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CNN NEWSROOM

Europe on Alert for Terror Attacks; Janitor, Cabbie is Haiti's Miracle Worker

Aired January 17, 2015 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everyone. Here in the CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Poppy Harlow joining you live from New York, 4:00 Eastern. A lot of news to get to. Focusing on Europe -- across the continent the terror threat is high and higher than it has been in many, many years. Take a look here - this is Brussels -- soldiers with weapons patrolling the streets and standing guard at tourist sites and Jewish centers.

Troops are also deployed to Antwerp, boosting the police force numbers in the city's Jewish neighborhoods there in addition to the overall terror threat Belgian officials remember all too well last year's deadly attack on a Jewish museum by a suspected extremist. Security officials all over Europe are still trying to get a handle on how many extremists may be preparing violent attacks across Europe. Intelligence sources do tell CNN that sleeper cells may now be activated - a number of them - especially in Belgium and in Holland.

Let's get overseas straight to Phil Black. He joins us now from Brussels. Pamela Brown also joins us from Paris. Phil, I want to get straight to you first. You have new information regarding some potential terror-related arrests in Greece. What can you tell us?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Poppy. It is further indication I think of the international certainly pan-European nature of the investigation that has been going on here in Brussels. Just a short time ago Greek police confirmed to CNN that they are conducting an investigation based upon information that has been provided by Belgian authorities here -- Belgian investigators.

Asked by CNN if they had taken people into custody as a result of this information, the Greek police said they could neither confirm nor deny that. Interestingly, the Greek minister for public order has also released a statement congratulating Greek police for making a blow against terrorism in their country. So it appears that things are moving in Greece as a potential connection to the events that we have seen unfolding here in Belgium over the last few days.

Remember on Thursday night a series of raids took place - 12 in all - that resulted in some 13 people being taken into custody. Here, two other people have been taken into custody, in France as well. All connected to a potential Belgian terror threat, one that Belgian authorities say was designed to attack Belgian police here on the streets or in their police stations. That's the threat they -

HARLOW: Right.

BLACK: -- believe they have interrupted, but they clearly are still investigating, Poppy.

HARLOW: And now you see this spreading, Phil, from Paris to Belgium to Greece now with this investigation. Pamela Brown, to you in Paris you've been reporting on this throughout with your excellent sources in law enforcement on this. Can you give me a sense of the state of alert in Paris as we speak?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Poppy. You can definitely tell that Paris is on a heightened alert. But there's a dichotomy. On one hand, you have more soldiers out. We were just walking around the Arc de Triomphe, an iconic landmark here in Paris. There were solders around there. They had not apparently been there before the Paris attack. When I checked into my hotel yesterday, there was someone with a metal detector checking our bags and they were very, very thorough. They didn't want to take any chances.

And then you see beefed-up security around Jewish sites - around Jewish schools as well as synagogues. We know from sources that Amedy Coulibaly apparently was scoping out Jewish sites before he launched the attack on that kosher grocery store. But then on the other hand, it really - you do get the sense that people are moving on with their lives - that they're not being held back, they're not staying in out of fear, that they are moving on with their lives, regardless of what happened here last week, Poppy.

HARLOW: Do we know, Pamela - I know the dozen people that remain in custody there in Paris after the sweep of terror suspects - do we know the status on them? Have any charges been brought? Have the officials gotten any critical information from them?

BROWN: Well we know that they are still questioning them, so here in France officials have a 96-hour window where they can question people when they bring it - when they bring them in - and then of course if there's probable cause, they can face charges and then they become suspects. What we know here is that the dozen people - eight men, four women - were someone connected to Amedy Coulibaly. They were in his entourage according to the prosecutor. They provided the logistical support with the Paris attack, but we don't know yet if that means they were complicate - knowing helping Amedy Coulibaly carry out the attack. French media reports say that their DNA - some of their DNA was found in the car that he used and their weapons, but still unclear what the direct tie is and we're still waiting to find out from authorities more on how that investigation has been going. Poppy.

HARLOW: All right, Pamela Brown, live for us in Paris this evening. Phil Black also joining us with the latest on what Greek police are saying, joining us from Brussels. Thank you both, we appreciate it. Again, just that breaking news in to CNN - the Greek police are saying they have conducted an investigation in connection with the Belgian terror plots. Not saying whether they have taken any suspects into custody or not, but this gives you a sense of just how much this is spreading across the continent.

