Return to Transcripts main page
New ISIS Video Warns Of Attack Potentially Targeting Times Square; White House Gears Up For Big Fight With Republicans Over Taking In Syrian Refugees. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired November 18, 2015 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:27] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: It is 11:00 p.m. on the East Coast, 5:00 a.m. in Paris. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
And we have terror headlines in two cities. Here in New York, a new ISIS video warning of an attack potentially targeting Times Square. We are expecting a news conference there from the NYPD that should happen at any moment and we'll take you through it.
In Paris, investigators is trying to combing through DNA evidence, trying to determine whether this morning's raid killed the leader of the attacks or if he is still on the run.
I want to begin our coverage with CNN's Atika Shubert. She is live for us right now in Paris as we await this press conference.
Atika, what is the very latest there?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest is they are still sifting through the aftermath there of that raid trying to figure out exactly who was killed. Now, according to Belgian authorities and our Belgian affiliate, they believe that the woman who detonated her suicide vest was the cousin of Abdelhamid Abaaoud. He is the alleged ring leader of the Paris attacks. The big question is was Abaaoud Himself in the building?
To answer that, it is going to take some time. And Paris authorities and authorities here in France are going to be doing DNA tests to try and determine if he was one of those killed. We know, he was not one of those arrested. There were eight arrests in all and they are now in police custody and being question, Don.
LEMON: Atika, do officials thing there was a rolling series of attacks being planned?
SHUBERT: What they have said is that this is a team that had the capacity for an attack. And clearly the fact that at least one of them, the female suspect there, had explosives indicates that they were prepared to act very soon. But in terms of what kind of an attack, do they have specific targets? French authorities have not given out that information. It should be said that Abaaoud is somebody who is known for plotting numerous attacks in Europe. So it's certainly a possibility. LEMON: All right. Atika Shubert thank you very much.
I want to get to CNN's Deborah Feyerick live for us in Times Square where that news conference is set to begin at any moment now.
Deb, looking forward, we spoke to John Miller who is a deputy commissioner in charge of counterterrorism here, gave us a brief account of what the commissioner is going to talk about. Those new officers, one thing, who are out on the streets right now ready for the holiday rush.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. You know, as a matter of fact, we can see some of those tactical officers who are here. They've got the (INAUDIBLE), the assault rifles and they are heavily armored.
The message that the New York police commissioner wants to send is that, you know, the city is prepared and ready. But there (INAUDIBLE) and that they are willing to act in the event something does happen. And the police commissioner is going to be coming out tonight who (INAUDIBLE), people are just to let people know that they should continue to go about their daily lives. The police commissioner is going to be coming out in about 60 seconds.
But the new video does shed additional concern. Everyone knows New York City is a target. And so, the exception now with ISIS, they aspire to hit the city. There are videos of Times Square and the shopping area at Herald Square. And so, look, when you know something might happen you take precautions to make sure that it doesn't. And so, New York City is ready. Washington, D.C. has been warned.
But you know, the ISIS fighters, they have three ways of attacking according to this video, and that's car bomb, it is sniper, the sharpshooter, but also the suicide vest. And in that video you actually see someone putting the bombs together. And in one of them, one does have ball bearings. So that's a big concern.
LEMON: Deb, behind us, we see the mayor coming up and the police commissioner. Here is Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK: As you know, a video was released earlier today by ISIS portraying scenes of New York City, portraying scenes of Times Square where we are now and Herald Square, in an obvious attempt to intimidate the people of New York City.
I'm here this evening with commissioner Bratton and other leaders of our police department and the men and women of our department who patrol Times Square to make very, very clear that the people of New York City will not be intimidated. We understand it is the goal of terrorists to intimidate and disrupt our democratic society. We will not submit to their wishes. The people of New York City, as you can see right now are going about their business even at this late hour. I want to encourage all New Yorkers to continue to go about their business normally.
It's important to note that there is no creditable and specific threat against New York City. NYPD has been working very, very closely with the FBI and our other federal partners and I again repeat there is no specific and credible threat against New York City. So it's crucial that people go about their normal business recognizing the NYPD is providing extraordinary protection for the people of the City, 35,000 members strong.
