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tv   Wolf  CNN  April 17, 2015 10:00am-11:01am PDT

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support from president obama? maybe using drones. can we expect specific counter terrorism action in libya, and concerning russia the last of the leader do you think it was iceful and did you ask and get any specific commitments for the renewal of the sanction against russia? thank you. >> translator: let me talk to you about the question on libya. i will repeat what i said. obviously all the countries in this region are countries interested in looking and finding -- looking for and finding a solution barring none we appreciate the work that certain countries are finally doing in the mediterranean area northern africa starting by egypt. so all the countries are part of
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this huge undertaking. but please allow me to be very clear. peace in libya, either the tribes do this or no one is going to do this. no one is going to achieve this. the only way to reach pieceeace is the tribes finally accept that they're going to go toward stabilization and piece. our work is that looking in favor of this at all levels so this effort does, indeed leads to peace. the diplomatic initiatives you are aware of they're the ones that we are doing, and they're the ones that the foreign ministers are also trying to support and to study. obviously this is not a job that starts in libya. i would like my italian journalist friends to understand that libya which we consider
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because they're across from us the main problem, but they're part of a more complex, greater problem that has to do with the risk of terrorist infiltrations in africa. we are feeling the pain for what happened at the university in kenya, but this regards africa as a whole as a continent. a few days ago, we remember a year has gone by from when some 100 girls were kidnapped by bocaw boko haram and remember the #bringbackourgirls. therefore, the issue of libya is something we have to place in a wider context. the technical solutions, our teams are looking at them every
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single day and there are obviously technical solutions in which there is a full awareness, for which there is a full aware awareness awareness. the united states is next. europe is next to the united states. in a huge challenge that will bring the troops in our country to spend more months more time in afghanistan, much more so than we had thought because if the coalition with the united states considers that the process has to. italy will do its part. obviously in terms of the technical solutions i mentioned this is not something that has to do with political debates, it has it to do with our technical teams, with their expertise. i have to be sure that i have priority in aassurance from the united states this is not something in which italy is working on its on. i can tell you that as far as we are concerned, the cooperation
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and the work together with you, both in the natural diplomatic way and in the constant work which is done every single day which is a job which is done silently quietly, in everyday life which takes us to heroism, i'm thinking about coast guard, men and women that saved those people at sea, allowed a young woman to give birth on the boat, she was dying and they saved two lives. we also have to be fully aware of the fact that the work that we do together is a job, that not only regards libya but all of africa. i might say the whole world and allow me to say this without taking the floor too long this is a job we are doing everywhere from russia, to latin america, afghanistan, to the middle east.
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the cooperation and work done between the united states and italy is something out of discussion that cannot be discussed. >> we are consistently looking where terrorist threats might emanate and libya, obviously is an area of great concern. isil has been very explicit wanting to use the chaos inside of libya as a potential justification for putting their -- some of their personnel there. and so the coordination with italy and with other of our key partners is going to be very important. we will not be able to solve the problem just with a few drone strikes or a few military operations. you have a country that has been broke noon a number of tribal
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factions some sectarian elements to it and you don't have a central government that is functioning effectively. so we still have to guard against the use of the territories in libya as safe haven for terrorist operations much in the way we've done with respect to somalia for means years, but the answer ultimately is to have a government that can control its own borders and work with us. that's going to take some time. but we will combine counterterrorism efforts in cooperation with italy and other like-minded nations with a political effort and we're going to have to encourage some of the countries inside of the gulf who have i think influence over the
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various factions inside libya to be more cooperative themselves. in some cases we've seen them fan the flames of military conflict rather than try to reduce them. with respect to russia, matteo and i agree that we need implementation of minsk and i expressed my strong belief that the european council needs to continue the current sanctions that are in place until we've seen full implementation of the minsk agreement. there will be a vote coming up this summer in the european council and my expectation is to the only italy, but all countries in europe will recognize that it would be a wrong message to send to reduce
