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tv   Early Start With John Berman and Christine Romans  CNN  March 22, 2016 1:00am-2:01am PDT

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this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news this morning. explosions at a major airport in brussels, belgium. several people injured. i'm miguel marquez. welcome to "early start." >> i'm christine romans. it is 4:00 a.m. in the east. welcome to the viewers in the u.s. and around the world. let's begin with breaking news. two explosions rocking the main terminal at brussels airport. this comes one day after belgium identified a new suspect in the paris terror attacks. here's what we know.
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all flights have been cancelled. we know wounded people on stretchers have been taken out of the main terminal here. one witness saying as many as 20 people on stretchers with more coming out. >> you are looking at the airport. this appears to be the departure area of the airport. officials saying do not come to the airport. it has been evacuated. all flights have been cancelled. two explosions at the airport. the building is being evacuated. we want to go straight to our nima elbagir who is on her way there. nima, what can you tell us from what you are hearing there. >> reporter: miguel, we are passing rows of police cars with sirens blaring ratcheting past us on the way to the airport. witnesses are describing devastation.
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one eyewitness said he saw dozens of people stretched out. now local people are told by the fire department there are dead at the scene. victims of the blast. we can confirm there seems to be a high number of injured. one man we spoke to was counting down. he stopped counting between 15 and 20. we are on our way. we have not had confirmations this is act of terror. whatever it is, it is wrecking havoc. >> nima, we know flights have been cancelled and authorities say do not come to the airport. you and i talked at great length about how belgium was on high alert. concerned that there could be plots under way in the wake of the capture of salah abdeslam in
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the brussels suburb. >> reporter: absolutely. the belgian foreign minister said on sunday they believed there was a very real possibility of a real terror attack. they believed salah abdeslam built a new network in his weeks on the run. and not only concerned about existing terror cell, but concerned about jihadis coming into the european mainland to carry out attacks. with the capture of salah abdeslam, the worry was the tension because what they know of the networks is when one is taken in, the fear they will be exposed often fast forwards these plots. as it stands, authorities are not speculating. they only confirmed to us the explosions. we are working on getting any
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sense of what caused it. from what we are getting from a witnesses, there is real fear and real devastation at the scene. >> nima, the belgian authorities released another name of the suspect following the arrest of salah abdeslam. they were looking for him and there was a manhunt for that person. you started your day in molenbeek which is far east of brussels. in between the city where you started your day this morning. i take it it is a target. do you know the security arra e arrangements are at the departure area at the airport? is it easily accessible and were their plans disrupted? is this a target individuals might go for?
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>> reporter: those are all really good questions. we have seen in the past airports and areas of large congregation, these are the targets. soft targets with real propaganda impact. the authorities, because they had this threat level at second highest have been at a state of readiness for a while. we have seen it with the evacuation plan. passengers tweeting out what's happening. the other side with the planes just arrived spoken about congregated and removed parts of the runway away from the departure terminal. it seems authorities moved quickly. we won't move until some of the details begin to be released about how and why and if this is indeed a terror attack. >> nima, the airport is being evacuated. the disaster plan has been
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initiated. flights have been cancelled. they are directing passengers to the runway. the departure terminal. early indications are it is two explosions. sometimes as you know in breaking news situations, the early news can be fuzzy. it looks to be two explosions here. nima, let's talk about brussels as a nexus for terror. again, no one has made the proclamation of a terror attack. certainly, they have been on high alert. you have done amazing reporting about how molenbeek in particular in brussels has found itself at the center of a very big european and international concern about young men becoming jihadis and coming home and
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wrecking havoc. >> reporter: it is extraordinary with belgium with the population numbers has emerged as the highest contributor of foreigners to isis. that's the reality the authorities have been trying to grapple with. it is the sense of mistrust between them and the community within the radical ideology is entrenching and taking root. more than four months after the paris attacks, it is still easy to get a hold of the extremist which is the process of the radicalization. when we spoke to the foreign minister, he acknowledged us. he says they are targeting the network. he believed the network was on the decline.
