tv CNN Newsroom- Paris Terror Attacks CNN November 16, 2015 6:00am-8:01am PST
good morning to our viewers watching in the united states and around the world. i'm anderson cooper live from paris. a lot to report on in this hour. isis speaks to the world just a short time ago. a new propaganda tape praises the attacks in paris and vowing to unleash new carnage elsewhere. the new isis targets french allies, including a threat of a strike on washington, d.c. meanwhile, police launch more than 150 raids here in france. within the last few hours, this sweep in neighboring belgium. two dozen people are now in custody. more than 100 others are under house arrest. also, a global man hunt now underway for this man who may have been involved in the attacks. salah abdeslam is a french
civilian born in belgium. one of his brothers died in the attack. another has just been released from custody in belgium, where prosecutors had arrested him as part of the investigation. in fact, of the seven people arrested in belgium, five of them are now free. next hour, we're beginning to hear from the leaders of france and the united states. president hollande will address the french parliament and barack obama will discuss the u.s. role in france's air strikes on isis. there's a lot ahead in the next hour, as well as in this hour. i want to begin with nick paton walsh, who is joining us this morning from erbil, iraq. what's the latest on the new threat from isis? >> well, it is very much r relevant to the usual language, goading on the enemies but referencing the attacks in paris, saying they wish to make a similar assault in washington, the u.s. capital.
>> translator: we say to the countries that participate in the crusader campaign, i swear to god, a similar day that france went through, you will go through. i swear to god as we struck france and its stronghold paris, we will strike america and its stronghold, washington. with god's will. >> now, they have consistently made similar threats. this carries all the logos, the hallmarks of the usual isis propaganda. it's the timing, anderson, this renewed threat that's important. in the hours since the attacks, they have worked hard to get these people on camera, to put this together, to make it clear that they are actually wanting this fight. that's always been the isis message. apocalyptic beckoning on the end of days, despite the coalition air power above them. they seem to go to goad on their oppone opponents, who they call the crusader mission, the u.s. and its allies.
perhaps to say they're trying to track more recruits, anderson. >> nick, in terms of actions against isis, both in syria and iraq, what have we seen over the last 24 hours? >> first of all, the french have a politically toned message carried out. 20 separate explosions from air strikes, performed by ten jets of a fleet of 12, which were predominantly around the suburbs of raqqa. activists saying two major areas, the stadium and museum, they're not used for those purposes anymore. they're headquarters and jails mostly. got the majority of the strikes in other targets around raqqa. at the same time, the u.s. coalition was hitting around raqqa and the other roundabouts, too. about four separate attacks there. but 116 of a series of vehicles out to eastern syria that were traveling in the assistance of ferrying oil around for isis.
remember, they make money from the oil black market. they were taken out by gun ships and a-10 crafts. a lot of fire power aimed at the oil distribution network, undercutting isis funds, coupled with the french making their clear statement against the capital, the self-declared caliphate raqqa. >> nick paton walsh from erbil in northern iraq. thanks very much. there's more on the global search for the man involved in the attacks. remember, there are multiple investigations going on not just here in france, also in belgium and other places. we're joined by cnn international correspondent clarissa ward in paris. if you can, bring us up to date on what you've been monitoring for the investigations. >> anderson, there's a lot of moving parts here. it's been a very busy morning. not just here in paris, but across france. we heard the interior minister saying that more than 150 raids across the country. 23 people arrested. more than 100 placed under house
arrest. weapons confiscated, including heavy weapons, a rocket launcher. military clothing found in one house. the focus now really of this investigation is on trying to find the eighth attacker. you remember isis said there were eight attackers. french officials said there were only seven attackers dead. that means one attacker still on the loose. the focus on the investigation, the focus of this man hunt, is apparently a man called salah abdeslam. he is the brother of one of the attackers who blew himself up at the bataclan theater. he was actually stopped by the police after the attacks. he was questioned as he was driving towards belgium. but he was allowed to go on his way. anderson, there are some real serious questions here about a possible intelligence failure on the behalf of french officials. we now know that all five of the attackers who have been identified spent time in syria, and four of them are known to be french nationals. anderson? >> so, clarissa, the man who the
arrest warrant has been issued for, who was apprehended and then let go, is it believed that he is the man who drove the vehicle that was found yesterday in a french suburb that has kalashnikovs in it? as far as we understood yesterday, the driver of the vehicle who most likely drove the vehicle during the attacks on the restaurants was still at large. is that believed to be one and the same person? >> that's correct, anderson. we know they found that abandoned get away car yesterday. it's a parisian suburb. it's believed that possibly the brother of one of the attackers was the person driving the people, that he is, indeed, possibly the eighth attacker. french authorities, anderson, are trying to keep tight lipped about this. there's a lot of information out there. a lot of people involved, being questioned, being detained. there's a sense thaect even beyd the eight attackers, this had to
be orchestrate and had facilitated by a larger network. french authorities are trying to drill down, find out the facts and drill down on the network. >> clarissa, it was really the vehicles that were the first link to the belgium connection, isn't that the case? the first vehicle found outside of the bataclan concert venue, which had been rented in belgium, which had belgium plates, that was the first concrete link that led authorities to belgium, where they're now conducting raids. >> that's the first link, anderson. i think what it really highlights is the difficulty that european authorities have in trying to monitor these situations. this is not like the united states. there are many different countries here with free, porous borders between them. you have french nationals hunkered down in belgium, planning an attack on france. that illustrating the challenges that authorities face when they're trying to drill down on these networks, monitor all the
different communications between these men, and they're operating from multiple different countries and passing back and forth through the borders without any inspection. >> clarissa ward, we'll continue to check in with you. we are anticipating comments from france's president, addressing the parliament as well as the nation. it's rare to have an address to both houses of parliament, as well as to a televised address to the french nation. then also, a statement being made by president barack obama. we'll bring both of those to you as they happen. supposed to happen at the top of 10:0 10:00 on the east coast of the united states. also, i want to focus on what's going on in belgium. the raids that have taken place in france. we're learning about a new group of terror suspects arrested over the weekend in belgium. joining me now is our cnn senior international correspondent who is there. bring us up to date. what's been going on in belgium over the last several hours?
