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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
New Terror Raids Across Brussels; Brother of Suspected Bomb Maker Speaks Out; Top Belgian Official Offers to Resign After Terror Attacks; Six Arrested in Brussels Raids; Cruz to Trump: "You're a Sniveling Coward". Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 24, 2016 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:14] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Next, live in Brussels with breaking news tonight. A major counterterror raid underway here in Brussels at this hour as CNN is learning tonight that ISIS is in various stages of planning multiple attacks while the manhunts for at least two suspects intensifies tonight.
Plus, I'll speak to the brother of the suspected bomb maker in Tuesday's attacks. He's warning to Belgian officials years ago.
And Ted Cruz like you've never seen him before, calling Trump a sniveling coward who should leave his wife the hell alone. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett live in Brussels tonight. OUTFRONT at this hour, the breaking news. Anti-terror raids are underway here in the city. Helicopters in the sky. City blocks sealed off. Police activity at this hour as we are learning investigators are aware of multiple ISIS plots for attacks across Europe. These attacks in various stages of planning. Targets already selected in some cases. The intelligence coming from electronic intercepts, some from human sources and also, from maps seized from a raid this week.
Meanwhile, the manhunt expanding today for the suspects in the bombing of the subway station here in Brussels. Investigators now are searching for a possible second person. Surveillance cameras capturing the image of the man carrying a large bag. Tonight here in Brussels, Murad Laachraoui I spoke with him, the brother of the suicide bomber Najim Laachraoui and the family's attorney. The bomber's brother face is blurred as requested by his attorney. He said his family firmly condemns the attacks and told me that they warned Belgian authorities about his brother years ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Did the family tell authorities when he went to Syria? Did they try to tell them?
MURAD LAACHRAOUI, BROTHER OF NAJIM LAACHRAOUI: Yes, we were the ones who told police. They did not know.
BURNETT: Did you recognize your brother in the picture?
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: ISIS releasing a new propaganda video today celebrating the Brussels bombings. The video even including an image of Donald Trump. CNN reporters are fanned out across this city tonight covering every single angle of the story. I want to begin though with Nick Paton Walsh not far from where I am in Brussels. Nick, though we talk about the helicopters and blocks being sealed off. They're desperately going to find these people. Raids ongoing. What are you seeing?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, behind me here, we have been allowed to significantly move closer to the area where police seem to be concentrating their activity. Now, this is a new police line just put in. Probably about a dozen in the distance behind me here, but about half an hour ago the area sealed off was significantly larger. We've been moved closer to place pavilion in the Schaarbeek area of the capitol. Now what's key is that interior ministry officials have released a statement suggesting five people have been arrested in raids this night.
Now, it isn't clear if they're concentrated in this area, these five arrests, or across the capital. We're not aware if any other raids occurring at this stage. It seems right now there are different reports coming in. But Erin, there have been a concentration of trucks down that road which -- with police evidence. It turns actually a film shoot has been occurring here as well. But further down this road towards the corridor, the police are comparatively -- actually when they broke down one of their lines to allow people to flog back into their homes and police officers quite quickly around towards -- to wait and hold back.
There's obviously a reason why this crossroad is still being sealed off. We're not clear at this point which of the buildings around us behind us are the focus of their investigation. But Erin, we know there are two, possibly three, people they're seeking. The man in white from the airport video, the man caught on CCTV outside the metro station carrying a large package. He may have perished in the blast. We don't know what happened and potentially towards over that accomplice to Salah Abdeslam Mohamed Abrini. So, a lot of activity here that we know of. And then of course parts of the investigation which we're not familiar with too -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Nick, thank you very much. And where Nick is just evidence of the race against time as they are hunting and hunting. We are learning that new and multiple ISIS plots are in the planning stage. Dozens of terrorists still at large tonight.
Our Justice Correspondent Pamela Brown is OUTFRONT. And Pamela, you are learning about the warning that they say that there were multiple attacks, some of them significantly planned?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. And I can tell you counterterrorism officials I've been speaking with today are really on high alert and are concerned that an attack can happen at any moment in Europe because investigators are aware of multiple additional ISIS plots in Europe possibly linked to the Paris and Brussels networks. And these plots apparently are in various stages of planning. They've been able to gather this through a combination of electron intercepts, human sources and database tracking that indicates several possible targets have been picked out by ISIS operatives over the last few months since the Paris attacks.
