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CNN International: Concern Over Potential Attacks in U.S. Amid Conflict in Gaza; Russia Filling Military Ranks with Convicts; France Issued Arrest Warrant Against Assad; Texas Bill Would Make Entering State Illegally a Crime. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired November 16, 2023 - 04:30   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster. Here are some of the top stories we're following for you this hour.

After meeting with U.S. President Biden on Wednesday, Xi Jinping told American business leaders that this country is willing to be a partner and a friend of the United States. Elon Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook were just some of the executives at the dinner with the Chinese leader.

Israel says its soldiers have uncovered weapons and a military kit used by Hamas during a raid at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. CNN has been unable to independently confirm this discovery. Israel says the raid at the hospital is ongoing. CNN has been unable to reach the hospital for comment.

The FBI warning of an increased terror threat in the U.S. as the Israel Hamas war grinds on. FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress that authorities are watching for groups or individuals who may exploit the violence in the Middle East to encourage or carry out an attack on U.S. soil. CNN's Brian Todd has the details.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A raging war in Gaza and boiling tensions in the Middle East since the Hamas attacks on October 7th have ratcheted up the terrorist threat here in the U.S. to a whole new rare level, according to a new assessment by Americas top official in charge of combating domestic threats. FBI Director Christopher Wray laid out the dangers with brutal clarity.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Our most immediate concern is that individuals or small groups will draw twisted inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks here at home.

TODD (voice-over): The greatest number of threats reported have been against the Jewish community.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Hate directed at Jewish students, communities and institutions, add to a pre-existing increase in the level of antisemitism in the United States and around the world. TODD (voice-over): Officials have also reported a rise in threats directed at Muslims in the U.S. Worrying examples on both sides, a man arrested in Houston accused of studying bomb making and posting online about killing Jewish people. A six-year-old Muslim boy stabbed to death in Chicago area, allegedly by an enraged landlord who authorities say was motivated by the recent war. And a Cornell student charged with threatening to kill Jewish students.

SEAMUS HUGHES, EXPERT ON EXTREMISM, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA AT OMAHA: When you look at the plots in the individual that's been arrested, they're almost pedestrian the nature. These are average citizens that are drawn into an online environment that encourages them to commit these acts.

TODD (voice-over): Another concern?

WRAY: Hamas or another foreign terrorist organization may exploit the current conflict to conduct attacks here on our own soil. We have kept our sights on Hamas and have multiple investigations into individuals affiliated with that foreign terrorist organization.

TODD (voice-over): But Wray also pointed to recent calls for attacks on the U.S. homeland by other terrorist groups, what he called a rouges gallery.


Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Hezbollah, the Iran-backed group in Lebanon that's not only engaging in cross border fighting with Israel right now, but that Wray says has tried to place operatives and engage in spying here in the U.S., possibly planning for future operations.

DONELL HARVIN, FORMER WASHINGTON, D.C., CHIEF OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE: We know that there are known and suspected terrorists that have been seeded not only in this country but also our allies' countries, essentially just waiting for the phone call.

TODD (voice-over): But the biggest threat, individuals, radicalized to action by extremist rhetoric and manipulation.

HARVIN: Those individuals who are home, who are kind of stewing their juices. Who are being radicalized. They may be going to rallies. They may be escalating in terms of their amount of rhetoric that are completely off the radar.

TODD: How can America's security agencies and citizens combat these threats that are coming from so many different directions? Analyst Donell Harvin says the FBI and the Homeland Security Department simply can't be everywhere. That engaged citizens have to be there to report the threats they see and to pay particular attention to online threats in chat rooms and elsewhere.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOSTER: The families of Israeli hostages in Gaza are demanding the government bring their loved one's home, and they won't stop until they reach the prime minister's doorstep. Wednesday was the day two of a five-day March from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. They plan to end their protest outside Benjamin Netanyahu's residence to bring their message directly to his home. Another group of demonstrators gathered in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening. They say they're out of patience waiting for the government to act.


SAMUEL BRODUTCH, FAMILY MEMBER OF HOSTAGES IN GAZA: Tonight we are trying to tell the Israeli Government that enough is enough. Already 40 days went by and I have three grandchildren and the daughter-in-law there in Gaza. One of my grandchildren is four years old. He doesn't know Hamas. He doesn't know time. He doesn't know nothing. He knows that he is deep in the black, without food, without any humanity for already 40 days. A kid of four years, for God's sake, save him. Let him go home now.


FOSTER: The United Nations Security Council has adopted a resolution calling for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors in Gaza. 12 states voted in favor of the resolution, which also demands the immediate release of all hostages held in Gaza by Hamas, especially children. The Palestinian Permanent Observer, to the U.N. praised the result of that vote.


