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ISIS Advancing Despite New Airstrikes; Race Against Time To Save American Hostage; Obama: Ebola "A Top National Security Priority

Aired October 6, 2014 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, major gains by ISIS despite more airstrikes as the U.S. races against time to save an American hostage marked for death.

Plus, an OUTFRONT investigation on how ISIS makes its money to funnel its reign of terror.

And as Ebola patient Thomas Duncan's condition worsens, did he know he had been exposed to Ebola before he boarded that plane for America? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, the clock ticking at this hour. The life of an American held hostage by ISIS in the balance.

Peter Kassig known now as Abdul Rahman Kassig after his recent conversion to Islam appeared in the beheading video of British hostage, Alan Henning.

The threat that unless the United States stopped bombing ISIS, Kassig will be next to die. Soon after his mother, Paula, pleaded with his captors for her son's life.


PAULA KASSIG, MOTHER OF PETER KASSIG: We implore those who are holding you to show mercy and use their power to let you go.


BURNETT: This as ISIS fighters continue to gain ground across the region. The militants raising their black flag over two Syrian positions in the key border town of Kobani.

To the west in Anbar Province, ISIS has now captured the town of Hitt and earlier today mortar fire hit the green zone in Baghdad. Here in the United States, the FBI arrests an Illinois teen at Chicago's O'Hare Airport charging that he was headed to the Middle East to fight for ISIS.

Our chief national security correspondent begins our coverage OUTFRONT tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He told his parents he felt an obligation to migrate to ISIS controlled land. Chicago-area teen, Mohammed Hamzah Khan, is say federal prosecutors. The latest of roughly a dozen Americans to volunteer for ISIS.

He was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Airport just as he was about to board what he allegedly said was a one-way journey to Syria and to war. On the ground there, ISIS is advancing even in the face of American air power.

Today in Kobani, northern Syria, Kurdish fighters are locked in bloody street battles with ISIS. The militants have already raised their signature black flags on a building and a hill top overlooking to town while raining down shell fire from tanks and heavy artillery.

According to one fighter, it was tweeted, we hoped American planes would help us instead American tanks in the hands of ISIS are killing us. U.S. officials call the effort against ISIS there ongoing.

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: This is something where we've long said from the beginning that this would take some time. We're working closely to do everything we can to help push back ISIL in this part of the country.

SCIUTTO: In Iraq where U.S. officials hope the combination of coalition air power and Iraqi army units would turn the tide, ISIS is still advancing as well capturing the city of Hitt and closing in on Ramadi.

With Iraqi forces faltering, the U.S. deployed Apache attack helicopters originally intended to protect the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to come to the rescue of overwhelmed Iraqi soldiers.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHEM (R), SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: And the strategy of air bombardment is not going to work to destroy ISIL, but we have a series of half measures with ISIL that will draw this conflict out and will not lead to the ISIL's destruction, which makes it much more dangerous.


SCIUTTO: You look at the map of Iraq and Syria, you see just how difficult it has been to gain back some ground from ISIS. This is the map of Iraq before the U.S.-led air strikes began.

At the time, 13 cities under ISIS control, 59 days later, now 14 cities under ISIS control. They've gained Hitt there now contesting for Ramadi. Now when we look at Syria, you don't even need a before and after because 14 days ago, before the strikes began, there were ten cities under ISIS control. Today, still ten cities under ISIS control.

And now Kobani, up here being contested, if you speak to U.S. military officials, Erin, of course, they will say, listen, we never said that the air campaign was going to change this map very quickly. But you see, they talk about needing a ground component. You have that in Iraq and even there, you're still not gaining back territory.

BURNETT: It's pretty stunning, though, when you put it so starkly, Jim. Now when you look at that map, it brings a whole new urgency to the race that is on to free the American ISIS hostage, Peter Kassig. Joe Johns is OUTFRONT with the story.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House says every military diplomatic law enforcement and intelligence tool is being used to find American hostage, Abdul Rahman also known as Peter Kassig.

But the pressure is on to find the 26-year-old before he becomes the next victim of an ISIS executioner. The former Army ranger turned humanitarian aid worker in Syria was the subject of a CNN profile in 2012.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes you have to take a stand. You have to draw a line somewhere.

