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Plane Carrying Americans Forced to Land in Iran; Unresponsive Plane Flies for Hours, Crashes; Passengers' Conflict Onboard Have Caused Three Emergency Landings; U.S. Airstrikes Help Iraqi Army and Peshmerga Fight ISIS; Bank Robber, AK-47 Bandit is on the Loose; Memorial Service for Steven Sotloff in Florida

Aired September 5, 2014 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next: breaking news, a plane full of American contractors forced to land in Iran. A live report from Tehran coming up.

Plus two U.S. fighter jets scramble to escort a plane that flew for hours unresponsive. What brought that plane down?

An exclusive new video of the fight against ISIS. What the battle looks like on the ground tonight. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, a plane carrying 100 Americans forced to land in Iran. Iranian authorities ordered the plane to land or risk being, quote/unquote, "intercepted."

It was a charter plane carrying American military contractors headed from Afghanistan to Dubai. And we're going to speak with the State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, in just a moment.

But I want to begin tonight with Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Barbara, what have you learned about the incident?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, to bring everyone up-to-date, Erin, at this hour, CNN has just received word from a U.S. official that the plane now has been allowed to take off from Iran.

It was ordered to land earlier in Southern Iran. The plane, a Dubai charter had come out of the war zone in Afghanistan carrying 100 U.S. military contractors and 40 additional passengers headed for Dubai.

It was transiting through Iranian air space when it got a radio call from Iranian air traffic control saying that its flight plan was out of date and it needed to return to Afghanistan. The pilot saying he didn't have enough fuel at that point all the way back.

The Iranians said land or be intercepted. The plane was on the ground apparently for several hours while authorities -- Iranians authorities, authorities from Dubai worked it all out. They had to bring in -- the early word is they may have had to bring in another crew.

That might have taken some time. The administration throughout the several hours of all of this really trying to play it low key. Not trying to escalate the situation. A 100 Americans on the ground in Iran, serious, but the feeling was if they could keep it very low key that this could get resolved between the authorities in the area -- Erin.

BURNETT: And of course, as you say, Barbara, resolved but yet it was serious. And U.S. planes, of course, don't fly over Iranian air space, but this was a charter and Fly Dubai is an airline and other airlines from Afghanistan all, of course, do fly directly over Iran en route to Dubai. How unusual was this?

STARR: Well, you're absolutely right. These charter planes do fly that as a regular route. Of course, U.S. military aircraft completely stay out of Iranian air space, but these commercial charters it is the quickest route burning the least amount of fuel in and out of Afghanistan for them.

And then they cross the gulf and go on and land in Dubai. I have been on these charters. Many of us at CNN have taken these charter aircraft out of Afghanistan into Dubai.

Usually the pilot will say, you know, we're entering Iranian air space and a short time later, they'll say we're now exiting Iranian air space. If you are an American, you probably take a little bit of an easier breath once you're out.

U.S. military personnel and those who have very sensitive jobs certainly tried and do everything they can do stay away from boarding any aircraft that would transit through Iranian air space -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much to Barbara Starr and now on the phone, CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmehr in Tehran. Shirzad, you're there on the ground, what can you tell us?

SHIRZAD BOZORGMEHR, CNN PRODUCER (via telephone): It is interesting that Barbara Starr said that American officials are not making a big deal out of this and just saying -- I heard they called it a technical and bureaucratic problem.

So that should be resolved soon because in Iran, there has been no statement regarding the official yet. Mainly it is past midnight here at 3:30 a.m. and the news came out after midnight. We can't expect anyone to make a statement. But we are expecting it tomorrow.

But the lack of a statement immediately after this news on the Iranian front shows that they don't think it to be a big issue either. If they did they would have issued a statement. The fact they haven't issued a statement indicates they don't think it to be a major problem.

BURNETT: All right, Shirzad, thank you very much. As we said, Shirzad, reporting live from Tehran tonight. As he said, it is 3:30 in the morning. So this has all gone down obviously overnight and what is the middle of the weekend in Tehran as well.

Joining me now is the State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf. Marie, this must have been a rather tense day.

MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESWOMAN: The way we have been looking at this is a bureaucratic issue. There was an issue with the plane's flight plan. The Iranian air traffic control asked them to land and they did so. I can confirm that that plane has left Iran and is on its way to Dubai and will be landing shortly.

