Return to Transcripts main page


ISIS Claimed Responsibility on Paris Terror Attack; German Authorities Arrested German National Suspect: Demonstrations in Venezuela Continues; Russian Air Crafts Spotted in the Alaskan Coast; Battle Final Stand for ISIS; Tech Entrepreneur Drives Car Across the Antarctic. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 21, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:14] HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR: In France, investigators reveal more information about the gunman who carried out Thursday's terror attack on the Champs-Elysees.

In Venezuela, anti-government protesters are on the street again keeping up the pressure on President Maduro.

And a century-old trek across Antarctica recreated in a modern day car.

Hello, I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones live here in London and this is CNN Newsroom.

Hello, good evening to you. We begin with the latest terror attack in France and its impact on the French presidential race. The chief prosecutor in Paris said the gunman carried a note pledging allegiance to ISIS. He had been arrested many times but never before showed any signs of radicalization. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attach which left one officer dead and three others wounded. A police shot and killed the gunman.

Presidential candidate agreed to cancel their campaigns ahead of Sunday's vote but some of them but some of them did speak out.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): The choice that you have to make on Sunday must be a choice for the future. Do not give in to fear, do not give in to division, do not give in to intimidation.

MARINE LE PEN, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): The Islamist, Salafist ideology has no right to be in France. Salafist organizations like the branches of the Muslim brotherhood must be banned. I demand that an investigation be open with the objective of resolving associative and cultural organizations. The promote of (inaudible) fundamentalist idealogies. Hate preachers must be expelled, Islamist mosques must be closed.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUGHAN JONES: Has more now from Paris. Hala, he's known to the authorities for years and yet free to commit murder in the heart of Paris. What else did we learn from the prosecutor a few hours (inaudible)?

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it just shows how complicated it is to keep an eye on anyone who might be suspicious 24 hours a day. Basically will just be quite impossible. As you mentioned he was detained briefly in January of this year. There were reports that he was looking for weapons in order to commit crime against police officers, that he'd made that known to people who might have shared that with authorities. But there just wasn't enough to keep him in custody.

He was added to a list of people suspected of radicalization but not to the more active terror watch list in this country. So as a result obviously he was able to roam free, acquire a weapon somehow and commit this terrible act of violence and terrorism on the Champs- Elysees killing Xavier Jugele, 37-year-old police officer and now named wounding two others as well in this attack that happened just before 9 p.m.

You mentioned as well Hannah and we're getting this from the prosecutor that a peace of paper was found next to his dead body, somehow a written message supporting the cause of ISIS. And other pieces of paper were found with several police addresses which led authorities to believe that perhaps he was planning other attacks. Those did not happen.

Now, ISIS did claim responsibility for the attack and it is a bit puzzling because in their claim they mentioned a name "Abu Yousuf al- Baljiki". That is not the name of this suspect Karim Cheurfi. We know that one man turned himself in, in Belgium but we understand from various reports that this man is not now believed connected to this shooting as (inaudible). But it is so -- if there's a mistake -- if there is someone else potentially involved this still needs really to be ironed out.

This of course attack comes two days before crucial first round of the French presidential election. And although candidates Hannah as you mentioned said they would suspend big political events, we saw a lot of them on television addressing supporters behind podiums and certainly tweeting most of the day. Back to you.

VAUGHAN JONES: And U.S. President Trump has already said on Twitter, the (inaudible) shouldn't give impact to the results of that election. And the French Prime Minister has already weighed in as well as to say that some of the candidates are perhaps are trying to capitalize on the attack. Take a listen.


BERNARD CAZENEUVE, FRENCH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The candidate of the Front National, like every drama, seeks to profit from and to control the situation to divide. She seeks to benefit from their fear for exclusively political ends. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUGHAN JONES: Bernard Cazeneuve there. Hala, what are the polls saying ahead of this vote on Sunday?

[14:05:00] GORANI: It's really anyone's race among the top four because they're all within the margin of error. There's no leader, there's no second place, there's no third place, there's no fourth place really. Because within two or three percentage points of each other, all the candidates are pretty much in a tight knit sort of group of contenders.

So really this is a cliffhanger, it is a suspenseful race, it could go either way. I did speak with the secretary general of the National Front, the party of Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate just a few hours ago and some more of that interview and some of that interview we'll air next hour on the World Right Now. He expects a Macron-Le Pen runoff. Other people do as well but then you have those who believe that Francois Fillon, the right centric candidate might benefit maybe from some of the tension that as -- it resulted from this attack on the Champ-Elysees.