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sanctions pressure on russia when their key implementation steps don't happen until the end of the year. at minimum we have to maintain the existing sanction levels until we've seen they've carried out the steps that they're required to under the agreement. and one of the things that matteo and i share and the italian and american people share, is the sense of values and principles that sometimes override political expedience. that's part of our dna that's part of our memories because of the history of both our countries. and i think we have to be realistic and practical in how we look at a problem like
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ukraine and we also have to recall that the reason there's a unified and prosperous europe is because enormous sacrifices were made on behalf of ideas and prips. s and if -- principles and if those principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty start getting ignored, then that carries as cost for -- carries a cost for europe and the world. thank you. >> all right. there they are the president of the united states and the prime minister of italy wrapping up more than one hour news conference during which they went through several major issues. welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer reporting from washington. from iran to libya to economic
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issues facing europe and the united states as well as some marriager domestic issue -- major domestic issues in the united states on several of these matters. we did see president obama speak very forcefully in the delay of his attorney general for loretta lynch. we don't often see him get this passionate on an issue but he is clearly angry at republicans in the united states senate. watch this. >> the dysfunction in the senate just goes too far. this is an example of it. it's gone too far. enough. enough. call loretta lynch for a vote get her confirmed, put her in place, let her do her job. this is embarrassing. a process like this. >> more than five months since
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he nominated loretta lynch to replace eric holder as the attorney general of the united states. she would be the first african-american female attorney general here in the united statesp in glor borger is with me and jim sciutto. you don't see the president sdets that agitated. >> he's furious and has a point actually because they have held up this nomination for five months on a completely ancillary issue that has to deal with abortion. they're mad at her because she agrees with the president's executive orders on immigration. and senator harry reid the leader of the democrats, has now said i am going to force a vote on this. and the way he forces a vote on this is that somebody calls for a vote. he's not the majority leader remember. he can force a vote if he gets 51 senators to say, yes, they will' go with him on that. he would need to convince a bunch of republicans to go against their leader on a procedural issue, not sure
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whether he can get the votes. this is a huge breach of protocol if harry reid does what he says he wants to do and it's going to create even more strained relations between democrats and republicans. don't forget yesterday, jeb bush came out and said time for a vote on this. let her get her vote. and that's what the president was effectively saying. >> there seems to be movement in the last few days maybe there would be a vote. >> reid tell graphed that. but he said we've waited -- i might be able to wait a little longer but not much longer. he's presenting this nuclear option to prod the republicans to move forward and if not he'll take this path. >> the question is whether republicans who are willing to vote for her, are actually going to vote against their own leader on a procedural matter? i'm not convinced they would be willing to do that. public pressure is clearly building on this because the american public is sort of saying why not just vote if you want to vote her down vote her down. >> the president made a point,
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top law enforcement official in the security. made a national security case. terror threats et cetera get her confirmed. >> jeb bush former governor of florida, who's soon to be a formally announced presidential candidate says the republicans don't like eric holder the current attorney general anyhow move him out and get a new attorney general. i want to go to michele kosinski our white house correspondent, in the east room of the white house, it's not often you see the president get that angry. >> right. that was asked almost as don't forget can you add something about the loretta lynch situation, but it turned out to be the strongest statement he made during this. i don't think that was entirely unexpected. really the time has come for this. we've seen the white house over the last couple weeks kind of ramping up their language over this as well as their criticism of republicans. couple weeks ago they started this day count of how many precise days it has been since the nomination. today i think is day number 161.
