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THE SITUATION ROOM
Suspect in NY, NJ Bombings Captured After Shootout; Sources: Rahami Traveled to Afghanistan, Pakistan; Trump Talks Tough About Bombings, Clinton Talks Steadiness; Aid Trucks Hit in New Air Attacks; Pentagon Looking Into Mistaken Airstrike, 60+ Killed; Bombing Suspect Captured; Investigators Identify Explosive Chemical in Bomb; Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Respond to Bombings. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired September 19, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN: -- for me. You can follow me on Twitter, @JakeTapper; the show, @TheLeadCNN. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer. He is right next door, in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.
[17:00:12] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: bombing suspect captured. The man believed behind explosives in New York and New Jersey is arrested following a gun battle with police. The suspect is shot multiple times, and officers are injured, as well. Was he acting alone, or are others still on the run?
The investigation. CNN is now learning new information about the suspect, including multiple trips he took to Afghanistan, and now we've just learned to Pakistan, as well. He was questioned each time he returned to the United States, but not on the radar for possible radicalization. How did he slip through the cracks?
Improvised explosives. New details about the homemade bombs the suspect is believed to have planted in New York and New Jersey, including pressure cooker and pipe bombs. Crime labs are now carefully examining the devices. Were they designed to cause maximum injury?
And politics of fear. The presidential candidates both try to look strong as they weigh in on the terror attacks and trade barbs with each other. Hillary Clinton slams what she calls Donald Trump's "irresponsible, reckless rhetoric on terror." Trump says Hillary Clinton's policies have emboldened terrorists. What impact will these latest attacks have on the White House race?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. The capture of the suspect police believe planted homemade bombs at multiple locations in New Jersey and New York over the weekend.
Twenty-eight-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami was arrested following a shootout with police in Linden, New Jersey, in which he was shot multiple times. At least two police officers were also injured in the gun battle.
The FBI says Rahami was born in Afghanistan and is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Sources tell CNN he made multiple trips to Afghanistan and, we've just learned, to Pakistan, as well, and even married a Pakistani woman. He was questioned every time he reentered the United States as part of standard procedure. Sources say Rahami was not on the radar for possible radicalization.
The burning questions of this hour: did Rahami make the bombs, and did he act alone? Pipe bombs and a pressure-cooker bomb that did not explode will be examined in an FBI crime lab to gauge the level of sophistication, possibly indicating whether Rahami had help.
We're covering all of that and much more this hour with our guests, including Democratic Congressman Andre Carson. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee. And our correspondents and expert analysts, they are also standing by.
Let's get straight to New York City right now. Our national correspondent, Deborah Feyerick, has the very latest on the breaking news. Deb, you're at the scene of the bombing in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood where 29 people were injured. What's the latest?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right, Wolf. And you can see a lot of progress has been made. In fact, much of the evidence has been collected and bagged and sent down to Quantico. Investigators looking very closely at that right now.
You sent us, we are talking about a man who traveled -- who stayed within the metropolitan New York area but who also traveled somewhat of a distance over the course of the last few days, the speed at which investigators were able to hone in -- home in were actually -- probably surprised even him.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Law enforcement swarmed in capture bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami just before 11 a.m. in Linden, New Jersey. Linden Police Chief James Sarnicki later saying Rahami was indiscriminately firing a handgun as police approached. The suspect was shot several times. Two officers were also wounded.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I stayed on the corner, and then I hear people yell out, "Active shooter," and then I see cops with bulletproof vests, like running onto the street. And then I heard three shots.
FEYERICK: Police were alerted to his location after a New Jersey bar owner who had seen the suspect's photo on CNN spotted Rahami asleep right in front of his bar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of technology involved in this, but a lot of good old-fashioned police work, too. I mean, between the FBI and the NYPD, the members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, this is a pretty quick turnaround. And this happened 50 hours ago, and we have our suspect in custody. FEYERICK: Earlier, a search warrant was issued on a home in
Elizabeth, New Jersey, police swarming a fried chicken restaurant owned by Rahami's family and an upstairs apartment.
