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Obama: We Will Destroy ISIS; Paris, Belgium on High Alert; New Poll: Trump Leads GOP Field at 32 Percent. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 22, 2015 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:07] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Always so grateful for your company. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

PAUL: Yes, major European cities are on high alert because of threats from ISIS. President Obama has this message for the terrorists. He said, "You will be destroyed."

BLACKWELL: The president spoke at the news conference in Kuala Lumpur just a couple of hours ago, sharpening his tone on ISIS and promising to take out the terror group.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will not accept the idea that terrorist assaults on restaurants and theaters and hotels are the new normal, or that we are powerless to stop them. After all, that's precisely what terrorists like ISIL want, because ultimately, that's the only way that they can win. That's the nature of terrorism.

They can't beat us on the battle field so they try to terrorize us into being afraid, into changing our patterns of behavior, into panicking and to abandoning our allies and partners, and to retreating from the world. And as president, I will not let that happen.

Even as we destroy ISIL on the battle field, and we will destroy them, we will take back land that they are currently in. We will cut off their financing. We will hunt down their leadership. We will dismantle their networks and their supply lines, and we will ultimately destroy them. Even as we are in the process of doing that, we want to make sure that we don't lose our own values and our own principles.


BLACKWELL: And the president cautioned against elevating this group. He called them, quote, "a bunch of killers with good social media." We'll take a closer look at the president's comments in just a couple of minutes.

PAUL: But, first, we want to get to the latest on the terror threat in Europe. Fred Pleitgen is in Paris leading our coverage.

Fred, good morning. What are you learning this morning?


Yes, it's a beautiful afternoon here in Paris, 2:00 p.m. of course here in Europe. And there are several strands of this investigation that were following and, of course, the security situation in Europe especially in Belgium at this point in time.

Now, Brussels, the capital of Belgium is on the edge this morning. The streets still mostly clear. As police are on patrol, the subway system also remains shuttered for a second day running, as a security meeting scheduled for this afternoon has been delayed.

Our own Drew Griffin has been in Brussels since last Tuesday.

Drew, let's talk about the security meeting, first. It was supposed to have been taking place. It has been pushed back. Do we know why? And what are they going to talk about?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know why yet. The meeting was to figure out what the threat should be. Should it remain at this high level? Should the facilities remain closed including the metro, which, Fred, they announced an hour ago will remain closed through the rest of this day. They need to decide what is going to happen tomorrow with schools, with the public facilities, with cafes, bars, all that kind of stuff.

That was the meeting that was supposed to take place. It's been pushed back. There have been some increased security measures announced. Railway stations passengers should arrive 30 minutes prior to their train because of increased security there. And we continue to see a heavy, heavy presence of military and police here on the streets -- Fred.

PLEITGEN: Yes, Drew. It's a great point you make. Obviously, The security measures are a nuisance to people on a weekend. But during a weekday they are something that inhibits the country from functioning.

How are people on the streets there reacting to all of this?

GRIFFIN: Well, they're just kind of taking it in stride, trying to find the places that are open that they can visit. And otherwise just going about their day best they can.

There's no sense of panic. People are on the street. They're out here with their children. There are bikers out here. But as you'll see, there are some areas of the town that look like a ghost town.


GRIFFIN: This is one of those streets that's 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're 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 know not to go down there.

So, metro closed. Doors pretty much locked below there. If you look up here, again, a huge street should be teeming with people and there's just a few people walking around, certainly not the crowds you would expect to see on this preholiday Sunday here in the capital city of Belgium.

[08:05:06] I must tell you, 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. If you come here to the main plaza of the old city, you'll see they are setting up the Christmas tree and the Christmas decorations.

The Christmas market is due to open on this coming Friday. People of Brussels are just hoping this threat level and tension will certainly be over by then so they can light the tree and get on with the holiday season.


GRIFFIN: Fred, what we're not being told and what everybody does want to know is what is the threat. What inspired the shut down of the city, and whom we should be looking for. None of that has developed yesterday through today. Officials are just saying be patient. You will know when you need to know -- Fred.

PLEITGEN: Yes, hopefully we'll find out more when we get to that security meeting. Of course, that is set to take place around 5:00 p.m. local time, 11:00 a.m. Eastern. Drew Griffin, thanks you for keeping an eye on the situation there in Brussels.

But, of course, there's also a lot going on around here in Paris. New this morning we have shocking images of the Paris apartment where a third unidentified terror suspect blew himself up during the police raid. You can see the smashed walls, the pocked walls from bullet holes and rooms just absolutely covered in debris.

Plus, we're getting a clear picture of suspect Salah Abdeslam's escape after the attacks.

All right. We're going to bring in our own senior international correspondent Atika Shubert to talk about all of these things. Atika, you were at that apartment as the raid was going on.