JOHNS: Rahman's friends are keeping the story alive, but no longer calling him Peter. Instead, using his Muslim name. Reminding the public and his captors that it is a recent convert to Islam that is now being threatened by ISIS.

ERIN COREY, FRIEND OF PETER KASSIG: This sort of action is so anti- Islamic. You know, it's so against what the majority of Muslims believe should be happening.

JOHNS: His family just released portions of a letter he wrote in June. Quote, "I am obviously pretty scared to die, but the hardest part is not knowing, wondering, hoping and wondering if I should even hope at all."

His mother appearing on camera in cover out of respect for her son's faith, making a deeply emotional appeal.

KASSIG: Most of all, know that we love you and our hearts ache for you to be granted your freedom.

JOHNS: Virtually anything at the government's disposal would be employed in the search for this man right now though the U.S. would be hamstrung by the lack of human assets on the ground.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RETIRED), JOINT STAFF, PENTAGON: This would be the A-1 priority for any type of counterterrorism force any type of force that would be engaged, even possibly in a hostage rescue operation.

JOHNS: But until there is word, Rahman's family says, they can only hope for the best. Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


BURNETT: Joining me now is Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger. He is the top Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thanks for being with us tonight.

We just heard Joe's reporting on Peter Kassig. Look, we know there was at least one attempt to free Americans held by ISIS back in July. That failed. Has the landscape gotten too difficult, too dangerous for them to try again to save Peter Kassig?

REPRESENTATIVE C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER (D), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, we'll try to do whatever we can to save any American. But ISIS is strong and you know, we need good intelligence to be able to find out where he is first and how we can save him if in fact they're going to attempt to kill him and make sure that we don't lose other lives by doing that.

BURNETT: You just heard our Jim Sciutto reporting about the teenager in Illinois who was arrested today at the airport on his way to join ISIS. Obviously the crucial question is, whether he did this on his own or whether he was recruited? Do you have any information on that?

RUPPERSBERGER: I think a combination of both. ISIS is smart and they're using social media to recruit as many Americans or other allies to come to Syria to be radicalized and trained to fight. This is an example of what ISIS is doing. It has happened over and over again.

It is happening in the United States right now and we, it's been going on for a long time. Not just ISIS but other al Qaeda groups have been putting out a magazine called "Inspire." Telling people how to make bombs --


RUPPERSBERGER: -- and trying to recruit them on their side.

BURNETT: So are there more Americans like him?

RUPPERSBERGER: Yes. There are other Americans who are being recruited. It doesn't mean they're going to Syria but some do. We know there at least I think the FBI director said last night there are at least 12 Americans that we know are in Syria right now and we're doing whatever we can to watch them.

Because they have American passports and if they come back to the United States, and they have not broken a law, all we can do is monitor them. They've been trained to fight and kill, and that's a serious situation in our country.

BURNETT: What about, it was pretty sobering. You just saw a reporter showing the map in material of cities that were controlled before the airstrikes and now. In Iraq, ISIS control more cities now than they did prior to the beginning of the American led coalition airstrikes.

In Syria, it is the same. Kobani is on the verge of going. It would increase there. Do you have to have boots on the ground? This has been several weeks of airstrikes. They said it would take a while, but I think most people are pretty shock to see that there hasn't been any visible change. RUPPERSBERGER: Erin, first thing, this will be a marathon, not a sprint. This is a very well organized, well-funded group and knows how to fight. They've been involved in war when a lot of them were in Iraq fighting Iran years ago and it's going to take a lot.

That's why the coalition building is so important. That's why it's so important to get the Arab countries together with us. They border a lot of these countries. We need to have them to be involved.

We don't want to be in Iraq and Afghanistan situation for the next ten years. We'll use our resources --

BURNETT: Are you open to boots on the ground?

RUPPERSBERGER: It all depends on the situation if it means to protect American lives. Anything I'm concerned about, you don't tell the enemy what you're going to do. You surprise your enemy and you do what you need to do.

But we have boots on the ground right now, but they're not out there fighting. They're advising. They are training. If it comes to a situation where it is about saving Americans' lives, we'll do what we need to do.

We think we can put a coalition together, use our resources, use our allies, use NATO and get countries like Turkey involved, which will make a big difference.