And according to a senior Belgian official we've been speaking with, investigators believe the Brussels ISIS cell was composed of two teams who were planning an even larger attack or series of attacks in Belgium at a later date. After police discovered Salah Abdeslam's hiding place last week. Investigators believe the second team including suspected bomb maker Najim Laachraoui, accelerated their timetable. And Erin, they believe the second team consisted of Bakraoui brothers and at least two others now on the run but they believe the network now goes far beyond those that they even have identified -- Erin.
[19:05:52] BURNETT: All right. Pamela. Thank you very much. And as you look at these pictures of these raids going on in Belgium right now tonight, as we said a race against time, Pamela talking about how many people they're looking for. And of course countless more at this time.
Let's bring in Ryan Heath, political senior correspondent here in Brussels. He knows this community very well. Our senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward is also with me. Former CIA operative Bob Baer joins me as well.
And Clarissa tonight, we're talking about this real feeling of a race against time that they were finding that there were multiple plots. Some of them they thought could be imminent. And very significant in size. We have raids going on here in Brussels and also in Paris tonight, you're reporting.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. And also I think what's interesting here. We're hearing about these elaborate threats, advance stages, imminent attacks and yet Brussels today, Belgium today, lowered their threat level. They lowered the threat level from four, which means an imminent attack, to level three which means there's a serious chance of attacks. So, I think we're seeing some kind of a disconnect here between the intelligence that we're hearing from U.S. officials and the activity that we're clearly seeing on the ground in Brussels and where Belgian officials are communicating to the Belgian people.
Now, in terms of what's going on in Paris, there are ongoing raids in the Parisian suburb of Argentoy (ph). The French interior minister has said that there is no tangible connection with these raids to the Paris attacks of November and also to the Belgium attacks, but he did say that these attacks were in their advanced stages of planning. And there were serious threats. And they are ongoing operations. My goodness. I'm sorry.
BURNETT: OK. It's raining in --
WARD: Ongoing operations. And that they received the news that this man, whom they arrested this morning -- I'm sorry. The man who they arrested this morning could possibly be involved with these attacks. They went into today. But they said it was an imminent potential attack, so.
BURNETT: I mean, we're talking about an imminent attack, Ryan. Uhm, and yet what we have seen from the Belgium government today -- they admitting that they were warned about people coming in from Turkey that they did nothing admitting that in fact government ministers tendering their resignation and then the government not accepting their resignation. So, it continues business as usual. It would be absurd if this was not actually real life and happening at a time when they are afraid of an imminent attack.
RYAN HEATH, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO, EUROPE: And I have another late breaking piece of information as well from my colleagues at POLITICO. They have learned from three sources, including those who were involved in the interrogation of Salah Abdeslam, that in fact they questioned him for just one hour in the course of the four days after his arrest and didn't question him about the weapons and the detonators that they found when they arrested him. So, they missed a huge opportunity before the attack.
BURNETT: They had him for four days and they questioned him for one hour?
HEATH: For one hour because partially, because he was tied from his operation. And they began in chronological order. So, all they did was talk about the November attacks in Paris and didn't get to what might have been planned in Belgium.
BURNETT: Bob Baer, when you hear that breaking news from Ryan, you hear that they took a man alive who had been on the run for four months for the Paris attack, they found detonators and weapons in his possession. And for four days, they let him go through surgery and they let him rest before questioning him for one hour. What do you think?
BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, in retrospect after these attacks at the airport and the metro, it was clearly dumb. In questioning like this, you ask, is there an imminent threat. And I don't know what he said, but apparently he didn't say there was one. And then you go back to evidence you're quite certain of to start checking his veracity, his willingness to talk. So, that's why they went back to Paris to establish a baseline whether he was telling the truth.
So, that's a fairly standard police technique. And also, don't forget the Belgians ignored warnings from Turkey about one of the bombers, but you know, you'd have to actually see the report from Turkey. They've been promised Belgium is overwhelmed by jihadists, people that are sympathetic, and getting the evidence against them is very, very difficult. In a Belgian court, you need evidence. You just can't take. There is no preventive potential there.