>> we understand from the belgium prosecutor those arrests, those who were taken in during the arrests, have now been released, including the brother of one of the attackers, the so-called eighth attacker, who is part of the -- who is the focal point of the international man hunt, salah abdeslam. there appears to be a standoff. we have seen many of the officers withdraw. we are now seeing forensic experts go into the house that was at the center of the standoff with police. a number of controlled detonati detonations. the bomb squad was down here earlier. we understand this operation is continuing elsewhere in the city. it really reinforces how so many of the roads in the investigation to what happened in paris are leading right back here to molenbeek. this comes as cnn learns from a source in the investigation that the suspected mastermind that is believed to be a belgium national who goes and lived
streets from where i am standing now. it gives a sense of how this isn't centered in molenbeek, but it's in a tight geographical perimeter. it feels this is a very close-knit network, and it's one that authorities here believe extends far beyond what we're seeing now, anderson. >> just to to be clear, because it is confusing, there's a lot of moving parts and people involved, the so-called eighth attacker, the man who was pulled over by authorities after the attacks on his way to belgium but was then let go, there is now an international arrest warrant out for him. the man you mentioned who is believed to be the mastermind of these attacks, who is a belgium national, he's still believed to be in syria, suspeisn't that co? >> absolutely, he is believed to be in syria.
where he recently, just in the last few months, also managed to get his 13-year-old brother over to, which caused an extraordinary -- ripples of shock within this community. we've been speaking to a lot of people here. they really find it extraordinary that it isn't just from within that this terror threat has come, but from such a tight-knit group. just neighborhoods facing back on to neighborhoods, anderson. >> and this man who is, again, alleged to be the mastermind of this latest attack in paris, he was also believed to have been the person behind the attempted attack on that train that was thwarted by several american citizens. >> and suspected of being at the heart of so much of the recruitment efforts here. cnn has been speaking to the belgium justice minister. he spoke to ivan watson and openly admitted that the big problem isn't just those going out to syria. the big problem here in belgium
and in many other parts of europe is they haven't been able to keep tabs on who has been able to come back and forth. this continuing traffic of jihadis, and the ease which they're slipping through european borders, and are able to recruit, it seems, pretty extensively, that is now the focal point. we're hearing candid statements from the officials here, that belgium needs to figure out a way to cease being, and this is a direct quote, the weak link in the war on terror, anderson. >> nima, we'll continue to check in with you. these are fast moving developments, which is why we have correspondents all throughout the region. all throughout europe and the middle east, as well. we want to try to bring together as many strands of this investigation as possible in real-time for you. french authorities have launched a massive sweep, as you heard from clarissa ward, carrying out 150 raids. one home targeted belongs to the family of one of the suicide bombers. now, it's in a suburb that's
northeast of paris. that's where we find cnn's fred. >> the police raided this place early in the morning hours here. we were speaking to some of the neighbors and they were telling us that in the early morning hours, there was a swat team that came in here and took three people out of the house. we understand they are relatives of the attacker. one of the attackers of the theater that was hit. he is 28 years old. his story really is one that shows also the difficulty of intelligence and trying to prevent attacks like this one. he's 28 years old and has been on the watch list of the french authorities for quite a while. he's been on it since 2012, when he awe parental lapparently tri yemen. he then didn't abide by a survey lens warrant issued on him. they tried to arrest him but
he'd already gone to syria. then, his father, according to french media, also traveled to syria to try to bring his son back and stop him from joining isis. that did not succeed. late last night, the parents learned their son was, in fact, one of the attackers who went into the theater, gunning down dozens of people and, in the end, blew himself up with that suicide vest. so, certainly, obviously, the people here very shocked. the police operation is going on. we hear that police units are still combing through his apartment, which is just a short drive away from here. it certainly shows how hard it is for the authorities to keep tabs on the gee ha djihadists a big the link to syria is. >> fred, it's also an important point to make note, yesterday, we focused so much on the belief by french authorities that at least one of the suicide attackers at this stadium snuck in from syria using the path
that so many refugees and migrants have been using. the first evidence there was somebody who infiltrated among legitimate refugees and migrants to come in. what we're really seeing today in all these raids is that so many of the people involved in this attack were people who were born here or who grew up here. who were part of this society and, yet, turned against it. >> yeah, absolutely. you're absolutely right. and who had been crossing european borders for quite a long time. if we look at the link to belgium, for instance, a lot of the people living in belgium, who started their attacks from brussels, for instance, they were actually french citizens. so they would rent a car, for instance, in brussels and drive it down to paris. then be part of the attack there. the fact that europe has these open borders is certainly something that doesn't necessarily make things more easy. the coordination between the intelligence service clearly is something that isn't really working very well. certainly, you can see that many of these people have grown up in france, went to school in
france. by all accounts, are very much embedded into the french society. yet, did, as you say, turn against it and perpetrate these attacks after going to syria to then join isis. then coming back using their european passports, anderson. >> fred, appreciate your reporting. we'll continue to check in with you. still to come in this hour, 10,000, that is the number of terror suspects who could be hiding in france right now. more on the growing number, next.
number of suspects here, suspected militants, potential terrorists. >> it's a remarkable number. in america's terms, it's an order of magnitude bigger than the number in the u.s. we've heard 5,000 suspected terrorists here, jihadis, people suspected of having ties to terrorism. the truth is, the number is larger. when you add in some 4,000 who are suspected of being radicalized and others connected to them, the figure is 11,000 people in france's so-called system, which is a monitoring system that allows you to be put under surveillance, not arrested. showing the scale of the problem. twice as what we think. as you note, that's a combination of people coming into the country, say they've gone to fight in syria, but also people who are purely homegrown. i spoke earlier today with bruno, a conservative politician currently a presidential c candidate. here's what he had to say. >> we know french citizens coming back from syria might be the threat against france.