The terror began Saturday morning in Seaside, New Jersey, pipe bombs placed in a trash can partially exploded near the starting line of a Marine 5K race. The detonation happened just a few minutes before the runners would have passed by. No one was hurt.
Around 8:30 p.m. Saturday night, across the river, another bomb exploded in New York's Chelsea neighborhood, injuring 29 people. It was a pressure cooker bomb similar to the ones used in the Boston bombings. A federal law enforcement official says BBs and ball bearings were among the pieces of metal packed inside.
[17:05:16] Four blocks away, another device was discovered, a pressure cooker bomb which failed to detonate, providing crucial leads. A senior law enforcement official tells CNN that an attached cell phone, possibly the detonator, provided important numbers. A fingerprint was also found.
Surveillance video from city cameras identified a man at both Manhattan locations, stopping first at the Dumpster on West 23rd Street, and then four blocks north, leaving behind a duffel which had originally contained the second device.
In the early hours of Monday morning, police were called to a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where a backpack was found containing multiple bombs, exploded by the local bomb squad.
FEYERICK: And Wolf, as you can see, he really did cover a significant amount of ground. What's interesting about this is that he was caught in the town next to the one in which he lived. That's Linden, New Jersey.
And authorities put out, really, an unprecedented move, put out publicly an all-points bulletin using Facebook, using Twitter and sending out that FBI BOLO alert, identifying Ahmad Rahami as the man that they wanted to speak to in connection with that explosion. And it was all those leads. We were getting up early this morning, and our cell phones were going off, because police were putting out that alert, that this is the man that they wanted in connection with this bombing -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Deborah Feyerick in New York, right outside where that bombing occurred. Thank you.
We're also learning new information right now about the suspect. Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is working this part of the story. Pamela, Ahmad Rahami, he's in the hospital right now?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: He is in the hospital, and we're learning more about his overseas travel, Wolf, that he went to Pakistan and Afghanistan back in 2011 and went to Pakistan for a year, from 2013 to 2014. Tonight, investigators want to know if he could have been radicalized while overseas.
BROWN (voice-over): Twenty-eight-year-old bombing suspect Ahmad Rahami, bloodied as he's carried away on a stretcher moments after a shootout with police in Linden, New Jersey, a few miles from an apartment where his family lives above this chicken restaurant they run. The sun of gunfire captured on this amateur video.
RYAN MCCANN, KNOWS SUSPECT: He's a very friendly guy. You'd never expect this. I went there so much, he'd give me free chicken here and there. Afghanistan.
BROWN: The family is from Afghanistan, according to law enforcement sources. Rahami was born in Afghanistan and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2011. He went to high school in New Jersey and attended Middlesex College there, majoring in criminal justice. But he never graduated.
Law enforcement officials say Rahami traveled to Afghanistan several times in recent years. A family friend tells CNN Rahami went there on vacation.
FLEE JONES, FAMILY FRIEND: He left to his country, Afghanistan, like four years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you that?
JONES: That's what his little brother told me. He was like, "He's on vacation in Afghanistan."
I was like, "Oh, all right."
BROWN: CNN has learned Rahami went to Pakistan in 2013 for a year. Although Rahami underwent routine questioning upon his return to the U.S., that never raised any red flags for U.S. officials, and he was not put on any terror watch list.
CNN has learned Rahami's family filed a lawsuit against the city of Elizabeth in 2011, claiming discrimination based on their Muslim religion. The family said city officials harassed them, arbitrarily ticketing their 24-hour restaurant, First American Fried Chicken, and claimed community members taunted them, saying things such as, quote, "Muslims don't belong here." And "Muslims make too much trouble in this country."
MAYOR CHRIS BOLLWAGE, ELIZABETH, NEW JERSEY: The city council was getting complaints from the neighborhood, at which time they voted to close it at 10 p.m., which led to some clashes with the police department, because the police were enforcing the city council ordinance.
