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ISIS Releases Picture of Alleged Bomb That Took Down Russian Airliner; Authorities Unsure if Alleged Mastermind Killed in Saint- Denis Raid; NYC On Heightened Alert After ISIS Threats; France Debates Extending State of Emergency. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired November 19, 2015 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now is CNN's Ian Lee. He's in Cairo; he has the latest. Now, Ian, as you know, the early reporting was that this was a 1-kilogram explosive, that'd be about 2.2 pounds, certainly different than this soda can. What's the take?
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, this is a fairly primitive bomb. When you look at it, you do have that soda can. Now explosive experts have told CNN that that could hold about 500 grams, roughly a pound. But they say that's enough to take down a plane. You also have the detonator and you have the switch.
Now, ISIS in their publication, said that the initial target for this was a plane belonging to one of the nations in the American-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. But only after they found a lapse in security at the Sharm el Sheikh Airport, as well as Russia's involvement in Syria, that they switched the target to a Russian plane.
Now we do not know if this is in fact the bomb. It could be ISIS trying to throw investigators off their trail. But all signs are pointing that that it was a bomb that took down the plane. Now, the one thing that is also very concerning about this bomb, it's is that if you look at it, it cannot be remotely detonated. This was a suicide mission, if it was the bomb. Right now, Russian and Egypt officials are not commenting on the picture.
CUOMO: Big point there at the end. Ian Lee, thank you very much for the reporting.
All right, let's get back to Mick and Alisyn in New York. There's other news to tell you about this morning. Guys?
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, a debate is under way in France's national assembly on whether to extend the state of emergency in Paris in the aftermath of last week's terror attacks. The parliament mulling the idea, putting the country under the emergency order for another three months. The action gives authorities wide- ranging actions like searching without warrants, confiscating weapons, and putting people under house arrest. ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. House Republicans hoping to shoot down President Obama's plan to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country next year. A House vote expected today. If it passes, the president vows to veto it even though an overwhelming majority of Americans support the idea. Take a look at this new Bloomberg Politics poll -- 53 percent of Americans do not want Syrian refugees resettled in the U.S. 28 percent say they would be comfortable with the refugees here. 11 percent say only Syrian Christians should be allowed in.
PEREIRA: It has been nearly a week since terrorists attacked the city of Paris, so what's being done to prevent another act of terror and keep the people safe? We're going to take a closer look live from Paris -- next.
CUOMO: Welcome, once again, to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. You are watching NEW DAY.
The fear of the unknown making for a palpable tension here in Paris. The alleged planner of Friday's terror attack could be dead. He could be very much alive. And he could be nearby. Right now, experts are looking at DNA to make a determination if he is one of the unidentified remains at the scene of Wednesday's major raid at two apartments in nearby Saint-Denis. Some 5,000 rounds emptied as munitions into the structure there by police. Just a taste of how much devastation there is.
Meanwhile, in New York City, after the terror group posted a new threat, ISIS is once again on the agenda there. The police department says it will remain in a heightened state of vigilance and continue to work with intelligence agencies to see if the city is actually steeling itself for an actual attack.
All right, let's bring in Stefan Devries. He's a French journalist and was one of the first to arrive on the scene after the Charlie Hebdo killings. You understand the situation very well. You are a friend of the show. Thank you for being here. Let's tick through the headlines. The first is -- this alleged planner. They -- do they believe he is actually in the remains of that apartment? Or is there every bit as good a chance they believe he's still at large but here in France?
STEFAN DE VRIES, FRENCH JOURNALIST: I think both hypotheticals are possible. Of course the police raided this apartment because they're very -- had very clear information that he would be there. They found actually a telephone with an SMS message and they linked it to that specific apartment.
On the other hand, he's still not been identified. We know he's not part of the eight suspects that have been arrested yesterday. So he could be in there . But as you said, 5,000 rounds were fired. Grenades thrown by the police by also by the terrorists, so these bodies are completely -- well, they're in very bad shape. It's very hard to identify. Of course, they're doing everything to try to find samples of their DNA. That's the only way to identify them. And I think that Paris police have really good indications that it is this guy. But as long as we don't have confirmation, I think we really should take it account that he's still on the run.
