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Armed, Dangerous and on the Run; Saying Goodbye to Slain Russian Ambassador; U.N.: No to Building Settlements; Repeal of NC Bathroom Bill Fails; Criticism's on Merkel's Legacy; Wet Holidays. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired December 22, 2016 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR: Armed, dangerous and on the run. Police across Europe search for a suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack.

Saying goodbye. Friends, family and Russian leaders pay their respects to Andrey Karlov and with a split over who assassinated the ambassador.

And one of Aleppo's most famous refugees gets a face-to-face meeting with Tayyip Erdogan at Turkey's presidential palace.

Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones in London. And this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Police are fanning out across Europe in an urgent hunt for the suspect in Berlin's Christmas market attack. They say Anis Amri has links to Islamist extremists and they believe the Tunisian national is armed and potentially violent.

Amri's father told the Tunisian radio network that his son spent time in prison in Italy. A $104,000 reward is being offered for information on Amri's whereabouts and the FBI is working alongside the German authorities in this investigation.

Our Brian Todd has the details.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A frantic manhunt and an urgent message across Europe warning people to stay away from this man and to help find him. German police say 24-year-old Anis Amri from Tunisia is now quote, "under suspicion" in the Christmas market attack in Berlin that killed a dozen and wounded almost 50 others.

Police say Amri's identification was found inside the truck along with the truck's original driver who had been shot at close range. As the search for the alleged terrorist expands, including raids by police in northern Germany where he lived there is growing concern about his links to ISIS.


RALF JAGER, INTERIOR MINISTER, NORTH RHINE-WESTPHALIA STATE (through translator): He had contact with radical Islamist organizations, various security services assessed him as a person who poses a risk.


TODD: ISIS has claimed responsibility for inspiring the attack, and CNN has learned Amri has connections to an ISIS recruiting operation, funneling would be terrorists to the group's strongholds in Syria and Iraq.

Even more concerning, German officials once had Amri in custody. Officials say he previously faced an assault charge and didn't show up in court. He was arrested this past August with forged documents according to a German security official. But when they tried to deport him, they couldn't.

Police say he had so many fake names and papers that under German law they couldn't send him back to Tunisia. Officials tells CNN Amri could be using one of those aliases and may have the help of a support network.


PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: The concern is the cause of his connections to this ISIS recruitment network he has contact, resources, infrastructure to either help him hide or to help him leave the country.


TODD: The possibility of accomplices for Anis Amri presents another challenge for police, according to a former U.S. marshal who's worked with the Germans to track fugitives.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to be mindful that the suspect himself or his associates in these organizations could be watching this broadcast as well. So, law enforcement is going to be careful and sensitive as to what they are disclosing.


TODD: Now German authorities aren't saying much, only that Amri is a 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighs about 165 pounds and is quote, "violent and armed."

And another urgent concern, now that Anis Amri's name and face are plastered all over TV screens across Europe, he, and whoever he could be working with might accelerate any plans they could have for a future attack.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

JONES: Well, we are now hearing from an Italian man who survived that attack. He is one of the 48 people who were injured. Here he describes exactly what happened and what he saw after the truck hit him.


GIUSEPPE LA GRASSA, BERLIN ATTACK SURVIVOR (through translator): We were at the market. I just remember the sound of the truck speeding up. I turned around to look for my wife and I suddenly found myself on the ground. The truck hit me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What did you see around you?

LA GRASSA (through translator): I saw so many people on the ground motionless. We managed to go to the exit. Paramedics took us to a hotel and rescued us. He treated me and then the hotel car took us to the military hospital.


JONES: Well, the doctor said survivors told him the scene in Berlin was like a little war zone and we will be taking you to live to Berlin very shortly. But in the meantime, we will return to some other news for you.

Donald Trump is speaking out publicly for the first time about that Berlin terror attack, but his comments aren't easing concerns about his command of foreign policy issues, as CNN's Jeff Zeleny now reports.

[03:05:12] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: In Florida, today, Donald Trump receiving his first intelligence briefing of the week two days after a Christmas market rampage in Germany raised new fears of terrorism around the world.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's an attack on humanity. That's what it is. It's an attack on humanity. And tt has to be stopped.