And just in this last week, we initiated the first wave of our critical response command which will grow to 500-plus officers specifically dedicated to anti-terrorism activities. These officers who have been assigned in the last months, will be specifically trained, equipped, and armed to handle any terrorist threat. They will be part of our overall efforts of the NYPD to prevent terrorism in coordination with our federal partners. So the people of New York City can rest assured that extraordinary efforts are being made every single day to keep them safe. This is the finest police force in this nation for 14 years since 9/11. This police force has consistently protected the City against terrorist threats and it will continue to do so.
I want to say one other thing before I turn to commissioner Bratton. We remind all New Yorkers that we can depend on the NYPD. And at the same time, every resident of this City can help the NYPD. We have a phrase, "if you see something, say something." That phrase is very meaningful. If you see something you think is suspicious, a package left unattended or you hear information you believe the NYPD should have, please immediately call 911 or alert a police officer. That kind of information, those leads could be very, very helpful to NYPD and help them do the good work they do.
With that, I'm proud to introduce our commissioner, Bill Bratton.
[23:07:41] BILL BRATTON, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
Echoing the mayor's comments that there is, as we have repeated frequently, no city in America that is better prepared to defend and protect against a terrorist attack. We work tirelessly to ensure that, continuously upgrading our capabilities and our systems. The events of today that have raised concern, quite frankly, there is nothing new about that video. New York, obviously, remains one of the top terrorist targets in the world. That video, our review of it, it looks like it has been hastily produced. It is a mishmash of previously released video. We believe it's a compilation of videos going back to one in August that was directed against Germany, one in October directed against Israel, and 19 seconds of about a five and a half minute video released today had scenes of New York.
In New York, we understand that we are a terrorist target. It reflects the importance of this City. Understanding that this City places great importance on the safety of New Yorkers and the almost 60 million visitors who will come to this City. As we move into this time of year of great celebration and great activity in New York, the Thanksgiving Day parade, the lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller center, the holiday celebrations that will wring millions into this city, people can feel comfortable coming into this city, enjoying themselves, celebrate, be aware, but do not be afraid. The NYPD will protect you.
The NYPD working in close, close cooperation with the FBI and other government colleagues and with the great, great assistance of the residents of this great city that we will keep it safe. We cannot be intimidated. And that's what terrorists seek to do. They seek to create fear. They seek to intimidate. We will not be intimidated and we will not live in fear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.
[23:10:00] LEMON: All right. You are looking at live pictures again from Times Square and you saw New York City's police commissioner also the mayor of New York City speaking to, really, America and the world saying that you should feel comfortable coming to New York City, especially over the coming holidays.
The commissioner specifically saying, tens of millions of people will come here for the lighting of the Christmas tree, for the Thanksgiving Day parade, for the holiday windows, for New Year's Eve celebrations and on and on and on. He said, this is a quote from him, be aware but do not be afraid, the NYPD will protect you.
Mayor bill de Blasio says going about your business. He says 500-plus officers are going to be out there specifically trained to handle situations that involve terror. Again, the commissioner also saying that video that we saw from ISIS today saying most of it released portions. One of them was from August, which is towards Germany. The other one was from October, which specifically targeted Israel. But he said, this is again, this is mostly propaganda.
So let's discuss this and much more now. David Miliband is a former U.K. foreign secretary and the president of the international rescue committee.
LEMON: You were able to hear that. What do you make of the commissioner and the mayor said. Because you are used to dealing with this. You are a foreign secretary to the U.K. Not stranger dealing with terrorism.
DAVID MILIBAND, FORMER U.K. FOREIGN SECRETARY: I thought they spoke in a very sober way, in a very serious way and they pinpointed the aim of the video which is to intimidate and they made very clear that they are not going to be intimidated. And so, they are absolutely right to be on the front foot, to be out there not just providing reassurance, but also calling for action on the part of citizens.
