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Interview With Indiana Congressman Andre Carson; CVS Under Fire; Serial Sniper?; Terror Plot; FBI: Rahim was About to Attack Police. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired June 4, 2015 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Police today telling us that we may have just been hours away from another day of terror in Boston.

I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

The national lead, new information today about Usaama Rahim, the man who police shot dead in a parking lot who was under 24/7 surveillance by the FBI, and why police thought they could not wait another second to stop him. In the show, we will talk to the woman authorities say he wanted to behead.

Also in national news, two dead and another shot through the neck, police in one state fearing they may have a serial sniper on the loose.

And they claim they were told to target black and Hispanic customers, and consider all of them potential shoplifters. Did CVS order employees to profile shoppers by their race?

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to with the national lead, information breaking now about the ISIS-inspired plot to kill cops. That plot could have been a bloody, terrifying reality, we're told. But, today, we found out that Usaama Rahim even called his father to say goodbye. We're expecting to hear from Rahim's family at any moment.

Police now saying the terror suspect may have been just hours away from using his military-style fighting knife to murder -- quote -- "those boys in blue," as he described them. Authorities also believe Rahim initially wanted to go out of state and cut the head off a conservative activist and commentator named Pamela Geller.

You may remember Geller as the organizer of the draw Mohammed contest in Garland Texas. That's where two other would-be ISIS-inspired terrorists were killed. Sources say Rahim ultimately changed his mind because he just couldn't wait to carry out his murderous acts.

Pamela Geller is with us. She will joining us in a moment to react to this news.

But, first, let's go to justice correspondent Pamela Brown. She is live in Boston.

Pamela, another suspect is in custody. Police questioned someone else in the terror probe?


This third person is believed to be part of this terrorism conspiracy, according to law enforcement officials we have been speaking with, but so far, no other arrests have been made. Meantime, we're learning more about an ominous call that Usaama Rahim allegedly made to his father that put law enforcement on high alert right before the shooting.


BROWN (through translator): CNN has learned, shortly before Usaama Rahim allegedly pulled a knife on police officers Tuesday morning, he made a phone call to his father to say his goodbyes, the call overheard by investigators who had been monitoring his e-mail and phone activity, putting Rahim, seen here in a high school photo, under round-the-clock surveillance about 10 days ago.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans:

(on camera): So, what made you go from, OK, this guy could be aspirational to operational?

WILLIAM EVANS, BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER: The language we were picking up. You know, let's get a boy in blue. And we couldn't let him out of our sight. When it looked like he was going operational, that we stepped into action.

BROWN (voice-over): Law enforcement was fearful he was about to board a bus with military knives they knew he'd ordered from Amazon just last week, and that's why officials say they approached him outside of this CVS in Boston.

EVANS: We didn't want to get him on the MBTA bus, because he very well could have acted out on the bus. But we knew the urgency was there that we had to get to him.

BROWN: Rahim was heard on wiretap Tuesday morning allegedly planning to attack law enforcement after abandoning plans to go to New York to behead controversial activist Pamela Geller.

Court documents say Rahim met on a Rhode Island beach this past Sunday with a relative, David Wright, to discuss the beheading plot. Wright was arrested and appeared in court Wednesday. And today law enforcement was still outside the Rhode Island home of a third person who was part of that beach discussion. Authorities have questioned that person already, but have not said who it is.

(on camera): You have him saying on these wiretaps allegedly what he wanted to go after the boys in blue, that he wanted to go to New York and behead Pamela Geller. Why wasn't he arrested before this? EVANS: It might be hearsay. It might be just small talk. Urgency of

it really came to light on Tuesday morning that this is real. When the knives got delivered, the whole talk of a vacation, and which was code for violent jihad.

BROWN (voice-over): The FBI says the men were radicalized by ISIS. Tonight, we're learning the terrorist group encouraged the men to carry out an attack.


BROWN: And we're learning more about that. Two U.S. officials with knowledge of the investigation say at least one of the men had been in touch online with an ISIS associate, but officials say this seemed more than aspirational, but not necessarily directed by ISIS, very similar to what we saw with that attempted terrorist attack in Garland, Texas -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Pamela Brown, thanks.

Joining me now, conservative blogger, author, activist Pamela Geller, the woman authorities say was at least initially the target of the beheading plot.

Pamela, thanks for joining us. We're glad you're OK.

