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ISIS Claims Responsibility for NYC Truck Attack; U.S. Military Family on Living with Korean Tension; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 3, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:33:16] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We do have new details into the terror investigation here in New York City. ISIS has now claimed the attacker is a soldier of the caliphate. We know he was also really recently an Uber driver. And now one of his recent passengers is speaking out about that.

Let's go to our senior correspondent Alex Marquardt who joins us in Lower Manhattan.

What else are we hearing from some of the people that were with him last before this attack?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're hearing that he was a nice and friendly guy, non-confrontational. This took a lot of people by surprise. The people who had known him both in his home country of Uzbekistan as well as here in the states and he lived in three different states, expressed surprise and said that he had never shown any sort of sign of radicalization.

As you noted there, Poppy, he was both an Uber and a Lyft driver and, in fact, he picked up a couple at Newark Airport that had flown in for a wedding from England just a few days -- just five days before the attack and they have been speaking out. They said that he was very friendly and polite.

Here's what the boyfriend had to say.


DAMIAN ERSKINE, TERROR SUSPECT'S UBER PASSENGER: Just totally, totally normal. He offered us water as so many drivers do, offered you a bottle of water and he -- yes, just really, really normal. And we talked about all the things he had done before. He mentioned that he'd been a trucker. There's certainly nothing that was -- will give you any sense of what was -- you know, what was to come.


MARQUARDT: So that surprise is something we've been hearing from everybody who has come into contact with him. But of course at some point in the last seven years since he'd been in the States the attacker had been radicalized. We know that this attack has been in the works for about a year. [10:35:01] ISIS has now claimed that he is a soldier of the caliphate

as you mentioned. It really comes as no surprise that they've claimed this attack, the real surprise is that this claim didn't come out sooner. But it's a very vague statement. They didn't even name the attacker in their statement and didn't offer any direct proof that there had been any sort of contact between the group and the attacker.

There is no indication right now that there was any sort of contact or direction between the group and the attacker, but it's clear the attacker was inspired by ISIS. He has told investigators that he watched ISIS videos including at least one of the ISIS -- the head of ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and we know that after he was apprehended there was a note found in which he pledged allegiance to ISIS, a phone found with all sorts of videos and photos that are related to ISIS propaganda. So without question, he did draw a lot of inspiration from ISIS -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Alex Marquardt, thank you for the most recent reporting on that. We appreciate it.

The president is on his way to Asia for a critical 12-day trip. A lot of important meetings. But what is it like for the American families that are living on the Korean peninsula right now as tension mounts between the U.S. and North Korea.

Our Brooke Baldwin went to see for herself. She joins me next with their story.


[10:40:20] HARLOW: This morning the president is on his way to Asia. He will stop in Hawaii and then make his way to Tokyo. This is the beginning of a really important 12-day trip across the region and it comes as South Korean intelligence suggests Pyongyang may be planning more missile tests.

North Korean state media meantime is slamming what it calls the gangster-like U.S. military for flying those bombers near the Korean peninsula. But all of this aside, if you are an American family living on the peninsula in the middle of this tension what is that like?

Our Brooke Baldwin went to find out, she joins me now.

You got rare access in so many ways we showed last Friday with the Navy, this with this family.


HARLOW: How did this trip come to be?

BALDWIN: So, you know, you and I talk.


BALDWIN: Too often. A lot about, you know, tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.


BALDWIN: And so it was one of those days where it just seemed particularly intense. I remember sitting in my office and saying to my producer sitting there, you know, I wonder what life is like for Americans living in South Korea, 30,000 members of the military, American, and more than 100,000 civilians? So through some patience and a lot of phone calls and e-mails, thank you to the U.S. Army for allowing me to tell this incredible story of just what it's like for this Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Bright and his wife and his three daughters.


LT. COL. AARON BRIGHT, U.S. ARMY: We're in Camp Casey. We call this my house. We call the one in Youngstown my home.

BALDWIN: Because it's where your family is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. In a words matter kind of way. Here in Casey I'm what's called Area One. They have South Korea divided into areas based on how far away you are from North Korea. I'd say this is as close as you can get. And then Area Two encompasses Seoul and they live in Yongson which is the base right there in the center of Seoul.

