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Top ISIS Recruiter Luring French Nationals to Iraq & Syria; France's Anti-Terror Policy Under Scrutiny; Erdogan Visits Russia After Failed Coup; Putin Expresses Support for Erdogan; Lost in Translation. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired August 9, 2016 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:11] MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST: Tonight on the program, a special report. Meet the man believed to be responsible for recruiting nearly all
How is he so successful? Or is France failing?
French Senator Nathalie Goulet joins the program.
Also ahead, Russian and Turkey (INAUDIBLE) after a rough couple of months. They discussed the Putin playbook on Turkey, Trump and the West.
Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the program.
I'm Michael Holmes in Christiane Amanpour.
Well, a French girl just 16 years old charged with supporting ISIS. And Paris prosecutors say the evidence is in her cell phone. They say the girl
used social media to spread ISIS propaganda and exchanged messages showing a willingness to commit attacks in France although no weapons were found at
As the tentacles of ISIS spread globally, perhaps no European country has been hit harder than France. More than 200 of its citizens have been
killed in attacks in just the last year.
Now in spite of French efforts, Jihadi recruiters are still successfully luring French nationals to the battle grounds of Iraq and Syria.
Nima Elbagir speaks now to one devastated brother whose sister has joined the fight lured by the man authorities admit is responsible for around 80
percent of Jihadi recruitment from France.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A tent in Syria, home to what French authorities are calling one of the most
successfully Jihadi recruitment campaigns. Overseen, they say, by Omar Diaby a.k.a. Omar Omsen, dubbed by his followers "The Super Jihadist."
When Fouad El Bathy, 15-year-old sister Nora went missing two years ago, he documented his search for her using hidden cameras, a search that took him
across Turkey's border with Syria where he learned Omar Omsen personally recruited her.
FOUAD EL BATHY, JIHADI RECRUIT'S BROTHER (through translator): We couldn't stop hugging each other. She kissed me here, here, here, she even kissed
me on the mouth by mistake. I told her, let's go home.
She said she couldn't. She was banging her head against the wall. She wanted to come back but Omar stopped her.
ELBAGIR: Fouad said he found his sister in a villa where Omsen and his French Jihadi brigade were based, an entire fighting force from Omsen's
hometown of Nice.
This rare footage obtained by a French documentary maker showcases Omsen's messianic fervour preaching as his man listen, wrapped. It's this charisma
that authorities tell us has made him so successful. Responsible for an estimated 80 percent of the French-speaking Jihadist flocking to Iraq and
Fouad says he witnessed Omsen's effect firsthand.
EL BATHY (through translator): When Omar was speaking, all the guys were looking at him like he was god. He made me think of a guru. They were
ELBAGIR: The promenade of the Southeast of France feels a world away from Syria and Iraq. But Omsen's chance at home in Nice has proved particularly
fertile recruiting ground.
His neighbor imam describing it to us as an epidemic.
BOUBEKEUR BEKRI, NICE IMAM (through translator): They are transformed in a few weeks. It's like a bomb goes off.
ELBAGIR: You have described the way that extremism is taking hold in this community as a virus.
BEKRI: When a virus infects a lot of people, it's a pandemic and you can't use regular pills to cure it, you need bigger resources.
ELBAGIR: Through an intelligence source, CNN obtained the latest Ministry of Interior figures for French nationals involved in jihad. Between May
and July, the figures rose by 67 people to 2,147. This at the height of what authorities have called an all-encompassing security response by the
CNN reached out to the French government for comment, but received no response.
France's president says his country is at war, but what is increasingly apparent is this is as much a war within. French families caught on both
sides, family to both victim and perpetrator.
[14:05:10] But even as Fouad and others like him bravely speak out, authorities say Omsen and his propaganda team continue to lure in French
citizens at home and abroad.
Nima Elbagir, CNN, Nice.
HOLMES: And I should point out, we did ask the French Interior Ministry for a response to Nima's report. So far we have not received one.
But joining me now to talk about the rise in ISIS recruitment in France and the wider issue of terrorism prevention is French Senator Nathalie Goulet,
who is also the vice chair of the country's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee.
And senator, it does seem extraordinary that during a period of heightened security, terror prevention a priority, the number of fighters leaving
France for jihad is going up.
