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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Brussels On High Alert After "Imminent" Threat; Turkey Arrests ISIS Suspect Linked To Paris Attacks; American Killed In Mali Attack; Officials: 26 Civilian Casualty Incidents In Review; Several Terror Suspects Have Ties to Mollenbeek, Belgium; President Obama Visits Malaysia. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired November 21, 2015 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:00:02] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news is out of Turkey, three men suspected of having ties to ISIS arrested in an early morning raid, including alleged terrorists who may have scouted out targets for the attacks in Paris.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Also breaking right now, Brussels on high alert, the Belgian prime minister saying just a short time ago the high terror alert is based on quote, "quite precise information about a possible attack."
That's part of what's happening around the world. We are so grateful for your company. Here to walk you through it. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you. We are starting our coverage in Paris with senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen. Fred, a lot going on. Good morning.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi and Victor. You're absolutely right. This is a city that remains on the edge. It's a city with a lot of anger in it, but of course, it is also a city that right now is looking towards Turkey as well.
We want to get straight to the breaking news out of there. We have those arrests overnight in Turkey. Three men allegedly tied to ISIS. One of them is Ahmed Damani, who has been staying at a popular tourist hotel in the coastal city of Antalya since November 16th.
They believed he may have been the one who scouted out the targeted venues in the Paris attack that happened here last Friday. Now, what you are looking at right now is video of all three of those men being taken into custody.
Meanwhile, France is poised to extend its state of emergency for another three months as new fears in Brussels have emerged. Authorities taking action after what they say is a serious and imminent threat, warning people to stay away from large groups, even shutting down major subway lines.
I want to go straight to Drew Griffin who is in the Belgian capital of Brussels. Drew, the Belgian prime minister even came out and said the high alert is based on what he said, quite precise information of a possible attack. What are you hearing today?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Fred, it's quite unprecedented. They had an emergency meeting this morning. This threat level rising to the highest level came in the middle of the night so most of the people in this town woke up to the news that this was going on.
As you can see, there were people on the street but nowhere near the amount of people that we've seen for the last several days. Many, many shops were closed. The subways are closed. Buses were on low alert. It takes forever to get a taxi in this town.
The major events, concerts, soccer games, et cetera, have been canceled all based on government orders. This is what the prime minister had to tell his people this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES MICHEL, BELGIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The first thing is a large event. The second thing is a mobilized station or public transport, mainly the metro and the large number of people going to metro stations for capacity needed more security. This recommendation was addressed until tomorrow afternoon because it's being near the situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: So quite unprecedented for a prime minister to come out and basically tell his people, Fred, don't gather in large groups. Don't go to concerts. Don't do what so many people in Brussels were hoping to do this Saturday morning, which was live their lives normally -- Fred.
PLEITGEN: Yes, Drew, all this, of course, comes after a week of raids in Belgium in the wake of those terror attacks here in Paris. Thanks for keeping an eye on that for us. We will get back to you later. Thanks very much, Drew Griffin in Brussels.
We want to go back to our other breaking story. We are learning new details about those people arrested in Turkey. Authorities suspect these men have ties to ISIS and are connected with last week's terrorist attacks right here in Paris.
One of them is a Belgian national of Moroccan dissent. He is believed to have been scouting target sites for the November 13th attack that, of course, happened in various locations here in the French capital.
We have our own senior international correspondent, Atika Shubert, who is keeping an eye on that situation. Atika, tell us more about these men and how it could help in the hunt for that last suspect, who apparently is still at large, Salah Abdeslam.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here are the details we have on the suspects in Turkey according to our affiliate CNN Turk. He's a 26-year-old by the name of Ahmed Dalmani, Belgian-Moroccan.
[06:05:05] He appears to have come quite recently and was staying at a five star hotel in Antalya, which of course, is sort of the governing capital there in Turkey. He appears to have been waiting for two other men to come pick him up, two Syrian men.
And according to our affiliate CNN Turk, their names are Mohammad Farrad (ph) and Ahmed Tahir (ph), and authorities there believe according to our affiliate, they were planning to bring him across the border into Syria.
