Return to Transcripts main page
Erin Burnett Outfront
Deadline Looms For ISIS Hostages; Black Man Shot Dead by Police Officer; Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Dies; U.S. Evacuating Embassy in Yemen
Aired January 22, 2015 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next breaking news. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah is dead. The king of America's number one ally in the Arab world. The leader of the world's largest export of oil. We have breaking details on this major story tonight.
Plus, time is running out for two hostages held by ISIS with the deadline for ransom coming in just a few hours. Can they be safe?
And a black man shot and killed by a police officer during a routine traffic stop. All of this caught on dash cam video. Was it justified? Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. OUTFRONT tonight. Much more on our breaking news. The death of the king of Saudi Arabia. But first, I want to get to this issue we're dealing with with the hostages as the clock is literally kicking down at this moment. Time is running out for the hostages held by ISIS. We have less than six hours before the terrorist's deadline expires. The threat to murder two Japanese men unless $200 million in ransom is paid. Japanese officials are in a desperate race against time. Right now, they are trying to communicate with ISIS, the theory is trying to pay something. We don't know fully though. We are learning some surprising new details though tonight about these men. To their past that may have led them to travel to Syria and try to turn his life around.
Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT from Washington tonight on this breaking story. And Jim, as we're now looking at what's happening in the Middle East with this incredibly important story out of Saudi Arabia, you now have just six hours left to save these hostages. Is there hope?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, based on past practice these two Japanese citizens if grave danger. The focus of Japanese authorities to this point has been simply to establish contact with ISIS though Japanese officials have said that they will stick to a pledge not to pay a ransom in this case, but we know based on past practice that ISIS is difficult to negotiate with. There have been some that have paid ransoms. That's really the only path out. But the Japanese saying that that's not the step they're going to take. It's a grave, grave situation for them with just a few hours to go.
BURNETT: And as you say just a few hours to go, Jim. At this point is there any indication that a ransom is being paid or that the Japanese are attempting to pay a ransom?
SCIUTTO: There's no indication. In fact, Japanese leaders in conversations with western leaders, there was call between the British Prime Minister David Cameron, and his counterpart, the Japanese foreign minister, in which the Japanese foreign minister said that they would not pay a ransom, would not negotiate. They do however want to establish contact, what they hope to achieve in that contact is an open question. As you know well Erin, this is a difficult group to negotiate with.
BURNETT: All right. Jim Sciutto, thank you very much. And as Jim indicates, Japanese officials are desperately trying to do what they can to save these two men. The question is though, how did they wind up in ISIS custody? Will Ripley is OUTFRONT.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (Voice-over): Just hours before the deadline set by ISIS, pay a $200 million ransom or they will execute two hostages Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa. Japanese officials are trying to talk to ISIS through any means possible, a desperate attempt to save these two men. Forty seven-year-old Kenji is a freelance journalist and veteran of war zones. Goto made this video last fall just hours before he disappeared in Syria.
KENJI GOTO, FREELANCE JOURNALIST HELD BY ISIS: Suffering three years. It's enough.
RIPLEY: Forty two-year-old Haruna Yukawa traveled to Syria at least twice last year. Reuters siting Yukawa's Facebook post, an online journal painted pictures of a troubled man who lost his wife to cancer and then his home and business to bankruptcy. At one point he attempted suicide. Took a traditionally female name. He also wrote that he believe he was the reincarnation of a cross dressing Chinese princess who spied on the Japanese in World War II. But his trips to Syria were apparently part of plan to turn his life around and gain experience that might help him find work as a security consultant according to Reuters. Last spring Goto and Yukawa met in Syria and forged a friendship but Yukawa was captured there on later trip in August. In this video he's seen being brutally interrogated at knife point.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Why you have gun? Why you have gun?
RIPLEY: In October Goto told his long time Syrian fixer he wanted to return to Syria partly to search for news of his friend Yukawa.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I told him it's not safe for you. It's very danger.
RIPLEY: But Goto made the trip any way leaving a list of people to call if he should disappear.
GOTO: It is my responsibility if something happens. RIPLEY: Now, with time running out, many fear the worst that
like five western hostages before them, these two unlikely friends could soon become the latest victims of ISIS's barbarism.
RIPLEY: Here in Tokyo, we're aware of those reports out of UK that the Japanese officials apparently made claims that they weren't going to pay a ransom but they have not said that here in Tokyo. In fact, they have refused to answer the question only saying that they want to communicate with ISIS. And Erin, we know in the past, there have been some under the table deals that were suspected of being worked out. We just don't know right now if anything like that is on the table on this case which is hours to go before this deadline.
