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The Situation Room
Report: Paris Terror Attacks Coordinated; Source Says U.S. Has Secret ISIS Kill List; Obama Holding Anti-Extremism Summit; Interview with Peter King;
Aired February 17, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Coordinated attacks -- the terrorists behind the Paris magazine massacre reportedly texted the kosher market gunman just ahead of their deadly strike.
Is it new evidence that ISIS and al Qaeda are actually joining forces?
Targeted terrorists -- as the White House convenes an anti-extremism summit, CNN learns of a secret ISIS kill list, with the group's leader the top U.S. target. We're going to get more with Congressman Peter King of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Explosive disaster -- dozens of train cars derail sending massive fireballs into the sky. Residents fleeing and crude oil into a vital waterway.
Is the water safe to drink now?
Plane angry -- even as North Korea's Kim Jong-un shows off his private jet, he's fuming over a human rights conference in the United States where he's accused of living a life of luxury while starving his own people.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. A disturbing report out of Paris that the attacks that terrorized the French capital and left 16 people dead were coordinated. The French newspaper, "Le Monde," quotes investigative sources as saying one of the gunmen behind the magazine massacre texted the supermarket gunman just over an hour before opening fire at the offices of "Charlie Hebdo," the magazine. And the paper says the evidence shows they likely met early on the morning of the first attack.
We're covering the breaking news with our correspondents and our guests this hour, including Congressman Peter King. He's a member of the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees.
But let's begin with the very latest information. Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, joins us -- Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we knew that they were friends, that they were involved in a previous plot together and that their wives had communicated extensively. Now a new report that they were in touch the very day of the attack on the French newspaper -- on the French satirical newspaper, "Charlie Hebdo."
The French newspaper, "Le Monde," reporting that only Coulibali before that horrific attack, Sharif Kouachi, one of the "Charlie Hebdo" gunmen, apparently communicating in person and by text message with the shooter in that deadly assault on a kosher market that would follow just two days later. That shooter, Amedy Coulibali.
The text sent at 10:19 a.m. the morning of the "Charlie Hebdo" attack from Kouachi to one of Coulibaly's 13 cell phones, a phone which French investigators believe he bought specifically to communicate with the Kouachi brothers.
Only six text messages sent from that phone. The text sent that morning, reports "Le Monde," was the last.
This new information further corroborates a link between the Kouachis and Coulibaly. In January, CNN reported, quoting the French prosecutor, that the wives of Coulibaly and one of the Kouachi brothers had 500 phone calls between them during the year before the attacks.
Evidence from the phone shows, as well, that Coulibaly and Sharif also likely met in person some time between midnight and 1:00 a.m. on the morning of that attack. Again "Le Monde" reporting.
Now, from those phones, one more bizarre detail, Wolf, and that is that "Le Monde" found that on January 7th, that attack almost canceled just the day before, when the second gunman, Said Kouachi, came down with a stomach flu. It shows you, Wolf, that in these cases, even small details, a small hitch might have gotten in the way. As it turned out, they went ahead with the attack. And, of course, we know the bloody horrific results of both those attacks on "Charlie Hebdo." Two days later, another attack on that kosher market.
BLITZER: Yes, we certainly do.
All right, Jim Sciutto, thank you.
While that investigation certainly continues, CNN has also learned of the secret ISIS kill list the U.S. is keeping, containing top leaders, including the self-proclaimed caliph of the so-called Islamic State.
Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara So there are, fis working this story for us.
What are you learning, Barbara, from your sources?
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it could sound like success against ISIS, working their way through the kill list, taking out ISIS operatives one by one. But U.S. officials will tell you they have a long way to go to get critical intelligence about the operatives they are going after.
STARR (voice-over): The U.S. has a secret list of the top ISIS operatives in Syria and Iraq it wants to kill.
Number one, ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It's been months since the last intelligence report about were al-Baghdadi is hiding, a senior U.S. official tells CNN. The U.S. believes he knows war planes are hunting him, so he moves cautiously, even as his influence has grown beyond Syria and Iraq.
