Return to Transcripts main page


Police: Suspect Prepared for Attack for Weeks; Federal Charges Filed Against New York Terror Suspect; Trump: U.S. justice System 'A Joke' and 'A Laughingstock'. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 1, 2017 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now. Breaking news. Allegiance to ISIS. Police say the suspect in the New York truck attack was influenced by ISIS, followed the ISIS playbook and left a note in Arabic praising the terror group. New York's governor says the immigrant suspect was radicalized domestically, but is there a foreign connection?

[17:00:18] Attacking the system. President Trump calls the U.S. justice system a joke and a laughingstock. He's suggesting he'd send the New York suspect to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Is the president playing politics with a deadly terror attack?

Putin's propaganda. Lawmakers release some of the ads a Russian troll farm purchased on Facebook during the U.S. election campaign. What were the hot-button issues Russian meddlers used to try to divide Americans?

And fear of flight. With former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort now under House arrest, court papers in the Russia probe show he had -- he has three U.S. passports and registered a phone and e-mail account under a fake name, but those aren't the only reasons he's considered a flight risk.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news. An urgent investigation is now underway into how and why a lone attacker driving a rental truck killed eight people and injured 13 others in New York City.

Police called it a page straight out of the ISIS playbook, saying the suspect, who was shot and wounded, was apparently inspired by the terror group and planned the attack for weeks.

New York's governor said the suspect was radicalized in this country after immigrating to the United States from Uzbekistan.

President Trump is responding to the attack by calling the U.S. justice system a joke and a laughingstock. He's demanding quicker, stronger punishment, saying he'd consider sending the New York suspect to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

The president is also slamming the visa program that brought the suspect to the United States seven years ago and is blaming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who was one of its bipartisan sponsors. Schumer says the president is politicizing a tragedy.

There are also new developments in the investigation into Russia's election meddling and ties to Trump associates, including some stunning new details on why the former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is viewed as a flight risk as he awaits trial under House arrest. Why would he have three U.S. passports?

And the House Intelligence Committee has released some of the ads that a Russian troll farm bought on Facebook during the U.S. election. The ads focused in on divisive issues like religion, race and immigration. Facebook says the ads and other Russian material were available to as many as 150 million Americans.

I'll speak with House Homeland Security Committee chairman congressman Mike McCaul. And our correspondents, specialists and guests, they're standing by with full coverage.

Let's begin with the urgent investigation into the New York terror attack. Our national correspondent Brynn Gingras is on the scene in Lower Manhattan.

What's the latest, Brynn? What are you learning?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I want to give you an idea of just how quickly this attack occurred. Police say Saipov travelled just about a mile on that bike path before crashing into the bus less than four minutes later. That's it, just four minutes. Killing eight people and injuring many others.

Authorities also saying tonight that they believe this attack was planned.


GINGRAS (voice-over): Tonight, federal investigators and New York Police are working across at least four states, trying to piece together what led this man, Sayfullo Saipov, to allegedly plow through more than two dozen bicyclists and pedestrians near the World Trade Center and to find out if he had help.

Based on evidence at the crime scene, including a note they say he left inside his rental truck, police say they believe the 29-year-old was inspired by ISIS.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER JOHN MILLER, NEW YORK POLICE: He appears to have followed almost exactly to a "T" the instructions that ISIS has put out in its social media channels before with instructions to their followers on how to carry out such an attack.

GINGRAS: Today investigators outside his most recent home in Paterson, New Jersey, could be seen carrying evidence. Sources tell CNN, based on what police have uncovered so far, they believe he had been planning the attack for weeks.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: This was the actions of a depraved coward.

GINGRAS: Saipov was born in Uzbekistan but came to the U.S. in 2010 as a legal resident. Sources say he is married with three children and had recently worked as an Uber driver in New Jersey. He previously lived in Tampa, Florida.

Investigators have now pieced together a timeline of Saipov's movements Tuesday. They say just after 2:00 in the afternoon, he rented a truck from a New Jersey Home Depot. Less than 40 minutes later, cameras show Saipov crossing the George Washington Bridge then heading south for about ten miles. [17:05:05] At 3:04, he begins his rampage, driving onto this popular bike path, picking up speed while targeting bikers and walkers. He allegedly drove about a mile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got -- we've got multiple casualties.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see two gentlemen laying right there in the bike lane with tire marks across their body.

GINGRAS: Saipov then crashed into a school bus and got out of the truck clutching a paintball gun and a pellet gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just out of nowhere I hear -- see people running and screaming. And then just multiple gunshots. One after another.

GINGRAS: Those shots were fired by Brian Nash, a 28-year-old who joined the New York Police Department five years ago. Nash had been responding to another call when he encountered Saipov. He shot him in the abdomen but did not kill him.

Near the rental truck, detectives say they also found knives and a note.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The notes were handwritten in Arabic. They had symbols and words, but the gist of the note was that the Islamic State would endure forever.

