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Christmas Market Terror Attack; Blast at Fireworks Market Kills at Least 29; Assassination of Russian Ambassador. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired December 21, 2016 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:53] MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Hello. It's just gone 6:00 in the morning here in Berlin.

I'm Max Foster with the very latest on the manhunt for the driver of a truck which plowed into a Christmas market.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Vause, live in Los Angeles where it's 9:00 Tuesday night. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Also this hour, an explosion at a fireworks market in Mexico left dozens dead. We'll have much more on that story in just a moment.

But first, Germany is on alert as police search for the driver of a truck which slammed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin. One man was arrested not far from the scene Monday night but was later released because of a lack of evidence.

One official has warned there may be more than one armed and dangerous suspect on the run. And ISIS claims it inspired the market attack which left 12 people dead and 48 wounded.

Now to Max in Berlin with the very latest on the investigation -- Max.

FOSTER: John, ISIS isn't giving any more detail beyond that. Not proving that this person was a soldier in any way, and the German security services not providing any evidence either about who they're chasing, whether it's one person or indeed a group.

So there is a manhunt under way but any more than that we don't know much more about. And the huge amount of concern here in the city, of course, that the idea that someone very dangerous could be on the run.

Here is Fred Pleitgen with the very latest.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A massive manhunt under way across Germany after the horrific truck attack on a Christmas market in the heart of Berlin; ISIS now claiming to have inspired the attack. The suspect or suspects still at large and armed and considered dangerous as investigators release the man arrested after the attack. Captured on cell phone video, the immediate aftermath of the attack that left 12 dead and more than 45 injured. A truck with Polish registration and loaded with 25 tons of steel plowing into the outdoor market, dragging some pedestrians 50 to 80 meters, stopping only after knocking over a Christmas tree.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The truck just jumped the curb and took a wrong turn and barreled through the crowd.

PLEITGEN: Inside the truck, the body of the truck's Polish driver. Berlin police say he was not at the wheel during the attack and appeared to have been shot to death. The truck company's owner says his driver appeared to have fought with the attackers.

Within an hour of the attack, police arrested a 23-year-old Pakistani immigrant.

And a somber chancellor Angela Merkel, addressing a stunned nation, seized on the suspect's nationality.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR: We must assume that this was a terrorist attack. I know that would be especially hard to bear for us if it was to be confirmed that the person who committed this act was given protection and asylum in Germany. This would be especially disgusting.

PLEITGEN: But police released the Pakistani man after prosecutors could not link him to the truck or the scene. Merkel is facing a political backlash after Germany has taken in nearly 900,000 immigrants this year even as terror attacks are on the rise.

Now investigators are in a race against time, fearful that whoever is on the run could launch another attack.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN -- Berlin.


FOSTER: Angela Merkel under political pressure -- John. Also the security service is under a huge amount of pressure because they're very much on the back foot. They thought they had their man. They had him for hours. And then they let him go. In the meantime, the real attacker is someone out there.

VAUSE: And Max -- how is this attack now expected to impact Germany's domestic security? Also its open door policy on refugees?

FOSTER: Well, that's the big debate. We've got a presidential election here next year. And certainly the far right, which has been growing in strength since Angela Merkel's policy of allowing so many refugees into the country has now got even more evidence to play into its narrative, which is that Angela Merkel has made Germany dangerous by having this open door policy.

[00:05:04] The far right suggesting that the victims here as a result of this terrorist attack are Angela Merkel's victims. And she has created a huge amount of danger in the country by allowing refugees in.

Of course there was a part of that now playing out yesterday when we heard that a Pakistani refugee had been the main suspect. We don't know now who the main suspect is or whether or not he is a refugee or if they are refugees. So we're trying to find out more than.

But it certainly plays into the narrative of the growing far right into this country that Angela Merkel is exposing the country to danger by allowing refugees in.

VAUSE: Ok, Max -- thank you. Max Foster -- we will catch up with you later this hour.

Joining me here in Los Angeles is CNN law enforcement contributor Steve Moore. Steve is also a retired special agent with the FBI. Steve -- thank you for coming in.


VAUSE: Detaining and then releasing the wrong man. It's a pretty big slip-up by the German authorities there. How big of an impact will this have on the manhunt right now? What did not get done when they thought they had the right guy?