AKI PERITZ, FORMER CIA ANALYST: The fact that Al-Baghdadi has become this pan-Islamic caliphate boss, boss of bosses, is pretty distressing, but it also means that we know what the command and control might actually be -- be like.
STARR: The U.S. has already killed a dozen or so ISIS operatives, including a chemical weapons expert.
ISIS executioners, like so-called Jihadi John, are still in the US' crosshairs. But the list focuses on targeting those whose deaths would broadly hurt ISIS.
ISIS operatives are added to the list as intelligence, often from cell phone intercepts, is gained.
The kill list may now expand as the U.S. struggles to understand an ISIS command structure made more confusing with ISIS moving into Egypt, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya.
One caution, those labeling themselves as ISIS may have very different goals.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, U.S. ARMY (RET.): We have to take each terrorist or cult organization in every country as a separate entity. We can't look at it as part of one big group. You may miss the most important targets when you're doing that.
STARR: The beheadings of Egyptian Christians on the Libyan coastline underscores the targeting problem. The U.S. wants to identify the killers on the videotape. But the broader worry -- ISIS' position in Libya. It now has a stronghold in Derna and operates across Libyan coastal areas within reach of Southern Europe via busy shipping lanes.
HERTLING: It's very difficult to have the same kind of controls over people who might be getting on boats, who might be working as stevedores or laborers on ships that are coming into European ports.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
STARR: Now, as far as we know, there's no current intelligence that ISIS is planning any attack into Southern Europe via those Libyan ports. But it's interesting to note U.S. and NATO warships have been patrolling the Southern Mediterranean for some time now, looking for illicit activity coming out of North Africa. Those patrols by those warships can always be stepped up -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Barbara, thank you.
The White House, meanwhile, is focusing in today and tomorrow and the next day on a specific issue. President Obama is convening what's being called a summit on countering violent extremism.
Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us now with details -- Jim, they convened today.
JIM ACOSTA, HOST: That's right, Wolf.
The White House opened up its countering violent extremism summit just as ISIS appears to be growing stronger, whether it's in Libya, where those Egyptian Christians were beheaded, or in Denmark, where a radical inspired by the group went on a violent rampage.
But administration officials caution this summit is not about the military campaign to defeat ISIS, it's about finding ways to address the root causes of violent extremism in communities and then sharing those ideas with leaders around the world.
And here's how Vice President Biden put it earlier today.
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need answers that go beyond a military answer. We need answers that go beyond force. Countries, all of us, including the United States, we have to work this from the ground up. We have to work from the ground up and engage our communities and engage those who might be susceptible to being radicalized because they are marginalized.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now the Obama administration is hoping to combat this potent terrorist message from ISIS by beefing up its own social media presence. The State Department is adding staffers to a little known agency called The Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, which will be on Twitter and Facebook with its own propaganda aimed at young Muslims. The slogan is "think again, turn away."
But the Obama administration is finding its own message under fire. GOP, and even a few Democratic critics, ask why the summit does not include the term "Islamic extremism" or "terrorism."
Earlier today, Attorney General Eric Holder said that misses the point.
And speaking of being off message, Wolf, Vice President Biden, he lit up Twitter earlier today, during his opening remarks at this summit, when discussing the issue of radical Somalis living in the US. The vice president said he has great relationships with them because there's an awful lot of them driving cabs and that they are friends of his. An off script, off message moment for the vice president -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, Thanks very much for that.
We're going to stay on top of this conference, this summit that's underway at the White House, as well.
We'll get back to you.
Let's get some more now on what's going on.
Joining us, Republican Congressman Peter King of New York.
He's a member of the House Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, you just heard Jim Acosta report that the White House summit is going on. It's called "Countering Violent Extremism."
As you know, there's been a lot of criticism that that's a relatively vague term, they're not using the phrase "radical Islamic extremism" or "Islamist extremism."