We're getting chilling new information also from counter-terrorism officials about how al-Qaeda and ISIS are competing with one another and what the consequences could be. Our Brian Todd reports on this dangerous and deadly competition that's emerging. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A chest-thumping from one of al- Qaeda's most dangerous branches over the "Charlie Hebdo" killings, paying tribute to the Kouachi brothers, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula says its leadership chose the target, planned and paid for the attack.

NASR IRAN ALI AL-ANSI, COMMANDER, AL-QAEDA IN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA, VIA INTERPRETER: When the heroes were assigned, they accepted. They promised and fulfilled.

TODD: It's not clear how much of that is bluster, how much of a hand AQAP really had in the slaughter in Paris. What is clear to experts, this group has regained its momentum.

KATHERINE ZIMMERMAN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: AQAP status is once again reaffirmed to be at the top if not on top of the global Jihadist movement.

TODD: Now other top terror groups are lining up to praise the Paris attack - ISIS and Boko Haram among them.

ABUBAKAR SHEKAU, BOKO HARAM LEADER, VIA INTERPRETER: We truly rejoiced at what happened in France.

TODD: Tonight CNN has learned of a chilling new concern among U.S. counter-terror officials - that there's fresh, intensified competition among the most dangerous terror groups to one-up each other to take back the spotlight.

ZIMMERMAN: Who can hit hardest, who can show that they're fighting the hardest and who can actually prove that their strategy is successful.

TODD: A competition seen primarily between AQAP and ISIS. For the better part of two years, ISIS seemed to dominate - capturing huge swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq, beheading five Westerners on TV. But counter-terror officials and analysts tell CNN it's AQAP's capabilities to strike outside its neighborhood that concern them.

ZIMMERMAN: AQAP is certainly oriented on attacking the United States and much more so than we've seen come out of ISIS.

TODD: Evidenced by the 2009 underwear bomb attempt on a U.S.-bound airliner and AQAP's plot to place bombs in printer cartridges being flown to the U.S. All the work of its master bomb-maker Ibrahim al- Asiri, who's still at large. ISIS isn't letting up - releasing a new video that appears to show a boy executing two men. But the Paris attack ratchets up the pressure on ISIS.

MATTHEW LEVITT, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: ISIS needs to compete not only, say, on the ground in Syria and Iraq but for opinion and funding and recruits within the global Jihadi community, also by carrying out attacks abroad. Maybe this radicalizes it to do that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Brian Todd reporting for us there. Let's talk about it now with Jamie Dettmer. He's a contributor for "The Daily Beast," also foreign correspondent. Also joining me, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, CNN military analyst and a retired former commanding general in Europe. Thank you both for being here. We appreciate it. Let me begin with you, Jamie. You wrote this fascinating article in the "The Daily Beast" called "Superbad - ISIS and al-Qaeda Joining Forces." So we just heard from Brian Todd about some of this one-upping one another. But at the same time, you say that you believe we have seen much more of a convergence of these two terror organizations even in the past few weeks.

JAMIE DETTMER, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": I think it is a moot (ph) check and I think Washington's behind the curve a little on this. Look, there's been tremendous competition and a bitter feud between these two Jihadist groups. As you know, ISIS is a breakaway from al- Qaeda - it was disowned by the al-Qaeda leadership. But it was a fascinating meeting in November which was spearheaded really - brokered - by al-Qaeda veterans who are linked with AQAP and they brokered a meeting between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al- Qaeda affiliate in Syria. And al-Julani, the head of Jabhat al-Nusra actually went to that meeting. We saw a few days afterwards detachments of ISIS fighters collaborating with Jabhat al-Nusra in an offensive (inaudible) against two brigades - rebel brigades - that are backed by Washington.

We're also seeing cooperation between them along the border - Lebanese/Syrian border. So there's some hints there that there are efforts to try to bridge gaps and at least have some kind of collaboration.

HARLOW: Yes.

DETTMER: Now, I'm not so sure that will all go through - there won't be a merger as long as al-Baghdadi says he's the caliph of everyone. But there are hints and suggestions that there is some cooperation going on. We know that Jihadist recruiters are working for both of these groups as are people-smugglers, and I think that we're being - I think we're jumping a little bit if we think this competition will continue in a way that is helpful to us and not very damaging for us.

HARLOW: So, General, to you - given that, let's use the assessment that Jamie has that we are seeing more collaboration and cooperation rather than the two terror groups battling it out. How does that or does that change U.S./Western strategy in fighting them?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, you'll have to look at it, Poppy, from the fact that each of them have a political objective in mind and there may be combinations within Syria to reach that political objective - to contribute to the establishment of an Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. But that's not the same political objective that is present in Yemen for al-Qaeda AP. It's not the same objective for al-Qaeda in Nemagra (ph), it's not the same objective for al-Qaeda in Pakistan or any of the other terrorist offshoots to this organization.

