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Serial Mail Bomb Suspect Arrested in Florida; Trump Calls for Civility but Continues to Blame the Media; Journalist's Fiancee Says His Death Was Unthinkable; Sayoc's Former Employer Speaks Out; New Airstrikes on Gaza; Duke and Duchess of Sussex Cheer Invictus Athletes. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired October 27, 2018 - 04:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The suspect accused of sending explosive packages in the mail now in custody. New details on the crucial clues that helped investigators track him down.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Also this hour, President Trump faces question about his tone and rhetoric.

HOWELL (voice-over): And the season's first nor'easter is on track to hit the U.S. East Coast all because of the remnants of former Hurricane Willa. We'll have the details.

ALLEN (voice-over): Also ahead this hour, the baseball game that would not end. Welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. We're live from Atlanta, G.A., I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell from CNN World Headquarters.


HOWELL: 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast. The manhunt finally over. The suspect now behind bars. The police caught a serial bombmaker in Florida who allegedly targeted prominent Democrats with explosives in the mail.

ALLEN: Authorities say one fingerprint on one of the packages led them to this man, 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc in South Florida. He is now linked to at least 14 explosive devices intercepted across the U.S. since Monday.

HOWELL: Police also impounded his white van covered with pro-Trump imagery and negative images of many of his intended targets. Here's everything we know so far from CNN's Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SR. INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, authorities have a suspect in custody they say is responsible for at least a dozen package bombs discovered all across the U.S.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Each device consisted of roughly six inches of PVC pipe, a small clock, a battery, some wiring and what is known as energetic material, which is essentially potential explosives and material that give off heat and energy through a reaction to heat, shock or friction.

GRIFFIN: FBI Director Chris Wray indicating a fingerprint found on one of those packages led FBI investigators to 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc, who is facing five federal crimes and up to 48 years in prison.

WRAY: Based on their analysis, they uncovered a latent fingerprint from one of the envelopes containing an IED that had been sent to Congresswoman Maxine Waters. We have confirmed this fingerprint is that of Cesar Sayoc.

There is also a possible DNA connection between samples collected from pieces of two different IEDs mailed in separate envelopes and a sample previously collected from Sayoc in connection with an earlier arrest down in Florida.

GRIFFIN: Fifty-six-year-old Cesar Sayoc is in federal custody, arrested in South Florida. Authorities also impounding this white van, taking every precaution, unaware of what may be inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we just took him into custody. We're concerned reference signal 46 (INAUDIBLE) and we want the road shut down and then we will start evacuating.

GRIFFIN: According to law enforcement officials, Sayoc had been living in the van recently after being kicked out of his parents' house. That van, covered in political stickers with images of President Donald Trump, targets on prominent liberals, as well as a sticker says "CNN Sucks."

Here he is at a Trump campaign rally last year holding a sign saying the same thing. Sayoc's social media accounts feature numerous postings from Trump rallies and countless more about politics. The various accounts read like a target list for those who've received package bombs this week.

He trolls President Obama, tweeting about Bobby Kennedy with photos disparaging the Kennedy family. He mocks Vice President Biden's 9/11 message with a photo of his Delaware home and pictures that suggest firebombing it.

He blames former attorney general Eric Holder for the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, even threatening death. He vilifies California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, tweeting bad memes and encouraging his like-minded followers to attend an event with her in California.

A denier of the Parkland High School shooting massacre, Sayoc accusers Democratic fund-raiser George Soros for funding a cover-up and paying students like David Hogg to pretend they were victims. And public records show Sayoc had an extensive criminal record dating back as far as 1991.

The most notable offense?

A 2002 charge of threatening to discharge a destructive device at a Florida utility company. Just recently, a package addressed to Democratic donor Tom Steyer was found in California.

And earlier today, one intended for former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper addressed to CNN in New York --


GRIFFIN (voice-over): -- was intercepted at a New York facility and another addressed to New Jersey Senator Cory Booker was found in Florida -- Drew Griffin, CNN, Miramar, Florida.


