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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  November 4, 2015 1:00pm-2:01pm PST

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attention if you will to the warnings that they were being given from elsewhere in the region. >> all right. nic robertson, thank you so much. st. petersburg, russia. thank you so much for being with me. stay right here with cnn. jake tapper takes it from here. "the lead" starts right now. thanks, brooke. to our viewers here in the united states and around the world, welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we're going to begin today with some breaking news. the latest u.s. intelligence suggesting that the crash of the russian passenger jet in the sinai peninsula in egypt over the weekend was likely caused by a bomb planted on the plane by isis or an isis affiliate. this would mean the crash of metrojet flight 9268 was an act of terror in the skies, the biggest such attack since 9/11. this news follows a move by the uk to delay flights due to leave from the sinai peninsula resort town sharm el sheikh, a
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suspension of such flights by ireland and news that the u.s. embassy in cairo, egypt, has instructed staff not to travel to the sinai. our reporters along with our terrorism and aviation experts are all standing by across several continents to bring you this breaking story. but let's start with cnn's barbara starr live for us at the pentagon. barbara, you and your team broke the story a short while ago. tell us what you know. >> well, cnn has been looking across all government agencies at any signs of what the obama administration may be thinking about all of this. and we now know that this is not a firm absolute conclusion, but indeed based on the intelligence they have the u.s. now does believe it was most likely a bomb that brought down this plane. i want to read to you exactly what one government source told us a short time ago, quote, there is a definite feeling it was an explosive device planted in luggage or somewhere on the plane. and they do believe the most likely perpetrator, isis or an isis affiliate.
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why do they say this? they are not sharing the intelligence they do have, but we know that they have been monitoring isis internal communications, not the public claims of responsibility, that has added to the picture that they have. this has developed over the last several days is our understanding from several sources. and we have seen it really come into public view in the last several hours as the british took their steps to stop flights back and forth to sharm el sheikh, ireland as you say following suit. the u.s. embassy in cairo issuing its warning. the focus now is what was the security at the sharm el sheikh airport. a british aviation team traveling to the airport there to look at it. don't look for those aviation flights to resume until there's some assurance by the european government that get flights right from that airport that it is safe. the egyptians say it's safe. there is a lot of concern.
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what u.s. officials are also telling us they had no indications before the attack, no pre-warning on any of this, but they had been looking at intelligence about growing militant activity in sinai over the last several weeks and months. it had been a growing concern by the u.s. as to what was happening in sinai. and now all of it they say adding up to a very strong belief they do indeed believe it was a bomb that brought down the plane and killed all 224 souls onboard, jake. >> barbara, any information about how the bomb might have gotten on to the plane? how it might have been planted there? >> right. a really good point. officials are telling cnn right now, again, the assessment is it got past airport security measures at sharm el sheikh in some fashion. whether it was passenger screening or whether it was the other airport security measures that someone was able to plant a bomb on the plane perhaps in the
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cargo hold, perhaps somewhere on the plane. there would be two ways either a passenger brought it on board or in fact somehow ground aviation crews somehow security failed and somebody brought this and planted it onboard the plane. i think that is why we are seeing so much concern about the state of the security measures at sharm el sheikh. because look, if it is isis, if it's an isis affiliate, no matter who it is the u.s. and governments around the world need to know who is out there that today has the ability to bring down a commercial airliner. >> barbara starr, thank you so much. let's bring in cnn aviation correspondent rene marsh. our cnn source says a device may have been planted in the luggage or on the plane perhaps in the cargo hold. what else are you learning about how this plane went down? >> barbara hit the nail on the head as far as what intelligence is telling us.
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this is separate from that heat flash we were talking so much about. but as officials zero in on this new leading theory of a bomb onboard, experts are examining the victims' bodies for signs of trauma from an explosion or even shrapnel. meantime new data from the plane is telling us more about the final minutes the passenger plane was in the air. when metrojet flight 9268 took off, the auto pilot was set for 32,000 feet. the plane climbed steadily but never made it to the desired altitude. at just over 30,000 feet the plane dives rapidly plunging at 300 miles per hour. >> the confirmation that this airplane was falling at such a rapid speed vertically and horizontally indicates that this airplane was a brick. at some point in time something caused it to be a brick. >> a possible bomb onboard metrojet 9268 is now the leading theory for both u.s.
