coordinated attack that ISIS has taken responsibility for. This is time of great sensitivity in the, not only in the country but in the world.
This flight that you're looking at. This photo you're looking at right now, Air France flight 65, Los Angeles International Airport to Paris de Gaulle diverted over a phoned-in bomb threat, an airport security officer is telling CNN.
Everyone on board the flight is safe. The officer says the aircraft type again is an airbus 380. And you're looking at again, you're looking at a picture of that plane on the ground at Salt Lake Airport.
Juliette Kayyem, continue.
KAYYEM: Yes. So, I just -- if you look at the picture, just to explain to people, the picture you just had on, what's happening is or sort of well-honed post-9/11 response protocols are going on here. The plane is not near, it appears not to be, you know, near any of the buildings.
You have both it looks like civilian and fire trucks approaching it. There will be law enforcement approaching the plane first. Making sure everything is OK. You will want an evacuation of the passengers, but you also need to make sure the passengers are not, are not anyone nefarious, and then the pilot and the personnel on the plane will be interviewed.
The plane will be searched. Anyone at the airport who is not on the plane is safe and distant from where we are. We're pretty far off from any of the terminals. And so, just to explain what that picture is. These are response protocols.
They come into place the second something happens. This is what people trained for and it's probably happening, you know, at any, for the other plane that left Dulles as well.
LEMON: Mary Schiavo is a former inspector general for the United States Department of Transportation. She joins us now. Mary Schiavo, we have two planes now, one diverted to Halifax, that's flight 55, that was the second one we learned of, the first one diverted to Salt Lake City, Air France flight 65.
Both of them are Air France, one from Dulles 55, on its way to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, 65 on its way to Charles de Gaulle landing safely in Salt Lake City. The other one landing safely, 55 in Halifax. What do you make of this?
MARY SCHIAVO, AVIATION EXPERT: Well, unfortunately, we've seen this before. A few years back there was a fake where people were targeting senior airlines. There were several bomb threats called in on a day -- on a single day. But here it was targeting Air France that it certainly does seem to be related to the horrible tragedy in France.
But I am recalling, as an inspector general, we worked another attack on Air France, which involved a cyber-attack, which involved someone or people systematically trying to book all of the seats on Air France, so they would have a terrible financial loss as well.
So, there are a lot of ways to attack an airline. And Air France has seen it before where it's not ISIS or some kind of an ISIS-related terrorism, but whenever you are attacking an airline, whether it's a bomb threat or economic threat. It's terrorism but just a different kind. But sadly, I suspect it's possible it's not over. There will be others called in.
LEMON: Mary, let me give you this information. We are being told that a passenger on board the Halifax flight, the flight 55 Air France, flight 55, not the one that you are looking at now, but the one that landed in Halifax. It was en route to Paris, says an official said it was some kind of security threat, Mary.
SCHIAVO: Well, yes. I mean, a security threat can be everything from a bomb threat to a passenger saying odd things on the plane. I mean, you know, we have had situations in the past where passengers, you know, make a comment and somebody else hears it. And it can be misinterpreted or people can be, you know, foolish enough.
They may not be ISIS-related. But in the past, we had people just make comments on planes and it has caused the plane to be grounded. And you know, in this day and age making any kind of comment is just really foolish.
So, at this point it's hard to tell if it is really associated with terrorism or people are just being, you know, sensitive on the plane. But, obviously, a bomb threat is a crime.
[22:30:03] But it's gotten tougher and tougher to find them, and in years passed you pretty much always find that the bomb threat, the person making the bomb threat that now has the ability to use disposable phone and hide the source of your call, it is harder to find them. It is (inaudible) be able to find them.