BROWN: The lawsuit was closed without a clear ruling.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BROWN: And a law enforcement says that while he was traveling to Pakistan in 2011 and he married a woman. He applied for her to come to the U.S. And application was approved, the official says. It's unclear where she currently resides -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Pamela Brown, thanks very much.
Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us right now, Democratic Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Thanks so much, Congressman, for joining us. I may have to interrupt in the course of this conversation. The president of the United States has been meeting with the Iraqi prime minister, Haider al- Abadi. He's speaking. We're going to get that tape, because he's speaking out on these terror incidents in New York and New Jersey. So we'll hear what the president of the United States has to say.
What's the latest, Congressman, you're hearing about these terror attacks?
REP. ANDRE CARSON (D), INDIANA: This entire investigation, Wolf, has been led by law enforcement. They've done a phenomenal job at attaching clues.
I think it's clear now more than ever that we need to push the administration's CVE strategy, or countering violent extremism strategy, where if you see something, say something. We need to work with rabbis, imams, pastors and others, school psychologists and educators to make sure we're taking a holistic approach and pushing back on those people who are becoming self-radicalized.
[17:10:18] BLITZER: Apparently, he was on a no terror watch list by the federal government or local authorities. Is -- is that a problem, given, obviously, the hindsight of what we now know?
CARSON: It's important, you know, to talk about those who are becoming self-radicalized. The bomb that was found in New York is similar. There were some deviations, of course, to what was found in al Qaeda's "Inspire" magazine. And so now we're taking a deeper look, the law enforcement community and intelligence community, at really talking to faith leaders, community leaders about identifying those folks who are disgruntled, have become disillusioned, have mental health issues to make sure we're piecing together incidences of self- radicalization.
BLITZER: I want you to stand by, Congressman. The president of the United States, we're just getting in the tape. He's wrapped up a meeting with the Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi. And he spoke out about these latest incidents, what's going on there, what's going on in Iraq, the war against ISIS. We'll continue our conversation. I'll get your analysis, your reaction, right after we hear the president.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All good? OK. Let me begin by just commenting on the events that have unfolded
today. This morning I talked about the fact that there was a person of interest that the FBI and law enforcement had identified with respect to the bombs that had been planted in the New York and New Jersey area. As everybody is now aware, that individual has been apprehended.
And I just want to start by commenting on the extraordinary work and coordination that's taken place between the FBI and local law enforcement. For us to be able to apprehend a suspect in just a little over 24 hours after an event takes place like this, it is outstanding police work, outstanding law enforcement work.
I, in particular, want to give a heartfelt thanks to the New Jersey police officers who were able to apprehend this individual. I had a chance to talk to them briefly before I came down to my meetings here. They are going to be fine. They've sustained some modest injuries but ones that they'll rapidly recover from. They were in good spirits. And I communicated to them how appreciative the American people were, as well as people in the region.
It's just one more reminder of the extraordinary skill and sacrifice and courage of our law enforcement officers, and what they put on the line every single day to make sure that we are safe.
Beyond that, obviously, information is still unfolding about what might have motivated the suspect. I'm going to leave it to the FBI and local law enforcement authorities to discuss those details with you.
I will also comment on the fact that in -- with respect to the Minnesota stabbings that occurred, I had a chance to talk to the off- duty police officer there, who undoubtedly saved a lot of lives and prevented further injury because of his quick and effective action. And I told him that, once again, the American people were appreciative of his work and his heroism. Now...
BLITZER: So there's the president of the United States, making his latest statement on these terror incidents in New York and New Jersey, also speaking about the slashing that occurred at a mall in Minnesota.
We're going to have much more on all of this.
Representative Andre Carson, a member of the permanent select committee on intelligence, is still with us. The source of a lot of concern right now, we're learning more about this individual, Ahmad Khan Rahami, that he not only visited Afghanistan, which is understandable -- his family is from Afghanistan, he was born in Afghanistan. He's a naturalized U.S. citizen.
But side trips he then made to Pakistan, including one visit for almost a year in Pakistan. So he comes back to the United States. He has secondary interviews upon reentry but no flags were raised.