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intelligence and british officials tonight. >> we cannot categorically say why the russian jet crashed, but we have become concerned that the plane may well have been brought down as a result of an explosive device. >> all uk flights to and from egypt's sinai peninsula have been halted. focus has intensified on the security at egypt's sharm el sheikh airport where the doomed russian flight took off. >> isis has been operating successfully, they've done assassinations of the political leaders in the region. there's no reason to think they've not been able to essentially compromise a security of the airport. this could be an inside operation, somebody that is or some people that are familiar with how the baggage process works. and let's not just limit it to the cargo hold. catering could be involved with this too. >> today, egyptian investigators searched wreckage for clues including bomb residue despite
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reporting from both u.s. and british officials and another claim of responsibility from isis. so far the egyptians maintain its found no evidence of terrorism. >> this is one way to nail the stability and security of egypt and the image of egypt. >> so far russia has publicly maintained it's too early to draw any conclusions. russian state media reported victims' bodies show no sign of trauma from an explosion. >> i think the russians also don't want to show vulnerability to the islamic state because they're fighting in syria. and the sense that they may be drawing violence against russians for what they're doing in syria may not play very well in russia. >> so far no sign of bomb residue on the wreckage, but that does not mean that there was no bomb. every single piece of this wreckage as well as the luggage must be tested. of course that will take some time. as far as those black boxes which we've been talking a lot about, we know they've been able
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to get information off the flight data recorder, but they're having some problems with the cockpit voice recorder because it's slightly damaged. >> all right. rene marsh, thank you so much. if investigators ultimately confirm what u.s. intelligence is saying is now likely that a bomb blasted this russian airliner out of the sky and that device was planted by a terrorist with isis or an isis affiliated group, that would be evidence that the terrorists could potentially have the capability of doing this to a passenger plane from the west, perhaps even the united states. something that would no doubt intensify the rush to defeat isis in washington, d.c. to talk about this crash and its potential impact on u.s. national security and foreign relations, republican presidential candidate and ohio governor john kasich who is a former member of the house armed services committee. governor kasich, good to see you. thanks for joining us. >> thank you, jake. >> assuming this intelligence proves correct, if you were
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president right now, what do you think you would do? >> well, jake, first of all of course our intelligence community has to be put on high alert. i mean, one of the things that's absolutely critical is to have robust intelligence to tell us when these things are going to happen. and it seems as though listening to the report that sharm el sheikh did not have the security even though there were intelligence reports that were indicating there was lack security. we need to make sure we have robust intelligence. and, jake, the fact is is that we don't have all the human intelligence that we need. it's very difficult. but it is absolutely critical that we rebuild our intelligence capabilities. secondly, look, we got to face facts. either you're going to pay me now or you're going to pay me a lot more later. and i would just hope that our western friends and people that share our western values would realize that the time has come to destroy isis as part of a coalition. and if that means that u.s. boots have to be on the ground,
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so be it. because to allow this to linger, to put this off, to think that somehow this is going to go away is naive at best. so if i were president, i'd be working the phones. i'd be working phones a lot sooner than this to deal with this worldwide menace and particularly a menace to our way of life. >> and how would you do that, sir? as you know the very first phone call justin trudeau, the new canadian prime minister made was to president obama saying canada was not going to participate in this fight against isis. obviously when president obama was pushing for a war against assad a few years ago, the british parliament also defeated a measure by british prime minister cameron to do that. how do you convince the u.s. allies to get some skin in the game? >> well, jake, you're beginning to see david cameron sound the warning in terms of these kinds of threats from groups like isis. look, it takes leadership.
