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Spain Terror Attacks; Finland Stabbing Rampage; White House Turmoil; An Inside Look at Antifa; Crisis in Venezuela; Sierra Leone Disaster. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired August 19, 2017 - 02:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A complicated web of suspects. A report says the driver of the Barcelona van attack may still be at large.

Bannon's fall: Donald Trump's chief strategist is out of the White House and vowing to rev up his media machine.

Also ahead on the show:


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to make it so unpalatable to be doing white supremacist organizing that they no longer want to do that.

VANIER (voice-over): Unmasking Antifa. Why this group says violence sometimes must be used to stop white supremacy.

Thank you for joining us. I'm Cyril Vanier in the CNN NEWSROOM in Atlanta.


VANIER: Reuters is reporting that Catalonia's police chief says the driver in Thursday's van attack in Barcelona may still be on the loose. That attack left 13 people dead and more than 100 wounded.

But first, the three connected events along the Catalonian coast was a house explosion in Alcanar. Investigators say explosives were being stored there and a premature detonation leveled the house. Police found traces of TATP, the same substance used in deadly bombings in Paris, Brussels, Manchester within the last few years.

And they believe the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils could have been far bloodier if those explosives had made it out of that house. Authorities are also learning more about the attackers involved. Salma Abdelaziz joins us now from Barcelona.

Salma, as far as the investigation stands now, what do we know and what do we not know yet about the attackers? SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Cyril, this is the second day here

after the attack in Barcelona. And we are getting more information on the terror plot. Let's start with that home in Alcanar, a town 100 miles southwest of here in Barcelona, where as you said, TATP was found.

Now when that home prematurely exploded and was leveled by that TATP, that's when these suspects were left wringing their hands. They came up with a last-minute plan to use vehicles as weapons and they were still able to wreak havoc.

We now understand that four people have been arrested. Five people killed in a shootout with police in Cambrils a day ago. Authorities still have a large and wide-ranging investigation to go through. We're talking about five separate cities here in Catalonia region alone.

It could expand beyond that. And there's still so much more behind this cell ; the driver is still at large, as you said, and TATP is not a substance easy to build. It requires training and expertise.

The question for authorities is how deep does this network go?

How far ranging is it?

And how many more people are there to catch?

VANIER: Salma, tell us out the victims. We're starting to learn some of the identities of the victims.

ABDELAZIZ: That's right, Cyril; 34 different nationalities among those killed and wounded. This is a truly international. One that has affected every corner of the world. We understand the youngest victim was just 3 years old , a boy with his mother. The oldest potentially 74 years old.

Let me give you the story of just one these victims, Jared Tucker, a 43-year-old American man from California. He was here with his wife when they became separated. He told her he would go to the restroom. She stayed on the street and that's when terror struck.

She spent the next 24 hours looking for her husband, only to get a call from the U.S. authorities that he was dead.

It's a harrowing tale but it's one of the many that we're hearing here in Barcelona. The memorial sites reflect this. You can see candles lit, flowers laid down and signs in every language of the world.

One of them read, "We will not forget you" -- Cyril.

VANIER: All right, Salma Abdelaziz, thank you very much.

We're also looking at live pictures right there of the makeshift memorial on Las Ramblas, where the attack took place.

Salma, we'll speak to you also in our show next hour. Thank you. Mourners are lighting candles and placing flowers in the Finnish city of Turku to pay tribute to victims of a stabbing attack at two markets. At least two people were killed and six were wounded in Friday's incident.

One witness told us that he saw a man running with a knife and stabbing people in his path.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were sitting just on the front row over at the cafe. And all of a sudden, we just heard this woman scream really, really loudly. And at first we thought, ah, it's just an internal fight between two people. But I saw this huge knife.

This guy was --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- having this huge knife in his hand. And he just was -- several times he was stabbing this person.

And it was done on the ground. And people just running everywhere. And we ran into -- we ran into this cafe, where we hid. And this guy was just constantly stabbing at people.

He was just turning around and with his knife, flinging his knife everywhere and people were running in all directions.

It's just in front of our eyes. It's just -- it's just horrible. And this woman lying on the ground and covered. Afterwards, she's dead. And she's dead. And she's covered by the police and ambulance covered her body to do the investigation, to take the traces and, what you call it, the DNA and whatever.

I can just see this knife, this huge knife in his hand. And he's just stabbing. It's just -- it's just awful.


VANIER: And police took a suspect into custody after shooting him in the leg. We don't know his identity yet. Officials are saying it is too early to tell whether the attack was terror related.

But now ex-White House strategist Steve Bannon says that, with him out of the administration , the Trump presidency as we know it is over. Bannon was fired on Friday just seven months into his White House job.

But only hours later, he was back at his old position as executive chairman Breitbart news, which he has called his, quote, "killing machine."

