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Terror in Spain; World Leaders React to Barcelona Van Attack.. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired August 18, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:16] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Isha Sesay. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.
We begin with a second possible terror attack in Spain. We just got new video from the coastal town of Cambrils, Spain where five suspected terrorists were killed by police.
VAUSE: The video was taken inside a nightclub when something happened.
There is the clear sound of what seemed to be gunfire. There's still no official word of exactly what went on there. Another video appears to show what happened next. And a warning -- this video you're about to see is graphic.
SESAY: Well, as we put that video up on the screen, you see what looks to be bodies at the scene that you see there lying there on the ground. They could be dead. Police say four terror suspects were killed and a fifth died later of his wounds.
Well, the possible terror attack in Cambrils came just hours after the initial terror attack in Barcelona. That's where a speeding van mowed down crowds on the city's popular Las Ramblas Avenue.
VAUSE: CNN's Melissa Bell joins us now from the scene. But Melissa -- let's get back to Cambrils and what more doe we know about that counter-terrorism raid and in particular what may have been the presence there of explosive suicide belts.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. There is this idea police are investigating the possibility that these terrorists -- the five alleged terrorists that we now know to have died in that incident in Cambrils whether they were wearing any explosive belts at all. And of course, we also know from authorities that they believe that the event in Cambrils are linked also to those, of course, here in Barcelona where at 5:00 p.m. last night, John, that truck plowed down that Las Ramblas -- that road, pedestrianized (ph) central part of that road just behind me mowing down those very many tourists and locals who will have been ambling around in the evening killing, as you know, 13 of them. Of course, even as this investigation continues, we wait to find out
whether that death toll rises or not since so many of the wounded remain in hospital, many of them seriously wounded.
SESAY: All right. Melissa -- we appreciate that. Thank you for the update. We'll come back to you a little bit later on the show to get more details -- thank you.
VAUSE: Ok. Las Ramblas Avenue was packed with shoppers, tourists and street performers when the van came at them at high speed.
SESAY: Witnesses describe the surreal moment when a largely (ph) summer day suddenly turned tragic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just about to go on to the La Ramblas which obviously is the most -- one of the most popular tourist streets in Barcelona.
And I came through a cross walk and the light turned red just as I was about to cross. And so I stopped. And all of a sudden, a white van started speeding out of nowhere and took a drastic right turn, right on to the walking part of the Las Ramblas street and right into the people that were standing on the opposite side of the cross walk that I was at.
And he just plowed him down with his van and pretended (ph) to drive down the Las Ramblas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard a very loud kind of like -- it sounded like, you know, the guy that was driving -- whoever was driving the van kind of floored it. And I see this white van come.
It looks like a utility truck or something, white van with some blue writing on the side. And it literally came straight down Ramblas and ran into people, you know, on every side.
The Ramblas is full of, you know, pedestrians, street merchants, street performers and I saw people flying into the air.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden there was tidal wave of people running toward us and they were hysterical. It wasn't just a small number; it was a large number of people. Children were screaming. There was clearly a lot of distress.
In Spain, English is not widely spoken and it was very difficult to work except that you could see the fear and the distress on these people and the fact that they were screaming in terror. You know, regardless of what might have happened, we knew we had to get ourselves out of there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was kind of like a little chain events where I just saw a few people turn around and started yelling and screaming. And then almost instantly everyone around them was just yelling, screaming and heading in the opposite direction. And in that moment, me and my cousin just turned around and started running back the way that we had initially come from.
[00:05:00] And all you could hear was just people scream and just so much chaos and everyone just screaming and yelling, trying to find their other family members just because that area itself and that market was so extremely packed. Everyone was just trying to run to safety --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Joining us now CNN law enforcement contributor and former FBI special agent Steve Moore and Bobby Chacon also a former FBI special agent.
Ok, Steve -- joint the dots here for us starting with this recent counter terror raid in Cambrils. Police say they stopped a second terror attack. The assumption is that there is a connection between what happened in Cambrils and the terror attack in Barcelona. But they're not offering a lot more details.
So what would that -- what are the possibilities here? What could that connection be?
STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: What happens is after the first attack, you're going to roll out and pick up on any friends, any social media acquaintances -- anything, anybody that these people who you captured have talked to. You're going to immediately try to develop any leads on possible future attacks.
And when you go out on those things, when you jump out to put all your resources on these attacks, you can hit a dry hole. These guys, from the looks of it, hit gold the first time. If these people were actually involved, then you've got an extremely quick, extremely effective investigation.