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we have allowed our nato coalition partners to -- that relationship to basically deteriorate over time. and i also really want to hold the eu accountable for not bringing the turks, which are a moderating force into the european union. it takes hard work. but look, we also have people that we have shared values who are mostly at risk in the middle east, whether it's the jordanians, whether it's the saudis, whether it's the gulf states. i mean, we have to work all of them. and you have to work them aggressively, but the problem is, jake, and i don't really just want to talk about foreign policy in terms of taking shots at president obama, but frankly we have not led. and when you don't lead, you create doubt in the minds of our friends and also it encourages our enemies. and these relationships need to be more robust. and the united states needs to be more aggressive. i suggested a no-fly zone both on the turkish border in northern syria and in the jordanian border to provide
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sanctuary and also to send a message that the united states is interested and involved. its leadership -- jake, i served on that committee for 18 years, i followed it all of my adult life. and when we lead we get good outcomes most of the time. and when we don't lead bad things happen. >> one of our terrorism analysts said he thought this was the most significant, not the biggest, but most significant terror attack since 9/11. do you agree? >> well, it's really going to be shocking to people. and particularly to the russians. you know. and of course to the egyptians. because the egyptians have been fighting this image of a place where terrorism has taken root. and they're very concerned, which is why i think they're holding out saying exactly what happened with this airplane. but they now have a general in charge. and i know that we have now resumed aid to egypt which we should do because we're all in this battle together. they have been a force for
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moderation by and large in the middle east. and the fact is this is going to send a riveting message worldwide because it shows that with the planting of a bomb, we're all vulnerable. and we need to fight against it and destroy those people most responsible for this kind of activity, jake. >> governor, as a policy matter, how should a president or prime minister balance competing pressures when it comes to evils for want of a better term? for instance, should the common fight that the u.s. and russia have against isis impact how much the united states objects to russian in ukraine, assad should resign given that isis is our shared enemy. >> i would say sometimes friends disagree, russian isn't our friend, but i would say interested parties will
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disagree. as we don't do this, we create very great nervousness in the baltic states. even great nervousness with our friends in finland. so the united states has to be clear that first of all we will support those who support our objectives. and secondly, we need to reinforce our relations particularly in eastern europe and nato by prepositioning equipment. at the same time over in syria assad has to go. because the link there is between iran, russia and assad. assad has to go. now, i have to tell you, jake, i don't like this idea of putting 50 military advisers into syria. i don't want to get into a middle of a civil war. those things never work. they never come out in the way we want. but we should be part of a coalition. we should be part of a coalition to destroy isis. and we can support the rebels in syria without us having to directly intervene, something i suggested well over a year ago. >> governor john kasich of ohio, thank you so much. appreciate your time, sir.
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>> thank you, jake. much more of this breaking story next. we'll go live to sharm el sheikh in egypt where this plane took off. was security at the airport too lax? stay with us. big day? ah, the usual. moved some new cars. hauled a bunch of steel. kept the supermarket shelves stocked. made sure everyone got their latest gadgets. what's up for the next shift? ah, nothing much. just keeping the lights on. (laugh) nice. doing the big things that move an economy. see you tomorrow, mac. see you tomorrow, sam. just another day at norfolk southern. when your cold makes you wish... could stay... bed all day... need the power of... new theraflu expressmax.
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welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. you're watching "the lead." i'm jake tapper. let's go back to our breaking news. u.s. intelligence sources telling cnn that the crash of a russian passenger jet in the sinai peninsula over the weekend was most likely caused by a bomb put on the plane planted by isis or an isis affiliate. let's go to the center of this investigation in egypt. cnn's erin mclaughlin joins me live from sharm el sheikh where this doomed flight took off.
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what's the status of the investigation there? what are the egyptian officials saying? >> reporter: at the moment egyptian authorities are not commenting on the u.s. intelligence assessment. today we did speak with the egyptian foreign minister who says it's too soon, too premature to draw any conclusions. he pointed to this ongoing investigation, egypt's civil aviation authority says they're in the process of analyzing the black boxes. in terms of the flight data recorder they've managed to download all the information from that. they're combing through that. no conclusions on that so far. in terms of the docockpit voice recorder, they say that has been damaged. that analysis could take longer. worth noting, jake, from the outset egyptian authorities have been downplaying the possibility of terrorism. >> erin, does airport security there appear to be lax or at least not as intense as it is in europe or the united states? >> reporter: i would say nothing
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unusual when we flew yesterday from cairo airport to the airport in sharm el sheikh. we flew onboard egypt airlines. we saw nothing out of the ordinary. typically security situation at an airport in egypt there are two levels of checks one, baggage check when you enter the airport, and then handbags get scanned again prior to boarding. unclear what happens to your actual luggage that you check in. so at cairo, at sharm el sheikh, no additional security. that's in line with what we were hearing from the egyptians interior ministry yesterday. saying no additional security precautions in place pointing to the fact they said at the time there were no indications this was a result of terrorism. egypti egyptian's foreign minister today saying they have made the decision to increase security at all airports throughout egypt. this they say is more to assure people, not in response to any conclusions drawn from the investigation itself.
