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President Obama Renews Commitment to Fight ISIS. Aired 06:30- 07:00 ET

Aired November 22, 2015 - 06:30   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight. President Obama renewing his commitment to fight ISIS. Earlier this morning, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the president vowed that he would lead the world in destroying ISIS.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: He also cautioned that once they are gone, there may be other terror groups forming in their wake.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Those of us who are charged with protecting the American people are going to do everything we can to destroy this particular network. Once this network is destroyed -- and it will be -- there maybe be others that pop up in different parts of the world, and so we are going to have to continue to take seriously how we maintain the infrastructure that we built to prevent this.


BLACKWELL: A bit of emotion also from the president as he talked about the fallout from the ISIS threat. The hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring out of the Middle East and the reaction that some are receiving from politicians in the U.S.


OBAMA: If you are a parent and you saw those kids, and you thought about what they had gone through, the notion that we couldn't find a home for them anywhere in the United States of America? That's -- that is contrary to our values.


PAUL: Also, of course, monitoring the terror threat in Europe. We want to get you now to Paris where Frederick Pleitgen is leading our coverage of the terror threat there in Europe. Of course, France still on a national state of emergency, as is Brussels on high alert. Good morning, Fred.

FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor and Christi. You're absolutely right. Paris is on high alert. Of course, Brussels on high alert as well. It is a beautiful fall day here in Paris. However, of course, this city is still very much in mourning and its citizens also still very much concerned. Many people are coming out here to the make-shift memorial at Place de la Republique that you see behind me. Many people still laying down, flowers, there were groups coming here, singing the French national anthem, of course, in defiance, of what they say is the terror threat here.

However, Brussels in a state of heightened terror alert, the terror alert there is at the highest possible level. The streets there mostly clear as police are on patrol. The subway remained closed for a second day running as the city is under that high terror alert. The terror alert number four. Now, Drew Griffin has been in Brussels since last Tuesday. Drew, what is it like on the streets of Brussels? How are the people there coping?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are trying to do the best they can, Fred. We have a little bit of developing news on the terror threat that basically ended the weekend for this city. The security meeting that was supposed to take place this hour has now been pushed back until 5:00 p.m. local time. The education minister has been quoted in a newspaper as saying there is only a 50/50 chance that schools will open and new additional security measures have been put in place in railways. They are asking people to arrive 30 minutes early for any railway departure they have. So, what we are seeing is the increasing level of security going on that seems to indicate whatever threat is happening here is still not over.

In the meantime, we did go out on the streets trying to find signs of life and there is not much to be had.

This is one of those streets that is usually filled with, cafes and people out enjoying themselves, walking in this pedestrian way. Today, it is completely empty. And who do you see on the street? You can see them, patrolling soldiers. They are everywhere in Brussels on this Sunday.

This is the biggest inconvenience, the metro is completely closed. You can see behind me here, they have the tape that was covering it, but people now know not to go down there. And so, metro closed. Doors pretty much locked below there. And if you look up here, again, this huge street should be teaming with people and there are just a few people walking around, certainly not the crowds you would expect to see on this pre-holiday Sunday here in the capital city of Belgium.

I must tell, not everything is dismal and not everything is shut down. The famous chocolate shops are opening now. And there are tourists out trying to enjoy the day. And if you come here to the main plaza of the old city, you'll see that they are setting up the Christmas tree and the Christmas decorations.


The Christmas market is due to open on this coming Friday and people of Brussels are just hoping all of this threat level and tension will certainly be over by then, so that they can light this tree and get on with the holiday season. GRIFFIN: There is no sense of panic, of course, here, Fred. There are just people who are trying to get on with their day. But you can walk around all you want. There is not much to do. So many of the stores have been closed and, of course, all of the public activities, theaters, lectures and concerts, all of them have been shuttered for this day. We will find out more hopefully this afternoon on whether this continues into the Monday morning workweek. Fred?

PLEITGEN: As you said, 5:00 p.m. your local time. That is 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Thanks very much, Drew Griffin, for keeping an eye on the situation there in the Belgium capital of Brussels.

Now, there is another aspect to the attacks that happened here in Paris and genuinely, when it comes to the war on ISIS. And it's one you might not have heard of yet. U.S. officials are now revealing that ISIS fighters may be fueled by not just extremist ideologies, but also by a black market amphetamine that is becoming popular in the Middle East. CNN's own Brian Todd takes a closer look at one pill that is boosting jihadists.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A captured ISIS militant named Kareem tells CNN how he got his battlefield courage.

KAREEM, CAPTURED ISIS MILITANT: They gave us drugs, hallucinogenic pills that would make you go to battle not caring if you live or die.

TODD: When our CNN team interviewed Kareem last year he was being held by Kurdish militants in northern Syria. It was impossible to know if he was telling the truth or if he was being coached by his captors. But now, a U.S. official tells CNN it's believed some jihadist fighters are using the drug Captagon, a dangerous and powerful amphetamine. How would it fuel them on the battlefield?

