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German Authorities Were Aware of Suspect Previous Discussing the Attack; Russian Ambassador Mourned in Moscow. 10:00a-11:00a ET

Aired December 22, 2016 - 10:00:00   ET


[10:00:35] PAULA NEWTON, HOST: Hello and welcome to Connect the World. I'm Paula Newton in New York, sitting in for Becky Anderson. And of

course, we begin with the race to find Tunisian terror suspect Anis Amri before he strikes again, as police unfortunately fear.

Now, authorities have further linked Amri to Monday's attack in Berlin. Now, they say his fingerprints were found on the truck that rammed into a

Christmas market, killing 12 people. German authorities had their eye on Amri beforehand. And we're learning they knew he talked about launching an

attack. Amri has been linked to a German terror network that recruits for ISIS.

Officers are right now conducting raids in Berlin and in western Germany, where he was

believed to have stayed. Anis Amri was known to German authorities, as we were just saying, bu despite that scrutiny, how did he manage to pull off

this attack?

With more on all of that, we're joined by Chris Burns. He's on the ground for us there in Berlin. And again, Chris, you sense that for Germans, as

well, the stunning facts, the fact he was tailed for some time and that he was a known threat, that that's really what's coming to light right now, is

quite disturbing.


CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): German authorities under scrutiny this morning, amid the search for their country's most wanted man,

24-year-old Anis Amri, the fugitive walking free months ago despite concerns about his connections to extremism.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE), SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: One of the questions we're going to be sifting through to make sure that we understand

how German intelligence failed to intercept this particular radicalized individual.

BURNS: Amri, a native Tunisian, arrived in Germany a year and a half ago, his father telling a radio show in Tunisia that his son headed to Cologne

after spending almost four years in an Italian prison.

Italian authorities say he was convicted of damaging state property, assault and arson in September 2011. But they note he was considered a

petty criminal.

In Germany he was quickly placed under surveillance, believed to be in touch with radical Islamists. In June his request for asylum in Germany was

denied, even as he was unable to return to his native Tunisia, because he didn't have a valid passport.

Two months later Amri was arrested after being caught with fake papers but was released. He was still considered a risk by authorities, with known

links to a radical preacher.

REP. WILL HURD (R-TX), HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: The Germans are a very good service, and they're going to put all their resources to find



NEWTON: Paula Newton here again in New York. We are going to go straight to Berlin where German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be updating that

investigation in Germany. Let's listen in.


[10:13:58] NEWTON: And you were just seeing there, Angela Merkel along with her justice minister and her interior minister, really not telling us

much new about the investigation. But again, confirming we knew the interior minister saying that they do have that additional evidence that

shows that this terrorism suspect that they are now desperately trying to find is directly connected to that

truck that rammed into that Christmas market, killing 12 people and additionally, they're saying that they are working with authorities across

Europe, not just in Germany, in order to try and find the suspect.

Angela Merkel saying that she hopes, of course, that he is found soon, and saying that, look, she knows that this is a test, saying, 'm confident that

during this test, that we will persevere.

I want to bring in now our Paul Cruickshank, who has been bringing a lot of the details in this investigation to us. And, Paul, despite what Angela

Merkel said, I mean, obviously, this press conference was meant to show force. And yet, so telling that they took no



And they want to get Anis Amri just as soon as they can because he is considered armed and

dangerous. He's already killed. And the worry is that he is going to strike again.

But we're learning new details at CNN about an investigation that was launched into this ISIS recruiting network in Germany. There was actually

a police informant that gave a lot of detail to German investigators. They had all this detail weeks and weeks and weeks ago. And some of what this

police informant was saying is really quite extraordinary, because he overheard Anis Amri talk about wanting to launch attacks inside Germany,

overheard other members of the network talking about wanting to launch truck ramming attacks inside Germany, loading those trucks with bombs and

loading them full of gasoline.

All of those details were available to German investigators weeks and weeks ago. they fed into arrests that were made in November, of their leading

figures as they saw it, of this network, five leading figures of the group, but didn't result in the arrest of other people who were in the files

connected to this network.

And to some degree, of course counterterrorism services have to prioritize, have to do a certain amount of triage because of limited resources and the

unprecedented scale of the threat.

