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Growing Possibility that Bomb Brought Down the Metrojet 9268; U.S. Intel Suggests ISIS Bomb Brought Down Plane; Investigators: 'Hero' Cop Killed Himself, Staged a Murder. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 4, 2015 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, thanks very much for joining us.

As we have been doing throughout the night, we begin this hour with breaking news and if the facts out a terrifying thought, that ISIS has succeed in taking down a commercial airliner with a bomb. It is not a certainty at this hour but a growing belief inside the intelligence community. That a bomb destroyed Metro Jet 9268 and it was an inside job done with help from someone at the Egyptian airport where the flight originated.

Now, the first inkling came this morning. By this evening, it became a drum beat as first British and American sources began talking about what they know, how they know it and why the threat may be on going. We just learned shortly before air time about security measures that British authorities are taking as we speak.

Tonight the latest evidence, the reaction in Washington, London, St. Petersburg, Russia where the airbus A-321 was heading with 234 people onboard, including 25 children. We will take a closer look at security in Egypt at the airport in Sharm el-Sheikh and especially here at home.

We have correspondents everywhere the story is breaking. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, Phil Black in London, Nic Robertson in St Petersburg and in Sharm el-sheikh for us, Erin McLaughlin.

Firs, Barbara Starr with her latest from intelligence and national securities for us.

So Barbara, what have you learned?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Anderson. It was midday here in Washington when U.S. officials began talking about this. A U.S. official in fact telling CNN and I want to quote directly quote "there is a definite feeling it was an explosive device planted in luggage of somewhere on the plane."

They have had this feeling all week. They are beginning to assemble the intelligence, not a certainty issue said, but growing indications this is where their thinking is heading. They had been watching Sinai for some time, watching militant activity grow there. The feeling they have now right is that it is ISIS or an ISIS affiliate most likely behind this if indeed it proves to be a bomb onboard the airplane. And of course, this will change the world's calculations about what ISIS is capable of doing.

COOPER: So, how are U.S. authorities saying that they got this information and that did they have intelligence about a specific threat prior to the crash?

STARR: Right. OK. So, U.S. officials are telling CNN that no, they didn't have a specific credible timely information about a threat before the crash, before this incident but in watching this militant activity grow in Sinai, it had caught their attention and after the crash, the incident, they went back, they looked at it, they began to develop more intelligence, more information and they have been monitoring ISIS chatter so to speak. We don't know if that cell phone conversation, online postings, is well-known for using very secure chat rooms. The U.S. monitors ISIS communications secretly covertly as much as it can and it does appear that is chatter about this, a claim of responsibility not a public claim, but some other sort of more covert claim in their chatter is at least a key part of what captured the U.S. attention.

COOPER: OK. And so, this idea that someone at the airport, to use the exact words I think you used was involved, what does that actually mean? Someone who services the plane, who has access to the plane, not through the passenger screening?

STARR: Right, well that's what we don't know. Now, U.S. official tells me, you know, without offering a lot of intelligence detail, they believe it was essentially a conventional explosive, not plastic explosives, not something that could be so advanced it sneaks past airport detection because there is no metal in it. They think it was fairly conventional, either snuck on board in passenger luggage or by someone, as you say, service personnel who may have had contact with the aircraft, all eyes focused on that airport, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Barbara Starr, appreciate it.

Now, we want to get the latest from London where flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh have been canceled. And Prime Minister David Cameron today chaired a meeting of the government's emergency security committee. And additionally, we just learned that a security delegation sent by London has just arrived in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. Our Phil Black joins us more from there.

So, the news this morning that the prime minister saying a bomb may have brought down the plane, is there any sense what may have led him to come out publicly and say that, what kind of intelligence the British may have?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, they are not discussing intelligence in any detail. Its source that of sort of thing. They are not discussing that publicly. But that information has been reviewed here tonight through meetings with the prime minister and other senior members of the government. And they say some of it is recent and has they say strengthened their concerns. They are now saying there is a significant possibility that there was a bomb aboard that aircraft. But they are not talking about details, the intelligence, they make the point to discuss this so openly, discuss their concerns so openly, something they wouldn't do lightly unless they had real reason for doing so, Anderson.

COOPER: And it is interesting that the information didn't - wasn't announced by the Egyptians, that it was British and then U.S. sources saying this.