When I was in Northern Iraq we counted the number of Sunni terrorist groups that we were dealing with as part of the insurgency and the number of Shia. There were 13 and 7 respectively. And there was an ebb and flow between these organizations, each trying to contribute to one another to reach their objective, and one of the key areas that we - or one of the key approaches we had - was to keep them separated and defeat them in detail -

HARLOW: Right.

HERTLING: -- and separation. There are some groups that want to attack the United States. ISIS wants to establish first and foremost an Islamic state and they will do anything in their power to do that.

HARLOW: All right, General, thank you for the expertise. Jamie, thank you as well. Unfortunately we have to leave it there. We'll be talking a lot more about this throughout the program though. Thank you both, Gentlemen. Also coming up next after a quick break, we're going to talk about the making of a terrorist - why some are saying the young, unemployed men may be the biggest single threat to our security. Also, CNN travels to the hometown of the Paris market attacker to find out what could have turned him into an assassin.

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HARLOW: A young man allegedly planned to bomb and open fire on the U.S. capital. But 20-year-old Christopher Cornell will never see that plan play out, instead, we've just learned that he'll face charges for the alleged terror plot and remain behind bars until his trial. That was ordered by a judge on Friday. His foiled plans - alleged foiled plans - come just days after the Paris terror attacks carried out by a young man - young men, rather - who were radicalized in prison. So is this the newest threat? Young men unemployed with nothing else really to do. Independent senator Angus King thinks so. Here he is earlier this week on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ANGUS KING, (I), MAINE: I think we need to be talking about what is the basis of this ideology and dealing with what I think are the true weapons of mass destruction, Alison (ph). The real weapons of mass destruction in the world today are unemployed 22-year-olds who fall for this radical ideology and we've got to figure out how to counter that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: All right, let's talk about this with our panel. Jamie Dettmer joins me again, foreign correspondent and contributor to "The Daily Beast," also Zainab Salbi who's the author of "Between Two Worlds," also founder of Women for Women International -- she joins me from Istanbul, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling rejoins us as well. Thank you all for being here. Let me begin with you, General. Given what we heard from Senator King - and it's something that's been discussed a lot, especially with this rise of this form of terrorism that disenfranchisement - a lack of ability to move up the economic ladder - is a huge part of this. Do you agree?

HERTLING: I certainly do, Poppy. It's a huge piece of it. It's not the only piece to be frank, but it is a big piece of it. We've seen in various situations. We've been over the last few years in both Afghanistan and Iraq in combat that when the unemployment goes down, you also get a decrease in attacks. When government starts to work, you get a decrease in attacks. When people feel like they're contributing to a society in ways other than shooting weapons, you get a decrease in attacks. So all of those are very important and critical to a strong population.

HARLOW: Zainab, to you in Istanbul, combating the ideology is critical. Also opportunity is critical. What do you think should be attacked at the root so we don't get to the point where people are able to carry these horrific attacks or arrested on the brink of carrying them out?

ZAINAB SALBI, AUTHOR, "BETWEEN TWO WORLDS": Well we have to provide a counter-ideology and a counter - options and solutions for everyone actually, particularly the youth. I feel we spend much more time trying to understand ISIS and what they do - well they are clear actually. They are providing jobs, they're providing $1,000 salaries for their recruits, they're providing frankly a lot of sexuality as well and they're providing an ideology.

And there is no counter-offer in here. The counter-offer has to be jobs, has to include freedom of expression and freedom for the youth to be who they are and to create and to be youthful and to have an ideology that actually welcomes them and welcomes their creativity. We -- we are not having that and we spend much more time - we need to spend time and efforts and money to create jobs and to create freedom actually which is far, far more cheaper both in costs and in terms of life than what we are facing right now.

HARLOW: So, Zainab, how can - how can Western countries like the United States, like the U.K., for example, help facilitate that when you're talking about a country like Syria, like Iraq where we've seen ISIS spread? What are the limitations and what are the opportunities presented to the West there?

