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Who Is Bombing Suspect Ahmad Rahami?; Note Near Bomb Mentioned Boston Bombers; Wells Fargo CEO In The Hot Seat; Candidates Clash On Terror After Bombings; U.N. Aid Convoys Hit By Warplanes In Aleppo; Federal Reserve Meeting Begins Today. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 20, 2016 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, new details on what led police to the suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings. He's now facing charges for trying to kill police. Could terror charges be on the way as police try to figure out if this suspect acted alone? We are live this morning on the scene of the Chelsea explosion, right now.

Welcome back to EARLY START, I'm Christine Romans.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman. We're looking at 30 minute past the hour right now. We have major developments overnight in the investigation into the man that authorities say planted bombs in four locations in two states over two days.

Twenty-eight-year-old accused bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami has been charged with attempted murder of police officers. Officials tell CNN they believe he is "the main guy" but they have not determined whether anyone else may have helped him. Rahami is a naturalized U.S. citizen who has born in Afghanistan. He traveled to that country several times. He was questioned each time he returned to the United States.

Rahami was captured just hours after officials sent an alert about him to millions of cell phones in the region. If you live around New York City you got this and you were probably pretty shocked went it crosssed your phone. This whole episode ended with police and Rahami in a dramatic shootout in Linden, New Jersey.

CNN's Jessica Schneider -- she is in Elizabeth, New Jersey right now at the scene of the Rahami home, which was raided yesterday -- Jessica.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, and so far we know that Rahami is not talking or cooperating with investigators. Those investigators want to know if Rahami had any help in coordinating and executing those attacks in Manhattan and plotting other devices here in New Jersey. Investigators also want to know did he have any ties to foreign terrorist groups.

We do know that Rahami traveled extensively overseas, both to Pakistan where he was born -- I'm sorry, Afghanistan, where he was born, and also Pakistan where he married a woman in 2011. We do know that Rahami spent about a year in Quetta, Pakistan, which is a Taliban stronghold. And he was questioned every time he came back here to the United States, going through secondary screening, but he was never actually flagged by immigration officials.

Rahami is now facing five counts of attempted murder for that gun battle with Linden police. In fact, I talked with a Linden police captain yesterday. He tells me that when his officers arrived on the scene they recognized Rahami from those wanted posters but Rahami immediately began firing. He actually struck that first officer in the vest and then when a second squad car arrived Rahami fired again, firing two rounds into the squad car. The bullets went through the windshield, but the trajectory changing just enough that the second officer was grazed just in the forehead.

It was a bar owner who called police after seeing Rahami's picture right here on CNN and he talked to us about how this gun battle unfolded.


HARINDER BAINS, BAR OWNER: The first cop goes in. He just look at him and he's still sleeping and his hoodie is pulled over his head. And then when the second cop pulled in and he just wake him up. And right away he went to his left side to pull, I think -- I'm sure -- the gun. And I couldn't hear the conversation because I across street in my store in doorway, you know. And right away he pulled a gun and he shot twice. I was like shaking a little bit, you know. Then the cop pulled out his gun. At that point of time I realized that OK, this is the guy.


SCHNEIDER: FBI agents raiding the Rahami home, as well as the chicken restaurant that they run right here in Elizabeth, yesterday. This chicken restaurant has been a big point of contention in this area. Neighbors, at one point, said that it was operating 24 hours a day and being a nuisance to this community. When the City Council passed an ordinance trying to shut it down every night at 10:00 p.m., the Rahami family filed a lawsuit saying they were being discriminated against and harassed -- Christine and John.

BERMAN: All right, Jessica Schneider for us in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Thanks so much, Jessica.

ROMANS: Significant new developments overnight in the bombing investigation. A law enforcement officials tells CNN a handwritten note was found with the unexploded bomb in Chelsea. That note included references to the Boston bombers. One thing investigators urgently want to know, did this bomber have any help? Was this part of an organized terror ring?

