Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
FBI: Couple Radicalized 'For Quite Some Time'; Interview with Ben Rhodes; Trump Would Prevent Muslims from Entering U.S. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired December 7, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:03] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Good cancer news. Always good for everybody. Thanks very much Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
That is it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jim Sciutto, in today for Jake Tapper. I turn you over now to the capable hands of Wolf Blitzer. He is, as always, in THE SITUATION ROOM.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. For quite some time. The FBI says terrorists behind the San Bernardino attacks were radicalized long before the massacre. Now investigators are focusing in on the couple's overseas trips. Who did they see and what was their connection to other countries?
Target practice. The killers now known to have visited multiple shooting ranges in Southern California, even as they were stockpiling ammunition and explosives. How did they practice for their attack unnoticed?
Secret life. New details of the female terrorist who pledged allegiance to ISIS, where she grew up and her dual life in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia before coming to the United States. Did she lead her husband down their deadly path?
Changing strategy? The terror threat prompts President Obama to make a rare Oval Office address to the nation, trying to reassure anxious Americans the U.S. will prevail. But with growing criticism of his plan to fight ISIS, will he be forced to adopt new tactics against the terrorists?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. The FBI just revealing disturbing new details about the San Bernardino terror attack, saying the couple that carried it out had been radicalized for, quote, "quite some time."
The FBI also says Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik practiced at shooting ranges, once within days of the massacre. And we're learning more about the bomb lab discovered in the killers' home and the 19 pipes that could have been used as explosive devices that were removed by the FBI. We're covering that and much more this hour with our guests, including
President Obama's deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes. And our correspondents and our expert analysts, they are also standing by.
Let's begin with CNN's Kyung Lah. She's in San Bernardino for us.
Kyung, you were there at this latest FBI news conference. Update our viewers.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what the news conference really showed us is what investigators had suspected for some time: that there was extreme planning involved, that there was even dry runs at some of these gun ranges nearby. But most important, Wolf, that the radicalization had been taking place for some time, all of it happening undetected.
LAH: Investigators now believe both Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were both well down the path to supporting jihad when they were photographed by U.S. Customs at Chicago's O'Hare Airport in July of 2014, as she first arrived in the U.S. on a fiance visa.
DAVID BOWDICH, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN CHICAGO: We have learned and believe that both subjects were radicalized and have been for quite some time.
LAH: Tonight, CNN has learned prior to the attack Farook not only interacted with Americans being investigated by the FBI but also looked at and contacted terrorist groups overseas. In a news conference late today the FBI said there is mounting evidence the couple's massacre was planned well in advance.
BOWDICH: Both of these subjects did some target -- participated in target practice in some ranges within the metro area.
LAH: Some of that practice was within days of the attack, using guns allegedly bought by Farook's friend, Enrique Marquez. Tonight police are back in Marquez's home.
JOHN DE'ANGELO, ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Right now our major concern the FBI, ATF and the JTTF is determining how those firearms, the rifles in particular, got from Marquez to Farook and Malik.
LAH: As investigators in California continue to scour the couple's history here, there is increasing focus on their trips overseas.
BOWDICH: We are attempting to expand that investigation out and build it and build a picture of each person, the timeline and ultimately the crimes that they committed.
LAH: Tonight those searches appear to be focused on two tracks, learning more about Malik and her life in Pakistan, and tracing Farook's path to radicalization. Farook's father telling an Italian newspaper that his son was fascinated by ISIS and hated Israel, telling CNN he and his son were divided on ideology. SYED FAROOK, SYED RIZWAN FAROOK'S FATHER: All Pakistanis coming from
the major cities are liberal people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Understand.
FAROOK: OK. And he was going towards conservativism.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was going towards what?
FAROOK: Conservativism. His views were conservative. my views were liberal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: Now, we have spent quite a bit of time at the two mosques where the couple prayed. And the people who were there, those who prayed with him, say this is what's most concerning to them. They know the profile to look for. It's usually a young man, maybe very political, someone who may not even have a job.
[17:05:13] But this is a guy that came to the mosque all the time, who had a family and had a job. Wolf, they simply didn't see this coming.
BLITZER: All right. Kyung, thanks very much.
All of this is certainly putting a lot of pressure on President Obama, increasingly forced to defend his plan to fight ISIS and keep America safe. And it prompted him to make a rare Oval Office address to the nation. Our White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, has the latest.