BURNETT: Which is stunning. Because Ryan, you know, we're going to hear later in the show from a young man I spoke to too today. He knows more than a dozen friends right now who are in Syria, he says, fighting and training with ISIS. These are his friends. He says that the authorities here don't care. I asked the brother today of the bomber when I spoke to him specifically. When your brother went to Syria, he called you right? Did you do anything about it? Yes, we called Belgian police and we told them. And what did they do? They did absolutely nothing. Not until after Paris and then they came by for what they described as a police -- visit. And so, for years, they knew that he went to Syria and they did not do anything. And that seems to be the way things operate.
[19:10:34] HEATH: And this is the standard operating practice, so you have a situation here in Belgium when most people will just accept that logic and reasoning. They can't expect anything better in their authorities, so they won't demand anything better from their authorities. And so they have that shrug of the soldiers where people don't enjoy it, they don't like it but they don't demand anything different and the pattern continues.
WARD: And they can also speak to this lack of communication. I mean, in Brussels alone, you have six different police districts. You have 19 different mayors. You have two official languages. There simply isn't the communication between all the various security bodies and also of course the intelligence sharing bodies.
BURNETT: Yes. And I also today was able to ask a question to the lawyer of the brother of the bomber. And let me play for you exactly what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through a translator): As far as the reasons which pushed their son to become radicalized, they did not notice any warning sign. And they were the first to be caught by surprise when the family moved to realize in the first place that their son was not coming home one day, two days, and then they got the news that their son was in Syria.
BURNETT: Did they recognize him in the picture to police two days - to recognize that it was Najim? Did the family know that it was him in the picture in the airport?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really, it would seem according to -- because I'm Murad's attorney, I don't know the rest of the family. But as far as Murad is concerned, the photograph of the gentleman wears a hat at the airport, he said he did not know who he was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Bob Baer, it's pretty interesting. Because we all saw that picture. Right? That's the picture of the man in the airport. The two men pushing the cart and the man in white. One of those men of course was Najim Laachraoui. His brother saw that picture just like the rest of the world for two straight days. Officials didn't know who that man was. The family says they didn't recognize him either. That's what they're saying. You know, the big question here, of course, Bob, is how many more people are there out there right now? And we're hearing about imminent attacks. BAER: Yes.
BURNETT: Are they even preventable? It seems like they're running around raiding everywhere just desperately trying to stop something.
BAER: Erin, you're absolutely right. They're out of their league with these people. That guy at the airport looked to me -- put that hat on, the glasses, and the rest of it to break up his face for the CCTV cameras so he wouldn't be recognized. He's out there. They don't know who he is. And the other questions, how many cells are out there and how much TATP is out there? Get any moment you can put on one of these vests, keep it in a refrigerator, pull it out, use it anywhere in a crowded area, and they can strike back at police at will. And the Belgian police apparently don't have any sources inside these groups, so they don't know when the next attack is going to come. And it is pretty much guesswork for them.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to all of you. And now, of course in this race against time tonight with the new reporting about the possibility of imminent attacks, now there are the major missed signs before this latest attack in Brussels.
Plus, my interview with a young Muslim man who says it is incredibly easy to join ISIS and he knows a lot of people who have done it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I want to go tomorrow, I can go. And you can call the police.
BURNETT: And they don't care?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And Ted Cruz unplugged going after Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't get angry often. But you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that'll do it every time. Donald, you're a sniveling coward, leave Heidi the hell alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:17:59] BURNETT: Breaking news tonight. A top Belgian official offering his resignation in the wake of the Brussel terror attack coming amid mounting criticism that Belgium failed to track one of the Brussels' bombers and other major intelligence failures.
Nick Paton Walsh is OUTFRONT where there are raids underway. And Nick, what are your sources telling you? WALSH: By this stage, we seem to be hearing of six arrests around the
capital of Brussels. Some potentially here, but some in two other areas of the capital. It is not known exactly who has been arrested, but the statement has said, it is linked to the airport attack and that is on another metro as well. Behind me here, the police lines have moved significantly further down this road than they were early to let people go back to their homes. And this is just adds to a sense of fear I think that the authorities don't entirely have a grip on things or at least here are trying to get one as accusations mount about how many warnings were missed by Belgian authorities.