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they've started using examples of how much time it's taken other nominees even using republicans' own words in the past to criticize them. to hear the president say, this -- there's no reason for this it is simply political gamesmanship and it's embarrassing it goes along with what we've been hearing from the white house over the past couple days. calling senator grassley's comments about why the delay is happening astoundingly due police tus and saying that this delay is unconscionable. the white house is really willing to go farther on the language as this delay becomes more and more pro noupsed. >> the u.s. attorney in new york highly respected, the president made it clear he would like to see a roll call vote in the united states allowing her to be confirmed as the next attorney general of the united states. the president was asked about the compromise that was worked out in the u.s. senate on the issue of iran the iran nuclear
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deal that's not yet there, seems to be moving forward. listen to what he said. >> i updated prime minister renzi on the framework that we reached with iran. our progress towards a comprehensive deal that prevents iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and we agreed that until any final deal is reached angions on iran ps must continue to be fully and strictly enforced. >> jim sciutto the president made it clear, though, he thinks it's a reasonable compromise that had been worked out by the chairman ranking democrat on the senate foreign relations committee in terms of congressional oversight. >> exactly. the best he could get. the president didn't want this from the beginning. votes there, passed 19-0 veto proof majority in the senate but he said listen first of all he has to live with it he can live with it because he said he believes ss it will not derail the negotiations under way and specific to the congress
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congressionally mandated sanctions not establishing a precedence that congress would always have approval over political agreements like this. a sense of how precarious the negotiations are, the verbal gymnastics he went through to say not phasing out of sanctions because this is an issue now. the iranians are demanding they happen on day one and he has said we have to maintain leverage but he didn't go that far. >> he used the word how sanctions are lessened. very careful not to use phase out. he's clearly concerned about the snapback provision. he made it very clear, you know, that we have to be able if things aren't working out, we have to be able as he put it not to jump through hoops, to reinstate the sanctions. he doesn't want to get in front of john kerry, his secretary of state. >> sitting in the front row there. >> sitting right there. the president also despite all the tensions with russia right now over ukraine and other issues went out of his way to actually defend the decision by the russian government to go
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ahead even now before there is a formal agreement and sell new what he called defensive missiles to iran. >> pretty remarkable. he said he basically was saying i'm surprised they held the deal this long. he was sort of thanking russia thanks for pushing it back but these are advanced missiles, though. that said when we were speaking to the chairman of the joint chiefs yesterday general dempsey he was asked about this and said our military option with regard to iran's nuclear program is intact in his words with the missile sale. in other words, saying american plans could get by it. >> we've thought about that. >> we've thought about that and we're going to work around it. still russia is selling advanced missile systems to iran to defend its nuclear sites in the middle of a nuclear negotiation. that's not nothing. >> one theory american planes might be able to deal with the surface-to-air missiles but israeli planes might not be able to deal with those. i want both of you to stand by. much more while the news conference was happening we got word of other breaking news. an explosion near the u.s.
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consulate in erbil. in northern iraq. we have details on what happened. stay with us. we'll be right back.
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you've spent a lot of time in that region familiar with that consulate in erbil. what do we know about this attack? >> we understand wolf, the explosion took place at about 5:50 p.m. local time. according to kurdish security forces there was a small ied explosion into the consulate, a christian neighborhood very popular with expats. now when that bomb went off, shortly afterwards another -- a car started to approach the consulate. kurdish supreme court forces outside the consulate opened fire on that car, but the car subsequently exploded. as you said killing at least three people wounding five according to our sources in the area. now, also what happened afterwards there is a parentally an hour-long exchange of gunfire according to eyewitnesses we've
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spoken to who were in that immediate area. now, this is a part of town where there's high security and this is a part of iraq erbil, where the kurds take security very seriously. and rarely are there such occurrences in erbil itself. fortunately it was fry.iday. that's the day when the u.s. consulate is closed. of course all u.s. diplomatic personnel actually live in the consular compound there. but we understand from cnn's jim sciutto who has been speaking with officials in washington that they're all u.s. personnel at the consulate are safe and accounted for. wolf? >> there are hundreds of americans there in erbil. there are diplomats, military personnel, private u.s. citizens. this is the regional headquarters of kurdistan. >> yes. it's very -- it's basically the capital of kurdistan and
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kurdistan in a sense is almost like a separate country within iraq. the kurds, for instance, are very careful who they let into the territory. they control what's odd, for instance is that iraqi citizens if they're not cureds and they arrive at the airport in erbil unless they have a local sponsor will not be allowed in. so they take their area the area they control very seriously and they try to control who enters and so security very much a concern for the kurdss in this incident even though in this case nos u.s. diplomatic personnel were harmed is cause for concern about the situation in erbil and in kurdistan. >> it certainly is. thanks very much ben. we'll stay on top of this story. staying in iraq a former top iraqi general under saddam husseins has been killed izzat ibrahim al douri, you may