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to give you a sense, the numbers were still high. on average, 15 people leaving a month to join isis rangks. now in the past year, five to six. still not large numbers. it is difficult for them because belgium has such a history of free speech. similar to the realities in the u.s. it is very difficult to combat that and maintain the liberties. these are the questions the authorities will ask in the days and weeks ahead. if this is a terror attack. >> and more specifically, you have done a lot of reporting yourself on the numbers of individuals from somalia and other areas to get into belgium. why is belgium such a weak point and one doesn't want to blame the police agencies, but the
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level of investigation and penetration as you called it into the areas does seem to have been poor now they activated the search for the next suspect. who was the individual and how many more individuals could be involved here? >> reporter: again, these are the key questions. as we saw, it took them months to establish the real identity because they had real difficulties establishing links of mutual trust in the communities. that comes down to disenfranchised in the community. the belgium had outside numbers of unemployment of 40%. everyone we speak to said that doesn't excuse it, but it is to understand why this has been so ramped up recruiting ground to
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play into the reality of the sense of lack of social cohesion that we find radicalism playing into. the belgian authorities acknowledged they failed at making these young people feel belgian. and a lot of the parents went to the authorities weeks beforehand. one mother said she went to magistrate to try to get a stop order on her son's departure to syria. still he was able to leave. there has been real criticism and real failings in terms of the belgian authorities response in a timely manner to the challenges that face them, miguel. >> it has been interesting and heart breaking to hear the stories of the families, parents
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integrated into european society only to see with internet access and some of the social media and romantic jihadi social media to seduce their children backward into radicalism. let's reset the table and talk about what's happening. you are looking at the map at the brussels airport. two explosions rocked the airport. departure lounge. eyewitness telling us at least 20 people coming out on stretchers. this happened at 8:00 a.m. local time. presumably there are more people coming out of the airport. nima, do we know, are there fatalities? what is the extent of the damage? >> reporter: we are not hearing from authorities about the extent of damage. we are on the way to the airport. we actually just hit the first
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corner. the security presence. police have established a cordoned out from the airport building. i can see smoke in the distance. we're being asked to leave the cars. no vehicles allowed closer to the airport. this is far out. i would say we're about a kilometer away. at the exit on the highway that leads to the airport. police officers are here. they are in high visibility jackets. they established an external cordoned with emergency on it trying to divert traffic away from the airport building. local media are reporting from fire on the ground that there are fatalities. we have as of yet not confirmed that. >> belgian media is reporting,
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one newspaper, reporting that shots were fired prior to the explosion and words were exchanged in arabic. two explosions at 8:00 a.m. at the main airport in brussels. a time when it would have been extraordinarily busy, i take it. to have this happen when the country itself is at such high alert. all airlines have been told to cancel flights. those that were headed into the airport have turned around to go to other airports. our nima elbagir is on the ground trying to get to the airport. nima, is there a stream of people heading out now? i think you are seeing the same pictures. it shows a very large explosion at the departures area of the major airport.
