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At Least 49 Dead in Terror Attack at New Zealand Mosques; North Korea Threatens to Suspend Nuclear Talks with U.S.; Pompeo Insists North Korea is Keeping Door Open on Continued Talks. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 15, 2019 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:38] DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Dana Bash, in for Kate Bolduan.

A deadly act of hatred on the opposite side of the Pacific is reverberating across the globe and into the U.S. this morning. Here is what we know. Forty-nine people in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, were slaughtered while praying and dozens more were wounded in two mosques as they came together for Friday prayers. A 28-year- old man is in custody and charged with murder. He is believed to have posted a manifesto on social media full of white supremacist, anti- immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric and, apparently, live-streamed the carnage.

The White House called the attack a vicious act of hate. And police in several American cities have beefed up security at mosques, although the Homeland Security secretary says there's no credible threat in the U.S.

Here's how witnesses described what they saw.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): He was just continuously shooting and coming inside slowly because he was killing all the people in the entrance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After a minute, we heard the fighting and it was from the main entrance, the main entrance of the building. And then everybody just ran towards the back doors just to save themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were a lot of bodies outside. So we've been waiting here just to see if our son is all right. But he's not answering his phone.


BASH: Let's go straight to New Zealand to Blis Savidge, who is in the city of Christchurch outside a hospital.

Blis, what is the latest there? BLIS SAVIDGE, FREELANCE PRODUCER: So we haven't had a lot of new

updates. It's after 4:00 in the morning here. The latest on the investigation still obviously very early. Police are being really tightlipped about letting out too much information, but they have a man, a 28-year-old man who has been arrested and charged with murder. He will have his first court appearance tomorrow morning.

As for over here, you can see a lot of vehicles have been by, helicopters above, heavy armed guards in front of the hospital behind us. We saw some suited-up law enforcement that we believe to be Urban Search and Rescue but can't confirm that, but definitely picking up a little bit around here as it starts to go earlier in the morning. Lots of press conferences. That court hearing tomorrow morning. We expect to get a lot more updates. For now, we're waiting at the hospital to see what we can see. A lot of people going in and out. Still 49 dead. Unbelievable. And for a country like New Zealand, not only is there not a lot of gun violence and not a lot of violence in general, it's something that has really shaken a lot of people here.

BASH: That's hard to imagine. It would shake people anywhere. But as you said, but especially, this is so antithetical to the culture of New Zealand.

Blis, thank you so much.

I want to now go to our chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward.

Clarissa, you unfortunately have a lot of experience covering attacks of this nature around the globe. Given that and given that you are very well sourced around the globe, what are you hearing and what are you seeing at this hour?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have spent the morning essentially pouring over this 87-page manifesto, in which the suspected perpetrator of this heinous terror attack essentially isolates several main themes that he says motivated him to do this attack. He talks a little about the invasion of Muslims, how Muslims are reproducing at a faster rate than white people, how they are replacing white culture. These are all very pervasive tropes and memes that we see on the Internet. And a lot of what he discusses in this manifesto are kind of winks and nods in this sort of coded language that far-right extremists use, particularly when they're communicating in these chat rooms, also in the dark web. And it appears that his primary motivation here, particularly with putting out this manifesto ahead of actually perpetrating the attack, is to essentially drive a wedge into civilian society, in Western liberal democracies. He is deliberately trying to provoke an attack. He talks about how it's justifiable to kill children, for example, because children will one day grow into adult Muslims. He's deliberately trying to sow discord and tear at the fabric of Western societies. And this is a trope, by the way, Dana, that is very familiar to many of us that have covered ISIS attacks, similar ideologies, this idea of "eliminate the gray zone."

[11:05:29] We did also watch some of that that video. We have decided not to show it on CNN. I can tell our viewers, it is nothing short of horrific. And it is designed, once again, to provoke, to horrify and to terrify -- Dana?

BASH: And, Clarissa, this you mentioned that this is in keep unfortunately with something that you and all of us have seen across the globe, particularly -- I mean, obviously this is New Zealand -- but particularly on the rise where you are in Europe, and talk about that, about the concern that has been out there about what this is, which is white supremacy and terrorism in the name of this horrific white supremacy.