Really, this is one and I've covered -- I've covered every French presidential election since 2002 and no election has been this unpredictable, this dramatic and has this many twists and turns. So, really, if anyone forgets.

VAUGHAN JONES: And Hala, we appreciate it and Hala will of course be covering this cliffhanger election all weekend as about to -- as the poll start to open there. Thanks very much Hala.

We turn now to Germany where greed is believed the motive behind last week's bomb attack on the Borussia Dortmund football team bus bound for Champions League match. A 28-year-old man is under arrest as CNN's Erin McLaughlin tells us he is suspected of staging the attack to make money.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (Inaudible) is what certainly something that authorities were initially looking at especially given everything that happened on the continent both here in Germany and elsewhere. They even made an arrest, they did arrested an Iraqi national with alleged ties to ISIS in connection with this attack. They since cleared that individual and now focusing on this latest arrest which was made earlier this morning. A 28-year-old German-Russian national identified by authorities in the name Sergej W and authorities are alleging that he had planned to profit from this attack. They alleged that he (inaudible) what's called a (inaudible) some thousands of them -- put out auctions prior to the attack -- (inaudible) price sale in the wake of the attack, he would profit from the -- he would profit.

So authorities managed to unravel all of this by tracking the I.P. address that he used to carry out this trade. They tracked it to the same hotel as the Dortmund football team and they found out that he was actually staying -- had the room -- the top level of the hotel which overlook the scene of this horrific attack. So many Germans today (inaudible) shocked at this, at this outcome. We're still waiting for more details in terms of the types of explosives that he allegedly used as well as the type of detonator. So key details are still missing here as authorities are still working to piece together this investigation.

VAUGHAN JONES: Erin McLaughlin in Berlin there. Well, last week, the blast injures the defender Marc Bartra. He was unable to play in the postponed match. Borussia Dortmund lost to A.S. Monaco, 3-2 when that match was replayed.

Venezuela's opposition is turning up the pressure on the government and calling for protests throughout this weekend. And this photograph is now going viral. Early this week, a female has draped in a Venezuelan flag stepped in front of a convoy of armored vehicles stopping them in their trucks.

Well, journalist Stefano Pozzebon joins me now via Skype from the Venezuelan capital Caracas. Stefano, just described for us how big an impact that one act of defiance could have on this whole dispute?

STEFANO POZZEBON, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: It's really critical Hannah as you forecast how the situation will evolve here in Venezuela. Let's remember that Venezuela is not new to protests and especially this government who was challenged on streets just three years ago. And protests that caused the death of up to 40 people. More than 40 people died in 2014.

[14:10:01] This year, we are entering a new cycle of protests and that image has shocked the Twitter away, has shocked the social network and people are re-tweeting and they're finding the momentum. Now, the question looking forward is how long will the opposition be able to keep this momentum going in order to try to force a new electoral cycle and try to force the government to seat down dialogue and see if there is any way out of the current (inaudible) that we're having on both government and opposition are not willing to talk. And the question is how long will the protest last? Definitely they will lasts for two more days. (Inaudible) for tomorrow and one more a mass general protest on Monday.

VAUGHAN JONES: We've already heard that several people have lost their lives in the protest so far. What measures therefore have been put in place by the government to prevent further violence over the coming days?

POZZEBON: Just over almost a week ago but on Monday President Maduro had deployed the army on the streets in order to try to calm down the situation and to show us strength. Of course the army here plays a very important role in supporting their government. They're completely sided with the current government and there's many who blocked most of the protesters as well. A couple of days ago, Maduro has -- President Maduro has also announced there'll be opening of that new plan (inaudible) which would have been in other way to (inaudible) and get emergency and police presence on streets.

We're seeing an increased military presence and especially national guards here in the streets of Caracas today. VAUGHAN JONES: And how organized is the opposition there? I mean, it could President Maduro's presidency be now particularly vulnerable?

POZZEBON: The opposition is made up of a variety of (inaudible) and all united together in a bit cartel called the table of democratic unity. But just last week, the main and the most charismatic and the most popular leader Henrique Capriles received a ban to run for an office for the next 15 years. Now this ban comes from the judiciary (inaudible) from a court which means it cannot be overturned unless the Supreme Court does it. And the opposition actually find its selves in deep paradoxical situation of demanding a new cycle of elections but risking to lost their best candidate to oppose President Maduro.