But the fact that this individual had discussed launching attacks, the fact he was known to be

radicalized, a risk and dangerous, and the fact he was still on the streets is, frankly, deeply embarrassing for the German government. They're going

to have to look at their whole legal system when it comes to counterterrorism. There maybe have to be changes in the law.

There's certainly going to be debates over there about holding people more longer in custody and on what grounds, but a lot of questions both for the

government and for the security agencies on why this guy was roaming the streets of Germany.

NEWTON: Yeah, absolutely. And Angela Merkel, you know, eluding to that, and the fact that they will review things. But obviously, saying the

priority now is to find him.

In terms of finding him, Paul, what are you learning in terms of the challenges that they're facing? I mean, we have raids going on this very

minute, but what kind of help do you think he may have on the ground in order to continue to elude police or maybe even perhaps travel throughout


CRUICKSHANK: Well, there is a glass half full here, which is that they have all this information about this ISIS recruiting network he was part of

in Germany. They have a lot of names, a lot of people they have information on. They have addresses and so on and so forth. And so that

gives investigators a head start in terms of trying to figure out the kind of places that he could have gone to ground.

But glass half empty, that same network can offer him shelter, can perhaps try to smuggle him out of the country, although I think that will be very,

very difficult at this point, given his picture and name is out there.

But, yeah, I mean, look, they're going to be scrambling on this, going back to all those known

addresses that were built up in their investigations, kind of shaking the tree when it comes to all those still out there. And the other thing

they're going to be worried about is just not this one individual who has already killed, but other people who were part of this network still at

large. And this was a significantly sized network in northern Germany, sending people to Syria and Iraq.

But of course, lots of these youngsters weren't able to actually get over there to Syria and Iraq. and the leaders of this network, it is clear from

the files from this police informant, were absolutely obsessed about ISIS and very determined to press these youngsters to launch attacks inside

Germany. Worrying times ahead.

NEWTON: Absolutely, worrying times ahead. You could see it written all over the face of Chancellor Angela Merkel, unfortunately.

Our Paul Cruickshank who continues to follow every detail of this investigation. We will continue to check in with as and when you have new

information to bring us.

Thanks, Paul.

Now, Germany has taken in more refugees than any other European country. We've been telling you about it and cataloging it for months. Now, the

country is shaken to its very core.

I want to bring in now Ulf Porchardt. He's editor-in-chief of the German newspaper Die Welt. Not sure if you can hear me there. You're on the

ground in Berlin.

You know, we see the Christmas lights behind you and what is so shocking, really, is the

resilience of Germans, the Christmas markets open again. And yet, when they hear that the German authorities had been tailing this guy and they

knew that he was a threat, how do you think this will change the German perception of their security going forward?

ULF PORSCHARDT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, DIE WELT: Yes, actually, we are surprised about ourselves today, as we are about ourselves the last days. I think

the Germans are quiet, they stay cool. The whole discussion in Germany about also the terrible failures of prosecution and the way the

police acted the last two days, it stays calm. It is very, very intense situation and atmosphere here. But I think Angela Merkel just said

something which is basically saying, we don't know where he is. We're doing raids, we hope we will find him.

But our sources within the police say they have no clue where he is. And as your reporter just told you, this is absolutely embarrassing. And I

think it is ridiculous that this guy is walking around in Europe for now six years, doing crimes all over Europe, and he's not

arrested or he has been arrested and set free.

Again, the Germans knew -- the German police knew this guy is working on something really terrible. And the way he came out of this and the way

they stopped looking after him, this is embarrassing, and this can't go on like this.

[10:16:13] NEWTON: And when you say it can't go on, we've been hearing in the last few days certain issues -- like the fact that German laws would

have prohibited him to be, you know, deported back to his country of origin because they couldn't prove who he was. The fact we don't have any

surveillance footage of him because Germans do resist this surveillance society that is in place in other you countries.

What do you make of it, in terms of how willing Germans will be to change their very society in order to become more secure from the threat?

PORSCHARDT: I think the most important thing is that we stay calm like this and we have a completely focused discussion on what's the best thing

to do now. And I think the atmosphere we have here right now is very suitable for this.