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>> erin mclaughlin in sharm el sheikh, egypt. thank you so much. cnn analyst paul crook shank, david soucie, paul, let me start with you. what might intelligence officials know that we do not? >> well, it seems part of this intelligence comes from isis communications, private communications between isis operatives which has led the united states intelligence agencies to this conclusion, this quite preliminary conclusion this could be a terrorist attack. the intelligence is suggesting an insider at the airport may have been responsible. they said this wasn't a kind of underwear type bomb sophisticated bomb. this was a conventional bomb. it was presumably put on the plane with the help of an insider at the airport. you don't just walk a bomb onto a plane at a place like sharm el
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sheikh airport. so i think that's the dominant scenario right now of an insider being recruited or paid off by isis or one of its affiliates. of course the affiliate on the ground there in sinai is the sinai province -- >> the uk and ireland are now either delaying or suspending flights from sharm el sheikh, the resort town in the southern where this flight took off.from- do you anticipate the u.s. and other than western countries to follow suit? >> i absolutely do, jake. the risk assessment and the risk mitigation. risk assessment is based on what is it that they know, what's happening right now. mitigation is say iing just the idea or hazard that it might be is going to increase the mitigation efforts. and that's what they're doing right now. i think it's a very smart thing to do. i think everybody should take heed with that. >> paul, isis has been claiming it was responsible for taking down this metrojet flight.
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they were initially dismissed, those claims, when the crash first happened on saturday. today they seem to be taken a bit more seriously. is the only thing that changed this possible interception of isis communications? >> that's the main thing that has changed, jake. and those statements put out by isis were very strange because at first it was just eight lines. i mean, this would be the biggest terror attack since 9/11, the most significant terror attack since lines not explaining how you do it. today they released an audiotape saying they weren't going to explain exactly how they did it. well, if they recruited an insider at sharm el sheikh airport, that might explain why they were being so coy. they didn't want to give their game away perhaps. >> david, what are the chances that a bomb cleared security and then made it on to the plane? >> not very good actually, jake. because the airport there -- i just finished my airport security recertification just a
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couple months ago. we studied that airport specifically as well as others, but in that scenario they have very sophisticated baggage screening processes including the barometric pressure changes. so if it was to go off at altitude, it would have been detected before it got on to the airplane. as far as airports go, the baggage screening getting it through security is really difficult to do. again, i agree with what the other guest is saying most likely if it was a bomb would have been an inside operation. >> david souci and paul cruickshank, stay with us. we'll have more on this. just how dangerous is the sinai peninsula in egypt right now? how big of an isis presence or isis affiliated presence is there in egypt? we'll ask a top expert in that area next. ♪
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i want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm jake tapper. you're watching "the lead." and we are following breaking news. u.s. intelligence suggesting that isis or an isis affiliate bombed a russian airliner early saturday morning over the sinai peninsula, to be precise put a bomb in the plane. the crash killing 224 people including 25 children. cnn aviation correspondent richard quest joins me now. richard, this is still preliminary information. you hear officials hedging it. we don't have concrete evidence yet. >> we don't, but the
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significance of what paul was reporting and barbara is reporting is that this was one of the roads, the options that was always on the table and now is the prime reason or possibility. remember, jake, when the plane fell out of the sky in the cruise there was only a certain limited number of options. and top of the list from day one was always terrorist activities because planes don't crash. but you needed something to hang it on. otherwise you are looking at structural failure, pilot error, whatever it might be. and now the british are saying it may, the u.s. intelligence is saying that it suggests it was a bomb. so you start to cut away all the other potential reasons. and, you know, it is pretty difficult to bring down a plane in the absence of a bomb. planes are designed to fly. even when they go wrong mechanically. so the significance of the last couple of hours cannot be
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overstated. it's a game changer. everything changes now about the investigation. the way the criminal mind will now be looked at. and of course security at airports particularly in egypt. >> and, richard, as an aviation expert did this look initially to you as though it was likely an act of terrorism based upon the information we've gotten, how the plane fell apart, the trajectory of all the bodies and the parts of the plane? >> from the moment the plane disappeared, the answer's no. if a plane falls out the sky in the cruise, you always think bomb first of all. but then you remember cases like air france 447, asia and others and you start to balance that out with other stories. and you start to look out for how did the plane come out of the sky. but the key to this was that report that barbara starr brought us a couple of days ago about the satellite heat flash.
