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CONNECT THE WORLD
Past Plots to Bomb Airplanes; U.S. Intel Suggests ISIS Bomb Brought Down Jet; Unusual Sound Heard on Cockpit Recorder; Russia Orders Planes to Re-Register; The Techniques of Bombmaking; Egypt and U.K. Committed to Cooperating on Security; Parting Shots. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired November 5, 2015 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN HOST: This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Jonathan Mann with the top stories this hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANN (voice-over): Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been in London meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron as the fallout
over Saturday's Metrojet plane crash continues. Britain says it is "more likely than not" that a bomb brought down the flight but both Russia and
Egypt are warning about jumping to conclusions with an Egyptian minister saying there is no evidence to support that idea.
Meanwhile, the first funerals for the victims of Saturday's crash have been held in Russia. Friends and family mourning the 224 people who are on
board Metrojet Flight 9268 when it crashed in Sinai. Russia's state media say the remains of the victims have all been identified.
And thousands of tourists are stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh. You're looking at live pictures of the airport there as some tourist make their regular
connection but others simply can't get out. That's because the U.K., Ireland and France have suspended flights to and from the Egyptian Red Sea
resort. German airline Lufthansa is also suspending its flights until further notice.
Another story we're watching closely: the death toll rising after a four- story building collapse in Pakistan. At least 23 people have been killed. Dozens of others hurt. Officials say about 100 people were buried in the
rubble at one point. The fourth floor of the building in Lahore was under construction when it collapsed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: Attempts to detonate bombs on planes, sadly nothing new. There have been at least a dozen such attempts or thwarted one going all the way back
to 1993 -- 1933, in fact. Randi Kaye has a closer look.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 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 Reed 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. Reed is a British
citizen who had converted to Islam. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
MICHAEL SULLIVAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS: Richard Reed is an Al Qaeda trained Islamic extremist, while on a martyrdom
mission, engaged in acts of international terrorism that were motivated by his hate of the United States.
KAYE (voice-over): Nearly five years later in August 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 liquids smuggled aboard in soda bottles.
KAYE: After that, liquids (INAUDIBLE) to no more than 3.4 ounces on board 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
KAYE (voice-over): 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 Farouk Abdulmutallab,
was sentenced to life in prison.
Turns out, he had 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 bomb maker named Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, believed to be a member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
SIDNEY ALFORD, EXPLOSIVES EXPERT: There's no doubt about this, this is an ingenious way of doing it. If that had been part of a plane's fuselage,
then heaven help the airplane.
KAYE (voice-over): 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.
MANN: As we've been reporting throughout the hour, U.S. intelligence suggests ISIS or its affiliates put a bomb on that plane; however, the
Egypt foreign ministry says --
MANN: -- U.S. secretary of state John Kerry told his Egyptian counterpart that doesn't represent the official position of the Obama administration.
For more, we're joined now by Elise Labott in Washington.
Elise, all of this seems like an extraordinary set of very public decisions by the U.S. government, one, to make its suspicions known and then, two, to
redirect its personnel or restrict them, I guess you could say, away from traveling through Sinai.
What can you tell us?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Obviously, the U.S. wants to wait until the investigation comes out before concluding that there was
an explosive on board, as the British have come out and said.
It's a little bit different for the British because they have flights going to and from Sharm and British passengers that are flying in those skies.
But I think the U.S. initially told its employees not to go to the Sinai as a precautionary measure. There's been a lot of concern about extremism in
the Sinai. There were indications that an explosive could have been on there, perhaps that this was this ISIS affiliate, ISIS in the Sinai
And so it is a precautionary measure. We really got into it with the State Department yesterday, saying, listen, you don't do this typically when
there's a plane crash. Obviously, you must have some security concerns.
They're not coming out and saying so on the record but, certainly, officials talking to me, CNN's Barbara Starr and others, they believe that
this was an explosive and they don't want to take any changes.
But to be fair, U.S. airliners have not been operating in the Sinai for some time.