So I think we all need to be very careful when we talk about what happened here. We really do view this as a purely bureaucratic issue that thankfully has now been resolved.

BURNETT: It's interesting when you say that, though, because, you know, many people watching will say, look, it doesn't add up. CNN is reporting because the plane took off a few hours late that that's the reason that Iran said the flight plan had expired. That's why it grounded the flight.

I mean, Barbara was talking about flying this route. I have flown this route on an Afghan airline those flights are often delayed that's par for the course for hours and hours.

So if they are saying because it was delayed for a few hours that's why we made this plane land, but most planes are delayed for a few hours. People might say is there more too it?

HARF: Well, we have nothing to indicate there is more to it at this point, Erin. And again, I think we need to be very careful when we talk about what we know, what we don't know and not make assumptions again just because of where this happened.

As I said, the plane has taken off. We are appreciative for everyone who help resolve the situation and get the passengers safely to their destination again very soon in Dubai.

BURNETT: Were you surprised when you heard that this had happened?

HARF: Well, I will say it was probably an unusual occurrence. I haven't had this happen since I've been at the State Department, certainly. But again this was something that occurred because of a flight plan issue. The flight did take off many hours late and they resolved it during the plane's stop in Iran and now on their way to Dubai.

BURNETT: Will this have an effect on the possibility -- we have been hearing as you know, Marie, so much about the possibility that Iran and the United States would be working together. Some have used the word coordinating, which I know you may not be comfortable with, maybe going too far. But working together against ISIS. Will this have any impact on that?

HARF: Well, to be clear, Erin, we are not going to be coordinating military action or sharing intelligence with Iran in this fight against ISIL. We are open, of course, to having conversations with any country in the region about this threat.

That is a threat not just to us, but to Iran and other countries as well. So it's not that I'm not comfortable with the word. It's just not our policy. That will continue, certainly our efforts to fight ISIL.

Also as you know today our team is in Europe meeting with the Iranian delegation on the nuclear issue to try and move the nuclear negotiations forward. That is continuing as well.

BURNETT: All right, Marie Harf, thank you very much, as we said, deputy spokesperson for the State Department.

And joining me now is General "Spider" Marks. Spider, you just heard what Marie Harf had to say. Clearly they are trying to say this is a diplomatic issue. Not a big deal. Don't worry about it. But why would Iran have done this?

MAJOR GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Erin, she didn't say it was a diplomatic issue. It was a bureaucratic issue, which is a little more troubling. I view this from the intelligence guy's perspective.

The Iranians probably had the manifest and I imagine they have access to the manifest. You have 100 folks that are transiting from Afghanistan all of them are contractors and I'm sure there are former folks who are in uniform and they probably got a hit against their database.

They ran that manifest against their intelligence database and went, whoa, maybe they saw a couple of names they wanted to check and forced them down. They did a double check on the names and went, OK. It isn't what we thought it was going to be and they released them.

So I could see from that perspective why this might have occurred. And the good news is it ended up as a negative event. But the thing that concerns me is where is the outrage that Iran can do this and get away with it?

BURNETT: None and you just heard Marie Harf. They are doing the opposite. Every question is don't have any outrage at it. That's my question to you, General. So they just let it go? Are they doing the right thing by letting it go and saying this is just a bureaucratic thing? Let's move on?

MARKS: As you work through the negotiation to make sure that you don't worsen the situation. You do what you need to do to get those 100 Americans out safely. And then afterwards you have a very serious conversation and go, look, guys, this is not business as usual.

We should not allow ourselves to be in a position -- I'm waiting for the State Department to extend a thank you note to the Iranian government for being so cooperative. That's now how you do business.

We have to state very firmly that this is unacceptable. That's not what you do in situations like this. However, thank you for returning our Americans.

BURNETT: Why aren't they doing that? You heard from the State Department when Marie was just speaking, they're clearly not doing that.

MARKS: Well, there is clearly more at play. You were poking at that. I appreciate your questions. Clearly, the United States and this administration is trying to figure out what their strategy needs to look like going forward with ISIS.

It really goes to ungoverned space and Iran is concerned as much with ungoverned space as the neighbors in the region and the United States should be. And what you have is ISIS establishing itself, de facto as a new entity in the Levant.

And the United States across the board needs to look at what must it do relative to ungoverned space where it exists around the world and if actions are putting United States interests at risk, we need to have a strategy that says what we are going to do and it starts with local cooperation. There may be some type of cooperation going on with Iran right now.

