tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN November 21, 2015 11:00am-12:01pm PST
thanks so much for joining me. i'm fredricka whitfield. we begin with breaking news in the paris terrorist attacks investigation and growing concerns across europe. one suspect has been arrested in belgium with suspected ties to isis and right now there's a serious and possible imminent threat for attacks in multiple locations in brussels. belgium is raising the terror alert there to the highest level. and belgium's prime minister is closing the capital city's metro for the weekend and is warning people to avoid large crowds. >> translator: we are talking about a threat of several individuals with arms and explosives to launch actions, perhaps even in several places at the same time. there's no question of us giving any comment on the investigations that are ongoing on the operations that are underway for obvious reasons. >> the manhunt is still underway there for leading terror suspect salah abdeslam, who was last seen driving towards the belgium border. meanwhile, officials have
arrested three new suspects in turkey with suspected ties to isis. one of them, accused of scouting the paris venues, targeted by gunmen and suicide bombers. let's go to cnn correspondent, nima elbagir, who is live for us now in brussels. so what more are you hearing about where this investigation is going? >> reporter: hi, fredricka. there are two strands to this. there's the search for the eighth suspect, abdeslam. >> there's also the search for the broader network that supported him. and in addition to that, new belgium says it's facing this imminent and credible threat, and we're really seeing that in the stepped up policing, we're seeing that in the presence of belgium soldiers outside high-risk areas. there are some soldiers actually bright in front of our hotel. even just here this evening, we've seen police continue their searches right in the center of belgium itself, using flashlights to look into passing
vehicles. they clearly are searching for someone specific, fredricka. that's the sense we're getting here. the terror threat level has been raised and they're asking people to stay away from long congregations. they're even asking them to stay away from the airport and the train stations, because these are -- they are concerned that these are and continue to be targets, fredricka. >> now, what more can you tell us about this, you know, raised terror threat level? how much are investigators willing to tell the general public, so they, too, can be vigilant, while they're not supposed to be in large crowds, people just might leave their homes or go about their business. what do they need to know? >> reporter: well, they're giving pretty limited information. other than circulating that picture of salah abdeslam that we saw at the beginning of this week and asking people not to approach him, but to contact the police if they saw him, they haven't really -- the sense we're getting is that they don't want to increase the tension here. we were in the central shopping district this morning, where some of the shops opened in
spite of the raised terror threat level, and they were very quickly shut down. people were moving out, they were moving slowly. the police were being very purposeful. they were seeing they were trying to control and contain the situation, but there was a lot of attention. and this is saturday night in the center of brussels, fredricka. this is not what you expect from a major european capital city. and even though the threat level has not been raised nationwide, just in brussels, we're hearing from people in other towns and cities like antwerp, another major urban center, that people are choosing to stay home tonight. >> all right. nima elbagir, thank you so much. so three suspects allegedly linked to isis and the attacks on paris have now been arrested. nic robertson joining me now with more on the investigation there. >> reporter: well, one of the reasons that we believe they've been airsed, a key suspect there for french authorities is a man leaved to have been the person who scoped out, scouted o out the locations for the attacks here a week ago friday.