WARD: Well, this is, I think, Dana, or I hope rather, that this will be a watershed moment. Because what is quite shocking going through this manifesto and some of the tropes and some of the themes is that some of these have now become part of our mainstream political discourse in the U.S., in many countries in Europe. And ideas and thoughts that were once considered to be racist, to be taboo, to be something that you would never air publicly, have seeped into the mainstream. That is a big concern for Muslims all across the world who believe that kind of culture and climate and climate can, if not actively cause, certainly encourage or create an environment in which people feel emboldened to carry out horrific attacks like this -- Dana?

BASH: Clarissa, thank you so much for staying on top of this. I know you will continue to be all evening. We really appreciate your expertise.

I want to talk more about the posts that Clarissa was just talking about that could be linked to this attack.

For that, I want to get to CNN justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider.

Jessica, this manifesto, we are not showing it, we are not quoting from it, we are being very careful because, even though he says this is not his goal, of course, the goal is to get these ideals, these horrible, horrible racist, anti-Semantic, anti-Muslim attacks out there. We do need to know about it in order to try to prevent what happens next.


BASH: Tell us just the broad strokes of what we know.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. So Clarissa, there, was talking about the motivations listed in the manifesto, Dana, but we also know some of the logistics, as well. So the author of this identifying himself as a 28-year-old from Australia. And he says quite clearly in this manifesto that he's been plotting this attack for two years now. And specifically this attack in Christchurch for the past three months. He claims broadly that he didn't carry out this attack for, quote, "fame," but instead, the word he uses repeatedly here is "revenge." And he cites two instances in particular that started him on this path to plot this attack. And he says it was back in 2017. And one of the instances was a terror attack that happened in Stockholm, Sweden. That's where a truck plowed into a crowd killing five people. The author in particular says the death of a young girl in that terror attack particularly resonated with him and he took that attack as an attack on his own people and then vowed to retaliate. So that was one instance. The second trigger that he mentions is the 2017 French general election where Marine le Pen, who had ties to the nationalist party there, she lost, and Emmanuel Macron won. So those were some of the things that he talks about in this 87-page manifesto.

Dana, also, he talks about, like what Clarissa said, trying to sow this discord. One part in particular that was very chilling was he said he chose to carry out this attack in New Zealand because he wanted to show the world that nowhere in the world is safe. So a lot of chilling things coming from this, logistically, and also as to his motivations here -- Dana?

BASH: Jessica, thank you so much for that.

Joining me now to talk about this, former assistant secretary at Homeland Security and CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem, and "Bloomberg" editor, Bobby Ghosh.

Thank you so much, both of you, for being here.

Juliette, just in terms of law enforcement, what are the biggest priorities right now?

[11:09:49] JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, there's a suspect in custody so, basically, who he is and what his network is like and who he communicated with, as well as the three others, there's -- there's a discrepancy as to how many men are in that pool and how many women. But nevertheless, whoever is in captivity or a suspect is going to unleash an investigation, both in New Zealand and then Australia next, and then to see if they had any other international ties. That will be your physical investigation. On the sort of, you know, Internet signal investigation you're going to be looking at the radicalization process, how come this happened two years ago, what was going on, and how -- and who else were they engaged with.

I should say one other thing that's interesting for New Zealand is I am very curious about the weaponry and the access to weaponry. I wouldn't question that here in the United States. Did someone bring it over from Australia? Was it permitted? Does someone have a background in military, law enforcement? That will be key for this investigation. That's a piece of it that we wouldn't really think that much about in the United States.

BASH: Right. The gun laws are much stricter there.

And, Bobby, New Zealand is part of what's called the Five Eyes, which means that it shares intelligence with the United States, other allies, as well. So what is the U.S. role here in terms of the investigation?

BOBBY GHOSH, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, the U.S. role will have to be to see what connections, if there are any, digitally, from Australia and New Zealand to other places around the world, to like- minded groups. It's not inconceivable that he had some contact with similar groups, people espousing similar ideas in the United States, because we know there's a very large community in the U.S. of those kinds of people. And he has name-checked Americans. He has name- checked right-wing figures who gave him inspiration. Now, those people may not have been directly involved, but there might be groups that were involved.

I just came off reading that he had recently done a sort of around- the-world trip. We have to see if that included stops in the United States, whether he made contact with people there. But we don't -- it is too early to know whether there's an American connection, but it would not be surprising if there was one.

BASH: Right. I mean, maybe, at first blush, you think, well, this guy is a lone wolf or working with some of his friends there, but perhaps not, and that's really important.