BURNETT: And Turkey, before we go, I have to ask you about Joe Biden today, obviously, this weekend, really stepped in it with Turkey. He was talking about the president saying, look, he is an old friend. You were right.

You let too many people through referring to foreign fighters. Turkey, as you point out, you can't do this without Turkey. How big of a mistake was this for the vice president?

RUPPERSBERGER: Well, first thing, you know the vice president. He is a great American patriotic. He is a man of action. If you want to get something done, you go to the vice president. I think he was speaking from his heart and maybe not as diplomatically as he should have been.

Because a lot of what he was talking about was true. But there are different reasons why different countries don't want to put it out, what they're doing or what is going on. I don't think that this is a big of an issue as the media is making it.

I think he apologized. I think the issue is ISIS. I think the countries involved knows this and they're with us every day. A lot stronger to be trained and to do what they had to do to take out ISIS.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Congressman. Appreciate your time tonight.

OUTFRONT next, our Drew Griffin just back from Turkey with an OUTFRONT investigation into the question everybody is talking about and no one seems to know the answer to. How does ISIS get its money? That OUTFRONT investigation is next.

Plus, Ebola patient, Thomas Duncan, is in critical condition in a Dallas hospital tonight. His nephew is OUTFRONT.

And an entire plane full of passengers quarantined at the Newark International Airport because of an Ebola scare on board. How many planes come into the United States from the Ebola zone every single day?


BURNETT: A teenager now under arrest on the charges he was attempting to travel overseas in support of ISIS. Now, one question investigators are asking tonight is who purchased the 19-year-old's ticket from Chicago to Istanbul? ISIS is one of the most well funded terror organizations in history. And our Drew Griffin just returned from Turkey where he looked at exactly how ISIS is making these millions and millions that you keep hearing thrown around every day. That's tonight's money and power.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the southernmost edge of Turkey. Just across those hills is the border with Syria, the area where extremist Islamic rebels known as ISIS are fighting to create an Islamic caliphate or Islamic state. It is also an area in villages like this where ISIS can make money to finance its wars.

Small oil smuggling operations some estimate adding up to millions of barrels in the last few months have been uncovered. The oil come from refineries ISIS has taken inside Iraq and Syria. Up until just last week, it was easy to smuggle into this part of Turkey. Why? Smuggled cheap oil is a much priced commodity here and it doesn't matter who is selling it, even if it is your enemy.

Buy gas at any station just across the border here in Turkey and you can see why it is so easy to overlook who is selling what. Gas here costs roughly $7.50 a gallon.

The U.S. coalition forces just in the past week have destroyed, attacked and bombed ISIS oil facilities precisely to cut off the group's funding. But if you think just knocking out ISIS' oil will stop this radical Islamic army, you don't understand just how many ways ISIS funds itself.

MATTHEW LEVITT, TERROR FINANCING STUDENT: We describe this as the best funded group we've ever seen.

GRIFFIN: Matthew Levitt is a student of terror financing working previously for the U.S. treasury department, the FBI and now with the Washington institute for near east policy. ISIS, he says, is different than any other traditional terrorist group and is funded like no other. Yes, there is oil. Yes, there are charitable donations from wealthy

sympathizers including Qatar and Kuwait. But ISIS funds itself mostly from within. Born among the crooks and thugs of Iraq, it is at its roots, says Levitt a criminal enterprise.

LEVITT: They will always primarily finance through domestic activity within the borders of Iraq.

GRIFFIN: It is massive organized crime run amok with no cops.

LEVITT: Exactly.

GRIFFIN: Want to do business in ISIS controlled territory, you pay a tax. Want to move a truck down a highway, you pay a toll. Villagers in ISIS territory pay for just about everything.

LEVITT: There are reports that people in Mosul who want to take money out of their own bank accounts need to make a voluntary, not so voluntary donation to the Islamic state, to ISIS.


GRIFFIN: Mouaz Moustafa is the executive director of the Syrian emergency task force in Washington, D.C. He says, ISIS literally form in the void made by the pullout of U.S. troops and the retreating Iraqi army. That kind of self-financing mob, he says, can't be destroyed from air strikes. You need to take back the territory and restore order. Fighters willing to do that are frustrated that the U.S. so far won't help.

It is a White House decision.

