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Rare Look Inside ISIS's Propaganda Machine; Hard to Prove If Drugs Used in Sex Assaults. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 22, 2015 - 07:30   ET



[07:33:13] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And welcome back to our ongoing coverage of the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks.

The investigation that is now spreading Europe wide and Europe is on the edge, as major cities stare down threats from ISIS. Paris is still reeling after the terror attacks that left 130 people dead. The country is under a state of emergency that's likely to last for several months.

Meanwhile, an international manhunt is targeting this man, Salah Abdeslam. He is suspected as being the so-called eighth attacker, part of the plot to terrorize the city and, of course, France, this country as well.

Meanwhile, Brussels remains under a virtual lockdown. Its residents barred from taking the subway and told to stay away from large public gatherings as well. The security meeting planned for this afternoon has been delayed.

And we also have new information on ISIS itself and how the terror network spreads its propaganda. Now, you've seen their videos. They all look like this. You know, very slick and well-crafted, men dressed in black threatening jihad on other nations.

But who are the people behind these professional videos?

Let's bring in Souad Mekhennet. She's a journalist with "The Washington Post" and she just co-authored an article with Greg Miller on how these videos are made.

Souad, first of all, I want to ask you about your research. What kind of guys did you talk to? Who are the people who made these videos?

SOUAD MEKHENNET, JOURNALIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: So, we actually talked to, on one hand, defectors, some of those defectors were in prison in Morocco but others were in different countries. But we were also able to talk to some members of ISIS and double-check with them what we have learned from the defectors. [07:35:04] Now, if we talk about the media section, this came actually

as a surprise, Fred, is that some of the senior media operators are treated as emirs, of equal rank to their military counterparts. And what all of these people told us, the people that we interviewed over various months, is that the media, the media war is to ISIS as important as the military war.

PLEITGEN: Yes, that certainly is very important as well.

And, Souad, I also want to get into the logistics how these videos are made. What did you find there and what shocked you most in your research?

MEKHENNET: So, you know, we in the West have seen some of the, like, brutal scenes of things that ISIS has put out there. But what we have learned there is also some kind of other propaganda and internal propaganda. For example, they also are filming happy faces, people are going to markets and they show all of these videos -- the brutal ones and the happy faces ones, on very large screens inside the so- called caliphate.

You asked me what have we learned about the production. So, we have learned, this came as a very big surprise, that public beheadings, for example, are staged and also to a certain extent choreographed. We describe one scene of a public beheading where one of the defectors we talked to said that the media crew would show up basically and hold up cue cards for this official who was supposed to read and announce the sentence of this condemned man.

And then they were doing multiple takes asking this executioner, for example, to raise and lower his sword over and over again so that they could take the right angle or get this take from different angles. And only after the media team said that they were ready and had all of the takes the way they wanted them, the executioner executed the man. This is actually something we have never heard before.


Souad Mekhennet, thank you very much for that information. Of course, very important. And also, of course, plays into what the president said today at that news conference in Malaysia where he said these are killers with good social media.

Thanks again, Souad Mekhennet, for that story in "The Washington Post." And I encourage everyone to read that story. It is something that will certainly open a lot of people's eye.

And we have a lot more to come here on CNN, opening up for the first time. The band members of the American rock band Eagles of Death Metal describe what it was like inside the Paris concert hall where 89 people lost their lives and more than a hundred were injured. Hear the emotional testimony. That's coming up next.


[07:41:27] PLEITGEN: Welcome back to our ongoing coverage here from Paris.

And this morning, we are hearing more from the American rock band whose concert was targeted by terrorists during the Paris attacks. Two Eagles of Death Metal band mates are detailing what happened inside the Bataclan concert hall.

Take a listen to the band's lead singer Jesse Hughes as he describes what occurred in an interview he did with "Vice".


JESSE HUGHES, LEAD SINGER, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL: Several people hid in our dressing room. And killers able to get in and kill every one of them, except a kid hiding under my leather jacket.

INTERVIEWER: Killers got in your dressing room.



HUGHES: People were playing dead. They were so scared. A 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: Certainly some shocking and very emotional words there coming from Jesse Hughes.

