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Paris Suspect Arrested in Belgium; Three Suspect ISIS Arrests in Turkey; State of Emergency Declared in Mali; Paris Terror Attacks: France Prepares for Possible Chemical Attack; GOP Rivals Debate Refugee Issue in Iowa. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired November 21, 2015 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:08] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We are always so grateful to see you. Thank you for spending time with us this morning. I'm Christi Paul.


We want to get back to Fred Pleitgen leading our coverage in Paris -- Fred.


There are certainly are a lot of new developments this morning and we are covering all of them from the entire region, including that breaking news that Belgian authorities have made an arrest in connection with the Paris terror attacks. The Belgian federal prosecutor office says the suspect's home in Molenbeek in that district of Brussels, which, of course, has been seeing so much of that radicalism in the raids going on, that it was searched and a few weapons were found, but -- and this is important -- no explosives were found.

What does the mean for the investigation here in Paris? We'll have a lot more on that in just a minute. We'll also go live to Brussels as well.

But also, we are following breaking news of arrests in Turkey. Three men allegedly tied to ISIS. One of them Ahmet Dahmani has been staying at a popular tourist hotel in the coastal city of Antalya since November 16th.

So, that was three days after the attacks took place here in Paris and they believe he may have scouted the targeted venues in the Paris terrorist attacks. Of course, various locations here throughout the city.

What you are looking at right now is video of all three men being taken into custody. Authorities believe the other two men were trying to smuggle Dahmani into Syria. They apparently are Syrian nationals.

Meanwhile, the prime ministers of France and the United Kingdom will meet on Monday. So, in two days, as a part of a cooperative plan to fight ISIS more collectively as new fears arrive in Brussels. Authorities are taking action of a serious and imminent threat as the prime minister of the country said, warning people to stay away from large groups and shutting down major subway lines.

Now, we have all of these developments for you this morning, beginning with Drew Griffin who's following the breaking news developments from Brussels in Belgium.

And, Drew, what are you learning about this latest arrest that took place?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Really, a brief statement came out of the federal prosecutors office just about an hour ago, Fred, all it said was they confiscated some weapons but -- as you said -- no explosive vests. They made sure to point that out in their announcement, that no explosives and no explosive vests were found. They did take this person into custody. They have been staging raids night after night all around Brussels, but this one seems to have come after the threat level was raised.

And that threat level raised really, Fred, in the middle of the night, wee hours of the night. We got notice of this. And then this morning, as we show you, the empty streets or the mostly empty streets and the closed shops, the prime minister did come on and talk about a specific threat, a threat of a Paris-style attack, multiple locations, hit with guns and explosives. Those were the prime minister's own words this morning.

People are out walking around, certainly not as many as there would be on a busy pre-holiday kind of shopping Saturday. But again, a very serious situation here with people trying to stay away from other people, basically and don't go about your lives as you normally would do -- Fred.

PLEITGEN: All right, thank you very much, Drew Griffin, keeping an eye on the situation there in the Belgian capital of Brussels.

I want to move on to other breaking news now. And those three men arrested in Turkey in connection with the Paris terror attacks. Turkish authorities suspect they have ties to ISIS and one of them may have been scouting target sites for the November 13th attack, which, of course, took place at various locations here in Paris, cafes, also that one theater, the Bataclan.

I want to go straight to our senior international correspondent Atika Shubert.

And, Atika, tell us more about these arrests made in Turkey and how it could help in the hunt for that last suspect Salah Abdeslam.


Well, as you point out, that eighth suspect, Salah Abdeslam was last seen cross from France into Belgium, and what investigators are trying to do is piece together the logistical network that was behind these eight attackers that carried out these terror attacks here in Paris. So now they're looking at this 26-year-old Ahmed Dahmani arrested in Antalya in Turkey. He seems to have arrived quite recently and they picked him up just as he was being met by two other suspects. Two Syrians who crossed over and Turkish authorities there believe, according to our affiliate CNN Turk, that he was preparing to cross over into Syria.

[07:05:05] So, this is really all about trying to figure out what was the logistical network that allowed the attackers to carry out these attacks. And they're trying to net as many people as possible, Fred.

PLEITGEN: Yes, I want to take a look at this video here with our viewers. It's the moment the suicide bomber blows himself up in that Saint-Denis neighborhood during the raid, we know that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, his cousin, his cousin Hasna Aitboulahcen were there.