MOORE: Think of evidence like sushi. It doesn't last very long. You don't want four-hour-old sushi. You don't want four-hour-old evidence. So while they were interrogating this person, evidence was spoiling. Evidence was going away. Evidence was dispersing. So that cost them.

VAUSE: Ok. So if you're looking for this driver right now, where do you focus the search? Could he still be in Germany? Could he have left the country? Are all these options on the table?

MOORE: Yes. All the options are on the table. This is what is concerning. For me as an investigator, I wouldn't know really where to center it.

But you know that this driver was Polish, and that he was dead inside the truck. So you might be looking clear over to Poland. And what you're going to want to do is follow that truck. There is going to be cameras. There is going to be stops it would have to make for regulatory reasons. You're going to look at the cameras and see who was driving.

And at one point you're going say he was driving either at the German border or he wasn't. You're going to have to find him somewhere between Poland and Germany.

VAUSE: Work your way back, essentially.


VAUSE: They say they're going through all the CCTV footage right now. They're also asking for anyone who has cell phone video from the scene to bring it forward. MOORE: Yes.

VAUSE: This is painstaking work, but it has been effective. In the past, they did this in Boston after the Boston bombing. Isn't that how they identified the Tsarnaev brothers?

MOORE: I believe that's the case. And I've done this where you get this film. And it is agonizing. It is painstaking. People say well, you know, how long will that take? Well, you may have for every street corner you might have ten cameras on it. So to look at an hour is going to take ten hours because you have to look at each one. So it takes forever to do that.

VAUSE: In the meantime, would you suspect that the driver of the truck, would he have gone to ground somewhere? Would he have a support network in Germany? There is also suspicion that he may not be alone.

MOORE: My hunch, and it's only a hunch. But I'm at CNN to give you my thoughts.

VAUSE: Sure -- exactly. That's why we have you here.

MOORE: My hunch is that this isn't one person. One person gets their own truck or their own car. Several people would be needed to overpower a driver, stop him somewhere, find a way to get it, and get it on the first time. Because we don't hear any other drivers saying somebody tried to hijack you. They got it the first time.

So I'm guessing that there are several people involved in this. And whatever country you see this happening in where the truck was taken over, I would start looking there. That's where your cell, at least most likely, is.

VAUSE: We know there are, you know, these jihadi cells in France, there's jihadi cells especially in Brussels, is there the same degree of jihadi infiltration across Germany as there is in these other countries?

MOORE: I really don't want to make a political statement here. But you, wherever you were going to get large amounts of refugees that are unvetted, you are going to be bringing in at least a percentage of people who are as radicalized and as cellular and as organized as the people in Brussels. I'm not advocating against letting people in, but I am saying that this is going to be a fact. And we can't put our heads in the sand.

VAUSE: Ok. Let's get to the claim of not necessarily responsibility, but inspiration, if you will --

MOORE: Inspired, yes.

VAUSE: -- by ISIS. Is it possible to know if that's just an opportunistic claim because they haven't really put any evidence forward to back it up? MOORE: Because they don't have any evidence. I mean ISIS whenever

there is an attack, ISIS is watching CNN. They're trying to figure out did somebody do that in our name? And they're going to look, they're going to see what they've done in that area, see what kind of information they pushed out.

[00:10:03] I mean lately they've been pushing out information on truck attacks. They looked at it. They probably are saying on the basis of everything we know this was probably us or people doing this in our name. Therefore we're going to consider it inspired by us.

VAUSE: Ok, Steve. Good to speak with you. Thanks so much.

MOORE: Good to talk with you.

VAUSE: Now to Mexico where an explosion has ripped through a huge fireworks market and sent people running for their lives.

Tuesday's blast killed at least 29 people and injured dozens in Tultepec, north of Mexico City. Investigators are looking into whether the blast was deliberate.

CNN's Rafael Romo joins us now with more. So Rafael -- the last report we had from emergency crews, they had no other choice but to just let the unexploded fireworks simply go off. What is the latest right now?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what I can tell you right now, John, is that the fire is now under control. It's been several hours now. And yes, you're absolutely right. There was very little firefighters could do because there were so many stalls selling fireworks at that market that there was very little they could do in terms of trying to put the fire out.

And it happened just before 3:00 local time. First it was an explosion, then a series of explosions. And you could see from miles and miles away the column of smoke going up in the air. And there are some reports that say that people in neighboring towns could hear the loud explosions and could feel the ground tremble -- just to give you an idea about how big the explosions were. Again, 29 people dead, 72 injured.