Now the key is his role in the attacks. We know, of course, that there were eight attackers including Salah Abdeslam and one who is still a fugitive and on the run. But they must have had a logistical support network, and this is what investigators are trying to work out.
Whether or not this new arrest in Turkey shows that logistical support that they had across Belgium, France and now, it appears possibly links to Syria and Turkey.
PLEITGEN: Thank you very much, Atika Shubert there right here in Paris covering that situation for us as well.
Of course, we've also been covering a terror attack in the Mali. Residents there this morning are under a nationwide day of mourning and that goes on for ten days, which is a state of emergency.
After gunmen stormed a hotel two or three heavily armed militants reportedly bypassed security at the gate using a car with fake diplomatic license plates yesterday morning. Witnesses say they jumped out and immediately started shooting at anyone who moved.
Malian and U.N. security forces rescued dozens of people who were trapped in the hotel for hours. A group affiliated with al Qaeda is taking partial responsibility for the attack. At least 19 people have been killed. Not all of the victims have been identified yet.
We know they were from all over the world, including Russia, China, Belgium and also, this is key, the United States. The lone American victim was a 41-year-old mother and public health worker living in Maryland.
Her family says they are quote, "devastated by her death" and we have our own Robyn Kriel who is live in Nairobi right now. Robin, why was Anita in Mali?
ROBYN KRIEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For one, she worked for a consulting firm, an international development firm called Palladium. She was a former peace corps, very committed to public health, and public health across Africa, extremely committed to Africa we understand from her family.
As you said, one U.S. citizen, 41-year-old and many, many others, however, there are 19 victims in total, two of which are the, which were attackers. As far as we know, Mali the still on the lookout. There is, security services are still scouring the capital, Bamako, for more attackers.
PLEITGEN: Robyn, what do we know about the attackers, the identities, which groups they're from?
KRIEL: As far as nothing yet about the individual attackers, but the groups that they came from. Two groups have come forward claiming responsibility, both affiliated with al Qaeda, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which had a very strong foothold in Mali as well as (inaudible).
It's quite interesting, they have launched a couple of similar attacks to this in recent months, one in August where they attack their hotel in Central Mali, a hotel popular with westerners, killing 17 people.
Some of the modus operandi, attacking early on a Friday morning and holding the hotel siege until Mali enforcers went it. They also attacked a bar in the capital of Bamako just a couple of months ago. Both of these groups have come forward.
There is some worry amongst experts that they may be trying to compete in some way with ISIS, kind of riding the wave of the terrorist attacks in Paris to try to get more attention and that this could turn into some kind of a Jihadi extremist competition before the two groups.
PLEITGEN: Yes, absolutely. That certainly is a very big concern, and certainly something that security experts have been saying may have been going on for quite a while, that sort of competition, disgusting competition for terror between these two groups.
Robyn Kriel keeping an eye on the situation for us there in Nairobi, thank you very much. We will have much more from Paris coming up.
More on the breaking news that the Paris terrorist attacks investigation spread to Turkey with three pictures with alleged ties to ISIS have just been arrested. We got more on that when we come back.
PLEITGEN: Welcome back, everyone, to our live coverage of the Paris attacks. I'm Fred Pleitgen coming to you live from Central Paris. New this hour, three people with suspected ties to ISIS have been arrested in Turkey, one of them suspected of scouting target sites for last Friday's attacks. We continue to follow the story. We will have more information when it gets in.
In the meantime, France is beefing up security, 10,000 military personnel are now deployed across the country. There has been nearly 800 searches carried out in the past week, 174 weapons were found and seized by the authorities, and 164 people considered dangerous have been placed under house arrest.
Now, here with me to discuss all of this is Nathalie Goulet. She is a French member of the Senate. And Madam, what was your reaction when you heard about these Turkey arrests that came this morning? Someone has been arrested as part of scouting out the scene?
NATHALIE GOULET, FRENCH SENATOR: We have been very suspicious with Turkey for a long time. We had a lot of trouble with them. There this traffic of passport and border, which is not safe.