VAUSE: What you're saying is this sort of part of a bigger, wider plan for (inaudible) terror --
MOORE: Oh, absolutely. That's the ticking clock here because anybody you don't capture has no motivation to be captured. They're not going to sit around.
SESAY: So Bobby, the working hypothesis here multiple locations, multiple individuals involved which begs the obvious question, why didn't this come to the attention of authorities before now?
BOBBY CHACON, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, it's a good question and I think from the beginning, it had earmarks of not a lone wolf, suicide type attack. These guys were not suicide -- they didn't get out of that truck shooting people like we had on the London Bridge.
And shortly after the incident, we found out that three days ago he returned from Morocco. So it looked like there was some advanced planning to this, that he traveled overseas, maybe had gotten some help and -- or maybe somebody traveled with him to Morocco and didn't come back, a bomb maker perhaps. So you had some earmarks that this wasn't the run of the mill Nice, France type attack; that this was going to be a coordinated attack and there could be other follow-on attacks.
VAUSE: Ok. So Cambrils is to the north of Barcelona. To the south is Alcanar where the night before -- after the attack in Barcelona there was an explosion. It left one person dead. There is a suspicion that someone was trying to build some kind of explosive device.
And they say all of this is linked to the car attack in Barcelona -- Steve. So, you know, again no other details coming from the authorities, but it does raise the question that there was at least maybe a possibility that the terrorists were considering these explosive devices to be part of that car attack.
MOORE: It's possible or it could have been follow-on attacks.
VAUSE: All right.
MOORE: I mean that's what -- we've been seeing these, what we call marauding attacks. And attack here, an attack there and these attacks don't add. They multiply. They're exponential in the grief and in the panic they cause.
So I'm not believing necessarily that these vests -- that they were supposed to be used in the initial attack. I'm believing that there might have been a follow-up. I could be wrong but that's where my (inaudible) is.
SESAY: So Bobby -- keeping you on the investigative track for a second, if indeed we're talking about interlinked individuals, again multiple locations, multiple individuals -- is this a good thing for investigators because the more people the possibility that someone's being sloppy and you can pick up a trail.
CHACON: Well, I mean -- you know, it's not a good thing if there are more people out there willing to carry out these attacks and have the ability to. I mean you would -- as harsh as it sounds, you would prefer an attack like we've -- already had where it's one person carrying out one crime and that's the end of it.
So it's always more disconcerting when there's more out there and you don't know because when you catch eight of them, you don't know if there's 18. When you catch one and -- or he kills himself in the process, there's no other trail to follow, shortly into the investigation you have a comfort level that ok, this is it.
With this, once you find more then you don't know how much more is out there.
VAUSE: As a general, Bobby -- the more sophisticated the plot, the plan -- is it easier to thwart (ph) as opposed to like two guys rent a van and drive it into a crowd just on a -- not on a whim but you know what I mean? CHACON: Yes. It's almost easy to thwart -- and if you have a good intelligence service at work -- and I'm not saying they weren't good. I'm just saying you have to have a break. When you're going to take down a coup (ph) like that, you're going to have to have a break. You're going to have to have somebody on the inside telling you something happened.
These are very close-knit groups or close-knit communities. And so, you know, if you don't get that break, even in a coordinated attack, yes there's more communication required, more movement required, more things to acquire. You have to buy more things, rent more things.
So all of those things represent a possible exploitation by law enforcement to get into that group.
[00:10:02] SESAY: Bobby -- sorry. Steve -- what is your expectation in terms of this -- the movements of the driver who's still out there on the loose? Is your expectation in these kinds of situations, that he's trying to get out of the country or that he's lying low within Spain?
MOORE: Historically in the attacks we've seen in the last year, they have not really tried very hard to get out of the country. They may be looking for support and they may be looking to circle back and do as much damage as they can because they know that life as they know it is over.
And to your question, the larger the plan, yes the more vulnerable it is to detection. But the more sophisticated it is, the less -- the less it's trackable.
VAUSE: Sure. And Bobby -- and again, just to your question about a break. In April there was this arrest of nine suspects apparently linked to ISIS. They were picked up. Wasn't that a break in some ways?
CHACON: Well we don't -- I mean we don't know. That's yet to be seen. We need -- they need to examine whether or not there's any kind of connection between those nine. It could have been a separate cell --
VAUSE: There were no links to the (inaudible) airport attack possibly.