SALBI: Well I see a lot more opportunities frankly then the limitations. In two weeks for example the U.S. military spent about $62 million on just bombing of Syria and Iraq. That $62 million, just as an example in here, can actually create so many jobs - can provide humanitarian aid for the refugees in Syria which are right now frozen and not having any humanitarian aid and any food. It can provide investment in employment opportunities throughout the Middle East - not only in Syria and Iraq, there are 60 percent of the Middle Eastern population - of the Arab population - right now are under the age of 30, most of them are college graduates and they do not have jobs.

HARLOW: Yes.

SALBI: And it's a crisis of employment. It's much easier, it's much more efficient and something all of us can do frankly - to encourage employment training, encourage factories-building, encourage investment/economic opportunities investment in these countries as a way to proactively stabilize the situation.

HARLOW: So, Jamie, I mean, Zainab makes an incredibly important point that I don't think is discussed enough. But, Jamie, what is your take on that in terms of the limitations?

DETTMER: Well, I mean, I think we have to draw a distinction. I completely agree with what Zainab said about youth unemployment, a lack of opportunities in the Mideast. But I think we have different recruits, different motivations. This doesn't explain the radicalization process of some of the Western fighters - the Western youth, youngsters -

HARLOW: Yes.

DETTMER: -- Jihadi grades (ph) who have gone to Syria and Iraq. Some of them do not come from poor or, you know, hard-scrabbled backgrounds. You know, a lot of the British recruits had jobs, were university or could have gone to university and chose to be radicalized instead. I was listening to Richard Barrett the other day who's a long-term counter-terrorism official, formerly British intelligence - then the U.N. who saying depressingly he thinks that when it comes in terms of the Westerners, we're only at the beginning of trying to understand what is motivating them. And I think that that, you know, it's very varied. It's different backgrounds, often it's about lost souls who become easy picking for Jihadist recruiters. In terms of Syria, one of the big problems of course is that ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra have been boosted by fighters from other civil - Syrian - rebel factions because they're so depressed about the situation in terms of the U.S. campaign not targeting Assad but only targeting ISIS. HARLOW: Yes, a very important point, Jamie Dettmer. I want you all

three to stay with me. We're going to take a quick break, talk about this on the other side. What about when you see radicalization of people that do have opportunity - people here in the West who have graduated from college - what is driving that? We'll talk about it next.

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HARLOW: Well she may be the only person very close to the Paris attacks who is still alive. Now, authorities from France, Turkey and the United States are working together to track down Hayat Boumeddiene. This is the last video we have of her -- -- we'll pull it up - going through customs at an Istanbul airport. This was just in the days before the attack. Cell phone pings show she then slipped into Syria. Police are also looking into her background into what may have led her down such a lethal path. The life she's likely leading inside Syria may be part of that answer. Wolf Blitzer reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": She's one of the most wanted women in the world - 26-year-old Hayat Boumeddiene, the wife of this man, Amedy Coulibaly, who killed five people before being gunned down by police after he took hostages in a kosher grocery store in France. Boumeddiene slipped out of the country just days before the attack on "Charlie Hebdo." While authorities try to hunt her down, it's likely ISIS is warmly welcoming her in Syria.

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: She will arrive as a hero, she will be put on a pedestal. I mean, she will have a comfortable life.

BLITZER: Terror experts believe that Boumeddiene may even be the next star of ISIS recruitment videos like these - aimed to lure Western women to the Middle East to join a growing sisterhood of Jihadi brides. Once there, these women often find the life promised to them was a lie, and they'll be no more than sex slaves to ISIS. Mubin Shaikh is a former Jihadist.

MUBIN SHAIKH, FORMER JIHADI: The reason why they're targeting Western girls - it's almost like child predators luring girls over. 'I'm the perfect Muslim guy, I'm your Jihadi hero, you'll live the life of the wife of a hero.'

BLITZER: It's believed about 15 percent of ISIS foreign recruits are women -- up to 200 from 14 countries -- preying on the young, impressionable, the average age just 18. There are recent examples everywhere - in and around the Heartland, like 19-year-old Shannon Conley. Recruited online, she was arrested at Denver International Airport en route to Syria to join ISIS as a nurse and planned to marry a Jihadist.

ROBERT PEPIN, ATTORNEY FOR SHANNON CONLEY: Ms. Conley is a Muslim, she's also a 19-year-old woman of faith who was pursuing her faith, and unfortunately as she pursued it, she was led terribly astray.

