Skip to main content

tv   The Situation Room  CNN  January 15, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm PST

2:00 pm
appear in court tomorrow. >> alexandra field in cincinnati thanks for that report. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i now turn you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." wolf? a deadly raid thwarts what officials say are major imminent attacks by jihadis back from syria. what were their ties to isis? growing threat. fear of terror attacks across europe as militants return from training with the islamic state. how many cells are waiting to strike? and most wanted woman. new details of the intense search for the girlfriend of one of the paris terrorists. what important clues are investigators picking up from her cell phone? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." let's get right to the breaking news. a deadly anti-terror raid in belgium, where officials now say jihadis who had returned from syria were poised to launch major terror attacks on orders from isis.
2:01 pm
there was a fierce shootout and two terror suspects were killed a third was taken into custody. a belgian official now tells cnn anti-terrorism operations are under way right now in other cities throughout belgium. we are covering breaking news with our correspondents our guests including the state department deputy spokeswoman. let's begin with cnn's john berman. he's in paris and has just obtained new information on the belgium terror raid. what are you finding out? >> reporter: wolf ten separate raids in four belgian cities one specifically targeted at what officials are calling an operational terror cell planning an imminent major attack on belgian targets. not only that the members of this cell the individuals had returned from syria, where they had been fighting alongside isis. this is the exact scenario that so many intelligence officials in so many countries have feared.
2:02 pm
in the dark of night, gunfire breaks out as police stage an anti-terror operation in belgium. belgian authorities say the terror suspects who had returned from syria were armed with ak-47s and were about to launch terror attacks on a grand scale. >> translator: the investigation made it possible to determine that the group was about to carry out major terrorist attacks in belgium imminently. >> reporter: that prompted belgium to raise its terror alert level. this raid comes amid heightened alerts across europe following the terror attacks in france. investigators are looking for clues left behind by the paris gunmen to see if there are any potential accomplices still on the loose. cnn has learned that ten days before his siege on the kosher market in paris, amedy coulibaly and his girlfriend drove from france to spain. they stayed in madrid for three days before coulibaly drove back
2:03 pm
to france. that same day, hayat boumeddiene flew to istanbul with another man, seen in this airport video. french media reports investigators found a stash of weapons, explosives and two isis flags when they raided coulibaly's suspected hideout over the weekend. authorities also found keys to a motorbike. that helped them identify a suspected accomplice who was believed to have driven coulibaly to the market where he later shot and killed four people. officials also following the money trail. a french newspaper reports coulibaly got a loan for $7,000 from a bank in northern france in december. the bank told the paper he provided the documents needed, including a valid i.d. card. >> the question is what were the other sources of funds that this individual had. was somebody providing funds to be able to sustain him month to month? >> reporter: coulibaly was friends of cherif and said kouachi, the gunmen in the
2:04 pm
"charlie hebdo" shooting. u.s. officials have told cnn the brothers may have received up to $20,000 from al qaeda in the arabian peninsula to fund their attack. the raid against the operational cell in belgium took place in the town of verviers about four hours where i'm standing right now. two terror suspects are dead one terror suspect is in custody. the news conference where they announced this raid and the one person in custody was kept deliberately short, officials say. they did not want to release too many details because these operations are continuing. wolf? >> john berman in paris, thank you. let's get some more now on the breaking news from belgium. the journalist chris burns is joining us on the phone from brussels. chris used to work with us here at cnn. what else are you hearing, chris? >> reporter: wolf yes, these operations are continuing. in fact just in the last hour or so we have seen through belgian media that the police have moved in on a building in a
2:05 pm
neighborhood in brussels. they found explosives but the people who were there, who had been living there, were not. they are at large. the police are looking for them. there was a second police operation in verviers this evening after that first one. they moved in on a building there. no further details at this point, but these operations continue. ten, about ten different searches were done and this is really not the first time. this has been going on for weeks. the police were looking for people who had been coming back from syria who had connections with islamic extremists. this is just the most dramatic one that has happened so far. and because this happened today, because also they found that amedy coulibaly had come here to buy weapons for those attacks in paris, that they decided to move in on these suspects in verviers and also to raise the terror
2:06 pm
threat level up to 3. that's 3 out of 4. so the police alert is much higher now this evening than it was earlier today. >> so clearly, chris, the sweeping operations throughout belgium today are connected with what happened in paris last week even if there's no direct connection between the terror suspects being arrested today or having been killed to those paris shootings. >> reporter: yes, exactly. this is the missing link that we're all kind of wondering about. is there a link there. we do know that coulibaly came here and bought weapons. we know that the police have been moving up and stepping up and ramping up their searches today in the wake of what happened in paris. so could there be a connection there, we don't know. again, the press conference this evening said we don't want to give you too many details, we don't want to blow the cover of what we're doing now, but we'll talk to you tomorrow, give you
2:07 pm
more details. so we might find out more tomorrow. >> i have heard some reports, chris, that the operations were intended to go after belgian police but do you know anything else about potential targets of these terrorists? >> reporter: no. that's another thing. it's really not known, though keep in mind for instance back in may, the jewish museum here in brussels was attacked and four people were killed. so it's anybody's guess what could be targets here. there are european institutions here there's nato here there are all kinds of potential imaginary targets that could be gone after. but so far, officials have not named any direct targets yet. but obviously they are very nervous about what can happen. >> we know how the people of france reacted last week. how are the people of belgium reacting today? >> reporter: well things could change in the next day or so. so far, what i see on the streets is that people are quite calm. the subways are running,
2:08 pm
although there was an incident today on the subway where some crazed gentleman was yelling allahu akbar and was arrested because he had a weapon in his hand. nothing went further than that. people have been going on with their business and that's how it's been up to now. now, after what happened in verviers perhaps people will be a little more edgy from now on. >> i assume jewish schools, museums, institutions kosher supermarkets they are getting extra security in belgium, right? >> reporter: i have seen some places ever since the may attack on the jewish museum there has been stepped-up security but i think most of it is quite discreet. it's not heavy, heavy security but then again, that could change after what's happened in the last week or so. >> chris burns on the scene in brussels for us. we will get back to you, chris. thank you very much. the belgium raid is underscoring the growing concern about
2:09 pm
militants returning from syria to carry out attacks in europe. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr is getting new information as well. barbara, the strategy against isis in syria, how is it playing out? >> reporter: well it starts with who's involved here and what the u.s. intelligence community now believes is more than 3,000 foreign fighters many of them westerners a small amount but pardon me, let me start again. i want to be very clear. about 3,000 westerners have in fact gone to syria in recent months and that alone is reason for plenty of concern. in the fight against isis in syria and iraq air strikes by drones or fighter jets can only do so much to suppress the threat of terrorism. >> the d.o.d. approach is not to defeat isis from the air. the intent is to inhibit isis to slow isis down to give a ground force time to be trained because a ground force will be required.
2:10 pm
>> reporter: in syria, where isis still controls that swath of territory, it could take years to get syrian opposition forces on the ground fully trained and committed to the fight. but the obama administration has said any ground forces won't come from the u.s. so the answer for now is air strikes that punish the enemy but fail to land a knockout punch. >> you can't control territory. you can't influence people. you can't maintain lines of control after you have established them. that will take a ground force. >> reporter: even before al qaeda in yemen claimed responsibility for the paris attacks, the pentagon was quietly trying to figure out new ways to thwart al qaeda's most dangerous affiliate. a frustrating answer came back. no new military options are really out there. the major military tool against al qaeda in yemen remains unchanged. drone attacks using hellfire
2:11 pm
missiles. drones have killed nearly 1,000 militants in yemen during the obama administration according to the new america foundation. the biggest success, september 2011 when american-born cleric anwar al awlaki was killed. >> if you look at all these places there's a common thread and that's governance. if you have good governance you have a government that can control its territory, then extremist groups have a difficult time operating. you can't get it with drone strikes. drone strikes is equivalent to mowing the grass. you can kill some extremists that way, you can keep perhaps a lid on their capabilities but you cannot eliminate the groups. >> reporter: there may be a bright spot in all of this believe it or not. u.s. officials believe that isis' progress across the border in iraq has been stalled somewhat by the air strikes. they say the real difference is they are able to work with iraqi units on the ground. there are problems with those iraqi units but at least they
2:12 pm
have them on the ground and that has helped. >> they have kurdish forces as well who are trying to be helpful, more so i suspect in iraq than in syria, right? >> reporter: absolutely. there's a very different picture. air strikes in syria having very limited effect because of course, you can't really do much in syria other than try and degrade, if you will stop isis in its tracks a little bit across the border in syria between the iraqi forces, the peshmerga and kurdish air strikes, they believe they are having more success. >> let's talk about all of this with the state department deputy spokeswoman, who is here in "the situation room." thanks very much for coming in. >> happy to be here. >> i assume there's very close coordination between the united states and belgium on what's going on right now. what can you tell us? >> absolutely. and there are still a lot of unknowns about what's happened here. if there was any link to what happened in paris and exactly who these people were that the belgian government was targeting
2:13 pm
but certainly close cooperation. we are working with all of our european partners on this issue of foreign fighters. >> the working assumption is the belgian authorities decided to sweep down on these suspected terrorists because of what happened in paris last week. is that the u.s. assumption? >> i think the belgians can probably speak to why they decided now was the right time to undertake this counterterrorism operation. we know our partners are tracking these foreign fighters who may have gone to syria or iraq and came back to western europe and if they think they need to take action certainly those are decisions they are going to make. >> these operations we are also told may be in 10 or 12 different locations, they are still continuing? >> it's my sense they are ongoing so i don't want to get too far ahead of it but absolutely, if they feel like they need to move against these targets, then i'm sure they will explain why now and really give some more information as that comes up. >> the united states has a heavy diplomatic presence in belgium, not only u.s. ambassador in brussels to the country of belgium but the u.s. ambassador to nato separate ambassador to
2:14 pm
the the europeans. i assume security is being tightened all over the place? >> we are looking at that right now. to my knowledge, there is no change in security. security is always pretty high for american facilities overseas. >> has there been any change in the travel advisories for american citizens wanting to visit belgium or france or other places in europe? >> there hasn't been. we put out on a regular basis advisories about americans traveling overseas what they should be on the lookout for, particularly since what we have seen in places like sydney and ottawa and paris, some of these cities where we haven't had these attacks really before for people to be on the lookout and be aware of what's going on. but certainly, people should still travel there if they want. >> i know your boss, the secretary of state, john kerry, is in paris right now. i want to talk to you about that. stand by. we will take a quick break. we are following the breaking news a sweep of terror operations under way in belgium right now, even as we speak.