ahmed dahmani, a belgium, but of moroccan origin. and of course the ringleader, we know, belgium and moroccan origin, abdelhamid abaaoud, killed here on wednesday in a french police raid. so the concern is here that this man may have been trying to get away from europe, get away from belgium, and get into syria. turkish authorities arrested him in a town in antalia in turkey, at a hotel there, where he was meeting two men believed to be connected to isis. it is believed they came from syria, that dahmani was going to go back with them to syria, and therefore get beyond the reach of the french law officials, belgian law officials as well. the value that this man, dahmani, might have for french investigators at the moment is, that he may know the wider network around the attack here, that he may know some of the other facilitators, safe houses,
financiers, motivators. these sorts of people, these are key for french investigators and belgium, of course, because these are the people that may know other terror cells that may be on the verge of striking spop the fact that he is captured is a plus for french authorities right now, fredricka. >> all right. nic robertson, thank you so much. all right, let's talk about these arrests with julian therone who joins us live from paris. he's a political science at the university of versailles and the university of paris. good to see you. so, professor, one of these suspects believed to be the person who helped scout out locations in paris. in your view, are they just a microcosm of a large network that may be in paris, doing the same thing for the next location? >> well, the trouble is that we
face an international network. you see those indications in the belgium suburb in molenbeek, and now we see that the policeman is acting also in turkey, near the syrian border, and the person is from moroccan origin. it so might not be linked, but we know that it has been reported that moroccan sblernlgs he helps the french one to find the raid in saint-denis that happened this week. so we belgium, france, turkey, of course, the sanctuary in syria. we see it's a complete international affair and that we have to deal with the sanctuary itself, because of the international. >> and professor, i wonder if an obstacle for investigators there is the fact that paris is a very international city. i went to school there as an
exchange student in college for a semester and saw that for myself. and whether it be the police force or whether it be in a restaurant or anywhere, it is very international. there are people who represent the world right there in paris. i wonder if that becomes an obstacle, as investigators rye to sift through and look at potential suspects. >> well, i'm not sure it's an obstacle for the police, but what i'm sure is that paris was indeed, for this reason, targeted. you know that there was a debate regarding to the world solidarity with paris and not that much with beirut, for instance, or bamako. and i think it's a technique, precisely because of this world attention on paris, that isis targeted france. and if i may, i would also say that in bamako, france might have been targeted as well, but
you know that there were some muslims and a chinese citizen has been killed by isis. so we see that there's competition between al qaeda, because the cell is linked to al qaeda, and isis. it's like -- a bit like, i will lead the jihadi galaxy now. and by al qaeda, and bamako, in belgium, we see that it's a lot of tension, and that's the competition between the jihadi groups is actually lethal for the world order. >> and i ask that question, too, because -- and i don't ask it in terms of there being a fear, but instead, pacer has a great affinity for the fact that it is very international. and if that, you know, makes it very difficult for people in their regular day of life, that now instead of looking at everyone, looking at the differences of everyone and embracing it, now they're looking at some of these differences and now being
suspect and wondering, you know, if someone is there with bad intentions. >> well, of course, the international situation of paris is not that easy for the police, because there's a lot of people crossing, coming into the city and living, so on. but it's an intelligence work. and we have to increase and improve the intelligence corporation with the belgium regarding to the european matter, of course. but also with our partner, the u.s. and turkey, for instance. >> all right, professor julianthjulian theron, thank you so much for your time, appreciate it, from paris. still ahad, the search is on for the three suspects in the mali hotel attack that killed 19 people. and a survivor tells cnn his scary ordeal when a gunman tried knocking down his door. the best of everything is even better
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in mali, we're hearing from survivors about what happened when gunmen barged into a hotel friday and opened fire on a crowd of people. one employee said they shot at anything that moved. at least 19 people were killed, including six russians and one israeli, who was an adviser to the malian government. two of the attackers are also dead and three suspects are on the run. american anita datar was among the victims. the 41-year-old mother was a public health worker. her brother says the family is devastated. saying, quote, it's unbelievable to us that she has been killed in this senseless act of violence and terrorism. anita was one of the kindness and most generous people we know. cnn international correspondent david mackenzie joins us now live from mali. so, david, you spoke to one of the survivors of the attack. what did he say?
