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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  November 23, 2015 1:00pm-2:01pm PST

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brooke. >> all right. alina machado, thank you so much. incredible that gun jammed. thank goodness not just once but twice. and thank you so much for being with me here in paris. we'll be back at it the same time tomorrow. in the meantime let's go to washington, john berman and "the lead" start right now. thanks, brooke. the war against terror has the whole world on alert. i'm john berman and this is "the lead." the world lead, a chilling discovery just ten days after the paris attacks. now what appears to be a suicide vest found packed with explosives. more evidence of threats as police unravel new disturbing signs of terror. the national lead, stepping up security here at home just days away from thanksgiving. the extra precautions to prevent an attack and keep millions of americans safe. the politics lead, he wants to create a data base of muslims, bring back water boarding and
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with no proof claimed thousands of muslims in new jersey cheered when the twin towers fell. donald trump once again ratcheting up the rhetoric in the republican race. and with iowa just around the corner, is this the language that might help him win the nomination? welcome to "the lead." i'm john berman in for jake tapper. we begin today with breaking news in our world lead. a neighborhood in paris sealed off after police discover what may be a suicide vest in a garbage can. cnn affiliate bfm reporting the vest contained the same explosives used in the november 13th attacks along with bolts that could turn into shrapnel. all this as an urgent international dragnet is still out for this man, salah abdelsalam, the suspected eighth isis terrorist blamed for the deadly wave of carnage across paris more than a week ago. french police have launched 300 raids since the attacks. they've deployed 10,000 police officers, 6,500 soldiers
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throughout paris and the rest of the country. and tonight from belgium we are learning of at least one person charged in connection with the paris attacks. cnn's martin savidge is live in paris. martin, i want to start with this possible suicide vest. what is known at this point? >> reporter: you know, john, this was just at a time when parisians were starting to maybe relax a little bit. now comes this news. it was discovered late this afternoon by trash collectors in se the southern suburbs of paris, a residential area. in a trash can. they don't say one on the street or somebody's personal can, the area was cordoned off, bomb squad called in and now it is determined tatp is the explosive as you point out was used in the friday 13th attacks. where did this come from and who did this come from? right now those answers haven't been provided.
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many wondering if it was related to the man so dearly sought out now not just in france but in neighboring belgium where they have been brought to a standstill. belgium remains on high alert. its main city, brussels, at the highest security level still with most told to stay home, schools and the subway shut down. hundreds of belgian security forces launched nearly two dozen raids in the last 24 hours. yielding one suspect authorities believe is connected to the paris attack. but came up empty in the search for europe's most wanted man. >> salah abdelsalam is not, not among the persons arrested during the searches. >> reporter: 26-year-old salah abdelsalam was last seen hours after the paris killings on this highway to belgium in a car with two other men. french authorities checked ids, but waved them on. salah abdelsalam vanished, but belgian authorities have arrested the two men with him. the two men say hours after the
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attacks they received a phone call from salah abdelsalam and that he sounded very upset saying that his car had broken down and he needed a ride back to belgium. the two friends came to paris here and picked them up. the attorney stresses they had no idea he was involved in the attacks. but the attorney also says the men noticed he was carrying something. quote, a big jacket and other things, maybe like an explosive belt or something like that, unquote. his family believes salah abdelsalam changed his mind at the last minute and didn't carry out his attack like the others. they point to a rental car in his name found abandoned on a paris street. meanwhile french authorities released this photo said to be from the travel documents of one of the suicide bombers who blew up outside the stadium in paris. they believe he used a fake name, so they're asking if anyone recognizes him. also today britain's prime minister joined with french president francois hollande to pay respects at the bataclan
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concert hall where most of the paris victims were murdered. >> my family support the action that president hollande has taken to strike isil in syria. and it's my firm conviction that britain should do so too. >> translator: we are going to intensify our strikes. we're going to choose targets that will make as much damage as possible. this terrorist arming. >> reporter: as he spoke the just-arrived charles de gaulle aircraft carrier beginning its first day of flight operations sending more jets at isis targets in syria. john, it should be pointed out the all clear has been given in that area where the suicide vest was discovered. but this is not an area that had suffered through any damage or attacks on that friday the 13th. again, the question, what was it doing there? >> martin savidge for us in paris. we're going to explore that question in a minute. but first to brussels, a city in lockdown amid warnings that an