GINGRAS: Investigators now believe Saipov was radicalized in the U.S. but don't know what drove him to terror. Authorities tell CNN he has never been the subject of a federal or New York investigation, and tonight they are working to determine if he has connections to others who were on their radar.


GINGRAS: Sources say Saipov is talking to investigators at the hospital, but a big question tonight, Wolf, was how was he radicalized -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Brynn, thank you. Brynn Gingras in Manhattan.

There's breaking word we're just getting right now of the charges against the New York terror suspect. I want to bring in our crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz.

Shimon, what are you learning? SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's

right, Wolf. This just being filed with the court, the southern district of New York, the U.S. attorney there releasing charges. We have two counts at this point. One of them has to do with his material support for ISIS.

And the second count has to do with the flat-bed truck, the pickup truck, using that to hurt people, to kill people. So right now, there are two counts that the U.S. attorney has charged him with. We expect a press conference with the U.S. attorney and the FBI at around 5:45, where we will hear more on the charges.

BLITZER: We'll, of course, have live coverage of that.

We expect more charges to be filed at some point, right? This is just very early.

PROKUPECZ: Yes, perhaps, Wolf. And usually, what happens is this is enough for law enforcement, for the FBI and for the U.S. attorney to hold him though he's in the hospital and likely not going anywhere. These charges means he can't leave the hospital. And they really needed to sort of charge him with something soon so that they can keep him from fleeing.

And it also tells us that they are pretty much done talking to him. He -- they have, as we know, been reporting that they spent the night talking with him, and now that he's been charged, it's probably a safe bet for us to assume that that now is over and, you know, eventually he'll have a day in court where he will appear for an arraignment. And then at some point he probably will be indicted where we would likely see more charges.

BLITZER: We certainly will, I'm sure. All right, thanks very much for that. Shimon, we're going to get back to you.

In the wake of the New York terror attack, President Trump is slamming the U.S. justice system, the U.S. immigration system and the Democrats. Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, eight people are dead and the accusation against the president, he didn't waste any time. He's playing politics with terrorism right now.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And the White House is defending President Trump's decision to quickly inject politics into the aftermath of the terror attack in New York. The president is calling for sweeping changes to the nation's immigration system, calling the U.S. justice system a joke.

Contrast that with the caution he displayed after the mass shooting in Vegas, where he called on the country to hold off on gun control.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: New York City... ACOSTA (voice-over): Less than one day after the terror attack in New

York, President Trump described the U.S. justice system, a cornerstone of American democracy, as a farce.

TRUMP: We also have to come up with punishment that's far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. They'll go through court for years. At the end, they'll be -- who knows what happens? We need quick justice, and we need strong justice. Much quicker and much stronger than we have right now. Because what we have right now is a joke, and it's a laughingstock. And no wonder so much of this stuff takes place.

ACOSTA: Asked about that, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders asked the public to ignore the words coming out of the president's mouth.

(on camera): Why did the president call the U.S. justice system a joke and a laughingstock during his comments?


ACOSTA: He said that the system of justice in this country...

SANDERS: He said that process -- he said the process has people calling us a joke and calling us a laughingstock.

[17:10:06] ACOSTA (voice-over): Noting the Manhattan attack suspect came to the U.S. from Uzbekistan, the president also called for swift changes to the nation's immigration laws.

TRUMP: So we want to immediately work with Congress on the diversity lottery program, on terminating it, getting rid of it. We want a merit-based program where people come into our country based on merit. And we want to get rid of chain migration. This man that came in, or whatever you want to call him, brought in with him other people. And he was a point -- he was the point of contact, the primary point of contact for -- and this is preliminarily -- 23 people that came in or potentially came in with him.

ACOSTA: Administration officials saying the suspect in New York entered the country using that diversity lottery immigration system seven years ago. The president was seizing on the program earlier in the day, dubbing it on Twitter as a "Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit-based."

Mr. Trump neglected to mention the program was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush and, while Senator Schumer supported the program, he later tried to eliminate it. So says GOP Senator Jeff Flake, who tweeted, "Actually, the Gang of Eight, including Senator Schumer did away with the diversity visa program as part of broader reforms. I know. I was there."

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The president ought to stop tweeting and start leading.

ACOSTA: Schumer said the president would be better off emulating former president George W. Bush...

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people -- and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.

ACOSTA: ... who rallied the U.S. shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

SCHUMER: New Yorkers and all of us compare President Bush right after 9/11 and President Trump right after this horrible terrorist attack. President Bush united us. He had us in the White House the next day, saying, "How can we work together?"

All President Trump does is take advantage, horrible advantage of a tragedy and try to politicize and divide.

ACOSTA: The president's swift demands for new laws after this week's attack in New York stand in contrast with his reaction after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, where he suggested the public wait to talk about gun control.

TRUMP: Look, we have a tragedy. We're going to do -- and what happened in Las Vegas is in many ways a miracle. The police department has done such an incredible job. And we'll be talking about gun laws as time goes by.


