Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Police Zero In On Wooded Area Hunting For Suspects; Eighty Thousand Deployed in Massive Manhunt For Terror Suspects
Aired January 8, 2015 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, the manhunt on police helicopters at this moment using night vision and zeroing in on a wooded area north of Paris. Are the suspected terrorists there?
And the suspects, brothers, one trained by al Qaeda in Yemen. Tonight we just find out they were on the U.S. no-fly list. How did intelligence officials miss that?
And the shocking stories of two women who survived the shootings. One with a gun to her head and the other hiding under a desk. Why did the attackers spare all but one woman? Let's go OUTFRONT.
And a good evening and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news. The manhunt for two men suspected in the Paris terror attack is reaching a crucial point. At this moment helicopters zeroing in on a wooded area where the suspects were believed to be spotted. They are using night vision to hunt using body heat. Eighty thousand police officers and soldiers are now fanned out across fans as the search for the Charlie Hebdo magazine shooters focuses on the countryside just north of Paris. Tonight we are getting our first look at the gruesome scene inside that office. We're going to show it to you. We're going to warn you, it is a graphic image but something about it is incredibly poignant. But then papers on the ground amidst the blood of the dead and wounded. Eleven men and one woman were executed right here by terrorists. Eleven more wounded.
The two brothers now the subjects of these intense manhunt. They are Said and Cherif Kouachi named a suspect after police found Said ID card at the scene. We are learning that at least one of the brothers recently traveled to Yemen and trained with al Qaeda and earlier one of them traveled to Syria. Now, we'll show you one of the places where the suspects have been spotted over the past two days. As you can see, in several locations there, all north of Paris. Police and a forensics team swarmed over a gas station, the attendant reportedly told police he recognized the shooters from their mug shots earlier this morning. And I should emphasize right now where this helicopter hunt is going on in the dark in this forest as we can see is only about a 15-minute drive from where that gas station is. On this national day of mourning in France, a columnist for Charlie Hebdo promised the magazine will not be silenced pledging that thousands of copies will be published next week.
OUTFRONT is covering all angles of this story. We begin though with Fred Pleitgen, he is in Paris for us tonight. And Fred, what is the latest on the manhunt?
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well the manhunt is certainly ongoing and as you said, the manhunt appears to be zeroing in on these two people in the area north of Paris. There are those helicopters in search area. Our team has been spotting them. But the police has been doing there, has been trying to cordon off the area to make sure that these two suspects can't get out of the area but also that hapless people can't perhaps get into those areas as well to possibly interfere with that ongoing police operation. Because we know, of course, that one of the things that the authorities here have been saying is that they do believe that these two people are still very much armed and also very dangerous. One of the things that the man at the gas station said who saw these two people, is that he says that he saw very high-powered rifles with them and also possibly rocket propelled grenades. We'll have a look now at how this manhunt has been unfolding today.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Tonight France is a country on edge as heavily armed police and military conduct an intense manhunt. Searching for these two men, seen here minutes after the deadliest terror attack in France in ten years. Twelve people were killed, 11 wounded. And the Paris office was of Charlie Hebdo magazine.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Eighty thousands of people have been mobilized of which 9,800 in the isle of France.
PLEITGEN: Police have named Brother Said and Cherif Kouachi as suspects in the shooting. Said Kouachi's I.D. was found in the abandon getaway car.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It was a mistake. A single mistake.
PLEITGEN: This morning Viller Cotteret (ph), 55 miles north of Paris, officers cordoned off a gas station after the two were possibly spotted there. The attendant reportedly told police the armed brothers threatened him and stole gas and food. Fear on the street is evident.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (through a translator): There was a man who told me apparently they left their car and went through the forest. Don't go through the forest. Don't go around the forest to avoid running into them.
PLEITGEN: Late last night in Reims, 90 miles northeast of Paris, a tactical unit searched the area. Police have not released details of the operation but CNN has learned that Said Kouachi lived in the town around the same time a third suspect, 18-year-old Hamid Mourad turned himself in to authorities. Nine others have also been detained as part of the investigation. Then Thursday morning, the Paris suburb of Mohuj (ph), more terror on the street as another gunman dressed in black shot and killed a policewoman.
PATRICK KLUGMAN, PARIS DEPUTY MAYOR: There is no connection established yet between the shooting that occurred this morning and the attack on Charlie Hebdo yesterday. It is probably not the end of a terror attack. We are ready to fight it. We will fight.
