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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Berlin Terror Suspect Shot Dead in Milan; U.N. Demands End to Israeli Settlements; Trump Releases Letter Putin Sent Him; Israel Lobbies Trump on U.N. Vote; U.N. Demands End to Israeli Settlements; Berlin Terror Suspect Shot Dead in Milan; FBI Warns of ISIS Threats to U.S. Holiday Events; Hijacking of Libyan Plane Ends Peacefully. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired December 23, 2016 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Tonight, a historic vote at the United Nations. Good evening from the CNN Center. I'm Richard Quest.
The Security Council of the U.N. has voted to demand Israel end settlement building in the West Bank. The vote was 14 in favor and there was one
abstention, which was the United States.
The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. explained the American position.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: It is because this forum too often continues to be biased against Israel, because there are important
issues that are not sufficiently addressed in this resolution and because the United States does not agree with every word in this text, that the
United States did not vote in favor of the resolution.
But it is because this resolution reflects the facts on the ground and is consistent with U.S. policy across Republican and Democratic
administrations throughout the history of the State of Israel that the United States did not veto it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: You won't be surprised to hear the reaction coming in thick and fast. Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has bashed the
resolution, which he describes as "a shameful anti-Israel resolution" and will not abide by its terms.
He also goes on to say the Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up; it colluded with it behind the scenes and
perhaps in the coup de grace, Israel looks forward to working with President-Elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress.
The Israeli ambassador to the U.N. called the resolution a victory for terrorism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sad truth is that today's vote will be a victory for terror. It will be a victory for hatred and violence. By continuing
to provide excuses for the Palestinians, to avoid recognizing our right to exist, you're only maintaining the status quo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Donald Trump took to Twitter immediately after the vote and he tweeted, "As to the U.N., things will be different after January the 20th,"
which of course is his inauguration day.
CNN's Oren Liebermann joins us now from Jerusalem.
Oren, there are so many strands to this. Let's parse it down bit by bit to be as clear as we can be.
First of all, the significance of the U.S. not vetoing this resolution.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power gave a lengthy speech, in which she made it clear why the
U.S. abstained here but didn't vote in favor of it.
For them, this resolution was missing parts of it. It was missing condemnation of Palestinian incitement and the glorification of terrorism.
But at its core -- and this was the reason the U.S. abstained -- settlements: plain and simple, settlement construction and settlement
expansion in the West Bank.
They made clear a few points. They said Netanyahu himself has said this is the most pro-settlement government in Israeli history. Meanwhile,
settlement plans continue as those settlements expand and the settlement population grows.
The U.S. made is very clear that was at the heart of the abstention.
QUEST: OK, but at the same time, Donald Trump has basically made it clear he would have vetoed that resolution and is saying today, after January
20th, it would be different.
So how much of the U.S.'s decision to veto was really politics?
Because in another world if Obama was not about to leave office, might they have been expected to follow form and veto?
LIEBERMAN: Absolutely, I think if Obama weren't about to leave office, he certainly would have vetoed, as he did the last time a very similar
resolution came through in 2011.
But it is because of the Obama feeling and the Obama administration feeling about the expansion of settlements as an obstacle to peace, that they let
this one go through. It's no coincidence of the timing of this. It was after the election so it wouldn't affect the race at all but before Obama
And before Trump came in, who's made it clear he would move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of
Israel. Those are his promises; those are promises that Obama sought. He'd always wanted to leave his mark on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
And he did it right before he left office in this way with this resolution. But you do make an excellent resolution, Richard. Trump could stop --
LIEBERMAN: -- this resolution over the next four years from having any real effect. This, although it was passed, and it won't be repealed at the
U.N. Security Council, almost certainly not, may not have any practical effect with Trump promising to protect Israel at the U.N. while he's in
QUEST: Can we sum this up rather simply by saying Benjamin Netanyahu is basically salivating for January the 20th?
LIEBERMAN: Yes, I think that is absolutely a fair statement, he has made it clear throughout the last 24 hours and perhaps even a little bit before,
where he was more vague, just saying a Trump presidency would be great. He was optimistic.
But never statements as clear as the ones he's made now, saying basically that the Obama administration worked behind the Israelis, colluded with the
Palestinians, which is an accusation that both the Americans and the Palestinians deny.
Very clear though, Netanyahu looking very much forward to a change in administration and to working with Trump.
