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Putin and Hollande Meet to Talk ISIS and Syria; Cameron Pushes to Take Part in Syria Airstrikes; Suspicious Powder Found at Brussels Mosque; Increased Police Presence During the Holidays. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired November 26, 2015 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:09] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Wolf Blitzer. It is 1:00 p.m. here in Washington, 7:00 p.m. in Paris and 9:00 p.m. in Moscow. And wherever you're watching from around the world -- thanks so much for joining us.
We're going to start in Moscow where French President Francois Hollande continues his diplomat push against ISIS. Any moment, Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin are about to speak about their meeting and about efforts to stop ISIS in Syria, especially in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris.
We have CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance who's joining me live now from Moscow to talk about this.
Tell us, Matthew, what is really the crux of their discussions? What are they trying to accomplish and what may they accomplish here?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is all part of Francois Hollande's huge diplomatic initiative after the Paris attacks, to try to bring together various countries in a grand coalition to combat ISIS. He's been to Washington already. He's met with Angela Merkel of Germany. He met with David Cameron, the British prime minister. And now, he's here in Moscow sitting down for a working dinner as we speak with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.
Of course, they've both been affected by terrorism in the past several weeks. The French attacks, of course, in Paris. But also Russian lost an airliner in Sinai, you may remember, 224 people killed when that was bombed by suspected ISIS terrorist group related terrorist group.
So, the two have got a shared interest in combating this group. It's something Vladimir Putin said in the minutes before the dinner started. They met the cameras. They allowed a few photographs to be taken. Vladimir Putin said some encouraging remarks, saying, look, we want to work together and unite against a common evil.
So, you know, that's what the discussions are going to be about. We're expecting a joint press conference when their dinner breaks up and they finish having that working meeting in the hours ahead.
But it's complicated. It's complicated because there's a new problem in Syria. Turkish warplane shooting that Russian warplane out of the sky, and of course, it's -- you know, it's made the whole situation a lot more complicated than it was a few days ago.
KEILAR: And we know, Matthew, that Putin has demanded an apology from Turkey because of this. Turkey's President Erdogan responded perhaps not in a way that Vladimir Putin would like to hear.
This was an exclusive interview with our Becky Anderson. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): Well, I think if - there's a party that needs to apologize, it's not us. Those who violated our airspace are the ones who need to apologize. Our pilots and our armed forces, they simply fulfilled their duties, which consisted of responding to a violation of the rules of engagement. I think this is the essence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: What are you hearing, Matthew, about this dispute with Turkey?
CHANCE: Well, the Russians are absolutely furious that this has taken place. Not just because they've had one of their warplanes shot out of the sky by Turkish F-16s but they lost one of the pilots. He was shot dead as the rebels filmed themselves machine gunning him as he parachuted to the ground. Another marine, Russian marine, was killed in the search and rescue operation that followed.
And so, this has caused a massive political rupture here in Russia. And the Russians are already talking about economic sanctions on Turkey. The prime minister of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, has spoken to his prime minister, saying let's make a list of targets we can sanction, looking at gas supplies, nuclear industry, you know, food supplies, the tourists industry is very big, 3.2 million Russians went to Turkey last year. That could end soon as well.
So, that is not an end to the crisis.
KEILAR: All right. Matthew Chance in Moscow -- thank you so much.
I do want to turn now to London. This is where Prime Minister David Cameron is asking his parliament to let Britain get in the game against ISIS in Syria. He is pressing for a vote on joining the air campaign over Syria, along with the United States, France and Russia, among others. British planes are already in the air over Iraq.
And here is part of Cameron's sometimes emotional push to parliament this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: My first responsibility is prime minister and our first job in this house is to keep the British people safe. We have the assets to do that. And we can significantly extend the capabilities of the international coalition forces.
That is one reason why members of the international coalition, including President Obama and President Hollande, have made it clear to me that they want Britain to stand with them in joining airstrikes in Syria, as well as Iraq. These are our closest allies and they want our help.
The most important answer to the question "why us?" is I believe even more fundamental.
