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THE SITUATION ROOM

Italy: Vatican Among Possible Terror Targets; White House: No Regrets at Death of U.S. Terrorist; Interview with Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho; Terror Threats Against the Vatican; Protesters Promise to Shut Down Baltimore; Thousands Evacuated after Volcano Erupts in Chile. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 24, 2015 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:11] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, plot against the Vatican?

Italian police break up a major al Qaeda cell which they say already has plotted to attack the home of the Catholic Church. But it's carrying out a massacre in another country.

Will security around the pope need to change?

Ransom paid -- the family of an American hostage turned over a large sum of money to gain his freedom. But the demands only increased.

Were they dealing with the wrong terrorists?

Rough ride -- new details on what may have caused Baltimore suspect Freddie Gray to break his neck.

Was he thrown around in the back of a police van?

And tipping point -- as anger grows over the death in custody, Baltimore protest organizers vow to shut the city down, as officials urge demonstrators to keep the peace.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: And let's get to the breaking news. We have stunning new developments in the case of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore man whose death in police custody has sparked angry protests.

Police now say he should have received medical aid at the arrest location and should have been safely buckled into the van that took him away.

All the latest details, that's coming up.

But there's another fast-moving story we're following right now, as well. A massive anti-terrorism sweep is underway, as police round up suspects associated with al Qaeda. The operation is taking place all over Italy, where officials now say the suspects discussed a range of targets, including the Vatican, home of the pope and the Catholic Church. Some of the alleged cell members are even said to have ties to Osama bin Laden.

This cell is also linked to a massacre in Pakistan and suspected human trafficking.

I'll speak live this hour with Senator James Rich of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees, and our correspondents, our analysts and our guests. They're all standing by with full coverage.

But let's get all the very latest.

Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, joins us with that -- Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Italian police say the 18 suspected al Qaeda terrorists being arrested in this terror take- down were plotting to possibly launch a devastating attack on the Vatican during Pope Benedict's reign in 2010. Now, of course, thousands of people go to the Vatican every day and even more so on Sunday. So if they had been successful with this plot, it could have been catastrophic, national security experts say. And Italian prosecutors said today that the terror cell had brought a suicide bomber into Italy from Afghanistan with these plans to detonate explosives in a crowded place five years ago, but the suicide bomber apparently left the country before carrying out the attack. It's unclear why this group pulled the plug, but the Italian prosecutor is saying that they may have been spooked, they say caught onto the fact that police were tracking them.

Now, police began investigating this terror cell in 2005. The cell, they say, had an abundance of weapons and cash, but by 2012 the group changed communication tactics and the investigation slowed down until today.

Two of these suspects arrested allegedly had direct ties to Osama bin Laden's security detail and were involved in an attack in Pakistan in 2009 that left more than 100 people dead.

And the Vatican secretary said today, quote, "We were all exposed and we were all fearful, but the pope is very calm."

Wolf, it is still unclear what is behind the timing of the arrests today.

BLITZER: Do we know, Pamela, if the Italians have asked for direct assistance from the FBI, other agencies in the U.S. government?

BROWN: Well, as I said, Wolf, this is an unprecedented operation, a first of its kind operation. So they're going to pull in as much help as they can. We don't know specifically if the FBI is involved, but this is an operation that doesn't just have to do in Italy. The men arrested were from Pakistan. So you would imagine other countries are involved in this raid, as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Pamela Brown reporting for us.

Thank you.

There's also new information tonight on one of the two hostages accidentally killed in a U.S. drone strike. The family of the American, Warren Weinstein, paid a sizable ransom to try to gain his release, but they may have been dealing with the wrong terrorists.

Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, has been digging into this story -- what else are you learning about what happened -- Jim?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a sources close to the family is telling us that the family has that very concern, that they were paying the money -- they paid the money to the wrong group, to people who weren't actually holding Warren Weinstein. And they were signaled and they made this payment just a year after he was captured in 2011.