Do you agree with that criticism, they should specifically be referring to Islamic extremism at this summit?
KING: Yes, Wolf, absolutely. That's the enemy. That's why the reason is -- that's the reason this summit is called. That's the one who is causing the violence that we're concerned about. They're the ones who are burning people to death.
And it seems to me like this is becoming more of a hand-holding type. Like when the vice president talks about how we have to engage those who may feel disenfranchised, you know, when Franklin Roosevelt defeated Hitler and Tojo and he used the Army and the Navy, the Air Corps, the Marines, he didn't use the WVA. I mean, the fact is, we have to -- we have to stop them and kill them first and then we can worry about social reasons.
But if we think that we're going to stop ISIS by somehow finding what's bothering them psychologically -- for instance, when they were saying the other day that, you know, these people are marginalized, they don't have jobs. Bin Laden was one of the richest people in the Middle East. Anywhere you go in the Middle East there's these large construction projects by the bin Laden company.
You talk about Mohammad Atta or the other hijackers, many of them were college graduates or college students.
So to me, it's missing the whole point. This is a -- an ideology. It's a twisted ideology based on a twisted interpretation of a religion.
But to somehow make it out to be a social problem, to me, is just missing the target altogether.
BLITZER: I don't think they consider it just a social problem. But here's the question. What difference would it really make if all of a sudden that word Islam or Islamic or Islamist were included as part of this conversation?
In practical terms, how would that make a difference?
Because you really want to go after those extremists, don't you?
KING: And an Islamic -- these are Islamist extremists. These aren't animal lovers. These aren't environmental advocates. You're talking about people who are motivated by an Islamist ideology. And therefore, we have to zero in on that.
We're not talking about extremism generally or terrorism generally. It's the -- this terrorist threat to us today comes from a small but very violent segment of Muslims. It's based on their interpretation of Islam.
And if we're going to address it, if we're going to -- if we are going to address the core reasons, we should, also, then show why this is not truly representative of Islam.
But to do that, we have to say that it does identify itself with Islam. And we have to separate that out.
So to me, it's almost like we're afraid to confront the enemy. If you don't identify your enemy, it's hard to mobilize support against it.
BLITZER: But it does refer to a tiny element of the billion plus Muslims who are out there.
KING: In ISIS. But, on the other hand, when you see jailing, this often goes beyond just 1 or 2 percent who do support jihad and do support terrorist activity. So I think we have to make it clear that it does come from that community. It's not large, but it's large enough that it's causing, right now, all these vast murders throughout the world. These terrorist attacks, as we saw on 9/11, caused massive deaths here in our own country.
BLITZER: All right, let's talk about the recent attacks in Denmark, Copenhagen and in Paris. You heard Jim Sciutto report that it appears as though those attacks, those two attacks in Paris, at the offices of the magazine, "Charlie Hebdo," that kosher supermarket, were a lot more coordinated than we originally thought.
You're a member of the Intelligence Committee.
Tell us the latest information that you can share with us on how sophisticated that operation really was.
KING: Well, there was certainly a level of sophistication to it. While I can't go into details, we shouldn't be surprised that there was coordination, whether it involved ISIS and al Qaeda, because, really, over the last several years, you see this type of cross pollination or cooperation. You've seen it with al Qaeda and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, with al-Shabab.
These groups, while they're distinct, at the same time they share a lot. And a lot of them have even members who do belong to one group or another at different times.
So they do share an overriding ideology. They have differences on how they carry it out, what the emphasis is. Like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is more concerned about attacking the United States, it appears, than ISIS is. But the thing is, they basically have the same philosophy and the same ideology, so -- and it's not surprising that they would be working together on various operations.
BLITZER: So I just want to be precise, Congressman, this was a joint AQAP, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula/ISIS operation to go after that magazine in Paris and then go after that Jewish supermarket?
