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New State Department Terror Alert; Manhunt and New Information About Bombings in Brussels; Brussels Terror Attacks; Manhunt Underway After Deadly Terror Attacks; Pres. Obama: "The World Must Unite" Against Terror; At Least 30 Dead In Attacks, ISIS Claims Responsibility. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 22, 2016 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST, OUTFRONT: The victims and their families are all in our thoughts and those missing as everyone hunts to find them. Thank you, all, so much for joining us. Our coverage of the Brussels attacks in Brussels continues right now with "AC 360."

[20:00:16] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin tonight with a new state department terror alert as well as the manhunt and new information about the bombings at two locations in Brussels. One at a crowded subway station in the center of the Belgium capital taking at least 20 lives wounding many, many more. The other at Brussels' main airport, short of the security checkpoint killing at least ten, also leaving many others badly injured.

The breaking news has to do with these three. Two suspected bombers, the black gloves possibly concealing detonators and a third man on the right who is believed to be at large suspected of guiding them to the target and making sure they carried out their horrible attack.

We are also gotten late word from Belgium's interior minister that he left a bomb behind that failed to go off. ISIS is claiming responsibility. Authorities believe it's the work of the same cell that carried out the slaughter in Paris. It follows the arrest on Friday of one Paris suspect who eluded authorities for months. It sparked a series of raids and a search that so far has uncovered another bomb and the makings of more, say authorities. It's once again shaken intelligence and security services around the world and has become a central focus of the American presidential campaign.

We got correspondents around Belgium and the world getting the latest information as well as some of the best security experts we know. We want to start with justice correspondent Pamela Brown who has new information on the state department alert as well as the three in the security camera image -- Pamela?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the state department just sent out this alert to U.S. citizens warning them of the potential risks of travel to and throughout Europe in the wake of the attacks in Brussels this morning. This alert says that terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting even events, tourist sites, restaurants and transportation which of course are soft targets. This ravel alert, it sets expires on June 20th, 2016. And it also says travelers in Europe, U.S. citizens should avoid crowded places. Well, it's going to be tough to do that if we are going through an airport or metros we saw there today.

And it is no surprising in all those alerts, warning of potential other attacks because we know at least one of the attackers, Anderson, escaped today officials believe and the working theory is these three men we have been seeing in that picture were part of a larger network. Investigators have been able to use that surveillance video, this is a screen grab from that, to track the movements of the three men and three of them are seen exiting a taxi and moving through the airport. The third man we see right here dressed in white left the airport after accompanying the two. That appeared to be planned. Question is, Anderson, where did he go after that? Was it to the metro stop where the other explosions went off an hour later or somewhere else? So a lot of unanswered questions at this hour.

COOPER: What information is there that possibly connects that man with the hat or the other attackers to the Paris attackers?

BROWN: Well, at this point it's a working theory that they are connected to Salah Abdeslam who we know was arrested last Friday. He was considered one of the ringleaders in the Paris attacks. They do believe that there is a connection there. One big reason is because the house where these men were, where the raid happened earlier today, is in that same neighborhood where Abdeslam was and where the Paris attacks were hatched essentially and just the timing of this as well, Anderson, a few days after Abdeslam was arrested. The belief is that they accelerated their plan, that this was already in the works for weeks, possibly months and then after his arrest, they decided to go ahead and launch the attacks - Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Pam Brown, thanks very much.

More now on how the two key pieces of this story connect mainly the manhunt and the discoveries in an apartment in a section of Brussels as well as a tip.

CNN's Fredrik Pleitgen is there joining us now.

What are you seeing? What are we learning? Last we talked several hours ago, there was an operation under way.

FREDRIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that operation has been toned down considerably at this point in time. It seems as though to us right now, Anderson, that they're doing forensic work. We have actually now been able to get much closer to the apartment that was raided earlier today by the police. I'm going to step out of your shot for a second and you'll be able to see the police are right in front of this building here. There's forensic work going on. If we tilt up, you can see the apartment the forensic workers are in right now. That they have been bringing a lot of brown bags that seem to be full of some sort of evidence out of that apartment since we have been standing here. They, of course, have told us found in that apartment a nail bomb. They also found some chemicals. They also found an ISIS flag apparently in there as well. Earlier today, there was a helicopter who was hovering right over this

area with what appeared to us to be some sort of sniper taking aim at that building. And then, of course, later we heard that apparently the taxi driver that took these three men to the airport later said they picked them up right here from this building and apparently also there was one suitcase that didn't fit into the taxi that they left behind. And, of course, later the police came here and said they found a nail bomb. Perhaps it was inside that suitcase. So certainly the police very quickly managed to get to this apartment right here. Most probably because of that tip off from the taxi driver who said took the three men to that airport - Anderson.