BURNETT: And maybe that would explain, of course, exactly what we are hearing from the U.S. government. Thank you so much, General Marks.

And OUTFRONT next, an unresponsive plane flies on for hours. Two fighter jets scramble to escort the jet.


UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: Rising and falling right before I left was the first time we could see that he was breathing.


BURNETT: So what happened to the pilot?

Plus scuffles in the sky over leg room. Blamed for multiple emergency landings in the past few days. One man involved in the (inaudible) is OUTFRONT.

And the national manhunt for the AK-47 bandit. Why authorities believe he may be one of their own?


BURNETT: Breaking news, wreckage found, the U.S. Coast Guard is now heading to the Coast of Jamaica where a plane crashed after flying unresponsive for hours. The jet left Rochester, New York this morning and it was supposed to fly to Naples, Florida.

But then it flew hundreds of miles off course passing all the way down through Cuba. Two F-15s scrambled to try to trail the jet. There was an alert that came out this morning about a plane on the loose and we are now learning that distress call, a call about a problem on board.

And Rene Marsh is OUTFRONT. Rene, what are you learning? I mean, all through the day, there was just -- at first no one knew what the plane was and then they believed that the people were perhaps dead for a long time, but this doesn't seem to be the case. RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: The plane was flight with the pilot apparently unconscious. We know that Jamaican authorities told CNN that they've spotted what they believe is aircraft wreckage. The U.S. Coast Guard says it believes about three people were on board.

And tonight radio transmissions reveal the pilot was in trouble around an hour and a half after takeoff.


MARSH (voice-over): A search mission underway right now for this small plane after it crashed 14 miles off the coast of Jamaica. It took off from Rochester, New York around 8:45 this morning, bound for Naples, Florida. On board, Larry Glazer and his wife, Jane.

Over North Carolina, the pilot told air traffic control there was a problem, but did not declare an emergency. He was cleared to descend to 25,000 feet but asked to go lower.

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: We need you to go to 180. We have an indication that is not correct from the plane.

UNIDENTIFIED CONTROLLER: Stand by. 900KN Descend and maintain level 250.

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: We need to get lower.


MARSH: About 1:15 hour after takeoff the pilot stopped responding to radio calls. U.S. military F-15s tracked it along the east coast of Florida. One fighter pilot looked through the window.

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: I could see his chest rising and falling. Right before I left was the first time we could see that he was actually breathing.

MARSH: The pilot was slumped over and the plane's windows frosted. Both are signs the pressure may have escaped leaving the pilot without enough oxygen to stay conscious. The aircraft flew over the Bahamas and south to Cuba where a Cuban fighter jet took over the pursuit. Four and a half hours after takeoff, the plane crashed near Port Antonio, Jamaica.


MARSH: Well, Erin, I do want to highlight a couple of things that we learned based on those recordings, specifically, between the pilot and air traffic control. When that pilot requested to go lower in altitude the reason he gave if you heard it there is that an indication that they were receiving on the plane, it was not correct.

We don't have any more information about exactly what was going wrong, but he said an indication on the plane was not correct. We also know that as far as we know at this point he never declared an emergency. Now authorities in Jamaica just wrapped up a press conference and the one thing they did mention is that this plane was just minutes away, actually from landing on land. You know, very short of land. We know that eventually it did crash 14 miles off the coast of Jamaica.

BURNETT: So close to land. Thank you very much. Rene, I want to bring in Miles O'Brien now, a private pilot and David Soucie, a former FAA safety inspector along with Dr. Armand Dorian, a Los Angeles doctor who treated an airplane stowaway who . Thanks to all of you.

I want to play again what happened when -- and at this point we understand that there were possibly two passengers on board, a man and his wife, possibly he could have been the pilot because it was a man's voice we are hearing here.

But I want to play again when he asked to descend so that people could hear the tone of his voice.


UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: We need to descend down to 180. We have an indication that is it not correct in the plane.


UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: 250. We need to get lower.



BURNETT: David, he doesn't -- he doesn't sound stressed or under duress.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: No. No. He clearly thinks that there is an indication problem going on. I'm speculating that it may have been a pressurization problem at this point. If the aircraft altitude, the inside altitude goes above 10,500 feet on this aircraft, he gets a warning on his CAS system, which is the glass cockpit in the front.

