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CONNECT THE WORLD
At Least 12 Killed in Truck Attack in Berlin; Turkey Vows to Hunt Down Those Connected with Russian Ambassador Killer; Update on Aleppo Evacuations. 10a-11a ET
Aired December 20, 2016 - 10:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[10:00:32] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were people lying in the pavement.
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PAULA NEWTON, HOST: Terror strikes a festive Christmas market in Berline, 12 people are dead with more wounded after a truck tore through the shops.
Next, what police are now saying about the man in custody.
Also, Russia's ambassador to Turkey assassinated, the gunman shouting about the crisis in Aleppo at the time of his murder. The latest on that
investigation coming up and how all that shocking news is impacting Russian and Turkish ties as the two countries sit down for talks on Syria. That's
later in this program.
Hello and welcome to Connect the World. I'm Paula Newton in New York sitting in for Becky Anderson.
A lot to get to today. And we start with the latest developments in that market attack in Berlin. Germany's interior minister now says that, look,
there is no doubt this was a terror attack but now CNN has learned from German intelligence sources that it appears unlikely a man in custody is the man responsible. Now that leaves the absolutely
chilling prospect that the perpetrator is still on the loose, armed and dangerous.
Now, the truck plowed through a crowded Christmas market Monday night, killing 11 people on the street and injuring dozens more. The truck's
owner believes the vehicle may have been hijacked and its driver who was found dead inside killed by whomever carried out that attack.
Now, so far there has been no claim of responsibility. A lot to get to here. We want to go straight to Berlin where Hala Gorani is standing by
And Hala, I can't even imagine the fear when you are waking up in Berlin and elsewhere in Europe to think they thought they had the guy and now the
situation has completely changed.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERANTIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does appear as though the person in custody might not be the perpetrator and might not
even be connected to the attack at all, which leaves open the possibility, Paula, that the attacker or attackers are still at large and obviously
You know, I have been to Berlin several times over the past few years. This feels very different. It's tense. There is actually an eerie kind of
calm that's descended on the city. Occasionally, you hear the siren from a police vehicle driving past, but that's about it. People are reflecting on
the horror that unfolded around 8:00 p.m. just a few hundred meters behind me when that truck crashed into those market stalls at that Christmas
market behind me, killing 11 people, as you mentioned, on the ground. The owner of the truck believed to have been killed and found in the cab of the
Peter Neumann is the terrorism expert. He's with Kings College London. He's in Berlin with us right now with more on the investigation. I mean,
Paula was just mentioning the fact that Berliners and Germans thought this man believed to be connected with the attack was in
custody and now it appears that this person might not be connected at all.
PETER NEUMANN, KINGS COLLEGE LONDON: Yeah, it's really difficult, because it basically means that they have to start from scratch, and they don't
really at this point in time know where to look, because basically the crime scene has dispersed. Everyone has gone away. And no one has any
idea of where the possible suspect is if it turns out that the guy in custody now is indeed innocent.
GORANI: And there's been no claim of responsibility. Is that unusual at his stage?
NEUMANN: There is no claim of responsibility. There is a lot of ISIS supporters cheering. My colleagues are telling me about that, but that
doesn't necessarily mean anything.
You would expect in the first two or three days for there to be an official claim of responsibility through official ISIS channels and there hasn't
been. And so I think a lot of people, a lot of experts are waiting for that to happen. It may be the case that ISIS itself is trying to figure
out who did this and if it was someone that they can legitimately claim as one of their so-called soldiers.
GORANI: Because that's the new reality. You can have lone-wolf attackers, radicalized online alone. It doesn't mean that ISIS directed them.
However, in this particular case, there is some sophistication to this attack, because required stealing a big industrial truck from a Polish
company with Polish plates outside of the city, driving it here quite deliberately. It doesn't sound spontaneous, is what I'm getting at.
[10:05:09] NEUMANN: Yes. ISIS has always been trying sort of a double strategy. On the one hand they were asking people to come to Syria,
sending them back like in Paris and Brussels, those are organized complex attacks. On the other hand, it's always encouraged people to do things on
their own; however, it's given them more or less precise instructions as to how to do it.
And only last month in the online magazine of ISIS, it was described exactly the kind of
attack that we saw in Berlin today. A truck with -- an attack with a truck, a truck that was supposed to be hijacked in exactly the same way
that it happened now.
So it is possible that someone or a group of people actually followed the instructions that were printed out and did this according to the script
more or less.
GORANI: And of course, it is extremely poignant the fact that right behind us is the church that was so badly damaged during the war that was left as
is as a symbol, a sort of as a reminder to people, you know, that conflict and violence can be so destructive and dehumanizing. And that's precisely
where the attack happened.