I think every party now, even the right wing, as we have an interview with the guy who is running the AFD, the most right-wing party in Germany right

now, and even he stopped accusing Angela Merkel. He said, we have to talk now. We have to be reasonable. And then, of course, what you said about

our way of looking at surveillance cameras, this will change. Even the people from the Green Party who were the most opponent against this kind of

surveillance cameras, they will change. And I hope the whole discussion stays as it is right now, focused on how we can change things without being

too radical in the way, for example, the American president-elect said we want to ban Muslims from coming into our country.

That's not our way, how we want to deal with it. But I think German politics and all of the parties in the parliament will know that they have

to change things, and this will happen.

NEWTON: Ulf Porchardt there on the ground, thanks so much for bringing us those insights, as Germans really begin to grapple what is a new and deadly

threat for them there in their country. Appreciate it.

Now, we, of course, will have much more on the Berlin terrorist attack still to come. We'll go live to Berlin, of course, later in the show for

an update of what investigators are learning.


[10:20:29] NEWTON: Live from New York, you're watching CNN, and this is Connect the World. I'm Paula Newton. Welcome back.

Well, perhaps just hours from now, the UN Security Council may vote on a very contentious resolution. Now, it demands that Israel halt settlement

building in Palestinian territories, calling it a flagrant violation of international law.

Now, the big unknown is how the United States will vote. Israel's prime minister is doing

some last-minute lobbying, urging Washington to use its veto power. In the meantime, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is doing the same, but some

speculate that Barack Obama may actually send a message against the settlement policy that he has for so very long criticized.

Now, that would happen, of course, just days before he leaves office. We want to bring in our Oren Lieberman for more on this. You are following

developments from Jerusalem.

Everybody was tweeting -- Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu making their voices clear on this. In terms of why this resolution has come up now and

how significant it will be, do we have any clear direction on how we believe the United States might vote on this?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, before we talk about that, there is a question whether this vote will actually happen

tonight. There are reports going around that we're trying to confirm that Egypt, which introduced this resolution, which is harshly critical of

Israeli settlements in the West Bank, may pull this resolution or delay it for a later date, perhaps in a few weeks time.

As for the timing, it is no coincidence that this is coming after the U.S. elections and before

President Barack Obama leaves office. Obama he has been partially critical of Israeli settlements, but his position has always been, as has U.S.

foreign policy been for decades

But any status on settlements, any decision on settlements needs to come in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, direct

negotiations, not a UN resolution. The question now is, has Obama changed his mind? Has he decided in this last bit before he leaves office

following the elections that now is the time to act?

Again, if this comes tonight, that will be the major question, what will the UN do? Israel expects that most of the other countries, if not all of

the other countries on the security council, will vote in favor of this resolution, so that's where they're focusing their efforts, right on the

U.S. hoping that President Barack Obama vetoes if this vote comes up, vetoes this resolution. That's where the lobbying effort happens now, and

it is so critical for Israel that they've convened a security cabinet meeting right now to try to address what would happen.

But again, we're trying to find out if Egypt has decided to hold off on this resolution for now. If they'll pull it, perhaps reintroduce it in a

few weeks -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yeah, clearly, this is concerning to the Israeli cabinet. And so interesting to note that, gee, I wonder if the United States got some

pressure on Egypt in order to withdraw that resolution.

Oren Lieberman continues to watch the story for us. And we'll bring you more developments as we get them. Appreciate it, Oren.

Now, mourners said their final farewells to Russia's ambassador to Turkey. A funeral as a Moscow cathedral followed a memorial service at the Russian

foreign ministry. Andrey Karlov was gunned down in Ankara on Monday by an off-duty Turkish police officer. Many of you will remember that gruesome


Turkey's president blames the assassination on the network of an exiled Muslim cleric. Now, the Kremlin says it is far too early in the

investigation to draw that conclusion. Senior international correspondent Matthew Chance joins me now from Moscow. And now while it might be too

early to draw that conclusion, safe to say this has been a game changer for Syrian, Russian and Turkish relations right now.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly brought them a little closer together in terms of the Russians and the

Turks in the sense that , if this was intended, as suspected by the Russians, to drive a wedge between

Russia and Turkey, who have been rebuilding their relationship in recent months following the depths to which it plunged in November of last year

when Turkey shot a Russian war plane out of the sky.

