tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN November 21, 2015 8:00am-9:01am PST
premier of "the hunting ground" sunday at 8:00 p.m. eastern parents of current and future college students, this is a film you are not going to want to miss. >> stay with us. allison camrod is hosting a special conversation with experts and critics. we hope you will we here. we are grateful for you spending time with us. there is a lot more ahead. >> we are following a lot of breaking news around the world. we turn it over to our colleague, fredricka whitfield. >> thanks so much, victor and christi, thanks so much. it is the 11:00 eastern hour. "newsroom" starts right now. i'm fredricka whitfield. we begin with breaking news in the paris terror attacks, investigation and growing concerns across europe. one suspect has been arrested in belgium with suspected ties to isis. right now, a serious and imminent threat in brussels.
belgium is raising the terror alert there to the highest possible level. belgium's prime minister is closing the capital city's metro for the weekend and he is warning people to avoid large crowds. the manhunt is still underway for leading terror suspect, salah abdelslam last seen driving near the border. one of them accused of scouting the paris venues targeted by gunmen and suicide bombers. let's get to cnn investigative correspondent, drew griffin, live in brussels. what more are you hearing about this serious threat. are people taking this terror alert seriously, staying away from crowds? >> reporter: people are being forced to stay away from crowds. so many of the establishment in this capital city are closed. the subway is closed. most major events have been
canceled. there has been little explanation as to why in the middle of the night last night, the terror threat level was raised to four, somewhat unprecedented in the history of these threat level classifications that started back in 2006. we do know that it came just about the time there was an early morning raid at another apartment in molenbeek. some guns were sconfiscated. some reporting this was a friend of sal after abdeslam. there is no alert as to when
that might be lifted. >> drew griffin, thanks so much. we'll check back with you. in the meantime, three suspe suspects linked to isis have been arrested. nic robertson joining me with the latest on that. what more are you learning about these most recent arrests? >> reporter: one of the men is believed to be the man that scouted out the attacks here. he is a belgian-born man. he was picked up in the town where president obama was last week for the g-20. he was meeting in a hotel there with two men that turkish authorities believe were members of isis. they believe that they had come to meet dahmani with the aim, it appears, of moving him across the borders into syria and out of the clutches of investigators here. this is a very important arrest for french and belgium authorities. this is a man who appears, as we
know right now, to have had is he important role, close connections for the attackers here in paris. that is vital as they look for other cells that may be here and belgium. that arrest by turkish authorities is significant this time. here in paris, there are many, many other leads being followed up at the moment, fredricka. >> that ninth attacker in paris, what's the latest on the search? >> reporter: i think there are various things that can said about this. the ninth attacker can be described as salah abdeslam.
. the ringleader, abdelhamid abaaoud. it looks like he was potentially that ninth attacker that drove the car used in the attacks out of the suburbs and then three blocks away, gets on the metro system, the subway system here. that's where he is caught on camera. he died in that police raid in saint-denis, the paris suburb, on wednesday morning. we can call him the eighth or the ninth. one very important one is still on the run, still being hunted down, fredricka. >> nic, one week after the attacks there in paris, looking behind you. still, huge crowds that come out, leave flowers and pay their respects. as people in paris hear about the high alert in neighboring belgium and that people are avoiding crowds, how does that translate to people there in paris who continue to gather in large crowds to pay homage to
those who were killed. are they expressing being nervous, being frightened or just simply showing their resolve. i think people were relieved here. the ringleader, abaaoud was killed. they believe authorities near to do more. you have this wonderfully beautiful christmas market with festive christmas trees and these stalls. this time of year, you can expect to be busy. the feeling is that people are happy so far with what the french are doing. there are some concerns about
it. they are really concerned there is a potential, another attack. one other thing here. i went to the army, french army recruitment center here yesterday. they are seeing recruiting here spiking significantly. they told me much higher than after the charlie hebdo attack. you have a lot of young men and women here that are stepping up to do interest patriotic duty for this country. >> something experienced in the united states post 9/11 at many military recruitment centers. nic robertson, appreciate it. let's talk more about this. i want to bring in benjamin hadad. ben, thanks so much for joining us. it has now been a week since the attack and salah abdeslam has not been seen. how difficult is it for
abdelslam to move about? >> it is probably very difficult for him to move. he must be hiding somewhere. it is a wakeup call for europeans to step up their cooperation in europe. they have been very vocal in asking their european partners to ramp up their cooperation. they announced a few measures pressed by the french for a long time. sharing the names of passengers in airplanes all over europe to control the circulation of jihadd jihadis. to protect the borders towards turkey more effectively and ramp up the sharing of information between intelligence agencies. what we have seen over the last week is that some of european security services, specially in countries like belgium where these attacks were organized.