BURNETT: All right. Will Ripley. Thank you. And now Roy Hallums, the American contractor who was held hostage by terrorists in Iraq and Tim Clemente, a retired FBI counterterrorism agent.
Tim, there's so many things about this tragic situation that do not match the way ISIS has done this before in this horrific beheading situations. They have killed one hostage at a time. They haven't given a specific countdown. In this case, counting down the 12:50 a.m. Now, at the countdown, it's specific. And they say they're going to kill two. You can look at that and say, it's not a sign of weakness, they desperately need the money or they desperately need the pr which would go against what we hear about ISIS.
TIM CLEMENTE, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM AGENT: All right. I don't think it's sign of desperation, Erin. I think this is them showing their hand. It's a power play. They have these two hostages from Japan. Japan has committed to giving $200 million to support against ISIS. ISIS is scouring this back on their face. And not just the face of Japan but all of the western world saying, we have the power and they do have the power. And I think the time line and the impossible demand of the $200 million are together. Neither of those two can be met. Japan can't meet the negotiation and make the communications happen in 72 hours and they're not going to put $200 million on the table. So, ISIS I think through down an impossible gauntlet. The Japanese government cannot meet that demand and unfortunately I think what's going to happen to these two individuals is the same as we seen every other individual that's been held at knife point by this one barbaric British guy.
BURNETT: That's right. And of course, that seem to be the exact same person that we saw in the videos with the Americans who were beheaded. Roy, do you agree that they are sort of doing this on purpose to be impossible? It's not worth paying any kind of ransom. Obviously, you were held for 311 days by captors, terrorists in Iraq. They asked for money, $6 million. And now, they're asking for $200 million.
ROY HALLUMS, FORMER AMERICAN HOSTAGE IN IRAQ: Well, yes, I think the ISIS knew from the beginning that they would never get the 200 million. They're just making ridiculous demands just to show their power. And I don't think they ever had any expectation of getting the money within 72 hours just like in my case the gang was asking for 6 million. I don't think they expected 6 million. They expected, you know, maybe some negotiations and settle for some kind of fraction of that.
BURNETT: So Tim, why the 72 hour time frame? Is it really just for the press of this? They think they'll get more attention as opposed to, you know, they got attention when they said we're going to do this and they did it. But then they put this time frame on this one.
CLEMENTE: I think the timeline is just one more way to say we are in charge. Right now everybody in the world is following this story because it's such a tragic story. These two individuals will probably going to lose their lives and they'll lose it in the most dastardly way possible. But what ISIS does by doing this is they're saying to the Japanese government, you may be a powerful nation that have $200 million to throw away in the cause against us but guess what, we're holding you in a noose right now but holding these two captives at knife point. And so, they literally have the poker hand that Japan can't beat. And as I said the other day it's a win-win for ISIS and it's a lose-lose for Japan no matter how this comes out.
BURNETT: Roy, what do they do next? I mean, we have been reporting they have been, quote-unquote, "running out of western hostages." So, if they are going to kill, and of course we are also hoping that there will be some kind of miracle and that won't happen, but if they do in the next few hours kill these two Japanese hostages, they don't have many hostages left. We know that they have one American woman and of course the hope is that because she's a woman, perhaps she will not meet this fate. But it doesn't sound like they have a lot more left.
HALLUMS: Well, I'm sure they will be looking for other western hostages. But that's the issue if you're one of these terrorists' gangs. When you run out of hostages you don't have a bargaining chip for money. And so, that's why the gangs who actually want money and are not so interested in a political stunt like this won't actually kill the hostages because they do want the money and they'll keep them alive longer. As you say, you know, eventually they're going to run out of people if they keep doing this.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to you Roy and Tim as we follow that breaking news. Any developments of course could come at any moment. We're following that this hour. We're also following the major breaking news tonight. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has died. That's America's strongest Arab ally. World's largest oil producer. A major story for the United States tonight. We have the latest and the dash cam video showing a routine traffic stop turning deadly. The officer shooting and killing the driver. Was it justified?