What was your reaction to finding out that these extremists allegedly wanted to behead you?



My reaction was, it was chilling, not surprising, because this is what happens when you violate the blasphemy laws under the Sharia, that you will be targeted. And so I'm not surprised, but one thing is clear. ISIS is here. Islamic terrorism is here. That was painfully obvious in the wake of the Garland jihad shooting.

And a lot of positive developments came out of that shooting, first, that these -- they drove 1,000 miles to Garland. Thank God they picked Garland and they didn't pick a softer target. Clearly, my events, which I have had security at for the past 10 years because I have studied the jihadist doctrine and I understand the enemy, but if they went to a mall, there's no telling how many people were killed.

Plus, they gleaned an enormous amount of intel off the computers of those jihadists and they upped surveillance on high-profile suspects, perhaps even -- perhaps even Boston.

TAPPER: Pamela, what...


GELLER: And I want to just -- I want to thank the Boston Police Department. They did a superb, superb job. TAPPER: What did they tell you exactly when it came to how much you

were a target?

GELLER: I had heard from CNN initially, and then, upon their request, multiple agencies, we had a meeting, but I'm clearly not at liberty to discuss what went -- what was said.

TAPPER: OK. Fair enough.

Pamela, are you afraid for your life?

GELLER: Of course there's an element of fear. You know, I would be silly to say that there isn't, it's not fearful, but, to me, it is -- it's scarier, Jake, to do nothing, because complying with the Sharia leads to more demands for Sharia compliance.

And while it is very scary that an innocuous and clever cartoon would cause or warrant me to get my head chopped off, this is the state of freedom of speech in this country in 2015, and that I would be the object of attacks across the board, not you specifically, but instead of the jihadists being the focus of the media, instead of the mosques, the same mosque as the Boston -- Tsarnaev -- the bombers, the marathon bombers, the same mosque as Anwar al-Awlaki.

And here we have one of the jihadists who was a security guard at the Islamic Society of Boston. I don't understand why the focus is on my work in defense of freedom, but, again, this is why we're so far down the rabbit hole.

TAPPER: Obviously, if anything violent were to happen to you, it would be heinous, it would be the fault of the people who committed the violent act. Is this worth dying for, in your view?

GELLER: Well, what happened to the give me liberty or give me death America?

You know, the founding fathers were, you know, pursuing this very dream. And through blood and toil and intellectual wrestling and a revolution, we have got to this, this -- this enlightenment, this period of enlightenment, the first government in human history based on individual rights, really the first moral government based on individual rights.

And millions of Americans will not -- refuse to throw it away with both hands. By saying we cannot draw a cartoon or allowing jihadists to dictate what the parameters of our speech is, is surrender, is submission.

TAPPER: All right. As I said, we're waiting for the family of the Boston suspect, Usaama Rahim, to give a statement.

Pamela Geller, if you would stick around, that would be great. We'd love to got your reaction.

And we will bring that family statement to you live when it happens. Meanwhile, the head of the NSA has said the ability of ISIS to recruit

online is -- quote -- "a trend that is clearly increasing." The FBA -- FBI, rather, has warned it needs help keeping up with all the would-be terrorists. So, what are we learning today about these close calls in Garland, Texas, perhaps in Boston?

The first Muslim lawmaker to serve on the House Intelligence Committee will also visit with us. And that's next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Continuing our national lead, any moment, we're going to hear from the family of Usaama Rahim, the man whom friend agents say was inspired by ISIS and plotted to kill Boston police. The plan was foiled when officers shot and killed Usaama Rahim earlier this week, just before, authorities say, he was about to make good on threats to kill cops.

All this comes during the debate over privacy vs. security and as the FBI says it needs help tracking the tech-savvy terrorists of ISIS.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana. He's the first Muslim-American lawmaker to serve on the House Intelligence Committee.

Sir, thanks for joining us again.

REP. ANDRE CARSON (D), INDIANA: Thank you for having me.

TAPPER: First, you sit on the House Intel Committee, as I mentioned.

What are you being told about this investigation? Another person was questioned, but not arrested. Do you think this is a terrorist cell we're dealing with?

CARSON: Well, I don't want to speak out of school, but what I will say is that I do not want to get ahead of the investigators.

And I'm very happy and pleased that video footage was shown to community leaders and faith leaders and the family, so that their story can be corroborated. It is clear that radicalization is becoming more widespread in our country.

