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Qatar: 13 Women and Children to be Released 9AM ET Tomorrow; Interview with Retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt; Car Explosion at U.S.-Canada Border Kills Two, Injures CBP Officer; College Graduate Sues Elon Musk for Defamation. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 23, 2023 - 10:30   ET



BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: And so, I think that, you know, this does become much more complicated as the day goes by.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: It's an excellent point because we just heard from the prime minister himself definitively saying the war continues last night. That the mission remains to demolish Hamas.

And General, in terms of what this truce means and how it holds, so midnight tonight eastern is when the truces are set in. And our Becky Anderson, our colleague over there, she asked Qatari officials what would constitute a breach of this agreement? A break in that truce by either side. And the Qatari official definitely did not answer the question. What do you think would -- is it clear what would constitute a breach and what happens if they do?

BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, I think what would happen is there would be some undisciplined fire from perhaps a individual Hamas soldier that may or may not agree with what is going on. He may be trying to lure the IDF into firing back. That happens so often in these tentative ceasefires around the world. I think that that would not return the situation to a full combat operation. But as they said, in the press conference, they would do everything they could to contain that type of violation. I think at this point, both sides want this pause to stay in place during the duration of the hostage exchange.

BOLDUAN: And what the pause does a -- does a pause beget a pause, is kind of a question, Kim, because a former head of Mossad told me last night that it will be for the IDF much harder to start the fighting and the military operation back up once this truce sets in. For one, because he believed the mounting international pressure that would start building to at least bring about a slowdown. The IDF and the Prime Minister have assured, though, that they are going to return to operations. The mission continues. What do you think of this?

KIM DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST AND SENIOR MANAGING EDITOR, THE MILITARY TIMES: Well, Israel has said that this agreement expires after 10 days and the White House briefed us that they're hoping that if the first 4 days go well, each of those additional days could lead to more hostage exchanges, possibly up to 10 days. But turning the war back on is going to be really hard for the Israeli government because there'll be pressure from the hostage families to keep this going, to keep the exchanges going, because the Hamas militants, they're not going anywhere. They're stuck inside Gaza. So, what's the difference between waiting another 10 or 20 days to prosecute the war versus starting earlier?

BOLDUAN: And Beth, Netanyahu -- the role of the Red Cross was brought up in this press conference with Qatari officials. And he essentially said that the Red Cross has a role in accepting the hostages and kind of facilitating that. But there is also then Netanyahu saying yesterday that the Red Cross, he said, the expectation is will be allowed to visit the hostages who remain behind, remain in Gaza, and even offer medical support to those hostages.

But the Red Cross, you know, the confusion sets in because the Red Cross says, this morning they aren't aware of that agreement at all, though ready to help in any way. Do you see Hamas letting the Red Cross in? What do you see as the role here?

SANNER: Well, Hamas will do what it sees in its interests and how it views that in terms of its broader interest of extending the ceasefire indefinitely, giving itself time to regroup, trying to present itself as the good guys here, you know, which is very hard for us to see, right? But I think when you are looking at it from the Arab world, it looks different.

So, yes, I can see it actually happening in a way that Hamas tries to twist it into something positive for them. In the end, you know, getting IRC in there is absolutely the right thing and the good thing to do. So, we'll see have -- have to see how this goes.

BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, that's -- let's -- I mean, we have to apply that to everything. Like, let's see how this goes. Let's see how the next 24 hours plays out. One thing though, we did hear very clearly from the podium today, General Kimmitt was that this deal, this agreement applies only to the Gaza Strip. And Prime Minister Netanyahu said yesterday and made also clear, Hezbollah is not party to this agreement.


Not party to this truce. And Israel has made no truce commitments regarding Israel's northern border. How does Hezbollah -- do you see Hezbollah trying to capitalize on this truce?

KIMMITT: You know, I really don't. The real key to what Hezbollah is thinking is when it comes out from Hassan Nasrallah. Two weeks ago, he made a significant speech in his Friday prayers that said, we don't want to get involved in this. This is a Palestinian affair. We applaud what they're doing. We support what they're doing. But they don't want to be dragged into this. I think they were looking out in the water and seeing a U.S. aircraft carrier out there and discretion is a better part of valor on his part. Now, if they do, that completely changes the dynamic of this war, takes it well outside of this localized event inside of Gaza, and it really turns it into a much larger event.

BOLDUAN: Additionally, with all of this is the statement -- and Beth was getting at this, Kim, I wanted to get your take because it's the divergent goals of what we heard from the Qatari official to what we've heard over and over again from Israel. Which is they -- the Qatari official said, the first -- that the way that he put it today was this constitutes the first glimmer of light at the end of the -- at the -- out in the end of the tunnel with this conflict, with the goal that this leads to a lasting truce and in expanding the pause.

But Israel has made very clear, Netanyahu has made clear that they are going to take out Hamas. They will demolish Hamas. But the question continues to remain, is it possible?