BURNETT: Tonight, an investigation into the use of deadly force by a New Jersey police officer. Dramatic dash cam video captures the moment of routine traffic stop escalates and within seconds this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Don't you (bleep) move. Don't you (bleep) move.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Get him out the car, Rog. We've got a gun in his glove compartment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: A gun is spotted, threats are made and a 36-year-old suspect shot dead when he defied a police officer's order and forced himself out of his vehicle with what appears to be his hands raised. Tonight there are calls for justice but was the shooting justified. Jean Casarez is OUTFRONT.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a routine traffic stop the night of December 30th in Bridgeton, New Jersey.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hey, how y'all doing.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: How you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Good.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Bridgeton police, the reason I'm pulling you over, you ran right through that stop sign right there.
CASAREZ: Captured on dash cam video, the situation turns hostile just 22 seconds later when the officer draws his gun.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Show me your hands. Show me your hands. Don't (bleep) move. Don't you (bleep) move. Get them out the car, Rog. We got a gun in his glove department.
CASAREZ (on camera): It turns on a dime. What is the officer seeing do you think that we aren't privy to see?
SAL BENEDETTO, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Once you have a gun in the car, all bets are off. Anything can happen.
CASAREZ (voice-over): We can't see what's happening inside the car but the officer appears to take a chance reaching inside to grab the gun.
BENEDETTO: You are on high alert right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Don't (bleep) move. Show me your hands. Show me your hands.
CASAREZ: Just 46 seconds into the encounter Officer Days has told the suspect seven times not to move.
BENEDETTO: He is telling him. He's giving him a plenty of warning. CASAREZ: Before he takes it one step further.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'm going to shoot you. You going to be (bleep) dead. I'm telling you. You reach for something you going to be (bleep) dead. I'm telling you. Keep your (bleep) hands right there.
CASAREZ: Calling the suspect by name.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Jerame, you reach for something you going to be (bleep) dead.
CASAREZ: Police say Officer Braheme Days arrested Jerame Reid in August on drug charges and resisting arrest.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He's reaching. He's reaching.
CASAREZ: In 1995, Reid was also convicted of first-degree attempted murder and served about 13 years in prison for shooting at New Jersey state troopers.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Show me your hands.
CASAREZ: Despite orders not the move the suspect tries to get out of the car. The officer pushes that car door in to keep it shut.
BENEDETTO: He's trying to keep the individual in the car. Okay? He doesn't know what else is in the car other than the gun he just took out of the car.
CASAREZ: Three seconds later he gets out and is shot and killed with hands in front of him.
BENEDETTO: To me, it's not necessarily under position, because it's very easily to pull something out of your jacket, pocket to your pocket.
CASAREZ: The entire incident unfolds in one minute, 13 seconds.
CASAREZ: So, this case has been taken out of hands of the Police Department. It's now in the hands of the prosecutor's office. And they are looking at that issue. Was it a justified killing or was it not a justified killing? If they find it's not justified it's going to a grand jury. The officers are on administrative leave. And Erin, we called the attorney that's representing the family of the victim in this case, Jerame Reid, they did not return our calls.
BURNETT: All right, Jean, thank you very much. And OUTFRONT now, retired NYPD detective Harry Houck, along with Don Lemon. All right, Don, you're shocked. I mean, when you sat down here, I'm not trying to -- you sat down and said, I can't believe it happened.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I can't believe how it unfolded. I'm not shocked that it happened. I think that, listen, if an officer tells you to do something, you do it. And the officer told him and he forecasted it to him. He said, he forecasted it to him, he said, if you get out of the car I'm going to shoot you. If you move, I'm going to shoot you, you're going to be dead, you're going to die, he kept telling him. And he didn't do what the officer said. If an officers asks you, even if you have your hands up, and he says don't get out of the car and he's like, no, no, no, don't get out the car and you keep getting out of the car, you're not complying with the officer.
BURNETT: You're not complying with the officer but here he does that justify shooting him. I mean, they saw the gun in the car. But if you're getting out with your hands up, you obviously don't have a gun in your hands, you're not a threat to the officer. Even though you are doing something you shouldn't be doing.
HARRY HOUCK, RETIRED NYPD DETECTIVE FIRST GRADE: You're still a threat to the officer. Just because you have your hands up doesn't mean you're not a threat to the officer. You can see that the officer told him seven times to stay in the car. Show his hands. He would not do it. You see his friend? His friends got his hands out of his window making sure, hey, officers, don't shoot me. Here's my hands. All right? He decides that he doesn't want to do it. I watched it like ten times. If you see through the glass and his hands are moving around inside there.
LEMON: Yes. In order to open the door of the car you have to --
HOUCK: Right. That's true. But he said he was getting out of the car. The officer said, don't get out of the car. And the officer is pushing the door to stop him.