And my understanding, from talking to U.S. officials, is that U.S. personnel in Cairo have been instructed to avoid the Sinai for some time --
MANN: OK. Well, all that having been said, there is the larger relationship here. Egypt is an ally and ever since the revolution, the
United States has had an unsteady relationship with whoever's holding power in Cairo. And now they're saying that John Kerry has tried to smooth this
It doesn't seem like a misunderstanding.
What is he telling them?
LABOTT: They've been trying to smooth it over over the years. Clearly, the U.S. has a lot of problems with President al-Sisi but, at the same
time, they understand that he has a firm grip on security in the country and they want to keep encouraging that, even though they do have problems
with the problems with democracy in Egypt.
I think what the secretary was telling the foreign minister is we might have some indications that this is perhaps an explosive but we're not going
to jump to conclusions. We're going to wait until the investigation plays out. Because as you know the U.S. is not leading that investigation.
The Egyptians working with the Russians are leading that investigation and I think what the secretary is trying to do is to show some respect to the
Egyptians. We trust you to carry out this investigation and we're not going to officially jump to any conclusions.
Privately, I'm hearing that Secretary Kerry is telling staff within the administration he does believe that an explosive was aboard.
MANN: I don't want to put you on the spot. You're not inside the policy- making apparatus at the State Department but the release of this information, the Russians think it's an attempt to rattle President Putin,
that it's a message aimed at the Kremlin, it's a policy decision, it's not really an investigative decision.
Do you think there's anything to that?
Is Washington taking some, I hate to say it, some advantage of Russia's great tragedy?
LABOTT: It's a great question and, certainly, officially, they're going to say no. But I sat down with Secretary Kerry in December and he told me,
listen, this could end up boomeranging on the Russians. They could find themselves in the crosshairs and being a target of jihadists.
Certainly, nobody is taking pleasure with 224 people killed and, again, they want to officially wait for the investigation to run its course. But
it certainly does raise the question of whether, you know President Putin is getting himself bogged down in Syria.
If this is going to invite more attacks on Russia. If you remember how we operated in the Chechnyan war, he doubled down on his activities there.
And that invited more attacks on Russia. You remember that horrible Beslan tragedy.
So the question is what is President Putin going to do now?
I think what you'll probably see the is the U.S. reaching out to Russia and say if it is a bomb as they suspect to say, listen, we have a common enemy
here. We really need to get on the same page. ISIS is the enemy.
Let's work together and let's kind of sort out these political differences over the future of President Assad in Syria and the civil war later. ISIS
is the main enemy now -- Jon.
MANN: Elise Labott at the State Department, thanks very much.
We can't say it enough. This crash is just days old. The investigation has just begun and we're still waiting for the conclusions. The black
boxes are being analyzed in Egypt.
But meantime, we're hearing about some unusual sounds, apparently caught on the cockpit voice recorder. As CNN's Kyung Lah reports, audio recordings
are crucial to the investigation.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's now about crash forensics backing U.S. intelligence. A U.S. official tells CNN chatter overheard
after the crash suggests ISIS planted a bomb on the Russian plane. Investigators looking for proof focusing their attention on this: the
plane's black boxes.
The flight's cockpit voice recorder, says an unnamed source to Russia's Interfax news agency, captured "uncharacteristic, unexpected sounds"
moments before the flight disappeared, a significant clue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sound is going to be very critical to this investigation. At TWA 800, we picked up a nanosecond of sound that we
analyzed very carefully.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As in any disaster...
LAH (voice-over): In 1996, Peter Goelz was one of the key investigators in the TWA Flight 800 crash off Long Island. Questions swirled about whether
a bomb brought down that plane.
Air traffic control audio recordings show the flight out of JFK began normally, reaching just over 13,000 feet, then this last communication with
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): TWA 800, everything OK? Stop climbing at one 3,000.
LAH (voice-over): Approximately one minute later, the voice recorder captured a brief, unusual sound. The NTSB determined that sound was a low
order explosion, the sound of the plane tearing apart after a fire in the fuel tank, not a bomb. TWA 800 fell out of the sky as other pilots called
into the tower.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): We just saw an explosion out here.