And that will tell him that his cockpit has gone above a regular altitude so that he needs to do something about it. It's not until about 12,000 or 14,000 feet that the oxygen masks in the back would drop. So he may not have been aware of that either.

But it sounds to me, he's crisp. He's clear. As you listen to this tape going forward, you can hear his voice degrade. You can see that his voice is changing every time he asks for that altitude change.

BURNETT: And, Miles, you know, to this point that it might have been a pressurization problem that David raises, that is what a lot of people have been talking about. It seems have been might what happened here.

But this plane is equipped with automatic pressurization settings and there would have been alerts. Could this have happened so quickly that he would have passed out and been unable to do anything?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: My theory on this, Erin, is by the time we heard him asking to go down to 18,000 feet with an indication that there was some problem with the airplane, he was already suffering from hypoxia. The doctor can go on a little bit more about this.

But the insidious nature of hypoxia ask it changes your decision for the worse and gives you a sense of euphoria which is more insidious. Requesting 18,000 feet doesn't make sense.

If you feel like you have a problem with pressurization, you want to go down to 10,000 feet. That would be the request. And if you really thought you had a problem with pressurization, you would make that a firm request and possibly a mayday or an emergency.

I would suspect we had a slow decompression situation here. He is already suffering from hypoxia when he made that call.

BURNETT: And Dr. Dorian, what is your view on that? And how does hypoxia, which I guess, what happens when all of a sudden you have a pressurization issue and you are not getting the oxygen you need? How does that happen to the body?

DR. ARMAND DORIAN, CLINICAL ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, USC: All the statements are correct. The hypoxia can happen suddenly or insidious. If you drop your oxygenation suddenly you will be out in a couple of minutes. You are unconscious, but it's it gradually decreases.

What will happen is you will start becoming confused altered and usually your higher decision level ability starts deteriorating first. You start making wrong decisions. That is definitely an option.

BURNETT: So let me talk about this. Because one of the fighter pilots as we heard in Rene's reporting said he saw the pilot's chest rising and falling and this was long after the plane was unresponsive. Clearly, he was not conscious, but he was alive.

Would there -- David, have been any possibility that he could have been resuscitated. Would there have been any way at that point that this could have ended differently?

SOUCIE: Well, absolutely. There is oxygen on board the aircraft for the pilot, a separate oxygen system. Not only what's in the aircraft itself, but another separate bottle that is there for emergency use. So, had he realized that he was in this situation and again in hypoxia, he might not have understood that he was in danger at all.

He may have felt like everything was just fine as Miles had mentioned. So at this point, he didn't see a problem. He may have been breathing. But, yes, at that point, had someone recognized that was the problem going on and there was oxygen available, it could have been a different scenario.

BURNETT: Miles, but there is nothing anybody could have done at that point to help him given that he was unconscious.

O'BRIEN: I'm troubled by the response of air traffic control here frankly, Erin. When a pilot gets on the radio at 28,000 feet and says I have a problem, I need to get lower and then says again, I really need to get lower and then says again, I really need to get lower.

And a busy controller says, I'm working on it, I sure hope they play that for air traffic controllers in the future and say this is something you need to pay attention to. Maybe he was not so firm because he couldn't and the controller should be listening for that.

BURNETT: Which is interesting because Dr. Dorian when we are talking about -- and his voice at that moment was strong. He sounds not under duress, but is it possible that he was under duress?

DORIAN: A 100 percent. It is concerning you are not hearing or feeling him breathing with more fervor. You are seeing this in an insidious nature can bring on the euphoria and confusion. Of course, if he did descend things would be different.

The pressure of oxygen at that level, the percentage is the same, the amount of oxygen he can get with each breathe is much greater. He can revive and come to and make appropriate decisions. The descent was the key.

BURNETT: That descent of course which tragically did not happen. The thing about this pressurization, Miles, as you know, this isn't the first time we have heard about this. Everyone remembers this week a plane made an emergency landing in South Carolina because it lost cabin pressure.

In 2005, there was a plane that crashed because of depressurization, 121 people were killed, and of course, there was one of the most well- known instances of Payne Stewart, the golfer. His plane crashed in South Dakota after losing pressure.

And we've all been talking about what happened to MH-370. People have speculated that that could have been the problem in that mystery. What is the risk of a plane losing pressure?