Michelle, the president's critics say they didn't hear anything new from him.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, it's true. There wasn't a lot new in that address, but the White House today said the goal of it was simply to address Americans' concerns and help them understand what the U.S. strategy is for keeping them safe.
The president did say that the terror threat is now entering a new phase. Of course how to address that? Specifically the kind of attack we just saw in California is still the subject of fierce debate with critics, many Americans wondering if that strategy is enough.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Fourteen Americans were killed as...
KOSINSKI (voice-over): Tonight, the Obama administration is attempting to play offense on the heels of the president's primetime address detailing a strategy to defeat ISIS. Today his homeland security secretary said he will create a new intermediate designation as part of a revised terrorism alert system, warning Americans about threats law enforcement is hearing about even when they're not specific.
JEH JOHNSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We need to do a better job of informing the public at large of what we are seeing, removing some of the mystery.
KOSINSKI: Officials say the shooters in San Bernardino were terrorists radicalized online but did not raise alarm bells to U.S. intelligence, something the president acknowledged overnight.
OBAMA: This was an act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people.
KOSINSKI: Facing criticism that his strategy is not working and needing to reassure anxious Americans, in a rare address from the Oval Office, President Obama laid out what he says the U.S. and its partners are doing.
OBAMA: We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our military will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary.
LAH: Still tonight critics say President Obama only defended existing strategy including airstrikes, supporting Syrian opposition and Iraqi soldiers, but laid out nothing new.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I was disappointed last night when the president failed to lay out any new steps to fight this threat. Instead he doubled down on his strategy of hesitancy and half measures.
LAH: Today, the White House pushed back, saying the president wants support for three initiatives, including calling on Congress to pass authorization for military force against ISIS, and pressing both chambers to change gun laws, making it harder for people to buy assault rifles, which the California couple used, harder for people on terror watch lists to buy guns.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Are they suggesting that we should wait for somebody who's on the no-fly list to go buy a gun and kill a bunch of innocent Americans, and then we should pass a law? Is that what we're waiting for?
KOSINSKI: The White House has already taken steps to toughen up security screenings for people coming into the U.S. from countries where a visa is not required.
The president also just announced a review of the visa program on which one of those California killers came in. And the White House says it will work with Congress, where there is bipartisan support to tighten up screenings even more, Wolf.
BLITZER: Michelle Kosinski at the White House. Michelle, thanks very much. We're going to get a lot more on what's going on in just a moment, but we're also following breaking political news right now. The Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has just issued a
statement calling for a complete ban on all Muslims entering the United States.
Let's talk about all of this with President Obama's deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.
Lots to discuss, Ben. But I want to get your reaction to Donald Trump's statement that he just released saying there should be a, quote, "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."
And just moments ago he doubled down with a tweet saying, "Just put out a very important policy statement on the extraordinary influx of hatred and danger coming into our country. We must be vigilant. This statement from Trump as you know follows the president's statement last night in the Oval Office in which he urged Americans to be tolerant, not engage in any discrimination against Muslims.
What's your reaction to this statement from Donald Trump?
BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT: Well, Wolf, it's totally contrary to our values as Americans. You know, we have, in our Bill of Rights, respect for the freedom of religion.
Muslim Americans have made extraordinary contributions to our country, but it's also contrary to our security, Wolf. The fact of the matter is ISIL wants to frame this as a war between the United States and Islam. And if we look like we're applying religious tests who comes into this country, we're sending a message that essentially we're embracing that frame.
[17:10:08] And that is going to make it very difficult to partner with Muslim communities here in the United States and around the world to prevent this scourge of radicalization that we need to be focused on. We should be making it harder for ISIL to portray this as a war between the United States and Islam, not easier.
BLITZER: All right. Let's move on. I want to talk about the FBI announcements today. The statements today that two of the San -- two San Bernardino killers had actually been radicalized for some time.
Based on what you know right now -- and you brief the president every morning on what's going on in the intelligence area -- was there some sort of intelligence failure that allowed these two to go undetected on the radar?
RHODES: No, Wolf, look, this is very difficult. Because what we have not yet seen is that they were directed by a foreign terrorist organization like ISIL that they were getting in communications with people in Syria who were telling them to do something.
The intelligence community obviously puts extraordinary focus on those types of communications, those types of contacts. That's when we can see an operational plot that can be disrupted. When it's simply individuals who over a period of time become more
radical in their views, that's much harder to detect from an intelligence standpoint. That's why, frankly, we need to have partnership with our Muslim communities.