BALDWIN: When did he have a conversation with you, honey, moving to Seoul?

SHARON BRIGHT, SERVICE MEMBER'S WIFE: We knew that we were finding out soon. So we knew that he was getting a command. We were so happy about that. He called and he was like OK, we know. So I knew like it was one of those I'm going to ease into it kind of thing. You know? So he told me South Korea and I was like, whoa.

A. BRIGHT: The training exercise it's all rocket pods. And each one got a total of six rockets in it or you would have one big missile that would take up the whole thing.

BALDWIN: How much of your day is consumed by thinking about North Korea?

A. BRIGHT: Quite a bit of it. Just trying to think one step ahead. A step ahead of the enemy.

BALDWIN: Do you worry?

A. BRIGHT: In terms of worry? I don't worry about myself or my unit because it's ready. It's trained. It will -- we can do our job. That part doesn't worry me. The only part that worries me is just the --

BALDWIN: Your family?

A. BRIGHT: Sure. And getting them out in a timely manner. S. BRIGHT: We know as a family of four, you know, I would know that

his job would take him one way and I would be responsible for me and the girls and the dog.

BALDWIN: What is the plan if you were to get that call?

S. BRIGHT: We would have a meeting point with the rest of the post and we would have our things that we've been kind of encouraged to have, whatever you want to take with you, and then you go through a process of they would fly you here, they would take you here, they would take you there, and then eventually you would be safe and maybe back home.

BALDWIN: How would you describe a typical day in South Korea?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's pretty normal.

BALDWIN: Pretty normal.

PRISCILLA BRIGHT, SERVICE MEMBER'S DAUGHTER: Yes. I go to school. We all go to school for seven hours. Come back, do homework. On the weekends, you can go out. There's little karaoke things that I do with my friends and little Korean barbecue dinner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Normally sometimes we have like sleepovers with our friends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a park just right there and we go there a lot.

BALDWIN: What's it like when you're waiting for your dad to come home on a Friday?

ANNABELLE BRIGHT, SERVICE MEMBER'S DAUGHTER: It's kind of like, is he home yet, is he home yet, is he home yet?

A. BRIGHT: The tickertape parade. You know.

S. BRIGHT: Every Friday.

A. BRIGHT: Every Friday. And it just started to wear. It wear on both of us.

S. BRIGHT: It did feel like a welcome home party every Friday. And I was like, OK, look, I need some normalcy. I personally asked on a Friday night, let's keep it light on Fridays. It just gives us a minute just to connect again, ease back in to being around each other and then on Saturday mornings, we try to have our moment because then on Sunday mornings I feel like that's the girls' moments with pancakes.


S. BRIGHT: I stay out of that. Like I usually don't even partake in the pancakes. It's all them and daddy.

[10:45:04] A. BRIGHT: They're delicious, though.

S. BRIGHT: So -- and then we see what we have. A lot of times it's just we want simplicity.

BALDWIN: We cover so much of the heated up rhetoric, right, between Washington and Pyongyang. Can you feel that day to day over here?

A. BRIGHT: A little. The South Korean people are very -- you know, it's just another day. They've seen worse. And it's infectious to us. We know what to do if it does happen. And this is --

BALDWIN: What's the it happen? What's the it?

A. BRIGHT: This is kind of our job. Just, you know, full-on war. And we know, my soldiers know, we know exactly what to do.

BALDWIN: If and when that call came in to you and you're ready to roll, what is the call look like between you and your wife?

A. BRIGHT: I don't want to even think about that. I guess it's a phone call. Say, hey, see you later. Get out.

HARLOW: Get out.


HARLOW: Is it tough for you to think about?

A. BRIGHT: Yes. It is. It's hard.

BALDWIN: Why? You love them.

A. BRIGHT: Because I'm -- I'm the protector.

BALDWIN: It's your job to protect your family.

A. BRIGHT: Right. I can't. They have to go. I have to protect these guys. It's hard. To think about that part is hard.

BALDWIN: What does your dad mean to you?

P. BRIGHT: He means a lot. He's a great father. I'm glad that he's around with us. He's an amazing person to have in our lives. He works and makes sure that we're safe and we're good.

BALDWIN: Tell me about your mom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She helps a lot. She has to put up with so much, like taking care of us during the week when daddy's not here.