O'BRIEN: I think we have hit on the real problem here is that it's very difficult for the flight crew, itself, the victims to identify the problem. Maybe the NTSB needs to look at ways to enhance the warning systems. There is an inexpensive device that cost about 100 bucks that I have on my airplane that is an oxi-meter.

And it tells you in the oxygen level inside the cabin is not satisfactorily. There are simple ways to do this, but a lot of it is also pilots recognizing this soon.

I have had the fortune to go into a NASA altitude chamber and go through this and understand what it is like not to be able to add 2 plus 2 because you've taken oxygen mask off at what appears to be 30,000 feet. And so I understand what to look for and I think it is important for pilots to have that training and understanding.

BURNETT: David, if you are a passenger on a plane, what do you look for?

SOUCIE: Well, the passenger, I wanted to go back to what Miles has said about the fact you don't see it coming, if you don't mind. I teach classes about awareness, and almost every one of the pilots that own one of these aircraft has had some sort of training and awareness of that.

But it puts an exclamation on the point that it can sneak up on you in this insidious nature. And as a passenger, it's hard to look for that as well. You can look for it in other passengers in conversation with other passengers.

You will notice a slurred speech and the doctor could speak to this better than myself. I have experienced it as well. It is slurred speech and you feel a euphoric feeling. You feel like there is just absolutely nothing wrong.

BURNETT: That's incredible. Thanks very much to all three of you.

And next, the right to recline. We're talking about on a plane. Three diverted flights in a matter of weeks all because of leg room. The man who ignited the debate is OUTFRONT next with his knee defenders.

And exclusive new video, we're going to show you what the fight against ISIS looks like on the ground right now. We'll be right back.


BURNETT: Tonight, rage over the right to recline. Sorry, we are talking about fights. Should fellow airline passengers be able to push back their seats? So, a lot of people say no. An intent anger with this issue has caused three flights in the past two weeks to make emergency landings. That's a pretty incredible statistic. In just a moment we're going to speak to a man who was involved in one of those air fights that caused the plane to be diverted. And that brings us to tonight's "Money and Power." An aviation analyst tells CNN that it costs airlines at least $6,000 an hour to divert a flight. That does not include landing fees for some airports. Tom Foreman is "Outfront."


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A Delta jet is going from New York to Florida when a dispute breaks out between passengers.

AARON KLIPIN, DELTA PASSENGER: This woman who was sitting next to me knitting actually just tried reclining her seat back. The woman behind her started screaming and swearing.

FOREMAN: The angry woman allegedly was resting her head on her tray table when it began. Witnesses say she demanded that the plane land immediately, and according to Delta, out of an abundance of caution, the captain elected to divert to the closest airport. Local law enforcement met the flight and removed the passenger. The very next day, another conflict. A Miami to Paris American Airlines flight is diverted to Boston after a passenger allegedly becomes unruly over a reclining seat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People pay for their seats and they want to push it backward or forward.

FOREMAN: These unplanned landings are expensive. One independent airline analyst estimates diverting a big jet can cost $6,000 an hour plus fees on the ground. And when it involves international flights or missed connections, the price tag goes higher. So some passengers are trying an inexpensive solution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The knee defender is a device that keeps people from reclining their airline seat into your knees.

FOREMAN: But on a United flight from Newark to Denver, businessman James Beach put his knee defender to use. And a huge dispute followed. The passenger ahead complained. Beach removed the device and then things got worse. The seat wound up being slammed back and forth, the drink was thrown. And it finally grew so intense, the plane veered off to land in Chicago.


BURNETT: So why is all this happening now? I mean first of all, I have to say when I tweeted today what people's views were on seat recline, I got more response to that tweet than I have - in a very long time. People really care about this. But why is this all happening now?

FOREMAN: Well, airplanes are crowded. But we've always had planes as crowded - but they are not as crowded - they weren't as crowded some years ago as they are now. For years the airlines have been squishing us all closer together to keep ticket price down and profits up. So, look, the average width of an airline seat in the 1990s was about as wide as my shoulders here, 18 1/2 inches. Today look at that, it's two inches smaller. While - look at this - the average size of a male passenger is ten pounds heavier. That errand is a fight just fighting to happen. And that's why everyone is calling you and contacting you. Because we've all been there.

BURNETT: Yeah, of course, you can't even squeeze in and out sometimes on the seat in front of you as back. You got to slide under the armrest. It's like ...