What are officials saying about the identity of that third suspect, that third body that was found?

SHUBERT: They have not made public any identity yet. I think that speaks to just what a horrific scene it was there at the scene of the raid in Saint-Denis, the explosion, the initial explosion of that suicide bomb clearly left body parts all over. Then when the roof collapsed after the controlled detonations, it made the situation even more difficult for forensic scenes on the ground. So, they're still trying to identify the third person killed in that attack.

There has been some speculation in the local press here about whether or not it could actually be Salah Abdeslam. But again, the last time he was side was going into Belgium, towards Brussels. So, that's where the investigation and the hunt for him has been focused on so far.

PLEITGEN: Atika Shubert, thank you very much, keeping an eye on the sings for us there -- here, right here in Paris.

I want to bring in Harold Hyman. He's a French journalist and defense and diplomacy expert.

Sir, what do you think about Salah Abdeslam? He's obviously out at large. How is the hunt for him going?

HAROLD HYMAN, FRENCH JOURNALIST AND GEOPOLITICAL SPECIALIST: They're doing the usual things. Blocking the roads, comparing tear files within the Bbelgian police and secret service and the French police and se set service.

PLEITGEN: What do you make of the arrests taking place?

HYMAN: Well, what is really weird is that the eight who were arrested in Saint-Denis, of them, seven were released.

PLEITGEN: Right. Because we have the raid in Saint-Denis, which is the one where Abdelhamid Abaaoud was killed. And we heard eight people taken into custody. Now, seven have been released. What does that say about those raids? HYMAN: Well, the authorities are not saying. But what it does say is

that they cast their net too wide and they don't feel like detaining everybody for their special powers, simply because they have some vague connection.

So, it's both a Democratic issue and it's also sort of tactical, that if you let go minor fish, maybe, maybe they will move around, panic or something. And you might get a lead.

PLEITGEN: And how in general would you say is the investigation going at this point in time. You are obviously keeping up with French media, with French sources, what do we know about the wider cell behind all of this? Because we keep hearing about a suspect here, a suspect there. Still how unclear how this web comes together?

HYMAN: Well, if it were that clear, they would have something to go with. What they know is that it's a combination of two things. People coming out of Syria, including Syrians, as we are beginning to find out, who were trained within the ISIS system to do these sort of attacks, and people who were homegrown and the homegrown, then dovetail and then everybody moves around in Arab neighborhoods so they don't get noticed. That's really why they've attacked so close.

PLEITGEN: What can be done to combat that? What can be done to stop that? Because you do have neighbors here, it's very difficult for the authorities, to penetrate them as well?

HYMAN: Well, they don't know all the ifs and outs, but they have feelings and they know since august that more and more people are coming in from Syria, jihadi types. But, you just can't round them up because you look like you have a jihadi face. So -- but there are a lot of this kind of faces out there.

So there is a real dilemma on what to do. What would have to be done is to re-introduce the little local espionage that we used to have, just like a general intelligence, where policemen -- their only job was looking, listening, and sending reports, and that had died down in favor of electronics surveillance. We have to go back to local under surveillance.

Let me add the electronic under surveillance was not so bad up to this point. They actually did find a few leads.

PLEITGEN: Do you think that, so many people have been critical, saying, look, this plot was unfolding. A lot of these guys were under surveillance before this plot happened. Was the intelligence failures that happened a problem of gathering intelligence or a problem of interpreting intelligence?

HYMAN: Clearly of interpreting the intelligence. In fact, several ministers and a medium official has said so. Our problem is not finding the material in the electronic surveillance, it's interpreting it. That's why whenever they have somebody who is under surveillance, they sort of let them live because surveillance just means when you go in and out of the country, you're spotted, you're on the list, little alert goes out, so and so left, so and so came in. [07:10:12] And it's not even necessarily transmitted to Belgium or

Germany or whatever.

PLEITGEN: OK. Harold Hyman, thank you very much for joining us again this morning.

All right. And still to come here on CNN, as we are covering the breaking news here out of France and Belgium, they were shooting at anything that moved. That is a quote from Mali, where we are learning more about what happened inside that hotel when gunmen stormed the building and opened fire. We get the latest on the hunt for the three of the terrorists. That's coming up.