KING: Well, that's what the reports say, you know, the public reports. I can't comment on what the intelligence community is saying. But, obviously, you've seen that in the public reports, what they are. And I have no reason to doubt that.
BLITZER: So is ISIS working together with AQAP now?
KING: I would not be surprised to see that happening. Again, I'm -- based certainly on what you have in "Le Monde," that certainly appears to be the case. And you do see this level of cooperation that's happened over the years. AQAP has also worked with al-Shabab at times. So -- and also with al Qaeda.
So they -- they do work together when they have to. And there's no reason why ISIS would not be part of that axis, if you will.
BLITZER: All right, I'm going to move on.
I want to take a quick break.
But we have more to discuss.
BLITZER: But I -- the bottom line, as far as the Paris attacks are concerned, from everything you know, everything you heard, it's fair to say -- and I don't want to put words in your mouth -- this was an AQAP/ISIS attack.
KING: I would have said based on published reports, I have no reason to doubt them.
BLITZER: All right. Congressman, stand by. We have a lot more to discuss. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Breaking now, the French newspaper, "Le Monde," reporting that the Paris terror attacks on the magazine offices in Paris, later the kosher supermarket attack, they were coordinated with the gunmen communicating by text, possibly even meeting the morning of the first attack.
We're back with Republican Congressman Peter King of New York. He's a member of the House Homeland Security and Intelligence committees.
Congressman, those attacks in Paris and now the attacks in Copenhagen that we've been watching, eerily similar. The attacks in Paris going after a magazine first, then going after a Jewish kosher supermarket. The attacks in Copenhagen going after cartoonists and then, a few hours later, going after a synagogue.
What's going on here? Is there coordination, in other words, between Paris and Copenhagen?
KING: That, Wolf, is still being examined. It's being investigated fully. Certainly, if nothing else, one is inspired by the other, and it appears that we see ISIS and their supporters. They focus, first of all, on anything that involves free speech. We saw that, obviously, with the magazine, and we saw it now with the cartoonist who they attempted to get.
And then make it clear, though, that they have an ultimate enemy, and that's Jews, whether it's the kosher deli or it's the synagogue, they are motivated by extreme hatred of Jews and Christians, as we've seen in Egypt. But certainly, these two attacks in Europe, where they went for the Jewish target as the second one. Again, that's no coincidence. That's not just people happening, folks. It's Jews that go to Jewish delis. It's Jews that go to synagogues, just like it's Catholics and Christians that go to churches. So no, this is definitely a target. And either it's synchronized or it's one being inspired by the other.
But again, I think that's why this is being fully investigated to see what connections there are, if any. Or if there are any, is there any Central Command, or is there any worry out there as to how they should carry these out?
BLITZER: And we now know, and it's very disturbing, the gunman in Copenhagen, he pledged allegiance to ISIS on social media, and it's very disturbing. But is it just pledging allegiance, or do you think ISIS itself coordinated and helped plan this attack in Copenhagen?
KING: Now Wolf, again, that's something we have to determine. And again, there's more and more evidence coming out that he was radicalized while he was in prison. And that's something we've been concerned about here in the U.S., when I was chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. We -- we investigated the prison radicalizations. And that is something where almost a brainwashing sets in. So I think we'll have to explore that more, too, as to who his brainwashers were when he was in prison, what factions of al Qaeda they came from, if anyone in particular or it was just radical jihadists.
BLITZER: You say ISIS, these terror groups are going after Jews. They're going after Christians, like 21 Egyptian Christians...
BLITZER: ... were beheaded in Libya. As you know, the Egyptian military is now going after those ISIS targets in Libya. It's not just Jews and Christians; Yezidis, that's a small religious group in Iraq. They're really going after them. But most of their victims -- correct me if I'm wrong -- have been fellow Muslims. Right?
KING: Right. Muslims who do not go along with their interpretation of Islam.
