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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Video of Paris Attacks; Terror Mastermind Killed; Paris Massacre Ringleader Killed; At Least Nine Arrested in Raids Linked to Paris Attacks. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired November 19, 2015 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And we also know that, while it's about your heart, it's hard to reconcile that with what just happened with this family, because they are in no way evidence of the threat that we saw here if Paris. They have been vetted for years. And there's no proof of that.
And now, as a result of what you did, they got lucky in being able to go to Connecticut. But what about this other family? I just don't understand how you reconcile compassion with what just happened with these families, Gov.
Ah, Governor Mike Pence, I think his coms went out. You got to hear what he is saying, though, there from his perspective. We will try to get the governor back on. And, obviously, this is going to be a continuing issue with what happened in the Congress today.
So, I'm going to hand it over to Jake Tapper now for more of CNN's continuing coverage.
Jake, you know this issue very well, obviously.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I am Jake Tapper.
And I'm live in Paris, France. This is THE LEAD.
We begin with some breaking news, and the major headline today, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the man to have been believed the ringleader of Friday's attack that stole 129 innocent lives here in Paris, Abaaoud is dead. French officials say they have identified him through forensics after yesterday's stunning seven-hour 5,000-bullet raid on a suspected terrorist cell north of Paris.
French officials have linked Abaaoud to at least four foiled plots in Europe earlier this year. And, at this moment, investigators are trying to trace even more links, even carrying out a search of the home belonging to the mother of the female suicide bomber who blew herself up in the Saint-Denis battle yesterday morning. She is the suspected ringleader's cousin, all of this news coming as yet another suspected attacker, Salah Abdeslam, is still on the loose.
He is the suspected eighth terrorist from Friday night's attack last seen on the road to Belgium, it's believed, where much of the planning for the Paris slaughter took place, according to French authorities, and where there were half-a-dozen new raids today, rounding up nine more individuals possibly with suspected terrorist links. We're not yet sure 100 percent.
I'm joined now by CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto. He's here with me live in Paris.
Jim, the French prosecutor stressed today, he stressed that this is the beginning, not the end.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: There's no question. They're closer to rounding up the people behind the attacks in Paris on Friday. They got the ringleader today or confirmed that he's dead today. But we know there's at least one attacker, possibly more still on the loose.
There's a support network that they're still trying to track down. And they are acutely aware that there could be other plots, other cells to be activated here, also other attackers and jihadis here who might act on their own. This is just in their words, and they repeat them, the beginning.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Tonight, an urgent manhunt is under way across Europe, as police continue to search for at least one suspected attacker still at large and still dangerous, Salah Abdeslam, briefly stopped by French police hours after the attacks, but then let go before authorities knew of his role in Friday's deadly rampage.
Six new raids in Belgium overnight and hundreds more here in France in recent days have failed to catch him.
BERNARD CAZENEUVE, FRENCH INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): The republic is doing everything to destroy terrorism.
SCIUTTO: French security services have netted perhaps their most dangerous suspect, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged ringleader, confirmed killed in a furious gun battle with police on Wednesday.
CAZENEUVE (through translator): In the operation of Saint-Denis, there was a target. It was reached.
SCIUTTO: And, tonight, we're seeing chilling new video of the Saint- Denis raid just moments before police kill Abaaoud. Today, French lawmakers voted nearly unanimously to extend the country's state of emergency, giving police broad new powers to detain suspects.
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): We are at war. And for us to remain ourselves, because that is what is in question, France must not lose itself to win this war. France must respond to hatred with fraternity. France will respond to fanaticism with the hope of life itself.
SCIUTTO: The terror alert here in Europe certainly not confined to France. There's a new warning in Italy today from the U.S. Embassy there, warning people about popular targets that might be targets, popular locations that might be targets of jihadis there as well.
But, to be clear, it's not a credible or specific warning, Jake. It is more general. It's the kind of thing they share, so that people are aware without knowing for sure that this is something that there's any planning under way and that's what's very difficult now. It's difficult for authorities to warn properly and it's difficult, frankly, for members of the public to take this all in and know what they're meant to do with it.