CHACON: Right. But we don't know if they were linked to this attack that happened today.
CHACON: So that's going to be examined. And you know, they'll come and determine whether or not they missed something. And if they do we hope that they, you know, kind of shore that up and not miss it again.
SESAY: And it terms of -- getting hold of the van, you know, that's the whole thing with these attacks. It takes low skill and tech -- any one can do it. But when we're talking about explosives, the possibility of explosives being involved in the mix, I mean what's your understanding in terms of Spain? How easy it is to get your hands on, you know, the arms, the guns, explosives -- those elements?
MOORE: Well, the triacetone triperoxide they're using, you can pick up in any store. I mean it's peroxide that they use in a highly concentrated form for hair work. And the acetone is not hard to get either.
And so the problem is it's very hard to make. And sometimes you blow yourselves up doing it which would indicate that might have happened already. So the stuff isn't hard.
VAUSE: ISIS said these attackers were soldiers of the Islamic state. There was no sort of explicit claim of responsibility. Also no photos or details of the attackers have been issued by ISIS. And Bobby -- I'm assuming that's because the driver is still on the run?
CHACON: Well, maybe. But maybe this is one of those things and we hearken all the way back to San Bernardino where the new paradigm is you can be out there and you can plan and carry out one of these attacks and as long you claim allegiance to ISIS and al Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS then they will accept you as an ISIS soldier and you'll go into the afterlife as one of their martyrs. And that's what they all aspire to do.
And so this is the paradigm. So ISIS, of course, comes in after the fact and claims them to be the martyrs, but that's part of the deal. The deal is we will go and carry out this attack and you will accept us as soldiers.
VAUSE: But doesn't all the elements that we're now finding out, you know, the explosion in the house the night before, the suicide belts, you know, the day after -- all this kind of stuff, you know, the guy heading off to Morocco -- all these pieces coming together indicates that maybe ISIS or someone or some group, jihadi group was more directly involved --
VAUSE: -- as opposed to inspiration.
CHACON: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that the travel to that is key. The crucial thing to me as an investigator, first thing I picked up on was he just came back in the country. And so that tells me -- you don't come back and three days later carry out an attack like this.
There's obviously brought much prior planning, if not planning that took place in Morocco and back and forth. So definitely this is part of a larger group, maybe even a directly-affiliated ISIS group of a tangentially affiliated group for ISIS but no doubt that this is part of a larger group.
SESAY: And Steve -- to John's point about ISIS providing no evidence, if you will, no supporting evidence to the claim that these were soldiers of the caliphate. Do they have -- the fact that, you know, there's this doubt, the credibility of their claim? Or is it still a win?
MOORE: No. They -- this is a win because most likely they were inspired by ISIS if not directed by ISIS. The fact that they don't have identifying information is kind of outweighed or at least balanced in my opinion, by the fact that they took responsibility for it so quickly. So I think there is, you know, six degrees of separation back to Baghdadi on this one.
VAUSE: And Bobby, finally, you know, Spain is not France is not Belgium when it comes to ISIS but there is still this connection to ISIS as far as a transit point for militants coming in -- coming and going.
CHACON: Sure. And this is the new Europe, right with the refugee crisis and people willing to exploit whatever crisis is at hand. They'll exploit the things that they can exploit to move around. And freedom of movement is one of the things that enable these attacks to take place, and you know, the travel documents and traveling.
So I think that that -- yes, I think this is part of the new Europe and they're going to have to, you know, work on identifying ways to stem some of these travel issues that they have over there.
[00:15:04] VAUSE: Ok. We shall leave it there --
SESAY: Gentlemen -- we appreciate it.
VAUSE: -- Bobby and Steve -- thank you so much for the insights.
SESAY: Thank you.
MOORE: Thanks a lot.
CHACON: Thank you.
VAUSE: U.S. President Donald Trump reacted to the news out of Barcelona by tweeting this, "The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough and strong. We love you."
SESAY: And then he tweeted this. "Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more radical Islamic terrorist for 35 years." But here's the thing, there is no evidence backing up President Trump's claim that in the early 1900s General John Pershing and his forces shot Muslims with bullets dipped in pink blood to deter them from the Philippine-American war.
So in the face of Barcelona's horrific terrorist attack some are questioning why the President is highlighting Pershing's story.