DOZIER: Well, this is Qatar's role to be the interlocutor to Hamas and to, in a sense, speak for them publicly and also to speak for the sentiment across the Arab world. Some of the most tough criticism of Israel's actions inside Gaza have come from Qatar's "Al Jazeera" news network. So, that message is not so surprising. But the thing is, Hamas is going to be tested right now. Do they have the command and control to actually get to all the hostages and comply with all of the rules as they were set out over the next four days?

But you're right, after that, the Israeli government has said it will pursue Hamas. And I think many regional officials expect that, some even desire that Hamas, for instance, is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood which Egypt overthrew in a coup. So, they don't particularly want a strong Hamas after this. They just can't say it publicly. So, I think there's an understanding on all sides. The goal here now is to get the hostages, as many as possible out and then Israel is going to do what it's going to do, but no one's going to say that quickly.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and first things first, let's see what it looks like when this truce sets in at midnight and What it looks like and when it happens when the first 13 hostages to be released as part of this agreement happen tomorrow morning. Thank you, guys, very much.

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And coming up next, a car goes airborne and bursts into flames at the U.S.-Canada border at a major checkpoint. What officials are saying about the deadly incident.

Plus, a young Jewish man says he was falsely accused of being an undercover agent in a neo-Nazi group. Well, now he's suing Elon Musk for defamation. We have what he says he wants from the billionaire.



FREEMAN: This morning, the Rainbow Bridge crossing at the U. S.- Canadian border remains closed after a fiery car crash. The FBI reiterating, though, there's no indication of any link to terrorism. Now, you can see what happened right here on your screens. A speeding car going airborne before it crashed and exploded yesterday at the checkpoint. Now, in the vehicle, there was a man and his wife, they both died. A Customs and Border Protection officer suffered injuries.

CNN's Athena Jones has more.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): At this time, there is no indication of a terrorist attack.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): New York's governor trying to piece together for the public what happened when a car crashed into a secondary border checkpoint at the U. S.-Canada border, causing the shutdown of four land crossings on one of the busiest travel days of the year. In video of the incident provided by law enforcement, you can see a car driving at an extreme rate of speed and jumping a curb and a barrier.

RICKIE WILSON, NIAGARA FALLS TOUR GUIDE: I seen something airborne. I first thought it was an airplane, look like slow motion. And I said, my God, it's a car. And it's a vehicle and it's flying through the air.

JONES (voiceover): Authorities believe the car involved in the explosion was a 2022 Bentley. Sources say, the car coming from the U.S. side of the border on the Rainbow Bridge went through an initial checkpoint just before noon. Passports and licenses were checked before the car was directed to another area for a secondary search. After the car speeded to that secondary checkpoint, an explosion occurred. Authorities are investigating what caused the massive explosion, which covered the area in smoke for hours.


HOCHUL: This vehicle basically incinerated. Nothing is left but the engine. The pieces are scattered over 13, 14 booths. So, it is a large scene.

JONES (voiceover): Authorities have not identified the driver, but law enforcement sources say the driver was a man traveling to Canada with his wife to attend a concert by the rock group Kiss, but going to a casino in the U.S. instead when that was canceled, investigators believe. The crash occurred sometime after the couple left the casino, law enforcement sources tell CNN. The couple died in the accident. A border patrol employee in a booth was also injured. The FBI concluded their investigation saying no ties to terrorism or explosive material was found.

MATTHEW MIRAGLIA, FBI SPECIAL AGENT-IN-CHARGE, BUFFALO, NEW YORK: We feel at this point that this might be just something that occurred. There's no larger picture here to look at.

JONES (voiceover): All movement between the U. S. and Canada halted for hours, leaving holiday travelers stuck.

RYAN SMITH, VISITING NIAGARA FALLS: We came over here hoping to see the falls, just for the day. We walked over. Our car's actually in New York right now. JONES (voiceover): The Rainbow Bridge where the accident took place remains closed, while the three other crossings have reopened.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not leaving.

GIANCOLA: Yes, I don't know how long it's going to last.


JONES (on camera): So, a frightening few hours here on the eve of Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel days of the year here at the U.S.-Canada border. But no links to terrorism, no explosives found. Authorities believe it was a tragic accident. But you know, what was remarkable about all of this is that this happened amid a time of increased concern about terrorism and their lots of law enforcement officials in various cities already on heightened alert.

And so, it was remarkable to see how quickly the FBI, along with its other law enforcement partners was able to open and close this investigation, determining there was no terror link. This individual did not have any nefarious intentions. Just a very, very sad occasion. And of course, there's still more to be found out. This investigation has been hand over -- handed over to local police and will be investigated as a traffic accident, Danny.

FREEMAN: Wow, after all that, you see that video, so scary, just a traffic accident in the end. But again, incredible response from the FBI. Thank you, Athena.

All right, coming up next, more court trouble, possibly brewing for Elon Musk. Coming up, hear from a young Jewish man who is now suing the owner of X over a tweet on Musk's own platform. Stay with us.