we know also there are french citizens in france who never have been to syria or iraq, that might be a threat against french citiz citizens. >> in this attack, we're seeing this demonstrated. what we know about those seven, possibly eight attackers, at this point is some were french. some from the south of paris and others believed as many as five, went and fought in syria and came from syria. >> that's one of the things that's so, i think, hard for people here to understand and, frankly, in the united states, as well. how somebody who grew up in the society, was born in this society, who is a second generation immigrant, who can turn against the very society that they grew up? >> turn against it in the worst ways imaginable. to commit murder repeatedly in cold blood. it's remarkable and shows the power of isis' ability to radicalized people, often times, over the internet, not even face-to-face. it's a remarkable power to extend their influence. >> the deadly paris attacks,
that's what we have been focusing on, of course, for the last several days. they're not only sparking fears about isis' reach but also concerns about a backlash for muslims living in the region. a senior editor with the islamic monthly and dean, a terror expert, they both join me right now. in terms of what you're seeing now, what we have seen here in france in the last several days, what concerns you most in the days ahead? >> anderson, i think the thing that concerns me the most is something that isis refers to in many of their writings as a quote, unquote, gray zone. isis tries to do with these quote, unquote, spectaculars is essentially deteriorate this gray zone of co-existence between muslims and western societies. they actually want to see an increase in islam phobia and anti-muslim hate crimes so it will increase the recruitment pool. it's even more important for our western nations to embrace their muslim communities in order to
strengthen this gray zone and not deteriorate it. >> adam, one of the things that the foundation does is attempt to counter the narrative that groups like isis and other extremist groups, radical groups are giving, especially to young people. how do you go about doing that, particularly with these young people who, as we keep saying, grew up in paris, grew up in belgium, grew up even in the united states, and have decided to embrace this message, which is so anithetical to what they grew up with? >> first, we identify the problem and isolate it, where many fail to do. what we have to understand, the problem here, is the ideology. it's the driving force behind the recruitment drive of isis. the ideology consists of a toxic cocktail of a very literal and
harsh reading of the islamic text, which is devoid of any ethical content, and what we also have is islamism, which is a politicized version of islam, which seeks to impose its understanding on people. for the last 20 years, these toxic views have been propagated within western society. what that does, it creates a theologically intellectual landscape. when the likes of isis call out to young muslims who are already being doctri doctrinated with t views, this is what happens. >> i've done work with the foreign ministry in the past and traveled to paris. what we have to keep in mind is that in many parts of these muslim suburbs, there is an
excess of 25% unemployment rate. the discruimination against french muslims is a pandemic really. discrimination, access to public -- the public sphere. i mean, there is a great deal of civil rights issues. >> but arsalan, there are plenty of societies where people have unemployment and people are not resulted to shooting up and beheading their fellow countrymen. isn't it a cop out to simply point to unemployment and discrimination? >> you asked what some of the population deals with. the work i've done with the french government in terms of the stuff they're doing, in terms of trying to bridge the divide. that's what i'm talking about, in terms of the gray zone. this is what isis seeks to destroy. the more discrimination of the muslim communities, their
recruitment will grow. it's important for the western communities to embrace their muslim communities to ensure the gray zone is strengthened and not deteriorated. >> adam, do you believe that it's issues like unemployment, issues like discrimination which lead to this? again, that happens in a lot of places and you don't see people turning like we are seeing here. >> not at all. not at all. it's very dangerous to blame these factors for the rise of extremism. if we're going to combat this, this menace, we have to not down play the importance of ideology. i can bring my own experience as a former extremist. i was in my late teens. i was not in a poverty region. i was not disenfranchised. i was not a reject. i just wanted to learn my faith. i encountered extremists and they put me on a journey. i ended up becoming a senior
member of an extremist organization, which is referred to as isis uk. we have to be careful we don't make these excuses. then we won't be able to combat this menace, which is an immensely growing problem. >> adam deen, appreciate you being with us. a lot more to cover in the hour ahead. in our 10:00 hour, we'll bring you live comments, address to joint sessions of parliament from france's president hollande, and president barack obama will be speaking, as well. still to come, terrorists hiding among refugees. did more potential attackers slip through with migrants and refuge refugees? details ahead. theand the kids always eat sky their vegetables.e. because the salad there is always served with the original hidden valley ranch.
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welcome back to our continuing coverage of the aftermath of paris terror attack. french authorities said based on the 2350i7finding of a syrian passport, one of the suicide bombers had outside the stadium, who killed themselves outside of the staud ydium, they believe t terrorist arrived on the greek island of leros on october 3rd, using the same path that has been used by hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees who are hoping to get to germany, hoping to get to sweden to start new lives. if, in fact, that is the case, it's the first clear example of a terrorist infiltrating refu e refugee -- that flood of refugees which has been coming to countries throughout europe, and that is raising some real concerns among european leaders about how to deal with the flood of refugees. germany has taken in hundreds of thousands, as many as 800,000,
and may take as many as 1 million before the end of this year. there's also major backlash in the united states. some governors refusing to let in syrian refugees. others calling for tighter measures. the fears that an attack like happened in paris could happen on u.s. soil. joining me was the lead police official during the boston marathon. we're also joined by co-author of "isis inside the army of terror," also a senior editor for "the daily beast." michael, when you look at this flood of refugees and migrants who have come, as many as 1 million in this year alone, no end in sight to it until the war in syria actually ends. there are potentially millions of others who would like to try to make that journey. how concerned are you about further infiltration if, in fact, one terrorist was from the group. further infiltration of members of isis and others who want to do harm to countries in europe.
>> yeah, i mean, it is concerning, anderson. although i want to stress, most of the attacks, we've reported the mastermind or alleged mastermind of this attack is a belgium national. well educated, in western europe, right? he grew up among us. he did not come over from syria. was not part of this wave of refugees trying to have a better life, infiltrating that human population. so this is, i think, the crucial point. isis is looking by hook or crook to live amongst us, to deploy its expeditionary arm, also those trained in the west. cnn reported after the belgium raid that busted up an isis cell, which seems to have played a role in this attack, that there's something like 20 different sleeper cells throughout all of europe. they consist of 180 jihadists. they've rounded up 10,000 people
in europe. my guess is that most of the people being rounded up are born in europe, not coming over with these refugees. but look, obviously, isis is looking to exploit any and all weaknesses in western immigration policy, in western political policy. they pay very, very close attention to the debates that are taking place in european capitals and in washington. one of the things they're trying to do with this anderson, and your previous guest addressed it well, they are looking to ramp up anti-muslim bigotry in europe. they would love for nothing better than to see the leader of the front national in france become president of france. she's past this as a religious struggle. almost a holy war. the leader in hungary has done that, saying muslims don't belong here christian society. this made this a global conspiracy against sunni
muslims. they're trying to change how europe does their policymaking. >> the u.s. said they'd take 10,000 to 20,000 refugees over the next few years after thorough background checks. the background check s are not thorough in europe now. the u.s. says they'll have thorough ones. does it concern you taking in the refugees, or from a law enforcement standpoint, is your greater concern people who grew up in the united states who may be radicalized online? >> anderson, when you get into a situation like this, you have to be concerned that you don't overreact. this needs a measured, logical response. there was one terrorist identified as someone who may have snuck in with the refugees. that still means there are seven people who got in different ways. i think that we have to be concerned about people coming into the country. we have to look at their backgrounds. if we're able to identify that they have been on jihadist websites, if we're able to
positively say they've gone to training and they have evolved war against our country, they shouldn't be let in. people who go there and get trained shouldn't be allowed back, as far as i'm concerned. but just to paint with a broad brush everybody trying to come into the country, i think that that is dangerous and almost impossible to do. we can't seal our borders off. no country has been able to do that completely in history. >> in fact, as michael points out, that's exactly what isis would like the west to do, to actually prevent these large numbers of refugees from coming. if anything, they don't like the fact that so many people are leaving the potential caliphate, leaving a potential place they want to rule. appreciate you both being with us. we are anticipating comments coming up shortly from france's president, holland, and
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session and address to the nation. part of the response, the u.s. is now sharing sensitive intelligence with france about isis targets in syria. our global affairs correspondent has more now from washington. what have you learned? >> anderson, this bombardment of strikes by france on the isis stronghold of raqqa last night followed a decision by the united states to increase intelligence sharing with france. on sunday, the u.s. began to help identify isis targets for the french war planes and is going to continue to expand that intelligence sharing to make it easier for france to intensify its air campaign. this, in effect, gives france a seat at the table, alongside america's most trusted intelligence sharing partners. this so-called five eyes group, including australia, canada, new zealand and britain. defense secretary carter in close talks with his counterpart, the french defense minister. they're going to continue to coordinate that. u.s. intelligence agencies are
scrambling to get on top of the ongoing threats in europe. this morning, cia director john brennan spoke about the challenges of developing intelligence on that. >> this was something that was deliberately and carefully planned over the course of, i think, several months. in terms of making sure they had the operatives, the weapons, the explosives with the suicide belts. i would anticipate this is not the only operation that isil has in the pipeline. >> even as they continue to develop this information about targets, the french said they believe some of the attackers could be at large. there are other cells in europe planning attacks, as director brennan just said. intelligence on that, even as important as they continue to develop targ it ets on the groun syria. >> thanks. that's the concern of so many people in france, also in belgium, that there are other cells out there. there are other members of this
cell. as we know, there's an international arrest warrant out for the person believed to be the eighth member of this terror squad that attacked on friday night. the person who was actually pulled over by law enforcement in france on his way back to belgium after the attacks. he was actually let go. that person is still at large, believed to be the eighth terrorist involved in the attacks on friday. still to come, concert goers, stadium fans, victims of the attack. sta their stories, next.