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isis attack could be imminent there. now word that at least one person there has been charged in connection to the paris attacks. cnn international correspondent nima, start with the charges and the arrests today. what's the latest? >> reporter: a night and morning of raids have yielded just one man still in custody that authorities believe they have you have evidence regarding to hold on charges of being associated or being part of the network linked to that terrorist attack. they are charging him with activities related with that attack. but there's some nearly 20 people that were arrested. they have three in custody that they're waiting to see if they actually do have anything to hold them on. and this comes after some pretty intensive raids, pretty intensive sweeps right here in the center of town, john. there is a real concern amongst those intelligence sources that we've been speaking to that as this net does start to widen given the amount of time that's
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elapsed since brussels became the focal point of the investigation to the paris attack but also the focal point of fears about the security levels here that you're potentially setting yourself up for a situation where anything can happen. john. >> nima, brussels is a major european city. it's the capital of the european union. nato headquarters. what was it like to be there today when it was essentially completely shut down? >> reporter: well, in the early morning hours it was extraordinarily haunting just to see those escalators going into the subways, going up and down completely empty, but slowly people did begin to venture out. a few cafes filled up. but by nightfall people started disappearing again. there is a sense they are trying very hard to return to normalcy. some of the strangest procedures they've seen since the second world war. people very aware this is a city under siege. but every once in a while they
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try to get out there and do a little bit of shopping, meet some friends and forget for a moment about the threat level that hangs over here. >> truly extraordinary levels of security there and concern. nima, thank you so much, in brussels, appreciate it. joining me now terrorism analyst paul cruickshank. phil mudd is former deputy director of the cia's counterterrorism center, and david ross study for the terrorist radicalization. thank you all for being with us. paul, i want to start with you. this suicide vest apparently pound in mountrouge. >> it's believed he just his car in the 18th district that night. it's in the south of paris, but there's a direct metro line between the 18th more north and also just in the last few minutes, a french newspaper in
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bf mtv reporting that salah abdelsalam's cell phone was traced down to the montrouge area of paris. an indicator this may well have been his suicide vest that they have discovered in this area. >> obviously, phil mudd, the search for salah abdelsalam, one of the most important aspects of this investigation right now. what if they don't get him? >> look, at some point this is going to have a transition from a law enforcement investigation to intelligence. over the course of time as they interview people, as they acquire more intelligence about a potential location in brussels, if it turns out he's not there and we discover that he's in syria, you're going to have to have the coalition, the french, british, americans, try to determine where he is with enough precision to put a missile on him. i think as time passes the likelihood we find him in brussels slowly starts to decline and the likelihood that intelligence professionals start to try to have to pick up information from isis central increases. this is going to change over the course of the next week. >> david, i want to ask you a
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big picture question now. because as this investigation continues and as they try to put to bed any possible terrorist threats that exist there in the city of paris and around france, what about the bigger fight against the terrorist ideology? is this something that france needs to do? what can they do? >> yeah. absolutely they have to have in mind the broader ideology. obviously you can't completely kill an ideology in any way. the nazis were firmly defeated and there are still people who subscribe to naziism today. isis is much more than an ideology. it functions as a quasi state organization and mobilizes its supporters around the idea it's extraordinarily successful. fortunately a state like entity is easier to defeat than an ideology. as it weakens it will have less capability to launch attacks hike this. >> that's the hope. paul, again, i don't want to obscure the headline, suicide
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vest found and cell phone traces that trace salah abdelsalam perhaps to that area to maybe there's a connection between his movements and that vest. is there evidence right now, paul -- or what new evidence is there that these attacks were planned from say the isis headquarters in syria and iraq? >> well, the evidence so far is mostly that the claims of responsibility from isis which the whole organization have gotten behind. there's been a massive effort to claim ownership of these attacks from isis. but in particular there's a senior french isis operative called fabien clain who a few hours after the attacks on saturday put out an audio message where he detailed the attack, said there were eight attackers and said that there was meticulous selection of targets, all pointing to his role in the attack and that he's likely the senior ringleader behind this european counterterrorism officials telling me that over the last year he as the senior figure and