And, Bobby, just to follow up on what Clarissa and Jessica were reporting about this manifesto, there are clear, alarming parallels between this massacre and attacks all over the globe, including an attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue in the U.S. just five months ago. You see the parallels?

GHOSH: Oh, it's inescapable. You look at his manifesto, 80, 90 pages, it's a distillation of the 1500-page manifesto that Ander Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer, put out before he killed 77 people in his country, and that was 2011. The parallels are very clear. There are people feeding off of this kind of what, in their minds, would qualify as some sort of an intellectual infrastructure or intellectual framework for their way of thinking. There's a lot of written material out there. We no longer have the right, Dana, to be surprised by this stuff. It is out there. It is clear. They are saying what they want to do. They say what they believe. And then they go ahead and do it. And if we don't -- if we don't stop them, if we are still saying all these years later, well, we don't have the ability to stop someone acting by themselves or in a small group around the world, then we are doing something wrong. In terms of law enforcement and in terms of community management, we are doing something wrong. These are people who are clearly telegraphing their intent. We're not paying attention.

BASH: So there's a law enforcement side that you were talking about and then there's the rhetorical side.

Juliette, the official statement calls the New Zealand attack, point blank, a vicious act of hate, which is important. President Trump, in his tweet, called it a horrible massacre, but he didn't label it as hate, didn't condemn hate. As president, wouldn't you want to distance yourself from this terrorist who apparently explicitly aligned himself in the manifesto with President Trump by name?

KAYYEM: Absolutely. And you would want to use the same term that the New Zealand prime minister used, which was terrorism, that this was clearly terrorism. It was intended to terrify and attack a certain community for political or social purposes. The name game -- it's not a name game at this stage. In other words, it clearly is ideological white supremacy driven terrorism. And the White House's responsibility and the president's responsibility to call it what it is so we can identify it and begin to minimize it. See, this -- I love this conversation, in one way, says we have to stop thinking about these at lone wolf attacks. They are not. They are supported by a network of radicalization and ideology that is ramping up this activity.

[11:15:03] Now the individuals themselves, who are going to kill people, is fortunately very, very small. But they feed off of this public discourse, the political discourse, the discourse coming from political leaders, the discourse that Facebook and Twitter are refusing to take off. And we shy away from naming it because we're worried we're being too P.C. or we should let the free flow of ideas. But that's ridiculous at this stage. This is radicalization. It's just not ISIS radicalization. So somehow we seem to protect it more. Words matter. We believe that in the fight against ISIS. That is why we condemn radicalization and Islam. We must now call this what it is. It's killing more Americans today than ISIS is. And once we name it, then we can begin to minimize it.

BASH: Words matter.


GHOSH: And then, if I can add --


GHOSH: -- but words also matter about how we describe the victims. I think the most important words were stated by the prime minister of New Zealand, when she described the victims and their families, she said they are us. That's very important, that these are not others, these are not strangers or foreigners or immigrants. Those are not the words we need to hear. We need to hear words that they are us. Those words matter, too.

BASH: Yes. Very well said.

Juliette and Bobby, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

Coming up, North Korea is threatening to suspend nuclear talks with the U.S. Where will negotiations go from here and what does it mean for the president's relationship with Kim Jong-Un?

Plus, a stinging rebuke and future fight. The Senate votes to block President Trump's national emergency after a dozen Republicans side with Democrats. Now the president is set to issue his very first veto. More on that, next.


[11:21:10] BASH: Putting pressure on Washington, North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, is considering suspending denuclearization talks with the U.S. after the two sides failed tot reach an agreement at last month's U.S./North Korea summit. CNN's Paula Hancocks has the latest.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, this could either be seen as an ultimatum from North Korea or something that is out of the North Korean playbook, an attempt to put pressure on the United States to try and get more out of these denuclearization talks. What we heard today was from the vice foreign minister, Choe Son-hui. She was talking to reporters based inside Pyongyang -- this is where we're getting these reports from -- saying the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, is trying to decide whether or not he wants to continue these diplomatic talks with the United States, saying he will make that decision soon. Also saying Kim Jong-Un is trying to figure out if he even wants to keep this moratorium on the nuclear and missile testing. That was a key point that the U.S. president was making as he was walking away from Hanoi, saying that Kim Jong-Un promised him that this was going to be no more testing.