ZELENY: At his Mar-a-Lago retreat, Trump meeting with his incoming national security chief, Michael Flynn and other generals while making his first comments on the Berlin attack that killed 12 and injured dozens.


TRUMP: What's going on is terrible. We have intelligence here right now.


ZELENY: Trump's aides were sending the signal that the president- elect is keeping a prize at the heightened holiday alert. He drew fire from the intelligence community earlier this month for saying he sees no value in receiving the presidential daily brief or PDB every day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I don't have to be told the same thing and the same words every single day for the next eight years. Could be eight years, but eight years. I don't need that.


ZELENY: Set to take office in just 30 days, Trump's advisers are mindful of the optics surrounding his security briefings. Trump who proposed a Muslim ban one year ago before softening his position later was asked about it again today.


TRUMP: You know my plans all along. I've been proven to be right, 100 percent correct. What's happening is disgraceful.


ZELENY: Yet, in the face of rising challenges with global terror threats, Trump starting his day once again still defensively tweeting about his victory in the Electoral College. "I would have done better in the election if that is possible if the winner was based on popular vote but would campaign differently."

He went on to boast that he spent far less money on his win than Hillary Clinton did on her loss. Tonight, Trump is settling another score he started earlier this month on Twitter by questioning the cost of Air Force One. He sent shock waves into corporate board rooms when he singled out the Boeing company.

Today Boeing CEO came to Mar-a-Lago to bring Trump something of a victory.


DENNIS MUILENBURG, CEO, BOEING: We're going to get it done for less than that and we're committed to working together to make sure that happens.

JONES: Jeff Zeleny reporting there. So you heard that Donald Trump are calling this attack in Berlin an attack on humanity.

Chris Burns is tracking all the developments for us from the German capital now joins us now with the very latest. Chris, the investigation ongoing. Researchers and raids going on throughout the country and the wider Schengen area in Europe, as well. But what are the main leads that the authorities are chasing up in this hunt for the suspect?

CHRIS BURNS, JOURNALIST: Well, Hannah, there are a number of leads. I might just show you one of the headlines here this morning where there asks -- this newspaper asks why was he not held longer? He could have been held longer. He was in detention. And he was released pending his deportation proceedings because he didn't have a valid passport, which arrived, by the way, yesterday. So there's a fair amount of outrage about that. The government and

authorities, yes, are waging a dragnet across Germany and across Europe focusing on what links that Anis Amri had with Salafist groups and trying to recruit others in waging and plotting attacks.

We had an interview with his father, talking about how he had a long- time crime record. Here he is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He went illegally to Italy with some friends where they burned a school. He's was jailed for four years and then moved to Germany. I have not spoken to him in a long time. It has been about seven years since he left home. I've not spoken to him directly for that long. I do not even have his cell phone.


BURNS: OK. And even before that, in Tunisia, before he left Tunisia, he was charged with violent robbery. Then of course as you heard in Italy he was held in prison there for about four years, released and then came to Germany last year where he was also charged with assault and didn't show up for trial for that, for court for that.

So, obviously this is somebody who is a repeated offender and showed that he was a risk. He's among the hundreds that the authorities have been tracking up to now. But how he managed to slip through that net lately is a big question. Back to you.

JONES: Yes. There were so many red flags, really, weren't there, about this individual, the multiple identities he used and the multiple locations, as well. This really create an elaborate maze for the authorities now desperately seeking him.

[03:10:02] BURNS: Yes, definitely. That is -- it makes it extremely complicated. And authorities are reaching out.

There is a lack of video surveillance in this country for historical reasons and that's why they are calling for anyone who has any kind of video from what happened over my shoulder here at that Christmas market, three days ago, to load it up.

You can -- there's even a web site where you can upload to the German authorities whatever video you might have. That -- by the way, that market is reopening today. The traffic is going through this boulevard again as of last, as earlier this morning.

So, life is trying to return to normal here, but it is far from normal as far as this dragnet is going. As far as the imminent potential threat of this -- what is believed to be an armed man who is on the loose somewhere in this country or beyond and that's who they are trying to track down, Hannah.

JONES: Chris Burns, live for us in Berlin. Thanks very much. And we will come back to you later on in the hour of course. Thank you. Now Russia is urging Turkey not to rush to judgment about who was

behind the assassination of its Ambassador Andrey Karlov. A policeman shot and killed Karlov while the diplomat was speaking at an art gallery in the Turkish capital Ankara on Monday.