welcome back to our continuing coverage of the aftermath of the paris mraz talks. here in the plaza de la republique. you're looking at the g-20 summit where president obama is expected to speak. francois hollande is also expected to speak, a joint address to the parliament. i'm joined by christiane amanpour. both houses of parliament and in an address to the nation at the same time. >> the first time or very rare, since 1848, apparently. we expect according to french politicians that he will reiterate the message he has been talking about, which is france is at war. a war has been declared upon us. every french official, they say we have to destroy this enemy and we really want to see what the world leaders have decided in turkey in terms of
eradicating this threat because war has been declared on our cities. >> let's go to michelle kosinski who is in turkey. we believe president obama will be speaking before france's president. michelle, what are you hearing today? >> reporter:. >> michelle, the president is on the stage, let's listen in. >> thursday outstanding work in hosting this g-20 summit. th the hospitality of the turkish people are legendary. to our turkish friends. [ speaking foreign language ] >> i've been practicing that. at the g-20 our focus was on how to get the global economy to grow faster and creating more jobs for our people. and i'm pleased we agree growth
has to be inclusive to address the rising inequality around the world. giving growing cyber threats, we committed to a set of norms drafted by the united states for our governments should conduct themselves in cyberspace, including a commitment not to engage in the cyber threat of intellectual property for commercial gain. as we head into global climate talks, all g-20 countries have submitted our targets and we've pledged to work together for a successful outcome in paris. of course, much of our attention has focused on heinous attacks that occurred in paris. on we're working closely with our french partners as they pursue their investigations and track down suspects. france is already a strong
counterterrorism partner, and today we're announcing a new agreement. we're streamlining the process by which we share intelligence and operational military information with france. this will allow our personnel to pass threat information, including on isil, to our french partners even more quickly and more often. because we need to be doing everything we can to protect against more attacks and protect our citizens. tragically, paris is not alone. we've seen outrageous attacks by isil in beirut, last month in ankora. we sent a message, we are united against this threat. isil is the face of evil. our goal, as i've said many times, is to degrade and
ultimately destroy this barbaric terrorist organization. as i outlined this fall at the united nations, we have a comprehensive strategy using all elements of our power. military, intelligence, economic, development and the strength of our communities. we have always understood this would be a long-term campaign. there will be setbacks and there will be successes. the terrible events in paris were obviously a terrible and sickening setback. even as we grieve with our french friends, however, we can't lose sight that there has been progress being made. on the military front our coalition is intensifying the air strikes, more than 10,000 to date. we're taking out isil leaders, commanders, their killers. we've seen when we have an effective partner on the ground,
isil can and is pushed back, so local forces in iraq backed by coalition air power recently liberated sinjar. iraqi forces are fighting to take back ramadi. in syria, isil has been pushed back for much of the border region with turkey. we've stepped up our support of opposition forces who are working to cut off supply lines to isil strongholds in and around raqqa. so, in short, both in iraq and syria, isil controls less territory than it did before. i made the point to my fellow leaders that if we want this progress to be sustained, more nations need to step up with the resources that this fight demands. of course, the attacks in paris remind us that it will not be enough to defeat isil in syria and iraq alone. our nations, therefore, committed to strengthening border controls, sharing more information and stepping up our efforts to prevent the flow of
foreign fighters in and out of syria and iraq. as the united states just showed in libya, isil leaders will have no safe haven anywhere and we'll continue to stand with leaders in muslim communities, including faith leaders, who are the best voices to discredit isil's warped ideology. on the humanitarian front, our nations agreed we have to do even more individually and collectively to address the agony of the syrian people. the united states is already the largest donor of humanitarian aid to the syrian people. some $4.5 billion in aid so far. as winter approaches, we're donating additional supplies including clothing and generators through the united nations. but the u.n. appeal for syria has less than half the funds needed. today i'm again calling on more nations to contribute the resources that this crisis demands. in terms of refugees, it's clear
countries like turkey, lebanon and jordan, which are already bearing an extraordinary burden, cannot be expected to do so alone. at the same time, all of our countries have to ensure our security. as president, my first president is the safety of the american people. that's even why as we accept more refugees, including syrians, we do so only after subjecting them to rigorous screening and security checks. we also have to remember that many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves. that's what they're fleeing. slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values. our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety. and ensure our own security. we can and must do both. finally, we've begun to see some modest progress on the diplomatic front, which is critical because a political solution is the only way to end the war in syria and unite the
syrian people and the world against isil. the vienna talks mark the first time all the key countries have come together. as a result, i would add of american leadership, and reached a common understanding. with this weekend's talks there's a path forward. the negotiations between the syrian opposition and syrian regime under the auspices of the united nations, a transition toward a more inclusive representative government, a new constitution, followed by free elections, and alongside this political process, a cease-fire in the civil war even as we continue to fight against isil. these are obviously ambitious goals. hopes for diplomacy in syria have been dashed before. there are any number of ways this latest diplomatic push could falter. and there are still disagreements between the parties, including most critically over the fate of bashar assad, who we do not believe has a role in syria's
future because of his brutal rule, his war against the syrian people is the primary root cause of this crisis. what is different this time and what gives us some degree of hope, as i said, for the first time all countries on all sides of the syrian conflict agree on a process that is needed to end this war. so, while we are very clear-eyed about the very, very difficult road still ahead, the united states in partnership with our coalition is going to remain relentless on all fronts, military, humanitarian and diplomatic. we have the right strategy and we'll see it through. with that i'm going to take some questions and i will begin with jerome of afp. >> reporter: thank you,
mr. president. 129 people were killed in paris on friday night. isil took responsibility, sending the message they could not target civilians all over the world. the equation has clearly changed. is it time for your strategy to change? >> keep in mind what we have been doing. we have a military strategy that involves putting enormous pressure on isil through air strikes, that has put assistance and training on the ground with iraqi forces. we're now working with syrian forces as well to squeeze isil, cut off their supply lines. we've been coordinating internationally to reduce their financing capabilities, the oil they're trying to ship outside. we are taking strikes against
high-value targets, including most recently against the individual who was on the video executing civilians, who had already been captured, as well as the head of isil in libya, so it's not just in iraq and syria. and so on the military front, we are continuing to accelerate what we do as we find additional partners on the ground that are effective, we work with them more closely. i've already authorized additional special forces on the ground who are going to be able to improve that coordination. on the counterterrorism front, keep in mind that since i came into office, we have been worried about these kinds of attacks. the vigilance the united states government maintains and the cooperation we're consistently
expanding with our european and other partners in going after every single terrorist network is robust and constant. and every few weeks i meet with my entire national security team and we go over every single threat stream that is presented. and where we have relevant information, we share it immediately with our counterparts around the world, including our european partners. on aviation security, we have over the last several years been working, so that at various airport sites, not just in the united states, but overseas, we are strengthening our mechanisms to screen and discover passengers who should not be boarding flights. and improving the matters in which we are screening luggage that is going on board. on the diplomatic front we've
been working consistently to try to get all the parties together, to recognize there is a moderate opposition inside of syria that can form the basis for a transition government, and to reach out not only to our friends, but also to the russians and iranians who are on the other side of this equation to explain to them that ultimately an organization like isil is the greatest danger to them as well as to us. so, there will be an intensification of the strategy we put forward, but the strategy we are putting forward is the strategy that ultimately is going to work. but as i said from the start, it is going to take time. and what's been interesting is in the aftermath of paris, as i listen to those who suggest something else needs to be done, typically the things they suggest need to be done are things we are already doing.