ACOSTA: Now, as for that lottery immigration system, it should be noted the program does include something of a merit system for applicants who have to go through a screening process.

The president also said today he would consider sending the terror suspect in New York to the detention center at Guantanamo. That appears to be in contrast to what federal law enforcement officials are talking about right now, as they are bringing up charges as we speak.

The president also speculated that the suspect's relatives may pose a national security threat. But like so many other assertions from the president, Wolf, he did not provide any information to back that up -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jim, thank you. Jim Acosta at the White House.

Joining us now, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Republican Congressman Mike McCaul of Texas.

Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us.


BLITZER: Have you been briefed on this terror attack in New York?

MCCAUL: Yes, I have.

BLITZER: What are you hearing about the suspect's interviews with law enforcement in the hospital?

MCCAUL: My understanding is that he is fully cooperating with the FBI and NYPD authorities. That's good news. Most of these terror suspects are usually killed, and so we don't have the information in their head that we can extract into a further investigation. So I think that's a unique thing in this case, and it's very positive.

We're also getting, also, information that this terrorist may have had associations with known terror suspects under the watch of the FBI. I think that's very significant in this case.

BLITZER: Known associations with other terror suspects or a suspect? There's a little confusion on that point. Are there more than one?

MCCAUL: It's important to note that, while this individual's not under investigation, there's no guardian lead that he did have associations with other known terror suspects that were under FBI investigation.

BLITZER: So those terror suspects are in the United States and on the U.S. radar, the FBI's radar. Is that right?

MCCAUL: That's -- that's my understanding, but it's very preliminarily in this investigation with the FBI and NYPD. But I think this is -- this is evolving, Wolf, not just from a lone-wolf situation, as we usually call this, into something that may be of broader scale.

[17:15:12] These are Uzbekistan, sort of Mujahedeen Russian separatists type of terrorists that are a little bit different from the usual ones. But from the beginning of the al Qaeda sort of Mujahedeen movement that we saw come out of Afghanistan.

BLITZER: So -- so he wasn't necessarily simply inspired by ISIS, going to, you know, websites, social media, YouTube? He was actually -- correct me if I'm wrong -- communicating with what we might suspect being ISIS recruiters on the -- on this whole issue of terrorism?

MCCAUL: He had associations with them. So while we do know that, on his devices, he had the ISIS propaganda, he had ISIS notes in his vehicle, this case is a little different. It goes beyond inspirational in that respect to associations with known terrorist suspects in the United States. I think that is the difference between this case and I think what we see in the classic kind of lone-wolf case.

BLITZER: Yes, so this wasn't necessarily that classic lone-wolf case. This wasn't someone who simply inspired and went out and killed people? This was someone who may have actually, what, been instructed or directed or encouraged by other ISIS supporters or ISIS members to go out and kill people, is that right?

MCCAUL: Certainly radicalized by associations with known terror suspects in the United States.

And let's not forget Paterson, New Jersey, is where Mohamed Atta was known to hang out with Hanjour, the 9/11 hijackers. This was not unfamiliar territory for him. This mosque that he attended right next door has suspect ties, as well.

So something happened to this individual in 2010, coming in under this visa lottery system. No derogatory in the United States. A wedding that takes place in Ohio, where 24 visa applications were, as I understand, most of them denied from Uzbekistan, and then traveling to Paterson, New Jersey, where -- I don't know where the radicalization place -- took place. We do know that it happened at that -- some period of time between 2010 and the present day.

BLITZER: So I just want to be precise. He was radicalized after he arrived here in the United States from Uzbekistan. He was not radicalized, as far as we know, while he was still a younger man living in Uzbekistan? Is that right?

MCCAUL: Unclear. In 2010, we didn't have the vetting procedures that we have in place today. And I think that's what the president's talking about, is how we need better vetting procedures in place.

Right now from my briefings, there is no derogatory information when he came into the country in 2010, but the fact is, our vetting procedures were not as good as they are today back then.

BLITZER: I want to play for you, Mr. Chairman, what the president said today on justice for terror suspects here in the United States. I want you to hear his exact words. Listen to this.


TRUMP: That was a horrible event. We have to stop it, and we have to stop it cold. We also have to come up with punishment that's far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. They'll go through court for years. At the end, they'll be -- who knows what happens?

We need quick justice, and we need strong justice. Much quicker and much stronger than we have right now. Because what we have right now is a joke and it's a laughingstock. And no wonder so much of this stuff takes place.


BLITZER: All right. So do you agree with the president? He called the current justice system here in the United States for terrorist suspects a joke and a laughing stock. Do you agree with him?

MCCAUL: Well, we do have Guantanamo to deal with terrorists caught on the battlefield, but I would say that our criminal justice system is based on the Constitution, under due process. This individual, like it or not, came into the United States legally, is a lawful permanent resident, and has rights under the Constitution.