Russian's foreign ministry is honoring him with a good-bye ceremony this hour. But while Russia waits for the results of the investigation, Turkey's president is blaming the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen for the shooting.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): There's no need to make a secret he was a member of FATO. All his connections from he was educated to his links point to FATO. I have to say this very clearly, this dirty organization is still within the military. Still within the police.

We, of course are continuing and will continue to carry out purges. We have to be sensitive on this issue and we will do this with sensitivity.


JONES: Well, the Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to attend the ambassador's funeral in the next hour. These are live pictures from the Russian foreign ministry in the capital Moscow at the moment where that ceremony will take place and we will continue to monitor these live pictures, as well.

But in the meantime, our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance also joins me live now from Moscow. Matthew, the Turks say they know who to blame for this assassination. But why the hesitancy from the Kremlin? Is there a suggestion that Russia perhaps knows something that Turkey doesn't?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, maybe it's the other way around. Maybe it's that Russia doesn't know what Turkey knows. Who knows about that? But look, I mean, the Russians have said they are not going to rush to judgment on this.

They have engaged in a joint investigation with the Turkish authorities and they've sent a big team of forensic experts and other investigators to Ankara to try and to get to the bottom of how the security breach happened.

But also to investigate that the background to this assassin, whether he was affiliated with any particular group, that they've not -- that they've not gone along with the Turkish idea yet, that this was linked with Fethullah Gulen, the Islamic cleric who lives in the United States.

There have been conspiracy theories floated here in Russia by sort of you know, fringe politicians saying that this is an attempt by the United States, this killing of the ambassador, to drive a wedge between Russia and Turkey. And if that was the case, and of course the Russians mainstream

governments are not saying this, but certainly if that was the objective of this killing that seems to have failed because, if anything, the Turk and the Russians on this issue are standing together and they are saying this is not going to derail our normalization of our relationship.

That relationship had hit rock bottom last November when the Turks shot a Russian warplane out of the skies over Syria. It's been rebuilding recently. They have started the process of rebuilding it. That process is not going to be derailed. And in fact, it may have brought them even closer together.

Because just yesterday in Moscow, there was a meeting between the Russian and Turkish foreign minister along with the Iranian foreign minister to try and work out a road map to bring to an end the Syrian conflict.

Russia and Turkey have been at odds over the future of Syria. Russia backs Bashar al-Assad, Turkey backs rebel groups opposed to Assad. But they seem to be bridging that divide and trying, at least, to work out a common strategy for the future of Syria.

And they are doing that conspicuously without the participation of the United States or the United Nations. And so that is a really interesting geo political development that is taking place as we see these dramatic pictures and these mournful pictures of Russia laying its ambassador that was assassin -- was assassinated in Ankara to rest.

JONES: And Matthew, we are looking at these live pictures at the moment from what is indeed a very somber scene in the Russian capital.

[03:15:01] The fact that Vladimir Putin, the Russian President is there, as well. How symbolic and significant is that in terms of how this assassination has played into the Russian public conscience?

CHANCE: Yes. It's interesting there haven't been many instance -- instances where this intervention in Syria by Russia has come back to bite the Russians. And obviously this is a dramatic example of that.

And I expect Vladimir Putin has one eye on public opinion. It's been very supportive of Russian action in Syria. The casualty count has been relatively low.

But this assassination has illustrated to everybody, not least the Russian people, that the consequences of conflict in Syria can spill out to the country and affect you directly.

And when people in Russia saw these dramatic images of that assassination, so cold bloodedly carried out in front of the television cameras on their TV screens, I think it was a shock and it reminded them that there are consequences for this military action in Syria and it could -- that turn in to political opposition for it.

At the moment, they are supportive. At the moment, though, Putin is saying this is a despicable act. The country standing with him on this issue. He's vowed to find those responsible for planning it, if there was any group affiliated to it.

He has vowed retribution against that group. And you know, and that's really what the Russian public at that point, extremely angry and sharp, as I say want to hear from their strong man president.

JONES: Yes. We will wait to see how this plays out with the Turkish, Russian relations, also U.S. and Russian relations as well which of course are back in that sort of Cold War period.