>> reporter: well, fredricka, they're telling horrifying stories of this attack which unfolded on friday here at this radisson hotel in mali, which is frequently visited by foreigners, including americans. and at 7:00 in the morning, the two, maybe three gunmen walked in here and started firing at random. i spoke to an indian national who was with his colleagues living here in the hotel and he describes this scene as it unfolded. >> we barricaded the doors. we put a lot of heavy stuff on the doors so nobody could enter. >> reporter: and did you hear the noises getting closer? >> yeah, yeah. we hear a lot of gun -- gun was firing around the door. and they were trying to knock the door and enter in the door. but thanks to god, we were evacuated at the time. >> reporter: well, fredricka, he's still very much in shock, as were his friends and colleagues leaving the scene here, people have been filtering in all day. some of them bravely, to come
through the scene of shattered glass and bullet holes and blood on the floor to get their belongings and bring them out. there have also within embassy officials and investigators from france and belgium and other western countries in here trying to piece together the facts of what exactly happened. on the doors of the hotel room, written in handwriting, "okay" for those they've checked. very devastating scenes here in mali. clearly an attack that was meant to strike at the heart of this country and many other countries as well. fredricka? >> all right, david mackenzie, thank you so much. all right, ahead, a cafe where a one of the paris attacks happened has been turned into a makeshift memorial. and a nurse who tried to save a man's life at that same cafe makes a surprising discovery. his incredible story, next. it's easy to buy insurance and forget about it. but the more you learn about your coverage, the more gaps you might find. like how you thought you were covered for all this... when you're really only covered for this. hot dog?
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an amazing story for the aftermath of the paris attacks. as you can imagine, in the chaos, those with medical training jumped in to help the injured. it's exactly what they're trained to do. such was the case at a cafe. this video is showing an off-duty nurse who works at a paris hospital trying to resuscitate a man on the ground. and then the nurse realizes that the man he was trying to save was actually one of the suicide bombers, raheem abdeslam. the nurse who only wanted to use
his first name, david, tells us exactly what happened. >> translator: i go to this man that i could see out of the corner of my eye. i take him out of this tangle of chairs, tables, and i put him on the floor. he had nothing special. he was just unconscious. he was unconscious. he had nothing special, but i noticed that on the side of his body, there was an enormous hole. a large hole on his side. but there, again, i don't think at all that it's a suicide bomber. at that point, for me, it's a client, like others, who suffered from a gas blast and who must have hurt himself, but his wound was huge. i put him on the ground and i start performing cpr. the other guy who was with me take over for me. and at that point, we had just unbuttoned the jacket, that's all. we had kept his t-shirt on. it was not really thick. when i was performing cpr, i did not feel anything. at some point, the guy performing the resuscitation with me says, maybe we should remove the t-shirt, it's better.
i tell him, yes, you are right, and i ripped the t-shirt, and when i ripped the t-shirt, i saw some wires. i looked up again at the lamps, these heating lamps and i noticed that there is nothing wrong with them. they're made of a material that becomes distorted quite easily. i saw that there was nothing wrong, nothing wrong with the three of them. on the ground, there was blood and i noticed the first bolts on the ground. then i understand immediately. i told myself, it's an explosion that made the wound on his side. it's a suicide bomber, and i knew it was him. at that precise moment when i realized what he was, the emergency services arrived. >> when david the nurse told 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 the explosion happened. david says he realizes he is lucky to be alive. straight ahead, arrests in belgium and turkey are linked to the attacks in paris. find out where the investigations are going, next.
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all right, welcome back. i'm fredricka whitfield. we begin with a serious and possible imminent threat of attacks in multiple locations in brussels. one person there has been arrested with suspected ties the to isis. also, a manhunt still underway for the leading paris attack suspect. salah abdeslam. he was last seen driving toward the belgian border. meanwhile, officials in turkey have arrested three people with suspected ties to isis. let's take a look at where this investigation is going. our global affairs analyst, kimberly dozier, is live in washington. cnn military analyst, lieutenant colonel rick francona, joining us live villa skype from laquin laquinta, california. kimberly, first, what are the surrounding communities and countries of belgium, turkey,
and france doing right now? >> reporter: well, right now, they'll really be concentrating first and foremost of the technical exploitation of everything they found at the scene. those cell phones have phone numbers that create a network for detectives to look at. you look at the phone records that have been gathered by nsa and others, and even some phone conversations that may have been gathered and stored and you track those back to every known associate of those who carried out the attacks. that's why with some of the arrests that we're seeing, they may be arrests of people who had an association, but at this point authorities don't know if they played any direct role in the violence. >> and is that enough? will there be, you know, a greater effort or an expansion of those efforts? >> well, when you look at the fact that they've already, over the past year, done a lot of work with the laws across europe, the laws across the middle east, to make joining a
foreign fighter group illegal, for instance, you know, they're doing a lot of the right things. it becomes a question of capacity, to enforce what's already on the books, and also, just, as we've discussed, share information fast enough to get ahead of the free movement of people, and then they have to have a serious conversation. you've got an open society in europe. counterterrorism officials i've spoken to were surprised that something like the drive-by shooting attacks hadn't happened before. they're really hard to stop. >> yeah. all right. lieutenant colonel francona, so if you were in charge of the joint militaries working together, to, you know, try to spot, try to, you know, stop things before they happened, try to spot these suspected terrorists, what would you have them do? >> well, i would continue what they're doing. and kimberly's exactly right. i mean, i've, involved in these after the fact, where you go back and try to find every link, every associate.