I was a federal prosecutor. This case will be handled in our federal system, and I believe due process will be executed. Where -- where I do agree with the president, though, is where vetting

-- and I worked on the memo with Giuliani and Judge Mukasey to ramp up vetting in high-threat areas like Uzbekistan, like Pakistan, like Afghanistan, to make sure that we're vetting overseas with our ICE agents before they can even get into the United States in the first place.

[17:20:14] BLITZER: So clearly, you disagree with the president when he smeared the American justice system? You're a member of Congress. You're the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. What the president said about the justice system is clearly inappropriate, right?

MCCAUL: I'm also a former federal prosecutor, and I believe in our system of justice, our system of laws, and our application of the Constitution and due process for all Americans, whether we like them or not. I think the fault here was the vetting process, letting this individual into the United States in the first place.

BLITZER: But we also heard the president say -- and once again I'm reading -- he said it's no wonder so much of this stuff -- I refer he's meaning terrorism -- takes place. He seems to be blaming the justice system for that. He's wrong on that, right?

MCCAUL: Well, I can't tell you how many cases, when I get briefed in my threat briefings, the FBI, homeland security and the intelligence community have stopped so many things from -- you know, the Times Square bombing that was going to take place just last month, that plot was stopped and disrupted. That's just one example of so many that we've stopped in the past.

But to have a wholesale indictment of our criminal justice system, I don't think -- I think that's not well-placed. I think we do operate under the Constitution.

Again, the question is whether, you know, the vetting to let these people into the United States in the first place. And once they're here, we have due process.

I do believe that terrorists caught on the battlefield over in Afghanistan or Iraq, Pakistan, in the war zone need to be sent to Guantanamo for a military tribunal.

BLITZER: You have confidence the system will work here. All right. I know you've got to vote, Mr. Chairman.

MCCAUL: Well, you know, I was a federal prosecutor.


MCCAUL: I was a counterterrorism federal prosecutor. I prosecuted these kinds of cases.

BLITZER: I know you -- I know you did. And I know you have confidence in the system. The president clearly doesn't, but you do.

Congressman, Mr. Chairman, thanks so much for joining us. I know you've got to run and vote. We'll let you go.

MCCAUL: Thanks so much, Wolf.

BLITZER: Now, we're getting some more breaking news. I want to bring back our crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz.

What else are you learning, Shimon?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, Wolf. So in the court documents that were just released by the U.S. attorney's office, we're learning more about the conversations. You know, we've been reporting that the investigators, the FBI and the NYPD, have been interviewing the suspect, and now we've learned more about what he has said.

He told them that he was inspired by the ISIS leader al-Baghdadi. He also told the FBI and NYPD that he had been planning this attack for about a year and that, basically, he was radicalized by watching some 90 videos. They found 90 ISIS-related videos on his cell phone, including a beheading. They found photos of al-Baghdadi.

And so the criminal information that was put out is sort of building this case, showing what investigators just in the last 24 hours have been able to find.

We've also -- the complaint says that they found a stun gun in the truck, and they talk about how he dropped a black bag that had two cell phones and three knives. We've also learned that his computer at home, that he used it to search for "Halloween." That on October 15, he was searching his computer and search terms -- used search terms like "Halloween."

And I've been told by sources that all along they believe, and now we know why, that for some time that he was planning to do this on Halloween. There was some thinking that he wanted to do this on Halloween, because he would think there would be a lot of people on that bike path. And so now we've learned that they have actually found information on his computer that indicates that.

BLITZER: What about other suspects or a suspect that may be at large right now that the FBI is seeking more information? You heard what the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Mike McCaul, just said, that -- that this terrorist was talking with others who are on the FBI's radar as ISIS supporters, if you will.

PROKUPECZ: Yes, so the -- so the FBI just put out a photo of a person who they are looking to speak to. They are not calling him a suspect. We're told that they want to question him. I'm told that this is probably someone who is associated with him.

Also important to note, authorities stress there is no public threat, but they believe he is associated to the suspect. Perhaps a friend of some kind.

I'm also told that he is from New Jersey, and authorities at this point, they're stressing that they just want to talk to him. There you can see his photo. They've just put this out within the last half hour or so. And now they're asking the public to help because they cannot locate him and they want to find him.

[17:25:20] BLITZER: We're probably going to get a lot more at this news conference that's coming up with the U.S. attorney and the acting director in charge of the New York office of the FBI. Momentarily, we'll have that.

Shimon, I want you to stand by. We're getting more breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. Federal charges now filed in the New York terror attack. We're getting new details on the investigation. Once again, we're standing by for a live news conference. Law enforcement officials, prosecutors will brief us on the very latest. Stand by.


BLITZER: Significant breaking news right now. Federal charges have been filed against the suspect in the New York terror attack. We're standing by for a news conference. Prosecutors, law enforcement officials, U.S. attorney, FBI, they'll all be there.

[17:30:36] Meantime, we've been learning new details on the investigation. Let's dig deeper with our specialists.