WALSH (voice-over): A devastating attack, but also one that had a devastating number of warnings. Of the five said to be attackers, we know the identity of three. And to each of those, we know Belgian authorities will want. Najim Laachraoui on the left here, skilled in bomb making and -- by Interpol authorities, red notice, a kind of global arrest warrant since last year. Khalid el-Bakraoui, one of the two brothers behind the attacks, subject also of a red notice for three months before the attacks. This one explicitly for terrorism and issued in December. And his brother and perhaps the most staggering twist traveled to Turkey last June.
He was deported by Turkish authorities for trying to join ISIS. To Hollande, Dutch authorities saying they got an e-mail from Turkey 26 minutes before his flights took off, but never mentioned Turkey's concerns. A mess so extraordinary, the Belgian interior minister reviewed the papers overnight and then offered his resignation.
JAN JAMBON, BELGIAN INTERIOR MINISTER (through a translator): The people ask how is it that someone was released early and we missed a chance when he was in Turkey to detain him. I understand that question. I cannot speak for a colleague but for myself. I offered my resignation to the prime minister.
WALSH: It wasn't accepted, but he also wasn't answering questions.
(on camera): So, there were a number of occasions where there were clear warnings about the links between all of these attackers and the potential for terrorism?
Remarkable decision by the interior minister not to answer any questions at all despite the growing evidence of substantial information being passed to the Belgium government about the links between all these attackers and terrorism.
(voice-over): The number of suspects still growing as are the ramifications at the heart of power.
Now, Erin, just let me tell you what we've been hearing from locals here in the past few minutes. That is when police arrived here, they moved into the area, waited for sometime, and then an explosion was heard here. Perhaps then some of the arrests occurred. It's unclear but certainly locals here hearing a loud bang at some point this evening. Police trying to be in control specifically of this corner. We don't know which building they're focusing on. Some of the armed police that were closer to a scene have moved away leaving a slightly friendlier civilian colleagues here now, but a tense moment -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Nick, thank you very much. And earlier, I spoke to a young man named Mohammad in the Muslim neighborhood where many in the Paris and Brussels attackers lived. And what he had to say about how many of his friends have joined ISIS and what Belgium was doing about it was frightening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Why does nobody say anything? Why does nobody tell police?
MOHAMED: Because when you tell this to police, they say -- the police say, that's not -- there is not (INAUDIBLE) to go to Syria, you know? When you say this guy, he go to Syria, I know one dad. He called the police. And he said my son go to Syria. He is 16 years old.
BURNETT: He tried to turn his son in.
MOHAMED: Yes, and the police said, yes, but what do you want?
BURNETT: So the police don't do anything?
[19:22:25] BURNETT: So, even if you told them that someone you knew is going to Syria --
MOHAMED: Uh-hm. If I want to go tomorrow, I can go. And you can call the police.
BURNETT: And they don't care?
MOHAMED: They don't care. It's not here.
BURNETT: You have friends that have gone to Syria.
MOHAMED: Yes. But when you talk with the guys, he told you come with me. Why you stay here? The police don't like you. You don't have work. Why you stay here? Go help your brother. You know? I think that's the grand reason that people go to Syria. The government, the police makes a bad job, you know?
BURNETT: How many friends do you know or people do you know that have gone to Syria?
MOHAMED: Maybe 10. Between 10 and 15.
BURNETT: Ten and 15.
MOHAMED: Yes. BURNETT: Mohamed, you know so many people who have gone to Syria to
fight for ISIS.
BURNETT: Why not you?
MOHAMED: Because I have a brain. I have ambition, you know. I'm in school. And I think I want to help my people in Syria and Palestine, in Kuwait, in Congo (INAUDIBLE) but that's not like this.
BURNETT: Not that way?
MOHAMED: Yes. You can save one life by --
BURNETT: By killing many?
MOHAMED: Yes. And a lot of people, you know? That's all. There are a lot of (INAUDIBLE) for the young people here to go to Syria or Palestine. Like I told you, there is a lot of racism here. I can understand that there are people who are not strong and they go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You heard him there. He knows 10 to 15 people, friends who have gone to Syria. And he says he understands why, even though he's not going himself.