VAUSE: Other world leaders from places all too familiar with terrorism also sending their condolences. SESAY: The German Chancellor called the Barcelona attack "revolting". A spokesman for Angela Merkel writes, "We are mourning the victims of this disgusting attack in Barcelona in solidarity and friendship side by side with the Spanish."
VAUSE: British Prime Minister Theresa May tweets, "My thoughts are with the victims of today's terrible attack in Barcelona and the emergency services responding to this ongoing incident. U.K. stands with Spain against terror."
SESAY: French President Emmanuel Macron also voiced his solidarity with Spain, "We remain united and determined," Macron said on Twitter. He described it as a tragic attack saying his thoughts are with the victims.
And London Mayor Sadiq Khan echoing that sentiment; he called it a barbaric terrorist attack in the great city of Barcelona.
VAUSE: And in Paris, the Eiffel Tower went dark paying tribute to the victims of the Barcelona rampage.
When we come back we'll have much more on the attack which killed 13 people, injured dozens more.
[00:16:50] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SESAY: Hello everyone. Recapping our top story. Spanish police are searching for the driver who plowed a van into a busy Barcelona street, killing at least 13 people.
Authorities say they have two suspects in custody but neither of them was behind the wheel. Officials also note the death toll is likely to rise with more than 100 people wounded.
VAUSE: The town of Cambrils, about 130 kilometers southwest of Barcelona; police say they've neutralized another possible terror attack. Officers killed four suspects and a fifth died later of injuries. It's not clear if that plan had any direct connection to the van attack.
But authorities say an earlier incident -- a massive house explosion in the coastal town of Alcanar on Wednesday night was connected to the van attack and killed one person.
ISIS has not explicitly claimed responsibility for any of these attacks but the terror group says the perpetrators in Barcelona were its soldiers.
[00:20:00] Well, Lisa Daftari joins us now. She's the editor-in-chief of the "Foreign Desk" and expert in the Middle East.
So Lisa -- good to see you.
LISA DAFTARI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "FOREIGN DESK": Thanks. VAUSE: What do you make of ISIS' claim? It's sort of was hedged.
DAFTARI: No, it's --
VAUSE: Or is it typical.
DAFTARI: -- on par with what we've been seeing. What's unusual is the timing of the claim, to be so close to the attack. And not only that, more surprisingly is that the perpetrator is still on the loose. They're still alive.
Usually you'll see when one of them becomes a shahida martyr, then they'll take claim right away. There's less of a chance of anything else getting out. They don't want the kind of evidence getting out, how these guys planned it. So when they die they kind of subsequently take responsibility.
Right now we're seeing it get a little bit fishy but I think ISIS as they've shown us in the past keep changing their game. And they basically know that law enforcement is watching them. And I think that that's the evolution of ISIS. They've been masterful at running around the psyche of the western counter terrorism machine.
VAUSE: Ok. Well, let's -- you know, let's just assume, it's a safe assumption that it was either inspired or directed by ISIS.
VAUSE: All indications are that, in your opinion I guess, will there be more attacks just like this one we're seeing the closer coalition fighters get to the fall of Raqqa, ISIS' self-declared capital.
DAFTARI: Right. So obviously there's a correlation there. And I think that's what a lot of reports show is that ISIS is diminishing, ISIS is dwindling. Why? Because we're looking at only the land of ISIS.
So as they do diminish and they diminish in terms of their land and their influence in the caliphate which is Syria and Iraq, we also need to look at where they're growing obviously in recruiting, obviously in launching these local types of attacks.
And what ISIS has done is put out memes and videos and brochures -- I report on this a lot -- it's to show that you no longer need to come to the caliphate in order to learn how to be a soldier for ISIS. You can do so in your local town. And that's where we actually need you.
And you don't need to know how to build a weapon using some sort of pressure cooker or whatever else. You can use any item that you have, like a car, like a kitchen knife, like an axe. And we've seen all these types of attacks.
So I think that as we get closer and they do diminish in one way, they're absolutely growing and changing their messaging. Just yesterday, ISIS ruled an e-mail subscription service. And when you look at, well, ok fine there's sending out more propaganda. There's more to it.
We're shutting them down on Facebook, on Twitter, on YouTube, on Telegram. What do they do? Sprouting up in their e-mails. Meaning you can take us down but we'll have e-mail which are so much harder to trace and we can still reach our supporters.
VAUSE: The other too, which also seems to be going on is that they're translating their message into Spanish a lot more.