And, Shimon, let me start with you. So they're now seeking information. The FBI has put out this -- this document seeking information on another Uzbek immigrant to the United States, Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, 33 years old. Place of birth, Uzbekistan. It says law enforcement officials are seeking the public's assistance with information about Kadirov in relation to the deadly attack in Tribeca neighborhood in New York City on October 31, 2017. He's not a suspect, but they think he could have useful information. And if anybody knows him, they should contact law enforcement.

PROKUPECZ: That's exactly right. At least at this point that's what authorities are telling us. They are not telling us everything. I was asking someone. They said, "We cannot tell you everything," but they are interested in him. And it's obvious that they want to talk to him and it's urgent that they talk to him, because otherwise, they would not put this out there.

And clearly, they don't know where he is. His connections are -- to me are unclear. He was described as a friend to the suspect, but beyond that, authorities would not explain. But clearly, urgent for them. They say there is no imminent threat. There's no public safety issue, but they do want to -- they do want to find him, and that's because they want to talk to him. It's clear he has some information.

BLITZER: Well, let me get Phil Mudd to weigh in. How extraordinary is it that they put out a document like this with the guy's picture seeking information? They want to talk to him. And I ask the question because the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Mike McCaul, just told us, and he's been well-briefed by the FBI and others, that this wasn't a typical lone-wolf attack. There may have been others involved.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: This is still a people business. There's a lot of -- there's a lot of conversation around here in New York, Wolf, and I'm sure down in Washington about what motivated these -- this individual who conducted the attack yesterday.

Inside the business, it's still a hunt for people, and those people have a few characteristics. This publication of the photo is hugely significant. You still have a basic question about whether someone knew that the attack was going to take place or whether they even participated in planning or radicalizing.

You have a secondary question, which is whether someone was so closely associated with the suspect they knew things like when he became radicalized, when his political views changed, maybe when his religious views changed. We are not done with the people business yet to determine whether somebody else was aware of his activities. That's got to happen before the feds spend all their time thinking about what the motivation was going up in the lead-up to the attack, Wolf.

BLITZER: And Peter Bergen, we've been going through this lengthy document. The complaint against Sayfullo Saipov, the alleged terrorist who committed this act. It is very interesting. It says he was inspired to carry out the attack watching ISIS videos on his phone. He began plotting the attack a year ago.

Two months ago, he decided to use a truck to inflict maximum damage against civilians. Also inspired after watching an al-Baghdadi video, the ISIS leader, asking what Muslims in the U.S. were doing to respond to the killing of Muslims in Iraq.

And on or about October 22, Saipov actually rented a truck, the document says, to practice making turns. He chose October 31, according to this document, because it was Halloween, because he believed more civilians would be out on the streets during Halloween.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: For the same reason you remember the Nice attack. He selected July 14 in France in 2016, because it's -- you know, it's a huge holiday; and there are going to be a lot of people around.

But I want to return to the second person they're looking for. Because the FBI has looked at dozens of these cases since 2009. And overwhelmingly, they find that peers have the use -- most useful information. They're also the least likely to come forward. But they're the people who not only see, potentially, radicalization, but also plot planning.

And we saw that in the San Bernardino case, for instance, where 14 people were killed attending an office party, that a friend of the perpetrator knew that he was planning a jihadi terrorist attack, supplied him the weapons.

So peers are people that are of extreme interest to investigators, because the investigators know that they're the people who can actually answer some of these questions.

What that complaint doesn't answer is the really big question, which is why. It does suggest the vector of radicalization, but we were talking earlier about, you know, did this guy lose a job? Was -- you know, was he having family problems? What was the kind of thing that produced a cognitive opening for him to embrace these ideas, because it's not typical to embrace these ideas. Usually, there's some kind of event in somebody's life that allows them to be open to these ideas.

[18:35:09] BLITZER: But if he was online, Peter, and looking at ISIS videos, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and others talking about what Muslims should be doing to kill the infidels because Muslims are dying in Iraq, he may have been inspired by that.

BERGEN: I think it's more than that, because lots of people look at ISIS videos. Very few of them go out and kill innocent strangers. So, you know, I think there's something more. We haven't quite -- there's something more about this guy's story that we're going to find out that prompted this kind of extraordinary act.

BLITZER: When John Miller, the counterterrorism chief in -- for the NYPD, the New York Police Department, says they found a note in Arabic. The gist of it was the Islamic State will endure forever. What does that say to you?

BERGEN: Well, the same thing we saw in the Orlando case, the same thing in the San Bernardino case. I mean, these guys, they follow what the NYPD calls the playbook; and the playbook involves pledging your allegiance to ISIS in a public manner as you do the crime so that it's very clear why you're doing this.

BLITZER: You know, in the document, the charging document that just came to us, Shimon, and you brought it to us, Saipov wanted to put ISIS flags in front and back of the truck but decided against it, because he didn't want to draw attention to himself. They said he was unable to reach his bag of knives before exiting the vehicle on this bike path and crashed into a school bus, injuring some of the kids on that school bus. And during an interview with law enforcement in the hospital, he had shots in his abdomen. Saipov said he felt good about what he had done and asked to display an ISIS flag in his hospital room at Bellevue Hospital.