Then after that, the group -- or at least the group reporting to be the captors of Warren Weinstein changed their demand. They wanted a prisoner exchange with a well-known female jihadi held here in the U.S., sentenced, in fact, to 86 years in prison.

But there were other signs, Wolf, as well after that. Communication kept up until just this month.

[17:05:05]

Of course, we know now that Weinstein was dead for three months as you got into this month.

So this is one of the reasons why the FBI, the White House, the administration very concerned with families dealing with captors directly. A very good chance they could be scammed like this.

BLITZER: The fact is, though, that so many of the families of these American hostages held, usually there's not good news. But they usually express disappointment in the -- in the behavior of the U.S. government.

SCIUTTO: They do. And we've seen it -- we've seen it with the Weinstein family, their announcement yesterday. We've seen it with the families of some of the Americans held in Iran right now. We saw it with the family of James Foley, the American journalist who was beheaded by ISIS, complaints about how they were treated, complaints about the lack of communication, frankly, from the White House.

The White House clearly aware of this. Today, discussion now, creating a special team joining the FBI, the State Department, White House officials, communicating with one voice to the families of people who are held captive. And the president aware of this today, perhaps, some of this criticism, as he spoke at the director of National Intelligence about the mistakes made with this strike.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to review what happened. We're going to identify the lessons that can be learned and any improvements and changes that can be made. And I know those of you who are here share our determination to continue doing everything we can to prevent the loss of innocent lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Of course, there are questions about how the administration treated the families and the terrorists. But the essential question here, Wolf, is the intelligence failure. And we know that the CIA is going to appoint their inspector general to investigate.

BLITZER: Yes, they've got to learn lessons from that and try to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Thanks very much for that.

Those U.S. strikes also killed two American terrorists. One of them was a former California farm boy named Adam Gadahn. He became the public face of al Qaeda, had a million dollar bounty placed on his head by the U.S. government.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty

What else do we know -- Sunlen?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, when Adam Gadahn left the United States it was 1998, and then he went on to become one of the most prominent members of al Qaeda. When this drone strike, led by the U.S., killed him, he was 36 years old and a long way from his hometown in Orange County, California.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Adam Gadahn.

SERFATY (voice-over): He was al Qaeda's most prized American recruit, the American born mouthpiece of the terrorist organization.

ADAM GADAHN: We shall continue to target you at home and abroad.

SERFATY: Appearing in video after video.

GADAHN: I will now proceed to destroy my American passport.

SERFATY: The first American since World War II charged with treason for giving al Qaeda aid and comfort, with intent to betray the United States, and landed on the FBI's Most Wanted List.

GADAHN: I'm Adam Gadahn and this is...

SERFATY: That picture a stark contrast from what appeared to be an idyllic American upbringing, raised on a farm in rural California and living in his late teen years with Jewish grandparents. At 17 years old, he started attending this mosque in Orange County and converted to Islam. But how he became radicalized while living inside the U.S. is still unclear.

NANCY PEARLMAN, AUNT OF ADAM GADAHN: He never espoused any kind of militancy when he was living with our family before he moved overseas.

SERFATY: At 20 years old, she boarded a plane to London, flew to Karachi and then on to Peshawar.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Al Qaeda knew he was coming back in 1998. They sent an operative to go and meet him at the airport. And he was transported across the border to bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan, where he swore allegiance to bin Laden.

And he was there at the time of 9/11.

SERFATY: After 9/11, he rose through the ranks, becoming a prominent part of the al Qaeda hierarchy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the White House, though, want him dead or alive?

JOSH EARNEST, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our preference would be to capture, detain, debrief and prosecute them.

SERFATY: U.S. officials say Gadahn wasn't specifically targeted, but say they have no regrets for launching the drone strike that killed him.

