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Istanbul Night Club Attack; North Korea Announces New Nuke Test Plans; Hacking Investigation; Cities Around the World Ring in 2017. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired January 1, 2017 - 03:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi, I'm Cyril Vanier with the latest on our breaking news out of Turkey.

In Istanbul police are now looking for one shooter behind the first terrorist attack in Turkey of 2017. The attack targeted people welcoming the New Year at a very popular night club. Shots rang out not long after midnight.


VANIER (voice-over): Then you can see in this video a man entering the night club and shots ricocheting off the cars and the sidewalk. At least 39 people were killed. Dozens of others were wounded. Investigators say many of the dead are foreign nationals.

Here's what one witness said about the attack.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been shot in the (INAUDIBLE) leg, man. These crazy people came and shoot at everything.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I saw one person. They're shooting. I'm hiding (INAUDIBLE).


VANIER: CNN's Ian Lee is in Istanbul, not far from the site of the attack. He joins us now.

Ian, earlier you told us that there was a manhunt going on.

What's the latest?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's still underway. We haven't heard from Turkish officials whether or not they've been able to catch this person or really much details about them. We are hearing, though, that it is one person, although there have been reports there were multiple gunmen.

This taking place just behind me at the Reina night club, which is on the Bosphorus. It was pure terror. And I was able to talk to someone who was in the night club when the attack happened. This is what they had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We were having fun. At first, we thought it was a fight. Then there was a lot of gunfire. After the gunfire, everyone started to run toward the terrorist. We ran as well.

There was someone next to me who was shot and fell on the floor. We ran away and hid under the sofas; some of the people jumped into the Bosphorus. For 10 minutes, there was gunfire and, then for another five minutes, they were throwing bombs, fired a bit more and then left.


LEE: Now this night club is right on the Bosphorus. And to give you an idea of how desperate people were. It is snowing right now and it is cold but people wanting to escape, flee the danger, jumping into that cold Bosphorus water.

Right now, though, the police looking for this suspect. Of course, they're going to be looking for other people who may have helped them.

VANIER: Ian, there have been so many attacks in Turkey over the last year and a half. Tell me what this unrelenting security threat is doing to the country's politics.

LEE: Well, yes. In the last four weeks there have been four attacks, this being the latest.

When we have an attack like this and when we've seen it, usually see you do the country rally around the flag, including the different political parties. But after a while that unity cracks and you do see the criticism of the president, anything ranging from how he's dealing with Kurdish militants, the PKK, as well as his involvement in Syria and the fight against ISIS.

There is criticism but the president does remain wildly popular among the people here in Turkey. And so after this latest attack, we are seeing a show of unity right now. But there will be questions about how Turkey can be safer and how to stop these relentless attacks.

VANIER: And, look, the president has had this project of changing the constitution, consolidating power into his hands for a while now.

Do you think this might move the needle on that project?

LEE: Well, ever since the July 15th coup attempt, the president has had these extraordinary powers, emergency powers, that he's been able to bypass certain elements of the government to enact things.

There's been -- people have been able to -- people have been detained without any charges for an extended period of time. There has been a large crackdown not only on people who were associated with the coup attempt but also, according to activists, people who had nothing to do with it; journalists, who have just been critical of the government.

And whenever we see an incident like this, we do see a wider crackdown against people who are just critical of the government but also people who the government blames being behind the coup attempt.


LEE: And that is the Gulen movement, a U.S.-based cleric, who the government accuses of being behind the coup attempt and also a lot of the instability in Turkey.

VANIER: Ian, this government has no shortage of enemies. There's been no claim of responsibility on that attack yet. So obviously we don't know who carried it out. But we know that there are a number of groups that always pose a constant threat to Turkey.

LEE: That's right. And when you look at the attacks that have taken place over the past year, there are really two groups that stand out.

On one hand, you have ISIS. On the other you have the Kurdish militants, the PKK. Now when you look at the different attacks that they've carried out, with ISIS, they tend to go after soft civilian targets, similar to the night club.

When it comes to the PKK, they typically target the police, the military, security services, although civilians have been killed in their attacks as well.

Now we haven't heard anyone claim responsibility and usually, after an attack, we do hear from one of the two groups that claims responsibility. So we'll be waiting for that to hear if anyone does.

VANIER: Ian Lee, reporting live from near the site of the attack that took place overnight shortly after 1:00 am in Istanbul in Turkey. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Now Turkey has endured a wave of terrorist attacks recently, as we were discussing. Earlier we talked about this with Suner Shaftai (ph), director of the Turkish research program at The Washington Institute.