the one exception is there had been a few who suggested that we should put large numbers of u.s. troops on the ground. keep in mind, we have the finest military in the world and we have the finest military minds in the world. and i've been meeting with them intensively for years now, discussing these various options. and it is not just my view, but the view of my closest military and civilian advisers, that that would be a mistake. not because our military could not march into mosul or raqqa or ramadi and temporarily clear out
isil. but because we would see a repetition of what we've seen before, which is if you do not have local populations that are committed to inclusive governance, and who are pushing back against idea logical extreme, they resurface, unless we're prepared to have a permanent occupation of these countries. and let's assume we were to send 50,000 troops into syria, what happens when there's a terrorist attack generated from yemen? do we then send more troops into there? or libya, perhaps. or if there's a terrorist network operating anywhere else in north africa or in southeast asia. so, a strategy has to be one that can be sustained. and the strategy we're pursuing,
which focuses on going after targets, limiting wherever possible the capabilities of isil on the ground, systematically going after their leadership, their infrastructure, strengthening shia -- or strengthening syrian and iraqi forces that are -- and kurdish forces that are prepared to fight them, cutting off their borders and squeezing the space in which they can operate until ultimately we're able to defeat them, that's the strategy we're going to have to pursue. we will continue to generate more partners for that strategy and there are going to be some things we try that don't work. there will be some strategies we try that do work. when we find strategies that work, we'll double down on those. margaret brennan, cbs.
>> reporter: thank you, mr. president. a more than year-long bombing campaign in iraq and syria has failed to contain the ambition and the ability of isis to launch attacks in the west. have you underestimated their abilities? and will you widen the rules of engagement for u.s. forces to take more aggressive action? >> no, we haven't underestimated our abilities. this is precisely why we're in iraq as we speak, and why we're operating in syria as we speak. and it's precisely why we have mobilized 65 countries to go after isil. and why i hosted at the united nations an entire discussion of counterterrorism strategies and curbing the flow of foreign fighters, and why we've been putting pressure on those countries that have not been as robust as they need to in
tracking the flow of foreign fighters in and out of syria and iraq. so there has been an acute awareness on the part of my administration from the start, that it is possible for an organization like isil that has such a twisted ideology and has shown such extraordinary brutality and complete disregard for innocent lives, that they would have the capabilities to potentially strike in the west. and because thousands of fighters have flowed from the west and our european citizens, a few hundred from the united states, but far more from europe, that when those foreign fighters returned, it posed a significant danger.
and we have consistently worked with our european partners, disrupting plots in some cases. sadly, this one was not disrupted in time. and understand that one of the challenges we have in this situation is that if you have a handful of people who don't mind dying, they can kill a lot o people. that's one of the challenges of terrorism. it's not their sophistication or the particular weapon they possess, but it is the ideology they carry with them and their willingness to die. and in those circumstances, tracking each individual, making sure that we are disrupting and preventing these attacks is a
constant effort at vigilance and requires extraordinary coordination. now, part of the reason that it is important what we do in iraq and syria is that the narrative isil developed of creating this caliphate makes it more attractive to potential recruits. so when i said we are containing their spread in iraq and syria, in fact, they control less territory than they did last year. and the more we shrink that territory, the less they can pretend that they are somehow a functioning state. and the more it becomes apparent that they are simply a network of killers who are brutalizing local populations. that allows us to reduce the flow of foreign fighters, which
then over time will lessen the numbers of terrorists who can potentially carry out terrible acts like they did in paris. and that's what we did with al qaeda. that doesn't mean, by the way, that al qaeda no longer possesses the capabilities of potentially striking the west. al qaeda in the peninsula that operates primarily in yemen we know consistently has tried to target the west. and we are consistently working to disrupt those acts. but despite the fact that they have not gotten as much attention as isil, they still pose a danger as well. and so our goals here consistently have to be to be aggressive and to leave no stone unturned. but also recognize this is not conventional warfare.
we play into the isil narrative when we act as if they're a state. and we use routine military tactics that are designed to fight a state that is attacking another state. that's not what's going on here. these are killers. with fantasies of glory, who are very savvy when it comes to social media, and are able to infiltrate the minds of not just iraqis or syrians, but disaffected individuals around the world. and when they activate those individuals, those individuals can do a lot of damage. and so we have to take the approach of being rigorous on our counterterrorism efforts and consistently improve and figure
out how we can get more information, how we can infiltrate these networks, how we can reduce their operational space, even as we also try to shrink the amount of territory they control to defeat their narrative. ultimately to reclaim territory from them is going to require, however, an ending of the syrian civil war, which is why the diplomatic efforts are so important. and it's going to require an effective iraqi effort that bridges shia and sunni differences, which is why our diplomatic efforts inside iraq are so important as well. jim avila. >> reporter: thank you, mr. president. in the days and weeks before the paris attacks, did you receive a warning in your daily intelligence briefing that an attack was imminent?
if not, does that not call into question the current assessment that there is no immediate specific credible threat to the united states today? and secondly, if i could ask you to address your critic who is say your reluctance to enter another middle east war and your preference of diplomacy over using the military makes the united states weaker and emboldens our enemies. >> jim, every day we have threat streams coming through the intelligence transient. as i said, every several weeks we sit down with all my national security intelligence and military teams to discuss various threat streams that may be generated. and the concerns about potential
isil attacks in the west have been there for over a year now. and they come through periodically. there were no specific mentions of this particular attack that would give us a sense of something we need -- that we could provide french authorities, for example, or act on ourselves. but typically the way the intelligence works is, there will be a threat stream that is from one source, how reliable is that source, perhaps some signal intelligence gets picked up. it's evaluated. some of it is extraordinarily vague and unspecific. and there's no clear timetable. some of it may be more specific. and then folks chase down that threat to see what happens.