[13:05:04] And it's this: we shouldn't be content with outsourcing our security to our allies. If we believe that action can help protect us, than with our allies, we should be part of that action, not standing aside from it. And from this moral point comes a fundamental question. If we won't act now when our friend and ally, France, has been struck in this way, then our allies in the world can be forgiven for asking, "If not now, when?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's wrong now to ignore the real threat, the ISIL plan, which is to escalate a regional war into a world war between Christians and Muslims. And wouldn't our action now repeat what we did in 2003 when we deepened the conflict, we deepened the divide between Muslims and Christians? That is their strategy. And won't this action now lead to more? The great threat is homegrown terrorism. Isn't his action likely to increase recruits to terrorists to jihadism here and elsewhere in the world?
CAMERON: I know the honorable gentleman deeply wants to have the peaceful world we all dream of. In that, we have something in common.
What I'd say to him is, you know, ISIL has taken action against us already. They were behind the murder of people on the beach in Tunisia. They're behind the plots in our country. They butchered our friends and allies and our citizens in Paris.
And in terms of this battle between Muslims and Christians, that is what we want to avoid. It is by working with Muslim allies to stop this radicalization, stop this extremism and stop ISIL, that we prevent this clash from taking place.
As for ISIS themselves, they butcher Muslims in vast numbers. That's why they have to be stopped. In the end, we can't subcontract that work out to everybody else. We should be part of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: I want to bring in Phil Black now. He is covering this from London.
Phil, you sort of flash back to a couple years ago in 2013 when the parliament really gave David Cameron a stinging defeat as he sought to take some military action in Syria, albeit against Bashar al Assad. Has the rise of ISIS changed things there in such a way that getting involved to combat is, this is something that British public opinion, that the MPs would go along with?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, possibly, but you have that movement on one hand competing with a long-standing deep suspicion of foreign military intervention that goes back to the Iraq war as well, Brianna. You heard David Cameron there being asked a very passionate question about repeating the mistakes of 2003. That's a reference to Iraq. That's what David Cameron is trying to overcome.
It's why he's stating his case in a very sober, deliberate, cautious way. Very different to the way Tony Cameron made the case for war back in 2003, stressing that the same mistakes won't be repeated, stressing this would be a legal action. That's why he's making this case but he said he'll only bring it to parliament to vote if he believes he has the numbers. If he believes he has enough support in parliament to pass this, to get that approval, it could happen as early as next week.
KEILAR: Oh, wow. Well, he certainly doesn't want another defeat. We will stay tuned as you follow this with us. Thanks so much, Phil.
I want to talk more now about the impact that the British decision could have on the fight against ISIS in Syria. Joining me now from New York is David Rohde. He is a CNN global affairs analyst. And then from California, we have CNN military analyst, retired Colonel Rick Francona.
So, David, I want to start with you.
David Cameron there is talking about the cover that this would provide for the U.S. and France if Britain is to join the fight in Syria. You know, what exactly is he proposing? And what would the immediate impact be here for the coalition?
DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think it would be helpful if Britain participated, but it's not vital. I don't think there's a military solution, a pure military solution to what's happening here. And so, the one thing it would produce is unity.
I think as ISIL watches the tensions between Russia and Turkey this week, as they watch this sort of intense debate in Britain, as Obama and the U.S. hesitates in terms of sending in ground troops, I think that helps ISIL. I think the division and the lack of clarity among the Western allies helps them. I think it's incumbent upon Cameron and others to talk about how this isn't going to be a purely military strategy, that it's different than simply invading Iraq.
[13:10:00] I'm not sure they've made that case yet.
KEILAR: Yes, what do you think about that, Colonel Francona? What does he need to do to make that case? Do you see him bringing this to a vote where he's confident that he's going to get support?
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I hope that he gets support. As David said, the problem isn't whether the British participate in Syria and Iraq -- militarily, it won't make a difference. But what we don't have is clarity of purpose here. We're working at odds are the other people involved in Syria.
That's -- you know, the Russians, the Iranians and the Iraqis, all supporting Bashar al Assad. We are all in the fight against ISIS, but we also want to remove Assad from power. And until we resolve that little sticking point, what's going to happen to the Syrian government, nothing is going to happen against ISIS because we can't get the Russians, the Americans, the French, British, everybody on the same sheet of music.
So, I'm hoping we can get that resolved. And then the British, of course, are always welcome to provide their support in Syria. But the British support in other ways. It's just not their military support. They have a lot of intelligence capabilities and logistic support that we need.