EARNEST: And the operation that resulted in his death made the American people safer.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

SERFATY: And the White House did not go through the official legal process needed to approve the killing of an American. The White House says that was because they did not know he was inside that al Qaeda compound at the time of the strike -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Sunlen, thanks very much.

Sunlen Serfaty reporting from the White House.

Joining us now, Republican Senators James Rich of Idaho.

He's a member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

Have you, first of all, been briefed on these American deaths?

And if you have, how long ago did you hear about all of this?

SEN. JAMES RISCH (R), IDAHO: Well, the answer to the question, Wolf, is yes. How long ago is classified at this point. What we're about to talk about here is one of the most sensitive -- one of the most classified, one of the most difficult issues that America is facing today, as far as defending this country. So it's deeply classified and you're going to have to cut me a little slack here as we go forward.

But in general terms, we can certainly talk about it, to some extent.

[17:10:00]

Look, this -- there are lots of people involved in this. This is not a cavalier thing that happens. I can't tell you, obviously, how it's done or what we go through to get to this point. You saw the anguish on the face of the president. And I think that conveys a lot as far as what goes into this and what happens when things go wrong.

BLITZER: Yes, because an Italian hostage was killed, an American hostage was killed.

I guess the bottom line question, without breaking classified information, is do you have faith right now in the way the intelligence community prepared this operation?

RISCH: You know, Wolf, I really do. This is something that's been going on for quite some time. Like I said, this is not something that's taken on in a cavalier fashion. It's not something that one person just makes a decision based on a little bit of information. This is well vetted, with people who are very professional, people, who have been working at this for a long time.

And no matter what happens, when you're involved in counterterrorism operations and there's lethal force being used, sometimes things are going to happen that you don't want to happen.

Having said that, these are things that nobody wants to do, but are absolutely necessary for the security of the American people. Look, this isn't -- this is a -- this is not a partisan issue. The people who work on this are Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives. And everyone has input into how this is done. And it is difficult, but it is, in my judgment, after watching this over the years, it is well planned, it is well executed, it is well thought out. And there are excellent protocols in place before this is done.

Again, having said that, when you're dealing with lethal force, things can go awry from time to time. And it's a tragic situation. Again, that picture of the president of the United States when he had to talk about this tells it all.

BLITZER: Yes, it certainly does.

Let's talk a little bit about Adam Gadahn, the American who -- a convert to Islam, who became a mouthpiece, as all of us know. We just saw Sunlen Serfaty's report of al Qaeda.

He now is gone.

How did the U.S. officials, based on what you know, confirm that he is, in fact, dead?

RISCH: Wolf, that's classified. I guess all I can do is get to the bottom line and say that, with a high degree of confidence, we can say that he is dead.

BLITZER: Is that the best you can do, a high degree of confidence?

You don't know for sure?

RISCH: Well, for sure, unless you actually have the body it's about impossible. But a high degree of confidence in the intelligence community is about as good as you can do under those circumstances. But it is very, very good.

BLITZER: And what's your confidence level as far as the death of Warren Weinstein?

RISCH: Well, again, I think when the president of the United States stepped up and said what he said, he expressed that there was a high degree of confidence that that also happened.

BLITZER: But as I say, you don't have DNA?

You don't have the actual body, is that right?

RISCH: You know, Wolf, I really can't go into those things. These are -- this is deeply, deeply classified as to how it's planned, how it's executed and the aftermath. And I j in the -- in all fairness to the American people, we really can't go there.

BLITZER: All right. I understand completely.

RISCH: Thank you.

BLITZER: Senator, I want you to stand by.

We've got a lot more to discuss, including these new reports coming out of Italy and elsewhere that al Qaeda is now directly targeting Christians, including an attack on the Vatican and the Catholic Church.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:18:51] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Take a look at the breaking news we're following right now. Ominous pictures, these are live pictures just outside of Oklahoma City where there is now a tornado warning. Look at those clouds. We're going to monitor the situation for you, get an update as soon as we can. But those are pretty ominous pictures right now Oklahoma City right now.