[20:05:06] BLACK: Yes, that's right. And the Egyptians aren't happy about it. They say that it is premature for the British government to be discussing it in this way because they say the official investigation led by Egyptians hasn't concluded. But the response to the British government to that is, well, the Egyptians haven't seen all the intelligence that we have available to us. You can bet that this is going to be talked about tomorrow at the highest level because the Egyptian president is coming here to Downing Street to meet with Prime Minister David Cameron for a meeting that was already scheduled to take place.

COOPER: And we talk about the British delegation that inspected Sharm el-Sheikh airport. Do we know more details on that?

BLACK: According to the British government, they have gone there, they reported back. Their assessment is that security has been stepped up at the airport. But in the words of the government here, there is still more work to do.

So the government having made the extraordinary step of sending in their own advisors to an airport in another country are now saying that country isn't quite up to the job just yet, but they are going to work together closely so that hopefully those flights between Britain and Sharm el-Sheikh can resume and British tourist can start returning home, but that's going to take a few days, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Phil Black. Thank you, Phil.

Joining us now, CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest, CNN contributor Michael Weiss, senior editor of the "Daily Beast" and co- author of "ISIS inside the army of terror. Also Anthony May, he worked on the TWA flight 800 investigation as retired explosives enforcement officer at the ATF.

Richard, I mean, the fact that the U.K. came out publicly on this, does that surprise you?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: No, because they obviously had the intelligence from their own independent sources that the Egyptians didn't have. The Egyptians are going through an air accident investigation. And therefore, they are looking the wreckage. They are looking at the bodies.

Where I am slight little concern is that we are not hearing very much from the Egyptians. And if we thought things were bad with Malaysia, we haven't had press conferences. We haven't had news briefings. We haven't had updates pretty much, we've had lots of leaks and comments but nobody (INAUDIBLE). And I think what is really happening behind the scenes is you have got equipment who is officially running the investigation. You have got the French who are probably doing quite a lot of the technical work and you have got the Russians who are there watching over it to make sure that they get their side in, too.

COOPER: Well, also, I mean, you have to look at what the damage this would do to equipment and to the tourism trade there and I mean, that tourism trade has been battered over the years, not only by direct attacks by groups against tourists but obviously, the entire over throw of Mubarak.

QUEST: And crucially, the success in many ways of Egypt's tourism, in the mind they have divorced Sharm el-Sheikh from Egypt. If you look back from Arab Spring through the coup, though the various uprisings, Sharm el-Sheikh has remained very stable.

COOPER: Really?

QUEST: Yes, because the tourism, you fly to Sharm el-Sheikh, you didn't flight to Egypt, you don't go to Cairo. Most go to Sharm el- Sheikh direct. Now, if suddenly, Sharm el-Sheikh actually has the cloud over it and is perceived to be dangerous, well, now, you're looking at very serious trouble for the Egyptian tourism industry.

COOPER: Michael, I mean, if this in fact was a bomb and it was in fact ISIS, I mean, that means they have been able to do something that Al-Qaeda really has not. I mean, Al-Qaeda has tried about four times to bring down an airliner since 9/11.

MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right. But you recall that the so- called Khorasan group that (INAUDIBLE) that led that was part of the Jabhat al-Nusra (ph)m, the official Al-Qaeda franchise, U.S. intelligence said these guys were trying to do exactly this.

COOPER: But using sophisticated means.

WEISS: With a t-shirt bomb, some kind of chemical agent that could ignite in fabric or clothing. Look, I think that it's absolutely the case if this does turn out to be that, you know, an ISIS attack, there was somebody on the inside and that's not surprising, Anderson. You have to look who populates the ranks of ISIS.

A lot of these people come from former regime or state institutions. And the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein or defectors from the Assad regime or the Assad military, it stands to reason someone in the Egyptian transport ministry or indeed at the private commercial airliner might have sort of weighed this in. And the fact that is conventional ammunition, some say U.S. intelligence sources and not something more sophisticated to circumvent the security protocol, it means that that they had an open door.

COOPER: Right.

WEISS: To smuggle (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Anthony, on the reporting that officials are looking into the theory that ISIS built the bomb with the barometric pressure switch that can be set off today at a certain altitude, I mean, are -- is that a very complex bomb to make? How difficult is it? ANTHONY MAY, RETIRED ATF EXPLOSIVE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Absolutely

not, Anderson. Barometric pressure switch is simple when you think about it. In fact, it has been around since World War II. You know, the Germans used it to sabotage aircraft at that time period. A simple alternator that you can purchase could be utilized. You can go on the Internet and buy manufactured barometric pressure switches or you can make one of your own. Have a simple and common material.