Plus, the U.S. is on high alert this hour as fears of terrorism spread around the globe. Details on what's being done to protect against an attack.

Also, could chemical weapons be in the hands of ISIS? The French government isn't taking any chances. That's coming up next.


PLEITGEN: All right. We are following breaking news here out of Paris and also out of Belgium. Belgian authorities have made an arrest in connection with the terrorist attacks. That's what they are announcing this morning.

The Belgian federal prosecutors office says the suspect's home was searched and a few weapons were found, but and this is important, no explosives were found.

Also breaking news coming to us this morning out of Turkey, where 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 terrorist attack that happened right here in Paris, a little over a week ago. Of course, those happened in various locations around the center of the city. He was arrested at a hotel in the southeastern town of Antalya, a coastal resort.

[07:15:03] Officials believe two other men who were under arrest were trying to smuggle him into Syria. Those other two men are both Syrian nationals. We'll have more on those developments throughout this morning as we cover the breaking news here from the Place de la Republique right in central Paris.

We want to turn now to the terror attack that happened yesterday in Mali, and residents there are under a ten-day state of emergency after terrorists gunned down at least 19 people at a hotel on Friday. American Anita Datar was among the victims. The 41-year-old mother was a public health worker who often traveled to Africa and to Asia.

Her brother says the family is devastated and, quote, "It's unbelievable she has been killed in this senseless act of violence and terrorism. Anita was one of the kindest and most generous people we know."

Now, our own Robyn Kriel is live in Nairobi in Kenya covering these events.

Robyn, we know two terrorists died during the attack. What's the latest on the search for more militants behind this?

ROBYN KRIEL, CNN CORRESOPNDENT: Well, according, Fred, to Malian officials, they are looking for three people in the attack. Not sure if they were actually in the hotel at the time of the attack or exactly how they are linked with this. Perhaps they were drivers of the vehicles. We're just not sure at this point.

But Malians are still, Bamako under as you said, a 10-day state of emergency. One national day of mourning declared by the president, but indeed, a manhunt under way for those three suspected attackers or somehow aiders of the attackers.

The operation to clear the hotel went late into Friday night, Fred. Obviously, it's a huge hotel, 190 rooms, western hotel one of the most luxurious hotels in Mali, American owned, and 190 rooms cleared as well as kitchens and various other places that attackers could have been hiding or indeed hostages for that siege which lasted all of Friday, continued late into Friday night.

PLEITGEN: Now when you leave the countries from where the victims are from, it really is people from around the world, really, from India. You have people from France, of course. You have one from the United States. Is that one of the reasons they targeted this hotel? Because they wanted to hit a site with international people in it?

KRIEL: Definitely. When you hit a site from all over the world, all over the world's media will cover it. That is the aim for these small sophisticated asymmetrical attacks, where they might only kill sort of a few people, although 21 is quite a few people. It will get maximum exposure in the world's press and that is what Qaeda wants, both of the groups who claimed responsibility for this attack, Al-Mourabituon and al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb will want maximum exposure.

It's been wondered by analysts if this is in some way competing with ISIS attacks in Paris, or riding on the wave of those attacks. But, yes, people from around the world, China, Turkey, Algeria, those rescued, at least 12 Americans were involved we understand in this siege, although, only one of them was killed.

PLEITGEN: Thank you very much, Robyn Kriel, covering those events for us in Kenya, in Nairobi.

In our next hour, we're going to take a closer look at a terror group launching these attacks around the world.

And President Obama was also very quick to condemn the attack that happened in Mali, saying it only strengthens the United States' determination to root out and destroy terror groups. Here's what he had to say.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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. And once again, this barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge. We will stand with the people of Mali.


PLEITGEN: The president called the victims, quote, "innocent people who had everything to live for".

And still ahead, the latest on what U.S. officials are doing to keep Americans safe after another week of deadly terror attacks.

Plus, the details on why French doctors are stocking up on treatments, in case of a capital weapons attack by ISIS.


[07:23:11] PAUL: Twenty-three minutes past the hour.

And terror threats developing around the world. Citing a serious and imminent threat, Belgium has placed Brussels at its highest alert level and we are learning of an arrest in Belgium in connection with the Paris French attacks.