But let's get back to the other news we're following.

Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho, a member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee is still with us. Senator, there's a lot of fear about this fanatic Islamic terrorist

war against Christianity right now, Christians in particular. First of all the news out of Italy today that there was an al Qaeda plot to go after the Vatican.

How serious do you believe this was, because they rounded up a whole of bunch of people in Italy today?

SEN. JAMES RISCH (R-ID), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Wolf, this is really serious. It shouldn't surprise anyone. This is coming out of Europe. Europe is much different than the U.S. in a lot of ways, not the least of which it's a much softer target. It is easily penetrated and there are large groups of radical people that are moved into Europe and can move in and out of there fairly easily.

[17:20:02] We're probably going to see more of this in the future. The intelligence agencies over there and the law enforcement agencies move a lot more publicly than we do here in the U.S., and as a result of that, you saw this rollout today that actually caught the attention of a lot of news agencies and they intended it to be that way.

BLITZER: You hear about an al Qaeda plot against the Vatican, against the pope. That's serious obviously, but in recent weeks and months, but we've seen these terrorists behead Ethiopian Christians, Egyptian Christians, we've seen Christians being beheaded and thrown overboard on these ships that are trying to escape North Africa or Middle East, heading to Europe.

Is there, based on the intelligence you're privy to, some sort of direct war on Christians right now by these terrorists?

RISCH: Wolf, I don't think you need to rely on intelligence for that. They say so publicly. If you look at what they've put on the Internet and everything else, it's both Christians and the Jewish populations that they target.

And there is good reason to believe that these radicals -- they are the radical edge of Islamic culture that have targeted and will continue to target Christian people for the reasons that they state in these deep philosophical things that they publish on the Internet about why they're doing this and that they're going to continue to do it.

BLITZER: Let's talk about Yemen for a moment. ISIS just released some training video claiming to be shot in Yemen, showing militants in desert fatigues. The video was release as a threat to the Shiite Houthis there. CNN has not confirmed the authenticity of the video. There is some Yemeni dialogue in the video.

What does this mean, the presence potentially of ISIS in Yemen? We know the Houthis are there. We know AQAP, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is there. But as far as you know, is there a serious ISIS terror presence in Yemen now as well?

RISCH: Well, ISIS has gotten such, Wolf, that their tentacles go out and reach everywhere. I would say more than Yemen, Libya has been a target of theirs for establishing these training camps and for expansion. But they're going to expand all over the Middle East because of the deteriorating conditions there, the loss of any ability of the Yemeni government to take control of its country, just as happened in Libya.

So, this is going to permeate in a lot of different areas in the Middle East, as you recall about the time in 9/11. It was pretty much concentrated in Afghanistan because it was so lawless. Well, there's becoming more and more lawless areas in the Middle East and as a result of that, they're able to move more freely and they're able to establish beach heads in these countries that are broken, that have failed governments.

BLITZER: Yes, these are failed states right now whether it's in Libya or Yemen or Somalia. Unfortunately, there's a whole bunch of them right now.

Senator, thanks very much for joining us.

RISCH: Thank you, Wolf. Glad to be here.

BLITZER: Thank you, James Risch, of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee.

Coming up, massacres of Christian by ISIS and news of a possible al Qaeda plot to attack the Vatican. Why are the jihadists targeting Christians? Our terror experts are standing by.

As organizers vow new protests in Baltimore over a death in custody, police now say Freddie Gray should have received medical aid at the scene of his arrest and should have been buckled into the van that took him away.

And thousands of people are evacuated as a massive volcano erupts. We're going the take you close to the scene.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story. A massive anti-terrorists sweep across Italy reveals a possible plot to attack the Vatican.

Joining us now, our national security analyst, Peter Bergen, our law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, he's a former FBI assistant director, our counterterrorism analyst, Phil Mudd, he's a former CIA official, and our CNN intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer, he's a former CIA operative.

