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Two Workers Hanging from Scaffolding in NYC; Turkish Youth Union Attacks U.S. Sailors; Israeli Border Police Officer Arrested in Palestinian Deaths; Witness Describes Rescue Efforts at WTC; Analyst Describes Fire, Police Department Actions at WTC

Aired November 12, 2014 - 13:30   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Take a look at this. These are live pictures now coming in from One World Trade Center in New York. This is a potentially very dangerous situation, scaffolding, it's now, we're told, outside the 69th floor of One World Trade Center. Two workers are hanging inside -- they're inside that scaffolding right there. They're on that scaffolding.

And a major effort now, the fire department of New York underway trying to rescue these two individuals, these two workers who are hanging there. And it's, obviously, a very ominous-looking situation. Let's hope for the very best. We're trying to connect with the public affairs officer from the Fire Department of New York and get some information. Two workers are on that scaffolding outside the 69th floor of the World Trade Center. We'll get more information to you shortly.

Other news we're following, that developing story out of Turkey. Look at this video.


UNIDENTIFIED TURKISH YOUTH: Go home! Yankee, go home! Yankee, go home! Yankee, go home! Yankee, go home! Yankee, go home!


BLITZER: "Yankees, go home," you hear them shouting that. That's a U.S. Navy sailor being attacked by members of a Turkish youth group, called the Turkish Youth Union, on the streets of Istanbul. They were shouting, "Yankee, go home." A total of three American sailors were attacked. They were all hit with objects, and then bags were placed over their heads. The sailors are all safely back aboard the "USS Ross" right now.

Let's bring in our CNN global affairs analyst, Bobby Ghosh, who's joining us from New York.

Bobby, you know something about this group, this so-called Turkish Youth Union. What do you know about them?

BOBBY GHOSH, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Wolf, if these guys really belong to that union, they come from the opposite end of the political spectrum as the Islamists. The Turkish Youth Union is a leftist, almost Communist group. They are Kemals. They follow Mustafa Kemal, the founder of Turkey, a man who plainly hated Islam and wanted to keep it outside the public sphere.

It's ironic that they just received a tweet from ISIS congratulating them on beating up the American sailors. But if they encountered ISIS in the street, ISIS is much more likely to kill them than to hug them.

BLITZER: Why do these left wing Turks hate the United States?

GHOSH: It's an old-fashioned leftism. Even their slogan is from the 1950s and '60s, "Yankee, go home." This is the sort of thing we used to hear in Latin America among leftists there, and might still do in places like Venezuela. That's the kind of sentiment we're seeing here.

It's not connected, at least as far as we can tell, to any recent American activities. It's not connected to ISIS, to the war against -- the terrorists in Syria or in Iraq. This is a very, very -- this is a throwback. This is from the '50s and '60s.

BLITZER: The Turks -- you know this as well as anyone -- Turk security services, they're pretty good on the streets of Istanbul, Ankara, other places in Turkey. Can these kinds of incidents occur without the Turkish security, the police, the military knowing about it, trying to prevent what's going on here? Because already you get all sorts of speculation out there -- Turkey is a NATO ally -- that they deliberately want to send a message to the United States by engaging in this type of brutal affair with these three American sailors, putting a bag over each one of their heads.

GHOSH: It's clear this thing was planned. They went to a place where they expected to see American sailors. They were carrying banners with their group's emblem on them. They had the bags with them. This was clearly planned.

How did it escape the notice of the Turkish intelligence service? That's an interesting question. These people, I should point out, some from the political opposition to the government in Turkey. So if the government in Turkey wants to send a message to the U.S., it will be a little unusual for them to send it via a group that stands for everything that the government does not.

Again, as I said, these people are secular, the government is Islamist. These people are sort of followers of Mustafa Kemal. The government goes in a very different direction.

BLITZER: We'll see if there are any arrests made in the coming hours in Istanbul. We'll follow this story.

Bobby, thanks very much.

Bobby Ghosh joining us.

When two Palestinian teenagers in the West Bank were shot and killed this past May, the Israeli military insisted it used only rubber bullets. But CNN uncovered something a lot more dangerous in the days that followed the incident, and it may have resulted in a new kind of arrest on this case. That's coming up. We have an update for you.


BLITZER: We're still trying to get some more information, but look at this scaffolding from the 69th floor of One World Trade Center in New York. Two workers are tethered. They are uninjured, according to the New York Fire Department. But they are on that scaffolding hanging there outside the World Trade Center. New York Police Department says emergency service units are on the scene. They may need to cut out the glass of the building, we're told, to get the workers off that window-washing cart that is hanging there right there. They have to do something quickly to save those two workers. We'll update you when we get more information. That's a pretty scary picture when you think about what's going on there. This is One World Trade Center, of all places, in New York.