QUEST: Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem, we'll talk more, Oren, in the hours ahead as we discuss this further tonight and the other big stories that
QUEST: CNN spoke exclusively to the family of the Berlin terror suspect, Anis Amri, who was killed today in Milan after a shootout with Italian
police. His older brother has been apologizing to the people of Berlin and to the families of the 12 people killed when Amri took a truck and plowed
into a Christmas market.
Anis Amri's mother is telling us her son phoned her only last Friday; she did not notice anything unusual during the call. She says he was laughing
as always. The 24-year-old Tunisian was shot dead by Italian police on Friday morning.
It all occurred during a routine police check, when Amri pulled out a gun from his backpack and fired at the Italian police; he was then killed in
the subsequent shootout.
CNN's Eric McLaughlin has the latest on the investigation from Berlin.
ANIS AMRI, BERLIN MARKET TERRORIST: (Speaking foreign language).
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, new video released by ISIS shows Anis Amri, the man police believe attacked the
Berlin Christmas market, pledging his allegiance to the terror group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and threatening the West.
AMRI (through translator): By God's will, we will slaughter you pigs. I swear we will slaughter you.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): It's unclear when the tape was made or where it was recorded. Twenty-four-year-old Tunisian man was killed overnight in a
shootout with police outside of a small train station near Milan.
The Italian government says they were not tracking Amri and didn't even know he was in the country. Officers on regular patrol approached him
around 3:00 in the morning because he was acting suspiciously.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The suspect immediately drew out a gun and shot at the police officers who'd asked him to show
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): With Amri dead, police across Europe are now frantically trying to find any accomplices who may have helped him. The
fact ISIS had the tape of the alleged terrorist ready to release combined with Amri's train route from Germany to France and on to Italy suggests
that he may not have acted alone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The death of the attacker from Berlin certainly doesn't mean the end of the investigation or the end of the threat. He was
unfortunately embedded in a much larger network.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): CNN has learned authorities were not just aware of Amri. It appears they were concerned he might turn to terror. Two
German intelligence officials tell CNN this spring, Amri was put on a list of what they called "dangerous Islamists," one of about 550 people
considered to be on a, quote, "terror spectrum."
Sources tell CNN Amri was on the list because of his connections to a known ISIS recruitment network in Germany, raising fears his death could
accelerate plans for other attacks by those with whom he was in contact.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly whatever reticence the German authorities had to disrupting this network prior to now, that is gone. And so these
individuals know they're operating on a finite clock.
QUEST: Now this investigation is clearly in the early stages with many questions, including the months of the tough police work that lie ahead.
(INAUDIBLE) makes sense (INAUDIBLE) Robert Baer, CNN's intelligence and security analyst, and a former CIA operative, who joins me from Irvine,
Bob, look, it was a routine police stop that lead to the shootout but in doing so -- but before that, of course, Amri had managed to get from
Germany, through France and on into Italy.
How troublesome is that?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, for European politics, Richard, it's very troublesome; 20 years ago --
BAER: -- you could have -- you would have been stopped by the police in France. They would have had their picture. But there's no border checks
in Europe and you can move easily about and avoid jurisdictions like Germany, so he very cleverly gets out of Germany quickly, goes to France,
makes it to Italy, whether he was going to get in touch with a network there or try on his own to get out of Europe, we will never know.
But I think that this, you know, the attack in Berlin, the fact that he got away so easily and so quickly and made it across those borders, doesn't
bode well for the European Union. These rightist parties will grab hold of this and make hay out of it.
QUEST: Is it a feeling amongst the intelligence sources now, Robert, that actually this is part of a much larger cell that has been waiting to pounce
or are we still sort of thinking lone wolf, who might have had a bit of help from someone somewhere?
BAER: Well, Richard, all of these people need to be recruited in some way. It's often outside of the mosque. Sometimes inside of the mosque. Their
mentors are teaching in the way of martyrdom and jihad. It's something you can get on the Internet but generally it's the influence of cells.
They're very loosely organized, very difficult to roll up. It's the strength of weak links. And this is what we're seeing in Germany.
And of course, what do the Germans do about this?
Does it take those 500 people on the list and simply expel them?
German law would not support that.
QUEST: Isn't that exactly the point?
I just want to delve on to that matter.
Everybody keeps telling me, all our experts keep telling, well, he was known to the Americans, he was known to the Germans, he'd been in prison
with the Italians.
