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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Intelligence Community Believes Russia is Behind DNC Hack; Philippine President Duterte Uses Vulgar Language to Describe President Obama; Standing Rock Oil Pipeline Protest. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired September 5, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have had problems with cyber-intrusions from Russia in the past, from other countries in the past.
And, look, we're moving into a new era here, where a number of countries have significant capacities. And, frankly, we got more capacity than anybody, both offensively and defensively.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Sources tell CNN the U.S. intelligence community believes Russia was behind the recent hacks of the Democratic National Committee, "The New York Times" and think tanks in Washington.
Investigators are also looking into who breached voter databases in the states of Illinois and Arizona. For his part, President Putin has denied any tampering.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I don't know anything about it. And on a state level, Russia has never done this.
SCIUTTO: Also in the world lead, we now have a better idea of how ISIS infiltrated Europe, blended in with the locals and carried out one of the worst coordinated terror attacks in history.
The CNN exclusive report is next.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back.
And turning to our world lead exclusive, new details about ISIS plans to strike in the West. CNN has obtained nearly 100,000 pages of internal documents from the investigation into last year's horrific attacks in Paris, revealing a sophisticated web of operatives fanned out across Europe with plans to carry out more terror.
The document trove includes never-before-seen photos, interrogations and actual communications between the ISIS terrorists and their handlers back in Syria.
CNN senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward spent months digging into this story. She filed this exclusive report.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): November 13, 10 ISIS operatives attacked Paris, targeting bars, restaurants, a concert hall and a stadium, shooting as many people as they could before blowing themselves up.
By the end of the massacre, the worst terrorist attack in Europe in a decade, 130 people were dead. Now, for the first time, CNN has gained access to thousands of pages of documents and photos from the internal European investigation which shed new light on the sophisticated network ISIS uses to coordinate terror attacks across Europe.
The documents reveal another suspected terrorist never before made public who investigators linked to the cell that carried out the Paris attacks. He was on the loose in Europe for more than six months. Other ISIS operatives are right now believed to be living among ordinary citizens in Europe plotting other strikes directed by senior ISIS handlers in Syria, according to multiple sources.
Within days of the shocking rampage in Paris, police learned that two of the three suicide bombers at the Stade de France stadium entered Europe by posing as Syrian refugees. These surveillance photos never seen before publicly show the bombers as they approach their target. This is the moment they detonate their devices.
But according to the documents, two more men were part of the ISIS cell. They traveled the same refugee route as the suicide bombers, blending in with thousands of people from war-torn countries. Their names are Adel Haddadi and Mohammad Usman. They were eventually arrested.
And records of their capture and interrogation obtained by CNN show how ISIS supported the attackers throughout their mission. This is their story based mainly on multiple interrogations of Haddadi.
Early October, six weeks before the Paris attacks, the documents show their journey began in Raqqa, Syria, the capital of the self-declared ISIS caliphate. The men didn't know each other's real names, or what their mission would be. According to the documents, Haddadi later tells investigators he only knew they were being sent to France to do something for the good of god.
Much of their journey was directed by a shadowy ISIS leader in Syria, known only as Abu Ahmad, who arranged meetings, cell phones, money, and transportation for them.
Jean-Charles Brisard is a French expert on terrorism. We asked him to analyze the documents obtained by CNN.
JEAN-CHARLES BRISARD, FRENCH CENTER FOR ANALYSIS OF TERRORISM: Abu Ahmad is clearly an ISIS operative. He is key in sending those individuals, at least the foreigners, into the Paris attacks, because he is the one who recruited them, who funds them, who trained them, who provided the electronic devices to them, telephones. He was always in contact with them.
WARD: According to the transcripts of interrogations, Haddadi and Usman, along with the two Paris attackers, travel from Raqqa, across the Turkish border, on to the coastal city of Izmir, switching vehicles, picking up cash, passed from one smuggler to the next along the way.
They receive instructions from their ISIS handler in Syria through encrypted apps such as Telegram and WhatsApp. Throughout their journey, they're only given enough money and information to get to the next stop.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: ISIS is accelerating its international attack planning. It's increasingly sophisticated in the way it does this. It's set up an intricate logistical support system for these terrorist cells throughout Europe.
WARD: In the middle of the night, the team makes the treacherous crossing to Greece in a boat filled with dozens of refugees. They're picked up by the Greek navy along the way. The two bombers, who would eventually attack the Paris stadium, make it through and start moving steadily north toward their target.