[20:05:23] COOPER: Fred, if you could your cameraperson just push back into that apartment where as you say the forensic work is still ongoing, do you know whose apartment that is and how is it that police ended up at that apartment so quickly?

PLEITGEN: Very, very good question. We're going to pan up to that apartment, again, and then you can see that the forensic work is still going on there. We actually saw them, the flashes of what appeared to be photo cameras going off there just a couple seconds ago. Apparently the reason why they found it so quickly is that the taxi driver who picked up the three men to take them to the airport, the three men that apparently are in that shot that we're seeing from that cc-TV camera, he then said, listen, I identify these people, he called the authorities and told them that this is exactly the place where he picked them up.

And also, that they apparently when he got to the airport they apparently told him that they did not want him to touch their luggage and also that they apparently didn't get all the stuff that they wanted to get into the car actually in there. Now, you talk about this building, we've actually been speaking to some residents here around the area just now. And they are telling us that they believe that this building seemed kind of fishy in the past. However, they also said there recently apparently had been renovation work going on at this building as well. And so, therefore, they weren't sure whether or not there was something bad going on, but they certainly had a bad vibe about that building even in the weeks running up to what happened tonight. Whether or not anybody knew what was going on is anybody's guess, but they certainly said they did have a bad feeling about this building.

And if you look at it right now, it does appear as though most parts of that building are actually vacant and it's only that top floor where there's any sort of light on or any sort of sign that anybody might be inhabiting that building, Anderson.

COOPER: Fred, how far away is the neighborhood you're in right now from the Molenbeek area which is where Salah Abdeslam was from as well as other Paris attackers and where Abdeslam was ultimately apprehended just a new days ago?

PLEITGEN: Yes, it's not very far but Brussels is not a very big city. I would say that it is maybe, I would say maybe five miles away from where we are right now. We're in the northeast of Brussels. The Molenbeek is sort of more toward the west. But it isn't very far. One of the other things we also have to keep in mind about this particular neighborhood right here is that after the Paris attacks in November, it was found that one of the labs that apparently was used to make the explosives that were used in the Paris attacks was also in this district right here. Not exactly sure where in this district, but it was in the same district, in the district of Schaerbeek. And so, it's not very far away from Molenbeek. It is one that has seen raids after the Paris attacks.

And of course the run-up what we have seen today and the run-up of Salah Abdeslam being captured as well. So certainly, this is an area where the police has been operating in the past couple of months. When they conducted over 100 raids to try to apprehend Salah Abdeslam and those who are connected with him. And police also saying that they did found a considerable or did find a considerable amount of weapons, ammunition, and explosives in those many raids that they carried out since the Paris attacks. Some of them right here in this district, Anderson.

COOPER: The question, of course, that law enforcement is no doubt investigating very vigorously right now is, is it the same explosives used in the Paris attacks that were used in the attacks today in Brussels? And Fred, correct me if I'm wrong, but memory serves, I believe I remember that they still have not been able to identify who the bomb maker was from the Paris attacks or where his present location is. Is that correct?

PLEITGEN: No, you're absolutely right. They don't know whether or not they may have killed the actual bomb maker in one of the many raids. Let's keep in mind in run-up to Salah Abdeslam getting captured, there was a raid that took place the Tuesday before that where apparently a senior member of the cell that at least supported those who are conducting the Paris attacks were killed. So it's not clear whether or not that bomb maker was apprehended. It's not clear where that bomb maker is.

You're absolutely right. What they're going to try to do right now, the nail bomb that they found here, they're going to try to see whether the explosives that were used in that in any way, shape or form match those that were used in the Paris attacks and whether or not perhaps it could be part of the same cell or at least one that might be working together with the same ones who conducted the Paris attacks, Anderson.

COOPER: Right, Fred, thanks very much.

Two people got away from the raid the other day, one of them Salah Abdeslam, and then he was later apprehended. The identity of the other person who got away not known. So it is very likely authorities are looking for more than one person right now. Any kind of support network for this current cell and of course waiting to see if there's any connection to the Paris attacks.

We mentioned the airport killers struck a soft target, where passengers yet to go through security and where they gather in large numbers, obviously the departure area. CNN's Atika Shubert is there. If you can, take us through, walk us

through what happened this morning at the airport now that we kind of know a lot more.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know the attack happened at around 8:00 a.m. People were gathering at the check-in desk, getting ready toward departing on the flights. Family members coming to say goodbye to family members who were getting on planes.

