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U.K. Officials Monitored Texas Synagogue Attack, Contacted Local Authorities; All Four Hostages In A Texas Synagogue Have Been Released Unharmed, Assailant Dead; Australian Court Denies Novak Djokovic Visa Appeal; Severe Winter Weather To Impact 80 Million People In U.S.; U.S. Residents Can Now Bill For COVID-19 Home Tests; British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Under Pressure To Quit Over Lockdown Violations; Tsunami Made "Significant Impact" On Tonga. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired January 16, 2022 - 05:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Paula Newton.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, the tennis visa saga hopefully finally over. Novak Djokovic now faces deportation from Australia. CNN has this covered around the world.

Plus an hours-long hostage standoff ends with all hostages rescued. We're live in London with the international investigation on the suspect.

And tens of millions of Americans brace for a massive winter storm. Details from the CNN Weather Center.


NEWTON: And we begin with breaking news. Tennis star Novak Djokovic has lost his bid to stay in Australia and defend his title in the Australian tennis tournament. He now faces deportation.

The hearing was Djokovic's last attempt to stay in the country despite having his visa revoked twice. The court sided with the Australian minister. They said his presence could spur a rise in antivaxing sentiment.

Djokovic released a statement, saying, "I am extremely disappointed with the court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open."

He added, this is key here, "I respect the court's ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country."

For more on all of this, we want to bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks. And Scott McLean will stand by for us in Belgrade, Serbia.

Paula, he says he respects the decision. At the end of the day that decision means he has to leave Australia.

Where is he now?

What more do we know of his movements in the coming hours?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, Novak Djokovic could be leaving within the next hour from Australia. We don't have the details at this point but we know there are flights out this evening that he could take.

It's about 9 pm Sunday evening local time and you can imagine Novak Djokovic will not want to hang around, now that he lost the court case. Earlier in the day, he was at the lawyer's office and he was escorted everywhere by two border force officials.

His fitness coach was packing up weights and equipment, exercise equipment. So looking like they are getting ready to leave. Now certainly he has talked about his disappointment. The court itself, the decision was unanimous. There were three judges and they all sided with the government.

They did point out, though, that it wasn't up to them to judge the merits of this decision by the immigration minister to revoke his visa; they were just looking at the details of the decision and they found no errors.

And that means Novak Djokovic has to leave Australia. Deportation means he has to leave as soon as reasonably possible. We've already heard from Novak Djokovic. We've heard from the politicians; the prime minister, Scott Morrison, clearly very relieved that the decision has gone this way his time, as it did not a week ago.

He has said, quote, "I welcome the decision to keep our country strong and Australians safe. They have made many sacrifices and they rightly respect the right to be protected."

This is the message we've heard from politicians all the way through, that rules are rules. We have heard the prime minister say that repeatedly and there shouldn't be any special treatment.

So the crux of the argument from the government was that Djokovic's presence here could embolden the antivax sentiment at a time they are trying to convince people to have the booster shot. This was rebuffed very strongly by Djokovic's lawyers but not strongly enough or not convincingly enough to convince the judges.


HANCOCKS: They did side with the government. Novak Djokovic will leave Australia.

NEWTON: He will. That tournament will go on Monday mourning Melbourne time. Scott, return to you. Obviously a lot of support for Novak Djokovic in

his home country. And I'm wondering, even though the statement for Novak Djokovic, most people would say it was gracious, he respects the decision, what's the reaction there though?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, I would hazard a guess, most people don't think much about Serbian-Australian relations. But I would think it's safe to say it's strained.

The Serbian president has gone and spoken his mind this morning of what he thinks of the situation. He said he spoke to Novak Djokovic this morning, said he can return to his country with his head held high. We don't know for sure if he will or not.

The prime minister called this scandalous. The president went on to call it harassment of unprecedented proportions, calling it a witch hunt, a media lynching, promising to show the world that Serbia is better than the Australian government, when Australian athletes come here in a couple of months, and saying it's Novak Djokovic who is humiliated.

It's the Australian authorities suggesting they knew all along he was going to be deported and there was no reason for him to have come to Australia in the first place if they knew that there was no way for him to have that medical exemption if he had recently had COVID.