You saw how violent things got. It can't be a surprise how the apartment looks.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. I mean, the gun battle is extensive. You can see it from the large bullet holes, several inches large. I think it was the controlled detonations that caused most of the damage. You see the windows blown in. You also see the kind of roof collapsed. Floor in one apartment and that was because police were sort of exploding what they believed might be more detonations that they would be booby trapping the apartment, essentially.

So, that what's caused most the damage. But it makes it especially difficult for forensic investigators who are trying to figure out what was going on in the apartment and who was in the apartment. They've only just in the last day or so, finally figured out what people are, although they don't have a name for the third person.

PLEITGEN: Now, we know that the alleged ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud was there. We know his female companion -- a relative, Hasna Ait Boulahcen was there. There's been a lot of focus on her.

What did you learn about her? Because you sort of dug into her past a little bit.

SHUBERT: Yes. I mean, she still remains very much a mystery. At first, police said that she was the one that detonated the suicide vest. Now, they say that she was likely not. And she's not somebody who is known for running around in the sort of jihadist circles. In fact, if anything, we spoke to her neighbors in French and they said that she was somebody who was fun loving. She loved to go to parties, perhaps a little volatile at times. But otherwise, you know, didn't lead that life at all. Smoke, drank, danced a lot.

She was being followed for drug offenses. And that's how they were able to trace her to Abdelhamid Abaaoud and how eventually they found their way.

PLEITGEN: Because they were monitoring her communications. And it will be interesting to see when and how quickly she got radicalized.

Atika Shubert, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

And still to come here this morning, using some of his strongest language yet, President Obama says ISIS will be destroyed, sending a strong message to the leaders of the world that the terrorists will be stopped. That's coming up next.


[08:12:40] PLEITGEN: Welcome back, everyone, to our coverage here from Paris on the aftermath of the terror attacks and, of course, the ongoing Europe-wide and indeed worldwide information.

Now, overnight, we heard the strongest words yet from President Obama when it comes to the war on ISIS. The president says that we will destroy ISIS and that the most powerful tool to fight the terrorists and extremist group is to prevent them from injecting fear into communities around the world.

He also said this regarding the group.


OBAMA: They're a bunch of killers with good social media, and they are dangerous and they've caused great hardship to people.


PLEITGEN: All right. I want to discuss this CNN military analyst Cedric Leighton, and with us is former U.S. foreign policy adviser to the campaign, David Tafuri.

David, I want to get to you first. What do you make of the president's comments there in Malaysia?

DAVID TAFURI, FMR. OBAMA CAMPAIGN FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR: Well, it's great he's saying he's going to step up and do more to fight ISIS. That's very important. The question is what is he going to do? I spent a lot of time in Iraq. I was in Iraq, again, last month, in northern Iraq, went to the Peshmerga bases.

And he's not doing much to support the forces on the ground, especially the Kurdish forces, which is one of the forces that is really fighting ISIS everyday. So, what is he going to do more than what he's doing now? The airstrikes are definitely works. That's what the Peshmerga forces say.

But he needs to do more supporting the forces on the ground, like the Kurdish forces and like the Sunni moderate forces in Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS, or he's going to have to put more boots on the ground. He hasn't said which of those things he's going to do. And so, let's wait and see what it is his plan is for taking the fight to ISIS and a more substantial way.

PLEITGEN: And, Cedric, you're in interesting position because actually, and you've been here in Paris over the past couple of days. It seems like the entire game has shifted for the French. I mean, on the one hand before, they were one of the nations sort of supporting the U.S. in fighting ISIS, but now they are center stage in taking lead role.

Do you think they'll do that especially with the aircraft carrier that they have almost in place now?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Fredrik, I think it's going to be one of the areas where is it going to be show or is it going to be substance?

[08:15:04] And when you see what they've got, you know, with the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier going into the eastern Mediterranean, that's clearly a show of force.

The question becomes can the French sustain this effort? And then how are they going to work with not only the United States but also with Russia in projecting their power into Syria. So, these are the different things that are going to be part of this.

If we really look back at this, we have to say, how effective is the president's strategy going to be, the U.S. president's strategy in terms of decapitating ISIL if we have the different players in place and if we're reluctant to put forces on the ground? PLEITGEN: One of the things, also from the president that I think surprised people. How emotional he was when it came to the debate about Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. I want to listen to the sound bytes from that -- from what he said.


OBAMA: My hope, though, now we've got some time to catch our breath and take a look at this carefully people understand that refugees who end up in the United States are the most vetted, scrutinized, thoroughly investigated individuals that ever arrive on American shores.


PLEITGEN: David, what do you make of what he said on the refugee issue?

TAFURI: Well, he's absolutely right there. There's this misinformation about refugees. If you look at the statistics, very few have engaged in terror plots. We've had 785,000 people come through the refugee resettlement program since 9/11. Only about three have been arrested for terror, none of those were Syrians and none of them actually committed any terrorist acts.