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now, the moment you had that satellite heat flash everything shifts back to a bomb. planes don't blow up for no reason, i can tell you that after covering it for three decades. you know, they do not -- tanks do not blow up automatically. there's only been a couple of cases in all the years. so the moment you had the heat flash and now you've got this other information, you are now looking at a bomb. but what i'm waiting for is frankly the egyptians and the russians to come clean and say, yes, we are now seeing evidence of what everybody else is talking about. they are the ones that are going to have to confirm it with the hard, fast evidence of the wreckage. >> richard quest, thank you so much for your expertise. much more on this breaking news story ahead. britain and ireland now suspending flights from the sinai peninsula over fears that this was a terrorist bomb. that story next. when it comes to helping you reach your financial goals,t taking small, manageable steps can be an effective...
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we're back with breaking news. u.s. intelligence suggesting that isis or an isis affiliate caused saturday's crash of a russian passenger airliner in egypt, 224 people died in that crash including 25 children. let's go to cnn's phil black who's live in london for us. phil, a strong statement from the very top there, prime minister david cameron saying a bomb very well may have brought down this plane. what are you hearing about how intelligence has been gathered there in the uk? >> reporter: well, even stronger language we're just hearing used at a government meeting that took place here tonight, jake, from a government official we're told the assessment now is there's a strong possibility there was an explosive device onboard this plane. the government today announced in its suspicion that this could be the case that they had grounded all direct flights from sharm el sheikh to the uk there are five carriers that make those direct flights. we were told suspension was
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initially for today. the uk has sent its own team of experts to the ground in sharm el sheikh to assess the security there. that work is ongoing. they're saying they're working closely with egyptian government officials. and as a result they believe there's still more work there that needs to be done. and so flights remain suspended. no one will be coming and going directly from the uk. it raises the question of how people who are there already will eventually get back. the government says they're now looking at putting on special flights with special security for people who are keen to leave there and get back to the uk here. they're not releasing precisely what information has led them to this conclusion, but they are being very open, very specific, very clear in the statements that are coming from the prime minister's office, from the government here. they believe strongly that there is a strong possibility an explosive device being responsible for bringing down that aircraft, jake. >> and, phil, having covered the uk for so long, the british
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government is rather circumspect, they're cautious when they say things like this. so even a statement that says they believe it's very likely suggests that there's much, much more that they're not saying. >> reporter: indeed. this is not the sort of statement that would be made lightly or without considerable consideration. the way that they are disseminated this information i think is really important. it's not through behind the scenes briefings. it's not through anonymous sources. these are very clearly specifically worded statements directly from the prime minister's office which indicates they have very strong reason to make these statements to take the precautions that they are taking, which has been discussing including grounded these direct flights but also sending in their own team to assess the security in another sovereign country, jake. >> phil black, thank you so much. let's bring in an expert on the sinai peninsula, sinai, wrote a
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book that came out four days ago. thank you so much for joining us. we appreciate you sharing your expertise with us. does it surprise you at all that theoretically according to u.s. intelligence does that explain having studied the region so long and so well is a surprise? >> well, it is not surprising. i have to say it's a wild theory, but it's not surprising. we've seen isis in egypt infiltrate at higher levels of security. we've seen them leading assassinations on their interior minister, on the prosecutor general, they did not succeed with the interior minister but succeeded with the prosecutor general. they were working closely with ex-military officers, ex-special operations officers. and they have had a long history of building sophisticated bombs using suicide bombers and
