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At Least 359 People Killed In Easter Sunday Bombings; ISIS Claims Responsibility For Easter Bombings; Authorities Giving Update On Sri Lanka Attacks; Authorities Giving Update on Sri Lanka Attacks; Kim-Putin Meeting Raises Concern of Threat to U.S. Interests; "Jeopardy Contestant Keeps Winning with Aggressive Strategy. Aired 1- 2a ET

Aired April 24, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everybody. Thank you for joining us. I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, ISIS claimed responsibility for the Easter Day Massacre that left more than 350 people dead, an attack which ceased Sri Lanka's government facing growing anger for doing nothing to stop it.

Plus, the summit of America's adversaries Kim Jong-un takes his bulletproof train to Russia for his first-ever high-level talks with President Vladimir Putin. And later this hour, he's breaking records and possibly changing a much-beloved T.V. staple forever. The professional Las Vegas gambler who's getting rich rewriting the rules on Jeopardy.

There has been another significant jump in the death toll in Sri Lanka, now up to at least 359 Isis has claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday attack and released a video of seven men, their faces covered who were supposedly the suicide bombers.

The man with his face not covered is said to be their leader Zahran Hashim. He's known to Sri Lankan authorities, part of a local extremist group the NTJ. And Indian intelligence say he may have been trained by ISIS.

Sri Lanka has admitted it never fallen through on warnings from India and others, and officials now fear more attacks are being planned. The prime minister says some suspects are still on the run armed with explosives and the country's president says there will be consequences for the failure by his security services to act on the intelligence.


MAITHRIPALA SIRISENA, PRESIDENT, SRI LANKA (through translator): The security officials who got the intelligence report from a foreign nation did not share it with me. Appropriate actions would have been taken. I have decided to take stern action against these officials.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: For more now, live to Colombo, and CNN's Nikhil Kumar. Nikhil, we know that dozens have been arrested in the last couple of days after the attack, but we know who they are, what information or leads if any had they been able to give investigators?

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: So John, they're still waiting for more clarity on that. But what is becoming increasingly clear, what you referred to in your introduction is that Sri Lanka had a lot of information. They had specific information from India which Indian intelligence officials tell us was based on the arrests as you mentioned, of an ISIS suspect.

He disclosed information which was relayed to the Sri Lankans, and somehow not enough was done. Nothing was done to make sure that these targets around Sri Lanka including this church which was bombed on Easter Sunday, still an active crime scene, including this, that not enough was done to increase security here.

So the emphasis now very much is on two fronts. On one, to make sure that those were still out there -- the prime minister referred to a continuing threat, to make sure that those who are still out there who pose a threat to the population here that apprehended. And two, to investigate what happened. How the ball was dropped. How this information fell through the cracks. John?

VAUSE: Which is bizarre when you -- very odd when you think that even the president here is claiming that he was kept out of the loop which is why he's ordered this you know, immediate restructuring of the security services, and he wants this to happen in you know, within the next 24 hours.

KUMAR: That's right. The president and the prime minister who prior to the president speaking, the prime minister had said that he was in the dark, that he didn't know. So we now know that information was relayed to Sri Lanka. We now know that the information was quite specific, but somehow it just didn't reach the people who were responsible and that's why nothing was done.

Which is why today in addition to people mourning, you can see these white and black streamers of mourning which are all over this neighborhood around this church, even as people are mourning, even as they come to terms, try to come to terms with what happened -- just down the road a few hundred meters, a wake is going on which I just visited -- even as people try to come to terms with that, there are people there who are very, very angry.

They're angry that how could this happen. If you knew so much, if you could have done more, you've got armed guards on the streets now, why weren't they there on Sunday when innocent people walked into churches like this to pray, to worship, and they were killed.

It's something that is really angering people here, has become an increasing source of controversy. And the biggest risk, of course, is this is a country that is not unfamiliar with violence. You'll recall, it went through a three-decade long civil war. The last ten years -- next month marks the tenth anniversary of the end of that war -- the last ten years have been a process of healing, of reconciliation.

And the biggest worry -- this is a mixed neighborhood around this church, you will find Muslim household, you'll find Christian household, you'll find Sinhalese people, Tamil people. The biggest risk people say is that something like this could very easily rupture the process. It could very easily drive communities apart again. And that's something that everybody here, everybody we have spoken to wants to avoid. John?

VAUSE: And we've seen the security service there once again given the powers, the sweeping powers they had during the Civil War which is also a concern how long they hold on to those new authorities. Nikhil, thank you. Nikhil Kumar there live in Sri Lanka.

For more now, we're joined by Bruce Hoffman, an expert in terrorism and a Professor at Georgetown University. Professor Hoffman, thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: As part of the claim of responsibility, ISIS released a video of what they said were the suicide bombers pledging allegiance to the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. I would actually show you the video only this one still. And the man in the middle with his face not covered is Zahran Hashmi. He was the leader known for his pro-ISIS sermons and calls for non-Muslims to be killed in Sri Lanka.

