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FBI Ends San Bernardino Lake Search; Arrest Made In Connection With Mosque Fire; Concerns And Growing Number Of Anti-Muslim Incidents; Report: Killer's Jihadi Posts Missed In Visa Process; Cruz Gains 21-Point Jump In Iowa Since October. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired December 13, 2015 - 06:00   ET




CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you on this Sunday! Switching things up a bit!

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Starting a new spot for you.

PAUL: I'm Christi Paul. We are so grateful for your company.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It's always good to start a Sunday with you.

PAUL: Let's start this morning with this stunning new report about how one of the San Bernardino killers slipped into the U.S. despite openly talking about violent jihad online.

"The New York Times" reporting before Tashfeen Malik moved to the U.S. from Pakistan she posted about her support and desire to be a part of violent Jihad on social media.

Now "The Times" doesn't mention what exactly was said in those posts, but they were missed during three, yes, three different background checks. Had they been found, authorities might have been able to keep her out of the country.

BLACKWELL: Malik and her husband committed the deadliest terror attack in the U.S. since September 11th. We know 21 others were injured and 14 were killed. Now shooting and killing 14 people in San Bernardino.

We also know 21 others injured, of course. This morning investigators have wrapped up their search for evidence at that lake going on for several days near the site of the massacre and CNN's Ana Cabrera has the latest on their investigation.

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Christi, divers have now spent days combing this lake searching for any evidence that may be connected to the killers, Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook.

We have found the divers have found a number items in the lake although FBI officials aren't confirming to us exactly what those items are, nor whether they can confirm if they have to do with this case.

One FBI agent telling us they have to do further investigation to determine whether it is part of this investigation. But we have learned a little bit more about how they are conducting this search. It is slow.

It is methodical. They are using metal detectors and they have specialized equipment to help them because the water is dark and murky and up to ten feet deep in places, we have learned.

These divers are trained professionals and they are doing a grid search so that they leave no stone unturned to make sure they get anything that could possibly be evidence in this case.

We do know that Tashfeen Malik and Farook were in this area on the day of the shooting according to what authorities have said on the record. They say they got a tip that led them here. They have scoured the park area but the lake is what is left.

Did the shooters ditch anything? One thing that has been missing since the beginning is the hard drive from the couple's computer. That is something that they are really hoping to find, perhaps it's in this lake.

The other thing I want to remind us of is the victims in this tragedy. We know many of the victims are being laid to rest including Shannon Johnson who is funeral was on Saturday. He is the 45-year-old man who many called a hero saying he died trying to protect one of his coworkers -- Victor, Christi.

PAUL: Thank you so much. We appreciate it, Ana.

This morning, a man is in custody in connection with a fire at a mosque in Southern California. We are talking about 23-year-old Carl James Dial, Jr. He was booked yesterday and hasn't been formally charged but arrested on suspicion of arson, a hate crime and felony burglary.

The mosque in California suffered considerable damage from the fire and police say was an intentional act. People were inside praying when it happened on Friday and no one hurt and the acting imam says this will not prevent them from worshipping.


[06:05:08]RAYMUNDO NOUR, ACTING IMAM, ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF THE COACHELA VALLEY: This is a physical building and you know, the truth is we can worship anywhere. We can worship in the parking lot if we so desire. You know, the building offers us protection from the elements and a symbol the fact we are here.

We are people of revolve and I am absolutely sure we are going to pick up the pieces and fix the building and move on. It's what makes America great. You have the right to worship in your own manner and it really doesn't matter who likes it or doesn't.


PAUL: The suspect is scheduled to app in court Wednesday morning.

BLACKWELL: The disturbing number of anti-Muslim incidents is growing at a record pace this year. CNN's Polo Sandoval is following this for us live from New York. Polo, good morning to you.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, good morning. You know, that fire that you just discussed, really part of a larger issue according to one Muslim leader who tells me that it has not been a very easy year to be a Muslim here, fulfilled with plenty of challenges.