BLITZER: Also in Denver, three high-schoolers, just 15, 16 and 17 years old, ran away from home and were headed to Syria before they were stopped in Germany. And this is Sally Jones, more than a teen. Behind the veil, a mother of two - 46 years old, now known as Sakinah Hussain. She left England for Syria and married a much younger Jihadist. She was widely quoted online saying, "My son and I love life with the beheaders." Jones is one of the devout, just like Hayat Boumeddiene. It's unknown if she'll ever resurface, but authorities are hungry for any clue that might bring them to her. Wolf Blitzer, CNN Washington.

HARLOW: Wolf, thank you for that.

Let me bring back in "Daily Beast" contributor Jamie Dettmer. He joins me again, also with us from Istanbul again Women for Women International founder, Zainab Salbi. Thank you for being here and let - Jamie, let me begin with you. You recently wrote a fascinating article in "The Daily Beast" where you talked about this - about Hayat Boumeddiene - and you said this, you wrote this in quote - in part. Let me read you, quote, "a cultural world away from the scanty bikini she was wearing in a photograph that showed her on the beach, fondly clutching future assassin Amedy Coulibaly - the transfer is startling from sun-worshipper and eager holidaymaker to the buttoned-up molls of an Islamic assassin." Obviously people could read much more of your article about that on thedailybeast.com, but what do we know about this dramatic transformation and what may have sparked it?

DETTMER: Well she is an example or a profile of a very harsh background in many ways. She came from a family where her mother died when she was young, her father couldn't cope with her and her siblings, she had time in foster homes, had to be shifted from foster homes because she became violent and troublesome and then meets at quite a young age the - her - now-dead partner who also came from a pretty harsh, troubled background and really came from a petty criminal background. He was radicalized in prison. So they come - they fit more into this, you know, hard-scrabble background, economic hardship, counsel deprivation and they groomed pretty effectively, but in their case, more face-to-face.

Let me - but the other example of someone like Aqsa Mahmood who was 20 - 19 when she went from Glasgow to Syria to become a Jihadi bride - who came from middle class family - a very successful one - she goes to a top private school in Glasgow and at 15 starts being groomed and lured online and slowly and surely over about a three-year period, starts becoming extremely devout - swaps her school gear for, you know, scarves and the more traditional dress and then scuttles off to Syria.

So we get two very different profiles here. But I think what's interesting is that the recruiters in particular - the online ones - but also the face-to-face ones at mosques or youth clubs, are very, very good at spotting people who have, if you want, slightly wrecked backgrounds. And psychologically for something to happen in their lives or because they come from very poor and difficult backgrounds.

HARLOW: Zainab, I'm wondering what your you take is as someone who runs Women for Women International, and we are seeing this increase in Western women that are aligning with ISIS for example, fighters online. Some of them moving or attempting to move to Syria or Iraq to join them. What do you think is the driver of that? What can be done?

SALBI: Well, it's not only Western women to start with, but also beyond that, and I believe the core reason is insecurity. When women are feeling they are insecure both either their - an - economic situation or safety situation or societal situation, that they are being - then they are more vulnerable to being recruited by someone who's selling them 'I'm going provide you security' which is through marriage and through finance and through whatever - their own safety.

And so the opposite of ISIS - and this is what concerns me - the opposite of ISIS is that there are two women in Saudi Arabia in terrorism trial for driving, they are women in Egypt on terrorism trial and they may go for 15 years in prison because they're asking for a government without a torture (ph). They are women who are being in imprisoned all over the Middle East for speaking there about woman's rights, the same in the Western world. So, the opposite of ISIS is not clear and that's what we need to address is how do we make the alternative much clearer, much more attractive and much more safe and secure, whether they are in the Western world or in the Eastern world.

HARLOW: An excellent point, Zainab Salbi. Thank you for joining me.

Jaime Dettmer, good to have you on the program as well.

And when we come back we're going to take a look at the troubled life of the Paris supermarket attacker. How he went from delinquent to jihadist.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: There is a new normal right now in Belgium. Troops fanning out across the country, on street corners, walking down the street, and civilians are on high alert after this week's raids and arrests across Europe. This level of armed response has not been seen in Belgium for decades.

Our senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is following the story from Brussels.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Belgians woke up Saturday morning to something they haven't seen in more than 30 years -- the deployment of soldiers from the armed forces in two Belgian cities, Brussels and also Antwerp. This is in response to some of the security threats that have emerged not only in the wake of the "Charlie Hebdo" attack in Paris but also after police went after a suspected jihadi cell in the eastern Belgian city of Verviers. It resulted in a gun battle Thursday night in which two suspects were killed and a third was taken prisoner.