We also got some reaction from Djokovic's father. He reposted a fan account.

"The attempt to kill the best tennis player in the world is over, 50 bullets into Novak's chest."

One Serbian broadcaster had a banner that simply said, "Disgrace."

I also spoke to some people here in Belgrade after the news broke. Here's what they told me.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's his decision so I think he hasn't done anything wrong. It's really -- it's politicians, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I can say I'm really sorry he's not playing Australian Open and that he didn't get a chance to play but I get the situation that's happening down there in Australia.

I mean, lots of people in Australia, I heard 93 percent are vaccinated. So it's like a (INAUDIBLE) impact for the government over there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Novak Djokovic, number one. He got deported.

MCLEAN: Yes, he got deported --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Australian Open, no correct, no correct.


MCLEAN: I think you could sum up the sentiment here from many people saying this is political, this was a political calculation. And I ask people whether they think he should be vaccinated.

Most people say this is a personal choice. What was really interesting to me, Paula, what Djokovic wrote, saying he was uncomfortable with the attention on him. Perhaps also uncomfortable being framed as a sort of anti-vaxer. He has not been out there leading the marches.

Even when he confessed to breaking quarantine in Serbia, the reporter said that that topic was simply off the table. He didn't want to talk about it at all. So we wait to see whether he will be back on his way back to his country. He will get a hero's welcome.

NEWTON: Thank you both, as Novak Djokovic is deported from Australia.



NEWTON: We are tracking another major story at this hour. A hostage standoff at a Texas synagogue is now over with all hostages safe and the attacker dead. The crisis began when he stormed the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville on Saturday. One hostage was released earlier but three remained in harm's way.


NEWTON: As night fell, officials made the decision it was time to move in.


NEWTON (voice-over): You heard it clearly there. A CNN crew on the ground heard that, the loud bang and then gunfire, as law enforcement secured the hostages. Here's how the police described what happened next.



CHIEF MICHAEL MILLER, COLLEYVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT: The HRT, hostage rescue team breached the synagogue. They rescued the three hostages and the subject is deceased.


NEWTON: Now CNN's Ed Lavandera was there in Colleyville, he filed this earlier.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nearly 11 hours after a suspect entered the Beth Israel synagogue here in Colleyville, Texas, we have learned that the suspect is dead and that all four of the hostages are alive and well.

One of the hostages had been released earlier in the day around 5 o'clock Central time. But law enforcement officials say they have identified the suspect but they are not ready to announce who that person is, as they continue their investigation into the motives behind this attack on this synagogue.

It was a frightening and harrowing day for members of this synagogue, which is a small synagogue here in Colleyville, about 150 members. They were watching desperately and frantically throughout the day, waiting for and praying for this outcome that they saw unfold here this evening.

Many members of the congregation that we spoke with say that members had not been attending the services here at this synagogue because of COVID pandemic restrictions, that it was -- most people were at home, watching on the livestream.

And that is where they began to see all of this unfold just before 11 o'clock in the morning. And they heard what was described as the ranting and raving and harrowing screaming coming from the suspect inside the synagogue. But tonight, all of them celebrating the fact that four of their synagogue members are now alive and well -- back to you.


NEWTON: Our Ed Lavandera there.

Now that the hostages are safe, they're moving to try to find out as much as they can about the suspect themselves. A CNN security analyst said earlier, it appears the suspect was likely acting alone.


BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: It sounds so far to me, from the news reports, that he was a lone wolf, this was not particularly well planned out. He didn't try to resist in any way we know about a hostage rescue. One person; there probably was no other people involved at this point and he certainly didn't set up any traps for the hostage rescue team.

He believed apparently in this conspiracy theory that Aafia Siddiqui was framed and she was not guilty as charged and convicted.

But this has been a conspiracy theory on the internet for a very long time. There's no truth to it. And he was just motivated by -- I would guess he's probably an unstable person and certainly not part of a larger network. That could change when the evidence comes in, though.


NEWTON: What Bob Baer was referring to there is the fact that allegedly the suspect had asked for that Aafia Siddiqui, who has been known as Lady Al Qaeda, to be freed.