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remember him better as the king of clubs, the most wanted man in the war in iraq took over as the head of the banned baath party replacing saddam hussein, linked directly to isis. let's go to new york. atika shubert has been covering the story for a long time for us. what more can you dell us about the operation that led to this man's death and are there any other major names from the so-called most wanted list still on the loose? >> nobody really who was the stature of al douri. he was the number six on that list. he was the right-hand man of saddam hussein, the most wanted there. there are other people who are still at large but they're much lower in rank, many of them believed to be perhaps somewhere in syria. may not have anything to do with the ongoing insurgency in iraq. al douri was a particularly well-known figure because of his role in the baathist party. now what we understand about the operation and this is all coming from iraqi sources at the
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moment iraqi state television was airing the news that he was killed in what was described as a surprise operation between iraqi security forces and shia militia. he was apparently killed somewhere between tikrit and kirkuk. no report on who else was killed in that raid and they're saying at this point that while they think it's him, they think it's al douri they can't be 100% sure until they've done dna tests to identify him as izzat ibrahim al douri. >> a lot of these former saddam loyalists, they've joined forces with isis right? >> well you know, yes, and no. this is -- all kinds of shifting alliances. when isis first marched across northern iraq reports that al douri's group in particular had really at least tacitly, if not actively allowed isis to come through. there are reports of al douri's group fighting alongside isis but in recent months we heard
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reports of that relationship fraying. that might be because they have completely different objectives. isis wants to establish the islamic caliphate, al douri's group wanted to re-establish the sunni/baathist regime that iraq had under saddam hussein. so completely different goals and aims and quite possibly after isis was able to take over so much territory, that's when we started to see any sort of whatever that alliance was, really start to show some strain. >> all right. atika, good explanation, thanks very much. atika shubert reporting. >> we will dig deeper in both these stories. the bombing near the u.s. consulate in erbil and the death of one of iraq's most wanted men. stay with us.
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this is cnn breaking news. >> let's get right to the breaking news. we have just received word here at cnn that isis isis is now claiming responsibility for the suicide car bombing in erbil in northern iraq. chief national security correspondent jim sciutto with us as retired lieutenant colonel james reese, a cnn global affairs analyst, former delta force commander. first of all, jim sciutto this is major development. you've been to erbil. you know the area. a suicide bombing right down the street from the u.s. consulate there. a lot of americans who work there. all have been accounted for, right? >> that's right. this is enormous coup if it is isis ta kiried out this attack.
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erbil operates almost like its own country. security by security forces there. hearing from ben wedeman's report kurdish peshmerga fighters that form the security around the u.s. consulate there. they opened fire on the car. complicated ait tack. smaller ied that went off perhaps as a diversion and then the suicide bomber comes up. thankfully didn't get close to the embassy to injurious personnel but three civilians killed in the area. for isis to strike inside cured stan inside the capital erbil so close to the u.s. embassy that's a achievement for isis. >> we've learned that isis now is asserting directly that the target was the u.s. consulate there in erbil. your reaction? >> yeah. wolf right now, we've been talking about it for the last month. isis or daesh have. getting whacked hard in north iraq by the iraqi security forces and coalition aircraft and we have seen now an
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adjustment to isis tactics they know they can't gogo toe to toe with an organized military. what you will see here and doesn't surprise me at all you will see the more terrorist tactics that will come out try to get car bombs in and iedss especially towards the american targets. >> so that's obviously a serious concern. colonel reese what's your reaction to the apparent killing of izzat ibrahim al douri one of the most wanted saddam loyalists, it's been about 12 years since the u.s.-led war against saddam hussein, but apparently they finally got limb him? >> hat office to the iraqi security forces. i spent several long nights in iraq over the years trying to find this gentleman. he was a slick, very slick guy who we could not capture. joint special operation command forces during that time be deck of 52 cards, they captured or killed roughly 42 members of that deck of cards, but it's a
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big win for the iraqiss and, you know a guy like this was very good at, you know insurgency and raising money and helping the insurgencies whatever it was, whether the baath party or i bet we'll see he had aspects with daesh, isis up in the ha wee that area where he was killed between tikrit and kirkuk. >> number 43 in the deck of cards or have others been killed or captured as well? >> well there were still about nine or ten left out there after u.s. forces left and so that would probably be number 43 or 44 on the deck but i know like the correspondent said a few minutes ago lower-level, the 2 of clubs probably up there in syria still. >> all right. i want to go back to jim sciutto getting more information on the other breaking story, this suicide car bombing outside right near the u.s. consulate in erbil erbil.