Now, one other thing that Choe said was, quote, "The U.S. were too busy with pursuing their own political interests and had no intention to achieve a result."

Interestingly, she didn't focus in a negative way on the U.S. president at all. She said it appeared as though Mr. Trump wanted to do more, but it was the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the national security adviser, John Bolton, according to Choe, who were the culprits when it came to these talks collapsing. She was also pointing out that the friendship between the U.S. and the North Korean leader is still strong, talking about the chemistry being mysteriously wonderful.

So at this point, it really appears as though she may be quoting Kim Jong-Un in order to try and put more pressure on Washington, to get something more out of it -- Dana?

BASH: Paula Hancocks, thank you so much.

Paula mentioned the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. This morning, he insisted that North Korea is keeping open the possibility of continued talks. Here is what Secretary Pompeo said.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: With respect to what was said last night about Chairman Kim, potentially considering ending the moratorium, I can say only this. In Hanoi, on multiple occasions, he spoke directly to the president and made a commitment that he would not resume nuclear testing, nor would he resume missile testing. So that is Chairman Kim's word. We have every expectation that he will live up to that commitment.


BASH: Joining me now is CNN global affairs analyst, Max Boot.

Max, how do you see the statements from the North Koreans? Are they just trying to rattle the U.S. cages and Pompeo was just saying I'm going to ignore it and keep on keeping on or is this a real moment of concern?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, you took the words out of my mouth, Dana. I was just about to say that they're trying to rattle Trump's cage. I think the North Koreans were very disappointed with the outcome in Hanoi because what they imagined was that they would symbolically shut down the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, one of their many nuclear sites, and in return, the Americans would grant them wide- ranging sanctions relief, and that was not an offer. And I think, to President Trump's credit, he did not agree to that deal, which would have been a very bad deal because we know the North Koreans have many other nuclear facilities beyond the one at Yongbyon and that agreement would not even touch their arsenal of nuclear weapons or missiles. But clearly the North Koreans are now signaling that if you don't give us what we want, we may do something you dislike, which is resuming testing of nuclear weapons or missiles because that is the one thing President Trump has made clear is his red line. He has basically said he is in no hurry to see North Korea denuclearize, but he would just like them not to test their weapons. So now the North Koreans are threatening tests. And also trying to separate President Trump from his aides. It's kind of hilarious to hear the North Korean spokeswoman say Kim and Trump have this mysterious alchemy together, which kind of echoes the way Trump talks about how they're in love, or whatever. But clearly, the North Koreans think Pompeo and Bolton are the hardliners where who are sabotaging a one-sided agreement, which I think may be right. And they're basically trying to get Trump to throw his aides overboard --

BASH: Yes.

BOOT: -- and to make a deal with Kim, whom he professes to love.

[11:25:25] BASH: They are really studying this president. And he's not wrong about his top aides being more hardline than them.

I want you to listen -- you talk about ratcheting it up -- listen to what Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a Republican member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said on "NEW DAY" this morning.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R), ILLINOIS: Here is where the president needs to go on this, in my view, is we need to go back to having the view of having the stick option on the table. That doesn't mean threatening military action, but that means resuming the large-scale military exercises, making clear we're staying in South Korea, making sure sanctions are enforced. This is a time where we have to inflict pain on North Korea to make it clear they're not going to do what they've been doing for 40 years down the wrong river with us.


BASH: That is hardline. Good idea?

BOOT: I mean, I think it is a good idea to resume large-scale military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea because, by canceling those, we are weakening the alliance and we're giving in to North Korean blackmail. So I think that's right. And I think it's also right to say that we should emphasize the sanctions policy, the maximum pressures policy, which was actually working in 2017. It was beginning to bite, which is why the North Koreans are so eager to see the sanctions lifted. But the reality is, is it will be impossible to return to maximum pressure because President Trump has legitimized Kim Jong-Un on the world stage. He's basically given him the American seal of approval. And as a result of that, China and Russia have ramped down sanctions enforcement. So de facto, sanctions have already been relaxed and it's going to be very hard to go back to a tougher line unless North Korea actually tests a missile.

BASH: Yes. And that is about if, if that happens. All bets are off.

Max Boot, thank you so much for that analysis.

Coming up, President Trump prepares to issue his first veto of his presidency after members of his own party voted against his national emergency. Will the veto come today? Will we see it? That's next.