LEMON: For those of you just tuning in, you see the two Air France flights have been diverted. Both of them to Paris, have been diverted to other airports, we're told because both because of security threats. Two Air France flights en route to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris diverted to other airports because of security threats. We are also getting reports in from officials from the FAA saying that one of them was possibly diverted because of a bomb threat called in from the ground. The first one we got news of was Flight 65. It was from Los Angeles, had to be diverted to Salt Lake -- to the Salt Lake Airport. There is a picture, an image on that pic -- that plane on the ground, on the tarmac at Salt Lake Airport. The second one -- we -- the second one we got word of was Air France Flight 55. This one was from Dulles. Let's get the video. This is the video of Flight 65. Oh, this is a Halifax video, this is Flight 55. Air France Flight 55, this one is from Dulles which was supposed to go to Paris -- Charles de Gaulle, landing at Halifax Airport. There we go. Roll it. It is on the ground. This is courtesy of CTV, our affiliate in Canada. And there you see that plane on the ground. It is Air France Flight 55. It is a Boeing 777. This is the information on this flight, on Air France Flight 55, diverted to Halifax Airport. An Air France flight from Washington Dulles to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris was diverted to a Halifax, Nova Scotia Airport, Tuesday night. Airport vice president, an airport vice president confirmed to CNN, they also told us that he could not say whether the flight was diverted, but confirmed the flight landed safely at 10:15 p.m. local time, which is 9:15 Eastern Time, and that 298 passengers and crew were being transported from the aircraft to the terminal at this time.
Again, Air France flight 55 which is a Boeing 777, diverted to Halifax airport, 298 passengers on board. They landed safely. You are looking at new video that is just into CNN. This is one of two flights that had to be diverted because of a -- because of security threats. The other flight was Air France Flight 65 from LAX to Charles de Gaulle in Paris. There is an image of that plane on the tarmac diverted to Salt Lake City Airport. And there were -- it is an airbus 380. No word of how many people were on board that flight. Joining us now, -- that's a video now, this is Salt Lake City. You are now looking at video of Salt Lake City. This is Air France Flight 65 and again, this plane had to be diverted to Salt Lake City as it was en route to Charles de Gaulle Airport. Not exactly sure what was going on here, because of the heightened sense of security and heightened nervousness because of what happened in Paris, obviously, officials are taking every precaution that they can to try and make sure that all passengers and all flights and everyone is safe. Again, you're getting this is new video again, that you are looking at now from Salt Lake City Airport. We have several of aviation officials on the phone now, Mary Schiavo who is formerly with the Department of Transportation. We have Juliette Kayyem, who is a security expert, and Cedric Alexander, a security expert as well. Considering the new information, Mary Schiavo, what do you have to say?
SCHIAVO: Well, you know, it does appear that obviously, somebody was targeting Air France. You know, the question is at this point, we have to wait for the facts to come out. Were they're both bomb threats or was something else happening on one of the planes (inaudible). We have heard of a bomb threat on just one of them, and it will be interesting to see what was going on, on the plane. And unfortunately, when a person if they are calling in a bomb threat, you know, it can be anywhere and you can cause an awful lot of damage to the airline even though it lands safely. This is a huge economic blow if it keeps up for Air France, obviously, the intent could be to drive people away from Air France. As I mentioned, it was spotlighted many years ago than Air France and it certainly wasn't I suspect then. But, you know, there are lots of ways to disrupt and cause damage, particularly as we head into a holiday season. So I guess I would -- I'll wait to see if there are additional flights like that, and if someone intentionally is trying to disrupt Air France or trying to disrupt, basically, travel to and from the United States.
[22:35:01] LEMON: Well, never a dull moment. It's always something. If this is anyone trying to get their jollies, it's really the wrong time to do it. It's never the right time to do it, but this are considering what happened in Paris and the lives that were lost and the people -- with people are dealing with now, the absolute...
LEMON: Wrong thing to do. We will continue to follow...
LEMON: This Breaking News here on CNN. Two Air France flights diverted because of security scarce. We are back in a moment right after this very quick break.