LEMON: On a large, vibrant city, Paris is a large vibrant city. We saw what happened in Paris on Friday. A large, vibrant City like New York City, how do you protect against a Paris-like attack.
MILIBAND: I think that you protect, above all, in two ways. And of course, London tragically went through this in 2005 with the horrible bombings and attacks on the 7th of July, 2005. The first is that you have very effective intelligence efforts, not just national but international. An international corporations is vital.
And secondly, you get the citizens on your side. You need people to be on your side. And that's why the call of the mayor and other for people to work with the NYPD is absolutely right.
LEMON: Yes. World leaders have been meeting to talk about, since Friday, to talk about a coordinated effort trying to intensify this fight against ISIS. We have seen the strikes on Raqqa. Is more cooperation more intelligence sharing the answer here, at least part of the answer?
MILIBAND: It's part of the answer. I mean, obviously, you are living in a global village now. And it is important just as terrorists can go across borders, so intelligence has got to be shared across borders. That applies within the European Union, as well as between European countries and countries like the U.S.
But intelligence sharing is only part of the answer. You have a massive issue in the middle of the Middle East. A vacuum in the center and east of Syria that has been exploited so that ISIS is now strong there and obviously crossed over the border into Iraq as well.
LEMON: President Francois Hollande is coming to the U.S. next week. What do you think might come out of this? What more can the United States do?
MILIBAND: Well, I think that president Hollande will have a twin track strategy. He, on the one hand, he wanted to show his own people that he is working with the leaders of the free world, the strongest country in the world, the U.S., to make sure there is a coordinated civilian-military effort to try to ensure the safety of France, but also to try and tackle some of these problem at its root.
Secondly, he also be wanting to send a message to European leaders that it's time not just to try and attack at the source, there needs to be proper Trans-Atlantic intelligence, another cooperation. And I think the political gap over the last three or four years has seen itself in the weakness of the humanitarian aid system to countries like Lebanon and Jordan. Those are close allies of the U.S. In the case of Jordan, it has been struggling with 600,000 refugees just in that country. Lebanon will in on the million. They have not had the humanitarian aid. And that's left gaps could have been explosive.
LEMON: You talked about politics, you talked about the political pardon. And you know politics always plays into it. Now we are in the middle of a presidential election here in the United States. And I want to play something for you. This is from my colleague Jake Tapper's interview with presidential candidate Chris Christie earlier today. Look at this.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If the president would set-up a no-fly zone in Syria, set-up with safe haven within the country where folks who are in danger can come and be safe inside their own country. There was no need for the refugee crisis. The president created it by his unwillingness to act by his timidity. And the only time he is not timid is when he is criticizing Republicans. But for the rest of the world, he is timid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Did the U.S. and western allies create this refugee problem in the first place. And with a no-fly zone help is a safe haven in Syria for these people, even a possibility. What do you make of it?
MILIBAND: Well, my organization, International Rescue committee, is a New York based organization. We are an international charity with 11,000 staff around the world. Two thousand of them are in Syria. And I speak to them and I obviously speak to the refugees who come out of Syria and who we are helping in the neighboring state and helping ingredients.
What they say is there is a twin peril. On the one hand, the Assad government which is bombing the living daylight, frankly, out of large parts of Syria. And on the other hand, the second part of the peril is ISIS. And those are the two forces that are driving the refugees out of the country. I told to myself we have operations in Greece where refugees are landing across (INAUDIBLE) and they say look, life is hell in Aleppo. If Assad doesn't get you then ISIS will. And that is why we have left.
[23:15:31] LEMON: Did the president create this situation as he said?
MILIBAND: Look, I'm running an NGO, a non-governmental organization, and I was -- I used to be in politics so I recognize politics when I see it. What I would say is that it's important for all people who are in office or aspiring to office to recognize the seriousness of this challenge. And of course, there is a military discussion to be had. But there is also a humanitarian and the political aspect to it.
LEMON: David Miliband. Pleasure.
MILIBAND: Lovely to meet you.
LEMON: Thank you for coming on.