PLEITGEN: So the police is being very meticulous about how they search for these two individuals. It became very clear a very early on that possibly they would be in the area north of Paris simply because they had those roots there and now all of France is actually also on the highest terror alert as more and more officers are pulled to that area to try and find these two individuals. At the same time, Erin, we have to say that while this manhunt is still going on, Paris is of course and all of France is of course still reeling from this incident. Tonight once again there was a huge vigil in the center of Paris for people of course commemorating those that were killed but also saying that free speech in this country will not be hampered by the actions of these two individuals -- Erin.
BURNETT: Fred Pleitgen, thank you very much. Incredible to comprehend the scale here. Eighty thousand people searching. But as we say, we're monitoring this at this moment. As we understand these helicopters looking at a wooded area, trying to use heat signatures where they believe they will find these men. And obviously, that is going on second by second. So, we're watching that.
I want to go to Barbara Starr though at the meantime in the Pentagon because Barbara, I know, you have learned information about a connection between these suspects and al Qaeda?
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good evening, Erin. Two U.S. officials are telling me that the U.S. now has information from French authorities that Said Kouachi, the older brother in fact in 2011 traveled to Yemen, got weapons training there and affiliated himself with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the very dangerous al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen. They are not clear on where he went after 2011. What his travels may have been. But this is extremely concerning, officials say, because of al Qaeda in Yemen, its ability. It has tried in the past to attack the United States. It had the magazine in Paris in its cross hairs. It had already called for the death of the editorial director who sadly was killed in attack. So this is a very dangerous situation. Right now what they want to know is more about exactly who he met in Yemen, who he saw, what kind of weapons training he got and where he went after that. It is concerning because what they don't know right now is could there be other attackers out there, maybe affiliated with al Qaeda in Yemen. Could al Qaeda in Yemen essentially have sleeper cells out there -- Erin.
BURNETT: And you know, Barbara, what they don't know is frightening, but what they do know or did know and weren't able to capitalize on to stop this is also frightening, because I know you are also learning that U.S. intelligence was also aware of these brothers?
STARR: Indeed. Our reporters are finding out today that both of the brothers essentially were on the U.S. data base of the no-fly list and had been for some time. Now, I mean, apparently they -- there is no information they tried to fly to the United States at this point. But they were on the no-fly list. And of course French authorities had been monitoring the two men at various points and had them under surveillance but that surveillance was given up. French authorities saying that they simply have too many of this Jihadi or these militants in France to try and keep track. It is a very difficult situation.
BURNETT: It is and we're going to talk more about that in a moment. How much they did know, I mean, to the extent and I'll talk about this later to our viewers but there was even, you know, extensive media reporting on these men years ago.
OUTFRONT tonight, chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto on the ground, along with Thierry Arnaud, a correspondent, Paris affiliate, BFMTV, and Griff Witte, bureau chief for the Washington Post, all three of you in Paris, I appreciate it. I know it's late there, but as you know, this is all going on at this moment.
Jim, these police helicopters at this instant hunting for the attackers. They believe they entered a forest on foot. I'm just going to zoom in here with our maps. People can see exactly what we're talking about. A forest in this town, about 40 miles northeast of Paris. Those helicopters using night vision to try to locate the attackers using heat signature. I know you were in that area today. What did you see?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you, first thing you see is the massive allocation of manpower. We saw convoys of police with their sirens on a number of times heading to that area as they kept adding to that manpower. And then at many corners and intersections you saw police there watching and waiting, interviewing people. But I also saw them constantly adjusting. First, we went to a town about 45 miles northeast of here called -- and that was the focus of this search for some time and then they moved to a town just next door to it and then focusing on this wooded area that after a helicopter spotted what men who are believed to be the attackers abandoning a car, they had hijacked and then going into that wood and that is now where the focus of their attention is right now. The helicopter searches. But I can also tell you, Erin, that they have extended the area of high alert, right up to the Belgian border, that's a 175 miles to the northeast of here. They are leaving really no area unchecked right now. They don't want these guys to get away.
BURNETT: And to the point that Jim is making, obviously, you know, as Jim just said, they thought that they saw them abandon a car and go into the forest where they are looking at this moment, but Thierry, you know, they have expanded the search area, they've used helicopters several times today in the search and it didn't come up with finding them. So what are you hearing about what is going on at this moment?