Phil, explain the kind of surveillance, the work that goes into disrupting some sort of potentially very significant international terror cell like the cell the Italians busted today supposedly destined to go after the Vatican.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Boy, this is a big one. I'm used to looking at counterterrorism investigations or cells where you're talking about a handful of people which is already a pretty complex investigation when you think about, for example, international communications.

This is a huge investigation for any service. Let me tell you why. Your first question is, what is the extent of the network? Do I have time to figure out where the documents are coming from, where the money is coming from? Whether they have access to training, weapons explosives? How are they communicating overseas, and are there networks that go elsewhere in Europe, the United States?

So, it's going to take you months or in this case maybe years to understand the full extent of a network that's broad with this many people. There is one question, one risk you've got to deal with in the short term, Wolf, and that is, as I'm mapping my knowledge of the network, I cannot afford to continue that mapping if it looks like overnight, these guys are going to attack the Vatican.

So, there's also risk reward. Do I have time to figure out the extent of the conspiracy or are these guys talking like they're moving tonight, in which case I'm going to take them down right away?

[17:30:00] BLITZER: Well, I assume the Italians concluded they had to move because they have been watching these guys for several years, they finally made this decision to go ahead and move.

Tom Fuentes, when you were in the FBI, you worked, you cooperated with the Italian authorities. There was a plot, I remember, to try to bomb the U.S. embassy in Rome.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right. Exactly, Wolf. In 2002 there were nine Moroccans who were members of al Qaeda cell, who were tunneling under the Via Veneto, which is a very famous street in Rome, that the U.S. embassy is on that street. They for tunneling under the street to get to the basement of the embassy, which is formerly a palace, a 150-year-old palace, and they were going to blow up that embassy.

So the Italians worked very closely when that plot was uncovered. They were up on wiretaps, on 18 wiretaps within 24 hours. It was an extensive investigation then they took that group of Moroccans down.

BLITZER: Peter, one of the terror suspects arrested by the Italians today supposedly they have him in a wiretap conversation saying he was directly sent over there to do this attack by bin Laden himself before bin Laden was killed. Do you buy that?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. It could be bravado. It could be something else. I mean, the sequence is that bin Laden wasn't communicating directly with a lot of people in the post-9/11 era. But as we've discussed already this plot has been maturing for a very long time so it's not inconceivable. But it may just be, you know, this kind of thing you tell your fellow jihadis to increase your cred.

BLITZER: To make him sound like more important than he actually is, Bob Baer, which raises the question about these suspects, these terror suspects now in custody by the Italians, what kind of information do you think potentially they could provide to Italian intelligence police. How valuable in other words are they potentially?

ROBERT BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Wolf, it's enormous. Once you knock down the door on these safe houses, you get inside and you get into address books, you get into cell phones, burner phones, a couple of these guys. I wouldn't be surprised if they break under interrogation, start talking about the relations, bigger networks across Europe.

But, Wolf, I've got to say what disturbs me is the target, the Vatican. We're seeing a radicalization of Islam that I haven't seen before. I mean, the Vatican is not a participant in any of the wars in the Middle East. There's no justification that we can understand why they're at war with the Vatican. Just like behead heading the Coptic Christians in Libya and the Ethiopians as well.

And what we're seeing is a conflict that's getting much worse, and of course you've got Europe as susceptible to these vast movements of people coming out of the Middle East, taking these votes across the Mediterranean. We're going to add fuel to the fire. So as usual things seem to be getting worse rather than better.

BLITZER: Which is a fair point, Phil Mudd. Why are these terrorists going after Christian, whether the Egyptian Christian, the Ethiopian Christians, they're throwing these Christians overboard. Why this was on Christianity by these fanatics?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well if you look at the targeting of the Vatican, you have to look at the world from the perspective of the al Qaeda or ISIS guys. And that perspective is pretty straightforward. They're trying to expand their roots across the Islamic world. It's not big enough for them to say we're going after the Italians or the French. They want to portray as defenders of the Islamic faith and defenders of a culture to a universe of people who they want to recruit.