You have the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January and in most recently at San Bernardino attacks. The 2015 is being bookended by really several attacks that have been carried out of the name of Islam. One expert seems to think that it is simply fueling this wave of Islam phobia.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): The 2015 will likely see the most anti-Muslim incidents in the U.S. since the 9/11 terrorist attacks according to some experts. The cases are tracked by the Council on American Islamic Relations or CAIR.

The group status shows mosques and Islamic centers have been targeted by vandals at least 63 times this year that number doesn't compare to what some Muslims truly face according to CAIR's New York chapter president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not even close what is happening in the streets.

SANDOVAL: Arson investigators believe a fire at a mosque in Coachella, California was intentionally set on Friday. Worshipers clung to their faith and left to pray on the sidewalk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see the brothers there praying? Is that that is one of the obligation, we pray. Not on the dirt, not on the rug, but that's what we do.

SANDOVAL: The 23-year-old Carl James Dial was arrested and charged with committing that hate crime. A separate incident investigated by the FBI was caught on camera in Philadelphia. That is a severed pig's head being thrown out of a truck at a mosque.

This, too, is being investigated as a hate crime. Practicing Muslims are prohibited from eating pork or pork byproducts. In Florida, a gun shop owner is using words to fuel controversy about $25 will get you this sign to establish Muslim free zone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know who their ties are. We don't know who these people are coming overseas.

SANDOVAL: Andrew (inaudible) calls his signs a novelty and quote, "something humorous." This lady is not laughing. She says fear mongering has resulted in people getting hurt. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A Muslim store owner was attacked and violently he got to the hospital and we were talking about coming together as a nation what stops that attack was actually customer coming in and acted as a Good Samaritan so not with that Good Samaritan, perhaps things would be much different.

SANDOVAL: (Inaudible), a Muslim, a mother and an American citizen can only hope that kind of compassion and unity spreads across the country.


SANDOVAL: And so getting really achieving that level of understanding is key here according to what I was told yesterday. At this point, it would take potentially or at least I was told it would take fellow Muslims reintroducing themselves to their neighbors and starting that conversation and tackling what is a very hard conversation to have, Victor, but this is something that is a struggle for members of the Muslim community.

BLACKWELL: He told you during that interview the number that is reported really isn't, in her estimation, a tenth of the actual number of incidents, but what is the number we know and why are they so difficult to track?

SANDOVAL: This last month alone we saw that 17 anti-Muslim attacks according to some of the folks who track them, but the reason it's so hard to track them is many of the individuals may not speak up and may be intimidated and may be afraid.

So what we are seeing here is leaders in the Muslim community trying to encourage some of their fellow Muslims to come forward. That is going to very key in trying to get a better idea of how real this issue is.

The last time we saw these kinds of numbers about 53 that took place in 2010 over the mosque controversy at the ground zero site so really officials and Muslim leaders don't want to see that happen again.

BLACKWELL: All right, Polo Sandoval, thanks so much.

SANDOVAL: You bet.

PAUL: Let's talk about CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, who is joining me from Washington. Tom, thank you so much for being with us.

I want to get back to the piece in "The New York Times" about Tashfeen Malik passing these three background checks. Apparently no one uncovered her social media posts where she openly talked about violent Jihad.

[06:10:07]Why isn't scouring social media part of the protocol?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone): I think, Christi, the issue for that is how many people they are processing and how much access they have to that kind of information when they are doing these interviews, especially the counselor interview that is done in Pakistan before she comes over.

So I think it's just a question of how deep of a background they are able to do on these people. They do require a certified police record from every country that that person lived in, so they have to obtain that. But then that is only going to be as good as what the Saudis and Pakistanis give us to put in that background check.

PAUL: I understand that President Obama, again, according to this article ordered a review of the K1 visa program trying to determine if background checks can be expanded. Does it just come down to money and manpower?