Joining us now with the latest on that, CNN's Ed Lavandera in New York's Chelsea neighborhood. Good morning, Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. Well, investigators, at this point, don't believe that Rahami acted with anyone else but they're not necessarily ruling that completely out just yet. That's one of the things that they're continuing to look at, especially as they continue to analyze the sophistication of the explosive devices that he was able to put together.

[05:35:00] We're here on 23rd Street. This section of the street between 6th and 7th Avenue is now reopened to traffic. And it was along here that investigators were able to find surveillance video showing Rahami walking down the street with two duffle bags. In the hours after the explosion investigators fanning out through this area looking for any kind of surveillance videos that might provide some clues.

But it was actually the unexploded, undetonated device that was found four blocks north of here on 27th Street which has provided some of the most crucial clues to investigators, including that handwritten note that you referenced, as well as a fingerprint on one of those pressure cookers. And it was that fingerprint that led investigators to identify Rahami as the suspect.

And then letting out that call that went out to everyone's cell phones to millions of people yesterday morning and then the apprehension of Rahami just about four hours later. So that was a crucial piece of information that they needed.

Investigators have connected Rahami to the explosive devices not only here in New York City, but as well as two other locations in New Jersey, as well. So they continue to track down those leads, as well -- John and Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Ed Lavandera. Thank you for that, Ed.

BERMAN: All right, let's get more on this. We're joined now by Michael Weiss, CNN contributor, senior editor at "The Daily Beast" and co-author of "ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror".

Michael, let's start with the travel of this man, Rahami. We know he went to Afghanistan and Pakistan maybe more than once.


BERMAN: That, of course, where you would find the Taliban.

WEISS: Right.

BERMAN: Where you might find some al Qaeda elements right now. You know, it's a reminder that it's not just ISIS at play here.

WEISS: That's right. I mean, we've been focused too much, perhaps, on ISIS because they've had the most significant and consistent spate of terror attacks around the world recently. And they have their so- called caliphate, which has become a rallying point for foreign fighters and inspiring Jihadists across the globe.

But, this was a former -- this was a subsidiary of al Qaeda up until 2013, early 2014. And right now there is a global competition between the two brands -- the former patron and the former subsidiary. And al Qaeda is trying to match ISIS, you know, hit for hit, terror attack for terror attack. And, in fact, in Syria, the real problem once ISIS is destroyed or

pushed out is the rise of -- they now claim to be a former al Qaeda franchise but no one really believes that. Jabhat al-Nusrathat, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham -- are they planning international terror operations? Remember, the Khorasan group when we went to war in Syria -- they were one of the initial targets.

So look, if this guy was in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the likelihood that's it more al Qaeda-related or inspired than, say, ISIS inspired is great.

BERMAN: If he was specifically radicalized.

WEISS: If he was specifically radicalized.

ROMANS: Right.

WEISS: But then, again, people really don't travel to Quetta, Pakistan to take a tourist --

ROMANS: For the weather.

WEISS: -- view or for the weather.

ROMANS: Let's talk about if he had any help then and that's what authorities are trying to figure out now. What was the network? Was it a cell? I mean, there was a lot of caution yesterday about saying there's any kind of an active cell here.

WEISS: Sure.

ROMANS: What do -- could somebody pull off something like this -- four bombings in two states in two days -- by yourself?

WEISS: It looks like he didn't really pull it off, thankfully.

ROMANS: Well, right.

WEISS: And in some respect this seems to me like a parody of the coordinated attack, right? I mean, look at Paris, look at Brussels, you know. You had a team of people working together. They had planned this months in advance. You had a separate bomb maker, certainly in the Paris instance.

This guy -- it clearly wasn't a suicide operation, you know. Leave a pressure cooker in a dumpster? Not the best place to put a device that endured most of the blast.

ROMANS: That absorbed most of the impact.

WEISS: So it looked like there was -- there was some good technological capability in the construction of these devices but not necessarily good tactical or logistical capability. If there are other people who've helped him, I wonder where they are. I mean, who knows. It doesn't seem like they were active parts of this operation, you know. They weren't trying to perpetrate it. BERMAN: The fact of the note, which we're reporting overnight --


BERMAN: Ed Lavandera reporting right there -- that's fascinating. I mean, in and of itself, you have this man, if the note was written by him, basically honoring past domestic terrorists --

WEISS: Sure.