PROKUPECZ: Yes, and pretty extraordinary detail there. Look, right now, all of this information that's basically contained in this complaint is coming from him. It shows just the extent and the amount of time that authorities have spent with him and how cooperative he has been.

I mean, this is all coming from his mouth and what this complaint at this point is built on. And it's quite incredible, the fact that he would sit there and ask them for an ISIS flag.

And, look, the FBI, the JTTF, the NYPD officers who do this, they kind of know what questions to ask. And you can tell by the answers there the things that they were asking him about his radicalization.

This is a pretty extraordinary and it's very rare you see this, because in a lot of these cases, these guys don't survive. So to have this level of detail is quite spectacular.

BLITZER: Yes. You know, Phil, he sounds if you read this document -- and I don't know if you've had a chance to read it yet -- he sounds almost proud about what he was doing. He was bragging.

He said his cell phone had 90 ISIS propaganda videos. He said -- including a video of a prisoner being run over by a tank, an ISIS fighter shooting a prisoner in the face, a beheading video. Video appears to have instructions for making a homemade improvised explosive device. He seems to be almost proud, talking to some of the interrogators in the hospital about what was on his phone.

MUDD: That's significant from my perspective for a couple of reasons, Wolf.

No. 1, if you look at the time of radicalization, it might seem short to you to go -- to spend a year developing a sort of radicalized outlook on life that leads you to murder so many people. You see cases going in the past where people can be radicalized as quickly as weeks or months. So a year tells me he became deeply embedded in the propaganda, embedded enough so that even after murdering eight people, he still believes that what he did was right. He thinks he's part of a broader plan.

So when you look at what he's saying, I think you also have to look at the time of radicalization. And I'm going to couple this with the publication of that photograph of someone the feds want to speak with. The prospect that he was talking to people face-to-face who reaffirm his views, who told him, "What you're doing is right." This is someone who's embedded in the ideology, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. Want to show the photo again of the individual that the FBI wants to question. They're seeking information. Mukhammadzoir Kadirov. They say he was in contact with Sayfullo Saipov. Both of them born in Uzbekistan. They're looking for him. Anybody who knows this individual, sees this individual, contact law enforcement. They'd like to talk to this individual, as well.

We're about to learn a whole lot more. A news conference about to take place with the prosecutors, the U.S. attorney in New York, the FBI. Live coverage coming up. Much more on the breaking news right after this.


[17:44:07] BLITZER: The breaking news. Federal charges have now been filed against the suspect in the New York terror attack. We're standing by for a news conference. Prosecutors, law enforcement officials will be showing up there. You see live pictures coming in.

We are also learning lots of new information. Lots of new details on the investigation as we await the start of the news conference.

Let's bring back our specialists. And Shimon, now a dramatic development. All of a sudden, the FBI says they're seeking information on this individual, Mukhammadzoir Kadirov. It says his alias, Mohammad Kadirov. Date of birth, November 5, 1984. Hair, black; sex, male; nationality, Uzbek. Place of birth, Uzbekistan. Eyes, brown; race, white. The FBI says law enforcement officials are seeking the public's assistance with information about Mukhammadzoir Kadirov in relation to the deadly attack in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City, New York, on October 31, 2017.

And the document says if you have any information concerning this case, please contact the FBI's toll-free tip line at 1-800-call-FBI, your local FBI office or the nearest American embassy or consulate.

They don't put out a document like this, you know, casually, do they?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: No, that's exactly right. And you can tell that it took them some time because by the time that they do it -- they're just doing it within the last half hour -- this isn't someone that they just learned of.

So I bet what went on is they made every effort to try and find him on his own. We know they've been doing some phone work to try and see who the suspect has been communicating with, and so perhaps, maybe, this is where they found him.

But we do know this man lives in New Jersey or has some connection to New Jersey and obviously a concern, and the FBI feels that they need to find him. And this is why they put his photo out.

BLITZER: Are you surprised, Phil, how much information they're getting from the suspect in that hospital room right now? He was shot in the abdomen. He went through some surgery, but he apparently is talking very openly to law enforcement.

He's talking a lot. I assume they never read him his Miranda rights. They don't necessarily have to in a terror-related case.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: That's true, but there are two categories that we're talking about here, Wolf. Number one is -- and we talked about this before -- the pride that he expresses in conducting the attack.

Not surprising when he's been preparing for a year to murder people, that after the murder, he comes out and says, I did what I wanted to do and I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish and here's why I did it and here's how I did it.

The question that we have less information on is whether he is revealing information, for example, information about this second individual, that leads authorities to places like the locations of individuals who might have known about the operation, to places like cafes where he might have met people.

I want to know if he's leading them in directions the authorities didn't know about, particularly related to individuals who are linked about -- linked to the plot. I'm less interested in his conversations explaining why he did what he did.