BURNETT: Right. And he pushes against it.
HOUCK: When gets up to get out of the car, all right? This is an offensive move because the officer told you to stay inside the vehicle. Now, let's say you got the gun Erin and I'm this close, I can grab that gun from you now. And that's what the officer was thinking about.
BURNETT: So, here's this other thing though. As this all happened, as Jean was talking about, a minute and 13 seconds. Let me just show everybody how quickly that happened. Here we go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OFFICER DAYS: Show me your hands. Show me your hands. Show me your hands. Don't (bleep) move! Don't (bleep) move! Don't (bleep) move! Get him out of the car, Rog. We got a gun in his glove compartment. Don't you (bleep) move! I'm going to shoot you. You going to be (bleep) dead. I'm telling you. You reach for something, you're going to be dead, I'm telling you. He's reaching. He's reaching. Show me your (bleep) hands. No you're not. No you're not. Don't (bleep) move! Don't you (bleep) move!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean it's disturbing to watch. LEMON: I would have shot him though. Everyone I show the video
to say the same thing.
HOUCK: I definitely would have shot him. I would have shot him because when you're this close to me and I've got a weapon on you, what he was trying to do is he was hoping in his mind that the police officer would be very reluctant to shoot him because he had no weapon. When he got out of car and he kept on doing was against everything the police officer told him to do, he felt that he had a position where he would jump at that gun.
BURNETT: And when he says, don't move, don't move, show me your hands, there's no confusion there?
LEMON: The officer already found a gun in the glove compartment.
LEMON: And the reason I say that I was shocked is that, you know, I've been saying this the entire time, whether you agree with the officer, whether you think the officer is a jerk, whatever you think about the officer, the officer is being -- whatever you think, just comply with the officer because the guy who had his hands outside of the car right or wrong. He's alive. He's alive.
BURNETT: Right. And to the point, this only escalated. I mean, it started out sort of, how are you, buddy or how are you brother, whatever he said?
LEMON: He knew him.
BURNETT: He knew him. Right. He said it actually which I think could actually be important when you talk about how quickly this escalated. He did know him. But it's only when they saw the gun, things actually escalated that quick. So, let me just show that part. This is when they actually saw the gun in the glove compartment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OFFICER DAYS: Hey, you got a driver's license?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes, I got my driver's license.
OFFICER DAYS: You want to grab it for me.
No, no. Show me your hands. Show me your (bleep) hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What about this issue that we're talking about though when you're talking about who eventually shot? It was the black officer. Now, I'm just going to say we're talking about this now as this a justified shooting. This conversation I do feel would be a little bit different if -- LEMON: If the officer was white.
BURNETT: If the officer were white. This would be a different conversation.
HOUCK: Talking an alleged racial incident.
BURNETT: This would become a racial incident.
LEMON: Correct. You don't have to be a white or whatever. You can be a black officer. You can be a minority officer and still be coopted by the system if the system is corrupt. But I'm not saying that it is in this case. This appears by all means to be a justified shooting if you really look at the video objectively and you look at what the officer did. I'm not a legal expert but just looking at a layperson, I mean, he did not follow the officer's orders. But also, I notice that the other cop shot as well. Did you see that?
BURNETT: Right. And that's where you're rolling your eyes that that's not okay.
HOUCK: That officer fired a shot in the direction of his partner. He is lucky he did not kill his partner when he fired that shot. That the minute I saw that I knew that was a bad mistake in his part. Thank God, he didn't hit the other officer. He was right in the line of fire.
LEMON: Yes. And if an officer tells you something whether you agree with the officer or not, if the officer is a jerk, if the officer is a bad officer, whatever it is, comply with that officer until afterwards.
BURNETT: So, you don't disagree on this, this doesn't go to a grand jury.
LEMON: No, you comply with the officer, then you handle it afterwards because you want to be alive.
BURNETT: Okay. But if this, again, let's just reverse the racial roles and say that the cop shooting had been white, all right? Then all of a sudden, would you be having a different conversation about the grand jury?
LEMON: I don't think so. I think that there would be bigger outrage maybe publicly and I think that it maybe would go in front of grand jury and it would go in front of the prosecutor. But I think the officer would have to be the same thing, would be exonerated and that would be a no bill.
HOUCK: -- this incident also, just like they do other police incidents. But this is clearly a justified shooting for that officer.
BURNETT: All right. You both agree.
BURNETT: Okay, thank you very much. I appreciate both of you taking the time.