ALLEN: We're learning more about the suspect and his past. Earlier CNN spoke with Cesar Sayoc's former lawyer who represented him in previous criminal cases.

Ron Lowy now represents Sayoc's family. In this interview, our colleague, Anderson Cooper, started by asking what Sayoc was like as a person.


RON LOWY, SAYOC'S FORMER ATTORNEY: Well, when I first met him, the first thing I noticed was his vehicle. At the time he had another vehicle and it was plastered full of Indian materials, regalia, paintings, all on the exterior. And I, of course, saw that as strange. Most people don't drive around with plastered vehicles.

And I also recall he pulled out a scrapbook and he immediately wanted to show me newspaper clippings, photographs of him with this exotic dancer or wrestler or him bodybuilding.

And I recognized very quickly that he suffered from, certainly, an identification issue as to who he was. He needed people to be impressed with him. He had issues of insecurity.

I then began to realize that he also had what I considered a lesser I.Q., substantial emotional problems. He was like a 14-year old in an adult's body.

COOPER: So do you know why he all of a sudden became, I don't know if politically active is the right word, but certainly engaged with the Trump presidency, going to rallies, driving around in that van, plastering his van?

Do you have any sense of why that happened?

LOWY: Well, I have my opinion. I mean, obviously, I don't know with certainty but it is my opinion that he was attracted to the Trump formula of reaching out, Trump reaching out to these types of outsiders, people who don't fit in, people who are angry at America, telling them they have a place at the table, telling that it's OK to get angry.

I believe that was a motivating factor.

Do I blame the president solely?

No. This is a sick individual. I actually blame all of us. We have to start arranging for treatment of people when we start to see the problems. We don't have to wait for it to become violent.

We're not socializing these people when we recognize signs, like living in vans or doing stupid actions like threatening a power company. We need a socialization plan to work on these people that are outsiders. It doesn't require psychiatrists and expensive doctors.

COOPER: Early on, you said he started to embrace the idea that he was Native American, even though I believe there's no evidence. I mean, the family says there's no evidence that he was of Native American descent.

But now, something about this last election that became the focus of whatever his resentment or anger or whatever his emotional problems were, that's what you believe.

LOWY: Well, he was clearly not Native American. His father was Filipino and abandoned him as a child and his mother is Italian. And he adopted this claim to being a Seminole because he was trying to create an identity.

If you ask me, again, my layman's opinion, is that manifested from his lack of a father and his desire for an identity. This was someone lost.

COOPER: And do you think now --


LOWY: -- he found a father in Trump.


HOWELL: That is a key quote there. Just learning more about Sayoc, his personality and things that were important to him. President Trump claims that he has toned down his harsh rhetoric.

ALLEN: But then attacked the media at a political rally in North Carolina claiming it is dividing the country. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more from Charlotte.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump issuing another call for civility at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday evening in the wake of the arrest of the suspected serial bomber, responsibility for sending at least 14 pipe bombs to Democratic critics of this president.

Now the president opened his remarks at this rally saying there's no place in American society for political violence. He said that he's committed to changing the discourse but didn't say how, immediately shifting to blaming the media and even blaming Democrats.

He really is trying in the final -- you know, less than two weeks before the midterm elections, trying to use the media as, what he says, trying to score points. It is his leading opponent now, the president again and again and again, saying that the media is trying to --


ZELENY (voice-over): -- stop his movement, as he calls it, the most powerful movement in the history of this country. Never mind the civil rights movement and other movements from history.

The president casting this final closing argument, if you will, as the media trying to stop him. Of course, his supporters cheered all of that. But we do not know how this will play outside the arena, how this all will play with independent voters and others.

But take a listen to what the president said about this.

TRUMP: Everyone will benefit if we can end the politics of personal destruction. We must unify as a nation in peace, love and harmony. The nation has a major role to play, whether they want to or not. And they do indeed.

They have a major role to play as far as tone and as far as everything. And we all say this in all sincerity but the media's constant unfair coverage, deep hostility and negative attacks -- you know that -- only serve to drive people apart and to undermine healthy debate.

For example, we have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me and the Republican Party.