But Haddadi and Usman's fake Syrian passports are discovered. They're arrested, and their money is taken. They are held in Greece for about a month.
Greek officials would not say why they were released, but authorities believe that delay was significant. They would not have a chance to become part of the Paris attacks.
Haddadi tells investigators they contact their ISIS handler, Abu Ahmad, who arranges another 2,000 euros for them. Flush with cash, the pair continue along the refugee route.
As they work their way across Europe, Usman, identified by investigators as a bomb-maker from a Pakistani terror group, passes the hours doing something strikingly un-Islamic, looking at porn. Documents show he visited almost two dozen porn sites on his phone.
November 14, the day after the Paris attacks, Haddadi and Usman arrive in Salzburg, Austria. They apply for asylum and end up in this refugee center, where they stay for weeks.
(on camera): According to CNN sources, authorities now believe that Haddadi and Usman were not only part of the same terror cell as the Paris bombers, but also that they were planning another attack. The documents show that they were in contact with people in several European countries and were researching travel to France.
(voice-over): Investigators believe they were waiting for a third man to join them, a mysterious ISIS operative called Abid Tabaouni.
Tabaouni has never been publicly named, until now. Like Usman and Haddadi, he traveled from Syria along the refugee route, carrying a phone number linked to the terror cell of the ringleader of the Paris attacks, according to the documents, as well as a photo of Islamic state fighters standing before their flag.
December 10, nearly a month after the Paris attacks, Tabaouni finally arrives at the refugee center where Usman and Haddadi are. Later the very same day, police raid the center. Usman and Haddadi are arrested. Here's what happened next, according to the documents.
In the scramble, Haddadi tries unsuccessfully to get rid of his SIM card.
Tabaouni is nowhere to be seen. Haddadi denies knowing him. But investigators find this, Tabaouni's cell phone, charging right beside Haddadi's bed. It has Haddadi's phone number saved in it. Also in that phone, a photo taken just 30 minutes before the raid. It shows Tabaouni sitting on a bed in the refugee center, right next to where Haddadi and Usman slept.
BRISARD: We can assume that Tabaouni was also part of the same plot. and was instructed to carry out an attack, Brisard said.
WARD: From the time that he slipped away last December, Tabaouni has been a wanted man, according to CNN sources, who also confirm he was finally arrested in July.
The documents show this is the Facebook page Tabaouni had on his phone, and in recent months it appears he was publicly posting updates from Belgium.
Investigators are now analyzing 1,600 pages of data from his phone. And sources tell CNN they are moving to extradite him to Austria, and to tie him to Haddadi and Usman and the Paris attackers.
(on camera): Are you concerned there may be many others who use the same route who we just -- who you just didn't know about it?
BRISARD: Yes, we've seen that in the recent weeks. Several of the individuals who carry out individual attacks, inspired attacks were coming back from Syria using the same route.
WARD: So there's a possibility that there are many more that you just don't know about?
BRISARD: There is a high possibility.
WARD (voice-over): The documents show Haddadi's phone has also proven to be a treasure trove for investigators, revealing an ISIS network that fanned out through Southern and Northern Europe. He had dozens of contacts.
Some gave advice on crossing borders and evading the law. One tells Haddadi that he was able to sneak into France by hiding in the bathroom of a train.
December 15, five days after the raid, ISIS handler Abu Ahmad reaches out to his operatives, Haddadi and Usman, perhaps wondering about their silence. "How are you?" he writes. "What's become of you?"
There is no reply.
(on camera): According to CNN sources, Haddadi and Usman have been extradited to France.
And since our story first became public this morning, Austrian media, citing prosecutors, has reported that the third suspected ISIS operative, Abid Tabaouni, has now been extradited to Austria from Belgium, where he was arrested.
But Belgian sources have told me there are 30 to 40 others who were part of the network that facilitated the Paris attacks who they believe are still at large -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Clarissa Ward, thanks so much for that excellent report.
Also in the world lead, breaking news: President Obama cancels a big meeting with the man who called him a son of a -- insert bleep here. What led to a vulgar exchange such as this?
Plus, an ugly side of new construction.
The group fighting back on a major project that could put one day more money in your own pocket.
SCIUTTO: We are back with Breaking News in Our World THE LEAD(ph). President Obama in Laos at this hour to attend an economic summit, where he is expected to meet with a number of world leaders; though one less leader than originally planned. Top official confirms to CNN: President Obama will not be holding a bilateral meeting with the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. This after President Duterte hurled a vulgar insult at Mr. Obama; really an extremely unusual public onslaught among close allies. I want to bring in CNN Pentagon Correspondent, Barbara Starr. So, Barbara, walk us through exactly what happened here?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, we do want to start by warning everyone the language from the Philippine leader is graphic. He issued a direct challenge to President Obama and President Obama not taking kindly to any of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RODRIGO DUTERTE: Who is he(ph)?
