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U.S. Confirms Video of Anti-ISIS Raid; Man Accused of Stealing Officer's SUV; Russia Offers Air Support to Syria Rebels. Aired 7:30- 8a ET

Aired October 25, 2015 - 07:30   ET



[07:30:52] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We have new imagines this morning as the body of Master Sergeant Josh Wheeler returns to the U.S. soil. The Oklahoma native was killed in a raid on an ISIS prison that set free about 70 hostages. Defense Secretary Ash Carter was there, as well as several others, to witness the arrival. This was at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Meanwhile, we are seeing the dramatic new images from that raid. U.S. officials are confirming that the video you're watching now is from the joint effort between American and Peshmerga forces captured on a body camera worn by one of those Peshmerga fighters.

CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is following the story for us this morning. He's in Turkey.

Nick, take us through what we're seeing in this video.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is an edited video obviously and released by the Kurds through their pretty loyal Rudaw Channel, but it does from the image we see pretty much corroborate the version of events that U.S. and Kurdish officials have been putting out although it's staggered and confused initially.

Now, first of all, we a long cue of prisoners emerging from what looks like a part of the building, some of the hands raised, clearly terrified, unclear what's really going on. You can hear the intensity of gunfire, some of that in a different part which killed Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler whose body return there. You can see in those images.

But the video continues to go on to show the Special Forces, Kurdish it seems predominantly. You hear an American voice particularly at one point, them entering an office that has an ISIS flag on the wall there.

There's a latter part where they appear to be near some cells and also, you get a glimpse of how complex this operation was. They didn't know who they were going to find in those cells necessarily. They thought they would find Kurdish people instead they found Iraqi soldiers, Iraqi prisoners and potentially some ISIS fighters who have been imprisoned because ISIS thought they were spies, but they have to go through one to make sure they are not armed and carrying explosive devices.

But above all, the intensity of gunfire you hear there which Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler was caught, himself a veteran of 14 tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. When you look at America's involvement here, you have to think about the sheer number of years that someone like Master Sergeant Wheeler was involved in fighting in what was the war on terror, finally there in -- that part of Iraq -- being caught in that volley of gunfire -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Fourteen tours there. All right. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We want to get more now from Lieutenant General Mark Hertling who is watching this video with us. Obviously, a lot of bravery here. It has raised some questions about

the role, though, of the U.S. in Iraq.

So I want to ask you, first of all, we hear Nick Paton Walsh talk about this intensity of gunfire. One of the things I've heard some people talked about was the fact that there didn't seem to be, as you're looking at this, General Hertling, silencers on these guns.

What do you make of that?

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Not much, Christi. That is typically of this kind of mission. This is a large mission with primarily Peshmerga forces leading the way. You may have seen the movie "Zero Dark 30" or Captain Phillips where they do have silencers on weapons. Those are small forces with delta force and it's part of their kit. When you are talking about the Peshmerga, you're not going to have that kind of thing on their weapon.

But what you do see is some very good movement by those Peshmerga forces. They have been trained well. They are in a stack four going into the different rooms doing cordon and search operations, and you can tell the advise and assist officers who were there from the U.S. Special Operations are giving good directions. They are slowing them down.

And even the fact that there was a camera on this mission, that's something that always is done in special operations missions. It's normally not released to the press, but they use the film from those missions to conduct after-action reviews after the mission is complete so they can say, how do we do it better next time? How do we improve our action? How do we improve coordination between soldiers?

[07:35:02] PAUL: One of the conversations that is prevalent right now is the U.S. involvement here. I mean, on Friday, Ash Carter said the U.S. will continue to participate in raids such as this, but we will not have a combat role. A lot of people are wondering how is that different?

HERTLING: Well, when you take a look what was happening in this mission and breakdown of the analysis of how this mission was conducted, first of all, they got rapid intelligence that said that there was the potential for mask raids at this prison location, which they knew about, they knew if they didn't act quickly, that these prisoners might be killed and put in those mass graves.