COOPER: And yesterday, Anthony, I mean, Russian state media is reporting that the victims' bodies, they recovered showed no signs of impact but not even bomb residue has been found. That doesn't mean a bomb didn't go off.

[20:10:11] MAY: Well, whether you find bomb residue or not is not a clear definitive issue there was an explosives. For example, TWA flight 800, early on in that investigation, we found trace residue of military grade explosives. And as it turned out later on in that investigation, that aircraft was used to carry troops back and forth from the first desert storm conflict.

So finding residue is not a definitive effect, depending on you got to know the nature of the aircraft, who it hauled and given the region of the world it is operating in, trace contamination is quite possible. So it's not definitive, although you can't rule it out.

COOPER: Richard, I understand you spoke to the Egyptian foreign minister or tourism.

QUEST: No. Just a tourism minister.

COOPER: What did he say about the airport in Sharm el-Sheikh?

QUEST: I specifically asked him about Sharm el-Sheikh. He said it conformed to all international regulations. He recognized that it was their principal airport for tourism and it was absolutely, he said they constantly reviewed security and he said he had no reason to believe that there had been a breach.

COOPER: Well, either, a, that's true, which is very worrying if it did conform to all international things and a bomb got through or it is not true and it is worrying, nevertheless.

QUEST: It is both.


QUEST: It is both at the same time because if this does, let's just put if there just in case. If this does prove to be a bomb, then all the planning, all the procedures, all the regulations mean for nothing.

COOPER: Right. All the inconvenience that all of us go through every time taking off our shoes, going through and taking out liquids. If there is a backdoor on to airplanes that somebody with a grudge or a gripe can access a plane, and we've done reporting on this in the United States. We have seen cases in the United States. WEISS: Look in Russia, there have been multiple instances in 2004 two

separate planes were brought down by black widows, I mean, Chechen's female suicide bombers and the said opposition (ph) is the reason that these women were able to get on board with explosive devices is they bribed their way through. Boarder agents just sort of took some money and let them on. So, it is possible this could have been put into cargo (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Michael, it is good to have you on, Michael Weiss, Richard Quest. Anthony May, appreciate your expertise.

Coming up next, the surprising reaction to all of this in Russia tonight. We will talk to our Nic Robertson who is there and a closer look at airline and airport vulnerability. If you fly, you need to know this. You should watch it.

And later, the frankly stunning developments in the death of a police officer who was hailed at the time as a slain hero, a model police officer, pillar of the community. Now reaction to evidence that he actually was none of those things.


[20:16:18] COOPER: Given the breaking news, the growing possibility that bomb brought down the Metro Jet 9268 that ISIS or an affiliate planted or got help planted it from a person or persons at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport. The question is, what's the reaction tonight in Russia one of many questions this is after all Russia's single deadliest plane crash? Russia does after all have history of attacks on it by mostly local Islam make terrorists and Russia who just significantly beefed up its presence in Syria.

CNN's Nic Robertson is in St. Petersburg for us tonight.

What's the latest there, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's interesting is president Putin hasn't taken the lead on this story all along. We have spoken to the foreign ministry spokesperson this evening to find out her reaction to the latest statements about the likelihood, possibility of a bomb being on board the aircraft.

She says look, the Egyptians are leading the investigation. You have to go to them. We can't say, you know, we have to leave it to them to get on with the investigation. But perhaps, most significantly here, you have the main aviation body here that says it is essentially illegal for Russia to make a statement about the state of the investigation, why? Because Egypt is responsible the plane went down and Egypt, they say. And that Egypt would has to give the Russian government authority to speak and reveal some of the analysis that they are getting on the ground at the moment.

So if you like here, Russia is giving itself some wiggle room and a caveat to say hey, we can't talk about it. Egypt is going to talk about it first. So the silence and the refusal so far to knock it down, knock this whole thing down, I think is very telling, Anderson. COOPER: Well, it is also interesting now, we are talking about this

with guest, Nic, the fact that it was, you know, the British prime minister who talked about this publicly and that this didn't come publicly from Egypt, even though they are, you know, allegedly the ones leading this investigation into the crash.