NEUMANN: If you look at the shape of that the church, a lot of people in Berlin describe it as an index finger as a sort of, as a sort of reminder
of the horrors of war. And you know, it is a tragedy that it happened in exactly this spot.
GORANI: Yeah, absolutely.
Peter Neumann, thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it. He's with Kings College London. Always great to have him on the program with
Our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is just a few hundred meters behind me
there at the site of the attack with the very latest on what's going on. There are memorials popping up. Tell us what people are saying around you,
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you're absolutely right, Hala. There's a lot of people coming here, laying down
flowers, also lighting candles as well. And you can really tell how shocked people are by this attack.
You know, many people say that ever since this happened they feel very vulnerable. You know, many people in the run-up to this had heard the
warnings from the intelligence services here in Germany saying that there could be attacks or attempted attacks around Christmas time and
specifically at these Christmas markets.
But I think that people we have been speaking to feel a lot more vulnerable now that it's actually happened. And they have actually already seen some
of the footage of this truck plowing into this Christmas market and just how impossible it was for any of the people who were caught in this truck's
path to actually get out of the way.
And, you know, maybe for a second we can pan down the street here of this Christmas market a little bit and you can see just how narrow it is. And
this is exactly the same sort of setting as the truck actually plowed down. And this place was packed with people, you know, because it was around 8:00
p.m. on a Monday when this happened. It is exactly the time that people would go shopping, they'd get
off work. They'd do some Christmas shopping, and then they'd come here to the Christmas market or even do some shopping here.
And so it was very packed. And there is literally nowhere for people to try and escape, and to try and go to, and that is something thinking about
that, thinking about the security situation, thinking about the fact that someone hijacked a truck and ran it into a Christmas market, that certainly
is something that obviously worries a lot of people. And were there also of course demanding from their elected officials -- of course first and
foremost German Chancellor Angela Merkel obviously words of assurance that she tried to deliver today, but then also a plan of how to move forward to
try and make sure similar attacks don't happen in the future, Hala.
GORANI: And what do we know about the victims?
PLEITGEN: Well, the victims, we know that obviously 12 people were killed in this attack. We know that many people, obviously, were injured in the
attack. And I was down here for a very long time last night, about an hour after it happened, until, you know, until about four or five a.m. in the
morning. And there were ambulances going in and out of this place for a very long time. So, there certainly were a lot of people, this was
immediately treated as a mass casualty event, and there are still a lot of people who are in the hospitals and some of them are in very, very bad
condition. That's also something that Angela Merkel said today when she gave a statement. She said that she was praying for those people who were
injured for a speedy recovery, but also cautioned that a lot of these injuries are
very, very bad.
And, you know, some of the things that we heard from eyewitnesses last night and also the course of today was that people were just unable to get
away. And some of them were actually caught underneath the truck as it kept moving forward.
And of course those people, a lot of them, are in very bad condition. So, certainly as far as the
identities are concerned, we don't know very much, because the Germans are very big on privacy. And immediately also moved in to try and stop people
from coming who were not involved in all this to make sure that you didn't have gawkers around.
At the same time, though, we do know that there are people who have been injured very, very badly. And that there are still a lot of people also in
the many hospitals, even though I do have to stress that the response from the German authorities was very fast and very efficient. You could tell
that they were moving in a lot of assets very, very quickly and really deploying them in a way that made sure that they were as effective as
[10:10:32] NEWTON: And that was our Fred Pleitgen there. Fred, thank you so much, really
chilling words from you when you think about those people, you know -- the truck careening in that
market and people being stuck underneath. I know Fred will continue to keep us abreast of that investigation which really changes by the hour.
Now after the break is over, we'll continue to follow much more breaking news here at CNN including fallout from the assassination of Russia's
ambassador to Turkey.
NEWTON: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. I'm Paula Newton in New York.
Both Turkey and Russia say that a shocking assassination will not derail relations between their two countries. Andrey Karlov, the Russian
ambassador to Turkey was gunned down by a Turkish police officer at an art gallery on Monday. His body is now being repatriated back to Russia today,
that's according to state media there.
Now, a Russian investigative team, a dozen strong, is now in Ankara while several people have been taken in to custody for questioning. Turkey's
president has stressed that diplomatic ties will remain harmonious.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): After the incident, during the talk with Mr. Putin, we agreed this is a provocation
and there isn't any dispute. On behalf of my country and my nation I send and repeat my condolences to Mr. Putin and to all the Russian people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Now, the attack came before Russia, Turkey and Iran met to discuss ways to ending the crisis in Syria.