Our Matthew Chance, live for us from Moscow monitoring these live pictures of Andrey Karlov's funeral service. Thanks very much, indeed, Matthew.

Snow and bitter cold across northern Syria are making the evacuation of Aleppo more urgent than ever.

In the past week, tens of thousands of people have been granted safe passage out of the rebel-held areas of eastern Aleppo. Another 20 loaded buses left on Wednesday and the aid agencies believe the evacuation is nearly complete, though it's not clear exactly how many people remain.

Well, meanwhile, the United Nations is gearing up to investigate possible war crimes in Syria. The general assembly on Wednesday approved setting up a panel to begin collecting evidence of atrocities committed in the nearly six-year-old conflict.

Now, just ahead, Israel's prime minister lashes out after the U.N. Security Council says it will vote on ending Israeli settlement activity.

Plus, a market in Mexico where a deadly fireworks explosion occurred is now turning into a graveyard. We'll have all the details on the investigation and the recovery efforts coming up after this break.


RHIANNON JONES, CNN WORLD SPORTS ANCHOR: I'm Rhiannon Jones with your CNN World Sport headlines.

We start with a huge match up in the Bundesliga. Bayern hosting the RasenBallsport Leipzig a battle between 1 versus 2. Ahead of the game a minute of silence contribute to those that died in the Berlin atatck on a Christmas market on Monday.

The defending champ started confidently then it went from bad to worse for Leipzig reduced to 10 in the first half, 3-nil it ended for Bayern.

An update now on Petra Kvitova following that shocking attack by an intruder at her home on Tuesday. Her P.R. manager has confirmed to CNN that she won't return to the tennis court for at least six months.

The two-time Wimbledon champion spent almost four hours in surgery to repair tendons and nerves in her left hand, which is her playing hand. The operation is said to have gone very well, and Petra is expected to begin rehabilitation in around six to eight weeks. Doctors say they're optimistic the 26-year-old will play tennis again.

Many Formula One fans are anxious to find out who will take that much sought after vacant Mercedes seat. Well, no confirmation yet, but we can tell you that Daniel Ricardo has moved himself out. The charismatic Australian driver has said he is committed to Red Bull for the next two years.

Mercedes are on the lookout for a new driver's team with Lewis Hamilton following the shot retirement as world champion Nico Rosberg.

That's a look at your sports headlines. I'm Rhiannon Jones in London.

JONES: Hello. Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. The Security Council holds a vote on Thursday that is certain to anger Israelis. The draft resolution calls on Israel to seize building settlements in Palestinian territory.

The Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu calls the resolution anti-Israel and says on Twitter that the U.S. should veto it.

The White House, for its part, has not yet indicated what the U.S. will do when the U.N. Security Council does indeed vote.

Well, CNN's Oren Liebermann joins us now live from Jerusalem with more on this. Oren, how likely is it that the U.S. will heed Netanyahu's plea for this veto?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the big question now, not only for the Israelis but also for the Palestinians. The Palestinians introduced back in 2011, a very similar resolution that was approved by everyone at the U.N. Security Council except America.

In fact, it was the only veto at the Security Council of President Barack Obama's eight years in office. Netanyahu as we saw through his tweet, and other Israeli leaders are urging him to once again veto this resolution.

At the time Obama's position wasn't that settlements are OK. He said they were illegitimate and are an obstacle to peace. A position the secretary -- the State Department has held since then and before then.

But he said that peace doesn't run through the U.N. It runs through negotiations. Netanyahu and the Israeli leaders are hoping he sticks by that position. The prime minister's office said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon just recently acknowledged a bias that the U.N. against Israel and they see this as an extension of that.

So, again back to that question, what are the odds that this gets through? For the U.S. to either abstain or vote in favor of it it's going to come down to small wording. It will depend on whether the U.S. sees this as going too far against Israel and against settlements or the language being too harsh. It's very sensitive and that's exactly why we don't have an

indication, yet, of what the U.S. will do. But all throughout the day we expect the Israelis to lobby against it as we expect the Palestinians to lobby for it. Hannah?

JONES: And Oren, change is afoot under a Trump administration. Most significantly perhaps this talk of an embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. How is that playing out with the Israeli public?