And it has failed, because there has been -- there have been expressions of solidarity from both the Russian and the Turkish leaders, saying that

they're going to continue along their process of normalizing their relationship.

And indeed, the foreign ministers from both countries met in Moscow yesterday and agreed to work out a roadmap to try and bring to an end the

Syrian conflict. Russia and Turkey are on opposite sides of that conflict, of course.

It was a mournful commemoration today. There was a ceremony in the Russian foreign ministry, the Russian President Vladimir Putin, was there, paying

his respects. The foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, had delivered the eulogy, saying that the ambassador had the highest human qualities and he

made a great contribution to the developments of cooperation between Russia and other countries.

And in general, this whole assassination has been a shocking reminder to the Russian public that their intervention in Syria does have consequences

outside of the borders of that country, Paula.

[10:25:24] NEWTON: Yeah, and a very solemn moment that we just saw there with Vladimir Putin paying his respects. And again, as you pointed out, he

canceled a very important press conference that he has at the end of the year. We will wait, hopefully, to get that tomorrow with more news coming

out of Russia.

Our Matthew Chance there live from Moscow.

Now, if we move to Syria itself, the International Red Cross says thousands of people are still

waiting in cold and desperate conditions to get out of eastern Aleppo. You can imagine how frigid it is in that kind of weather.

Now, after a delay on Wednesday, because of that weather, the Red Cross says evacuations are now back on track Thursday and they are likely

continue into Friday.

Now, for more, we want to go to our Muhammad Lila. He joins us now as he has been for several days, along that Turkish-Syrian border.

And Muhammad, I mean, this seems to have been whatever delay was there was because of the weather. But everyone seems to be on track now. And also

what can you tell us about those UN observers who apparently have arrived? I guess better late than never.

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely better late then never. The UN actually says that over the last 24 hours, this is

a bit of a shift because they specifically pointed out that they've evacuated 4,000 rebel fighters from

eastern Aleppo. And they've even gone further to say that the only people left in eastern Aleppo right now are rebel fighters and their families.

So, clearly, we are now at the last stages of this evacuation. The Red Cross also made a point of

saying, look, normally in a war zone, their only job is to rescue civilians and look after civilians. But they say they've been asked by both sides to

play this role where they can guarantee the evacuation of fighters in this case. So, they're even sort of breaking from their own

protocol to make sure everybody in eastern Aleppo gets taken to safety.

They've also even spelled out how they're doing it. They say that they have monitors who are

monitoring the entire roadway that leads from eastern Aleppo to the western Aleppo country side. And with those people on the ground and, of course,

now with those UN monitors that you've mentioned, they're hopeful that the cease-fire won't be broken by one of these other militant groups that in

the past have tried to scuttle the whole deal.

But clearly, the takeaway from this, Paula, is that we are now in the final moments of Aleppo being retaken by the Syrian army.

NEWTON: yeah. And interesting to note that President Assad has said that in fact he gives the credit both to the Russians from the air and to the

Iranian with the Hezbollah forces on the ground for being able to retake Aleppo.

Muhammad, thanks so much for this update. Muhammad has been on the border there for us for several days bringing us the updates on that evacuation.

Now, the latest world news headlines are just ahead.

Plus, we will have the latest on that terror attack in Berlin. We'll look at how Germany is

rethinking the use of those surveillance cameras.

And sadness and splendor as the Christmas market reopens following that tragedy.



[10:32:05] NEWTON: Now, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are traveling to the traditional winter vacation spot by helicopter amid reports that

both the royals are suffering from heavy colds.

Our royal correspondent Max Foster joins us live from outside Buckingham Palace. I mean, flu or cold before the holidays, so many of us can relate,

Max, so many of us can relate.

And yet, you've counseled me for years, saying that, look, the queen doesn't like to change the plan for any reason whatsoever. So they have

changed the plan. Please tell us how, and what it means in terms of how ill she and the prince actually were.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're not 95 or 90, so that's probably one of the reasons why people got concerned. They are older. And what they do every year is they go to Sandringham, as you were

saying for their Christmas holidays and they have this big lunch with the rest of the family. And they absolutely stick to those plans, have for

decades. What happened yesterday was they were due at the train station, and the platform was cleared, and even the royal protection officers were

there, and literally the last minute, they canceled. Then we had this vacuum of information into the palace saying they had these very heavy


Then they stayed overnight. And there was a lot of concern, because at their age and because she doesn't break those habits easily. And she would

have known how it possibly could have been interpreted. And it would have inflamed worries about her health.