The way they're going to do that is to say we're defending Islam against Christianity and they characterize Christianity is by saying these folks are crusaders. It's not a big leap for them to say if we're defending Islam against the crusaders, the center of the crusaders is the Vatican. So I know it sounds a bit absurd. But this is a very simple effort by them to step up their game to say we are much bigger than fighting against Washington, New York, Paris or London. We are fighting to defend the faith against crusader nations and that's led by people like the Pope.

BLITZER: All right. I want all of you to stand by because we're going to stay on top of this story, but there's another major development we're following right now.

We have new details from Baltimore police on what may have caused the death of Freddie Gray as angry protesters promise to shut the city down.

And an enormous eruption forces thousands of people from their home. Officials are warning more volcanic activity is on the way. Look at this picture. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:34:01] BLITZER: New details are now emerging about what may have severed the spine of Freddie Gray, the African-American man who died in the custody of the Baltimore police. Only moments ago the police commissioner, Anthony Batts, spoke out about what investigators know so far.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY BATTS, COMMISSIONER, BALTIMORE PD: We know he was not buckled in the transportation wagon as he should have been. No excuses for that, period. We know our police employees failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner multiple times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The admission comes as demonstrators are promising in their words to shut this city down.

CNN's Brian Todd is in Baltimore.

Brian, you were right in the middle of the protests we saw unfold in THE SITUATION ROOM yesterday. What's the latest there today?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We were right in the middle of those protests, Wolf. And we're here at the Western Precinct of the Baltimore police preparing for a possible -- another round of protests tonight. They could be coming soon. This was the scene of intense protests over the past few nights.

It comes as there are new concerns tonight, Wolf, about the upcoming protest and about possibly dangerous influence of outside agitators.

[17:40:15]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): There have been sudden spontaneous confrontations. Plenty of tense standoffs with police. But so far no major eruptions of violence in Baltimore, a pattern city officials are worried could break at any moment.

BATTS: To any and all that would seek to bring chaos to our city, the people of Baltimore will not tolerate you hurting our community.

TODD: Law enforcement veterans know full well who could disrupt the peaceful cycle of demonstrations.

CAPT. LEIGH MADDOX (RET.), FORMER MARYLAND STATE POLICE OFFICER: Anarchists and people with no respect for the rule of law pose a great danger because they can cause a mob mentality that people otherwise acting alone would never do.

TODD: Former Maryland State Police Captain Leigh Maddox says outside agitators burn trash cans and throw bottles, infiltrate the ranks of peaceful protesters to cause trouble. It happened repeatedly in Ferguson. In Baltimore, local activists are upset over outsiders who they believe have already tried to start trouble, including more formal organizers who they say are hijacking the local agenda.

KINJI SCOTT, BALTIMORE COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: They're taking over the message and they've deflecting from what the real message is. And the real message is that as a community, the poor black community, we're tired of police violence.

TODD: But the organizers of upcoming protests, some of whom are from outside Baltimore, they share the same goal as locals, justice for Freddie Gray.

MALIK SHABAZZ BLACK, LAWYERS FOR JUSTICE: I'm going to go anywhere where my people are being killed. I'm going to go as an attorney or I'm going to go organize the people. I'm not going to turn around.

TODD: They're all demanding answers as to why Freddie Gray went into a police van in what police say was good condition but came out with a severe spinal cord injury that later killed him. It's happened before with the Baltimore police. In 2005, Dondi Johnson suffered spinal injuries that would later be fatal after he was placed in a police van similar to the one that transported Freddie Gray, without a seatbelt. The Baltimore police were found liable in a civil suit.