PLEITGEN: The entry point to Syria?
GOULET: Yes, it's a very important point and then also a big part of the traffic comes from Turkey. At the same time, we were expecting something from the Turkish authority and so it's a good thing.
[06:15:01]PLEITGEN: It also comes as the investigation moves forward. We are still looking for one of the suspects, Salah Abdeslam, but at the same time, many people believe that the web of those involved in this was a lot bigger. What do you think, how much more arrests can we expect?
GOULET: Well, it's sometimes interfering in the investigation, of course, I'm just a member of the Senate.
PLEITGEN: People are talking.
GOULET: People are talking, but at the same time, we have to be very cautious. The more you talk about that and the more you can make the suspect aware of who is looking for them. So what we know for sure from the very beginning is that this operation was very strong, very organized, like an octopus with a lot of ramification and with a real strong connection with a target to kill. So we are now expecting some news from Belgium
PLEITGEN: What about the mood here in Paris. I mean, we are now a little bit over a week since all of this happened, how are people here dealing with it? How is France dealing with this?
GOULET: Well, I think we are still under very emotional shock. Also, it's like a twilight zone.
PLEITGEN: The twilight zone.
GOULET: Means that the day-to-day life is back, but at the same time, we have a picture of smiling young people in mind engraved and we cannot get rid of them and then we think the family, the funeral didn't start yet. We will have a national ceremony next week. So I think we are going to cross very painful times.
PLEITGEN: At the same time all of this has caused a political reaction. Yesterday the Upper House of Parliament approved the emergency measures being extended. What sort of situation does that create politically because at the same time, you have a discussion, a fear of Islamophobia in the wake of all this?
PLEITGEN: What do you make of the political discussions going on?
GOULET: We have a strong anonymity of the state. We have absolutely no doubt the government and the minister of interior to fight. It was very important for us to support our police and also the government for what they are doing and what they will do. You know, it's something like a real imagined state and at the same time we are now facing election and under a state of emergency.
PLEITGEN: Which is never good.
GOULET: Not a good situation. So I think that people will probably react considering that the government was really doing a good job or they will fold into a national front harm with this is so bad, expression that they use, which is terrible like immigration of today will be terrorism of tomorrow and that scares me a lot.
PLEITGEN: Thank you very much, Nathalie Goulet, for joining us today. And as you can see in Paris the city very much on edge like we have been saying. The investigation, of course, also is still very much moving forward, standing Belgium now also expanding apparently into Turkey. There is a lot to talk about as we cover these events unfolding. Back to you, Victor and Christi.
PAUL: Thank you so much, Fred. We appreciate it.
Listen, still to come, another tragedy the U.S. military admitting civilians were likely caught in the cross fire during a strike on ISIS.
BLACKWELL: That fight of course continuous, President Obama says the cowardly attack on a hotel there in Mali only stiffens the resolve to defeat terrorism.
BLACKWELL: A live look here at the crowds there leaving messages of resolve and memoriam and solidarity there. We will go back live to Paris with all the breaking developments on that terror attack and the investigation and the ongoing hunt that's going on.
But first new airstrikes are being conducted by coalition forces against ISIS, the targets in Syria and also in Iraq.
PAUL: Yes, specifically in Syria, officials say 22 strikes took place using ground attacks, bombers, and remotely piloted aircraft and in Iraq, 20 new airstrikes were conducted there.
The attacks targeted among other things, ISIS buildings, armories and crude oil deposits. All of this as the Pentagon releases new details about a U.S. airstrike in March that likely killed four civilians. According to the documents, the strike occurred at an ISIS checkpoint near Hatra in Iraq.
BLACKWELL: All right, let's talk more about this airstrike with CNN military analyst, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. Lt. General, I want to get to you respond to the questions about how often this happens, 26 similar incidents under review now. How common are potential errors like this?
LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: When you are talking about over 7,000 airstrikes, which the coalition, primarily the United States has conducted, Victor, this does happen, unfortunately. This is war and sometimes civilians are on the ground involved in these strikes.