I want you listen to what a provincial governor said about Zahran and his ability to win over loyal followers.


AZATH SALLEY, GOVERNOR, WESTERN PROVINCE SRI LANKA: This guy Zahran, he's the guy who is giving them the idea -- ideology. And when he talks to people, they get convinced. I don't know what mechanism he has, and how he's very mesmerizing, or how he is getting into this is not known. But what people say is when they -- when he talks, they immediately want to go.


VAUSE: So the question is, is it this guy sort of personal charisma or charm or whatever you want to call it which is working or is it the pro-ISIS message which is delivering or was it a combination of both which you know, have convinced seven young men to carry out mass murder and kill themselves in the process.

HOFFMAN: I would imagine it's certainly a combination of both. What we've seen historically is the charismatic figure can be very effective in motivating and inspiring and actually activating individuals to martyr themselves, to become suicide terrorists all in service to what he communicates and he defines as a highly compelling ideology.

That said, I think one has to understand that Sri Lanka's Muslim community has long been alienated and disenfranchised. I first visited Sri Lanka 22 years ago and met with members of the Muslim community. And back then, the elders were very concerned in an entirely secular context how the community was being radicalized or at least there were attempts to radicalize that it seems that two decades later a combination of Hashim and ISIS has succeeded in doing so.

VAUSE: I would like you listen to what one neighbor said about the attackers next door. Here he is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're very reserved. Like they don't come out to play, they don't come out to you know, chat, have a chat. Like in this community, we get together everyone now and then. Like every night we get on the roads and we talk about stuff like we have, like what you're doing or what's happening. So these guys, they never -- they never came out.


VAUSE: You know, which is pretty typical, but we also had this surveillance video which shows one of the suicide bombers on his way to his target. He stops for a moment at one point and he pats a young girl on the head. It's chilling. It's also incredulous to me that how someone you know, about to carry out mass murder could act in sort of that way you know, before he reaches his target. How do you explain that?

HOFFMAN: Well, certainly, the neighbors recounting of his experience fits into a pattern that these individuals were in the martyrs mindset. And certainly, their handlers or controllers would have been sequestering the would-be bombers ensuring that they stayed focused on their mission and indeed the religious justification, and political manifestations of their mission.

But at the same time, at the end of the day, this isn't by any stretch of the imagination of the moment condone what they did. But we'd like to look at them as monsters and in fact the acts of violence they commit are without any doubt monstrous. But at the end of the day they are human beings and they may be so rigidly focused on this mission, but as you could see in that video footage where he's patting the head of that child, they're still human beings.

And they're believing that they're committing these acts of violence in the twisted ideology that they're imbued with is in sort of -- they're making the ultimate sacrifice. As they see it, they believe it's the supreme evidence of the fealty to their religious creed and to the political cause that has inspired.

VAUSE: What is interesting is that this ideology which and -- this message coming from ISIS still you know, has you know, still attractive and still calling these recruits even after the caliphate has fallen. And more of that's been the trigger for renewed ISIS operations around the world. You know, there was a first time attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo, there was you know, an (INAUDIBLE) device it's called ISIS-K operating in Kabul, and there was a you know, attack recently in Saudi Arabia. It does seem you know, this being sort of renewed effort by the terror

group to sort of hit targets around the world.

HOFFMAN: I think this is a conscious decision that ISIS leadership embraces as the caliphate was crumbling and ultimately falling was to move from the center to the periphery and give emphasis activities by ISIS's official branches in more than two dozen networks throughout the world.

VAUSE: So at this point, you know, countries like Saudi Arabia manage to follow the attacks, obviously frankly did not, and Kabul is obviously is you know, a soft target in many ways. How concerned should Western government be -- Western governments be and Western countries be because it seems for more than a year now, maybe more, security forces in Europe and the United States have been able to prevent major terrorist attacks.

[01:10:22] HOFFMAN: That's certainly true, but we're only as good as our last success. And the problem is terrorism as we've seen with the horrific attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, now just in the past few days in in Sri Lanka, that terrorism is constantly evolving, It has to evolve and change otherwise the terrorists would not be successful in carrying out their attack.

So as the terrorists adapt and adjust to even our most consequential countermeasures, governments have to be confident that they're keeping pace with the -- with this threat, that they're responding the warnings, that they are continuing to take the challenge of terrorism seriously, and that their vigilance is not relaxing that this is the events in recent days have tragically demonstrated. ISIS may have been weak --

VAUSE: We leave our guess there for a moment. We want to go live to Colombo where the Defense Minister is holding a news conference with the latest information after the Sunday Easter bombing attacks. Let's listen in.


RUWAN WIJEWARDENE, STATE MINISTER OF DEFENSE, SRI LANKA: -- by forces and intelligence agencies. We have made significant amount of risks via gathering information about who have been involved in these atrocities plus any other extremist elements in this country. So we are at the moment gathering all that information and we have taken I think -- investigations have come -- have gathered quite a lot of Intel on this and we will be making further arrests in the next couple of days.