[22:39:19] LEMON: Breaking News here on CNN. Two Air France flights having to be diverted tonight because of security concerns, one of them from Dulles in Washington, D.C., had to be diverted to Halifax, Nova Scotia. All the passengers are said to be off that plane, and they are doing screening. The other flight, Flight 65 from Los Angeles, had to be diverted from, to the Salt Lake City Airport. It was headed to Paris as well, hundreds of passengers on board that flight. We are getting new information on that. We'll get you an updates just as soon as we get. There is also other Breaking News to tell you about that concern the president, speaking a short time ago in the Philippines, talking about the battle with ISIS and hitting back at critics of his program to resettle Syrian refugees here in the United States. Our Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta is with the president. He joins us now. Jim, the president just spoke out. He had some new comments on the fight against ISIS. What can you tell us?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Don. The president is not having any second thoughts about his strategy for dealing with ISIS. You will recall that came under some pretty tough criticism and tough questions for the president at that press conference on Monday. But earlier today, here in Manila, during his trip in Southeast Asia, the president said that the public has not served at all. When the debate descends into fear and panic, he warned against that when it comes to dealing with this terrorist threat. He also offered some welcoming praise for Vladimir Putin, Russia's involvement in conducting those airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria. He says he wants to see more of that. But he wants to make sure that those airstrikes are targeting ISIS and not targeting those moderate Syrian rebels in the effort to prop up Syria's leader Bashar al-Assad. He also went after republicans on this issue of the Syria refugee crisis. But first, let's play a little bit of what the president had to say, welcoming Putin's involvement in Syria, something that we haven't heard very much out of this White House lately. Here's more of what the president had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I've had repeated discussions, first in New York at the United Nations General Assembly. And then most recently in Turkey with president Putin, that if in fact, he shifts his focus and the focus of his military to what is the principle threat, which is ISIL, then that is something that we very much want to see. That's not how they have been operating over the last several weeks. It maybe that now having seen ISIL takes down one of their airliners in a horrific accident that reorientation continues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And Don, you know, the president's comments are very important because the president and Vladimir Putin can somehow get over this disagreement over what to do about Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and can potentially join forces. And you're hearing Francois Hollande, the French president talked about this as well, forming this sort of grand global coalition. You know there are a lot of people around the world that -- who believe that kind of coalition, this large global coalition might actually have the capability of taking out ISIS, but it seems we -- a little too early in the process. You get a sense from the president's body language on what he was saying. It is not -- he doesn't completely trust Vladimir Putin just yet.
LEMON: And Jim, you know, the president remains aggressive in taking on critics of his policy, including the (inaudible) at home, right now between the administrations of republicans for the most part who say that we should refuse Syrian refugee refugees.
ACOSTA: That's right. This is propped up as perhaps the hottest domestic political issue right now. It's been injected right into the 2016 campaign. You have several republican candidates going after the president. Some like Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz are saying that perhaps, we should just let in Syrian refugees who say that they're Christian not the Muslim refugees. The president went right after those critics today, and really slammed members of the Republican Party who he said are more concerned about tough questions at debates, than they should be about letting 3-year-old orphans into the country that they're more afraid of those tough questions than they are these 3-year-old orphans coming into the country. Listen how the president characterized this earlier today, here in Manila.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[22:43:41] OBAMA: If there are concrete actual suggestions to enhance this extraordinary screening process that's already in place, we're welcome, we're open to hearing actual ideas, but that's not really what's been going on in this debate. When candidates say, we wouldn't admit 3-year-old orphans -- that's political posturing. When individuals say that we should have a religious test and that only Christians, proven Christians, should be admitted, that's offensive and contrary to American values. I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL, than some of the rhetoric that's been coming out of here during the course of this debate. ISIL seeks to exploits the idea that there is a war between Islam and the west. And when you start seeing individuals in positions of responsibility, suggesting that Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims are in a war torn land, that feeds the ISIL narrative, it's counter- productive, and it needs to stop. And I would add, by the way, these are the same folks oftentimes who suggest that they're so tough that just talking to Putin or staring down ISIL or using some additional rhetoric, somehow is gonna solve the problems out there. But apparently, they're scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as a part of our tradition of compassion. Now first, they were worried about the press being too tough on them during debates, now they're worried about 3-year-old orphans. That doesn't sound very tough to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And just to underline how the White House really views this as a potent political issue, they've started a social media campaign, Don, called #refugeeswelcome. And basically, they have been putting out pictures on Instagram and on Twitter of various refugees who have come into the country over the years, people like Madeleine Albright, the co-founder of Google, (inaudible). People that the White House says came in to this country as refugees and then made valuable contributions to American society, trying to make this point that you have to be careful about who you don't want to let into this country. But, Don, you add that to what the president said earlier today, and the fact that they had a conference call with some 34 governors that lasted 90 minutes. This was conducted by the White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, earlier today. They realize, they fully realize inside the White House that this is a very prickly, thorny political issue, and it's one that's gonna be waiting on them when they get back to Washington, Don. LEMON: CNN's Jim Acosta. Jim, thank you very much. I want to update you on the Breaking News about these two Air France flights who have to be diverted to other cities tonight. They are en route to Paris. Here's an FBI statement on Air France Flight 65, which was bound for Paris from Los Angeles and was diverted to Salt Lake City. Statement reads, "As you may have heard, an aircraft was diverted and safely landed at the Salt Lake International Airport this evening. The FBI and its law enforcement partners take all the threats very seriously and respond accordingly. Several law enforcement agencies are working in concert following an established protocol to determine the nature of the threats which caused the aircraft to divert. At this time, we have no further information. We will update to the extent possible as that information is gather." Again that information is just in from the FBI to CNN. I want to bring in now Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, former U.S. military attache in Syria. And also, we'll bring in the general in just a little a bit. So lieutenant colonel, first let's talk about these flights. Many people believe that it is a hoax, but you cannot be too sure at this time.