As the president said last night we need Muslim leaders to stand up and to reject this ideology. And we need to be able to work with them to spot signs of radicalization in their communities so that there can be an intervention before something like this terrible tragedy takes place.
BLITZER: How would you describe that partnership right now?
RHODES: Well, it's very active, Wolf. We have our Department of Justice, state and local law enforcement has close partnerships with Muslim leaders, with mosques, with members of the Muslim community. And they work together so that they understand what the signs of radicalization are, and they can offer a different pathway to individuals before they go down, again, the type of dark path that clearly was the case in San Bernardino.
BLITZER: Because the notion is 00 this is still speculative, but it looks increasingly like these two killers were radicalized online. So how do you deal with that in terms of protecting Americans' ability to go online but at the same time monitoring what they're doing?
RHODES: Well, Wolf, there are a couple of issues here. One is something the president referred to last night in his address, which is we see groups like ISIL seeking to use encrypted technology so that there can be activity on social media, activity online that cannot be detected by intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
We want to have a dialogue with the technology sector about how we can make sure that people's right to privacy is respected, but at the same time there's not a dark space where people are able to go undetected in communications for instance with terrorist organizations like ISIL.
But secondly, of course, there's the greater challenge of people having access to lots of content online. People having access to extremist content. That's certainly the case in this instance. It could be the case in other ideologies.
And that's again where you need that partnership with people who are interacting with people like these two terrorists in San Bernardino on a regular basis, who may see changes in their behavior, may see them taking more extreme political views and religious views. And there can be some form of intervention to prevent them from going down that path of radicalization.
BLITZER: We have much more to discuss. Ben Rhodes, the president's deputy national security adviser, he's at the White House. We'll continue this right after a quick break.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. [17:18:31] Troubling new details emerging right now about the San
Bernardino husband and wife killers. And they're raising serious concerns about the country's ability to detect extremists who are ready to strike.
We're back with President Obama's deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes.
Ben, the president said he had authorized U.S. forces almost from day one to take out terrorists abroad. Those were his words: "take out terrorists." Does that mean going out and killing as many of these terrorist leaders as possible?
RHODES: Well, Wolf, if you look at the track record of this president from when he took office, we've been in a methodical campaign to remove terrorists from the battlefield. We steadily degraded al Qaeda leadership. We took out Osama bin Laden. We took out a number of terrorist leaders. Again, whether that's in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, now in Syria.
So I think we've had many debates, for instance, over the use of drones over the years, a tool the president's continued to use in our fight against terrorism.
I think over the course of the last seven years people can see that every time that we face a threat, this president's been willing to authorize force to take out terrorists who threaten the United States.
BLITZER: When you use the words "take out" you mean kill, right?
RHODES: Well, absolutely if that's necessary. In some instances, where you've been able to capture terror suspects, but that's very difficult in places like Syria and Iraq. Certainly, it was the case in places like Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.
So whether that's through airstrikes, whether that's through drone strikes, this president's been willing to do what is necessary to protect the American people.
[17:20:00] BLITZER: The president also last night chided Turkey, a NATO ally, told them they have to seal the border. Last week the president said nearly 100 kilometers of that border, a very long border, but about 98 or so kilometers, 60 miles were open for terrorists to go back and forth. Why hasn't Turkey sealed that border yet?
RHODES: Well, Wolf, we made progress along that border. Again, with forces inside of Syria who've been able to push back ISIL, and then we've been able to seal that border.
At the same time there is a 98-kilometer stretch that we still believe needs to be cut off. We're doing our part on the Syrian side of that border with airstrikes and support for forces on the ground for fighting back and pushing back against ISIL.
We want Turkey to move its own forces, its own troops on the Turkish side of that border to seal that off to make sure that foreign fighters aren't going across the border and to make sure that oil is not smuggled across that border.
President Erdogan committed to President Obama that we would do that. Our military has been in discussions about how to implement that policy. So we expect it to go forward. It will require deployment of resources from Turkey on its side of the border. And that's what we've been working through with them.
BLITZER: Is ISIS selling oil through black markets across that border through Turkey?
RHODES: Yes. We have seen ISIL smuggle oil out of Syria, sell it on the black market. We've been doing two things with respect to that, Wolf. One is we've been more aggressively targeting oil infrastructure inside of Syria, taking hundreds of strikes against oil tankers. That will take away key sources of financing for ISIL.