ZELENY: The president clearly trying to get the midterm election message back, not talking much at all about the suspected serial bomber, going after Democrats hard on immigration, accusing them without any information falsely of trying to bring immigrants here to the U.S. to vote in some cases and others. There's been no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Of course, it's something he likes to talk about again and again and it's something he's talking about with incorporating frequency going into the midterm elections. But the president a little softer tone in some respects, certainly against some of his rivals but taking no responsibility for his role in this overheated political climate that certainly led to at least the arrest of that suspected serial bomber in Florida -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Charlotte, North Carolina.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now with Natasha Lindstaedt, a professor of government at the University of Essex, via Skype from Winchester, England.

A pleasure to have you on the show.


HOWELL: Natasha, the president hardly mentioned the serial bomber who, from all indications, supported Mr. Trump. Instead we saw a predictable pattern on stage, Donald Trump doubled down on his attacks on the media, all the while projecting his own traits on the people he dislikes, saying that he is being attacked, making himself the victim politically.

Is this a winning strategy for him?

LINDSTAEDT: Mr. Trump, you have to remember, is speaking to his supporters, so this played right into what they want to hear. He can really say anything. Particularly what's very popular is accusing the media of being at fault for this or being a major problem in the United States.

And his supporters or his base, they absolutely love it. So I don't think there's anything he's going to say that will deter his voters from voting for Republican candidates. It's more really about how it may affect independents or may even rile up Democratic voters even further.

It hasn't been a particularly good showing from the president. He hasn't really said enough to unite the country, to inspire calm and to really reach out to the victims. He never really even called the victims. He seemed almost upset that the news cycle wasn't focused on him and he seemed to indicate this was almost some sort of liberal left wing conspiracy at one point.

HOWELL: One tweet indicating he might have been disappointed that the coverage wasn't focused on the midterms and the president again doubling down on the rhetoric we've heard so often from him. It's a very predictable pattern from this president. Mr. Trump, though, refusing to take any responsibility for the possible impact of that rhetoric instead, pointing to what he descriptions as a double standard of the last time a U.S. senator was attacked by a gunman who supported Bernie Sanders. Listen to this.



TRUMP: For example, we have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me and the Republican Party.

And when a Bernie Sanders supporter tried to murder congressional Republicans and severely wounded a great man named Steve Scalise and others we did not use that heinous attempt at mass murder for political gain because that would have been wrong.


HOWELL: Natasha, he's speaking to his base. They support that concept.

Does the president have a point there or is this a false equivalence?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, I think in the case of Trump, he doesn't want to take responsibility for the fact that his rhetoric is incredibly divisive and seems to be inspiring right wing extremists.

And you think about what happened in Charlottesville, he couldn't get himself to actually denounce these people that were involved in this because he didn't want to do anything that would upset his base. And he really hasn't owned up to the fact that the type of rhetoric that he uses, the way that he almost supports violence against the press --


HOWELL: Not almost. The president does seem to support that.

LINDSTAEDT: -- some of the things he says seems to support that. He doesn't take responsibility for the fact that this is going to inspire lone actor individuals, lone acts of terrorism, to go after his opponents.

HOWELL: Natasha Lindstaedt, we appreciate your time and perspective, joining us from Winchester, England. We'll stay in touch with you.

We'll have more on the serial bombmaking suspect when we continue in the newscast, what his former employer says about him -- still ahead.

Also ahead this hour, the fiancee of the journalist killed in Turkey speaks out. We'll tell you what she says about President Trump's invitation to visit the White House.






ALLEN: The fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in Turkey, is speaking out.

HOWELL: She was one of the last people to see him alive when he entered the Saudi Istanbul consulate earlier this month. She tells a Turkish broadcaster he was worried about going in but what happened was unthinkable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HATICE CENGIZ, JAMAL KHASHOGGI'S FIANCEE (through translator): I tried to think positive things. It has never crossed my mind that such a thing could have happened, never, never.

Not even 10 percent of the facts that we learned 25 days later came to my mind while I was waiting there that day.

