Return to Transcripts main page


FBI: Terror Suspects Threatened to Assassinate President Obama; Mystery Drones Flying Over Paris Night After Night; White House Condemns Abduction of 150 Christians

Aired February 25, 2015 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. Three Brooklyn men under arrest tonight threatening to assassinate the President and hijack a plane. U.S. officials say they were about to travel to Syria today to fight for ISIS as the FBI director warns all 50 American states are in danger of attack.

Plus, mysterious drones flying over the skies of Paris night after night, could they be part of a terror plot? And the man who fatally shot "American Sniper" Chris Kyle found guilty. Chilling new video today, this erratic rumbling, it's a new disturbing confession. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. We begin OUTFRONT tonight with the breaking news. Three Brooklyn men arrested today. The FBI charging they were preparing the fight for ISIS either in Syria or in the United States even vowing to assassinate President Obama. The three men appeared in court today. Two were arraigned in Brooklyn. The third in Florida. One of the three was arrested early this morning, right as he was about to board a flight for Turkey where he would try to cross the border into Syria. Court documents paint a picture of three men desperately trying to outwit the FBI and find a way to get to Syria and if they couldn't get there, the FBI says they were going to wage jihad in the United States killing police officers and FBI agents. Also today, the FBI warning states in local law enforcement across the nation to be on alert for others who want to launch attacks. The director of the FBI put it bluntly.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: We have investigations of people in various stages of radicalizing in all 50 states.


BURNETT: All 50 states, every single one of them. Deborah Feyerick is OUTFRONT tonight outside the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse. And Deb, these men have a lot of ideas of what they wanted to do in the United States if they didn't make it to Syria. They talked about possibly assassinating the President. They were willing to try to hijack aircraft. What else were they prepared to do?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they were prepared to do a lot of things including the younger one saying that he wanted to join the military, funnel information to ISIS and if he was found out or got in trouble he would actually simply open fire on U.S. troops. And the one of the reasons they had a plan B Erin is because the mother of the younger 19-year-old confiscated his passport fearing that in fact he was going to travel to ISIS. Well, he was able to during this FBI investigation and subsequent arrest.


FEYERICK (voice-over): Three Brooklyn men were under arrest. Two of them charged with planning to fight for ISIS, either in Syria or if that failed here in the United States.

WILLIAM BRATTON, NYPD COMMISSIONER: If they were not able to go they would seek to acquire weapons here, handguns, machine guns and seek to attack very specifically police officers.

FEYERICK: According to the FBI, agents first zeroed on 24-year- old Abdurasul Juraboev last August when he wrote on an ISIS affiliated website, quote, "I'm in USA now." Is it possible to commit ourselves as dedicated martyrs any way while here. What I'm saying is, to shoot Obama and then get shot ourselves, will it do. One week later the FBI found Juraboev at his Brooklyn home. He reportedly admitted to agent that he wanted to fight with ISIS in Syria. He also repeated his threat targeting President Obama. Officials say he even identified 19-year-old Akhror Saidakhmetov as a friend and co-worker who also wanted to wage Jihad. According to the complaint, after the FBI's visit he e-mailed an administrator of the ISIS' website telling him what he said to the agents. Quote, "I will execute Obama I said. Even after these words they left me alone. Why? Because they think I'm establishing a Jihadi group."

The FBI alleges over the next few months Juraboev and Saidakhmetov along with 30-year-old money man Abror Habibov stayed in constant contact discussing the difficulty and expense of traveling to Syria. One even allegedly proposed hijacking their flight to Syria and giving the plane to ISIS. Saidakhmetov told a government informant that he couldn't travel because his suspicious mother had taken away his passport. The complaint says he also proposed that he might instead join the U.S. army so he can spy on it or just open fire on American soldiers killing as many as possible. The 19-year-old even went to a Department of Homeland Security office where he was photographed and fingerprinted in preparation for receiving his new travel documents. Last month he allegedly told an informant, "I will just go and buy a machine gun, AK-47, go out and shoot all police. Boom. Then we will go to the FBI headquarters, kill the FBI people."