So they're trying to get the momentum and trying to keep the momentum going as long as he's going to last because they know they don't had many other options to be honest.

VAUGHAN JONES: OK, Stefano Pozzebon we appreciate your analysis there from Caracas. Thank you.

POZZEBON: Thank you Hannah.

VAUGHAN JONES: Now do stay with us here on CNN Newsroom. Coming up next, all Russian military air crafts getting too closed to the U.S. for comfort. That story, ahead.


VAUGHAN JONES: Welcome back. U.S. defense officials say Russian air crafts (inaudible) by American air space off the coast of Alaska for the fourth time in these many days. CNN's Pentagon Reporter Ryan Browne has been following developments.

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: We hadn't seen flights like this for a number of years. In fact the last time was 2015. That being said there are other factors had played potentially one defense official saying that this could be Russia just cycling through some of its air craft, training some of its air crews.

[14:15:04] But I think one thing to notice that this most recent event was 700 miles off the Alaska coast. They're been close once in the recent days, one as close is 40 miles. But all international air space (inaudible) within what the U.S. labels its air defense identification zone so they monitor Russian air craft.

Russian air craft have done this in the past. It's their way of kind of assessing what U.S. air patrols, how quickly they respond. It's a way for them to train their bomber crews and other, their air crews. And so in this most recent case on the 20th, U.S. and Canada both scrambled jets F-22s and CF-18s to intercept the Russian air craft now as they described as a safe intercept, very professionally done.

So, you know, not a huge military concern, military threat but at least some officials are saying definitely in high volume in a short period of time some kind of strategic messaging coming out of Moscow. VAUGHAN JONES: CNN's Ryan Browne reporting there from the Pentagon. Now, U.S. defense Secretary James Mattis is in Israel. The latest stop in his tour of the Middle East. Also meeting the Prime Minister Netanyahu for discussion on regional threats.

Mattis then held talks at a joint news conference with his Israeli counterpart. Both defense chiefs accused Syria of keeping chemical weapons.


JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: There is no doubt in the international community (inaudible) that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violations of (inaudible). And there's no longer any doubt.


VAUGHAN JONES: Well, the U.S. of course carried out a strike again a Syrian air base earlier this month over a chemical attack that kills 89 people. International weapons inspectors have found evidence the Assad regime used sarine gas.

In Iraq, the battle to retake the city of Mosul has ended its final stages. Iraqi forces and ISIS are fighting in a narrow street of the historic center. Nick Paton Walsh managed to get inside Mosul's Old City with terrified civilians remained trapped in the crossfire.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ground down to its bones, Mosul is so quiet (inaudible). You ask yourself, where are its people? Where has ISIS taken them? The answer is here. Trapped in the (inaudible) of the Old City, a densely populated final holdout of ISIS.

There's a stalemate of shooting now, weeks old, where a few alleyways down, ISIS' mass hostage standoff begins. Ten thousand civilians held as human shields.

You can see from these drone pictures, filmed during a massive ISIS counter attack, exactly how tight the streets are packed. And everyone, hell could wait. The al-Nuri mosque where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, gave his only real public speech, its central prize. Each street, window, bloody. But not as foreign troops clear that ISIS leaves nothing intact behind them.

There in the distance is the reason why ISIS is fighting so hard in these streets to hold the Iraqi police and military back. That is the al-Nuri Mosque, very much the ideological heart in Iraq of this self- declared caliphate.

They want more American precision fire power. Up until now, the help is weak he says. They have advanced precise weapons, and with intelligence, they can help us better.

So far, astonishingly (inaudible) aged four, has stayed in her home and survived. And does not flinch once.

There is no life under ISIS her father says. No food, no water, no electricity. We had to dig a well to find water. The first thing she's really known is the police. She loves them like kids in her school.

And as the shells still rain down, there are those who will never leave. And those who do, as fast as they can. Far enough out, they are ferried to camps. ISIS is using people as human shields and herding civilians into kill zones to make them die with them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They would besiege us and use us as human shields. Take people and families as they withdraw.

[14:20:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My brother and the rest of his family are besieged. ISIS hit them with sticks dragging him away. He can't go anywhere.

PATON WALSH: These voices a fraction in a cacophony of suffering inside, in a fight that may take months more to end.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, the Old City, Mosul.


VAUGHAN JONES: Next on CNN Newsroom, the British royals are tackling the stigmas surrounding mental illness, sitting down for candid discussion about the loss of Diana, Princess of Whales.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's very nice over the years (inaudible).