And the greater question becomes, if, in fact, law enforcement is monitoring Muslims in particular, in a case like this, intervention should have happened, and we need to have a larger discussion, Jake, about mental health issues in our country.

TAPPER: You think that these individuals had mental health problems, and it's not that they were inspired by the violent Islamic jihad movement and propaganda?

CARSON: I think that there are a multiplicity of issues at play. I think mental health is clear. I think many of these so-called

jihadist movements are tapping into big pockets of disillusionment with government, with their own personal lives and we could bring in sociologists to talk about some of these new religious movements that emerged since the 20th century.

But having said that, I still think we have serious threats that jeopardize our domestic and international security that we have to empower or police departments and faith communities to come together to work out moving out these extremist elements.

TAPPER: Yesterday, the FBI counterterror chief urged Congress to help the FBI track potential ISIS sympathizers, saying that they were going dark in some instances. Do you think that this week's changes to the NSA domestic spying program hurts the FBI in this effort?

CARSON: Well, I think in many ways it has helped to cut back on governmental overreach. I'm deeply concerned. While I sit on the intel committee, I'm a former police officer, I understand the need for law enforcement to be empowered and have the resources that they need to prevent crimes and prevent terroristic activities.

I do know that there's a history in his country, dating back to J. Edgar Hoover's counterintelligence program, where we saw governmental overreach and we saw civil liberties being encroached.

So, I think there has to be a healthy balance.

TAPPER: There is some scary overseas news about ISIS today. Apparently -- I'm sorry, sir. I have to cut you off right now.


TAPPER: Thanks for joining us.

We're going to the family of Usaama Rahim, addressing the shooting right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First, let me begin in the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful.

I ask -- I'm going to ask for a couple of things here for myself as a -- as a man who believes in god, that god has mercy on the young man. I don't know what his faults were and I don't think whatever transpired warranted him being killed.

I also want to pray for the officers involved. That god would guide them, because they have families and I don't know how strongly they take it that they have murdered a young man that they well could have captured.

I say that, because you can -- they can capture elephants without killing them. You can capture wild dogs. You can capture tigers and lions and bears, oh, my. You can capture all of them, and I think if they had ample time and ample information, that if they wanted to really -- I think it was reckless that they would be out here in the parking lot shooting, on the part of the officers.

I think it was foolish on the part of the young man if he did wield a knife in front of five officers, I think that was very foolish.

OK. My name's Abdullah Farouk (ph). I'm the imam for the Muslim of praising of Allah. I'm very concerned for our public safety, our as I saw in the film the other day, there was a school bus going by, in the morning, 7:00 in the morning, a school bus. And there was a yellow car and it was 7:15 in the morning, that's when the children are going back and forth to school.

So, I think of their approach to this, the planning for it was very reckless and led to the young man's death. I think that the young man might have put his head in the jar of a lion, and they got it crushed.

REPORTER: Do you know where the family, how long until they were join --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said they are on their way from Brighton. They're trying to arrange for his burial arrangements. We are hoping it will be tomorrow, and they just calm immediate and said, was I here yet, I said I was struggling to get here. I had so many things to do. So, forgive me for being late.

REPORTER: We heard from Ibrahim Rahim (ph) today, calling for calm after he previously making statements in the video --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he emotionally responded, and he responded to the information he received, you know? Heard that his -- when we hear about a young black man, it's not unheard of that he would be shot in the back in America. It's a climate of racism. I'm not saying that America's racist, but there are elements of racism in this country.

And I think we have to be careful if we're going to uncover what is real and good about this situation, and some things are real and good, and that we need to uncover what the young man did, how much he said. What were the circumstances of -- they say, I heard today that they were surveying him or surveilling him for some three years. And that for the last few weeks that they've been surveilling him and their surveillance going on for 24/7.

REPORTER: Where did you hear that, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife said she heard that on some news report. I'm not sure how definite that is, but -- we do know that he was being -- there was surveillance going on.

And if they considered him as a very dangerous person, that means if they considered him a very dangerous person, they should have took precautions in approaching him -- I would.

[16:20:07] I wouldn't approach a wild animal, anything that I thought was dangerous without being fully prepared, especially if I wanted to capture, if I wanted to capture and keep him alive. So, I don't think that their intent was to capture him and keep him alive. REPORTER: You agree with Ibrahim's brothers, the time is for calm?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time is for calm. What are we going to do? The boy is gone. We have to move on. We have to find out more, and I think if the Boston police department and then the FBI do some more thorough investigation, they said that they were calling for transparency, then I'm looking for that transparency and want to know who orchestrated this incident.