MOUSTAFA: It is a White House decision and it always has been. And I think the White House is slowly moving in the right direction. I can tell that you the policy that the White House has right now, if it had this policy three years ago, there would have never been an ISIS republic out, would have gone rid off.

GRIFFIN: U.S.-led coalition airstrikes have now begun targeting ISIS locations attacking the oil facilities and even grain silos. But as long as ISIS controls any ground where civilians can be taxed, extorted and rob, ISIS will remain self-financing.


BURNETT: And those key words, Drew, as you report, self-financing in all those ways that you show that people may not have expected. There is also, you know, you pointed out, the funding, as the treasury's pointed from Qatar and Kuwait. And vice president had to apologize to leaders in Turkey and the UAE and other U.S. allies after making comments like that. Here's how he had to say it.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaeda.


BURNETT: Al-Nusra, of course, an al-Qaeda group in Syria.

Drew, you just returned from the Turkish-Syrian border. Was the vice president right in what he said?

GRIFFIN: You know, I have to say, he was right. He may not have been tactful about it and probably he is not going to get away with it because he is the vice president. But look, we know that there was a lot of pride and wealthy people funding ISIS and perhaps still funding ISIS from Arab state. There has been a little bit of cutback on that, a little bit of embarrass I think by those countries.

And also, we know very much that Turkish border is extremely porous. And I must tell you from personal experience, if I wanted to join ISIS, last week, I'm pretty darn sure I could have walked across that border and done it.

BURNETT: That is pretty incredible. And that says everything about that Turkish border.

Drew Griffin, thank you very much as Drew went to the ground to find this out.

Joining me now is the former deputy national security adviser and author of "treasury's war," Juan Zarate and former senior sanctions advisor of the treasury department and senior fellow of the Center for new Americans security, Elizabeth Rosenberg.

All right, you guys are the two perfect people to have on this story.

You know, Juan, look. We did an extensive report in terror funding coming out of Qatar this summer. I spoke to you as part of that. We identified examples of individuals of the U.S. treasury has designated as terrorists. A couple weeks ago, Qatar publicly expelled one of the individuals in our report, but not others. (INAUDIBLE), according to the U.S., has raised millions and millions of dollars for a terror and al-Qaeda-linked groups.

Let's start with this, (INAUDIBLE), Qatar. Are they doing enough?

JUAN ZARATE, AUTHOR, TREASURY'S WAR: Well, I think they started to, Erin. Because I think they realized, along with other allies, that this is an existential threat. And certainly, they've been embarrassed by the designations, the reports that you did and others have put out there. And I think that is important, the Faux Pax (ph) of vice president Biden's comment. He lumped together all of the allies. When certain country like the UAE, I think, they've tried to do much better around these issues than countries like Qatar and Kuwait which have, at a minimum turned a blind eye to this kind of fundraising. And the worst-case scenario, actually, supported it. BURNETT: And Elizabeth, let me ask you about that. The treasury has

said, Qatar and Kuwait are the two countries that they have identified as the most serious supporters of these terror groups. You know, our report had a Kuwaiti cleric, known to support al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria. He was using twitter to raise money for jihad in both Kuwait and Qatar.

You know, if we could final this on social media, the U.S. government can too. So why is not the U.S. able to get these countries able to stop this?

ELIZABETH ROSENBERG, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR NEW AMERICANS SECURITY: Well, it is not just a matter of social media. Of course, they have to be able to document the funds that move and the support terror activities and rigorous documentary evidence put together to make these designations. They're not taken lightly. So it can be a challenge sometimes to make sure that all of that material is put together and established. And of course, there is an interest in coordinating with those governments to try to see them, help them, take action against this kind of terror activity in funding and facilitation.

BURNETT: And Juan, you know, some of these clerics preaching jihad and Syria are actually invited to preach by government ministries in various countries, how much power do the Middle Eastern government actually have over the clerics when they're using religion to do this?

ZARATE: Well, I think they have quite a bit of power. And part of the problem, Erin, we've talked about this before is you have an odd mixture of causes and motivations here. Certainly, there are humanitarian causes, legitimate ones for the refugees and those hurting in Syria.

You also have real desire to see Assad fall in support for those who are willing to fight. And what has happened over the last two plus years, is that it has been largely unregulated in terms of how it's happened. And I think the treasury has done a fairly good job trying to identify those who have been part of this and certainly work quietly behind the scenes to get governments in the gulf in particular to be as strong as possible to shut this down.