The question is, is that a problem? CARSON: It's something we should look into. I mean, it's not a crime to go to South Asia. What is a problem is that you have individuals who feel disillusioned, and they need someone to blame.
This is a tough time for law enforcement. And I think the bravery that was shown by the undercover officer the other day exemplifies the need for us to support our law enforcement community. They're working diligently, along with the intelligence community, in trying to make the connections necessary to rid ourselves of this growing terrorist threat.
[17:15:10] BLITZER: The problem is we now know he spent almost a year in Pakistan, including spending time in areas that are heavily controlled by the Taliban. That would raise a lot of red flags, at least to me, if I were talking to him upon his return.
CARSON: It should raise many flags. But we can't jump to conclusions. What is clear is that he is responsible for injuring numerous Americans, and people like him have to be made an example out of. And we're working very hard to do just that.
BLITZER: His friends and associates had told reporters, told us that, upon his return, he seemed a different kind of person. Grew a beard. Seemed to become much more radicalized. I guess nobody paid attention, or at least enough attention to that.
CARSON: Well, Wolf, as you know, it's not a crime to have a beard.
CARSON: What is unfortunate is that when we start casting aspersions on particular groups, i.e. Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and others because of these incidents. Because I think as human beings we tend to place people in boxes. And that's unfortunate. There are Muslims in our intelligence communities and law enforcement communities. I was one of them, worked in intelligence fusion center for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and wanting to make America and the world a safer place.
But what is clear is that Muslim leaders are finding themselves in a position of wanting to speak out in a way. And historically, you have a great district of the government.
But now is the time to push the administration's countering violent extremism strategy and say enough is enough.
BLITZER: Based on all the information you're getting, did he act alone? Is that the working assumption? Or were there others helping him, helping him build these bombs, helping him distribute these bombs. Where are is this investigations, as far as you know right now?
CARSON: I'm not at liberty to talk about everything, but as we speak, it seems to be that is a lone wolf.
BLITZER: He was a lone wolf. CARSON: As far as we know.
BLITZER: Do we know if he was inspired by a social media, for example, by ISIS or some other radical group, al Qaeda for example?
CARSON: Again, the bomb that was put together is almost identical to a bomb that was outlined in al Qaeda's "Inspire." There were, of course, some deviations, but law enforcement is looking into this matter right now, very critically.
BLITZER: That's a very famous article in that magazine.
"How to build a bomb in the kitchen of your mom."
CARSON: Absolutely. Absolutely. So unfortunate.
CARSON: I know . It's We're getting more breaking news. We'll take a quick break and be right back.
BLITZER: The breaking news this hour, the capture of a suspect in the weekend bombings in New Jersey and New York. Twenty-eight-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami was arrested following a shootout with police in Linden, New Jersey, in which he was shot multiple times.
The FBI says he's a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan.
We're back with Democratic Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, there was another very disturbing incident over the weekend in St. Cloud, Minnesota, in a shopping mall. A 22-year-old American of Somali ancestry, born in Kenya, Dahir Adan, was wearing a security guard uniform. And he simply went on a rampage and started slashing people, some seriously with a knife, screaming out "Allahu Akbar" in the process, asking individuals, "Are you Muslim?" And if they said no, then he would go ahead and cut them and slash them.
He was later shot by an off-duty police officer. All these incidents, they raise so much concern and anxiety right now. What's your reaction when you hear that?
CARSON: Well, I think it's very unfortunate. I mean, obviously, he does not represent Islam or Muslims. I think think mental health is a serious and very taboo issue in this country. And I applaud the undercover officer for doing a fantastic job at responding even as if -- even when he was off duty. I'm a former police officer, and I know what it's like to have to respond to an emergency when you're off- duty, so I commend him.
I think it's clear that the growing Muslim community in this country, most of us love this country, 99.999 love this country. We're lawyers; we're doctors; we're politicians; we're physicians; and we're making contributions each and every day.