2:15 pm
[ female announcer ] we help make secure financial tomorrows a reality for over 19 million people. [ mom ] with life insurance, we're not just insuring our lives... we're helping protect his. [ female announcer ] everyone has a moment when tomorrow becomes real. transamerica. transform tomorrow. ♪ ♪ ♪ you're only young once. unless you have a subaru. (announcer) the subaru xv crosstrek. symmetrical all-wheel drive plus 34 mpg. love. it's what makes a subaru a subaru. ♪ nice! gr-reat! a shot like that... calls for a post-game celebration. share what you love with who you love.
2:16 pm
kellogg's frosted flakes. they're gr-r-reat! [ hoof beats ] i wish... please, please, please, please, please. [ male announcer ] the wish we wish above health. so we quit selling cigarettes in our cvs pharmacies. expanded minuteclinic for walk-in medical care. and created programs that encourage people to take their medications regularly. introducing cvs health. a new purpose. a new promise... to help all those wishes come true. cvs health. because health is everything. (soft, calm music.) hi, you've reached emma. i'm out of the office right now, but will get back to you just as soon as i possibly can. your call is important to me. join us for exclusive discovery at sea experiences. enjoy cruises from $499 during our 50th anniversary sale. call your travel consultant or 1-800-princess.
2:17 pm
princess cruises. come back new. major: ok fitness class! here's our new trainer ensure active heart health. crowd: yayyyy! heart: i'm going to focus on the heart. i minimize my sodium and fat... gotta keep it lean and mean. pear: uh-oh. heart: i maximize good stuff like my potassium... and phytosterols, which may help lower cholesterol. major: i'm feeling energized already. new delicious ensure active heart health supports your heart and body, so you stay active and strong. ensure. take life in.
2:18 pm
2:19 pm
we are following the breaking news the deadly raid in belgium that officials say foiled imminent terror attacks. a source telling cnn the terrorist cell that was targeted was acting on orders directly from isis and that members have recently traveled to syria and then found their way back to belgium. we are back with the state department deputy spokeswoman, marie harf. the secretary of state john kerry is in paris right now. what's his mission? >> he is. he is there to directly express condolences with the french government and the french people. i think he said today in a press
2:20 pm
availability to give a big hug to the french people. >> is this because the u.s. sort of neglected that rally last sunday he's trying to make up for that? >> i wouldn't put it that way. we have done a number of things to show solidarity with the french people since those awful attacks and he will be meeting with french president hollande and really be saying very directly to them the u.s. stands by you. we have done a number of things to show that though certainly beyond that march. >> is he going to go from paris to brussels to meet with the belgium leadership? >> i don't have any travel to announce. he was scheduled to come home to the united states. obviously his schedule could always change. but he is looking forward to being in paris as you know he has a long history with paris, speaks french spoke directly to the french people the day of the attack. i think tomorrow will be a very moving day and one really for the u.s. to stand by france. >> given the border situation throughout europe you can travel from one country, from france into belgium, into germany, you don't need passports, you don't even go through border control. there's a lot of concern here in congress as you know i have
2:21 pm
heard many members of congress they are wondering if this non-visa provision that europeans can simply get on a plane and fly to the united states is worthy of taking another look at right now. given what's going on. >> well it's not as simple as just getting on a plane and coming to the u.s. even if you have a passport of a country that has a visa waiver as part of that program, you still have to apply online for a visa. if you are on some sort of watch list you won't get one and you won't be able to travel. so really what the visa waiver program does is actually help focus us on people that really are threats. if you can imagine the number of people from france or other countries that travel to the u.s. it just is a huge number of people. this program really focuses us on people we think may be threats. >> i thought if it's a waiver program, you don't need a visa. if you are a french or british citizen or german citizen, you can just get on the plane and fly to the united states without a visa. you don't need a visa. >> you actually can't. i have done a little digging into this recently because of some of the comments that have been made. you have to go online it's
2:22 pm
basically you have to do it online instead of going into a u.s. embassy and if there's no red flags, then you are able to travel. you are absolutely right. but if there are red flags, you cannot get on a plane and come to the united states. so there are still ways to track people and again, it really focuses us on those tough cases, those red flagged cases that we really need to focus on. >> let's hypothetically say these two terrorists who were killed the two brothers said and cherif kouachi, they were both french citizens both born in france if they had wanted to come to the united states would they have been allowed to come to the united states? were they on a no-fly list or anything like that? >> as i said before we don't always confirm publicly who was on those lists but if they had been on those lists -- >> these guys are dead now. >> i understand that. but if they had been on those lists, they would not have been able to travel to the united states. >> but do we know? can you tell us if they were on that do not enter list into the united states? even though they were french citizens? >> for a variety of reasons, we don't confirm who is on that list publicly but again, to be very clear, if they were on the list they couldn't travel. >> we reported they were on
2:23 pm
those lists. the only question maybe i'm -- i don't understand why the state department would not want to simply confirm that. >> first of all, it's not a state department list. but we don't for a variety of reasons, some of which involve privacy but some of which involve intelligence sources method gathering of information, we don't make those lists public. but if they had been on them they wouldn't have been able to travel here. >> if an american citizen goes to syria now and comes back to the united states is he or she automatically under surveillance? >> well without going into specifics, i can assure you and assure the american people that if people travel to syria that are americans, if we know about it, we will keep a pretty close eye on them. obviously i think for pretty common sense reasons. >> so they could simply assume they are going to be watched by the united states? >> well i don't want to get into specifics on that obviously. but we would clearly have concerns if someone went to syria that was an american and we have information that they may have been involved in terrorist activities. certainly we would have concerns and i'm sure want to follow up
2:24 pm
with them. >> would they at a minimum be questioned by fbi or law enforcement authorities upon their return? >> well, i don't want to speak for my law enforcement colleagues but i'm confident if someone went to syria and we thought they had fought with terrorist organizations we would probably have some questions for them. >> as usual, thanks very much for coming in. >> thanks for having me. >> the deputy spokeswoman at the state department. more breaking news coming up. we are going back live to paris for the latest on the terror raid and officials say foiled imminent attacks. plus the hunt for the world's most wanted woman right now. are investigators closing in on this suspected terrorist? at ally bank no branches equals great rates. it's a fact. kind of like mute buttons equal danger. ...that sound good? not being on this phone call sounds good. it's not muted. was that you jason? it was geoffrey! it was jason. it could've been brenda.
2:25 pm
please! no. for those headaches that just aren't bad enough for a lot of medicine, there's new excedrin mild headache. 35% less medicine plus a booster to end everyday headaches fast. please! oh, what a headache! headache's gone.
2:26 pm
excedrin mild headache. wow, that was fast! sheila! you see this ball control? you see this right? it's 80% confidence and 64% knee brace. that's more... shh... i know that's more than 100%. but that's what winners give. now bicycle kick your old 401(k) into an ira. i know, i know. listen, just get td ameritrade's rollover consultants on the horn. they'll guide you through the whole process. it's simple. even she could do it. whatever, janet. for all the confidence you need. td ameritrade. you got this. i have great credit. how do you know? duh. try credit karma. it's free and you can see what your score is right now . i just got my free credit score! credit karma. really free.