We also have a new development in a story we first brought you here on CNN almost six months ago. It centers around two Palestinian teenagers who were fatally shot back in May during protests. Now an Israeli border police officer is being held in connection with their deaths. At the time, there were two very different accounts of what may have happened that day.

CNN's Ivan Watson's original report from back in May, a report that we first aired here on this program, I want to play it for you.

I want to warn our viewers, right now, some of the pictures are graphic.


IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It had been a day of skirmishing, Palestinian youth hurling stones, Israeli soldiers and police firing teargas and rubber-coated bullets. Then, caught on camera, the shooting deaths of two Palestinian teenagers. Both gunned down on the same patch of asphalt. The second, an hour and 13 minutes after the first.

The Israeli Defense Force tells CNN that, quote, "A preliminary inquiry indicates that no live fire was shot at all on Thursday during the riots in Betunyah and we have to determine what caused this result."

CNN's producer Kareen Cutu (ph) was at the village of Betunyah in the occupied West Bank much of that day, filming the back-and-forth clashes. Among those seen on CNN's video was 17-year-old Nadeem Nawara (ph) throwing a rock. He'd gone to the protest after attending school in the morning. At 1:45 p.m., a security camera catches the moment when the 17-year-old was fatally shot as he walks towards the Israeli positions. Another camera shows him rushed to an ambulance. A medical report says the bullet entered his chest and exited his back.

At the precise moment when Nawara (ph) was shot, CNN's camera was rolling, filming an Israeli soldier shooting his rifle at the Palestinians. (GUNFIRE)

WATSON: And then demonstrators carrying the mortally wounded teenager to the ambulance. He later died in hospital.


WATSON (on camera): The shootings were filmed by this little private security camera mounted to this building right here, which the owner tells us operates 24 hours a day for the protection of his home, his family and his business.

As for the boys, the first one was shot and mortally wounded right here.

(voice-over): At 2:58 p.m., the security camera captured the second shooting when 16-year-old Muhammad Ode Salani (ph) was shot as he walked away from Israeli positions. Doctors pronounced him dead on arrival at the hospital with a single bullet wound that entered his back and passed out through his chest.

We met the grieving father of the first shooting victim at St. George's School in Ramallah, where relatives and classmates are in mourning.

Seem Nawara (ph) shows me the bullet hole left in the bloody backpack his son was wearing.

(on camera): You think this is the bullet hole?


WATSON (voice-over): Inside the backpack, a bloodstained textbook and a bullet, not a rubber-coated projectile.

(on camera): You think this is the bullet that killed your son?

NAWARA (ph): Yeah, of course. Of course. Inside the bag. I found it inside the bag.

WATSON: Who do you think killed your son?

NAWARA (ph): Soldier.

WATSON: Israeli soldier?

NAWARA (ph): Yeah, Israeli soldier.

WATSON (voice-over): The Israeli Defense Force insists only rubber- coated bullets were fired that day.

A United Nations spokesman expressed what he called great alarm at the shooting of the two teenagers, whom he says were unarmed and appeared to pose no direct threat.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Betunyah in the West Bank. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: On that day back in May, we got reaction on this program from the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. And among other things, he said this.


MICHAEL OREN, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Looking at those pictures -- and Israeli investigators will look at them very closely -- again, the way the bodies fall, the fact there's no blood. Someone who's hit in the back and the bullet has an exit wound, there's a tremendous amount of blood. There's no bleeding in the picture. There are many, many inconsistencies.


BLITZER: He went on to offer a lot of the supposed inconsistencies. But now there are these major new developments.

Let's go to Jerusalem. Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, is standing by.

Nic, tell our viewers what's happened over the past 24 hours.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, over the past 24 hours, Wolf, an Israeli border officer has been arrested. And in court today, the judge was asked if the soldier could be held for another six days. That has been granted. Now, this soldier hasn't been charged. He is under suspicion, but he is innocent until proven guilty.

We know very, very few details about the investigation. His lawyer appeared on Channel 2 television here, national television, just half an hour ago, saying that there has been a denial of live rounds shot. There has been a denial of ammunition killing someone. So the lawyer is quite clear on that point.

We've also heard from the soldier's family. His mother and father appear in silhouette. The mother is very clearly distraught. She is crying. She says that she feels stabbed in the back for all that her son has done for the country. She feels he is being let down right now.

But there are other details that we've also become aware of this evening. An autopsy was arranged through the auspices of an Israeli human rights organization. They involved a Palestinian pathologist, two Israeli pathologists, an American pathologist and a Danish pathologist. They found three bullet fragments, live ammunition bullet fragments, inside the boy's body. They handed those bullet fragments and bullet that the father showed Ivan Watson to investigators.

Again, we don't know the details of the investigation, but we know this is information, evidence, if you will, those investigators now have -- Wolf? BLITZER: So this Israeli border security officer, he's under arrest

right now, right? And they're awaiting formal charges. Has there been a public statement from the Israeli government, from the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces?