THIERRY ARNAUD, BFMTV CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're hearing here Erin and what we've been reporting as of two hours ago is that in that specific area we just see, a large chunk of the security forces disposal has been lifted and redeployed somewhere else. We don't know exactly as to what it means, but there is one helicopter left, as you mentioned. There is still a S.W.A.T. teams, they're focusing on this forest. They are focusing on the roads around the forest as well. But the biggest chunk up, this whole security forces had been pulled somewhere else about as of two hours ago or so.
BURNETT: All right. And I want to get more on that in a moment from you Griff but Jim, first, if police do find the attackers, using heat signature, if they do find them, what do they do after that to actually capture them?
SCIUTTO: Well there are different tactics certainly between the U.S. and France. But this is one key, whether they find them in the forest or somewhere else, they're going to have to proceed very gingerly. First step is location. But then it will be apprehension. They know that these men are heavily armed, they know from what they carried out yesterday on the street behind me here that they are very skilled and disciplined in the use of those weapons and that they are likely to be dug in. They have to expect a fight. That is the m.o. for perpetrators, for gunman like this, not to be taken alive possibly. So they will have to be very careful. Remember, there were policemen killed yesterday as they responded to this attack, there was another policeman in an attack and connected at this point to the attack on Charlie Hebdo but still showing the danger here when you approach attackers like this here. And that's going to be a real priority, protecting those police lives as well as apprehending the suspected gunmen.
BURNETT: And Griff, to this point, and Thierry making the point too that they are looking in multiple places even at this moment. Police have been worried the suspects were heading back to Paris. You know, there was some concern though, are they going to mount another attack. We know there have been check points on the roads, we have pictures of various checkpoints, our reporters experienced them today. You saw the police presence entering Paris. How significant is it?
GRIFF WITTE, WASHINGTON POST LONDON BUREAU CHIEF: Well there is a presence there certainly. I was at one of the entrances to Paris earlier today and we did see a number of patrol cars there watching the traffic going in and coming out. But there weren't check points where I was. A lot of Paris is going on as normal. And I was at a rally in fact this evening, this was a vigil to honor the dead, I'd been in a similar event yesterday, it was very, very somber, very quiet. The event this evening was actually quite defiant and quite exuberant in a way. People are tending, Charlie is alive, Charlie is not dead. The people of Paris are really sending a message I think to the extremists, to the attackers that they're not going to be intimidated.
BURNETT: Which of course is the message that must be sent and is powerfully being sent. Thierry, you have lived in Paris France most of your life, how hard it would be for police to find and follow the suspects if they were able to go back to Paris?
ARNAUD: Well, it would be fairly easy I think at this point because, as you mentioned earlier in the report, about 90,000 police officers deployed all over the country, but mostly around Paris and mostly in that area which is northeast of Paris and about 50 miles from here. So we have literally tens of thousands of people looking out for these guys. And this obviously was not the case yesterday morning in circumstances in which they were able to go and shoot people and run away fairly unopposed. I mean, they met police officers on three separate occasions, there was an exchange of fire on three separate occasions, they killed a police officer. But then they were able to flee the city and drive for about 15-20 minutes throughout Paris, switch cars and flee. Presumably, they wouldn't be able to do that anymore today.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to all of you. As we are monitoring this situation in the force. And of course as Thierry saying, as they continue to hunt and expand even the search area all the way up to the northern borders, including Belgium.
OUTFRONT next, how have the suspects managed to elude a massive manhunt for two days. Eighty to 90,000 people are looking for them and so far they have not been found. We're going to report exactly on the escape path as we know it. Bit by bit.
Plus, their past link to drugs, prison times, travels to Yemen and Syria training with al Qaeda. What more do investigators know about the Kouachi brothers?
And French officials were aware of these brothers for years. Years. So are they tracking too many jihadist or did they drop the ball?
BURNETT: Breaking news on the massive manhunt for the suspected terrorists behind the Paris attack. Police helicopters are in the air at this hour using night vision in an effort to hunt down the two men. Authorities believe they may have been in a wooded area just north of Paris. There were reports that they saw them abandon a car and run into the forest and there are helicopters there. They also expanded the search area and they are still looking other places. This is a chase that has led police through the narrow streets of Paris, to countryside outside of the capital where police are manning roadblocks and checkpoints and going door-to-door hunting.