Now, Brussels is not only the capital of Belgium, it's also the capital of the European Union, a Europe that is increasingly on edge amid more and more reports of Europeans who have gone to Syria to join the Islamic State, ISIS, and are coming back and posing a threat to the continent.

CORRINE FAUT, CHIEF OF COMMUNICATIONS OF THE BELGIAN ARMY (through translator): We have moved to stage three of the terror alert threats. We are offering extra protection to ambassadors, Jewish institutions, and other organizations, embassies and so on, that could be at threat. We need extra vigilance. We need a police reinforcement under the command of the federal police.

WATSON: This is one of the buildings that has gotten additional military protection. The Jewish museum in Brussels, and with good reason, because last May, it was the target of a deadly attack that resulted in the deaths of four people. A French citizen has since been arrested and charged with murder in connection with that attack. Before the assault here, he is believed to have traveled to Syria and there have been links to the ISIS militant group.

There are thousands of Europeans who have made a similar journey. But this little country, Belgium, is believed to have per capita more suspected jihadists than any other country in Western Europe.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Brussels.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Ivan, thank you for that.

Just a few minutes ago, we talked about how one U.S. senator calls young unemployed men the real, quote, "weapons of mass destruction" and one could argue that the Paris kosher supermarket attacker was a textbook case of that -- young, poor, unemployed, in and out of jail.

Our Jim Bittermann talked to people who knew Amedy Coulibaly.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Paris, Amedy Coulibaly may go down in history as the religious extremist who died shooting it out with the anti-terror squad. But in the gritty Paris suburb of Grigny where he grew up, Coulibaly is remembered more as a local thug who spent most of his adult life behind bars.

In his early school photos obtained by France 2 television, he looked likable enough. But teachers said Coulibaly, the only boy in an immigrant family of 10 children was an ongoing discipline problem.

(on camera): It was in his high school years that Coulibaly first got into trouble. In the end, he'd be arrested five times for armed robbery and once for dealing in drugs.

(voice-over): A lawyer who defended one of his accomplices believes Coulibaly changed from small crimes to harden criminal when a motorcycle theft turned deadly and police shot one of his best friends.

PIERRE MAIRAT, LAWYER (through translator): This was a traumatic event when he lost his friend. He too could have died because a bullet could have easily hit him.

BITTERMANN: Coulibaly who spent most of his adult life behind bars was in and out of the sprawling and overcrowded national prison located coincidentally in his hometown. According to a journalist, he himself made this video of life inside the prison. He seemed like a leader, she said, behind bars.

AGNES VAHRAMIAN, FRANCE 2 JOURNALIST (through translator): He was an intelligent boy, one of the tough ones. He was actually very at ease in prison. He was dominant and very much in charge. It was his second home, really.

BITTERMANN: It's not clear when he got religion, but in 2010 when he was jailed here, he came in contact with an Islamic extremist, Djamel Beghal.

By this time, he was estranged from his family. The local mayor who grew up in the same public housing estate the terrorist did, says the Coulibalys like many here were just trying to better themselves.

MAYOR PHILIPPE RIO, GRIGNY, FRANCE (through translator): Yes, this area is violent. Yes, there is delinquency. Yes, there is poverty. Yes, there is suffering but there's also success.

BITTERMANN: But if Coulibaly's family was Muslim, it was hardly fundamentalist. One of his nine sisters, for example, teaches a dance class she calls booty therapy.

Back in the family's hometown, some remember Coulibaly's attempts to fit in. In 2009, he was even invited to the French presidential palace as part of a panel meeting with President Sarkozy to discuss youth unemployment.

He worked for a time at the local Coca-Cola plant where he met the girlfriend who later became his wife and accomplice.

People may have known about Coulibaly's criminal record but were nonetheless surprised at his terrorist connections.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We were shocked. It's hard to believe. It's unreal.

BITTERMANN: One person who was less surprised was a social worker who worked with Coulibaly as a young man, among other things taking him to Disneyland Paris. De Charles Claude Aka said that after not seeing Coulibaly for 15 years, he suddenly showed up in his office last spring after getting out of prison.

DE CHARLES CLAUDE AKA, SOCIAL WORKER: He's lost. He needs people every time to remind him that that can be done, that can't be done. When someone like is involved with manipulating people, you can use him for anything.

BITTERMANN: The mayor of Grigny told CNN that it's wrong to imply that suburbs of Paris like his are nothing but breeding grounds for terrorists. Many people work their way into mainstream society from here, he says, like the mayor himself. But he adds that the large families, the unemployment, the lack of police, the decaying infrastructure, provide a fertile environment for all sorts of criminality, including in the case of Amedy Coulibaly, terrorism. Jim Bittermann, CNN, Grigny, France.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Wow.