What we know now from investigators is that the three suspects arrived apparently by taxi, moved into the terminal. And in that surveillance video photo, you can actually see them pushing luggage trolleys with suitcases on them. Now, what we understand is that one of those -- at least one of those suitcases was left behind at the airport and later detonated by a bomb squad here. They believe it did have a bomb in it. So that may actually give us a clue to how these explosives were put together.

The other thing to notice in that photo is that each of them -- each of the men in black is wearing one glove. There's some talk among analysts this could have been way to hide their detonation devices that they used to actually blow up those explosives. From eyewitnesses, we know that at around 8:00 a.m., the first explosion went off near the check-in gate then just a few meters away, a few seconds later the second explosion then went off.

In the panic, people were simply trying to get out. They had no idea whether or not these were suicide bombers or not. That was later revealed by prosecutors. And then an hour later, the metro bomb struck. And what investigators are looking at now is whether or not the third man from the airport then traveled to the metro to carry out that attack.

COOPER: Atika Shubert, again, still a lot to learn on how large this network was, is there more than just that man in hat that authorities believe was involved and searching for right now?

Again, sadly that was the only so-called soft target we saw struck today. Joining us from the Maalbeek metro stop in central Brussels, freelance reporter Chris Burns.

So Chris, talk to me about the explosion in the metro station because it took place as Atika was mentioning about an hour after the airport explosions. What do we know now about what happened?

CHRIS BURNS, FREELANCE REPORTER: Well, Anderson, they are still trying to find out a little bit more of the clues as to who set these bombs and how they were put there. A forensics team has just gone down the street with another vehicle just moments ago. It is going through the night. They are picking through what is left of those blasts, that blast at the Maalbeek metro station which is just a few blocks south of me. It happened just after 9:00 a.m. This was when the full rush hour was happening, when hundreds of people are pouring out of these metro trains to go into these European Union buildings, the parliament especially is the closest one to the Maalbeek station. It is a station, in fact, the train where the bomb went off, the very rear of the train, is the part of the train where I usually ride on my way to the parliament several times a week and it just so happened that I didn't take it today and that's why I'm talking to you tonight - Anderson.

COOPER: Scary thing. Chris Burns, thank you for that reporting.

We should also point out Maalbeek is different from Molenbeek which is the neighborhood many of the Paris attackers grew up and actually tried returned to and ultimately did.

A lot more ahead in the next two hours of live reporting on AC 360 including what an American witness saw and heard as his train pulled into the Maalbeek station.

Also next, our intelligence and security panel weigh in on what their counterparts on the job are learning about the terrorists, the fugitive, the terror cell and how to stop the next attack.


[20:17:36] COOPER: Tonight's breaking news, an urgent manhunt now under way as we look at the apartment there in the neighborhood where Fred Pleitgen was just reporting from. Forensic teams, teams apparently at work. And as I said, this urgent manhunt under way at this hour in Brussels and beyond for one person and very likely more. We know the one person in the photograph at the airport, the man there you see in the white jacket there, the two men on the left believed to have died detonating devices at the airport this morning. But that man is believed to have survived, have left the airport. His identity, his whereabouts at this point unknown at least to us. His identity, and certainly his whereabouts are unknown to authorities. But it's very likely, say experts, there's a larger network involved here.

Just as they did in Paris, U.S. intelligence officials are cooperating with the Brussels investigation. They're also ramping up their vigilance in the United States.

Joining me now is CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank here, also CNN national security analyst, Juliet Kayyem who formerly served as U.S. assistant secretary for homeland security. And CNN national security commentator and former chair of the house intelligence committee, Mike Rogers.

Paul Cruickshank, you're from Brussels. You know, the city very well. What are you hearing the latest on these investigations?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, they're working around the clock. They worry there are more attacks in the works from this wider terrorist cell, this broader network which was the network they believe also carried out the Paris attacks.

COOPER: So that is the operating hypothesis that they are connected?

CRUICKSHANK: That is the operating hypothesis that they are connected because remember, a week ago they went into this hiding place, the Salah Abdeslam. There were three terrorists there. When they went into to that residence eventually they found an ISIS flag, they found detonators, they found a Kalashnikov, they found ammunition and they found very similar stuff, by the way. in the apartment in Schaerbeek a few hours ago and ISIS flag and explosive device very, very similar materials suggesting this was perhaps a joined up plot, they managed to get one note of it, Salah Abdeslam, those three terrorists at the safe house. But they weren't able to get the rest of the note, unfortunately, and then we obviously saw what we saw play out.