FEYERICK: And Erin, the two want to be Jihadist were here at this court in the Eastern District of New York. They said they understood the charges against them. They are going to be detained until trial. They are scheduled to be back on March 11th. But yes, it was interesting when they walked in. They were about 5'2", dark hair, the younger one sort of shoulder length. Both of them wearing hoodies. The 19-year-old wearing this black and red patent leather, sneakers, from which the laces have been removed. The charges against them are very serious once the FBI identified the first individual who was online. They were able to get the other two and seal the case with the help of a confidential informant -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Deb, thank you very much. And now Jason Carroll, he is actually outside the apartment building where two of the suspects live. Jason, you spoke with the building superintendent tonight. What did he tell you about these men?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you can imagine he's pretty much in shock. When I spoke to him earlier this afternoon he said nothing seemed out of ordinary about these two young men. He said both of them paid their rent on time. Maybe lived here for as long as two, possibly three years. He said that the younger, the 19-year-old, Saidakhmetov actually told him not too long ago that he planned to take a vacation very soon. He said though nothing seemed out of ordinary. So, you can imagine why there's so much shock from so many of the people here in this neighborhood and in this building today.

BURNETT: And Jason, you also spoke I know with the travel agent. Actually, the person who sold the ticket to one of the men arrested this morning, you know, as he was trying to, you know, connect and get to Istanbul and into Syria. What have you learned about his plans? How he was trying to get there?

CARROLL: Well, according to the local travel agent that we spoke to here, Saidakhmetov came in last Thursday just before 3:00 said that he wanted to buy a round trip ticket from New York going to Istanbul. That ticket was going to cost about $900 on Turkish Airlines. He didn't have that much money. So, the travel agent suggested something else, he said, well, if we book around trip ticket stopping to Kiev, I can get you there for $571, he said he bought that ticket, he did not use his passport, he used a New York State ID in order to purchase it. He actually gave me a copy of his itinerary here that we have. According to this itinerary, he was scheduled to fly just after midnight today Wednesday the 25th, scheduled to fly out at 12:30 a.m. on Ukraine International Airlines flight number 0323. Obviously, he never ended up making that flight. When I was speaking to the travel agent a little earlier he also told me Erin that his hands are still shaking. He said that it made him very uncomfortable, very nervous knowing now that he was looking into the eyes of a terrorist last week -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jason, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT now, Juliette Kayyem, former assistant secretary for the Department of Homeland Security and Tom Sanderson who briefed U.S. Special Operation, Special Forces on ISIS. Thanks to both of you.

Tom, let me start with you. Some of what these men were threatening to do includes, right, they wanted to buy a machine gun, an AK-47. They wanted to shoot police, FBI, plant a bomb at a very popular place in New York, Coney Island. A lot of children right, an amusement park, shoot President Obama. How easy would this things have been or any of them to actually pull off?

TOM SANDERSON, CO-DIRECTOR, CSIS TRANSNATIONAL THREATS PROJECT: Well, the first couple could certainly be easily pulled off. Getting ahold of a gun in this country is not difficult, obviously, and being able to kill individuals on the street even in front of the White House would not be that difficult. Creating a bomb a little more difficult but setting it off in Coney Island not difficult. We think back to Faisal Shahzad and his attempt to blow up his vehicle Times Square. Going after the President is of course a much more different issue. And that would be much more difficult if not impossible for these three to do it. These three clearly did not have significant training. It does not appear that way. But people who are more sophisticated could make a better attempt but it would be terribly difficult.

BURNETT: And Juliette, I guess the big question, is, you have three men arrested and we'll talk more about the FBI which is now saying there are people in every single American state that they are concerned about. Is there any way to stop an attack or is it simply a matter of time?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, I think that we have to assume that one of these sort of attacks or planning can happen. I think that we're sort of delusional to think that there's all this activity and that someone isn't going to breakthrough and do something. And the question is, what are they going to be able to do. This case, this arrest showed a lot of intent. Right? These guys wanted to do something bad. But it's a less strong on capability, on their ability to actually cause harm in the United States. And I think one of the reasons why the FBI arrested them wasn't simply because the guy on the plane but there's a public statement when these arrests are made and it's to potential followers of ISIS, teenagers who are bored, who think it's cool to join ISIS, others who would travel to Turkey to see what it's like, which is we're taking this seriously. Even if you're not that serious, we're taking this seriously, and you will be indicted and charged with terrorism crimes. And I think that's an important role for the FBI even though these guys, at least, were not, did not seem, you know, that they had the capability that they thought they had in their own minds.

