Return to Transcripts main page


Paris Terror Attacks. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 15, 2015 - 07:30   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So, just to be clear with our audience, what you are telling us, Mr. Foreign Minister, is that there are five people who have detained so far.

[07:30:05] You're trying to find out if there is evidence to link them to what happened here in Paris. But you've also said it is the consensus opinion right now, among the authorities, that more people may well have been involved.

One of the big question marks is the suicide vests that were used. It's the first time they have dealt with that in France. They believe a chemical compound used TATP is highly volatile and not easily to transport any distance, locally made.

Is that something you're looking into Belgium to see who might have been able to make that chemical vest that was used here?

DIDIER REYNDERS, BELGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (via telephone): Yes, it's true, we are trying to see if it's possible to find all of the people helping those suicide guys in Paris. And it's due to the fact that we have received a lot of information about some -- I said some car used during the terrorist attacks in Paris with some kind of plate coming from Belgium or some people involved in the process coming from Belgium that we have started investigations.

Now about -- five people under arrest in Brussels, we are quite sure they have a role, or some of them, in the terrorist attack in Paris. But what kind of role is not evidenced at the time. Sure they are in Paris but we are looking for more exchange of information with the authorities in Paris to be able to collect -- I said more evidence.

But we are sure it was not only eight people on the ground. It was eight people maybe with others helping them to commit those terrorist attacks.

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: I need to ask you about borders. Francois Hollande declared that continental borders would be closed, but I have seen a tweet from a Belgian journalist who said he drove past right past the Belgium-France border on the highway, that there was no closure. What is the actual situation on the ground right now?

REYNDERS: No, the border is not closed. The decision with France is to reinforce the controls at the borders and we have reinforced the controls of the borders, but not only the borders on the road between France and Belgium but the airports and the train stations, in the different ways to come to Belgium and then to France.

And, of course, we are doing that in collaboration with France. We are in operation with France. We have the presence of military people in Paris on the ground for different situations in Belgium and we continue to do that. But that is for the moment.

But, of course, the best way is to exchange more and more intelligence, not only with France, but others, because we are knowing there are some places with some radical people able to take part in terrorist attacks. For the first time, we have seen the European territory, some suicide guys and that is very new because in the past, it was all the time was a specific target, unfortunately many times the Jewish community. We have seen in Brussels, in Paris, in Copenhagen, and sometimes journalists or caricatures. And now, it's more against a state, and more against all of the citizens, with a huge number of victims.

We need to think about a way to find answers to that. Not just to find against people having the intention to commit terrorist act against a specific target, but now, it's against suicide guys having the idea to kill many people everywhere and that is a real new evolution in Europe.

CUOMO: Well, Mr. Foreign Minister, let me ask you something else that is a new development here. It specifically affects what happened in Paris, but also where you are in Belgium and share borders and transit for many. The refuge crisis is legitimate. Children are dying. People are dying coming from war-torn places like Syria and North Africa and other places.

And, yet, this new information given from French authorities to Christiane Amanpour and CNN, that at least one of the attackers here may have had a false passport having come from Syria as part of the refugee migration. How do you balance the need for humanitarian and the ability to not vet who's calling themselves a refugee, the refugee of today maybe the terrorist of tomorrow? How do you balance?

REYNDERS: Yes, of course, but on so many refuges, 400,000 people in the European territory at the moment, specifically -- we will try to verify such information about Syrian passport for a guy having asking to be a refugee in Serbia, but we will see.

But the best way to solve that, first of all, is find a solution in Syria or Iraq or Libya and hopefully there are some thoughts in Vienna to try to do that.

[07:35:05] But on the other side, we need to extend our capacity to control the extent of borders of Europe. For the moment, it's more national competence. It's national responsibility for Greece, for Italy to do that. And we tried to explain that we need that idea to do that at the European level, so we will invest more and more in the capacity for the level to invest directly in border control. It's one of the possible evolutions.

If we want to control, the risk to receive some people having bad intentions to Europe, we need to organize that. It's in the cause. Of course, as a result of that, we would take the risk to receive a lot of people living near such an intention to commit lot of terrorist acts. But I must say --


REYNDERS: -- that most of those guys are people having a European passport from Belgium, from France, from all of the countries.


REYNDERS: Since two years, we have seen a lot of terrorist attacks, also in Paris, and blocked due to the brave American soldiers, but it was, again, a guy having a European passport. So, we need to be balance. But, of course, to avoid such a risk, it's important to control the border with Europe and capabilities.

GORANI: All right. Foreign minister of Belgium, Didier Reynders, thanks very much for joining us.

Chris, just telling our viewers some of the important information he shared. Five people under arrest in Brussels. Didier Reynders, the foreign minister saying, quote, "He was quite sure" they played a role in the Paris attacks and sure that more than the eight people or the seven or eight, depending on what number you look at, were involved in the attacks on Friday.

CUOMO: There's no question there was logistical needs here who rented the cars and the biggest concern also a first for here in Paris, the use of explosive vests. France has not seen that before. They have now, tragically so obviously.