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT. And Tom, it is pretty incredible, when you think about the scale, we were just talking 80,000 to 90,000 people are looking for two men who have been able to allude police for nearly two days.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But you hit it at the right thing there, Erin. Moving target. Let's look at the lay of land here, because they have also passed through three very different environments. Here is where it all started. Remember, I'm down in the Eifel Tower, Notre Dame down there, and there's the offices of Charlie Hebdo where it all began. If I clear way couple of buildings here and you take a closer look, you can see that what we're really dealing with down here is very much an urban environment. Take a look at the corner down there before all of this started. If you take a look, you can see this is an urban place. A lot of business people, a lot of things going on. That is where the shooting began. And then they fled right down that road. That is where they had one of their earlier encounters with police aside from the officer inside of the office. They went down that road out to a boulevard out there and again, there is more gun play out there. If we move this map and you can see a little bit, that little passage there that is blue-green, that is where all of this was happening, where that other officer was shot.
Then they rushed away from this location to another one. We've talked about this, this idea that they wrecked at some point, that happened right up here. This is about 12 minutes away from that and this is what the corner looks like. And the initial search and was here in an urban environment, going place to place and very heavy congestion and then it started moving more up into the suburbs on the edge of Paris, which are quite expansive and now we're talking about this whole idea of a sighting up at a gas station appear which is going to be some 45 minutes away from where it all began. And look at the countryside around this gas station. Now we have a third very different environment. Wide open countryside out here. Very small villages, very few people in them. It is not a great place to hide in many ways. Yes, it gets you away from everybody if you are recognizable, you would want to do that. But it also makes everybody and everything stand out. And now, Erin, you are talking about the woods. And the idea of searching in the woods.
Take a look at the woods in this area. Because the woods here are really quite dense in some parts and if you are the human who is running into these woods, couple of people, you are going to be the only one there. So night vision and things like that, heat-seeking things will help a great deal there as they try to track them down. Overall, if we look at this location, the circle that they've drawn around this is going to be from that yellow dot there out to the edge of it, about 12 miles in all directions. I will repeat, this is not the only place they are searching. They are searching throughout the Picardy region and ended, right up to the border of Belgium because they know that if they get into an international situation where they managed to go into some other countries, it gets even more complicated. But the truth is Erin, the police are trying to follow a moving target to a lot of different landscapes on scant information about where they may and yet they seem somewhat confident that they are tightening the net.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Tom Foreman. I think of the perspective importance because at some point how could they not have found them yet. That makes it clear, it is difficult.
And now the former chairman of the house intelligence committee Mike Rogers, also our newest national security commentator, also of course FBI, along with Thierry Arnaud, correspondent for our Paris affiliate BFMTV. Thierry, since you're in the ground and I know you have a little bit of information about the search, I know that you were reporting, they're looking in the forest but also now moving to other places as well. I understand there are caves in some of this area where they believed the men may be hiding. How are police dealing with all of these different things, with the forest, with the caves, with these different terrains?
ARNAUD: Well, by pursuing as many leads as they have really, Erin. And that is the reason why it is a moving target all of the time and they are seem to be redeploying forces as they get new information which was clearly the case tonight. And again, as of about two hours ago, most of the very heavy massive security deployment they have in this specific area, you've been mentioning has been lifted. They left a few S.W.A.T. teams behind, they left a few road check points behind and there is still one helicopter hovering over this particular area but the biggest chunk of this whole massive security deployment has been going on somewhere else. What they've been doing all day is going door-to-door. They also conducted a very expensive search with a warrant in one particular village. But that didn't lead to anything. And unfortunately, as I speak now, they are still very much on the run.
BURNETT: And as Thierry is saying, very much on the run if you're seeing all that very heavy SWAT teams. As Thierry is reporting, being lifted from the forest and moving somewhere else as you look at the fact that it is now in the early morning hours in Paris. Mike, it was about 30 minutes back to the beginning here, which I think I find hard to understand, I think a lot of people do. Thirty minutes between the time these men entered the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the time they drove away. They were there for 30 minutes, in an office that was -- they knew there could be attacks in an office where people were taking cell phone videos, police had time to show up, all of these things happened and yet how could they then have gotten into a car and just driven away?
MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. A couple of reasons. One, you would have to find out when somebody went and flipped their video phone, did they call the police first or were they interested in getting it on video and that is always a concern. So you don't know when exactly the police were notified. So you would have to figure out when were you notified and what assets did you deploy. There was a police car that came down the street that did take fire. That obviously should have ramped up police concern that a police officer was taking gunshots during the operation that happened.
ROGERS: So the problem is in an area like this, you are sure that they had to have a response team somewhere but they are patrolling early in the morning, this is not something that they believed, it was an read that needed a heavy police presence so you have to accumulate some forces and send them as a response team. In the meantime, they are calm, precise way that they pulled this off, if you saw their activities on the ground and you observe the video of their actions, tells you that they didn't present an aura of chaos. As a matter of fact, one of the witnesses said I thought that they were drug enforcement officers doing their work. Which would mean it tends to impact your psychology of these were bad people. They weren't sure. Nobody was exactly sure what was happening.