Yes, U.S. president Donald Trump invited me to the United States during the first days of the process. But his statements had very short time periods in between and they were contradictory.


ALLEN: It's just unbelievable what happened to him. There are some developments in the case we want to tell you about. Sources say the director of the CIA heard an audiotape of Jamal Khashoggi being killed and the Turkish president is apparently ramping up pressure on the Saudis but they are pushing back. For more on this, let's go to Nic Robertson, live for us in Istanbul.

Nic, first, what is the Turkish president demanding of the Saudis and what is the Saudis' response?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Demanding a lot. He's really getting in front of this. We've had drip, drip, drip of information coming from Turkish officials. But now President Erdogan, essentially threatening Saudi Arabia, says don't think we don't have other documents.

Indicating there that the evidence that the world knows about at the moment isn't the sum total that Turkey has. He says Saudi officials must tell them where Jamal Khashoggi's body is and tell them who the collaborator is, that the Saudis say, this hit team who came to kill Jamal Khashoggi, who this collaborator is.

And he's demanding as well that Saudi Arabia extradites the 18 people that they have in detention right now here to Turkey to face trial here. Indeed, the key prosecutor yesterday actually issued those extradition requests to Saudi Arabia.

And now we're getting the first response from a senior Saudi official, the Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, saying that these 18 people will be tried in Saudi Arabia.

We heard this from the crown prince earlier in the week. Mohammad bin Salman is saying they're Saudi nationals, they have been detained in Saudi Arabia and the Saudi justice system is quite capable of putting them on trial and bringing them to justice in Saudi Arabia.

Jubeir is also saying that it's finding the whole conversation around Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance and the way it's being raised and the talk about his death as somewhat hysterical.


ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER: We have tried to share the information that we have obtained with the public but, unfortunately, there has been this hysteria in the media about Saudi Arabia's guilt before the investigation is completed.

And what we say to people is wait until everything is done and then reflect on the results of the investigation and then make a determination on whether this investigation was serious or not. But not from the get-go.


ROBERTSON: So the chief prosecutor from Saudi Arabia traveling to Istanbul tomorrow meet his opposite number here. Clearly extradition is going to be right, front and center on the table. -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Nic, also, the U.S. Defense Secretary has been speaking out about the investigation.

What does he have to say?

ROBERTSON: Yes. This is very interesting. We haven't had a lot from President Trump since Gina Haspel, his CIA chief, briefed him on that --


ROBERTSON: -- on the audio recording that apparently revealed Jamal Khashoggi's death, that Turkish investigators say was brutal, terrible, torture and even dismembering involved. Nothing so far from President Trump on that.

But Secretary of Defense James Mattis traveling in the Middle East, in Bahrain at the moment, speaking about this. So the United States is still investigating and still looking at this. And the actions that they've taken so far is not the end of it. This is how he put it.



GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Due to the gravity of the situation, I will continue to consult with the president and secretary of state as they consider the implications of this incident within our broader strategic framework.

We will maintain our twin imperatives as stated by secretary of state Pompeo, protecting America and our interests and holding accountable those responsible for this murder. Our secretary of state has already revoked visas and will take additional measures as the situation is clarified.


ROBERTSON: So Saudi Arabia and Turkey are really digging in here on their positions, particularly on the issue of extradition and where the jurisdiction for the trial should be. Divisions growing; there doesn't seem to be common ground in the middle. So what the United States and what President Trump has to say is hugely vital to the way this plays out.

ALLEN: Nic Robertson in Istanbul with the very latest. Nic, we thank you.

HOWELL: The man accused of sending bombs to former presidents and high-ranking officials and even our bureau in New York had a criminal history and nine arrests before Friday. As we return, we speak to a retired FBI profiler about his past.

Plus this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DEBRA GUREGHIAN, SAYOC'S FORMER EMPLOYER: I can't fire somebody because of their political views. As much as I'd like to, I couldn't. But his van was freaky scary.

ALLEN (voice-over): He's been called a model employee but something wasn't right. We hear from Sayoc's former employer. You just heard from her -- coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM.






ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen and you're watching CNN.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell.