So, you had a choice there. If the Peshmerga were going to o, they told the special operators they were going to do this mission but they were also 90 miles away. So they don't have the kind of equipment they need and the special operator said, hey, if you guys are going, we are going to go with you and we are going to contribute some of our equipment to this. It would have been a rapid in and out. They would have not only needed special aviation assets but also larger helicopters like CH-47s when they knew that there were going to be 70 prisoners there.

The advise and assist missions go with these kind of folks when they know it's a fast mission, when they might need more assistance and you hear that in the film, there was continued assistance given, and when they knew they couldn't delay the mission and yet, the Peshmerga might not be ready because of lapses of equipment or training to conduct the mission on their own.

So, the commander makes a decision and in this case, it was passed all the way up to the secretary of defense and he said, yes, go ahead and go with them. So, this is a counterterrorism mission with special operators along and I think it was the right call. I would have made the same call as the commander on the ground.

PAUL: OK. And, Lieutenant General, just questioning, what kind of information now might the U.S. get from these prisoners?

HERTLING: Well, probably quite a bit. You saw the prisoners being searched as Nick Paton Walsh says. They were looking for weapons or suicide vests but also looking for pocket litter or those cell phones or those kinds of things, too, that will provide intelligence information. They can question these prisoners, as it was said, it's a mixed bag of ISIS soldiers, Iraqi soldiers or local civilians.

You're talking about the area Hawija has a lot of terrorist activity. It always has. It's where most of the Baathist military regime had gone to retire. It's a beautiful area in the Saab triangle. So, you're going to be able to determine what kind of things the ISIS people are doing in that area based on the interrogation and you might have a couple of ISIS operatives within this group that they have taken back to reveal.

PAUL: Who, I'm sure, will be treated a bit differently and hopefully get -- garner some good information from them.

Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, always good to have you, sir. Thank you.

HERTLING: Thank you, Christi.

BLACKWELL: So, the United States and Russia, they both want Syria's civil war to end, but now, the chief diplomats for both countries aren't talking again. How can they get that done? What's on the table? Is a political solution possible in the near term?

Next, police in California, they are chasing a stolen police car. How they got a suspect under control out of that car that was loaded with weapons.


[07:41:44] BLACKWELL: I want you to take to San Francisco, where a man is facing multiple charges after police say he carjacked and officer's SUV with the weapons still inside. Listen to this.

They say he then led them on an hour-long chase around the city and across the bridge. And again, this is in their own stolen SUV.

Katie Utehs with affiliate KGO tells us how it all went down.


KATIE UTEHS, KGO (voice-over): Bound at the wrists and ankles on the Bay Bridge, San Francisco police officers took no chances of this man getting away again. Police say he had already stolen one of their patrol vehicles and led them on a chase across the city.

DEPUTY CHIEF HECTOR SAINEZ, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE: Shortly after he attempted to car-jack another motorist on the lower deck of the bay bridge.

UTEHS: Catching one of their own SUVs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if that was one of us or the vehicle.

UTEHS: A unique challenge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could any officer drive an SUV turn your hazards on so they can know you're not the other guy.

UTEHS: It started with a call for a man with a knife at Lyon and Chestnut Streets. He made an escape.

SAINEZ: He was able to make entry into the officers' marked patrol vehicle and actually steal the vehicle from the officers which still had the keys in the ignition.

UTEHS: Across the city to the bay bridge, he crashed into cars. Police say they are still tallying the damage.

They tried to stop him at the gate near their station on Treasure Island. The deputy chief says two officers fired multiple rounds but it didn't slow him.

SAINEZ: He drove at a high rate of speed onto the sidewalk and attempting to elude capture.

UTEHS: All as people were headed out for their day.

LATERIOUS ROGERS, SAN FRANCISCO RESIDENT: I was standing there at the bus stop.

UTEHS: Between 9:00 and 10:00.

ROGERS: To be on an island and it happens, only one way on and one way off, it's kind of scary.