ROBERTSON: Sure, I mean, the fact that David Cameron's office said this while president Sisi is in London, and specific Cameron is meeting him on Thursday, I mean, normally, something like this would be potentially huge political embarrassment. You get the impression here that the David Cameron is kind of force President Sisi's hand. You get the impression that the Russians are saying hey, (INAUDIBLE) Egypt. You get the impression here that there is some consternation that Egypt isn't getting out ahead of this and taking the lead and putting out what others are now beginning to see.

I think our understanding here from the people we talked to in Russia is that if the United States, if Britain knows this, Russia knows this. Egypt, the expectation is they really need to move on this, quite how that happens isn't clear. David Cameron is clearly trying what he can.

COOPER: All right. Nic Robertson, appreciate you being there. Thank you.

CNN's safety analyst David Soucie joins us now. He is a former FAA safety inspector. Also, CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien and former NTSB member John Goglia.

So John, I mean, if this indeed was a bomb onboard of commercial airliner, well this mean a total reassessment of airport security and not just in Egypt, but globally?

JOHN GOGLIA, FORMER NTSB MEMBER: Of course it will. Of course, we are going to take a look at our issues. And there was just a report out in the last few days of problems with our own assessments at airports. So it's going to cause a total review both in the United States and around the world and indeed it should given what we know so far.

COOPER: Miles, I mean, have you worried about this before? We have done reporting on this show about vulnerabilities at U.S. airports, not on the so-called front end and where the passengers are going through, but there are problems there as we see from TSA inspections. But on the back end, people with, you know, access to the aircraft.

[20:20:04] MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: This is the real Achilles heel at airports all over the world and in the U.S. And we've seen all kinds of warning signs about this. About a year ago you may recall, Anderson, your reporting about it, there was a gun running scheme involving baggage handlers that were dogged to airlines and land t (INAUDIBLE) airlines. They were putting loaded guns on airplanes and moving them around the country.

There are all kinds of warning signs that this is wide open. Meanwhile, we go through Security Theater dumping out water bottles to get on the airport. It has becoming a bit of far. We need to deal with this problem.

COOPER: It is incredible, David, that all the attention, all the billions that have been spent on airport security and it does seem like there is this gaping hole.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, there is a gaping hole, Anderson. And if historically security is reactive, not proactive, so if you -- for example, there is somebody who tries to blow up a shoe. What happens? Within weeks we're taking our shoes off at the airport.

It is just constantly reactive. And like Miles was saying, it needs to be more proactive. We need to look forward at things, not just reactive and that's this case. And Egypt is taking their part in just waiting to be reactive. I think that the prime minister making the move to do what he did is a proactive move. And something needs to be done whether it's proven yet or not it was a bomb, he is being proactive about it. And that's something that's rarely done in a security area in the aviation.

COOPER: John, I mean, the question of what kind of bomb this was, what size, all those details, one of the things that I've been hearing a lot today is that, it doesn't have to be a huge bomb to bring down a plane when it is at that kind of altitude which makes this really all the more frightening.

GOGLIA: That's right. It doesn't have to be a large device. All you really want to do is break the structure of the airplane and then the air loads that are on the airplane in flight will tear it up. And I would guess from the wreckage that the bomb was in the tail section of the airplane and most likely in the belly because we see the crown of the airplane, the upper piece where the fracture occurred still intact, but we haven't seen the belly. So it was most likely that it was in the belly forward out rear entrance doors and it stressed the fuselage right there and structurally just disintegrated.

COOPER: So John, you're saying once there is a hole or once there are some sort of, you know, explosion, one part of the aircraft, because the entire aircraft is supposed to bear the load overall of all the pressures, once there is one opening, the rest of the airplane essentially breaks apart?

GOGLIA: Yes. So, you know, you have a tremendous amount of load on the tail. And we will use the tail for an example, right. That load has to be spread out among most of the fuselage in order to absorb that energy, the force on the tail. So it has to travel around the skin because the outside of the airplane is the road way, if you will, for the stresses. It's going to travel around that skin and get disbursed in the rest of the fuselage.

So if you break it someplace, you are going to change the path for the loads. And then it's going to put additional load on an area that is not designed to take that load and it is going to break it up. And that's how TWA came apart, by the way.

COOPER: Miles, I mean, at some airports, I know airlines have the option, I guess, at their own expensive having additional security screening at the actual gate. U.S. airlines do that in pieces. How useful is that to augment general security? And I guess, if the problem is access to the aircraft from, you know, non-passengers, I guess that doesn't really matter, then.