And as Nic Robertson reports, Syria appears to have been on the mind of the attacker. And a warning, Nic's report contains very graphic video of that
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Leaders of Turkey and Russia are calling it a provocative terrorist act. The
assassination of Russia's ambassador to Turkey, caught on video. Andrey Karlov shot multiple times in the back while giving a speech at an Ankara
art exhibit on Monday night. The gunman shouting defiantly, "God is greatest," and "Do not forget Aleppo. Do not forget Syria."
According to Turkey's interior minister, the lone gunman is a 22-year- old police officer born in Turkey. His body taken from the scene after he was
shot and killed by security forces shortly after the attack.
The brazen public assassination coming as many blame Russia for its part in supporting Syria's president in the civil war and the ongoing humanitarian
crisis in Aleppo. Turkey and Russia often at odds over the Syrian civil war, trying to put aside their differences this year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin vowing the assassination won't damage relations, pledging to step up the fight against terror and saying, quote,
"Criminals will feel the heat."
The president of Turkey agreeing, calling the attack a provocation, aimed at driving a wedge between the two countries. The U.S. State Department
condemning the attack.
[10:15:53] JOHN KIRBY, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We stand ready to offer any assistance that may be required to Russia and Turkey as they
investigate this despicable attack.
ROBERTSON: Just hours later, another frightening incident. This time outside the United States embassy in the same neighborhood where the
ambassador was assassinated. Turkish police arresting a man who fired into the air with a shotgun, yelling in Turkish, "I swear to God, don't play
NEWTON: Nic Robertson is in Ankara while Clarissa Ward continues to watch the situation looking for that reaction in Moscow.
Nic, I want to start with you. In terms of describing exactly what went on in this absolutely terrifying attack, have they said anything more when it
points to motive or whether or not he would be acting alone?
ROBERTSON: It's still not clear. I mean, what authorities have done is arrested seven people
so far, most of them are close -- either close family members, father, mother, sister, or other family members, and someone who shared an
apartment with him. That's not atypical here in Turkey at all. Authorities often do that in this type of case, although this is a
particularly unusual case, but in suspect -- suspicion of terrorism cases this often happens.
They are not providing any further details, but what it seems to point to, the more we look at this incident the first videos to appear are the ones
that we saw in that report there, but there are others emerging now that show this lone gunman, this smartly dressed police officer, standing alone
and unchallenged behind the Russian ambassador for well over a minute before he decides to move in and kill him.
It appears to be a significant security lapse. And certainly we are getting tones of that from the Kremlin today. The Kremlin spokesman
saying, you know, it is -- under the Vienna conventions -- it is Turkey's job to protect Russian diplomats. And they really want to see guarantees
going forward, Paula.
NEWTON: Yeah, there didn't seem to be much security there. And as you point, this was a person who was a trained police officer within the
security apparatus. I mean, Clarissa, how about that in terms of Russian reaction right now? They seem to be trying to keep things on an even keel.
Russia saying, look, this won't harm our relations with Turkey, and yet it makes such a complicated situation
even more intricate.
Do you think it will stiffen Russia's resolve when it comes to what's going on in Syria right now?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Paual, there is a very carefully coordinated response we have seen both from
President Erdogan of Turkey and President Putin of Russia.
They are choosing to cast this terrorist attack, as they call it, as an attempt, a deliberate provocation in an attempt to derail the warming of
the relationship between Russia and Turkey. Both leaders say that's not going to happen. Both leaders saying that that is not going to happen,
both leaders essentially in their public statements appearing to try to deescalate the situation, to pull back from the brink of a war of words
that could turn into something more substantial.
This forum, or summit, that has been scheduled to take place today, which deals with trying to resolve the conflict in Syria, which is attended by
Turkey and Iran's foreign minister and hosted by Russia's foreign minister, it has gone ahead as planned. And the focus of the talks, while certainly
mention was of course made of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, that has not been the focus of the
The focus of the talks has been to continue in efforts to put together some kind of a communique that would provide a guideline or an outline for a
path towards some kind of political settlement in Syria. Whether or not that initiative will be successful or not is one thing, but the fact that
it went ahead as planned, the fact that Syria was still the focus, and that we do see President Erdogan and President Putin singing from the same song
book, so to speak, is an indication that both countries are keen for this not to escalate any further.
On the other hand, if you go into the social media realm and start to look at what some people have been writing on Twitter, there were all sorts of
theories that are being put out there by some Russians, including one quite well known lawmaker here, who is an ally of Putin, Alexei Pushkov (ph), he
was actually blaming western media for the attack saying that the barrage of what he calleJd propaganda coming out of Aleppo essentially has
contributed to hysteria, has incited people against Russia.