FOREMAN: If you can do that. If you can do that

BURNETT: Right. Right. All right. Tom, thank you. As Tom mentioned a fight broke out on a United flight when a passenger used a knee defender. I'm going to show you what that is in a moment. They use this to block the person sitting in front of him from reclining. A passenger James Beach, and he's OUTFRONT tonight.

James, thanks so much for being with us. All right. So, what's your side of the story? You bring this knee defender along and I'm going to give you a chance to show it in a moment. But you bring it along to block the seat in front of you. The person tries to recline asked you to remove it. You went to remove it, right? And then things went rapidly south.

JAMES BEACH, USED KNEE DEFENDER, LED TO FLIGHT DIVERSION: That's right. That's right. That's one of the reasons that I reached out after a week of the story. It shocked me that this became a huge story. But all the news was I refused to take it out. And the real point is these aren't made to say this is my space. I'm not going to give it to you. These are made when I'm working on a laptop or I'm doing other things it's a way for me to have a consent to someone's right to putting a seat in my face. So, I want to have a voice. I want to put this is and that person, if it's important enough to them to recline, ask me and I'll make adjustments, I'll take it out. I'll put my work away - whatever - I just don't want to have.

BURNETT: So, protects your laptop from being ...

BEACH: Yeah.

BURNETT: Which can be broken.

BEACH: That's exactly right.

BURNETT: The space - so it's - so it doesn't come back quickly.

BEACH: That's right.

BURNETT: OK. All right. So, in terms of this incident, though, I mean a plane did get diverted because of this incident and that's something we just were hearing, say, $6,000 an hour. I mean that's something you feel pretty badly about, right?

BEACH: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And even more so there are other people on the plane that lost an hour and a half of their lives. Sunday afternoon, and people are trying to get home to see family. And I felt terrible about that. Yeah.

BURNETT: So, can you show me how this knee defender works.

BEACH: Absolutely

BURNETT: It's just a little piece of plastic.

BEACH: Yeah, just - give you one. It's just a little piece of durable plastic. And you basically put the tray down and the two arms that connected the train, you just slide this down the arm and then this portion of it right here is what actually blocks the seat from coming back.

BURNETT: And it blocks the seat from coming back.


BURNETT: All right, so - is this something that you use all the time? Are most people understanding or do most people say - because, you know, I tweeted it up. A lot of people said I don't recline my seat. Because I want to be treated that way, too. But when we did a poll today, you know, the majority of our viewers, barely but the majority said, you know what - you pay for that seat. It's your right to recline it.

BEACH: Right. And I would agree with that somewhat. I think it's their right, but with my consent. Because that's my space too. And I'm doing other things back there, and to be honest, if it's important enough to the person in front of me that they need to recline for some reason, then, you know, I want to take the high road especially in the future, take the high road and say - fine, you can use that ...

BURNETT: So, if I'm in front of you and I asked to recline, you're not going to get in a dime fight with me, you're just going to say, OK, fine, but thank you for asking.

BEACH: That's right. What happened was absolutely ridiculous and I'll be the first guy to admit that. You take the high road and say to the person, I'm working, can I work for another half an hour, let me finish this document up, and it's all yours. Or something to that effect. And a lot of people would ask me too, why don't you ask him up front. And I think that's just inviting trouble. I mean by the time people get on - into the airline, they are already in a pretty bad mood and if I - and say hey, guy, I'm going to block your seat for the next three hours.

BURNETT: Oh, yeah, I don't think that would work well at all. No. I mean maybe someone who doesn't recline but I would be mad if someone told me I couldn't recline.

BEACH: Absolutely. Yes.

BURNETT: I think that's something to think about. Now, you fly long routes, you fly from Moscow to Denver. That's a commute that you do pretty often.

BEACH: Right.

BURNETT: Here's my question to you. Do you do what you want others to do to you? Do you never recline?

BEACH: Never. I never recline.

BURNETT: Never recline.

BEACH: Not even on an international flight. I don't recline. And for two reasons. One, I don't feel the difference from putting the seat back. After maybe initially for a few seconds, but after that, I can't really even tell that the seat has been reclined. And too, it's I'm hypocritical, I know what it's like to have a seat in my face. Even on international flight, even if it's night time. It is a guy behind me, he might be sleeping at the time I put my seat back. But he knows, he wakes up in two hours and needs to finish our Power Point presentation before he lands and he's got a meeting as soon as he gets off a flight.

BURNETT: All right.