BLITZER: Members of Congress, members of the intelligence committee.
CARSON: Yes, sir. Thank you.
And so what is happening here is that we're seeing a shift taking place. We're seeing those who hold radical views, a very small minority, and those who are speaking out and speaking up. But those folks who are speaking out and speaking up, Wolf, don't get enough coverage. They don't get the attention they deserve so people can make the distinction between who's bad and who's doing the right thing.
So my concern is that, as we move forward, that those Muslims who are in the law enforcement community are being highlighted for their everyday contributions; and those Muslims speaking out with phenomenal organizations are being highlighted, as well, in the media.
BLITZER: How do we counter this radicalization?
CARSON: Well, I think it's important to understand that Muslims or Islam does not have a monopoly on radicalization.
You have white supremacist groups who are committing acts of violence regularly in this country. And you have other organizations who use religious language, be it Christianity or any other faith, and they support radical acts. So it's unfortunate to say that this represents Islam because it does not.
I commend the administration for their CVE efforts. I'll say it again and again, countering violent extremism. Those efforts are critically important.
[17:25:05] Bringing our thought leaders, our community stakeholders together to push back and mute the growing, growing, growing epidemic of radicalization.
BLITZER: Congressman Carson, as usual, thanks very much for being here.$, appreciate it very much.
CARSON: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, new information about the bombs and what they may reveal to investigators. There's more breaking news we're following. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news: the shootout and arrest of Ahmad Rahami, the suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings. The FBI today confirmed Rahami is linked to the bombs. but agents aren't saying if he built them.
[17:30:04] CNN's Brian Todd is following the investigation for us. So what happened to the bombs, Brian, that didn't go off?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight we are told that experts at the FBI's lab in Quantico, Virginia, not far from here, will be examining those bombs that did not go off, some of the pipe bombs in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and the pressure cooker bomb that did not detonate in Manhattan. Experts tell us they'll also be looking at fragments of the bombs which did explode.
Now, just moments ago, law enforcement officials told CNN the pressure cooker bombs found in Manhattan contained a very unstable homemade explosive called HMTD. It's easy to get, and there are instructions online on how to use it.
Investigators tonight are scrambling to find out where the suspect purchased those ingredients for the bombs and if he had help.
TODD (voice-over): With the dramatic arrest of suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami, authorities tonight are struggling to learn more about how the bombs in New York and New Jersey were made and who made them. New York's police commissioner says right now authorities are not actively seeking anyone else in connection with the attacks, but officials still want to know if Rahami had help in making and planting those bombs.
JAMES O'NEILL, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: We're going to talk to family, talk to friends and see what the connections are.
TODD: Tonight law enforcement officials tell CNN, on one level, the device may not be very sophisticated, because some of them didn't detonate. And the pipe bombs found in New Jersey, experts say, are considered crude.
But on another level, officials say, there was enough know-how at work for these bombs to be lethal, as evidenced by the BBs and ball bearings which appear to be packed into both pressure cooker bombs in Manhattan.
RAY LOPEZ, FORMER FBI BOMB TECHNICIAN: It was designed to maim and kill. If it has BBs, extra scrap metal, you really want to kill someone. You want -- you want maximum effect from your explosive bang. That's what you're looking for.
TODD: Law enforcement officials tell CNN the pressure cooker devices in New York City and the devices along the race route in Seaside, New Jersey, were rigged to detonate using cell phones as timers, possible with the phones' alarm clocks. Former FBI and ATF investigators tell us that's a sign of sophistication.
LOPEZ: You have to have some knowledge of the clock and the assembly of a clock, and you have to sit there and study how much power you're getting out of it to actually use it.
TODD: But experts say making these bombs doesn't require a high level of training. An al Qaeda branch once posted instructions on how to manufacture and deploy a pressure cooker bomb.
ANTHONY MAY, FORMER ATF EXPLOSIVES INVESTIGATOR: It tells you how to put together devices, how to make the explosives, how to make the detonators.