VAUGHAN JONES: We will have much of their conversation ahead. And meet the man who followed in this great-grandfather's icy footsteps and completed an Antarctic journey left unfinished by more than a hundred years.


VAUGHAN JONES: Princes William and Harry are getting candid about losing their mother, Diana, Princess of Whales. A new film featuring the brothers and William's wife, the Duchess of Cambridge was released today as part of their Heads Together campaign. The royals are hoping to combat the stigma associated with mental illness.


KATE MIDDLETON, DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE: I do think it's incredibly (inaudible) and how you been (inaudible) ready. Like for that time when, you know, (inaudible).


MIDDLETON: (Inaudible) the relationship that he got still amazing (inaudible).

Nobody is -- you know, sometimes (inaudible) as lucky as you might have been and being to shift --

PRINCE WILLIAM, DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE: But we haven't brought (inaudible) because of the (inaudible). That's the thing. Maybe you are. You know, (inaudible) and bonded because of what we've been through.


PRINCE WILLIAM: But, you know, even Harry and I over the years are not talk about (inaudible) -- you know, we --


MIDDLETON: Has doing this campaign (inaudible)?

PRINCE HARRY: Yes, I think so. I always thought to myself, you know, what's the point of bringing up the past? What's the point of bringing up (inaudible) and it's going to change her. It's going to bring her back. And when you start thinking like that it can be really damaging. So when you said to me, you go and sit down and think of mother's memories but for me it was like, don't want to think about it.

PRINCE WILLIAM: So I think (inaudible) with us and that happened with others as well. You have to prioritize (inaudible).


PRINCE WILLIAM: You have to assess yourself and at some point -- because it's very (inaudible) from it. You know, you can't avoid it all the time. You know, someone has at least to be brave enough to forge that conversation.


VAUGHAN JONES: Well, a statement from Kensington Palace says the princes and the duchess are overwhelmed with the response to their openness and they're grateful to all who have also shared their own stories.

Well, today, the princes and the duchess are sending good wishes to their grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, the world's oldest and longest reigning (inaudible) has turned the grand old age of 91. Artillery gun salute was set to mark the occasion. Now official celebrations will be held over the summer.

Congratulations are pouring in as well. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson took to Twitter to say, hip, hip hurray to the queen.

One tech entrepreneur became the first person to drive across Antarctica. But he didn't do it for himself. It is the completion of unfinished century old legacy from his great-grandfather. Robyn Curnow has the story.


[14:25:00] ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: It's a journey a hundred years in the making. Patrick Bergel, the great grandson of famed British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton recently traveled to Antarctica to finish the adventure his ancestors started a century ago. Back in 1914, Shackleton and his crew set up to be the first to cross the Antarctic. But (inaudible) distract when their ship became trapped in ice and sank. But somehow they survive for months in the polar cold until rescue.


CURNOW: A hundred years later, Bergel hopes to enter the history books by becoming the first to drive across the continent. The trip is sponsored by automaker Hyundai who (inaudible) Bergel's driving (inaudible) engraved with the names of Shackleton's crew and even messages from the crew's descendants.

PATRICK BERGEL, SHACKLETON'S GREAT GRANDSON: This is very much about bringing together a whole generation's people to celebrate with Shackleton.

CURNOW: Using satellite imagery and GPS, Bergel set out to retrace his great-grandfather's route crossing the South Pole and eventually reaching the (inaudible) south, a journey of 5,800 kilometers or more than 3,500 hundred miles.

BERGEL: (Inaudible) but how much harder (inaudible) been a hundred years ago.

CURNOW: No roads here just (inaudible) and ice, whiteout conditions, sub-zero cold and dangerous terrain.

BERGEL: We had to rope together the vehicles as one would rope together skis in case if one of the vehicles fell into a (inaudible).

CURNOW: After driving for 30 days, Bergel made it.

BERGEL: It really came on to me what we just achieved but the fact that what we've done was maybe a thousand hard. And it has been back in 1916 and '17.

CURNOW: Bergel is tech entrepreneur and not an explorer by trade but says this adventure bought him closer to his famous forebearer.

BERGEL: I like to think he'll be proud and pleased that a member of his family had finally pulled something that he's trying to do.

CURNOW: Bergel says he doesn't think Shackleton's expedition was a failure, it just took hundred years to complete.

Robyn Curnow, CNN.


VAUGHAN JONES: And that is it for this edition of CNN Newsroom. Thank you so much for watching. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones in London. State of America is up after the break.