tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN November 14, 2015 11:00am-11:31am PST
i'm erin burnett live in paris. i want to welcome our viewers this. is cnn's special live coverage of the horrific terrorist attacks across this city where i am standing tonight. it is 8:00 in the evening here. night has long since fallen. it got dark early. one of the most vibrant cities on earth feels anything but. it is palpable. you have a sense of tears a use walk around. everyone is incredibly somber. at least 129 lives have been
lost in the worst violence to strike this city since world war ii. at least one of those lives was american, more than 350 people are hurt. 99 of them at this hour critically fighting for their lives. all of this in a coordinated series of bomb blasts and shootings that began almost 24 hours ago. now, isis is claiming responsibility and warning that these attacks are, quote, the first of the storm. the president of france says that this is war. isis says there were eight attackers armed with automatic rifles and wrapped in explosives. the french say they were seven attackers and they are giving us much more information we have learned in the past few minutes. all of the attackers from last night were killed, one was a french national already known to police. and police are now trying to track down accomplices. there are so many questions about that outstanding at this time.
raids underway in belgium tonight. and we are learning more by -- on that, minute by minute as these raids are happening through the night. and we just got a lot of new information from the paris prosecutor. what are you learning now? >> you know, for years, since the mumbai attacks, u.s. and european counterterror officials have been talking about this very scenario. concern about a mumbai-style attack in a major western city. and that's what we've seen. and what's remarkable is the amount of carnage able to be carried out by just according to the french as we learned seven attackers. of course, isis claiming eight of them in those three groups attacking three separate targets in the city able to kill 129 people, injure some 352. that level of carnage just remarkable. then we get to the sophistication and how international this was. so the french have said and identified by fingerprints. we reported this earlier that at least one of the attackers was french. so someone from france.
there was also an egyptian and a syrian passport discovered near the bodies of some of the other attackers, including the syrian passports. the greeks say was possibly a migrant who came through in the last several weeks. >> this passport, and i want to emphasize the word passport linked to someone who had gone through a specific entry point. >> that's right. >> they don't know whether the person carrying the passport. >> that's still the question. >> it's an indicator, but they don't know for sure. you have here an international nexus in effect. you have a syrian, egyptian and a french person. you have raids being conducted now in belgium. and we're hearing of arrests there, as well. there's a belgian connection to this. and you'll remember raids in belgium soon after that attack. belgium is a hot bed of weapons trafficking. president hollande said something interesting. not only that it was isis. but it had both local and international elements. and international coordination.
but they believe there was some -- >> it was directed. are we now seeing evidence of an isis central or core as we saw with al qaeda? >> president hollande said you have local assistance to a plot with foreign support. and, of course, they'll be investigating now to what degree it was directed. the order came down, for instance, these are your three targets and this is how you're going to attack them. or was it something more organic saying carry out an attack and they pick their target. we've seen mixes of that over time. but regardless, it is international. it is coordinated. it is certainly deadly. it seems to have both local and international elements. all fitting together with exactly the kind of threat that u.s. and european officials have been worried about for some time and now it's happened. >> all right. jim is going to be with me as he continues to break more on this. you know, it's hard to overstate as you walk through the streets here. you get a sense of being a normal person and that last night everything was normal and something happened that is incomprehensible. and it happened in a place with
charlie hebdo attacks were that the world thought couldn't happen. they didn't have intelligence about it, which is unbelievably terrifying. we are learning new information as they're trying to track down exactly how that could've happened after the raids in brussels. the source is telling cnn one of those is related to the attacks in paris. and i want to go to nic robertson at the stadium where one of the attacks took place. nic, what exactly are you learning about those raids. >> well, one of the things the french prosecutor talked about was that all the attackers use the same type, they all wore what were essentially suicide vests and he said that the explosive in the suicide vest was tatp. that's a homemade explosive. it's an explosive that al qaeda has used in the past, an explosive that can be made with fairly readily available commercial products that can be purchased over the counter. this is the explosive that was used by the london underground