And we can firmly say that within the next couple of days that our security agencies will have the whole situation of this country under control. So I'm happy to say that that will be the case in a couple of days. If there are any questions that you need to ask me, please do so. Our police spokesperson is also here and military spokesperson is also here. So if there are any questions you all need to ask please do so. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Minister, is there any information about the

leader of this National Thowheed Jamath, what happened to the leader? Do you have any information whether he has committed suicide or what about his whereabouts?

WIJEWARDENE: Right now there are -- I think this group has been -- there are two groups. From what we gathered, the National Thowheed Jamath, and there has been a group that has split from that main body. And there is -- they have -- basically that is the group that has become quite extreme and from what we have gathered is that they are thinking is that only Islam can be the only religion in this country.

So that has been the extreme view. And it is why they have carried out these atrocities, these bombings. But we believe that the leader of this group has also committed suicide in one of the attacks.


WIJEWARDENE: No, right now I'm restricted in saying the name of that group, but as soon -- as soon as we speak with intelligence groups and everything --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just for -- just for clarity. So it's not -- it's not the NTJ leader who has committed suicide but it's somebody from the splinter group.

WIJEWARDENE: The splinter group, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So not -- the NTJ -- Zahran Hashmi is -- we don't know what has happened to Zahran Hashmi?

WIJEWARDENE: No, it is the splinter group. It is the splinter group. Both groups has extreme views but they've had -- they've had some kind of misunderstanding and there has been a split at some point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So -- but there has been a spilt. Did they work together on this operation or --

WIJEWARDENE: Well, there have been links, yes.


WIJEWARDENE: At the Shangri-La.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's his name, sir?

WIJEWARDENE: I'm sorry, I'm restricted in giving out that name at the moment.


WIJEWARDENE: No, he's not.


WIJEWARDENE: He's not. No. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he the (INAUDIBLE). Two bombers at the same --

[01:15:00] WIJEWARDENE: Yes. Right now we do not want to -- I'm really sorry, but I am restricted in giving out the identities of these people, because we are still conducting the investigation and until everything is finished, you know, I cannot give out these names.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we saw the -- in the report we have seen, there are the name of Zahran Hashim was described as the leader of the National Thowheed Jamath. So, what we really want to know is what has happened to him?

WIJEWARDENE: I cannot give out the names of the persons but I can only say that the leader of this -- the person who gave the lead to this attack is one of the suicide bombers and he has taken his life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry, can you just be a bit clear? Your Prime Minister said yesterday, specifically, about this Zahran Hashim, that thought that he had committed a suicide -- he'd been one of the suicide bombers but that hadn't been confirmed yet. I know you're obviously restricted, but can you just say you're talking about the same person?

WIJEWARDENE: Well, there is a group and there are quite a few individuals and other that -- from this group, the leader of this group, has committed suicide at the Shangri-La Hotel. But we are conducting investigations to find out that there are other people who are involved in this -- in this group. It is not just restricted to the bombers.

So, there are -- I have to find out how many others are involved in this. So, those investigations are going on, so which is why --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you saying that this Zahran Hashim person was the leader of this splinter group?

WIJEWARDENE: I'm not saying that at the moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. OK. It's a bit confusing. And can you also say how many of these suicide bombers, we've obviously seen pictures of them in the Amaq video that was released yesterday. Do you -- what credibility do you attach to that video?

And can you give a sense of -- did Islamic State -- they're claiming responsibility for the attack. Did they train these people? Was there coordination? Who was the mastermind of this attack? Is it a foreigner?

WIJEWARDENE: We are conducting those investigations at the moment to see if there is a direct link to any international organizations. Right now, the I.S. has claimed responsibility. But I can say is through ideology, and maybe funding, but -- on the funding, but we are conducting investigations to find out whether there was funding.

But what also I can say is that this group, on some of the suicide bombers, most of them are well-educated and come from maybe middle or upper middle class, so they are financially quite independent and quite, you know -- their families are quite stable, financially.

So, that it is a worry (INAUDIBLE) because some of them have, I think, studied in various other countries. They hold degrees, LLMs, you know, they're quite well educated people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said -- you think you said yesterday that one of them had been to the U.K., can you confirm, is that correct?

WIJEWARDENE: We believe that one of the suicide bombers studied in the U.K. and then maybe later on, did his post graduate in Australia, before coming back to settle in Sri Lanka.




WIJEWARDENE: We are still looking into that. But, right now, we don't have any indication on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it true that the bombing put retaliation to Christchurch bombings. I'm here, this side. Here. You said -- you told parliament yesterday the bombings were retaliation to Christchurch bombings. Do you have any concrete evidence to say that?

WIJEWARDENE: This is according to the assessment done by the intelligence, that they believe that this is a reprisal. It was basically motivated. That Christchurch incident motivated these guys to carry out this blast on Easter Sunday.