But here is the key: the chemical compound TATP that was used there. You don't have to know that name but you need to know this. It is very unstable and cannot be transported big distances, so it had to be made locally. Who here or near knew how to make those vests, major concern for investigators.

Obviously, back to Belgium, this expansion of the investigation, who else was involved, who may have escaped, who would know those answers.

Nima Elbagir, she is looking at that part for us in Belgium.

What's the latest?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): (INAUDIBLE) each of those areas. And just speaking to eyewitnesses here, Chris, you get the sense that the investigation, they knew what they were looking for.

One of those men was apprehended just walking down the street and another in a forceful house entry. And then another car that they are looking at quite closely, we haven't confirmed whether that is, indeed, is the car between the Belgian angle and Paris angle. The black Volkswagen Polo that was part of the attack in Paris. We are reaching out to prosecutors and hoping to get an answer on that.

But there is a sense here that there is more to come, although this road has reopened, we continue to hear sirens and police activity all throughout the morning. The Belgians say they will only raise their terror threat to three, which is the second highest level, when they have big international events like this upcoming football match Tuesday of this coming week.

But throughout the rest of the country, they are just asking people to be vigilant and especially foreign visitors, Chris. But other than international events, they try to keep it at two. They don't want to raise the tension levels any further here -- Chris.

CUOMO: Nima, thank you very much. Obviously, keep us apprised.

We just spoke to the foreign minister, Hala Gorani and I. And there is a need for developments. There is a need for tracking down these unknowns who made this vest and who rented these cars. What was the support who may have escaped?

They are all open and active questions here and we will get being to you with our reporting. When we come back, this is a new normal. There's no question. We knew it after "Charlie Hebdo". It's more real now. We have a French state senator who will be key in making the decisions about how to move forward.

Stay with us.


[07:42:50] CUOMO: Welcome back to CNN's continuing coverage of what happened here in Paris. Hala Gorani and Chris Cuomo in a very quiet Paris. We're in the Place de la Republique here. People are mourning, just like after "Charlie Hebdo". But now, there's a new silence here. There is a concern. "Charlie Hebdo", they knew who was attacked. They knew what it was about. They knew it was Islamism on display. Now, it is about the unknown, what will happen next.

The investigation is continuing. We have new developments. CNN has learned from a member of the French senate, that one of the people who exploded themselves in an attempt to kill others at a French soccer stadium came together as a part of an organized group smuggled in with refugees who landed in the Greek island of Leros a month ago, carrying a Syrian passport, given under emergency provisions.

There are also new details about one of the other attackers as well, Hala.

GORANI: Sorry, we're just very briefly interrupted there.

Let's talk a little bit about the man who has been named, 29- year-old who was born in this country. Last name Mostefai and born in France, known as a petty criminal. Right now, six of his relatives are being questioned by authorities and they have been taken into custody. Though, it's important to note they are not arrested. They are simply providing information. In fact, his brother turned himself in.

Let's bring in French Senator Joelle Garriaud-Maylam. She is a senator who was some information about the attackers from what you're hearing.

Thanks for on being with us here.

We have been reporting this information about a Syrian passport, about possibly two false Turkish passports as well found to be carried by the suicide bombers at the Stade de France. What have you been hearing?

JOELLE GARRIAUD-MAYLAM, FRENCH SENATOR: I've been hearing the same since this morning. We heard about this Syrian person which is no surprise at all. Everybody seems so surprised. But it was quite obvious -- Daesh had warned that they would send jihadists with the refugees. It was so obvious it would happen sooner or later.

It is a tragedy because, obviously, a lot of refuges who need humanitarian help but it was -- we were so sure and I said on many occasions that there would be terrorists among themselves.

[07:45:05] You know, this question of refuges is so important because from one point of view, we haven't helped enough the countries which have refugee camps. I've been told there are camps in Iraq and Turkey and Lebanon and Jordan, people there are desperate. They don't have jobs.

It's also a threat, a balance of these countries. Jordan is such a small country and it's extremely dangerous for them. We need to help these countries. And we need to do that before they would come to our shores.

CUOMO: The irony is that people are fleeing these dangerous in desperation. And yet, the longer they are held out, the longer they are left vulnerable, the more vulnerable they are to be co-opted by Islamist and other toxic philosophies to justify their own desperation.

But the question becomes for you, Madam Senator, what do you do? Just because it's inevitable that they would infiltrate refuges with terrorists, how do you stop this from happening again? How do you balance helping those who need it with keeping people out of your country who are here to kill?

GARRIAUD-MAYLAM: Yes, we are very late. I must say I'm a bit upset at the government, because we should have closed the borders and have much more thorough analysis of who was coming long before. It's not a new item.

GORANI: Close which borders?

GARRIAUD-MAYLAM: Since 2010, we have been told that Daesh would come.

GORANI: Close European borders or close French borders?