But I think what you have to remember too is the United States and the coalition members around the targeting cell tried to take great care in not hitting these kinds of targets. They try and clear the area.
They try and be mindful of the potential collateral damage, all of that is a part of the targeting process. Sometimes war is just not perfect.
BLACKWELL: It must be extraordinarily difficult to hit only ISIS resources and targets when this group is bent on weaving itself into the civilian population as a way to protect itself.
HERTLING: Yes, that's the challenge. If this was a conventional fight, Victor, you were going after tanks or artillery pieces or you have large formations of uniform soldiers, it's very easy to strike a target with precision weapons. That's almost exclusively what the coalition forces are using.
When I say precision, I'm talking within a 10-meter circular error of probability of strike. When you are talking about a force that by its design attempts to use humans as shields, attempts to occupy buildings, which are normally used by the public.
[06:25:10]Such as hospitals or schools or mosques, or you have checkpoints where you have indicators that it's solely an ISIS checkpoint, but there's going to be civilians going there, it's extremely difficult to strike this.
You will see even using the example of the oil tanker strikes, which were occurring this week, we dropped leaflets before that, over 10,000 leaflets to the truck drivers, saying get out of these trucks, because they're going to be destroyed.
Sometimes that doesn't even happen. But a great deal of care is used in this kind of conflict to try and avoid damage to the civilian population.
BLACKWELL: All right, Lt. General Mark Hertling, thank you so much for your insight.
HERTLING: Quite welcome, Victor. PAUL: We know the terror suspects from the Paris attacks have links to Belgium. It's not the first time, though, a terrorist has come from that community. We'll talk about it.
BLACKWELL: Also tightening the net on travel, how the White House is planning new security checks on people coming in from Europe.
PLEITGEN: Welcome back, everyone. We are following breaking news out of Turkey, where three men are now under arrest, suspected of having ties to ISIS. One of the men, 26-year-old, Belgian of Moroccan dissent reportedly scouted venue for the terror attacks that happened in Paris almost exactly one week ago.
[06:30:00] He was arrested at a high end hotel in a southeastern Turkish city of Antalia. Officials believe the two men under arrest were trying to smuggle him into Syria.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron says he will travel to Paris on Monday to hold talks with French President Francois Hollande about a cooperative plan to fight ISIS together.
Meanwhile, Brussels is under its highest terror alert level as a, quote, "serious and imminent threat" shuts down major subways and the government warns citizens to stay away from public gatherings.
Now, several terror suspect have ties to the town of Molenbeek, which is a suburb of the Belgian capital of Brussels. It certainly isn't the first time that a terrorist has come from there. CNN's Drew Griffin reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This mostly Muslim community in Brussels is quickly becoming synonymous with terror in Europe. At least a half dozen terror attacks have links to Molenbeek. Local prosecutors say dozens of Islamic foreign fighters in Syria have come from here and more and more terrorists come here to shop in the black market that specializes in the tools of their trade.
KOEN GEENS, BELGIAN JUSTICE MINISTER: It's false papers, false passports, weapons trade are flourishing in certain suburbs of Brussels like in Molenbeek, and we absolutely have to counter these things with the help of local services, but also to help with criminal justice.
GRIFFIN: Balil Benyaich, a senior fellow at a Brussels think tank focusing on immigration and security says illicit trade, especially in guns, has put Belgium and Molenbeek on the terror map.
BALIL BENYAICH, SENIOR FELLOW, ITINERA INSTITUTE: Although Belgium has very tough gun laws, still there is a big black market of weapons in Brussels that come from everywhere in Europe and also from the Balkan countries. And it's very easy for criminal gangs or for terrorist groupings to find weapons, even war weapons here in our city.
GRIFFIN: Benyaich says Kalashnikov rifles, the gun of choice in recent attacks can be purchased on the Belgian black market for as little as a thousand dollars.
(on camera): And you are actually getting a good deal here. You are getting a good money, price.
BENYAICH: Indeed, yeah. That's a problem.
GRIFFIN (voice over): And there is another problem, says Benyaich, that may be much bigger.
