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Eyewitness Describes New York Truck Attack; Interview with Representative Chris Stewart; New York Governor Said Suspect was Radicalized Domestically; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 1, 2017 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[10:33:40] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our special live coverage. I'm Poppy Harlow here in Lower Manhattan less than 24 hours after the deadliest terror attack to this great city since 9/11.

We are learning a lot, but before we get to those details on the attacker and the investigation, a moment for the victims. Eight people murdered at 3:00 yesterday afternoon, just about a block from where I'm standing. 13 more people injured, in the hospital, as we speak. Some of them in critical condition.

And what do we know about the attacker? 29-year-old Uzbek national? We've learned in just the last hour that he is talking from his hospital bed with authorities. Somewhat cooperative. What is he saying? That we are still to learn.

Also, his house in Paterson, New Jersey, being searched extensively. Authorities there speaking to his wife, who is also talking to them. He is the father of three children. We know from law enforcement officials, telling our Shimon Prokupecz, that he has been planning this attack for some time.

There are many, many more questions. And there are many people in New York who witnessed this because this is a very busy part of New York City, Lower Manhattan, the Tribeca neighborhood. And in the shadow, of course, behind me of the beautiful Freedom Tower marking so much of what this country and this city stands for.

One of the witnesses of the attack and the ensuing aftermath is Tawhid Kabir. He is a student right across the street here at BMCC, the Manhattan community college. He's 20 years old.

[10:35:06] Thank you for being here.

TAWHID KABIR, SHOOTING WITNESS: Hi.

HARLOW: I used to live a block and a half from here, right across the street from your college. And run along this path, bike along this path, this is where you are every day for school.

KABIR: Yes, every day. I have five days of class so I come here every day.

HARLOW: Every day?

KABIR: Yes.

HARLOW: It must be surreal for you.

KABIR: Yes, and almost I stay here for the whole day because I have long classes. So yes, every day the neighborhood is so, like, known to me.

HARLOW: It's so known.

KABIR: From the last two years.

HARLOW: It's such a vibrant neighborhood. I remember 9/11 was my freshman year in college. I was here in New York City as well. To have this happen, you're 20 years old, a young college student. What was going through your mind when you saw this first? You heard the shots fired.

KABIR: When I saw that guy first, I thought he's something for Halloween or he's something for, like, social experiment or frank and everything, so I didn't pay attention to him. I just take the stairs and got under the bridge, the (INAUDIBLE) bridge.

HARLOW: There's a bridge that goes over the West Side highway.

KABIR: Yes. West Side Highway, yes. So I went on the bridge and there's like three or four students on the establishment that told me like, he's a shooter and the cops are at him. So at that time, I started recording this on my snap.

HARLOW: And I should be clear, these are high school students.

(CROSSTALK)

KABIR: Yes.

HARLOW: These are young kids.

KABIR: Young kids, like -- yes, young, like 8, 9. So then I started recording him and after like I finished the first video, I heard the gunshots, like five, six gunshots. So I was kind of scared. Like, I didn't expect the gunshots right now.

HARLOW: And then you thought --

KABIR: I just got down a little bit because I was so scared. And also the girls, the students. And when I looked again and I saw the guy, he's just down on the ground and like two or three cops here holding him.

HARLOW: So when you realized this is real and this could be an attack, did your mind go to, this could be a terrorist attack on New York City? Because, you know, we're blocks away from where 9/11 took place. KABIR: I never imagined this is like a terrorist attack. I didn't

know that time like he already killed like eight people. So I thought he was just a random guy or some psychopath or something. And he's just doing -- messing up with the guns. And at first I thought the guns were fake because it was a big gun with like a shiny color.

HARLOW: And they were fake. His guns were fake --

KABIR: Yes. I saw it later on the news, like, they were actually fake.

HARLOW: So what about for you now? I mean, does this change the way you go about your day? You came down here.

KABIR: Yes.

HARLOW: Good for you. Will you go back to class? Will you do anything differently now?

KABIR: Yes, who I have in class right now, like eight to nine. So I had my class. But to me, it's kind of -- it's hard to believe for me that I witnessed like a real terrorist attack. Like I would never imagine in my life that I would have to see this.

HARLOW: And what did the other students that you were with, what they did they say?

KABIR: They were also scared. One of the girls, she was screaming, did you just see these cops just shot the guy? But she was like so scared and then while the teachers say, I guess, come, and he was like, guys, you have to come down. And I was with them, so then I saw, oh, I'm not a student, so I decided to come down to their, then I come down to this part.

HARLOW: You were terrified but like all New Yorkers, you're resilient and you're here and you won't let it stop you.