CUOMO: Now, all of these operations, such impressions numbers. You know, hundreds of operations. Dozens and dozens detained. Big time weapons found. But in terms of the mind-set of investigators, are they more feeling that they're uncovering a threat and making advantage? Or are they learning how much they didn't know?
DE VRIES: I am afraid the latter, because if this guy, Abaaoud, was indeed in his apartment, then European intelligence services, they have a real problem, because he was believed nobody Syria and now he was just hiding in plain sight basically. So I think they realize they don't know a lot; they missed a lot of information. They're trying to get information together, exchange information with other European countries, because they fear that there are more cells active in France who can strike at any moment.
CUOMO: Help me with the context of the urgency. We're reporting on what's happening in Honduras, in Belgium, in France, in Italy, in Germany, in Turkey. Are we in a period of heightened assault from the enemy? Or is this about a heightened awareness of everything that was js going on?
DE VRIES: I think it's a mix of both, actually. Of course, the threat is very serious. We've already seen that with the plane that was bombed above Egypt. Russia has acknowledged now that this was a terrorist act. So there are many things happening.
And ISIS is getting -- well, a little bit arrogant.
They say look what we can do, what we can attain you in the heart of your society, and it doesn't take us a lot of -- it doesn't take us a lot to kill a lot of people of you. So I think the Europeans and probably also other countries around the world now realize that ISIS is a real threat. They're amongst us. And especially if you consider the fact that five of the terrorists who have now been formally identified are French people, so basically French citizens are killing other citizens. And that, of course, changes the complete ball game.
CUOMO: now, one of the things that you were intent on teaching the rest of us after Charlie Hebdo was this was a specific problem. They targeted this satirical magazine. But it also reflects a general issue that you have here in France that there is something specific to this country, and its relationship between citizenry and Muslim citizenry, that needs to be addressed. Do you still feel that way?
DE VRIES: Yes, there's a huge paradox in this society. There are over 6 million Muslims, but it's also the population -- the Muslim population in the world that's the most secularized. Only about 10 percent really go to mosques. So these Muslims are part of our society. However, there's a social problem. There are huge -- the banlieue, as we call them, the suburbs, where you live in very poor circumstances, where it's very hard to go to school, no police officers.
So this is basically a lot of people are deconnecting with the society. And these, especially young boys, they're very prone to influence by radical imams, for instance. But especially when they go to prison. A lot of them go to prison for petty crimes like drug dealing or maybe stealing a car. And they come out of prison as a radical potential terrorist. So inside the prison there's a huge danger as well. These prisons date from the 19th Century, very bad shape. So this is something that the French government will have to attack as well.
CUOMO: Sirens here are something that have become very normal. That's actually an ambulance that's coming by. So there's no sense of the heightened alert here.
Final question, Stefan, when we're looking at this, it is hard for people to understand how a petty criminal becomes someone capable of destroying humanity on the level that we saw here on Friday. But you're saying you have seen the connection over time that poverty is as much to play as ideology or religion for what we're seeing here?
DE VRIES: Absolutely. Ideology is an escape from reality, and especially in the prisons, that's where it happens. We've seen it also with the attackers of Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket. They have been in prison. They were French citizens, born and raised here, and they came out as radical terrorists. So inside the prisons -- and it's known for the security service, but somehow they're not able to address that problem.
CUOMO: Stefan De Vries, no more painful example than the guy they're calling the planner here now. Just back in 2011 he was a petty robber. He got picked up with one of the eventual other attackers here, and they did like a month in jail together. And now look at them and what they were planning. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
DE VRIES: You're welcome.