ALLEN: Again, the suspected bombmaker now in federal custody. He has worked as a pizza delivery man in Ft. Lauderdale until last January.

HOWELL: After the arrest on Friday, his boss at the restaurant spoke to our colleague, Kate Bolduan, who provided insight into his personality.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: He worked with you until January.

What did you think, Debra, when you heard him named today?

GUREGHIAN: I was shocked. I could believe it. My hair stood up. I knew he had issues. He really was not -- he definitely beat to the beat of his own drum.

He was anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Jewish, you name it, everybody that really wasn't white and wasn't a white supremacist didn't belong in the world. That's what he used to say to me all the time.

But I really was shell-shocked when I found out it was him. I really couldn't believe it, because as far as an employee, he was on time, he was cordial, he was articulate. I never had any problems with him. There was no theft. My customers liked him.

But it was just his political views that scared me. Basically, he was a model employee. That's what I -- I can't understand. I'm sitting here saying to myself, what happened? I just can't -- go ahead.

BOLDUAN: Debra, it almost sounds like two different people. You're talking about an employee who shows up on time, who was, as you said, cordial, but he had issues -- I mean and when you talk about the things he's spouting, clearly he had issues. Was he violent?

GUREGHIAN: Not at all. There was no violence at all. I mean, he made it a point -- he knew I was a lesbian and a very proud lesbian. And he made it a point to tell me that, you know, God had made a mistake with me and that I should burn in hell and --

BOLDUAN: He would just say that to you, just straight to your face?

GUREGHIAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. But my mother brought me up to always, you know, believe the best in people. You know and turn the other cheek and I had people not like me because I've been gay and to me, I didn't have to go home with him.

He was not a friend of mine. I just hired him. He did his job. And that's how I looked at it.

You know, I didn't -- you know, accept his political views. We had arguments about it. You know, he invited me many, many times out. He said he worked at a casino, to come and see some shows with him. But I couldn't bring a partner. I had to come alone.

Sorry about that. But as far as an employee goes, he really was wonderful. I'm just -- I wish I had more like him as far as that aspect goes, but on the other aspect, the van was frightening.

BOLDUAN: I wanted to ask you about the van because there has been so much attention on his van today. Did he bring that very same van with those very same stickers to work?

GUREGHIAN: Absolutely. He did. And that's why I hired him to drive at night. I couldn't have him driving in the daytime. I had him driving at night. He parked the van around the corner. I never got any complaints from any of the customers. If I did, he would have been fired.

I can't -- and this is what people seem not to understand. I can't fire somebody because of their political views. Whether they don't like me or they don't like a black person or a gay person, I can't do that. I can't. As much as I'd like to, I couldn't. But his van was freaky scary.

BOLDUAN: I saw in "The Washington Post," he told their reporter that, inside the van, there were puppets with their heads cut off --


BOLDUAN: -- and mannequins with their heads cut off.

GUREGHIAN: Puppets with their -- mannequins and puppets and nooses, you know, but that was on his van also. There was Ku Klux Klan, there was Nazi symbols.

BOLDUAN: Did he talk to you about these things when you were in there?

GUREGHIAN: No. Absolutely not. He talked to me about coming to a show at the Hard Rock, but I would have to come by myself. He really -- he appreciated me as a general manager and that whatever I could do for him, I did. If he needed time off to go home early, I would let him go home early. And I appreciated him as being on time and being, you know, articulate and due diligent and all of that.

As far as the political views, no, we -- when he would start on that, I would just kind of nip it in the bud and say, you got a delivery up, you got to go.

He knew that I was a very strong supporter, very strong lesbian, very proud of my sexuality, but more than once, he told me that if he had complete autonomy, I would burn in hell with all the blacks and Jews and Hispanics and everybody else. It was just the white supremacists that were going to rule the world.

And unfortunately, he said, Debra, as much as I like you, you're going to be the first one I burn.


ALLEN: Let's get more on this with Jim Clemente, a former profiler for the FBI. He joins us now.

Thank you so much for being with us, Mr. Clement. I want to ask you first about the devices that have been recovered. They could have caused severe harm, so says the FBI.