And that's where, Wolf, I think the White House has been deficient here when they talk about folks being killed or citizens being killed. The other day the Egyptian -- there were Coptic Christians who were killed because they were Coptic Christians, not just citizens of Egypt. It was Jews in the deli, not just folks who happened to be there.
And you're right. They're going after different segments, different minority groups, different elements of Islam. So they are really carrying out this religious and ethnic war. And we should -- we should point that out, not just make it out that they're terrorists randomly attacking folks or randomly attacking citizens. They're attacking people whose religious views are different from theirs, whose ethnic makeup is different from theirs, and, again, certainly anyone among Islam who does not share their distorted interpretation of Islam. So this is a religious war and an ethnic war. I know it's a genocidal type war being carried out by ISIS.
BLITZER: And let's not forget the Jordanian F-16 fighter pilot who was burned in that steel cage by ISIS, a fellow Muslim himself, a fellow Arab, as well.
BLITZER: Do you have confidence that the Iraqi army right now can handle this fight against ISIS?
KING: No, I don't. I think that it's going to require a strong coordination by the U.S. I think we should have more Americans embedded with the Iraqi army. Listen, they were just vanquished four or five months ago. And there's no way they can recover that quickly during the four- or five-month period. This is going to require intense training and coordination. And so no, I do not have confidence in them at this stage.
BLITZER: Do you believe the U.S. should expand its airstrikes not only against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq but also now in Libya?
KING: I think the U.S. should carry out attacks anywhere it thinks it would be helpful to defeat ISIS. The president as commander in chief, I believe, strongly believe has that right, and I think he has a responsibility. Because ISIS is showing itself to be a region-wide phenomenon. And if it's -- if there are targets there, then I believe, yes, we should go after them. BLITZER: All right. Peter King, thanks very much for joining us.
KING: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, fears of contamination after oil-tank cars derail and explode in West Virginia.
But up next, what a ceasefire looks and sounds like in Ukraine.
We'll go live to a CNN crew right near the front lines. You're looking at that explosion that occurred inside Ukraine.
BLITZER: Ukraine's two-day-old ceasefire has collapsed. Pro-Russian separatists spent the day battling government forces near one city a vital hub. As a camera crew dodged artillery fire, one shell hit a pipeline, sending a huge column of fire into the sky. Separatists claim they now control 80 percent of the nearby city and want the surrounding Ukrainian forces to surrender.
Let's bring in CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh, who's on the ground for us in Donetsk, which the rebels already hold. What's the latest over there?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we did hear all day the separatists claiming they controlled more of that important railway hub in Debaltseve, but it appears that the Ukrainian military now accepts they have lost control of part of that town and also that, in fact, it is Ukrainian soldiers that are now captured by some of the separatists. Among (ph) the issues here.
But the key issue in the future is quite how this issue is resolved in Debaltseve. It is the key railway hub, strategic to both sides. But the violence right now is continuing uninterrupted during this ceasefire. The separatists very confident, advancing at their own will. There are hundreds if not thousands of Ukrainian troops still inside that town. The Ukrainian government has been forced to accept they are losing there swiftly. It looks inevitable, frankly, given the higher quality of equipment that the separatists have, which NATO and Ukraine says is Russian military supplied that they will eventually lose control of that town.
You just have to ask yourself what level of damage to civilians and Ukrainian military can be done before that final objective is achieved, and what does that do to the longer term issue of enforcing the ceasefire? Does the separatists' borders stop there, or is it the beginning of an escalation into territory currently held by the Ukrainian government?
BLITZER: All right. Nick Paton Walsh on the ground for us in eastern Ukraine. Thank you.
Let's get some more now. Joining us from Vienna, Austria, is Ambassador Daniel Baer. He's the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is supposed to be monitoring a ceasefire. How is that ceasefire, Ambassador, holding up?
DANIEL BAER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO OSCE: Well, Wolf, as you just heard from Nick, obviously, there continues to be rampant violations of the ceasefire around Debaltseve. This is one of the four areas, one of the four strategic areas that have been held by the Ukrainian forces over many months. And the separatists and the Russians who support them have been attacking over many months.