but the biggest advantage is going to be the electronic signatures, that they no doubt left behind. and it sounds like that's what they're doing. because i'm impressed with the speed with which they were able to take the one attack and then thwart another attack. now they've got indications of something going on in belgium. they've wrapped up this guy in turkey. so i would just continue what they're doing. but they've got a real problem in europe, now, with the agreement and almost lack of borders. you can travel almost, you know, from one end of europe to the other without even stopping at a border. and i know the french have tried to close theirs, but that's going to be very, very difficult. i suppose what i would do is continue the cooperation and bring in maybe even the other intelligence services. i know the americans are working very closely with the french on this. >> and kimberly, what do you suspect u.s. intel law enforcement is looking at very keenly, in terms of the examples that have just taken place there in paris and, you know, arrests in brussels.
what do u.s. authorities take from what we've all learned publicly and perhaps what they are all going to learn being part of the law enforcement community, to try to apply it to the u.s. in a preventative way? >> well, the fbi has already talked about the fact that they have investigations going on in all 50 states. hundreds of suspected isis sympathizers. so, what they're always trying to find is, what is the trigger? what is the signal that shows someone's decided to go from a fan to being operational, to carrying out violence. is it a sudden uptick in communications among two or three people that the fbi is watching? but, really, they know what to do. but they can't get inside these people's heads. so, in a sense, all they can do is come back to us and the public and say, we're doing what we can. please be vigilant out there. >> and colonel francona, how do you see it? >> yeah, i see that the same way. the problem that the fbi and the
law enforcement in the united states has, that many of the people that are susceptible to doing this are clean. they have no record. they've never come to the attention of law enforcement. so unless there's a tip from the public, law enforcement will never know. that's why these attacks are so hard to detect beforehand. hard to detect, hard to defend against. >> all right. colonel rick francona, kimberly dozier, thanks so much to both of you. appreciate it. and ahead, a new poll by "the washington post" showing that a majority of americans are against the u.s. taking in syrian refugees. it's a hot issue in the presidential race as well. and some candidate's views just might surprise you.
all right, since the terror attacks in paris one week ago, the fight against isis has become a major election issue in the u.s., but it's what some of the candidates are saying that is fueling a debate about the fight on terror and how the u.s. should deal with refugees. our sunlen serfati is following that story. >> very simply, we can't take them, folks. we can't take them. >> reporter: it's a debate roiling in the republican party. how to handle the resettlement of syrian refugees in the wake of the paris attacks. donald trump drawing a hard line, refusing to take any option off the table to protect the u.s., including closing some mosques in the u.s., issuing muslims special i.d. cards, listing their religion, and potentially creating a database to register and track all muslims living in the u.s.