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I go -- I tend to agree with what Juliette Kayyem said earlier. The fact that we got two what we believe to be bomb threat hoaxes, against one airline, Air France. We see what happened in France, it's just smacks of a hoax. And we hope that's the case, but this is very effective technique to strike a blow economically at Air France and it disrupts travelers. This sends a real message to the west that we are vulnerable for these kinds of attacks.
LEMON: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling joins us as well. CNN's military analyst and former commanding general the U.S. Army in Europe, we thank you for joining us. We're talking this. First, let's talk about this breaking news, these two flights. You want to weigh in on this?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, Well, I think, Don, that this is exactly what we're talking about in needing to adapt the fight. ISIS is certainly doing that. They have been hit and they have been hit hard and there are some indicators they are suffering in Iraq and Syria. So they have now gone outside that country, attacking aircraft, conducting the operations in Paris, doing some other things that are bringing in some of their affiliates. So what, I see as happening is they are adapting their methods to a new attempt at bringing terror in other degrees, in other situations, so we have to adapt as well. It is more of a desire to not just drop bombs, continuing to drop bombs in Syria, although we will be doing that. That's what everybody leans to as soon as nations are attacked or we have the kind of terrorist action that take -- took place in Paris, but we have to be careful that this is an adapted enemy, and they are doing other things now. We have to prepare for them in multiple fronts.
LEMON: Let's talk about the political angle here, general. If any of the politicians out there offering their opinions on ISIS came to you for advice on how to defeat them, what would you say?
[22:50:09] HERTLING: Well, I would say exactly what, what I just said. First of all, we have to continue the strikes in Iraq and Syria. We are going to start gaining more intelligence in both those areas because we have better engagements with some of the troops on the ground, especially the Syrian troops. I think you will gonna see an expansion of the target list within the next couple weeks. We have already started to see that. And as Nick Paton Walsh reported earlier in Sinjar, I was very surprised that there was not a large fight there after the Peshmerga came into that town. We have to continue to support Mr. Abadi in Iraq. We have to continue to work with Russia to try and get Mr. Assad to the table, and perhaps, even a power sharing agreement might be good. We've got to continue to work, to stop the flow across the Turkish border, now that's been improved, certainly in the last couple of months. Mr. Erdogan has stopped most of the flow, but it's got to go both ways. So we've got to completely stop the flow of foreign fighters from -- through Turkey into Syria. We've got to continue to go after the financial elements that ISIS is using, and that is in all areas. Not only just from their sale of oil, but how they are getting donations from different governments and be a sure that they are. And I also think we have to start adapting for more Homeland Security measures. This is a fight that can't stay in that part of the world. We have to continue to take the fight to the enemy there with our partners on the ground, the indigenous partners as used...
HERTLING: Air power, but we also have to beef up our Homeland Security.
LEMON: Lieutenant Colonel Francona, you know, there is a whole lot of military activity in the skies over Raqqa right now. Is it coordinated?
FRANCONA: Well, it's got to be. I mean, you can't have that many aircraft over of different countries over a small area like that without some coordination. Probably not coordination, what we in the military would call it is deconfliction. Just let the other people know where you are going to be when, so you don't run into each other, you don't kill each other's ways. You've got a lot of barriers of these air forces actually coordinating because you got language problems, command in control, issues, different systems, different reaction times, but, you know, following up what General Hertling said. When you are talking about this coordination or deconfliction in Syria, we've got to determine what our goals in Syria are. We are holding fast right now that we want to degrade and defeat ISIS, and we want the removal of the Assad government. You've got on the other side, this access that is supporting the Assad government, and that's comprises Iran, Iraq, Hezbollah, and now the Russians. And we have to decide, what is our goal? Are we going to come to an agreement with the Russians that we all join up and go after ISIS? Which is the real common threat?