BURNETT: Which could have created some questions at the beginning.
BURNETT: You know, Thierry said, police said that when the two men robbed the gas station which reportedly happened this morning, that they were driving in the same car that they had hijacked about 24 hours earlier. They had the car when they left the original scene and they carjacked another car. They were still in that car 24 hours later. That is also hard to understand for a lot of people. How is it possible they were able to allude police, at that point it was building up, tens of thousands people looking for them, road blocks and still be in the same car?
ARNAUD: Well it is difficult to understand quite clearly. And what is very surprising about the way they conducted this whole fleeing thing is this combination of two killers being very cold- blooded, be very professional, determined and they knew obviously, Erin, what they were doing. They knew for example that the one important editorial meeting that Charlie Hebdo had every week was on the Wednesday morning at this particular time. And on the other hand, this impression they give us that they were completely improvising, you know, when they were fleeing, they drove like maniacs, they hit the car, they had to take another one and they kept the car instead of changing it, I have to say though that there are many questions, as you were raising, as to whether police could not have done a better job of finding these guys. But the impression I have very strongly here in Paris tonight is these questions will come later. What is very dominant here in Paris at this point are two things. First, is the emotion, of course. And secondly is the urgency to find these guys. These are really the two things that people are -- yes, absolutely.
ARNAUD: These are really the two things people are focusing on right now. And these questions will come, Erin. There is no doubt. But they will come later.
BURNETT: And Mike, the issue as Thierry used the word "improvised" on the getaway. It does seem that way. Because I know there is the possibility they left their I.D. behind on purpose, to claim responsibility, it doesn't fit though with the fact that they wanted to be concealed and wanted to get away and not do a suicide attack. That seems like a pretty incredibly bad mistake to make.
ROGERS: Well, and I will tell you, this is not the first time that people with criminal intent have made those kinds of mistakes. Your adrenaline is high and your decision-making has to be very instant instantaneous. Some things can happen. I can tell you as a former FBI agent was working a murder case where a very seasoned hit man for the organized crime left his glove at the scene with his initials on it. And of course in the FBI would call that a clue. Right now this person knew what he was doing. But in the intensity of the moment, a small mistake can have a big impact for law enforcement. So I wouldn't -- I would not say that this was a horrific mistake by them. In the hurried aftermath of their attack, it could have just happened and it gave one of the best clues I think that the -- that the French police had.
BURNETT: Certainly, we can only imagine given if they were covered, if they didn't have that, they may not at this point even know who these people were. Which is incredible to comprehend. Thank you so much to you Mike, and of course to you Thierry in Paris.
And next, the fugitive brothers both well-known to the French authorities. This is also an incredible part of the story. They knew who they were. Did intelligence officials lose track of the men who pulled off the terror attack. And the shocking stories of two women who survived the Charlie Hebdo attack. One reportedly watched her colleagues executed while hiding under a desk. She was told, "Don't worry, we won't kill you. You're a woman."
BURNETT: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world.
The breaking news tonight: the manhunt for the suspected terrorists in yesterday's deadly attack on a French magazine has entered a new phase. Police using helicopters and night vision zeroing in, in part on a wooded area north of Paris. It has been 38 hours since gunman carried out a brazen terrorist attack at a magazine in Paris. They slaughtered 12 people. The brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi are still at large.
And here's what we know at this hour. At least 80,000 police and military personnel have been mobilized to assist in the search. That is a stunning number, 80,000. Nine people have been detained in connection with the attack, 90 witnesses have been questioned.
But are authorities any closer to actually finding the two who committed this horrific act of terror?
Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT.
And, Jim, this is the crucial question that so many around the world want an answer to. How could these suspects have managed to evade authorities for this long?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It's a good question. And not just U.S. but French authorities as well, on terror lists in both countries for a number of years, that is a major question at this point. Authorities are going back over leads, both here and in the U.S. to see if they missed any warning signals. This is, as they have the massive manhunt under way with particular attention focused on a forest just about 45 miles northeast of Paris. But still tonight, no sign of the gunman.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): As the manhunt continues for the attackers in the countryside outside of Paris, a clearer picture is emerging of the gunman behind the masks.