O'BRIEN: No, I agree with you, Anderson. I mean, in fact additional layer which you get sort of randomly through the gate after you've gone through security in the first place does nothing to deal with the backdoor of the airplane where you have caters and airplane cleaners and mechanics coming in without any scrutiny whatsoever.

You know, the pilot who is flying your plane has to take his shoes off and do the whole routine. And in the back of the airport, they are just driving in. So this is clear vulnerability. And it's quite obvious and no one seems to want to deal with it, maybe now.

COOPER: Miles, appreciate you being with us. John Goglia as well. David Soucie, thank you so much.

Just ahead, we are going to take a closer look at security of the airport in question. We will go live to Sharm el-Sheikh.

And ahead, just an incredible announcement, what many thought was an unsolved murder of an Illinois police officer. Now, authorities say the crime scene was staged by the officer himself who actually shot himself.


[20:28:29] COOPER: The breaking news tonight cannot be more sobering. A U.S. officials telling us, the intelligence suggest that a bomb planted by ISIS or its affiliate took down the Russian passenger jet that crash over the Sinai Peninsula killing everyone onboard. U.S. intelligence, we were told, also suggests that someone inside the airport in Sharm el-Sheikh may have played a role.

Our Erin McLaughlin joins us now from the airport in Sharm el-sheikh.

So the news that this British delegation went to Sharm el-Sheikh, inspected the airport, do we know much more about that?


Well, we understand that assessment is complete. Out of that assessment, British foreign secretary Phillip Hammond saying they took the decision to change travel advice to the area, passenger jets no longer flying from the United Kingdom into Sharm el-Sheikh international airport. As for the British citizens currently here, well, Secretary Hammond said that British authorities are working with Egyptian officials on additional security procedures, additional screenings would make it safe for those British citizens to fly home. He also added that Egyptian officials do not have the information about the plane that British officials have.

Now, Egyptian paper (INAUDIBLE) reporting that the delegation visited various security points inside the airport taking pictures including pictures of the runway. (INAUDIBLE) reporting that they will compile that into a report to present to Egyptian authorities.

COOPER: And I mean, do we know, I mean, has there been a big change in the security profile at the airport? I mean, more importantly, sort of the back end access to aircraft by personnel there?

MCLAUGHLIN: You know, I flew into Sharm el-Sheikh international airport yesterday.


I didn't see any evidence of heightened security. It's a tiny little airport thought to be in a safe and secure area, only about 160 flights in and out of the airport on any given day, and that lack of security or heightened security, rather, that I saw was very much in line with what we were hearing yesterday from the Egyptian interior ministry. They were saying that they did not take the decision to increase security at the time. They said they were also not questioning employees at the airport because they said that they had no indication that the plane came down as a result of terrorism.

Now, we heard today from the Egyptian foreign minister tell CNN that they are going to be heightening security, not just at Sharm el-Sheikh international airport, but at airports across Egypt and not because of any conclusions out of the investigation, but to assuage people's fears. Anderson.

COOPER: It's incredible if they are not interviewing personnel working at the airport who have access to the aircraft. I mean that's a frightening thing. Erin, I appreciate your reporting. We'll continue to check in with you throughout this week..

I do want to bring in CNN military analyst and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. General Hertling is - in and out of the airport of Sharm el-Sheikh. General, I mean first of all, the idea that Egyptian authorities aren't interviewing and reviewing the personnel who are working in that airport, I mean I would think time is kind of the essence here.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, U.S. ARMY (RET.): It certainly is, Anderson. And this is troubling, but it adds to all the other comments that have been made about this flight since the very beginning. The Russians saying that it was not pilot error, it was not a mechanical error. They are already making some assumptions. The security not only in the airport where the passengers are, but as you said, where the baggage handlers are, where the transporters are, where the cargo beds go into. So, all those things should be places where they are checking, but having been in Sharm el-Sheikh a few years ago and talking to some individuals who have been there recently as part of the multinational force and observers' missions. They will tell you that inside the airport you're going to see a lot of armed guards as you see in most Middle-Eastern countries, either soldiers or members of the customs and border patrol, but a lot of standing around, as well. This is not a U.S. airport and it's not something where you can be assured of security throughout the facility.