I mean, I know that they can plan for capturing -- like I said -- wild animals or anybody they want to get. So, I think it was poorly constructed and I think it was ill-conceived and I think it was reckless.

REPORTER: I understand the family wants to see the video as you have and it's now being arranged?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. I'm hoping so and hoping we can bring closure to the family. Ask that god overlook the shortcomings of the people who continue to exist that murdered the young man. I know they probably didn't want -- that's not what they intended in their hearts. But this is what they're trained, to shoot at the critical mass, and in an open space.

TAPPER: All right. That was a local imam, Abdullah Farouk, reacting to the shooting of terror suspect Usaama Rahim. We are expecting the family of Rahim to speak soon. They apparently have not shown up yet.

Pamela Geller is still with us. She's the alleged target of one of Rahim's plots.

What do you make of what this imam had to say?

PAMELA GELLER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR & AUTHOR: Well, who orchestrated the incident indeed? The fact is, is the mosque that the jihadists belonged to was actually security guard, the Islamic Society of Boston, has known terror connections with the mosque of the Boston marathon bombers.

Suhaib Webb, their imam, was with Anwar al Awlaki two days before 9/11. That mosque should be monitored and surveilled. Interesting to me is that Abdullah Farouk, I don't know what mosque he's affiliated with. I'd like to ask the good imam, what is he doing to institute programs to teach against the jihad doctrine? What is he doing to make sure that young, devout Muslims don't wage jihad?

The fact is, the blame is all being put on the Boston police. The man lunged at him with a gun -- with a knife this long. The idea that they are somehow culpable until their own defense is outrageous and about seen.

There is absolutely no questioning of the jihadic doctrine. There's about absolutely no questioning on where and whom influenced this young man. These are the questions that we need to ask.

And I think the police waited almost too long. They waited for the martyrdom call to the father. They waited until he called his father to say, I'm going to Allah. I've got to go, and that's when they sprung into action.

But the police also know if they apprehended him earlier, they would have come under intense scrutiny and criticism by Islamic supremacist terror-tied groups like the Council of American Islamic Relations who has done everything to dismantle our counterterror and our surveillance programs in New York as well.

These programs are critical. Without these programs, this jihadist, he's not mentally ill.

TAPPER: I wanted to ask you about, because Congressman Andre Carson, Democrat of Indiana who's on the House Intelligence Committee, we were speaking to him before that imam came to the microphone and we mistakenly thought he was a member of the family or was going to introduce the family.

And Congressman Carson, I don't want to -- I don't want to speak for him, you heard him.

GELLER: I heard him.

TAPPER: And he said that there are mental health issues at play. He didn't blame it all. He said it's a complex situation. But he said that there are mental health issues at play here.

What's your response to that? It does seem on its face that anybody who would want to cut your head off, Pamela, is mentally ill?

GELLER: On its face, anyone that would want to cut your head off is mentally ill to the Western mind.

And with all due respect, Congressman Carson, the fact is, is millions of Muslims across the world who are waging, preaching and advancing jihad, are not mentally ill. They are following the jihadic doctrine -- and so was this young man.

And so, it's disingenuous, it's deeply troubling to me as an American who's very concerned about national security that a member of the Intel Committee would say that jihad is mental illness. It's just ridiculous on its face, and, frankly, it's not true.

You tell me why tens of thousands of Muslims that are not -- what did he say? Disaffected or illiterate? I mean, they're well-educated. They grew up in affluent homes. Doctors, engineers are flocking to the Middle East not to fight the Islamic State but fight for the Islamic State.

[16:25:06] TAPPER: I hear you.

GELLER: There's an ideological question here, Jake, that people don't want to talk about. It makes people very uncomfortable. But I'm telling you, we have to talk about it.

TAPPER: All right. Pamela Geller, as always, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it. Glad you're OK.

In the politics lead today, Governor Rick Perry. Then, it will be Governor Jeb Bush. It's an ever growing field of Republican presidential candidates. Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, is one of them, and he'll join me live with his take on the competition and issues that divide Americans. That's coming up.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Our other national lead today, police now investigating a cluster of shootings in Colorado that they say they fear could be the work of a serial sniper.