Coming up, the candidates battling over the Syria refugee crisis as you just have heard.
Plus, we all know that famous inscription on the statue of liberty. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free. But America has not always been so welcoming. That story when we come right back.
[23:20:03] LEMON: Millions of people fleeing chaos in Syria. But the refugee crisis is becoming a heated issue on the campaign trail.
I want to bring in CNN's Jim Acosta traveling with President Barack Obama in Manila.
Hello Jim. White House is gearing up for a big fight with Republicans over taking Syrian refugees. What can you tell us?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Don. The White House is spending more time and energy this week around its position on the Syrian refugee crisis than on its strategy for defeating ISIS. And it is showing just how quickly this has become a big test for President Obama.
Earlier today, the White House issued a detailed threat against a house Republican bill that would have required the Homeland security secretary, the FBI director, the director of national intelligence to sign off on nearly all Syrian refugees coming into the country. The White House responded saying that is not practical and they note the process for allowing Syrian refugees into the United States. And President Obama fired back on twitter making it clear that the administration's priority at this point would be welcoming women and children. And vice president Joe Biden got into the debate. Here is how he sounded off on the issue earlier today in Dallas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One way to make sure that the terrorists win is for us to begin to change our value system. That's number one. Number two, we have a real vetting system for refugees coming into the country. We can assure Americans that they will be safe. For us to turn our back now, for us to turn our back now on refugees is turning our back on who we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And vice president Biden went on to say in his view ISIS is not an existential threat against the United States. That is something that White House maybe hearing something about. President Obama, he may weigh in on this issue plus, the Syrian refugee issue in just about an hour from now when he takes questions here in the Philippines with the Canadian prime minister. They are expected to have a joint press conference here, Don, within the next couple hours.
LEMON: Can't wait to hear what he has to say, both of them what they have to say. Listen. But Jim, does it seem like the president is making any headway with his argument?
ACOSTA: I think it is tough, you know. I think among Democrats, you know, they have chosen an issue, the Syrian refugee crisis to argue this week as oppose to his strategy for dealing with ISIS. I think that they feel like within the base of the Democratic Party, they can rally Democrats around President Obama on that issue. They know that people are quite uncomfortable with the president's strategy for defeating ISIS right now because of what happened in Paris.
Now the other issue that has come up, Don, in the last day or so is after the Paris remarks after the Paris attacks, Mr. Obama is once again coming under criticism for refusing to use the term Islamic terrorist to describe the threat posed by ISIS. And Donald Trump was the latest to go after the president on this subject. Here is how the GOP front-runner sounded off on this issue earlier tonight. Here is what Donald Trump had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And you know what, radical Islamic terrorism is a fact. We have a president that nobody can understand he doesn't want to use the term. Radical Islamic terrorism is a fact whether you like it or not. It's a fact. And it's a very gruesome fact. It's a very, very serious problem. We have a president that doesn't want to use the term. Unless you're going the use the term you're not going to solve the problem. I don't even know if he wants to solve the problem, frankly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: But the president is not backing down on this fight either. As he has been saying all week long, we may hear it again within the next hour, the rhetoric like that, that you just heard from Donald Trump, in the President's view, could be used as a recruiting tool for ISIS. The president noted that plenty of Republicans including former president George W. Bush has said that the war on terrorism is not a war on Islam. And the President is all but saying that Trump should follow Bush's lead on that issue. But given Donald Trump's repeated criticism of former President Bush, I don't think that's very likely, Don.
But you are right. This has been a tough week for President Obama and not only his strategy for dealing with ISIS is coming under criticism, but just how to handle the Syrian refugee crisis. There are not many answers that the president that is giving right now that is really satisfying people on either side of the aisle at this point. These are tough times for this president, Don.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, CNN's Jim Acosta traveling with the president in the Philippines.
Coming up, more than half of Americans don't want Syrian refugees to settle in this country. We are going to talk about that when we come right back.
[23:28:43] LEMON: Most of the GOP presidential candidates and a majority of the nation's governors oppose allowing Syrian refugees to settle in the United States.