Also, to add to that, John, there are reports of at least three minors whose burns were so bad that they're going to have to be transferred to a hospital in Texas, a burn center where they're going to be treated.

And the tragic part of this, John, is that it's not the first time something like this happened in the very same location, Tultepec. It's a town about 40 kilometers or 25 miles north of Mexico City.

I was taking a look at the history of this town and what it has done. And specifically, the San Pablito market, that's the name of the market where this happened. And there had been similar explosions, in -- listen to this, John -- 1988, 1998, the year 2002, and as recently as 2005. Now there was an explosion in a different part of Mexico, but also in the central region back in 1999 where 56 people died and about 350 were injured all as a result of fireworks explosions -- John.

VAUSE: You mention these past explosions at this particular market in Mexico. Back in August, the head of Mexico's Pyrotechnic Institute actually said this, that the market was the safest in Latin America with perfectly designed posts and sufficient space so that a spark will not cause a chain conflagration. Clearly he was wrong.

The question now will be how could something like this happen in the same place for the third time in a decade?

ROMO: What many people are wondering, John, is why would you have a market with so many stalls selling fireworks all at the same time, instead of having one building with very strict fire code. Because if you go to these markets -- and I've been to a few of them -- the reality is that no matter what kind of safety precautions you can have, they're all in densely populated areas with stalls right next to each other.

So it only takes one fire to create the kind of catastrophe that we saw today in Mexico. And this time of the year, just before Christmas, is peak season for fireworks in Mexico.

I remember myself growing up in Mexico that it would be more or less like the fourth of July is in the United States where all the children want fireworks. And you have a lot of people going to the markets. You have a lot of workers there, it's very densely populated. And you have the results now, John, that we're talking about 29 people dead and 72 injured.

VAUSE: Just looking at some of the images. It looks like a mushroom cloud in the distance from those explosions.

Rafael -- thank you. Rafael Romo with the very latest details on the explosion at a fireworks market in Mexico.

We will take a short break.

When we come back, we're learning more about the police officer who assassinated Russia's ambassador to Turkey.

Also, Donald Trump is being forced to confront some tough foreign policy charges. Some are asking is the President-elect up to the job.

You're watching CNN live all around the world.


FOSTER: Here in Germany, people are mourning after a terrible attack on the Christmas market just behind me here. And Russia is also mourning the assassination of its ambassador to Turkey. The body of Ambassador Andrei Karlov has arrived in Moscow.

Our Nic Robertson spoke with a photographer who captured the horrific shooting. We have to warn you, though, his report does contain some very graphic images.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: New video shows an apparent stunning security lapse. Ambassador Andrei Karlov's killer standing behind him, unchallenged for several minutes before he pulls his gun.

BURHAN OZBILICI, ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOGRAPHER: In my two very first photos, the man, gunman was standing behind the ambassador, like he was part of ambassador's staff or somebody from the art gallery but he was very calm.

ROBERTSON: That's Ozbilici moments before the attack, taking photos of the ambassador. Seconds later, this -- Ambassador Karlov dying on the floor.

[00:20:07] The gunman shouting defiantly "God is greatest" and "Do not forget Aleppo, do not forget Syria" but chose not to shoot anyone else.

OZBILICI: People are screaming, crying. He asked people to go away and people were obeying. They were rolling in panic.

ROBERTSON: According to Turkey's interior minister the lone gunman is a 22-year-old police officer born in Turkey. State-run Andalu (ph) news agency reported his parents, sister and other relatives and some close friends have been detained. And state media is also reporting that he had books on al Qaeda and the group the government blames for last summer's coup at his apartment.

Russian investigators accompanied by their Turkish counterparts visiting the murder scene to check evidence for themselves. Meanwhile, Ambassador Karlov's body driven to Ankara airport for a brief ceremony before repatriation to Russia -- his assassination unprecedented in recent Turkish history.

Leaders of Turkey and Russia are uniting, calling it a provocative terrorist attack.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): I described this attack on Russia's embassy as an attack to Turkey, Turkey's state and nation. After the incident, during the talk with Mr. Putin, we agreed this is a provocation, and there isn't any dispute.

ROBERTSON: Nevertheless, the Kremlin spokesman says it's Turkey's responsibility to protect Russian diplomats and they want more guarantees going forward. Even so Russia's foreign minister hosted his Turkish and Iranian counterparts in Moscow to discuss the conflict in Syria -- unthinkable a year ago when Russian-Turkey relations were at boiling point on opposite sides of the Syrian civil war.