BLITZER: You know, Peter Bergen, you studied these terrorists for a long time, the whole issue of terror. He says he wanted to do this on Halloween because he believed more civilians would be out on the streets. He wanted to kill more people basically.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: We saw that in Barcelona where, you know, just recently in August, you know, the ISIS-inspired terrorists killed people in a tourist area.

We saw this in a Christmas market in Berlin over a year ago where they attacked a Christmas market where there would be a lot of people.

We saw this at Ohio State. And as I'm reading this complaint, you'd remember there was 11 people injured when somebody drove into a crowd of students at Ohio State. Now, luckily no one was killed, but the perpetrator in that attack used both his car as a weapon and then had knives and started stabbing people.

And as you can tell from this complaint, the alleged perpetrator of the Manhattan attack, Saipov, had a bag of knives in his truck. So he was really following the playbook literally letter by letter because this is what ISIS has said. Not just the vehicle, but also use knives --

BLITZER: Once you get out of the vehicle.

BERGEN: -- once you get out of the vehicle because --

BLITZER: And we've seen this in Europe, we've seen it in the --


BLITZER: -- in Britain, that once they jump out of the vehicle, they have a knife and they try to kill people with a knife.

We heard from John Miller, the counterterrorism chief of the NYPD, the New York Police Department, today, Shimon, say, this appears to have followed, almost exactly to a T, the instructions that ISIS has put out on its social media channels on how to carry out an attack.

Get a car, rent a car, buy a car, use a vehicle. If you don't have a gun, you don't have ammunition, you don't have an improvised explosive device, get a car, get a knife and start killing the infidels.

PROKUPECZ: Right, and that's exactly what we seen in these documents is what happened here. He had the knives, he used a pickup truck, and he was consuming ISIS material. He was viewing some of the magazines that John Miller was talking about. They have found evidence of that.

So this is, like he said, the Deputy Commissioner, to the T, a textbook-style ISIS attack. And this is what the NYPD has been concerned about for quite some time, and we -- they have always told us that they have been on the lookout for this because of what was going on overseas.

They were always concerned that something would -- like that would happen here. And, you know, they've had also these security measures in place along the West Side Highway. But he knew, based on some -- he knew the area. He's been there before, they believe.

They have some information that suggests that he was out there scouting the location, and he knew that this one area of the West Side Highway did not have these barriers. And that's how he knew he could get on the bike path.

And also the complaint says that he wanted to keep going. He wanted to go all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge. You know, it's just probably pure luck that, you know, he was stopped.

And he crashed, unfortunately into a bus, injuring children, but perhaps that's the only thing that stopped him and then police shooting him. But he wanted to keep going.

BLITZER: We're only moments away from the start of this news conference with the U.S. Attorney and the FBI and the NYPD.

[17:50:01] It says in the document, Phil, he actually had a rehearsal. On or about October 22nd, Saipov rented a truck to practice making turns. And it was yesterday, October 31st, Halloween, that he believed more civilians would be on the streets and more people potentially could be killed.

So this was a pretty so sophisticated operation in terms of a practice drill he went through.

MUDD: That's right. And it raises this question, again, about the second suspect. If he spent this much time, a year, radicalizing this much time, thinking about the operation and leading up to actually practicing with a truck, it raises the question about whether he ever spoke to somebody about it.

In a lot of these cases, you look at someone who is emotionally driven and they snapped. They are a literal lone wolf. That is, they haven't spoken with someone about the operation.

In this case, I'm looking at all the preparation including the incident you just mentioned and saying, the likelihood he never discussed this with anybody, especially when the FBI is telling us that those -- they're so interested in looking at a second individual, is low. He must have talked to somebody.

BLITZER: You know, and, Peter, it says in the document, he began plotting this attack a year ago, and two months ago, he decided to use the truck to inflict maximum damage against civilians. That's out of the ISIS playbook as well.

BERGEN: It is. And I wanted to pick up on something that Phil Mudd. You know, if the FBI refers to something called linkage, and it started with school shootings. You know, in school shootings, the school shooter invariably says something to someone, often to several people.

And the FBI has found this in terrorism cases. They find, on average, at least three people who -- they call them bystanders -- who knew something, radicalization, maybe even plotting. In some cases, they found up to 14 people who knew elements of this.

So I totally endorse what Phil said, which is, if this guy spent a year radicalizing, he certainly talked about some aspect of his plan or his radicalization to other people.

BLITZER: And according to this complaint, he told law enforcement in the hospital room, Shimon, that he felt good about what he had done, and he actually asked to display an ISIS flag inside his hospital room at the Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan.

PROKUPECZ: That's right, sort of implying he's proud of what he did here. It's clear he showed no remorse. And, you know, it seems he spent a lot of time with investigators and gave up a lot of information and a lot of clues as to what's been going on.

They also have some cell phones of his. They recovered two cell phones with all sorts of information. Ninety videos of ISIS-related videos, beheadings. There's also sorts of information from a second phone which shows that he was doing all sorts of searches for the store where he could rent the pickup truck.