bombers back in 2005. they killed 52 people and themselves, as well, in that attack. so what the french will be looking for now will be the factory where these explosives were made. because they can be cooked up quite literally in a kitchen. it requires a lot of careful heating of some of the components. and then they will be mixed to make the explosive form itself that is relatively unstable. so this is a big lead for the french. they're clearly following up on the cars that were spotted in the vicinity. they'll be able to get information from the weapons and trace those back where they came from. the other connections they're looking for, the financiers, as well. they say, the people that helped organize and motivate this. erin? >> all right. nic robertson, thank you very much. and as we're trying to track all those threads down tonight, we are also starting to learn, just starting to learn about the incredible carnage. the victims in this attack. sources are now telling cnn, an
american woman is among the dead. we are learning more about her. let's get to our justice correspondent pamela brown. you have been learning. what can you tell us about this young woman? >> i can tell you, she was very young studying abroad in paris. her name was 23-year-old gonzales. that's according to cal state long beach university which issued a statement moments ago saying that she was a junior at the university, was studying abroad, one of nearly 80 foreign exchange students, and she was studying design at the college of design. and in this statement, the school says, i'm deeply saddened by the news of the passing of long beach state university student. our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends during this sad time. our university stands with our nearly 80 foreign exchange students from france as they struggle with this tragedy. and we have learned, erin, that the university will be holding a vigil tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. in her honor. so that those who knew her and those that want to pay their
respects can come and mourn. i will tell you that u.s. officials are still trying to identify who the victims are at this hour. and i have been cautioned that the death toll and the injury toll could rise. and that process is still ongoing. also, erin, in light of the fact that this victim was a student. a foreign exchange student, i can tell you a lot of different universities have been posting online saying their students that were studying abroad in paris are safe. but there's been a lot of concern among parents about their children studying abroad there in paris. and now, we are learning one of them, 23-year-old gonzales was killed in one of the attacks. officials saying it's believed she was killed at one of the restaurants. erin? >> thank you very much. just a few moments, i'm going to be joined by someone at a restaurant next door who actually saw this. you're going to see some of the photos that -- we'll wait to do that in a moment.
as i talk about the pictures we're going to see. it is -- it is -- >> it's brutal. >> it is brutal. >> and it hits to the heart of any urban society. any normal civil society. people go out on friday nights. it's the end of the week. people crowd into the street. people want to have a drink with their friends, than want to listen to music. and this is isis taking the fight to a whole new level. this is isis saying, okay, you thought we were there in our caliphate. we're going to be here. we're going to blow your planes out of the air. we're going to bomb you to hell in beirut. and we're going to come here to the heart of western europe. and ten months after what we did to charlie hebdo, 10 months after that, 10 months after that. at the time of the most heightened security because all the world leaders are coming in for the summit. we are going to do this. 129 people dead, 352 wounded. >> does this change, christiane? if you were in a city like paris that was prepared, they say that
now this is a state of emergency. they were on high alert. one of these individuals was already known to them. and yet, still this could happen. not just one attack, seven coordinated attacks. >> i spoke to a senator here earlier this evening who talked about, you know, the war in syria, but also the borders, the competing, you know, keeping the european values of the free movement. but also trying to make sure that you can check who comes in and out. i've talked to the turkish prime minister just a few days ago before this. but around the time of the russian downing that this is about the war in syria. that unless the war in syria has ended. this is not going to end. and this is a global fight. and we've heard today the rhetoric totally changed from the french. it mean, president hollande was very strong. he said quite clearly that a war has been declared on france. war has been declared on france. we have to respond. that this is a war by terrorists, by jihadists.
a war he said was planned outside but carried out inside. still waiting to hear the details of those people who were actually involved. and then his opponent, former president nicholas sarkozy who could also try to run for the next election saying france is at war, we cannot surrender. we must not retreat. we must use every means of our diplomatic and domestic policy as if we're at war. >> what does that mean, though? when the united states says that, that would mean ground troops. that would mean this war's completely changed. and it would seem this is a 9/11 moment. that is what it could mean for france. >> well, you know, erin, i don't think anyone's see this kind of attack since then. it is the worst attack in europe. there were other numbers, they were numbers bigger in madrid, bigger in mumbai. nonetheless, these kind of terrorist attacks. this is from the new group who is redefining and has a higher ability to conduct attacks.