After his ouster, Bannon told "The Weekly Standard," "The Trump presidency that we fought for and won is over. We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. "But that presidency is over. It'll be something else. And there'll be

all kinds of fights, and there'll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over."

One White House official tells CNN that Bannon's firing was originally intended to take place two weeks ago but that was put off. And he is just the latest high-profile figure to leave Mr. Trump's inner circle.

Look at this picture. That list includes national security adviser Michael Flynn, screen right; press secretary Sean Spicer and chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Bannon's ouster capped off a week of political upheaval in the Trump administration. Here's CNN's Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yet another bombshell shakes the foundation of the Trump administration, Mr. Trump's controversial chief strategist forced out after a short and stormy tenure at the White House.

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: I can run a little hot on occasion.

JOHNS: Bannon's departure comes at the end of a brutal week for the administration.

TRUMP: I think there's blame on both sides.

JOHNS: But what may have been the last straw for Bannon, a controversial interview the former Breitbart News executive gave to the liberal publication "American Prospect," undermining the president's North Korea strategy, saying there is no military option to deal with the threat.

The official White House statement cited the tough new White House chief of staff, John Kelly, who has been trying to restore order to the West Wing.

"John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve's last day. We're grateful for his service and wish him the best."

Bannon the latest in a long list of top Trump advisers to head for the exit, including Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus. The president has signaled Bannon's days were numbered in his impromptu news conference this week.

TRUMP: He's a good man. He is not a racist. I can tell you that. We will see what happens with Mr. Bannon.

JOHNS: A darling of the alt-right, Bannon saw part of his role as keeping the promises the president made during the campaign.

BANNON: Hold us accountable to what we promised. Hold us accountable for delivering on what we promised.

JOHNS: The blowback coming from the left and the right. Breitbart editor Joel Pollak reacting to Bannon's ouster on Twitter with one ominous word, "War."

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi welcomed the firing, but said, "It doesn't disguise where President Trump himself stands on white supremacists and the bigoted beliefs they advance."

Bannon's ouster may not quell the blowback from the president's controversial remarks earlier this week. The mother of the woman who was killed in a car attack by an alt-right sympathizer said she has no interest in meeting the president.

SUSAN BRO, MOTHER OF HEATHER HEYER: I have just missed his calls. The call -- the first call, it looked like, actually came during the funeral.

JOHNS: And there was more fallout still. Besides having to shut down his manufacturing council and policy forum because so many CEOs were resigning, there was news on Friday that a number of top-shelf charities had pulled out of events at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, including the American Cancer Society, the Red Cross and the Susan G. Komen Foundation -- Joe Johns, CNN, the White House.


VANIER: Another adviser to the president is also out. Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor, was the president's special adviser on regulatory reform.


VANIER: But he said that he is stepping down because he did not partisan bickering about his role to cloud the administration. He has been criticized by Democrats, who say he had a conflict of interest because he was still running his businesses even as he was advising the president.

We're going to take a very short break. When we come back, critics of Antifa, the militant left-wing movement in the U.S., say that it is behind violent protests against white supremacists. Some members of Antifa say that's accurate. An inside look at the controversial movement when we come back.

Plus a mudslide triggers a tragic chain of events in Sierra le Leone. Hundreds killed, hundreds missing and now health authorities are preparing for the disaster's second wave. Stay with us.




VANIER: Welcome back, everyone. Violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend caught the world's attention. By many accounts, most of the people protesting the white supremacists were peaceful but also there were people linked to Antifa, a group committed to fighting bigots; sometimes, according to police, with violence.

Our Sara Ganim has an inside look.


SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's 6:00 am in Portland, Oregon, and we're headed to a bar with blacked-out windows.

GANIM: They wanted to meet us really early in the morning because they're concerned about a lot of people being around.

GANIM (voice-over): We're meeting members of the Rose City Antifa, short for anti-fascist. This group's main goal is to disrupt neo- Nazis and white supremacists but also take on government and capitalism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Antifa is any group that's willing to stand up against fascists by any means necessary.

GANIM (voice-over): "By any means necessary," they say, can mean outing a white nationalist at their work or to their neighbors of, as we've seen recently, violence, fires, property damage, hand-to-hand combat at protests across the country.

Explain to me the reason behind fighting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to make it so unpalatable to be doing white supremacist organizing that they no longer want to do that. And historically, that's what's worked.

You have to put your body in the way and you have to make it speak in a language that they understand. And sometimes that is violence.

GANIM (voice-over): There's no firm answer on how many Antifa activists there are in the U.S. because there isn't one any organization. Most are local groups that recruit and communicate through social media. But experts who track these organizations say their membership is growing in response to rise of white national groups and the election of President Donald Trump.

Violence and property destruction led to more than 200 arrests in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day. Prosecutors say they were wearing masks, covered --


GANIM (voice-over): -- head to toe in black, a tactic the Antifa call black block.