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an enormous blow, clearly, to the security services there as they were chasing these people down. are you seeing people streaming from the airport now to get out of the area? >> reporter: no, what we're seeing both the roads in and roads out have limited traffic. we're seeing police holding people off. establishing a wide cordoned as you drive in. we have been allowed to pass a row of police cars blocking the highways going in and out of the airport area. we are approaching a terminal. there are police marshalling traffic along the ring roads surrounding the airport. as we drive through, we are not passing any other cars understandably because there is already an alert to stay away from the airport. it is important to realize how important the brussels airport is not just in context of the
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european capital, but the capital of europe. this is where nato headquarters is. this is where the european union headquarters is located. not just officials in europe, but around the world fly in and out of with all of the interactions with europe and european mainland. to have an explosion, an incident. we still don't know what caused this incident. to have an incident of this kind at 8:00 a.m., peak commuter time, is very, very concerning for authorities here, miguel. >> certainly a strike of the brussels airport is a strike against europe. no question. the belgian public broadcaster is reporting several dead at the airport. i want to give you some context of what we see in the pictures. those are ceiling tiles and glass that has fallen down from the ceiling and walls in that
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cavernous departure area. the witnesses are saying many are injured by the falling debris from what appears, nima, two explosions. dozens of people have been stretchered out of the airport after the explosions and the public broadcaster saying there are fatalities. >> nima, when you say the country is on high alert, not highest alert, how is that demonstrated in the streets and airports that are targeted around the world, how would one experience security there? >> reporter: i just want to give you breaking news we had coming in. belgium has now raised its terror alert to its highest, miguel. they have not given details, but raised terror alert to the highest. that is level four. this is the second time it has
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happened since the second world war. the first was during the paris attacks and had investigation led to belgium. now the belgian authorities saying they pushed the terror threat level here to level four, miguel. its highest. >> is that due to the ongoing concern now or how would that function? because of what happened already or do they suspect possibly because of the number of arrests they made and raids they have been doing, they activated whatever cell may be out there and this just may be the beginning? >> reporter: this is from the belgian interior minister. he hasn't been given more details. given the timing, it is related the to incident. he has not yet stated whether this is because of the investigation.
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itself purely because of what is happening. all we know it is at level four. that is in and of itself an unprecedented move. authorities have battled the threat. they have been aware of the need to not raise alarm among the general community. the last time at level four, miguel, we were here. streets were empty. i was in a shopping center when the threat level was raised. it was evacuated. shops were closed off. the hotels emptied out and given the airport is closed, people will be really concerned about how they're leaving brussels. we don't know yet if any measures will be taken at major rail stations. again, it is a communications hub. in a way, that is the major vulnerability. it also puts it at the heart of
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europe and that made it such a valuable propaganda target for so many terror networks. >> nima, the belgian news agency is reporting that shorts were fired and words in arabic were shouted before the two explosions of the departure hall at 8:00 a.m. local time. they cancelled all flights, obviously. taking people out on stretchers. the belgian news agency reporting fatalities. nima, they raised the terror threat level to the highest level here. we will let you work the phones. don't go far. i know you are there on the road close to the airport. let's go to cnn political analyst josh r ogin. he joins us live from washington this morning.
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quickly, josh, when you were going through this airport, coming in with your bag and getting ready to walk through for your flight. >> to clarify, i was there yesterday. less than 24 hours ago after five days in brussels. i got there on friday right as they arrested salah abdeslam and that setoff a weekend of a lot of tension, a lot of unease. all over brussels city center. when i finally got to the airport monday morning, brussels time, there was a palpable sense of tension in the air. it is important to note, when security is raised at brussels airport, it is raised at the check points. if you want to get to the gates, security was very high. if you want to get on the planes, security was high. add in the bag screenings. the one vulnerability is what we
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see is exploiexploited. anyone can walk into the departure lounge. except for men with guns, literally can drive up to the departure lounge just like any other airport around the world. walk in. deal with ticketing. deal with whatever is going on in the lobby. there is no security to prevent anyone from going there. that is the soft under belly of the airport. that is what is exploited in brussels today. despite the fact of the awareness and concerns about attack on the airport, there was no and there wasn't any notion of a wholesale change of the airport structure. the security is to prevent people from getting on the planes. not prevent people from getting in the airport. >> i want to show the viewers what is happening live in real-time. the flights cancelled into the airport. flights in the air on the way to that airport in brussels, were
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turned around. you can see them doing curly cues to get out. josh, as you look at the pictures we are looking at. the glass window enclosed area. i take it that is the main departure area. is that a main departure area or international? >> that is the one i went through for regional and international flights. that is all organized from that one main terminal. that is the central hub for all airport activity. there's a lot of things going on. people getting off their flights. people dealing with ticketing issues. it is just grand central station. no real way to pay attention to every single person going in and
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out of the main terminal of the main airport. as the correspondent mentioned, this is close to brussels city center. brussels is a centrally origi ll organized place. it is accessible to downtown. there's no real impediment to driving right up and walking through the front door. you know, there is a high sense of security and security presen presence, there is no way, at least under the current scheme, we may see this change, to prevent people from walking into an airport lobby. just like a mall or any other public space. you can station people with guns at every entrance, but unless you screen everyone at the airport terminal, it is a soft
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target and walk in with anything in your bag. >> josh rogin was there 24 hours ago to give us a sense of the departure lounge. again, you are looking at the pictures. the fallen glass and tiles. there are fatalities. i want to bring in cnn's max foster from london. max, in the early going of a breaking news situation like this, a lot of information to sift through. some of it will be revised as we move forward. one of the reports that caught my attention, there were shots fired in the moments before the explosions and words shouted in arabic. two explosions in the main hub here of the airport. what can you tell us? >> reporter: you are right.