BURNETT: So, Tom, FBI director today came out and said there are individuals under investigation who are radicalizing in all 50 states, every single one. They said, they recently out of the -- to that list, were you surprised that he came out and said that?

SANDERSON: No. And I'm not surprised that you would find individuals in every state. There are probably thousands of young men and some women out there who do hear the call to battle, who do feel radicalized or heading in that direction because of what they've see online, what they see on TV. I think it would surprise Americas to think that there would be individuals like that in states that don't have large cities or concentrations of individuals like this.


SANDERSON: So, it would be a surprise that the Dakotas might have individuals like this. But in fact, when you have a country of 315 million people, you're going to have hundreds of folks spread across that country who are likely or interested in going. So, it's not over all a big surprise.

BURNETT: It may not be to you. But you know, we keep hearing, right? U.S. officials Tom saying there's, you know, 150 Americans who have tried to go fight in Syria, as many as. Right? They have kept that number static for a long time. But now I hear there's individuals in all 50 states and obviously more than one in each state. So, that 150 kind of seems frankly maybe inaccurate.

SANDERSON: Sure. I mean, it could of course just be two or three in each state but it's very likely more than that. And I don't think the FBI may have solid information beyond that 150. But certainly, there's a good chance that there are. But they at least know of 150 that have tried to go or who have gone to Turkey into Syria.

BURNETT: And Juliette, what kind of attack could a radicalized individual in one of these states pull off domestically. You heard Tom talking about the ease in many ways of acquiring guns, going to busy locations and building basic bombs?

KAYYEM: Well, I think this is the challenge that we are right now that the barred entry into ISIS or any of these organizations is relatively low. You say I want to belong. You e-mail them or you go to the website. And access to arms and weaponry is relatively easy in this country. So, we have to, you know, and there are I guess I would add, there are also a lot of soft targets in this country. So, that is why everyone takes this issue seriously right now, why there's a focus on it because it is different in many respects. You just can't keep it offshore. It is here. And we just have to keep arresting. The good news is that these are not sophisticated attacks. They are low casualty plans. Even the one that was successful, the Boston Marathon attack was, you know, ultimately only four casualties over the course of that week. That's not good news for the victims but of course, in comparison to 9/11, very different kind of attack.

BURNETT: Yes. All right. Thanks very much to both of you. And next, mysterious drones showing up in the skies over Paris. This is now the second night in a row. And flying over things like the Eiffel Tower in the American Embassy. Who is behind these drones and could they be part of a terror plot?

Plus, more than 150 Christians now, that number has surged. Men, women and children kidnapped by ISIS. Will their lives be spared?

And in just a few hours, people living in the nation's capital will be able to spoke pot legally. Why Congress says the mayor of Washington could go to jail for it?


BURNETT: Tonight, mystery drones in the sky. The Secret Service working with French officials to identify who may be behind the drones that have flown over high profile Paris landmarks for the past two nights. The city is obviously on high alert after deadly terror attacks last month. And authorities fear that the drones which have cameras could be being used by terrorists. The drones have been hovering around the Eiffel Tower, the United States Embassy and the Place De La Concorde and their military museum as well in Paris.

Samuel Burke is OUTFRONT on the scene tonight in Paris. And Samuel, obviously there's a lot of anxiety and fear when you talk about the Eiffel Tower, the American Embassy. Nobody seems to know who is flying these drones and what they are planning.

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Erin, police are out on the streets of Paris to see if this will be the third night of drones hovering over us here in Paris. French people are incredibly nervous after seeing these drones over some of the most recognizable and important landmarks. Nothing more alarming than seeing that drone over the French National Assembly. That's the equivalent of the U.S. Congress. This is a city that's still reeling after those double terrorist attacks at "Charlie Hebdo" as well as the Jewish supermarket which needs plenty of Parisians wondering, what could be the worst case scenario with these drones, some type of nefarious material or explosives, possibly surveying targets for terrorists attack.