At the same time, we want to also make sure they cannot get that oil outside of Syria. And that's why we have to cut off and seal that border.
BLITZER: The president also said last night he wants to continue to train tens of thousands of people in Syria and Iraq to go ahead and fight ISIS. So far that's been a total failure.
The U.S. spent several hundred million dollars, trained five or six rebels in Syria to fight ISIS, and in Iraq the Iraqi military, for all practical purposes for Mosul, just simply ran away. Why is it so hard to find allies to fight on the ground in Syria and Iraq?
RHODES: Well, Wolf, where it's been a success we've seen that the model can work. In northern Iraq the Peshmerga forces, the Kurdish forces...
BLITZER: The Kurds are good allies.
BLITZER: But I don't see a whole lot of Syrian rebels willing to take up the fight on the ground or Iraqi military personnel willing to go into Mosul or Ramadi or Fallujah and retake those areas where so many American military personnel gave their lives.
RHODES: Well, two things, Wolf. First of all, we have been able to identify more partners inside of Syria, both Kurdish and Arab, who are now fighting against ISIL in eastern Syria.
And our special forces, who will be deploying to Syria, are there to help facilitate those efforts to provide them with equipment, to provide them with advice so that they can go on the offense against ISIL and continue to make progress.
In Iraq, I think the challenge that we've had, Wolf, is that the Sunni areas that have been taken by ISIL, a majority of the Iraqi security forces many of them were Shia. And what we wanted to do is get multi- sectarian units and Iraqi security forces and also get the Sunni tribes mobilized in those areas so that they can push back against ISIL's presence.
We have an ongoing effort to do that in partnership with the Iraqi government. But clearly, this is an area where we want to continue to accelerate our efforts. That's how you're ultimately going to get at places like Ramadi and Fallujah.
BLITZER: Ben Rhodes is President Obama's deputy of national security adviser. Ben, thanks for joining us.
RHODES: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, we're getting new details about the mysterious woman at the center of the FBI's terror investigation. We're also learning more about the guns both killers used and about their target practice in the days leading up to the San Bernardino terror attack.
[17:28:04] BLITZER: Breaking news, the FBI just revealed that both of the San Bernardino killers were radicalized and had been for quite some time. We're also learning new details about the mysterious woman who joined her husband in gunning down 14 people and wounding 21 others.
Brian Todd has new information from his sources, as well as CNN crews overseas.
Brian, what have you discovered?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, Wolf, we have new information on Tashfeen Malik's background.
Now, in tracing her path to terror, our investigation has found that her days in Pakistan are an important focal point. It was there that she attended a school known for its puritanical interpretation of Islam. Then she made her way to the United States.
TODD (voice-over): A searing new image of the couple who would become terrorists. July 2014, Tashfeen Malik and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, arrive at Chicago's O'Hare airport. Tonight a law enforcement source tells CNN it's believed Malik was radicalized before this moment, before she came to the United States. Did she radicalize him, or was it the other way around?
DAVID BOWDICH, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN CHARGE: We still do not know, but I will say this. As the investigation has progressed, we have learned and believe that both subjects were radicalized and have been for quite some time.
TODD: How and where was the 29-year-old mother of a newborn radicalized? Malik came from a family of wealthy landowners in Pakistan. She later
moved to Saudi Arabia with her immediate family. CNN has learned that Malik returned to Pakistan to attend this school in the city of Multan. She studied to be a pharmacist and received a degree in 2012, according to school officials.
Malik covered herself wearing a nikab (ph), a face veil, a common custom for women in the region. One of her professors described her as a good student.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She always remain busy in study. And I don't think so, she was more religious or like that.
TODD: But CNN has learned Tashfeen Malik later attended this institution, al-Huda, a chain of women-only religious schools in Pakistan which according to an Islamic scholar we spoke to, teaches a stricter puritanical interpretation of Islam. It's not fundamentalist, this scholar says. And doesn't advocate violence. But the location of the al-Huda branch she attended does raise a red flag.
SAJJAN GOHEL, ASIA PACIFIC FOUNDATION: The fact that Malik went to al-Huda in Multan, a city which has in the past served as a recruiting ground for extremists, particularly the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group that carried out the Mumbai siege attacks, that is something of concern. That is something that needs to be looked at.
TODD: And tonight, Malik's family is being investigated. Authorities have raided a home her father owns in Multan.