BENYAICH: What we see the last three, four five years is that there is a merge between the jihadi radical world and between the criminal world. Because lots of jihadists meet with criminals in prison. I think that the role of the Salafi branch of Islam with these young people is that it's like a mental detonation mechanism. And so, some of them are hard core Jihadists who were socialized in this branch of Islam since they were young. But some of them are not that Muslim at all.
GRIFFIN: That appears to be the case for the man who operated this bar. Ibrahim Abdeslam was known as a petty criminal here. The bar he ran shut down just a week before the Paris attacks because of drugs and other illicit activity. Family and friends say his involvement in radical Islam came as a shock.
Last week Abdeslam blew himself up in Paris wearing a suicide vest. His family was stunned. His brother Salah Abdeslam is still on the run. He, too, has a criminal past from Molenbeek, and in 2011 even spent time in prison with another Molenbeek criminal Paris attack ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud, three criminals turned jihadists. Drew Griffin, CNN, Molenbeek, Belgium.
PLEITGEN: All right. And Drew joins us live now from Brussels. Drew, I hear you have you some breaking news for us. So, what did you learn?
GRIFFIN: There have been nightly raids. And they just announced at a raid last night there was one arrest in Molenbeek again. It was one man taking into custody. According to the government information, they confiscated several guns, no explosives and, Fred, somewhat frightening in the release. They said they did not find any explosive vests. So, one person was brought into custody, but that is all the information we have at this time. Fred.
PLEITGEN: All right. Drew Griffin, thank you very much. You are going to keep an eye on that situation as it unfolds there in the Belgium capital. All right.
I want to move along now. We have Olivier Guitta who is now able to join me from London. He is the managing director of Global Strata an international security and geopolitical risk consultant firm. Olivier, you think today's shutdown in Brussels, does that suggest that they really do have credible information? How specific do you think that that possible information about a plot is?
OLIVIER GUITTA, GLOBAL STRATA: Look, for a city the size of Brussels to be shut down, to have the subway shut down, the credible information and intel that they have must be really, really hot. Because that's the first time that I've seen this happening anywhere in Europe in the past few years. So, probably either through the French or through the Moroccans, they may have had information or possibly from the people that they arrested in the past few days that may have given specific intel on attacks.
PLEITGEN: Olivier, you know, back in January, we covered Belgium as part of the plot to - when "Charlie Hebdo" was attacked. Now, Belgium appears to be the central, once again, but first of all, extremism, second of all, the weapons pipeline for most of it. When did Belgium become such a hotbed of, first of all, weapons trafficking and second of all, extremism?
GUITTA: Look, it's been a while that we have known about Molenbeek as a hotbed of Jihadist terrorists. What you can see is, you know, even last year the proof was in the pudding, I may say, when Mehdi Nemmouche attacked Jewish Museum in Brussels and that already links to Molenbeek. So, it's been springing up. You also have the fact that still until today, Belgium represents proportionally the highest number of foreign jihadists from Europe into Iraq. When it comes to weapons trafficking, also, it's been a hub and I think that Belgium authorities didn't see this coming in the scale that it is. And today you have to remember also, this nexus between French and Belgian cell that is very important because of the common language and because of the easiness of the access between Brussels and Paris, for instance.
PLEITGEN: Olivier Guitta, thank you very much for joining us there via skype from London. And we have a lot more still to come. Questions over how well travel watch lists for terrorists actually work in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. CNN has learned one of the attackers could have, could have traveled to the United States. More on that after the break.
PLEITGEN: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. We are, of course, following the breaking news of on the investigation into the Paris terror attacks. I'm Fred Pleitgen on Place de la Republique, and one of the new pieces of breaking news that we have is that Belgian authorities have made an arrest in connection with the attacks that occurred here last Friday. The Belgian - federal prosecutor's office says the suspect's home was searched for - and a few weapons were found, but and this is key, no explosives were found in those searches.
Also, of course, breaking news coming to us overnight out of Turkey. Three men are now under arrest suspected of having ties to ISIS. One of the men, a 26-year-old Belgian of Moroccan dissent reportedly scouted venues for the terror attacks that took place right here in the French capital at various locations last Friday. He was arrested at a high end hotel in the southeastern Turkish city of Antalia.