Because this group has -- first, I think, a couple of months ago, in the Kochchikade district had (INAUDIBLE) few Buddhist statues and attacked some temples, and a church as well. But they were very, you know, it was not to this magnitude. It was just a small, you know, attack.

[01:20:11] But for them to take this kind of action on Easter Sunday, our intelligence services believe that they were motivated by the Christchurch incident.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is that assessment based on? Do they have messages from the group? What is the intelligence (INAUDIBLE)

WIJEWARDENE: Like I said, the intelligence services are doing their investigations and according to their assessment, they believe that this was a motivation --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do they have?

WIJEWARDENE: It was motivating -- motivational fact to put these people -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do they have messages or wiretaps?

WIJEWARDENE: I cannot indulgent that kind of information.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Minister, is Mr. Ibrahim, the owner -- said to be the owner of the Dematagoda house, is he under interrogation? What is the status of --

WIJEWARDENE: He's under -- he's taken into custody and they're questioning him at the moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi sir, I'm Zadan from Viona. My question is, India had provided intelligence earlier have (INAUDIBLE) including India, provided more intelligence now of and other series (INAUDIBLE) have you been briefed up by other countries?

WIJEWARDENE: Well, our intelligence agencies have links with many intelligence agencies from other countries, so I think that has been, you know, information that has been thrown from many sources. But yes, there has been, as I said in my speeches today, our intelligence had been briefed.

And certain officials have been notified about the possible attack but due to some, you know, relapse of, you know, security arrangements, most of the officials were not notified, that is including me. And the Prime Minister does not notify about these threats, which is very unfortunate.

So, there has been a lapse in that regard, but the President has come back and he has promised to take -- you know, inquiring to this, to why there has been a lapse of -- about this sharing of information amongst everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have heard -- we have heard that the Negombo bomber moved into the house, by the church, one month ago. So, I -- is the intelligence suggesting that one week after the Christchurch shootings, these terrorists mobilized. It was that short notice. That was one week passed, they mobilized, and then one month later, were ready to carry out these attacks?

WIJEWARDENE: Well, it's -- what we have found out is that there have been two safe houses, one in Negombo and one in Batticaloa. And that must have been easy for them to plan out these attacks. So, Sri Lanka is not a lost country.

I think -- I believe this group has been -- you know, at some point, thinking of making some kind of attack, but I believe, according to the agencies, that Christchurch incident would have motivated that too and carried it out on Easter Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have two questions.

WIJEWARDENE: Sorry. Right now, they are conducting investigations on that field. It is, yes. I'm sorry, I can't. I'm restricted in saying this, because the investigation is still carried out under

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, do you have a sense of when the (INAUDIBLE)

WIJEWARDENE: I'm not too sure exactly when it was splintered, but it's -- you know, they've been linked with various groups. I cannot confidently say exactly when this group had been, you know, had been --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What steps are you taking to control Islamic fundamentalism?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prime Minister has said that there are no links and there's no intelligence reports that they have, suggesting that the attacks of (INAUDIBLE) by Sri Lanka. Secondly, has India provided intelligence for yet another attack that had been planned here in Sri Lanka?

WIJEWARDENE: For the first question, I think, like I said, according to the assessment made by our intelligence services, you know, this is what they believe, that, it was motivated. As for -- there were direct links --

[01:25:01] I mean, it's not -- and I don't believe there was a direct link in a sense that it was anyone from New Zealand, giving, you know, financial, you know, benefits of training or anything like that. But I think what happened in New Zealand, motivated this people to carry it out on Easter Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Minister (INAUDIBLE) India. Yes, you've accepted the fact that there has been (INAUDIBLE) that there had been both multiple evidence inputs including that from India, even most specifically, that attacks would be made at the church.

Now, the top leadership of the state, the political leaders have said that they are not in the loop, and they are not in the know about. Does it, at this point, very serious lapse at the intelligence and I'll be looking at the major shakeup at top branch of the army, the police, the intelligence?

WIJEWARDENE: It is a major lapse. It is a major lapse in sharing of information, especially intelligence information. As for the shakeup, the President yesterday made the statement, saying that there will be certain changes standing the hierarchy with (INAUDIBLE) that's in the ministry of -- left to be seen.

I think -- I'm sure within the next couple of days, we will find out. The President is planning to make some changes. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you expect, Minister, just like Christchurch, is it -- is the assessment by the intelligence agency that is only motivational or possible funding or there's evidence to this day?

WIJEWARDENE: No, we are still conducting investigations on the possible international links. Right now, what I can safely say is when the (INAUDIBLE) it has been motivational and we are checking if there has been funding, as the training side (INAUDIBLE) still making those investigations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Minister, several -- sorry, Minister (INAUDIBLE)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you expecting any more attacks in the coming days?

WIJEWARDENE: Well, we are asking the people to be vigilant. We are asking the people to be diligent. I mean, I'm not saying that the country is 100 percent at the moment, but there are still, you know -- there could be still a few people out there.