Although, it's important to note that French officials seem rather skeptical of those worse case scenarios. That said they are stepping up the enforcement of the long standing ban on drones across the city arresting three al Jazeera journalist who they allege were using drones within city limits. Al Jazeera says, they were taping a story about these mysterious drones. At the end of the day French authorities tells us, this is wake up call to them. Not just because this could be the third night of drones flying above us Erin but also because of the ever increasing capacity of what are essentially over the counter drones.

BURNETT: All right. Samuel, thank you very much. Pretty frightening when you think about it over the counter drones, how easy to obtain these drones have also been flying over other crucial sites, including one of the most important in the world, the White House.

Will Ripley is OUTFRONT with more on why drones are such a fear.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We know they have them. ISIS propaganda shows the terror group using drones with increasingly chilling sophistication. Gathering aerial intelligence on potential targets. In Paris, mysterious drone sightings over famous landmarks are sparking new fears. More than five drones spotted two nights in a row. France on high security alert after January's terror attacks. France still searching for whoever flew drones over more than a dozen nuclear plants last year. Just the latest in a series of high profile drone disruptions. In January a small drone invaded Secret Service radar crashing on the White House ground. While it turned out be an accident, the incident raised serious security questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He had a drone come within 50 feet of us.

RIPLEY: New York police arrested a man who flew a drone dangerously close to an NYPD helicopter. A Texas student was questioned for flying a drone over this football game at a stadium seating 100,000 people.

ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: You can take a chemical agent, it's very destructive and we kill people and fly it into a stadium.

RIPLEY: Former CIA officer Bob Baer says, there's no intelligence on what terrorist may be planning to do with drones but the possibilities are frightening.

BAER: With enough time and enough experience, you could kill people with a drone.

RIPLEY: Drone technology is only becoming more available. A multi-billion dollar industry with models starting at less than $500. New York City photographer Johnathan Atkin uses drones to take pictures in Europe and all over the U.S. He says the vast majority of operators are responsible following evolving drone aviation laws.

JOHNATHAN ATKIN, DRONE USE AND PHOTOGRAPHER: We're not interested in creating fear, we're not interested in invading anyone's privacy. We're looking at, as photographers, for these spook images that you can't get in any other vehicle.

RIPLEY: But as the market grows, so do the number of people with access to drones, including those who seek to do harm from above.


RIPLEY: Tonight, Paris prosecutors are telling CNN Erin that they have absolutely ruled out any connection between the arrests of those Al Jazeera journalists who are flying drones earlier today and these mystery drone sightings. Two nights in a row, they are out watching tonight as well. And they still have not solved those drones that were spotted flying over more than a dozen nuclear plants. Almost 20 sightings in that case, Erin. They haven't been able to find those people. So, the mystery really does continue.

BURNETT: Pretty frightening that they aren't able to track it. All right. Thank you very much Will Ripley.

OUTFRONT now, Lieutenant Colonel James Reese, a former U.S. Delta Force Commander who is used drones for many years. This is pretty amazing, Colonel. When you hear, think about this. Right? That you have drones flying over nuclear sites and the American Embassy, the Eiffel Tower and intelligence and Special Forces aren't able to figure out who is doing it. Could a significant attack be carried out by a drones like this?

LT. COL. JAMES REESE, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, Erin, good evening. Yes, I believe it could. Number one, I could launch a drone very easily near an airport that has, you know, urban sprawl or park near like Reagan National and fly that right into a plane taking off and try to get it sucked into its engine. So, it's definitely an asymmetric threat.

BURNETT: And which is pretty terrifying when you think about it because, they don't seem to be able to identify who's controlling them or where they are coming from. And as you know very well and our reporter just mentioned, ISIS is now using drones. So, how big of a concern are they to national security right now?

REESE: Yes. They're a concern. And we need to, we're a little bit behind the power curve on, you know, what we're going to do. One of the good things about it is the drone capability for the payload of what it can carry is really still limited. So, that's a good thing. But they can still cause terror. And that's what they're trying to do. You can put a pound of TNT on there. You know, ISIS, AQAP, they have these explosive experts who know how to do this. They know how to remotely detonate them or you could just crash it right into somewhere like the White House and get an explosion. You're not going to get a mass casualty but you will have some death and it will cause terrorism.