i'm not aware of anything that was specific in the sense that would have given a premonition about a particular action in paris that would allow for law enforcement or military actions to disrupt it. with respect to the broader issue of my critics, to some degree i answered the question earlier. i think when you listen to what they actually have to say, what their proposing, most of the time when pressed they describe things we're already doing. maybe they're not aware that we're already doing them. some of them seem to think if i was just more bellicose in expressing what we're doing, that that would make a difference.
because that seems to be the only thing that they're doing. is talking as if they're tough. but i haven't seen particular strategies that they would suggest that would make a real difference. now, there are a few exceptions. as i said, the primary exception is those who would deploy u.s. troops on a large scale to retake territory, either in iraq or now in syria. and at least they have their honesty to go ahead and say that's what they would do. i just addressed why i think they're wrong. there have been some who are well meaning, and i don't doubt their sincerity when it comes to the issue of the dire humanitarian situation in syria who, for example, call for a
no-fly zone or a safe zone of some sort. and this is an example of the kind of issue where i will sit down with our top military and intelligence advisers and we will painstakingly go through what does something like that look like. and typically, after we've gone through a lot of planning and a lot of discussion and really working it through, it is determined that it would be counterproductive to take those steps. in part, because isil does not have planes. so the attacks are on the ground. a true safe zone requires us to set up ground operations. and the bulk of the deaths that have occurred in syria, for example, have come about not because of regime bombing but because of on-the-ground
casualties. who would come in, who would come out of that safe zone. how would it work. would it become a magnante for foreattacks. there's a whole set of questions that have to be answered there. i guess my point is this, jim, my only interest is to end suffering and keep the american people safe. and if there's a good idea out there, then we're going to do it. i don't think i've shown hesitation to act whether it's with respect to bin laden or with respect to sending additional troops in afghanistan or keeping them there, if it is determined that it's actually going to work. but we do not do, what i do not
do, is to take actions either because it is going to work politically or it is going to somehow in the abstract make america look tough. or make me look tough. and maybe part of the reason is because every few months i go to walter read. and i see a 25-year-old kid who's paralyzed or has lost his limbs and some of those are people i've ordered into battle. and so i can't afford to play some of the political games that others may. we'll do what's required to keep the american people safe. and i think it's entirely appropriate in a democracy to have a serious debate about these issues.
folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do, present a specific plan. if they think that somehow their advisers are better than the chairman of my joint chiefs of staff and the folks who are actually on the ground, i want to meet them. and we can have that debate. but what i'm not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of american leadership or america winning or whatever other slogans they come up with, that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the american people and
to protect people in the region who are getting killed and to protect our allies and the people like france. i'm too busy for that. jim acosta. >> reporter: thank you very much, mr. president. i wanted to go back to something you said to margaret earlier when you said you have not underestimated isis's abilities. this is an organization that you once described as a jv team, that evolved into a now occupied territory in iraq and syria and is now able to use that safehaven to launch attacks in other parts of the world. how is that not underestimating their capabilities? and how is that contained, quite frankly? and i think a lot of americans have this frustration that they see that the united states has the greatest military in the world, it has the backing of nearly every other country in the world when it comes to taking on isis. i guess the question is, and if you'll forgive the language, is why can't we take out these --
>> jim, i just spent the last three questions answering that very question, so i don't know what more you want me to add. i think i've described very specifically what our strategy is. and i've described very specifically why we do not pursue some of the other strategies that have been suggested. >> this is not, as i said, a traditional military opponent. we can retake territory. and as long as we leave our troops there, we can hold it, but that does not solve the underlying problem of eliminating the dynamics that are producing these kinds of violent extremist groups.
and so we are going to continue to pursue the strategy that has the best chance of working even though it does not offer the satisfaction, i guess, of a neat headline or an immediate resolution. and part of the reason, as i said, jim, is because there are costs to the other side. i just want to remind people. this is not an abstraction. when we send troops in, those troops get injured, they get killed, they're away from their families. our country spends hundreds of billions of dollars. and so given the fact that there are enormous sacrifices involved in any military action, it's best that we don't, you know, shoot first and aim later.
it's important for us to get the strategy right and the strategy we are pursuing is the right one. ron allen. >> reporter: thank you, mr. president. i think a lot of people around the world and in america are concerned because given the strategy you're pursuing, and it's been more than a year now, isis's capabilities seem to be expanding. were you aware they had the capability of pulling off the type of attack they did in paris? are you concerned? and do you think they have that same capability to strike in the united states? and do you think, given all you've learned about isis over the past year or so, and given all the criticism about your underestimating them, do you think you really understand this enemy well enough to defeat them and to protect the homeland?
>> all right. so this is another variation on the same question. and i guess -- let me try it one last time. we have been fully aware of the potential capabilities of them carrying out a terrorist attack. that's precisely why we have been mounting a very aggressive strategy to go after them. as i said before, when you're talking about the ability of a handful of people with not wildly sophisticated military equipme equipment, weapons, who are willing to die, they can kill a lot of people and preventing
them from doing so is challenging for every country. and if there was a swift and quick solution to this, i assure you that not just the united states, but france and turkey and others who have been subject to these terrorist attacks would have implemented those strategies. there are certain advantages the united states has in preventing these kinds of attacks. obviously, after 9/11 we hardened the homeland, set up a whole series of additional steps to protect aviation, to apply lessons learned. we've seen much better cooperation between the fbi, state governments, local
governmen governmen governments. there is some advantage with respect to geography with the united states, but having said that, we've seen the possibility of terrorist attacks on our soil. there is the boston marathon bombers. obviously, it did not result in the scale of death we saw in paris, but that was a serious attempt at killing a lot of people, by two brothers. and a crockpot. and it gives you some sense of, i think, the kinds of challenges that are going to be involved in this going forward. so, again, isil has serious capabilities. its capabilities are not unique. they're capabilities other terrorist organizations that we track and are paying attention to possess as well. we are going after all of them.