SCOTT CROW, FORMER ORGANIZER: People dressed in black block for a few things, one -- GANIM (voice-over): Scott Crow has been leading anarchists and militant leftist groups for decades.

CROW: -- so people put on the masks so that we can all become anonymous. And then therefore we are able to move more freely and do what we need to do, whether it is illegal or not.

GANIM: So some people will push back on that and say that the black block is to keep people from being identified and arrested when they break the law, when they commit crimes.

CROW: Damn right. It is a good way to avoid the ramifications of law enforcement.

GANIM (voice-over): We saw that first-hand at a May Day protest in New York City.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cover our face because Nazis will try to find out who we are and that is a very bad thing because they harass people. When they organize, they kill people. They hurt people. They fight people. And we're the ones who are fighting back. They are second coming of Hitler.

GANIM (voice-over): Police in Berkeley told they haven't seen this kind of destruction since the 1960s. Law enforcement in other cities are dealing with similar situations, like in Portland, Oregon, where Antifa have been involved in at least 10 protests ending in violence, according to police.

And it is wearing on the community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is new. It is like this rumble mentality of, I'm going to bring my friends, you bring your friends and we're going to fight it out in the park. It's not something we've seen here. It's not good for the city. People are just frustrated by it. It's affecting their livability; it's affecting their business.

GANIM: Has it become more violent?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It happens quicker. The fires starting that was saw on May Day is something we haven't really seen much of in the past. The running through the street, breaking windows and everything in sight, we haven't seen it as consistently as we've seen it in the last eight months.

GANIM (voice-over): But it is the violence that's gotten them attention. Directly confronting groups that preach white nationalist rhetoric, like on Inauguration Day, when white nationalist Richard Spencer was punched in the face.

And it was the Antifa movement that caused Berkeley to cancel speeches by extreme right provocateurs like Milo Yiannopoulos.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If there are the more hardcore elements, the white supremacists and neo-Nazis that's go to these rallies that are itching for a fight, we're there to say, we'll stand in your way. GANIM (voice-over): Sara Ganim, CNN, New York.


VANIER: Venezuela's controversial constituent assembly is facing fresh outrage. That's after it stripped the national assembly of all legislative powers. This was the only government body controlled by the opposition and not by President Nicolas Maduro's party.

That's as one of the most vocal critics of the president has fled the country. Former attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz arrived in Colombia Friday evening. Ortega was fired after she vowed to open an investigation into fraud allegations surrounding a recent election.

To Sierra Leone now, which is facing a potential health crisis as the search for hundreds of people continues after this week's deadly floods and mudslides. More than 460 people are confirmed dead. Many already buried in mass graves.

Farai Sevenzo reports.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The journey for those killed in Sierra Leone's mudslide ends here, at Waterloo Cemetery, a graveyard created for Ebola victims.

More than 450 victims of the natural disaster have been buried. According to government minister. That new figure includes those killed by flash floods in nearby provinces and there are hundreds still missing.

The risk of disease in this long-suffering country is real and so the dead had to be buried quickly. Cholera, typhoid, malaria, Ebola, all have stalked this city. Heavy rains, which caused the hills to give way, seized enough for the graves to be prepared.

Some people were so badly mutilated by debris carried in the muddy waters, only parts of them were laid to rest.

But even as the country reaches for closure, there are still body parts buried in the mud and some were washed away to sea. And that is the government's new concern, how the presence of so many corpses could lead to a serious health crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have put cholera preparedness in place all across the city. And we will proceed to on the provinces also. We are seeing already the water that they're washing with, some people are coming away with skin infection.

The minister of health and sanitation has a big task ahead. We are quick to a point. But as you know, no country could do it alone.

SEVENZO (voice-over): And what cannot be imagined or seen is the --

[02:20:00] SEVENZO (voice-over): -- smell of death which still lingers since Monday's tragedy unfolded.

"We will bury our loved ones," says Sierra Leone's president, Ernest Bai Koroma, "but we will not bury our hopes."

As the sun sets over Waterloo Cemetery, the living remember the dead in a candlelit vigil. it is their hope that Sierra Leone will rise again -- Farai Sevenzo, CNN.

VANIER: And to make matters worse, fears of more rain and additional landslides are keeping residents of Sierra Leone on edge.


VANIER: Still to come after the break, mourning the victims of Spain's two deadly terror attacks. We'll have scenes of tributes from around the world. Stay with us.





VANIER: Spain's government has declared three days of mourning after two deadly terror attacks in Catalonia. Tributes have been pouring in across the country and across the world. Take a look at some of the scenes of solidarity, remembrance and sorrow.



VANIER: Those lights on the Eiffel Tower have gone dark too many times recently as a show of solidarity with terror victims across Europe and across the world.

Thank you very much for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I just want to leave with you these pictures of Las Ramblas in Barcelona City, the center where, 36 hours ago, a van plowed through pedestrians, killing 13 people.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM.