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tv   News  Al Jazeera  March 22, 2016 11:00am-12:01pm EDT

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issue, and organizing such coordinated attack takes time and [ inaudible ] i'm not sure it can be really related with the arrest of abdeslam. but what is sure is that, yes, there is a high level of security for months now in europe, france, and -- and belgium, especially, of course because they are linked between the two countries, and [ inaudible ] during the paris attack. so yes, also it is -- i'm not completely surprised, but ditz not change the fact that it is impossible to change everything, of course. >> axle thank you for your expertise this morning. i want to go now to a comment by defense secretary ash carter. >> in the face of these acts of terrorism, the united states standings in strong solidarity
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with our ally belgium. we're continuing to monitor the situation, including to ensure that all u.s. personnel and citizens are accounted for. we also stand ready to provide assistance to our friends and allies in europe as necessary. brussels an international city, that has been host to nato and the european union for decades. together we must and we will continue to do everything that we can, to protect our home lanks and defeat terrorists, wherever they threaten us. no attack will affect our resolve to accelerate the defeat of isil. >> i want to bring in now david lowe a terrorism and security expert live in liverpool. david thank you for joining us. it strikes me that this is not exactly the softest of targets, the airport in brussels, which is the city that is headquarters
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to nato, the headquarters of the e.u. council, could more have been done to prevent this attack? >> well, you say it's not the softest target. i understand where you are coming from. but like many airports in europe, the actual entry into airports not -- doesn't have strict -- tight security. certainly as you go in towards the check-in desks. really that type of security starts post once you have checked in. we are also looking at a metro station, which is an underground rail station. but they are still not what we would term soft targets in themselves. and when you say more could be done, certainly brussels and belgium has been on a high state of alert, and you could say certainly with the metro station so close to e.u. government
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billings, but you -- this is the issue we're trying to counter terrorism. the state has to be alert 100% of the time. but terrorists only have to be lucky just the once, and on this occasion, two occasions. it shows you the difficulty and enormity of the task in trying to deal with these groups. and i know no one has claimed responsibility yet. but i'm making a purely educated guess that this could be isil, and it shows you how dangerous they are certainly within europe and within that region. >> we are looking at pictures of the airport terminal right now. what are your thoughting as far as the sophistication of this attack? >> well, this is -- again, we're purely speculating at the
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moment, because various reports have come out, but this is what the investigators will be looking at, what type of device was used? were there suicide bombers? was it a piece of luggage that had an explosive devise inside of it, or an explosiontive devi devise in it. but the initial explosion was not as larng as the second one. and again, this is a tactic -- >> okay. it appears that we have lost our connection with david lowe. but in essence, here is what we know about what has happened in brussels, belgium this morning. right now the death toll stands at 34, including 20 people that were killed in a second attack on a metro train. this happened at about 8:00 am local time. dozens of people are in critical
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and serious condition. and more than a hundred injured, again, just in the metro attack. no one has claimed responsibility at this point. and belgian authorities have said that they do not have information on a connection between this attack and the arrest of salah abdeslam who is the sole survivor of the paris attacks. that happened just outside of the city in an arrest on friday. and the country had been on high alert. belgium is at its high esther ror threat level. several european countries have convened crisis meetings. now back to president obama's words to the cuban people. at times he spoke in spanish, and it w a speech where he said the embargo again must be lifted fully. >> that's why we got rid of limits on remittances, so
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ordinary cubans have more resources. that's why we're encouraging travel, which will bring more revenue to those cuban small businesses. that's why we have opened up space for commerce and exchanges, so americans and cubans can work together to find cures for diseases, and create jobs, and open the door to more opportunity for the cuban people. as president of the united states, i have called on our congress to lift the embargo. [ applause ] >> let us go back to our senior washington correspondent, mike viqueira in havana, and we are focus on parsing out the president's speech. what do you think the president aimed to achieve in his words? >> reporter: i think he was trying to make history, stephanie. and i think it's very clear from the way that the president phrased this, from the beautiful theater in downtown havana in