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we don't know what happened here. this city is absolute center of counter terrorism investigations across europe right now post the paris attacks. i was at a briefing in london with counter terrorism officers. they are focused on brussels. if something like this happens, the focus will be on whether or not there is a real terror threat here. i'm sure we have seen how the terror threat level has risen in belgium. there will be similar situations across europe. just to give you a sense of what is coming across the airport, these are the images from social media. >> max f you could hold on for one second there. >> max, we are getting from the rtf, an explosion to the train station. we are going to chase that. the belgian broadcaster reporting another explosion. i want to be real clear here.
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again, often in the early going of a breaking news situation, there could be reports that are refined and revised later on. i want you to know what we're seeing coming in here real-time. >> in real-time, this would be 8:00 a.m. in belgium. the first two blasts heard at the airport. two blasts at the departure area. it would be about two hours later now, we are getting reports of explosion of the metro in downtown or near eu facilities in brussels itself. the airport only a 15 or 20 minute ride into downtown brussels. where our nima elbagir is reporting this week from molenbe molenbeek. the country now at the highest
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state of alert possible. the prime minister saying they are watching things on a minute by minute basis. max, clearly you were talking about the centrality of brussels to the eu and number of investigations going on there. clearly this is a very bad day for brussels. >> reporter: it will be. to give you insight into what senior counterterrorism officers in europe are thinking, essentially what the last set of paris attacks did changed the way they looked at attacks. the thought of looking at radicalization of people online in countries. now after what happened in paris and people train abroad and brought in military style operation multiple scenes of attacks. britain top counter terrorism
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officer is telling me they are looking at spectacular attacks in key cities like brussels. what the european authorities will be doing is look at potential paris situation. one attack followed by others. they are acting early. we are looking to confirm what happened here as are the police, what they are doing is responding soon with the potential to turn into counter terrorism operation so the european authorities will consider multiple attacks. >> that is london and paris and capitals and cities across europe are taking note. i'm sure they will be here in the u.s. josh rogin, you were just at that particular departure lounge yesterday. one thing you notice about airports in the u.s., l.a.x., and others, security will seem
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like a joke, but security cordoned far before the airport just to monitor cars and see who is coming and going. at least get eyes on them. did you see that heading into the brussels airport yesterday? >> i would not say that, but i wasn't looking for it. i saw an increased presence of unformed belgian troops heavily armed and protected at various points inside and outside the airport. they didn't seem to be performing any unusual checks. i saw a heightened screening at the gate and security line. lots of people pulled aside and having bags and person checked. on my way to brussels, we had two security delays. another man taken off the
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flight. for the last week or so, not to mention i was in brussels for a forum of international officials, including several u.s. officials and several u.s. senators who passed through that airport only a day or two before the attack and the mood at the conference which included the belgian foreign minister was ominous. following the arrests on friday night, the belgian foreign minister warned there were more planned attacks. he said salah abdeslam had a network of more than 30 people inside belgium. many of whom they had not caught at that time. that was news when he said that on sunday. it proved to be eerily accurate. only two days later, the cells were accurate. >> josh, i want to bring everyone up to speed. reuters and the belgian public broadcaster reporting several
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people killed in the explosion that happened an hour and a half ago in the brussels airport. reuters reporting an explosion heard at the metro station close to the eu institution. that is after the explosions in the departure hall at brussels airport. we have nima on the phone. 520 flights a day. nima, we have been talking to max foster and josh rogin and the people coming through the airport. just yesterday, josh was there and american senators, diplomats for the european government. a strike at that airport clearly is a strike against europe, nima. >> reporter: and beyond. just from where we are, we start to get close to the airport
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parameters. you heard the siren of a fire truck. we can see a grounded american airlines flight. this is not just about europe. brussels is so central to so many senior officials coming in and out of the airport and europe. that's really now what authorities are having to deal with. if this threat continues, now with the raising of the terrorist threat level, what does that do to the central of brussels? brussels has been described for decades as the capital of europe. not just europe, but nato headquarters is here. security. ability for people to feel safe when they come in here is central to brussels functioning and place at the heart of europe and heart of the world. heart of the world stage, really. >> if we could reset where we