BERMAN: -- including the Tsarnaev brothers. They're obviously -- they're a model there. But it's hard to figure out what he thought would happen. You put a bomb -- you know, put a note in your bomb that you want to go off, it's not clear you ever want it found. Secondly, you said it didn't seem like he wanted to kill himself, necessarily --

WEISS: Right.

BERMAN: -- because he had ample opportunity to do that, if he did. So you wonder what he was after there.

WEISS: Although I will say opening fire on an armed police officer is probably a good way to kill yourself --


WEISS: -- so you never know. It could have been the case that this didn't go exactly as planned. I'm almost certain he believes that. And then when he realized he had been cornered and was going to go to jail he figured he'd go out in a blaze of glory. He probably got that text message that we all got.

ROMANS: Be interesting, right?

BERMAN: If he was in the tri-state area he certainly got it.

ROMANS: Millions got it.

WEISS: Yes. I mean, they don't do that in France and they don't do that in Belgium, so I think he felt the noose tightening around his neck.

ROMANS: It's interesting, I hadn't thought about that. All right, Michael Weiss, nice to see you.

WEISS: Sure.

ROMANS: Thank you so much for your expertise on this.

WEISS: My pleasure.

ROMANS: All right, about 40 minutes past the hour. The CEO of Wells Fargo preparing for a grilling on Capitol Hill. John Stumpf is his name. He will testify before the Senate Banking Committee. That starts at 10:00 Eastern. Senators from both parties hopping mad that bank employees secretly created two million unauthorized accounts.

[05:40:00] Stumpf has apologized for the scandal and says he takes responsibility. But critics say yes, he should take responsibility. He should go or maybe give up some of his pay. He should go, along with 5,300 workers who have already been fired.

Look for fireworks when Stumpf faces Sen. Elizabeth Warren. She'll likely ask why the executive who headed the unit responsible for the -- for the sales goals that led to those fake accounts -- that executive is retiring with a pay day worth $124 million.

Stumpf, by the way, raked in more than $19 million in compensation last year and that brings me to my Romans' Numeral for today -- $22.1 billion. That's the price shareholders have paid for the fake account scandal at Wells Fargo. The stock is down 10 percent since the news broke. It was the nation's largest bank by market cap -- nor anymore. The title now belongs to J.P. Morgan Chase. Raising a lot of questions on Capitol Hill about reining in executive pay in cases like this.

BERMAN: There's going to be a bipartisan feeding frenzy on this.

ROMANS: Oh, yes.

BERMAN: It's going to be Democrats and Republicans who are going to fall over each other to get after this one.


BERMAN: The presidential race now firmly focused on the issue of national security. This is in the wake of the bombings in New York and New Jersey. Donald Trump now suggesting that profiling is the way to go. What does Hillary Clinton say? That's next.


[05:46:10] ROMANS: The terror attacks in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota giving Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, each, a fresh reason to suggest the other is not equipped to deal with terror. Trump is repeating his calls for an ideological test encouraging police profiling in the wake of the bombings, and accusing Hillary Clinton of being soft on terror.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In fact, Hillary Clinton talks tougher about my supporters than she does about Islamic terrorists, right? Let's ask Hillary Clinton how many people who subscribe to radical Islamic views and support the oppression of non- believers would you call deplorable or irredeemable? Or are those words reserved only for hardworking Americans that truly love our country and they want to make a statement?


ROMANS: Hillary Clinton pushing back hard, saying Donald Trump is only fanning the flames of terror.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We know that a lot of the rhetoric we've heard from Donald Trump has been seized on by terrorists. In particular, ISIS, because they are looking to make this into a war against Islam.


ROMANS: All right, joining us to discuss this -- all of this, "CNN POLITICS" reporter Eugene Scott. Good morning.


ROMANS: I want to get your initial read this morning on how each candidate is taking the events of the last three days and using it to push the ball forward.