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the historic district of havana and the phrasing that he used. he said i came here to bury the last remnant of the colder war in the americas. while he acknowledged that there are many differences and i think president castro, and president obama have both alluded to many of those. yesterday raul castro saying there are many profound differences between these two nations that are not going to go away. among them guantanamo bay a sore point. the cuban government, and by and large the cuban people think that guantanamo as a naval base should not exist, that it's cuban territory. the biggest sore point is the ongoing embargo. the president has said time and time again, bringing it up repeatedly that he things the embargo should be lifted. he has brought along a group of
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american ceo's. part of the logic there to pressure republicans in congress who areal lyed with the business community, to lift the embargo or at least not reverse what the president has already done by executive order. the president going for history, no question about it. and he talked about his aspirations for the relationship going forward. >> why now? there is one simple answer. what the united states was doing was not working. we have to have the courage to acknowledge that truth. a policy of isolation designed for the cold war made little sense in the 21st century. the embargo was only hurting the cuban people instead of helping them. and i have always believed in what martin luther king, jr. called the urgency of now. we should not fear change.
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we should embrace it. >> reporter: some of that speech was geared towards the people here in cuba, and cuban americans. it was a wide-ranging speech. he referenced everyone from the 19th poet and nationalist hero to pitbull. and he said we're look back at this as an aberration in history. >> yeah, really seemed to try to speak to cubans in their language, including using the word revolution towards the end of his speech. mr. obama brought up his own beliefs on a free and open democracy. i want to play what he said on that. >> i believe citizens should be free to speak their mind without fear. [ applause ] >> to organize and to criticize their government and to protest
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peacefully. and that the rule of law should not include arbitrary detentions of people who exercise those rights. [ applause ] >> i believe that every person should have the freedom to practice their faith peacefully and publicly. [ applause ] >> and yes, i believe voters should be able to choose their governments in free and democratic elections. >> so for such a laundry list of democratic ideas, could this lead to some tension with president castro who was sitting in the audience? >> reporter: it's too early to say. president obama said you need not fear me or the president of the united states speaking to the cuban people, but he also said to raul castro, you need not fear the voice of the cuban
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people. so the president doing what he had to do promoting democratic process and human rights. a lot of adjustments being made here in cuba, and a lot of eyes being opened, but i think the coming weeks and months will really tell. >> mike viqueira reporting from havana cuba. thank you, mike. >> we're joined by rachel from d.c. rachel thanks for sticking with us during the breaking news. what for you was most rez innocent about that speech? [ audio difficulty. ] >> rachael i apologize we're
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going to try to fix our audio connection with you. and david let me pose that question to you. who do you think the president was trying to speak to? knowing he has a captive audience in an unprecedented way. the cuban people listening to this on live television. >> yeah, he is a clearly audience in this case. because it's the cuban exile community that is scrutinizing every word, but also this is an historic opportunity that he took advantage of. he spoke to the cuban people in a way that really no one has done over the course of their lives. about three-quarters of cubans have never known anyone but a castro in power. and certainly an american president has never spoken to them. so to hear him say you should be able to have freedom of
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ex-presentation, and be able to practice your faith in a way that is not impeded by the government. but what is interesting also is the context of where this speech was taking place. it holds great significance for the colonial perspective, but right across the street is a place called -- it's a hot corner. and these are areas where cubans go to speak out a little bit more freely about baseball or politics, and it's something that you don't really see anywhere else but in these spots, so as the president of the united states is giving this speech and talking about the importance of free expression, perhaps even democratic elections, you have individuals on this hot corner that at least traditionally at times even railed against the castro government. >> obama said you need not fear the voices of the cuban people. thank you, david. i want to bring back rachel.
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rachel we can hear you now. your reaction to this speech, what struck you? [ no audio ] >> okay. we're just not having great luck here with rachel. rachel's microphone here. so, these are pictures of course from yesterday and the handshake at the presidential palace. president castro meeting with president obama for those one on one talks. i just want to talk about the human rights issues. >> right. >> because after that press conference with raul in which he was specifically asked will you free the political prisoners, he said show me a list, i'll free them tonight. and advocacy groups have come out with lists this morning. is there a double standard when it comes to cuba and human
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rights. certainly cuba isn't the only country that president obama has spoken at that have an abysmal human rights history. >> yes, it is estimated that there are about 51 to 60 political prisoners. but some of them are hardened criminals. the majority might have been supported by exile groups. so there is a certain hypocrisy that the cuban government is saying you put these people here to overthrow my government, and you are saying we should release them. but the vast majority -- >> they are political dissidents. >> exactly.
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>> david thank you so much for your incites. obviously we are covering several major stories today. so we are going to rap up our live coverage of the president's speech in cuba, and continue following the breaking news in brussels. thanks for watching. >> reporter: -- we have also heard from the defense secretary, ash carter who has been giving testimony, and he began by talking about the incident? brussels. >> our thoughts and players are with the people of belgium. and we stand in strong
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solidarity with our ally, belgian. we're continuing to monitor the situation including ensuring that all u.s. personnel and citizens are accounted for. and we stand ready to provide assistance to our friends and allies in belgium as necessary. together we must and we will continue to do everything we can to protect our homelands and defeat terrorists, wherever they threaten us. no attack will affect our resolve to accelerate the defeat of isil. >> what coordination are we expecting to see between the u.s. and belgian authorities? >> reporter: well, of course, that will be lead by the belgians, it will be entirely up to them to decide what extra resources they need. what gaps they have that may
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need american expertise. certainly they'll be talking to the travel companies, because the travel companies fly into brussels. it's not a huge hub for the american airline. there are a few flights every day. and there is a suggestion that some of those flights will be canceled. and we know that a couple of flights arrived around the time of the explosions this the airport terminals. so this is really being driven by the belgians and by interpol. they will look to see where there are gaps where americans can help, and then they will call in the americans to help where necessary. and of course, the americans are on stand by to do whatever is required, because they see belgium at the moment as being
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very much in the front line of this war. >> alan fisher reporting live from washington, d.c. thanks very much, alan. >> expressions of solidarity is coming in from the u.s. and all around the world. >> reporter: after the shock and horror in brussels, there has been an outpouring of solidarity from belgium's neighbors and across the globe. >> translator: we are all away we must deal with the subject, because without economic security there will be no economic development. >> reporter: world leaders used social media to send messages of condolence:
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e.u. foreign policy chief was in jordan when she heard what happened. >> it's quite clear that the root of the pain that we are suffering around our region are very much the same, and that we are united in not only suffering, our victims, but also reacting to these acts and preventing radicalization and violence together. >> translator: they are tragic events, terrorist explosions. brussels the headquarter of the e.u. and so we have been following the events around the clock, and we express jordan's strong condemnation. >> reporter: russia president vladimir putin said: the syrian high negotiations committee says:
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turkey has been suffering from recent attacks and its prime minister also called for unity. >> translator: today here again, i invite human kind to act together against every kind of terrorism. the pkk, daesh, dhkpc, every kind of terrorism. >> reporter: more mess ages of condemnation have been sent from go leaders from india, pakistan and others. just hearing on -- reading on reuters newswire that a news agency close to isil says that the islamic state has claimed responsibility for the brussels blasts. joining us now from london is steve park, a terrorist and security analyst, as well as being a former police officer. good to have you with us, of
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course we don't know how true this claim of responsibility is. we're not hearing it directly through isil, and we're getting it through reuters so far no other agencies have picked it up. but if it is the case, how surprised or unsurprised would you be? >> i certainly won't be unsurprised. i think it's clear that something new is happening across europe at the moment. i think where we have seen sleeper cells that have waited a long time to do up with single terrorism act, and now we have got groups systematically gathering as we can see around the molenbeek area in brussels. surprised that the terrorist threat level wasn't raised at the weekend, bearing in mind what happened with the arrest of salah abdeslam on friday night. >> yes, with your london police
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hat on what would you have done differently? >> i think we have to crack open those no-go areas. don't concentrate on just the small group of people. look at the people who may be assisting them. this would mean more operational resources on the ground. more people need to be available to follow targets, which is -- it requires a large operational plan for this type of monitoring, covert surveillance. it is also very expensive. but in terms of what the terrorists are effecting at the moment, i think this is the only way to go. resources have to be made larger, made more ready, and obviously communications between interpol who bridge the gap between countries, regarding security, intelligence, communications, and -- and can -- as i said bridge that
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gap. so the commune cases hopefully can be freed up much better. >> can you bridge the gap, though? can you ever stay one step ahead of these cells? because as we have seen in the case of abdeslam, he was able to stay undercover for four months. the support network these people have is huge. >> that's where the security services -- they need to work together and get people to try to infiltrate these groups and stay quiet. obviously the idea is -- is to -- to try to put in covert surveillance and maintain monitoring. the fact that they have got salah abdeslam alive meant that probably they were tracking him for sometime. but how wide was the span of tracking? where did it extend to?
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it's such a secret industry that, you know, we may never know. but it is going to be down to manpower on the ground and electronic surveillance. >> when you say manpower on the ground, individuals countries, perhaps it is even bigger than individual countries can cope with. and what more coordination needs to be seen across borders? >> certainly electronic monitoring of identifications, trying to catch falsified documentation, looking at the lists of people that are -- who are on terrorist lists from one country, are they on the list of another country that is bordering that country? and those checks have to be put in place. we know that it's not 100%. and it's not fool poof at this moment in time. >> what threat do you think is posed to london right now? >> i think the threat is high,
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and i think that the prime minister and the police commissioner have come out. they have had a meeting today, and bolstered up the security to important buildings and transport services, and they have put armed police with firearms on show, which has never happened before. therefore, whilst they are not raising the threat level here today, they are keeping it at the very highest they can without scare mongering the public. >> and we are seeing more security on the streets and in airports and ferry terminals? >> yeah, most definitely. the security arrangements are pretty stringent in this country. but we know that there is even more that we can do. for instance, if we look at airports, we know people are collecting passengers, they are
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allowed to go through without being searched at the airport, and maybe that is something that we will start to see change. where people are moving around much more fluidly, the moment you put in these search procedures, this is where places are going to get choked up, systems are going to break down. the flow of flights going out on time is going to be difficult for that to happen. >> okay. steve park, very fromming to get your incites inneed. now i'm going to cross over to turkey, and join our correspondent there on the border between syria and turkey. first of all, omar, the response to the attacks in belgium from the turkish government? >> reporter: yes, we have remarks made by turkey's president describing the attacks
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in brussels as heinous attacks, but he mentioned one interesting point that there was no difference between terror organizations whether they are kurdish militants or whoever attacked brussels. so he is trying to make the case that turkey is trying to push, turkey and europe are being attacked by similar terrorist organizations according to the turkish president. we have also reaction coming from the prime minister of this country. he said turkey sends its condolences to the belgian people and the belgian government, and he says that global terrorism has shown its face once again, and there needs to be a determination in standing united in fighting terrorism in turkey as well as other countries, including europe. >> yes, because they have been
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pushing this line that turkey needs help fighting terrorism, as they have seen a series of attacks over the past few months. >> oh, yes, absolutely. the latest was just on saturday. on one of the busiest streets in the turkish city. and then from january and february also they had similar attacks and go back to july last year, there were similar attacks. that they have blamed it on isil and other explosions were blamed on the pkk, a kurdish separatists group. and a leftest extremist group that the tur kiir government says is also carrying out a
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number of attacks. >> describe the border there between turkey and syria. it has been very porous since the start of this conflict. we have seen an awful lot of people coming from syria, moving backwards and forward. is it now closed? >> reporter: >> reporter: let's less than an hour's drive from the border gate. but i remember when i was here a few weeks ago, the border seemed to me different from the period, let's say six months ago, or the year before then it was open. i can see with my own eyes people coming and going, especially syrians. this time around when i went there, i saw that the gates were closed. and i asked the syrian people standing outside, and they said turkey has imposed some
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restrictions on syrians coming into turkey. they keep the border open to the wounded, and they opened their hospitals here in border towns. remember turkey is home to more than 2.2 million syrian refugees. the unofficial numbers up to perhaps 3.5 million. what the turkish government tells you is they sent more security forces to bolster security on its border with syria, because -- with syria. because on the other side of the border there are areas under control of isil, and this is where the accusations are leveled against the turkish government from its own internal opposition as well as from the syrian government, and also some officials that turkey was giving a blind eye to the movement.