CUOMO: All right, so ISIS, the threat is very real. And now we're paying attention to what they say, and they're saying they're coming at New York City in a new video. So what is being done to avert disaster ahead of the holiday season? Stay with us for that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BRATTON, NYPD COMMISSIONER: We cannot be intimidated, and that's what terrorists seek to do. They seek to create fear. They seek to intimidate. We will not be intimidated and we will not live in fear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That was New York City's Police Commissioner Bill Bratton responding to a new ISIS propaganda video targeting New York City. The video shows an explosive device being put together, and a bomber zipping his coat, followed by shots of Times Square.
So what now? Let's bring in Samuel Rascoff. He's the faculty director for the Center of Law and Security at NYU Law. He's also the former director of intelligence analysis for the NYPD. Sam, great to have you today. You are the perfect person to speak to today, because you led the team that assessed the risk to New York City. So today, given ISIS has put out this new propaganda video, how do you assess the risk?
SAMUEL RASCOFF, FORMER DIR. OF INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS, NYPD: Well, let's kind of begin with some first principles here. Terrorists like ISIS like to milk this kind of moment for all it's worth. They're not just a violent organization; they have a marketing arm, and their design is to try to get the message out and to make it as impactful as possible.
CAMEROTA: So does that mean we can dismiss it? Does that mean it's just propaganda? Or do these videos generally -- are they are precursor to something actually happening?
RASCOFF: Well, I'd like to be able to tell you that it's all bark, no bite. But ISIS has a worrisome ability to follow through on its commitments, so I think that if you're sitting in the position of Bill Bratton or a federal position with a focus on New York, you can't dismiss this as just so much propaganda.
CAMEROTA: When they put out a video, does something change inside the halls of the NYPD? Do you go on a different state of alert or are there different conversations that you have?
RASCOFF: I don't think so. I think the assumption, and you heard Bratton say this in fact, the assumption is that New York City is always under threat. And that a video that's designed to really reach out and touch the public and intimidate the public isn't something that weighs heavily in the minds of individuals.
CAMEROTA: The challenge just seems overwhelming. I mean, particularly given what we saw in Paris, it seemed like -- I mean, correct me if I'm wrong -- but a sort of sickeningly simplistic attack. Get seven or eight guys with AK-47s and go wreak havoc at soft targets. I mean, isn't that sort of the biggest fear of New York City?
RASCOFF: It is, but in a sense it wasn't o simplistic. In fact, in a sense, it was quite a sophisticated plot. A number of different cells organized from overseas. A Belgium component, a France component, a Syrian component. And in a way, the sophistication is the ally of intelligence agencies, because the more opportunities there are to listen to conversations that are being had overseas, the better off we're going to be. CAMEROTA: So let's talk about that. Because therein lies the real
complication. We've heard the director of the FBI, James Comey, talking about how it has gotten more and more complicated to track these terrorist because they've gone dark. So listen to how he explains it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: They find somebody that might kill on their behalf or might come and kill in the caliphate, they move them to a mobile messaging app that's encrypted. And at that moment, the needle we've been searching the entire nation to find or have found goes invisible to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: The needle in the haystack that they had been looking for, that they had a lead on, goes dark and becomes invisible. I mean, what then?
RASCOFF: Here's the context for Comey's intervention. After Snowden, we had a big conversation in our country about surveillance and the proper extent of surveillance. And Comey and others are saying now that we've gone too far in the direction of protecting privacy, and that in particular we need to have the ability to penetrate these encrypted technologies. I think he's right.
CAMEROTA: So meaning that we know how to do it, we have the capability to peer into these encrypted communications, and we're just not doing it because of, you know, our own laws and the Supreme Court and everything that we dealt with the PATRIOT Act?
RASCOFF: Well, actually, the technology itself is designed in such a way as to disallow government from getting in, even when there's a validly issued warrant from a court. So we've essentially allowed technology firms to build technology that's calculated to defeat surveillance technology.
CAMEROTA: But we could do it. We can do it. If we change the laws, if we loosen up, I should asy, the laws, we can do it. We could see what they're doing on these encrypted sites?
RASCOFF: There are some risks associated with that. But in general, yes. We could through policy and legal change, we could essentially give ourselves access to this otherwise encrypted technology.