LAH (voice-over): All conversation recorded between the crew in the cockpit is protected by federal privacy laws. The actual audio
unreleasable (sic) to the public because it's so sensitive and so personal to the victims' families. Goelz says the audio proved critical in the TWA
case and in other air disasters.
In MH17, the plane shot out of the sky over Ukraine, investigators triangulated a 2.3 millisecond sound peak captured on the voice recorder's
multiple microphones in the cockpit and determined the noise came from outside the plane to the left side of the cockpit. It was a missile
launched from the ground.
PETER GOELZ, AVIATION EXPERT: You can sometimes tell the direction in which the sound is traveling by just the tiniest fraction of a second. And
you can also sometimes compare the signature of the sound to previous events.
LAH: As far as the state of the cockpit voice recorder, Russian investigators tell CNN it sustained mechanical serious damage. They are
still preparing to copy the data -- Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.
MANN: The plane that went down was registered in Ireland even though it was operated by a Russian airliner. Russia's state-run RIA news agency now
reports the country's airline regulator is ordering all foreign planes operated by Russian air carriers to re-register on Russian soil.
For more, we bring in CNN aviation correspondent, Richard Quest.
First of all, I want to ask you about the big picture here, Richard. This is the first ISIS air bombing, potentially. We still don't know but it's
being treated that way. And, if it is, it is the most murderous terrorist attack since 9/11.
We know already, we can see the political implications, the diplomatic implications.
But beyond that, how is the rest of this going to shake out for those who have us who travel and for the aviation industry?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It depends on the method, if it is a bomb, by which it was taken on board the aircraft.
If it transpires that the -- that ISIS had somehow found a loophole in existing conforming security arrangements, then that's very serious in
every airport in the world, will have to be revising their procedures and the way they go about security.
However, if the investigation determines there was a weakness that was unique and specific to Sharm el-Sheikh, well, then really other airports
have to do is follow the rules.
You see the difference here, Jonathan. One is saying it is just Sharm's problem and, therefore, Sharm need to be fixed. The other is to say ISIS
has discovered a weakness, a systemic weakness in the overall architecture of aviation security. That will be much more serious.
MANN: Now Russia is operating from the presumption that it's not terrorism until proven otherwise and it is having its domestic airlines re-register
their planes on Russian soil.
Can you walk us through that?
QUEST: Absolutely no idea what that's all about, none whatsoever, in the sense that all airlines lease aircraft for -- well, I say all airlines,
many airlines lease aircraft from the big leasing companies, ILFC, AerCap and the like. And there's many of them. And therefore, the leasing --
QUEST: -- company owns the aircraft and is the registry.
So Ireland, which has traditionally had a huge aircraft leasing business, has read many, many planes registered there.
But merely saying you now require the registration to be in Russia, well, that means that all the leasing companies are going to have to set up
subsidiaries in Russia and they're going to have to buy the planes through the Russian subsidiaries.
It doesn't make a great deal of sense because, I promise you this, the place where the plane was registered, i.e. in Ireland, has very little to
do with how the plane was being operated by the company or the airline that was leasing it.
MANN: One more thing for us to scratch our heads about. Richard Quest, thanks very much.
Live from CNN Center, this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, as leaders disagree about what may have caused the Flight 9268 to come down, CNN gets
an inside look into the evolution of militants' bombmaking technology. That report, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANN (voice-over): A friendly handshake on a day of differing opinions. The leaders of Egypt and the U.K. meeting in London with Saturday's
Metrojet crash top of the agenda.
David Cameron says it is "more likely than not" that a bomb brought down the plane but Egypt along with Russia are warning not to jump to
conclusions. The U.K. has halted flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh, a move Egypt's tourism minister called "unjustified."
You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Jonathan Mann. Welcome back.
If ISIS did bring down Metrojet Flight 9268, it would mark a significant leap forward in the terror group's capabilities. The idea of a bomb
causing the disaster has drawn comparisons to tactics previously attempted by Al Qaeda.