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>> in the last few moments we have read that isil is responsible for the attacks. >> reporter: yes, i think if this indeed is confirmed -- and i think the line that reuters is quoting -- i think they are quoting perhaps the [ inaudible ] news agency. this is the news agency if you will for isil. if that's the case, i think it will play in what the turkish government is saying that it is indeed subjected to a terror campaign, quote unquote. because they say that isil as well as the pkk are united in their effort against turkey. this statement came after saturday's bombing in istanbul.
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and they will say that turkey is not supporting other foreign fighters going into syria or lesing them slip into syria and back, turkey is a victim of that group as well. >> all right. thanks very much omar. isil has claimed responsibility for the attacks in brussels. since the paris attacks in november, belgium has been on high alert. 130 people were killed in november when gunmen attacked sites across the capitol. it was believed those attacks were planned in brussels. since then there have been a number of raids and arresting people believed to be involved. but last week they were able to
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capture the key suspect, salah abdeslam. belgian has the highest number of foreign fighters in syria per capita, when compared to other western nations. let's talk to our senior political analyst. we have been speculating that isil was behind this attack. now it does appear tt we have got confirmation that they are claiming responsibility. >> as i said this is part of a pattern. and it does confirm that isil is also responsible for this. now this is going to have serious implications. first and for most as we have been hearing throughout the day, the security apparatuses are going to be taking harsher
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measures, tightening their grip on borders and various public space within europe. unfortunately, i think this will also play into the kind of xenophobic nationalism in europe. it will empower the radical right groups within the continent and lead to the rise of that kind of terribly extremist right-wing, and i think that in turn will unfortunately lead to morris lam phobia, and zdeno phobia within the country. and that will be terribly unfortunate because muslims are the target again. i think this is part and parcel of the isil strategy, which is putting muslims in a bind like
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that. so the last implication, which of course will depend on how the various western and middle eastern partners will act is maybe it will add to the urgency to act faster and with more umph against isil. >> brussel is going to want to show a strong response. as we saw after paris. are we now likely to see more european involvement? >> if you remember the entire syrian issue happened right after the paris attacks. there was a summit in istanbul, the go-20 and the french were very eager to get everyone on board and it happened. >> hum. >> i think this attack as well, on the capitol of europe, brussels will probably add to the urgency that something must be done quicker and faster, and
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none of this, though, today we had 17 targets in syria and iraq. i think people throughout the world indeed need to start taking this threat seriously, and not only through military means as we have been saying and preaching and so on and so forth, that there needs to be a serious look at the way they are responding, there has to be stability and military answer to that kind of threat. >> but it's a delicate balance, isn't it? because we're also -- like you say, there has been backlash against muslim communities, and the rise of the far right parties. so how does europe as a whole balance those two aspects of this challenge? >> just by looking at the attack in istanbul and other attacks
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within a pattern, for me what is clear is that isil is first and foremost the enemy of muslims. it's not unislamic. it's an enemy of muslims throughout the world. because it considers all of them not true believers and doesn't take them seriously as belonging to the same faith as they are, as evil as their faith may be, by carrying out those kinds of attacks. so clearly muslims are the victims and the enemy of isil. and if you take a good look flout the world, you will fine that the absolute, absolute, absolute majority of all muslims condemn, and consider isil a horrible terrorist organization. unfortunately the first instinct in places like europe and elsewhere will be to start
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thinking of muslims as the problem. when in reality they are the answer for dealing with this kind of threat. they need the kind of stability and citizenship afforded to everyone. >> thanks very much for joining us here on set. thank you. well, attacks targeting aircrafts in airports are not new. with every major incident, officials have introduced a new level of security. >> reporter: most airports worldwide boast some of the tightest security. it wasn't always so. 9/11 was a watershed. after the jet hijackings in 2001, airline passengers were banned from carrying knives or sharp objects in their hands. later richard reid tried to ignite explosives hidden his in shoes.
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x ray screening for footwear was then introduced. british police foiled a attempt of a liquid explosion. in 2009 another flight was targeted, this man attempted to blow up using a bomb concealed in his underwear. today many airports use full body scanners. it stirs a debate about the loss of privacy. >> the cells in their preplanning operation will first identify the best targets, and then they will look -- for security, and if there is a lot of security there, they are probably not going to attack it. they are going to go at the easiest target. public transportation is
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generally an easy target. >> reporter: the blast targeted an check in counter. some airports around the world already force people to have their bags scanned before entering terminals. now questions are being asked about what is next for travelers? >> how far do we have to go with security? do we have to have procedures to even get into a check-in desk? you can understand the problems this would cause. this could be one step that would have to be taken. >> reporter: one again that shows how attackers who are determined to challenge and undermine aviation safety appear to be one step ahead. gerald tan, al jazeera. okay. let's remind you of our key points that have been developing. isil claiming responsibility for the brussels attacks. belgian's prosecutor saying:
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two explosions went off of the terminal and there was one explosion about an hour later on the metro underground network. the metro has been closed down. we were hearing reports of a number of stations opening within the last hour. at least 34 people have been killed. many more have been injured. the mayor of brussels says 20 of those deaths, the majority of them were in that explosion on the metro station at mallbeck station. first of all, can you tell us where you were this morning as those attacks took place? >> well, i was just leaving for the european parliament when the [ inaudible ] belgium came of
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the bomb attack at the airport. so i watched the report and saw the devastation. and it is a very open environment there, you are not checked before you go in, so how that bombing could have taken place. i then travelled to the european parliament and came through the underground station. and as i was outside, i ran home. i have a family, and i wanted to be with my family and my two children before they went to school to reassure them. went into the european parliament and then within a matter of minutes on my phone came the news at that very underground station the bomb had gone off. and i have to say i'm a pretty experienced politician and i'm used to dealing with difficult problems, but to be caught up in
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this myself, it was chilling, and i and many of my colleagues are shaken by the experience. >> i'm surprised. it sounds as if you had a very narrow escape not once but twice. >> well, not just myself, i mean the building in brussels which is now in lockdown, it is absolutely empty. soldiers at the entrance, and my colleague is worried about her friends and colleagues. she is checking to see if everyone was supposed to be at work today actually did arrive. in the meeting -- i will just say this about our response. in the meeting we had a minute of silence, and then we decided to continue with the business. there was this spontaneous round of applause. and we did continue with the vote, and democracy won,
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terrorism lost. >> what is europe's response to these attacks? >> well, i think you have been reporting the various positions. of course condemnation of the atrocities, of the murders, and then deep condolences and sympathies for those who have died and their families. and that's the first response when an outrage normally you are not in the middle of, we are, but the response is the same one, a human response to what is a human tragedy. and terrorists should remember, and anyone tempted by terrorism should remember these are innocents civilians traveling going about their business, and they should not be the targets of vie lanes attacks and murder. >> richard we really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us her on al jazeera.