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abdelhamid abaaoud as a slightly more junior figure have been working in tandem to launch all these plots against europe, against france. another note about fabien clain, before he left for syria and isis, he was involved in a threat against the bataclan music hall back in 2009. so all of this suggests that the isis sooenior leadership desig e designated this french belgium group to organize these attacks. this is just the start. the idea is there are more attacks in the pipeline. >> see the concern in brussels today. phil, obviously you were on the front lines in the battle against terror for much of the last 15 years. what is your level of concern that the types of attacks we just saw in france could happen here in the united states? >> i think the likelihood is pretty high if you look at the question simply of whether a few isis sympathizers could attack soft targets here. people said this couldn't happen here. let's run through a few facts. people get a few weapons or
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explosives, they can build a homemade belt, get to a soft facility like a cafe that's pretty easy to do. i think the question, john, is the magnitude of this. if you're talking about a dozen, 15 people involved in an operation, that's 15 people who don't talk to the wrong person, don't get on the wrong e-mail and don't get on the wrong phone. surprising in this operation to me is not that it happened. it's the operational security in the cell that led them not to be detected. >> so how many people were involved. daveed, french president hollande meets with president obama at the white house tomorrow. do you think anything concrete will come of that? will that just be another moment where leaders come out and say we're going to fight the battle against terror together? or you think they'll say something specific? >> publicly i think it will be much more general, but i think there may be specific things that come out of it that are a little less public. for example, what hollande clearly wants is more intelligence sharing for the united states. and already the u.s. has provided france with intelligence on certain targets that it has already struck. i think that they may reach an intelligence sharing agreement.
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certainly hollande will ask obama to coordinate more with putin, but that's unlikely to actually reach any sort of agreement. you know, it's an important meeting, but not necessarily one that's important for there being some sort of grand bargain struck. >> all right. daveed, paul, phil, thanks to all of you. as police hunt down terror cells in france and belgium, coalition forces are going after the root of the problem, isis in syria, isis in iraq. u.s. intelligence says there is proof that an intense -- this intense fighting is having an impact there, but is it enough to destroy the attempts at building the islamic state? (vo) what's your dog food's first ingredient?
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otezla. show more of you. big day? ah, the usual. moved some new cars. hauled a bunch of steel. kept the supermarket shelves stocked. made sure everyone got their latest gadgets. what's up for the next shift? ah, nothing much. just keeping the lights on. (laugh) nice. doing the big things that move an economy. see you tomorrow, mac. see you tomorrow, sam. just another day at norfolk southern. welcome back to "the lead." i'm john berman in for jake tapper. also in our world lead we are learning the united states is
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intensifying the search now for key isis officials and also rallying allies to put more pressure on the terror group. i want to turn to cnn senior pentagon correspondent barbara starr. we were talking about french president hollande going to the white house tomorrow to meet with president obama. what do these leaders want from each other? >> john, when they sit down clearly they want each other to make a commitment to more action, especially against isis in syria. but don't look for president obama to promise any wholesale changes. isis leader abu bakr al baghdadi is long believed to be hiding inside isis syria stronghold of raqqah. but the u.s. has intelligence showing some isis leaders are trying to get out of raqqah, cnn has learned. leaders moving their operations to safer locations outside the city. >> it shows the effect that our air strikes and the pressure that we're putting on isil is having. >> reporter: the hunt is on for
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baghdadi and at least six other senior isis officials including this key man, an isis commander the u.s. believes may now be directing attacks outside syria and iraq. >> i think they have become more decentralized outside of syria and iraq because they know they are getting beat in those two countries. so they have given the word, conduct attacks on your local soil. >> reporter: attacks outside syria and iraq perhaps ordered or inspired by isis include paris, beirut, and possibly the downing of the russian airliner in sinai, u.s. officials say. the french sending their own response, the aircraft carrier charles de gaulle launched its first air strikes against isis targets. isis released a video showing what it says is damage inside raqqah. cnn cannot independently verify the images.