But no one is able to tell me what they should have done about it until he committed an offense. And in this case, he didn't need any specialist
tools or experiences. He merely hijacked a truck.
BAER: Yes, exactly. In American law, he take one overt act, like buy a ticket to Syria. He talked vaguely about jihad and the commitment to
violence and martyrdom. But that is a very vague ideology and frankly a lot of people entertain it.
But he didn't break German law. Otherwise, he would have gone to jail. You can tighten up German laws and take that one overt act and make it
very, very loose. And I supposed you could put these people away but the problem is, in Germany, since the Third Reich, they do not want a police
state, at least up until now.
But you look at the alternative for Germany is saying look at this. This is exactly why we can't take a million immigrants and exactly why we can't
accommodate them with our current laws. And let's wait to see how well they do in the next -- in the upcoming elections.
QUEST: Bob, good to have your analysis on that. Thank you, sir, Bob Baer, joining us from California.
As we continue, we're going to be live in Berlin and Milan throughout the course of the hour.
But on that point about warnings, there was a warning from the U.S. intelligence officials right before this Christmas and Hanukkah weekend.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have released a joint bulletin regarding possible ISIS threats. It's basically saying that
places of worship are potential threats.
Our Justice correspondent, Evan Perez joins me now.
Evan, when I read the warning, I thought to myself, isn't this just stating the obvious?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is and frankly this time of year, we see threats like this populate every year. But it is something that resulted
from a specific threat that appeared on pro-ISIS websites in the last few days.
So the warning from the FBI and the Homeland Security department that went out to law enforcement agencies and private security companies around the
country, around the United States, reads in part, "ISIS sympathizers continue aspirational calls for attacks on holiday gatherings, including
the targeting of churches."
Now as I mentioned in the last few days, pro=ISIS websites have shown some threats from some sympathizers simply who are listing thousands of churches
in the United States, including the addresses and calling for attackers to go there and carry out attack.
That is what prompted the FBI and Homeland Security Department to issue this warning and also obviously in light of what happened in Berlin, with
the attack on the Christmas market, I think one of the things that I've talked to officials about in the last couple of days is that after the
Berlin attack, they've noticed an increase in threat chatter, everything that happens over the year would certainly because of what happened in
Berlin, they're a lot --
PEREZ: -- more concerned.
QUEST: OK, so what do they do about it?
PEREZ: Well, one of the things that the FBI is doing is they know they have a list of people who they know are ISIS sympathizers in this country,
what they're doing is simply going over their files, checking to see does any changes, if nobody -- if there's nobody who's behaving differently and
appears to be trying to get ready for an attack.
But it is very difficult work this, to try to figure out where these guys will strike next. Only they know where they will do this.
QUEST: But also, to jump in here -- forgive me, Evan. I don't know if you were able to hear my discussion with Bob Baer a moment or two ago, I mean,
until they commit an act, an overt act, and actually do something, yes, there are various offensives of preparation and conspiracy and all those
sorts of things.
What are the authorities supposed --
QUEST: -- usual suspects.
PEREZ: Right, exactly but in the United States, actually one of the things -- and this gets a lot of criticism, especially from European countries --
is the use of the material support law, which is where the FBI uses informants and undercover people to lure some of these guys who they
believe are planning to do something and give them a way to try to nab them, to give them perhaps a fake attack to try to carry out, as a way to
get them off the streets.
That's a tactic that the United States has used a lot. We've had a couple hundred ISIS supporters that have been prosecuted in this country in the
last few years. Again, it gets a lot of criticism especially from Europeans, where that type of tactic is not allowed. But that's one way
the FBI uses their power here.
QUEST: Evan Perez in Washington, thank you, sir.
Now it has been an extraordinarily busy day, not only have we had the United Nations vote on Israel's settlements and we've had the killing of
the Berlin -- and we've also had a hijacking today, a drama. It was a Libyan aircraft. More than 100 passengers were on the plane with hijackers
took it over.
We're going to show you how all that transpired and what happened as the day progressed.
QUEST: A peaceful ending tonight to what could have been a major disaster with the hijacking of a Libyan passenger jet. The two hijackers
surrendered hours after ordering the Afrikia (ph) Airways aircraft to be diverted to Malta.