BLACKWELL: And this comes as the French government extends its state of emergency, giving the police there the power to carry out special arrests and search for suspects for an additional three months. Meanwhile, let's go to West Africa and Mali, still reeling from Friday's deadly terror attack at a luxury here there.

PAUL: And U.S. officials are working around the clock to ensure the same thing, obviously, does not happen here.

CNN's Chris Frates live for us in Washington with the very latest.

What are you hearing today, Chris?

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Christi.

So, in the wake of these terrorist attacks, ISIS this week threatened to blow up the White House and attack Times Square. But the FBI saying that's nothing but terrorist propaganda. Officials from the FBI director on down say that so far, there is no credible evidence that ISIS has a U.S. attack in the works.

On Friday, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton explains why then there were more cops on the streets in New York City.


WILLIAM BRATTON, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: We iterate that while we do not have a credible specific threat directly against New York as we know, ISIS has been continually threatening the city and the country, as well as Washington, and we have clearly seen in the events of last week, they have capabilities. So, that is why we are continuing to increase our response in terms of visibility.


FRATES: So, the FBI says they are closely watching dozens of people who pose the highest risk of carrying out a copycat attack, more than 100 of the investigations into ISIS sympathizers were, quote, "taken up a notch following the Paris attacks."

[07:25:03] Here's how the FBI Director James Comey described the threat.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: A threat here focuses primarily on troubled souls in America who are being inspired or enabled online to do something violent for ISIL. We have stopped a lot of those people this year, especially leading up to July 4th and there are others we worry about. And we cover all cross the country using all of our lawful tools. So, that's how we think about the threat.


FRATES: So, Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch said no relationship exists between the Paris attackers and anyone in the United States. Comey also says the trend of Americans leaving the U.S. to join ISIS has slowed down. He thought that could be because ISIS has told its followers to stay in the U.S. and quote kill here or because word has gotten out about the terrible living conditions in is-controlled territory -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. Chris Frates, really appreciate the update. Thank you.

FRATES: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. A major European city on lockdown. Belgium leaders say a terrorist attack could come any day now. Alert level 4 there, indicating a serious and immediate threat.

PAUL: And find out why French leaders think capital weapons could be used in the next attack.


PAUL: Well, average long-term mortgage rates dipped slightly this week. It was not the case for 15-year loans. Have a look.


[07:30:18] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Fred Pleitgen, coming to you live from Paris, from the Place de la Republique.

And we are following breaking news from overnight. Belgium police have arrested a man they say is linked to the terror attacks in Paris. Of course, it happened here almost exactly one week ago. Authorities found weapons at his home, but no explosives.

In Turkey, three men suspected of having ties to ISIS are now in custody, including a man suspected of scouting out locations for the attacks here in Paris, and two others who may have been trying to help smuggle himself into Syria.

On Monday, the French and British prime ministers are expected to meet in Paris to work out a cooperative plan to combat ISIS more effectively.

Now, chemical weapons in the hands of ISIS, that is a terrifying thought raised this week right here in France by the country's prime minister. He issued a warning saying terrorists could go as far as using chemical weapons in future attacks.

Some critics accuse the prime minister of stoking fears, unnecessarily. But the French government isn't taking any chances.


FEYERICK (voice-over): After the carnage of the Paris terrorist attacks, French authorities fear in the future terrorists could go even further. Possibly launching chemical attacks. While the possibility appears remote, the government is ordering first responders to be prepared. At this hospital near Versailles, Dr. Francois Gandon is upgrading his atropine stock, an anti-serum for nerve gas.

"Before we had a civilian dosage", he says, "but from now on, we will use military grade. It's more concentrated and easier to use in case of such an attack."

Atropine is used for instance in cases of sarin poisoning. Sarin gas was used in a massive attack in Syria's capital Damascus in 2013, killing around 1,400 people according to the State Department.

The emergency medical personnel here say they're well-prepared with respirators and special protective suits for at least 75 first responders.

(on camera): Just in case there should be a chemical attack, the hospital is equipped with three of the state of the art ambulances that can deal with almost any emergency.

(voice-over): It was France's prime minister who first warned of possible chemical terror plots.

"I say it with all the precaution needed," he said, "but we know and bear in mind that there is also a risk of chemical or biological weapons."