And just a reminder that 89 of the Paris attacks, 130 deaths, were right there at band's concert that, of course, happened just a little over a week ago.

Now, following the tragic events of November 13th, Paris is beginning its return to normalcy or at least it's trying to begin its return. On the streets, there is music being played once again with bands defiant in the face of the growing security threat. The City of Lights may have been dimmed down for a moment of grief, but it seems the once vibrant scenes are slowly starting to come back.

All right. I want to talk more about this with the chief editor of "Paris Match", Olivier Royant.

Sir, what do you think right now? Is Paris trying to come back to normal? Where are we in that process?

OLIVIER ROYANT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, PARIS MATCH: By walking around here, I think we have a true feeling what is going on in Paris. At the same time, there is this immense feeling of grief, of sorrow, of pain. And at the same time, I think the Parisians are very proud of and they want to live up to the expectation of the whole world. I mean, they are being very sensible to the homage and the tribute of the whole world and they want to prove that Paris is actually a City of Light. PLEITGEN: But there are still concerns, aren't there? Because we

were walking around the Christmas market, for instance. There is a lot of people guarding it but very few people going to the market.

ROYANT: Absolutely. The numbers we got from the authority yesterday very few people went to the department stores yesterday, the artists, the concerts, trying to get it back to normal but that's not really the case. What we are seeing also is a sense of patriotism, which is very different from what we heard in January.

You can see flags on the balconies on the street. And what does that it mean? It's a very positive feeling. You have people want to hug themselves. They want to give a feeling of fraternity.

And actually, I was curious about reading the origins of the French flag. The French flag was the color of liberty. And the French, the Parisians were very -- in 17 -- after 1770, they were very proud of carrying this flag and the colors because they were the colors from liberty from the United States, the independence.

PLEITGEN: And, of course, this is a grand nation. Always has been. It is also now a nation that finds itself on the forefront of the war on terror.

What role do you think France is going to play? Because in the past, it's been America doing a lot, Russia doing a lot, and France being one of the countries sort of coming along for the ride. But it's different now, isn't it?

ROYANT: And, you know, in the past so many times the World War has been pronounces. The war doesn't last two or three days but a war can last for years.

And now, I think there is a feeling among the French people where the fear, the feeling of fear and the feeling of (INAUDIBLE) is very pervasive.

[07:45:03] What will this war look like? I mean, what you've seen in Africa the last three or four days means that France now is engaged on two fronts -- a front in Africa and a front in Syria. And will the French government manage to wage this war on these two fronts?

PLEITGEN: And the front here at home as well. What do people think about the reactions that need to happen as far as the war on terror here is concerned, as far as social measures are concerned but also integrating some of the disaffected population that you have here?

ROYANT: I think this is a main difference with the events of January. Certainly, it's a wake-up call. The wake-up call we are seeing that so many provinces are at rest and we base our rezoning on moral ideas and realities. What is going on in some suburbs, what's going on in some districts, we have seen young people disenfranchised from the society who are to some propaganda were being taken to some kind of sect without control from the government, anything that has to do with the values of the French society. So, this is a main challenge for the French government and also the

others challenged on the home front is the foreign intelligence service. I mean, the French intelligence service has been reformed the last three or four years, at the same time, this reform was not complete. You can see, you will hear in the days to come what happened in Paris on February -- or on Friday, the 13th, was a failure, a failure from the intelligence community.

How come we let commando of men being on the French soil when we thought they were in Syria? So, this is on the front and the main challenge for the French government and Francois Hollande is to convince the European partners they have to control their borders. What I feel in Paris in Place de la Republique is what I felt in New York at Ground Zero four days after the drama. New York, people could smell the smoke from Ground Zero and they were in shock. I think we have the same feeling in Paris as New York went through September 11th.

PLEITGEN: Thank you very much, Olivier Royant, for joining us today.

ROYANT: Thank you, Fred.

PLEITGEN: And we're going to have much more, of course, coming up in the next couple of hour from Paris. Of course, a lot of news that we have to cover.

Until then, back to you guys, Victor and Christi.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Fred. Thank you so much.