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are. 8:0 8:00 this morning in brussels. outside of the city at the airport, reports of gunfire before the explosions. this is the main departure lounge for the brussels airport. it is a few minutes outside of the city of belgium. about an hour and a half later, brussels is the capital of europe and all of the european union facilities, much like washington, d.c. are in brussels, belgium. if one were to target the west from areas outside, that would be one place to do it. i know you have been trying to make your way to the airport, nima. what are you seeing? >> reporter: we are outside the airport building, miguel.
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we can see police cordoned off the main airport building. this is as close as we are allowed to get. a build up of people and -- i think the only way to describe it as nervous. we told them we're journalists. they are moving people back past the initial cordoned. we are at the initial entry point to the airport. this is where people are now being held. traffic. they are trying to move it on. it is very, very backed up. the priority is to notllow for a build up of people close to the area where there have been explosions. the concern is securing the cordoned and locking the area here and keeping people safe. it is not just about the
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passengers. so many people work here and live here. from where we are, houses across the street. authorities seem to be in control of the situation. they are moving people along and trying to establish a broader security point. >> nima, thank you for that. we know you are working sources. we know the belgian broadcaster rtf citing a hospital source. up to ten people dead at the airport. 30 wounded in the brussels explosions. two explosions at the departure lounge of the airport. i want to bring in cnn's counterterrorism official philip mudd. philip, we are hearing from belgium media, an explosion at the metro station. you are listening to this unfold with us live. reports of fatalities, all of
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the witnesses, you can see pictures from the departure lounge. your early thoughts. >> a couple of things, first, how did they miss the people? focus as there should be initially on victims at the locations for security service as the investigation that led to the arrest a few days ago. you have to ask where the people came from. who is the coordinator. is that coordinator still out there with other plots? finally, who is the bombmaker? these are significant devices. who built these things? terror organizations have difficulty finding bombmakers with this sophistication. this is a people hunt immediately which is what the security services will do. >> phil, that is the sort of thing that they will be looking at today and the days ahead. right now, they may have at
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least two incidents in and around brussels, belgium. there play be more afoot. they had arrests over the weekend. lots of busting down doors and arrests of individuals. is that the sort of act if there were plots in the planning stage, you have those arrested, would that force the plots ahead and could we be looking at more for brussels and possibly across europe today? >> i think you are correct. i think what we might see are individuals around the network that's broken in belgium, obviously partly broken in the past few days, salah abdeslam and his conspirators. might be saying the noose is tightening. if we don't go now, we won't do
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it. you will see the pick up of more people. we will talk to anybody at the periphery at the plot like this. look for arrests, but the question about how you miss this number of people and this extent of a plot when you have focused on attacks for four months since paris. it's remarkable. >> four months since paris and salah abdeslam is apprehended 100 yards from his family home in the molenbeek neighborhood. it raises a lot of questions about his movements and how he was able to hide in plain sight, phil. >> it does. i think it also raises questions about cooperation within europe. even in the past week, a lot of tension with the belgians and french about the investigation. questions after paris of cooperation of how european security services track the movement of people. the sentiment that the tracking
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violates civil liberties. the pressure on security services to hunt these people down in the face of questions about the appropriate aggressive security action, there will be tremendous pressure to share information about nationals in the coming weeks. i expect to see a lot of arrests. >> you do expect to see a lot of arrests. what is your sense of it? clearly the belgian authorities, one doesn't want to be critical because they are facing a massive and difficult population to crack into and to understand. at the same time because of paris and because of ""charlie hebdo" and the nexus to terrorists coming in from syria and other areas, as an intelligence officer, how difficult is it to crack into those and why don't they have