So, there is a little bit of a difference between the official reaction and the more unofficial visceral reaction, but I do think from a diplomatic
perspective both sides clearly do not want this to escalate into a big international debacle.
NEWTON: Yeah, well, Pushkov a known instigator there. Thank you for keeping on top of that.
Clarissa Ward and also to our Nic Robertson who continues to follow that investigation in Turkey.
Now, both Russia and Turkey, as Clarissa was just saying, playing very critical roles in global
diplomacy. Will it have lasting ramifications? We want to bring in Sir David Logan, now the former
British ambassador to Turkey. He joins us now live via Skype.
SIR DAVID LOGAN, FRM. BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO TURKEY: Good morning.
NEWTON: So, David, good morning to you -- or good afternoon I should say to you. Sir David, again in terms of when it comes to relations I think
it's beside the point, it doesn't seem like Turkey and Russia are saying relations will be offhand. But please explain to us, for people who may
not know, that this may actually strengthen Russia's hand when it comes to Syria, and more importantly
Assad's hand when it comes to Syria.
LOGAN: Well, it is complicated.
I mean, I think the first thing to say is you know you have got a situation now exemplified by the assassination of the ambassador in which -- `whoever
he was, he -- assassinating the ambassador was doing something which reflects the strong antipathy of ordinary Turks to Russia.
I mean, they fought 12 wars against them in the last 200 years. Turkey is the southern flank of NATO, and now here are the Russians supporting Assad
who is Turks visceral enemy.
So you've got popular opinion out of sync with the relationship of the government level, which you were just talking about just now.
And how will that play out? I mean, first of all, I mean, if this had taken place a year ago when Russia-Turkey relations were bad who knows
where we might be. And the relationship is highly volatile, both for the reasons I gave just now,and because our interest in Syria aren't shared.
The Russians clearly have a long-term objective in Syria of supporting Assad and ensuring that in whatever settlement there might be, he maintains
control of a significant part of the country.
The Turks main interest on the other hand, is that the Kurdish enclaves on the Syrian side of their border don't join up, because they would regard
that as a serious threat. They regard those Kurds as being closer with the PKK, the terrorist organization in Turkey.
NEWTON: Yeah, in fact, the PKK taking responsibility now apparently for an attack there on the weekend.
In terms of your insights into Turkish politics, it has been quite a tumultuous year coming earlier in the year with that coup attempt. You
know, the person -- the security person, he was a security police officer who shot this man in cold blood in a very, very
public way. Clarissa Ward was talking to us about th conspiracy theories alive and well in Russia. There are conspiracy theories about all of this
in Turkey as well.
How destabilizing do you think this whole situation could be in Turkey, a place that really doesn't need any more rattling right now?
LOGAN: Well, you're quite right that it doesn't need any more rattling. That border with Syria as you know is 800 miles long. It's very porous.
There are 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey. That's boundary includes ISIS infiltrators as well. And as you said, said the two PKK terrorist
acts in the western part of the country last week.
So, first time the PKK really carried out attacks in western urban centers, so that has much greater impact on urban Turks. So, it's very unstable.
And this is not going to help. This is the first time I think the Russian ambassador has been
assassinated anywhere since the 1920s. As you said he was assassinated by an officer of the state. He wasn't in uniform, but an nonetheless, an
officer of the state. That's pretty serious stuff.
I mean, I -- in my experience Turkish protection of foreign ambassadors is very good, but something went terribly wrong here. And it goes with this
general feeling of instability in Turkey. So, it's not good news.
I might just add one thing, of course, that we haven't -- I think we haven't talked about, which is that the Turkish Russian relationship is
quite interdependent. The Turks get most of their energy from Russia, so that's an important factor.
Russia -- Turkey's relationships with their western allies has been strained recently, and quite clearly Putin sees what's happened as a
further opportunity to nudge Turkey away from their allies. He's called it a provocation. He quite clearly means from the west, this assassination,
(inaudible) as that is.
NEWTON: Yeah, Sir David, unfortunately in just a few minutes here, you have been able to lay out exactly how complicated this relationship is. It
will continue to be so, and does so.
LOGAN: I'm sorry.
NEWTON: ...a very tumultuous time. We thank you and hope to get your analysis again on these issues. Appreciate it.
LOGAN: Of course. Thank you.
NEWTON: Now, meantime, turning to Zurich, police say the gunman who attacked an Islamic center Monday is now dead. Now, the shooter marched
into the center and shot worshipers inside. He wounded three men before fleeing the scene. His body was found near the site of the attack and
police aren't looking for anyone else, they say, at this point. So far police haven't disclosed any motive for
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, yes, he can be busy. He remains busy. He's speaking out
about the latest attacks taking to twitter on Monday.