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>> coming from the state department confirming this was a car bomb known as a vehicle born improvised device and at the time because of the threat what's called the duck and cover protocol was instituted for the u.s. consulate, chief of mission there, in other words all embassy personnel get to a safe area because of the proximity of an attack. that shows just how close this was, thankfully we are told ta all those u.s. personnel are accounted for, but, of course people who were closer to the attack three civilians killed five injured. you can see from the damage there this was a formidable explosive device and once again, right in the center perhaps the most secure part of the country. >> quickly, colonel reese, duck and cover, want to elaborate what that means? >> yeah. duck and cover is a reaction to artillery, ieds, just what all our folks go through to train to find a place to get to cover in case of an explosive like that. >> thanks very much. jim sciutto thanks as well. don't go far away.
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following the breaking news much more on that coming up. also another story we're following. a former u.s. senator who wants a classified portion of a congressional report on the 9/11 attacks released will be joining us. we're going to tell you why he thinks why he thinks there was a tie directly to saudi arabia and 9/11.
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did the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were saudis and who took thousands of live on september 11th 2011 act alone or say sisted by someones else someone in the united states namely someone who was supported by the saudi government the question the former two term florida governor former three term u.s. senator bob graham chairman of the senate intelligence committee, who retired in 2005 wants answered. graham wants the government to
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make public a secret session, section i should say, of the congressional review that he helped write by many accounts the classified 28 page section of that review implicates saudi citizens potentially at helping those 19 hijackers. joining us from miami the former u.s. senator bob graham. senator, thanks very much for joining us. you believe if they declassified the 28 pages, what will we learn? >> first, thank you, wolf, for the opportunity to talk about this important subject. what we'll learn is that the truth will finally be made available to the american people through this and a number of other documents which have also been classified and withheld. i think the truth is going to be that there were many connections between the saudi government banks, charitable organizations, other entities of the kingdom and the 19 hijackers. everyone who was involved in
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doing a serious inquiry into 9/11 has come away with the conclusion that it is inplausible that these 19 people most of whom could neither speak english or ever been in the united states before could have carried out this plot without some help. >> because the 9/11 commission report, i'll put it on on the screen concludes with this it says it does not appear that any government other than the taliban financially supported al qaeda before 9/11 although some governments may have contained al qaeda sympathizers who turned a blind eye to al qaeda's fund-raising activities and goes on to say saudi arabia has long been considered the primary source of al qaeda funding but we have found no evidence that the saudi government as an institution, or senior saudi officials, individually funded the organization. now what do you say to that?
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>> well the saudi government has been using exactly those sentences to defend themselves. now two of them members of the 9/11 commission former governor and senator bob kerrey former secretary of the navy john layman have submitted affidavits to a court saying that was -- that it was not intended by the 9/11 commission to give saudi arabia a get out of jail free pass based on their activities. if there is nothing in the 28 pages, if the information is not relevant then why don't we let the american people read it and form their own independent judgment. >> have you -- you as chairman of the senate intelligence committee, you had access to those 28 pages, right? >> i participated in writing them yes. >> so you know what's in there and obviously you can't release classified information, but from
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your perspective, you have no doubt and i don't want to put words in your mouth, senator, known you a long time but you have no doubt if the 28 pages are released the american public will conclude that people in saudi arabia, government entity entities or whatever had a direct role in plotting to go ahead with the 9/11 terror campaign? >> wolf i will say this. that the 28 pages will give much more information that had been made public to date on the question of who financed 9/11 and it will point a strong finger at saudi arabia. >> who in saudi arabia? >> that i cannot because of the classified nature and my commitment as a chair of the intelligence committee, disclose any of the specific details, but i can say the 28 pages primarily on the question of who paid for
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9/11 and point a finger at snush can you tell us if they were private saudi citizens or government officials? >> i cannot tell you from the 28 pages that. i can say this that we know particularly a lot about the hijackers who lived in san diego, california, and there is significant indication that they received financing through a private firm which gave a ghost job, the man got paid but didn't have to ever show up to work his payments of which jumped substantially when the two hijackers came to san diego creating the inference that he was a conduit and then his wife began receiving payments from a special fund under the control of the wife of the saudi ams bass dor to the united states prince bandar which again,