COOPER: And then in terms of the explosive devices, do we know at the airport, even at the train station, do we know -- the subway, where they suicide vests, were they suitcases? I've heard conflicting reports all day long. And again, they may not have released that information.

[20:20:05] CRUICKSHANK: Well, we have a better picture of that now. And the picture that has emerged is that these three terrorists were staying in a residence in Schaerbeek.

COOPER: Right. That's the residence we believe --

CRUICKSHANK: Which was then eventually raided. They were picked up by a taxi driver.

COOPER: Right.

CRUICKSHANK: And according to a (INAUDIBLE) Belgium media outlet, they had so much luggage, and the bombs by the way were inside the luggage, they couldn't fit it on the taxi. And so, they had to leave some of the bombs behind.

COOPER: That's the apartment where the forensics teams are now.

CRUICKSHANK: Yes. Those are the bombs that were eventually recovered. The ones they have to leave behind. But they had three big suitcases. And then the cc-TV footage of the airport recording just in the last minute, (INAUDIBLE) Belgian state media reporting, according to the cc-TV image that the authorities have looked through now, they load those onto three trolleys, wheel the trolleys into the terminal then they split up, all three men two of them somehow detonated the explosives inside the suitcases on the trolleys.

COOPER: And many of the injuries were to lower extremities.

CRUICKSHANK: Because they're very low.

COOPER: Which gives credence to the suitcase.

CRUICKSHANK: The other device, the third guy that you see in the lighter clothing, his device didn't work. It was subsequently found by authorities, found to be a bomb and they did a controlled detonation. Because his device didn't work, because he wasn't able to detonate it, he's now on the run. So a clearer picture now emerging of the moments of that --

COOPER: So he may not have been a central controller who was there to oversee and escape, he may have been an intended suicide --

CRUICKSHANK: That is the assumption at this point that he was one of three suicide bombers.

COOPER: Interesting.

CRUICKSHANK: And when you think of suicide bombers, this is a bit of a digit type of suicide bombing. I mean, these were trolley bombers. I mean, the suitcases on the trollies, a way they could try and detonate it, did they have some wire connected? People have looked at their hands. Were they wearing --?

COOPER: Two of them were wearing, seemed to be black gloves on the left hand.

CRUICKSHANK: And was that some was about to disguise wiring? You know, they're going to have to look at all that as they examine the forensics of the scene. But this is a new sort of type of bomber, ingenious kind of plan using effectively a trolley bomb to create a suicide attack.

COOPER: Juliette, you have no doubt that even if there's this one person who is now on the run, exactly what his role, whether he was more in control or whether he was meant to be a suicide bomber. You have no doubt there was a larger network here that is still out there?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Absolutely. If you put the pieces together starting in December with the Paris attacks to now to the arrests last week and then to the detonations this morning. There so no way you can have an apparatus, plan, execute, succeed, hide for four months and then deploy again without an apparatus supporting them. Just think about how are they, where are they living, how are they getting fed, who is giving them money? And so, while we're going to focus on this one guy, the investigation is actually, you know, all throughout Europe if not the United States.

COOPER: Because from the raid that ultimately led to the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, two people escaped, one of them was Salah Abdeslam. He was later apprehended. We don't know the identity of the other person, correct?

CRUICKSHANK: Actually, the other person that escaped from the safe house on the Tuesday was also arrested on this Friday. Has been formerly identified that he has all sorts of fake names. They're trying to figure out who exactly he is. He was arrested. He's in custody. It's another node they think of this wider network that was responsible for today.

KAYYEM: And just picking up on that, so when Abdeslam gets captured on Friday, no surprise that the Belgian police and law enforcement folks were saying well, he is cooperating. In fact, they used the word collaborating to suggest that he was just spilling his beans. That he was more than willing to give up a network he may know little about. That's why many of us think, there's no doubt in our minds that the Friday arrests are linked to at least picking up the pace for the attacks this morning. COOPER: That idea, chairman Rogers, would be if this guy Salah

Abdeslam is talking and does know any details, they want to try to execute this operation, explode their devices before they're tracked down and caught?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. An event like this would have months of planning. This isn't something they threw together in week or a few days. The only last part of it is they obviously didn't do a dry run on getting the luggage in a vehicle to the airport. You would think they would have done that if they weren't in a bit of a hurry. So that tells me that it had been planned. It had been processed. Meaning they put finances together to get the weapons -- or the explosive devices. They built the devices. They assembled what they needed for the explosion. They went through the process of further radicalization of the people who were actually going to be the suicide bombers. Identified them, identified their targets. That's a lot. That's a lot of work --

COOPER: Are Belgian authorities up to this challenge? There was a very critical article I think it was "the Daily Beast" published a short time ago in which U.S. intelligence officials were quoted or U.S. officials were quoted with very tough words for the capabilities of Belgian law enforcement.