Jim Bittermann, thank you for that eye-opening report.

Coming up next on the program, he is a janitor by day and a taxi driver by night. He is a true hero at home in Haiti. We went there to bring you the story of this amazing man who's given everything he has to help his people.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Five years ago this week, January 12th, 2010, the ground began to shake in Haiti, causing widespread devastation in an already impoverished nation. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the capital city of Port-au-Prince extremely hard. It claimed more than 230,000 lives, more than 300,000 people were injured. Entire communities reduced to rubble. More than 50 aftershocks struck the region over the next 12 days.

The resulting humanitarian crisis brought billions of dollars in aid to Haiti. But five years later, some 85,000 people still live in tents or other temporary housing there.

Sometimes, the word hero just isn't strong enough to get across a person's efforts to help others. What Josue Lajeunesse has done for his home town in Haiti all while working two jobs here in America is remarkable and it has been documented in "La Source".

We went to Haiti to bring you his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSUE LAJEUNESSE, HERO OF HAITI: I'm home. Where can you be more comfortable more than home?

I love my town. I love my people. And I love Haiti.

HARLOW (voice-over): Five years after an earthquake devastated Haiti, Josue Lajeunesse is back home. But this is a homecoming unlike any other. Here in the village where he was born, La Source, Haiti, Josue is a hero.

(on camera): You're like a celebrity here.

LAJEUNESSE: I really don't like the word "celebrity". I'm a server for them, you know, to save them.

HARLOW (voice-over): Growing up here, there was no easy access to clean water. Until just a few years ago, villagers had to make this dangerous three-hour trek up and down this mountain to a fresh spring.

(on camera): You had to walk up to get the water. LAJEUNESSE: To get the clean water. My parents, I don't want them to

drink contaminated water.

HARLOW (voice-over): Those who couldn't climb the mountain drank the water from the river, the same river used for laundry, bathing and by livestock. Many got sick.

LEJEUNESSE: When we me and my brother was going up, my brother fall down.

HARLOW (on camera): Trying to get water.

LAJEUNESSE: (INAUDIBLE) What do you think we can do?

HARLOW: How old were you when you said that?

LAJEUNESSE: Probably like eight, ten years old.

HARLOW: So this has been a dream 40 years in the making.

LAJEUNESSE: Yes.

HARLOW (voice-over): That dream to bring clean water here to this village was finally realized, but only after tragedy struck in 2010.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: On a breaking news out of Haiti, the largest most powerful earthquake in the region's history has crippled the country, measuring 7.0.

HARLOW: Josue lost 11 family members in the earthquake. Living in the U.S. working as a janitor at Princeton University, he felt helpless as he watched the horrific news unfold from 1500 miles away. At the same time, he was even more determined to help. Inspired by his dreams, students at Princeton rallied around his cause.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any help you can give to this cause.

HARLOW: With the help of generosity.org they raised $38,000, enough to build a pipeline from the fresh spring on top of the mountain down to the village. It's a story of struggle and triumph, a story of one man uniting his village to overcome all odds.

(CHEERS)

HARLOW: All captured in a documentary fittingly named "La Source."

LAJEUNESSE: It's like something like a miracle. Something you believe never can be done. (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The water source is like God coming down on Earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The water has changed the community. Because of easy access to water, people are able to grow the trees we see here.

HARLOW (on camera): Not only do they have the main water source in the faucets, but in some of these houses, they actually have running water now. They can shower now. They can wash dishes now. They can cook with water now.

(voice-over): Thousands now rely on this pipeline for clean water. But perhaps what makes this all the more amazing is how Josue lives today, every day, in the U.S. as a single father of four working two jobs. He's a taxi driver by night, and a janitor at Princeton by day.

JEUNESSE: If I can work and do two jobs, again, to change in the community and the life of the kids and for the nation, I will.

JORDAN WAGNER, PRODUCER, "LA SOURCE": To me Josue's story symbolizes the power of one person that can make a difference if they work hard, they rally people together. It's an example of how this country can grow and rebuild.

HARLOW: Jordan Wagner and his team filmed every step of the way.

WAGNER: We screened this film in hundreds of universities and churches and businesses and rallied the support of thousands of people to get behind this vision of bringing clean water to Haiti. And because of this film, we've raised over $150,000 directly for water projects and have funded 20 more water wells all around Haiti.