Authorities have identified brothers Cherif Kouachi, 32-year-olds old and Said Kouachi as the chief suspects. The two left behind a getaway car and inside, a key clue, Said's ID card, the gunmen's first mistake.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a mistake, a single mistake.
SCIUTTO: Both brothers were known to French authorities and had been under police monitoring.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): As soon the identity of the suspects were learn and where they might flee to, and they were placed under surveillance.
SCIUTTO: But a former counterterror official tells CNN the surveillance stopped in part because there were simply too many suspected jihadists in France.
Cherif, the younger of the two brothers, and a fan of rap music, was sentenced to prison in 2008 for recruiting jihadists to fight in Iraq, and in 2005, he was arrested before traveling to Syria, from where he intended to travel to Iraq to fight against U.S. and coalition forces there.
Cherif's former lawyer claimed he was not an extremist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He was like a lot of young people. He just had a job that provided him money for an uninteresting lifestyle. When he got out of custody, he found a job, he got married and when he arrived in court in 2008, he seemed to be getting back on the right path.
SCIUTTO: Much less is known about the elder brother, Said, who had a lower profile. He was however investigated along with his brother for involvement in a planned prison break in 2010.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Said Kouachi lived in Reims, was unemployed and was never condemned or accused, but he appeared in the periphery of some of these investigations in which his brother Said was involved.
SCIUTTO: Today, we found the mosque where they were radicalized torn down. A neighbor who live in the same building described Said.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He lived here for a year and a half. He would leave in the morning and we never saw him. But if he really did that, it's disgusting b because what we saw last night -- truly, we cried.
SCIUTTO: So, why were these two gunman taken off surveillance? I spoke to the former head of France's counterterror special police tonight, and he told me in the simplest terms, there are too many of them, jihadists, too few of us, security personnel. And he explained the numbers to me, 5,000 suspected jihadists terrorists in France alone. It takes some three to up to 10 security officers to keep one of them under surveillance. That adds up to tens of thousands of just manpower they don't have.
For a number of years, they had these men under surveillance. They stopped that surveillance. Intelligence is a constant judgment call. Sometimes they get
those call right. We are told that they've broken up a number of plots here in France in recent weeks.
Sometimes, Erin, they get those calls wrong, and we're standing on the street tonight at the site of one of those attacks, one of those bad calls unfortunately, and France measuring cost of that right now.
BURNETT: Thank you so much, Jim Sciutto.
And I want to bring in our counterterrorism analyst, former CIA counterterrorism official Phil Mudd.
Phil, you just heard what Jim said, the numbers, that they say there, 5,000 suspected jihadists in France alone, three to 10 police or authorities to track each of them. Those numbers obviously aren't possible.
But then you look at this specific instance, at least one of the brothers was the subject of a "New York Times" article back in 2005, sometime in jail for being a jihadi, had been in Yemen in 2001, training from al Qaeda in Syria last summer.
When you heard do you make you feel this guy fell through the cracks or is that just a standard, there are thousands of guys like that?
PHIL MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: It is the standard. It is what you said on the latter part of the conversation, Erin. Look, here is behind the curtain what's going on here. When you are dealing with the numbers we're dealing with, especially in the ISIS era, hundreds or thousands of people, look at the volume of stuff you've got to go on each person, e-mail, phone, maybe physical surveillance, who are their friends, who are their family.
Multiply that a few thousand times and you start to realize, it's like a hospital room in an emergency zone in a war area. You've got to say, who is the worst and sometimes we're going to make mistakes. We're going to operate on the person who will die and leave the person aside who could have lived with we operated. It's risk every day.
One more point, Erin, that's fascinating about this case and that I don't understand. Initial reports suggested that one of these folks went to Yemen, maybe as long ago as 2011.
Two things about that. One, is the every man common. What happened in the previous four years? Why didn't he do anything?
The second is a practitioner's comment: in four years, if I have thousands of cases and one of them went to someplace ugly four years ago and nothing happened in the intervening four years, you are going to step back and say, why are we following this guy? Nothing has happened. Let's put the resources on something else.
BURNETT: Right. You know, you say it and it makes a clear case, and then you see what happened in just horrible tragedy of that. Phil Mudd, thank you.
BURNETT: And next, the amazing stories of two women who survived yesterday's shooting in Paris, one reportedly spared after a gun was put to her head.
Plus, the suspected shooters, two brothers, their life stories so similar of the brothers in the Boston bombings.