OUTFRONT next, bombs hid in suitcases on terrorists' bodies. How American officials are learning to outsmart the attackers.
OUTFRONT is going to take you inside the training going on today in the United States today. And one young man story of survival as she came under attack at the Brussels' airport. She is my guest OUTFRONT tonight with that story.
[19:29:06] BURNETT: We are following breaking news as we come to you live from Brussels tonight where right now a Belgian official just announcing the arrest of six people in connection with the attacks. There are raids ongoing tonight here in Brussels and also now in Paris. Taken into custody in some raids not far from here. This is coming at the same time that the manhunt is intensifying for two suspects involved in Tuesday's attacks. It's truly is a race against time right now. In raids so far, they have recovered things like detonators. And CNN is now reporting that ISIS had more plots in the works. Some of them imminent. We now know officials found maps in one of the apartments raided suggesting other potential targets.
And they're finding from an intelligence officials that indeed, they had already selected and were in the advanced stages of planning for some of those in the United States. High alert also tonight. And we're going to take you now to a place where officials from around the world, including Belgium, are training to detect and protect innocent civilians from the attacks like we saw here in Brussel. [19:30:00] It's right in the United States. And here's Nick Valencia with a story you'll see only OUTFRONT.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire in the hole!
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here in rural Alabama, elite members of law enforcement agencies from around the world prepare for the worst-case scenario. It's state-of-the-art training against global terrorism.
JORIS KERCKHOFF, BRUSSELS FEDERAL POLICE: It's all about saving lives.
VALENCIA: For Joris Kerckhoff, this all hits close to him. He's a Brussels police officer and K9 handler ironically sent to the U.S. for training while his city was hit. Had he been in Belgium, he says, he would have likely been guarding the subway during the attacks.
KERCKHOFF: I the knowledge that we have here, we can share that with the rest of the world who also wants to make it a better world, I think that's one step in the good direction.
RYAN MORRIS, FOUNDER, TRIPWIRE OPERATIONS GROUP: This is what we know that we're they're using all over the world.
VALENCIA: Ryan Morris founded the training company Tripwire in 2005. He says the lessons he teaches are critical in the fight against ISIS and beyond.
MORRIS: Personally, the conventional explosive side, like det cords, and dynamite, and C4, and things of that nature, that doesn't bother me. The things that bother me are the things you can make in your house, you can make in a garage, you can make it anywhere.
VALENCIA: And we found out firsthand what he meant.
MORRIS: So, go ahead. Grab some (INAUDIBLE)
VALENCIA (on camera): How much?
(voice-over): Morris shows us how in a matter of minutes anyone can make this kind of explosive.
(on camera): I'm holding two very volatile bombs in my hands. This one has three components to it, this one has two components to it.
MORRIS: We're going to put it on the ground so you can see what that does.
VALENCIA: Three, two, one.
MORRIS: Fire in the hole! (EXPLOSION)
VALENCIA: What I found just absolutely terrifying about this entire experience is just how simple and easy it is to make an explosive using ordinary household products, products capable of inflicting massive casualties.
(voice-over): It's this explosives training courses that are crucial to stopping those who want to inflict chaos. For Morris and the team around him, their success is a matter of life and death.
Nick Valencia, CNN, Lynette, Alabama.
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Congressman Will Hurd, a member of the Homeland Security Committee and also, a former undercover CIA agent.
Congressman Hurd, thank you very much for being with me tonight.
The breaking news at this hour that officials are saying that they have evidence of multiple plots, some of them in advanced stages of planning by ISIS. Is there any briefing that you have received on what these threats might be and how far along in planning they were?
REP. WILL HURD (R), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Well, this kind of information is what you expect to get when you have raids that have been going on throughout Europe. And this is a good thing to have this kind of information in order to understand the tactics, techniques, and procedures that ISIS is looking to do not only in Europe, but here in the United States.
This is number one priority for everyone not only just in the Department of Homeland security, but FBI, CIA, NSA. It's all hands on deck.
BURNETT: How concerned are you right now about attacks in the United States as we're finding out rings here in Europe that were much deeper, much more sophisticated than thought? There are manhunts going on for individuals, people they don't even know who they actually looking for. There are raids going on throughout this city, now throughout Paris.