UTEHS: Traffic backed up across the bridge because the SUV slammed into two cars at the westbound on-ramp and it injured one person. The suspect and two officers are being treated as well.

ROGERS: Very frightening to know you have people in the world who would, you know, really take the people who protect us for granted.

UTEHS: Officer weapons were in the SUV when it was taken.

SAINEZ: Those firearms are secured with secondary locking system. So, unless you're familiar how to access those weapons, you would not know how to access those weapons.

UTEHS: Police are reviewing their policy and as well as the officers who fired during the pursuit.


BLACKWELL: All right. Again, our thanks to Katie Utehs with KGO for that report.


PAUL: All righty. Well, Russia claims it is ready to help fight this battle against ISIS. It sounds like a good thing, doesn't it? Here's a thing -- there is a catch. We'll talk about it.

Also at the top of the hour, Clinton and Sanders and O'Malley taking the stage together in Iowa. Look at whether any of the Democrats had a defining moment.

BLACKWELL: But, first, CNN has announced the top ten heroes for 2015. And we'd like you to meet another of them. Her name is Monique Pool. And she helps save our environment by saving sloths. Watch this story.


MONIQUE POOL, CNN HERO: Saving the sloths for me is not just about saving the sloths. It's about what they stand for. It's about losing habitat. It's about importance of environmental protection for everybody.


BLACKWELL: And that's just a bit of it.

[07:45:00] If you want to watch more of her story and others, go to the While you're there, you can meet, of course, all ten of the top heroes and vote once a day, every day, for your favorite candidate. All ten will be honored at "CNN Heroes: An All- Star Tribute" hosted by Anderson Cooper on December 6th. Only one would be named CNN Hero of the Year.


BLACKWELL: Russia says its air force is to ready to help the Free Syrian Army and other rebel groups as they battle ISIS. But there's a catch here: Russia wants the U.S. to help identify the rebels' positions.

Now, consider this: the U.S. has accused Russia of using its air campaign to target the rebels and civilians instead of ISIS. And all this is coming as Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart spoke by phone on Saturday, trying to find common ground on a political transition for Syria.

For more, let's bring in CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson live from Moscow.

Nic, how close or how far potentially are these two sides from this political solution and what defines that here?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I think it's interesting that Secretary Kerry and Former Minister Lavrov spoke on Saturday by phone because they've met already in Vienna Friday, the day before, and had quite expansive talks.

[07:50:04] So, what additional was that to do. So, that kind of gives a sense of perhaps there is some momentum and something here for them to talk about.

But this whole question of the Russian air force supporting the, as they call it, the patriotic opposition, including the Free Syrian Army, really when you listen to some of the recent statement by Foreign Minister Lavrov, by President Putin, they really question who the Free Syrian Army are, do they speak with one voice, who are they, what are they, where are they? The where are they question is the one they said the United States isn't helping them with the Free Syrian Army saying they have been hit on several occasions by the Russian air force.

So, the chances of political progress here seems to be developing because there is a continuing dialogue happening on a daily basis. But this issue of support for the Free Syrian Army, the Free Syrian Army themselves today according to the Russian state media said that's a non-starter unless the Russian air force stop bombing them.

So, at the moment, I think we seem to be a long way from breaking the political log jam which is Russia perceived by everyone supporting Bashar al Assad, the Syrian president. They say they're not, that they're supporting both sides. They're supporting democracy and the rights for Syrians to make a decision over who will lead the country in the future. But there are some major, major stumbling blocks here, not just between the United States and Russia, but between all the major regional players on this. BLACKWELL: So, the expectations with Russia asking for the locations of the Free Syrian Army and the rebels is that they'll use that to decimate their resources and their manpower?

ROBERTSON: You know, that's -- on the face of it, that's not the way the Russians are approaching this.