BURNETT: Well, it certainly will when you talk about that. And of course, you know, which would remind everyone there was a drone flying over the White House just a few weeks ago. Now, because they're small and you talk about the payload, you talk about the fact they could carry TNT. Right now the payloads are not that high. But the question is, is the United States able stop an attack by a drone?

REESE: That's the critical aspect right now. And I'm going to say we're not that good at it. Again, one of the things that helps us is that the time of flight of these things are not that great. They're run by battery packs, battery power. So, that's one of the limiting factors that comes about it. We could use some electromagnetic aspects because it is electronics working it. But right now again, it's an symmetric threat here in the states, is what our law enforcement and intelligence agencies got to look at and even for the military overseas. It could be a threat against our soldiers.

BURNETT: All right. Looks like we lost that shot as he was finishing his sentence. But again, pretty sobering discussion there.

Next, more than 150 Christians abducted by ISIS. Hundreds more on the run. The numbers of Christians that we have reported have been abducted are surging tonight. Could they be facing a massacre?

And recreational pot legal in the nation's capital literally in just a few hours as we're counting down but Congress is threatening to throw the mayor in jail. A special report.


BURNETT: Breaking news. The White House just releasing a statement condemning the kidnapping of Christians by ISIS and vowing to, quote, "continue to lead the fight to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIS."

Also tonight, CNN has learned there are even more Christian hostages, a lot more. We are also learning that at any moment ISIS may release a video threatening to kill those Christians.

And Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT now. Jim, we're know learning the number of Christians taken hostage is so many more than we first thought, heard and feared.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Double. I mean, these was an ongoing fight taking place overtime. And these Syrian Christians had formed their own militia to fight back against ISIS. Dozens of fighters, they lost many of them in this fight. And in this fight over powered really by ISIS and losing more civilians than initially reported as well. And this is of grave concern. You know, keep in mind, Syrians they were sticking here trying to defend a place that they had been not just for centuries, for thousands of years. They were fighting for their land, standing up gravely really and sadly in this case losing the fight.

BURNETT: And, Jim, what do you know about this video that may be released?

SCIUTTO: Well, this is a grave concern. As we were talking about this last night, based on ISIS's past, bloodthirsty practice, the prospects for people, whether they'd be Christians, or Shia Muslims, or Sunni Muslims who don't buy their brand of Sunni Islam, that their M.O. sadly is to kill them. You know, few people survive the grasp of ISIS, particularly when they're looking for the propaganda value.

So, you know, the sad fact is the Syrian leaders involved in this have received a warning that there's a video coming. And based on our experience in these videos, like those 21 Christians who were killed on Libyan beach by ISIS's offshoot, the expectation is there will be no good news in this video. It's not confirmed yet, we don't know for sure, but that's the grave concern now.

BURNETT: All right. Jim Sciutto, thank you.

The Christians kidnapped that Jim is talking about are Syrian Christians. It's a group with ancient roots in Syria. And tonight, their communities fear death as ISIS closes in.

Nic Robertson is OUTFRONT with a special report.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Chaos in Syria's Christian community. Under attack from ISIS, these families gather for sanctuary and aid. For now, they are the lucky ones. Activists say more than 150 others kidnapped by the radical terror group.

OSAMA EDWARD, FOUNDER, ASSYRIAN HUMAN RIGHTS NETWORK: The ISIS forces attacked villages and they took hostages and whole families, women, children and the elderly as hostages.

ROBERTSON: These the images is released of this attack. Their propaganda even identify the location northeast Syria on a map, 35 villages targeted. The fear now, the hostages taken deeper into ISIS territory.

Hundreds, possibly thousands of families affected in the new offensive, some managing to find sanctuary in St. Mary's, a local cathedral. But the fate of the hostage, they fear, the same as the Egyptian Christians captured by ISIS in Libya and Iraq's Christians last year.

EDWARD: Seeing what ISIS done for them Egyptian Christians in Libya and the Iraqi Christians and Iraqi Assyrians I don't think -- unfortunately I'm going be realistic and even I hope, maybe they're facing the same destiny.

ROBERTSON (on camera): A destiny that looks bleak at the very best. In the past, those Christians ISIS hasn't killed and mostly been women have made into sex slaves for their fighters -- Erin.