Now, he said today there were terror attacks in Turkey, Switzerland, and Germany and it is only
getting worse. The civilized world must change thinking.
Now, he also issued a statement specifically about the attack in Berlin saying innocent civilians were murdered in the streets as they prepared to
celebrate the Christmas holiday. ISIS and others Islamists, terrorists, continually slaughter Christians in their communities in places of worship
as part of their global jihad.
Many people commented on that right now and saying that he is clearly setting this up as a religious conflict. We will definitely be hearing
more from Donald Trump on all of this.
Now the latest World News Headlines are ahead, plus we'll return to our Hala Gorani who is on the ground in Berlin. She will update you on what is
right now a very fast paced investigation. That continues in Berlin.
[10:31:51] NEWTON: And we go straight back to Berlin and Hala Gorani. And Hala, again, German officials still just trying to get a grip on this
investigation and now looking for suspects.
GORANI: Yes, absolutely, because yesterday after this terrible attack that killed 12 people we learned from authorities that a man was in custody.
They didn't say with certainty that this person was perpetrator of the attack, but you know many people assumed that there had to have been some
sort of link.
We are learning today from the highest law enforcement officials that we must, in the words of the one official, get used to the idea that perhaps
this man is not connected to the attack at all, which leaves open this possibility that there is a perpetrator, or several attackers, in fact, at
large andthey would be extremely dangerous as they were intent on killing apparently as many people as possible in that Christmas market behind me.
Just to set the scene here for you, there are all these makeshift memorials that have been popping up around the site of the attack. And, you know,
this is starting to look like a familiar scenario. We saw it in Paris. We saw it in Brussels. We even saw it in Turkey at the Istanbul airport, and
now in Berlin.
There is just this sense people that are feeling vulnerable, that there is no really way to fully protect one's self against people determined to hit
soft targets like a Christmas market which is really the symbol really of German Christmas culture.
People get together in these Christmas markets to drink wine, to buy Christmas ornaments and presents and basically have a good time with family
and friends. This is the very target that was chosen by the attacker or the attackers.
Paul Cruikshank is in London. He's a terrorism analyst. And he joins us now live with more. What should we make of the fact that the day after an
arrest was made, we are learning that potentially this individual might not even be connected. I mean, that means potentially we have attackers on the loose, Paul.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERTORISM ANALYST: That's exactly the scenario that two German intelligence officials have laid out to CNN. They say that it
is not likely that the person in custody actually carried out the attack, that's the latest assessment. The prosecutor, in his phraseology, talking
about we possibly need to assume that we arrested the wrong one, well that was code for not a lot of confidence that they have the perpetrator in
So we are really perhaps back at square one with this investigation, not clear how many good leads the Germans have right now. They are asking the
public to send in a lot of video people may have taken from the scene, that could help identify the possible attacker. They will be looking at any
kind of CCTV footage that was in the area as well.
And also with the person in custody if he has a mobile phone, they'll be examining that trying to look at the geolocation of that in the period
around the attack so that maybe they can rule out the fact that he was in this truck so that maybe they can rule out the fact that he was in this
But we really we are back at square one. And we are in a very dangerous situation right now in Berlin potentially with an attacker who is armed and
dangerous and on the run and could strike again.
[10:35:16] GORANI: And what should we make of the MO here? Because we are looking potentially at a situation where there was a car jacking or a truck
jacking, but it doesn't sound like something spontaneous. It really does sound like a deliberate plan that was several, at least hours in the
making, and that ultimately ended here just behind me in that terrible deliberate attack with the truck plowing into those Christmas market
CRUICKSHANK: That's right. I mean, German officials -- and no doubt, this was a deliberate attack that was premeditated, planned out to a certain
degree. It seems like the truck was hijacked in Berlin, according to the chronology that we were told about. And then some time afterwards then
driven into this Christmas market, Hala.
That this investigation really is proceeding furiously now, and they are just going to hope that they can identify who was responsible as quickly as
possible before they can strike again.
But in terms of the MO, just in times of that, then that does, perhaps, point you toward this idea of Islamist terrorism just because of the track
record of those attacks we saw that it was an ISIS inspired perpetrator who carried out the Nice truck attack in the summer, killing 86 people. And
just a few weeks ago in the United States, another person who was radicalized by that ideology carrynig out a car attack in Ohio State, which
fortunately did not lead to loss of life.
Just because ISIS are the group calling for these kind of strikes, that may point you in that
direction. But no claim of responsibility yet from ISIS or any other jihadi terrorist group. There's really right now a deafening silence from
ISIS. This would be a big success for them if they had any inkling that this guy was doing it on their behalf. I'm sure we would have by now had
some kind of propaganda message.