That drew criticism from some, accusing the prime minister of stoking fear, but the doctor in charge says it's better to be safe than possibly one day sorry. "The risk isn't major," he says, "but it exists. It's a part of our

job as emergency doctors to be prepared for these kinds of attacks."

After the attacks, France faced this year alone, this nation wants to make sure the first responders are as ready as they can be for any scenario should terror strike again.


PLEITGEN: All right. We have our own Atika Shubert who is live for us here in Paris.

And, Atika, let's talk a little bit more about the investigation going on. Tell us what you know about the suspects who were arrested in Turkey.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that there are three suspects arrested in Turkey, but the main focus has been within one of them, a Belgium Moroccan, a 26-year-old who apparently arrived recently. He was arrested in the town of Antalya, and according to our affiliate, CNN Turk, authorities believe that he was about to be picked up and transported across to the Syrian border.

The other two that were arrested were Syrian nationals arriving to meet him in Antalya. Now, the key question is whether or not he was the scout for the locations for the attack here in Paris. This is what Turkish authorities, our affiliate is reporting there believe his role was.

This is important because while they have identified the eight attackers and the attacks, they're really still trying to piece together the logistical network that support study attackers. So, he could be a key member of that logistical support team, Fred.

PLEITGEN: Yes, you are absolutely right. And, of course, one of the other people who was involved in logistics is also still at large. Salah Abdeslam who apparently rented one of the vehicles that was implicated in the attacks. What do we know about the manhunt going on for him?

Of course, they also identified or found a third body inside that apartment in Saint-Denis where a ringleader was killed.

[07:35:05] What do you know about that could be as the police and security forces sort of trying to piece together who was involved and how.

SHUBERT: Exactly. We know that most of the focus recently has been on that alleged ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud. But in addition to Abaaoud and his female cousin who was killed in the attack, there was a third man who was killed in the raid.

Now we don't know exactly who that man is. He's not been identified by police. The scene was carnage that it's quite difficult to identify who was there. But this is what police are focused on. They are also focused on the manhunt for Salah Abdeslam. There are a

lot of questions about what Salah Abdeslam's role was, exactly. For example, he rented the car, one of the cars. He also rented the safe house they were staying at before the attacks. And the car that he rented was found in the 18th arrondissement.

That's interesting because that area of Paris was not hit in the attacks, but in ISIS claim of responsible, they said there was an attack on the 18th. So, now, a lot of questions whether or not he was supposed to carry on an attack out there but something went wrong.

PLEITGEN: Our senior international correspondent Atika Shubert live in our Paris bureau, thank you very much. And we'll continue to keep an eye on the situation.

And we do have much more to come from Paris. President Obama fights back on the refugee front. One presidential candidate calls for a database of Muslims. Another says only let in Christian. And who said what this week? That's coming up on this week in American politics.


[07:40:10] PLEITGEN: Welcome back to the Place de la Republique in France's capital, Paris. I'm Fred Pleitgen.

Of course, we are reporting on all of the major development in the investigation after those terror attacks here in Paris. Arrests made in Turkey, an arrest made in Belgium. Also, a new terror threat level in the Belgium's capital Brussels as well, and the French taking new measures in case there could be further terror attacks here in this country.

Now, before the break, we talked about chemical weapons in the hands of ISIS. It is, of course, a terrifying thought, raised this week right here in France. The French prime minister is warning terrorists could go as far as using chemical weapons in future attacks.

Joining me now is David Katz. He's a former DEA agent, and a firearms and U.S. homeland security expert.

What do we know about the possible chemicals in the hands of terrorists? I don't want to necessarily say chemical weapons. But I do want to say weaponized chemicals. What do we know?

DAVID KATZ, CEO, GLOBAL SECURITY GROUP: Well, this is nothing new for them. They tried this in the past. They think we know, of course, years ago, not too many years ago the subway attacks in Tokyo were made by sarin, low concentration, poorly disseminated, but potentially catastrophic.

We know from everything going back from our intelligence gathering from al Qaeda raids, to our investigations with ISIS today, that they are actively seeking to develop chemical weapons. And why? Because they are able kill large numbers of people very, very quickly, horrifically if they get the chemical compounds correct, and if they can disseminate them over a wide area, which, by the way, is -- that's the most difficult part.