What is failing in France?
NATHALIE GOULET, FRENCH SENATOR: Well, it's very scary first. And despite the fact that we increased tremendously our regulation, you know, we've
ordered almost two new regulations; there is nothing we can do and it's really a big issue and we are all very concerned. But, in fact, the number
increased. There is no question about it.
HOLMES: The French government, the prime minister, in fact, says that this is a war in France, but a war on home soil in that case who then is the
GOULET: You know, I think that the local situation is also very heavy and there's young Muslims that don't feel citizen. And so it's very easy for
them with the social networks as you mentioned previously to follow anybody and try to travel to Syria.
I mean, they have no ideology. They have no jobs. They don't feel citizen. They feel discrimination. And despite the heavy regulation and
the new intelligence regulation, too, we cannot stop them. We create a new incrimination. We can take them to court, but then before taking them to
court, we have to catch them and that is almost impossible right now.
HOLMES: So would you agree that France lacks a workable approach when it comes to Islamic indoctrination and fighting that recruitment? It's not
working, is it?
GOULET: You know, now you have to face that we have a new kind of recruitment. For example, we have some match maker.
They are taking some people from north of France, from people from south of France, they check on their, for example, telegram which is a new Web site,
and the messenger and then they bring them together to create a new team. I mean, it's like a race between the bullet and a helmet. There is always
somebody who is running faster and right now the terrorists are running faster than the lawmakers.
HOLMES: You know, I suppose it becomes an issue where you end up treating the symptom and not the cause. Deradicalization in France, I think it's
fair to say are in disarray. Some of them have stop. Some of them are not funded. There are disagreements on what to do.
How is it that France has been unable to tailor a response that works?
GOULET: Well, it's because it's an -- whatever you can think about the French system, we didn't want any patriot act, but day after day we are
getting closer to the patriot act. But regarding the deradicalization, I do prefer to use the reconstitution, reframe of the citizen league because
there is a bridge of citizenship and we didn't build right now only five programs. We missed some evaluation.
We were not ready to face this new threat. And day after day, we are training the trainers. It's a total new issue for us and really it's very
difficult. The Minister of Interior is working very hard. The lawmakers are also working, but right now, we cannot face that from a very efficient
But at the same time, we catch this young girl, at the same time a guy who was consulting a terrorist Web site was condemned for two years without
submission some days ago.
[14:10:10] So things are going much better, but then we must increase prevention and we also need badly to increase intelligence.
HOLMES: And surely engagement with the community as well.
You know, how delicate is the social balance in France? And I know you've talked a lot about Islamophobia in France and how that creates its own
emotion, I suppose, that French society is losing a sense of unity and inclusion.
Surely, the community outreach is what's important and it's not what's happening.
GOULET: Well, you know, I was talking about that with Christiane Amanpour during the Paris attack last November. I told her that I was scared about
Islamophobia. It's exactly what happened. In fact, it's a story of egg and chicken.
First you have Islamophobia, and then the young people, they use this Islamophobia to escape France and fight with ISIL. And at the same time,
all this wave of attack and blood and tears are also bringing Islamophobia. So it's like an endless and vicious circle, you know.
But the situation, the social situation right now is very, very alien and some of the main people think that we are getting close to an atmosphere of
civil war somehow in some areas.
HOLMES: You think it could be that bad, civil war.
GOULET: Yes. It's very scary.
HOLMES: Civil war.
GOULET: Well, the atmosphere is bad. I mean, nobody want to listen. Nobody wants to listen to a rational speech, you know. Nobody wants to
think. The people just react.
We have today this story of a Bucchini (ph) swimming pool which was privatized. And then it creates on the social network a real issue and for
nothing, just because the people they felt like a threat by communitarianism. And our society doesn't want to recognize
communitarianism. But at the same time, the Muslim in France, they need this communitarianism now to fight against Islamophobia. So you know it's
an endless circle. It's like that. The atmosphere is really bad.
HOLMES: And just finally, there are elections next year.
Do you fear that with Muslims in France not feeling very French with that community disengagement, do you fear that when these elections are taking
place, the sentiment in the country now is going to push politics further to the right?