HARLOW: But despite all this, Josue feels like he hasn't done enough.

LAJEUNESSE: I do not think I work hard enough.

HARLOW (on camera): What?

LAJEUNESSE: I don't think I work hard enough.

HARLOW: You don't think you work hard enough?

LAJEUNESSE: No. I should do more.

HARLOW: You said to me when we got here, I should have done more for them.

LAJEUNESSE: They have no light and electricity. I don't know what next I can do.

HARLOW: Josue and his brother want to do more. They want to build a school right here in La Source.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can now say the community is living with great hope because of this water that we now have.

HARLOW: Even though they've repaired a lot since the earthquake five years ago, you still see so much that needs to be done here. You still have a population where 80 percent of the people live below the poverty line. It's overwhelming and daunting to think how do you help everyone?

(voice-over): For the first time this fall, Josue returned home and showed the film that has already done so much to help to the people he helped the most.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I see this movie, I feel so good, because one Haitian like me who had a dream and did something very, very important.

HARLOW: Josue may never think that he has done enough. But he's given his people much more than water.

LAJEUNESSE: They cannot do everything. The Haitian population need to take responsibility also. Everybody can help put hands together, all of us, because this is our country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Thank you, Josue, for all you have done. If you want to help the people of Haiti go to CNN.com/impact. A lot of resources there where you can do something to help.

We'll be right back.

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HARLOW: Well, given all of the news about the recent terrorist attacks across Europe, violence in other parts of the world, it may be surprising to learn that the world is actually better off today than it has practically ever been. The global advocacy organization the one campaign co-founded by Bono hopes to make sure thought stays that way.

Joining me now from Washington, my good friend Michael Elliott, president and CEO of the One Campaign, also former deputy managing editor of "TIME" magazine.

Thanks for being here, Michael. Appreciate it.

MICHAEL ELLIOTT, ONE CAMPAIGN: Great to be with you, Poppy.

HARLOW: You wrote a really interesting piece in the most recent edition of "TIME", talking about the age of miracles. And I think a lot of people may raise their eyebrows when they think, wow, the world is better off than it's ever been. But it seems like it's falling into chaos and disarray. Tell us about the measurement you used.

ELLIOTT: Because if you step back and look at all the amazing things that have happened in the last 15 years, you can kind of put everything in perspective. We've seen such extraordinary progress on the elimination, reduction, massive reduction of extreme poverty. We've seen deadly illnesses like malaria drop its mortality rate by 47 percent. HIV/AIDS, you know, 10 years ago, just 50,000 people in sub- Saharan Africa on lifesaving drugs, now more than 9 million.

So, wherever you look, you can see these astonishing stories, vaccinations saving incredible numbers of kids' lives all over the world. So, what I tried to do in this piece was to say, look, you know, if you look at this objectively, we've gone through an extraordinary period, an age of miracles as I've put it. Let's see if we can keep it going.

And to keep it going, 2015 is a key year. We've got a lot of international agreements we've got to do. If we can get those right, then we can continue the age of miracles. And if we don't, we'll fall back.

HARLOW: So, let's talk about that. I mean, we just played this piece that we shot in Haiti with this amazing individual, a janitor, a taxi driver who's brought clean water to his entire village. I mean, it shows the power of one person when we think these things are too big for us to tackle. The United Nations this year and others will set these sets these STGs, these very important goals.

What are they? What are the key things to focus on going forward to keep this so-called age of miracles carrying on?

ELLIOTT: What an incredible story you did from Haiti just there. I mean, I was watching the whole thing in the green room here in Washington and just kind of completely knocked out by that story.

HARLOW: Thank you.

ELLIOTT: So, now expand that a few million fold. Now expand that wonderful idea a few million fold. Get governments involved, too, to make sure that they can bring clean water, bring sanitation to villages in the way that he did in Haiti.

How can we do that? We can do that if this September the United Nations, all the nations of the world, really commit themselves to really aggressive development goals, to roll back preventable disease, to roll back extreme poverty, to fight on sanitation, to fight on all sorts of matters that will improve lives just as your friend in Haiti improved lives to his villages.

So, it's take that little story there and transforming it million-fold by getting governments to commit and then by getting an army of us, of citizens like us, to make sure that governments keep their promises. That's what this year is about.

HARLOW: Yes, absolutely. If each and every person does their job it can be achieved. It's all tracked through those goals that are officially set again this year. Michael Elliott, good to see you. Thank you for coming on the program.

Quick break. We'll be back at the top of the hour.

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