For now it seems Russia and Turkey have their eyes far down the road. As outrageous and regrettable as the assassination of the ambassador undoubtedly is, they are joining forces to freeze the conflict in Syria and lock in gains for themselves. Nic Robertson, CNN -- Ankara, Turkey.


FOSTER: Our CNN contributor, former Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty joins me now from Seattle in Washington. It's very interesting to watch the diplomacy around this, isn't it, because it's actually bringing the two sides together very closely?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is. And I think, you know, when it comes to Russia, it's really solidifying their role in the Middle East. I mean this is very interesting because you note who is not at that meeting and that's the United States. It's Iran, Russia, and Turkey, not the United States. And that's very significant.

So they're moving forward. They have -- they're putting up a united front that is Turkey and Russia. And they're making it -- the Russians are making it very clear that they don't feel that they need the Americans or maybe even want the Americans and are just moving forward on some type of resolution. What that will be precisely is not clear.

But you're right, Max. I mean the diplomacy is moving fast. And the Russians solidifying whatever means they have.

FOSTER: And how are the Americans viewing this? Is it a move away from, you know, or distancing perhaps from the United States, and moving more closely with the longer term relationship with Russia?

DOUGHERTY: You know, there is not a lot that I think that the United States can do right now? President Obama has made it clear. And he only has now, you know, a few weeks left in office that he is not going take any type of major action in Syria. And you have a new president coming in who has, this is Mr. Trump, who has made clear that he feels that he could possibly work with Russia and possibly even work with President Bashar al Assad, which seems unthinkable. Of course, when you talk about unthinkable things, that certainly is that the United States or this president incoming would think of working with Bashar al Assad to fight terrorism.

And that's the way Donald Trump looks at it -- very black and white. He feels that the Russians have taken the fight to the terrorists. He wants to fight with the terrorists and defeat them. And that means that he can ally himself with Russia.

Now, when he comes into office, the details of that, how that would be done and precisely what would happen, would Russia be leading the charge? Would the Americans be following? None of those details are clear. But the overall picture seems to be that, you know, Russians defining pretty much what is going on in Syria.

[00:25:00] FOSTER: And does Donald Trump in a way, with his sort of overtures to Russia, open the way for countries like Turkey to have closer relationships and build bridges with Russia?

DOUGHERTY: Well, yes. Although I think that this rapprochement between Turkey and Russia really was in train before Donald Trump entered the picture. But certainly if the American president is friendly with Russia, then it gives encouragement to other countries who see which way the wind is blowing to move in that direction.

I think you might see it Max, most significantly on the issue of sanctions, economic sanctions against Russia, which were introduced by the United States and by Europe as a reaction to what Russia did in Ukraine and also the annexation of Crimea.

And so if, let's say, Donald Trump decided not to uphold the sanctions, to weaken them or to even get rid of them, that would give free rein to any other country, especially some of the Europeans, who wouldn't mind doing that to simply go along.

So his relationship with Russia could be kind of a bellwether for other nations. This is not something traditional American foreign policy would necessarily accept. But this is the way it is with Mr. Trump.

FOSTER: Really awesome shifts going on in international diplomacy, aren't they? Thank you very much indeed -- Jill Dougherty for joining me on that.

Donald Trump tweeting about the attacks here in Germany and in Turkey; why some are concerned, though, about conducting foreign policy on social media.



[00:30:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, where it's just gone 9:30 on a Tuesday night. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

At least 29 people have been killed, dozens injured in an explosion at a fireworks market north of Mexico City. Authorities are investigating if the blast was deliberate. It's the third big explosion at the same market since 2005.

The body of Russia's ambassador to Turkey has arrived in Moscow a day after he was assassinated at an art gallery in Ankara. A Turkish police officer shot Andrey Karlov several times in the back. The gunman was later killed. Police are questioning several people, including the shooter's relatives.

ISIS claims a soldier of the Islamic State carried out the deadly truck attack at a Berlin Christmas market. Police are now searching for the driver who plowed into the crowd killing a dozen people. The suspect was released on Monday because of a lack of evidence.