>> shouldn't there be a database that tracks muslims here in this country? >> there should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. we should have a lot of systems. and today you can do it. but right now, we have to have a border. we have to have strength. we have to have a wall. and we cannot let what's happening to this country happen -- >> is that something your white house would like to -- >> i would certainly implement that. >> reporter: the gop front-runner today suggesting that he didn't suggest a database, but not dismissing the idea, as some of his rivals have done. >> those who want to provide and require religious tests where some people need to go to register. we don't need division in america. we need to be united. zplp you talk about internment. you talk about closing mosques. you talk about registering people. that's just wrong. >> reporter: even ted cruz, in a rare break with trump -- >> the first amendment protects religious liberty and i've spent the past several decades defending the religious liberty of every american. >> reporter: ben carson also saying it sets a dangerous precedent to single out one
group of people. instead, calling for a database for every person who enters the u.s. >> i want everybody to have a database. i want us to know about anybody who comes into this country. >> reporter: that after he raised eyebrows with an inflammatory analogy, comparing some refugees to rabid dogs. >> if there's a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you probably are not going to assume something good about that dog. it doesn't mean that you hate all dogs. >> reporter: cruz, meanwhile, has proposed to let syrian christians into the u.s., but not muslims. >> there is no doubt we would need to vet anyone coming in. but there is no indication of muslims pretending to be christians. coming in, in the refugee way. >> reporter: there's some new polling out, really tapping into what the american voters feel about all of this. a new poll from "the washington post" and abc news shows this a majority, 54% of voters believe that the u.s. should not be taking in syrian refugees.
and even more striking, even 13% are very confident that the u.s. will be able to identify terrorists among the refugees. sunlen serfati, cnn, des moines, iowa. >> all right. so let's bring in the panel and talk more about this. in washington, cnn's senior political analyst and editorial director of the "national review," ron brownstein, good to see you. and cnn politics senior reporter, steven collins. and with me here in atlanta, cnn analyst, joey jackson. hello to you. so the candidates using very strong language to lay out their positions on isis and the refugee crisis. donald trump saying while he didn't initially suggest the idea of a national database for muslims, he said he would certainly implement it as president. he said he was only asked the question by a reporter. so, joey, would any kind of tracked registry for people of a certain religion consider to be unconstitutional in this country? >> it would be, fredricka, in very rare circumstances. here's how it works. national security, obviously,
you want to keep and protect the american people. and that's the top priority, i think of anyone, and we saw in the paris attacks, just horrific. and the carnage and the destruction, no one wants to be subjected to that. at the same time, we have a constitution in this country. and this constitution does not allow congress to take steps that would otherwise impede or interfere with the establishment of religion or the free exercise of it. so when you start singling out religions based upon what you believe to be demonic acts of particular people or extremists within that religion, it becomes problematic. so it's far different, fredricka, to have a database that is predicated upon dangerous people than to have a database that is predicated upon a mass religion and singling out that religion itself. and so i think that the supreme court would have a lot to say about that. >> so, ron, i wonder, you know, what kind of a problem might this be for a candidate, let's say, donald trump in this case, since he answered the question that it would imply or suggest a lack of knowledge or
understanding of the constitution when you listen to joey's explanation here. >> well, i think that, first of all, you know, donald trump did back off with that tweet yesterday, from the initial suggestion. but we don't know exactly where he has backed off to. he really hasn't made clear about what he is repudiating and what he is not. and he had clearly said, he talked about closing mosques, and has also said, we'll have to do things that we have never done. he is envisioning some major expansion of surveillance and we just don't know the parameters yet, and i think we will in the coming days. this continues, i think, an important debate they're having in the republican party and ultimately they'll see between the republicans and the democrats. this terror, this horrific terrorist incident has accelerated and intensified an argument that was already going on in the debate about undocumented immigrants over the last six or eight months. and that is, whether america is being threatened by these kind of forces from abroad, and people, and kind of a changing mix of our population. and what you see is an important divide in the republican party, about how hardline to be on