TODD: One miscalculation on the part of the bomber, placing the bomb in Chelsea, which did detonate, underneath or inside a Dumpster.
LOPEZ: If they put this underneath it or inside of it, it basically acted as a tamp to hold back a lot of the effects of the detonation.
TODD: Now, bomb experts tell us the FBI's work at its lab in Quantico, Virginia is now going to be crucial. Those experts there are going to look at the bombs that did not go off, especially looking at fingerprints, hair, DNA samples on those bombs to try to determine if anyone else here was involved -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Brian Todd, thanks so much.
Let's get some insight from our experts: the former CIA counterterrorism official Phil Mudd; former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes; our national security analyst, Peter Bergen; and our justice correspondent, Evan Perez.
Let's talk a little bit, Phil, about the suspect now in custody. What's the other FBI, other law enforcement officers, what are they doing at this moment? What are they going through?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think America is breathing a sigh of relief. I'd hold off for a moment on that. You've got to look at the second major piece of investigation, things like whether you find additional individuals' DNA in an apartment, whether you find other fingerprints on that device, and answer what sounds like a simple question but that could take days or weeks to answer. Did anybody else provide assistance, help with the bomb, help with the detonation? And then the second piece, did anybody know about this: friends, family? So we've got the key suspect in, but there's a whole range of other activity you've got to undertake right now, Wolf.
BLITZER: They have the suspect. He's in the hospital. Presumably he'll be OK. How do they get the kind of information Phil's talking about?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, the problem with that is that, you know, if there are additional fingerprints or DNA taken from the unexploded pressure cooker, that could be from a store clerk that sold it. That could be a number of people that had nothing to do with this. So that's the other problem. That pressure cooker is going to have skin particles, hair follicles, DNA, possibly more fingerprints that may have nothing to do with it. So it creates problems to investigate, find out who that person is to eliminate them, even if they're not involved.
BLITZER: How will we know if he had help in making those bombs?
MUDD: I suspect the initial stage will be will he speak in the hospital, but when you're looking at cell phone activity, when you're looking at e-mail activity, when you're looking at things like financial transfers, you can figure out very quickly what his web of contacts is. As soon as you find those and go investigate them, there will be interviewers out across New Jersey and New York in the coming days and weeks. We should know pretty quickly.
BLITZER: What can we learn, Evan, about -- from the -- about this investigation from the inspection, the investigation into the way the bombs were built?
[17:35:04] EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, quite a lot, Wolf. One of the things that -- that has really caught the attention of the investigators is the use of HMTD, which is this explosive that we saw used in the 2005 London bombings. That is not easy to make, and it's an explosive that's a lot like TATP, which we've heard a lot more about and has been commonly used by jihadists doing bombings.
Now, HMTD is something that you might have learned, if you got some training, for instance, in a jihadi camp in Pakistan. That really is what is catching the attention of investigators, simply because we now know that this suspect, Rahami, did travel back to Afghanistan where his family is from. He also traveled to Pakistan. He traveled to Quetta, as Pamela Brown reported earlier this hour.
All of this is coming together to really basically raise new questions in the minds of investigators as to whether or not there was something here, perhaps some training that he got during those trips back -- back to Pakistan that they need to now take a look at.
Again, that's the beginning of this investigation. We're only -- we're only at the beginning of this, and we're going to learn a lot more in weeks to come.
BLITZER: Peter Bergen, you studied terrorism for a long time. Not only did he go to Afghanistan a multiple times -- his family was from Afghanistan; he was born there -- but as we've now learned, he also spent almost a year in Pakistan, including in Quetta, which is a hotbed of the Taliban. He married a Pakistani woman. We don't know her whereabouts.
He came back to the United States following all these trips, had secondary interviews at the airport, but was told, "Go home, all is cool." Is there a problem here?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, we don't know, but I mean, this is reminiscent of Najibullah Zazi, who was also an Afghan descent American citizen who tried to blow up bombs in the Manhattan subway in 2009. He was also from the New York area. He -- luckily, he was apprehended, but he did get training from al Qaeda in Pakistan. So it's certainly an area you'd want to investigate rather thoroughly when you're talking to this guy.