BURNETT: Again, and of course, there is argument. You know, treasury may be trying really hard, Elizabeth, and make their other, perhaps, the state department that has other interest that may, at that moment, you know, diplomatically be deemed more important than just cutting off funding.

What about the issue of what is happening with Syria. Everyone talks about the oil. That ISIS is selling oil and they're getting as much as $3 million a day from doing that. How -- is there anything the United States can do to cut that income off?

ROSENBERG: Well, we've seen a couple things, right? There is the effort to destroy the refineries and the refineries where the oil is refined. And from which ISIS can sell that product and derive money. So that's one. Another thing that the U.S. can do with allies is to try and work

carefully with the countries into which that oil is sold. And to try to close those porous borders and take action to stop those supply lines.

BURNETT: Juan, does anyone have any idea how much money ISIS has?

ZARATE: No. You know, wild estimates, obviously, people have broken it down, $1 million to $3 million a day for the oil, estimates of $8 to $10 million a month for kidnap and ransom, the extortion and tax, who know, a few million. There is no real estimate.

The reality, though, Erin, keep in mind, they have to govern and they have to use the money for men, material and alliances. And so, it is not just a matter of gathering money and burying it in the desert. They have to use it. The more you can degrade that cape bill, the more you can dislodge them and the better we'll be.

BURNETT: All right, thanks very much to both of you. And you can get more on our reporting on Terror funding on our blog including our special investigation from the gulf.

"OUTFRONT" next, the miracle drug that has treated Ebola patients in the United States has run out. Now Thomas Duncan is fighting for his life and being treated with a different experimental drug. And before Duncan left tort United States, did he know he might have Ebola? We are live in his home, in Liberia.

Plus, how many flights come into the United States every single day from the Ebola hot zone?


BURNETT: Breaking news on the growing Ebola epidemic. President Obama was just briefed on the threat. He's now calling Ebola, quote, "a top national security priority."

The man at the central of the scare is this man, Thomas Eric Duncan. He's now in critical condition and tonight, we can tell you, he's receiving a new experimental drug. It's the first time this drug has been used in the United States to treat Ebola. The CDC said that Duncan is not getting ZMapp. Now, that's the drug that was used to treat the two Americans that returned with Ebola. And they say he's not getting it because it is supposedly all gone.

Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It took just one Ebola patient the show the vulnerabilities of screening for the deadly virus.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have learned some lessons, though, in terms of what happened in Dallas. We don't have a lot of margins for error. The procedures and protocol that are put in place must be followed.

LAVANDERA: At times, the response has seemed chaotic. Keeping track of nearly 50 people who made contact with Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan has had its issues.

JUDGE CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS, TEXAS: We just need to locate this individual and we can use your help in letting them know, they're not in trouble. We want to move them to a comfortable and compassionate place and care for their every need while we can -- while we monitor them.

LAVANDERA: But the biggest confusion still swirls around Duncan's first visit to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, on the night of September 25th and why he was sent home, possibly infecting others, only to be admitted to the hospital three days later.

Last week, the hospital said a flaw in the electronic health record led to his release despite Duncan admitting he had just been in West Africa. The next day, the hospital sent out what it called a clarification. There was no flaw in the electronic health record in the way the physician and nursing portions interacted related to this event.

We asked hospital officials several times to clarify what went wrong but did not get a response to our questions.

But we were able to ask the head of the Texas Department of Health.

The hospital originally said they blamed the electronic health record, and then changed that on 48. But haven't really given an explanation as to what happened. Have you learned any more about why he was not kept there originally when he first visited?

DR. DAVID LAKEY, COMMISSIONER, TEXAS DEPT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES: I don't have that full information yet. I can understand how people can be frustrated with that mixed message that you got. I think we will need to look at that.

LAVANDERA: Health experts acknowledged that the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States has uncovered flaws and unanticipated issues.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: There were mistakes made. There will probably to be mistakes made in the future as we go forward. But the fact is, I stand by the fact that the process is working. We don't have an outbreak. We have one event that is being handled properly.