P. BRIGHT: Since we move so much family is the thing that keeps constant. Like we always have mom and dad, we always have each other.



HARLOW: I had never seen anything like that and that is sacrifice. I mean, that is what all of these families, thousands of American families, are giving every single day.

BALDWIN: It just brings it home, right?

HARLOW: 100 percent.

BALDWIN: We talk about it and it feels like this threat somewhere over there.


BALDWIN: But to sit there and to talk to Colonel Bright and I wasn't ready -- I didn't -- he's a tough soldier.

HARLOW: Right.

BALDWIN: I wasn't -- I wasn't prepared for that kind of emotion but it was so real, it was so candid and it was so appreciated and also just props to his wife, Sharon, who, you know, is really the glue, you know, during the week.


BALDWIN: That keeps those gals going to tennis and slumber parties and loving on them each and every week.

HARLOW: Three kids is never easy.

BALDWIN: He's surrounded by women.


BALDWIN: Surrounded by women.

HARLOW: He is surrounded by women.

BALDWIN: And he says he's better for it.

HARLOW: And three kids is never easy, especially in those circumstances. He's gone all week and that if something happens as he said they have to leave and he has to fight for his country.

BALDWIN: They have a plan. You know, saying, I remember having tornado drills as a kid.


BALDWIN: Because the thought of the drills that these little girls have to run through, and that's just one story. I hope you tune in later for my show from that, you know, piece to a 19-year-old private first class really stationed on the DMZ.


BALDWIN: We have this access on the DMZ and he explains what his day is like and it's pretty extraordinary.

HARLOW: 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Eastern. We'll be there.

Brooke, thank you very much.

BALDWIN: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: We'll be right back.


[10:53:11] HARLOW: Do you hear that? If you listen closely, closely, you can hear the party still going on in Houston after the World Series, right?

Coy Wire, who joins me now. Can you hear that?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I can hear it. You can feel that good energy and we're going to talk about Houston because it was an incredible feat for this city.

I'm here in UGA, University of Georgia in Athens where they are newly ranked number one team in college football. So we're going to talk about that in a second. But first let's talk about these Houston Astros.

They returned home yesterday, Poppy. It was a hero's welcome for World Series MVP George Springer and his team. Today at 3:00 p.m. Eastern they're going to have this parade. It's going to go through the streets of downtown Houston, and listen to this, the mayor is hoping that there will be 750,000 people to show up and the fun part? The schools in Houston, canceled. So all the youngsters can be there to witness and be a part of history, Houston celebrating its first ever World Series title.

Now Houston sports fans did get some bad news yesterday, too. Their new star quarterback Deshaun Watson, frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, lighting up the league, suffering a torn ACL according to reports. It happened on a noncontact play during practice and according to Jason La Canfora of CBS, the team did not consider signing Colin Kaepernick. That was part of the talk.

All right. Poppy, take a look at this.

That was yesterday. Hines Ward, UGA legend, we get to do the -- in front of everybody and guess who we have with us here, a UGA legend himself, Hines Ward, representing the local paper here. Number one.


[10:55:04] WIRE: I mean, even though Alabama is ranked one of the coaches in the AP poll kind of a surprise, UGA number one. You got to talk to the team yesterday, Hines. WARD: I did.

WIRE: What did you tell them?

WARD: Really just taking it one game at a time. The playoffs starts. And this is exciting for me but this worries me for the team because sometimes everyone is patting you on the back, you get excite and then you get overwhelmed but it's still one game at a time.

WIRE: One game at a time.

WARD: One game at a time.

WIRE: Real quick, South Carolina, never been here on game day. Real quick, what's it like?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, Coy, I think one thing that makes Georgia football different is the community. Everyone just supports the whole team and we all have a great time enjoying our tradition.

WIRE: 92,000 plus will be here tomorrow, Poppy. It's going to be a great day. First time as number one team in the nation, UGA. Go, Dogs.


HARLOW: I want to be down there tomorrow. I want to have that Saturday. You guys, enjoy. Good luck to Georgia. Thank you very, very much. Have a great time.

And thank you all for joining me this Friday. John and I will see you back here on Monday morning.

Kate Bolduan takes it over right after this. Have a great weekend.