BEACH: And I don't want to be the guy that prevents him from doing that for really not much benefit to me. BEACH: All right. Well, James, thank you very much for taking the

time to be with us. James Beach, as we said, was at epicenter of one of those incidents this week. And "Outfront" next, we have exclusive new video of the men fighting ISIS on the front line.

Plus, the manhunt under way for the masked bank robber known as the AK-47 bandit. Authorities chasing him fear this will not end well.


BURNETT: Today President Obama announced a coalition of nations ready to help the United States fight ISIS. Speaking of the NATO summit, the president said Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark are on board. And just days after the president received heavy criticism for calling ISIS a manageable problem today he changed his tune.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You can't contain an organization that is running rough shot through that much territory, causing that much havoc, displacing that many people, killing that many innocents, enslaving that many women. The goal has to be to dismantle them.


BURNETT: Meanwhile in Iraq, U.S. Forces continued to bomb ISIS targets. Four airstrikes today in an effort to provide cover for the Kurdish ground forces. Our Anna Coren got a firsthand look at the battle on the ground with those forces, and she is "OUTFRONT" tonight. Anna.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we will give an exclusive access to this mission with the Peshmerga. The Kurdish forces here in northern Iraq. They were going after a strategic position that was seized by ISIS back in June. We saw firsthand the U.S. airstrikes and the impact they're having to the situation on the ground. Take a look.


COREN: On a dirt road less than an hour from Kurdistan's capital, a long convoy of Peshmerga head towards enemy territory. They are gearing up from major mission to eradicate ISIS across a 30 kilometer front.

Well, it is 4:30 a.m. And these soldiers have been up all night preparing for the attack. We've been hearing the jets overhead. They have been circling for the last few hours getting ready to strike those ISIS positions.

At dawn the offensive begins. A barrage of heavy weapons raining down on ISIS from multiple positions. And these heavy plumes of smoke, the result of U.S. airstrikes. The Islamic extremists seized control of this area and the strategic Mount Zataq (ph) back in June after its lightning advance across northern Iraq. On the other side of the mountain are the planes that run directly to the heart of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city and ISIS stronghold.

These mortar and artillery strikes have been pummeling the five villages at the base of the mountain. U.S. airstrikes have also been hitting the top of the mountain. According to the Peshmerga they have killed a number of militants.

Leading the assault - Iraq's deputy Prime Minister Dr. Rowsch Shaways, normally based in Baghdad this proud Kurd knows his men need him now more than ever.

ROWSCH SHAWAYS, IRAQI DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: This is a duty of everybody with this democracy and freedom and human rights to fight against the terrorists, especially against DAESH.

COREN: While the Kurds are looking to create a bigger buffer around their capital they're also positioning themselves for when they could take part in a move on Mosul. We are then taken to one of the villages reclaimed in recent weeks, now less than two kilometers from the fighting.

Well, this is what the fight against ISIS looks like. The Peshmerga or Iraq Forces taking village after village with the help of U.S. airstrikes. This is the model for a coordinated campaign to achieve President Obama's objective, degrade and destroy ISIS.

A hard and bloody task according to these soldiers.

AZIZ, PESHMERGA SOLDIER: Yeah, they have a good sniper and you have to be very careful. Then if no, they get you and they shoot you. You have to be very careful.

COREN: But during this assault it was the Peshmerga who only sustained a few injuries. The commander boasting that more than two dozen ISIS fighters were killed, while a number were captured. A victory they know won't always be easy in the days ahead.


COREN: Now the Peshmerga earned complete control of the mountain and the surrounding villages. The next stage of the operation will be to take those townships on the plain. The key mission will be to liberate Mosul. But that will take a lot more planning and coordination not just amongst the Kurds and Iraqis but also the international community. Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Anna, thank you so much, Anna reporting from Erbil tonight.

Up front next, the AK-47 bandit. After vanishing for two years, the mass bank robber has struck again. And police are trying to hunt him down.

Plus, an American slain by ISIS. Hundreds today mourning the loss of 31-year-old Steven Sotloff. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Tonight a national manhunt under way for the so-called AK-47 bandit. The man you see here in new surveillance video, he's wanted in a string of bank robberies across the United States. The suspect is very dangerous. Kyung Lah is outfront.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's very serious. He's very aggressive.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Automatic rifle raised, a trained gunman - the masked robber moves to the tellers in minutes. Chino, California, Police Detective Dominguez instantly recognizes him.