GOULET: Oh, yes, badly. Badly and then they use Islam as a goal, as a subject because they know that talking about Islam will bring them a lot of
ballots. And there is also a race to reach extreme right. And it's always an issue for financing mosques. You know, the prime minister just dropped
that on the table last week such as he has to bribe any financing coming from abroad for the most, and then for the training of Imam, about veil,
about this Bucchini, every single day we use Islam globally to feed the campaign and that will not go better.
It will be the contrary. And I think that as I told you previously trying to get a rational speech, a rational mind on this issue will be almost
impossible in the near future.
HOLMES: When religion becomes a political weapon. We'll leave it there.
Senator Nathalie Goulet, thank you so much for being on the program.
Now, in Brazil, an attempt to keep a child away from drugs and gang violence has led to Olympic gold. As a youngster, Rafaela Silva took free
judo classes to avoid the pitfalls of her famously violent pavela known as the City of God. Now she is Brazil's first gold medallists in Rio blowing
away the competition in her judo category.
And when we come back, we turn to one of the most controversial nations of this year's Olympics -- Russia, back home reaching for common ground and
mutual interests with Turkey.
We discuss with an expert that dynamic and more. For example, how might a President Putin view a President Trump? Find out, next.
[14:16:38] HOLMES: And welcome back to the program.
Warm smiles and hand shakes greeting Turkey's President Erdogan today as he arrived in the Russian City of St. Petersburg for talks with President
Putin. But these are not scenes anyone could have imagined just a few months ago.
Ties between Ankara and Moscow dramatically deteriorating last year when Turkey's military shot down a Russian bomber near the Syrian border putting
relations on ice.
Well, today, on Erdogan's first foreign trip since that failed coup, the two countries vowed to restore ties. But what are the reasons behind this
sudden reproach move.
Let's get some perspective now from Moscow on that and some other Russian positions with Arkady Ostrovsky, Russian editor at "The Economists" and
You know, it was interesting hearing President Putin I think when he was talking about Mr. Erdogan; he called him my dear friend on more than one
They have very different views when it comes to Syria and Ukraine, but I suppose everybody wants to know what they might have in common and what
that means to Mr. Putin strategically.
ARKADY OSTROVSKY, RUSSIA EDITOR, THE ECONOMIST: Yes, that's a good point. Erdogan actually called him dear friend Vladimir on first terms trying to
show how friendly they are. Erdogan also talked about the access between Turkey and Russia and I think that word is very important. The word,
I think that for Vladimir Putin, despite the downing of the Russian jet back in November when the relationship really went sour, the chance to
exploit the cracks within NATO between Turkey and America, Turkey and Europe, he never misses that chance.
And I think for Erdogan to show to America and Europe that he has a friend in Moscow, he knows perfectly well how controversial this friendship is if
you could call it friendship. Only a few months ago, Putin was calling him deceitful, a traitor, somebody who stabbed Russia in the back. But I think
the anti-American slant for Russia and possibly for Turkey today is more important than the confrontation that Russia and Turkey had bilaterally
back in November.
HOLMES: So is it optics or could you see Turkey moving closer to Russia? That's something obviously that would worry the West and would give Russia
potentially a friend inside NATO as well.
OSTROVSKY: Yes. I mean, Russia has been -- Putin has been working to disrupt and find cracks within NATO just as he tried to work to find cracks
within the European Union anything to weaken the alliances, to weaken the institutions that might attract new members amongst former Soviet states.
Now for Putin, Erdogan is sort of a natural friend if you like. Somebody who shares his view of leadership, who shares his view of a position, who
cracks down on the media.
And for Putin, the fact that Erdogan managed to foil the attempted coup against him last month is a very good thing indeed. And Erdogan, clearly,
disappointed with America's and the European reaction, feeling let down by his allies. I think it's a big letdown for American foreign policy. And
Putin is trying and Erdogan are trying to show it for what it's worth.
[14:20:10] HOLMES: I wanted to ask you about Donald Trump. One former U.S. intelligence chief recently said that Mr. Putin, of course, the former
KGB man is treating Donald Trump as really an asset in the spy parlance, appealing to his vanities, compliments him and then watches him respond to
How might Mr. Putin operate with a President Trump?