DR. ROBERT KEISLING, PSYCHIATRIST, MEDSTAR WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: It keeps you awake. You can stay awake for days at a time. You don't have to sleep. But - and it gives you a sense of well-being and euphoria and you think that you're invincible and that nothing can harm you.

TODD: Recently, the UN's drug czar said ISIS and the al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra front were believed to be smuggling the chemical precursors for Captagon. A U.S. law enforcement officials tells CNN there is a robust black market for the drug in the Middle East. Analysts say the profits fund weapons purchases for jihadist groups.

MATTHEW LEVITT, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: Hezbollah and people affiliated with Hezbollah have a long history in the production and sale of Captagon. At one point, there was a fight between Hezbollah- affiliated persons because some people were angry they weren't getting a cut of some of this business.

TODD: Captagon was developed in the '60s and was first used to treat people with hyperactivity. It's since been banned in the U.S. and elsewhere. And while some question the drug's prevalence among fighters who preach Islamic purity, analysts say jihadists can find a justicification.

(on camera): Is it hypocritical? Is it a violation of cultural, religious principals?

DAVEED GARTENSTEIN-ROSS, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Jihadist scholars would argue that this is not hypocritical. That, first of all, it's not a drug that's being taken to get high.

TODD (voice over): Psychiatrist Robert Keisling who's treated thousands of addicts, says Captagon's hallucinogenic, it can make a user hear voices and see things that aren't there.

(on camera): That could hurt you on the battlefield, right?

KEISLING: Absolutely. Yeah, but I think they have made the decision that keeping these guys awake for four or five days at a time and giving them the sense of invincibility is worth whatever harm or side effects the drugs have.

TODD: For whatever sense of euphoria and invincibility Captagon might produce, Dr. Keisling says, there are horrible downsides. Users he says, can become psychotic, brain damaged and, of course, can get addicted to the drug for years to come. Brian Todd, CNN. Washington.


PLEITGEN: And still to come, we hear from the lead singer of the band Eagles of Death metal about what happened inside the Bataclan concert hall when terrorists opened fire.

Plus, details on why holiday travelers in the U.S. will face longer lines and more security screenings this week. That's coming up.




PLEITGEN: Welcome back to our special coverage of the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks. And, of course, the investigation that spans not just France, but Belgium as well. And this morning, we are hearing more from the American rock band whose concert was targeted by terrorists during the attacks here in Paris. Two of the Eagles of Death Metal bandmates are detailing what happened inside the Bataclan concert hall where they were playing when the terrorists struck. Now, 89 people were killed at that venue. Take a listen to the band's lead singer Jesse Hughes as he describes what occurred in an interview with Vice.


JESSE HUGHES, LEAD SINGER, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL: Several people hid in our dressing room and the killers were able to get in and killed every one of them, except for a kid who was hiding under my leather jacket. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Killers got in your dressing room?

HUGHES: Yeah. People were playing dead. And they were so scared. Great reason why so many were killed is because so many people wouldn't leave their friends. So and so many people put themselves in front of people.


PLEITGEN: Some devastating testimony there. Very emotional. Of course, I want to bring in Julien Theron. He is a political scientist and analyst at the University of Versailles and also the University of Paris. Julian, thank you for coming on again. First of all, you just heard that testimony there. Very emotional. How does that mesh with what you were hearing from the survivors of the Bataclan raid?

JULIEN THERON, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: Well, I'm not that surprised that people tried to keep people safe and their friends safe, because a lot of people did, actually. In the buzz, they said to the others, OK, keep quiet we are closing the bars and - in the streets as well we had these #welcomehome or something like that, meaning people welcoming people in the street to hide them and so on.

PLEITGEN: Yeah, there was this big movement as the attacks were going on, people letting other people into their houses. A great show of solidarity, wasn't it?

THERON: Yeah, definitely. I think that even though people are not that used to terror attacks because it's not a war zone. Paris is not a war zone. But though with "Charlie Hebdo" attack and in the Amsterda Paris train, we are seeing that terror attack can actually hit any time, anywhere. That is the very method of terrorism. People actually try to react positively with a great sense of solidarity to these attacks.


PLEITGEN: And there is, obviously, a reaction also from France. There is a reaction as far as law enforcement is concerned, but there is also a reaction as far as the war against ISIS is concerned. And one of the things that we are seeing in place apparently by tomorrow is the Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier off the coast of Syria. How much fire power does that give the French air forces there? And how does that change the game for France?

THERON: It will triple our capability on the ground, meaning that we have our fighters ...

PLEITGEN: Brand-new jet, fighter jet fourth generation fighter Jet?

THERON: So, we have a 12 and now we'll have 36. So, it's better regarding to the air campaign, but we have to understand is that we won't defeat ISIS just by air campaign. We did that with the U.S. in Afghanistan and the Taliban are still on the ground. So we have to develop another strategy, and implement, implement some strategy on the ground. So, it might be local forces or international forces, but we have to go further and our military chief of staff Pierre de Villiers said today that we can't win the war against ISIS just because -- just with planes. We have to develop a full political and diplomatic strategy. That's why our president will go to see Barack Obama and Angela Merkel and other head of states.