Between the United States and Russia, at the moment, both sides, I think, would be careful and cautious about sharing their own intelligence about who is where and doing what on the ground. The Russians through their extensive contacts with the President Bashar al Assad and his intelligence assets on the ground, which are able to pinpoint precise buildings belonging to Free Syrian Army commanders or hospitals in other sort of opposition buildings, if you will, inside Syria at the moment, the Russians already at their disposable have an extensive amount of information. It would be typical of United States and Russia to be very cautious at this early stage of sharing what each other knows.

BLACKWELL: Understood. Nic Robertson, thank you so much.

PAUL: So, let's talk about this a little more with "Military Times" contributor Naveed Jamali. He's a naval intelligence officer, author of "How to Catch a Russian Spy", and former double agent.

So, Naveed, so grateful to have you with us.

Let's talk about the questions about Russia's intent basically in wanting the U.S. to reveal these locations. What do you believe the intention is? Is it that Russia wants to fight ISIS? Is it that Russia wants to find these rebels?

NAVEED JAMALI, NAVAL INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Well, look, Russia wants to stay in Syria. That's their pawn. I mean, they're not going to give it up. So, it's clear that sharing information with them at a minimum it's going to Assad. And, secondly, of course, they're going to use it to their benefit, to neutralize any adversaries they have.

The bigger question, Christi, is really the Kurds. I have to go back to that. I think it's -- you know, as we saw with Sergeant Wheeler we're reliant on the Kurds. And it's the Turks and the Kurds do not get along. So, that has to be something that we resolve here.

PAUL: And how do we resolve it?

JAMALI: Well, look, the Kurds are looking at it they want their own state. Unless we want to put boots on the ground, which everyone including the Russians are saying they don't want to do. The Kurds are the best option. But you've got to give them something, and what they want is a state. Well, that's not OK with the Turks. The Iraqis have an independent state. It's technically part of Iraq.

So, this is a question that has to be answered. As far as I've heard with Lavrov and Kerry, they've been saying over and over that Syria is going to remain in this footprint, that there's not going to be trading of land. So, I don't see how we're resolving the issue. PAUL: Is there -- do you see anything, any reason that the U.S. would

give up that information to Russia, the information that Russia is asking for regarding the rebels?

JAMALI: It's hard to say they would. I mean, at this point, you know, we're going to negotiate over every point. If nothing else, just from a leverage perspective. I mean, the Russians have us over a little bit of a barrel here.

You got to trade something for something in return. I'm not sure why we would give that to them. What is the end game? What's the benefit to us?

PAUL: Yes. It makes you wonder the conversations that are going on.

Naveed Jamali, we appreciate you being here. Thank you.

JAMALI: Thank you.

PAUL: Absolutely.

And we'll be right back. Stay close.


[07:58:48] PAUL: For the first time ever an NFL game available only online.


PAUL: Ever!

BLACKWELL: Is it live streaming game? Is it a gimmick? It is a sign of the future.

Let's bring in CNN Sports Andy Scholes to tell us.

Jaguars and Bills, though, let's start there.

I love Jacksonville, love Jaguars. But I don't know many people --

PAUL: Good save there.

BLACKWELL: It's true.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: The NFL is trying to reach more fans. And they do it well with technology. Always very innovative with what they do.

And, you know, this morning's Bills and Jaguars game in London is going to be streamed live for free. It's only on Yahoo, unless if u you live in the local Jacksonville, then you can see it on TV, and again, it's going to start at 9:30 Eastern.

Now, according to "The New York Times", Yahoo! paid around $20 million to stream the game. It's viewed by an experiment to gauge the appeal of American football, you know, internationally to see how popular it would be if it is distributed only online.

Now, one thing if you tune in to this game or stream this game, there might be fewer commercials. They're not going to have as many. There's eight minute less commercials. So, that's one positive for this game being streamed online. But, you know, don't expect to all of it sudden be a lot of NFL games online only, because there are TV deals in place until the mid 2020s.

So, we're not going to see a lot of this. And as you said, Victor, I'm not sure how good of a gauge it will be. A Bills/Jaguar game starts at 9:30 Eastern.