some of these attacks have been overwhelmed by the flow of radicals over the last few years. u.s. officials have been revealing holes in the system here claiming that three of the known paris attackers could have slipped through the watch list and screening programs if they had attempted to travel to the u.s. what does that signal for you and how concerning? >> well, it certainly significant significant signals that we have to ramp up the security. syria is acting as the center of graphi gravity. the inspiration for all the radicals. they were prepared in belgium and executed in france with home-grown radicals. you have a two-level fight. you have to take up the fight against isis in syria and iraq. this is why french president
hollande will be in washington on tuesday to ask president barack obama to step up the fight and support on the ground in air strikes against isis over there. there is a domestic fight where definitely, much effort to be made in terms of intelligence, human intelligence. renting of the cultural knowledge of these networks and trying to bring other european countries on board. the terrorists of these attacks last friday have exploited the vulnerabilities of the european system. >> as we just mentioned, the u.s. visa waiver program. that was a great way for me to get the question in i am very anxious to ask, which is, how concerned should anyone and everyone be that these vulnerabilities are now being made public at a time when we already know the u.s. and european nations such as france are particularly vulnerable. i guess the question really is about responsibility, about
sharing these gaping holes publicly. >> this is a threat that existed for a long time. the united states was attacked on 9/11. you had attacks in england, in madrid, in paris, two times this year. you have a high alert in belgium today, a threat against the stadium in germany a few days ago. we know that we have to live with this threat. we have to keep on living. the images out of paris are extremely moving over the past few days. yesterday, a week after the attacks, all these young people have gone to the bars that have been attacked, into these neighborhoods to drink, to celebrate, to unite. you have to keep on living and don't give in to the terror and the pressure that these threats represent. >> benjamin hadad, thank you so much. appreciate it. the search is on for three suspects in the ma lcli hotel
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the search is on in mali for three more terror suspects. one said they shot at anything that moved. at least 19 were killed before hostages were freed by security forces. two of the attackers are also dead. american, anita datar, was among the victims. the 41-year-old mother was a public health worker that often traveled to africa and asia. the family is devastated saying that it is unbelievable to us she has been killed in this senseless act of violence and terrorism. she was one of the most kind and
generous people we know. robin krooel joining us from nairobi, kenya. the state of emergency in effect and the latest search for more people behind this. >> reporter: a manhunt underway in mali's capital, bamako. they have been approached by high level world leaders saying they will stand by mali and franco franco francois hollande has promised to help mali. at least one french citizen was killed in this attack. six russians were killed. another six were freed. however, as you mentioned, one united states citizen, chinese,
and at least one other citizen as well to name a few. >> these victims, with he know shlgs primarily, fr shlgs, primarily from belgium, around the world. are they saying this may have been the motivation to target this hotel because it was so international? >> yes. this could have likely been the exact reason why the attackers would have picked the radisson blu hotel. it is an american-owned hotel. a number of westerners would have been staying there at any given time. it was a very popular hotel. 1 190 rooms in total. the diplomate held a lot of meetings there. probably the reason that these attackers would have struck that hotel. al qaeda offshoot group has claimed responsibility there. in august, they attacked a hotel
killing 17 people. that hotel in central mali was also popular with westerners. >> robin, thanks so much. let's dig deeper finto this. joining me now, cnn law enforcement analyst, tom fuentes, former fbi assistant director. you heard robin saying, going after an american-owned hotel, the radisson. it was a magnet for many international visitors. this was very intentional. what do you read into how this terror group was operating, how they carried out this attack, how they were able to infiltrate and cause this kind of mayhem in this very western place in mali? >> first of all, fredricka, the hotels in that part of africa, in many of the capital cities, in many of the major business cities, very few hotels that are the quality of western type