CAMEROTA: So I mean, Sam, given that you have been tasked with all of this, how do you sleep at night? I mean, what is comforting about where we are in the world right now, given that they've said that they want to attack Washington, D.C., and New York City?
RASCOFF: Here's a comforting story for our viewers in the United States, in particular in New York and Washington, although it's less comfortable if you're sitting right now in Brussels or Paris. We have a much better track record in this country of integrating Muslims into our society. We have a much better ability to protect ourselves against threats coming from a place like Syria. If you're sitting in Syria today, Alisyn, you want to get to Paris, it's a matter of getting in a car and being there in 48 hours. We're protected by our oceans and our borders in a way that our European friends simply are not, and also by our processes of integrating our Muslim populations.
CAMEROTA: But if you're coming in from Paris, we let you in.
RASCOFF: We do. Nothing here is in the category of 100 percent airtight. What we're talk about is marginally decreasing the odds of an attack. And that's all that people in my former line of work do, which is chip away at the odds.
CAMEROTA: Samuel Rascoff, thanks so much for all the information. Great to talk to you. Thanks for coming in.
All right, united against terror. The Paris attacks triggering an all-out assault on the heart of ISIS in Raqqa, Syria. How much of a blow is it to the terror group? We'll get a military perspective for you, next.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The situation is very, very fluid.
CUOMO: At least two terrorists killed. Others taken into custody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are at war with the world. They are at war with the United States.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They don't know whether the alleged ringleader of Friday's attacks is among dead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ISIS saying that it's killed two more hostages, one from China, the other from Norway.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Showing off what it claims is the homemade bomb that took down a Russian passenger jet.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC360": A video threatening New York City.
BRATTON: There's probably not been a time since 9/11 where there's been so much concern.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New York is an aspirational target of this group.
BILL DE BLASIO, NYC MAYOR: It is the goal of terrorists to intimidate and disrupt our democratic society. We will not submit.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Alisyn Camerota, and Michaela Pereira.
CUOMO: Welcome to our viewer in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. Alisyn and Michaela are in New York. I'm in Paris.
Fear of the unknown still gripping this city after a police raid that may or may not have killed the alleged planner of last week's terror attacks. Right now, experts are doing DNA testing to determine if he is among the remains in the building, these two apartments that were the subject of raid.
Remember, 5,000 rounds of munitions emptied into the apartments by the authorities trying to combat the terror team inside. The devastation is almost complete in there so it will take time. ISIS however making advantage out of this situation and all of this notoriety, now claiming that there will be new attacks, specifically in New York City. Also claiming to have executed hostages from Norway and China.
This as House officials both in the United States and in countries all around the world acknowledge that they are at war with ISIS. Certainly not a new development, but new intensity.
CNN's global coverage begins with senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward near the scene of that raid in Saint-Denis just outside of Paris. A big development this morning, Clarissa. The state of emergency, President Francois Hollande wanting to extends what goes 12 days for three months. The parliament here has two parts, the national assembly and the senate. The national assembly just voted yes almost unanimously. The senate vote comes tomorrow.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Chris. Well, Francois Hollande said that he wants to extend that state of emergency three months. He wants for off-duty policemen to be able to carry guns, provided that they wear an arm band. We're really seeing some pretty tectonic shifts starting to take shape here in Paris and across France.
Now, that's because of the current situation. You still have that eighth attacker on the loose. You still have that alleged ringleader Abaaoud on the loose. And really now no sense as to whether they were in fact somehow inside that apartment, that apartment just behind me there, the scene of yesterday's raids.
Chris this is one of the toughest neighborhoods in Paris. But people said that they have never seen anything like it. One resident described it as a war zone. And we were able to get up onto a roof and we could see forensic experts in that apartment. The back of it has been completely blown up by the force of the explosion of the female cousin of Abaaoud who blew herself up. And we can see forensic experts going through the room, dressed in white, taking samples.
[07:00:02] They're looking for DNA, Chris. They want to try to find out was Abdelhamid Abaaoud ever in that apartment? Was he possibly one of those killed in that apartment?