[20:25:00] ROGERS: The resources haven't been great. And so, their signal intelligence capability is not very good. They have been very reliant on other European services and U.S. and British services to help them along the way. They haven't really caught up from that yet. As a matter of fact, there's been some changes in what they used to be able to get and how they used to get that information over time, probably for the worst of this, and they haven't quite recovered from that. And I think that's another factor of why they've had a difficulty getting --

COOPER: Paul, this morning I read a great article you have on right now which basically is kind of a tick tock timeline of what is now known about the Paris attacks and there was a lot of information there that I frankly had not remembered or had not even known. I remember thinking, we all kind of in the early days that that guy Abaaoud was the mastermind, controller of all this. But in the article you wrote, go to to look at it, there were calls made by Abaaoud and others text, whether text messages, encrypted messages or even cell phone calls made during the attacks and before the attacks in Paris that night to phone numbers in Brussels, correct?

CRUICKSHANK: Absolutely correct. They believe that this plot was coordinated in real-time from Brussels by two terrorists, two ISIS terrorists, senior members of the conspiracy, providing orders to Abaaoud and other attack teams in Paris to help coordinate it. One of those terrorists (INAUDIBLE) was killed --

COOPER: He's the guy killed.

CRUICKSHANK: -- in the shootout on Tuesday in Abdeslam's safe house. He was providing covering fire so Abdeslam could escape through the roof. The other guy is still at large. His name is (INAUDIBLE). He went to Syria in 2013. Suspected to have joined ISIS. He came back to Belgium and his DNA was found in the bomb factory --

COOPER: It is known he's still at large?

CRUICKSHANK: He's still at large and he may be the bomb maker here because his DNA was found at the bomb factory which, by the way, was for the Paris attacks also in this district of Schaerbeek where they found this other device today.

COOPER: A lot more to talk about. We're going to be talking to our panel through the next hour and a half.

Just ahead, I'm going to talk to a young American who was on the subway train pulling into that metro station when the explosion went off. Hear what he did to get out alive.


[20:31:20] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight's breaking news, a manhunt under way across Brussels and beyond in the wake of today's deadly terror attacks. At least 30 people were killed, more than 200 wounded, some gravely. ISIS has claimed responsibility. The explosions came about an hour apart. First, at the city's airport where there were two explosions, then at the metro station.

Brian Carroll is an American. He was in a subway car that was pulling into that very -- metro station when the explosion occurred. He was on his way to a conference. He joins me tonight.

Brian, you were in Brussels for a conference, traveling on the subway as it pulled into the station. Take us through what happened.

BRIAN CARROLL, METRO TERROR ATTACK SURVIVOR: Yeah. You know, I don't normally take the metro, actually, but I had to be in a conference in downtown Brussels this morning. And as I, you know, as I was leaving my house this morning, I was looking at my phone and I saw I had some push notifications about an attack at the airport.

And as I was walking to the metro, I actually had a moment of hesitation thinking, maybe this is not the best day to take public transportation. But, you know, based on where I was going, it was by far the most practical way to get there and I thought, you know, what are the chances that anything will happen and, you know.

And literally, I got on at Schuman which is the main station right at Berlaymont building in the heart of European Quarter. I got on and just going to the center, I didn't even go one stop and within minutes, there was a massive explosion. We felt it. We heard it. The train immediately stopped. The light ...

COOPER: Was the explosion on the train that you were on?

CARROLL: Now, I believe so, but in the moment I didn't know. I didn't know where -- I felt an explosion and the train stopped in its tracks. The lights went out. The power went out. Everyone dropped to the ground. They were screaming. But I didn't know at that moment in time if the attack was happening on the train I was on, or if it was happening at the station as we were pulling up to it. It really wasn't clear to me. But, I knew immediately and I think others around me recognized this was a terrorist attack.

COOPER: And so, it was as the train was pulling into the station that the explosion occurred?

CARROLL: Exactly. Yes. Yes. And I'm not even sure if the full train pulled into the station. The car that was I was in made it to the platform, but we, you know, we got on the ground immediately. People were obviously very distraught, crying and screaming, and, you know, others were yelling at other people. We were kind of saying, you know, calm -- let's calm down and get on the grounds.