And OUTFRONT next, the breaking news. Show you a live picture right now. This is Mecca in Saudi Arabia. As you can see, thousands of people there. It's 3:30 in the morning there. Mourners gathering in remembrance of their king. He is dead in a major development for the United States.
And more breaking news, American Embassy personnel in Yemen are being evacuated. Tonight, the situation there spiraling into chaos. We'll have more in that breaking headline in a moment.
BURNETT: Breaking news. Saudi Arabia King Abdullah has died. This is a major story in the United States. Saudi Arabia is America's biggest Arab ally. The world's largest oil exporter. Global stability rests on stability in Saudi Arabia. Just three weeks ago the 90-year-old-ish, no one knows the exact age was hospitalized. Abdullah was seen as a relative reformer in an extremely conservative Saudi world which as, you know, this week is famous for possible flogging and where women can still not drive. Abdullah was a major player in an incredibly volatile part of the world. We are learning that the next king of Saudi will be Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, more conservative of than his brother King Abdullah.
Jim Acosta is at the White House tonight. Jim, you're getting a statement from the White House as we said.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
BURNETT: This is a big story here in the U.S. and a major one for the President. What's the reaction?
ACOSTA: Absolutely. This statement just came out in the last several minutes. The President expressing his condolences, his personal condolences over the loss of King Abdullah. We're putting this together as we put it together up on screen. I can read it to you but just to give you a sense Erin of the relationship between President Obama and King Abdullah, you know, it has been a business- like relationship over the last several years. I was with President Obama when he flew out to the king's desert retreat out in the middle of the Saudi dessert. And here's some pictures of that right now. You can see the Saudi king breathing with the assistance of an oxygen tube. We all noticed that in the room when we are there for about 30 seconds when the President and the king were discussing U.S. Saudi relations. You know, at the time, even though they had a good discussion, there were some serious disagreements. The Saudi king did not like the U.S. talking with Iran about containing its nuclear program in part because Saudi Arabia obviously feels threatened by Iran but also because they don't want the United States to get cozy with Iran. Saudi Arabia likes having that close relationship with the United States. But until we get that graphic put together, I do want to read
part of this because I think it frames the relationship between the president and the Saudi king and he says, quote, "As our countries work together to confront many challenges, I always valued King Abdullah's perspective and appreciate it our genuine and warm friendship. As a leader, he was always candid, and had the courage of his convictions. One of those convictions was a steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond. The closeness and strength of the partnership between our two countries is part of the King Abdullah's legacy."
I think what is interesting to point out about this meeting back in March, I was tweeting out pictures at that time. Erin, I'm not talking about this just to talk about myself. When I tweeted out these pictures, it gave me an indication as to how closed a society Saudi Arabia is because those tweets spread like wildfire across the Internet, mainly being retweeted by people inside Saudi Arabia who had never seen inside the king's retreat.
And so, the king, by allowing our cameras in that room was in a way opening up his own kingdom to his own people. So, I found that striking during that visit, Erin.
One thing that we should point out, the last time the two leaders spoke was in September of this year and you're recall what the president said, "I don't have a strategy for dealing with ISIS in Syria", and that made a lot of news. The president decided to go ahead and give a speech about a strategy on ISIS. He called King Abdullah prior to giving that speech because obviously as ISIS goes in Iraq and Syria, so potentially could go Saudi Arabia. And so, the king was obviously very concerned about the president's move with respect to ISIS. So, a long relationship, a good relationship.
We should also mention, Prince Salman who will be taking the throne. President Obama last spoke with him in April 2012. So, there is a relationship there as well -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: And, of course, Prince Salman known as a pragmatic leader, but more conservative than his brother. Very important when we still think about things that Americans here, for example, women still not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, what he will mean for the leadership there.
Jim Acosta, thank you so much.
ACOSTA: You bet.
BURNETT: Nic Robertson is in London tonight.
And, Nic, there were great expectations for King Abdullah when he took the throne nearly 10 years ago. This transition in Saudi Arabia is a crucial one for every country around the world when you look at how important this country is in terms of providing oil and stability to the planet. NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:
Absolutely. And the country's has become more pivotal in the region recently, taking a stronger stance. That's part of what King Abdullah ultimately delivered an perhaps maybe his longer lasting legacy. But when he came to the throne, absolutely, there were great expectations.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud ascent to the Saudi throne, ushered in great expectations.
