Return to Transcripts main page
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
ISIS Claims Dhaka Attack, At Least 2 Dead, 40 Hurt. Aired 4:30- 5p ET
Aired July 1, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Peter, I've always hesitate to question police reactions to these things, right, because they've got a tough job there. They're in middle of it.
[16:30:01] But just -- we do know, when we talked about how the guidance for U.S. law enforcement has changed with these kinds of things, particularly when a group like ISIS is involved. They say, don't wait, go in, these guys are not going to negotiate. There is nothing -- you're not going to make some sort of political statement and satisfy them.
Does that change the way you think that would be responded to? I mean,
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That is a great question. I mean, we know from the Mumbai attacks, which is really the model, that it went on, you know, three full days and the Indian police handled it terribly, and they didn't take a proactive approach. And the result, you know, 166 people died in part because of their incompetence.
So, yes, if this was a school shooting in the United States and there was an active shooter, the advice would be to go in and kill this person immediately.
SCIUTTO: Bob Baer, if you're still there, can I ask you? As we see this, it's a very basic question, but I imagine it's on the minds of people at home, as we see this, is this a sign that ISIS is getting stronger -- able to carry out attacks or inspire attacks or direct attacks in multiple countries in the span of a few days?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: I think, Jim they have gone international. This is desperate. I think their intention is to kill as many people from far away places as they can including the United States. Yes, I know there's no specific intelligence about attacks here. No actionable intelligence, but they very much like to hit us on Fourth of July, or a month from now.
And these people I've got to say, are getting better and better. They do not get on the phone and talk about their plans and intentions. There's a thing called Takia, which means just make stuff up on the phone to disinformation if you like, and they're getting better, the longer the combat goes in the Middle East, and this is what has the CIA and the FBI concerned, is what they don't know.
SCIUTTO: And if they're not talking on the phone, it is hard to intercept those communications and see an attack before it's coming.
Bob Baer, Cedric, Peter Bergen, Phil Mudd, stay there. We're going to continue with this coverage.
A reminder to our viewer, there is still an attack under way in Dhaka. There are lives in danger in this restaurant with six to eight attackers in there threatening those lives. Whether it's a hostage situation or they're drawing this out, we don't know the answer to that. We know that ISIS is claiming responsibility.
We're going to stay with this story. Please stay with us.
[16:36:44] SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Breaking news, here we are once again. ISIS says its terrorists are holding 20 people hostage right now in Dhaka. That is the capital of Bangladesh, just to the east of India.
The gunmen have already killed two police officers who responded there. As far as we know right now, the police have yet to make contact, any communication or get demands from the terrorists. It is still very possible that if this is indeed ISIS, that there may be no demands. That is the chilling reality right now, live, still under threat inside this restaurant, right in the heart of the diplomatic quarter there in Dhaka.
They have shown their reach extends virtually anywhere across the globe, ISIS suicide bombers hitting Istanbul in a meticulously attack on that airport that killed some 44 people. We're looking at a situation here of two major coordinated ISIS attacks in two major capitals in a span of just 72 hours.
I want to go now to our Brooke Baldwin, she is in Istanbul, outside the attack of that site of that first attack -- sorry, I'm going to Michelle Kosinski. She is at the White House.
We've learned just that the White House, the president has been briefed on this. Michelle, what can you tell us about White House reaction?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, now, we're starting to hear from U.S. officials publicly. The State Department just put out a statement expressing outrage for what they're calling a brutal act of terror, expressing condolences. And they did confirm official U.S. personnel there have been accounted for. What they're still assessing though are any U.S. citizens currently inside that cafe. And you think about the people who were trapped inside there.
But, yes, we know that the president is watching this closely. He was briefed by his assistant for homeland security and counterterror. He is asked to be kept updated. And after something like this happens, we know officials reach out to their foreign counterparts. So, they're assessing the situation there, seeing what information is available, as well as assessing U.S. assets on the ground. But you think about how often -- the White House has had to respond
just recently to these kind of attacks, after Paris, after Brussels, in the U.S., after San Bernardino, after Orlando, now after Turkey and Bangladesh. The question that the White House always gets are, what does it mean for ISIS capability? And what about the U.S. safety? What about the U.S. risk immediately following yet another one of these attacks?
What they say is yes, ISIS does have the capability to carry out attacks like this. They understand that risk. These are the most difficult kinds of attacks to stop. They target soft targets and civilians and they feel that these could be very well a response to ISIS losing ground in Iraq and Syria.