So, he's absolutely right. The vetting process for the refugee settlement program is working. And, by the way, there are some other good things, some positives for the U.S. that come out of the refugee resettlement program. It helps people who help the U.S. on the ground in countries like Syria and Iraq.

For instance, when I was in Iraq, we helped a couple of Iraqis who helped us and endangered their lives by helping Americans get resettled to the U.S. It was a reward for good service for the U.S. We want to continue program like that incentivize people around the world especially in conflict zones to help the Americans.

So, the president is right to be emotional about it and to defend the program.

PLEITGEN: All right. David Tafuri and Cedric Leighton, thanks for coming on the program this Sunday morning.

And, of course, we're going to have more on the ongoing situation in Paris, the ongoing situation in Brussels, the investigation and also, of course, that heightened terror alert you have in Brussels right now.

But, first, let's bring it back to Atlanta to you guys to Christi and Victor.

PAUL: All right. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Well, the State of the Union is coming up. At the top of the hour, there's a new poll shows that Donald Trump with a sizable lead. I shouldn't have said State of the Union, should have state of the race. State of the race is coming up. State of the Union is in January.

We'll chat about it with Jake Tapper, next.

PAUL: Also a reminder -- as support grows around the globe for the victims of the Paris terror attacks, I know you're probably wondering, I want to help but I don't know how. Well, CNN Impact Your World offered ways you can help. Go to for details.


[08:22:48] BLACKWELL: All right. New this morning in the race for the White House Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leading the pack in a new "Washington Post" poll, ABC News national poll as well. He has 32 percent here. Ben Carson coming in second with 22 percent. Marco Rubio the Florida senator at 11 percent.

All right. With us now Jake Tapper, host of "STATE OF THE UNION" and "THE LEAD".

Jake, what do you think about the surge now, what is behind the steady support for Donald Trump?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": It's interesting because there are a lot of other Republican presidential candidates in the establishment lane, Rubio who you saw there in the national poll, but also Kasich, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush and others, who think that post-Paris attacks, perhaps the Republican electorate will start thinking in their view more seriously about their candidacies.

But, of course, we don't see any evidence in the polls that they are shifting the Republican voters. They still seem very focused on Trump and Carson, and perhaps Trump and Carson are still saying what the Republican electorate wants to hear when it comes to this very serious issue of national security.

BLACKWELL: And I understand you have a big exclusive coming up with former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

TAPPER: That's right. When he resigned, shortly before he resigned or pushed out, depending on your point of view, the secretary of defense wrote a very pointed memo, we understand, to the administration criticizing the White House's Syria policy. We'll find out more about that memo, more about his disagreements with the White House on Syria, and, of course, what he thinks should be done now to combat the threat of ISIS.

BLACKWELL: All right. Jake Tapper, looking forward to it -- thank you so much.

TAPPER: Thanks, Victor.

BLACKWELL: "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts at the top of the hour, 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

A quick break. We'll be back.


[08:27:49] PAUL: So, CNN is preparing for our own holiday tradition here, "CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute."

BLACKWELL: Yes, the star-studded gala celebrates the good work of this year's top ten heroes. It was held this week and our own Michaela got a behind-the-scenes look.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-HOST, NEW DAY: I'm inside the American Museum of Natural History. We are set to honor 10 everyday people who are doing truly extraordinary things. I'm giving you your very own backstage pass. Let's get going.

(voice-over): Since 2007, "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute," has been an annual event. From assembling the stage, testing lights, to placing the cameras and rolling out the red carpet, this army of seasoned pros know what it takes to make this evening memorable.

(on camera): Got to keep it fresh, Kelly?

KELLY FLYNN, SR. EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Keep it fresh, every year.

PEREIRA: Isn't that clever?

FLYNN: Some great stories.

PEREIRA (voice-over): Host Anderson Cooper and A-listers galore turn out to salute our honorees for their work helping others.

Rising music star, Andre Day, was drawn to the evening's positive message.


ANDRE DAY, SINGER: My purpose for creating the song in the beginning was that it was something encouraging and inspiring and healing for people. So, I think it works well with the theme of tonight.

PEREIRA: A 21,000-pound blue whale rarely has to share the spotlight. But on this special night, our top-10 "CNN Heroes" will take center stage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The minute you walk into the place, you are just overwhelmed. It's intense. This event is going to be spectacular.

PEREIRA: And maybe motivate all of us to make an impact.


PAUL: Tune in. It is Sunday, December 6th, 8:00 p.m. Eastern. "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute". Anderson Cooper, of course, host of the celebrity presenters, of performance, it's going to be a really good show.

BLACKWELL: A great event every year.

PAUL: And it makes you feel good. We need some of that.


PAUL: We need a lot of that right now.

BLACKWELL: Certainly.

PAUL: Hey, We are always so grateful you spend time with us in the morning. Make some great memories today.

BLACKWELL: "STATE OF THE UNION" starts at the top of the hour, but right now, "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING".