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CNN NEWSROOM

ISIS Soldiers Brag about Killings; Iraqi Civilians Caught in Middle of Bloody Battle; Trump Slams Right-Wing Freedom Caucus After Health Care Setback; Interview with Representative Thomas Massie; North Carolina Team Looking for Redemption during Final Four; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 31, 2017 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: With this kind of language. All right, so, let's turn to your report. It's a special hour tonight on CNN, "ISIS BEHIND THE MASK." Before we talk about it, here's a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Younnes denies committing atrocities in Syria, but not all of his associates were so restrained. According to evidence gathered by Belgian intelligence, another Belgian phoned his girlfriend about shooting a kidnapped civilian who didn't pay the requisite ransom.

"I wish the filming worked when I killed him. I placed the camera badly and it filmed nothing."

(On camera): Were you aware of the behavior of some of your other Sharia for Belgian colleagues who were bragging to their friends at home about shooting people in the face and cutting people's heads off?

YOUNNES DELEFORTRIE, FORMER ISIS SOLDIER: They're young people.

WARD: Meaning?

DELEFORTRIE: Who wouldn't?

WARD: Who wouldn't brag about cutting someone's head off?

DELEFORTRIE: Yes, it's not the right thing to do, of course, but if you're doing something like that or executing somebody or you're killing somebody on the battlefield, keep it for yourself and Allah, because you're doing it for him, not to brag out, of course.

WARD: But what were they doing cutting people's heads off in the first place or shooting people in the face?

DELEFORTRIE: You have to ask them. I'm not responsible for what they did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: My goodness. The fact that you got him to talk and he was so candid. I mean, what can the authorities, the Belgians, everyone, do about people like him, like Younnes?

WARD: Well, I think it's a really difficult situation because initially there was a sense among many European security services that they were almost glad to see the back of these guys when they decided to go to Syria and Iraq, that they were a nuisance, that they were extremists. Let them leave if they want to. Well, perhaps that was a bit short-sighted. They weren't bargaining on the fact that many of them would actually end up coming back home. And it's important for our viewers to remember, we're talking about Belgian citizens, British citizens.

HARLOW: Absolutely.

WARD: French citizens.

HARLOW: American citizens.

WARD: American citizens, indeed. So then that raises the question, what do you do when they come back home? Well, a lot of them ended up going to jail for various reasons, if there was evidence that they had engaged in atrocities, as many of Younnes' colleagues from Sharia for Belgium had. But then you have young people like Younnes, who there is no necessary proof that he did anything or killed anyone when he was in Syria.

HARLOW: Right.

WARD: What do you do with him? He still espouses and holds that ideology and those beliefs, but you can't arrest someone for being an extremist.

HARLOW: No.

WARD: And being an extremist doesn't necessarily mean you're going to become a terrorist, but it does leave authorities with this very tricky, difficult situation, where they have to try to work out who could be the next ticking time bomb.

HARLOW: He is rare in that he would talk and tell his story to you. He is not rare, though, in -- necessarily in what he believes or espouses. How many more are there like him out there?

WARD: Well, this is what is really kind of extraordinary, because I think we often think of the Islamic extremism as being this very foreign, far-away threat. It's not. Thousands of Europeans have gone to Syria and Iraq to join groups like ISIS. And at one stage, we had somebody set up a Facebook account for us, like a fake Jihadi account to see how many people would engage with us, and we were thinking we might get a few friend requests.

In less than a week, we had more than 200 friend requests, almost all of them from French and Flemish-speaking European countries. So this is a real problem and it's here to stay. And the caliphate, while it's being squeezed in Syria and Iraq, it is moving into a virtual domain, and that is much harder to police.

HARLOW: Yes.

WARD: You can go after them on the battlefield, but how do you go after the ideology?

HARLOW: Clarissa Ward, thank you so much. I can't wait to see it. It airs tonight. Good to have you here.

WARD: Thank you.

HARLOW: Clarissa's special, "ISIS BEHIND THE MASK." It is 10:00 p.m. Eastern only right here tonight.

Meantime, the battle to retake Mosul from ISIS intensifying. New video from the frontlines as Iraqi federal police make their push to retake the western part of that city, all of this as civilian lives are caught in the middle.

Our Arwa Damon takes us inside of a hospital in Mosul for a remarkable report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The bodies are rolled down the streets passed the rubble of homes where children used to run and laugh. In a five-day timeframe hundreds of civilians were killed in western Mosul. And we went to a hospital in Irbil to look for some of the survivors.

Aliya was cradling her granddaughter, Hawra, who was just four-and-a- half years old.

ALIYA, GRANDMOTHER: (Graphics) I am thinking it's better to be dead. I am thinking about dying. Better than a life like this. She was like a flower, playing and running. Now she has no mother. No eyes.

[10:35:02] DAMON: It was March 17th, which is the main day under investigation by both the U.S. and Iraqi governments. Hawra's father, Ala'a, drew their streets for us showing us where the ISIS fighters were on the corner. There were multiple explosions. Hawra was in a home down the road with her mother and two relatives. They were baking bread when the airstrike started. Hawra's father ran towards the house.

ALA'A, FATHER: (Graphics) All I heard was -- I ran. There was a block that had fallen on her. I screamed for her mother, my aunt and uncle. But no response.

DAMON: His daughter's little body was black. It was barely recognizable at all. After Ala'a pulled her out of the rubble, he begged the ISIS fighters to be allowed to leave just for the sake of saving his little girl.

ALA'A: (Graphics) I carried her out, the ISIS fighter said, I can shoot her. Why do you want to save her? She's going to die anyway? I saw my wide the next day under the rubble. I saw her leg and intestines so I covered her in a blanket and left. DAMON: On a different day, Muhammad stuck his head out the front door

when an airstrike came in to take out a suicide car bomb. Now he has a shrapnel lodge in his head. He can't talk. He's lost his memory.

Down the hall in another ward, we found a bunch of children. Fatima, she's just 16. She lived in an apartment block and was on the second floor.

FATIMA, AIRSTRIKE SURVIVOR: (Graphic) ISIS was on the roof, then there was an airstrike. The building fell on us.

DAMON (on camera): What's the last thing you remember?

FATIMA: (Graphic) I just remember being pulled out of the rubble.

DAMON (voice-over): Her back is broken. She probably won't ever walk again, but no one has the heart to tell her. And she still has dreams of being a doctor. She's here with her sister whose son was also injured.

Much of western Mosul has been physically destroyed. People are dying every day, coalition airstrikes, mortar, sniper shots, ISIS explosions, deaths that don't make headlines. Its population is emotionally shattered and they're haunted by the ghosts of those who are gone.

Hawra doesn't know her mother is dead. She still has shrapnel in her eyes. She may never see again. "Don't say you're sorry," her father told us. "Sorry doesn't help. It's not going to bring her mother back."

Arwa Damon, CNN, Irbil, Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:42:25] HARLOW: The showdown over health care becoming a more and more no holds barred battle between the president and some of his fellow Republicans. The president wrapping up his attacks last night, calling out some members of the Freedom Caucus by name on Twitter.

Our Phil Mattingly is live on Capitol Hill with more.

So this is -- this is this current strategy.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. One administration official I spoke to this morning said this isn't a trial balloon, this is the start of an escalation.

It's very clear that from the White House's perspective, the House Freedom Caucus, that group of conservatives that made very clear they were, A, voting as a bloc, and B, not voting for the health care bill that was moving through the House, is the target right now.

Now it's important to note the dynamics here and kind of everything that's going on. These were a lot of Donald Trump's earliest supporters from Congress at a time when a lot of congressmen, a lot of senators had no desire whatsoever to back the president. So these guys have been with him throughout. But it's also very important to note, while the president is very popular in their districts, most of them outran the president in their districts.

So over the course, Poppy, of the last couple of days, mainly yesterday as I spoke to these members before they went home for the weekend, they made clear, look, we support the president. We always have supported the president. But when it comes to our constituents right now, we're getting support for our position.

In fact, one member I spoke to said calls to his office were 20 or 30- 1 in support of his position opposed to the bill. So you're kind of looking at the dynamics here. The White House believes a pressure campaign by a president who remains popular in their districts will be effective. These Freedom Caucus members saying, go ahead, shoot.

At this point, it's not having any effect whatsoever. The chairman of the Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows, just spoke with my colleague, Lauren Fox, and made this very clear. He said it's not about politics, it's about the people in the district. And while that sounds like a cheesy political line, it's reality based on everybody I've been talking to so far -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes. And they were also on board with him, Phil, right, when -- when he was promising during the campaign a full repeal of Obamacare. They loved that. This is not that, so, there you have it.

MATTINGLY: Right.

HARLOW: Phil Mattingly, thank you. On the Hill for us.

Joining us now, Republican Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky.

Nice to have you here, Congressman.

REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R), KENTUCKY: Thanks for having me on, Poppy.

HARLOW: Look, you were going to vote no on this. You're not exactly in the best place with the president on the health care bill right now. Let me just read your response to the president tweeting and taking on the House Freedom Caucus. You wrote, "@realDonaldTrump, it's a swamp, not a hot tub. We both came here to drain it. Swampcare polls at 17 percent. Sad."

Here's the thing, this is a president who's saying to the Dems, basically, I'll work with you over some of these fellow Republicans. Are you worried about your own party getting too fractured that you're just not going to be able to get anything done?

[10:45:06] MASSIE: Well, look, we were excited when Donald Trump said he was going to come and help us drain the swamp, but he's listening to people in the swamp on this health care bill. And if you also notice in that same tweet where he lashed out at the House Freedom Caucus, he lashed out at every Democrat. And the math just doesn't work if he wants to get to 218. He's either going to have to work with Democrats or conservatives in the House.

He can't -- you know, he can't alienate both groups of people or else he'll just never get to 218. So we want to drain the swamp. That's popular in our districts. We think that's why Trump won his election. He promised to drain the swamp. And we're going to stick with that promise. We don't believe that this health care bill is something that our constituents support. My calls are running 11-1 against this health care bill.

HARLOW: 11-1. That's interesting. Look, but you also said very critical of the president that you essentially think that if -- if you know, your fellow Kentuckian, if I'm saying that right, Senator Rand Paul --

MASSIE: Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: -- were president, that Obamacare would have already been fully repealed. I mean, what tells you that you would have had enough votes for a bill like that?

MASSIE: Well, you know, we've offered elements of Rand Paul's solution up, and they passed with overwhelming support. In fact, we had another element of what --

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: Will you get moderates on board with that totally?

MASSIE: -- we think is the solution that was on the floor of the House --

HARLOW: You can get to -- you can get enough votes?

MASSIE: Well -- last week, we offered a bill on the floor of the House that got 400 votes, and nobody's reporting it. It was to repeal the antitrust exemption that health insurance companies enjoy. They're allowed to collude, and that drives up prices, so we offered a solution. It got not 218, it got 400 votes. Let's offer solutions like that.

HARLOW: OK, but you all know, Congressman, that is different --

MASSIE: And being able to buy across state lines.

HARLOW: That is very different than offering a bill to fully repeal Obamacare.

MASSIE: Yes. Well, there are three elements inside the bill they tried to pass last week. I think he can get conservatives on board with two of the elements. That is the Medicaid reform. It saves $800 billion, and we can put that toward tax reform. And then also the repeal. Now if he wants to do Obamacare-lite, he's probably going to need Democrats to pass a bill that has mandates, subsidies, and penalties that look just like the mandates, subsidies and penalties in Obamacare.

HARLOW: So are you --

MASSIE: But they're never going to vote for Obamacare-lite if they've got Obamacare.

HARLOW: Are you as worried as your speaker, Paul Ryan, is about this president working with Dems?

MASSIE: I think that's a bluff. You know, the president bluffed several times last week. He said there was going to be a vote, whether it passed or failed. Well, that didn't happen. He also said that negotiations are over. Well, that clearly wasn't true. And so, you know, I think this is just another one of his bluffs, because within 12 hours, he lashed back out at the Democrats in that same tweet. So I just don't see how he gets to 218 if he tries to alienate everybody.

HARLOW: Are you calling the president a liar?

MASSIE: No. He's a good negotiator, and sometimes you bluff in a negotiation, and we called his bluff last week. He also said we're done working on health care. That's obviously not true this week. You know, we can't just give up and go home. We made a promise to fix this. Obamacare's a disaster.

HARLOW: Have you had any conversations with the White House or anyone in the White House about health care since the bill was pulled Friday?

MASSIE: I have not, other than the Twitter exchange that we've had.

HARLOW: All right. You guys love your Twitter.

Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky, thank you so much.

MASSIE: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right, still to come for us, the bees knees. Everybody hits the turf as a baseball game gets invaded. We'll explain next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:53:15] HARLOW: All right, so, tomorrow night, the final four teams will hit the floor in Arizona. Last year it was heartbreak for North Carolina, losing at the buzzer, but they've made it back to the final dance, and they're going to try to make it different this time.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Poppy, you know, I was there in Houston last year when North Carolina lost at the buzzer. And as exciting as that was for Villanova, just as devastating for the Tar Heels. The North Carolina head coach Roy Williams says, you know, that moment it was definitely tough to get over.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROY WILLIAMS, NORTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH: In the locker room was the most inadequate feeling I've ever had in my life. And it's hard. It's hard to think about. It's hard to talk about it. What I did was try to tell them to focus on using this feeling as fuel, as motivation to work extremely hard in the off-season and that's really what I used it for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Right. Whatever motivation Williams used it definitely has worked. He has his team in the final four for the eighth time in the past 12 years. The Tar Heels are going to take on Oregon tomorrow night in the late game. South Carolina and Gonzaga going to get things started a little after 6:00 Eastern.

Be sure to join us here on CNN at 2:30 Eastern tomorrow afternoon, "ALL ACCESS AT THE FINAL FOUR." A CNN/Bleacher Report special will get you ready for all of the action.

Well, as the saying goes, there's no crying in baseball. Well, that's unless you made the big leagues for the first time in your career. Check out 27-year-old Brock Stassi's reaction to the news he had made the Philadelphia Phillies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROCK STASSI, PHILLIES ROOKIE FIRST BASEMAN: Dream. It's a dream come true. Sorry. Sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Stassi was drafted in the 33rd round in 2011. He spent four seasons in the minors. Just goes to show that hard work definitely does pay off.

[10:55:04] All right, finally, this is part awesome, part terrifying. A giant swarm of bees made a surprise entrance during the ninth inning of the Padres-Rockies spring training game in Arizona yesterday. And everyone -- look at this -- hit the deck. It looked there was a bank robbery going on out there on the field, Poppy. Eventually, the bees gathered on a mic right there that sits behind home plate, but the bees did not interfere with the final out and they were able to end the game peacefully. But I guess the lesson learned there is if a swarm of bees is coming at you, just hit the deck and you'll be fine.

HARLOW: There you go. Life lessons from Andy Scholes this Friday morning.

Thank you, my friend. Have a good weekend.

SCHOLES: All right. You, too.

HARLOW: Thank you all for joining us. I'm Poppy Harlow. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" begins next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining us.

Today even for a president who loves tweeting, today's edition is a real stunner. President Trump wasting no time to weigh in on his former national security adviser's request for immunity. Michael Flynn --