hotels. there are not a lot of choices for western travelers, whether they are government employees, contractors, business travelers. they will typically stay at a hotel like that. they usually feature breakfast buffets that are western food, asian food for many chinese travelers. not a lot of choices, except for the local hotels that are a significant drop in quality by many western standards. that's easy there. if you target a hotel like that, you are bound to have westerners staying there. it's a target-rich environment for terrorists. as far as these hotels being attacked, this is a continuous drumbeat. a lot of people think it is a follow up to the paris attack. they have had steady terrorist activity in northwest africa. >> it is the obvious concern or question because of the french tie assistants to mali for many years. >> that's true. the french ties, formerly, mali
was a colony of france, as was morocco and algeria. there are significant relationships. that would be true. i don't think it is a direct. it may not be a direct activity based on the paris attack from a week ago. this has been a steady series of attacks in the region. it is only getting publicity now because it is so close after the most recent paris attack. >> how concerned are you that terror groups, whether it be isis related or extensions of al qaeda are looking to take advantage of this time given sadly the effectiveness of what happened in paris? >> there is a common threat perhaps with mali in your view, simply because of timing. is it your concern that this inspires terror groups to take advantage of this moment right
now. vulnerability is exposed and to be heightened. >> i think that's true as far as the heightened fear and publicity recently. you go back to august of '98, al qaeda blew up two of our industries in kenya and tanzania. we had the coast bombed on the coastline of africa. we have had other attacks ever since, throughout northern africa. it is not a new thing to have this al qaeda, now isis-affiliated or even local groups affiliated attacks throughout african countries and the northern part of africa in particular. >> tom fuentes, thanks so much. appreciate it. you are welcome. in the chaos after the paris attacks, parisians rallied and tried to help those that were hurt. one nurse performing cpr in a man he saw laying right there on the ground. you have to hear his reaction when he found out who he was
would jump in to help the injure. such was the case at the cafe. an off-duty nurse that works at a paris hospital trying to resuscitate a man on the ground. then, the nurse realizes that the man she was trying to save was actually one of the suicide bombers. rahim abdeslam. >> i go to this man i could see out of the corner of my eye. i take him out of this tangle of chairs and put him on the floor. he had nothing special. he was just unconscious. on the side of his body, an enormous, large hole on the side. i don't think at all it is a suicide bomber. at that point, for me, it is a client like others who suffered from a gas blast and must have hurt himself on something. his wound was huge. i put him on the ground and
start performing cpr. the other guy took over. we just took off his jacket an kept his t-shirt on. when i was performing cpr, i did into the feel anything. the guy performs the resuscitation said, maybe we should remove the t-shirt. it is better i tell him. you are right. when i ripped his t-shirt, i saw some wires. i looked up again at the heating lamps. i noticed there was nothing wrong with them. they are made of a material that becomes distorted quite easily. i saw there was nothing wrong with the three of them. on the ground, there was blood and i noticed the first bullets. i told myself it is an explosion that made the wound on his side. it is a suicide bomber. at that precise moment when i realized what he was, the emergency service arrived. >> that is heart-pounding. >> when they told the nurse and firemen the man he had been
trying to save had a lot of wires on him, the emergency crew immediately evacuated the area. the 46-year-old lives in the neighborhood and was having dinner with a friend when it happened. david says he realizes he is lucky to be alive. coming up, we'll go live to brussels, belgium, placed on a high terror alert. all the latest developments next. cause, healthier doesn't happen all by itself. it needs to be earned every day. using wellness to keep away illness. and believing a single life can be made better by millions of others. as a health services and innovation company optum powers modern healthcare by connecting every part of it. so while the world keeps searching for healthier we're here to make healthier happen. the great beauty of owning a property is that you can create wealth through capital appreciation, and this has been denied to many south africans for generations.