DAFTARI: Into 12 languages. Every time their magazine comes out, it comes out in 12 languages. And languages that you would think are so obscure and have nothing to do with ISIS and their followers.
But again, it comes to back to this. Now whether this was inspired or directed. Whether these guys were born in Spain or not, coming from other countries as we've seen in the Paris attacks, in Brussels, in London, et cetera -- each time it's a different story but that's what's so scary about ISIS and what they're ability to do, what their reach is and who they're recruiting.
VAUSE: So the question then is what is more dangerous. ISIS holding a great big piece of real estate in the Middle East as a caliphate or ISIS online where you don't know where they are?
DAFTARI: You nailed it. It's ISIS online where you don't know where they are. It's like putting out, you know, feathers to the wind. How are you going to catch them?
You know, we shut down 250,000 Twitter accounts -- that was the report about four months ago. Well, 250,000 more sprouted up the next day. How are you going to -- again, they find their way whether it's on the web, on the dark web -- how to get the message out.
And again, look at how low budget, low maintenance and under the radar this attack was. All you need to do is pick a car, whether your own or a rental and ram it into people. I mean it sounds -- this is the year 2017 that's the most primitive type of attack. And what do they do?
They incited fear, they incited intimidation. That is the sheer definition of terrorism as it is. We're past the days of 9/11 of retreating and slamming that type of attack and I think that ISIS has mastered that psyche of the western.
And you know, again, this was in Barcelona. It was in a place where, again, you can say targeted towards Europe but the place where a lot of American tourists go as well.
VAUSE: A lot of tourists all around the world. A very popular spot obviously.
DAFTARI: Very symbolic.
VAUSE: A soft target which is symbolic as well.
DAFTARI: Yes, absolutely. VAUSE: Lisa -- thank you.
DAFTARI: Of course.
SESAY: We're going to pause for a quick break here.
Tributes for the Barcelona terror victims are coming in from around the world in Tel Aviv. City Hall was lit up with the colors of the Spanish and Israeli flags.
After the break we'll hear from a man who witnessed the horrific attack.
[00:24:45] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody.
Our breaking news from Spain -- at least 13 people are dead after a van rammed through a crowd in a popular tourist area of Barcelona on Thursday. Authorities say they are still looking for the driver but two suspects have been arrested so far.
SESAY: Police report there was a possible terror attack later in Cambrils, a city south of Barcelona. Five terrorists there were killed in the police operation. Authorities are working under the assumption the situation in Cambrils in linked to the attack in Barcelona.
For more, here is our own Michael Holmes and a warning, his report contains graphic video.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carnage on the streets of Barcelona after a van careens through the crowds smashing bodies and dragging them through the streets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There has been a terror attack in the middle of Las Ramblas in Barcelona. There's tons of people dead in Las Ramblas. This is really strong. Young children and mothers dead in the middle of Las Ramblas.
HOLMES: Moments later, victims strewn among shattered market stalls, the bloody aftermath captured by social media video, rescue workers, trying to revive those barely moving. Eyewitnesses say the attacker zigzagged aiming to hit as many people as possible.
Nearby chaos broke out. Terrified people ran into shops, restaurants anywhere they could for cover. Many stayed holed up for hours waiting for more information.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There's been complete confusion. The police ordered us to close the restaurant. All our tourists (ph) have been evacuated because people are panicking. The panic, you can't react. You don't know how to react. HOLMES: Ambulances carried dozens of wounded to hospital, heavily armed police marched through the popular tourist destination clearing streets and setting up barricades.
The incident quickly declared a terror attack by authorities.
ISIS media wing, Amaq, claiming responsibility. The terror group offering no proof of their involvement.
CARLES PUIGDEMONT, PRESIDENT OF CATALONIA (through translator): This is a very serious attack and we condemn it energetically. Democracy and intrinsic values have always been against terrorism wherever in the world. All institutions and all citizens must have no doubts that the intention of these criminals is to confront civilization with violence.
HOLMES: A call for calm as Catalan police hunt for the perpetrators.
Michael Holmes, CNN -- London.
[00:29:58] SESAY: Well, for more on the Barcelona attack I'm joined by Marco Pierre Angelini (ph), he lives in the area and shot the video you're about to see. It is of the aftermath and we must warn you, parts of it are graphic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
SESAY: Terrible scenes there, just of the carnage and just the pain and suffering that resulted from this van attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Marco, let me bring you in here. Thank you for joining us.