So, it's not the tremendous danger that you might think. They still have to get it delivered and that's a difficult aspect for them.

PLEITGEN: Well, exactly. Talk to us more about that. How difficult is that to first of all get a chemical compound together, but then also put it in some sort of explosive device and have that device go off and then still be able disseminate those chemicals? How difficult would that be to do and is it feasible ISIS could get the capability to do that if they were able recruit scientists, for instance?

KATZ: Well, it's completely feasible. And we know chemical weapons have been manufactured by terror groups in the past.

You can see al Qaeda -- in fact, CNN did a news story several years back on al Qaeda chemical weapons, they were poisoning an unfortunate dog. But the fact of the matter is they have worked on making them. They have successfully made them.

Now, the other aspect of your question is delivery. It doesn't necessarily have to be an explosive shell or disseminated by an explosion. It can be a container that's been punctured. It can be sprayed. It can be poured into a building's HVAC duct.

So, there are many ways this can be spread and their target, if you will, their goal will be to get a high concentration chemical weapon with high validity and disseminate it to as many people as they possibly can in the shortest amount of time possible.

PLEITGEN: David, I also want to get your opinion on the threat of infiltration into the U.S., because our own Evan Perez is reporting that at least one of the Paris attackers could possibly have come to the U.S. on a visa waiver program because there weren't any sort of nothing known about his background. There wasn't anything that would indicate that he would be a terrorist.

How many people like that do you think could already be in the U.S. and how big is the threat of more coming?

KATZ: The threat is enormous. The threat is possibly dozens at the least, hundreds or more at the worst. The ability to come into this country is shamefully easy. We are being told by our president and the attorney general this woman of great character, who I know personally, that they're checking databases to vet these people.

I can tell you as a professional investigator, there is no vetting process. It is impossible. There is no country to make inquiries of.

For example, if an American citizen travels to any country abroad, the host government can simply call their contact person, reach out to our government, to the FBI, to whoever their law enforcement liaison is and do a pretty comprehensive background.

Who are we going to call in Syria? By the way, if it's our database they're referring to, the only way you can mind the data is if the data exists. So, if that person had a low profile their whole life and never did anything to raise themselves up to get on anyone's radar, they had no database record. They are completely anonymous, and yet, they are 100 percent hard core, well-trained ISIS killers.

So, there is snow way to vet them period. Yet, it doesn't seem to stop our government.

PLEITGEN: David Katz, thank you very much for your insights, coming to us live from our bureau in New York.

[07:45:04] And there are a lot of new developments that we're following this morning. Brussels is on its highest state of alert. The city is basically on the lockdown. We'll have the latest on why the Belgian prime minister says this is necessary to keep people safe.

Much more here to come right here on CNN.

And it's also been a rough week in American politics as the sparring continues over the refugee crisis. Who is walking back and what they said and who is doubling down as presidential candidates look to get tough on terrorism.


PAUL: Edging toward the 8:00 hour here with you.

And several GOP presidential candidates are in Iowa trying to win over Christian conservatives. One of the many issues expected to discuss: whether to accept Syrian refugees?

Senator Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee were among those who voice their concerns during this forum late last night. All of this as a new poll is released on where Americans stand regarding that very issue.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is in Iowa. She has the latest for us.

Good morning, Sunlen.


[07:50:01] SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor and Christi.

Well, seven of the GOP candidates appeared here in Des Moines, at the Family Leaders Forum. This is a big cattle call for all the candidates courting the key evangelical vote here in Iowa. And much of the discussion, of course, was on values, was on religion, about value of faith.

But, of course, much of the discussion was also steered towards the aftermath of the Paris attacks, what to do with ISIS, how the U.S. should respond. And, of course, what the U.S. should to about Syrian refugees.

Here's what a few candidates had to say.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is neither offensive nor un-American to embrace the simple commonsense proposition that, of course, we should defend this nation and not invite in people who the administration cannot guarantee are not terrorists here to murder innocent Americans.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'd like for Barack Obama to resign if he's not going to protect America and instead protecting the image of Islam.

SERFATY: And as the GOP candidates jostle about how to approach this, there is some new insight on how the American voter is thinking. A new poll out by "The Washington Post" and ABC News which showed that a majority of Americans, 54 percent, believes that the U.S. should not take in Syrian refugees at all.