LIEBERMANN: Well, the Israeli public generally widely wants the embassy to move from Tel Aviv where it is now to Jerusalem and recognition from the U.S. that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

But Jerusalem is perhaps the most sensitive or one of the most complex issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That's why the U.S. has always left Jerusalem as an open-ended question left to negotiations.

But now with Trump saying he'll move the embassy, acknowledge that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and appointing David Friedman who is considered aligned with the right wing here and even the far-right here as ambassador of the U.S. to Israel.

This may be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. It may be enough to convince President Obama that he should let this U.N. Security Council resolution against settlements go through. If so, it would be a major step on -- in the effect here in terms of the effect that it could have.

JONES: Oren, we appreciate it. Oren Liebermann, live for us there in Jerusalem. Thank you.

Now North Carolina's so-called 'bathroom' bill is still a law in the state. Lawmakers failed to repeal it during a special session on Wednesday.

[03:25:02] The law itself bans people from using public bathrooms that don't correspond the biological sex listed on their birth certificates.

All right. You can hear there people in the gallery chanted "shame" as the gavel came down. Governor-elect Roy Cooper called the lawmakers' actions a failure.


ROY COOPER, GOVERNOR-ELECT OF NORTH CAROLINA: I'm disappointed that republican legislative leaders failed to live up to their promise to fully repeal House Bill 2. I'm disappointed for the people of North Carolina, for the jobs that people won't have. I'm disappointed that we have yet to remove the stain on the reputation of our great state.


JONES: Well, the backlash against this law has cost North Carolina an estimated $650 million in revenue. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is creating a new White House

national trade council to, quote, "make American manufacturing great again." He's tapped economist Peter Navarro to head it up. Navarro produced a documentary called "Death by China" about how the U.S. lost its manufacturing base to the Chinese.

He has also referred to China as "the biggest trade cheater in the world." A spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry has just responded in the past few minutes. She says that China is paying a close attention to Trump's moves but that cooperation is, quote, "the only right choice."

In Mexico, the market rocked by a deadly fireworks explosion that has become a graveyard. At least 33 people are now confirmed dead from Tuesday's blast. Forensic teams are combing through the charred rubble searching for victims' remains.

CNN's Leyla Santiago has the very latest.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a community still searching for answers and not just law enforcement and investigators who spent much of the day sifting through debris, trying to figure out what led up to this explosion, but also for family members growing with the devastation and anxiety because many still can't find their family members, their loved ones, their friends who may have been in the area at the time of the explosion.

Now, we understand that in 2005 and in 2006, there were two incidents here. That said, just a few days ago, the state government here called it's one of the safest firework markets in Latin America. This is a market known not only across Mexico but across Latin America for the magnitude.

This is about 10 football fields big and about 300 vendors, all of which, we're told, had permits.

Leyla Santiago, CNN, Tultepec, Mexico.

JONES: Leyla, thank you.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip have not yet left for their Christmas holidays as have been planned. Buckingham Palace says the royal couple have heavy colds, both of them and so they stayed behind.

And the royal family typically head to the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, just east of London, for Christmas. And the palace did not say if the trip is cancelled altogether or nearly delayed.

And this weeks' terror attack in Berlin is aggravating political tensions across Europe. All the reaction to yet another disaster, coming up after the short...


JONES: Hello. Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and of course around the world. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones in London. Let's update you now on the top stories for you this hour.

An urgent manhunt is underway in Germany for this man after the deadly attack on Monday on a Christmas market in Berlin. Police knew of the Tunisian Native Anis Amri and they knew he has contacts with radical Islamist groups. He was even arrested for forged documents as recently as August but a judge released him.

Russia is paying its respects to its ambassador to Turkey with a good- bye service at the foreign ministry in Moscow. Andrey Karlov was shot and killed by a policeman in the Turkish capital Ankara on Monday.

President Vladimir Putin is attending Karlov's funeral taking place at this hour.

The future of Israeli settlement is on the agenda for the U.N. Security Council this Thursday and members will vote on a draft resolution demanding Israel stops all settlement activity in occupied Palestinian territory. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is urging the U.S. to veto the measure.

Let's get back now to that deadly truck attack in Berlin. Some of the strongest condemnation has come from Europe's far-right politicians, and it isn't directed at the man behind the wheel.