When you consider how many were sent across the country, how lucky is it that none went off?

JIM CLEMENTE, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Yes, I think that's a factor based on the fact that the first package that went to Soros was discovered and then I think everybody else's alarms went off. All the screening processes were increased. I think The Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals and all the protective details just increased their surveillance of packages looking for these.

And, of course, that went out in concentric circles across the country and many of these were intercepted before any came near their targets.

ALLEN: How dangerous was this type of pipe bomb? CLEMENTE: I think the fact that the pipe bombs were actually made of plastic PVC pipe reduces the amount of pressure that can build up behind them and, therefore, the blast radius is going to be minimized. And I think the fact is he added some kind of shrapnel or glass to increase the damage that was done.

So they weren't extremely dangerous devices but they certainly could have hurt or killed somebody, at least an individual who opened them. And obviously the terror that they caused had ripple effects across the cities that they went to.

ALLEN: Right. Could he have made all of these on his own?

What is the FBI doing right now find out if he had accomplices?

CLEMENTE: Well, they'll start with people and interviews. So his family, his friends, his colleagues, his neighbors, they're all be interviewed. They'll also be working on forensics. Obviously they found his fingerprints, maybe some DNA on at least one of the packages.

If others were involved, they would have left trace DNA as well. They may have left fingerprints. But at this point we don't know how many days, weeks or months he actually took to put all these together. Again, they weren't extremely sophisticated but they were complicated enough to actually work and actually cause damage if they went off.

ALLEN: The suspect's former employer said he was a good worker and on time. He was articulate but at the same time, he was anti-gay. He told her she would be the first to burn in hell. She's a lesbian. He was anti-black, anti-Jewish. Everybody that wasn't white and white supremacist didn't belong in the world.

So we get it. He was extremely hate-filled. And people are prejudiced, people are homophobic. But what is it -- you're the person to ask because you're a profiler.

What is it that trips a person when you can no longer function in society because your beliefs are so extreme that you trip and decide you want to kill people?

CLEMENTE: Well, I like to explain it this way. I think the genetics loads the gun, gives them the potential. His personality and psychology aim it and his experiences pull the trigger. So the way he participates in this is the thousands of little decisions he makes in the privacy of his own mind.

Does he embrace the bad side of him or does he reject it?

In this case, He must have been embracing it and encouraging it and supporting it over a number of years because this behavior has been going on for a number of years. So I believe the thing that triggered it was his own lack of self-worth.

He felt powerless. He felt like he needed to regain some of that power. He wanted to make a statement and the way he did it was to try to make a huge splash. That's what's really important here. We have to understand --


CLEMENTE: -- he is not a hero in any way, shape or form and we can't make him that. If we keep his name and his face out of the news from now on -- all right, we know who he is; let's forget about him because we don't want to encourage other people to do the same thing, just to make another big splash.

ALLEN: We appreciate your comment and you and I didn't say the suspect's name so hopefully we'll carry on like this as we continue on with the story.

CLEMENTE: I appreciate it.

ALLEN: Jim Clemente, thank you. We appreciate you. Thank you.

CLEMENTE: Take care, Natalie.

HOWELL: Still ahead, the border for Israel and Gaza, once again, the scene of violence. We look ahead at what caused this week's tension and take you there live.




HOWELL: Welcome back.

Israeli jets hit what it calls terror targets in Gaza after rockets were fired toward Israel. Take a look.


ALLEN (voice-over): That's Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, intercepting some of those rockets. Meanwhile, along the border of Gaza, Palestinian officials say four people were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers, 180 wounded.


HOWELL: CNN's Oren Liebermann following those developments. He's near the Gaza Israel border.

Oren, what is the latest with these continued rockets fired into the morning?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: George, that rocket fire continues to this hour both in Northern Gaza near where we're standing right now. We're just outside of Northern Gaza, and in southern Gaza as well.

Just an hour ago, rocket alerts. The red alerts here went off very close to where we're standing as well as along Southern Gaza. The Israeli military in response carrying out a number of airstrikes.