KABIR: Yes, but I still, it's hard for me to believe like this happened because I didn't have imagine it's going to be happening again like after 9/11. And like this close to me. I saw it in TV, but never imagine it's going to happen in front of me.

HARLOW: Thank you very much for being here.

KABIR: You're welcome.

HARLOW: Good luck. I know it's hard to get back to normal after this.

KABIR: All right. Thank you so much.

HARLOW: Thank you so much. Nice to see you. Stay with us.

All right, John?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Poppy, less than 24 hours after the attack here in New York City that that young man witnessed, the president is getting political. Name calling at a time of healing, next.

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[10:42:48] BERMAN: Less than 24 hours after the terror attack in New York City, the president is getting political. This is what he wrote this morning. "The terrorists came into our country through what is called the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based." The president also regurgitated a charge that Chuck Schumer is helping import Europe's problems. Those were the words he sent out to his followers.

Quick fact check, the modern version of lottery comes from a 1990 immigration law. Chuck Schumer, then a congressman, did help shape it and President George H.W. Bush, a Republican, signed it. In 2013, then Senator Schumer, he pushed to eliminate the Diversity Lottery Program as part of the Gang of Eight immigration bill.

Republican Congressman Chris Stewart of Utah joins me now from Capitol Hill.

Congressman, I know you join all of us in expressing sympathy to the people here of New York City who have now been part of another terrorist attack. I do want to talk to you about the statements from the president.

I think talking about immigration, legal immigration, you know, immediately after a terror attack is certainly valid, just like talking gun control after a mass shooting is valid. But what's the point of attacking the senior senator from the state that just suffered a terror attack?

REP. CHRIS STEWART (R), HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: Yes, you know what, I think there's a couple of issues at play here. And I think in all of these cases, it's usually better for us before we begin to come out with policy statements or things that we think are, as you said, kind of political, maybe take a breath. I would say that's true of all of us. I'd say it's also true of our president.

I do think there are two policy issues that we need to decide. Is merit based immigration more helpful for our country? That has absolutely nothing to do with this tragedy that occurred in New York yesterday. The second one is, do we need to have careful vetting? That's something I've advocated for a long time.

I actually think in this case that doesn't have anything to do with our -- New York City experienced yesterday, as well. But, you know, it's kind of the time we live, where very often we have political discussions after events like this.

BERMAN: You wish the president had taken a breath?

STEWART: I think I wish all of us would. And again, I don't want to say just the president, because it's not just the president.

BERMAN: Right.

STEWART: The reality is that it's many, many people. You know, members of the media, pundits, congressmen, senators, and in some cases, the president, no doubt about it.

[10:45:06] BERMAN: The Diversity Visa Lottery Program is a program that some Democrats and Republicans have moved to do away with. Is that something you could support? Doing away with it? And I'm curious why you said it would not have had an impact in this attack.

STEWART: Well, because at the time, we didn't know the threat and we didn't have this -- you know, the vetting in place. And so we were -- you know, again, it's just a different issue. Uzbekistan wasn't one of the places we've identified as a high-threat area.

BERMAN: Right.

STEWART: So I don't think it would have been in play, had we been looking at it in that way. But once again, I've been saying for a couple of years that we need to look at individuals coming particularly from Syria. That's been my primary concern. Syria and western Iraq, where they didn't forge documents.

BERMAN: Right.

STEWART: By heavens, John, ISIS, as you know, actually controlled the printing presses. They created original documents. So I've always said we need to know who's coming here. Good news for us now, if there is good news in this tragedy, and if we can learn something from this, hopefully we can learn something from this individual because in many cases, they don't survive the attack.

BERMAN: Sure.

STEWART: And we have a chance to interrogate him and ask, you know, how do you communicated with anyone? How did you communicate with them? What led you to do this? Were inspired by some of the propaganda that ISIS has been publishing and making available? It's important for us to be able to have that conversation with this individual and hopefully learn lessons from that.

BERMAN: As you know, this is very unusual and an opportunity for counter-terror officials here.

You're on the House Intelligence Committee, so I want to use this opportunity to ask you a little bit about the Russia investigation. George Papadopoulos, who was a campaign adviser, unpaid, to then candidate Donald Trump, pleaded guilty to lying about meetings that had to do with Russian connections. Again, you've been investigating this for months and months now.

Were you surprised to learn of this guilty plea?

STEWART: A little bit. Just because I'd never heard of him. I mean, many of us on the committee and others hadn't. I mean, maybe in passing, but he certainly wasn't the focus. And the reason being is that it appears that he -- a common adviser is a very generous description. He appears to be an unpaid intern, very young man.

BERMAN: Right.

STEWART: Hardly access to the senior members of the administration.