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what more are you hearing about why this terror alert is being raised? >> reporter: we really don't know other than it coincides with the arrest of a man last night in the molenbeek area. no explosive devices found. a very intense day. a scene just played out right in front of us where there was some kind of a threat to the subway system. it turned out to be a bit of a false alarm. these kind of things have been going on all day. you hear bursts of sirens. they clear the area. all of the sudden, it is all clear. everybody wants to know where
this one last attacker is, salah abdeslam. >> the country of belgium has had its share of terror attacks in recent years. why belgium? >> that's a question many, many people have been asking. why has this country emerged as the weak link in europe's counter terrorism. specially why, are christs so comfortable in this one neighborhood not far from here. >> this mostly muslim community in brussels is quickly becoming synonymous with terror in europe. at least a half dozen terror attacks have links to molenbeek. local prosecutors say dozens of foreign fighters from syria have
come from here and terrorists come here to shop in the black market that specializes in the tools of their trade. >> full papers and passports and weapons trades are flourishing in certain suburbs of brussels, like molenbeek. >> a senior fellow focusing on immigration and security says illicit trade in specially guns has put them on the terror mark. >> they have gun laws. still, a big black market of weapons in brussels that comes from everywhere in europe and also from the balkan peninsula countries and it is very easy for criminal gangs or to terrorist groupings to find weapons, even war weapons here in our city. >> he says kalashnikov rifles
can be purchased on the belgian black market for as little as $1,000. >> you are getting a good deal here. >> there is another problem that may be much bigger. >> what we see the last three, four, five years, is that there is a merge between the jihadi radical world and the criminal world. lots of jihadists meet with criminals in prison. i think the role of the branch of islam with these young people is that it is like a mental detonation mechanism. some of them are hard core jihaddys who were socialized in this branch of islam since they were young. some of them are not that muslim at all. >> that appears to be the case for the man who operated this bar, ibrahim abdeslam was known
as a petty criminal here. the bar he ran shut down a week before because of drugs and elicit activity. family and friends say his involvement came as a shock. >> last week, he blew himself up in paris wearing a suicide vest. his family was stunned. his brother is still on the run. he, too, has a criminal past from molenbeek. in 2011, he spent time in prison with another prisoner, paris ringleader, abdelhamid abaaaod. >> they have sent hundreds to europe. the highest per capita. >> let's talk more about this. with me is retired army
lieutenant mark curdling in orlando. back with us, tom fuentes, former assistant director of the fbi. many of these militants are from europe. they train in the middle east and come bablg aback and attack. they leave and exhibit this kind of anger. what kind of military strategy is there to stop or intervene? >> i think we have been applying much of that recently, fred. it has to do with the stopping of jihadist across borders. a very simplistic approach to what we are doing. you also have to look at other ways to do this. first of all, you can't lump all terrorists in one group. there are certain elements of isis that are affecting things in syria and iraq. there are other home grown terrorists, and even though they are taking on the name of isis, they have different eye ideoloy
and methods. stops the financing. you have to stopt gun running in connection with the criminal activity. you have to stop the support in the logistics chains, which means no more curriers or mules that get these terrorists from one area to the other. there are multiple ways to stop this. i would suggest in belgium, which i know very well, you have populations of muslims in certain areas that are supporting one another. in many of the other countries in europe, they have been integrated as opposed to being put into one town and having that mutual support agreement. >> tom, we just heard that many of these terrorists have been petty criminals. how does law enforcement in many jurisdictions anticipate whether squ someone who gets into the system