what is unique about isil is the degree to which it's been able to control territory that then allows them to attract additional recruits. and the greater effectiveness they have on social media and their ability to use that to not only attract recruits to fight in syria and also potentially to carry out attacks in the homeland and in europe and in other parts of the world. and so our ability to shrink the space they operate, combined with the syria situation, which will reduce the freedom with which they feel they can operate, and getting local forces who are able to hold and keep them out over the long term, that ultimately is going to be what's going to make a difference. and it's going to take some time, but it's not something that at any stage in this process have we not been aware,
the overwhelming majority victims of terrorism over the last several years and certainly the overwhelming majority of victims of isil are themselves muslims. isil does not represent islam. it is not representative in any way of the attitudes of the overwhelming majority of muslims. this is something that's been emphasized by muslim leaders, whether it's president erdogan or president of indonesia or the president of malaysia, countries that are majority muslim, but have shown themselves to be tolerant and to work to be inclusive in their political process. and so to the degree that anyone would equate the terrible
actions that took place in paris with the views of islam, you know, those kind of stereotypes are counterproductive. they're wrong. they will lead, i think, to greater recruitment in the terrorist organizations over time if this becomes somehow defined as a muslim problem as opposed to a terrorist problem. now, what is also true is that the most vicious terrorist organizations at the moment are ones that claim to be speaking on behalf of true muslims. and i do think that muslims
around the world, religious leaders, political leaders, ordinary people, have to ask very serious questions about how did these extremist ideologies take root. only if it's only affecting a very small fraction of the population, it is real. and it is dangerous. and it is built up over time and with social media, it is now accelerating. and so i think on the one hand non-muslims cannot stereotype, but i also think the muslim community has to think about how we make sure that children are not being affected with this twisted notion that somehow they can kill innocent people, and that that is justified by religion. and to some degree that is something that has to come from within the muslim community
itself. and i think there have been times where there has not been enough push back against extremism. there's been push back -- there's some who say, well, we don't believe in violence, but are not as willing to challenge some of the extremist thoughts or rationales for why muslims feel oppressed. and i think those ideas have to be challenged. let me make one last point about this, and then, unfortunately, i have to take a flight to manila. i'm looking forward to seeing manila, but i hope i can come back to turkey when i'm not so busy. one of the places you're seeing this debate play itself out is on the refugee issue. both in europe and, i gather, it started popping up while i was gone back in the united states.
the people who are fleeing syria are the most harmed by terrorism. they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife. they are parents. they are children. they are orphans. and it is very important -- and i was glad to see this was affirmed again and again by the g-20 -- that we do not close our hearts to these victims. of such violence, and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of
terrorism. you know, in europe i think people like chancellor merkel have taken a very courageous stance in saying, it is our moral obligation as fellow human beings to help people who are in such vulnerable situations. and i know that it is putting enormous strains on the resources of the people of europe. nobody's been carrying a bigger burden than the people here in turkey, with 2.5 million refugees. and the people of jordan and lebanon admitting refugees. the fact they've kept their borders open to these refugees is a signal of their belief in a common humanity. and so we have to, each of us, do our part.
and the united states has to step up and do its part. and when i hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the christians but not the muslims, when i hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who's fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that's shameful. that's not american. that's not who we are. we don't have religious tests to our compassion. when pope francis came to visit,
the united states and gave a speech before congress, he didn't just speak about christians who were being persecuted. he didn't call on all catholic parishes just to admit those who were of the same religious faith. he said, protect people who were vulnerable. and so i think it is very important for us right now, particularly those who are in leadership, particularly those who have a platform and can be heard, not to fall into that trap. not to feed that dark impulse inside of us. i had a lot of disagreements with george w. bush on policy, but i was very proud after 9/11 when he was adamant and clear about the fact that this is not
a war on islam. and the notion that some of those who have taken on leadership in his party would ignore all of that. that's not who we are. on this they should follow his example. it was the right one. it was the right impulse. it's our better impulse. and whether you are european or american, you know, the values that we are defending -- the values we're fighting against isil for are precisely that we don't discriminate against people because of their faith. we don't kill people because they're different than us. that's what separates us from
them. and we don't feed that kind of notion, that somehow christians and muslims are at war. if we want to be successful defeating isil, that's a good place to start. by not promoting that kind of ideology, that kind of attitude. in the same way the muslim community has an obligation not to in any way excuse anti-western or anti-christian sentiment, we have the same obligation as christians. and it is good to remember that the united states does not have a religious test and we are a nation of many peoples of different faiths, which means that we show compassion to everybody. those are the universal values we stand for. that's what my administration
intends to stand for. thank you very much, everybody. >> you've been watching a live press news conference by president barack obama at the g-20 summit in turkey. to break it down, christiane amanpour, white house correspondent michelle kosinski is joining us from turkey, gloria borger is joining us and lieutenant colonel frank. christiane, at times very defensive, president obama. >> if anybody was expecting to hear in the passion and eloquence and speech patterns of president obama a tipping point, they did not hear that today. as you say, defensive when he was asked questions about american leadership, dismissing the notions of american leadership as mere slogans, seeming not to take into account the very palpable fear amongst
citizens, certainly here in france, to an extent in the united states, certainly in the united kingdom, everybody bracing for the worst of the worst to happen again. he said something that was pretty incredible, according to many of the military experts here and around the world who i have spoken to, that our strategy is working. people do not believe that to be the case. the only strategy that's working is the strategy that he tends to dismiss. that's the ground troop strategy. sinjar, tikrit, kobani. those are the only isis strongholds that have been taken back by a combination of american intelligence and air power and local ground forces. whether they're iranian-backed militia in tikrit, kurdish peshmerga in sinjar and in kobani. this is a fact. he's saying that isis is contained. this also is not actually true. isis is not contained because isis attacked a russian plane, attacked beirut, and has now attacked here. and military strategists say the
length of time between the isis attack on "charlie hebdo" and the al qaeda, of course, "charlie hebdo" and the market and here, ten months is strategically insignificant. that is no time at all. that means they are not contained. >> in terms of containment, though, he is trying to stress, and whether it's walking back comments he made before, he's really in this was stressing geographic containment on the ground compared to the same time -- >> fine. but in terms of ability they are not contained. they just slaughtered 129 people in paris. the death toll may rise very higher because there are 352 people injured, of whom 99 are critically wounded. so the question is to have an honest conversation now about a new strategy. >> he also was very strongly against the notion of having more american troops on the ground. i want to play just some of what he said, particularly on that point, because it's a key point between him and many of his critics, as he pointed out, who say there should be a far morrow
bust u.s. presence on the ground, whether in syria or iraq. let's listen to what he said. >> there have been a few who suggested we should put large numbers of u.s. troops on the ground. and keep in mind that, you know, we have the finest military in the world and we have the finest military minds in the world. and i've been meeting with them intensively for years now, discussing these various options, and it is not just my view but the view of my closest military and civil jian adviser that that would be a mistake. >> i want to bring in paul. what did you take from this? >> well, no change in strategy. the strategy is not working because of the terrible terrorism we've seen in paris, in beirut, in ankora, the
metrojet that went down, likely terrorism, likely isis. sure, they've shrunk the territory they control a little bit in syria and iraq, but this is a group now using those countries as a platform for international terrorism. the richest terrorist group in the history, tens of millions, if not more in the bank. they've got up to 6,000 european recruits coming in, joining the various groups, and isis. training camps on a scale bigger than we saw in afghanistan before 9/11. and all of that requires more urgency, i think, for all international ears. not just the united states. clearly the united states needs to take a leadership role. i don't think it's the speech people in paris wanted to hear. from a geographic point of view, isis is expanding in other countries. if you look at egypt, sinai pen
peninsula, in yemen, afghanistan and pakistan, expanding in north africa, they're expanding to some degree in somalia. and so all of this is a huge concern, and so the idea that you can really contain a terrorist group doesn't really make sense because you cannot deter terrorist groups like you can deter rogue nation states, because they have this desire, which they believe comes from god, to launch international terrorism, attack the west. and i don't think this is the response that the people here were looking for. >> lieutenant colonel francona i want to go to. in terms of u.s. air strikes, which is primarily what the focus of the u.s. strategy has been, is it actually working? i mean, are there enough actual targets that are fruitful for the u.s. to hit? >> well, it's a two-prong problem here, anderson. we have pilots that go out, they see targets, but by the time they get authorization to strike those targets, the target has
disappeared, moved on, melted into the civilian community and they can't strike it. how many targets are there? this is a very difficult enemy. they hide among the civilian population. to develop a target and strike that without u.s. eyes on the ground is very, very difficult. and right now the united states is so casualty averse, so civilian casualty averse, that they're erroring on the side of not dropping bombs. the last figure i saw was about 45% of the aircraft are returning to base with bombs on the wings. >> goloria borger, i know you were listening to the speech as well. what did you take away from president obama's speech? >> what i took away was this was a president who was very defensive about his policy, who had to explain what he meant about isis being contained and who said a lot of his critics are playing political games and that he doesn't have that luxury to pose, as he put it.