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defense secretary ash carter is to meet with his french counterpart tuesday. in the wake of the paris attacks, the pentagon is hoping allies will increase their efforts in syria all in an effort to break isis' grip on raqqah. the u.s. will press for france and britain to send special forces to join with u.s. commandos due to arrive in northern syria at any time. the u.s. also hopes turkey will agree to let allies not just the u.s. fly out of its insurlic air base to challenge. >> never seen anything like this. 30,000 foreign fighters from 100 countries around the world is almost twice as many that went into afghanistan in the '80s. >> reporter: one place the u.s. is stepping up the action already is against isis' oil infrastructure. over the weekend another round of u.s. air strikes hitting some nearly 300 oil smuggling trucks
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in syria, john. >> all right. barbara starr at the pentagon, thank you so much. the national lead, trying to prevent what happened in paris from happening here. how the united states is ramping up security trying to think of every possible scenario. plus, september 11th in the political conversation. now another candidate joins donald trump in his questionable claim that thousands of american muslims cheered in a video as the twin towers fell. have 8 layers of kellognutritious wheat...heats and one of delicious sweet. to satisfy the adult and kid - in all of us. ♪ ♪
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welcome back to "the lead." in our national lead, security tightening this holiday week in the wake of the french attacks.
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communities across the united states conducting drills, checking their communications, preparing for any scenario. want to bring in cnn aviation correspondent rene marsh. rene, on top of all of this we're expecting the busiest thanksgiving travel week in years, right? >> right, john. this thanksgiving we will see the highest volume of travelers since 2007. i want you to take a live look now at the view. those are all of the airplanes in the sky right now over the united states. and as people are on the move, cities nationwide are on alert ready to respond to any potential attacks. the frightening scene played out in an abandoned new york city subway. two active shooters, one wearing a vest rigged with explosives. this was only a drill, but it's a scenario police around the country have to prepare for. >> obviously suicide belts in afghanistan and iraq and now most recently in paris. so i thought it was most appropriate to introduce that.
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>> reporter: the department of homeland security tested first responders and nypd's response to a terror attack on mass transit. the results of the training will be shared with law enforcement nationwide. nearly 47 million americans are expected to travel by car this thanksgiving, and an additional 25 million will fly on u.s. carriers. as the volume of people on the move increases, more officers and canines have deployed to potentially vulnerable sites, at train and bus stations there are increased patrols. in major cities like new york and washington, riders should expect random bag checks, bridges and tunnels are also being closely monitored. there's also concern ahead of new york's thanksgiving day parade and the city's tree lighting ceremony. >> we know of no specific credible threat of a paris like attack directed against the u.s. homeland. we are and we continue to be and we have been concerned about
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copycat like attacks. >> reporter: outside major concert venues and stadiums there's also more security. in atlanta this weekend bomb sniffing dogs and officers patrolled the wwe wrestling match at phillips arena. >> as long as terrorist organizations are calling for attacks in the homeland, we've got to all be vigilant and work overtime. >> reporter: passengers traveling by air should expect longer than normal wait times. expanded screening of items on planes began friday at overseas airports with direct flights to the united states. at domestic airports expect tsa to spend more time inspecting passengers and luggage. random checks, hand swabs to test for explosive residue and additional checks at the gate. even pre-checked passengers may be required to remove their shoes and laptops. cnn has learned today that 13 passengers who got off a flight
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from mexico to new york's jfk airport on friday bypassed u.s. screening. now, customs and border protection is still trying to track down three of those passengers. we know an airline worker at the gate didn't realize it was an international flight and allowed those passengers to enter the domestic terminal. now, all of these passengers and crew had been pre-cleared to board the flight to the united states and had been checked against the terror watch list. but again, this is happening at a time when the airports are supposed to be on high alert, berman. >> yeah. heightened sensitivity to be sure. rene marsh, thanks so much. the terror attacks in paris have changed the conversation in the race for the white house. but in that conversation does the truth even matter? another candidate just joined donald trump in saying he saw american muslims celebrate the fall of the twin towers on september 11th, how will voters respond to these controversial memories? stay with us. people don't have to think about
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i'm john berman in for jake tapper. iowans only have ten weeks to make up their minds, but in a change election where outsiders have changed the conventional wisdom something like 47 times now, there has not been much change on top of the polls for really a while now. donald trump leads nationally, according to the latest polling. it's been like that for a while. and trump's views more evidence that his claim the silent majority is no longer silent. over the weekend trump was anything but silent about the latest flash points in this election, terror attacks and syrian refugees. cnn national political reporter sara murray in columbus, ohio. >> reporter: that's right, john. so far donald trump has called for surveillance of some mosques, called for putting syrian refugees on a watch list all trying to be the number one anti-terror candidate but making questionable claims along the way. looking to cast himself as the toughest national security