The released all 109 passengers and seven crew members. They'd been threatening to blow up the plane with hand grenades. It turns out the
weapons were not real.
Ian Lee is in London and followed the day's events.
And first of all, let's break this into two halves here, Ian. Let's first of all do the resolution and then we'll look at how they got on the plane
in the first place.
The resolution of this: the plane landed in Malta, having been refused permission to land in Alexandria.
QUEST: And then the prime minister basically said that was that.
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is right; the Maltese army first and they secured the plane, the perimeter around the plane, and then there were
negotiations taking place to end it peacefully.
We heard from the prime minister saying that they were not going to listen to any demands from the hijackers, that they said they wanted the
passengers and the crew off of that plane first and then they would listen to any demands they may have.
So there was some tense times there on the tarmac because they were threatening to blow it up. They said they had grenades that they were
ready to use although we found out later that at least from the prime minister that these weapons were replicas.
But then we started seeing women and children coming off. Then later men. Finally all the passengers came off and we saw it winding down a little bit
when the crew finally came off and then the hijackers surrounded.
But there was one time when we saw one of the hijackers come out and wave a green, former Libyan flag of Moammar Gadhafi, which may give us a hint of
why they may do it.
But right now the Maltese government still hasn't released the motive behind this -- Richard.
QUEST: OK. But the plane -- they originally wanted to take the plane to Egypt, the Egyptian authorities refused permission for it to land there.
Do we know why?
LEE: Yes, because this plane didn't take off from one of the designated airports that Egypt recognizes in Libya. And so the Egyptian ministry of
civil aviation said that this plane cannot come into Egyptian airspace.
And that is when the plane was diverted to Malta. Initially the pilots wanted to land it at another airport in Libya. But the hijackers refused.
And so you had that looking around in the region to see where they could go. And you had Egypt, as you said, they denied it, and then that's why
they went to Malta.
QUEST: The fake devices that were able to get on board. Now the security from the airport where this flight began, Ian, you know this region very
Are you surprised that somebody was able to get a fake device onto an aircraft with what you know of the security?
LEE: Not at all. Libya is in turmoil right now. You have different warring factions. This plane came from Saba (ph) and until recently you
had a war between two different tribes, with people killed.
And we heard from Libyan lawmakers saying that a lot of times, security at these airports are run by tribes and they are not professional. These
aren't people who really know what they're doing or what they're looking for, that it is easy to get around the security checkpoints.
What is somewhat surprising in all of this Richard, is that these weapons were not real. Libya is awash with a lot of real weapons and I would think
it would be harder to get fake weapons than it would be to get real weapons.
So it is quite a bizarre situation which happened and that these men, also getting on this plane, it does raise those questions about security for
Europe, too, as this plane landed in Malta and was able to make it that far.
QUEST: Ian, good to see you, sir, thank you.
Ian Lee in London.
Let's stay in the U.K., the former Scotland Yard commander Roy Ramm joins us now from London via Skype.
So hijackings -- I'm not being facetious when I say this -- but you'll understand what I mean, Commander, it is very 1970s. We thought it was all
over and this sort of thing did not happen.
But you were listening to Ian Lee; in an environment like Libya, which is seeing almost a full breakdown of proper security measures, we can't be
ROY RAMM, FORMER SCOTLAND YARD COMMANDER: I think that is right, I don't think Libya is the only place that we need to be concerned about. You can
have all the security measures in the world, as much technology as you want, as many scanners as you want.
But if you have got complicit staff on the inside of an airport, perhaps working as baggage hands, as ground staff, whatever, a determined terrorist
group will achieve getting weapons through in many of these places.
QUEST: And the Maltese government or the government of Malta seem to have handled this in a textbook fashion. Obviously from your experience, you
know, the plane gets landed; it's never going to take off again, it's sent to a remote part of the field.
From what you know of today, how was it handled?
RAMM: You know, I take my hat off to them, I think they did extremely well.
RAMM: I had the privilege of running hostage negotiation courses in the U.K., around about 26 of those courses and I had Maltese officers on the
course. And so there is a broad international understanding of how these things ought to be handled.
And I think the Maltese did it absolutely textbook. They isolated the aircraft, they started a dialogue very quickly. We seem to be very
fruitful, they kept it calm, they weren't aggressive and that is very important. And everybody getting off that plane in an (INAUDIBLE) really,
really, it sets an example of that's how to do it.
But in a sense, they were lucky in that the people that took the plane were asylum seekers. They were seeking not to destroy the aircraft but
It could have been very different.
When you're in those negotiations, Commander, how do you mentally divorce the fact that one wrong move by you could precipitate the destruction?
RAMM: It really goes to the fundamentals of any hostage negotiation, whether it's on an airplane or whether it's something much less dramatic.
It is a team effort. The person is actually doing the speaking is being monitored by others.
Everyone is looking and listening very hard, really listening very intently to the replies and trying to assess whether or the negotiations are
actually being effective.
At the same time there is an intelligence operation going on to try and understand what's going on within a stronghold. And an incident commander
is always bouncing the effectiveness of negotiations against the possible effectiveness of a tactical assault.
Now a tactical assault on an aircraft is a very, very difficult thing to achieve. They're not easy vehicles to board for obvious reasons. So you
will see that, in a situation involving an aircraft, negotiations are likely to be the chosen form of resolution for a very long time.
QUEST: Good to have your insight and your expertise with us tonight, we needed it, thank you, sir.
QUEST: So we continue, the key suspect in the Berlin market attack has been shot and killed in the early hours of Friday morning. The (INAUDIBLE)
ended in Milan and it brought to a close the Europe-wide manhunt.
The only problem here is that this suspect was able to get from Germany right the way through France and into Italy and anyway it was only a
routine stop that brought him to their attention.
Also we had a talk about Russia's president weighing in and growing fears of a nuclear arms race and some pleasant words that he sent by letter to
the U.S. incoming president. We'll be in Moscow after the break.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest at the CNN Center and this is CNN news now.
QUEST: More now on the investigation into the Berlin Christmas market attack. The terror suspect, Anis Amri, was shot dead in Milan on Friday.
Authorities are examining how he managed to evade capture since the attack. Now we have correspondents in both cities.
Erin McLaughlin is in Berlin, Nina dos Santos is in Milan.
Erin, hold your horses for one second I'm going to start with Nina.
Nina, this was a routine stop and check that elicited the fact that this man was Amri.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN HOST: Yes, it seems like he was caught by happenstance, really. At 3:00 am in the morning right behind me, Richard,
there is still blood on the pavement, his blood on the pavement, probably frozen by now because it's rather cold here.
Forensics teams have been here throughout the course of the morning taking away evidence. What we know so far is that those two young police officers
who are now being hailed in Italy and in the world of social media as heroes here because they asked him for his documents. He pulled out a gun
instead and immediately began firing.
One of them was hit; he's now in hospital. But the younger officer who had only been on the beat for about nine months and recently transferred to
this part of Italy, he had the quick thinking to pull out his gun and fire two bullets. And the second Amri was dead.
They managed to identify him, thanks to fingerprints and they also seemed to indicate, according to Italian media reports, that we know that he was
probably found with train tickets on his person, that indicate a trip through France, that he arrived in Italy from the northwestern part of
And the big question authorities have this evening is his journey to radicalization may have started and ended here in Italy.
But where he was headed next?
All right, now, stay with me, Nina. Let's go up to Berlin, where I think it's probably colder than it is for you in Milan.
Erin McLaughlin, look, with the Schengen zone, obviously he can travel without papers from one country to another.
But surely people must be asking the question, knowing there was a manhunt underway, how was this possible, even allowing (INAUDIBLE)?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Richard. Authorities here asking how it was possible that a man who was on a terror watch list here
in Germany was able to hijack a 25-ton truck, drive it through the Christmas market right behind me, escape undetected, make his way to
France and then to Italy, where he was found, as Nina just said, by happenstance.
Authorities here working to piece together that puzzle to really understand the sort of security failures that happened. But really chief among their
concerns here in Berlin tonight is the possibility that he could have been helped by accomplices.
Now we know that he was a member of this pro-ISIS recruitment network, senior figures from --
-- that network having been arrested back in November. But what authorities are very concerned about is that they didn't get everyone in
that network. There are more people out there, potentially planning, Richard, more attacks.
QUEST: Nina, as a result of this -- and I know the new Italian prime minister has been in touch with Angela Merkel -- obviously as soon as this
happened -- but the comment is basically that look, security, cross-border security in Europe within Schengen has to be improved.