COOPER: Right. I mean it seems like more window dressing than anything else. What's amazing to me, though, is Sharm el-Sheikh, which is obviously such an important tourist destination for Egypt, tourism is incredibly important and they've had, you know, more than a decade of incidents against tourists over the years by various groups. You know, I remember there was, I think a group at a archeological site that was attacked years and years ago. There have been one thing after another and obviously, the revolutionary that took place, the Arab Spring. So the idea that they wouldn't make security at Sharm el-Sheikh airport and throughout Sharm el-Sheikh and other tourists' spots a priority is kind of amazing to me.

HERTLING: It is. And as you know, it's a ClubMed. A lot of people go there for diving and snorkeling. It is a major tourist attraction. As Richard Quest said earlier, it is Sinai. It is not Egypt. And when you are talking about Sinai, you know, I push back on the presumption that this is ISIS. There have been multiple attacks by Wilayat Sinai, the terrorist group and the organization attempting to bring down the Egyptian government and if you can stop the tourist trade, which this seems to have been done, seems to contribute to, you're going to help bring down the Egyptian government and Mr. Al Sisi.

COOPER: General Hertling, I appreciate your being on. Thank you, sir.

Up next, we're going to look at other attempts to bring down planes and if we've actually learned anything from these failed efforts.


COOPER: If in fact, ISIS brought down MetroJet flight 9268, it would be a terrifying success in a thankfully long string of failures and close calls. We touched on this at the top of the broadcast, but more now on the effort to bring down planes by terror groups from Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: December 22nd, 2001, just two months after the 9/11 attacks, American Airlines flight 63 with 197 passengers and crew suddenly in trouble. Passenger Richard Reid was attempting to detonate a plastic explosive called PETN he'd concealed inside his shoes. Passengers pounced and the flight headed from Paris to Miami was safely escorted by fighter jets to Boston's Logan Airport. Reid is a British citizen who converted to Islam. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

MICHAEL SULLIVAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS: Richard Reid is an al Qaeda trained Islamic extremist while on a mission engaged in acts of international terrorism that were motivated by his hate of the United States.

KAYE: Nearly five years later in August of 2006, 24 men were arrested by British authorities. Charged with plotting to blow up as many as 10 flights over the Atlantic simultaneously. Their weapon of choice, explosive liquid smuggled aboard in soda bottles. After that liquids were limited to no more than 3.4 ounces onboard an aircraft. By then, passengers were already facing tighter security from the 9/11 attacks. Shoes had to be removed, laptops taken out, box cutters and lighters were forbidden, but the terrorists were getting more creative.

Christmas Day, 2009, another failed attempt using the deadly explosive PETN. Northwest Airlines flight 253 was on its way from Amsterdam to Detroit when a passenger tried to set off explosives sewn into his underwear. The so-called underwear bomber, Umar Faruq Abdulmutallab, was sentenced to life in prison. Turns out he'd been in contact with Anwar Al-Awlaki, a senior al Qaeda recruiter later killed in a U.S. drone strike. A year later, in 2010, a suspect tries again to use PETN as a bomb. On two cargo planes bound for Chicago. The devices were disguised as ink cartridges, discovered after a tip. This bomb expert recreated what may have happened. The prime suspect was a Saudi bombmaker named Ibrahim Hassan Al-Assiri, believed to be a member of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

DR. SIDNEY ALFORD, EXPLOSIVES EXPERT: This is an ingenious way of doing it. If that had been part of an airplane's fuselage, and (inaudible) the airplane.

KAYE: Whoever built that bomb likely thought it would pass through an X-ray machine with the PETN disguised as printer toner powder. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Want to dig deeper now on this with our terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank and former CIA officer Bob Baer. Paul, I mean, we've talked a lot about groups like Khorasan and Al Qaeda, and we saw it they are trying to use sophisticated methods, the ink jet printer, shoe bomb with Richard Reid. But this is a barometric pressure bomb, every expert I've talked to says that's a relatively easy thing to make and a very crude device.


PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: A very simple idea, a very conventional device, meat and potatoes for a group like ISIS in Sinai. The crucial factor here may be that they recruited an insider at the airport, and if you can do that, that's the holy grail for terrorist groups, because you can then insinuate a bomb onto passenger aircraft. I think there's going to be significant worry that there could be other insiders out there at other Middle Eastern airports, and of course they haven't apprehended the potential insider who may have got this bomb onto that jet.

COOPER: Bob, I mean, again, a bomb with the barometric pressure switch, set to go off at a certain altitude, do you agree they are easy to make? It's a worrying thing for those of us who don't know much about explosives.

BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Anderson, it's very easy, this technology is old but it is reliable. It worked on several attacks in the '70s, the bombs went off. You know, the detonators can be smuggled on. That's always the hardest part, but we saw with the underwear bomber coming from Amsterdam. Frankly, it was lucky that thing didn't go off. The detonator was hydroscopic, it means absorbed as sweat, and that's why it didn't detonate. So we've been very luck up until now.

It's the technology I don't think we've really been able to defeat. I mean, you know, it's not just smuggling an employee of the airport, smuggling it into an airplane. Anybody that can walk near an airplane can put something on a wing and the rest of it with a limpet. But more than that, our X-ray machines cannot detect a very sophisticated device with or without a barometric switch. They can be hidden, the explosives could be made into sculptures for instance and glazed over. It can look like anything or toner cartridge. And this is what has us so scared. It's not just Sharm el-Sheikh. Our security in this country, TSA, can be beaten.

COOPER: And Bob, you're saying the actual detonator, the switch itself wouldn't show up in an X ray or wouldn't be identifiable?

BAER: It wouldn't be identifiable. You can hide it, they are very small, you can hide it in an iPhone and you can hide a plastic detonator in an iPhone as well, and you can X-ray and you won't see anything. People can get guns on airplanes and they are not seen by TSA. They are doing the best they can, but it's just the technology and airplanes are so vulnerable to a small amount of explosive, this is what really scares people.

COOPER: I mean, it is amazing, Paul, again, we've been doing reporting on this now for a while, that case of baggage handlers smuggling weapons onto planes in the United States, in the Atlanta airport. That was an incredible warning sign right there.

CRUICKSHANK: You're absolutely right. There was also a case of an American ISIS fighter who was killed in the summer of 2014 inside Syria who had been working at Minneapolis St. Paul's airport as a cleaner, and who had access to some very sensitive sights at that airport. There is also concern about the potential of insiders working for terrorist groups at airports.

COOPER: Paul, appreciate you being on and Bob Baer, always. Just ahead, a jaw dropping revelation about a police officer who was hailed as a hero at his funeral. The story today is much different.



COOPER: Authorities in Illinois dropped a bombshell today, announcing that the death of Lt. Joe Gliniewicz is no longer an unsolved murder, and in fact was never a murder to begin with. Investigators now believe he killed himself. Lieutenant Gliniewicz was hailed at a hero. Hundreds of police officers were among the thousands who attended his funeral. Today, everything that people thought they knew was turned on its head. Here is Rosa Flores with the latest.


COMMANDER GEORGE FILENKO, LAKE COUNTY MAJOR CRIMES TASK FORCE: This extensive investigation has concluded with an overwhelming amount of evidence that Gliniewicz's death was a carefully staged suicide.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The shocking announcement that Lieutenant Joe Gliniewicz not only killed himself but staged an elaborate crime scene put to rest a two-month long investigation. The ruse started with Gliniewicz radioing into dispatch saying he was in pursuit of two white males and a black male.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On scene taking the office officer's sidearm.

FLORES: Then radio license. His lifeless body would be found moments later. That's when hundreds of local, state and federal law enforcement officers scoured the area, vowing to find and bring his killer to justice.

Investigators say Lieutenant Gliniewicz' plan included planting evidence here at the crime scene to stage a homicide. Commander Filenko saying there was a trail of evidence, first pepper spray, then a few feet away, a baton, then eyeglasses, then a shell casing, all leading investigators to believe signs of struggle.

The community that mourned for him and worried for his family, today had a simple question. Why? It turns out investigators were zeroing in on Gliniewicz for what they now say were criminal acts, spanning seven years. Including laundering thousands from the Fox Lake Police Explorers, a mentorship program for teens, and using it for travel, adult websites, mortgage expenses, among other things.

FILENKO: Gliniewicz committed the ultimate betrayal.

FLORES: The paper trail extensive, so was the coverup. Investigators say Gliniewicz deleted thousands of messages like this one from back in June. Quote, "the 1600 undocumented, it was cash from boot camp so there is no check trail to follow."

FILENKO: Our investigation strongly indicates criminal activity on the part of at least two other individuals.

FLORES: Investigators won't reveal who those individuals are. In an interview with the program crime watch daily last month, Gliniewicz's widow strongly denied her husband could have taken his own life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wholeheartedly believe he was murdered.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And to say otherwise?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Disrespectful, hurtful, irresponsible.