Officials believe the two other men who are also under arrest were trying to smuggle him into Syria. And we will have more on both of those developments throughout the morning. But, of course, there are also other concerns as well, and there are questions about U.S. national security this morning in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks. After officials reveal that at least one of the eight Paris attackers likely would have been able to travel to the United States, that's right. And our own CNN justice reporter Evan Perez has more.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At least one of the Paris attackers, and possibly more, had clean enough backgrounds that they could have traveled to the U.S. under the visa waiver program. Officials tell CNN that more than one of the attackers was on the no fly list and four were on the watch list known as TIDE. There are 1.1 million names on the TIDE list. The no fly list is smaller. And it's the highest level security list. There is disagreement among law enforcement and intelligence agencies about how well these watch lists would have worked to stop these attackers from traveling to the U.S. One intelligence official says that human sources and other intelligence methods would have filled those gaps. But law enforcement officials are very concerned that that's not the case. This is not a new concern in the past year the Homeland Security Department has added new requirements for information from citizens traveling from 38 visa waiver countries. But as a sign that the Obama administration is taking potential gaps seriously, expect to hear in the coming days new steps that European countries in the visa waiver program are going to take to provide more information to the U.S.
Now, one U.S. official says that the vast majority of the people who are either attackers or plotters were on watch lists and most were on the no fly list. Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.
PLEITGEN: And Victor and Christie, so many things that we are looking at. This morning, again that breaking news coming out of Turkey with those three arrests made, including one man, who is apparently possibly tied to the plots that unfolded here last Friday. Then, of course, the situation in Brussels that is ongoing. The new raising of the terror alert here. Then, of course, we have the situation in Mali. There is so much going on that we are reporting from here in Paris. Back to you, guys.
BLACKWELL: And of course, we'll stay on top of the breaking news. But Fred, before we let you go, I just have a question we - at the top of this half hour, took just a brief look at the people there behind you in the Place de Republique and the messages and the flowers we see there in memoriam. Give us an idea now, more than a week since this attack, the mood there in Paris.
PLEITGEN: Well, look, I think people are absolutely shocked about the attacks, about the fact that something like this happened in their city.
And there is also among many people, I would say, on the one hand, a feeling of defiance, where they say, you know, we are not going to let our way of life be influenced by terrorism. We are not going to cave into terrorism. Many people also very much on board with the expansion of the French military campaign in Syria. Those additional bombings that have been taking place as well. But, of course, people also feel, you know, vulnerable. They're afraid that something like this could happen again. They are afraid that terrorists could strike again. They were also very shocked by the fact that you had those terror raids just outside of Paris, you know, where they killed the main suspect in these terrorist attacks. So, people here are very, very concerned about their safety, about their security. But at the same time, they are still very, very much defiant.
BLACKWELL: All right, Fred, thank you so much.
PAUL: Meanwhile, we are tracking the president in Asia. He's talking about that hotel attack in Mali that Fred just mentioned and facing Mali and the U.S. Forces, in fact, for stopping an even bigger tragedy.
BLACKWELL: Also, we will talk about the possibility raised by the French prime minister warning that ISIS could use chemical weapons in future attacks.
That and more coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Like the heinous attacks we saw in Paris and attacks we see all too often elsewhere, this is another awful reminder that the scourge of terrorism threatens so many of our nations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: President Obama there speaking about the latest terror threats affecting countries across the globe as he attends a summit in Malaysia with the leaders of ten Southeast Asian nations.