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the u.s. president, barack obama has responded to these brussel attacks. our correspondent patty culhane has been following his trip through cuba. patty he had a well-planned speech addressing the cuban people, but of course, he had to deviate at the beginning to respond to these attacks. >> reporter: he did the white is very anxious to show that the president is on top of the situation. he was on the phone, we know to the prime minister of belgium offering whatever support the united states agencies can help with, and as you mentioned, before he even began his planned and much-anticipated speech here at the arena behind me, he did want to talk about the attacks. here is what he had to say.
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>> the thoughts and prayers of the american people are with the people of belgium. and we stand in solidarity with them in condemning these outrageous attacks against innocent people. we will do whaef -- whatever is necessary in bringing to justice those responsible. and we world must unite, we must be together, regardless of nationality or race or faith in fighting against the scourge of terrorism. we can and will defeat those who threaten the peace and security of people all around the world. >> we have been hearing a claim of responsibility from isil. that is unlikely to come as any surprise to u.s. officials, is it? >> reporter: exactly. and one of the things they are going to be concerned about, is every time we have seen an
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attack, for example, the paris attack, the american people get incredibly anxious. after paris the level of fear that the americans felt was pretty much similar to after 9/11. and they feel like an attack like this is imminent in the united states. and that leads to political pressure. because the majority of americans say they don't agree with the pay the president is responding in the fight with islamic state of iraq and the levant. now that it has happened again will it force the president to consider taking other steps? we know the u.s. military has been trying to pressure him to do just that. so the white house is going to be watching the public reaction, because that does have an impact on the president's thinking. >> patty thank you very much. we're going to talk more about this historic visit to cuba.
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lucia how did cubans respond to this speech? because it was directed at them. >> reporter: we were watching this speech with a cuban family, and people in that house and in probably every other household here in havana, people were watching very quietly. fan -- fascinating by what they were seeing. they said they were very moved by what the president had to say. let's hear what else he had to say. >> as president of the united states i have called on our congress to lift the embargo. [ cheers and applause ] >> it is an outdated burden on the cuban people, it's a burden
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on the americans who want to work or do business or invest here in cuba. it's time to lift the embargo. but even if we lifted the embargo tomorrow, cubans would not realize their poept shall without continued change here in cuba. >> lucia about obama meeting with dissidents what are we hearing about that? >> reporter: laura, i just wanted to also add before i get to that, that in the speech, president obama also underscored the differences between both countries, particularly in the area of human righting. he challenged president castro not to fear the voice of his people, then he ended by saying anned a address to the cuban people, yes, you can, and with that he whizzed off with the u.s. embassy, where -- he is right now meeting with
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disdengeds. we understand a lot of those dissidents were picked up by cars spent by the u.s. ambassador -- embassy earlier this morning so they could take place in this meeting that is taking place right now. >> all right. thank you very much, lucia. we can cross now to new york and speak to a professor of sociology at the city university of new york. we heard from our correspondent lucia, that obama challenged raul castro in that speech not to fear the voice of the cuban people. to what extent, though, does he still fear their voices? >> i think that there is a real fear of cubans being able to express themselves. that has been something historic and on the outside the boundaries of what is acceptable within the revolution.