BURNETT: More on the breaking news of the manhunt under way at this hour in northern France. Police helicopters equipped with heat- seeking night vision has been searching the wooded area. It's about 45 miles north of Paris. We are monitoring that situation. As we get more information, we're going to bring that to you, literally getting the live reports moment by moment here of exactly what's happening with that search and that helicopter hunt at this moment.
Amidst of the chaos of the attacks of "Charlie Hebdo" headquarters yesterday, we are now learning, though, something very important to tell you, which is about how almost all of the women, all but one escaped death, even as they came face-to-face with the two gunman.
Our Nic Robertson is OUTFRONT.
Nic, in recent attacks, extremists have killed children, they have killed women, they have killed without care in a mall in Kenya, in a school in Pakistan. In this case, different. According to "The New York Times", one woman was actually entering that building, they came to her and they threatened her. She is the one who gave them the code to get into the building.
What do you know about her story?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, she is a cartoonist goes by the name of "Coco" real name Corinne Rey. She'd picked up her child from day care. She was running late is what she said for the editorial meeting that was underway inside the building. She was just punching in the code -- the access code to get in to unlock the front door of the building. The gunman she says came up behind her, told and pointed a gun at her and forced her to finish entering the number and as soon she opened the door, pushed past her, going into the building, shooting the guard as they went inside.
So, this is, you know, a cartoonist who extensively escaped death because she was a woman and because she did with a gun pointed to her what she was told to do, which was get this gunman into the building.
BURNETT: Incredible, though, because they did not shoot her. And the security guard, when they asked him where they were going and they got their information and shot him. And so, they did kill others. And then there was another freelance journalist inside, I know a woman who had a gun put to her head again not killed. ROBINSON: Sigolene Vinson, I mean this is an incredible story,
an incredibly lucky woman. No one would ever want to go through what she went through.
So, the journalists are rallied up in the room. She figures she can get away, she gets on the floor. She says she starts crawling, gets behind a partition wall, she hopes to be hidden, but one of the gunman has seen her and comes up to her and grabs her by the arm and points a gun at her head and then says -- she is thinking, of course, she is going to be shot like the others and says, don't be afraid. I'm not going to shoot. We don't shoot women.
And shouts out at the other gunman several times, while he's shooting the others, we don't shoot women. We don't shoot women. We don't shoot women.
So, there is perhaps one takeaway from this and we've heard it in other instances about these gunmen treating -- when they took the car from somebody, when they were on the getaway, an old man who had a dog, they let him get out of the car and take his dog out before they took a car. It sounds counterintuitive but this is what we are learning now.
BURNETT: There was some sort of code that they had. Of course, one woman was killed we understand, but obviously they made a pointed effort to not do that in almost every other case.
Nic, thank you very much.
And I want to bring in now, Tim Clemente, FBI counterterrorism agent, formerly. What do you make of that, Tim?
TIM CLEMENTE, RETIRED FBI COUNTERTERRORISM AGENT: The fact that they didn't kill women. I mean, I would have considered that to be kind of their standard in the past. Muslims as a rule segregate the genders. They do it in Friday prayers in the mosque and they generally do it in everyday life.
So, these individuals, because they were extreme, you would think would bend that rule and you mentioned the mall in Kenya, the Westgate Mall, the attackers there vocalized that. Normally, we don't kill women and children but you have not spared ours and then they went and sprayed bullets into 32 little kids, boys and girls on the terrace at a cooking competition and killed all of them.
So, they don't always stick by that rule. But generally, as a cultural thing, they separate the sexes. And in this case, they may have done it because most of the targets were male they were looking for. It might have made it easier for them to find the targets rather than just spraying bullets at everybody.
BURNETT: It is incredible when you see and then sort of strange in their minds, some sort of a code of operation and a code of conduct.
Tim, what do you make of the hunt right now, that 80,000 to 90,000 people looking for these guys. Apparently, from what we understand, they have been in the same car for 24 hours, but they have been able to find them. We understand at this moment, they've been looking in this wooded area and still looking in other places but they're trying to use heat-seeking night vision from a helicopter.
Are you shocked this is still going on?
CLEMENTE: I'm not shocked. I do believe there should be resolution pretty soon. I think these guys are going to run out of trail to run on. And the more they concentrate, if they are in the rural area, they will be found, only because, (a), as you mentioned, the flare, forward looking infrared, thermal imaging, all those technologies that are being used right now will help identify human beings in that forest. But if there are caves, things like that, that's a much less slow and less progressive method of searching for them.
But I think if they're in that area, this isn't the Eric Rudolph hunt where he knew that terrain and lived there for years. This is a situation where these guys are on the run literally looking for the next place to hide. So, I think they're going to run out of places to run with that law enforcement personnel pursuing them.