It was August 2005. He'd been running Saudi Arabia since 1996, following his half brother, King Fahd's stroke the previous year. Now is the time modernizers hoped Saudi Arabia would slowly shed some of its ultraconservative values, improve women's right, broaden political freedoms.
King Abdullah was the sixth Saudi monarch. His father, King Abdulaziz al Saud was the country's first ruler, unifying the desert kingdom in 1932.
On his death in 1953, succession passed to his sons, the eldest almost capable first. By the time he took the thrown, King Abdullah was already in his 80s.
But in nearly a decade a ruling on behalf of his brother, he began opening the door to reform.
The events of September 11, 2001 crystallized the choice before the Saudi royal family. Fifteen of the 19 al Qaeda hijackers who attacked the United States were Saudis, and al Qaeda was also targeting the Saudi establishment and its allies.
Under Abdullah's leadership, the country slowly squashed al Qaeda capturing or killing its leaders in the kingdom, forcing the remnants under ground and sidelining radical preachers.
At the same time the king, unlike some of his predecessors began investing the country's oil wealth and investing jobs for the future, embarking on a massive building program. King Abdullah Economic City just one of several such megaprojects, creating cities from the ground up, providing not just accommodation for work force but new industries, an acknowledgment that oil money wouldn't last forever.
The king focused on ramping up education too. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology designed to be the first co-ed university in the country. When conservatives criticized his reforms, some were removed.
But he was creating ripples of discontent. Some of his more conservative ministers, his half brothers, bridled at his changes. They weren't the only Saudis disappointed with his leadership. Many women hoped for greater independence under his rule, the right to drive. But their dreams were not realized during his lifetime. He had initiated forums for women to debate issues, but failed in the face of conservative critics to give them real freedom. Inside the Saudi, there were limits to what he could achieve.
But beyond its borders, he saw the kingdom stature grow, the only Arab nation with a seat at the G20, also becoming the lead Arab nation in the U.S.-led coalition to eradicate the ultra radical ISIS group from Iraq and Syria.
He bolstered the desert kingdom's defense forces with a massive $150 billion spend, and back Egypt's military rulers, crushing the pan national political Islamist, the Muslim Brotherhood, who he saw as a threat to Saudi Arabia's future.
He became first guardian as Saudi monarchs (INAUDILBE) of Islam's two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, to meet the pope.
Despite Saudi Arabia's own relatively conservative and seemingly xenophobic interpretation of Islam, he preached religious tolerance. Criticized by being out of step by some, he will be remembered by many as being a few paces ahead.
ROBERTSON: Now, I met King Abdullah a few years ago. He was very much a man in command and in control at that time. Everything was deferred to him. I also attended, I was there the day he came to power. I attended King Fahd, the previous king's funeral, and we can expect his funeral, King Abdullah's funeral, to be very similar to that, very quick, a large number of royals gathering, all going to the grave site, a very quick common there, literally luring the coffin in, covering with soil and moving on, and going then to congratulate and to pay respects to the new king, too, King Salman -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Nic, thank you very much.
Certainly, you know, as you say, when you go to Saudi, it is a country that revolved around its king and its leader who kept in many ways a very secretive profile, but was very beloved.
OUTFRONT, Stephen Hadley, who served as national security adviser to President George W. Bush.
Stephen, Saudi Arabia is the core stability in the Middle East. It's this country's number one Arab ally, the largest exporter of oil, and oil-related products in the world. They did not have an Arab spring, which was crucial to world stability.
King Abdullah's passing is a very crucial moment for the United States, isn't it?
STEPHEN HADLEY, FORMER NATL. SECURITY ADVISER TO PRES. BUSH (via telephone): It is. The succession is going to be very important. King Abdullah has tried to arrange his succession. What we're really seeing is beginning of the process where power will evolve to the next generation of princes. This will be a difficult transition, particularly a time when Saudi is worried about Iran, as your report suggests.
HADLEY: And worried about the ISIS challenge.
So, it will be a difficult time and one that we're going to need to stand by our Saudi ally.
BURNETT: And, Stephen, how do they maintain stability? We are looking at live pictures right now of Mecca. I want everyone to understand, these are live. You have thousands of people gathering, we're told, to mourn for the king.
He was widely loved in that country. During Arab spring, he was away for a while. I remember, I was in the country at the time. He came back and there were celebrations in the streets when other countries were devolving into riots against their government.
You now have a crown prince becoming a king taking over, who is also 80 years old. Is stability actually in threat, Stephen?