TODD: CNN is now told by a member of Tashfeen Malik's extended family that her father, Gulzar Malik, had a falling out years ago with his siblings. "The Wall Street Journal" and "New York Times" report the father then himself turned to a more strict form of Islam, Wolf. So her connections to radical Islam, possible connections to her immediate family, are now being investigated.
BLITZER: And, Brian, there's also a disturbing new account of how well she might have trained herself in the use of automatic weapons, right?
TODD: A really chilling quote, Wolf. A senior law enforcement official in San Bernardino told "The Daily Beast" that Tashfeen Malik was, quote, "a very good shot."
This official was describing her last stand with her husband when they fired 76 rounds at police from their SUV. This official said, I'm quoting from one of our guys who was in a gun battle with her and her husband. That's all this police officer said. This official says that he was dead serious.
And we now know, of course, from the FBI that Malik and her husband engaged in target practice quite often. One of those practice sessions, as we just found out, was within days of the mass shooting, Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd with the very latest. Brian, thanks very much.
Up next, today's startling revelations from the FBI's terror investigation of the San Bernardino mass shootings.
Among the things we learned today, both killers did, in fact, engage in target practice in the days actually leading up to the attack.
And there's also other breaking political news. Donald Trump now calling for a total stop to Muslim immigration to the United States.
[17:37:03] BLITZER: We're following breaking news in the San Bernardino terror investigation. Just a little while ago the FBI revealed significant new details about the two killers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID BOWDICH, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN CHARGE: As the investigation has progressed, we have learned and believe that both subjects were radicalized and have been for quite some time. Now, how did that happen? The question we're trying to get at is how did that happen and by whom and where did that happen? And I will tell you right now we don't know those answers at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our justice reporter, Evan Perez, who's following the investigation. What do you think led the FBI to reach this sort of interim conclusion?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, they've had a little time to go through his communications, to find -- to talk to members of the family.
And my understanding is that they found that this radicalization path is not something that just happened in the last year or so. It's something that goes back some period, especially with Farook.
In the case of his wife, they certainly believe that the radicalization began before she ever sat down for her consulate interview with the State Department to get this visa, this fiance visa, in order to come join her husband here in this country.
So that raises really important questions for the Homeland Security Department. It raises important questions for the State Department. Why is it that someone who was already on this path, how was it that she was able to pass through the vetting, the security screening in order to come to this country and less than a year later or about a year later, launch one of the deadliest terror attacks in this country?
BLITZER: Because it sounds like, if he had been radicalized for some time, she had been radicalized going back to Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, long before they probably even met.
It sounds as if this marriage was sort of arranged as a terror marriage to get her in the United States to potentially commit these kinds of terror attacks.
PEREZ: And I think what it is, is that, you know, there's a lot of speculation that perhaps she drove him to do this. I think, from what the FBI knows at this point, they believe he already was on this path.
And keep in mind: ISIS has only been the flavor of the moment for just over a year or so. So he was onto other things, al Qaeda or perhaps other groups. That's what the FBI is looking at. They want to see, perhaps, whether other things were influencing him before they got to ISIS.
BLITZER: Stand by. I want to bring in the rest of our panel: our national security analyst, Peter Bergen; our law enforcement analyst, former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes; the former congresswoman, Jane Harman -- she was the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, now heads the Woodrow Wilson center.
Peter, how do officials likely determine that these two killers had been radicalized for some time? Obviously, with hindsight, they go back and find stuff. But they didn't find it. If they'd been radicalized for some time, why didn't they know that leading up to this?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, until we have a machine that can peer into women's and men's souls, that's a very hard question to answer.
[17:40:03] BLITZER: But if they're online, and they're exchanging e- mails or tweets with bad guys, and apparently, they were, and now they say that the people that they were communicating with, whether through encryption or whatever, were on the watch list, or were being reviewed by the FBI and other U.S. law enforcement, wouldn't that have brought some attention to that?
BERGEN: Well, as far as we know, it looks like Farook was in touch, as Evan was saying, with trying to -- either was in touch or trying to get in touch with people in al Qaeda, maybe in Syria.
But often these things are sort of dismissed. I mean, there was -- he didn't -- there was nothing else that seemed to prompt attention.
I mean, in the case of the wife, you know, what we hear about her in university in Pakistan, I think, shows that she refused, for instance, to have a photograph taken of her at the graduation, which is sort of an indication that she's an ultra-fundamentalist. So those kind of indicators also part of this pattern.