[0:05:04.0] STARR (voice over): Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte amped up his use of vulgar language; taunting President Obama to not bring up the Philippines record of killing alleged drug users and suspects during the planned meeting of Southeast Asian leaders in Laos.
DUTERTE: I am a president of a sovereign state, and we have long ceased to be a colony. I do not have any master except the Filipino people.
STARR (voice over): Duterte warning anyone who asks him about the killings; some 2000 since May.
DUTERTE: You must be respectful.
STARR (voice over): Duterte switched to his native language to make his position even more clear.
DUTERTE (through translator). Son of a bitch. I'll curse you in front of everybody.
STARR (voice over): Now, the White House says President Obama will not meet with Duterte, but if it were to happen, he plans to push for due process.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If and when we have a meeting, this is something that's going to be brought up.
DUTERTE: (--) a drug lord(ph).
STARR (voice over): Duterte's hard line war on drugs was a cornerstone of his presidential campaign earlier this year.
DUTERTE: If I become president, there's no such thing as bloodless cleansing.
STARR (voice over): His comments about President Obama just the latest U.S. concern.
STARR (voice over): In another coarse verbal assault, Duterte called U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg by a homophobic slur after he criticized Duterte for making crass comments about the 1989 rape and murder of an Australian missionary when he was a mayor.
DUTERTE (through translator): I was angry she was raped. Yes, that was one thing, but she was beautiful. I think the mayor should have been first.
PHILIP GOLDBERG, U.S. AMBASSADOR: Statements by anyone, anywhere, that either degrade women or trivialize issues so serious as rape or murder are not ones that we condone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: Now, there still may be something that Duterte wants from the United States. China is militarizing the South China Sea off the coast of the Philippines, and he may eventually feel the need, experts will tell you, to turn to the U.S. for support in rolling China back. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Let's see what the answer is then. Barbara Starr, thanks very much.
Big barking dogs; men on horses. It could be just the beginning of protests in this land dispute. What's at the heart of the aggression? That's right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [0:05:10.0]
SCIUTTO: We're back with our BURIED LEAD; anger over a new oil pipeline in North Dakota. Native American protestors are clashing with the construction company building the 1100-mile pipeline. Proponents say the pipeline would provide jobs and domestically produced crude oil, while protestors who are mostly from Native American tribes say it would threaten the environment, as well as sacred Native American sites. Over the weekend, an ongoing protest took a violent turn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO (voice over): Protestors accused security guards for the construction of using dogs and pepper spray as you saw there against them, while the security guards claim the protestors were armed with knives and that they were violent. The local sheriff telling CNN, "The aggression and violence displayed here today is unlawful and should not be repeated." So what's fueling so much anger over his pipeline's construction? Our Jake Tapper spoke to the head of the Standing Rock, Sioux, Native American tribe; here's some of their conversation.
JAKE TAPPER: Short of canceling the project, what might satisfy your tribe?
DAVID ARCHAMBAULT, CHAIRMAN, STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBE: That's the only thing that we're asking is that the project don't come through our indigenous territory.
TAPPER: The group behind the pipeline says that it will help enhance energy independence for the United States. They say it will bring $150 million dollars in taxes to state and local governments and add up to 12,000 construction jobs. Ultimately, won't some of that help your tribe in some ways?
ARCHAMBAULT: We're not - we're not opposed to energy independence. We're not opposed to economic development. The problem we have, and this is a long history of problems that evolved over time where the federal government or corporations take advantage of indigenous lands and indigenous rights - these injustices that we're experiencing have been happening over and over and over again. What we're opposed to is paying for all the benefits that this country receives, paying the cost. Whenever there's a benefit, whether it's energy independence - whenever there's a benefit, whether it's economic development, tribes pay the cost and what we see now are tribes from all over sharing the same concern that we have saying, "It's enough now. Stop doing this to indigenous people. Stop doing this to our indigenous lands." (END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: This programming note: Tonight, a CNN special report: Unfinished Business, The Essential Hillary Clinton; followed by All Business, The Essential Donald Trump. It all starts at 8 o'clock Eastern, right here on CNN. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto. Jake Tapper returns tomorrow. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room.
[0:05:06.9] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now: Russia to blame?