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better information and being more aggressive about going after individuals and possible cells? >> i think a couple of problems. number one is the cultural problem. isolation of the communities in places like paris where you get large immigrant communities, but also in brussels. the security services will be seen as outsiders and not welcome. they cannot move around easily. community members, forget about terrorism. whether it is a drug investigation or terrorism, we don't want to talk to the government. as a security professional, you follow informants and technically. you will not get informants in this case because people won't want to talk. that is one of the biggest problems. how do you penetrate a community to get information on people like that. the second piece and we have seen this here over san bernardino in the united states with apple, do you have
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sufficient capability to follow the e-mail, phone, electronic trail of individuals like this. when you are dealing with hundreds of investigations for a small security service, five or ten investigations is a lot. hundreds means you will fail. that's too many to follow as once. >> phil mudd, stick with us here as we continue to get this information in. again, a couple of different media reports of a blast at brussels metro station. we know the authorities have closed all metro stations in brussels. the airport has been closed after two blasts there at 8:00 local time. 8:00 a.m. local time. jeffery edison was a passenger when the explosions went off. he was on the way to the gate when this happened. we have him on the phone right now. we are glad you are okay. can you tell us what you heard and saw, jeffery? are you there, jeffery edison?
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can you hear me, jeffery? we had him on the phone. we will try to get back to him when we establish communications with him. he was on his way to his flight. flights have all been cancelled. passengers have been gathered on the runway. flights diverted. 500 flights a day in and out of the airport. jeffery edison. we know you were in the airport at the time. we are glad you are okay. can you tell us what you saw and heard, jeffery? are you there, jeffery edison? >> caller: yes, hello. >> we will try to get in touch with him again. metro stations have been closed. the airport is closed. >> it is an extraordinarily horrible day for brussels, belgium and areas across europe.
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eurostar train from london into brussels and paris into brussels has now been cancelled. jeffery edison, can you hear us now? >> caller: yes, i can hear you. very bad reception. networks are overloaded. >> i'm sure they are. thank you for being patient. tell us what you saw this morning? where were you going? what did you see? >> caller: i was headed to my gate about 8:15 this morning. i had gone through security 8:15 local time here. suddenly about 200 to 300 people went rushing away from the security checkpoint toward the gate. honestly, no one knew what was going on. only 25 minutes later, we got confirmation from the federal police of the bomb explosions and deaths at the main airport. they had us wait at the gate for
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half an hour and we had to evacuate by foot on the airport tarmac. bringing us back to the main building of the airport where we could see the damaged windows of the airport. a lot of military, obviously, police, fire and ambulances arriving on the scene. >> jeffereyjeffrey, what did th look like? what did you see? you didn't hear the blasts, am i right? >> caller: no, i was out near the gate which is several hundred yards away from the main building. it was only when they brought us back to the main building for evacuation where you could see the windows blown out from the main building. i saw half a dozen windows from where i was on the access to the
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train lifts and stairs of the main airport building. >> jeffrey, what was the security like? people saying you can drive up to the airport and get out at the curb with your bag and walk in and do your business with tickets. security happens after the original point of entry. what did you see? what was security like when you first got to the airport this morning? >> caller: as has been the case for the last two weeks, there were pairs of military personnel out in front of the main building. i saw about four wandering around with their heavy arms in front of the main building. going through the security was very normal morning, i would say. traveling out of brussels through the security checkpoint. it wasn't until about 15 minutes i went through that we had this movement of panic as several
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hundred people running away from the security checkpoint. we heard it was a bomb blast. we later found it was more in the main building a few hundred meters before the security checkpoint. >> and jeffrey, you were past security and something happened, did you see people running -- were they on the far side of the security and pushed through into the terminal for safety? >> caller: no, they were people coming through the security and they were running away from the security checkpoint out to the gate to try to get away from the security where the bomb blast occurred as they could. >> where are you now? >> caller: now i've left the airport. i'm on foot at the village near the airport itself. >> what will you do? >> caller: i'm trying to leave on foot. get as far away from the airport as i can.