And then eventually, today, we found out that she would be going up to Sandringham, but by helicopter. So, a huge amount of relief that they're

well enough to travel, but they still have got these colds. They're going to have to be careful. Because I think, you know, the British media is

certainly on watch over the Christmas period, to make sure they get through this OK.

The concern really is just that, you know, they are at this age and a cold can quickly develop.

But they obviously got the best care around them. And I'm sure they're looking after themselves. They wouldn't have traveled unless they knew

they could.

NEWTON: Absolutely,that was a good sign. And we wish them a happy and healthy holiday.

Having said that, Max, this has -- this does follow the news, in fact, that the queen has really dropped some things from her schedule. I mean, can

you tell us more about that? And is that a capitulation, that, look, I can't do what I used to do at my age?

FOSTER: Yeah, so she stepped back from 25 charities and organizations and handed them over to other members of the family just earlier this week.

She's already stopped on long haul travel. And Prince Charles and Prince William do a lot of that for her now.

I mean, she is this symbolic figure, a symbol of unity in the United Kingdom and globally.

She is obviously a huge celebrity, probably the most famous woman in the world.

But she does have to sort of step back a bit from her public role. She won't abdicate, but she does need to hand over some of those

responsibilities. It is part of a long-term transition. Ultimately, Prince Charles will take over. And perhaps this is part of building up

towards that.

But people just, you know -- Prince Charles doesn't have the same resonance that she does here and around the world. So, it is a very carefully

managed process.

And these scares really show how disruptive it would be if she were to suddenly lose her health

very quickly. So it's a long-term managed process for the queen, and how she steps back without unsettling the nation.

NEWTON: Yeah. They definitely have managed that succession smoothly so far. And as I said we wish her all good health. Max Foster, I wish you

good health, as well, going into the holiday. Max Foster there for us live in front of Buckingham Palace.

"We have known we are a target for terrorists," the words of Germany's chancellor this hour.

She says she hopes the man at the center of a Europe-wide manhunt is, of course, arrested soon. Now, you're looking at the face of what's probably

the continent's most wanted man at this hour: 24-year-old Anis Amri is suspected in Monday's attack in a Christmas market in Berlin. officials

say his fingerprints were found on the door of the truck that plowed through the market.

And CNN is also learning he previously discussed some type of an attack on Germany according to investigative files that CNN is privy to. Police are

conducting at this hour multiple raids, a recent one was a refugee shelter where Amri lived before moving to Berlin. The price for that information

that leads to him being found, more than $100,000. Andwe want to get the latest on the

ground there in Berlin from CNN's Erin McLaughlin.

And Erin, it may surprise many to learn that right now behind you, the festive lights, you see them again, 24 hours ago, you were in front of that

market telling us, you know, how quiet it was. And yet, Germans are back there again with increased security.

ERIN MCAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Paula. And during that press statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel talked about how proud she

was at the way that Berlin has responded to this attack, the calm nature of that response. And that's perhaps exemplified in

the scene just behind me. That is the Christmas market that reopened this morning.

And as you can see, a crowd has gathered in remembrance, and there's a small, makeshift memorial just at that entrance. People laying candles,

flowers, leaving notes to remember the12 lives that were lost just days ago.

The kiosks, though, have reopened. They're selling spiced wine. They're selling sweets, as well as small gifts. Customers are back and shopping.

I spoke to one customer who told me she was here today because she believes in hope.

At the same time, there is an increased security presence at the market, plenty of police officers. They've also installed concrete barriers around

the market itself in order to prevent another kind of attack, the nature we saw days ago, from happening again.

Because after all, the main suspect at the heart of this manhunt is still on the loose. Authorities described him as being armed and dangerous. In

that press conference, the German chancellor saying that they're growing increasingly confident that the 24-year-old Tunisian man, Anis Amri, is the

perpetrator of this attack. His fingerprints were found inside the cabin of the truck. They've conducted a number of raids in cities throughout

this country, including a raid at a refugee center where it is thought he once lived.