is, indeed, whether they are influenced or radicalized. how does law enforcement get in between that that may have happened while in prison for petty crimes and preventing them from going off into following the footsteps of what many of these terrorists who carried out these afaks in paris did. >> a great deal of the terrorist activity that should be going on there isn't. a lot of people don't realize why. i have dealt with european law enforcement for more than 25 years. i was also on the executive committee of interpol. the biggest issue they have had over time has been the post nazi policies of not having intelligence gathering and not being able to wiretap and not being able to operate informants. much of the things we take for granted that were developed in our organized program over the past few decades, they haven't allowed. they have been in denial that they have had organized crime or issues where that would be required. that's coming back to haunt
them. look at the paris attack. the week-ago attack group, they had no idea that was happening. six or eight people. usually, in the u.s. when we have had six or eight people do something like that, the fbi has been informed throughout reach and local intelligence investigations, being able to stop it. that's been the weak link here in the u.s., a one or two-person lone wolf or wolves can do an attack. nobody is going to know about it. as soon as they reach out, it becomes known to us and it is stopped. in europe, they don't have that intelligence gathering. you had almost eight people in the first attack and then several days later the second cell where they had the apartment shootout. they didn't know about that apartment or that group. that tells you how many other groups and cells are operating in europe that they have no clue. we sta we talk about the visa waiver. there is no way to put them in a database for sure to keep them from coming here. or they can get a visa and come
here. that's not the issue. the issue is that they don't know all the people that are up to this type of activity and planning to do more attacks. they still don't have the bomb-maker. they have called abaaoud the master mooi mastermind. i don't think he is. i think there are senior masterminds operating in france and belgium controlling many of the cells. many of the al qaeda cells change flags and affiliate with isis. this has been going on for decades. >> what's been going on for decades, getting these weapons, particularly in belgium on the black market is fairly sim, $1,000 for kalashnikov. what is the strategy or is there one in terms of a military standpoint to stop the flow of these weapons in places like
belgium so they are not on the black market? >> from a military strategy, likely not. from a security force strategy, i think you will see some changes in the europe footprint in the next few months. when i was a young lieutenant, you would literally have to go into border outposts and have your trunk open. a lot of these are flowing from the former bulkans. those are flowing very easily on the black market. there is a distinction between the terrorist versus the criminal who is just trying to make money selling weapons. if you can separate the criminals and put them out of business and stop the weapons flow, it has a tremendous effect on the terrorists being able to execute their operations. i think you are going to see an
illumination of the free trade agreement and start seeing some increasing borders coming up. truck routes are going to be limited throughout europe, which are currently used. you see trucks from the czech republic going all the way to amsterdam without being checked at all. some of these things have to be taken care of. it is really more a part of the security force linked to government intelligence just like tom said that will stop the weapons flow and stop the terrorism. >> general mark hardling and tom fuentes, thank you both. >> thank you, fred. officials say some of the paris attackers could have slipped past the screening process and right into the u.s. without being noticed. details on that straight ahead. when heartburn hits fight back fast tums smoothies starts dissolving the instant it touches your tongue and neutralizes stomach acid at the source tum, tum, tum, tum smoothies! only from tums
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thankfully, mary miller banks with chase for business. and with greater financial clarity and a relationship built for the unexpected, she could control her cash flow, and keep the ranch running. chase for business. so you can own it. welcome back. in the wake of the paris attacks, growing concern that the u.s. watch list and screening system aren't strong enough. u.s. officials tell us that several of the paris attackers could have been able to pass through the screening process and get inside the u.s. there is no indication that any of them tried to travel to the u.s. cnn investigative correspondent, chris frates is live for us in washington. how could many have gotten in and why would they have been flagged? >> national security officials tell us that at least one of the paris attackers would have been able to travel to the sucht and