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Donald Trump won't be inaugurated as U.S. president for another month. But his response to this week's attacks here in Germany and in Turkey is a telling sign of how he might handle global crises.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr reports on that.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The quick detention of a suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack had all the hallmarks of terrorism. Soon after, Donald Trump issuing the statement blaming Islamist terrorists saying, "Their regional and worldwide networks must be eradicated."

Trump reacting to the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey and an attack on a mosque in Switzerland, tweeting "It is only getting worse. The civilized world must change thinking."

SEAN SPICER, RNC CHIEF STRATEGIST & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Mr. Trump has made it very, very clear he understands the threat that radical Islamic terrorism poses to our nation and, frankly, to our friends and neighbors around the globe. And that we've got to be able to call it what it is and then root it out.

STARR: But hot spots facing Trump may only grow. And there are questions if he is ready for it. Trump's spokesman says he is getting briefed by his, quote, "national security team," but will not say if he has agreed to start briefings from government intelligence officials.

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: This is not the business world. And, you know, he is going to get that call at 3:00 in the morning with a crisis and he is going to have to act. He is the president of the United States.


STARR: Trump now getting a sense of what it means to deal with the Taliban. On a disturbing new video, an American woman and her Canadian husband held hostage by the group since 2012 appear with their children, begging both Trump and President Obama to free them.

Some say as threats grow, the president-elect needs to consider turning down his rhetoric because terrorists can appear to win with little effort.

JON ALTERMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: The fact is there is nothing the United States can do to prevent one guy from getting in one truck once a year and trying to kill people.

STARR (on-camera): And in another potential hot spot, China now returning that drone to the U.S. Navy that it took out of the water several days ago. Many analysts we are talking to say they believe China is still sending a message to Donald Trump that it will remain a player on the world stage and a power broker in the South China Sea, despite Trump raising the prospect of changing the long-standing U.S. One China policy.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon. (END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: John, life getting back up and running here in Berlin this morning as the sun starts to come up and people start going off to work. We'll bring you the very latest on the manhunt here as soon as we have it.

Back to you in Los Angeles.

VAUSE: OK, Max, thank you. We'll catch up with you again next hour.

Joining me here now in Los Angeles, Hernan Molina, a Democratic political analyst and Shawn Steele who is with the California Republican National Committee.

Thank you both for coming in.

Let's talk about foreign policy and the president-elect, soon-to-be the president. Right now, you know, the United States and Europe are facing probably one of the most complex terror threats the world has ever seen.

And, Shawn, the criticism of the president-elect is that he is framing everything right now in very over simplistic terms. He doesn't have a handle on the nuance and the complexity which is in front of him.

SHAWN STEEL, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I think that's part of the problem thinking that it's nuance and complex. And it's pretty clear cut. I think most people are intuitively correct and I think Trump is correct. We've got a worldwide terrorist issue. Pretty much we know the bad players are. We know what the organizations are. We know the kind of tactics they employ. It's not very complicated. The bad guys seem to have a pretty clear vision about what is going on. But we're having a -- non-Islamic populations are targeted.

[00:35:06] In the Middle East, it's a terrible ongoing vicious civil war. It's been going on relatively speaking for 1400 years. So it's not a great deal of -- I think that's part of what the American public understood. Obama made it so complex, so hard to understand and so nuanced that he got nothing done. And now we have a very chaotic situation. We haven't had a clear leadership that the rest of the world would be inspired to do something about. Trump offers that. Obama didn't and look what Trump is inheriting.

VAUSE: They did say that your Obama gave you, you know, the thought and the complexity and the nuance, but he didn't give you the passion or the decisiveness. With Trump at least you have decisiveness.

HERNAN MOLINA, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you can also be a bully. You can also be an elephant inside a China shop. And I don't know that that's necessarily what diplomacy is all about.

It's hard to measure what we are talking about in terms of accomplishing the -- some achievements in the war on terror because you never know what could have been worse. And truly, a lot of people who are talking, including myself and Shawn and you, we don't really know what's happening inside the national security circles because all of these undercover operations are really being covert operations.

But I actually take issue with what Shawn just said, that one thing is to be blunt and direct, which I think Obama has been. George W. Bush also has been. But there is also the lack of experience which is very glaringly apparent on Donald Trump.

He is obviously a business person. He has no experience in government, which obviously work well for him, because people were voting for an outsider, but that does not necessarily covered well in governing. Governing is a very different story.