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carried with it the inference she had become a source of financing for the hijackers. >> but one final question before i let you go senator. why would anyone in the saudi government, whether prince bandar now a national security adviser to the new king why would anyone he was the saudi ams about dor to the united states as you well know and considered a close friend of the united states what i would they want to -- why would they want to plot to bomb the world trade center or the horrible things done on 9/11? >> well those are additional unand questions. i can give you my informed speculation because this had happened previously. bin laden was very upset with the kingdom because it allowed foreign forces the united states forces on the soil of saudi arabia during the first persian gulf war. he had wanted to use his
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afghanistan trained warriors to defend the country. after the first person gulf war as he was planning what became 9/11 bin laden recognized there was littles chance they could be successful without some support by people who knew the language knew the culture of the united states. he knew that saudi arabia had a network of people like those who were in san diego, who were there to monitor saudi students and he insisted that it -- that the kingdom make that network available to him to support the people that he would be putting in the united states and if the kingdom did not comply he would start a civil insurrection inside saudi arabia which has been the ultimate desire of the kingdom to avoid. >> senator graham thanks very much for joining us. i should point out that prince bandar over the years has always
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flatly denied these allegations as the current saudi ambassador to the united states. they've always flatly denied all these allegations as you well know. >> yeah. if i can say one other thing, both of those people have asked that the 28 pages be released. if they're prepared to have them be released why should the united states government be withholding the truth from our people. >> all right. let's see if those 28 pages are released. senator graham thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you. >> up next, we'll move on to other news we're following including the the plea in the case of a ohio man who prosecutors say was taught terror techniques in syria. the charges and how he was tracked by anti-terror investigators here in the united states. this is judy. judy is 65 years old. her mortgage payment is $728 a month. that's almost $9,000 a year now judy doesn't think that she'll be able to retire until her mortgage is fully
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in the bank. a reverse mortgage could change your retirement and your life. i examined my finances and i said, there is no reason why i shouldn't retire today. 10, 12 years earlier than i had anticipated. in the first year, his cash flow savings totaled $8,736. after 5 years, it will be over $40,000. it really is worth a call to find out if a reverse mortgage can help you too. call one reverse mortgage now and ask for your free guide. a not guilty plea today for an ohio man accused of planning a terror attack here in the
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united states. he was arraigned in federal court today. investigators say the 23-year-old trained in syria last year and then came home intent on attacking american soldiers. among the charge, supporting terrorism, faking false statements to the fbi. let's discuss what's going on with our law enforcement analyst. he became a u.s. citizen just not that long ago, a naturalized u.s. citizen. i assume once he came back he was immediately under surveillance. >> absolutely. but by becoming a citizen, he has a u.s. passport and it's easier to come back and forth. in this case he was on a one-way flight to athens connecting through istanbul got off the plane, and never got on the connecting flight. had the network take him to syria. when the fbi interviewed him, he said no i was in istanbul. they knew he was in syria. so that was the charge of lying. >> it was very sophisticated. the ticket he purchased was to fly to greece to athens with a
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layover, a connecting flight in istanbul istanbul. when he got there, he just stayed there. so his final destination t at least people seeing him leave the united states, was greece. >> it was supposed to be greece. when he went to syria, he's putting stuff on facebook pictures of him with an ak-47. >> isn't that pretty idiotic? >> it's very idiotic. >> he came back for eight months. they were watching him before they formally arrested him. is that normal? >> it depends on having enough evidence. just the mere fact would be providing material support to terrorism by going over there, but they wanted to have more about him because he was talking about actually killing soldiers and police here in texas. >> how significant, if it is significant at all, the allegation that he was trained by an al qaeda affiliate in syria as opposed to isis? >> not that significant, i don't think. you have a buffet of terrorist