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candidate in the gop field, donald trump is advocating for harsher treatment of suspected terrorists. >> they don't use waterboarding over there, they use chopping off people's heads. >> reporter: trump calling sunday for reinstating water boarding as an interrogation tactic. >> i think it's peanuts compared to what they do to us. >> reporter: in the wake of the paris terrorist attacks trump has sharpened his rhetoric with some of those coming under intense scrutiny. trump contends he saw thousands of people cheering in new jersey after the 9/11 attacks. >> i watched in jersey city, new jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. >> reporter: standing by his claim even as it's widely recognized to be false. >> you know, the police say that didn't happen. >> there were people that were cheering in the other side of new jersey where you have large arab populations, they were cheering as the world trade center came down. >> reporter: trump also insists the u.s. plans to accept
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hundreds of thousands of syrian refugees even though the obama administration has only proposed accepting roughly 10,000. >> so we have a president that wants to take hundreds of thousands -- hundreds of thousands of people and move them in to our country. >> reporter: and trump on the defensive for his response to an incident at a campaign event in alabama this weekend. >> yeah, get them the hell out of here, will you please? >> reporter: where a black lives matter protester says he was swarmed by trump supporters who punched, kicked and choked him. on sunday trump appeared to condone the crowd's violent response. >> maybe he should have been roughed up. because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing. >> reporter: hours after those remarks trump retweeted a racially charged graphic that overstates homicides committed by african-americans and falsely claims that 81% of white homicide victims are murdered by african-americans. amid the controversy the
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billionaire businessman still topping the gop field in two nationwide surveys. leading dr. ben carson by 10 points in each. now, trump isn't the only one repeating the debunked story that there were people protesting in new jersey after the 9/11 attacks. today ben carson said he too saw that footage. john. >> all right. sara murray for us, thanks so much. donald trump at an event in just a few hours. we'll be watching that closely. talk about this with political commentators. s.e., thousands and thousands of people, muslims, cheering in new jersey, that's what donald trump says he saw despite the fact there's no evidence that that video exists. ben carson says he saw it too. does truth even matter anymore in this race? i mean, trump says this stuff, his numbers go up. says it again, his numbers go up more. >> yeah, truth is definitely the number one casualty of the republican primary so far. at least when it comes to trump
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and carson. but it's not just truth. it's conservative ideology. it should not be understated that trump and carson's solutions to many of our national security problems are to grow the size of government, to monitor and register all muslims. does donald trump think that takes 15 people? no, it's probably going to take 1,500 people. dr. ben carson talks about monitoring irs agents, campuses for political correctness, it seems that growing the size of government isn't a turnoff to their supporters. so whether it's truth, conservatism, big government -- an affinity for big government, it doesn't really seem like there's orthodox anymore when it comes to trump and carson. it's cult of personality. >> what does it say about the appetite of the republican primary voter? >> well, it says that 35% of republican primary voters really don't care anymore.
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but luckily it also says that 65% or 60% of republican voters are a little skeptical of donald trump. and that's a good thing. you know, when someone like ted cruz or marco rubio, even if i don't agree with them on everything are coming up in the polls in places like iowa, i think that means that as people get closer and closer to the election time they're getting a little bit more judicious. >> again, not to hammer a point here, but we've been asking for months when will it start to hurt donald trump, but s.e., that seems like the completely wrong question. the question should be, you know, why is it helping him? >> oh, i wish i knew. i mean, the magic elixir has been trying to figure out what is motivating folks beyond just the cult of personality to stick with trump, to stick with carson. >> so, paul begala, before i let you off the hook of this, the issue of honesty and trustworthiness not a factor in the democratic race either. when you ask democrat voters
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about hillary clinton's honest and trustworthy, 60% say no and 36% say yes. expanding their desire for truth as well? >> that's asking about a platonic ideal. she overwhelmingly leads all republicans and all democrats on the question of who do you trust to take on terrorism. so when you get to things that actually matter in people's lives, not some abstract does any politician have good numbers on trustworthy -- >> but she is worse than most. but you are sugar coating the fact -- >> the only person who's worse is mr. trump and he's in first place in his party. it's not that we want liars, john. it's that we want someone who can deliver for us. and hillary's trusted on the things that matter to voters. false equivalence to try to say that hillary and her polling positions anything like mr. trump's. what mr. trump is doing is saying things he knows or should know are false. and he's saying it to people don't care. that's the difference. in the republican party, get