SCOTT: Well, the initial reading is that Donald Trump, as usual, came out very aggressive, came out very strong, came out very passionate against what he believed was terrorism even before we really knew what was going on.

Whereas, Hillary Clinton, as expected, was a bit more cautious and temperate in a way that some people view as favorable, but has also been the subject of a lot of criticism for her. It just makes her look guarded and calculated in ways sometimes people just don't receive really well.

BERMAN: It's interesting that you can see in the polls why, perhaps, each campaign is doing this, right? Because on the question of who do you trust more to handle terrorism, Trump leads. Trump leads Clinton 51 percent to 45 percent so he has an edge on terrorism.

When you're talking about who would be the better commander in chief, the overall picture -- which, you know, maybe when you're asking people in a poll about that they're thinking more about demeanor -- Hillary Clinton leads. So both campaigns playing to their strengths here. It's not often you see this in a campaign where both sides hit the same exact issue trying to make the same exact gains at the same time.

SCOTT: Very much so. I think we see Clinton waiting a bit because she has this experience that encourages a level of wisdom and caution that Donald Trump doesn't, in terms of his experience. Even though he believes that very much -- very much so that the approach that he's taking to this is the one that's needed, it's just very different.

BERMAN: Some of the polls indicate that there is some support for his reaction.

SCOTT: Absolutely.


BERMAN: He says, you know, his show of what people perceive as strength.

ROMANS: Right. Let's talk about Skittles -- bowl of Skittles -- because there was a tweet last night from Donald Trump, Jr. that's getting a lot of attention this morning. It even got a reaction from the company that makes Skittles.

This is what Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted. "If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful? That's our Syrian refugee problem." The company came out right away -- the Wrigley Company that owns Skittles. "Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don't feel it's an appropriate analogy. We will respectfully refrain from further commentary as anything we say could be misinterpreted as marketing." This is going to get a lot of traction today -- this Skittle story -- isn't it?

SCOTT: Absolutely. I mean, I was watching it online overnight and people are still talking about it. And one of the things people have a lot of problems with, besides it coming off as insensitive, is that the analogy doesn't seem to work, which is what Skittles actually said, themselves.

ROMANS: But the math doesn't work either, right John?

SCOTT: Right.

BERMAN: Right.

ROMANS: I mean, when you get three Skittles in a bowl of Skittles, if you want to take that analogy and talk about Syrian refugees. I mean, I think the Cato Institute puts it at one in three billion are your chances of being hurt by a refugee.

[05:50:00] SCOTT: Which it's been a bit of the critique against the Trump campaign, as a whole, that they perhaps have exaggerated the magnitude of the issue and don't have a lot of confidence in the vetting system that is in place to protect Americans.

BERMAN: All right, Eugene Scott, thanks so much for being with us.

SCOTT: Thank you.

BERMAN: Appreciate it. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY". Alisyn Camerota joins us now.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BERMAN: Hey, Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Good morning, guys, great to see you. We have all sorts of new information on this suspected terrorist who was captured in New Jersey yesterday. And we have our experts standing by. Jim Scuitto is preparing a magic wall segment for us with all the new investigative threads. Look who's waiting here, Phil Mudd -- good -- act natural, Phil. Good job.

We also have the woman, who's going to be on live, who found the pressure cooker in the garbage. What did she think when she saw it? Was she scared? And the couple in the mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota who was stabbed in that terror attack. The woman is nine months pregnant. So we're going to be speaking with them live when Chris and I join you at the top of the hour in 10 minutes.

ROMANS: All right.

BERMAN: And Jim Sciutto playing Minecraft.

CAMEROTA: That's right (laughing).

BERMAN: All right, looking forward to it, Alisyn. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: Phil Mudd drinking coffee. All right, can't wait. Thanks so much. All right, the new list -- the new list of colleges with the highest paid graduates is out and there are two in the top five you've probably never heard of. We're going to show you the six-figure incomes when we get an EARLY START on your money, next.