We're also hearing that this hunt is now Europewide, as well. They raided a port in Denmark, although authorities saying no arrests have been made

so far.

NEWTON: Yeah, Angela Merkel alluding to the fact that they are working, obviously, with their counterparts throughout Europe. Our Erin McLaughlin

there, where the Christmas market has reopened. Appreciate it.

Now, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump says what happened in Berlin on Monday was, in his

words, an attack on humanity. Now, Mr. Trump was asked if the Berlin attack caused him to re-evaluate the proposal he made at one point in the

election campaign to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

Although he did not directly address it, his new White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, tried to clarify her possession earlier on CNN.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, FRM. TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He talked about the ban and he's made it much more circumscribed even in the course of the campaign.

So, I would commend everybody to see what he's actually said about it and what is on his website in terms of how to defeat radical Islamic terrorism.

What he says there, Chris, is very clear. That we need better vetting policies. There are countries as you and I speak that are training,

harboring and indeed exporting terrorists to places like Nice and Brussels, and now Berlin, Germany, and certainly Paris, and the United States of

America, in San Bernardino and, of course, the radicalized lone wolf terrorist in Orlando, killing 49 innocent people in May of this year.

So, people know here and abroad that terrorism is meant to feel like the, quote, new normal. But we don't need to accept that.


[10:40:20] NEWTON: Now, for more on this and how Trump and other world leaders are responding to the attacks in Berlin, Eric Schmidt is, the

National Security correspondent for the New York Times. He joins us now from Washington.

It's been interesting to see the gold posts move here in the last few hours and days, Eric, it couldn't give U.S. officials comfort to see a very grim-

faced Angela Merkel again saying, look, we have the resolve. We're going to get this guy, but they don't have him yet.

How do you think U.S. authorities are interpreting this right now?

ERIC SCHMIDT, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, obviously, this has been something U.S. officials have been helping not only German authorities with, but

French, Belgian, and other Europeans since the tragic attacks in Paris and Brussels.

U.S. officials told me yesterday that Anis Amri was well known to them as well. This intelligence had been shared. In fact, he was known to U.S.

officials has been going online, researching how to make homemade bombs. U.S. officials detected that he had tried to contact ISIS through telegram

messenger at least once. And he was placed on a no fly list. So, U.S. officials were concerned that he was possibly, you know -- could come to

the United States at some point.

So, this is the kind of individual in Europe that the U.S. is not only watching for protection of Americans, American interests, but they're

trying to help European officials, law enforcement and intelligence to track these guys down.

NEWTON: Yeah, and you and I know that one thing Donald Trump will be hearing in these briefings, depending on how many he is getting, is the

frustration that U.S. authorities feel -- and we heard this through France and Belgium, and the fact that they handle this -- hand over this

information, but that resources on the ground stretched so thinly in Europe that, look, this guy had a tail on

him and then that tail was dropped. And we can only assume it was for resources.

How do you think this will inform the Donald Trump administration when he comes into office about, you know, perhaps even restricting more Europeans

from traveling to the United States the way they do now?

SCHMIDT: Well, I think as we've seen with his comments, and they weren't exactly clear, as your correspondent pointed out, but this is only will

reinforce his feelings that there will have to be some kind of screening, increased screening done, of whether it is Muslims or individuals coming

from certain countries that pose a terrorist threat. He's already made that clear, that he'd want to do that.

But I think this will kind of reinforce his opinion that the U.S. needs to be protected from this kind of a threat, even though U.S. officials,

immigration officials, say they believe their screening procedures are as tight as they can be. And in fact, there has not been a terrorist attack

imported to the U.S. The attacks that have come in places like Orlando, San Bernadino, have been from people insie the country, residents and citizens here.

NEWTON: It's an important point to make. This has not been a problem for the United States.

You know, here in New York, Eric, we saw during the -- having the Christmas markets here, that the NYPD stepped up security. As far as you know

throughout the United States, they took precautions even before this. I mean, the Macy's day parade here was quite well protected. There was a

heavy security presence.

Do you think they are reevaluating things on the ground, though?