DOS SANTOS: Yes, it is highly ironic as well, Richard, that it seems like he managed to make his way to Italy through three countries that actually
decided in the summer of this year to have a high-level leader level summit on the issue of reinforcing security and sharing more information among
their intelligence communities.
By the way, that particular initiative was spearheaded by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. Obviously here in Italy you have a change of
government. But the man that has taken over at the helm of this caretaker government was the foreign minister. His name is Paolo Gentiloni. He is
now the interim prime minister of Italy. So he's somebody who's acutely aware of these sensitivities.
The big question is, how did this particular individual, Europe's most wanted man, end up in a car park outside of a train station in a suburb of
Milan, not even part of the center of the city?
Where was he going, does he have accomplices here or is he heading elsewhere? Further east, perhaps, to the Balkans. That is the focus of
the investigation in Italy this evening -- Richard.
QUEST: Nina's in Milan, Erin is in Berlin. Thank you to both.
The video that has emerged showing the Berlin terror suspect pledging allegiance to the leader of ISIS. We showed it to you earlier. Michael
Weiss joins us, CNN contributor and senior editor at "The Daily Beast" and coauthor of "ISIS: Inside the Army (INAUDIBLE).
Michael, you and I have discussed this many times in the past few days.
What do you make of it?
Is it once again bravado, just making a statement?
Or are there real links here to someone in Syria or elsewhere?
MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: If you're inspired by ISIS, you're meant to give this last will and testament pledging bayat (ph) or an allegiance
to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
But in this case, Richard -- and I told this to you on Monday, when the story broke, I never really thought he was a lone wolf. The sequence of
events, from hijacking, not just any truck but a truck that was loaded with 25 tons of steel, turning it into a mobile battering ram, killing the
driver of the truck and then driving, what, two hours into Central Berlin and committing this mass atrocity, this struck me as having some level of
coordination and planning.
And Anis Amri was part of a network in Germany which is considered to be the most prominent ISIS recruitment network. It was headed by a guy called
Abu Walla (ph), who is an 32-year-old Iraqi sheikh, who has a Facebook page, where he gives his sermons and his YouTube videos, 25,000 followers.
Been under surveillance by German security forces for about three years and we know that he has sent people off to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS because
one of them ended up defecting coming back.
And upon his arrests, identified Abu Walla (ph) as the number one ISIS recruiter in all of Germany. And it seemed like Anis Amri had two
handlers, so to speak, one of whom was a deputy of Abu Walla (ph), a guy called Bobin Esk (ph), who is a German (INAUDIBLE) national.
And out of his apartment, in the area -- again, the locus we're looking at it North Rhine Westphalia -- out of his apartment was running a kind of,
you know, ad hoc Islamic center, where he would proselytize and indoctrinate recruits into the tenets of Salafi jihadism. We don't know
how many people attended these seminars, right. It could be tens; it could be hundreds.
And this is the problem.
How extensive is Abu Walla's (ph) network and who helped Anis Amri get from Berlin all the way back to Milan?
QUEST: Right but a tweet has just come out. I want to read it to you.
"The tweet says, 'By God's will we will slaughter you pigs, I swear we will slaughter you.'
"This is a purely religious threat which turned into reality. Such hatred.
"When will the U.S. and all countries fight back?"
That is a tweet from Donald Trump.
But what do we make of it?
Obviously we have now got a president-elect who is, on the one hand, you know, wanting greater nuclear capabilities. On the other hand, he seems to
be having his own private war with anyone who will listen on these other issues.
What do you make of it?
WEISS: It is in keeping with Donald Trump's metier, right. I mean --
WEISS: -- he takes to Twitter, he came out and said this was an Islamic attack on Christians before all of the facts were in.
Look, I am second to none in loathing ISIS and everything it stands for.
But language like what Anis Amri used in his last will and testament, just read any tract by any ISIS follower or any ISIS cleric. Abu Bakr al-
Baghdadi, read his sermon in July 2014. The language used, Crusaders, Zionist pigs, you know, there's a global conspiracy against all Sunni
Muslims, et cetera, et cetera.
This is the prose of ISIS. This is exactly how they talk about all disbelievers. And it's important to make a distinction here. The first
victims of ISIS are Sunni Muslims who do not fit the category that has been assigned to them by ISIS as being the true believers of Islam, espousing
the Salafi jihadi ideology and being top furues (ph). That is those who declare apostasy on Muslims who are deemed insufficiently pious.