ROBERTSON: They haven't told us anything so far, Wolf. And that would be normal under these circumstances. The case is being heard in closed session right now.

Again, this officer hasn't been charged, but the investigation is ongoing. It's being held behind closed doors because there's a concern that if the information is made public, the evidence and information chains can become contaminated, if you will. So at the moment, the details of what's happening, we're not aware of, the public is not aware of. But we do know the investigators have another six days holding this officer for questioning and investigation -- Wolf?

BLITZER: And this joint autopsy team, they did find remnants of live bullets, live ammunition in these Palestinian teenagers, one 15, one 17, right?

ROBERTSON: That's right, Wolf. Three fragments in Nadeem Nawara's (ph) body, three bullet fragments. What the human rights organization tells us is they believe the forensics team, the investigators who they've handed the fragments and the bullet to, should be able to tell if these fragments came from the bullet that the father showed Ivan Watson. And also they should be able to gauge who weapon this bullet was fired from. Those pathologists conducting the autopsy say that they were able to calculate, work out the trajectory of the bullet through the body, and therefore they were able to calculate where and what angle, or approximately where from this bullet was fired. Again, information that the people conducting the autopsy will have been able to provide to the investigators -- Wolf?

BLITZER: I think there's no doubt that, at least in part, Ivan Watson's excellent reporting here on CNN played a significant role six months later in what we're seeing happening right now, in the past 24 hours. We'll continue to follow this story for our viewers.

Nic Robertson, thanks very much.

We're also following this other very ominous development in New York City. This is One World Trade Center. You see the scaffolding there. There are two workers tethered inside on -- right outside the 69th floor. They may have to break those windows and get those two workers inside. We're getting new information from the Fire Department of New York, the New York City Police Department. We'll update you on what we know right after this.


BLITZER: We're watching a scary scene unfold in New York City. Two workers are stuck on that scaffolding at One World Trade Center. You see the pictures coming in. They workers are tethered. They're uninjured, according to the New York City Fire Department. The scaffolding is hanging outside of the 69th floor of One World Trade Center. New York City Police Department spokesmen say their emergency service units are on the scene right now. Law enforcement officials tell CNN a cable snapped causing the scaffolding to malfunction. It's unclear how they'll get washers off the scaffold. Port Authority Police, the New York City police, the emergency services units are discussing whether to cut the window to get workers off the scaffolding and bring them inside.

Joining us on the phone is Reginald Moye. He's across the street at the Millennian Hotel.

Reginald, I understand you're on the 24th floor and looking right out at this really, really scary scene. Tell us what you're seeing.

REGINALD MOYE, WITNESS & NEW YORK CITY RESIDENT (voice-over): I see two heads dangling over the scaffolding. And one of the guys -- they just keep looking down. They look like they're maybe five feet in the middle of the scaffold hanging. One rope is hanging from the scaffold that I see. I'm on the 24th floor so I'm looking directly from the World Trade Center.

BLITZER: We're showing our viewers some of the tweets and some of the pictures you posted on Twitter from your vantage point. Did you actually see the scaffolding collapse, if you will?

MOYE: I have not. I saw them working this morning because I've been here overnight. I saw them working this morning about 8:00. They were slowly going up washing the windows and I was amazed at the view. I was like, wow, such a dangerous job. So suddenly -- I didn't see it collapse. But once, I looked over, I said something is wrong. It was dangling one sided. That's when I noticed something was wrong when I turned on the TV and saw the news saying something was going on with the building.

BLITZER: We're just seeing the scaffolding hanging there outside of the 69th floor of One World Trade Center.

You can look up. Do you see helicopters flying overhead? Do you see workers dropping any ropes or anything like that? Does it look like an exterior and outside rescue operation could be in the works are does it look like they'll have to break those windows and get those two workers inside?

MOYE: On top of World Trade tower, it looks like they moved a scaffold, like the ropes that scaffolding ties to, they are hanging two ropes down from the top of the tower of the World Trade Center. There's another beam that's moved over on top of the one that they are dangling from at the very top of the tower.

BLITZER: So it looks like maybe they're going to drop some sort of rescue rope and drop it and maybe try to get these workers to lift them up and take them to the top, is that what you're suggesting, Reginald?

MOYE: I think they're going to lift the rope to try to maybe secure the actual scaffolding. However, it's being reported here by a local news that they're going to break the window out on the floor above that and rescue the workers themselves and then secure the scaffold with the other rope hanging from the crane on top of the World Trade tower.

BLITZER: I'm sure they have plan for this. I assume they have emergency guidelines. This is a really dangerous job these window washers have as we all know and it's obviously the worst nightmare right there. It's hanging there. What's the weather like in New York right now? Is it windy or anything or does it seem relatively calm?