2:27 pm
female announcer: during sleep train's huge year end clearance sale, get beautyrest, posturepedic even tempur-pedic mattress sets at low clearance prices. plus, free same-day delivery, set-up and removal of your old set. and through monday, get 3 years interest-free
2:28 pm
financing on selected models. but hurry! this special financing offer ends martin luther king jr. day. don't miss the year end clearance sale at sleep train. ♪ your ticket to a better night's sleep ♪ hey, jennar fuzz mike troober munny sling... awwwwww scram! i'm crust mike jubby roll bond chow gonna lean up an kiss bet. peas charty get town down. [laughter] ♪ borf a liver tute face stummy wag ♪ pow pam sha-beeps stella nerf berms. saxa-nay nay? badumps a head. temexiss gurrin. juppa left. fluppa jown! brone a brood. what? catch up on what everyone's talking about with the x1 entertainment operating system. preloaded with the latest episodes of the top 100 shows. only from xfinity.
2:29 pm
we are following the breaking news officials now say they foiled an imminent imminent terror attack linked directly to isis. anti-terror raids across belgium today resulted in a deadly shootout with jihadists. reports say they had returned from syria and were armed with automatic weapons. our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto is keeping track of these late-breaking developments. what are you hearing, jim? >> reporter: wolf this was a national operation, ten raids across four cities including the capital, brussels acting now because as you say, they were concerned that an attack was in the final stages of planning. the target a police station and they knew that these suspects had guns. that's where in verviers you had that gun battle result from this raid. the concern is that many of these were returning fighters from syria with direct ties to isis. this has been the nightmare scenario in europe the front
2:30 pm
lines of that war in syria and iraq extended to western europe and that appears to be the case tonight. great concern, but police feeling that they might have foiled a plot at least with this activity tonight. they have had these groups under surveillance for a number of weeks and one thing to note police saying no tie between these raids tonight and the paris attacks but i can tell you, wolf that it could be a sign of just how counterterror forces in europe are on much higher alert following the attacks here taking steps they might not have taken in the past because of the heightened concern of terror. wolf? >> it certainly is true. thanks very much jim sciutto. let's get some more on the breaking news. joining us in "the situation room" cnn terrorism analyst paul cruickshank, cnn intelligence and security analyst bob baer a former cia operative. our law enforcement analyst tom fuentes is former assistant director of the fbi. and jean-pierre villeaux from the paris school of international affairs.
2:31 pm
to all of you, thanks very much for joining us. paul, i know you have been working your sources in belgium very very carefully. i understand recently european intelligence reports warned of isis attacks coming from european extremists who recently came back from syria. what more can you tell us? >> yes, wolf i have been talking to a senior belgium counterterrorism official. he tells me they suspect this group traveled to syria, came back from syria, that when they were in syria they connected with isis there and they also suspect that isis directed them to launch an attack in belgium, in europe to retaliate for these air strikes. of course belgium has been part of that coalition. belgium has been launching air strikes on isis in iraq. so that's their assessment. there is real concern that isis is pivoting now towards launching attacks in the west using that very considerable resources, their training camps, their access to european recruits in syria, the large cash reserves that they have to launch a campaign of attacks in
2:32 pm
europe and this just may be the start. there is also concern of returning fighters to other countries, not just belgium. i was told about britain and france as well there being high concern about isis directed plots potentially in those countries. this is all a very fluid situation. it's far from clear if the danger has yet been neutralized in belgium. they have been trying to round up as many people as they can. the concern was that they may have been accelerating their plans because of what we saw play out on the streets of france a week ago. i think there may be some one-upmanship as well because france appears to be connected to aqap in some way and their big rival, isis these guys in brussels may have wanted to also launch their attack to show the relevance of isis as well here. >> i want to bring tom fuentes in. as you know last may, a frenchman left france went to belgium, wound up shooting people at the jewish museum in brussels killing four people. how do authorities deal with
2:33 pm
this kind of terror threat? >> well they hope they can identify who the threat is who went who came back wolf. in most cases, they are able to but in many they're not. when you look at the sheer volume of hundreds and hundreds going from europe to syria and iraq and then really thousands from 50 different countries in the world, that means these individuals are going to go back to their home countries or a neighboring country if they can speak the language and pose a threat. and the authorities have to figure out who's going to do it when are they going to do it how do they follow them who do they follow who do they wiretap and it's not easy. they are making hard choices. >> jean-pierre, i spoke with congressman ed royce the other day, chairman of the house foreign affairs committee. he told me the u.s. originally told france about said kouachi but france eventually stopped surveillance of him after about four years. what was going on? why would france stop monitoring this guy, who as we all know together with his brother, went into that magazine and killed all those people.
2:34 pm
jean-pierre, can you hear me okay? >> yes, i hear you okay. >> let me repeat the question. why would france stop surveillance of the kouachi brothers? they were surveilling at least one of them for about four years but eventually stopped that kind of surveillance. >> apparently they were eavesdropping for two years until they came back from yemen and nothing suspicious was seen. but what i wanted to say is that i have been warning against european 9/11 for already a year and when i was speaking about 9/11 i was not speaking about the sheer number of casualties but about what is going on now which is a coordinated campaign
2:35 pm
from all over europe and it started in paris and it was foiled by the mass demonstration last sunday it was foiled tonight and i'm so relieved by the preemptive action of the belgian police and i'm really afraid now about attacks taking place in other places in europe germany, italy. i don't know where. but that is really the name of the game today. isis is on the initiative and unfortunately, they are going to try back again and again. >> bob baer it sounds what the professor is saying this is only just the beginning, not only in france or belgium, but in many other parts of europe right now. >> wolf he is absolutely right. french law enforcement officials have told me that they suspect a wave of attacks if you like an isis offensive. you and i have been for six
2:36 pm
months now talking about since we started bombarding isis there is going to be blowback and this is what we're seeing. the belgians pulled the trigger on this raid they realized these people are serious and they realized there's an offensive under way, and i think we will see a lot more of these raids and we are seeing tonight and we will see in other countries all over europe. >> how confident, paul cruickshank, are officials in belgium, and i know you are in touch with them how confident are they that the terrorist suspects there, including the two who were killed one was picked up were not connected to the kouachi brothers or amedy coulibaly or the terrorists who were killed in france? >> well there's no evidence of that that they found yet. i think there was more of a concern that they might be inspired by the events in paris rather than being connected to that terrorist cell in any shape, way or form. after all, the kouachi brothers have that link back to yemen. with this group, the link was to
2:37 pm
syria. they were among the 150 belgians believed to have traveled there 70 back in belgium. every month in belgium, another 15 people they estimate are going off to fight in syria and iraq. and the longer this terrorist safe haven exists there in syria and iraq the more of this kind of thing we are going to see. and right now, when it comes to u.s. air strikes and by other countries in the coalition, we are seeing five ten, 15 air strikes a day, this is not a concerted campaign yet to get rid of this terrorist safe haven in syria and iraq and i think there are big questions now, should more be done to combat isis to drain the safe haven over there of all these terrorist groups. there is also the khorasan group, there is al qaeda there as well and it's posing an unprecedented threat to europe and also potentially a significant threat to the united states. because these europeans, they can get on planes to the united states. >> i want you to stand by everyone stand by. key question will the europeans step up their game right now.
2:38 pm
or simply rely on the united states to get the job done. stand by. we will watch what's going on. we are also learning new information about that female companion of the paris supermarket gunman. she has been to more countries than we first suspected. new information coming into "the situation room." also a surprising new revelation about what led to the arrest of a man who allegedly wanted to bomb the united states capitol. [meow mix jingle slowly and quietly plucks] right on cue. [cat meows] ♪meow, meow, meow, meow...♪ it's more than just a meal it's meow mix mealtime. with great taste and 100% complete nutrition, it's the only one cats ask for by name.
2:39 pm
startup-ny. it's working for new york state. already 55 companies are investing over $98 million dollars and creating over 2100 jobs. from long island to all across upstate new york, more businesses are coming to new york. they are paying no property taxes no corporate taxes no sales taxes. and with over 300 locations, and 3.7 million square feet available, there's a place that's right for your business. see if startup-ny can work for you. go to
2:40 pm
2:41 pm
you're driving along, having a perfectly nice day, when out of nowhere a pick-up truck slams into your brand new car. one second it wasn't there and the next second... boom! you've had your first accident. now you have to make your first claim. so you talk to your insurance company and... boom! you're blindsided for a second time. they won't give you enough money to replace your brand new car. don't
2:42 pm
those people know you're already shaken up? liberty mutual's new car replacement will pay for the entire value of your car plus depreciation. call and for drivers with accident forgiveness, liberty mutual won't raise your rates due to your first accident. switch to liberty mutual insurance and you could save up to $423 dollars. call liberty mutual for a free quote today at see car insurance in a whole new light. liberty mutual insurance.
2:43 pm
we are following breaking news dramatic and deadly anti-terror raids across belgium. officials say they foiled imminent attacks but we also have new details about the international hunt for that female companion of the man who attacked the kosher grocery store in paris, killing four jews. we also now know that shortly before the attack hayat boumeddiene passed through spain and turkey on her way to syria. let's bring in cnn's brian todd who is working this story for us. new information coming in. >> critical new information on hayat boumeddiene's whereabouts. her timeline her actions in those crucial days before the "charlie hebdo" attack. a source close to spanish security services is telling cnn that exactly one week before the magazine attack that puts it on december 31st boumeddiene and her boyfriend, paris gunman amedy coulibaly, drove from paris to madrid. they stayed there a couple of days then he drives back to france she flies from madrid to istanbul and then later makes
2:44 pm
her way to turkey's border with syria. the hunt is now focused on syria but it's just gotten a lot tougher. she may be the only person close to the paris attack plot still alive, and tonight, the hunt for hayat boumeddiene is intensifying. >> right now she looks like the key player in this story. she's alive, as far as we know and her information is vital to cracking this thing open. >> reporter: boumeddiene's movements and transactions are now coming into clearer focus. prosecutors say a belgian man arrested for arms trafficking recently bought a car from boumeddiene. inside his residence, documents that refer to the same type of gun used in paris by amedy coulibaly, boumeddiene's boyfriend, according to belgian media. a source close to spain's security services tells cnn coulibaly and boumeddiene drove from france to madrid on december 31st. the source says coulibaly stayed there until january 2nd five days before the "charlie hebdo" attack then drove back to
2:45 pm
france. boumeddiene flew that same day from madrid to istanbul according to security sources and turkish media. the man with her in this surveillance video in istanbul when she arrived, a turkish official identifies him as 23-year-old belusine from paris. le monde says he may be separated to a separate jihadist cell. officials tell us cell phone pings show boumeddiene slipped into syria a day before coulibaly's standoff in the kosher market. >> i think they will stay in syria in the islamic state. maybe it will be back but i think she prepared the exit for a long time. >> reporter: coulibaly had pledged his support for isis but his lawyer has said the girlfriend was the more radical one. she may be under isis protection. >> she is an asset for isis. she is a very good asset.
2:46 pm
she is a french speaker. maybe she can give advice for new targets. >> reporter: if she's with isis it will be much harder to find her and capture her alive. but a u.s. official says law enforcement agencies from turkey france and the u.s. are working together to track her. >> intelligence there will be all sources. it will be collection of electronic emanations. it will be satellite coverage and certainly human intelligence which is critical. >> that former fbi assistant director says western law enforcement and intelligence agencies will also tap into another network. he says they will try to interrogate western jihadists traveling into and out of syria to see if any of them have spoken to or maybe even seen hayat boumeddiene. wolf? >> so brian, in addition to the turks and the french spanish authorities also are trying to piece together her movements as best as they can, right? >> that's right. tonight, spanish security
2:47 pm
services trying to piece together what boumeddiene and amedy coulibaly did while in madrid where they stayed and crucially, who they were in contact with whether they had any support while they were in madrid. that complicates the investigation tonight. >> this is a woman who as a young teenager used to wear bikinis, then wound up wearing a burqa. amazing story indeed. thanks very very much. coming up stopping terrorism in the united states. we have new details about the foiled plot to bomb the united states capitol. shopping online is as easy as it gets. wouldn't it be great if hiring plumbers, carpenters and even piano tuners were just as simple? thanks to angie's list now it is. start shopping online from a list of top-rated providers. visit today.
2:48 pm
[ male announcer ] eligible for medicare? that's a good thing, but it doesn't cover everything. only about 80% of your part b medical expenses. the rest is up to you. so consider an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan, insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company. like all standardized medicare supplement insurance plans they pick up some of what medicare doesn't pay and could save you in out-of-pocket medical costs.
2:49 pm
call today to request a free decision guide to help you better understand what medicare is all about and which aarp medicare supplement plan works best for you. with these types of plans, you'll be able to visit any doctor or hospital that accepts medicare patients. plus, there are no networks, and virtually no referrals needed. there's a range of plans to choose from, too, and they all travel with you anywhere in the country. join the millions who have already enrolled in the only medicare supplement insurance plans endorsed by aarp an organization serving the needs of people 50 and over for generations... and provided by unitedhealthcare insurance company, which has over 30 years of experience behind it. ♪ ♪ call today. remember medicare supplement insurance helps cover some of what medicare doesn't pay. expenses that could really add up. these kinds of plans
2:50 pm
could save you in out-of-pocket medical costs. you'll be able to choose any doctor who accepts medicare patients. and there are virtually no referrals needed. so don't wait. with all the good years ahead, look for the experience and commitment to go the distance with you. call now to request your free decision guide. this easy-to-understand guide will answer some of your questions and help you find the aarp medicare supplement plan that's right for you.
2:51 pm
we have new details about
2:52 pm
the alleged plot to bomb the university capitol. the fbi says it was ready to go. alexandra field is joining us from cincinnati where the suspect was arrested. what's the latest? >> reporter: the fbi followed the suspect for months but waited until he had the weapons in hand. now his family is speaking out. they're coming to his defense saying their son was not capable of enacting this kind of attack that he wouldn't have the money for it that he rarely left cincinnati that he wouldn't have been able to make it to washington. they believe he was coerced into the whole thing. >> we hope the truth comes out. >> reporter: john and angleel shocked that their son is charged with blowing up the capitol. >> i believe he was coerced. i believe this so-called snitch filled his head with a lot of
2:53 pm
stuff. >> reporter: he says his son recently took up an interest in islam but emphasized its peaceful qualities and never mentioned isis. >> my son is not a monster. i'm not saying that because he's my son. if i thought he was up to something, i would have beat his butt. i would have been the first one to turn him in. >> reporter: he was first brought to the fbi's attention several months ago after social media posts talking about violent jihad. he planned to detonate pipe bombs and shoot people as they threat. a man he believed would be a partner was an fbi informant. the fbi says he told the informant he had contacts overseas he had aligned himself with isis and believed lawmakers were his enemy. the criminal complaint says cornell did not think he would receive isis authorization to conduct a terrorist attack in the united states. but he wanted to reach jihad on his own writing, i believe we should make our own group in alliance with the islamic state
2:54 pm
here and plan operations ourselves. according to investigators, he researched the building and the construction of pipe bombs. wednesday, he purchased two ar-15s and 600 rounds of ammunition from this gun store in cincinnati before fbi agents arrested him in the parking lot. the gun store owner, who was working with authorities, described cornell's demeanor. >> well smoken but soft spoken. lots of questions. a little chatty. if i hadn't been given a warning, i probably would not have been suspected he was up to what he was doing. >> reporter: cnn reached out to his attorney but has not received any response. cornell's bedroom, which he shared with his brother, that of a typical young man with movie posters and video games. the principal at the high school he attended and where he wrestled described him as a normal student saying christopher was not a disruption or a discipline problem in school. a quiet but not overly reserved student who would participate in class, did not withdraw from his
2:55 pm
class work. but now authorities are tracing the steps of the young man accused of a plot to attack his own country. local police are now saying that this young man had been on their radar before. a couple of years he was the soul protester at a 9/11 memorial ceremony saying it was an inside job. he was not arrested for demonstrating. he was believed to be a suspect potentially in a vandalism case. he is facing much more serious charges now. he will be in court tomorrow for a detention hearing followed by a pretrial hearing next week. >> alexandra, we will stay in touch with you. thank you. braining new ingbreaking news coming up. paris, the terror rage in multiple cities across belgium. hey! guess what day it is?? >>hump day! hummmp daaay! it's hump day! >>yeah! >>hey mike! mike mike mike mike mike! >>mike mike mike mike mike.
2:56 pm
hey! he knows! hey! guess what day it is! hey! camel! guess what day it is! >>it's not even wednesday. let it go, phil. if you're a camel, you put up with this all the time. it's what you do. (sigh) if you want to save fifteen percent or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. it's what you do. ok... at ally bank no branches equals great rates. it's a fact. kind of like mute buttons equal danger. ...that sound good? not being on this phone call sounds good. it's not muted. was that you jason? it was geoffrey! it was jason. it could've been brenda. you get sick you can't breathe through your nose suddenly, you're a mouth breather. a mouth breather! well, put on a breathe right strip and shut your mouth. cold medicines open your nose over time, but add a breathe right strip and pow, it opens your nose up to 38% more. so you can breathe and do the one thing you want to do sleep. add breathe right to your cold medicine shut your mouth and sleep right. breathe right. and look for the calming scent of new
2:57 pm
breathe right lavender in the sleep aisle. for fastidious librarian emily skinner, each day was fueled by thorough preparation for events to come. well somewhere along the way emily went right on living. but you see, with the help of her raymond james financial advisor, she had planned for every eventuality. ...which meant she continued to have the means to live on... ...even at the ripe old age of 187. life well planned. see what a raymond james advisor can do for you. female vo: i actually have a whole lot of unused vacation days, but where am i gonna go? i just don't have the money to travel right now. i usually just go back home to see my parents so i can't exactly go globe-trotting. if i had friends to go with i'd go but i don't want to travel by myself. someday. male vo: there are no more excuses. find the hotel you want, and the flight you want,
2:58 pm
and we'll find the savings to get you there. latte or au lait? cozy or cool? exactly the way you want it ... until boom it's bedtime! your mattress is a battleground of thwarted desire. enter the sleep number bed. save $300 on the final close-out of the c3 queen mattress set. he's the softy. his sleep number setting is 35. you're the rock, at 60. and snoring? sleep number's even got an adjustment for that. only at a sleep number store. right now find the lowest prices of the season plus 36 month financing on qualifying purchases. hurry ends monday! know better sleep with sleep number.
2:59 pm
3:00 pm
happening now, breaking news iminnocent attack stopped by anti terrorist groups. they were plotting strikes with instruction directly from isis. we are learning about ten new raids targeting terrorists among fears of another massacre in europe. is there a link to the paris attacks? there's evidence that members of this new terror cell traveled to syria to meet with isis leaders seeking revenge for u.s. air strikes. we're investigating the syria connection. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you are in "the situation room." the breaking news tonight, a
3:01 pm
deadly operation to stop terrorists who were about to carry out attacks in europe after the slaughter in paris. that happened in eastern belgium where shots rang out and two suspects were killed and others taken into cuscustody. they believe they got their instructions from isis. a congressman is standing by joining us live. he is a leading voice in congress on security-related issues. our correspondents and analysts are standing by. first let's go to jim sciutto, the latest from paris. jim? >> reporter: new information just now. a western intelligence source tells cnn it was new leads developed after the attacks here in paris that helped spark tonight's raids in four cities across belgium with particular attention focused on an arms dealer detained earlier in the days. believed to be the man who sold
3:02 pm
the weapons to amedy coulibaly, the man who took hostages at the kosher market in paris, leads developed from the arms dealer helped spark raids tonight. they had them under surveillance but got new information that led them to take action tonight. ten raids in four different cities across belgium, one of them ending in gunfire. gunfire erupting on the streets of a european city. this is eastern belgium tonight as anti-terror police raid the home of suspected terrorists recently back from syria. inside suspects directed by isis armed with can a lish na could haves and planning to attack the local police station. flashlights visible through the window as police fight their way up the stairs. >> translator: this was an investigation looking into an operational cell made up of people some of who were coming back from syria.
3:03 pm
the investigation made it possible to determine that the group was about to carry out major terrorist attacks in belgium imminently. >> reporter: soon anti-terror operations are under way. early early police detaped an arms dealer suspected of selling weapons to amedy coulibaly. including the guns he used to storm the kosher market. coulibaly sold him a car and took out a loan for 6,000 euros from a nearby bank. it's part of a terror crack down leading vest ging investigators around the world. to spain, the last known place where the kosher shop attacker and his companion were seen together late last month. to bulgaria where authorities have arrested a known contact of the kouachi brothers and turkey and syria to search for hayat
3:04 pm
boumeddiene. finally to yemen. with europe on high alert, john kerry arrived in paris. the highest level u.s. official to visit france since violence rocked paris. >> my visit to france is basically to share a big hug with paris and express the affection of the american people for france and for our friends there who have been through a terrible time. >> reporter: highlighting the latest information. these raids taking place tonight and continuing on tonight in belgium following new leads following the attacks here in paris, particular attention to the arms dealer who supplied weapons to amedy coulibaly. belgium police say they had the suspects under surveillance for a number of weeks. but that new information led
3:05 pm
them to act tonight and, wolf i think this is the thing that we will likely see in other countries in europe as authorities who might have suspects terror suspects taking a look at the information they have to see if they need to act now. wolf? >> the anti-terror operations under way still right now not only in belgium but elsewhere in europe as well. thanks very much. sources tell cnn there are new signs that isis has started directing european extremists to launch terrorist attacks back in their home countries in retaliation for u.s.-led air strikes in syria and iraq. let's go to our pentagon to correspondent barbara starr. how concerned is the united states military about isis training foreign fighters to attack the united states? >> the problem seems to be growing literally every day, wolf. now about 19,000 foreign fighters have traveled to syria. about 3,000 of them are
3:06 pm
westerners. so they are people that might be able to return to europe and travel on to the united states without a significant visa requirement. that's the issue. that is the problem. there is concern about what is going on in europe. there is concern it could come here. what you see now is an effort to really get a handle on it work more closely with the europeans, crack down on travel requirements and travel paperwork. the concern is that this problem is only going to grow. >> what steps are you hearing are being taken right now to try to top to stop the potential terrorists. >> the problem is that when they go into syria, you really don't know who they are, where they are, what connections they are making. are they getting ortd ingting orders from isis? are they inspired by the movement? there is almost no intelligence on the ground. there has to be a way officials
3:07 pm
say to find out more about these people. but that is very tough. intercept, communication, intelligence gathering, everything they can do. but it's a tough problem. again, the department of homeland security trying to work with the europeans to crack down more. but i think everyone will tell you, ground zero for this problem is the turkish border. it's porous the major route almost every nation agrees that jihad jihadis are traveling into syria and coming out back through that turkish border. many people will tell you, until the problem at that border is solved and there is control -- more control by the turkish government, there will not be a big ability to change this. >> thanks, barbara starr at the pentagon. let's bring in the congressman, the leading voice on terror and security-related issues. he is the new chairman of the powerful house oversight committee. congressman, thanks for joining
3:08 pm
us. let me get to the last point that barbara just raised this porous border. turkey is a nato ally. yet people can just cross from turkey randomly into syria, get them services aligned with isis then come back and eventually go into europe or even come to the united states. what's going on here? >> it's a deep concern with the visa waiver program. i can tell you i'm very concerned about what's happening or not happening in north africa. libya policy is something i think that's going to come back and haunt us. look at what's happening in mali and nigeria. some of those border issues we know that there are terrorist-type activities, particularly in libya that are happening unimpeded and worry about the intelligence we have coming out of the countries. the threat is very real. we cannot ignore it. it's very real. we have to protect the homeland. >> is the turkish government doing enough to prevent people from crossing into syria? >> i worry.
3:09 pm
i don't understand from the obama administration what the real tactics and game plan and strategy is to deal with syria. i think they have botched this for a long period of time. the situation is getting worse, not better. we look at friends and allies from israel look at what's happening in jordan and the population that has moved nearly half the population of syria has moved into jordan and other places. this is a real problem. to try to keep track of those individual fighters and those who would do harm and mayhem to the united states of america one at a time is a huge monumental task. >> quickly, is turkey doing enough to help in this process? >> look they have been a good friend of the united states of america. is there more we can all do on this front? absolutely. absolutely. they need to do more. we could do more to help them. we need our nato allies to help as well. >> the u.s. is launching air strikes as you know drone strikes. what else do you want the administration to do? >> i want there to be a clear policy of how we're going to
3:10 pm
actually tackle this problem long time. if you were to go ask the obama administration or ask, you know joe six-pack on the street what is our strategy to defeat isis and make thursure they don't come to the united states i don't see a clear strategy. it starts with first identifying what it is this radical view of islam. these people they are spreading. it's not just a lone wolf one or two here. it's actually something that is pervasive. it's global in its nature. we have to fight it. >> because they say the strategy is clear, to degrade and destroy isis. what else specifically would you like to see the u.s. military the cia, other agencies of the u.s. government do right now? >> well today at lunch we were at this republican conference. we had tony blair, one of the great allies of the united states of america. one of the things he talked about is that we have to have these people around the globe who are fighting with us.