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protests and demonstrations have not generally been accepted, so i think that we're not going to see a change in that necessarily with this statement by obama, but i also think that there is a wide range of critique taking place in cuba that is not usually reflected in the u.s. news media. we don't hear about the gay and lesbian, all of the people who were speaking out in cuba, making their voices heard within the country. >> that's quite interesting -- [ overlapping speakers ] >> yeah. and as we were -- as obama was arriving there were more arrests of dissidents at a regular weekly protest. some of whom, the president is now speaking to. so how is the government going to react to that? >> this has been the reaction of
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the government to people who want to speak out by cracking down and putting them in prison. but i think there is a disproportionate focus on those people by the western media in general, and there are also a very large number of people who i think are able to have their voices heard and find different ways to do it. they work within the government channels that are approved, and they say quite critical things, things that if they were to stand out on the street they would be arrested. >> raul castro got challenged directly for political prisoners, and he said live me a list. i'll release all of them by the end of the night. did we hear any follow-up on that. >> well, of course, on twitter people were giving the lists,
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saying these are the ones that should be released. and who knows on december 14th, 2014, when the announcement was first made, there were political prisoners released at that time. it's hard to say whether or not anything will happen right now, but i think that -- you know, that there is definitely possibility for more opening and continued dialogue around that question. >> let's look at the embargo a bit. obama saying he had been able to make technical adjustments to it. but he is very hamstrung, isn't he by congress. so is that likely to happen any time soon? >> i think it's very hard to say what is going to happen. there is definitely a lot of pressure. and the pressure since 2014 has been building to get rid of the embargo, to try to -- you know, and from all kinds of groups
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those on the left and the right-wing of the political spectrum. i think that the feeling that this is a really outdated and harmful policy is up with that is felt much more broadly and has been probably now at the speak of that feeling, and one would hoech that that kind of sentiment would be enough to push towards the ending, but then the way that obama is hamstrung here it's hard to say whether it could actually happen. >> there are a lot of critics of this visit. cuban americans specifically. that are quite angry that obama has gone to cuba whilst the castros are still in power. >> yes, and in one sense we would argue this has happened because they are in somewhat of a weaker position.
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they are increasingly needing to rely on the investment opportunities coming from the u.s. at the same time they have been able to maintain some degree of sovereignty and dignity going intohis process. many have argued that unless it becomes a multi-party democracy, we don't want to have dialogue. >> as this embargo remains in place, the u.s. is going to have to do an awful lot of work catching up to china. china already has massive hold over cuba's internet provider. and they have to move quickly if
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it wants to get in there. >> well, they do, but also, the main internet provision for cuba right now comes from venezuela. the main cable that provides internet access on the island is through a fiber optic cable provided by venezuela in 2011. and i have heard that obama is going to make an announcement about a possible internet deal with google. now there is also a lot of concern not just from the cuban government, but from a lot of cuban internet advocates who are argues they don't netly want goggle to provide the access, because they say there have been a whole lot of security and privacy issues. we're concerned about the way in which surveillance happens through the internet. and they are hesitant to open their internet structure to a company like google.
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>> how much of obama's work building these bridges is going to stay in place? how tenuous is it? there is another president coming in just in a matter of months. >> i'm sorry i missed the last bit of what you said. >> how much of obama's work to build bridges is likely to be undone by the next president? >> well, i think that there is definitely an economic impetus that is already into play. a lot of business delegations have gone to cuba with obama. and have been trying to make, you know, different kinds of connections. i think there is definitely from the business side of things an imtatis that is being received in different ways. many cubans are quite critical of this move. that is under play. there are diplomatic and cultural and things underway that will have to be rolled back
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under a future generation. >> thank you very much. of course the big news of the day is the brussels attacks and we have heard just in the past hour, al jazeera america claiming res -- isil claiming responsible, saying it was behind the attacks. there were two explosions going off at the metro terminal. the airport will remain shut on wednesday. also an explosion at the station on the metro underground network. brussels metro has of course been closed down, but we have had reports in the past hour that some stations have been open. that hasn't been confirmed yet. total death toll 34 people, many more injured. the majority of those people, we understand to have been killed
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20 people killed in the explosion at the station. those are the events of the day in brussels. our main news here on al jazeera. ♪ >> -- was behind separate attacks in the belgian capitol. two explosions went off at the in brussels. here another explosion at the station on the metro underground network. and are these the men who belgian police think were behind the attacks? ♪ good to have you along, you