And he is not just governing -- going to govern United States. He is going to be one of the world leaders, perhaps the most important, in a coalition with someone like Angela Merkel in Germany, who is facing re-election, who opened the doors to a million plus immigrants. And now this is -- in a way, this new narrative is backfiring because in a way, some of the refugees could be also the culprits of these attacks.

VAUSE: OK. So let me play for you what Republican Chris Collins said. He was the first member of Congress to back Donald Trump. He essentially explained the Trump doctrine when it comes to ISIS.

Listen to this.


CHRIS COLLINS, U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: This president is going to take the attack to ISIS unlike President Obama and he is not going to hesitate. So in calling them out, putting them on notice that we're going to take it to it and I think America appreciates that he is going to take the fight to them and not just sit back and wait for the next attack.


VAUSE: Shawn, that criticism of Obama is a little unfair, especially when it comes to ISIS. You know, this administration has taken off 75 percent of the fighters on the battlefield. They're winding it up in Iraq, since wind it up in Raqqah and Syria as well.

STEELE: I don't think it's too unfair. We never heard of a concept of Christian genocide in our lifetimes. We haven't heard that concept in hundreds of years. Now in Obama's term, that's become a serious problem in the Middle East.

But more than that in Aleppo and the tremendous carnage and the hundreds of thousands that have been killed in Syria, again, on Obama's watch. And these are two objective facts.

The idea that Trump is going to wave a magic wand and things are going to be solved, he has a difficult culture and appreciation of the U.S. military. Obama really did a great deal to take out the warrior generals and take out the effective leaders that understood war, that didn't like war, but they were warriors. He brought in political generals.

Well, Trump understands that that's a very bad way to do business. He has brought in some much different class of people that are recognized world class generals. That's where he is going to get the intelligence from. He is certainly going to redo the CIA. He doesn't trust them innately. So it's a different kind of approach.

VAUSE: To that point, you have to admit that things around the world are in disarray right now. Maybe a different set of eyes or different approach might just work.

MOLINA: Absolutely. And it's undeniable that Obama has had a different style. But at the same time, I think you need to realize, and I also take again a little bit of issue with what Shawn just said.

Obama inherited a situation that George W. Bush unfortunately took us to a war that was a war of choice and things really unravelled. I think that by trying to -- having these John Wayne kind of cowboy style, which in a way George W. Bush was accused of, of having that type of attitude is only going to further perpetrate this narrative and situation that we have worldwide with global terrorism.

So certainly it's not going help us. Diplomacy is important. I think the middle approach is exactly what we need to find. I find it hard to believe that Trump will get there in a timely manner.

VAUSE: OK. Come back next hour, because we have a lot more to get to. Hernan and Shawn, thanks for being with us.

MOLINA: Thank you.

VAUSE: I appreciate it.

We'll take you to a break. When we come back, families of terror victims are seeking justice for their loved ones. We'll tell you why they're going after some of the biggest names on the Internet in just a moment.


[00:43:15] VAUSE: The families of victims from the Orlando nightclub shooting are suing some big tech companies accusing Twitter, Facebook and Google of providing material support to ISIS.

For more on this, Internet security analyst Hemu Nigam and criminal defense attorney Brian Claypool.

Thank you both for being here.

Let's look at the legal holes here, first, Brian. The Communications Decency Act essentially shields computer services from liability for content. So how does that work? And that's a pretty big hill to climb in this case, right? BRIAN CLAYPOOL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I would like to say it's insurmountable. I mean, when I first heard about a lawsuit being filed as a result of the Orlando nightclub shooting, I thought that these families were going to be suing maybe law enforcement for not going in more quickly to get -- to shoot at Omar Mateen, or possibly even the gun shop owner, or even possibly the FBI for not investigating.

When I heard that they were suing Internet companies, I thought of one thing, the Titanic.

VAUSE: Right.

CLAYPOOL: Because these cases are sinking fast.

VAUSE: But this law essentially gives a free pass to social media. Social media sites.

CLAYPOOL: Yes. There was a law enacted, federal law in the United States enacted in 1996 -- to make it easy for you and the viewers, basically, it says if somebody else posts information on the Internet, the Internet provider is not responsible for that data.

VAUSE: Right.

CLAYPOOL: And they cannot be sued and be held civilly liable for that. One exception is where there is criminal activity. And I think that's what these families are trying to do. They're trying to say, they're trying to say that the Internet providers were materially supporting ISIS.