that. and certainly, a bigger divide with the democrats, all of whom are arguing that we should continue to resettle syrian refugees. >> and, so, steven, you know, this rhetoric, you know, the language that we had been hearing, particularly on the campaign trail and beyond, isn't just limited to republicans this week. even secretary of state john kerry was criticized when he said that terrorists who attack the "charlie hebdo" office in january had a, quote, rationale, as opposed to the paris attacks which kerry described as indiscriminate of violence. so you actually wrote about this in your recent column saying, quote, the paris attacks also were turned into a rhetorical minefield for john kerry, who tripped up in his native tongue, despite having the linguistic dexterity to deliver his condolences to france in fluent french. so, what's happening here? i mean, how do you look at the
landscape of people who make a living or are on the stage of politics, diplomacy, and even they sometimes trip up or use the wrong words? >> yeah, i think, fredricka, what we've seen this week is stays statesmanship has been on short supply for both sides of the political aisle. i think john kerry's slip-up was merely a verbal slip. but it does point to the fact that many of america's political leaders have been struggling to sort of match the moment right now. i think what we've seen this week is terrorism and the fear of terrorism being injected back into our politics in the most overt way since the september 11th attacks in 2001. but what's different now, we've been at war for 14 years. there's been raging rows over the best way to approach terrorism over the last 14 years. we're shortly going to have a presidential election, primaries in a couple of months, where these issues are toxic. and i think you've seen candidates like donald trump and others on the republican side, especially, deliberately using this terror attack to further their political aims. i think some of that rhetoric is
actually quite attractive to the kind of base voters that might support donald trump in the primaries in a couple of months. >> and then republican ben carson, his comments, comparing the refugee screening process with parents protecting children against rabid dogs, you know, raising a few eyebrows. he has since kind of softened the language, you know, saying we need to be worried about, quote, bad apples among the refugees, but, ron, you know, speaking his mind, like an outsider, that's something that people have really loved about him, his supporters, but now, does this really kind of reveal some vulnerabilities or does that inexperience mean something? >> yes. i think it clearly does. and i think that ben carson and donald trump face different issues, political pushback around their remarks. for carson, i think it really is a series of comments that have caused more voters to question whether he is really up to this. whether he has the command of the issues. for trump, it's really more of -- as steven said, there is an audience for the very hard line that he is taking, but i
think there is also evidence that there is a significant group of republicans who also question whether this is the temperament that works for a president. even before this latest uproar, you know, you looked at college-educated republicans were much less likely to say that trump had the personal temperament. and steven's other point, 15 years later after 9/11, not only 15 years of more terror and concern about terror, but also, as i said before, a much greater debate about the changing nature of america's demography itself. i mean, this is coming at a moment when these issues are already inflamed by months of debate and argument in the republican primary about what immigration -- whether immigration a security and economic threat to this country. and i think this question of kind of a fortress america versus an inclusive and kind of tolerant america is a big fault line that we're going to be hearing more about over the next year. >> so, joey, i'm wondering, do you see that this issue of syrian nationals, whether they
come here, refugees or not, the fight against them, et cetera, that this can become a legal issue in a different way? >> absolutely. i really do, fredricka, and a defining moment. and here's why. you have various states who are pushing back. and what are they saying? we're not accepting any refugees. >> and do they have the legal right to do that -- >> they don't. they don't. >> there's a federal directive, but then states say, no. >> that's absolutely right, fredricka. and the number of bases as to why they don't. number one, there's a refugee act, and essentially passed in 1980, 35 years ago, which gives the president of the united states the ability to give refugee. in addition to that, the president of the united states speaks for the country in issues of national security. and regarding the supremacy clause, right, article vi, section ii, it basically states that the federal government is the king on the issue when the states can't and don't have in any legal authority. you match that against the first amendment which speaks to religious freedoms, you've got big problems here and i think it could be a court issue,
ultimately. but it's one that the president has the authority to act upon and one that he is acting upon. >> all right, joey jackson, thank you so much. good to see all of you, gentleman. >> thanks, fredricka. >> all right. we'll be right back. ok, we're here. here's dad. mom. the twins. aunt alice... you didn't tell me aunt alice was coming. of course. don't forget grandpa. can the test drive be over now? maybe just head back to the dealership? don't you want to meet my family? yep, totally. it's practically yours, but we still need your signature. the sign then drive event. zero due at signing, zero down, zero deposit, and zero first months payment on a new jetta and other select volkswagen models. when a moment turns romantic why pause to take a pill? or stop to find a bathroom?