FUENTES: You can only expand it so far. You can't do an investigation on the ground in a foreign country unless they want you to or allow you to. So if you're trying to do backgrounds on people that aren't even from the capital and Islamabad, but from other parts of Pakistan.

There is no ability for Americans to go physically go around the country and do that kind of background. They rely on the Pakistanis to provide that information and that is the way it is all over the world.

PAUL: So they are saying there is an internal debate at the Homeland Security Department. Why is that up for debate given the times we are live in?

FUENTES: That's true. If you want to on change privacy rules, laws to accommodate the times you're exactly right, but that is the issue and the issue has been what is the right to privacy of individuals and in our system you're allowed to say bad things unless you do something back or incite somebody else to do something bad.

I think that is where the issue comes up is how much of an expression in jihad was she making. If she was saying idea of it that is protective speech in our system and you --

PAUL: You don't think it would have kept her out?

FUENTES: I don't know. I think that is going to be a question for U.S. CIFs, United States Citizenship Immigration Services, they are the ones who process these background checks and then it goes to the State Department.

When they enter the country at Chicago O'Hare Airport they go through another interview and taken out of a line and put in a separate room and go through a different interview process.

I'm very familiar with the current K-1 process having just gone through it three years ago, a year before they did, so it is an extensive and diligent, but it relies on the other countries to provide the information you need and that may not be forthcoming over there. That is a problem and always going to be a part of the problem. PAUL: Certainly a lot of social media posts are public so it does make you wonder. Tom Fuentes, we so appreciate your insight on this. Thank you, sir.

FUENTES: Thank you, Christi.

BLACKWELL: All right, so one poll is an outlier. Two polls, now we have got a trend. Donald Trump is in second place in Iowa. We are going to show you the latest poll that has him trailing by double digits.

PAUL: Deep concerns about ISIS getting strength in Libya. As we speak, Secretary of State John Kerry trying to broker a deal to get the Libyan government to tackle the terrorist threat.

BLACKWELL: Temperatures were all over the place this weekend. Some areas experiencing this, you know, snow, folks out on the slopes. Other areas dealing with late season warm spell. We will take a look at the winter temperatures next.



BLACKWELL: We have got new big developments in the GOP race for the White House. A new Iowa poll shows that Ted Cruz has soared ahead of Donald Trump, opening up a ten-point lead in this pivotal first in the nation state.

Trump has since responded to these numbers by tweeting out, quote, "New CNN Iowa poll, Trump 33, Cruz 20. Everyone else way down. Don't trust Des Moines Iowa Register" poll, biased towards Trump." And they are sponsoring this poll.

This comes days before Cruz and Trump face off in Las Vegas at the next CNN debate. Let's talk more now with CNN political commentator, Errol Louis. Errol, good morning to you.

So the "Des Moines Register" I guess has characterized this as a big shake-up. Is that what we are seeing here?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's a snapshot like every poll and this snapshot is a little different than everything we have seen. I think they are absolutely right. Donald Trump has boasted over and over again about how long he has been leading in the polls and by how much.

Now he gets a couple of polls that he doesn't like and polls don't mean so much to him but they do mean something. What this suggests is that Ted Cruz has been diligently working and he has captains in all 100 counties in Iowa.

He's got a message that resonates with 60 percent of the caucus-goers who are Evangelical. Politics is kind of playing out as one would have predicted that those who are Evangelicals are going to respond to a Carson and Cruz and not necessarily to a Trump. So Trump is boasting his claims up until now, are now questioned by reality, whether or not he responds, we will see.

BLACKWELL: But Trump's numbers are still strong in Iowa, have actually gotten stronger since the last "Des Moines Register" poll. Is this more of a Cruz v Trump story or a Cruz v Carson story?

LOUIS: I think it's more of a "what do the voters want" kind of story. When you dig down into the poll, what you see is Ted Cruz isn't just more popular. It's not just sort of a surface appeal. When you dig down into it, what it says is that he seems to have the right temperament for the job far and away higher than Trump.