As for the U.S. risk, we've heard U.S. official say time and time again that this is the kind of threat that keeps them up at night. But what we've heard recently is a couple of days ago, after Turkey, was that there is currently no credible threat to the U.S. Obviously, they're watching this closely. But, you know, it was interesting today, hearing U.S. officials speak on a different topic.
[16:40:01] It was about civilian casualties that were the result of U.S. drone strikes overseas, and the U.S. has been question on those numbers.
And what they said was, look, while the U.S. goes above and beyond international law to prevent even one civilian casualty, I mean, they do happen, but they're going to extraordinary lengths, they say, to prevent that, what they see as the enemy and these terror groups constantly looking to deliberately strike civilian targets. And while they're talking about this, we're seeing the pictures from Bangladesh play out in front of us -- another one of these attacks happening just within days of the last one, Jim.
SCIUTTO: As you say, this is no accident. They target soft targets. They target civilians on purpose. That is their intention. Michelle Kosinski at the White House.
I want to talk now to former CIA operative Glenn Carle.
Glenn, what can officials do to identify these men that are inside the restaurant right now? You have it surrounded by Bangladeshi security forces, what are they trying to do right now to understand who they are dealing with inside that restaurant?
GLENN CARLE, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: It's a tough question to answer if you don't have any communication, there is not a whole lot you can do. Of course, if there are videos of the individuals that's going in, or some sort of a closed circuit film, you can make a start with trying to identify them. But there is not a whole lot that can happen right now in the absence of any sort of intelligence, whether it's from intercepts or human reports or other things, and I gather that there was not.
That raises a point that I think it is important that it is a routine thing. They speak to officials and say, well, do we have any indications of threats to the United States, and the answer is almost always would be no. If the answer had been yes, then the FBI, CIA, NSA, the special forces, would have taken some measures. That's the challenge that these things will come in a way that we tend not to have any intelligence. Otherwise, we'd have to stop them.
SCIUTTO: And that that is the issue because these group, Glenn Carle, have gotten smarter about not talking to each other. They're not making phone calls. They're using encrypted apps for their communications, so it cannot be intercepted by the NSAs of the world. Isn't that right? They've gotten smarter about how to prevent us and our intelligence agencies from seeing these attacks before they happen.
CARLE: Well, I think there is some truth, but I think that that assumption, or that line of reasoning misleads us actually. There are two broad phenomena that are happening. There are threats from an organized -- ISIS is an organized entity, al Qaeda is. Ands that's something that the CIA could penetrate or you could pick it up communications, instructions, training, planning.
The real problem is not that. The real problem is the more current phenomenon, the growing phenomenon, which we term in the West, we call them the lone wolves, or I think more accurate term is that used by Jason Burke, a journalist, inspired jihadists, inspired (INAUDIBLE). They don't really belong to any group. So, there won't be any communications, and there won't be planning you can see in any particularly way.
Even the group in Brussels that committed the recent attacks, there was a number of individuals locally that were known and followed. But the communication with al Qaeda, for example, you won't find because that sort of thing isn't happening. It's a harder problem.
SCIUTTO: No question, they have multiple threats.
Glenn Carle, former CIA, thanks very much for joining us.
A reminder to our viewers we continue to follow a terror attack under way. It's been under way for hours now in Dhaka in Bangladesh with hostages inside, perhaps six to eight attackers. No update on the safety of those hostages. At least 20 we're told inside this restaurant in the diplomatic quarter in Dhaka.
We're staying with this story. We'll be back right after this break.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington. We continue to follow the breaking news. There is a terror attack under way. It has been under way for some hours now in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, just to the east of India.
A hostage situation it is believed, at a restaurant and bakery, right in the center of the diplomatic quarter in the capital, not far from the U.S. Embassy there. That is a picture of the restaurant. That is where it is happening right now. No live pictures of this now because Bangladeshi TV has stopped broadcasting those pictures so that the terrorists inside could not learn what the police are doing, how they are amassing outside that restaurant. We are waiting for updates inside.
The latest news is that ISIS is at least claiming responsibility for this attack. I want to go to our Ivan Watson. He is actually in Istanbul where just three days ago we had yet another deadly attack, this at the Istanbul airport.
Seeing the broad range and reach of ISIS here globally, Ivan, I know you have covered a number of previous attacks in Dhaka, but they tended to be on individual targets. This one if it is ISIS, more coordinate coordinated, larger, and more ambitious.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Because in this case whoever is carrying out this attack is holding ground and fighting back, and have killed at least two police officers and wounded at least one more with gunfire and also throwing explosives at the police.
[16:50:06]What the trend that we reported on extensively in the past is targeted machete murders, killings that have been targeting everything, Jim, from atheist bloggers and secular writers and publishers to members of minority, religious groups in Bangladesh to an Italian aid worker last year, a Japanese businessman.