HADLEY: It's a difficult moment. I don't think stability is fundamentally threatened. There will be challenges, we suggest. But one of the things we have seen from the Arab spring, as you suggest, is that these hereditary monarchies have some legitimacy among their people, in way the military supported and authoritarians really did not. King Abdullah tried to be reformer, he started down the path, not as probably not as fast as many of us would have liked, but nonetheless, within the Saudi context, he was a reformer and started the process of change.
And I think also accounted toward support he had among the people.
BURNETT: All right. Stephen Hadley, thank you very much. We appreciate you taking the time to us about that breaking story.
Next, two American Navy warships are standing by as American embassy personnel are being evacuated from Yemen as that country descends into even more chaos, Americans being evacuated, the breaking news. That's next.
An OUTFRONT exclusive. What we know tonight about the final moments of AirAsia 8501, inside that cockpit.
We'll be back.
BURNETT: Breaking news out of Yemen tonight, the United States is evacuating embassy personnel due to security concerns. This is according to a senior State Department official. It is a major development. This country is in chaos, and, of course, also shares a major border with Saudi Arabia.
The president is stepping down there. ISIS is expanding.
Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT tonight with the developments.
Jim, the U.S. is reducing it staff for security reasons. Obviously, things in Yemen had been very, very bad for quite sometime. Why this action now?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, you have the collapse of the government, the resignation of the president just in the last 24 hours and you have Houthi rebels, the Shiite rebels, basically providing security on the streets, offering security, in fact, to U.S. embassy compounds. When you reach that stage it was beyond the pail and they made a decision to do this.
Keep in mind that the U.S. had already reduced staff there under what's called an ordered departure. So, this is yet another step. They haven't completely evacuated the embassy there but they say they are monitoring this every day, not just by the hour, but by the minute in case they need to take further steps.
BURNETT: And, Jim, so what happens next? I mean, you look at the country, OK, the U.S. is now going to pull out completely for a while, right, with its embassy personnel, just as we're hearing reports that ISIS is expanding in a country that's headquarters for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is currently the strongest and seemingly most powerful branch of al Qaeda. It would seem this is the worst of all possible worlds.
SCIUTTO: It is. This has consequences. Remember, that embassy staff on the ground has enormous functions. And one of those functions is helping to liaise with the Yemeni government that's been very helpful in the drone campaign, providing intelligence, et cetera. That's one reason why you keep some people on the ground here. That drone campaign has already slowed in the last couple of months. If you lose that entire presence on the ground, that takes pressure off al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. You saw what they are capable of in Paris. That has real consequences for the U.S.
BURNETT: It certainly does. Thank you very much. Can't just ignore something and hope it goes away. Jim Sciutto, thank you.
And next, what we know about what went on inside the cockpit of AirAsia Flight 8501. Inside the cockpit of an A320, everything happening as we understand it happened on that flight. We will show you what happened, what it sounded like, what it felt like. That is next exclusively.
And when it comes to robots -- could this be your next waitress?
BURNETT: Six more bodies recovered from AirAsia Flight 8501 today. Officials say the bodies were inside the plane's fuselage. They were not strapped to the seat. Some were found trapped in the wreckage, others loose.
Investigators are still trying to find out what caused the crash but tonight, we have an exclusive reenactment from what we understand from all the information we've gotten from investigators thus far of what happened inside that cockpit, from inside an A320 cockpit.
Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.
DAN DUKE, RETIRED UNITED PILOT: Right now, we're flying the Airbus A320.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And you have flown this before.
DUKE: Yes, that's right.
LAH (voice-over): So times over his 35 years with United Airlines, retired pilot Dan Duke has lost count. We're joining him in a A320 simulator, the same as the doomed AirAsia Flight 8501.
(on camera): Would you say that most Americans have been on this plane if they fly?
DUKE: If they fly, they might actually have been on it. It's easier plane to fly, it's easier to train.
LAH (voice-over): A state-of-the-art computerized plane, so smart it can correct a pilot's mistakes, but not all of them.
DUKE: Guys, hold on to your hats.
LAH: We're asking Duke to fly through the sort of storm cell Air Asia encountered.
DUKE: That which is exactly what they did. They turn to the left to avoid the thunderstorm.
LAH (on camera): How fierce are those thunderstorms?
DUKE: Picture yourself on the worst roller coaster you've been on and multiply it by ten.
LAH: So, this is what they were experiencing?
DUKE: That's right. Much more like this. You see the 6,000 feet a minute.