BURNETT: Stunning number, Tim Clemente, thank you very much.
And our breaking coverage continues as we're going to keep you up to date minute by minute, as we understand it, with the hunt right now going on in the middle of the night, in the early morning hours in France, as they are using heat seeking materials to try to find the brothers in a forest.
We're also going to tell you about the brothers and the striking similarities between them and the Tsarnaev brothers.
BURNETT: Breaking news at this hour. Police searching a wooded area northeast of Paris as they try to look for two suspected attackers in those horrific attacks in France. Police helicopters are hunting for the attackers.
At this moment, we just show you what we know as we're watching this moment by moment. They believe they entered a forest in the town you see here. We're going to zoom on it. This forest, very dense forest outside a small town, it's about 40 miles northeast of Paris.
We are told they perhaps saw them abandon a car and then go into that forest. We also understand, though, they are still deploying massive resources in locations. So, it is unclear whether this is another mistake but they're there. But we're watching it moment by moment as they're hunting.
These men said to be brothers. At least one of them may have spent time training with al Qaeda. Their history, their getaway plans. When you look at this, you may have deja vu to the story of these
brothers and the Tsarnaev brothers, who investigators say are responsible for the Boston bombings.
Deborah Feyerick is OUTFRONT.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two acts of terror, two cities, two pairs of brothers, an ocean apart but with unmistakable similarities.
Said Kouachi and younger brother Cherif, like Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, were children of immigrants. The Kouachi parents from Algeria, the Tsarnaev parents rooted in Chechnya, both places with the history of violent Islamic extremist. All four appeared to have become radicalized as young men, the Tsarnaev brothers by the sermons of American preacher, Anwar al-Awlaki, advocating lone wolf attacks. The Kouachis by imam (INAUDIBLE) urging young French men to fight jihad against U.S. troops in Iraq.
William Braniff studies terrorism.
WILLIAM BRANIFF, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, START: They both find an ideologue who was able to translate these believes or opinions and turn them into, in this case, violent action.
FEYERICK: Law enforcement separately in Paris and Boston had three of the four on radar, all but Dzhokhar were flagged by federal agents or national security in the years leading to the attacks.
In Paris, Cherif Kouachi raised a red flag after trying to get to Iraq by way of Syria. Three years later in 2008, he was found guilty of taking part in a Paris-based jihadi recruitment ring. He did not go to prison.
French intelligence now telling U.S. officials one of the brothers may have traveled to Yemen to train with al Qaeda. Both men run U.S. no-fly lists.
In Boston, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was flagged by the FBI a year before he allegedly tried joining jihadi fighters in Dagestan. Russian security forces notified the FBI in 2011, but agents closed the case for lack of evidence.
Tamerlan was a marginally successful boxer. Cherif was a mediocre rapper. Both dreamed of greatness, both failed. All appear to have remained on the fringes, never totally fitting in.
BRANIFF: Individuals who are disenfranchised or disempowered, that violent organizations, violent causes often provide them with that sense of empowerment.
FEYERICK: All four motivated by anger. Cherif Kouachi saying he'd engaged in jihadi recruiting after seeing images of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly writing that the Boston bombing was in retaliation for Muslim deaths at the hands of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
BRANIFF: It's very common in jihadist propaganda for ideologues or organizations to use the idea of classical or defensive jihad to mobilize people into these battlefields.
FEYERICK: Two sets of brothers. Two acts of terror. Both meant to weaken, but instead leaving two countries stronger.
BURNETT: And, Deb, the Boston bombing ended in a shootout. They were using heat-seeking equipment. They found him in a boat. We are now seeing this seeming like it is building towards the big moment.
FEYERICK: Yes, there's no question. And the thing is, you've got 80,000 forces that are looking for these two brothers. The advantage they have is they know who they're looking for. In Boston, they didn't know.
The fact that these two men dropped an identification put them days ahead of where U.S. forces were or U.S. authorities were looking for the Boston bombers. So, it's a measurable difference, a meaningful difference that they're so close right now.
BURNETT: When you think about it, it all came down to a dropped ID card. A stunning thing.
BURNETT: Thank you so much, Deborah Feyerick.
And we'll be right back with our breaking news coverage as the hunt continues at this hour.
BURNETT: And the manhunt continues northeast of Paris at his hour, in the middle hours of the night. Thank you for joining us.
Our breaking news coverage continues with Anderson.