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this, public policy polling, which is a democratic firm but still released this poll in september. they found 44% of republicans, 44, think that the president is not born in the united states. which is just false. 54 think he's a muslim. so when half of the party believes things that are factually false -- and there's no amount of facts that can turn them off of that, here's what's happening. the magic recipe is what hunter s. thompson said, fear and loathing. when you hate someone and fear something, you shut off your brain, stop thinking. it happens often in this country. frankly it happens more on the far right. that's what's propelling mr. trump. and the more he pitches fear, loathing, the better he's going to do. >> s.e., does paul have it right there? if paul does have it right, which republican candidate can exploit it and how so? >> well, paul is right that fear and pandering i would call it are both particularly the useful weapons for republicans on fear, democrats i think on pandering. and neither particularly healthy
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or inspirational for a political process. but look, for the republicans not named trump or carson to make a dent they have to convince people that not to be afraid. and that's just really hard to do right now when we've had terrorist attacks overseas and our government here preparing for maybe new terrorist threats here. that's just very difficult to do. it takes a special kind of leader. and we're just not really seeing that yet. >> to be clear, trump's numbers seem to have gone up since the terror attacks. paul begala, s.e., thanks for being with me. appreciate it. a new take on the refugee debate. i'm going to ask one of the presidential candidates why he thinks the middle east needs the refugees to stay put in the war against isis on the front lines. cnn went as close as anyone can get to show you the fight against isis from right near their headquarters. plaque psoriasis...
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welcome back to "the lead." i'm john berman in for jake tapper. the republican front runner donald j. trump says some of the huddled masses of syrians desperately trying to escape that country's civil war are not
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who they say they are. some could be isis sleepers waiting to unleash chaos should they reach u.s. soil. that is one reason why he wants to keep them out and watch the ones that do make it here. of the republicans contending for the 2016 nomination agree syrian refugees should not be granted asylum in the united states including former senator rick santorum, but in this case not for the exact reason you might think. senator santorum joins me right now. senator, thank you so much for being here. >> thanks, john. >> so you say admitting these refugees, these syrians into the united states, would give isis what it wants. this isn't an issue of necessarily letting terrorists sneak into the country, it's something else, explain. >> well, i am concerned about terrorists sneaking into the country. but i'm concerned about the refugees and the long-term stability of the middle east and that area of iraq and syria. what isis is doing is they're eliminating the christian population from that area. they're eliminating ethnic minorities like the yazidis and also getting rid of moderate
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muslims, those who are not going along with isis. and all three of those are of grave concern to be relocated out of the region. because once they have relocated out of the region, the likelihood that any of them will come back is actually very small. all of those are very integral to the long-term stability of the region. and our national security interests. so i don't think we should be relocating very important groups out of that region never to return when they're in fact key to the future of that reason stability and success. >> where do they go? i mean, there's a civil war raging in syria right now. 4 million have fled. where do they go? >> well, number one, i am deeply concerned about these refugees and i think we should be helping by relocating them, refugee camps, neighboring countries, there are countries for example saudi arabia who has to my knowledge not taken a single refugee.
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they have these huge camps that are there sitting empty right now where many could be relocated into saudi arabia to a rather safe place. >> so saudi arabia no question could do more, but 1.2 million are in lebanon, a very small country. 650,000 or in jordan, a very small country. 1.9 million are in turkey, which has its own ethnic issues. i mean, they are going to these places. and they are going to refugee camps. and, sir, with your knowledge of history you know a lot of times refugee camps can be a hotbed of terrorist activity. they can be a breeding ground for strife and unhappiness. >> that's why i think it takes leadership. i think there are obviously other countries in the region where these people can be relocated. mentioned saudi arabia, there are others. you have the emirates, a lot of other places refugees could be accepted where the likelihood of them returning, and if you talk to the clerics for example, the christian clerics in the region, they're pleading for their people not to be relocated away and to stay in the region so
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they can in fact come back and maintain the christian presence in that area. so this is not just a one person saying this is a good idea. if you look at the concerns i think there are very legitimate concerns about the stability of that region after isis. now, the best thing we can do, john, is actually to eliminate isis and get isis out of there, which is not what this president has been doing over the last year and a half. he's been doing anything but. you heard his policy was that of containme containment, not of defeating isis. we need to get the sunnis together in iraq, that's the kurds, the sunni tribes within anbar province, and we need to start an offensive at driving isis out. that's the best way to solve the problem. >> you say start an offensive to drive isis out. up until now you've said only send u.s. troops to iraq. >> that's correct. >> not syria. >> that's right. >> how much of an offensive could you really have if you're not striking isis where they have their headquarters in syria? you seem to only want a limited response here. >> no, it's not a limited response, a strategic response.