Nic Robertson has this look.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 2009 I asked explosive experts Sidney Alford to show me what Al Qaeda's top
bomb maker was capable of.
SIDNEY ALFORD, EXPLOSIVES EXPERT: This is what six grams of what PETN does to something that's twice as thick as an aircraft fuselage.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): He'd mastered the powerful white powder explosive, PETN; the Al Qaeda bomb maker made this, the underpants bomb, targeting a
U.S. passenger jet Christmas 2009.
ROBERTSON: Here in Russia, the rising question is likely to become who made the bomb that brought down Metrojet 9268?
Was it ISIS, an ISIS affiliate, another radical Islamist group or Al Qaeda?
What we do know is after the underpants bombs, Al Qaeda's bombs became even more sophisticated.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): 2010, printer bombs hidden in cargo on two planes. Fortunately, they were intercepted.
ALFORD: He is at the clever end of the scale. There's no doubt about this. This is an ingenious way of doing it.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Alford deconstructed, remade the bombs, explained Al Qaeda's deadly cunning.
ALFORD: Three, two, one.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): In 2014, a few years later, I came to see Alford again.
ROBERTSON: So that is a T-shirt, dipped in explosives that is just blown - - and dried, blown up and that would bring down a plane.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): American sources, fearing the next terrorist bomb could be a clothing bomb.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): He shows me how easily it can be done, leaving out some key details.
ROBERTSON: This is where the T-shirt bomb was sitting on the steel plate, thick steel plate. Imagine if that was the skin of an aircraft, thin
aluminum. It would have blown a hole right through it.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): The underpants bomb, the printer bomb were made by Al Qaeda's top bomb maker in Yemen. His expertise has been taught to
The question now, does ISIS have these skills or could they use more rudimentary bombs with conventional explosives stolen from military stores?
Nic Robertson, CNN, St. Petersburg, Russia.
MANN: Live from CNN Center, this is CONNECT THE WORLD.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANN (voice-over): Coming up, we turn back to Russia, where the first funerals have been held for those who died in the plane crash in Sinai,
indelible images of those processions. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER, GREAT BRITAIN: We cannot be certain that the Russian airliner was brought down by a terrorist bomb. But because
it's a strong possibility, it's right to act.
MANN (voice-over): British Prime Minister David Cameron as the U.K. suspends all flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh, stranding thousands of
travelers, insisting that a bomb probably brought down a Russian passenger jet in Egypt on Saturday.
The U.S. says intelligence seems to subject that's the case as well. The U.S. says it was likely a bomb smuggled onto the plane at the airport.
Video just in to CNN shows the still smoldering wreckage of the flight shortly after it hit the ground. Egypt and Russia say it's wrong to jump
to conclusions about the cause. The disaster, the investigation is just getting underway.
The Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi spoke with Mr. Cameron --
MANN (voice-over): -- at 10 Downing Street earlier. He says Egypt is completely ready to cooperate to protect tourists.
Meanwhile, an Egyptian aviation official says there is no evidence to suggest that a bomb caused that crash.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANN: As the investigation into the Metrojet crash gets underway, families and friends of the victims are saying their final goodbyes. Everyone on
board was killed.
In our "Parting Shots," we want to remember those people. In St. Petersburg where the plane was heading, mourners gathered in the frigid air
for the first funeral for passengers of the plane, victims of the crash.
A woman laid her head on Alexei Alexeyev 's coffin. He was just 31 years old before he was laid to rest.
Hundreds attended the funeral of Nina Lushchenko. You can see her image on the top of her coffin, her relatives consoling one another.
Nearby, a young boy stood still, surrounded by the darkness of so much loss. He held a candle to remember Lushchenko and the life that ended so
You can always follow the stories we're working on throughout the day by going to our Facebook page, facebook.com/cnnconnect. Or you can tweet me,
@JonathanMannCNN. Our coverage of the crash, of the Russian jet in Sinai will continue in the hours to come. For now, I'm Jonathan Mann. You've
been watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for being with us.