What's the concern in the United States?
HURD: So, ISIS is a clear and present danger to the United States. They want to attack the U.S. There have been 80 ISIS-linked plans to attack Western targets, including many in the United States.
And so, this is a threat that we have to stop over there. One of the problems and one of the areas that I'm concerned with is the amount of information exchanged that is not happening with our European partners. I sat on a task force earlier this year looking at foreign fighters, Americans traveling in Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS and coming back home. One of the things we found is many of our European partners were only
checking one out of three travel documents. They weren't checking known travelers against terrorist watch database. They weren't sharing the names of suspected terrorists. And they weren't also receiving this information and disseminating it throughout their own infrastructures.
So, if you get the right information, the right people at the right time, you can keep terrorists on the run and off our shores. That's where we need to be focusing right now.
BURNETT: And, Congressman, how concerned are you? I spoke to two young men today, one the brother of the bomber in the Brussels attacks, also involved in the Paris attacks. This young man said his family told Belgian officials in 2013 that his brother went to Syria. Officials did nothing. They never talked to the family or followed up until after the attacks in Paris when they thought he might be involved.
Another young man I spoke to, his name is Mohammad. He says he gets treated with racism. He's trying to be ambitious and get a job, and work hard, but he has 10 to 15 friends that have left Belgium and gone to Syria.
[19:35:05] He knows people who have tried to turn them in, and the police say they don't care.
How concerning is that? Belgium is a country that can people can get on a plane and go to the United States. It's a country with no borders with the rest of Europe.
HURD: This is why border security is important and needs to be a high priority for our European partners. You're absolutely right.
But this is why when you travel throughout Europe there's a number of places where you have already gone through security at that European airport. Then there's DHS officials at the gate, because there's an additional level of security and checking that's going on because DHS and the U.S. government understands this and is making sure that we're vetting all the right folks.
Immediately after these Brussels attacks, TSA and CBP put everyone on high alert. Additional checks for folks coming out of that region. So, this is absolutely a concern. And Europe has a long way to go to get their defenses up to the United States. We learned our lessons from 9/11.
HURD: I was in the CIA when that happened. Information sharing from 9/11 to when I left in 2009 improved significantly. From 2009, until I came into Congress, even more. We need to get our European colleagues there.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Congressman Hurd, thank you very much. OUTFRONT next this hour with the breaking news of possible imminent
plots. I'm going to talk to a young woman who was caught inside the horror of Tuesday's airport bombing. She has a remarkable story. You will hear it here next.
And Ted Cruz tonight unleashing on Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald doesn't like strong women. Strong women scare Donald. Now, Donald is scared a lot these days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:40:47] BURNETT: We are following the breaking news. Police raids in Brussels recovering evidence of more potential terror plots. Growing fears that ISIS could strike again. My next guest knows this fear firsthand. This is someone who should never know this fear.
A 17-year-old Belgian student on her way to Italy just yards away from the explosion that killed and wounded so many. Her teacher and another student were injured.
Hanne Janssens joins me now.
And, Hanne, thank you so much.
HANNE JANSSENS, EYEWITNESS TO AIRPORT BOMBINGS: You're welcome.
BURNETT: You are right now in shock.
JANSSENS: Yes, of course. Yes. Yes. I can't realize how much luck I had and how everything was so quick.
BURNETT: And you were just, just meters away from what happened. You heard the explosion. You started to run.
JANSSENS: Yes, exactly.
BURNETT: And you found out later that you actually ran right to what would have been the biggest explosion of all.
JANSSENS: Yes. I can't think about it because if you think what if, I guess I go crazy because I had so many luck. I can't think about it all the time.
BURNETT: Just next to you, right near you, another one of your classmates and a teacher, they're in the hospital and they're very seriously injured.
JANSSENS: Yes. They have wounds all over their legs, their arms. After all, they had luck because they are still here on this planet, but they are strongly injured, yes. Physically, it's very difficult. BURNETT: When you first heard that explosion, Hanne, and you are so
blessed to be here and you are okay in body, but when you heard that explosion, what did you think?