BLITZER: And we're now being told by the FBI that both of them, Tom -- and you used to work at the FBI -- engaged in target practice for a long time. She was very good in using -- in these rifles. But that even in the days leading up to the mass murder, wouldn't someone have noticed her? She was wearing, you know, a scarf, maybe even a full burka going into practice, their rifle practice, wouldn't that have been obvious to someone?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that would have been, but do we know that that's how she showed up? The kind of clothing she was wearing? Or did she change into a more western style to go to the range? I haven't heard exactly what she was wearing.
But, you know, people going to target practice, this country -- this goes back to the whole firearms issue. The we have 300 million some guns at large in the United States. And people go to the range every day, multiple ranges. And out west, you know, they're able to go into more rural areas and shoot in the desert and the fields without attracting a lot of attention. So we just don't know.
And that could also be part of why they're basing that they were radicalized at some time. They may be looking at, if they've been acquiring weapons, ammunition, pipes, explosives and can go back now to acquiring that over a period of time, then probably look that's why they were acquiring it, because they had become radicalized, not because they're great sportsmen.
BLITZER: And, Jane, they're looking to see if this was just an inspiration or if they were actually directed a lot more than just inspiration by ISIS or some other terror group. How would the FBI, U.S. law enforcement, intelligence community find out about that?
JANE HARMAN, WOODROW WILSON INSTITUTE: Exactly by doing what they're doing, which is uncovering more and more clues.
This is going to be a huge intelligence and law enforcement challenge going forward. Exactly the wrong thing to do is what Donald Trump has just recommended, which is to keep all Muslims out of the U.S. You want to get Muslim communities in the U.S. to cooperate and not to radicalize? Well, don't do what Donald Trump said.
But let me add something to what you said about the terror marriage. In that terror marriage, there is a 6-month-old baby. And the tragedy of this is, I would guess -- and this is just Jane's theory -- these were cold, calculated killers; and the baby was basically a prop to make them seem like normal Americans living in a quiet community.
BLITZER: Yes, that's pretty shocking all around.
All right. Guys, stand by. We have much more to discuss, including Donald Trump's latest statement, make America great again. He says you can do that by a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. We'll go in depth when we come back.
[17:47:52] BLITZER: We're following some startling new political fallout from the San Bernardino terror attack. This afternoon the Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump called for a total stop to Muslim immigration into the United States. A written statement from the campaign says this, "Donald J. Trump is calling for total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." Let's go to our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny. He's
covering Trump today campaigning in South Carolina.
Jeff, what are you learning about this statement? Has the Trump campaign provided specifics?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Trump campaign has not yet provided specifics, but I can tell you this is an extraordinary escalation of any of the proposals or any of the rhetoric we've heard from Donald Trump since he jumped into this presidential campaign. He released this statement just a short time ago in a characteristic Trump fashion without any statements or how he would actually carry any of this out. His campaign manager has told us that it is applying to tourists as well as applying to immigrants who would also be coming here.
Donald Trump did explain a little bit in a statement. Let's take a look at this. He said that, "Great surveillance and vigilance must be adhered to. We want to be very fair but too many bad things are happening. And there's too much hatred to go around here."
So Donald Trump is going to explain more of what he's talking about tonight. You can see behind me he'll be attending a rally in just about an hour or so to South Carolina voters.
But, Wolf, I can tell you that this is not at all what he was saying just a couple of months ago. On September 19th one of our reporters, MJ Lee, asked him about what he thought of the Muslims. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MJ LEE, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Do you personally think that Muslims pose a danger to this country?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I love the Muslims. I think they're great people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So that is a long ways from "I love the Muslims, I think they're great people," to what he is proposing today, Wolf. And that is less than three months time here between that statement and this statement here today.
BLITZER: I know the White House deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes, just a little while ago here in THE SITUATION ROOM condemned the statement that Donald Trump made.
[17:50:04] Any other reaction from any other Republican campaigns?
ZELENY: Wolf, the reaction across the board from Republican president campaign is one of disparagement towards this. Jeb Bush tweeted that Donald Trump has come unhinged. Lindsey Graham said it's going to cause problems for Americans on the battlefield there, indeed even more than that. He said it would threaten their lives. Chris Christie also denounced this.
So Wolf, across the board his fellow Republican candidates are denouncing this and, you know, this is one of those things that Donald Trump throws out there. So we'll see how he explains it tonight. We'll talk to some voters here in South Carolina, see how they're reacting to it as well, Wolf. But just one of the examples of the fallout here from the San Bernardino shooting which his now front and center in this presidential campaign.