SUNER SHAFTAI (PH), THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE: Turkey is now being targeted by a number of terror attacks in the last two years, increasingly so, both by jihadists and ISIS and Kurdish terrorist group, PKK, and this could very well be a jihadist attack, even that it's targeting what is a secular celebration in a Muslim country New Year's Eve. There have been some (INAUDIBLE) threats on these celebrations before and the very sad news is that the country that we've known to be extremely stable in an island of instability now seems to be facing a barrage of terror attacks.

Unfortunately, I have to tell you, in the last 16 months, over 700 people died in these attacks. And Turkey has to unite now in the face of these attacks, now that it especially seems to be facing a jihadist threat.

VANIER: Now you're referencing the jihadist threat. I think it's worth pointing out to our viewers, first of all, that there's been no claim of responsibility as of yet and, secondly, that there have been multiple groups in the recent past, who have carried out attacks against Turkey.

SHAFTAI (PH): That's correct. But looking at the modus operandi of the attack, who carries it out and what the target is, you can usually predict who the perpetrators are.

Recently there was an attack on police vehicles, security apparatus (ph) that suggested an attack by Kurdish terrorist group, PKK, and this is an attack of course on a secular night club celebration on New Year's Eve, where Islamists have already kind of targeted this celebration in Turkey for the last few months.

So we don't know yet who is behind it. It just breaks my heart that this is yet another round of attacks on Turkey. But I would not be surprised if jihadists or ISIS would claim responsibility for this going forward.

VANIER: What can you tell us about security in Istanbul, not referring specifically this night club right now. I'm just saying that, given that over the last year and a half, attacks have become more numerous in Ankara and also very much in Istanbul, has security been ramped up?

SHAFTAI (PH): Turkey has excellent security. In fact that's why maybe more of these attacks would have happened had it not been for excellent security that the country has equally. Really good urban intelligence.

But for a while now, the country was used by jihadists who cross into Syria and I think, although Turkey now has sealed the border and is fighting those jihadists and ISIS inside Syria, this might be one way for the jihadists and ISIS to import their war from Syria into Turkey as retaliations.


VANIER: All right.

We also spoke with CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem earlier. Here's what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: There is an exceptional security presence; lots of extra police officers out, lots of high vigilance, lots of security, lots of checking of bags and still something quite disastrous and tragic happened.

It's the nature of urban environments these days. They are almost impossible to get perfectly secure.

And so Turkey will not only have to deal with the long-term issues they are facing with the Kurds as well as with ISIS but also the short-term sort of buttressing of defenses and minimizing their risk to not only their population but, as we know with this bar, international tourists.

The last thing Turkey wants is to continue to, in some ways, repel tourism to a country --


KAYYEM: -- that needs it so badly.

VANIER: And, Juliette, for any of our viewers who might be unfamiliar with the security context in Turkey, I just want to remind them of what the last six months have been like in this country, just the last six months alone.

On August 18th, a series of bomb attacks, targeting security forces in the east of the country killed 12 people and wounded some 300 others. Just days later, a suicide bomber detonating explosives at a wedding party in Gaziantep -- that's Southern Turkey -- killing at least 53, injuring 100 others.

On September 12th now, 50 people were injured when suspected Kurdish militants detonated a bomb in the southeastern city of Van.

Then on October 9th, a bomb exploded outside a police station in Southeastern Turkey, killing 18 people.

And just last month a bomb targeting a police station killed nine people, injured over 100 others.

And this just tells you, gives you a sense of the alert level and the threat level in Turkey. This is just over the last six months. But we could have done the same thing over the last year and a half.

KAYYEM: That's right, so and then you want to add into the more political aspects of violence in Turkey right now, of course the coup attempt this summer outside that six-month range. But the death of the -- of the Russian ambassador in Turkey just last week --


VANIER: Absolutely.

KAYYEM: -- adds to the sense that the safety and security of those in the urban environment in Turkey is less than what might be acceptable. It certainly gives tremendous powers to Erdogan, who's been, let's just -- you know, to put it diplomatically, has been asserting those powers over the last couple of years over the media, over dissent.

And I think that will continue until there is both a better safety and security environment as well as a longer-term solution to the challenges they face, not just with the Kurds but with ISIS.


VANIER: We'll take a very short break and have more on our breaking news out of Turkey when we come back, the first terror attack of 2017 at a night club in Istanbul. Stay with us.




VANIER: OK. Let's recap the breaking news we've been following out of Turkey. At least 39 people are dead, 69 wounded after a shooting attack at an Istanbul night club. U.S. and Turkish officials say it's a terrorist attack. That makes it the first of 2017.