3:11 pm
we have to be able to figure out how to fight on the ground and bring these people particularly with ties in the islamic community, that will actually fight this fight. we have not had american leadership we have not had a president who has led in the middle east to build that coalition and defeat isis. it's not happening. not to the degree it has to in order to win. >> let me be -- are you recommending that the u.s. use extensive ground forces to go in there and kill isis? >> what we're saying is that we have not built a coalition. you do not see those partners particularly in the middle east who are willing to take up arms and fight and defeat this radical view of islam who are going out, destroying mayhem taking up ground creating chaos. you can pick up the paper at any given day and you are reading about people being beheaded and killed. the world is a dangerous place. we do not have our partners and people there that are actually helping to take up the arms and
3:12 pm
defeat isis. >> some of the arab allies are joining the u.s. in the air strikes. let's say some of the european allies nato allies were ready to use ground forces. would you support an introduction of the major elements of the united states military on the ground to go into syria and iraq and try to destroy isis? >> we have to have a global plan. it's got to be led in large part by the united states of america and the president of the united states. that strategy has not been laid out. i know what the end looks like. i know what the goal is. we have to unilaterally make sure that we lead the charge and defeat isis. that is a threat to our homeland. it's a threat to world peace and safety. >> i was going to say, congressman, everybody agrees that's the goal to destroy isis. how do you do that? i'm wondering if you would support what the bush administration did, introduce tens of thousands of u.s. combat forces to go in there on the ground to invade and try to
3:13 pm
destroy the enemy. >> i think we have done a terrible job of convincing our partners there in the middle east to actually join up and take arms and help lead the fight. i don't think america necessarily has the appetite to pour hundreds of thousands of people back into the middle east to fight a long and protracted war. we have to understand that this is happening globally. it's not just isolated in one or other place. but we have totally failed to bring along other countries and allow them in their own best interest in their own backyard in their own countries to actually fight this fight. the president has not led on this. >> there may be a change in the aftermath of what has happened in recent days in france and now in belgium. we shall see. are you confident, congressman, that if an american citizen goes to syria, spends time in syria and then comes back to the united states the u.s. government will be aware of this person and potentially could engage in surveillance to make sure this person doesn't engage
3:14 pm
in terrorist activities against the u.s.? >> no absolutely not. this is one of the great fears. a lot of people come over on the airlines easier to track. background information that we can track. but if you look at the porous border on the north and the south, we did have four people on september 10 tied with the terrorist organization that came across the northern border. they got across successfully. we captured them. then what happened? two were released after a court date. then we had to go back and the canadians had to catch them. terrorists have come across our southern borderfully as recently as september. it's very difficult. we have a million people coming into the country on any given day. very difficult job. love the men and women working hard to do this. we do not have a viable entry/exit system in the united states. it has never been implemented. >> i'm sure your committee will investigate this as well.
3:15 pm
we have more to discuss. following breaking news out of belgium, massive sweeps to go ahead and round up terrorist suspects. stay with us. more on the breaking news after this. when it comes to good nutrition...i'm no expert. that would be my daughter -- hi dad. she's a dietitian. and back when i wasn't eating right, she got me drinking boost. it's got a great taste and it helps give me the nutrition i was missing. helping me stay more like me. [ female announcer ] boost complete nutritional drink has 26 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin d to support strong bones and 10 grams of protein to help maintain muscle. all with a delicious taste. grandpa! [ female announcer ] stay strong, stay active with boost. push your enterprise and you can move the world. ♪ ♪ but to get from the old way to the new you'll need the right it infrastructure. from a partner who knows how
3:16 pm
to make your enterprise more agile, borderless and secure. hp helps business move on all the possibilities of today. and stay ready for everything that is still to come. huh, fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. everybody knows that. well, did you know you that former pro football player ickey woods will celebrate almost anything? unh-uh. number 44... whoooo! forty-four, that's me! get some cold cuts... get some cold cuts... get some cold cuts! whooo! gimme some! geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. whoo! forty-four ladies, that's me! whoo...gonna get some cold cuts today!
3:17 pm
latte or au lait? cozy or cool? exactly the way you want it ... until boom it's bedtime! your mattress is a battleground of thwarted desire. enter the sleep number bed. save $300 on the final close-out of the c3 queen mattress set. he's the softy. his sleep number setting is 35. you're the rock, at 60. and snoring? sleep number's even got an adjustment for that. only at a sleep number store. right now find the lowest prices of the season plus 36 month financing on qualifying purchases. hurry ends monday! know better sleep with sleep number.
3:18 pm
3:19 pm
we are back. the breaking news congressman, officials in belgium say new raids prevented attacks by terrorists who apparently rr getting their instructions from isis. how worried are you about what's going on right now and the implications for the united states?
3:20 pm
first in france now in belgium. we're hearing there are other sweeps under way in germany and elsewhere in europe italy, spain. what's going on? >> look, the french, the belgian belgians germans, they arecounterterrorism. i'm glad they are on top of it. it does amplify the need to have the best intelligence. you have satellite communication, signals intelligence. your intelligence agencies have to have the best intelligence they can. god bless the men and women waking up in the morning and raiding houses and doing the intelligence work. it's a very real threat. we saw it play out in france. i do worry that it could come to the united states of america. >> as you know security has been stepped up in airlines due to the concerns. terrorists could sneak hard to detect homemade bombs through. have any plots, as far as you know congressman, been thwarted specifically in that respect?
3:21 pm
>> i can't say in the last few days specifically. i can tell you that on a daily basis they take weapons off of people trying to get on airlines on a regular basis. it's a very difficult job that they have to do. i don't think we're using enough dogs. i wish they would use more dogs. i think that's the best way to find an improvised explosive device. that's what the military does. the other surveillance behavioral profiling, they need to step that up. the threat is real. i think they thwart these things on a more regular basis than anybody realizes. >> as you know authorities, they have known about the isis cells in belgium for a while. they decided to go ahead on the sweep today. i think in part inspired by what happened in paris over the past few days. do you have any sense of how imminent these cells could have launched an attack? >> they can launch at any time. i mean these terrorists the islamic-inspired terrorists will
3:22 pm
actually go out and are encourages people through the publications, the internet we have seen that play out here in the united states of america. you can get one person at any given time who will be inspired by these types of things. i tend to think this was a much more concerted type of effort. the best thing that i can tell particularly what happened in paris, by its definition was not a lone wolf attack. there are a lot of other people. we're going to have to be proactive. we can't sit back and wait and then react. we can't do that. >> these were not lone wolf attacks. what's the first item of priority? you are the new chairman of the government oversight committee. you are taking over. what's the first issue you want to examine? >> well i got to make sure that the inspectors general are able to do their job. right now they have been thwarted. worried about the secret service. we have irs concerns. i got a big long list longer than you have a show. we are going to get after it week after next our first
3:23 pm
meeting work and provide the oversight we're supposed to per the constitution. >> good luck. thanks for joining us. >> thank you. let's bring in a correspondent for the belgium national television network here in "the situation room" along with our analyst peter bergen, and phillip mud and james reese and tom fuentes. thanks for joining us. what's the latest that you are hearing from your counterparts in belgium on the sweeps that are going on right now, these anti terror operations? >> they are searching in towns close to brussels. no arrests made yet. people are looking in several houses in towns. >> so the operations are still under way. we have heard that there have been ten separate sweeps ten separate operations.
3:24 pm
is that what you are hearing? >> that's correct. most part are close to brussels. >> one town where there was the shoot shootout with two terrorists one was arrested they were well armed. >> yeah. they had automatic weapons and they immediately started firing at the police once they -- whether they arrived at the apartment. so they were very well armed. and they started shooting. >> any exchanges -- weapons exchanges in other locations? >> not that i heard of. >> this is obviously an ongoing situation right now. it looks like it's going to continue for some time. you have no doubt it was the triggering of this was what happened in paris last week? >> for sure. >> stand by. i want to get back to you. we're watching all of these developments unfold. phillip, as you see isis connection -- it seems to be specific right now. the isis are persuading these europeans at least to go out there and do as much damage as they can. they do have a lot autonomy in
3:25 pm
their decision who they will attack and what's going on. right? >> i think that's right. what we saw in the past with the 9/11 attack was a holy-owned attack with 19 hijackers but directed tactically to conduct the attacks. i think what you see in this case is a different model. it's a potential model for the future. it's an organization that brings people in maybe not even people who are recruited. people who are self-directing to go travel to a place like turkey and then into syria who receive training and then go home and maybe as we saw in paris, conduct an attack that they themselves select. in other words, i'm sure sure the target would have been selected by isis or yemen. it would have been the local guys. >> peter, you are familiar with that terror propaganda video that features french-speaking isis terrorists out there warning of of attacks.
3:26 pm
they mentioned france belgium, germany, switzerland and the united states of america. those kinds of propaganda videos, they are effective, aren't they? >> yeah. yes, they were reporting about this 20-year-old in ohio who self-affiliated with isis and is alleged to have a plan to attack the capitol. but it was an fbi informant that was basically persuading him to do this in some sense. here we have a heavily armed group of people with serious weapons who really have seen to have been taught by isis. the threat in the united states is really much much smaller than it is in europe. >> but there is still a considerable threat. >> we have had 150 americans go only 12 have joined terrorist organizations, some of them have died in syria. we had an american suicide attacker. we had douglas macarthur mccain killed. >> europeans can come here without visas.