SCHMIDT: I think this is something that happens this time of year and, sadly, it's been going on for many years now since 9/11, there are certain

times of year, there was a warning during the summer, there was one just recently, where any time you'll have big crowds

coming out for the holidays, special events, obviously the inauguration of President-elect Trump in January where you have large crowds, there is

going to be more security and there are going to be more alerts that will be posted, just because of the potential for some type of terrorist threat.

NEWTON: Yeah. And Eric, you know, sometimes security officials that you speak to know that it is not politically popular to perhaps do the extreme

vetting that Donald Trump has been talking about for months now. Do you think, though, that in some way they would welcome it, that they would

welcome perhaps a little bit more effective screening from people trying to come to the United States?

It sounds kind of subversive sometimes, but do you hear that from authorities, as if they believe that sometimes they do drop the ball, and

if they had a more investigative latitude, that they could make people safer here?

SCHMIDT: Well, I think certainly politically, there may be politicians out here that are going to try and make -- score political points by saying

that. But you talk to the law enforcement officials, immigration officials, I think they feel actually pretty comfortable with the

procedures that are in place now. And if anything, they want to avoid maybe swinging too far the other way and sending a signal that the U.S. is

hostile to immigrants of all kinds, not just potential terrorists, of course, which

nobody wants have here.

But will that be the signal that this administration wants to send as it comes into office, that it is

not welcoming at all for any immigrants? I mean, I think that's the thing, the danger that many profession in this business focus on. They're

obviously concentrated on the threat every day.

[10:45:12] NEWTON: Yeah. And in concentrating on that threat, you make a good point, many experts

say, look, trying to ban people or have any kind of a Muslim ban or something against immigrants

actually can backfire and radicalize more people.

Eric Schmidt who continues to follow the investigation on this side of the pond, appreciate it.

Now, live from New York, this is Connect the World. Coming up, it's been days since a deadly fireworks blast killed at least 33 people in Mexico.

We will update you on that grim investigation.


NEWTON: You're watching CNN and this is Connect the World. I'm Paula Newton in New York. Welcome back.

Mexico remains in mourning after that deadly fireworks explosion. Investigators are combing through the charred rubble to determine exactly

what could have caused the blast that rocked that busy market on Tuesday. Now, it left at least 33 people dead and dozens more injured.

Our Sara Sidner has been following this ongoing investigation. She joins us now live.

You know, Sarah, I've been watching your report the last couple days. It's just been heartbreaking as you see loved ones still unable to even, you

know, identify the victims there.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORREPSONDENT: Yeah, they are now -- the government is using DNA testing and samples to try and figure out who is who, because

some of the bodies are so badly charred, and that has of course made it difficult for them to identify and

for the families to finally get the bodies back so that they can start the process of having funerals and burying their loved ones.

And as you know, Christmas is just around the corner. And people were here with their

children, their grandparents buying some of these fireworks so they can blow them off on Christmas.

I'll give you a look at the scene looks like this morning. They are still going through the

rubble. There are still dogs, cadaver dogs, looking through to see if there are bodies or body parts

that are there, so they can continue to see if there are any people left that are still inside of that rubble.

There are several who are unidentified this hour. We have also learned this morning that at least eight children have died in this disaster, eight

children whose families we talked to one of yesterday, a three-month-old baby. They could not find that child, and then finally, yesterday,

authorities were able to identify the child as theirs and the grandfather was so devastated, he could barely get words out.

So the scene still a very sad one. The people are still standing at the morgue, still as hospitals,

waiting and hoping that their loved ones survived.

But clearly, now, the number has gone up to 33, 33 people dead. And there is no guarantee that that number won't rise -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yeah, still so upsetting to think the cadaver dogs are still going through that site, looking for remains.

Sara, in terms -- you told us yesterday, you know, that they had had accidents at that market before when authorities are going through this

investigation. Have they started to think that there should be changes, that perhaps the market will never reopen and that they need to regulate it

in a different way?

[10:50:22] SIDNER: Yeah, we've heard from the mayor yesterday of this town, and you

know, this is the industry that fuels the economy in Tultepec. So they are going to rebuild. And the people we talked to, the stall owners that were

here that survived this, they are saying, this is what we know. This is how we make a living. We don't have anything else in this town. And this

town is very much dependent on the pyrotechnics market.