There are fears back here in the U.S. growing on college campuses as a new drug becomes more common and more prevalent in sexual assault cases. CNN takes a closer look.


[07:51:36] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We hope you're going to be here for an important conversation going on tonight on CNN. It is the premier of the "Hunting Ground", a film about sexual assaults on college campuses. In addition to airing the film, CNN is reporting how students and schools can better protect themselves and their students.

So, some sexual assaults on and off campus involved so-called date rape drugs. You heard about it before. It's something that's slipped into a drink and incapacitate the victims.

But Jean Casarez is looking into how that's evolved.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The evidence of a date-rape drug can be critical to a prosecution, but often it's hard to substantiate. These drugs are still used today by perpetrators but the challenge is to figure it out before it's too late.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANCHOR: Brown University is warning students to be alert after a student tested positive for the date-rape drug GHB.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ANCHOR: The attempted use of a date-rape drug leaves a local college community in shock.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ANCHOR: Criminals are increasingly using Ambien as a date-rape drug.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Date-rape drugs are a known danger. Many sexual assault victims say they were drugged but often the tests come up negative. Why?

DR. RICHARD STRIPP, FORENSICS TOXICOLOGIST, CORDANT HEALTH SOLUTIONS: The timing of when the collection of the sample is very critical, the fact that the concentrations are quite low and many of these drugs are cleared fairly rapidly. So, the time that you actually get the sample is very, very important.

CASAREZ: Forensics toxicologist Dr. Richard Stripp tests for foreign chemicals in the body, including date-rape drugs, which can alter your mind and body.

STRIPP: They may start to experience effects on their motor functions, slurring of words, loss of balance, ultimately even loss of consciousness and even death.

CASAREZ: Experts say over 50 drugs have been identified as being used as drug-facilitated sexual assault. Drugs like Roofies and GHB have been replaced. Today, the most common are sedatives or hypnotic drugs like Ambien, Xanax and Valium, which are colorless and odorless and can be easily slipped into your drink without detection. Small amounts, especially combined with alcohol, can be extremely potent.

So, why are so few people locked up? Because date-rape drugs, critical evidence for prosecutors, can leave the system rapidly in just several days.

STRIPP: It may be at the point where the drug is not detectable.

CASAREZ: According to a 2008 review article for Michigan State University, for every 100 rape cases reported, only one-third are referred to prosecutors and just seven will end with a prison sentence.

LINDA FAIRSTEIN, FORMER NEW YORK SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR: There a number of very serious challenges.

Former New York sex crimes prosecutor, Linda Fairstein, says if drugs aren't detected, prosecuting is very difficult.

FAIRSTEIN: They're often not able to get up to recover in time to get themselves to a medical facility for the proper exam to see if drugs are still in the system.

CASAREZ: But that's not the only challenge. The drugs can cause amnesia so, many times, a victim can't remember what happened. Police then need to build the case without the memory of their star witness. FAIRSTEIN: They have to go back, find the bartender. "No, I only

gave her one beer, that's all she had the whole night to drink." So, we're trying to take it out of the voluntary intoxication.

CASAREZ: With a lack of evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, there is no case.

(on camera): So the importance of this evidence, the drug, is really critical.

[07:55:03] FAIRSTEIN: Critical, absolutely critical. I don't believe you can make the claim of a drug-facilitated rape and see a conviction result without the toxicological testing.

CASAREZ: Experts remind us that the number-one most widely used drug to facilitate sexual assault today is alcohol. And toxicologists tell us, just because a screening shows no drugs in an alleged victim, it doesn't mean she wasn't assaulted.

Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.


PAUL: OK. Jean, thank you so much.

Also, a reminder to you, "The Hunting Ground" airs tonight at 8:00 p.m., again, examining the issue of sexual assault on campus and the mission of the activist movement by current and former students to deal with it.

And stay with us, too, because after the film, CNN's Alisyn Camerota is hosting a special conversation to explore all sides of the issue and the film with a number of experts and critics.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you so much for starting your morning with us. There's a lot going on today.

PAUL: There is. Your NEW DAY continues after this quick break. Stay close.