That he seems to be more likely to outlaw all abortion, which is important to a certain slice of that electorate. He has some substantive credibility issues that really just go past Trump's.

[06:20:07]I think that's really the story, that whoever they pick, whether it's going to be Cruz, Carson, Trump or anybody else, these are the issues that matter to them. Of course, the all-important does he deal with -- well, does he have sort of -- does he care about people like you, I guess, is the one that always makes a big difference.

There again, Cruz is leading the field. These are what really matters, what the voters want, not so much what the candidates are selling.

BLACKWELL: There is a time in this primary season when Donald Trump walked out with his bible that his mother gave him and talked about his Presbyterian faith and put the bible as the only book above his book, the art of the deal." We heard reference of religion a day or two ago in talking about Ted Cruz. Listen to what he said.


TRUMP: So I think we are doing really well with the Evangelicals. By the way -- again, I do like Ted Cruz, but not a lot of Evangelicals come out of Cuba, in all fairness. It's true. Not a lot come out. But I like him, nevertheless.


BLACKWELL: Any indication that this is an effective strategy?

LOUIS: Yes. I think the polls are one indication that it is not an effective strategy. Ted Cruz's father is an Evangelical, a man of great faith and a man of great accomplishment in those circles. You don't just, you know, sort of throw out a snide comment like that.

If Donald Trump thinks there's something wrong with the Cruz family and their commitment to Evangelical and faith and action and political activity, he should really just say so, but by throwing out little things like that, no.

The voters out there, that 60 percent have been surprising pundits and setting the course of politics ever since an Evangelical named Jimmy Carter stumped around in the snow out there and had a surprise win that led to the White House.

I mean, this is deep stuff. If you go out there and you talk to people you realize their faith is not just sort of an add-on, something they just kind of check off on their way to the polls. This is something that has a real life to it. I don't know if Donald Trump fully understands that.

BLACKWELL: One poll is an outlier but with two showing Trump trailing, we have a trend. Thank you, Errol.

PAUL: Our Jake Tapper is sitting down with Donald Trump on "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning and they will unveil the lineups of the candidates for Tuesday's debate starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Watch here the Republican debate. Wolf Blitzer is moderating it, Tuesday night at 6:00 and 8:30 p.m. Eastern and CNN is also partnering with the Salem Radio Network so to find the debate on the radio in your area, go to

Still to come, flames rip through a psychiatric hospital in Russia. Dozens are dead.

BLACKWELL: Geneva on edge this morning after police arrests two people and charges them with terror.



BLACKWELL: Search and rescue teams are looking for survivors after a fire killed 23 people at a psychiatric hospital in Southwest Russia. Officials believe there were 140 people in the building, including 50 who were bed-ridden when the deadly blaze broke out. Most escaped without any injuries. The cause of this fire, though, is unknown.

PAUL: We are waiting to hear from John Kerry and his Italian counterpart who will speak next hour about U.N.-backed efforts to secure a peace agreement in Libya. Those deep concern about ISIS gaining both strength and territory in the nation without the formation of a unified government. We're going to have more on this in the next hour.

BLACKWELL: A winter storm warning in Kansas and Colorado with as much as a foot of snow possible in some cities and they are not alone. California, Oregon also taking advantage of the fresh snow hitting the slopes here.

If you look at the east coast, people are wondering where is winter? We are seeing record-setting highs, some in the mid-60s and some in the mid-70s at the beginning of the week.

PAUL: It didn't work to get the Christmas tree yesterday.

BLACKWELL: You didn't feel it?

PAUL: I didn't feel it.

BLACKWELL: Sometimes you just put on the carols and listen to the music.

We will take you live to Geneva for details on two terror suspects.

PAUL: Keeping America safe with just two days to go until the GOP debate, what do the candidates need to say to you to convince you they have the best plan against terrorism?