RIYAD MANSOUR, PALESTINIAN PERMANENT OBSERVER TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The bombings and incursions must stop now. Humanitarian aid must come in now. Thousands of lives, millions of lives hang in the balance.


FOSTER: Three Security Council states abstained from voting, the United States, the U.K. and Russia. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., explains why.


LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Ultimately, the United States could not vote yes on a text that did not condemn Hamas or reaffirm the right of all Member States to protect their citizens from terrorist attacks.


FOSTER: Human Rights Watch praised the resolution, saying it's a rare and powerful message to Israel, Hamas and other armed groups to follow international humanitarian law.

Now, if you'd like to have information on how you can help with humanitarian relief efforts for Gaza and Israel, do go to our website You'll find a list of vetted organizations there providing assistance. That's at

Britain's new foreign secretary, paying a visit to Ukraine on his fourth day in the job. David Cameron met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kiev on Thursday, which was Cameron's first overseas trip as the top U.K. diplomat. He said the U.K. will keep providing Ukraine with military and other kinds of support for as long as it takes.

Meanwhile, Russia is confirming that Ukraine is holding onto its foothold on the occupied eastern side of the Dnipro River. A Russian installed governor says small groups of Ukrainians are operating northeast of Kherson but are taking heavy fire. The statement came a day after Ukraine announced it created a bridgehead on the east bank of the river.

A convicted mastermind of a high-profile murder of a Russian journalist is no longer in prison. Anna Politkovskaya was a prominent Kremlin critic who was gunned down near her home in Moscow in 2006. But as Fred Pleitgen now reports, the man convicted of orchestrating the killing has received the pardon in exchange for fighting in Ukraine, and he's not the only one.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): As Russia loses large amounts of soldiers on the front lines in Ukraine, the Kremlin continues filling the ranks with convicts, pardoning and releasing even the most dangerous ones if they survive their tour of combat.


Sergey Khadzhikurbanov was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2014 for organizing the high profile killing of prominent journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya, who was gunned down in her apartment block in 2006. Now Khadzhikurbanov has been pardoned after fighting in Ukraine, his lawyer says. Politkovskaya's family and the paper she worked for, Novaya Gazeta, irate.

It is a monstrous fact of injustice and arbitrariness. An insult to the memory of a person killed for their beliefs and for carrying out their professional duty. They wrote in a statement.

There are others. Vladislav Kanyus was sentenced to 17 years in jail for brutally murdering his girlfriend and ordered to pay compensation to the victims' family, Russian media reports. He was also pardoned after fighting in Ukraine and doesn't even have to pay the compensation. The Kremlin defending the decision.

There is a certain practice that is being implemented, Putin spokesman says. To my knowledge, there are no exceptions to this practice. More precisely, there are exceptions, but they do not relate to the topic of the resonance of this or that case.

The Wagner private military company first started using convicts on the battlefields in Ukraine last year. Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, traveling to Russian jails to recruit inmates. I spend more ammunition than was ever spent in Stalingrad, he said at

the time. First sin is deserting. No one leave the front. No one surrenders.

Even after Prigozhin was killed in a plane crash in August. Russia continues large scale recruitment of prison inmates.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin even included some in a moment of silence for fallen soldiers.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are all people. Everyone can make some mistakes. They once made them, but they gave their lives for their motherland and atoned for their guilt in full.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): And that amnesty also extends to killers in Russia, who can prevent doing time by killing even more in Ukraine.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


FOSTER: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is now a wanted man in France. A judicial source says a French court has issued an arrest warrant against him over the alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians. According to three groups that brought the case. The weapons were used on two occasions during the Syrian civil war in 2013, leading to more than 1000 deaths. Sources say Assad is suspected of complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity, but he's denied using chemical weapons.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says he'll introduce emergency legislation to formally recognize Rwanda as a safe country for deportations. This comes after the U.K. Supreme Court unanimously ruled against his controversial immigration deal with the African nation. That agreement, announced last year, would allow the U.K. to deport asylum seekers. To Rwanda for processing, regardless of their nationality. Despite numerous legal setbacks, the Prime Minister said he's prepared to do whatever it takes to see the plan through, including a formal treaty with Rwanda.

Still to come, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign a new border bill. Ahead, why some fear it may lead to racial profiling of Latinos across that state.



FOSTER: Crossing illegally into Texas from Mexico could become a state crime. A bill that Texas Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign would give law enforcement the power to arrest migrants and would allow judges to issue orders to remove them from the U.S. CNN's Rosa Flores has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This bill is sending ripples of fear throughout the Latino community in the state of Texas. Latinos make up 40 percent of the population in this state. But let me take you through this bill.