In a briefing about an hour and a half ago, Israel said at this point nearly 3 dozen rockets have been fired. A number of those have been intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome aerial defense system and there has not been damage here or injuries to people. In response, Israel has --


LIEBERMANN: -- carried out a series, nearly 100 airstrikes, targeting tunnels but also advance weapons manufacturing sites and what they have described as terror sites and military sites belong to Hamas and other militant groups inside of Gaza.

This escalation that we saw last night, it is still going on. There may be behind the scenes efforts to try to get both sides back from the brink. If so, we have not yet seen the fruits of these efforts. It remains, it has been a tense, long night and it continues into this morning here -- George.

HOWELL: Oren, Israel holds Hamas responsible.

But is there a better sense of who's behind this?

LIEBERMANN: In the briefing we had with the IDF spokesperson, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, he pointed the finger directly at Palestinian Islamic Jihad. That's arguably the second largest militant group in Gaza although much smaller than Hamas and it is effectively a proxy of Iran or at least funded by Iran.

Israel says it is Palestinian Islamic Jihad or PIJ as they're called, in coordination with the al-Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard that are firing these rockets. They say those messages are coming through Damascus and they've seen a clear link to those messages.

That's a rare statement coming from the Israeli military, to point the finger squarely at PIJ. Perhaps more importantly, the Israeli military says the response will not be limited geographically, essentially opening up the possibility that Israel will strike Damascus or perhaps other Syrian or Iranian targets in Syria in response.

That in and of itself is an incredibly rare statement from the Israeli military, which rarely acknowledges strikes in Syria and certainly never, at least not to my memory, ever gives warning that it may carry out those strikes in advance -- George.

HOWELL: All right, Oren, given where things are now, where do things go from here?

LIEBERMANN: All the possibilities at this point remain on the table. Israel and Hamas have said and continue to say repeatedly that they're not interested in a war but suddenly there's the other player, Palestinian Islamic Jihad. That's an important factor here and what are their interests.

So is there an effort not to drag this into a war?

It certainly seems so. We're standing near Gaza and this could be or would be a staging area. If there was an attempt to launch some sort of ground invasion, you simply don't see that here.

So although there is the fire, the rocket fire and the response that we've seen here, it has not gone beyond, at least not yet and that's an important point to make -- George.

HOWELL: Near the Gaza-Israel border, CNN correspondent Oren Liebermann on the story, thank you so much for the reporting. We'll keep in touch with you.

ALLEN: And a beautiful blue sky full of rockets. That just does not seem right.

It is a cold, stormy weekend in the northeastern U.S.

HOWELL: We're tracking the season's first nor'easter and we're seeing what damage it could bring. Stay with us.






ALLEN: Here's some breaking news for you. If you went to sleep watching the World Series, guess what, it just ended about an hour ago.


ALLEN: Game three was exciting. The World Series is now in the record books and it is officially the longest World Series game ever.

HOWELL: The L.A. Dodgers won game three over the Boston Red Sox. Their 3-2 victory took this, 18 innings. The game lasted seven hours and 20 minutes. Wow.

ALLEN: That's twice as many innings as a regular baseball game. Boston still leads the seven-game series two games to one. But the Dodgers are the team of the day. They get a few hours' rest and they got to do it all over again.

The season's first nor'easter in the U.S. is taking shape with the help of a former hurricane.



ALLEN: All right, we want to bring you the latest from Meghan and Harry.

Are we allowed to just call them Meghan and Harry or do we have to do this duke and duchess?

HOWELL: I think we have to do the duke and duchess.

ALLEN: The Duke and Duchess of Essex are in Sydney. They're on their autumnal tour -- I guess we should say spring tour -- of the South Pacific. They were cheering on athletes on the last day of the Invictus Games.

HOWELL: That's the Olympic style tournament created by the prince for wounded veterans. It promotes rehabilitation and healing through sport. Next, the royal couple will complete their tour with a visit to New Zealand.

ALLEN: All right. The day's top stories are just ahead here. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. Stay with us. We'll be back right after the break.