And then the real genocidal project ISIS has got is against Shia Muslims. And then from that follows -- there's a declension, you know, the
Westerners, Jews, Christians, atheists, etc.
But, again, there is nothing new here about this. If you're going to be a jihadi who follows the ISIS script, so to speak, this is exactly how you
talk and this is exactly how you think about everybody but your own.
QUEST: Michael Weiss in New York, thank you.
QUEST: Now when we come back, we take our top stories (INAUDIBLE) vote at the U.N. condemning Israeli settlements.
QUEST: We return now to our top story. The U.N. Security Council which vote to demand Israel end settlement buildings in the West Bank; the vote
was 14 in favor and there was one abstention, which was the United States, which refused not only to cast a vote and veto the resolution.
CNN global affairs analyst -- correspondent -- I beg your pardon -- Elise Labott joins me from Washington.
There is a lot to get through here, so let's take it at a fair clip.
How significant is it, Elise, that the U.S. abstained and did not veto?
Give us a perspective.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Richard, I don't think you can underestimate how significant it is. It's not unprecedented that the U.S.
would vote against Israel in the U.N. Security Council. President Bush did it, President Carter did it, President Clinton even did it. This is the
first time the Obama administration did it.
But on something like settlements, that is such a controversial issue and which the Obama administration itself said was an issue for final status
negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, to support a resolution that calls them a flagrant violation --
LABOTT: -- of international law really does set up a situation for Israel where they will have claims against them in the international community
about settlements. And it does affect any future U.S. peace negotiations.
And the Israelis have always counted on U.S. support at the U.N. as a crucial tenet and now they, the Israelis, really do feel abandoned. But
the Obama administration did feel very powerful about the settlement issues. They called it an impediment to peace. And I think it was a very
significant parting shot by this administration.
QUEST: Right, but Donald Trump and his tweet after that said, "As regards the U.N., things will be different after January the 20th."
So although, if you like, the landscape may have changed, they -- the significance of once again having the U.S. fully in their court probably
can't be overstated either.
LABOTT: No, look, under President Trump, he has promised the U.S. will support Israel at the United Nations and elsewhere. He just appointed a
very controversial ambassador that totally sides with Israel on its position on settlements, on moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to
I mean, they are expecting a much friendlier administration. But the U.S. leadership, while very important in this world, is not in a vacuum, so
Israel could face a lot of international repercussions as a result of this vote.
QUEST: Now, you're our State Department correspondent and you watch the State Department like a hawk. He's also appointed this chap, Jason
Greenblatt (ph), who was his executive vice president and chief legal officer at the Trump organization.
Now Greenblatt (ph) is to take on the title of special representative for international negotiations, which includes the Middle East, we're told; the
Palestinian peace process; the American relationship with Cuba and trade agreements.
All right, I'm throwing this at you without warning.
What is the State Department going to make of Mr. Greenblatt (ph) joining them?
LABOTT: We don't know if he'll be based at the State Department or he'll be based at the White House or what his position will be. These are
appointments that, A, these are people that have been with Donald Trump a very long time.
So clearly they have his trust and -- but these are lawyers with no -- and Mr. Greenblatt (ph) and also David Friedman, these are his lawyers with no
prior diplomatic or government experience and they're very unabashedly pro- Israel.
There has been this long accusation of the State Department that it is anti-Israel.
So I think they're going to see is this a recalibration of the U.S. more leaning towards Israel?
I think that is how State Department careerists will be looking at this, certainly that's how they did under the Friedman appointment.
QUEST: Good to see you. Thank you.
Now the U.S. president-elect, Donald Trump, has revealed a personal letter that came from the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. We'll have the
QUEST: U.S.-Russia relations can't get any worse, is the blunt words of Russian president Vladimir Putin. He tried to downplay the threat of a
Soviet era arms race. The concerns flared up after Donald Trump tweeted about boosting America's nuclear capability.
Our correspondent in Moscow is Matthew Chance.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: During his annual epic news conference that's lasted nearly four hours this year, Vladimir Putin
addressed a range of issues, including the comments by President-Elect Trump about the United States renewing its nuclear arsenal.
Putin moved to downplay the risk of a new nuclear arms race with the U.S., saying there was nothing new in President-Elect Trump's controversial
remarks on the subject. Take a listen to what Vladimir Putin had to say.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): So if someone accelerates and speeds up the arms race, it's not us. But I would like to
underline, which is important for our domestic situation and domestic public.