OSTROVSKY: Well, nobody knows that. Again, the same logic applies to Donald Trump as the one we've discussed in Russia's relationship with
Turkey. For Putin, the biggest threat to his regime is the advance of western institutions, the advance of the rule of law of proper governance,
all the things that Trump does not represent.
For Putin, you know, Trump is an opportunistic, adventurous who he can find some common language with.
Trump is somebody who loves doing deals and so does Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin comes from the 1990s. As he said, he is a man from the KGB
doing deals and with a partner like Trump is very welcomed.
Now the biggest denture is that deal might involve the -- what Russia called the spheres of influence in the form of Soviet space. You can just
imagine Trump and Putin sitting down at a table in Yalta which has now been, you know, annexed by Russia and trying to carve out these fears of
Trump has already indicated that he's not particularly interested in countries like Ukraine. He's not interested Russia's backyard. And Russia
wouldn't have a problem with somebody like Trump for as long as he doesn't interfere in Russian politics, for as long as he doesn't criticize Russia
on its human rights record. And somebody, more importantly, who doesn't try to advance the western model of governance towards Russian boarders.
HOLMES: When you look at the Olympics and what's happening in Rio, how is the Russian problem with doping? These allegations of state sponsored
doping, how is that going down in Russia? Of course, you know, Russia does what it does in many cases and blames others for it, right?
OSTROVSKY: Correct. I mean, obviously, it caused, you know, quite an embarrassment here although Russians are still trying to portray it as a
western plot and a western conspiracy against Russia. But that story of doping actually tells you a lot about the state of Russia today.
You know, Russia wants to be seen as a resurge in power, extending its influence, flexing its muscles and using lots of the method that the
Soviets had used during the Cold War, including this information campaign, the cyber attacks. Russia allegedly hacking into the DNC computers and
trying to disrupt American elections.
It's trying to really punch above its weight. Now with the doping scandal, it's very important because the Olympic Games in Russia and sport generally
is a kind of a soft power. It's another platform to confront America and confront the west. And Russia, of course, staged that incredibly expensive
Olympic Games in such just as the unrest was unfolding in the Ukraine.
Now the idea of sort of pumping this steroids, not just into its sportsman, but also pumping steroids into the population, trying to mobilize the
population against the West and against Ukraine and against anybody who is seen as sort of an encroaching on Putin's regime is incredibly important.
And we know that these victories are in a way Russia's muscles are working on this doping. The fact that the FSB, the successor to the KGB and the
entire Russian government was involved in this incredibly complex operation trying to win those gold medals really brings you back to the Soviet days,
but it also tells you or at least raises the question of whether Russia itself can run without those -- that doping, be the annexation of Crimea,
war in Syria or the actual doping of its sportsman.
HOLMES: Sports doping as a metaphor perhaps.
Arkady Ostrovsky, author of "The Invention of Russia," a fascinating read, thanks for being with us on the program. We'll discuss more, I'm sure.
HOLMES: And when we come back, we go to Europe. And we imagine the story of Germany's accidental refugee. It's quite a tale.
[14:27:15] HOLMES: And finally tonight, imagine a world where you can become a refugee by accident. That was the fate of one 31-year-old Chinese
man who was backpacking around Europe when his wallet was stolen. He ended up in Heidelberg, a small town in Germany and went to what he thought was a
police station to report the theft. But it was in fact at the town hall. And with everything lost in translation, instead of signing a theft report,
he ended up signing an asylum request and was then taken 360 kilometers away to a migrant shelter where it took authorities 12 days to realize the
backpacker was not in fact a refugee.
But by then, he had his fingerprints taken, he had medical tests and he's even being given some spending money by the hostel for asylum seekers. But
eventually the well-dressed and well-distressed man set off alarm bells for the staff especially as he kept trying to get his passport back, something
a lot of refugees don't tend to do.
With the help of a translation app, yes, there's an app for that, and also the staff from a local Chinese restaurant, the man's story was translated
and he was free to continue his European odyssey.
According to local media, the Chinese gentleman wasn't upset with the mix up but said he had imagined Europe quite differently.
Well, Europe had clearly imagined him a little differently as well.
That is it for our program tonight. Goodbye from London.