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explosive vehicles. just this morning another suicide attack was seen in the most -- supposedly the most secure city and home of the majority of the security apparatuses and institutions in sinai. >> wow. and let me ask you, when people talk about there being isis or isis affiliate presence in the sinai, what are they talking about? are these merely religious extremist who is fled cairo after general sisi took control? are these actually people with allegiance to al baghdadi, the leader of isis in syria? who are they? >> oh, they are sophisticated terrorists that existed and operated in sinai even before sisi. they started operations in 2011. we've seen attacks on the gas pipeline in israel leading to countries, we've seen major attacks on the military and police departments over the years before sisi. and after sisi's rise to presidency and the brutal campaign of the military in
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sinai this group pledged allegiance to isis. now, how effective that is we cannot really assess that namely because of the egypt policy and keeping anyone from having access to it which is very similar to what we're having now. we're not hearing anything specific or anything detailed from the egyptian authorities or the russian authorities. and this has been the policy for decades. >> because they don't want to empower them by giving them more attention or information. >> or because they simply don't want the media or international community to have access to what's going on in sinai because of violations, flawed policies and so many other reasons. >> all right. thank you so much for joining me. >> thank you. >> if isis did get a bomb inside a passenger plane, and it looks like it might have been according to u.s. intelligence, what does that mean for the flights in the united states? we'll ask the ranking democrat on the house intelligence committee next. ous, big idaho potato truck.
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to everyone watching here in the united states and around the world, welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. 224 people including 25 children
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killed by a bomb planted on a plane by isis or its affiliates, that's the latest u.s. intelligence on what took that metrojet airliner out of the sky. let's talk about this possible terror attack with the ranking democrat on the house intelligence committee adam schiff. congressman, thanks for joining us. >> you bet. >> have you been briefed on this incident? is there anything new you can tell us? does what you're being told by investigators match what our reporting that isis or isis affiliate planted a bomb on this plane? >> i have been briefed and i guess i would urge people not to jump to any conclusions yet. we are still trying to confirm what the cause of the crash was. it is certainly possible that it was an explosive, but it's also possible that this was a structural problem with the plane with the tail section of the plane. so at this point i don't think we're prepared to draw any conclusions. but obviously we're investigating it and directing our intelligence resources to try to determine the cause of the crash.
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>> you were in the sinai just a few months ago. what can you tell us about the presence of extremists, of terrorists, of even isis affiliates in the sinai and their capabilities? >> well, there has been a terrorism presence there for quite some time. but it has become much more potent, much more numerous, the sophistication of the attacks largely on the egyptian military have been increasing in their intensity. and their scope. so there is a very substantial terrorism problem there. we've had an observer mission there as part of an agreement between israel and egypt for many, many years. but that's had to be significantly curtailed because of the level of threat and violence. so it is certainly an area that has become unfortunately a hotbed for many terrorists. and this is, you know, undoubtedly something the islamic state in the sinai would aspire to do. i don't know that they would have the capability of shooting down an aircraft. there was some early at least
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public reports that that might have taken place. an aircraft of that altitude i think that makes it very unlikely. but the sophistication required to place a bomb on an aircraft is far less substantial. and that is one of the possibilities that we have to consider. >> if that proves to be correct, what u.s. officials are telling cnn that it is most likely an isis or isis affiliated group that placed a bomb on the plane, would this -- should this significantly alter national security thinking? >> well, it would certainly alter, i think, the precautions that airlines in the region would have to take. what we would be advising our own travelers potentially in the region. in terms of our efforts in egypt, in syria and iraq, it probably doesn't change that very much. the biggest impact though may be on russia. if ultimately there's some confirmation that isis did bring this plane back -- bring it down rather, the question would be what impact would that have on
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putin, on the russian psyche on their willingness to commit even greater forces to the conflict. that may be the biggest question mark if that's the case. but again, i'd caution your viewers not to jump to any conclusions at this point. we'll know a lot more when those black boxes are analyzed. >> all right. adam schiff, congressman from the house intelligence committee, thank you so much for joining us. appreciate it. much more on this breaking story. we're going to take a very quick break. back after this.