look, russian plane, beirut, paris, in the space of about ten days. this is very, very severe. >> 400 people. >> it's huge. in three different locations and they have the ability to come here using the passports they carry, that they went out to join isis with, that they store, according to michael weiss who has done exhaustive interviews and books on isis. they don't burn their passports when they go there. all these thousands of europeans and americans and others, whoever they might be, they keep their passports precisely so they can come back. >> of course. it's the most valuable thing they have. >> so, it is a much higher fear factor in terms of the terrorists. and, intelligence are saying because of the incredible speed of the violent radicalization of the people in these countries because of the online ability, the intelligence are finding it too difficult to stop them in time.
is it a turning point? it should be, erin. war has been declared. and not one country has yet tried to stop the war in syria by means of defeating assad and isis. nobody's tried it. now they're trying diplomacy. we'll see if that works. they haven't talked about, you know, is isis bound by a cease-fire? is isis going to talk about a transition in syria? is isis going to go to elections? every world leader tells me this is not going to end until the war in syria is over. it will not end. if the refugee crisis galvanized the world, now this is going to double galvanize them. and this was already going to be the focus of conversation at the g-20. refugees in syria. now you've got war declared on the streets of europe by isis. this was the blowback that everybody was terrified of. it is here. >> it is here. and of course, as we've been saying, one of those passports coming from someone who is a syrian refugee on one of the
attackers. we do not know if that was the person linked to that passport. but certainly, that is something that could end up being the case. christiane, thank you very much, and everyone, u2 was going to be performing live seen around the world, obviously, postponing that concert, but they were at one of the memorials here in paris tonight. you saw the band just moments ago. paying their respects. at that memorial. coming up, we're going to hear from an american who survived last night's terror. his account about what happened when gunmen opened fire and what he actually saw. you will see it. but first, i want you to listen to one man doing his part by bringing a grand piano to the concert hall. ♪
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>> no words can describe that sort of terror. of the more than 350 people wounded last night in the shootings and suicide bombings, almost 100 are in critical condition as i speak at this moment. our ben wedeman joins me with that part of the story. and ben, what do we know about the condition of the injured, the nationalities of these victims. whether they think these people will be able to survive? >> well, we understand that as many as 80 people remain in critical condition out of about 300 who were wounded in that attack. and as far as their individual conditions, it's hard to say. now, we did go to one of the hospitals where many of the victims are being treated. and the staff there are under strict orders not to let media in to speak to the wounded. now, we're now in the where hundreds of people have come to
express their shock solidarity, and their defiance in the aftermath of these attacks. on top of that monument behind me, there are old posters from january on the attack of charlie hebdo, and those posters are still there. but now beneath, people are mourning this latest attack. what's interesting, there's a police car with a loud speaker here that every once in a while has been telling people to go home to clear this square because of this security situation. but people are defiant. we spoke to one elderly paris resident who told us that people must come out. they must show that they're not afraid. and they must resist, she said, resist the desire of al qaeda, of isis, other groups to essentially terrify them into
changing their lives. and they're here to insist that their lives will go on. many people i spoke with said, yes, we realize now after last night's attack that france is at war. now is a time i was told for solidarity for people to come together to stick by the values that france holds of solidarity, of equality, of fraternity. and not give in to this wave of terror. erin? >> ben wedeman, thank you. and he was next door to one of the restaurants that came under fire last night. clark, thank you for coming and talking to me. everyone watching around the world has such empathy for paris. fear, you know, prayers. and i want them to understand exactly what happened. behind us where 89 people were
slaughtered in cold blood last night. you were eating dinner less than a mile from here, about ten blocks away. >> right. >> what happened? >> well, we were walking to dinner, we walked right past where the shooting took place moments later. we walked by. minutes later, we heard this incredible gunfire. we went out to see what happened, to see if i could be helpful to the people next door. the police didn't come for another 20 minutes, and i got there, there were six people lying on the ground in front of the restaurants and many more inside. there was a rumor there was a sniper upstairs in the restaurant. we took cover and tried to take care of these people. there was nothing to do. >> and you have shared with us a photo. and i want to warn everyone. this is an incredibly hard photo to look at. %-p tears. people on the ground, blood. outside a cafe. this is what -- this happened. >> yeah.