BURNETT: I guess my question, Ed, whether that was the process or maybe that they ended up getting lucky. But what about the people they're monitoring? Have any of them shown any kind of symptoms at this point or not?

LAVANDERA: Well, so far, they're monitoring nearly 50 people. Ten of those are considered to be high risk, and we're told by officials today that so far, none of those people are showing any symptoms, Erin. And they say this is a critical week, given the time period that is now elapsed.

In this coming week, is the very likelihood or the time frame where those symptoms would start to show up if any of these people are infected. So, they're saying this is a really critical week in determining whether or not this has been isolated to one patient or if they will have other people to worry about as well -- Erin.

BURNETT: Crucial week. Ed Lavandera, thank you.

And now, there are questions tonight about whether Duncan knew he was exposed to Ebola when he boarded a plane and left Liberia. Tonight, CNN goes to his home in Liberia to get the answers, to talk to people who say they know how he contracted Ebola.

Nima Elbagir is OUTFRONT from Monrovia.

And, Nima, what did you find in Duncan's neighborhood about these crucial questions?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we found, Erin, was very much a community still reeling. Not only from the international scrutiny that has come down on this very poor neighborhood here in Monrovia, but also from the questions they're asking themselves. Was there more that should have been, could have been done to stop what's amounting to almost an outbreak within the outbreak here in Liberia?

Take a look at this, Erin.


ELBAGIR: This is the house where Thomas Eric Duncan was renting rooms. The rest of his neighbors have now all been put under quarantine. They can't go out but we can come in to them as long as we keep our distance.

(voice-over): Duncan was renting rooms from the family of Marthalene Williams. Williams' aunt Ana Dia (ph) told us she was in her seventh month of pregnancy when she collapsed. Her family and neighbors rushed to help, Duncan amongst them.

Now both of Williams' parents, her aunt says, have tested positive for Ebola and Duncan is accused of having left Liberia, knowingly taking the virus with him.

(on camera): Still behind me is the room that Thomas Eric Duncan was renting here in this compound. It is the focal point of so much of the fear and paranoia that's ricocheting around the world.

And that room through that door is exactly how he left it the day he boarded that plane heading to the United States.

(voice-over): Tete Williams is 12. Last week, she rushed to her dying sister's aid alongside Duncan. None of them could have imagined the consequences, she says. Especially not Duncan, as he boarded his plane.

(on camera): Did he know she died of Ebola? Nobody knew.


ELBAGIR: As America struggles to contain the fear of Duncan's diagnosis in Dallas, here, they're struggling to come to terms with the mounting death toll.

Already, nine others who came into contact with Williams are dead or dying.

Nine-year-old Mercy is being looked after by her 17-year-old brother Harris. Their mother also was among the first at Williams' side. Days later, she herself was rushed to the hospital.

Mercy doesn't know this yet, but after we leave, one of the neighbors is going to take her aside and explain that her mother is never coming back home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been carrying on this awareness over and over. We tell the people no matter how much you love a person, it is the health authority that is responsible to pick up the sick.


ELBAGIR: It really does just bring home. I know there's been a lot of talk about the need for increased screening and increased protocols. But the reality is that until this outbreak is stopped here on the ground where it started, there are really no guarantees that anyone, anywhere is safe, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Nima, with her incredible and I think we should emphasize very, very brave reporting to get that you story.

OUTFRONT next: Thomas Eric Duncan's nephew and how he's doing tonight and the drug he's getting. And he will respond to Nima's report.

Plus, hundreds of passengers quarantined in Newark Airport because of an Ebola scare on a plane. It raises the questions of how much many flights leave the Ebola zone for the United States every single day.


BURNETT: More on the Ebola scare in America.

Thomas Eric Duncan is in critical condition tonight, receiving a new experimental drug. This is first time it's been used to treat Ebola, though, in the U.S.

OUTFRONT tonight, Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan's nephew, Josephus Weeks.

And thank you so much for being with us, Josephus. I know this is a really hard time. You have been not sleeping, trying to get to be with your uncle.

How is he doing right now?

JOSEPHUS WEEKS, THOMAS ERIC DUNCAN'S NEPHEW: He's not doing so good right now. Just worried and praying to God that he makes it overnight.

BURNETT: Have they spoken to you about his condition and whether this experimental drug is working at all? Or no?