BLITZER: It certainly is. Thanks very much, Jeff Zeleny, reporting for us.
So let's get back to our experts, Peter Bergen, among other things, he's got statistics -- I don't know how accurate these statistics are -- polls showing that a huge percentage of Muslims he says polled -- agree that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified. You've studied this. Have you seen polls like that?
BLITZER: What's your reaction to what Trump has just announced?
BERGEN: I mean, I think it's, you know, fundamentally un-American and it's reminiscent of what happened during World War -- before World War II when the United States closed its borders to Jews who are desperately coming to the United States. And, you know, that was one of a great strain on our national reputation. So it's -- you know, it's unconscionable.
BLITZER: Jane Harman, you used to be in Congress. What's your reaction?
JANE HARMAN: Well, I stated it in the last segment. I think it's appalling. I think Lindsey Graham is right and in addition to causing Muslim communities in this country which are fairly assimilate, not to cooperate and creating perhaps more radicalized people like this said couple. It will endanger our forces on the field in Muslim countries. It's very, very -- it's absurd. It's also shows him as the master of free media. He wasn't getting enough attention so now he's getting attention.
PEREZ: I got to add one quick thing, for the FBI and for the Homeland Security Department here, and law enforcement in this country, one of the big differences between this country and European countries is certainly the fact that the Muslim population in this country is not -- is not living in isolated suburbs where they are, you know, disaffected.
One of the things about this country is that the Muslim population is very successful and one of the things that the FBI is certainly very worried about is creating populations of people who are disaffected with this country, who feel left out, cut out. That's not what you want to do because it makes their work much more difficult. You're going to create more terrorists simply by pushing people aside and making them feel like they don't belong here. BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, when you were deputy director -- assistant
director of the FBI, I assume you worked closely with American Muslims.
FUENTES: Absolutely, and I said repeatedly during the time of the Paris attacks that one reason we have not seen a successful attack with six, eight, 10 people who were completely unknown to the law enforcement intelligence who lived in multiple communities, in Brussels and Paris, with nobody knowing them from the outside of the community, we don't have that.
Everyone of the conspiracies where two people try to get a third, try to get a fourth, before too long the FBI is in because of the relationship in the community. Somebody in the community calls the FBI, calls the police and says this person is trying to put together a group to do an attack (INAUDIBLE).
HARMAN: It was very impressive in San Bernardino in the early stages of this that CAIR, which is an inner, I guess, a religious group but mostly Muslim came forth and condemned this. It is not Muslim. It is not just anti-American, but anti-Muslim.
PEREZ: Right. They held a press conference with a family member who was out there condemning it almost immediately.
HARMAN: And the whole community has been enormously careful, not politically correct but careful to avoid labeling it.
BLITZER: Peter, quickly, how is ISIS likely to respond to a statement like this from Donald Trump?
BERGEN: I don't know. I just don't know. They may not. I mean, for them the American political race is maybe not front and center. They're much more likely to respond to what we showed in San Bernardino, which they've already claimed.
BLITZER: Have they responded to what the president said last night? Do you know?
BERGEN: I'm not aware.
PEREZ: Yes, I don't think they have.
BLITZER: They have? What did they say?
PEREZ: I don't think they have, I don't think they really have but it is the type of thing that really makes their recruitment even better.
BLITZER: All right, guys, don't go too far away. Here is a question for our viewers, do you think President Obama's strategy to defeat ISIS will be effective?
Tell us what you think at facebook.com/CNN. We'll bring you the results in the next hour.
Much more on the breaking news coming up. New terrorist intelligence. Is the U.S. closing in on the leader of ISIS.
Plus the new revelations about the ISIS supporters who carried out the terror attack in San Bernardino.
[17:55:01] The FBI now says they were radicalized, quote, "for quite some time."
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, radicalized to kill. The FBI says the San Bernardino attackers embraced the ideology of terrorists well before they committed a massacre. Were they already planning their rampage when this photo was taken of them entering the United States?
Deadly discovery. Investigators revealed they found more -- many more pipes that could have been used to build bombs in the killers' home. We have new information about their weapons and how they managed to build a military-style arsenal.
Tracking Baghdadi. CNN has learned about new sightings of the elusive ISIS leader as U.S. Special Forces launched a new mission -- to target top terror operatives and take them out.