There have been no claims of responsibility and Turkey's interior minister says an attacker is still at large; 21 of the dead have been identified and, of those, 16 are foreign nationals. And just a short while ago, former Turkish lawmaker Ikan Erdomir (ph) spoke to CNN. Here's how he explain what happened in Istanbul.


IKAN ERDOMIR (PH), FORMER TURKISH LAWMAKER: We were shocked. This is an attack in a --


ERDOMIR (PH): -- series of attacks over the course of the last year. But every time we see such carnage, our hearts go out to the innocent victims, whether they're Turkish or international.

And in fact, in this case, it's likely that the list of victims will include both Turks and also Istanbul's expat community and international tourists. So this is going to have repercussions not only for Turkey but also for the world.

VANIER: All right. We know there are multiple groups that threatened Turkey. At this stage, there's been no claim of responsibility. But all our guests have been pointing to the Islamic State group.

Do you share that analysis?

ERDOMIR (PH): Yes. I think it's highly likely that the assailant or assailants will end up being Islamic State militants. The M.O. of the attack, the targeting of this high-end night club and the timing of the attack all point to the Islamists' M.O. And in fact, the attack, I think, hit two targets with one stone; on

one hand, the international victims and the high-profile target would further the Islamic State propaganda locally.

But at the same time, within Turkey, the attack hits a very fragile fault line because Turkey itself is a society that polarized over the issue of New Year's and Christmas celebrations.

In the weeks leading to the attack, we have seen a lot of Islamist education in Turkey about the celebration of Christmas and New Year's. And it has become a major debate on lifestyle and values in Turkey.

So the Islamic State, I would argue, through this attack, is trying to appeal to the potential future recruits because there are sections of Turkish society who would not necessarily condemn this attack.

When we take aw look at the social media feeds over the last couple of hours --


VANIER: Sir, I beg your pardon; I just want to interrupt you to make sure that I heard you right. You're saying there are sections of the Turkish public that would not condemn an attack on a Turkish night club on account of it being a Christmas/New Year's Eve celebration with Christian roots?

Is that what you were referencing earlier as far as Christmas is concerned?

ERDOMIR (PH): Yes, yes, although this would be a small group of people, there are such individuals. And when we take a look at the social media feeds over the last couple of hours, we see a lot of callous tweets, for example, saying that people -- saying that they don't feel at all sorry for these people because they're international, because they're rich, because they're celebrating New Year's.

So I --


VANIER: And now would these be Islamic State or jihadist sympathizers?

Or is this just a reality that that's the kind of opinion you'll hear from a part of the Turkish public?

ERDOMIR (PH): I think not all of these people would be immediately connected, linked to the Islamic State. But I would argue that this is fertile breeding ground for the Islamic State because as intolerance rises in Turkey, as hate becomes inculcated in the youth, the Islamic State, through such sensational attacks, tries to reach out to these individuals.

And ultimately we see that the more Islamic State finds individuals and networks in Turkey, the more capacity it has for action, which means Turkey's (ph) response to such attacks should be two-pronged.

On the one hand, the Turkish state needs to refocus its energy on terrorist individuals and networks instead of cracking down on dissident academics and journalists and opposition politicians, because right now Turkey's police and law enforcement are terribly busy, cracking down on democratic opposition in Turkey.

And the second side of the police (ph) reaction should be to inculcate pluralism, tolerance, inclusivity in Turkey. The government should take steps to tackle the hate speech that is so pervasive in Turkey, all the anti-Western and anti-Christian rhetoric in Turkey, I think, is feeding into the hands of the Islamic State.


VANIER: We will, of course, continue to monitor the situation in Istanbul, where one gunman is still at large. But at this point we also want to bring you other developments from around the world, in particular, North Korea.


VANIER: North Korea's leader says the country is close to test- launching an intercontinental ballistic missile. In a New Year's Day speech, Kim Jong-un referred to North Korea as a nuclear and military power in the East. He says the nation will continue testing against potential threats from the United States.

CNN's Saima Mohsin joins us now live from Seoul, South Korea. She has the latest.

Saima, nuclear tests have continued unabated in North Korea for a long time.

Is there anything that can stop the country from getting a nuclear weapon at this stage?

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been described by the U.S. Director for Intelligence, James Clapper, as a lost cause to try and stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.

And this latest announcement from Kim Jong-un in his national address on New Year's Day would also support that statement. He said that North Korea has already tested a hydrogen bomb, a claim we have heard before, of course, but we can't independently verify.

So, too, we cannot verify whether indeed he is as close as he says to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile.