TAPPER: In fact, some discussion among national security experts when ISIS warned in their video, after Paris comes Rome, did they mean literally Rome, or did they mean the Roman empire as in the United States? Who knows what they meant.
Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.
We have shocking new video in to CNN coming from inside the Casa Nostra restaurant here in Paris. It was one of several locations ISIS terrorists attacked last week. The video was obtained thedailymail.com. And it shows how a typical night out in Paris suddenly became a night of terror.
You see a torrent of gunfire unleashed into the restaurant, as shocked diners duck in fear, doing anything they can to survive.
TAPPER (voice-over): These horrifying images from inside Casa Nostra restaurant obtained by dailymail.com show the frightening moments when a gunman opens fire on bystanders enjoying a night out in Paris.
(on camera): The ISIS terrorists sprayed dozens of bullets throughout this area, killing five people. The closed-circuit TV cameras inside Casa Nostra capturing just how terrifying the experience was.
(voice-over): The closed-circuit cameras capture the shocking instant the terrorists began firing just after 9:30 Friday night.
Amidst the panic and shattering glass and debris are people trying to survive, finding cover any way they can, hiding under tables, taking refuge behind this bar, running to another floor, as bullets fly. Two employees of the restaurant are seen ducking down behind the bar. One slips down the stairs out of sight. The other would help pull a woman to safety, out of view of the attacker, that woman escaping the terrorists from outside, finding cover behind the bar, as this man stumbles inside, diving to the floor. He would later get to his feet and scramble up the stairs. (on camera): At one point, the footage shows, one of the ISIS
terrorists approaches right here at the outdoor seating area where at least two diners are hiding. Thankfully, however, his gun jams.
(voice-over): This is the chilling moment the terrorist spots a woman hiding outside under a table. He walks toward her and takes aim at point-blank range. But his gun jams. And he runs away. Watch it again, the gunman pointing directly at her head. Miraculously, the woman gets away alive, along with another hiding just feet away.
TAPPER: Joining me right now is Mark Colclough. He's a Danish tourist who witnessed the terror attack unfold nearby.
Thanks so much for joining me. We're so glad you're OK.
What is it like for you to see this video? You were at the restaurant just a few yards away, I believe.
MARK COLCLOUGH, WITNESS: Yes. True.
I kept saying I wasn't far away from the one we have just seen footage from, and that we saw the gunman from the outside. So we saw him shoot individual tourists as well, but in a different place. It's very shocking to see what you have just shown here on TV, because it reminds me exactly of what I saw just a week ago.
TAPPER: Well, if you would -- and I'm sorry to make you or ask you to rekindle and review these painful memories, but tell us what you remember. I believe you were at La Bonne Biere, which is another restaurant just a few yards away, or outside the restaurant.
What do you remember from that night?
COLCLOUGH: I remember, clearly, and my friend and I were just walking down the street. We were talking about our future plans for 2016.
And I heard what sounded like a firecracker go off. And directly ahead of me, not very far ahead, maybe 15 meters off to my right, I saw a gunman who was clearly standing in a firing position, holding an assault rifle up to his left shoulder. And he took aim and he killed very quickly three individuals who were sitting outside a cafe in France, just taking in the evening, as one does. He killed them very, very quickly.
And then he swivelled left and he shot two shots directly into the side of a car, where I saw the driver was hit in the upper torso and head.
TAPPER: So it was only one gunman? What else can you tell us about the terrorists?
COLCLOUGH: Well, the gunman yes, from our perspective, the gunman at the cafe, the Bonne Biere, was alone.
So he killed three individuals. Then he killed the driver of the car. And at that point, I was standing there thinking, am I watching a police raid? Am I watching some kind of gangland revenge, something, going on?
But then the gunman took three or four steps forward, and then he walked into the cafe and opened fire inside the cafe, letting off around a dozen rounds very quickly. And, at that point, I knew that this was neither a police operation nor a precision execution in gangland.
I knew this was an attack on civilians. And I encouraged my travel friend and I to run and seek cover immediately.
TAPPER: Well, we're so glad that you got out alive. How are you doing? It's such a traumatic experience to go through.
COLCLOUGH: Thank you, Jake.
Yes, the last week has been very difficult. I have sought out a crisis psychologist for both my travel friend and I. We're seeing separate ones. And I have hooked up with one who is from the military and is helping deal with the post-traumatic stress that has come from this.
I have nightmares and flashbacks. Any kind of sudden movement, any kind of loud sounds, any time I close my eyes at night, I'm still back in Paris on Friday. There's part of me that is still stuck there, really.
TAPPER: I know you will get out of it. Thank you so much for joining us. We're all thinking and praying for you, Mark Colclough. Thank you for joining us.
COLCLOUGH: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: Earlier today, we saw even more terrorism, this time in the Middle East in the West Bank, three people killed in a drive-buy shooting and ramming at a busy traffic junction, including one American, an 18-year-old yeshiva student from the Boston area.
Several other Americans were reportedly injured in the terrorist attack, according to an aid organization. The unidentified gunman reportedly opened fire at vehicles stopped in traffic before ramming his vehicle into pedestrians purposefully. He was arrested by Israeli security forces.
And in a separate incident, two people were murdered in a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv. These two attacks make today one of the deadliest days since the current Palestinian-Israeli violence began in October.
We saw French authorities track down the mastermind or the planner of the Paris attacks to a single apartment right outside the city. How did they find him? How close could they be to the eighth terrorist suspect still on the run? That story next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[16:17:26] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. We're live from Paris, France.
French and Belgian officials were reportedly stunned to learn that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the planner of this attack, was still in France. Authorities here thought that the man who gave the marching orders to the ISIS terrorists who so callously and nihilistically killed 129 people last week, they thought he gave those orders from Syria.
So, who tipped off the French that Abaaoud was still on French soil?
Here with me to talk about intelligence and terrorism, CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank, as well as retired air force intelligence officer and former deputy training director for the NSA, Colonel Cedric Leighton.
Thanks so much to both of you for being here.
Paul, let's start with you. France's interior minister said it received intelligence earlier in the week about Abaaoud's possible location. Now we know who provided the intel.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, some of it came from Morocco -- Moroccan intelligence services passing some very important information which made the French believe that he was here in Paris. There was also that intercepted phone call wiretap which indicated Abaaoud's female cousin was at this address in Saint-Denis. And that made them think he was there too, that's why they launched the raid, Jake.
TAPPER: And, Colonel, Salah Abdeslam, the alleged eighth ISIS terrorist, is still on the run. He's a -- Belgian national police there launched six more anti-terror raids, arresting nine more people, who knows who they are and what that's about. Does this indicate to you that this is much wider than just France?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, RETIRED AIR FORCE INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Oh, absolutely, Jake. I think what we're talking about is at least a conspiracy in Western Europe -- Belgium clearly, France, possibly other countries like Germany. And that's where the authorities will have to go. They'll have to look at all of these countries in order to really ascertain how big this is, how much a net they must cast in this area and actually look at this as an international conspiracy of the first order.
TAPPER: And, Paul, now that Abaaoud has been killed, he was killed yesterday morning during that raid in Saint-Denis, and it was confirmed today through fingerprints, French police are turning their attention to a man you've talked a lot about. His name is Fabien Clain. Tell us who this is.
CRUICKSHANK: European security officials tell me that Fabien Clain and Abdelhamid Abaaoud worked together in tandem in Raqqa, Syria, to launch a series of terrorist plots against France, against Europe. Fabien Clain, who's a long-standing French jihadi, actually claimed responsibility on behalf of ISIS from Syria for these attacks. And we're going to play some of that just right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:20:00] FABIEN CLAIN, SUSPECTED SENIOR FRENCH ISIS OPERATIVE (translated): Eight brothers wearing explosive belts and rockets of assault, were in meticulously chosen areas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CRUICKSHANK: So, we have the tape there where he is claiming responsibility. It was a five and a half minute tape. He was the guy who said that there were eight attackers. He said that there was meticulous choosing of the targets suggesting that he was in on the planning. They're going over that tape again and again.