What it does is it creates a state crime for illegal entry into the state of Texas. And it gives law enforcement the power to arrest. And it gives judges the power to issue orders to remove individuals from the state of Texas.

Now, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has maintained that all he's doing is dealing with the crisis at the border because the federal government is not doing its job.

Now, this bill has many critics, including thirty former immigration judges. Now these judges issued a statement saying that this bill is unconstitutional because the power to issue immigration policy and law rests with the federal government. And these judges, these former judges, point to a portion of the bill that says that state judges will have the power to issue removal orders. That's a really fancy way of saying deportation. These judges have and will have the power to deport individuals from the state of Texas.

One other big concern is that this could lead to racial profiling of Latinos in this state. Now, one of the things that this bill specifically states is that this applies to law enforcement in the state, including local law enforcement. And that's one of the big concerns. I want to take you inside the State House, with some of the debate, take a listen.

ANN JOHNSON, TEXAS STATE HOUSE DEMOCRAT: Let's say Mary and I are walking together near the border. Are they going to look at her skin color versus mine and make a determination? Surely, she needs to be investigated for potentially crossing.

DAVIL SPILLER, TEXAS STATE HOUSE REPUBLICAN: Well, I think -- I think clearly the officers are going to make -- they're going to look at the entirety --

JOHNSON: And this is not funny because my wife is Hispanic. And there is a difference when I am driving a car, I see an officer and I wave. There is a difference for people. Chairman Wally said it, we don't live in their skin.

FLORES: The author of the bill maintains that the bill will not lead to racial profiling. He says he doesn't know the total cost to Texas taxpayers. And he maintains that this bill is constitutional. Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign the bill, and the ACLU has already threatened to sue.

Rosa Flores, CNN, Houston.


FOSTER: And nobody was laughing at the time. But the saga of Gwyneth Paltrow's infamous ski accident in civil trial is coming to a London stage as a company.



FOSTER: This just in. There's been a shooting near Jerusalem. According to Israeli police, three attackers opened fire on officers at a checkpoint south of the city. We're hearing the assailants wounded six Israeli security personnel before they were shot dead. Two other civilians suffered minor -- two other civilians suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene. This is a developing story. We'll bring you more as we get it.

Forecasters say the chance of a volcanic eruption in Iceland remains high. The island was rattled by about 800 earthquakes on Wednesday morning, similar to the day before. This video shows a damaged road and the steam there coming from the ground, in a town about 40 miles or 70 kilometers southwest of the capital Reykjavik. Forecasters say seismic activity and underground lava flows point to an imminent eruption in that area, which prompted the evacuation of about 3,000 people.

While Iceland is still in the waiting mode, another volcano in Mexico already showing its might. It ejected ash and plumes of smoke on Wednesday. Officials said it happened 15 times over a period of 24 hours. They are also warning residents not to try to climb to the top of the volcano -- would you believe. The volcano near Mexico City is one of the most active in that country.

Thanksgiving dinner in the U.S. will be a little cheaper this year. The American Farm Bureau Federation says you can buy a 16-pound bird for less than $30.


That's down 5.6 percent from last year, but Thanksgiving prices are still 25 percent higher than they were before the pandemic. Still, holiday discounts could push some costs down. In fact, the federation says your bill this year for a party of 10 could be as little as just over $60.00.

Stories in the spotlight -- believe it or not -- Kim Kardashian has been named one of GQ's men of the year. Actually, she's on the cover of the magazine as Tycoon of the Year because of her popular Skims, shape, wear and clothing business. Skims is now the official underwear of the National Basketball Federation -- Association rather. The issue of GQ comes out on November the 28th.

U.S. late night host Jimmy Kimmel returning to host the Oscars. This will be his fourth time emceeing the ceremony after previous stints earlier this year, as well as in 2017 and 2018. And his wife, Molly McNearney, will be the show's executive producer. So pretty cozy.

Kimmel joked in the news release that he's always dreamed of hosting the Oscars exactly four times. The 96th Academy Awards will be broadcast live on March the 10th. Now fame can be a slippery slope. For actress Gwyneth Paltrow, an

unfortunate mishap on skis and the spectacle of her public trial have become the basis of a musical comedy. That's right, an instant Paltrow probably wishes never happened, opens for last -- next month, here in London's West End. It's called, appropriately, Gwyneth Paltrow or Gwyneth Goes Skiing with Linus Karp starring as Paltrow. Paltrow's televised trial last March was over a 2016 skiing mishap in Park City, Utah, when she and a retired optometrist collided. He later sued her for recklessness, saying she caused him sustained injuries. Paltrow won that case.

Thank you for watching. I'm Max Foster in London. "EARLY START" is next here on CNN.