PHILIP FEDERICO, ATTORNEY FOR DONDI JOHNSON: It's like lightning striking twice. And certainly after that case was over, I was like, this will never happen again. This shouldn't happen again. But it did.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Now the Baltimore police today did not address the fact that there have now been two deaths as a result of rides in their police vans over the past 10 years. But a short time ago Commissioner Anthony Batts said that anyone who might have harmed Freddie Gray is going to be prosecuted -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Brian, stand by. We'll get back to you.

I want to bring in our experts, joining us, Tom Fuentes, once again he's the former assistant director of the FBI, our law enforcement analyst. Also joining us Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst and Joey Jackson, a criminal defense attorney and HLN legal analyst.

Tom Fuentes, when the police chief says Freddie gray was not buckle in the van, there are no excuses for that, those were his words. He acknowledged that he should have received medical attention as soon as there was a problem, how serious is this oversight?

FUENTES: Those are serious allegations that he's making about the operation of his own police officers. So I think it's very serious in terms of the civil liability and obviously in terms of a potential criminal prosecution which he mentioned as a distinction possibility and why they're being so meticulous and closed mouth about this investigation because they're anticipating a strong possibility of prosecution.

BLITZER: Yes. That's the police commissioner, the deputy police commissioner, Jeffrey. He -- he said this about Freddie Gray not being strapped in seatbelt in that van. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN DAVIS, BALTIMORE POLICE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: I walked the entire route yesterday. It's a foot chase that's not a short one. It goes through several streets, several houses complexes and eventually ends up along the 1700 block of Presbury and that's where the apprehension of Freddie Gray occurred and quite frankly that's exactly where Freddie Gray should have received medical attention. And he did not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Wasn't strapped in, he didn't receive medical attention when they thought he should receive medical attention. What's your legal analysis of what we just heard?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's very significant because it is the first clear acknowledgment by the Baltimore Police Department that their officers did wrong. The question that's outstanding now is was this misconduct negligence, was it a mistake? Or was it intentional? Was it an assault on Freddie Gray?

That will determine what kind of criminal charges. But certainly today's disclosures suggest that some kind of criminal charges are likely at this point.

BLITZER: Yes. These are police making accusations against other police. So that's very significant.

TOOBIN: Indeed.

BLITZER: Yes. All right. Joey, let's talk about what the police are also saying. They say they have received what they call a preliminary verbal report from the medical examiner but they said toxicology could take another 30 or 45 days. They're consulting spinal experts. How long could this whole process take right now until we start getting some serious answers?

[17:45:08] JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that's an open question, Wolf. And I think serious answers could be forthcoming now or relatively soon. However, let's break that down. You asked about toxicology. Toxicology relates to what is in his system if anything. What might Freddie Gray have had into -- in his system. Now that might be significant to the entire investigation, to explain what he had, what was his state of mind, et cetera, but it certainly will not answer the question of how this occurred.

Moving on to the second aspect in terms of consulting spinal experts, certainly that should happen. The issue with that, though, Wolf, is that oftentimes, and I think Jeffrey Toobin will agree, you could have a battle of the experts. That means that you could consult various experts, they may have with various opinions. And so therefore you certainly want to consult more than one. I could see them consulting up to three. In the event they consult two and they have certainly different interpretations in terms of how that injury occurred.

But that's what's very critical, Wolf, for the following reason. It will answer what was the nature of the injury and how would this injury be sustained in a normal cause. What type of pressure would need to be applied, could it have been accidental. Is it more something consistent with intentional. So that's the issue and in terms of the timeframe, it would be dependent upon when those experts are available to evaluate this case and give their report and recommendation.

BLITZER: Very quickly, Joey, because we know the family wants their own independent autopsy now that they have the body. How different potentially could the results of that autopsy be from the police autopsy?

JACKSON: Well, I think the first difference, to be clear, is that when the initial autopsy happens, that's when the body is fresh and that's when the body is, you know, initially examined. So that's very important, gathering the notes from that autopsy and everything else from that autopsy certainly very important, too. And then you have to match them when the second autopsy occurs. The family -- and you now for all we know, Wolf, the federal government may also in terms of the Justice Department investigation want to do an autopsy.

And so what they'll do is they'll look at the various autopsies, they'll look at the notes associated with those autopsies and they'll look at how the body has been preserved and moved to see what if any effects have had on even subsequent autopsy.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Jeffrey. Go ahead. Add.

TOOBIN: Well, that's true. But all this evidence has to be integrated. We want to know what the cause of death is from the autopsy. But obviously we'll ask the officers. They will have an opinion about how this injury took place. We'll see if it's consistent. We'll see what outside experts say, we'll see what the surveillance cameras say. So it all needs to be integrated. And you know, I can understand why people want this very quickly. We always do. But you know, this stuff takes time. And it's appropriate.

BLITZER: Tom, the protesters, they've been relatively peaceful so far, as we all know, but there's deep concern tonight over the weekend outside agitators could come in, starts throwing rocks, bottles, looting, stuff like that. How do you deal with something like that? We saw it in Ferguson explode and there's deep concern, we just heard from the police chief in Baltimore, they're deeply concerned about that.

FUENTES: And that's a problem. Because anytime you have this kind of potential action on the street of a large crowd, you have people show up that have no idea what the occasion is. They come to protest the monetary fund or World Bank or, you know, a case like this and they may not have ever heard of Freddie Gray but they know there's a big thing going on in Baltimore, show up and attack the police. And it does hurt the protesters. They don't want to see that anymore than the police wants.

BLITZER: All right. I want all of you to stand by because we have more coming up.

Also we're following this massive volcano that has just erupted forcing thousands of people from their homes. Officials are now warning more volcanic activity is on the way. We're about to go there live.

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[17:53:12] BLITZER: All right. Take a look at this, a group of tourists capture the moment Chile's volcano starts to erupt violently. Look at this. Thousands of people already have been evacuated. Authorities are also warning there will be more activity today.

Amazing. Amazing video.

CNN's Shasta Darlington is joining us now, she's very close to that volcano.

Shasta, where are you? How close are you to that volcano?

SHASTA VOLCANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. We're about 10 miles from the volcano. We're in Ensenada. This was one of the first towns that was evacuated after those violent eruptions, and just blankets of ash came crashing down here on this town. You can see right over my shoulder, Calbuco is now smoking again. That really has people on edge.

Some of the residents came back today to try and sweep the -- just layers of ash off the roofs of their houses. Only to find that after lying -- quieting down for about a day, it's smoking again, and officials are also saying that they believe this has been unstable, this has not calmed down. That possibly another crater is opening up inside the volcano. And that people should be prepared for a third eruption. In fact, they've even ordered some more evacuations today of another 2,000 people.

Here in Ensenada, it was interesting. While people were cleaning up their houses they also brought in some trucks to finally truck out all of the animals. They have had to leave their horses, their sheep, many of their dogs behind. So they came in, they took them out, they even went and took the salmon out of the rivers. This is a very important salmon region. They took the salmon out of the rivers -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What a story that is. We'll stay in touch. Be careful over there, Shasta Darlington on the scene. She's only, what, about 10 or 15 miles or so from that volcano and another eruption expected. We'll stay in close touch with her.

[17:55:45] Coming up, a massive anti-terror sweep reveals a possible plot against the Vatican by a major al Qaeda cell which is now blamed for a bloody massacre in another country as well.

And a shocking dash cam video capturing the police shooting of an unarmed man. Why is it just now seeing the light of day?

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BLITZER: Happening now, Vatican targeted. A vast anti-terror sweep exposes a potential plot to attack a huge tourist attraction and a symbol of Christianity. Tonight, the suspects, the targets and the direct link to Osama bin Laden.