However, they made changes in 2005 and '06 after there were two fires, one of which left people injured. No one died in either, but they did make

changes. They made sure that the stalls were not as close together. And they're made of concrete. And they said, look,

people need to put their fireworks, especially the very big, explosive ones, put them back behind some barriers, put them back behind some glass.

But what was discovered in Reforma Newspaper here is that when they went to look at what the

market looked like before this accident, they noticed some of the vendors put their fireworks out in front of the glass. And the reason for putting

it behind the glass is that if there is something that catches fire, it will stop that terrible chain reaction that we thought we saw. That didn't


And you, I want to show you these pictures again of those fireworks just going off, one after the other. And it lasted, one of the officials told

us, for about 30 minutes, of just blasts going off on the scene here. And that is a chain reaction. That's lots of fireworks, one

next to another, going off because it got so hot.

It also was so powerful that it blew chunks of concrete, some of the buildings blown apart, and had debris flying all over the place, so people

possibly injured by that debris, not just by the fire and the explosions.

So, I'm sure they'll be looking again at what went wrong here and trying to figure out what

more they can do in the future to make sure that this place is regulated. We know that the police had been coming in and out of here quite regularly

because some of the stall owners were complaining that they weren't selling as much because they were watching so closely for people buying certain

things and saying, look, you can't buy that. you can't have this.

So, it is really a tragedy that could have been avoided. But what we do not know is exactly

how it started. Was it intentional? Was it an accident? How did it start? And that's what authorities, and, of course, the stall owners and

the families, really want to know.

NEWTON: Yeah, and that will be key to keeping people safe if that market does reopen.

Our Sara Sidner following the investigation. Appreciate it.

Other stories on our radar today.

The death toll is rising from a series of bombings claimed by ISIS in iraq. Now, three car bombs, one of them a suicide attack, rocked a village east

of Mosul. At least 16 people were killed dozens were wounded. Pro- government forces recaptured the area from ISIS just last month.

A new role for Donald Trump's high-profile, former campaign manager. Kellyanne Conway, we showed you earlier, speaking about Donald Trump's

policy, well, she actually has landed atop White House job now. She'll serve as counselor to the president, working with other senior aides on

crafting Trump's messages and helping to execute his legislative priorities.

A controversial bathroom bill is still law in the U.S. state of North Carolina. Lawmakers failed to repeal it during a special session. The law

bans transgender people from using public bathrooms that don't correspond with their biological sex as listed on their birth certificates.

Live from New York, this is Connect the World. Coming up, raids in Berlin as authorities

work around the clock to track down the man at the center of a massive manhunt. We'll have all the details next.


[10:55:47] NEWTON: Live from New York, you're watching CNN and this is Connect the World. I'm Paula Newton. Welcome back.

An update now on the intense investigation of the Christmas market attack in Germany. Investigators say they found Tunisian suspect Anis Amri's

fingerprints on the door of the truck that was used to kill 12 people and injured dozens of others.

Now, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has praised the team investigating the attack, saying we have known we are a target for terrorists. She added

that she hoped Amri would, of course, be arrested soon.

Now, for more updates on what's going on in Berlin, and there is a lot to update you on, fast moving developments every hour, make sure you find your

way to our Facebook page where we try our best to get you the very latest on the stories.


Elsewhere online -- thank heaven because we all need this break today -- a video that I'm really hoping will get a laugh out of everyone. So, for

your Parting Shots, here is an adorable panda video.

I know. It is really cheap of us, but it was easy. Cheap and easy.

Look at this kid. This giant panda was given a winter friend. Employees at the Toronto Zoo built (inaudible) a snowman to keep him company. And

some say he got a little excited, scratching it for a while while climbing on top of his new companion.

OK, finally, finally, finally he knocked off the head, continues to kind of brawl with it there.

I mean, I don't know, I wouldn't want to be this snowman in this position, but that is hilarious video. I've got to tell you, this video has gone

completely viral through my daughter's high school already. I can only imagine what is going to happen in China.

I mean, seriously good fun. And yes, we could all use it today.

I thank you for joining me this week on Connect the World. I'm Paula Newton live in New

York. Stay with us here at CNN for the very latest as we update that investigation in Germany.