FREEMAN: A recent college graduate has filed a defamation lawsuit against the owner of X, Elon Musk, saying he defamed him on his platform. Now, while Musk's lawyers say the lawsuit has no merit, it is a grim example of what can happen when misinformation spreads too far on the internet. Now, the 22-year-old is accused of being an undercover agent in a neo-Nazi group after a viral video of a fight between far-right protesters.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan reports.


BEN BRODY, SUING ELON MUSK FOR DEFAMATION: I was just, oh my god, is this for real?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): 22-year-old Ben Brody was at home in Riverside, California when -- BRODY: I started getting these text messages from my friends. You're

accused of being a neo-Nazi fed, look at all this stuff that's being said about you. And I was like, OK this is just some prank.

O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): But it wasn't a prank. A thousand miles away, near Portland, Oregon --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go. Get the -- out of here.

O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): Two far right extremist groups had gotten into a fight while protesting against a Pride event. Ben Brody was not there, but online trolls tried to guess who was involved using a video of the crowd. They found random photos of Ben online.

BRODY: They said, oh, this person looks like him. He has to be this person. You know, there's no way it's not him. It was just like an assumption that just went wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He missed (ph).

O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): The person in the video resembled Ben, but even though it definitely was not him, the trolls thought they had found their man. They pulled information from Ben's fraternity page, which said after graduation he plans to work for the government and turned that into a lie that he was a federal agent who was infiltrating the extremist group to make them look bad, a so-called false flag operation.

BRODY: Hey, what's up guys? My name is Ben Brody and I wanted to address the false accusations against me.

O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): Desperate to clear his name, Ben made this video. He even posted time stamped surveillance footage showing him at a store in California, at the same time the brawl was happening near Portland. But the false claims about Ben's involvement continued to spread.

Even the owner of Twitter, now X, Elon Musk, weighed in, posting to his millions of followers, looks like one is a college student who wants to join the government and another is maybe an Antifa member, but nonetheless, a probable false flag situation.

BRODY: I knew that this was snowballing, but once Elon Musk commented, I was like, boom. That's the final nail in the coffin.

O'SULLIVAN: And how much did it intensify then after Musk's involvement?

BRODY: It massively intensifies it. This guy DM'd me on Instagram, he's like, now even Elon Musk thinks that you're a fed. And what was really scary too, is that these people were threatening to tell my school. And I was scared that I wasn't going to graduate.

O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): Ben's friends and others tweeted at Musk, telling him the person in the video was not Ben. MARK BANKSTON, BEN BRODY'S ATTORNEY: In this case, at its core, is about Elon Musk being reckless and making an accusation about this young man.

O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): Mark Bankston is Ben Brody's attorney and is suing Musk for defamation.

BANKSTON: Ben published a video online to try to clear his name, it didn't work. So, there's this incredible feeling of helplessness. That there's, there's millions out there, millions, who think that Ben was involved in neo-Nazi activities.


And that is how I know you lied to me.

O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): Bankston is best known as the lawyer who successfully sued Alex Jones for the lies he spread about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Now, he wants to hold Elon Musk accountable. Writing in the lawsuit, Musk made these ridiculously false and damaging accusations against Ben Brody, and it has led to severe personal harassment and permanent damage to his reputation.

BANKSTON: How did we get to a place where somebody so powerful can make that kind of accusation based on something so flimsy from just anonymous people on the internet?

O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): His home address was posted online and he worries his name will forever be associated with neo-Nazism.

BRODY: Someone posted saying, a Klansman lives here, and they gave the address with a picture of my house, and I was like terrified.

O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): Ben, who is Jewish, says being called a neo- Nazi has been especially painful.

O'SULLIVAN: Did you think your life was ruined?

BRODY: Yes, completely. You know, if you just put in my name into the search bar, you know, neo-Nazi fed Ben Brody.

O'SULLIVAN (voiceover): Ben is seeking damages in excess of $1 million, but both he and his lawyer say it's about a lot more than money.

BANKSTON: We have to change how we deal with information, how we spread information, and how we attempt to influence others.

BRODY: The fact that this is happening to private people, that's just terrifying. And it's going to happen again, unless someone stands up to this guy.


O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Elon Musk's lawyers have until the 5th of January to respond to this lawsuit in court. One of Musk's lawyers telling me last night that they expect this case to be dismissed. But really, this lawsuit really lists page after page, instance after instance of where it appears that Musk is repeatedly, over the course of many months, engaging with conspiracy theorists on his X platform, and sometimes appearing to engage with or even amplifying racist or antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Now, that is obviously something we're expecting Musk's lawyers to contest in court. But really, as you saw in that report there, Ben Brody, the 22-year-old, his life really turned upside down by these conspiracy theories. Back to you.

BOLDUAN: Donie, thank you so much.

Coming up for us still, kidnapped by Hamas and on the same day became a widow and a bereaved mother. One Israeli woman lost her husband and one of her daughters in the Hamas attacks. Ahead, her cousin comes on to speak with us about what the news coming from Qatari officials today could mean for their family.