I would like to say that we will never, once we are in the arms race, we will never spend too much, more than we can afford.
CHANCE: Right. Well, the Kremlin also confirmed it sent that letter offering President-Elect Trump seasonal greetings and expressing hope for
an improvement in the relationship between Moscow and Washington.
The whole tone of the letter which was only made public a week after it was sent appears very conciliatory and very positive, certainly in stark
contrast to the scathing tone that we have seen the Kremlin adopt when speaking about the current U.S. administration.
During his news conference, Putin again launched into an attack on the White House while answering a question about alleged hacking of the U.S.
"The current U.S. administration," Putin said, "always tries to find a scapegoat for its failings. The Democrats lost the presidency and the
Congress," he said.
"Am I responsible for that?
"If you lose," Putin added, "you should lose with dignity."
Again, a dig at the outgoing Obama administration while extending the hand of friendship to the incoming Trump one -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.
QUEST: Donald Trump appears to be publicly shaping policy on Russia and elsewhere such as the Middle East. It all breaks with the tradition, a
long tradition, that is basically summed up by President Obama, have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our work has also helped to stabilize the global economy and because there is one president at a time,
I'll spend this week reinforcing America's support for the approaches that we have taken to promote economic growth and global security on a range of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Tim Thaly (ph) is presidential historian, author, served as director of the Nixon Presidential Library, director of New York's
University's Tarrant (ph) Library.
"There is one president at a time."
I've heard it, I heard Clinton say it about Bush, I heard Obama say it about Bush, Donald Trump doesn't seem to care.
TIM THALY (PH), NYU: Right, he doesn't seem to care at all. President- Elect Obama was much more vocal, much more present during his transition than any previous president-elect.
But he was very careful not to talk about foreign policy, he was talking about the Great Recession of 2008. President-Elect Trump is the first
president-elect ever to have participated in discussions about foreign policy. We have seen it with regard to Israeli settlements, we've seen it
with regard to Russia, we've seen it with regard to China. He is just throwing away the rule book.
As far as he's concerned, he doesn't have to respect the norms of American presidential transitions.
QUEST: But I remember him saying in the White House, when he met President Obama, he did sort of pay lip service to the idea. He sat in the Oval
Office and said America only has one president at a time.
Do you think it is inappropriate for him to have taken a call from the Egyptians -- or made a call to the Egyptians, to have even taken a call
from the Israelis?
THALY (PH): Richard, I'm not in the etiquette business. What interests me is the effect on American national interests and the -- and it's not
unusual or uncommon for presidents-elect to talk to foreign leaders. That's happened before.
It's that you just don't make news and you don't contradict the policy of the one president that we have at the time. And that's what's so unusual
here. He is taking stands that contradict the stands of the United States at a time when he's not yet president.
QUEST: So why is he doing it?
I mean, forgive my salty language.
Is it to be just bloody minded?
Is it just a continuation of drain the swamp?
THALY (PH): I don't know but I will speculate for a moment.
Each time, if we all remember during the campaign, he kept touching what political commentators and historians would have described as third rails,
things you didn't touch and survive in American politics. He touched them and he went on.
In fact, he grew -- his support grew. I believe the man considers himself a master now of the new rule book that he is writing himself. I think when
people say to him, Mr. President-Elect, you really not ought to say that, he says, what do you mean?
You told me that before.
I believe at the moment there's a lot of hubris and he also wants to show his supporters that he will do exactly what he promised them to do,
whatever the consequences.
QUEST: Right. But with your knowledge, briefly and finally, with your knowledge of the presidency and the difficulties, is it -- does he come a
THALY (PH): Well, there are -- the presidency is extraordinarily powerful. But you can't, for example, engage in a new arms race without Congress
buying all these weapons. You can't engage in a new policy toward Israel without some support from Congress.
You can't adopt a new policy and put tariffs on Chinese imports without support from Congress. So there is only so much he can do.
But he can do a lot.
QUEST: All right.
Good to see you, sir. Thank you.
THALY (PH): Thanks, Richard. My pleasure.
QUEST: There's only one program on air at a time and that's about it for this one at the moment.
I'm Richard Quest at the CNN Center. I will have the headlines for you and all of the top stories we're following for you on what has been an
extraordinarily busy day.