3:27 pm
they potentially could represent a threat given how easy it is to get weapons in the united states. >> sure. but the kouachi brothers were on the no fly list. it's too large -- we only have 3,000 isis trained foreign fighters. >> you are saying the threat is bigger in europe than the united states? >> significantly. >> i want to bring colonel reese into the conversation. as you know cell phone pings, we are told they show hayat boumeddiene, the girlfriend right near the syrian border. according to u.s. officials, that's what they say. what about the other suspects now being hunted an accomplice of the kouachi brothers an accomplice of amedy coulibaly, could they be in syria protected by isis? >> i believe they are. i think that they had street craft, trade craft that they were establishing when they got -- going into madrid and into istanbul played tourist activities. then that gentleman who is with
3:28 pm
her became her escort as per the traditional arab way of moving with a lady. she becomes a drop off and moves across the border. now she's in the black hole. >> tom, i want to pick up on that. getting back to peter's point, it's easier in europe to move across borders than it is necessarily to come to the united states. you don't need anything to go from france into belgium. >> first of all, it's closer wolf. the proximity of europe to syria and iraq makes it easier. secondly they can travel among the countries just like we cross state lines here with no checking whatsoever. and then third, to come to the u.s. still is somewhat of going through an airport or a shipping line acts like a funnel that they have to go through where they can be watched as they board. in europe they don't have that problem. they can get around very easily. >> quickly, do we know what the targets were in belgium of these sleeper cells, these terror
3:29 pm
cells? we no last may, a terrorist went after the jewish museum in brussels. do we know what the targets were? >> not yet. probably it's going to be also again in brussels. you have a lot of government buildings over there. you have the police was there. so probably brussels. where or what we don't know yet. >> presumably we will hear soon enough. >> yes. >> thanks very much. stand by. we are following the breaking news. more on the terrorism, the national security threats out there. we are getting new information from belgium about the thwarted terror attacks. we are getting reaction from the obama administration. stay with us. push your enterprise and you can move the world. ♪ ♪ but to get from the old way to the new
3:30 pm
you'll need the right it infrastructure. from a partner who knows how to make your enterprise more agile, borderless and secure. hp helps business move on all the possibilities of today. and stay ready for everything that is still to come. i've smoked a lot and quit a lot but ended up nowhere. now...i use this. the nicoderm cq patch with unique extended release technology helps prevent the urge to smoke all day. i want this time to be my last time. that's why i choose nicoderm cq.
3:31 pm
people with type 2 diabetes come from all walks of life. if you have high blood sugar, ask your doctor about farxiga. it's a different kind of medicine that works by removing some sugar from your body. along with diet and exercise farxiga helps lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes. with one pill a day, farxiga helps lower your a1c. and, although it's not a weight-loss or blood-pressure drug, farxiga may help you lose weight and may even lower blood pressure when used with certain diabetes medicines. do not take if allergic to farxiga or its ingredients. symptoms of a serious allergic reaction include rash, swelling or difficulty breathing or swallowing. if you have any of these symptoms, stop taking farxiga and seek medical help right away. do not take farxiga if you
3:32 pm
have severe kidney problems, are on dialysis, or have bladder cancer. tell your doctor right away if you have blood or red color in your urine or pain while you urinate. farxiga can cause serious side effects, including dehydration, genital yeast infections in women and men, low blood sugar,kidney problems, and increased bad cholesterol. common side effects include urinary tract infections changes in urination and runny nose. ♪do the walk of life♪ ♪yeah, you do the walk of life♪ need to lower your blood sugar? ask your doctor about farxiga and visit our website to learn how you may be able to get every month free.
3:33 pm
3:34 pm
we are following breaking news. terror attacks stopped. authorities in belgium launching raids against a terror cell that was ready to carry out orders of isis. joining us now is valerie jared, a senior adviser to the president. thanks very much for joining us. >> my pleasure. >> i assume the president has been informed about these sweeps these tear -- anti-terror operations under way? >> he is aware of what's going on. very concerned. every single day, the first thing on his mind is how do we keep america safe how do we work with countries around the world to make sure that we are cooperating and keeping them safe? they are leading the investigation. anything he we can do to help we stand ready to help. >> does he get on phone? i know he was on phone with leaders in france last week. does he immediately get on the phone and speak to someone in belgium, for example, want to reassure them the united states
3:35 pm
is ready to do what it can to help? >> we do that on a regular basis. i don't know whether he made this phone call this evening. certainly, we stay in very close contact with colleagues around the world to make sure there's full cooperation and support for their efforts. a great deal of reciprocity, sharing of information. we stand ready to help. >> you have been one of his closest advisors over the many years. what keeps them ss him up at night? >> he has a lot on his plate. he is preparing to the state of the union next week. his priority is to keep america safe. we are seeing the economy growing. 58 straight months of private sector job growth. yet, we know there are people who haven't seen wages go up. i traveled with the president to baltimore. he had lunch with a group of three women, one an owner of a small business where we dined and two other women talking about the importance of paid leave, paid sick leave. over 40 million americans don't have a single day of paid sick leave in our country.
3:36 pm
now that so many americans are working, when you have two parents working, 60% of them are working. that's a big change from say 1965 when 40% of both parents in the household were working. we have to change the way we're orienting our workplace to reflect the needs and priorities of the work force. as you know he traveled around the country the last week making announcements leading up to the state of the union. all designed to talk about how we grow our economy, make sure people can afford education, make sure that opportunity is available for all. provide affordable housing, celebrate the success of the automobile industry right outside of detroit where the president had confidence in the workers and businesses all leading up to the state of the union union. >> i want to get to the sick leave action. very quickly, do you think the president -- you know the president better than almost anyone. does he regret not going to paris for that march last sunday? >> i think as we have said
3:37 pm
throughout this week, wolf that we wish that someone had been there. i know that attorney again holder was there for a meeting to talk about how his counterparts not just in europe but around the world could work cooperatively together. second kerry intends to be there as well. >> with hindsight, does he wish he would have gone? >> i think we certainly wish that we had been represented. it would have been a very important i think symbol. but i think when you listen to the leaders in france what they are concerned about is what's happening on the ground and have given us a great deal of credit for our cooperation and support on the international staplege. >> let's talk about what the president did today. action that the president took. he signed a men -- a memorandum on paid sick leave. why doesn't the president take something like this and go to congress and seek legislation, get bipartisan support for it
3:38 pm
and then get it passed so it's not just simply an executive order? >> well wolf what he did today is announce both. he said he was going to sign an executive action through his presidential memorandum that would afford federal employees to have advance up to six weeks of sick time and use that for paid family leave. he also called on congress to pass legislation to provide administrative leave for the federal work force. we want to attract the very best and brightest and use taxpayer dollars wisely. he did what he could. but he called on congress. in addition to that he announced today his full support for the family -- healthy families act which has been pending in congress which would make sure every employee would be eligible for seven days of paid sick time. right now, as i said earlier, over 40 million americans don't have a single day of sick time. nearly 60% aren't eligible for any kind of paid leave or sick
3:39 pm
time. that needs to change. we need to make sure that as we're balancing our work life priorities that we're making sure that what's good for the worker is good for the employer. it makes work force more reliable more productive. imagine what happens when people show up not feeling well or you have to send a sick child to school. you contaminate everybody else infect everybody else. you are not productive. these are really important policies for working families and it's something the president is absolutely committed to following through on. >> so what do you say, valerie, to the national association of independent businesses which representing small businesses? large corporations they can deal with this paid sick leave. but a small business that maybe employs 25 or 40 or 50 people they can't afford that. what do you say to them? >> you know what i would say to the washington lobbyists? come with us to baltimore and meet the small businessowner with whom we dined today and listen to her explain how she
3:40 pm
believes it makes her business more profitable to provide sick leave to her employees to provide paid leave to her employees, to provide workplace flexibility to her employees. when we have working family summit earlier this summer, we had a meeting right here with about 14 different small businesses, all who say that they pride themselves on recognizing the importance of having those programs in place to attract and retain their employees and to build a culture where people are loyal again to their employers. i dispute the fact that this is not good for small business. we believe and there are many many studies that show wolf that it actually leads to a more productive work force and more efficient work force, more loyal work force. time and time again, more profitable companies. >> valerie, senior adviser to the president, thanks for joining us. >> you are welcome. we are getting new information about the terror raids that officials say have foiled what they call an
3:41 pm
imminent attack. more on the breaking news coming up. [container door opening] ♪ what makes it an suv is what you can get into it. ♪ [container door closing] what makes it an nx is what you can get out of it. ♪ introducing the first-ever lexus nx turbo and hybrid. once you go beyond utility there's no going back.