PLEITGEN: What do you think that strategy could look like?

THERON: I think that the military tool is very important and that we definitely have to use it, but it's not sufficient. On the ground, the only alternative proposed to the -- is the restoration of Bashar Assad rule, which is absolutely unrealistic. We have to develop a political solution on the ground, including for the Sunni populations.

PLEITGEN: Julien Theron, thank you very much for joining us. Once again, you've been here all week, also with your analysis, which is, of course, very valuable to us, as we try to understand what's been going on here.

Now, coming up, numerous airlines have had to make emergency landings over the past week because of bomb threats and other security issues. Details on why, on why that happens. We'll be right back in a moment.



PAUL: New this hour, a flight from New York to Istanbul had been diverted after a reported bomb threat. This plane landed safely in Canada, we should say, and police say that they are searching this Turkish Airlines plane with bomb-sniffing dogs. Also, obviously, trying to identify who is behind the threat.

BLACKWELL: Now, of course, this is coming as airlines across the country are ramping up security as the busy holiday season starts really this weekend. That if you are going to travel or if you are expecting travelers from out of town, aviation correspondent Rene Marsh tells you what this means for you.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi and Victor, airlines are warning passengers to arrive two hours before departure. Record number of flyers, coupled with heightened airport security will mean longer lines this year.


MARSH: Millions of passengers will pack on to planes to kick off the holiday travel season. From now until December 1st, it's estimated a total 25 million people will fly on U.S. airlines. Three percent more than last year. This as airports around the country remain on high alert.

SETH KAPLAN, AVIATION ANALYST: USA has to be a lot more thorough now because of all these concerns. It's pretty simple mathematics. In the end, it' going to take more time to screen each person and that is going to add up to longer lines. MARSH: Travelers should expect longer wait times as TSA spends more

time inspecting passengers and luggage. Expect random checks, hand swabs to test for explosive residue and additional random checks at the gate. Even pre-checked passengers may be required to remove their shoes and laptops. Homeland Security has also called for expanded screening of all items on aircraft, leaving overseas airports with direct flights to the United States.

There's no known specific threat to the U.S., but passenger planes remain a target for terrorists. This week, ISIS claimed this is the bomb that brought down a Russian passenger plane earlier this month. That crash, along with the terrorist attacks in Paris, have led to a climate where pilots and airlines are taking no chances.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next aircraft on file is the emergency aircraft.

MARSH: Two Air France flights were diverted this week after bomb threats were called in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a precaution, we are declaring an emergency situation to the security issue.

MARSH: And Thursday night, a Spirit Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Fort Lauderdale after another bomb threat. They all proved to be hoaxes. But heightened airport security, paired with more holiday travelers, will likely lead to long waits at America's airports.

KAPLAN: Everybody understands that the first priority is to be safe. Now especially with the new security concerns, you're really, more than ever, are going to want to get to the airport early.


MARSH: The other factor that could impact wait times, TSA's full-time airport security staffing levels have steadily decreased due to a shrinking budget. Christie, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Rene, thank you so much.

Coming up in the next hour, we are going live back to Paris with the latest on the high alert there and in major European cities today, and maybe tomorrow.

Also, the new details in the investigation surrounding last week's terror attack.

PAUL: Also, a scuffle breaks out during a Donald Trump rally in Alabama last night. We will have details on why the protesters were throwing punches.

But first, this week's culinary journey takes us to London to meet an Italian chef who meets up with the chef from one of the U.K.'s most influential restaurants.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michelin star chef Massimo Bottura has swapped the Piazza of Modena for the streets of London to set off on a culinary journey.

MASSIMO BOTTURA: Being in London feels being inspired. That's the point of traveling because you learn. When you travel with your eyes and your -- and your ears open, you can learn from other people.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Battura is off to meet a culinary icon who has changed the city street scene.

BOTTURA: I can't wait to meet my friend. Fergus always gives me great ideas, you know. Energy, pure energy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The British chef Fergus Henderson is known by a name often associated with Italy, the godfather. More specifically, he is regarded as the godfather of meat. So it's fitting that the two friends meet at Smithfield Market to do a sport of shopping. Smithfield is one of London's oldest and busiest markets. People have been buying meat here for over 800 years and it's expanded over the century to meet the demand from the growing population of the city. Every year, more than a hundred thousand tons of meat pass through these gates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This little piggy went to the market.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With bones in hand, it's a short walk back to Fergus's restaurant which has been established in the shadow of Smithfield market for 20 years.

BATTURA: To me, when I walk into St. John, that is so different from - in Toscana, but it's so similar in a way and a hectic way of thinking. I feel at home. You know? I feel comfortable. You know? They have the same mentality.


PAUL: Watch the full show at We will be right back.