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this is a time of thanks. and i have a lot to be grateful for. you've showed a lot of love for my dad, mal whitfield for a very long time. his incredible journey as a dad, olympian, tuskegee airmen, mentor, coach, friend, i know, the list is long. he's entered a new phase this week and he said so long to us at the age of 91. and as a family, we were at his bedside in washington. but we don't want you to be sad. he has given us all a lot to celebrate, admire, and honor.
in the last lap of his life, dad, mal whitfield, finished strong. but that shouldn't surprise anyone unless you've never heard of marvelous mal, read about his incredible legacy, or in recent years, even caught the first of what would become many moments like this on cnn. >> marvelous mal. i know him as dad. hello, dad. >> reporter: even to us, his family, marvelous mal's life is mind boggling. who could believe that before this world champion mid-distance track star won three gold -- >> you keep this one, the first one. >> reporter: a silver, and a bronze in two olympic games, he was an olympic hopeful training in between 27 combat bombing missions as a tuskegee airmen tail gunner in world war ii and the korean war. and well before that, in segregated america, the odds were stacked. born in 1924 in bay city, texas. orphaned after the deaths of both parents, dad's big sister,
betty, would migrate west like thousands of black americans in the 1930s, seeking better opportunities. big sis betty would raise dad in watts, los angeles, california. he couldn't have known it then, but he told us kids, it would help define his destiny, shape his indefatigable winning spirit. it's well documented now how he snuck into the 1932 olympic game stadium and was inspired. dad's olympic interest flame was sparked. while dad has blazed quite a trail as an airmen, a world class athlete -- >> i ran three. 800 meters, the 400 meters, and the 400-meter relays. i just overdid it. but it was all worth it.
>> oh, and since we're on a roll, a more than three-decades' long career as a u.s. state department foreign service officer and ambassador of sport, serving six presidents, from john f. kennedy to george h.w. bush. we've all run out of superlatives to describe this awesome man. but through it all, to us, mal whitfield has just been dad and grandpa, even after he and 300 tuskegee airmen received 2007 congressional gold medals. >> how do you feel? >> great, great, great. >> that infectious humor, broad smile, his signature mantras like, keep moving, never quit, all things are possible, education is your ticket, have a plan, be ready, none of it lip service. he believed all of it. because he lived it, coached, and mentored thousands of american and african athletes from boxer george foreman to
kenyan marathoner, kip kieno. >> are you ready? >> oh, i've been ready -- i haven't had a good night's sleep. i'll sleep on the plane. >> that was him gearing up for our trip to the beijing olympics in 2008, where he reunited with fellow olympians of yesteryear. >> they remember the face and my laugh. >> reporter: making it that much more special, you were right there with him, with us, to beijing, to london in 2012. 54 years after his olympic gold debut at the 1948 london games. >> that's what the olympic games is partly about, unity. >> reporter: and afterwards, everyone always asking, commenting about dad. >> fredricka, i hope to be there with your dad. god willing. mal, i love you, baby. >> and remember i mentioned mal whitfield was a man born to beat the odds?
well, he wouldn't lose his footing over a few health matters that got in the way, either. a brain tumor, at least two strokes and prostate cancer. none of it defeating marvelous mal, even letting me tag along on his 2009 return to the helsinki stadium, where he won gold in the 1952 games. while he most certainly became more physically frail leading up to his 91st birthday last month, that determination and drive that fooled so much of his life and legacy remained defiantly strong. a great team of loving care around him saw to that. on the door of his hospice bedroom, where red, white, and blue gave final salute, inside, we saw his encourage and felt it. >> he ran his race called life vigorously, all of the way. dad passed away with the same kind of stamina, smoothness, and grace that won him renowned
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hello, everyone. i'm poppy harleararlow joining live from paris tonight. it is 9:00 in the evening. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. we begin tonight in brussels. it is a city on lockdown, because of the, quote, serious and imminent possibility of a paris-style terror attack. that warning coming today, directly from the belgium government, as it raised the terror level there to the maximum threat level. the fear that individuals with weapons and explosives could target multiple locations at one time. today, the subway in brussels, the capital, completely shut down. shops are closed, people are being urged to stay home or at