And so we got down and then we were just waiting. I was literally down there waiting, thinking, what is happening? We heard multiple explosions. It sounded like bombs, but I didn't know if it was guns or what was going on. I was, in may mind, I was just running through everything I know of, that I've heard of of terrorist attacks, you know, what happened in Paris several months ago, things like the Virginia Tech shooting. It's just running through my head what happens in these situations. And, I'm just thinking what do we do now, you know.

And as I was on the ground, some of the other -- the passengers, as we heard these other explosions happening, made an attempt to open the door but it was, you know, the power was out so the doors weren't opening automatically. So we sort of collectively, manually pried open the door. And we were there on the platform and, again, I kind of had a moment of hesitation, do I get off, do I make a run for it? Because I don't know if these attacks are happening within the train or maybe it's in the station. Am I going to run into some terrorist shooting? You know, I have no idea. And then I just thought, you know, I'm just going to try to get out of this situation as fast as I can and make a run for it.

[20:35:04] COOPER: You said there were other explosions. Were they -- I'm trying to understand what those might have been. Were they as loud as the initial blast?

CARROLL: No, no, perhaps, you know, I'm reflecting on it now. The first explosion was very loud and it jolted the whole train to its halt. Then there was a second round, maybe two or three more explosions, sounds. You could hear that they were close by, but not right in the vicinity where I was. So I don't, you know, like I said, I didn't know if it was happening on the train or if it was happening in the actual -- the station.

COOPER: And the initial explosion, as the train is coming in, did you actually see, of you know, a blast, did you've see a flash of light at all or you just heard it.

CARROLL: The first one, I just heard it. You know, and then when I got out onto the platform, and was exiting the station, the whole station was in ruin. I mean there was soots and smoke everywhere. There was glass broken on the ground. It was clear that there was an attack, that there was a bombing. I didn't see anyone hurt, but, again, I couldn't see, it was completely dark in there as well.

I just kind of went right for the exit and as I was exiting, the whole exit was destroyed. There was glass on the ground. And as I was exiting the metro, you know, I went right into the street and people on the street were looking into the entrance of the metro puzzled, confused trying to figure out what those noises were, why people were running out. It all happened extremely fast.

COOPER: Oh Brian I'm so sorry for what you and everybody in Brussels have been through today and thank you for talking to us.

CARROLL: Yup, thank you.

COOPER: Well, the terrorists struck Belgium's capital during president Obama's historic visit to Cuba. He arrived Sunday becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit the island in nearly nine decades. Here's what he said today about the deadly attacks in Brussels.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally, Belgium, in bringing to justice those who are responsible and this is yet another reminder that the world must unite. We must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith in fighting against the scourge of terrorism.


COOPER: After making those remarks in Havana, president Obama went to a major league baseball exhibition game. He's now on his way to Argentina. He's been criticized by some for not cutting his trip short. Jim Acosta joins me from Havana.

The Republican candidates were very quick to criticize President Obama for attending the baseball game today in Cuba.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson, Donald Trump, John Kasich, Ted Cruz. They were all slamming President Obama for going to that baseball game today for remaining in Cuba instead of flying back immediately to Washington.

You know, I talked to White House officials about this. And you know what they say, "Listen, look at what President Obama accomplished on this trip. He got the communist dictator here on this island, Raul Castro, to answer a question from a reporter. I know the reporter. He did a decent job."

The president gave a speech to the Cuban people where he criticized the government here, called for democratic changes expanding freedoms for human rights all in front of Raul Castro who is in the audience and, yes, they did take in some baseball diplomacy. They both sat together at that baseball game at the stadium here in Havana.

There was even a moment where President Obama and Raul Castro did the wave together and perhaps that was a little too much. Maybe that was a little over the top, but White House officials say consider the larger sea change that took place here on the island, Anderson.

COOPER: Is part of President Obama's thinking on not rushing back to Washington that he doesn't want to allow acts like this by terrorists to change global diplomacy, to change, you know, the president's plans?

ACOSTA: That's right. There are two things. One is, White House officials say this every time, and trust me, Anderson, I've been on a lot of these trips and many, many times there was international terrorism or some huge crisis that overshadows the trip.

The White House says, listen, President Obama has it where he goes, he has air force one, he has wi-fi, he was on the phone earlier today with his National Security Adviser Lisa Monaco. He was on the phone with her along with Susan Rice, his national security adviser. So, you know, this is something that the president can do while he's on the road.