LEMON: Correct, yeah.
FRANCONA: Or are we going to continue to work across purposes.
LEMON: Yeah. Gentlemen...
LEMON: Gentlemen, thank you. Unfortunately, general, because of the Breaking News, we have very limited time. I apologize. So thank you very much. I appreciate your input. What more needs to be done to defeat ISIS? Up next, military experts will join me.
[22:53:12] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Update on the Breaking News here on CNN. You are looking at Air France Flight 65. This is at Salt Lake City International Airport. That plane was diverted from LAX earlier. It was en route to Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Again, all the passengers we believe have been taken off the plane. The plane is being searched and now officials are checking on this to see what's real and what's not. This is the second plane that had to be diverted this evening. We will keep you updated on both.
The other Breaking News tonight of course, we're talking about ISIS, threatening more terror up on the U.S. and Europe. Are they rallying the world again? Joining me now is Naill Ferguson, history professor at Harvard University and the author of Kissinger: Volume 1: 1923- 1958, The Idealist. OK, let me read this to you, this is from Olivier Roy, he's a professor at the European University Institute in Florence. He wrote an op-ed in the New York Times, it was headline this. It said, "The attacks in Paris reveal the strategic limits of ISIS." In it he writes, specifically, "Much as with al-Qaeda earlier, the successes of ISIS increasingly amount to its grabbing headlines and the attention of social media. The ISIS system has already hit its limits. ISIS is at its own -- ISIS is its own worst enemy." Is he right? Have we reached peak ISIS, Niall?
NIALL FERGUSON, HISTORY PROFESSOR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Wouldn't that be nice? It would be really comforting to think that they will just self-destruct for us. The reason I'm not convinced by that is that we have been bombing Islamic states for more than a year. We intensified the airstrikes since the Paris atrocities, but it doesn't seem to be working. And it's not working clearly, because it's very hard to achieve success from the air if you don't have intelligence on the ground to tell you exactly what it is you should be hitting. So I'm skeptical about this notion. It's clear that they're under pressure. I mean, there are people fighting Islamic state. The Kurds, for example, are putting them under pressure. This is not a completely simple story, and one reason they may have decided to go global, to start attacking western targets, may reflect the fact that their projects at the caliphate in Iraq and Syria is coming under some pressure, but I think to imagine that they're just going to go away under the present circumstances is unlikely. I'd see this differently, Don. I think we are seeing a kind of ripple effect. This huge escalating conflict right across North Africa in the Middle East, Islamic state is part of it, but it's not all of it. That conflict has begun to make itself felt in Europe through a migration crisis and then terrorism, and now we begin to feel it in the United States. But make no mistake, this conflict is not going away, it's escalating.
FERGUSON: The volume of terrorism is way up this year, relative to last year.
LEMON: Well, speaking of that. The president just responded, and we had our White House Correspondent Jim Acosta, who is travelling with him. He is in Manila, Philippines right now, basically saying that we are not well-served in response to a terrorist attack. When a response to terrorist attack, we descended to fear and panic, basically saying that the debate happening here at home, especially with the republican presidential candidates, amounts to nothing but hysteria.
FERGUSON: Well, I deplore those who say we should not have any refugees coming into the United States. A number of refugees from Syria coming into the United States are really small, compared with the numbers that are coming into Europe. And we have clear procedures for dealing with refugees to make sure the bad people don't come into the United States. So this shouldn't be a discussion, but you know, I'd like to condemn something that was said by a member of his administration today, which I thought was equally deplorable. When John Kerry seemed to imply, there was something legitimate or intelligible about the earlier...
FERGUSON: Well that just seems to me just as dreadful. So I think we all have to take a big step back here.
LEMON: What is that just the gap?
FERGUSON: No. I don't think it was...
LEMON: But there is some meaning in that...
[23:00:09] FERGUSON: I think -- unfortunately, it affect many people who since January...