FLORES: She's not the only one in disbelief. Some in this community still hail him a hero.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can look at his face and you know that he was an honest man, he was clean.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Apparently not. Rosa, the Gliniewicz family, I know they received financial assistance from certain groups after his death. Now I understand some of those groups are asking for their money back.

FLORES: Anderson, there was an outpouring of support, both emotionally and financially, after Lieutenant Gliniewicz died, and now CNN has learned that at least one of those organizations that gave the widow $15,000 is asking for their money back. As for the family, we reached out, and from their family attorney, we've heard that the family is asking for privacy.

COOPER: All right. Rosa Flores, appreciate it. Thanks very much. This is the kind of plot twist usually seen in movies. It's fair to say the community of Fox Lake did not see this coming. What about Lieutenant Gliniewicz' brothers and sisters in blue? Earlier I spoke to the chief of police, George Filenko, commander of the Lake County major task force.


COOPER: Chief, when did you first suspect that something was off about this case?

FILENKO: Well, approximately two weeks ago, we started receiving materials that we had subpoenaed and evidence we had submitted to the lab in Quantico through the FBI. The 6,500 text messages that were deleted we believe shortly before this staged incident. 32,000 e- mails that we pulled off of a computer, along with sophisticated ballistic testing that we had run through our regional crime lab here. Once we got those text messages, and bank records that we had subpoenaed, then the story started evolving internally with these criminal activities that he was participating in.

COOPER: Was there a creeping sense early on that the pieces just didn't add up?

FILENKO: What we do is we don't take anything off the table. We examine every possibility, every scenario. Up until we started looking at the ballistics and running those sophisticated tests combined with the bank records and the text messages and an analysis of the crime scene with the assistance of the behavioral analysis unit, out in Quantico, we determined succinctly and were confident this was a staged suicide.

COOPER: For you personally as the chief, what is this like when you discovered the real story here?

FILENKO: As a police officer, there were a number of feelings that went through my head once we uncovered this. First there was shock. Some sadness, and then just anger. The ultimate betrayal of the badge.

COOPER: You said you're still investigating two more people involved with this case. Is there anything more you can say about who they are, what role they may have played? FILENKO: Our portion of this case has been concluded. Any other

criminal activity that we generally uncover in these cases, we hand off all that information to the appropriate authorities, and in this case that would be the Lake County states attorney's office, the sheriff's office, and the FBI.

COOPER: Do you think, I mean, him saying that there were three suspects and he gave a vague general description, but it did actually match three people who had been in the area, caught on surveillance cameras, who as you said had good alibis. Do you think he just happened to see them when he was driving to the location, and do you think he picked that location specifically?

FILENKO: That's a great question or a great series of questions. Those individuals, again, from the videotape, he could have quite easily passed that morning en route to that location and just instantly said, these are three individuals I'm going to use in this scenario. The location that this act was committed in, he was extremely familiar with. He actually ran practice scenarios with the explorer unit at that exact location. Tactical drills, crime scene staging, so he was extremely familiar with that general area.

COOPER: It's just an incredible turn of events, and I know this has been obviously around the clock for you, Chief, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. Thank you.

FILENKO: You're quite welcome.


COOPER: An incredible turn of events. Up next, we have an update on the breaking news, U.S. intelligence suggesting an ISIS bomb took down a Russian plane in Egypt. And coming up at the top of the hour, a brand-new "This is Life With Lisa Ling." We'll be right back.



COOPER: Welcome back. Before we bring you a new and compelling edition of "This is Life with Lisa Ling," a quick update before we go on flight 9268. The growing belief in the U.S. and British intelligence community that a bomb brought it down, that ISIS or an ISIS affiliate did it, and that a person or persons at the airport in Sharm el-Eheikh, Egypt, played a role. If that is true, as we've been hearing from the experts tonight, it would be a game changer for the terror group and already is a wake-up call for security officials and air travelers everywhere, not just in Egypt, but all around the world and the United States. Officials stressing however that no formal conclusion has been reached. Pending forensic evidence, hard evidence from the crash investigation itself. The Egyptian airport itself is known for pretty lax security. A British team arrived there tonight to inspect it, we presume to try to lend some assistance or advice. British and Irish fights to and from the resort city have been suspended. We'll be monitoring developments throughout the night. "This Life with Lisa Ling" starts now.