BURNETT: All right. Nic, thank you.

And now, Daniel O'Shea, a former Navy SEAL, is OUTFRONT.

We are, as you know, expecting is to release a message about the hostages whether perhaps their lives will be spared or whether they will end the way every other life has ended, the way those Christian lives ended in Libya last week.

What do you expect the message this video to be?

DANIEL O'SHEA, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Well, the past is prologue. We have seen plenty of videos that have come out that have already shown the level of brutality. There is no quarter given by these savages and that's exactly what they are. And my heart bleeds.

This is just the ongoing campaign of genocide that is targeting anyone who does not embrace this ideology, who is considered an infidel, an apostate, or non-believer. And it's just -- these stories are continuing and continuing to be worse. And the video that's soon to come out is probably going to just confirm those horrors that everyone is expecting.

BURNETT: And it would indeed be horrific, because we had known there were incidents of this happening. But in terms of what ISIS has put out, it shocked the world when they put out a video of 21 Christians being beheaded last weekend, the Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya.

You're now talking about 150 or more Christians. If something like that were to surface, does that change what the United States does in the fight against ISIS?

O'SHEA: Well, I'm speaking for my own personal perspective, and, frankly, you know, the last I've heard is we're talking about training the Syrian army in March. We haven't started the training yet. We need to ramp this up.

There are plenty of allies within the Kurdish community, within the Yazidi, within -- now, obviously, the Iraqi Christians and Syrian Christians in Syria that are willing to take up arms. They have to. Their wives, their very wives, their territory. Villages they have been in for 2,000 years, a generation after Christ, these Christians have been in that region and they have been wiped out of their homes.

And so, there are plenty of individuals that their livelihoods and lives are at stake. And those are the very people we should be getting behind and arming not next month but now, and we should have been on this months ago, if not years ago, frankly.

BURNETT: And, Daniel, what's the point here, though? I mean, when you look at, of course, the history of Islam and so many instances incredibly tolerant of other religions living side by side in predominantly Muslim communities. What is ISIS doing specifically here by targeting and killing Christians?

O'SHEA: Listen, ISIS, they are 21st century terrorists embracing a 7th century acts of barbarism. They are using a Salafist, a very strict fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran, and they're carrying out visions from the Old Testament, if you will, or the Koranic era of when Muhammad were around and converted.

So, they are converting by the sword, literally. And so, that is what they are embracing. And so, that is the ideology that must be addressed.

And this is not just something that Islam itself -- this is not just something the West or America's going to solve. The larger issue with ISIS is going to be solved within Islam and the larger Islamic community not only needs to stand up and condemn the acts. They need to take proactive actions like King Abu who is on the lead right now. We've got General Sisi in Egypt, calling this very extremist form of ideology and people that are embracing this.

And those are the Arab leaders we also need to be supporting 100 percent in the fight, because this is not going to be solved by sending 82nd Airborne in tomorrow. This is a long fight, but it's going to take a worldwide effort and it's going to take resources within the Islamic community most importantly to address this issue.

BURNETT: All right. Daniel, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT tonight, we are in a countdown. In just a few hours in Washington, D.C., they will legally be able to smoke pot. John Boehner will be the first to toke up. So, why are others in Congress saying, "Don't hold your breath"? Just kidding about John Boehner. Well, I mean, I don't know, but I think I'm kidding.

And jurors in the American sniper trial are breaking their silence in the wake of two senseless murders. Why didn't they buy the shooter's insanity defense? Our special report.


BURNETT: Tonight, the man who shot and killed famed American sniper Chris Kyle will appeal his guilty verdict. Eddie Ray Routh was sentenced the life without parole for murdering Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield. It took jurors just two and a half hours to convict him. They rejected the defense claims that Routh was insane when he pulled the trigger. One juror told ABC News she saw a pattern of Routh claiming insanity.


JUROR: He would get intoxicated, get in trouble and then the police would show up and he would say, I'm a veteran. I have PTSD. I'm insane.


BURNETT: Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT with the drama that played out in that courtroom.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We the jury find the defendant Eddie Ray Routh guilty of the felony offense of capital murder as charged.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eddie Ray Routh has been an enigma since the world learned his name two years ago, as the man who killed the legendary American sniper Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield. But the world has never heard Routh himself until now.