Of course, it's possible that if this perpetrator is still at large, they may right now be uploading something into the internet, which could come
GORANI: Yeah, absolutely. No claim of responsibility by ISIS, possibly attackers on the loose. So many questions and a very, very tense
atmosphere here in Berlin, it has to be said, though people are really coming together. I have seen some people wipe tears off their face.
Thanks very much, Paul Cruickshank.
All these memorials, sort of people trying to reflect once again on the horror that they witnessed
in other big western cities -- Paris, Brussels and now Berlin.
Quentin Peel joins me from London, from Chatham House, he was in fact a correspondent who based here in Berlin. And Quentin, we saw the German
chancellor, Angela Merkel, she visited the site here behind me. She had to come out and say if this attack was, indeed, perpetrated by someone who
sought asylum in this country, that would be absolutely a terrible, terrible thing.
I mean, I wonder politically what kind of pressure is she under?
QUENTINE PEEL, CHATHAM HOUSE: I think it is very dangerous for Angela Merkel politically. After all, she was already under a lot of criticism,
particularly from the pressure from the far right alternative for germany saying it was her fault that Germany had had to take in so many refugees
and they brought with them the threat of terrorism.
Well, now we have an act of terrorism. It is not clear refugees were involved. But nonetheless, it could rebound badly for Angela Merkel. She
has already been accused by one of the more extreme members of this Alternative for Germany of -- he described the victims as Merkel's dead.
So, it clearly is a danger for her.
GORANI: Yeah, and also I mean, it's not just inside Germany, Quentin, these images are broadcast around the world. And people who have made the
decision that multiculturalism, immigration, the refugee crisis, that that is leading to these attacks, they are also going to mean potentially that
these far fight parties, Marine Le Pen and others across Europe, are going to benefit from that as well.
PEEL: Well, and this is undoubtedly the purpose of terrorist acts like this. It is precisely, I think, to create a backlash, if you like, a
security clamp down and whether it's Europe, America, wherever it may be. Having said that, I must say I am struck by my knowledge of Germany that
this is a country that I think will pull together after an event like this. It will be rather like Paris was -- France was -- after the Paris attacks
or indeed the Nice attacks when the whole country closed ranks and said, solidarity, we'll hold together.
So, there is a danger for the extremists in Germany at making too much of a thing of this. There could be a backlash, because Germans could say, look,
we are not going to be moved. We are not going to stop going to our Christmas markets. We're not going to stop being German just because a few
extremist terrorists want to make us scared.
[10:40:47] GORANI: Right. Indeed. We'll see how things develop in the coming days and weeks. Right now, though, it has to be said. I mean, you
know, the city that is normally bustling this time of year, a few days before Christmas, as fallen silent. You hear sirens here and there. A few
people reflecting in front of all these memorials that are popping up everywhere around the attack site.
And so Quentin Peel, thanks very much once a gain. We're going to have to, you know, sort of keep an eye on how things develop here, because this is
really starting to become a regular occurrence. It has to be said.
You know, in the last two years, every few months it seems one of these attacks takes place and people are bracing for more.
We're going to take a quick break here on CNN. We'll be right back with more coverage from Berlin. Stay with CNN.
NEWTON: You're watching CNN and this is Connect the World. I'm Paula Newton. Welcome back.
You know, no one knows exactly how many people are still waiting in bitterly cold temperatures for safe passage out of eastern Aleppo in Syria.
But Russia and Turkey say the evacuation of civilians and rebels should be finished by Wednesday, that just means one more day left.
Now, more and more buses rolled out of Aleppo's last rebel enclave today. Turkey's foreign minister says nearly 38,000 people have been evacuated
since last week, but the International Red Cross puts the number at 25,000.
Now a UN spokesperson says Syria will allow the deployment of 20 additional UN observers to monitor those ongoing evacuations. We want to get more now
from our Muhammad Lila. He has been following these developments along the Turkish/Syrian border. Muhammad, I'm interested to hear from you. We have
these very different numbers.
From what you can sense from there on the ground they are saying this can all be wrapped up in a matter of 24 hours. Is that realistic?
MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORESPONDENT: Well, in fact, Paula, we are actually getting some indications that it could happen much sooner than
that. A spokesperson for one of the rebel groups on the ground in Eastern Aaleppo as well as the Syrian state television are
saying that the last evacuations could take place in a matter of hours and that all of eastern Aleppo could be evacuated from all of the people who
were in those remaining rebel-held strongholds by the end of the day.