Right now, we are asking people to be vigilant and -- but I think, within a couple days, within the next few days, we will have the situation totally under control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What steps are you taking to control Islamic fundamentalism, sir, because that is the basis of all this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm connected to that. I would like to ask -- connected to that --

WIJEWARDENE: Sorry. Yes, sorry. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There have been reports that India gave a warning about these attacks even on the day -- on Easter Sunday morning. Do you know anything about how that information was transmitted? Was it a phone call? Did it come from somebody?

WIJEWARDENE: Sorry, I'm not -- I'm not privy to that information at the moment. I think, like I said, intelligence services have links to various other intelligence services around, international services, as well. So, there has been, I think, a sharing of information, but (INAUDIBLE) given on that particular day or the day before, I cannot actually say that at the moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Minister, what was the --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mainly, investigations have been conducted by Criminal Investigation Department, CID. CID confirmed nine suicidal carters (INAUDIBLE) this bomb blasting, and our top nine, CID has identified eight suicide carters.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have any of these people whom you are investigating, are any of the suicide carters who died? Have they ever been in police custody over other incidents either at the Puttalam (INAUDIBLE) or the (INAUDIBLE) incident?

WIJEWARDENE: Yes. Some of them, I think, even on earlier incidents have been taken into custody. And on small (INAUDIBLE) all have been taken into custody but nothing to this magnitude before. (CROSSTALK)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why were they released?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They said the government have failed them (INAUDIBLE).

WIJEWARDENE: Well there was definitely a lapse of intelligence and the government has, you know -- we have to take responsibility because unfortunately the sharing of, you know, the intelligence information had been given to the right people.

I think at least this could have been have -- could be avoided or even minimized. The situation could have been minimized. So I mean we cannot shake off, as a government we cannot say that we are not responsible. That there is a certain degree of responsibility.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could you please say what happened to --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- said that the U.S. has provided intelligence. But the U.S. ambassador herself has said that they received no information because of the number of American citizens here, the U.S. embassy would have been advised of any intelligence about such kind of attacks.

So does the government still maintain that the U.S. has provided intelligence? That's my first question.

And my second question is, whether there are some of the FBI on the ground and we wanted to know what the level of cooperation is with the FBI right now and what the status of that collaboration is right now?

WIJEWARDENE: No, I believe what was said was that the U.S. Government is providing help for our intelligence services by giving the FBI unit down here to help with the investigation. So yes, we are conducting -- the CIB is in contact with the FBI. There are I think other intelligence services from various other countries including Australia, the Interpol, the U.K., and the U.A.E. has also -- the ambassador of the U.A.E. called me yesterday on this. They are willing to provide some intelligence service to help out with the investigation as well.

So yes, there are various countries that are helping us at the moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does Sri Lanka still -- sorry does the government still maintain that the U.S. provided advance information of the possibility of these attacks?

WIJEWARDENE: Like they said, the intelligence services gather their sources from various, you know, intelligence services. Whether it came from the U.S. or not I cannot say at this moment. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We still know that you are trying to gather

where the training was the part where IS was (INAUDIBLE) or funding. But we would like to know what is the apprehension route in terms of IS really making inroads into the communities here and how many more radicalized youth are out there who could be a danger in the near future.

WIJEWARDENE: Yes. I mean we have been, for the last three or four years have been looking at, you know, the possible infiltration of IS into Sri Lanka. There have been some people who have traveled to Syria to, you know, take up the cause but their families have been also under the surveillance and everything.

But it's -- until Easter Sunday, you know, it was quite ready to be monitored but we didn't know it was going to this -- or at least I didn't know that it was going up to, you know -- it was going to be scaled up this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stefan from (INAUDIBLE). My question is, have you sought India's help to probe the international linkages. The international linkages that your government has or have you sought New Delhi's help?

WIJEWARDENE: Well, India has been one of the first countries to come forward to, you know, to give their assistance. So we are grateful of having India's assistance as well as the assistance from the U.S., U.K., and Australia and the U.A.E.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Minister -- two years ago, one of the U.K. terrorism expert came to Sri Lankan and made (INAUDIBLE) and informed everything. And the U.N. has informed the Sri Lankan, the (INAUDIBLE) flight who hijacked and bombed London. They inform two years ago but the (INAUDIBLE) but took the missiles (ph) for that.

[01:34:51] WIJEWARDENE: Well, we have right now, I think we are talking about the output and all that at this very moment, talking with Minister (INAUDIBLE) as well on the security of the airport as well as the airlines. So we will be speaking with the Air Force commander and everything. And we've beefed up security for the airport and as well for the airlines and everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May I ask that the U.S. (INAUDIBLE) terrorist experts came to Sri Lankan officers, who took after that? I have been informed --

WIJEWARDENE: I don't think I should give out the measures of security that we have taken up at the moment. But we have been taking a lot of -- for the past three to four years, a lot of experts have been coming to Sri Lanka. We've been talking about, you know, security measures and everything that we have taken.