This is Eddie Ray Routh confessing to the murder, wearing the clothes he wore to the countryside gun range that day, Chad Littlefield's blood still staining his boots.

BRILEY: What happened out there today other than shooting sports?

EDDIE RAY ROUTH: I was reasonable and fair with them boys.

I can't just keep eating my soul up about this, you know. You can't just keep letting people eat your soul up for free, you know.

BRILEY: You talk to your sister today, what did you tell her?

ROUTH: I told her I had to kill men today. It wasn't a want to, it was a need to. I had to get out of that situation I was in today.

LAVANDERA: And the jury heard from Chris Kyle's wife, Taya.

TAYA KYLE, CHRIS KYLE'S WIFE: I'm sorry, I'm not nervous. I'm just emotional.

LAVANDERA: Emotional as she remembered the last time she saw her husband.

KYLE: Just said we love each other and gave each other a hug and a kiss like we always did.

LAVANDERA: Later, she called Kyle and sensed something was wrong.

KYLE: He thought that the guy sounded really excited to go and so, he thought he was doing a good thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, he sounded a little irritated when you talked to him that afternoon?

KYLE: Yes, it was very short, and it wasn't like short, like, hey, you're interrupting a good time. It was short like, I wish I could say more, but I'm not going to because there are people around.

LAVANDERA: And that was the last time they would speak. She texted him, "Are you OK? I'm getting worried." Chris Kyle never responded.

A few hours later, Eddie Ray Routh sitting in Chris Kyle's truck would be surrounded by police. Routh led police on a 10-minute car chase careening into a police car. Before the truck rolls to a stop, a team of officers take him into custody and take him into the back of a police car.

And in the police interrogation tape, Routh is questioned by Texas Ranger Danny Briley.

ROUTH: I keep talking to Chris, there's a few dozen Chris' in my world, and it's like every time I talk to another man named Chris or get sent to another a man named Chris, it was like talking to the wolf, you know? The ones in the sky are the ones that fly, you know what I mean. The pigs.

BRILEY: Because owe know what you did was wrong today. You shot him and Chris, right?


BRILEY: Is there anything you would like to say to the families?

ROUTH: Yes, I'm sorry for what I've done.

LAVANDERA: Those are the erratic rambling the leave the most dire question unanswered. Why? Why would a once decorated marine end the lives of two good men?


BURNETT: And, Ed, Marcus Luttrell, who's a Navy SEAL veteran, who befriended the late Chris Kyle, you know, well-known around this country took to social media and responded to the verdict. He made a direct threat, right?

LAVANDERA: Yes, harsh words. Unlike not unlike what we've heard in the courtroom afterward, also from the family of Chad Littlefield. But Marcus Luttrell also wrote a famous book, got the Hollywood treatment as well in the movie "Lone Survivor". He took to his Facebook page and wrote, "Justice served for Chris and the Littlefield family. To Eddie Ray Routh, you thought you had PTSD before, wait until the boys in TDC find out you killed a Texas hero." TDC stands for the Texas Department of Correction prison where Eddie Ray Routh will spend the rest of his life -- Erin. BURNETT: Pretty frightening. Eye for an eye, I guess, the

attitude there.

Thank you very much, Ed.

And OUTFRONT next, just hours before pot becomes legal in the nation's capital, a congressman threats to put the mayor in jail over it. A special report.

Plus, Jeanne Moos talks to the fisherman who didn't let the big one get away. This is a big one. OK. Here's the thing: is it the biggest cat fish ever caught? You'll find out.


BURNETT: Tonight, D.C. goes to pot because just a few hours, recreational marijuana will be legal in this nation's capital. But now, Congress is stepping, threatening to throw mayor in jail over it. I mean, I suppose we should celebrate that they're actually going to do something about something?

All right. There is major money in legal pot. It is the fastest growing industry in America. According to reports, the market for legal pot grew to $2.7 billion last year. That was up 74 percent in 12 months.

Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT with tonight's money and power.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Carlos, who does not want to be identified because what he's doing now in a cramped apartment with a view of the U.S. capitol is illegal. In a few hours, that will change.

(on camera): It is illegal what you're doing right now?