And of course, if that happens it could be an historic moment if not a turning point in the civil
war, because what it mean is that the world would be waking up tomorrow morning with a new reality. And that new reality would be that Syria's
President Bashar al-Assad and his forces will control all of the city of Aleppo for the first time in more than four years since this
conflict began, and that would put all of Syria's major cities under Assad's control.
Those are indications that we're getting from the ground that the evacuations are ongoing and that they are on schedule.
In fact, we understand the buses that are ferrying people arrived at their pick-up points, so this could be -- we could be witnessing the last
transfer some time over the next few hours.
NEWTON: Such interesting news that you bring, Muhammad. And of course what you are talking about in terms of the Assad regime getting a hold of
those cities, very significant strategically.
In terms of the battle ongoing, because no one expects this to be the end of the Syrian conflict some of these refugees are internally displaced from
Aleppo, have gone to Idlib. I mean, are you hearing more about another front? You would have to think that the Syrian forces at this point are
emboldened and they want to have a very strong hand as they do look to try and really claim victory over the rebel strongholds.
LILA: Well, that's right. I mean, Assad has said from day one that his goal is to recapture, quote, every inch of Syria back from the rebels and
the armed opposition.
But as much as he says that, there are these talks going under way in Moscow. And Moscow has tabled this thing, this plan that they called the
Moscow initiative, which basically uses Russia, Turkey and Iran, the major players on the ground with their own proxies and fighting forces on the
ground, where all three of them would guarantee that some sort of cease- fire would hold. In other words, that those three countries have enough influence over the proxies on the ground to make sure that those elements
don't breach the cease-fire, which has happened so many times in the past.
So this could, at least what Russia says is that this could lead to some sort of framework that could establish some sort of tenuous nationwide
cease-fire, if not across all of Syria then at least most of Syria in the places where is Turkey, Iran and Russia have the most influence.
GORANI: Yeah. And then it will give them a chance really for the Syrian forces to corner those rebels in areas where they perhaps have a little
more strength to fight them.
Our Muhammad Lila has been following the story for days and continues to bring us the very latest on those evacutaions.
Now, as Muhammad was just saying, Russia, Iran, and Turkey are taking a united stand on trying to resolve the war in Syria. Their foreign
ministers met today in Moscow and say they've developed a plan that would help overcome what they call the stagnation of peace efforts. They are
backing a wider cease-fire for Syria and unrestricted access for groups delivering humanitarian aid.
Now, the meeting comes just a day after Russia's ambassador to Turkey was assassinated by a gunman shouting "don't forget Aleppo."
We want to talk more about this with Sonar Cagaptay. He's the director of the Turkish research program at the Washington Institute for Near East
Policy. He's also the author of The New Sultan: Erdogan and the Crisis of Modern Turkey."
I really want to thank you for joining us as we try and parse what are some very complex developments.
You know, I'm reading already right here that Sergey Lavarov, the Russian foreign minister is
saying that, look -- and this -- he's pointing to Turkey. He's saying certain powers, but he means Turkey, now have to accept that regime change
Sn syria is not the top priority, that the top priority is fighting terrorism.
I think -- I'm interested to hear your thoughts about whether or not you think that the assassination yesterday really has weakened Turkey's hand in
terms of what they were looking for out of the Syrian conflict.
SONAR CAGAPTAY, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEW EAST POLICY: To an extent I think it has. And I also think that the attack really aimed to undermine
Turkish/Russian normalization. The countries were in a proxy war in Syria for nearly five years. Russia supported the Assad regime and Turkey
supported the rebels.
Then in the last year we have seen a convergence of Turkish/Russian policies. I think this was driven largely by Turkey's understanding that
the Assad regime is staying. The writing is on the wall. So, Turkey decided to come to a convergence with Russia. And I think in the absence
of U.S. leadership in northern Syria to end the war in Aleppo, Turkey became the voice of reason and negotiated with the Russians so that
civilians in eastern Aleppo would be evacuated.
Many people fear that the assassination yesterday would derail that process of the evacuationof civilians and undermine Turkish/Russian convergence. I
don't think that will happen. I think that Russians have pretty much everything they want from the Turks, including Turkish greenlight to the
fall of Aleppo.
After all, the Assad regime knows that if it takes this large city of Syria it has all of the country's key cities under its control, and it will
declare, therefore, victory, quote, unquote, in the civil war. So I think the Russian know that their ally, Assad, is in a strong position. They
don't want the deal to be derailed. So, my guess is the Russians will not overreach to the assassination if a Turkish side demonstrates that it will
have a thorough investigation of the assassination in Turkey, has already signaled that it will do that.
[10:50:31] NEWTON: And they are giving all the right signals so far. In fact, how significant do you see it that the person who carried out this
assassination, it was essentially what some call an inside job. I mean, this was someone who was trained by the Turkish police.