[05:55:30] This morning, the State Department is expressing outrage over the bombing of United Nations aid convoys in Aleppo. At least a dozen people were killed in the airstrike -- this happened Monday. It's not clear if they were hit by Syrian or Russian planes. This comes with the U.S. and Russia at odds over efforts to stem the violence in Syria.

Let's get the latest from CNN's Frederik Pleitgen. He's following developments live in Damascus for us. Fred, the possibility of this ceasefire going on any further just seems more bleak by the minute.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, more bleak and virtually zero at this point in time, John. It looks like the ceasefire was almost literally blown up with that aid convoy.

Remember, it was supposed to do two things. On the one hand, it was supposed to offer some respite and some calm for the many people in Syria who have been suffering from this violence for just a very long time. But it was also supposed to get aid to the many places that are besieged and other places that need help very, very quickly.

Now, there was aid for 78,000 people in that convoy that was attacked. All of that, of course, is now destroyed. Also, the local head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent was killed, as well. It's unclear at this point in time whether it was an airstrike or whether it was some sort of ground fire that did the damage to that convoy.

The U.S. certainly believes that it was an airstrike and, therefore, they say there were no coalition planes there. That it must have either been the Russians or the Syrian Air Force. We don't have any comments from the Syrians yet. The Russians say they're investigating, John.

BERMAN: All right, Frederik Pleitgen for us. Thanks so much. This, of course, as thousands and thousands of Syrians still waiting for aid -- the aid that never came. Thanks, Fred.

ROMANS: All right, let's get an EARLY START on your money this morning. The Federal Reserve begins its two-day policy meeting today. Investors don't seem to be worried about any kind of a surprise interest rate hike. Dow futures ticking up right now. Stock markets in Europe and Asia are mixed. Oil is down.

Scoring a good paying job right out of college is great but having a successful career longer term can pay off big time, and the average grads at these colleges are proof of that. A new study by PayScale shows the top five schools ranked by graduate pay at least 10 years after graduation.

Number one is Maritime College, a school in the State University of New York system. Grads there make $147,000 and many of them are maritime engineers. Number two is Harvard -- I haven't heard of that one -- followed by MIT, then Claremont McKenna College and Princeton. Grads from those schools all making $135,000 or more.

The report also ranked pay by degree. Fifteen of the top 20 highest- paid degrees have one thing in common. They are focused on engineering. I'm not surprised by that. For that past, I don't know, maybe five or six years I've been doing reports like this it's always engineering. Science, technology, engineering, math.

BERMAN: Etruscan art.

ROMANS: Estrucan art -- no.

BERMAN: Underrated when it comes to earning potential.

ROMANS: No, no. I loved art history but --

BERMAN: That's why we're on at 4:00 a.m. All right, breaking new details on the suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings. He is charged with trying to kill police. Officials wondering did he act alone? Breaking developments -- "NEW DAY" starts right now.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the guy, this is the guy.

JIM SCUITTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The prime suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings is in custody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are looking to see if this man has been operating alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was hiding in plain sight and you would have never known it.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We do not, and never will, give in to fear.

TRUMP: He will be taken care of by some of the best doctors in the world and he'll probably even have room service.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Welcome to America. You have a right to counsel and you have a right to hospitalization. That is our system.

CLINTON: This is a sobering reminder that we need steady leadership in a dangerous world.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone, welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, September 20th, 6:00 in the East.

Up first, we have new details emerging about the man suspected of setting off that series of bombs in New York and New Jersey. A trail of clues leading authorities to capture Ahmad Kahn Rahami within hours of releasing his photo. A New Jersey bar owner recognized him after seeing his picture on CNN.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So the big questions that remain are was he alone, did he have help, was he part of a larger organization? He certainly didn't have an exit plan. The bombing suspect was captured only miles from his home. After a gun battle with police he is now charged with attempted murder of police officers.

We have every angle covered for you. Let's begin with CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez. Morning, Evan.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Now, the man the FBI believes was behind at least 10 bombs at four locations in New York and New Jersey was uncooperative in the first few hours after his capture. But investigators are beginning to put together a picture of what may have driven the 28-year-old to carry out these bombings.