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the problem is the metro is closed with the bomb that occurred at the metro station. >> good luck to you, jeffrey. thank you for joining us. >> caller: thank you. >> i want to get to nima elbagir at the airport for us. we are getting new information here mostly from the belgian public broadcaster that says brussels airport bomb was a suicide attack. we have to look for confirmation from authorities. nima, are you there? what can you tell us about the blasts there and now ensuing investigation and shutdown of the transit system in brussels? >> reporter: the police officers you see behind me are part of the emergency plan. a long queue of them. police officers all on stand by. this is the back side of the airport. this is as close as they allowed us to get.
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they put in place a broad cordoned given the fear and concerns. the euro stars. we were speaking about brussels position is a transport heart in the center of europe. now we understand eurostar bringing people in from france and europe cancel their increasing security. more and more police officers behind me are arriving at the airport. we don't have confirmation yet as to what caused this. as you said, local media are reporting an exchange of gunfire. they are reporting a bomb blast. so far, authorities are being hesitant and reluctant to confirm that on the record. they are very concerned about the potential about causing broader public alarm. especially in light of the reports of the blasts at the train station so close to the administration building.
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>> i want to describe to viewers, the rtvf, they are showing pictures of the metro station. showing passengers walking down a darkened subway tube with emergency lights and getting out of the areas where they can. as i remember, the subways there aren't like in new york or london where they are open. you have to go to specific doors to get out of the subway stations. it is a complicated situation for people fumbling around in the dark. how did is it if you were in the subways, how difficult is it to get out of there? >> reporter: even with the emergency lights and presence of marshalls attempting to get people out, it will be scary. i think this is what we have to remind people. this is a country that is
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dealing with a high terror al t alert. it has been pushed up to four. a real background of worry and fear and confusion that this is unfolding in europe. we don't have confirmation from authorities if this was a terror attack. given the warnings authorities are issues for days, that is in the back of people's minds here. what is this? how quickly will it get under control? the establishing of such a broad security cordening of the security plan. we understand the security plan was initiated quickly. the passengers' planes arrived were evacuated on the runway and held off further back from the departure hold. nothing can protect people from the devastation from what they
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were witnessing from the scenes and video emerging on social media shows broken glass. eyewitnesss were describing people stretchered out and a local of media reporting a number of fatalities. >> nima, the metro system has been shutdown. eurostar trains to brussels have been cancelled. they will not come in. this is the point of terror. to stop business as usual. i want to be very clear here in the early going it can be very chaotic with the original news reports. we know two blasts at the departure lounge at the brussels airport. a lot of other reports of another incident in a metro. we are going to verify all of that for you. we do know that the belgian
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state media reporting fatalities in the airport. >> as many as 10 people dead at the airport and 30 injured. it sounds like two blasts. possible gunfire before the blasts at 8:00 a.m. that would be peak travel time. at 9:30, about an hour and a half later, 9:30 a.m., another blast at the metro station. our nima elbagir started her day in molenbeek which is farther northeast than the airport. an area where police and law enforcement officials were concentrating heavily in what they believed stopped another possible attack from occurring. nima, you made your way to the airport. set up for us where you are. how close have you been able to get and what activity are you seeing there now? >> reporter: we're just behind the back of the building.