And perhaps even more striking, only 13 percent are very confident that the U.S. is able to identify possible terrorists who could be mixed in with the refugees wanting to come over -- Victor and Christi.


BLACKWELL: All right. Sunlen, thank you so much.

Let's talk now with CNN politics reporter Eric Bradner.

I want you to listen to what Donald Trump said this week. He's backtracking. That's some news there overnight. But first, let's listen to what he said about Muslim registry in this country. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There should be a lot of systems beyond database, we should have a lot of systems and today you can do it. But right now, we have to have a border, we have to have strength, we have to have a wall and we cannot let what is happening to this country happen --

REPORTER: Was it something your White House would like (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Oh, I would certainly implement that. Absolutely.

REPORTER: What do you think the effects of that? How would that work?

TRUMP: It would stop people from coming in illegally. We have to stop people from coming in to our country illegally.


BLACKWELL: All right. So, you heard the exchange. His campaign says that he was listening to this question over blaring music in the room, Trump said he never suggested a database of Muslims. He's being ridiculed by Republicans and Democrats.

How are voters responding to that?

ERIC BRADNER, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, you just heard about "The Washington Post"/ABC poll that shows the Syrian refugee issue, you know, the United States is pretty strongly opposed to letting these refugees in. But you are seeing a lot of Republican opponents of Donald Trump beginning to push back, saying he's going too far with this. I mean, it's not just Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, who typically supports trump on everything, that are making breaks him. It's Russell Moore, the Southern Baptist leader, who's saying these remarks actually go a little too far.

So, you are seeing some worry, some concern from Republicans that this could damage the party, that Trump is going a little too far, even though the American public is showing a lot of resistance to this idea of allowing in Syrian refugees.

BLACKWELL: Now, there has been discussion about isolating Muslims versus Christians, and giving some advantage to Christians. We're hearing that from Jeb Bush. And everything we're hearing from Jeb Bush is trying to make this argument especially in times like this that experience matters, versus an electorate that wants outsiders. Is that sticking?

BRADNER: Well, it doesn't seem to be. Donald Trump has not been hurt by the Paris attacks, right. There is sort of the thought that maybe this would be the moment that sort of reminded voters to take this seriously, to look at experience, things like that. It has sort of been a rough moment for Ben Carson who is struggling a bit with foreign policy.

But Trump's tough talk, the same tough talk he's applied to undocumented immigrants and to Democrats, to President Obama, he's sort of using on foreign policy now and it's working. It's resonating with a big chunk of the Republican base. And so, there is no evidence that the Paris attacks or anything in the wake of them are particularly damaging at least to Donald Trump right now.

BLACKWELL: All right, Eric. Every candidate being tested on potential responses to a crisis like this happening overseas, and as the U.S. is on alert here. Eric Bradner, thank you so much.

PAUL: And still ahead in the next hour on NEW DAY SATURDAY -- first, France's capital, then, Mali, and now Belgian leaders say the next terrorist target could be their capital, Brussels, and they're on lockdown.


[07:58:38] PAUL: If you need inspiration this morning, I've got some for you from a New Jersey woman who used $5,000 in baby-sitting money mind you, to help build a school, a women's center and children's home in Nepal. And that is why Maggie Doyne is CNN's Hero of the Year. She won the award Wednesday in New York.


MAGGIE DOYNE, CNN HERO OF THE YEAR: To all of you in this room and who are watching -- please, please, remember that we have the power to create the world that we want to live in just as we want it. And that's what all the heroes here have done tonight. Thank you so much. This is so cool.


PAUL: What an incredible woman. In addition, Doyne's BlinkNow Foundation gets $100,000. You can watch "CNN Heroes: An all-Star Tribute", it's Sunday, December 6th on CNN.

And there is so much news to give you this morning, as well.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

PAUL: We're following breaking news from across Europe this morning. Officials making two sets of arrests linked to the terror attacks in Paris. In Belgium, authorities taken in custody a man tied to the November 13th siege. They found weapons in his home. They did not however find explosives.

BLACKWELL: And in Turkey, three men in custody, one of them accused of scouting the Paris venues targeted by gunmen and suicide bombers. The others may have been trying to smuggle him across the Turkish border into Syria.

PAUL: We're always so grateful to have you spend your morning with us. Good morning to you. I'm Christi Paul.