I want to talk about this dispute going on right now between Russia and Turkey. Vladimir Putin, he's waiting for an apology from Turkey for this shooting down of a Russian jet. Turkey says this was an incursion into their airspace. They gave multiple warnings. And they're saying it's Russia who needs to apologize.
How does this complicate not only the fight against ISIS, but these talks about what a political transition in Syria could be?
ROHDE: It deeply complicated them. I agree with Frank. What you want to do is use military force to pressure ISIL and shrink the territory they have and you want to move forward on some sort of diplomatic solution in Syria.
And there's a sort of -- you know, no one is articulating a clear purpose here, a clear long-term strategy. There's sort of the old sort of Iraq views where all military forces, some on the left and liberals, and on the right, you know, the U.S., there's an argument you just bomb them and that will solve the problem. It has to be a combination of force and diplomacy.
The dispute between Russia and Turkey really worries me because both, you know, Turkish leader Erdogan is a nationalist. He wants an apology. Putin has made his name in Russia as a nationalist. He's demanding an apology.
So, the two personalities worry me. They need to back down. This dispute between Turkey and Russia just helps ISIL. And I just worry that for political reasons, each leader will up the rhetoric in Russia and Turkey and will continue to have this division and distraction.
KEILAR: And, Colonel, if you see that, if you see this rhetoric increased, you know, if, God forbid, you see something else happen that really ratchets this up, which we realize now is possible after the shooting down of this Russian plane, what does that mean, where would that take -- where would that take this conflict?
FRANCONA: Well, as David, this only plays into the hand of ISIL, ISIS, because they're the ones at gain here. When you've got disharmony between the people that are supposed to be fighting ISIS, it only serves their purposes. And the Russians and the Turks have both got to realize that we have a bigger problem here and that's ISIS. It's not that border.
If you look at what happened, the Russians have made too many provocations and that's why the Turks responded as they did. This was a very minor incursion and it drew a major reaction. But this is a reaction to numerous provocations over the last several months.
It's not just in Turkey. Putin has been pressing NATO on all of its boarders. Putin needs to back down a little bit. And the Turks need to be a little less sensitive about that border, because we're all in the same fight here. But no one seems to get that message.
KEILAR: All right, Colonel, David, thanks so much to both of you. Happy Thanksgiving. We certainly appreciate your time on this holiday to talk about this important topic.
All right, gentlemen, thanks so much.
And coming up, a mosque in Brussels evacuated after suspicious powder is found in envelopes. We'll have details on that ahead.
Plus, airports on high alert amid concerns extremist may have infiltrated the ranks of employees there. What U.S. security officials are doing about that.
[13:18:18] KEILAR: Brussels authorities today dropped their terror threat level from 4 to 3 but not before they had a scare on their hands. A suspicious powder was found at the Brussels grand mosque, sparking fears of an attack. But then later, tests showed the powder was just flour.
Meanwhile, world leaders will gather in Paris on Monday for the start on talks about climate change. And keeping those leaders safe takes on a whole new meaning in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris.
CNN's Martin Savidge is with us now from Paris.
And, Martin, are authorities there confident that they can really safely protect these leaders?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are very much so, at least publicly. You can bet, though, that behind the scenes, there are some security officials that are going to have some very sleepless nights until this is all over and done with. You're going to have 147 leaders here, including the president of the United States, the president of China, Vladimir Putin from Russia. That's just some of the dignitaries that are going to be gathered here.
According to the French interior ministry, some 11,000 police officers have been dedicated to the security of this gathering. About 3,000 will secure the venue. Another 8,000 are put on what's called border security there.
So, clearly, there's an indication of just how much is being brought to bear. But in other ways, they've had to scale things back. There was a huge public participation part of this conference. All of that goes away. The big massive outdoor demonstrations, authorities simply say they just cannot put enough police focusing on those demonstrations while trying to protect the heads of state. That isn't going to happen.
And then the other thing they fear is that these heads of state are going to be more focused on talking about terror than they are talking about environment and the money they spent to try to reduce carbon emissions will now go towards protecting their borders and their people.
[13:20:02] So, the whole attack is having a major impact on this conference -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right. Martin Savidge for us in Paris, thanks so much.