Dutch member of parliament Geert Wilders summed up his feelings with this tweet depicting German Chancellor Angela Merkel with blood on her hands. Nigel Farage at the U.K. Independence Party, a former leader of that party pointed his finger in the same direction and saying events of this nature will be the Merkel legacy.

And a small group of neo-Nazis gathered at the site of the attack to protest Germany's immigration policy as 900,000 people have been allowed in. but they will ultimately outnumbered by a counter demonstrations supporting refugees.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't want people propaganda against refugees because of attacks. We are against racism. We are free. We are welcoming everyone who flew from war.


JONES: As you are hear there are other (Inaudible) pouring musical message singing this anthem of global unity beside the market where 12 people lost their lives.

Let's go back now to our Chris Burns who's in Berlin for us. And Chris, well, the German community there is still coming to terms with what happened. The political fallout of this attack could be huge.

BURNS: Yes, that's quite true, Hannah. Especially when you have the public looking at headlines like these on Berlin newspaper saying that they knew him. They did nothing. Well, that's a little bit -- not quite accurate because they did have Anis Amri that suspect in custody.

[03:35:04] He was to be deported, he's a repeated criminal in his Native Tunisia, in Italy where he went to first seven years ago, and then in Germany as well. He was to be deported but he didn't have the accurate documents to send him back. The bonafide documents.

The government just got that passport of his yesterday. Of course, too late.

Now let's talk to Janosch Delcker who's with Politico newspaper. There's a lot of fallout, this is a lot of explaining to do. And also because we saw those protests not only by the neo-Nazi NPD but also by the Alternative for Deutschland right outside of Chancellor Merkel's chancellery last night. What kind of violence do you think they're going to get in the spring elections in the fall general elections?

JANOSCH DELCKER, POLITICS REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, that remains to be seen, but I think what is at crucial what's happening right now it that Russia is brawling Merkel not just the far-right but also from within her own ranks indeed.

There are like high-ranking officials within her Christian democrats who have come forward already and have said like this, it needs to be the moment in time when Germany toughens up on its security measures when it toughens up surveillance. And I think this is really what's going to be like the big topic for Merkel over the next couple of days.

BURNS: Indeed. We even saw yesterday that her cabinet, which is of course dominated by her CDU that has other parties in it approved video surveillance for places like these, public places, so, and other measures aimed at addressing this issue. Do you think that's going to be enough?

DELCKER: Well, I don't think it's going to be enough for her own conservatives. And to be fair, those measures that were approved yesterday go back to an initiative that was actually started way in the fall, way ahead of Monday's attack.

I'm sure there's going to be more demand for tougher security. There is one thing that I'm expecting to happen. You have to see Germany security apparatus is highly fragmented which has to do with the federal Czech Germany.

BURNS: There are 16 states.

DELCKER: Sixteen states and about 40 security agencies in Germany alone.


DELCKER: To give you an example, for instance, the city of Bremen which counts for its own state, with 670,000 inhabitants had its own domestic security agency.

BURNS: There you go. DELCKER: And there will be a new discussion about do we need that many security agencies in this country? And how well do they communicate with each other.

BURNS: That's true. And also getting some of these measures passed to Bundestag could be problematic. We even saw the mayor -- this morning I read the newspaper here that the mayor of this area is social democrat. There in the grand coalition with Merkel. And he is saying this video surveillance thing we have to discuss this.

And then I also talked to a CDU member of the Bundestag who was pointing a finger at the social democrats saying those are the guys who are preventing us from advancing with these kinds of tougher security. I mean, this sort of sniping back and forth, who's going to benefit from this, maybe the populists.

DELCKER: Well, maybe the populists. And I think this is the big debate within Merkel's Christian democrats right now. I mean, officials tell me that think this attack really was a turning point. And they need to decide are we going to go along with Merkel's lines who has always rejected to, you know, imitate any sort of like, populist's calls, for instance, for a proper limit of refugees to the country.


DELCKER: Or are we trying to counter those and anticipate those attacks from the far-right, counter those attacks by sort of like, you know, imitating the (Inaudible).

BURNS: Yes, and indeed. I mean, this year we've seen four terrorist attacks. This is the fifth. Now Merkel has seemed to bounce back each time in the polls, but do you think this could be really the turning point this time?