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groups over there. he's originally somalian. he came over when he was, you know a very young child. he's from somalia. he could have gone back and joined al shabaab. he could join al qaeda. they think he was trained by the nusra front in syria. but they're not positive. in a way, it's irrelevant. he openly talked of being trained in the use of firearms explosives, home invasions and other techniques. he was told to come back and do an attack here. this is the expectation and prediction that the fbi and other u.s. security services have been saying from the beginning. these several hundred people that intend to go over there and learn how to be terrorist, you know that's one thing if they get killed on the battledfield there. if they come back that's the threat. >> thanks very much tom, for that update. still ahead, nearly 400 sailors and marines who died at pearl harbor have yet to be identified
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the pentagon announced this week it would be begin exhuming the remains of nearly 400 sailors and marines who perished at pearl harbor and who are now buried in anonymous mass graves in honolulu. it's because of a 93-year-old survivor of the attack who's been working tirelessly through the years to identify as many fallen sailors and marines as possible. ♪ >> december 7th 1941 a date
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which will live in infamy. >> with nearly 2400 killed the japanese bombardment on pearl harbor remains one of the deadliest attacks in u.s. history. minutes after the first bombs dropped, the uss oklahoma capsized and sank. 429 sailors and marines went down with it. more than 70 years later, the majority of those service members are still in hawaii, buried in mass graves. their remains never identified marked simply with a set of numbers and one word unknowns. their comrade, navy veteran and pearl harbor survivor ray emery, believes that's not enough. he's embarked on a final military campaign of sorts. his mission, to restore the names of the fallen. for years, he scoured through medical and service records, trying to piece together who's who. all while pushing the government
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to do the same. this week the pentagon announced it would join his cause. in a statement, deputy defense secretary robert work said analysis of all available evidence indicates that most oklahoma crew members could be identified individually if the caskets associated with the ship were disinterred. the secretary of defense and i will work tirelessly to ensure your loved ones' remains will be recovered, identified and returned to you as expeditiously as possible and we will do so with dignity, respect, and care. the defense department hopes to identify most of the unknown service members from the uss oklahoma and return them to their families for burial with full military honors. >> we are going to start with uss oklahoma but we'll also be looking at other unknown graves and determining whether they're eligible for disinterment in the future. >> with us now from new york is tom gray a relative of one of the sailors killed in pearl
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harbor. tom, thanks for joining us. thanks for what you're doing. tell us first of all about your relative edwin hopkins. >> he was a fireman third class. when the oklahoma went down he went down with it. it was razed in 1943. at this point, he was buryied. in 1949 in preparation of put saying lor sailors into the punch bowl he was exhumed with a number of others. at that point, because of a lot of decisions that were made at the time there was confusion, and he and a number of other sailors were put into unknown graves. ray emery, thanks to his great research eventually we found out in 2008 that edward hopkins had actually been recovered. his remains were marked edwin
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hopkins in 1943, but when the switchover came it was placed as unknown. at that point, the oklahoma family did research tracked down -- there was 27 people in the same category as my cousin. they opened up one of the graves in the early 2000s. five people were in it. they were recovered and brought home. unfortunately, there were about 60 to 100 other remains in the grave. at this point, the navy decided for different reasons not to continue with the program. >> the navy actually began this process, as you know to try to identify unknown remains about a decade ago. then the whole operation stopped. what happened? >> well apparently there was a lot of confusion or there was a lot of worry about the remains that were in the grave with the five sailors that were supposed to be in there. so at that point, a decision had been made not to go forward until all the remains from that
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casket had been identified. so that stopped the process. >> has there been any pushback from families who don't want this process to go forward, who don't want these remains disturbed? >> when we started this process, again, i started this process mainly with my cousin but then it started to evolve into the 22 sailors that this discrepancy concerned that ray emery had found out about. my state rep actually was working for senator chris murphy in connecticut. they picked up on this issue. he interviewed all of the families. there's 18 families concerning the 22 sailors left across the united states. at that point, one person had objections to it. they've since passed away. the rest of the people that are concerned, they're all for it.
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i understand the other point of view. i think it's valid, but we want our relatives home with us. >> some gray thanks very much. good luck to you. good luck to all the families. we appreciate it very much. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. the news continues next on cnn. all right. here we go. top of the hour. thank you so much for being with me on this friday. i'm brooke baldwin. let's begin with these reports we're just now getting that one of the world's most wanted terrorists has just been killed. his name is izzat ibrahim al douri. he was considered one of the worst. he was saddam's right-hand man. after the regime toppled,