But he did do an interview with ESPN at the stadium here earlier today and during that interview he said essentially the same thing. He just said Anderson, that you can't -- this is essentially letting the terrorists win if you up-end your entire trip and rush back to Washington.

He says, "Yes, you have to be conscious of the fact that the whole world is watching, but after you pay your respects, you have to get your job done." Anderson.

COOPER: Interesting. I mean other critics would say we're returning to Washington is one thing, going to a baseball game is another. But again leave it up to viewers to make up their own minds. Jim Acosta, tnaks very much.

[20:40:00] Just ahead more breaking news across Europe tonight. It show solidarity in the state of high alert after the deadly bombings in Belgium. The latest on the investigation, coming up.


COOPER: The Eiffel Tower glowing tonight in the colors of Belgium to show unity, solidarity after today's deadly terror attacks in Brussels.

Authorities believe the attacks were the work of the same cell that carried out the slaughter in Paris.

This hour, Brussels remains on lock down and on Paris, and all across Europe. Authorities are on alert.

Our Nic Robertson has been talking to his extensive sources. He joins us now. What do you learn in terms of what neighboring European countries are doing in response to this manhunt?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, one of the first things that's done, Anderson, is to increase border security. Belgium, and the France, Belgium, and France and Germany have tightened their border security.

You know, part of this, it looks good, it reassures people they're doing something. The reality is there are terrorists on the loose. And they potentially may try and get out of Belgium, move around. So, it's got a very real kink to it.

The French president today called his defense cabinet early on, his been his prime minister, former minister, interior minister, justice minister, defense minister, head of the armed forces and he decided to put an extra 1,600 troop or police officials on the border security.

[20:45:11] The same in Britain. We had the prime minister here having a cobra meeting, his security meeting, he's picked up security at transport hubs, at airports, at the underground network in London.

So, a lot's being done to stem what could be a very real threat but also it's to reassure people as well, the question is how long does all that stay in place? You know, after the heat dies down in the immediacy after these horrible attacks, Anderson.

COOPER: Yeah, and also how many systemic changes have really been made is after the attacks in Paris, and we heard so much about the need for better intelligence sharing between European countries, has anything really changed since Paris?

ROBERTSON: You know, on the surface, we really don't see at these changes. People will tell you, take time. You know, it's a balance for sort of national security issues. But for sure, ISIS is tipping the scale. You know, you had the French President today saying we've got to unify Europe, we've got to be united on this.

You have President Obama saying the world has to be united. You have the British Prime Minister today saying, well it could have been Germany, France, or Britain where these attacks took place.

The reality is the in type of intelligence sharing that is required is even difficult to achieve inside the United States. Never mind across international borders like Europe. But that's where the improvements have to be seen.

COOPER: Nic Robertson, thanks very much. We turn now to Maajid Nawaz is unique perspective is always valuable at times like this. Imagine, he's the author of "Radical: A Journey Out of Islamist Extremism. He's a columnist at "The Daily Beast."

Maajid, thanks so much for being with us. You know, we've heard now and we learned so much about Salah Abdeslam in the last several months and how he was able to stay out on the run even though there was this massive manhunt and part of the thing I find so interesting is we keep seeing these overlapping networks between Jihadists, between Islamist extremists but also petty criminals and Salah Abdeslam sort of seems to move between all of these groups.

MAAJID NAWAZ, THE DAILY BEAST COLUMNIST: Yes. I think one of the situations that we're dealing with in Europe is a close-knit group of friends that grew up in Molenbeek and in the surrounding regions who, you know, at the end of the day, if one becomes radicalized and joins a terrorist organization, their friends have more loyalty with each other than they feel any sense of affinity towards Belgian society and not speaks to a state of disintegration on the continent of Europe between its Muslims and non Muslims which is an urgent matter that we all need to address immediately.

COOPER: What particularly is it about Belgium? I mean, what is it about the situation there, the certain pockets in Brussels that's laying the groundwork for something like this to happen? Is it lack of assimilation? What is it?

NAWAZ: It was a combination of factors, Anderson. I mean, lack of assimilation, lack of integration is one major factor. The fact that Belgium has sent more foreign fighters to join ISIS per population than any other European city is a factor. I mean this is the global Jihadist insurgency hitting home in Europe.

Let's not forget that this month alone, there have been seven other cities that have been attacked. Two attacks in Turkey, two in Pakistan, one in Mali, one in Nigeria, and one in the Ivory Coast. And so I think we're dealing with the problem the scale of which we're yet fully to comprehend. And when I say we here, I mean governments, Western governments in particular, the international community, and I mean all of us in society.