MARQUEZ: It won't be illegal tomorrow, correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is correct.

MARQUEZ: What is that like to come out of the shadows, as it were?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's literally, for me, literally coming out of the closet. I can take out of this closet.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Legal marijuana here, nothing like the recreational gold rush in Colorado.

Users here in Washington, D.C. can grow up to 6 plants, carry up to 2 ounces, give up to 1 ounce to anyone over 21 years old. But neither money, goods nor services can exchange hands. It's a share or gift economy, but still -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's literally a freedom for something that

I'm so passionate about, knowing that it's legal, it's decriminalized, all of the above. I'm free.

MARQUEZ: In a letter to D.C.'s mayor, the chairman of a powerful U.S. Congressional Committee which has ultimate authority over the District of Columbia issued a stern warning writing, "If you decide to move forward tomorrow with the legalization of marijuana in the district, you will be doing so in knowing and willful violation of the law."

MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER, WASHINGTON, D.C.: We would encourage the Congress to not be so concerned about overturning what seven out of ten voters said should be the law in the District of Columbia.

MARQUEZ: Adam Eidinger organized the legalization effort.

(on camera): Do you think there will be a backlash to this?

ADAM EIDINGER, CHAIRMAN OF THE D.C. CANNABIS CAMPAIGN: There will be a huge backlash if Congress manages to overturn the initiative. There'll be protests in the streets. You know, our city council will be performing acts of civil disobedience.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): He says, despite protests from some powerful members of Congress, legalization in the nation's capitol is a sign of growing public acceptance nationwide.

EIDINGER: We cannot wait for politicians to get on the ball here. People are going to jail for this, you know? Thousands of people a year.


BURNETT: It's pretty fascinating, Miguel. I guess is Congress going to try to stop it? Could you see the mayor go to jail?

MARQUEZ: Well, I don't think anybody is going to think that's possible. The mayor actually addressed that today, didn't think it was possible. There may be some sort of effort at legal action but, you know, in the letter the committee sent, it is very clear. They say in another part of it, we strongly suggest you reconsider your position.

But at 12:01 tonight when the smoke-up starts here in Washington, D.C., the ball will be firmly in Congress's court -- Erin.

BURNETT: I like that line. At 12:01 p.m. tonight, when the smoke-up starts.

MARQUEZ: It will, absolutely.

BURNETT: Oh, I'm sure it will. And as I say, I'm curious to see what members of Congress choose to partake.

All right. Thank you, Miguel. And OUTFRONT next, Jeanne Moos with a whale of a fish story.


BURNETT: A fisherman makes the catch of his life. Just don't tell his wife.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An Italian fisherman catches a humongous catfish. But do the photos make you wonder if it's really true? He said he really reeled them?

DINO FERRARI, FISHERMAN (through translator): It was an immense joy.

MOOS: Dino Ferrari has been fishing for 20 years, and he's caught big catfish before, European catfish. But a 280-pound, this latest one was the cat's pajamas. Dino says the 40-minute struggle to land the fish on the river left this lure slightly damaged.

How did this bus mechanic and his twin brother driving the boat react when they finally tow the fish to shore?

FERRARI: It's just an incredible moment and we embrace ourselves because we were so happy.

MOOS: Unlike Tony Soprano, we were unable to get the fish's side of the story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much you weigh?

FISH: Eight pounds.

MOOS: Where's Dino 280-pounder now?

He just cooked it up for dinner, right?


MOOS: Dino says he's fishing for sport and sports fishermen don't kill their catch. They let it go.

Dino says he had the whopping catfish in his possession for half an hour.

Was it the best half hour of his life?

FERRARI: Thank God there is not my wife to listen to me.

MOOS: Is that a yes?

Dino is not about to let me hook him. He asked to look at his fishing rod and ran around to find it. As for those catfish on steroids?

This is a creature to act more like a cat than a fish.

French researchers documented the catfish actually beaching themselves to pounce on pigeons at water's edge. They had a 28 percent success rate. Just imagine the catfish telling the story about the one that got away.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: Twenty-eight percent success rate. That's better than a real cat could do. That's one incredible fish.

All right. Thanks for joining us. Be sure to DVR OUTFRONT so you can watch us anytime.

Anderson starts now.