Return to Transcripts main page


Obama to Deliver Statement on Security; Warrant Out for Additional Accomplice in Paris Attacks; Surviving Russian Pilot Says No Warning Before Turkey Shoot-down; Chicago Braces for Protest After Release of Officer Shooting Video. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 25, 2015 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: On alert, France now investigating airport workers, bus drivers, train operators in Paris for any links to extremists. This as new suspects in the terror attacks -- a new suspect on the run right thousand. You see him right there. Breaking today, one of the Russian pilots shot down by Turkey is alive. Inside the stunning rescue operation and the vow of revenge from Vladimir Putin.

Also 16 shots in just seconds. Outrage erupts in Chicago over the video just released showing a police officer shooting an African- American teenager to death. How this video will impact the prosecution of the officer now charged with first-degree murder.

Hello, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in today for John and Kate. Thank you for being with me.

Breaking news. Just minutes from now, President Obama delivering a statement to the nation after meeting with his national security team. We are told it involves security preparations for the holidays in the wake of the Paris attacks. Again, just learning in the last few moments the president will make a statement in just about 40 minutes' time. After he is briefed by his national security team, we will bring it to you live, of course.

As Americans head to the airports for the holiday, France right now investigating workers. They are searching for extremists who may have infiltrated the public transit system across Paris. More on that in just a moment.

But first, we are getting breaking details about a possible accomplice in the terror attacks in Paris, a possible additional accomplice. This person, apparently, the driver who dropped off some of those alleged attackers. Belgian authorities have issued a new international arrest warrant for -- take a look at him, this man -- Mohamed Abrini, spotted at a gas station with Salah Abdeslam. Abrini was dropping the same car that dropped off one of the suicide bombers right outside the Stade de France. A source says he spent time in Syria just last year. He then apparently slipped back into Europe completely under the radar and unnoticed. Investigators are calling that revelation, quote, "a major concern."

Brooke Baldwin with me live from Paris.

A lot developing in just the last few hours, Brooke. Also, you've got the intelligence services there in France investigating radicalization among employees at airports, public transport stations. What led them to this?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First, if I may, Poppy, let me just back up and underscore the point you just made. Abrini, a new face, yet another suspect. Authorities are releasing his name and photo in the last 24 hours. He's Moroccan/Belgian. So the fact that we are now hearing from a source that he was in Syria as recently as 2014 and somehow slipped back here into Europe unnoticed is a massive concern obviously to Western intel and to counterterrorism efforts. That is number one. Number two, you point out transportation here in Paris.

So as we have now learned, this is from an investigator close to all of this telling us that they have actually been, for years here in France, monitoring Islamic radicalization among airport workers. For example, you think of the major airports here in Paris. They've been talking to services and to unions who, by the way, have been complaining for years that there has been this radicalization going on among employees. In fact, specifically, one of the attackers here at the Bataclan concert hall just about a half mile from where I'm standing apparently was a bus driver, part of this public transit system here in Paris. He had been a bus driver until 2012.

So that is a concern here in Paris that you could have obviously folks within, you know, people working on the tarmac at these major airports, people who have access to these airplanes. So far from what they're telling us here at CNN, nothing has popped up as concerning. But these are all the different measures they're going through as far as mass transportation and air transportation is concerned here -- Poppy?

HARLOW: Absolutely. And then we're just learning also that the ringleader, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, apparently returned to the attack site in the hours after and also was thought to have been plotting a second attack in really the business district of Paris. Why do they think he returned to the attack sites?

BALDWIN: I mean, that is the million-dollar question, why would this ringleader have the audacity to return to this Bataclan concert hall? We know precisely -- this is according to cell phone pings and cell service -- that he returned to these areas between 10:28 p.m. the night of the attacks and 12:28 in the morning, visiting the cafes after the shots have rung out and also specifically the concert hall.

Talking to Paul Cruickshank, one of our counterterrorism experts here at CNN, one possible thought would be when you think of ISIS and you think of the propaganda videos and the recruitment really globally for these people, one possibility, because there was a video that surfaced over the weekend, of investigators responding in the minutes and hours after the bloodshed at the Bataclan that perhaps that was video that came from the ringleader himself who was brazen enough to return to the concert hall. We can't confirm that. That is one possibility for the video, to bring more people into the terror fold.

[11:05:42] HARLOW: Unbelievable.