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it's understanding where you can put boots on the ground effectively to create a front. and right now syria is simply not a place we can do that. i'm not saying we should not have military activities within syria. i'm talking about when it comes to military commitment on the part of the united states and putting ground troops in the only viable place that i can see right now is in iraq. we have the peshmerga who are willing to fight if we could give them sufficient arms. we've seen already they took back sinjar, i think they could do more with a lot more support of the u.s. and the same is true this is very important that we bond with the sunni militias and not join a coalition with iran and the -- >> uh-huh. >> -- syria, to try to join a shiite group, if you will, and russia, to try to take back isis. that's the wrong approach. we need to bond with the sunnis and take back isis territory with sunni troops. >> senator, can i ask you a question quickly about what donald trump and ben carson said today or over the last few days about seeing some video of
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thousands and thousands of american muslims celebrating in new jersey when the twin towers fell. have you ever seen this video? >> i don't recall. when i heard it mentioned, something clouding my memory that there may have been some people here in this country who were sympathetic to isis, but what i remember very vividly actually was a candle light vigil in tehran. the iranian people, not the iranian government, the iranian people being very sympathetic toward the loss of life here in the united states. so that's the video that i remember much more than maybe rumors or thoughts that -- not that i don't remember something like that, but i can't tell you that i ever saw anything. >> senator santorum, thank you so much. >> you bet. >> back to our world lead now in the war against isis. cnn went to the front lines of this war just outside the syrian city of raqqah, which is really a virtual ghost town right now that isis considers its
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headquarters. senior cnn international correspondent nick paton walsh did this phenomenal reporting. he joining me now from irbil in iraq. nick, how close were you able to get? >> reporter: well, the kurdish fighters, the ypg talked about by your guest earlier on are within 20 miles of the outskirts of raqqah now. between the trenches they've dug lengthy earth berms, lightly defended. not many of their people there with light weapons. there's a huge stretch of open terrain often with a lot of isis outposts in it. now, obviously isis have held back from moving towards them by air strikes. there were in fact four just on monday after we left when isis got into clashes with those kurdish fighters. but they say very categorically we want to avenge paris. we consider this our duty for humanity fighting isis, not just about avenging the deaths of their friends at the hands of isis. and actually one of the commanders there say we welcome foreign troops, french, russian, american, anyone here to help us finish the job. a lot of determination.
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a lot of optimism, i think. but not much in the way of numbers or equipment. they have with them some as your guest referring to sunni, arab fighters who want to take the fight to isis who indeed alongside those kurds if they're going to go into a sunni city like raqqah, but those numbers are slight. we heard them talk about americans being potentially around, maybe special forces are on the ground at this stage, but they don't have -- they have the desire but not quite momentum or capability at this stage to launch that ground offensive against raqqah, john. >> nick paton walsh for us in irbil, returning from a remarkable journey right up into raqqah right now. take a look at that report on cnn.com. thank you so much, nick. that is all for "the lead" today. i'm john berman in for jake tapper. stick around for "the situation room" with wolf blitzer next. what makes this simple salad the best simple salad ever?
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happening now, breaking news. suicide vest, police find a possible suicide device in a paris suburb reportedly containing bolts, and the same type of explosive used in the paris attacks. imminent threat, an entire country is on high alert, its capital now on lockdown as belgian police hunt for a possible isis terror team. i'll speak with belgium's ambassador to the united states. voice of death, new information on the man who claimed responsibility for the paris attacks on behalf of isis. was he one of the masterminds? is he ready to strike again? we have new information. and striking isis, a french aircraft carrier launches its first strikes at isis targets in syria as russia says its missiles aimed at isis targets bear the words, for paris. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room."