VAUSE: Right. And with that, this is the twist in the case because the lawsuit is talking about matching user content with targeted advertising. Somehow the social media site is providing its own novel content.

So Hemu explain, you know, the take on the last piece of this.

[00:45:05] HEMU NIGAM, FOUNDER AND CEO, SSP BLUE: Yes. And I have to first say, I mean, all our hearts go out to the families. We all feel that way, but that doesn't mean a lawsuit is going to solve that problem.

And I think what Google -- Google is actually taking the lead on this. What they are doing is they are saying, look, if you are looking for ISIS content, maybe you're somebody who might get recruited, there is advertising that comes up that takes you to places that you can get help or at least even, for example, see content of what happens when ISIS attacks, such as what happened in the Berlin Christmas incident just two days ago, yesterday.

So Google is doing that. Twitter is actually doing a lot of things. And the companies are getting together and saying we're going to band forces and try to solve this problem not by ourselves but together and working with law enforcement. VAUSE: But right now, the families are saying that those searches be it on Google or Facebook or whatever is what is essentially bringing all of this together, which it seems to be a noble legal approach, Brian.

CLAYPOOL: Yes. And the only way I think these families can prevail in this case is if they've got some information. For example, that Twitter or Facebook was aware of some really nefarious postings that might incite terrorism and then they didn't do anything to remove those because then you're possibly facilitating this.

You're on notice. Bear in mind these Internet providers don't have a duty to canvas the Internet to find these postings.

VAUSE: With that in mind, this lawsuit is also alleging that the tech companies did not do enough to shut down Jihadist groups. They used this example of an ISIS-linked Twitter account. This is part of the suit.

"When its account @TurMedia333 was shut down, it started @TurMedia334. When that was shut down, it started @TurMedia335. This 'naming convention adding one digit to a new account after the last one is suspended. Does not seem as if it would require artificial intelligence to spot. Each of the accounts also used the same user photograph of a bearded man's face over and over and over again."

So Hemu from a technical point of view, would it be easy for Twitter to simply stop these accounts from springing up again?

NIGAM: Well, here's a reality. First, let's give kudos to Twitter for deleting 360,000 accounts in the first place, knowing that these ISIS folks are going to try to come back and create renewed accounts and do kind of a cat and mouse game.

But that said, there is a new initiative happening right now between Google, Microsoft and Twitter where they're going to be fingerprinting indicia of an ISIS account and then using it by sharing it amongst themselves in a database and saying here is a new account coming up. It looks very much like this. It has the fingerprints of these other accounts. And I think you're going see those accounts even disappearing now.

VAUSE: So just to be very careful, is there a legal responsibility here for these companies, not just to, you know, sort of to mow the weeds, but to pull the roots as well?

CLAYPOOL: Well, that's exactly right. I mean, if they're notified of some of these accounts that might be inciting mass terrorism, then they have a duty to remove those accounts.

But, John, really, I think the point that I'm troubled with here is, is this really the cause of a guy like Omar Mateen going into a nightclub and shooting up people? I think people in the United States need to be paying attention more to red flags. He went out and got a gun at place where he shouldn't have gotten a gun. So I think that, to me, is the bigger issue. VAUSE: Sure. OK, but I think, just because, you know, Omar Mateen may have seen these videos, this Jihadi content online, it doesn't actually mean he was influenced by it, doesn't it?

NIGAM: No, not at all. He could be talking to 10,000 other people in off settings. A lot of times what ISIS recruiters do is they may do target one individual and then immediately go into an app conversation, a cell phone conversation, all these other kinds of things they're doing.

So this is one of those where making the causal connection is never going to happen.

CLAYPOOL: That's exactly right.

VAUSE: That's right.

NIGAM: And I think at the end of the day what I think the world needs to know is you've got lawyers here who are filing lawsuit, giving false hope to families who have already been tragically hurt. And now they're going to say wait a minute, nothing is going to happen? Well, that's because you went down the wrong path.

VAUSE: Do you think it is false hope?

CLAYPOOL: I think it is false hope. You guys just hit the nail on the head. You've got to prove causation. Did this -- was this a substantial factor in causing Omar Mateen to do what he did? I doubt it.

VAUSE: Guys, thanks so much. I appreciate it.

CLAYPOOL: You bet.


VAUSE: A short break. When we come back, a two-time Wimbledon champion says she is fortunate to be alive after surviving a knife attack. But will her tennis career ever be the same?