Obviously, the hope was that when President Putin signed up last week to re-launch the ceasefire that he agreed to way back in September, that that would actually -- he would follow through on his word. And it has been tragic, tragic to see the sights coming out of Debaltseve, where Russian forces and the separatists they backed are wreaking absolute carnage.
BLITZER: So just to be precise, Ambassador, who's to blame for the break of this ceasefire?
BAER: I don't think there's any question. I stayed up late on Saturday night when the ceasefire was to take effect. I listened -- I watched Poroshenko, President Poroshenko live address his national security council and then address each of his military commanders in the field over the radio, giving them the order to cease fire.
As I said, Debaltseve has been held by Ukrainian forces for months now. It's been under attack for months now. But the attack has heated up in recent weeks, with the separatists and the Russian military-deployed systems lobbing shells, multiple rocket-launching systems in the outskirts in Debaltseve and obviously making gains on the ground.
This runs completely counter to what President Putin agreed to last week. And you know, implementing a ceasefire, you can't be partially implementing it. It's like being pregnant. You can't be half pregnant. He is not implementing the ceasefire. He is not following through on his word. And we need Russia and the separatists to stop the shooting first so that the weapons fallback can happen and the people of Ukraine can have peace.
BLITZER: Can Putin control those Russian -- those pro-Russian separatists inside Ukraine?
BAER: Absolutely, Wolf. Every -- there is a long line of carnage that can be traced back to the Kremlin, starting before in the spring, continuing through the shoot-down of MH-17, where 298 innocent people lost their lives, the recent rocket attack on an open-air civilian market, and now this carnage in Debaltseve.
This would not be happening without the Kremlin's support. The Kremlin is offering -- the Kremlin's military commanders are offering command-and-control support. There are Russian weapons systems being used for these attacks. The Kremlin wouldn't have to persuade anyone not to fire multiple rocket-launching systems if they weren't delivering those rocket systems over the border on a constant basis.
BLITZER: So you're blaming Russia and Putin for the break of the ceasefire?
BAER: It's absolutely clear that Russia has not undertaken to follow through on what it agreed to last week. Obviously, there are the so- called leaders of these separatist groups on the ground that also need to implement the ceasefire that also signed up through the so-called package of measures to implement the ceasefire of last September. They need to follow through, as well.
We heard from the council today. We heard from the chief monitor in Ukraine who told us that he had written a letter to all of the signatories of that ceasefire, asking for their implementation plan in terms of pulling back weapons. And we've only heard back, and he's heard from the government of Ukraine. He's heard back from one of the rebels, but he hasn't heard back from the others, and he hasn't heard back from the government of Russia. This needs to happen now. Russia needs to follow through on what they committed to just last week. There seems to be a double -- a double path that they're pursuing.
They -- they claim to be interested in peace. They claim to be interested in diplomacy, both the efforts of Minsk today in New York, et cetera. But on the ground, they're pursuing a violent, violent attack, a violent game. And it is a devil's game, and it needs to stop.
BLITZER: Speaking of violent attacks, you saw that fiery blast of that pipeline in Donetsk. It was awful. We're showing it to our viewers right now, in fact. You see that kind of an attack, that pipeline exploding. Who knows how many people may have been killed as a result of that. What goes through your mind?
BAER: Well, what goes through my mind, as I said to you before, this is all a chosen tragedy. This didn't need to happen. This is directly traceable to the Kremlin's actions, and it doesn't need to happen. There's so much bad that happens in the world that we can't control, natural disasters and the like. It is so sad to see this chosen tragedy unfold.
And obviously, when you've got heavy weapons, modern Russian machinery being deployed, there are enormous tolls on the civilian population. There's a humanitarian crisis that is incredibly sad. We're talking about close to a million people have been displaced from their homes. Many civilians have perished. It all didn't have to happen. And while we can't roll back the clock, what we can do is hope that President Putin and the Kremlin come to their senses, begin the path of de-escalation, the path they've committed to multiple times and stop wreaking carnage on Ukraine.