WEEKS: They're still in the experimental phase and they don't have a lot of facts on the drug itself. But what they're doing is to try to do a lot of tests and send lab, work back to the hospital, blood samples, back to the manufacturer to try to test the blood to see if the medication is working.

BURNETT: And do you feel that they are doing everything that they can, Josephus, to save your uncle's life?

WEEKS: Right now, they seem like they are trying their best to do what they can. But I don't know, you know. Just -- I'm just hoping and praying. That's what the doctors told me. Just hoping and praying.

BURNETT: I know that the four family members for people who are living in the same apartment where your uncle got sick have been moved. They're now in an undisclosed location. They're going to be quarantined until October 19.

Have you spoken to them? How are they feeling?

WEEKS: I spoke to them briefly. I haven't spoken to them in the past few hours. I've been driving.

But to this point they've been doing a good. The Liberian community here in Texas is really helping them out. To my knowledge, they got pretty much all -- most of their basic needs.

BURNETT: We just had our reporter in Monrovia. She went to where your uncle had been living, to the house. So, we were able to see that. Is it possible your uncle did not know that it was the woman that he had helped?

She was ill. It turns out she had Ebola. Is it possible he didn't know that it was Ebola? He might have thought it was something else?

WEEKS: I have no knowledge on who was spreading out this rumor but my Uncle Eric. He told me he didn't even live in that area at the time this incident took place. So, that's all just rumors.

Before he got sick, to the point where he couldn't speak. He told me he didn't. He had no idea what they were talking about. That he didn't live there at the time the incident took place.

BURNETT: So, he is saying, and I know you're only able to tell us what he's saying, Josephus, but obviously. You know, I mean, it's CNN. It's "The New York Times", it's many media outlets. But you're saying he says that that's wrong.

WEEKS: That's inaccurate. That's what he told me. He told me that on Tuesday after the results came out. I asked him, did you have any contact with anyone that had Ebola? Or do you know where you got it?

He said, no. I don't know where I got it. I was out with a bunch of people before I left.

So, he didn't know where he got it. But he said, I asked him about the rumors. He said he didn't know where he got it and the incident that is described in the newspapers and all the media, that he didn't touch that woman and he was not even living in that area when that happened.

BURNETT: And, Josephus, then I must ask but when he came to the hospital. Obviously, there are questions about what happened when they turned him away. He showed up with symptoms. They sent him home for three days.

But when he first went to the hospital, there has been different reports. Did he tell the staff that he came from Liberia? Was it more general than that? Did he say West Africa? Do you know?

WEEKS: When Eric came to the hospital, he has a very thick accent, to begin with. A very, very thick distinct accent. It is impossible not to ask somebody like that where you're from. But he volunteered that information. He said, I'm from Liberia and I'm having symptoms, you know.

He didn't know. He thought he had typhoid fever initially, because they're similar symptoms. And he explained to him that he wanted to get some, seek medical treatment, excuse me.

And they sent him back home. And after giving him some antibiotics, and I think Motrin or something, acetaminophen or something like that. I wasn't here, but I wasn't in the loop at that time. Based on what he told me when they got here, that's what he told me. He told them he was from Liberia. It is hard not to ask that question.

BURNETT: I understand and obviously important.

And, Josephus, thank you very much. I know this is very, very difficult time for you. And we all hope that tomorrow there will be some good news.

WEEKS: Thanks a lot. I appreciate you.

BURNETT: All right. Josephus Weeks, as we said, the nephew of Thomas Eric Duncan. The Ebola patient in Dallas.

OUTFRONT next, a passenger got very sick on a flight to Newark this weekend. It was not Ebola, but they thought it might be. How many flights leave the Ebola zone for American airports every single day?

And on a lighter note, Jeanne Moos with the man who gives new meaning to the phrase, the show must go on. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: CDC officials quarantined all 255 passengers aboard a flight from Brussels to Newark Airport in New Jersey after a passenger began vomiting on the flight. It turns out the passenger had connected to that flight from Liberia.

State health officials now say the passenger doesn't have symptom of Ebola, but the incident sparks fear. Thomas Duncan flew from Monrovia, Liberia, with a connection in Brussels.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erin. If someone contracts Ebola in west Africa, most days there are two flights that could bring them to the United States, one to Atlanta and one Houston. The outbreak has been small, about 20 cases compared with thousands when you move over to Liberia and to Guinea and Sierra Leone.