LAH (voice-over): Climbing at 6,000 feet a minute out of control and beyond the plane's normal capacity. Something forced the plane up.
(on camera): What's happening in the cockpit?
DUKE: In the cockpit, there's tremendous confusion.
LAH: And you can feel the plane slowing down.
DUKE: You feel it slowing down.
(STALL WARNING) LAH (voice-over): Just before the fall.
DUKE: Feel that bump?
LAH (on camera): They're not flying anymore. They're just falling.
DUKE: We're dropping. We're doing 12,000 feet a minute.
LAH: We're just dropping. Oh, yes.
Was that a crash?
DUKE: Yes. Pulled too much.
LAH (voice-over): It happened before I even knew it.
DUKE: We were doing 15,000 feet a minute down. That's about what they were doing when they disappeared off the radar.
LAH: In most of the scenarios he runs, the auto pilot corrects and sudden climbs or dives.
DUKE: Here's the stall. We were saying, oh, we need to slow. We need more power.
LAH: Surviving a stall something an A-320 pilot trains for. Duke says whatever happens to AirAsia, he can only guess it was so violent, the pilots and passengers couldn't get out of it.
DUKE: Probably very uncomfortable, they're probably very scared, and there was nothing they could do about it. They were very helpless.
LAH: What he can capture, the sheer terror of the human beings aboard AirAsia Flight 8501 and the grief and the sudden loss of all of those lives.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Las Vegas.
BURNETT: OUTFRONT next, robots. Yes. Is she hot enough to date or not?
BURNETT: If you want to learn about how robots take over our lives, you're going to want to watch "INSIDE MAN". In this season three premiere, host Morgan Spurlock explores how cutting edge and frankly a little bit creepy the world of robots can be.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN SPURLOCK, INSIDE MAN: These robots plunged deep into what's known as the uncanny valley, the feeling of revulsion people feel when something looks human but not quite.
ROBOT: Do you feel comfortable talking to me?
SPURLOCK: I feel a little weird because what happens is, like there will be things that make the android look incredibly human, like when you move the eyes, yes, but then there's things that kind of give away the facade, like the movement of the mouth or the movement of the arms. The minute all those things are fixed, it will be unbelievable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK, she's disturbing.
SPURLONG: So disturbing.
BURNETT: To your point, it's perfect, but then it's just very, very wrong.
SPURLONG: Yes, but in time, it will get more perfect. I mean, that's the incredible thing. This is a few years old but it will get better and it won't be long until it's going to look we're talking to a regular human being, and that's fascinating.
BURNETT: OK, and I know you explain to me, but the moral and ethical quandaries that come with that, but when you look at her, what is the point? It's not like you can marry her and have children with her. They're not that sophisticated.
SPURLONG: No, the idea right now is to start to get regular humans like you and I comfortable about humanoid robots, because in the future, there will be robots like this that will be in a bank, or at a business, that you'll interact with, that will do basic services you do now and, that there will someone there that will create this facade of an interaction that we take for granted right now.
BURNETT: The crucial question, when you talk about how it's so right but so wrong.
BURNETT: OK, you can fix some of the so wrong, the hand motions can be fixed, right? But then it gets to the point of the heart and the soul, right? How does she feel and how does she feel?
And if they're somehow able to make that more and more, starts with a trigger and then all of the sudden, feeds back, then it actually is a human.
SPURLOCK: Yes, well, that is the real question with we ask in the show. What point will we have such artificial intelligence that they will be able to think and almost feel as a constructed feeling just like human beings. I mean, that's a decades away, but the idea of having them in our lives, that's what the show talks about, is this is not decades away, it's years away, self-driving cars, interactive robots in our homes, like this is going to happen within the next, you know, five or ten years.
BURNETT: So the massive war with the aliens come down to earth and take over --
SPURLOCK: Our kids, our kids.
BURNETT: They're not coming from somewhere else. We're actually building them.
SPURLOCK: We're building them.
Skynet will come alive. You and I will be gone. Our kids have to deal with it. We'll be fine. That's going to be OK.
BURNETT: Right. As long as it's not in our lifetime.
SPURLOCK: That's right.
BURNETT: All right. Well, this is amazing. I love all of yours but this is particularly fascinated by. So, thank you so much, Morgan.
SPURLOCK: Thank you.
BURNETT: And the season premiere. Don't miss it. "INSIDE MAN" tonight at 9:00, robots and all here on CNN.
Soon, they'll be human, you could marry one.
"AC360" starts now.