But what we do know, of course, Cyril, is that, in February 2016, not long ago, they did launch a satellite, which a lot of North Korea watchers said could be a template for testing a long-range missile. Huge concerns surrounding this -- Cyril.

VANIER: And Saima, is there anything, is there incentive or disincentive, to go back to the question, that you think might be able to curb this nuclear program?

MOHSIN: Well, if we're talking about sanctions or economic incentive, in fact I was speaking to one expert, Professor John Zaluri (ph), who said that he believed that perhaps bringing North Korea to the table, like previous U.S. administrations had with his father -- Madeleine Albright, of course, meeting with his father previously.

If Kim Jong-un could be brought to the table for dialogue, he might be willing to do so.

Compare that with a few days, ago when the former deputy ambassador for North Korea's embassy to London that has now made his escape to South Korea here, spoke out for the first time since his escape, saying that there is no economic incentive that could bring North Korea to stop the development of nuclear weapons, whether that is $1 trillion or $10 trillion -- and I quote that from him.

He said that Kim Jong-un is determined to complete his nuclear weapons program by the end of 2017. And this announcement seems to be in line with that -- Cyril.

VANIER: Saima Mohsin, reporting live from Seoul, just across the border, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Now the U.N. Security Council is welcoming a new cease-fire in Syria. A resolution unanimously supports the nationwide truce which was negotiated by Russia and Turkey. However, there have been violations to the cease-fire. And the rebel groups are currently threatening to abandon the truce if those violations continue.

They say that the government is taking advantage of the cease-fire to attack areas that are still under rebel control.

Let's look at what happened in Russia, which rang in the New Year with fireworks in the capital of Moscow over the Red Square. Huge crowds gathered along the banks of the Moscow River.

Russian president Vladimir Putin calling 2016 "a difficult year." He said the challenges that Russia had faced actually united the country. Mr. Putin released his New Year's Eve message to the nation on Saturday. Let's get more on what President Putin said from senior international correspondent Matthew Chance in Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's just a general congratulations to the people of Russia for what he described as a very difficult 2016. He also spoke about how it's important to defend truth and justice.

I have the statement right now in front of me. It's just been delivered to the people of Russia -- or at least in Moscow.

And to be merciful is one of the things that he said, which is interesting because it's the act he was playing yesterday, Vladimir Putin, when he rejected calls in that bit of political drama. He rejected calls by his own foreign ministry to respond in kind to the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats in the United States by saying, no, I'm not going to do that here. No diplomats are going to be expelled.

Instead, he used this opportunity, this crisis in the relationship between the United States and Russia to reach out across the Obama administration. He's totally ignored them now and appealed directly to Donald Trump, the president-elect, who of course takes office in the White House in a couple of weeks from now, saying that the future of the U.S.-Russian relationship, which is a key relationship obviously in the world, is going to be dependent not on the Obama administration but on Donald Trump's policies.

And that's something that was, at the very least, applauded by one person. because Donald Trump himself --


CHANCE: -- tweeted out his acknowledgement of that, saying a great move on the delay, referring to the expulsions by Vladimir Putin .

"I always knew he was very smart."

And so I'm sure President Putin here in Russia would have been very happy indeed with that New Year's response.


VANIER: And from there, let's go to Donald Trump. The U.S. President-elect has his doubts about Russian involvement in the hacking of the American presidential campaign. And here's what he told reporters earlier.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want them to be sure because it's a pretty serious charge. And I want them to be sure and if you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster and they were wrong. And so I want them to be sure.

I think it's unfair if they don't know. And I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don't know. And so they cannot be sure of the situation.


What do you know that other people don't know?

TRUMP: You'll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.


VANIER: Now the clock is ticking down on New Year's celebrations around the world, one time zone at a time. We want to show you how it went down around the globe.

This was New York City just a few hours ago as midnight arrived. Thousands of people crowded into Times Square for the annual party.

And the new former U.N. secretary-general, just one hour removed from that job, was given the honor of bringing down the iconic ball.

This was the scene several hours earlier, along the River Thames in London, as midnight arrived there. Tickets for that annual event totally sold out.

And you recognize Paris. Fireworks lit up the Arc de Triomphe; thousands of people packing the Champs-Elysees to watch and cheer.

Now you're watching the Russian capital, marking the arrival of the New Year. Fireworks near the Kremlin illuminated the Moscow River.

Australia certainly knows how to do it in style. A thunderous display of pyrotechnics over the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge. That show included tributes to the late musicians, Prince and David Bowie.

Thank you very much for watching. I'm Cyril Vanier. I'll be back with a look at the headlines just after the break. You're watching CNN. Do stay with us.