JANSSENS: I thought safety. I just thought about running away and getting away from there. I was really calm. I wasn't screaming or yelling. I was just focusing on how do I get away here safely. Yes.
BURNETT: And you did get away safely and it must have been the most terrible day, but the most wonderful moment of your life to see your family, your brother, who is here again with you after that.
JANSSENS: Yes, it was very emotional, but it was so important to me.
BURNETT: All right. Hanne, thank you very much. We're so glad you are OK and with a wonderful life ahead of you. Thank you.
BURNETT: Hanne Janssens joining me now, who was there and survived the bombs at the airport here in Brussels.
OUTFRONT next, a major political battle back into the United States. Ted Cruz calling Donald Trump a sniveling coward over this retweet.
And saying this time, Donald Trump has finally crossed the line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: Let me be absolutely clear: our spouses and our children are off bounds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:47:29] BURNETT: Breaking news tonight also in the world of politics: the war of words between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz reaching new heights as they now fight over their wives' honor. Yes, this is reality. Donald Trump retweeting a picture of their wives after an anti-Trump super PAC ad mocked Melania Trump it used a suggestive photo.
So, when Donald did this tweet, it unleashed an angry Ted Cruz just hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: Let me be absolutely clear. Our spouses and our children are off bounds. It is not acceptable for a big, loud New York bully to attack my wife.
Real men don't try to bully women. That's not an action of strength. That's an action of weakness. It's an action of fear. It's an action of a small and petty man, who is intimidated by strong women. Heidi is my best friend in the whole world. She is the love of my
life. And Donald should stick with attacking me because Heidi is way out of Donald Trump's league.
You know, I have to say seeing him go deeper and deeper into the gutter, it's not easy to tick me off. I don't get angry often. But you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that'll do it every time. Donald, you're a sniveling coward, and leave Heidi the hell alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT.
And, Phil, this fight is unlike anything we have seen so far in this campaign. Never seen Ted Cruz like this. Where does this go from here? Nobody is backing down.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nobody is backing down, and unlikely too anytime soon.
Erin, we've seen evidence of that just over the last hour. Donald Trump taking to Twitter, continuing to blame the Cruz campaign for this original super PAC ad. The Cruz team has denied any responsibility and frankly, it would be illegal for them to coordinate with a super PAC.
But, Erin, I'm struck by Ted Cruz's reaction. What you just saw there. Ted Cruz is a very disciplined, very on message candidate. That response is really underscoring how this has affective him personally, but there's also a political element here.
Just about an hour ago at an event in Janesville, Wisconsin, Ted Cruz, unsolicited, starting the event talking about this issue and here's why -- there is an upside here. Donald Trump, according to the latest "Wall Street Journal"/NBC News poll, 47 percent of Republican women say under no circumstance will they ever support Donald Trump. Ted Cruz needs to win a lot of delegates in contests coming up in the weeks ahead.
Driving up those numbers by showing what Donald Trump is doing here could be advantageous to this effort. This is not going away any time soon.
[19:50:01] And both candidates, Erin, see an opportunity in pushing this message further as unseemly as it may be at times.
BURNETT: Yes, they sure do. Phil Mattingly, thank you.
It's like do you want to laugh or cry at all sides of this?
Well, Katrina Pierson is a national spokeswoman for Donald Trump, and the communications for Ted Cruz, Alice Stewart.
And you're both women and I'm a woman, so I'm glad we're all together for this conversation. So, Katrina, let me start with you. As a woman, are you offended by
what Donald Trump did?
KATRINA PIERSON, NATIONAL SPOKESWOMAN FOR DONALD TRUMP: No, Erin. I'm one of those women that doesn't need validation from outside sources.
And I will start with this: simply because the entire discussion this whole day and I've watched it unfold on all the outlets has just completely ignored the fact that Melania Trump was attacked. Mr. Trump said from the beginning that he was against super PAC and super PAC ads, that he was going to hold those campaigns accountable when a super PAC attacked on their behalf.
It doesn't matter if Ted Cruz is directly connected to this super PAC because they were pushing him as a candidate. More importantly, he did not come out and denounce this --
BURNETT: He did denounce it.