GARRIAUD-MAYLAM: Our European borders, French borders, but also the European borders. Of course, it's extremely difficult to do. But we have to have much stronger politics of being much more careful because we have been aware (INAUDIBLE) for years and we have been like ostriches. You know, putting your heads into the sands, when we should fought much harder.

We need to look at every single person, authority, but we need to work, not solely like France as one country, we need to work with international communities. This is not French --

GORANI: But closing the French borders, this is a very radical proposal in the European Union, isn't it?

GARRIAUD-MAYLAM: Yes, of course. We have a Schengen agreement, and we are not supposed to close them that way. It's not a matter of closing them down, but just checking more carefully. But -- as well --

CUOMO: How do you keep borders open and check more carefully? Obviously, it's not working the way it is.

GARRIAUD-MAYLAM: No, it's not working. It's also a question of the borders which are so huge in our country and within Europe.

I mean, you know, when you look at Central Asia as well, you have countries which we need to help. I was reading Central Asia, their foreign minister was telling me, we need help and we don't know how to fight cyber attacks which is something already happened with us on TV 5. This international channel which is costing us a horrendous amount of money and it's bound to happen again.

We need to help these countries because of border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan is so porous and from there, people come through land and sometimes as well just normal borders with false passports, as has been stressed.

GORANI: Joelle Garriaud-Maylam, a senator here in France, and also the secretary of the standing committee on Foreign Affairs, as well, joining us -- thanks very much there with your reaction to what has been a real, really traumatic series of events in France.

CUOMO: And, obviously, you're trying to balance the news of the threat and how to move forward with addressing the concern and the pain of your people, we are very sensitive to that as well. We know this is a country in mourning. This is a tragedy not just for the French, everybody is under this threat. It's not about if it happens, it's when. Our hearts go out to you.

GARRIAUD-MAYLAM: Can I say one thing?

CUOMO: [lease.

GARRIAUD-MAYLAM: I'm so grateful to your American people and to all of these people all around the world who have shown solidarity with us. I was told yesterday, for instance, in New York before an opera, they sang "La Marseillaise".

GORANI: The national anthem, French national anthem.

GARRIAUD-MAYLAM: It is so important for us. We feel the support and we need it and so important for the people of France. So I wanted to thank you very much for your interests but also for that moral support.

CUOMO: Never been more true that we are all in it together when it comes to the war against Islamism and terrorism.

GARRIAUD-MAYLAM: You were very right in saying that (INAUDIBLE) and Islamism. And that's also a problem. I think we need to use the right words and to violent extremism, yes, but we need also to stress the roots of the problem and not antagonize Muslim community who is always in a difficult situation.

[07:50:00] GORANI: Senator, thank you very much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

Up next, the world, as we were mentioning, is at war with ISIS. But this war has not yielded that these countries conducting these military operations would have wanted.

CUOMO: The one point that I think the enemy and those combating them will share is that this is a long war and it is far from over.

When we come back, what will be the next step after Paris?


CUOMO: Welcome back to CNN's continuing coverage of Paris. Chris Cuomo and Hala Gorani.

We've been talking to world officials, military experts, political experts about what's going on. But more than anything else, this is about the mood of Paris right now. Before us, this is a very special place, Place de la Republique.

For me, I've been here many times. For Paris to be so quiet and this mood so obvious, what is the experience here?

GORANI: Well, this is a lot busier than it was yesterday. Yesterday, I was on Champs-Elysees, of course, this is the City of Lights, and the Eiffel Tower was dark, the Champs-Elysees, the big glitzy avenue was practically empty.

[07:55:02] It was actually eerie and very strange. I grew up in this city. This is really my hometown.

This was the first time I'd ever seen a neighborhood like 11th arrondissement where the Champs-Elysees and the Arc of Triomphe are located, that empty. That said, today, the weather is absolutely gorgeous. It's a beautiful fall day.

And people are out. And you see them all gathered here. This is the Place de la Republique, where so many gatherings and demonstrations take place, because it is a symbol of the secular French republic, a symbol. And you see on this big statute of Marianne, liberty, equality, fraternity. So, these are the three founding concepts of the secular French republic.

CUOMO: And, in part, being here at all is an act of defiance.


CUOMO: President Hollande has been pretty outspoken, saying stay home if you don't have to. That's not the way the French are. And the reason there's so much support around the world, is that while all this happened in Paris, it could happen anywhere and the world is becoming more and more painfully aware of that situation.

Proof of it back in the United States, last night, "Saturday Night Live" skipped their opening sketch in stead to pay tribute to victims of Paris. Take a listen to Cecily Strong's heartfelt message last night.


CECILY STRONG, SNL: Paris is the city of light. Here in New York City, we know that light will never go out. Our love and support is with everyone there tonight. We stand with you.


And now, live from New York, it's Saturday night!


GORANI: Right. Well, that was very touching, I have to say, especially saying it in French, it was absolutely beautiful.

We'll have more of our coverage of the Paris terror attacks after this.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CUOMO: Welcome to CNN's continuing coverage of Paris.