But look at this -- this is the problem. Look at the global flights that are happening every single day. There are countless permutations where they connect with other flights and wind up being some of the half million people who arrive every day on international flights, including about 1,500 of them, according to the map, if you look at the flights that end up coming, out of the hot zone here through Belgium, which is still running flights in and out of those areas -- Erin.

BURNETT: So, Tom, I guess the question I have is, can they do anything to make sure that someone does not come down with Ebola on the plane given that there's an incubation period, right? You might feel fine when you get on the plane and literally you could get sick on the plane.

FOREMAN: Yes, actually, quite a lot is being done to try to avoid that. For example, Brussels Airlines, which is doing all the heavy traffic, takes the temperature of every crew member leaving that part of Africa before they board the plane. The crew handles food and drinks with latex gloves, the planes are systematically disinfected.

And if anyone shows signs of sickness in flight, the crews carry Ebola kits with tools for isolating the passenger, taking temperatures and disinfecting surfaces, Erin.

BURNETT: So, you know, it's interesting, Tom. You know, despite all that, I mean, I know someone who was in Liberia, who is very knowledgeable about Ebola, was very close to Ebola, got a temperature on the plane and was terrified that perhaps they had come down with it despite all of those measures. It turns out the person did not in any way.

But what if someone gets seated next to you on a plane?

FOREMAN: Yes, that's a tricky part. Let's say a sick person sneezed on an arm rest next to you and you touched it, could you get sick from that? Well, the Ebola virus has been kept alive on a surface in a lab for about six days.

But that's in very specific circumstances. In the real world, the less than ideal conditions, the virus can survive only a few hours. So, infection in this manner is considered extremely unlikely.

On the other hand, if a passenger next to you is showing any of those classic signs we've been talking about, that show that they are actually in the throes of Ebola attack, then, yes, if this person got sick on you or somehow bled on you or something like this, then, yes, you would know that they are contagious and you have a chance with those bodily fluids of contracting Ebola -- Erin.

BURNETT: Tom Foreman, thank you.

And OUTFRONT next, performing the national anthem at a hockey game. This singer didn't quite stick the landing. Jeanne Moos, next.


BURNETT: This is sort of the best face plant you've ever seen. Here's Jeanne Moos.



JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mark Donnelly was doing what he always does, singing Canada's national anthem at a hockey game.


MOOS: When he found himself skating on thin carpet.

True to his nickname, "Mr. O Canada," Mark kept singing, leading some to sing his praises, a lesson in showmanship.

MARK DONNELLY, SINGER, "MR. O CANADA": The thing is those carpets were supposed to be up by the time I started skating around.

MOOS: Did it hurt?

DONNELLY: I landed pretty hard on my left knee.

MOOS: But nothing a little extra-strength pain reliever and icing couldn't cure, though he did have to skip his own hockey league game. He plays goalie. Even his chair almost fell --


MOOS: As he sat down for his interview. An icy fall hasn't got this much attention.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry. MOOS: Since a Canadian singer messed up the words to the U.S.

national anthem, left, then came back to her downfall.

Twice in recent years, we've seen Miss USAs hit the deck.

We've seen Jennifer Lawrence trip over traffic cones, and Conan O'Brien bang his head while racing actress Teri Hatcher. Conan suffered a concussion.

Beyonce caught her heel on her hand and took a dive, but like a diva she came up swinging, her hair.

Even Lulabelle the camel fell into the pews at a Christmas pageant rehearsal.

And when Carmen Electra went down on the runway, her would-be rescuer also wiped out.

Mark thinks there's a message in his mishap.

(on camera): It could have been worse, it could have been a lot more of Mark to fall. He used to weigh 370 pounds, and managed to lose more than half his body weight.

DONNELLY: If I went down, I don't think I would have been coming up.

MOOS (voice-over): Perseverance in weight loss, perseverance in performance. That's what mark hopes will be the takeaway from being taken down.

(on camera): Do you have a message for the guy who laid the carpet?

DONNELLY: Thank you?

MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: Way to go for Mark, a good sportsman, but, wow, I really felt the worse about poor Lulabelle.

"AC360" starts now.