Heavy snow, ice and rain: everything you need to know about this winter storm from the CNN Weather Center -- after the break.

Plus, reactions are pouring in, of course, as you can imagine, after tennis star Novak Djokovic loses his bid to stay in Australia. Our news coverage continues.





NEWTON: More than 80 million people are under winter weather alerts in the United States as a major storm plows from the South to the Northeast. The storm is currently impacting southern states, bringing heavy snow, ice and the dreaded freezing rain.

High wind warning, meantime, has been issued for parts of Georgia and right here in Atlanta. In the Carolinas, utility Duke Energy expects 750,000 customers to lose power. In the meantime, North Carolina's governor is deploying 200,000 National Guard soldiers to assist with storm response.



NEWTON: We're learning the assailant in the Texas synagogue attack may have had a link to the U.K. We'll have a live report and analysis from London.

Plus, as U.S. coronavirus case numbers soar, it's creating, of course, more demand for testing and more options. We'll find out what officials are doing to keep up. Stay with us.




NEWTON: World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic faces deportation at this hour after losing a last-ditch legal effort to stay in Australia. Now three federal judges upheld a decision by Australia's immigration minister to cancel the unvaccinated star's visa over concerns his presence could cause a rise for anti-vaxing protests.



NEWTON: And now we turn to our other top story that we were tracking; the hostage standoff, of course, at a Texas synagogue is over, thankfully, with all hostages rescued and the attacker dead. The assailant stormed the Congregation Beth Israel on Saturday.

It was a small service and four people were taken hostage. Local and federal law enforcement surrounded the synagogue. One hostage was released earlier but three remained trapped.

As night fell officials, made the decision to move in.


NEWTON (voice-over): Now that was a CNN crew on the ground that heard that loud bang and gunfire, as law enforcement secured the hostages. Here's how the police chief described what happened.


MILLER: The FBI called out the hostage rescue team, which is an elite hostage rescue force out of Quantico, Virginia. They immediately, when the SAC called, they got on a plane and flew out here. I think they brought 60 or 70 people from Washington, D.C., to come and help with this situation.

Sometime around 9:00 pm today, this evening, the HR team, the hostage rescue team breached the synagogue. They rescued the three hostages and the subject is deceased.


NEWTON: Now there's, of course, still a lot we don't know about the attacker in Colleyville. The British foreign office told CNN they were monitoring the situation in Texas and were in contact with the authorities. We have Nick Paton Walsh joining us from London.

Nick, a lot of what we learned about this attack was from people listening in on that live stream of what was going on there at the synagogue.

Is that what perhaps what might have given them some clues about this?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: It may be. It may also be, as authorities have said, that they have the identity, the name of this gunman, this attacker. That may have led them to reach out, not just to legal attaches to the FBI embassy in London but also to those same people in Tel Aviv, Israel as well.

So a global element to this and, as you mentioned, the British office being clear that they are in contact of local officials in Texas, too. Quite who this gunman is something the FBI are keeping closely held at the moment.

We do know though, from two law enforcement officials familiar with the live stream and the motivations of the gunman, that something that was continually mentioned was the liberty or, at times the possibility of contact with a woman in prison in Texas on an 86-year sentence over seven separate counts, known as Aafia Siddiqui.

[05:35:00] WALSH: She has been suspected of terrorist links by U.S. authorities, has been, it seems, found, in Ghazni, Afghanistan, in 2008, carrying documents that referenced a mass casualty attack.

She turned, according to authorities, on her questioners during an interrogation, shot at them with a rifle and is now subsequently facing those charges as we -- sorry, facing that sentence as we speak.

It is unclear quite what relation or ideological motivation her case appears to have on the gunman in this particular incident. This is a cause being raised by both ISIS and the Taliban in the past.

But the nature of this U.K. link may give rise to suggestion there may be some larger international issue here. I have to tell you, from listening to parts of the live stream, from seeing how this appears to have been planned, this does not seem that sophisticated an attack.

And certainly, some of the comments that you hear are rambling at times. And it certainly lacks what you might expect to be the greater organization, if this person was backed by other individuals as well.