DELCKER: This really meant to be seen. She is still has a fairly high popularity ranking here in Germany, about 60 percent which is very high for a chancellor in office. But voices are getting louder. And I think it's particularly interesting to see how she is going to react to this backlash, to this new pressure from within her own realms.

BURNS: Right. Janosch Delcker of Politico, thank you very much.

This is something we're going to have to be watching in the months coming up. In the spring, we're going to have local elections, and in the fall national elections. How much will the far-right gain in these elections as a result of what happened three days ago. Back to you, Hannah.

JONES: Chris, we appreciate it. Monitoring all the events for us from Berlin. Thank you.

And still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, the little girl who brought the horrors of Aleppo to the world now has the attention of Turkey's president. Her story is just ahead.


JONES: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. These are live pictures we are bringing you from Moscow, the Russian capital where a funeral service is currently taking place for the Russian ambassador to Turkey that is Andrey Karlov who was assassinated, shot dead at an art gallery in the Turkish capital Ankara on Monday.

A formal state funeral taking place. Before this the ambassador and the Russian President Vladimir Putin alongside his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are expected to be in attendance at that service as Russia mourns one of its top diplomats who was so very publicly assassinated just this week.

So these are live pictures from Moscow. And we'll continue to monitor this, and of course bring you more live pictures as soon as we see the Russian president, as well.

In the meantime, Bana Alabed became a symbol of the struggling people of Aleppo as she tweeted about the constant bombardment and the siege that she and her family have endured. Now though, she is safe in Turkey as CNN's Muhammad Lila reports.

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest footage of 7-year-old- Bana Alabed, not in war-torn Syria but in Turkey's presidential palace in a carefully managed photo op with President Erdogan. With a camera lens snapping away Bana, wearing new clothes, smiles, kissing Erdogan on the cheek. He in turn kisses her hand. Later as she and her brother sits on Erdogan's lap. She looks to Erdogan and says.


BANA ALABED, SYRIAN RESIDENT: Thank you for supporting the children of Aleppo and help us to get out from war. I love you.


LILA: The opulence of the presidential palace is a stark contrast to the doomsdays scenario she and her mother had been warning about on Twitter for weeks.

Living in an area controlled by the armed opposition and area bombarded almost daily by air strike and artillery, her family somehow managed to get an internet connection.

Her mother tweeting several times that each tweet would be their last. But the tweets weren't their last. As the evacuations were underway, photos of young Bana surfaced smiling at a refugee camp run by a Turkish religious charity in northern Syria.

[03:44:58] At one point, he mother tweeted directly to Turkey's president and foreign minister saying "Please, please, please make the ceasefire work and get us out now."

Turkey's foreign ministry told reporters they were making special arrangements, specifically for Bana and her family to be whisked out of Syria and straight to Turkey's capital Ankara. Many praised Bana and her family for offering a daring glimpse in to the harsh realities of living through a devastating war.

But critics accused armed rebels of exploiting her to further a conflict that's killed hundreds of thousands of people on both sides.

Today, Bana's only tweets were these, the official government photos of her smiling and safe.

Muhammad Lila from along the Turkish-Syrian border, CNN.

JONES: Hundreds of students in China were told they would be taking their exams outdoors and here's what they got, a lot of heavy smog. Well, these photos are from Henan province have drawn outrage because the pollution has been terrible there for days now.

State media says the school's headmaster has been suspend over the incident. The students as you can see can barely see whatever they are writing on.

A pair of tropical systems could impact part of the Philippines and Australia this holiday weekend. Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is keeping an eye on all of this for us. Allison, what's the latest.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: All right. Well, we start with the storm. It is currently over -- yes, this is tropical storm Nock- Ten. Now this is the one that's going to be barreling down towards the Philippines.

Unfortunately, the timing isn't very good because it's really going to peak over the weekend. In fact, we expect to near landfall say in about 72 hours from now.

Now in terms of the intensity we have some models runs that have been saying it's going to be a high-end tropical storm. Others that have been saying it will be a moderate intensity typhoon. So, that is certainly something we're going to have to keep a close eye on over the coming days.

But the one thing they all tend to agree on, is this is going to be a big rainmaker. We are looking at widespread totals, around 100 millimeters but we will have some pockets, 150 to 250 millimeters total.

Now a little bit farther south, we're also keeping an eye on the tropics for western Australia. This is tropical cyclone Yvette. Now, again, this one is not exactly a quick mover. It's going to eventually slide south and east making landfall in about 72 hours from now.

Also making the timing right around the holiday weekend. Now this one not expected to be that strong. Where, in fact, right before weekend expected to weaken slightly down to about 85 kilometers per hour.

But with that said ,also something to keep a close eye on in the coming days. This one is not as much of a rainmaker as the one near the Philippines. We're looking as widespread, maybe up around 50 millimeters but you will have some pockets of heavy rainfall, around 100 to 150 millimeters total. And then over towards the states where we have a very big rainmaker,

now approaching into portions of the southwest. Now keep in mind, areas of southern California this is where we have a persistent drought. So, this rain is very much needed but not all at once.

A lot of areas are expected to get around one to two inches of rain. That may not necessarily sound like a lot but for these regions that's enough to cause flash flooding and also trigger landslides, as well.

As you go farther east those rainfall amounts do increase around Phoenix and flagstaff looking at some of the higher amounts, maybe an excessive around two inches. The higher elevations could end up seeing some significant snowfall as well.

Now this first system is going to be a strong one for the southwest. As it makes its way off towards the east it will eventually bring heavy rain to cities like New York, Philadelphia, but it's the second storm system.

This is certainly much more potent system. Not only is it going to bring more rain and snow to the West Coast, but as it continues to go inland it has the potential to bring some severe weather to portions of the Central Plains. Unfortunately, Hannah, right on Christmas Day. So, again, a lot to keep an eye on over the coming days.

JONES: OK. A very wet and very cold Christmas holiday season for many of us there. Allison, thank you very much, indeed.

Next on CNN NEWSROOM, a couple of brothers go wild with their Christmas decor. The story behind this extravagant light show.


JONES: Now it's hard enough with keeping up with the Jones', but try being the neighbors of these British brothers that you are about to meet. They go all out, you could say, for the holidays by illuminating their mum's home in Bristol, my hometown, with 200,000 Christmas lights, and the money they make from visitors there that goes towards a good cause.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is our Christmas house in Bristol what we decorate every year. It's our mom's house and she lends it to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We started in 1994 and we bought our first...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's what they call a silhouette on a Christmas tree. In Brailsford family Christmas is like massive. So, you know, it's a Brailsford tradition to go stuff at Christmas, if you look.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have had Americans visit in Bristol and stop to look at our lights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got in the Australian newspaper, didn't we?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did get into Australian newspaper.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was last year we got into Australian newspaper. So, you know, some people travel a good few miles to come and see a decent set of Christmas lights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We live around the corner from mom's house. It's an easier task.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do get problem with the wind and putting stuff upon the roofs blowing like reindeers off the roof and stuff are flying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you see how much you can do the fasten it out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my favorite.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Nativity is my favorite.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's probably our number one question is the electric cost.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We used to do a big turn on ceremony of the light. It used to be just a few neighbors come out and family but it got so big we have done a main event.

[03:55:11] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know we celebrate a little store to the hot chocolate and candy floss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Waffles, burgers, hotdogs. We've been raising money now for what's called (Inaudible) Bristol Children's hospital for by what, eight, nine years now.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're actually every moment what we can do for them. You know, this is our hope is raising money for the children's hospital. We stand aside because people don't know it's necessary our display. We hear this lovely comments and nice to like us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's nice. And it's like warming when you see it. It's not even just for kids. It's for all ages you know.


JONES: Bristol brothers are putting the city firmly on the map from a long way away as well it seems.

Now building snowman is usually good winter fun but one giant panda seemed to really enjoy taking one of them apart.

Well, a camera captured Da Mao in this moment at the Toronto Zoo. And keepers built the snowman to keep the panda company. He scratched it a bit before climbing on top, probably knock it, knocking off its head and generally reducing old frosty to a lump of the white stuff.

Well, in this turf war the panda wins and the snowman gets the cold shoulder. Apologies for that. It is Christmas.

I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones for you here in London. Early Start is next for those in the United States. For the rest of you, Nina dos Santos is up next with another edition of CNN NEWSROOM after this short break.