Those images you shot of the aftermath of this attack are incredibly hard to watch.
Can you just describe for us what it was like for you personally to witness such a scene?
What was going through your mind?
MARCO PIERANGELONI, VIDEOGRAPHER: Actually it's -- first of all, good evening. It was extremely panic situation and it's something that you can't believe. I was leaving my house to do some other stuff in the other side of Las Ramblas. And suddenly start to see everybody in panic, running.
In the first moment, I thought that I heard only the yelling because they got the carrier (ph) everything extremely straight. And suddenly thought it was -- would be just a pickpocket. And suddenly there was a mass of people running all around. And I went to the Ramblas and it was like chaos.
Police with their guns pointing to everywhere, trying to figure out what was going on. And suddenly decide to move up a little bit to Ramblas and start to shoot.
I live one street behind Ramblas. So was from the chaos, I couldn't imagine that we would be living this here.
SESAY: Yes. So, Marco, when everyone started to run, where did you run to?
SESAY: Where did you run to when the crowd started to move in panic?
PIERANGELONI: In the first moment, I start running the same direction of the crowd. It is like a panic moment. You don't know what is going on, your first reaction is to run. And I ran a little bit in the same direction of the crowd.
Then I stop because I realize that no one was chasing us. So I decided to go back. I live in the Ramblas in the 200 meters from the lisil (ph), this is the area where the car stopped and I start to move on that direction and I start to do the live, trying to record anything that I could.
SESAY: At what point did you realize that this was a terror attack?
PIERANGELONI: Well, the main thing is that you do not see this mass of people running in Barcelona. In the first moment I thought there was panic; then one person show me a tweet, saying that a car hit something, was something like extremely right to the point. The information came really fast here.
And then I said, well, something's going on and I decided to go in the other direction. You realize that something wrong is happening here because you don't see -- you see the police but you don't see this reaction of the police often how you see -- how you saw yesterday.
SESAY: So can you describe when you say you don't see this reaction or the police like what you saw, try and explain that for our viewers.
What do you mean by that?
PIERANGELONI: Imagine that Barcelona is at a single 4 I think in the last two years in the terrorism attack. And you see this is an extremely touristic area. We are the -- Placa de Catalunya is the ground zero of the city. And the other side is the Pater de Colombo (ph), which is one other historical mark here in Barcelona.
So you see a lot of cops here but usually they are just looking around. Today when the thing starts, you seem them pointing the guns to everywhere because they were also trying to figure out what was going on. They were trying to evacuate the Ramblas. You could see some police guys that were -- was not dressed like police but they usually are like under cover and they just show up there themselves today.
So and they were all evacuating Ramblas. And it's something that you will never see here.
SESAY: Yes. Marco, we're almost out of time but I've got to ask you what you saw was absolutely terrible. You saw an act of evil and its aftermath.
How are you doing now?
PIERANGELONI: Well, it was really hard to sleep this night. I mean it's 6:30 AM today here in Barcelona and was really, really, really hard. Also, because you have a lot of different information coming. You do not know exactly what is going on. So in one moment, they captured the guy in the van. Suddenly, they did not.
So everybody is a little bit scared. I said, we live in an area that it's the old part of --
PIERANGELONI: -- the town. So it is like the Gothic, it is really straight, a lot of buildings, a lot of houses. It's like a maze. If you get inside of the Gothic or in the havao (ph), which are the neighborhoods in the both sides of Ramblas, you will see that it is like a maze. It's small streets, really straight so a lot of people live there. And you do not know exactly where this guy could be hiding.
So you get a little bit scared.
SESAY: Yes, understandably so. As you made the point, this is an area that always has a heavy police presence and yet this happened, this still happened, this terrible, terrible scene played out today.
Has this attack, has it changed your sense of your own safety, Marco?
Has it changed your own sense of safety in public spaces?
PIERANGELONI: Well, maybe should be. But I think that everybody here in Barcelona should not change their way of life. We need to keep the way of life that we going to have.
Today here in the Placa de Catalunya at noon we're going to have like one minute of silence, respect the people that died in the -- this terrible accident. But after that, I think that we should try to keep moving our lives in the way that usually were because, I mean, Barcelona is a city extremely happy and we need to keep -- bring back this happiness to the city.
SESAY: Well, Marco Pierangeloni, the world is with you. You're in everyone's thoughts. We wish you the very best. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and what you remember of this terrible day.
PIERANGELONI: Thank you so much, Isha.