as many as three of them could have slipped the u.s. watch list and screening program. there is no indication that many tried to travel here. some law enforcement officials are concerned that the watch list wouldn't have picked them up. others in the intelligence community are insisting that human and other intelligence could have filled those gaps. going forward, fbi officials say they are closely watching dozens of people who pose the highest risk of carrying out a copycat attack. more than 100 of the investigations into isis sympathizers were taken up a notch following the paris attacks. fbi director james combi and attorney general, loretta lynch says no relationship existing between the attackers and anyone in the u.s. those leaves isis has slowed down. isis has told its followers to stay in the u.s. and kill here or because words have gotten around about the terrible living conditions in isis-controlled
territory. the other thing going on a lot in washington and on the campaign trail, fred, was a discussion around how to handle the 10,000 syrian refugees coming to america. even though some of these refugees get the toughest screenings, a process that could take up to two years. the house passed a bill that could limit syrian refugees. president obama says he would veto that bill. what's starting to happen in the latest few days is a visa waiver program is getting a lot of attention. this i t this is the program that one of the attackers could have used. it allows 38 people mostly from europe to travel to the u.s. without visas. it was used by about 20 million people last year. there there was a bipartisan bill in the senate that would end the waivers for anyone who's gone to iraq or syria in the last 25 years. it was sponsored by dianne feinstein of california, jeff flake of arizona. and it's an area where the president has expressed interest in reforming. talks are already underway
between the white house and those senators. fred, i think we'll see some more action on that front after the thanksgiving holiday. >> i wonder how difficult that would be, too. because going into syria, it's not like you're getting a stamp on your passport. >> that's absolutely right. they'll sort that out on capitol hill after thanksgiving. >> all right. chris frates, thanks so much in washington. >> thank you. meantime, france is on alert for any kind of possible future attacks by isis. and the french prime minister isn't ruling out the possibility of a chemical weapons attack. next, what hospitals are doing to prepare. i don't want to live with the uncertainties of hep c. or wonder... ...whether i should seek treatment. i am ready. because today there's harvoni. a revolutionary treatment for the most common type of chronic hepatitis c. harvoni is proven to cure up to 99% of patients... ...who've had no prior treatment. it's the one and only cure that's... ...one pill, once a day for 12 weeks. certain patients...
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anything. some critics accuse the prime minister of creating unnecessary fears. our frederik pleitgen has more. >> reporter: after the carnage of the paris terror attacks, french authorities fear in the future, terrorists could go even further. possibly launching chemical attacks. while the possibility appears remote, the government is ordering first responders to be prepared. at this hospital near versailles, dr. francois gonedon is updating an antiserum for nerve gas. before, we had a civilian dosage, he says, but from now on, we will use military grade atropine. it's used, for instance, in cases of serine poisoning. serine gas was used in damascus in 2013, killing around 1,400 people, according to the state department. the emergency medical personnel
here say they're well prepared, with respirators and special protective suits for at least 75 first responders. >> just in case there should be a chemical attack, the hospital is equipped with three of these state of the art ambulances that can deal with almost any emergency. >> it was france's prime minister who first warned of possible chemical terror plots. i say it with all the precautions needed, he says, but we know and bear in mind that there is also a risk of chemical or biological weapons. that drew criticism from some accusing the prime minister of stoking fear, but the doctor in charge says it's better to be safe than possibly one day sorry. the risk isn't major, he says, but it exists, it's part of our job as emergency doctors to be prepared for these kinds of attacks. after the attacks france has faced this year alone, this nation wants to make sure its first responders are as ready as
they can be for any scenario, should terror strike again. fred pleitgen, cnn, france. and we'll with back with much more on the terror investigation, coming up. i am totally blind. and sometimes i struggle to sleep at night, and stay awake during the day. this is called non-24. learn more by calling 844-824-2424. or visit your24info.com.
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