And these have been carefully planned attacks where several men will approach often on motorcycles, and they'll pull out these machetes, sometimes in broad daylight and then chop these people down in the street and then flee.
Now the Bangladeshi government has tried to conduct arrest. In fact, in June, they mounted an incredible operation detaining more than 14,000 people as part of an effort to try to put a stop to this escalating pattern of violence that was being claimed by groups either aligning themselves with ISIS or al Qaeda.
In what seemed like a very grim and grizzly competition between extremist groups. If it turns out that this was in fact the work of ISIS or perhaps a group inspired by ISIS or trying to imitate ISIS, then it will prove that the mass crackdown in June was not successful at stopping the extremist groups in Bangladesh -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: There we are, Ivan Watson, outside the site of the attack from just three days ago in Istanbul discussing the attack still under way now in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Again, the news there, ISIS now claiming responsibility for this attack.
It is still underway. Police trying to resolve it peacefully. They say they've already lost two of their officers. We're going to stay with this story. Please stay with us for this short break.
[16:55:48] SCIUTTO: Welcome back. We continue to follow the breaking news, a terror attack under way for hours now in Dhaka. That is the Bangladeshi capital. There is still some 20 hostages at least, it is believed, inside a restaurant there right in the middle of the diplomatic quarter in Dhaka. ISIS now claiming responsibility.
I want to go to our panel now, sitting next to me here in Washington, Cedric Leighton, a former U.S. military intelligence officer. Should we expect that the U.S. is cooperating on this with their Bangladeshi counterparts, intelligence sharing resources?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR TRAINING, NSA: Exactly, all of those things, intelligence sharing, intelligence training, intelligence operations even in the actual military operations. Those are the hallmarks that were put in place basically in the late 90s, and they continuing to this day with the Bangladeshi military.
SCIUTTO: Juliette Kayyem, a former DHS, Department of Homeland Security, assistant secretary. We are coming to the July 4th weekend. There is no credible or specific threat for the U.S. this weekend. That should be clear.
But we do know that as it always happens in advance of major holidays, there is heightened security, heightened awareness from U.S. Homeland Security and security forces. How should people at home view this as we go into the July 4th weekend? Many people traveling tonight as we speak.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So, you know, you can't put your head in the sand. This is a heightened alert and it doesn't have to be ISIS directed. We know ISIS inspired. So what I talk about is educate yourself and engage with your own safety and security and be aware of your surroundings, see something say something, understand security protocols.
If you're in a new city, understand where you are. If you are in a different country, know the 911 equivalent number. Talk to your kids about what they should do. It shouldn't be scary. It should just be, you know, sort of reality based education and then continue to live your life because I think that's what July 4th is also about.
SCIUTTO: Awareness, not fear, that is something I often hear for counterterror officials. Bob Baer, former CIA, CNN security analyst now. What is your reaction particularly from an American point of view as we look at these three days, 72 hours, two major attacks in two major capitals, both claimed by ISIS, both showing coordination and real brutality?
ROBERT BAER, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Jim, what I'm worried about is a copycat attack on the 4th of July. This is what worries the CIA and the FBI, somebody who inspired by Orlando, by Dhaka, and now Istanbul. I think there's always a possibility and there is no way to prevent it. The FBI is on this but who knows.
SCIUTTO: That is a sad fact, and Cedric, we know this. You can prevent 99 out of 100 attacks and they only have to get through once.
LEIGHTON: That's right. And there is that one time that is always considered the intelligence failure and that is what intelligence agencies are scared of every night they go to bed. All those officials, they really worry about that. That is the primary thing that they care about.
SCIUTTO: I think often have the impression -- our intelligence agencies have so many capabilities that they are all knowing, but of course, they are not easy to hide.
LEIGHTON: It's easy to hide in plain sight. It's easy to hide in very unique place and that is the big challenge because we're dealing with cultures that we don't fully understand. Even with people from those countries, we don't really understand a lot of the cultures that we need to penetrate in order to understand the way these people are coming from.
SCIUTTO: Cedric Leighton, Juliette Kayyem, Bob Baer, thanks very much. Just recapping what we know right now, there is a terror attack still underway. It's been underway for hours in Dhaka. There is still, to our knowledge, from the word of Bangladeshi police, there are still hostages inside this restaurant in a popular area for foreign diplomats of many nationalities on what was a busy Friday night. The U.S. Embassy just a mile away as you see there on that map.
That is it for THE LEAD now. I'm Jim Sciutto. I've been in for Jake Tapper today. There is much more on the breaking news that just now in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, hostage standoff, another U.S. --