BLITZER: Ambassador Baer, the ceasefire is over and they conclude that it's because Putin and the pro-Russian separatists decided to ignore, to violate that ceasefire. That will put enormous pressure on President Obama to go ahead and start providing lethal weapons to the Ukrainian army and to further intensify sanctions, economic, diplomatic, political sanctions against Russia. You agree with me on that, right?
BAER: Certainly, we've said all along that we are constantly reassessing our support for Ukraine to make sure that it is calibrated, appropriate for the situation on the ground. We were clear last week as we saw these Russian weapons systems being deployed around Debaltseve that we were looking to Russia to follow through with actions, not words. And that if Russia failed to follow through, there would be higher costs on Russia.
We saw the rollout earlier this week of more sanctions from the European Union. We've been working in close partnership with our allies and partners and will continue to do so to ensure that we raise the cost if Russia does not take the path of de-escalation and ceasefire.
BLITZER: What about providing weapons to the Ukrainian army? We know the Germans and other Europeans oppose that. But what do you think is going to happen?
BAER: You know, that's a decision for the White House to make. We are in close touch with our partners, and one of the things about a partnership is not that -- that not everybody does exactly the same thing. We are constantly assessing how we can work together and support each other in support of Ukraine. And I think this is a -- obviously, there's short-term carnage that we want to stop immediately.
But as Chancellor Merkel said earlier this week, even if the ceasefire does stick, if we can get it to hold, this is the beginning of a long road. And Ukraine is going to need a lot of support. Russia is going to need to refrain from further damaging -- damaging actions, and we are all going to have to work together to support Ukraine on this long road.
BLITZER: Ambassador Baer, thanks very much for joining us. We'll continue to stay in close touch with you. The story, unfortunately, is not going away.
Coming up, a fireball caught on camera as a an oil tank cars derail and explode here in the United States, in West Virginia. Now there are fears of contamination from spilled oil.
BLITZER: Tank cars of a derailed train carrying crude oil continued burning today in West Virginia. Monday's derailment set off a huge explosion that was caught on camera by our CNN affiliate, WSAZ. Officials are keeping a very close watch on the drinking water supply right now.
CNN's Rene Marsh is here in THE SITUATION ROOM, who's following the latest developments. Very worrisome.
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It absolutely is. And those images, Wolf, we do know that they are periodically testing the water to make sure it is not contaminated in this specific area. More than 100 people displaced. Close to 800 without power because of burned power lines and at this minute, the fire is still burning.
MARSH (voice-over): More than 24 hours after multiple explosions lit up this West Virginia town, emergency crews are still fighting to put out the flames from the derailed oil train.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stations, we have a train derailment. Possible house fire.
MARSH: Emergency crews dispatched as the fireball climbed hundreds of feet in the air.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Need to respond to a train on fire involving train cars and a house.
MARSH: The CSX Train was pulling more than 100 tank cars filled with crude oil from North Dakota to Virginia.
Alex Fender watched the growing inferno.
ALEX FENDER, WITNESS: We were standing by on the riverbank when we saw the train explode or car explode, and it shot up a mushroom cloud about -- kind of like that now.
MARSH: The train's explosive cargo fueled the flames.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Federal investigators that are coming in will look at what caused the derailment. But there were 26 tanker cars that derailed near Armstrong Creek with the crude oil, and 19 of those caught fire.
MARSH: Oil from the derailed train visible on the surface of nearby water, raising contamination fears about the water supply. Three tests show no sign of oil, but as a precaution, the town is under a boil advisory.
The safety of oil trains crisscrossing the continent is a growing concern after several explosive accidents. In April, this train derailed and burned in Lynchburg, Virginia, spilling oil into a nearby river. And in 2013, a runaway train with 72 cars of crude derailed and exploded in Quebec. Nearly 50 people killed.