The points that they have made and, you know, to a certain extent, made those certain security arrangement in the country. But as to what we have taken, what measures we have taken I think is not good to provide that information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were told that several suicide bombers were involved in the attacks, and you have just said that there were nine. Can you state that please?

RUWAN GUNASEKARA, SRI LANKAN POLICE SPOKESMAN: The CID confirmed nine suicide bombers in all. An out of nine, eight out of nine have been identified by the CID. And mainly CIDs conduct investigations, and so far, around 60 percent were arrested, and 32 out of 60 are in CID custody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the explosives, from (INAUDIBLE) from all of these hideouts, or from other countries? What kind of substance they used?

WIJEWARDENE: I cannot divulge that information at the moment, it is being carried out at the moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the video released by some IS channels of the state these suicide bombers taking pledge before they went for that attack. Do we acknowledge that. Do we have any official --

WIJEWARDENE: I would like to say is please do not give, you know, any publicity to these videos because it helps to motivate other extremist segments, in Sri Lanka or any other country. WE do not, you know, give more publicity to this group.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok. Just a question from Mr. Gunasekara on the -- on the CID numbers. When you say nine suicide -- people who committed suicide, does it include the woman who killed herself at the (INAUDIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So was it an attack by her or did she blow herself up when she was cornered? So there's a difference between a suicide attack and somebody, you know, in a confrontation.

GUNASEKARA: Nine include her (INAUDIBLE) -- it is very difficult to publish more information because the investigations are interrupted. CID have published only this information.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I ask a question please? After waiting patiently. Up to 60 have been arrested -- that figure. Can you talk about their nationality --

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: We've been listening to a news conference there from authorities in Colombo, Sri Lanka with the latest details on that wave of suicide bombings on Easter Sunday.

Some significant new information has come to light because of this news conference. Notably the number of arrests which has been made, around 60; the number of suicide bombers here, nine suicide bombers including a woman, eight have been identified at this point.

What's interesting is the defense minister also added at one point that he believes the security services will have the situation under control in the coming days. He also said there would be arrests in the coming days.

So we assume that that is a reference to those armed suspects who are still out there on the run which the government has been trying to track down who they believe are a threat still remaining a threat at large.

CNN's Nikhil Kumar has been listening to the news conference. We'll try and get to him in a moment to get his take on what has been said.

But we also learned from this news conference that the NTJ which is this a local terror group, if you like, which the Sri Lankan authorities said were said to be behind this attack, has actually splintered into two groups.

[01:39:58] There's a more extreme and more radical part of the NTJ. And the leader of that group, the splinter group has actually committed suicide. But there's been some confusion about who that person is.

So let's try and clear some of this up. Nikhil Kumar is with us live. So Nikhil -- let's just go back to the numbers of arrests and the fact that they were talking earlier in the day about, you know, a number of suspects who are still on the run, who are still armed with explosives.

And we heard from the defense minister saying he believes the security services -- there'll be more arrests in the coming days. But then the security situation will be under control in the coming days.

It seems to indicate they've got a pretty good idea where these guys are. And they'll soon be under arrest.

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: That's what it sounds like just on the face of it -- John. But this is -- this is a very, very fluid situation. And the information that we've been getting at various points, you know, it wasn't initially clear that they knew as much as we now know they did. Then it wasn't clear how many people connected to this group might be in this country. How many arrests there were.

So the information is coming slowly and, that really reflects the unfolding situation. The investigation is unfolding pretty much in real-time. They are still after these people. We know from the prime minister earlier, from his press conference yesterday that you mentioned, that there are people out there, we now know that there might be further arrests.

So whether or not this will bring it under control, I think we'll just have to wait and see.

What is quite clear is that after those devastating bombings on Sunday, and even as these funerals take place and even as people here try to move on, that this remains a very, very fluid situation. And the investigation that is still very much open. So nothing can be taken for granted at this point -- John.

VAUSE: And the defense minister now says that he joins the Prime Minister and the President among the officials who were completely kept out of the loop to all that information which is coming from countries like India about this looming attack.

Nikhil -- thanks you. And just very quickly for anyone who is just watching now, we did get some more information about the suicide bombers -- from middle class families, stable financial families. They all had degrees. In fact some held masters of law and (INAUDIBLE), according to the defense minister. Just some more context there of who is behind these attacks.

We'll take a short break. When we come back it's the first time meeting for two U.S. adversaries -- how the summit between Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin could leave Washington out in the cold.


VAUSE: North Korea's leader has his first ever summit with President Vladimir Putin. Kim Jong-un traveled to Russia on his private train. On arrival, he said he's happy to be there on Russian soil.

The summit comes as nuclear talks with the U.S. have stalled.

As CNN's Brian Todd reports that's a stalemate Mr. Putin may try to exploit.