LAH (on camera): Same guy.

DOMINGUEZ: Same guy. No doubt.

LAH (voice over): Detective Dominguez has been hunting the bandit for two years, that's when he first struck in California appearing to wear the same mask, same gloves, carrying the same assault rifle with 75 to 80 rounds, similar clothes, even driving the same car. A Chino police officer responding to the robbery call never had a chance to even grab his gun before the bank robber advanced without hesitation striking the officer once wounding him.

DOMINGUEZ: He has got some skills. There is definitely no doubt that he's law enforcement or military trained.

LAH (on camera): How bold is this guy?

DOMINGUEZ: He's very bold. It's almost like a game to him.

LAH (voice over): A game law enforcement says he's moving across the country. February 29th, 2012, he hits the California bank and trust in Chino, California. Two weeks later on March 12th wearing a vest marked as sheriff, he robs a bank in Vacaville, California, he then travels north to north bend, Washington and robs a bank there on July 6th. November 7th, 2012, he strikes a credit union in Rexburg, Idaho. He disappeared for almost two years until just days ago, August 22nd robbing a bank in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

(on camera): How bad do you want to have him?

DOMINGUEZ: Real bad. This is leaning more towards a North Hollywood type shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay down! They (INAUDIBLE) shooting Ak-47.

LAH: The 1997 North Hollywood bank robbery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they have got automatic weapons. There is nothing we have that can stop them. LAH: Officers were outgunned facing two robbers armed with high-

powered rifles who refuse to surrender. Two dozen others, both officers and civilians were wounded. Miraculously, no one other than the gunman were killed.

The FBI fears a repeat of this battle with the AK-47 bandit.

STEVE MAY, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: He's already shown a propensity that he will fire upon the police and I have a feeling it's just going to be a bloody shootout when it does happen.

LAH: Law enforcement chasing a man they believe is one of their own, though this case is also personal.

CHIEF MILES PRUITT, CHINO POLICE DEPARTMENT: We're going to hunt this guy down, regardless where he goes.


LAH: There is a $100,000 reward for any information that leads to his arrest and conviction. So you're going to want to pay attention to this suspect description. He's described as being 25 to 40 years old, a white male, 5'9" to 6-foot tall, stocky approximately 200 pounds with piercing, piercing blue eyes. That's how police describe him. He's driven the same vehicle at every single bank robbery, a dark gray four-door Nissan Maxima dark tinted windows with stock chrome wheels. The best chance, police say, of nabbing him is if someone happens to turn him in. Erin.

BURNETT: And Kyung, I know, he's been striking banks in, you know, smaller to midsize towns, you know, probably you might think, well, gosh, everyone there knows everybody, but obviously there is a strategy. Why do they think he's doing that?

LAH: It's a targeted hit. Because these smaller communities don't have the population density and Erin, that means they probably don't have the number of police officers to respond, which makes it easier for him to get away.

BURNETT: So, Kyung, where do they think he could go next?

LAH: They can't tell exactly where he's going to strike, but they do believe that he is heading west because everything so far has suggested he's on the move and heading that way.

BURNETT: All right. Kyung Lah, thank you very much. Pretty incredible story.

Kyung reporting live from Los Angeles tonight. And coming up, an American murdered by ISIS remembered tonight by his family and his friends.


BURNETT: Today near Miami, hundreds of mourners came to pay tribute to Steven Sotloff, the American beheaded by ISIS terrorists last week. Family, friends, officials, they all gathered together here at the Temple Beth Am to celebrate the life of the murdered 31-year-old. Sotloff's mother addressed the people there saying "I'm so proud my son lived his dream. I may not have him physically, but I will always have him in my heart. Sotloff's father was choked up with emotion and he said I'll try to speak from my heart, but my heart is broken. I lost my son and my best friend. He is done suffering. It's impossible to imagine the pain that those parents feel and the pride they feel for their son and his work. During the service a cousin read a letter that Sotloff himself had written while he was in captivity. Sotloff wrote live your life to the fullest and fight to be happy. The freelance journalist disappeared during a reporting trip to Syria in August of last year. Sotloff was the second American beheaded by the terror group on video over the past few weeks. At least one more American and at least one British man are still being held by ISIS tonight. Thanks so much for watching. Hope that you have a good weekend, Anderson Cooper tonight with John Berman starts right now.