and that some people think if i were more bellicose, this is the president's word, that it would make a difference. you know, this is a president who is, as i says, going to intensify his strategy but not going to change his strategy. i think his problem is that he has to be able to tell americans who may be worried and tell the world why his strategy is going to work when they've seen that it isn't working given what occurred in paris. >> let's show the question that jim acosta asked, which is a question which sort of echoed an earlier question and president obama's response. >> and i think a lot of americans have this frustration that they see that the united states has the greatest military in the world. it has the backing of nearly every other country in the world when it comes to taking on isis, and i guess the question is, and if you'll forgive the language, is why can't we take out these
bastards? >> well, jim, i just -- i just spent the last three questions answering that very question. so i don't know what more you want me to add. i think i've described very specifically what our strategy is. and i've described very specifically why we do not pursue some of the other strategies that have been suggested. this is not, as i said, a traditional military opponent. we can retake territory. as long as we leave our troops there, we can hold it, but that does not solve the underlying problem of olimb naturing the dynamics that are producing these kinds of violent extremist groups.
and so we are going to continue to pursue the strategy that has the best chance of working, even though it does not offer the satisfaction, i guess, of a neat headline or an immediate resolution. >> it's interesting to hear president obama pushing back on the idea this is just looking for a neat headline -- >> unfortunately, this is more of the same. the president has pushed back against this kind of suggestion by many military strategists for all the years of the iraq war. and he has lambasted his critics for basically having fantastical notions about what is possible. he says we can retake territory. the answer is, then, retake territory. some territory has been retain. again, with the help of ground forces. not american boots on the ground, but forces on the ground. and i've been speaking, for instance, to cnn senior military analyst, and he believes there needs to be, you know, now a joint session, a joint strategy
with russia. russia is in there for better or for worse. russian was given basically control of the skies by just taking control of the skies. and now russia and united states have to decide how they're going to divide and conquer in syria. and he was suggesting smothering the place with bombing raids, like they did in belgrade, in serbia during kosovo, including in kosovo. and then going in, and very strategically using certain ground forces to, let's just say, take raqqa. you keep doing that and you push them out and you push them out. that's what the military strategists suggested. >> lieutenant colonel francona, what do you make to that? the counterargument is how many u.s. forces does it take and lounge do they end up staying there? it's one thing to take territory and it's another to hold it indefinitely if the local forces aren't up to the task of maintaining control? >> well, we have local forces capable of taking control. christiane amanpour just gave the best cogent military
analysis i've heard. everywhere in iraq and syria it's been because of ground troops going into combat supported by american and coalition air power. so you need a competent force on the ground. and we have that. the kurds are competent. the iraqis not so much. but they're getting there. the problem is, what do we do in syria? are we willing to insert american forces? i don't think so. but the syrian kurds that have been very effective. yes, there need to be boots on the ground. they don't need to be american boots on the ground, but we do need an american presence on the ground, and that would have to be the advisers and somebody to work these air strikes more effectively. but what we're doing right now isn't working. >> i want to go to nick paton walsh, who's standing by in erbil, northern part of iraq. in terms of what has been going on over the last 24 hours or so, both in syria and in iraq, we have seen an uptick in air strikes. there were air strike, i understand, by the u.s., i think
it was, actually targeting a convoy of vehicles, i guess, controlled by isis, carrying oil to the border. that's obviously major sort of income from them. that convoy was hit. is that a common target? >> reporter: well, yes, they're targeting the black market ability for isis to make money out of the oil facilities it's taken over iraq. 116 separate hits in that one strike alone in eastern syria. also a couple of strikes around raqqa. so the air campaign is continue unabated. i think the difficulty is, when you hear barack obama -- we've heard so many speeches about syria. he sounds tired. he's lacking clear ideas. but the central tenet of all he's been saying, which is we do not want to put up the 82nd airborne inside syria or iraq, that's still, frankly, accurate and fair. the problem is, there are many groups on the ground inside there who have local support, who may be al qaeda affiliates who would not respond well to a
completely external western force moving in. the troop on the ground there are mostly kurds. and a lot of the areas they're moving into are sunni arab areas. raqqa is a sunni arab city, sending peshmerga into that city. that's fine. they can kick out isis but that wha are the local population going to do with the idea of being occupied by kurdish militia? that's why there's such focus on the sunni forces who are used to be the acceptable sunni arab face of this kurdish force. while you're here, barack obama, defending a policy which sounds like it's run out of steam, to some degree soon, the alternatives are significantly worse. i think the missing issue here is local support. we're not talking about the turkish closing their border, we're not talking about other powers in the region lessening their support for those players in the proxy war that is syria. people are looking to the white house for immediate leadership but it's extraordinarily hard, frankly. you heard barack obama echoing
the walter reed, he sounds tired of war himself. it's hard to imagine how you'll find the resources within washington's debate to actually send thousands in to clean this up. otherwise we're looking to local forces who are simply not up to the job yet. it's an intractable problem but not one you can find a solution, as barack obama was saying, in simply a matter of hours. anderson cooper? >> nick paton walsh, be careful in erbil. gloria borger, thank you, christiane amanpour. our coverage from paris, france and belgium, the latest on the investigation, the aftermath of the paris attacks continues here on cnn. we'll be right back. ♪ it's the final countdown! ♪ ♪ the final countdown! if you're the band europe,
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hello, i'm kate bolduan joining you live from new york. >> i'm john berman live in paris for cnn special coverage of the hunt for the attackers and the masterminds behind the horrific terror attacks that rocked this city. just moments ago france president -- french president francois hollande said, we are at war. france is at war. but he says, it is not a battle of civilizations because isis represents no civilization. here are the latest details in the paris terror attack investigation. an urgent international search is under way right now for the brother of one