3:42 pm
3:43 pm
3:44 pm
you total your brand new car. nobody's hurt,but there will still be pain. it comes when your insurance company says they'll only pay three-quarters of what it takes to replace it. what are you supposed to do, drive three-quarters of a car? now if you had a liberty mutual new car replacement, you'd get your whole car back. i guess they don't want you driving around on three wheels. smart. new car replacement is just one of the features that come
3:45 pm
standard with a base liberty mutual policy. and for drivers with accident forgivness,rates won't go up due to your first accident. learn more by calling switch to liberty mutual and you can save up to $423. for a free quote today,call liberty mutual insurance at see car insurance in a whole new light. liberty mutual insurance. we are following breaking news. major news. authorities in belgium say they prevented what they call an imminent terror attack believed to be ordered directly by isis. a western intelligence source tells cnn that leads developed
3:46 pm
after the paris attacks last week triggering these new raids across belgium. the sweeps are ongoing right now. we're following all the breaking news with our terrorism and security experts. let's bring back peter bergen. how closely do the european countries, france and belgium, germany, italy, spain, how closely do they work amongst themselves? >> reporter: very closely. they share a common view of this threat. they have been on the syrian foreign fighter case for years just as we have in this country. i don't see any daylight between these countries. where you are seeing a disconnect is turkey which is a nato country. nato in the view of u.s. owe fish
3:47 pm
officialss has been derelict. boumeddiene was it able to transfer easily. >> you are in close contact with your colleagues back in belgium. are they giving you any indication of how they tracked these specific terrorists who killed or arrested and the operations are still ongoing right now? i assume it's people who were in syria, they came back to belgium and they have been under surveillance all this time. >> that's true wolf. as soon as those people left the country, belgium intelligence was waiting for them to come back. and then they closely followed them to see what they were up to. so they knew that something was going to happen. and they acted really quickly, like you have seen tonight. >> belgium has a unique role. you spent a lot of time in europe over the years, tom, when you were the assistant director of the fbi. we have heard that a belgium arms dealer may have provided the weapon to coulibaly who went into the supermarket and killed those four people there. is that right? >> right.
3:48 pm
unfortunately, wolf the bad guys work closely together across country lines, but so do the good guys. europe, the countries in europe work very closely not only with bilateral one on one relationships but they also work through interpol through other organizations to make sure all of the information, criminal organizations, terrorist organizations, drug cartels get spread to all the other nations. >> i think we should be bracing for a lot more of what we are seeing in belgium right now. we have been seeing it in france in recent days. operations to go ahead and pre-emptively deal with what they see as the sleeper cells, right? >> i think that's right. i think one of the things that we see in belgium is an opportunity to put france in perspective. the belgian population 11 million people some estimates have as many as 300 returnees from the battlefield in syria and iraq. you can multiply that if you go to france. if you look at that magnitude of
3:49 pm
threat and assume that at least some of those people coming back are going to be engaged in the things you saw in belgium today, you have to believe security services after paris aren't going to wait too much longer. if they see a cell they will take it down. >> colonel reese, 19,000 -- let me repeat that. 19,000 french civilian websites have been attacked in an unprecedented hack in recent days. they have been defacing all of these websites with what are being called pro-islamic images and messages. what do you sense is going on here? >> wolf there is -- this is the next phase of transnational terrorism. that's the cyber piece that literally has taken a back seat because we see strikes around. but this is going to continue. this is a way, whether a denial of service or complete hack of service like you see where they can take down a site or put pictures up there. this is just another type of attack that we're going to have
3:50 pm
to deal with in the feeuture. >> give us some perspective what happened yesterday, the arrest of the individual monitored by the fbi for supposedly plotting an isis-inspired attack on the united states capitol. >> what would have happened is that they get information through social trying to recruit people. he's announcing he wants to become a jihadist. the problem is that once the fbi gets into the investigation and starts into it they're looking as a big mouth. does he really mean it? is he going to carry it out or is this just bragging? they can't let it go.
3:51 pm
they can't ignore it because the guy might go bad or he might not. they just can't take the chance. now they're stuck with it until they see it through. can the suspect remain silent or will he have to talk and provide information. >> he can remain silenced. he will get a lawyer. they'll get him to talk very quickly. >> i want all of you to stand by. we have a lot more to discuss. the breaking news out of belgium now. it's still ongoing. getting new details of the terror raids taking place in multiple cities as officials try to prevent what they call imminent attacks. ♪ carpenters: "rainy days and mondays" ♪ ♪♪
3:52 pm
♪ ac/dc: "back in black" ♪ ♪♪ chevy colorado. when you find new roads, you win motor trend's truck of the year. in my world, wall isn't a street...
3:53 pm
return on investment isn't the only return i'm looking forward to. for some every dollar is earned with sweat, sacrifice, courage. which is why usaa is honored to help our members with everything from investing for retirement to saving for college. our commitment to current and former military members and their families is without equal. start investing with as little as fifty dollars. well, a mortgage shouldn't be a problem your credit is in pretty good shape. >>pretty good? i know i have a 798 fico score thanks to the tools and help on kaboom... well, i just have a few other questions. >>chuck, the only other question you need to ask is, "what else can you do for me?" i'll just take a water... get your credit swagger on. become a member of experian credit tracker and find out your fico score powered by experian. fico scores are used in 90% of credit decisions. at ally bank no branches equals great rates. it's a fact.
3:54 pm
kind of like mute buttons equal danger. ...that sound good? not being on this phone call sounds good. it's not muted. was that you jason? it was geoffrey! it was jason. it could've been brenda. please! no. for those headaches that just aren't bad enough for a lot of medicine, there's new excedrin mild headache. 35% less medicine plus a booster to end everyday headaches fast. please! oh, what a headache! headache's gone. excedrin mild headache. wow, that was fast!
3:55 pm
hey, jennar fuzz mike troober munny sling... awwwwww scram! i'm crust mike jubby roll bond chow gonna lean up an kiss bet. peas charty get town down. [laughter] ♪ borf a liver tute face stummy wag ♪ pow pam sha-beeps stella nerf berms. saxa-nay nay? badumps a head. temexiss gurrin. juppa left. fluppa jown! brone a brood.
3:56 pm
what? catch up on what everyone's talking about with the x1 entertainment operating system. preloaded with the latest episodes of the top 100 shows. only from xfinity. we're back with breaking news. a massive sweep under way throughout belgium. they are going after sleeper cells. one operation killed two suspected terrorists. one has been arrested. the ramifications enormous for all of europe and also for the united states. what's the most important lesson the united states needs to learn right now from what's been going on in france and now in belgium and we're bracing for this spreading to italy, to spain, to germany and other countries as
3:57 pm
well. >> wolf, if i was the guy in charge of homeland security i'd be doing a complete after action re review of paris and what happened in belgium. i would make sure they're checking their standard operating procedure and working together and whoever needs help i'd be trying to help them from the federal side down. it's budgets, equipment or technology. >> good advice. tom, what does the u.s. need to do right now? >> just to amplify what colonel reese said yesterday the fbi had the largest secure teleconference held in its history. the people at the other end of the lines over a thousand included every fbi office in the country, every joint terrorism task force, every fusion center in the country. the fbi was giving a synopsis of
3:58 pm
what's been learned in the paris attack and what was being looked at domestically in a general sense. >> i've heard that it was almost unprecedent unprecedented. >> it was unprecedented. they'd never had one that large. the director highlighted that currently the fbi has over 1,000 counter terrorism investigations active. >> phillip, is the u.s. at a appropriate level of security now or does it need to ramp it up? >> i don't think it needs to ramp it up but we've got some ground to cover in the coming peeks weeks. this is an opportunity. beyond the tragedy there's something. that intelligence could identify things like travel routes. people who provided weapons. it could lead to north america. regardless of whether that's a 1 in a 100 shot there will be
3:59 pm
opportunities to help us protect the homeland. >> peter about to have dinner with the david cameron. i assume this is issue number one for these two leaders. >> yeah. you may recall the people that are killing american journalists and aid workers are british citizens. this is a huge problem. you've got a cell of brits who are the most violent people in isis. >> david cameron just arriving at the west wing. this is a business meeting. this isn't a social event. do the people of belgium have confidence now. >> they are confident in what the u.s. is doing and will do in the future. >> you believe this has been a game changer for europe what's happening in paris and now in belgium?
4:00 pm
>> i'm sure. tomorrow morning the press conference new details will be coming up. we'll know more about what happened. >> we're going to learn a lot more. thanks very much for joining us. that's it for me. remember you can always follow me on twitter or follow the show. thanks for watching. erin burnett outfront starts right now. breaking news. police in belgium disrupt major terror attacks said to be imminent believed to be ordered by isis. we have the plot raids and connection to the paris attacks. inside the home of the man suspected of plotting to bomb the u.s. capitol. we're learning more about his past. his parents speak to outfront. the disappearance of a insurance executive. he's been missing for a week. we'll speak to his wife. let's go