SESAY: Thank you.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Barcelona now joins a growing list of cities where terrorists have used weaponized vehicles to kill. Random attacks that can happen anywhere. Some advice on staying safe when we come back.
SESAY: Hello, everyone. We're following the breaking news out of Spain after deadly terror attack in Barcelona. Thirteen people have been killed and more than 100 injured after a van rammed through a packed street.
Police say the driver got away; two suspects have been arrested.
VAUSE: And south of Barcelona, police in the town of Cambrils say suspects planning a second terror attack have been neutralized. Authorities are working under the assumption both attacks are related.
This is not the first time a vehicle has been used as a weapon and authorities say it is not going to be the last. Rob Reiter joins us now. He is an expert in pedestrian security and basically making buildings and streets safe.
Thanks for being with us, Rob. First explain the measures which already in place, not just here in the U.S. but also in the major cities around the world.
How seriously are the security officials dealing with this threat of car attacks?
ROB REITER, CALPIPE SECURITY BOLLARDS: Oh, I think they're taking it very seriously. I think if you look to Australia, I think if you look to --
REITER: -- New York and other cities in the U.S. and of course much of Europe, London, especially after what happened there, I think cities are doing as good a jobs as they can, taking steps in advance of terrorists, trying to anticipate and trying to make things tougher, the soft targets harder and just eliminate the risk that you saw today in Barcelona.
VAUSE: So what's not being done?
Where do you see the vulnerabilities right now?
REITER: Well, today, looking at the maps of CNN's coverage, that van went 2,000 feet. I haven't seen the number yet. But clearly you need to put something in place to keep vehicles from going long distances. That is what you have a body count that's so high, 100 injured. It's a lot of thousands of feet to drive to hit that many people.
So you want to stop vehicles from going so far down the road unobstructed.
VAUSE: There is also this issue of you want to make the streets safer; at the same time, you want to avoid a bunker mentality. You don't want the place looking like the Green Zone in Baghdad.
REITER: Correct. So now in Washington D.C., the architect of the Capitol, which keeps the major government buildings safe, they have a policy that's called protect, not fortify.
So you'll see less abstrusive forms of defense; you'll see landscaping; you'll see fences, you'll see block walls. But they are made to look like they're 200 years old. And you see tourists getting their picture taken in front of a wall, thinking that Abraham Lincoln walked by there in 1864.
But the reality is they were built in 2005 after the 9/11. So clearly there's better ways of handling it than there are other ways.
VAUSE: Yes. There is also this cost-benefit analysis; not every street will end up having some kind of objective measures.
Doesn't mean that the terrorists will then just head to those streets and carry out these attacks?
REITER: Well, always the worry is you fortify certain areas and they go to other areas. But there are certain patterns that develop that you can see; law enforcement does, while it sometimes works slowly, these things go in stages. These are simple crimes, simple terrorist acts.
But I'm a fairly old guy so I remember when planes were routinely hijacked and flown to Cuba or hijacked in the Middle East.
And when was the time you heard of a plane being hijacked? So --
VAUSE: Yes, it's interesting because -- sorry, I just want to jump in because here we -- I've flown at airports and there are only so many airports in the world. There are an infinite number of streets.
Are you going to get to the point where the streets are so well protected just the same as airports and that the terrorists will stop using this tactic and move on?
Is that even a possibility?
REITER: Well, it's like anything else. There's tactics and strategies and if you can reduce the number of vehicles that are for hire, if you reduce the number of people who have access to vehicles that are not their own, you can reduce these kinds of crashes.
Again, if you can limit the distances, that's a big help in reducing these mass casualty events. But please, please, you've got to remember drunk drivers injure more people on sidewalks than terrorists, even though terrorists, by terror by truck, which is what we are calling these kinds of incidents, have been the largest loss of life in Europe and the U.S. in the last year and a half from terrorist acts.
So, of course, we're all concerned and of course we all have to keep working.
VAUSE: That's the thing, isn't it. This is an evolving threat. It always changes and so the response has to change as well.
Rob, thank you so much. Good to speak with you. We appreciate it.
REITER: Thanks so much.
SESAY: That was really insightful things, said so many interesting things there.
VAUSE: Yes, you look around at some of these government buildings all around the world and they're some very well-placed defenses that you would not realize --
SESAY: Yes, indeed.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Stay tuned for "WORLD SPORT." And a lot more news at the top of the hour. You're watching CNN.