MARSH: Well, we've seen more of these incidents because there's an increase in oil shipment by rail. The problem is, some of the tanker cars transporting the crude are subpar. They're thin, they're easy to rupture, although CSX, they tells us that they had the more modern, more sturdy cars. But still safety highlighted here when you see these sort of incidents happen over and over.
BLITZER: We saw that explosion.
BLITZER: It was huge.
All right, Rene, thanks very much.
Coming up, a furious round of threats from Kim Jong-Un's government as new satellite images revealed the location of suspected atrocities in North Korea.
BLITZER: Threats coming in from North Korea. Kim Jong-Un's government furious about a new push to hold it responsible for massive human rights abuses.
Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's got the latest -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Kim Jong-Un and his cronies have been trying to stop a human rights conference from taking place here in Washington. They've also threatened to respond, quote, "very strongly to it."
The conference went off as planned. We were there and we learned some disturbing new details which we have for you tonight about those notorious camps for people who are on the wrong side of this regime.
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, new satellite images from inside Kim Jong-Un's prison camp system. A sandbar where defectors say public executions took place. A reported burial site. This is Camp 15, a sprawling prison inside North Korea for those who run afoul of the regime.
JOSEPH BERMUDEZ, ALLSOURCE ANALYSIS: You could fit two Washington, D.C.'s inside of it.
TODD: The photos from Joseph Bermudez's firm, AllSource Analysis, show hydroelectric plants, farms where prisoners are believed to be forced to work. There were mines at the camp since shut down, all things Bermudez says the North Koreans tried to hide.
BERMUDEZ: The North Korea practices what we call in the West camouflage, conceal and deception. What that means is they make every effort to hide many of their activities. They know that we're watching Camp 15. They know that we're concerned about the human rights issue.
TODD: Bermudez presented the photos at a human rights conference on North Korea hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. A conference Kim Jong-Un's regime tried to stop. His ambassador to the U.N. reportedly asking the U.S. government to, quote, "immediately scrap it," then threatening to respond, quote, "very strongly."
The conference highlighted a scathing U.N. report from last year in which hundreds of former prisoners detailed abuses at North Korean prison camps. One spoke of a mother being forced to drown her child, others presented drawings of human remains left for rats to eat.
I spoke with the chief investigator.
JUSTICE MICHAEL KIRBY, U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS INVESTIGATOR: The prisoners had to scrimmage for rodents, for mice, in order to survive. There was just not an appropriate level of food for people to survive and prisoners gave testimony to the Commission of Inquiry that their job was to pick up the bodies and put them into the incinerator and then scatter the remains on the fields as fertilizer.
TODD: From North Korean officials, a flat denial.
CHOE MYONG-NAM, NORTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTRY OFFICIAL: We made it very clear that there is no prison camps in our country.
VICTOR CHA, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I think they really feel that this really hits at the heart of the legitimacy of the regime in ways that they never experienced before. They've experienced sanctions, they've experienced people criticizing their nuclear policies but this is something new and different to them.
TODD: New and different because that U.N. report recommended that Kim Jong-Un and his inner circle be referred to the International Criminal Court for prosecution. Now it's unlikely that's going to happen but one of the reasons the regime has been embarrassed by this report and a key reason they tried to stop today's human rights conference is that it all exposes Kim's regime and it could possibly leak to people inside North Korea.
Wolf, that is what they are the most fearful about.
BLITZER: And I understand that North Korean officials actually wanted to attend this conference?
TODD: They tried to come and they -- they say they wanted to show up to physically be here to refute these human rights allegations against them. What's interesting is North Korea's diplomats at the U.N., they need permission from the State Department to travel beyond a 25-mile radius from the U.N. They say they asked for that and were denied it, but a top U.N. and State Department official told me that request was never made.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very, very much.
We got the breaking news. We're following new details of a terror attack in Denmark and the gunman's connection to ISIS.