BLITZER: And I know, Phil, all of us are a lot smarter with hindsight, but it looks like there were some indications -- apparently, he was on no one's terror watch list.
MUDD: Yes, I think one of the questions you have to ask is not only who was a co-conspirator but whether someone was aware that he was being radicalized. That's the toughest problem we face. It's not whether you're researching bomb devices on the Internet. It's whether someone in the community is afraid to call law enforcement, because they feel that law enforcement only has two options: either let him go or arrest him. There's no middle ground in these cases.
BLITZER: But if they're -- if he's on a terror watch list, he could be watched without being arrested, right?
FUENTES: Well, the problem is, we already have more than a million people on that watch list, so you add a few million more if you're talking about everybody that ever went to Pakistan or everybody that ever grew a beard or committed violence against their spouse and all that. So that's the problem with trying to keep a database that's manageable and that you can do something with that. Just putting everybody's name on there isn't necessarily going to solve that problem.
BLITZER: Here's another issue, Evan. I know you've been looking into it. The location of these bombs in New York and New Jersey. Two in New York City on 23rd Street, 27th Street in Chelsea. One in -- that's in New York. One in New Jersey, Seaside Park, another one in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Seaside Park there was a Marine 5K run that was about to begin. It was delayed. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
What are you learning about the decision, why these bombs were apparently placed at these various locations?
PEREZ: That's very puzzling, Wolf. At this point they really don't have much of an explanation as why he chose this neighborhood. On 23rd Street, there is an entrance to the PATH train, which would allow you to be able to -- to be able to escape back to New Jersey, which is where he lived. So perhaps that might be the explanation.
We don't know why he chose 27th Street, which is not a major street down there in Chelsea. It's actually kind of a nondescript block. Not a very ritzy neighborhood. It's just by luck that he chose that, perhaps.
The earlier location is possibly more symbolic because of the Marine Corps marathon that was going on that day.
BLITZER: Maybe he was trying to emulate -- we don't know this -- what happened in Boston at the Boston Marathon. That's a copycat potential.
We're going to continue to watch this. Everyone stay with us. We're going to take a quick break. Much more on the breaking news. The bombings put the fight against terrorism front and center in the presidential campaign. Up next, the very different reactions we're getting from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
[17:44:02] BLITZER: We're seeing very different reactions to the New York and New Jersey bombings from the presidential candidates. Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is joining us from New York right now.
What are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump saying, Jeff?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, strength and security are suddenly even more essential pillars in this escalating fight. And it was an extraordinary day-long exchange, with Hillary Clinton trying to show a steady hand of leadership but calling Donald Trump a recruiting sergeant for the terrorists.
For his part, Trump tried to show strength, saying Clinton has the most open border policy of anyone to ever seek the presidency.
In the middle of all of this: another politically volatile issue.
ZELENY (voice-over): Tonight, the bombings in New York and New Jersey impacting the presidential race.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is a fast-moving situation and a sober reminder that we need steady leadership in a dangerous world.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary Clinton talks tougher about my supporters than she does about Islamic terrorists, right?
[17:45:06] ZELENY (voice-over): One week before their first debate, a new test for Trump and Clinton already on a collision course over who is better equipped to be Commander-in-Chief and who has better judgment. Trump quickly seizing on the Afghanistan-born suspect to make an immigration argument.
TRUMP: Let me state very, very clearly. Immigration security is national security.
ZELENY (voice-over): Clinton accusing her rival of fueling hate, blasting his call to ban Muslims from the U.S.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We know that a lot of the rhetoric we've heard from Donald Trump has been seized on by terrorists, in particular ISIS, because they are looking to make this into a war against Islam.
ZELENY (voice-over): With the election in 50 days, voters sending mixed signals on the qualities of Trump and Clinton. Asked who is a strong and decisive leader, Trump leads by eight points. As for who has the temperament to serve as President, Clinton holds a wide 20- point advantage.