BERMAN: Well, hang on. He wasn't an unpaid intern. I mean, look, he may not have been a giant deal, but to call him an unpaid intern does disservice to then candidate Trump who introduced him in a big foreign policy meeting as an excellent guy.

STEWART: Yes.

BERMAN: I don't think you do that with interns.

STEWART: Well, I say that kind of tongue and cheek, in a sense.

BERMAN: OK.

STEWART: He was clearly a -- not at the top echelons of the Trump campaign. And I don't believe that he had access, which is why his name hasn't really risen, which is why he was not charged with anything, you know, even surrounding collusion. It was just that he made false statements.

BERMAN: All right. Entered into some kind of plea agreement with the special counsel.

Congressman, I wish we had more time because I think your advice today that you gave all of us is very well taken, take a breath. Something we all ought to do on a day like today. Thank you so much, sir. Appreciate it.

STEWART: Thank you so much. Good to be with you.

BERMAN: All right. New details about how the suspect in the New York City terror attack was radicalized, plus a broader look behind ISIS recruitment in Uzbekistan. That's next.

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[10:52:34] HARLOW: Welcome back to our special live coverage here in Lower Manhattan. I'm Poppy Harlow reporting, unfortunately, from right near the scene of the deadliest terror attack since 9/11 on this city.

Of course, the victims are top of mind for us. Eight people murdered less than 24 hours ago, right across there, 13 more injured, some in critical condition, still in the hospital this morning. We are also learning more details about the suspect, the 29-year-old Uzbek national, a father of three who lived not far from here in New Jersey, who we know is talking to authorities from his hospital bed right now.

The governor of New York says that he was radicalized domestically at some point in his last seven years in this country. But what about being from Uzbekistan and ties to ISIS that he claims?

Let's go to our Nick Paton Walsh who joins us now from London.

And, Nick, just talk to us about ties that we know of from Uzbekistan to ISIS.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, as you say, it's not clear if there are any ties between Mr. Saipov and Uzbekistan particularly, but it is clear that Uzbekistan has many ties to ISIS. A lot of the foreign fighters that we've been coming across in Syria and Iraq hail from Uzbekistan. And this comes after the pretty messy and brutal history of that whole Central Asian region.

Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, three countries that have had a lot of corruption, a lot of repression, in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan's case, very failed states almost. And that's allowed extremism to take hold. In Uzbekistan, the government responded very brutally over the past 20 years or so. That's led to increased radicalization and many of those jihadists to seek a sort of better life in their mind abroad in places like Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, too.

Now there have been fears they might go home potentially to their homeland and spread division and violence there. But instead in fact we've seen some Uzbeks popping up in attacks or plots in the United States, in Stockholm, in Istanbul, as well. Suggesting possible ties as a community. The real question investigators need to know now, and it seems unlikely after Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York's comments is, was there communication or travel even with Uzbekistan and Mr. Saipov since he left in 2010?

Unlikely at present. Can't be ruled out. But now Uzbekistan once, 15 years ago, an ally for the U.S., a controversial one, when it was invading Afghanistan and now very much in the uncomfortable spotlight, particularly its repression that's led to such radicalization there as well, Poppy.

[10:55:01] HARLOW: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much for that reporting. Obviously, you spent a lot of time in Uzbekistan. And we will learn more shortly on any ties there for this terrorist. Thank you very much for the reporting.

At 11:00 a.m. Eastern, in just minutes, we will get an update, a significant update from the NYPD and the FBI, set to brief journalists and the public. We have learned the mayor, the governor of New York will both be there as well. We'll bring you that here as soon as it begins.

But again, reporting live from Lower Manhattan, the scene of the deadliest terror attack to this city since 9/11. It has been 16 years since such a deadly attack. This, of course, as I stand in the shadow of the beautiful Freedom Tower, lit up in red, white, and blue last night, a reminder to all of us about the strength and the resilience of this city.

Still, though, eight people murdered, 13 people in the hospital. This city marches on. Heroes from the NYPD responding in just such a remarkable way yesterday. Our thanks to all of them. Thank you for being with us. John and I will see you back here

tomorrow.

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KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. A terror attack in New York City. The horror unfolding yesterday in Lower Manhattan in the shadow of the Freedom Tower, blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood.

At any moment right now, a critical update from police and likely FBI leading the investigation. We are going to bring that to you as soon as it begins because a lot has happened since this attack played out.

A lot more information is coming in. We're looking forward to hearing from officials on what they know right now.

Here is what we know right now. Eight people are dead, 13 others injured after a man used a rented pickup truck to plow through a crowded bike path. He's 29-year-old, he's from Uzbekistan. He was living in New Jersey after coming to the United States in 2010. He was shot by a New York City police officer. He underwent surgery. He is now recovering and we are told he is talking to investigators.