Brooke Baldwin live from Paris, thank you very much.

Stay tuned. Brooke will have her whole show live from Paris a little later today.

Also this, a Russian fighter pilot who survived his plane being shot out of the sky says Turkey did not send visual or radio warnings beforehand. That's really critical because, remember, the president of Turkey came out and said we warned this plane 10 times. This pilot is saying there was no warning when we were shot. Also, saying that he could not possibly have flown over Turkish airspace, insisting they were over Syria when they were shot down. This is according to Russian media. It contradicts exactly what Turkey has said about the incident. Now a top Russian official says he has proof that Turkey planned to shoot down this plane. We're talking about Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

CNN's Matthew Chance live for us in Moscow.

Look, a lot of back-and-forth. Russia says exactly the opposite of what Turkey says. And now we've learned that Syria, in the middle of all of this, it was Syrians who helped rescue the Russian pilot who survived. Do we know if he was ever in enemy hands?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't, unfortunately, Poppy, no. But we do know that this was a big operation involving Special Forces from Russia and from Syria. We know that it lasted 12 hours, according to the Russian defense ministry, and it was taking place obviously in very hostile territory. We've also seen video that the rebels themselves, videotaped of the two Russian helicopters scouring the countryside trying to search for those downed Russian airmen. One of them coming under fire. One of those helicopters forced to land, one of the Russian Marines was killed on board in that.

So they lost two people, it seems, involving the plane shoot-down. One, the pilot, one on the ground trying to rescue him. The co-pilot or the navigator has now been found. He's been brought back into Russian hands. He's at the air base, the Russian air base there. He's been appearing on Russian state television as well, although his face has been shielded. He's had his back to the camera for some reason. But he's been saying, look, you know, there was absolutely no way that we entered Syrian -- sorry, Turkish airspace. There was no communication from the Turks. There was no visual contact. There was no radio contact. So the co-pilot, the navigator of that Russian plane that was shot out of the sky, totally rejecting the Turkish version of events that it flew over Turkey and that they tried to communicate with them 10 times. So we really are seeing a difference of account between the two countries, between the pilots and between the Turkish authorities.

HARLOW: We absolutely are.

Matthew Chance, live for us in Moscow, thank you very much for that.

I want to talk more about with this Fiona Younis. She was an FBI agent on the Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York. She's now a consultant on consular and security issues in Southeast Asia and also in the Middle East.

Thank you very much for being here.


HARLOW: Look, we have two things. We have Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who says this looks planned. We believe that Turkey planned this. You also have Russian President Vladimir Putin coming out and saying with a much bigger scope that he believes that Turkey has, for years now, been supporting what he calls a radical form of Islam. So this is critical in the fight against is, that you have Russia, Turkey, U.S., France aligned. Now what?

YOUNIS: Yeah, so it's a big problem over there in region, as you know, so many different countries are involved in taking sides. You have Bashar Assad. You have ISIS that's grown within this whole community of areas. So it's a big problem. If all of these countries that are involved in what's going in the Syria/Iraq region are going to get together, they'll have to sit and talk about the rules of engagement.

HARLOW: Hearing Putin say Turkey is supporting radical Islam and has been doing it for years, can Turkey and Russia even get to the table?

YOUNIS: It might be very difficult because I do believe that it seems to me that Turkey is looking to have somebody else there besides -- not Bashar Assad, and Russia clearly is on the side of Assad.


YOUNIS: So you have people that are looking to put up different people to be in charge of that region, and that's the whole crux of the problem between the Sunni and Shia issues, between other countries that are trying to get involved and who's going to eventually lead this neighborhood in the Middle East.

HARLOW: I think it's really interesting, there's a column on right now written by a columnist, who says -- the headline is that this is undoubtedly going to be World War III. You've got NATO tensions. You've got Russia incredibly angry. You've got an entire war against terrorists, ISIS, an ideology. Is that too alarmist?

[11:10:20] YOUNIS: I think it's a little bit too alarmist. I mean, over the years when you look at all of the times that people have said world war iii is going to begin, I believe if all of these countries, whether it's NATO-supported countries or other countries in the Middle East, get together and figure out what do they want to do about ISIS? ISIS is clearly expanding. When you look at the attacks in Paris, you look at what they did with the Russian airline, you look at what they did in Lebanon, and you look at what President Obama's going to speak in the next 45 minutes on what we are going to do in this country --

HARLOW: Right.

YOUNIS: -- with the security threat.

HARLOW: Do you think that Turkey could have done more sooner? And I ask that because of the critical proximity to Syria, the border shared with Syria, how many were flowing from Turkey into Syria were radicalized, et cetera, to fight with ISIS, so many times United States and the West called on Turkey to do more. Could they have?

YOUNIS: I was in Turkey not too long ago, and I think the government is doing a lot. They've taken in so many refugees.


YOUNIS: Poppy, I think the problem becomes is when you have these different leaders and different groups changing so rapidly, when you look at is, how fast it grew from which other groups it came from, so much changes fast. And it's hard. If we do too much, then the groups get stronger. If we do too less, then we're criticized for not doing enough. So it's a very difficult problem when you have so much civil war and fighting going on between various groups and everybody wants to be in charge.

HARLOW: Finger-pointing between allies or potential allies doesn't help, right?

YOUNIS: No. And Turkey is our ally.

HARLOW: Thank you very much. So nice to have you on the program.

YOUNIS: Thank you.

HARLOW: I appreciate it very much.

Still ahead, more of that breaking news. We are going to hear from President Obama in just about half an hour's time, getting ready to make a statement live from the White House on national security. Just ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. This as many, many of you, millions of you, hit the road, the airport for the holiday. We will bring you what the president says live.

Also, Donald Trump says he can predict terrorism before it happens. Some of his fellow conservatives are calling the front-runner the "f" word, a fascist. We will discuss that ahead.

Also, why did it take a year to charge a police officer for shooting an African-American teenager 16 times in a matter of seconds? You will hear from the officer's lawyer, now speaking out for the first time about his version of the shootings. What he believes happened and why.

This is CNN's special live coverage. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [11:16:46] HARLOW: Welcome back to AT THIS HOUR. You're seeing live pictures of the White House where President Obama right now is meeting with his national security team, being briefed in the wake of the Paris attacks. Of course, critical right ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. This time of year, this week, the busiest travel week of the year. Millions of you on the road and in airports. The president will come out in just moments to the Roosevelt Room. He will make specific remarks regarding homeland security. We will bring that to you live as soon as it happens. That could happen at any moment.

Also, Chicago bracing for potentially more protests following the release of a very graphic and disturbing video that shows a police officer gunning down an African-American teenager in the street. The shooting happened in October of last year. Overnight, protesters were chanting "16 shots," that is a reference to the number of bullets fired at Laquan McDonald, the 17-year-old.

We will show you this video for yourself.

I do want to warn you, though, it is disturbing.

The police dash cam video shows that teenager jogging past the officers, then walking down the middle of the street. There is no sound, I should note, on this dash cam video. Authorities say that McDonald ignores orders multiple times to drop a three-inch knife that he is holding. He spins and falls to the ground when he is suddenly hit by bullets. He appears to be shot several more times after he is on the ground. The shooting lasted, we're told, about 15 seconds. Again, 16 shots fired. Obviously, he's laying there on the ground dying. The video does not show any of the officers helping the victim. That's important to note.

This fatal shooting happened last October. But officials are just releasing the video after a judge ordered it be released after a Freedom of Information request from a journalist. There are also now just now -- they are now arresting the officer. You see him there, Jason Van Dyke. He is charged with first-degree murder.

Our Stephanie Elam is live in Chicago.

Stephanie, this video came out because it was requested from a journalist through that freedom of information process. A judge said it had to be released. Now it's out. Hundreds hit the streets protesting. The question a lot of people are asking right now is why did it take a year? More than a year to charge this officer?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, more than a year for the world to see the video, Poppy, and for this officer to be charged. What the officials are saying is that this was an open investigation into what happened, what transpired between the police officers and this 17-year-old. So they said that was a major reason for it. Now, when this request came in, the judge took a look at it and said hey, this video's got to be released by Wednesday. It came out yesterday. There was also interesting points about the narrative, about what people had said happened. Police versus other people saying we want to see the video. We want to know for sure what happened. But there are some things that, you though, would call into question

that perhaps police knew this was going to be a difficult one, or the city knew because the city settled in April with the family of Laquan McDonald for $5 million based on what they knew transpired with this young man lost his life. So there's that. There's also the first- degree murder charge that came right before we all got to see that video -- Poppy?

[11:20:03] HARLOW: And that settlement came, Stephanie, before the family had even filed a lawsuit. So a lot of questions remain.

Thank you very much, Stephanie Elam, live for us in Chicago today.

Let's talk about this more with Cornell William Brooks. He is the president and CEO of the NAACP.

Thank you very much for being here.

And let's begin with this. We know some of the numbers here now. We know that this officer fired for 13 seconds after the victim was on the ground, 15 seconds total. We know that he only waited six seconds to fire shots after getting out of his car. The Cook County state's attorney says, look, this case is complicated, that's why it took 400 days for us to reach this conclusion to charge him with first-degree murder. What do you say to her?

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, PRESIDENT & CEO, NAACP: What I would say is quite simply this. You need to take enough time to seek justice, but too much time suggests that you're avoiding justice. The challenge here is the prosecution of this case takes place against a backdrop of misconduct in the Chicago Police Department. You have $500 million in legal settlements over the course of 10 years. 10,000 complaints filed against the police department. Only 19 of which resulted in any significant disciplinary action. We have a police department with a long, storied, troubled history of community relations in which the community feels preyed upon. So this prosecution takes place against that backdrop. The charges were filed after the videotape was ordered to be released. And so this feels like, for many people in community, as though it is a public relations problem to be managed as opposed to a criminal justice crisis to be responded to.

HARLOW: Cornell, to be fair, you know, the state's attorney says, look, one does not have to do with the other, the release of the videotape, the charges. She said this is complex.

But I do want to play for our viewers what the attorney for Officer Van Dyke said because this is the first time he spoke out, exclusively speaking to CNN. He said this shouldn't be tried in the court of public opinion or on the streets. He said this needs to be tried in court, and he says this is not a murder case. Let's listen to what he said.


DANIEL Q. HERBERT, ATTORNEY FOR OFFICE JASON VAN DYKE: And at the time in which he had fired his weapon, he had already been made aware of the fact that this individual had been walking through the neighborhood and waving a knife. It caused a disturbance at a couple of businesses, had stabbed the windshield of a squad car where police officers were involved, had popped the tire of a squad -- excuse me -- popped the tire of a squad car where police officers were sitting in that squad car. People had called for a taser. No taser was available. So at the point in which my client got there, this had been going on for, I believe, 18 minutes.


HARLOW: What we also know is that no other officer on the scene there did fire.

What's your reaction to the attorney's statement?

BROOKS: The attorney is doing what defense attorneys do. But we have to take note of the fact that no other officer on the scene discharged their weapon. And that Mr. Van Dyke discharged the majority of the bullets, I should say discharged his weapon, the majority of the time with Mr. McDonald lying on the ground. The fact of the matter is firing bullets into a person in a semi-fetal position with a pocketknife, with a pocketknife, is not an exercise in good judgment. It's not an exercise in good policing, and this is an example of police misconduct and police brutality.

And the people, the citizens of Chicago, have a right to be outraged. Indeed, the country has a right to be outraged. This is an execution on video. And we cannot -- we cannot nuance this. We cannot engage in word games. This was a human being. This was someone's son, a child of parents, a member of the community, a 17-year-old, executed on the street on video. And I would like to remind the country that this is not the first time. We saw Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old, executed on tape. Walter Scott, a 40-year-old, executed on tape.

And now we have Mr. Laquan McDonald executed on tape. Enough is enough. Word games will not describe the brutality that we've seen in this video. And people all across the country are outraged and properly so.

HARLOW: Cornell Brooks, thank you very much. We will continue the conversation. And we'll see as the justice process does play out. This officer now charged with first-degree murder. Thank you very much.

BROOKS: Thank you, Poppy.

[11:25:03] HARLOW: Coming up, just moments from now, President Obama will step up to this podium. He will deliver a statement to the nation on one of the busiest travel days of the year. We are told that it involves security preparations for the holidays in the wake of the Paris attacks. Right now, he is being briefed by his national security team.

Stay with us. Live coverage from Washington, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [11:29:50] HARLOW: Some news just into us about that Russian fighter jet that was shot down in Turkey yesterday. I can tell you that the surviving pilot just spoke on Russian television and said that he received absolutely no warning from the Turkish government before his plane was shot down there by Turkmen rebels. No warning at all.