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to our viewers in the united states and around the world, welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we're going to continue to follow the breaking news here in washington. the latest u.s. sbiintelligences the metrojet was brought down by a bomb delivered to the cargo of the plane by isis or isis
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affiliates. let's bring in cnn justice correspondent pamela brown. now, pamela, you have new information on why u.s. officials believe this is almost certainly what happened. >> that's right. we're learning that some of the intelligence that officials are basing this theory on, this bomb theory on, is chatter that they picked up after the plane went down. this is chatter from isis in the sinai peninsula that would indicate perhaps they were responsible for bringing the plane down. we know that isis has already come out and said it was responsible, but now there's been additional chatter picked up. however, i should caution, jake, that there hasn't been anything else to corroborate that chatter such as forensic wreckage with bomb residue on it. so that is a big reason why u.s. officials are being cautious and jumping to any conclusions right now. but i can tell you officials i've spoken to today have said it is a significant concern that a bomb was put on this plane or there was a suicide bomber on the plane and that isis in the
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sinai peninsula could be responsible. isis in the sinai peninsula is one of the most active isis affiliates. it has shown bomb making capabilities. but if it was able to put a bomb on the plane and bring a plane down, this would be an increase in the sophistication. this would be right up there with something that aqap could do. officials i've spoken to today say there's been no evidence thus far that this group has the same capabilities as aqap and has the sophistication level to do something like this. so this would be pretty significant if in fact it did pull this off. officials i've spoken to say one of the theories they're looking at is that the bomb was actually planted on the plane rather than a suicide bomber because they've looked through the passenger manifest. and there aren't any red flags from looking through all the passengers or any connections they may have had to terrorists. that is why they're looking at this theory that perhaps a bomb could have been placed on the plane and then detonated once it reached a certain altitude. which again would take a certain
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level of sophistication there, jake. >> all right. pamela brown, thank you so much. joining me now cnn national security analyst bob behr. what do you make of this news cautioned as it were with caveats from u.s. intelligence suggesting that they believe isis or one of its affiliates in all likelihood placed this bomb, a bomb, on a russian airliner over the sinai peninsula? >> well, jake, it's looking more and more like they're convinced of it. they don't go on the record like this downing straight and u.s. intelligence it was a bomb unless they have pretty good evidence. by the way, a lot of this chatter doesn't make sense until after the event occurred. so they could have seen signs of this. it wasn't actionable intelligence, but the plane goes down, they see that heat signature over the sinai and evidence is mounting. and the fact that sharm el sheikh's airport is not particularly secure. but i'd also like to add and
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what everybody seems to be missing is in 2003 the world's most adept airplane bomber was in baghdad. and a lot of his equipment was taken including explosives by iraqi intelligence officers. many of who right now are working with the islamic state. so this is just a total hypothesis, but the possibility that they took this technology and took it to the sinai to take down a russian airplane we can't rule out. i mean, isis can ramp up its sophistication very quickly because it has widespread support across the middle east including people know what they're doing when it comes to terrorism. >> bob baer, very quickly, how sophisticated a bomb maker need one be to get a bomb onto a flight like this in a place like sharm el sheikh? >> with a timer you could even get through security very easy. i asked a technician who reconstructs these bombs. and i said, you know, for instance tsa, what is the chances of getting a bomb through a very -- a good airport he said about 65%.
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>> 65% in good airport security. bob baer, thank you so much. stay tuned to cnn. wolf blitzer's going to have a lot more on this. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. "the situation room" starts right now. happening now, breaking news. bomb on board, cnn is now learning that u.s. intelligence suggests the crash of that russian passenger jet in egypt was most likely caused by a bomb on the plane planted by isis. is isis responsible? sources telling cnn that internal communications and increased activity in the region point to a terrorist plot. did an isis sympathizer at the airport plant an explosive device on the plane? flights grounded. new revelations are prompting fear and some countries suspending all flights to and from that resort. is weak airport security to blame? and how great is the risk to americans? ultimate betrayal, a stunning twist in the cas