CAGAPTAY: It's dangerous. We don't know his motives and nobody has claimed responsibility, but obviously he's a security official. He was off
duty when he did this -- committed this horrible murder. Nevertheless, a Turkish police officer.
I think this is a -- it's of course a different topic of Turkey, but it suggests a politicization of turkey's institutions if a police officer can
be radicalized for whatever reason that he did this for, clearly there's a politically motivated case here.
He said after he killed the Russian ambassador that this was in protest of Russia/Syria policy.
So to me this suggests a politicization of the police, which is very dangerous.
Turkey has for a long time been known as a stable country that sits in a very unstable region, the Middle East. And what makes Turkey unique is its
strong institutions from the military to the police. We saw the military strength come under test last year during the failed coup attempt and now
we're seeing maybe a politicization of the police force.
So, those are all dangerous trends.
And on top of it I think Turkey is also seeing a fallout of the Syrian War in the sense that the Syrian war is now coming to haunt Turkey in a ways
that the country did not expect such as the kiling of the Russian ambassador, which of course the killer said was in retaliation for Russia's
So, Turkey's involvement in the Syrian War I think is going to cause a great amount of instability in Turkey in the coming days. Unfortunately,
as an analyst I think that's how it is going to be.
NEWTON: And, Sonar, take us inside the thinking of Erdogan. He is an incredible political
survivor through so much. He is watching this develop yesterday. He sees someone, as you said,
from one of his institutions gunning down the Russian ambassador in cold blood for all cameras to see.
How does he inside of 24 hours change his thinking to think, OK, we cannot have blowback
here on Turkey?
CAGAPTAY: Of course. Let me be clear, there is no government complicity, this is an individual acting on his own, or maybe he's with a group, but
he's definitely radicalized and said he's reacting to Russia's policy in Syria where Russia has been
killing civilians. And he wanted to therefore carry out this murder.
But I think Erdogan's thinking is interesting. He's realized that Russia is the powerful country in Syria, especially in northern Syria. Erdogan
has a few ambitions in northern Syria, one of which is to oust the Assad regime. But he also wants to push ISIS away from the Turkish border as
well as block advances by the Syrian Kurds.
So for him, a convergence with Russia allows maybe that he can achieve two of these three gains. Of course he won't be able oust Assad anymore.
He'll come to a modis vivendi with the Russians on that, but working with the Russians such as for the evacuation of civilians from Aleppo, also
gives Turkey its own sphere of influence in northern Syria.
Now, these civilians in Aleppo are being evacuated to a Turkey-backed region of northern Syria. So, Turkey and Russia are in a way maybe
partioning -- soft partitioning northern Syria. Russia gets Aleppo, Turkey gets the countryside. And I think this also allows Turkey, fo course, to
be present there, to blockKurdsh advances and to push ISIS away from the border.
So, strengthening of Turkish-Russian ties ironically could come out of this assassination.
NEWTON: And it's quite a complicated chessboard. Thank you so much for taking us through it. Appreciate it.
Now, some other stories we're following.
Some stories on the radar today, Donald Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton is officialafter the electoral college voted. Trump received 304
electoral votes, well above the 270 votes necessary to grasp the presidency. Despite protests to try and put pressure on voters to flip,
there were only a handful of so-called faithless electors.
For the first time ISIS is claiming responsibility for a terror attack inside Jordan. Ten people, including a Canadian tourist, were killed in a
series of shootings in Karak over the weekend. Police exchanged heavy gunfire with gunmen in that same town just a few hours ago, but the
incidents are believed to be unrelated.
Also on our radar, crews searching for missing plane MH370 have likely been looking in the wrong place, that's according to Australian experts who say
teams should move their efforts to yet entirely a whole new area.
Live from New York this is Connect the World, coming up, their heads may be bowed but their spirits cannot be broken: how in the midst of fear and
tragedy the human spirit still triumphs.
[10:51:56] NEWTON: In today's Parting Shots, The Christmas markets of Germany are more than just an annual tourist attraction. You know, in many
ways they symbolize the very spirit of Christmas itself, a reminder of the very fundamental goodness in human beings at a very cold and desperate
time. Now, this year that message may be incredibly difficult for some to remember, especially as families who were supposed to come together in joy
are now united in shock and grief.
While the brutal attack on Germany may have shaken an entire nation, if these images of the scene today are anything to go by, the love and courage
people show at the darkest of times can never be broken.
Some real heartfelt tributes there to many of the people injured and killed at the scene.
I'm Paula Newton. That was Connect the World. Continue to watch CNN. We have much more news for you right after the break.