MOYE: The winds are calm. There's been a low ceiling all day, which this afternoon, to catch a flight to Boston and so it's been cloudy all day. The traffic has stopped and all of the emergency workers are down below, fire trucks and ambulances are all standing below and people are just watching from below. The traffic on the Westside Highway, one lane has stopped. Traffic going in both directions like one lane has stopped.


BLITZER: This is a photo we're showing -- Reginald, hold on a second.

We're showing our viewers a picture the Fire Department of New York City has just released. You can see what's going on with that scaffolding and get a shot.

But you say crowds have gathered in addition to emergency workers, police, firefighters, on the streets there, are looking up at this awful, awful scene, that what you're saying, Reginald?

MOYE: Correct, yes. They are gathering around. Right directly below the World Trade Center tower, they have cleared that area out. Right directly below. So I would think just in case the scaffold falls.

BLITZER: We hope it doesn't fall because there are two window washers trapped inside right now. They got to make a major decision.


MOYE: Wolf, I see another scaffold coming down from the top of the tower right now.

BLITZER: Oh, really?

MOYE: From the top of the trade tower, they have another scaffold coming down slowly.

BLITZER: Maybe the rescue --


BLITZER: -- try to rescue these guys like that. How far down is that? We only have a picture of the 69th floor.


BLITZER: It's coming down slowly, is that what you're say?

MOYE: It's coming down slowly with two workers on it. It's at the very top of the tower. Two floors at the top. I don't know how many floors on this tower. 102 or something like that?

BLITZER: Yeah, something like that.

MOYE: So they're at, right now, maybe floor 99.

BLITZER: They got a while to go.


BLITZER: So maybe that's the rescue operation that they want to engage in and save these two window washers. This is obviously a very tense moment.

So you're suggesting if they are lowering another second scaffold right now with two workers on that second scaffold, they may try to get these two other workers onto the one that's secure and strong and then raise it back up to the top, instead of just trying to break that window on the 69th floor and 70th floor and get two workers out.

MOYE: Correct.

BLITZER: I can only imagine the families of these two window washers, what they're going through right now. This is one of those really tense nail biting moments and we're all hoping obviously for the best. Let's hope these guys are rescued quickly.

This is a dangerous job to begin with. You go out there and you try to wash these windows 69, 70, 80, 90 floors up, and you have to rely on these cables that secure these scaffolds, but obviously they don't always work and in this particular case --


MOYE: Right. And it's cloudy right now. Hopefully, the clouds will not affect -- because the low ceiling is like it's becoming real foggy.


BLITZER: Is that second scaffold. which may be -- we don't know for sure -- which may be a rescue operation under way. Is it continuing to be lowered?

MOYE: Correct, yes. It's gone five floors from the top.

BLITZER: A relatively slow pace. You have to do this carefully.

MOYE: Correct.

BLITZER: Last thing you want is a second scaffold cable to snap or anything like that.

You say there are two other workers on this second scaffold? You can see two other workers? Reginald?

MOYE: Yeah, I'm here.

BLITZER: Reginald, are you still there?

Oh, hold on, Reginald.

Our law enforcement analyst, Mike Brooks, is joining us on the phone right now.

Mike, this is a scary, scary scene.

MIKE BROOKS, CNN ANALYST (voice-over): Wolf, it is. What Reginald was describing, that second scaffolding, what they're trying to do now and what the rescue plan is, they're going to bring a second scaffolding, called a rescue scaffolding and try to get that in place. In the meantime, Rescue Company 1 and Squad 18 from FDNY have special equipment where they can cut a hole in the window. So once they get down there, secure the two window washers, they will bring them inside the window.

One of the other things, too, they do have communications via radio with the two men who are trapped on the scaffolding. And they have an extra line in place holding them securely.

But keep in mind, you're almost 700 feet in the air, Wolf. They say it could take possibly 35 to 40 minutes to get this other scaffolding in place and to possibly cut that hole in the window to bring the two workers back inside the building.

BLITZER: What you're saying is instead of having the second scaffolding rescue workers and take them back up to the top of One World Trade Center, they would just cut through the window from the outside. Why can't they just cut through the window from the inside and go that way?

BROOKS: No, they are cutting it from the inside. That's where they were cutting. They have special suction cups and special saws that can cut through the multiple panes of glass. But when you have a rescue like this, Wolf, having been a former assistant fire chief, I can tell you, you want to have one plan but you also want a backup plan. What they can do if they can come down to make sure workers aren't injured and cut a hole and bring them in.

BLITZER: I want everyone to standby.

We'll continue to watch this very dangerous scene outside of One World Trade Center. Our coverage will continue.

That's it for me. Thanks for watching.

For our international viewers, "Amanpour" is next.

For our viewers in North America, "Newsroom" with Brianna Keilar starts right now.