PIERSON: Donald Trump -- Donald Trump came out and denounced the reporter that did a horrible cartoon image of Senator Ted Cruz's people, one of the first. This did not happen in the case of Melania Trump. The headlines out today are making Heidi Cruz the victim completely ignoring the fact that Melania Trump was plastered all over this ad for Ted Cruz.
BURNETT: Did Ted Cruz wait too long to denounce this?
ALICE STEWART, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TED CRUZ CAMPAIGN: He denounced it the first moment it was brought to his attention. First and foremost, we have nothing to do with this PAC. It's an anti-Trump PAC that has actually said critical things about Ted in the past.
The moment this was brought to Ted's attention, he said it was inappropriate. He did not condone it. He denounced it and he said that spouses and family members of candidates are off limits and should not be talked about in the political discourse.
And he has said very complimentary things about Melania Trump. She's a great mother, she is a supportive wife, she's a beautiful woman, exactly like Heidi Cruz is. And Ted would never say anything disparaging.
And this right here sets up exactly what we're seeing here. One man who denigrates woman, another man who defends them. One who has spent a lifetime insulting them and one who inspires them.
This is not the first time this has happened. Donald Trump, in this cycle alone has said insulting and denigrating things about Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina and now Heidi Cruz. It's absolutely unacceptable. And, Katrina, I'm surprised and shocked that you aren't embarrassed.
If you aren't --
PIERSON: Don't be surprised. You have a woman whose image was plastered in a political attack ad as if it was a vicious person and nobody said anything until Donald Trump responds defending his own wife.
Let's not surprised -- let's not be surprised here. The problem that Republicans have with women did not start in January 2015. This has been an ongoing issue. And Mr. Trump treats everyone the same.
Just because you are a woman, he's not going to treat you with kid gloves. I would expect most independent women would appreciate that. In the --
BURNETT: Here's the other thing. Here's the other thing. Many women don't need men to stand up for them.
Hold on one second. Maybe women don't need men to stand up for them. Heidi Cruz herself stepped in. She doesn't need Ted Cruz to stand up for her, oh, I'm going to stand up for own my wife. She stood up for herself, as she should. And here's what she said to Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HEIDI CRUZ, TED CRUZ'S WIFE: You know, as I said, you probably know by now that most of the things Donald Trump says have no basis in reality. So we are not worried in the least. We're focused on our campaign, and we are going to continue to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Total class right there. And the fact --
BURNETT: Did she stand up for herself?
STEWART: The fact that he's an equal opportunity offender does not make his disgusting comments about women OK.
And, look, this is all a product of the fact Donald Trump is afraid to go head-to-head on the issues with Ted Cruz. He ducked out of the last debate. He's been hiding in Trump Tower for days tweeting inappropriate comments. He's afraid to go head-to-head with Ted Cruz on important issues people are concerned with.
Let me tell you this -- we have a town hall next week here on CNN from Wisconsin. We invite Donald Trump to come on stage with Ted Cruz at 8:00 for two hours to debate the issues. We issue that challenge and we encourage him to do so, because people want to hear the candidates debate the issues and not trade barbs on Twitter.
PIERSON: Well, good luck with that because people have been hearing Donald Trump on the issues. He's been the most accessible candidate. He has held the most press conferences, he's had the most candidate rallies. People know where Mr. Trump stands.
The fact you want to s afraid is laughable. That may work with other campaigns, but not with Donald Trump has been fighting 16 other candidates, hundreds of millions of dollars in attack ads, all of the elite thinkers, writers, donors, media outlets, everybody, lobbying and special interest.
[19:55:11] BURNETT: All right.
PIERSON: He has gone after everyone that's gone after him. It's not going to change, especially when you start attacking his wife.
BURNETT: I love having you both on and I love having you on together. I'll only leave our viewers with this one comment. Both candidates have a little work to do with women: 74 percent of women in America with an unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump, 58 percent with an unfavorable view of Ted Cruz.
We'll be right back from Brussels.
BURNETT: Welcome back to our breaking news coverage live from Brussels tonight. It's almost 1:00 in the morning in Brussels. Raids are continuing throughout this city. Also in Paris as they are in a frantic manhunt to try to prevent possible further attacks. They believe imminent attacks could be in the works from ISIS cells, according to American intelligence.
And now, our breaking news coverage continues with "AC360."