And French investigators were able to do the match with Clain's voice with voice recognition analysis. Now, Clain back in 2009 before he actually traveled to Syria to join with ISIS was involved in plotting against the Bataclan concert hall here in Paris. Reportedly because he thought that concert hall had a connection with Jewish interests in some way.
So, he may have gone back to that target all the way back in 2009 he had some plotting activity against. This is a veteran jihadi, somebody that Abdelhamid Abaaoud would have looked up to, more stature in is. They're looking at him as the senior operational planner here with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, more ringleader sent to lead the local cell.
TAPPER: And, Colonel, in addition to the horrific jihadi element here, there's also just a criminal element. Some of these guys -- some of these terrorists were just thugs and common criminals.
LEIGHTON: Well, absolutely. What comes to mind, Jake, is the fact that these bands the way they operate very much like some of the drug cartels in South and Central America. So if you look at how the drug cartels operated there is some congruence with what they did and with what ISIS is doing here in Europe.
TAPPER: For instance, two of these terrorists met because they were jailed for a theft years ago.
LEIGHTON: Exactly. And so they meet in these not only in the areas they normally meet in but also in jails, in criminal areas where a lot of criminality happens. They have the same experiences. They go through each of these experiences not only together, but they also learn from each other. It's the perfect breeding ground for this kind of terrorism. Not only from a how-to-do-it perspective and but also ideological perspective.
TAPPER: All right. Colonel Cedric Leighton, Paul Cruickshank, thank you for your expertise, really appreciate it.
A wave of raids today, terror raids in Belgium happening in a neighborhood known for crime and corruption, as we were just discussing. Next, what we're learning about those who have been detained in these raids. And with new ISIS threats, could we see these raids extend into cities in the U.S.?
National security officials are weighing in right now. We'll have that coming up.
[16:27:14] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. We're live in Paris, France.
And we are right now following breaking news from Belgium to our north. At least nine people have been detained in a series of raids in neighborhoods across Brussels.
The question now, could those people be linked to Bilal Hafdi? He's one of the suicide terrorists, the bombers who blew himself up outside the soccer stadium Stade de France here in Paris last Friday.
We also know that four terrorists including the ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud have links to Brussels.
Let's now go to CNN's senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin in Brussels.
Drew, we know that some of the terrorists were relatives to one another. Was anyone detained today with specific links to the terrorists?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: The short answer, Jake, is we just don't know. Police here have up to 48 hours to either charge or let these people go. They have only promised an update on the situation some time tomorrow. But as you said, at six of the locations, they picked up seven people, specifically connected to Bilal Hafdi, one of those suicide bombers.
What's troubling about that is the Belgian authorities have known about Hafdi and have been investigating him since early in 2015 when they believed he had gone to Syria and in fact up until last Friday, Jake, they thought he still was in Syria.
TAPPER: Interesting. And of course, Drew, some are criticizing the Belgian government saying that they're merely trying to play catch-up with individuals that they knew about before rather than preemptively following information, seeking intelligence, looking for potential terrorists.
How is the Belgian government reacting to the criticism?
GRIFFIN: Well, I think there was strong reaction today. The prime minister apparently hearing those allegations that, you know, that Brussels and Belgium in particular are the weak link in this kind of counterterrorism network. In a speech this morning, Charles Michel, he said he is going to pledge much more support in fighting terrorism. Here's just a few words of what he said this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRIME MINISTER CHARLES MICHEL, BELGIUM (through translator): Hour after hour receiving the maximum amount of information with full cooperation with the French authorities, the crisis center and security cells met on several occasions, sometimes more urgently to make decisions, reinforce strength, security and controls at the French border and guards. Local police received instructions in order to increase the vigilance levels.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: Michel announced he's going to increase, strengthen the security forces. He's also going to try to do more to stop Belgians from going to ISIS and joining the fight.