>> here's -- it's awful. but that's not why i went. i went to be helpful. i said, somebody's got to take a picture of this. it's incredible. everybody trying to help. screaming in every directions. i think now there'd been a shooting before and the police came late. and the next hour and a half, there was e-mail, internet, news, as we figured out the scale and magnitude and tried to be helpful to those in front of us. >> and in that photo, there are two men with their arms out. and you believe they were trying to get help as you were trying to get help. >> right. >> as you say, these attacks were simultaneous. it took help a while to come. >> these guys were trying to get attention from somebody in a uniform. meanwhile, those of us right there were trying to get the ones falling down. >> and those people who were on the ground. do you know what happened to them? were they still alive? >> we just went by that restaurant a few minutes earlier. it's an open air cafe. it was a beautiful night in paris. everybody out on the street. lots of things going on.
people out celebrating. and they must have driven by. i don't know what happened. they were out attacking. and these people were shot innocently having coffee on the ground. >> and you walked by and said the very people who then moments later lost their lives. >> yes. three or four minutes ahead of them going to the restaurant next door. for the grace of god. >> it is -- it is impossible for people to understand. and on such a beautiful night. you, then, were in the restaurant and not able to leave for many hours. >> the police then came and blockaded the street and we were locked down in the restaurant until 4:00 a.m. and the word went out. by that time, we had this incredible information around the world. and everybody else knew. and then at 4:00 a.m., put the gate up and said find your way home. there's no metro here after midnight. we found a taxi at 4:00. i dropped everybody else off on the way home. >> and then, when you walked outside, what was the scene then? were they -- had they been able to, paramedics had come? >> yes, we went the other way,
but there were balances coming in every single direction. and they were -- everybody was very nice telling us which way to go, which way not to go. by then, we'd all knew. we'd been watching for hours. the extent of what happened. we were about six blocks away from the theater and it was amazing. watch the theater, they're about to go in. they're going in. and we were getting it. >> you were -- you were 9/11? you were in new york? >> yes, i was there that day, yeah. >> you were there that day. >> we used to talk about business a lot those days. >> you and i have known each other for a long time. and you now were here. is this the same feeling? >> yes. except the scale and magnitude and all of it all over at the same time. this was largely done as was that for effect. places that have a lot of people watching. the world is watching and i don't know how to say, yes. we have to figure out why this is going on and what we can do to stop it.
>> i think people are trying to understand, you know, just the fate and the fear that you walked by. you walked by and saw people having coffee or a glass of wine. whatever it might have been on a beautiful night. two or three minutes. it was just that -- was it like that? that you could -- >> who organized the photographer said we're going to meet at this one. it was very nice. we could've gone to that one. they picked one outside open on the street they probably could drive by, attack and move on. but literally, we were there. we said just a few minutes earlier. it could have been any of us. it was really remarkable. but then watching and listening and the momentum build and we knew from around the world what was happening. >> and there was something that happened in the restaurant where you were that i think speaks volumes to people coming together. >> yeah. >> and that was as you found out what was happening, you all were taking cover. you weren't allowed to leave? >> no. >> the restaurant fed you. >> fed us dinner.
they said this is what you were supposed to do. and we sort of ate it -- >> they did that? >> they did that. >> i snuck out because being the oldest of the group, i wanted to know what was going on and see if there was further danger. we knew, nothing was going to happen more in that particular neighborhood. at least we thought that. >> well, clark, thank you very much for sharing something. thank you. >> happy to do it. nice to see you. >> and we're continuing to stay on top of this breaking situation here in paris as the story develops minute by minute. still to come, isis threatening more attacks promising that this attack here in paris is just the first of in their words the storm. how will france respond to what president hollande called an act of war. whei just put in the namey, of my parents and my grandparents. and as soon as i did that, literally it was like you're getting 7, 9, 10, 15 leaves that are just
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