I'm speculating here. But these are things investigators are homing in on, looking at that individual's identity, internet traffic, where he's been, who he's spoken to. It does appear the British authorities are providing assistance in that investigation, too.

NEWTON: Again, as you point out, they have identified the suspect so the investigation can start in earnest. Nick Paton Walsh, appreciate the update.

Despite the spread of the Omicron variant, pandemic weary Europeans have hit the street over COVID-19 restrictions.

And backlash has hit a fever pitch over 10 Downing Street parties. New polls have a painful message for British prime minister Boris Johnson.





NEWTON: Now according to data from Johns Hopkins University, the United States crossed 65 million total coronavirus cases on Saturday. That number has been fueled in recent days by the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

As you can see here, places like Arkansas, California, Oklahoma and Oregon have been especially hard hit. This comes as the U.S. crosses an even more chilling number: 850,000 deaths so far in this pandemic.

But they are trying to make testing more available. As of Saturday, many Americans are able to get reimbursed for home tests through their private insurance companies. I want to take a look now at other COVID headlines around the world.

In China, a neighborhood in Beijing was locked down after the city first reported its first case, in fact, on Saturday. That is of the Omicron variant.

Authorities have begun mass testing of people living there. And this comes as Beijing is set to host the Winter Olympics in less than three weeks.

Germany has, in the meantime, tightened restrictions on bars and restaurants to help stem the surge of the Omicron variant. Access will be limited to people fully vaccinated or recovered with a negative test.

The vaccine theme continues to be a lightning rod in France. Thousands marched in opposition to it in Paris. For more on that, I'm joined by Jim Bittermann in Paris.

It was winding its way through Parliament. In fact, they have passed major parts of the bill?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Paula. It's gotten through the senate overnight. Now what has to happen is that the two bills have to be reconciled.

If there are any challenges about the constitutionality about this, and that could happen, the constitutional court will have to rule. That's expected -- they're expected to rule in the government's favor just because their track record is favoring government action to restrict people's actions in terms of vaccinations.

The government believes, by the end of the week, it will be enacted. That will mean that people who have not been vaccinated will not be able to go into cafes, bars, restaurants, other sorts of things publicly without getting vaccinated first.

Our colleagues have estimated that that would affect about 5.5 million French, who would not be qualified for a vaccine pass. That's a little less than 10 percent of the population.

NEWTON: It's nice that you put it in stark terms. We talk about percentages but when you actually go to the millions of people that would miss out on normal activities that you do in everyday life, that is significant.

BITTERMANN: Absolutely.

NEWTON: Jim Bittermann live for us in Paris. Appreciate it.


weight While French protesters rail against COVID-19 rules, in Britain the government itself is accused of breaking them. Reports are piling up that 10 Downing Street held holding parties while the rest of the country was on lockdown. A new poll from "The Observer" newspaper shows 63 percent, think of

that, nearly 2 of every 3 voters want Boris Johnson out. For more on this, I am joined by Salma Abdelaziz from London.

The polls just kind of confirm, right, the outrage, the outpouring of outrage in recent days, as the revelations about the parties just pile up.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For a week now, Paula. It feels like almost every day there is a different party, a different allegation about more social events happening that apparently broke COVID rules at the top house in Britain.

You have parties ranging from the summer of 2020, garden parties apparently to the Christmas period of 2020, where multiple festivities took place at 10 Downing Street, and to the spring, when the country was in national mourning of Prince Philip.

This paints a pattern of a government that didn't take its job seriously. It was busy partying it up while people were dying. That did not follow the very rules it set. The opposition Labour leader said that means it's time for the prime minister to go. Take a listen.



KEIR STARMER, U.K. LABOUR LEADER: We've got a prime minister who is absent, he's literally in hiding at the moment and unable to lead. So that's why I concluded that he's got to go.

Of course, there's a party advantage in him going but actually now it's in the national interest that he goes. So it's very important now that the Tory Party does what it needs to do and get rid of him.


ABDELAZIZ: It's not often that a political story bleeds into our everyday lives, Paula, but today, prime minister Boris Johnson is the butt of almost every single joke in Britain.

Is that a coffee or an espresso martini?

He is the laughing stock of the country and it put serious questions over his moral authority and his ability to lead.