Both candidates reacting in real time to fast-moving developments in the bombing investigation on the streets of New York and New Jersey and a multiple stabbing at a Minnesota mall, all being investigated as acts of terror. Trump taking to Twitter, under the leadership of Obama/Clinton, Americans have experienced more attacks at home than victories abroad. Time to change the playbook. At a rally today in Florida, Trump echoed the call. TRUMP: That's all we need is four more years of Obama, except worse.
ZELENY (voice-over): And Clinton delivering a pointed response to Trump for linking her and the President to attacks on the home front.
CLINTON: It's not grounded in facts. It's, you know, meant to make some kind of demagogic point and the facts are pretty clear.
ZELENY (voice-over): It's an open question how the attacks and terror threats will influence the presidential race or whether they will at all, Clinton using the moment to remind voters of her experience.
CLINTON: I'm the only candidate in this race who has been part of the hard decisions to take terrorists off the battlefield.
ZELENY (voice-over): Trump bluntly making the case that his message of strength is needed to meet the call for change.
TRUMP: Anyone who cannot name our enemy is not fit to lead this country.
ZELENY: Now, Wolf, the candidates have already been jockeying over security, of course, but this adds a new sense of urgency. Clinton stressing her experience, reminding voters she was in the room when that order was made to capture and kill Osama bin Laden. But Trump is saying responsibility for this attack rests with President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Jeff, thank you. Jeff Zeleny reporting. Coming up, new video in today's shootout and more coming about what investigators are learning about the New York and New Jersey bombing suspect.
[17:52:17] BLITZER: We continue to follow the breaking news. We're getting new information. It's coming into the SITUATION ROOM. After the arrest of a suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings, we're going to get more on that in just a few moments.
We're also getting breaking news coming in from Syria. Dozens of new air attacks began after Bashar al-Assad's military declared the ceasefire worked out by the U.S. and Russia is over.
Reports say the air strikes hit rebel neighborhoods in Aleppo as well as trucks that carried aid. Also, our Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr is learning new details about the deadly coalition air strike that mistakenly hit a Syrian military position over the weekend.
So, Barbara, what went wrong?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the big question tonight, Wolf. The U.S. striking a site that killed over 60 Syrian troops. The Russians, the Syrians, furious about all of it, but the U.S. now believes it is possible -- and this is just a working theory that they have -- that what they struck were Syrian troops who were some sort of detainees or prisoners of the regime who had been put out in this area out in the field where the U.S. did not expect them.
So they were looking at the intelligence, and there were three things they saw that led them to believe it was ISIS, not Syrian forces. These people were not in regular uniforms. That is one tick mark on the wall. They were not associated, they didn't have regular military weapons that the Syrian regime might have. Second tick mark on the wall. And the third, they were basically in a location where the U.S. had never seen Syrian forces before. They had seen ISIS, however, so they thought they were striking a large formation of ISIS troops. That is the working theory right now. It is all under investigation.
But as you just pointed out, Wolf, it comes at a terrible time. The Syrian regime basically walking away from what was a very tenuous ceasefire. Not clear at all what the next step will be by the Russians. Wolf.
BLITZER: Very quickly, Barbara, what's the latest you're hearing on the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?
STARR: Well, I have to tell you, Wolf, in the last two months, they've killed two top leaders who have direct access to Baghdadi. This is now, tonight, leading the key questions inside the administration, is Baghdadi really he still in charge? The people around him are disappearing. Does he feel safe enough to still be in commanding control? Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks very much.
[17:54:38] We have more breaking news coming in. New information about the suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings, captured after a shootout with police. Was he acting alone?
[17:59:43] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Terror take-down. A dangerous bombing suspect is captured in the shootout after a weekend blast in New Jersey and New York. Now, authorities are eager to question Ahmad Rahami about any possible help he may have gotten. This hour, I'll ask New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo for the latest on the investigation.
International connection. Were the bombings inspired or directed by ISIS or another terror group? Tonight, we're learning --