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i can see the tower clearly from here. we are at the back of the runways. this is where police set up security cordoned. this is as far in as police allowing any of us to get. there is a real concern in all of these situations about the potential, not just for chaos, but potential for broader insecurity. they are trying to keep people as far back as possible. they already asked belgians to stay away from the airport. this is a staging ground for police officers queueing the airport. this is part of the emergency plan. there are dozens of security and police officers lined up waiting to see if there is a need for greater enforcement. inside the airport, evacuation plan and emergency plan is well under way.
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while they deal with these blasts toward the center of town in the train station and with that threat level that has been pushed up to the highest. what that enabvenables the authorities is to enact the army. that enables them to carry out sweeps and the investigation, it also takes away the fear and concern of the potential for civilians to be caught up in whatever this turns out to be. miguel. >> nima elbagir at the brussels airport. don't go far. i want to go back to london where max foster is located. we are seeing the frankfort airport beefing up security. paris airport beefing up security. this is not a brussels story. anyone will see and feel the
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reverberations. >> reporter: as nima has been describing, this is the capital of europe as they like to call themselves. a center for politics and trade within europe. it will have a huge effect. the main airport in europe, heathrow, they increased police visibility at the airport. that is the natural response. we will see all of the security services around europe coming together. the big criticism after the paris attacks is they are not liasianing properly. since then, i know from sources in london, they decided to increase the terror security measures more quickly. even before it is confirmed these were terror incidents. >> local media reporting this was a suicide bomber.
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another belgian media outlet saying 13 dead and 35 wounded at the airport. if there were two blasts, that means two bombs. two bombers and a bomb, a secondary suicide bomb with possible gunshots before the blasts occurred at the airport at 8:00 a.m. and then at 9:30, a subway downtown brussels, belgium. max, london surely is paying attention. the number of attacks directed at london and other cities across the u.k. are very real. what are authorities saying about the situation there? we know the eurostar trains have been canceled into brussels. >> reporter: they have. i know all the senior counterterrorism officers have been working closely together.
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what you see is another nightmare scenario. another paris. this does play into the theory what we would see is an attack on a symbolic target. brussels is that. attacking the general public and lifestyle situations and focus right now is will there be more attacks after this? what will be ringing clearly in everybody's minds is salah abdeslam, the paris attacker on the run, caught on friday, there was a suggestion he was planning more attacks. was this linked to that? so many strands to pull together. hopefully they are more organized after paris. they learned lessons from it. >> max, vrt, as miguel said, 13 people killed and 35 severely
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injured. the positive of multiple attacks, and possibly the event at the metro station. local media reporting an explosion at the metro station. that is the new pattern post paris, right? the one-two punch multiple explosions to really cripple a city. >> reporter: military style operations like paris, attackers working together with a plan. one went along with the attacks as it was unfolding. could this be one of those? up until paris, they were looking at lone wolf attacks like sydney with someone radicalized online. perhaps with no links to terror groups. now, they are looking at people who had been trained by isis or terror groups, and planning attacks in a coordinated
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military style fashion. that is a new threat. this plays into that. they are looking at more attacks as they unfold. >> you keep up with the u.k. authorities and london with the 7/11 attacks with buses in coordinated fashion. some 13 or 14 years ago at this point. they have been very aware of attacks like this. certainly "charlie hebdo" and paris attacks four months ago put this on the radar. what is your sense of the level of coordination? one thing the belgian authorities have been criticized on is the level of coordination has not been as great as they liked. clearly they were looking for somebody when this is unfolding this morning. what is your sense from that part of it? i know the met police have been active across europe.
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>> reporter: they say they are working together more effectively than a few months ago. the problem is to what level can you share intelligence and security information? the background to this is the immigration crisis. this migration crisis from syria and eiraq coming into europe. whether or not this type of thing is a symptom that people can travel around europe easily. this plays into huge political debate. here in the u.k., that is swelling up in the summer. we talk about an eu referendum. it is a very big subject. it plays into the heart of what it means to be european. >> if you are just tuning in, two explosions at the brussels airport. you can see the broken glass and ceiling le


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