PAUL: Yeah, the president spoke about the role countries like Malaysia are playing in the fight against terror. And makes some emotional remarks regarding America's role on helping refugees. Before we - that, let's get to CNN's Michelle Kosinski. She's following the president's trip live in Kuala Lumpur for us. Michelle, good to see you this morning. I know that the president said Americans who were in the Mali hotels are still being accounted for, we know one is already dead. What is happening? How is the U.S. helping in that regard and how are these other nations helping as well?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, there are members of the U.S. military there on site. They were able to help coordinate, help to work after the attack had happened. We all thought it was interesting this morning to hear the president say that. I mean that was the first that we had heard that there were Americans that were being sought, who are currently unaccounted for. But that's really all the information that they would give, as far as number or, you know, what is their status? We just don't know yet. So that's an ongoing process. And in terms of intelligence, we know that the U.S. and other countries are working hard to share intelligence more than ever before to try to find the attackers as well as more future attacks. I mean that's what's really being talked about now, trying to share intelligence to the maximum extent. So, hopefully, even though it wasn't able to prevent these attacks that we have seen in the last few days, but it will in the future, Christie and Victor.
PAUL: You know, I know he spoke about the refugees as well, made some pretty emotional remarks about that, and the challenge here is finding a balance between compassion and security. Did he speak to that at all in terms of, is there a way to do that?
KOSINSKI: Yeah, he did. I mean, it was interesting. Because over the past few days, we saw the president repeatedly slam Republicans for the rhetoric that we heard, especially from some of the 2016 candidates and some of their ideas. I mean the president called that offensive, not who we are. He really used heavy criticism. But today, at this refugee center, this organization that works with refugees, people who have escaped war, victims of human trafficking. There were a lot of children there that the president was able to interact with.
So, he said, look, these are the faces of this problem. The refugee crisis affects the entire world. And he really tried to hit that point home saying that these faces are indistinguishable from our fellow Americans. The thought that people would be afraid of these children is just unfathomable. And it's not the best of who we are. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: When we talk about American leadership, American leadership is us caring about people who have been forgotten or who have been discriminated against or who have been tortured or who have been subject to unspeakable violence or who have been separated from families at very young ages. That's American leadership. That's when we're the shining light on the hill. Not when we respond on the basis of fear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSINSKI: And the president really emphasized that America and the world needs to be continuing to take refugees in for those reasons. As the White House keeps emphasizing the vast majority of people who come from Syria and Iraq into the United States are women, children, and families and as the president put it, those are not people to be feared.
That doesn't mean that the political debate is going to end any time soon and the White House has been adamant about not stopping the refugee program in anyway. What they are opened to, though, is other ways that people come into the country, tweaking those programs, making things tighter in general. The White House says it is opened to looking bad, but it is not opened to stopping or pausing the welcoming of these people into America. Christi and Victor.
PAUL: All right, good to know, Michelle. Thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: Listen, there is a lot going on this morning, a lot of developments on the terror front we are following, including Brussels on high alert. The city basically on lock down, alert level four indicating a serious and immediate threat. We will take you live to Brussels.
BLACKWELL: All right, the breaking news that we are following right now. Three people with suspected ties to ISIS have been arrested in Turkey. One of them is believed to be the man who scouted the targets for last week's terror attacks in Paris. We're coming up at the top of the hour. So once we cross that point, we're going to go live back to France with the latest on the investigation and this ongoing and growing manhunt.
PAUL: And listen to this. Chemical weapons fears in France now after a chilling warning from the prime minister, hospitals are now stocking up on medicine for sarin gas poisoning. Also U.S. airports are tightening security ahead of, oh, you know it, a busy travel season. I don't know if you get ready to get on the plane, but so many people are. There is growing concern regarding a visa program that officials say could have allowed some of those Paris attackers to slip here into the U.S. So much more to tell you about this morning.
BLACKWELL: And the next hour starts right now.
PAUL: So, let's get right to these breaking news, Belgian authorities made an arrest in connection with the Paris attack. Victor was just talking about the Belgian federal prosecutor's office says the suspect's home in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels was searched. A few weapons were found, no explosives, however.
BLACKWELL: Now to Turkey where those three men suspected of having ties to ISIS were taken into custody on an early morning raid ending with those arrests, including two men who maybe have been trying to smuggle one of the planners of the Paris attacks into Syria. Also, breaking now. Brussels on high alert. The Belgium prime minister saying just a short time ago the high terror alert is based on, and this is a quote, "quite precise information of a possible attack."