So, you know, it's surprising, I think, in some ways, that this guy did not come on to anyone's radar, given that he's been planning this for a year. I mean, I think that's quite remarkable.

BLITZER: And I think that's why they're looking for this other individual, the FBI, for Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, to get information. They're seeking information from him.

Just moments ago, the police officer who shot and apprehended the terror suspect, the Police Officer Ryan Nash, 28 years old of the NYPD, he made a statement. He's a hero in all of this. He stopped the killing. Watch this.



My name is Officer Ryan Nash. I appreciate the public recognition of the actions of myself and my fellow officers yesterday.

Although I feel that we were just doing our jobs like thousands of officers do every day, I understand the importance of yesterday's events and the role we played, and I'm grateful for the recognition we have received.

I just want to thank my family and friends for their support and all the responding officers who assisted me. However, due to the nature of the pending criminal case, I cannot make any further public statements about the incident at this time. Thank you.


BLITZER: We want to thank Ryan Nash, as well, the police officer. This is Joon Kim, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.


JOON KIM, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: -- people who were simply trying to enjoy a sunny afternoon in New York City. He killed eight innocent human beings and injured at least a dozen other people. That man, as alleged in the complaint filed today, was Sayfullo Saipov.

Today, thanks to the incredible work of the FBI, the NYPD, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and law enforcement in the city and around the country, just about 24 hours after Saipov's attack, we now have him charged with federal crimes of terrorism.

The complaint filed today charges Saipov with two counts. First, material support of a terrorist organization, that being ISIS. And second, a federal charge of violence and destruction of a motor vehicle with willful disregard for the safety of human life that resulted in multiple deaths.

[17:55:11] As the complaint alleges, after speeding through the walkway and bicycle paths, running over and killing people, Saipov crashed his truck into a school bus carrying children. Then he got out, yelled Allahu Akbar -- meaning God is great -- brandishing two weapons, which turned out to be a paint ball gun and a pellet gun.

He was ultimately stopped by a brave police officer, Ryan Nash, who confronted him and shot him in the abdomen.

In the short time since this attack, as alleged in the complaint, we have developed evidence establishing that Saipov committed this attack in support of ISIS.

That evidence is laid out in the complaint, but it includes the following: a note that was recovered just outside the truck that read, in part, no god but God, and Mohammed is his profit; and Islamic supplication, it will endure -- a phrase commonly used to refer to ISIS.

Also, a search of cell phones found in a bag that he was carrying -- a search conducted pursuant to court authorized wiretaps -- revealed thousands of ISIS-related images and 90 -- about 90 videos depicting, among other things, ISIS fighters killing prisoners by running over them with a tank, beheading them, and shooting them in the face.

In Mirandized interview statements with law enforcement last night and today, Saipov allegedly admitted that he was inspired to commit the attack by the ISIS videos he watched and had been planning this attack for two months.

He also admitted that he had rented a truck on October 22nd and practice -- to practice the turns he would make on his Halloween day attack.

As I mentioned, it is an -- it is incredible investigative work that has allowed us to bring these charges so soon after the attacks. I want to thank all the law enforcement and citizens who responded to

this attack in the way New Yorkers do.

In particular, I want to thank Officer Ryan Nash for his selfless bravery.

I want to thank the FBI, represented here today by Bill Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the New York Field Office. Their work in this case, as in all terrorism matters that we've worked with them on, has been extraordinary.

I also want to thank the NYPD, represented here today by First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker and Deputy Commissioner John Miller.

Their leadership, and that of Commissioner O'Neill, over the greatest police force in the world has helped keep our city safe. And in the wake of yesterday's attacks, the NYPD has kept our citizens reassured and continuing to live our lives.

Finally, I want to thank the terrorism prosecutors and investigators in my office who jumped on this immediately and haven't gotten any sleep since. AUSA's Andrew Beaty, Amanda Hole, Matthew Laroche -- who are all -- who are not here because they're in court at the presentment -- and investigators Kevin Song and George Corey.

As well as the supervisors of our terrorism and international narcotics unit who are here with me, Sean Buckley and Ilan Graff.

The folks in that unit working with the FBI, the NYPD, and the JTTF have a long and unblemished track record of successfully investigating and prosecuting domestic and international terrorists. Whether it's the Chelsea bomber, just convicted a few weeks ago on all counts who will be serving life -- mandatory life in prison, or the other terrorists convicted in our courthouse just down the street in the last few years alone.

That list includes the recent convictions by this office after the trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghayth, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law; Abu Hamza, the United Kingdom-based radical cleric; Ahmed el-Gammal, the homegrown ISIS supporter; and Khalid al-Fawwaz, one of al -- one of al Qaeda's embassy bombing defendants.

It is an amazing success of success.

[17:59:57] Of the eight people Saipov allegedly killed yesterday, two were Americans, and the rest were foreigners visiting New York City.