We're now hearing from members of the California rock band Eagles of Death Metal. That was the band performing at the Paris Bataclan concert hall when three militants attacked nearly three weeks ago. The group spoke recently to "Vice" about the terrifying moments on stage as the attackers burst in and opened fire, killing 89 people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN LONDON, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL SOUND ENGINEER: People started dropping to the ground, injuries, death, you know, and then also running. There's nowhere to go so they basically ran into me, towards me, and jumped down below my console. I was still standing up.
I can see the gunman. He looked right at me. He shot at me. He missed. He hit my console. And buttons went flying everywhere. Like the console caught a shot.
That's when I went instantly down to the ground. We all just huddled. I think he thought I probably got hit because I went down so quickly and everybody else around was injured. There's blood all over. He stayed there and continued to shoot and shoot and slaughter and just scream at the top of his lungs "Allah Akbar" and that's when I instantly knew what was going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Chilling description there. That's an interview from "Vice".
The Bataclan killings were the single largest loss of life in Paris during the attacks on November 13th.
Just ahead, the Paris attacks and the Russian plane crash in Egypt showed ISIS' ability to strike without warning. And we'll be looking at how authorities are working overtime to keep people safe through the holidays, next.
[13:26:01] KEILAR: President Obama is reassuring Americans that there are no credible terror threats against the U.S. this holiday weekend. But that doesn't mean law enforcement isn't going to be out in full force.
With me now, we have CNN's aviation correspondent Rene Marsh, and from Alma, Colorado, we have CNN law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes.
So, Rene, we've heard from the Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson. He says TSA has stepped up its screenings. This has actually resulted in some longer wait times at security checkpoints, this big travel weekend.
What are the measures -- what additional measures do you know that TSA is putting in place? And if you're the average airline passenger, are you going to notice any of this?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: So, Brianna, the first thing you are going to notice is that show of force you've been talking about, not only at airports but at train and bus stations, heavy weaponry, bomb sniffing dogs. The public -- flying public is seeing that TSA's conducting random checks for explosives and they're also doing additional checking at the gate.
So, yes, there are things that are happening right before boarding, you may also be checked. Even if you have pre-checked, for example, you could be asked to remove your shoes. The key here really is unpredictability. That is seen as the deterrent.
It will obviously take a lot longer to get through the security checkpoint, so they're telling flyers they should arrive two hours before departure. Sunday will be the busiest travel day yet. That's when everyone will be returning from the holidays.
KEILAR: And what on the bigger scale, just looking more broadly, Rene, what else is the government doing to protect the homeland?
MARSH: Well, I mean, besides what you're seeing at bus stations, you also have what law enforcement is doing behind the scenes. And on the law enforcement side, the FBI is saying that they are closely monitoring dozens of people who they think pose the highest threat of attempting a copycat-type attack in the United States.
Additionally, they say there are over 100 Joint Terrorism Task Force investigations into ISIS sympathizers. Those cases are currently open and they say those investigations were taken up a notch immediately after the Paris attacks.
So, right now, what the FBI is trying to do is prioritize. Who do they think most likely could or would carry out these attacks, versus who's just consuming that terror propaganda -- Brianna.
KEILAR: And, Tom, I suppose we should get some comfort from the president coming out and saying there's no credible threat against ISIS but then Paris authorities say they didn't have any active intelligence before the attacks there. I think this is part of the reason why a lot of people are concerned. What do you make of this?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Brianna, if you look at Paris and if you look at some of these attacks in Europe over the last few years, they don't have good intelligence. They don't have good outreach programs in the communities where these terrorists gather and form these cells.
So, in France and in Brussels, you had three cells of six to eight people each form to do these attacks. The first one carried out the attack. The second one was neutralized when they killed them all in the apartment. And the third one potentially is still on the loose, which is why they have the threat level so high in Brussels.
In the U.S., we've had cases where the FBI and the police have much better outreach, much better cooperation than the Muslim communities and so when an individual tries to recruit two, three, five more people to help do an attack and many of the cases, more than 70 arrests over the last few years, that's when the authorities find out. Somebody calls the police, calls the FBI and say, look, we have somebody in our neighborhood trying to form a group to do an attack and they're neutralized.
Now, the threat really remains the one or two people who don't include others. And therefore, they have operational security like the Boston marathon bombers, two brothers. So, when you have that kind of low number, let's say, a one or two or three people that could do an attack, now the authorities are trying to read their mind. Yes, they want to, yes, they've talked about it, yes, they're on social media, but when are they going to actually make the conversion and go operational to carry out an attack?