Now the prime minister is kicking the can down the road. He says there's an investigation in place and we need to wait for the results of that investigation. But overwhelmingly, people see the government as elitist, unable to follow the rules they set. And I think the prime minister is quite simply a party boy, Paula.

NEWTON: It might have been something they kind of knew but juxtaposed against severe lockdowns, it looks bad all around. I want to ask you about that investigation.

So how soon can we expect the results of that?

And really, it's going to find out the obvious, right?

He's apologized in Parliament.

ABDELAZIZ: Well, quite curiously, Paula, as more allegations pile up, the longer these civil servants need to go through this growing list of parties.

We were expecting these results and they might now be delayed for a few more days because there are new revelations about wine Fridays and the two parties held the night before Prince Philip's funeral.

So you have this list and it makes the job for the civil servants digging into this even harder. But yes, in the coming days, we expect the results of this investigation. That cannot tell us specifically if any rules are broken.

But what it's going to do is it's going to paint a picture, minute by minute, break down what happened, who was inside and who was involved. That could be damaging for the prime minister.

Right now he's hearing calls for resignation from his own party. And that's the fear for him. If Conservative lawmakers start to fear they would lose elections because of the reputational damage the prime minister created, that's when the mutiny can happen.

NEWTON: He's sitting on a vast majority there, which the Tory Party wants to protect. Salma, appreciate you going through the issues with us.

Countries around the Pacific are assessing the impact after a massive volcanic eruption triggered tsunamis. Look at that. The latest, live from the region straight ahead.






NEWTON (voice-over): Just seeing this is worrying. New Zealand's prime minister says tsunami waves from an underwater volcanic eruption made a significant impact on Tonga. Waves crashed ashore on Saturday, flooding coastal areas, damaging shops and breaching the grounds of Tonga's royal palace.

Authorities still working to assess the full scope of the damage. Fortunately, there are no reports of injuries or deaths at this time. The enormous eruption spewed ash and smoke more than 12 miles or 20 kilometers into the atmosphere.

Tsunami waves reached Japan and Hawaii. We are joined from Tokyo by Blake Essig.

It was stark, seeing the warnings hit North America.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Paula. Tsunami warnings never a good thing, no matter where you are. In Japan, there were sirens and other warnings throughout most of the day, only lifted 24 hours after the initial eruption from the volcano, more than a day after the volcano erupted in Tonga, it's known.

Here in Japan, tsunami warnings were lifted several hours after the eruption. People were asked to evacuate from their prefecture. This is what people heard this morning.

Now in the hours that followed, several communities reported 2- to 3- foot waves. They saw waves as high as 9 feet.

Take a look at these satellite images that captured the moment the volcano, located 18 miles off the coast of Tonga, erupted. You can see the shock waves. And it reached 12 miles into the air.

Here's a video of a tsunami wave crashing onto the shoreline of Tonga. Videos have been posted on social media, from Chile, Peru and coastal areas. According to New Zealand's prime minister, who addressed the ongoing situation, as the country struggles to restore lines of communication, no injuries or death have been reported so far.

A significant cleanup will be needed after boats and large boulders washed ashore. The prime minister said, while the volcano seems stable, further eruptions can't be ruled out.


NEWTON: Obviously a lot of concern when the warnings first went out. We're all lucky it wasn't worse. Blake Essig, appreciate that update.

Now to bring you more on our breaking news. Novak Djokovic has apparently arrived at the airport in Melbourne and is about to leave, a reminder that he is not a free man. Right now he is under a deportation order. You see him walking to the airport.

It's almost 10 pm at night on Sunday night in Melbourne. He lost his claim to try and stay in the country and have that appeal filed. In fact, he will have to leave and will not be playing in the tournament.

In a statement he said he respected the court's ruling and was uncomfortable with all of the attention placed on him instead of the tournament and he wants the tournament to continue and, well, obviously, the attention be on the sport he says he loves.

We'll continue to have so much more for you on this story and our other top stories here on CNN. I am Paula Newton. Thank you for your company. CNN "NEW DAY" is next. For our viewers in Canada and the U.S., "GOING GREEN" is up next. Thank you and stay with CNN.