And Belgium is in danger of becoming the nexus or a hotbed of extremism across Europe because of the sheer concentration of fighters that have gone, 100 have joined ISIS and that's one group of ISIS from Brussels, alone.

And so, I worry about with Europe in the Schengen system, future attacks I think are almost inevitable this year.

COOPER: It's also interesting because earlier today, Germany's interior minister criticized Belgium saying they could, possibly have acted sooner when it came to finding these cells in Molenbeek.

Are other E.U. countries, do you think since Paris doing any better of the job of identifying cells before something actually happens or is it more complicated than that?

NAWAZ: No, it's a lot more complicated than that. I mean, credit to the security services. They are working flat-out. The only reason I think we're yet to have an attack in the U.K. on this scale is because the English Channel separates us and we're not part of Schengen leader system.

We do have a border with Europe despite our membership of the European Union. But whether it's in France or Belgium or any other European country, there's only so much these overworked security services can know.

I mean how many people -- if you imagined 100 have gone to joined ISIS just from Brussels alone, and imagine all the friends that each one of those 100 has and their siblings and their neighbors, how many people can you seriously and realistically monitor?

And this is why I use the word global Jihadist insurgency because the problem has reached insurgency levels. And to deal with that, we going to need a full spectrum whole of society response which will include Europe's Muslims to stand and come forward and challenge this in their own communities.

[20:50:03] But actually it also includes everybody else as well. It's a collective effort.

COOPER: And are you seeing that more? I mean, it's something you obviously are working on around the clock, more people within the Muslim community coming forward to challenge this?

NAWAZ: There are more voices emerging. People are becoming sick and tired of ISIS, al-Qaeda and any other Jihadist organization claiming to speak in their name. Unfortunately, though, there's a polarization that's also emerging. I mean, the fact that so many have gone to join ISIS means that people are reacting to globalization and the identity politics that it gives rise to in the opposite direction as well.

And I worry, Anderson, with the U.S. presidential elections that are coming up, and some of the rhetoric coming from people like Trump, and some other candidates, to be honest, and also in Europe with the rise of populism, that some of that rhetoric will push people even further in the opposite direction. We've got to understand here that division and identifying people primarily by their religion is what ISIS does and it's what they want everybody else to do, these are the Muslims as well.

I shouldn't be a Muslim, first and foremost, when I speak to you. I should be a European and British citizen whose concern for secular liberal democratic values. And that last statement there applies to my fellow Muslims when they speak, as well as to people like Trump and others who seek to identify us, first and foremost, as Muslims rather than citizens.

COOPER: Maajid Nawaz, good to talk to you. Thank you. Coming up next, messages of hope and love in the face of hate and terror in Brussels, tonight.


[20:55:19] COOPER: Once again, a city shattered by terror is staying strong refusing to bow to it. Our Phil Black joins us from a makeshift memorial not far from the Brussels stock exchange. Walk us through the scene there. Describe what it's like.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Anderson. Across Central Brussels tonight, it has been still quiet, eerily so.

But not here in this square the past still abhors. This is where we've seen thousands of people come over the course of the evening and even now as it approaches 2:00 a.m. local time.

There still dozens of people here. They've been coming through the evening leaving flowers, candles, singing together, chanting, strangers holding hands.

We've seen people weeping here openly, sharing too many emotions that they have been feeling over the course of its terrible day for this city. Certainly grief and sorrow have been the overwhelming feelings here.

And all of this has taken place under the watchful eye of pretty strong security. We've seen police, armed soldiers, patrolling the perimeter of this crowd and also moving amongst it. But despite that security presence, you really get the overwhelming feeling here that this crowd was still vulnerable, vulnerable to the sorts of attacks that struck this city today.

And we've spoke to people. They said they know this, but they were determined to be here despite that. A real sense of defiance, determination, and unity has brought this crowd spontaneously to this location tonight.

COOPER: And I've been looking at photographs all day of people writing in chalk on the ground.

BLACK: Yeah. All across this square, Anderson, people have taken bright chalk and written messages, overwhelmingly they speak of peace and love. They denounce violence.

Some of them say, we are all Belgians. I saw one that said, "We stand together against hatred."

And one that I found particularly striking, said, "I cry for my city, but I know we are strong." Anderson.

COOPER: A lot of strength. Phil Black, thank you very much.

Much more ahead tonight including more on the search for the man on the right in that surveillance photo and other suspects who may be out there in today's terror attacks.