[01:45:05] BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're the leaders of two countries considered hostile foreign powers, are viewed suspiciously by U.S. intelligence, and have both been quoted as friends by Donald Trump.

And now Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin are about to meet face to face for the first time in a supercharged summit of America's enemies. Kim has left Pyongyang on his armored train, heading for a meeting with the Russian president on Thursday, likely in the Siberian city of Vladivostok.

KELLY MAGSAMEN, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It's always a worry when you have two adversaries meeting who have potentially shared interests against the United States of America who do not see the United States of America as a friend.

TODD: The Kim Dynasty has a long-standing relationship with the Kremlin forged at the height of the Cold War, an era that Putin has been desperate to recapture.

Kim's father and grandfather both took long exhausting trips to Moscow on board armored trains like the one Kim uses now. Putin visited Kim's father in Pyongyang in 2000. Those meetings always worked against America's interests.

Now experts warn of how a new alliance between Kim and Putin could work against America including potentially sharing intelligence and supporting each other's attempts to weaken the U.S. through cyber attacks and missile technology.

COLONEL DAVID MAXWELL (RET), FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: We've seen Russia advance its cyber capabilities and we've seen North Korea advance its cyber capabilities. I mean it attacked Sony. It's attacked banks.

And I think sharing cyber techniques is something that they could both benefit from especially if they target South Korea and the United States.

TODD: Analysts say this meeting is classic Vladimir Putin, an example of how he wants to assert Russia as an important player on the world stage and drive a wedge between Trump and Kim especially after the President's summit the North Korean leader fell apart back in February.

BEN JUDAH, AUTHOR, "FRAGILE EMPIRE": Vladimir Putin likes to act as a spoiler in international affairs. He likes to try and wheel away small states and big states from the influence of the United States. He likes to try and create problems in order to be essential to solve them.

TODD: There are strong personal similarities between Kim and Putin. Both are considered strongmen and love the images which come with that.

Experts say the former KGB lieutenant colonel in the Kremlin is a master at manipulation and that's he's tried to manipulate Donald Trump. Kim has done that as well they say. And the two leaders could compare notes on how to work the American president to get what they want.

Analysts also believe that this meeting could be seen as a slap at Trump or at least a signal.

MAGSAMEN: I think they're bold playing for the President's attention right now. I think it's basically Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin telling the United States that they have their own interests here, that they're going to pursue their own interests on their own terms.

TODD: So far neither the White House nor the State Department are commenting on the meeting between Kim and Vladimir Putin or on how their alliance might affect U.S. national security.

Analysts have their own word of caution for Kim Jong-un in that regard. They say if Kim's diplomatic dance with President Trump breaks down and if Kim returns to a hostile posture toward the United States, he may not be able to count on Vladimir Putin to back him up when he comes under pressure except on occasion to evade sanctions.

Brian Todd, CNN -- Washington.


VAUSE: Next up here on CNN newsroom go big or go home. A game show contestant with his own strategy he thinks he's paying off big league.


VAUSE: Yes, the unmistakable theme song -- fans of the long running television game show "Jeopardy" are familiar with the TV format. The twist is the answers are given first, the contestant have to provide the right question -- that's their answer.

[01:49:58] So, if the answer is "He smashed the record for winning a million dollars in the fastest time ever on Jeopardy". Then the question would be something like "Who is professional gambler James Holzhauer". And right now that's a pretty good question.

Here he is in action.


ALEX TREBEK, GAME SHOW HOST: You're at $71,114 and this for you grannies. Your grandma still alive?


TREBEK: No. you're going to add some more money.

You have just set a one-day record, again. $131,127.


VAUSE: It's funny how the (INAUDIBLE). And the winner of the 2017 Jeopardy tournament of champions Buzzy Cohen is with us live from Los Angeles. Buzzy also has an upcoming audible original on how to prepare for anything which is quite handy, I guess.

Buzzy -- because most of our viewers are spread out all around the globe, I think they should see you in action on Jeopardy just quickly. Have a look at this.

COHEN: Sure.


TREBEK: Buzzy.

COHEN: Who is Yuri Gagarin?

TREBEK: Right.


COHEN: Who is Marvin Gay?

TREBEK: Right.

You're going to make it five days in a row with how much -- another $10,000 won -- $22,801. And now a five-day total of $101,402.


VAUSE: Ok. So you've been there, done that but you never did it like James. So what is he doing differently than any other contestant in the show's 55-year history did not do?

COHEN: Well, the fact of the matter is no one has done it like James. He is playing incredibly aggressively. He is building up this amazing war chest of money. And then betting it all on the daily doubles.

People have been hunting for daily doubles, bouncing around the board for a really long time, but nobody has been as dominant on the buzzer, and just looked to rack up money in the way that he has.

He's really just -- it's like Dick Fosbury (ph) in 1968 going backwards over the high jump. It's like a real -- a total shift. And I just want to say like he's got this amazing strategy, but he also has amazing timing and amazing knowledge to back it up.

VAUSE: Ok. Let's take a look at James in action with the daily double. Look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Answer. Daily double.


TREBEK: All in. All right.

HOLZHAUER: What is Persia?

TREBEK: You are right.

All of it? Ok.

HOLZHAUER: Who is Jesse James?

TREBEK: Yes, indeed -- $29,200.

HOLZHAUER: Yes, all of it.

What are the Monitor and the Merrimack?

TREBEK: You've just doubled your score.


VAUSE: Even with the hand gestures, you know, it's all in. But he's a professional gambler. You know, he lives in Las Vegas. And I guess, you know, that kind of explains his strategy. Here's what's going on here. In fact here he is on ESPN, talking a little bit about that. We'll talk about it on the other side. Listen to this.


HOLZHAUER: It's all about your personal risk tolerance. I'm comfortable risking a lot if I know I have a big edge. Sometimes I don't think I have that big edge. But on Jeopardy, you know, I'm going to get the daily double ride a lot more often than I'm not going to, so I just want to maximize that bet.


VAUSE: It's a strategy that only someone who was extremely confident and perhaps a professional gambler to come up with that thing.

COHEN: Yes. And a lot of players including Alex Jacob (ph) who is also a professional gambler, Roger Craig (ph) have employed before. But nobody has done it quite as effectively as James has. It's really -- it's like, not to use another sports analogy, but it's Wayne Gretzky (ph). You know there are other people on stage but it feels like it's just him playing by himself.

VAUSE: -- sorry to interrupt. The biggest daddy (ph) of them all is Ken Jennings, right.


VAUSE: He won like over $2 million dollars. This is back in 2004.


TREBEK: $30,000 and now a total of $2,006,300.


VAUSE: Host Alex Trebek has explained what puts Holzhauer in a different league altogether. So we should listen to this then we'll have a chat.



TREBEK: It is worth noting that when Ken Jennings had his amazing run of 74 wins in a row he was averaging $34,000 per victory. James is averaging $71,000 per victory.


VAUSE: And that's incredible. As he continues that winning streak can you see him blowing through the $2 million mark, and actually, you know, breaking the bank in the show? I

COHEN: Well, I don't know about breaking the bank, because I don't know what the bank is at the show but I could definitely see him blowing through that $2 million mark very, very quickly.

What I will say is, if you live by the sword you die by the sword. You live by the daily double, you die by the daily double. So if he's going to continue to make those aggressive moves, it may backfire on him. Ken was a much more conservative player and so that may have helped him get that many wins. So we'll have to see what happens. He's certainly on a roll. It's hard to walk up on stage against someone who has won that dominantly, that many days in a row.

It's going to take a special kind of person to just kind of pull up their boots and say all right, I'm going to take him down.

[01:55:02] VAUSE: And actually there's been some grumbling about the strategy that he uses, which is, you know the other part of it which is going after the big money first. You kind of touched on what I just said.

This is what Ken Jennings said in an interview with "Wire". "That's honestly one of the smartest things James is doing, going for the high dollar values early. Not just because it enables bigger wages but because he's taking money off the board while he's the most comfortable player and everybody else is still finding their legs. It's really, really smart. I've never seen it before."

It kind of seems obvious now but again, this is the first time someone is going for that big money first. In hindsight, can you explain why other contestants, you know, like yourself didn't head down that road as well.

COHEN: Sure. I think there are -- there have been in existence two main schools. One is you start at the top of the board, you start to figure out kind of what they're asking about, how hard the category is. You start to get into the flow. That's probably the first one.

The second one is hunting for daily doubles, and that has its own strategy we're you're kind of looking in the bottom half of the board, but maybe not just going right across the bottom, looking for categories where you are more likely to find a daily double.


COHEN: It's not only that he's more comfortable in racking up money, but also if he thinks he has that extra 10 percent of knowledge, that's all going to be found at the bottom of the board. So it's sort of a gimme whereas the upper questions are little more of a jump ball.

VAUSE: And I just want to -- you know, is (INAUDIBLE) so notoriously cheap? They're not very big on the huge money payouts, are they?

COHEN: You know, they do big ornaments but yes, I would say in the grand scheme of game shows, it's not the big money. But you also have to remember it's on five nights a week, it's on almost around -- year round, so I don't know if it's the cheapest but I think he's certainly changing the paradigm for what a "Jeopardy" payout is going to be.

VAUSE: Yes. He certainly is. I mean the guy is --

COHEN: I mean he's averaging close to what -- he's averaging close to what the previous one day record was. The previous one day record before him was $77,000. He's averaging like $71,000.

VAUSE: Which is incredible.


VAUSE: Buzzy -- thanks for being with us, and sharing your experience and your insights.

COHEN: My pleasure.

VAUSE: It's been great. Thank you.

COHEN: Yes. Thank you.

VAUSE: And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Stay with us. A lot more news here on CNN right after this.



[01:59:59[ UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Small children -- who -- what do they know? I can't understand. Are these people humans? They are not humans. They are animals.