tv CNN Newsroom With Carol Costello CNN March 22, 2016 6:00am-8:01am PDT
good morning. thanks for joining us. i'm anderson cooper. welcome to our viewers watching around the world. right now cities around the world are on alert after terrorists strike a major european capital. brand new video just into cnn. two explosions rocking the brussels airport. we're seeing this now for the first time as you are seeing it. let's watch. at at least one of those blasts carried out by a suicide bomb ore. it all happened around 8:00 a.m. local time at the airport then just an hour later and a few myelitis away attackers targeted a subway station in the heart of the city. the mayor is about to speak at any moment. in all more than 130 people have been wounded and at least 26 people are dead. most of those deaths at the metro station has been bustled morning commuters.
cry, panic, yelling, a child's screams as terrified passengers evacuate and stumble out the doors into the dark tunnels. at the airport stunned passengers waited for the debris and carnage of the dual explosions, ceiling tiles and glass rained down on those in the airport departure hall where at least one of these explosions took place. once outside, stunned passengers broke into a run. brussels, as you can imagine is in lockdown and on its highest terror alert level. there are reports two suspicious packages were found at the government office in brussels. that building has been evacuated. bomb squads are on site. these are early reports and at a time like this often contradictory. our correspondents are covering all of the angles trying to get the most accurate information from the scene to you.
i want to begin with nema arka elbagir. bring us up to date. >> reporter: the belgium prime minister has said there was a first explosion around 8:00 a.m. this morning. that they decided was a suicide attack. a second explosion followed. witnesses at the scene told us and told a number of belgium media they held shouts in arabic and gunfire. state media reporting investigators found a kalashnikov by the body of one of the attackers which would be in line with what id witnesses were tell us earlien. a short lapse of time and as we raced here to the airport we started hearing reports of the possibility of another attack and then the authorities conf m
confirmed maabeek station had been hit and that seemed to be really where a lot of the injured and death toll is climbing. the belgian prime minister had warned just an hour ago that the figures he gave at the time he expected them to move upwards and in the 60 minutes elapsed since, they have gone from 10 to 14 at the airport here and 20 at that we described earlier. one man described feeling a gust of wind come out of nowhere. he later realized that was the blow out from the explosion. then it went dark. they heard the explosion and -- luckily they authorities arrived quite quickly he said and moved them out through the track.
as they came out he had one woman screaming saying there were bodies still down there on the tracks anderson. >> let's talk about first of all at the airport. two explosions. you said one known to be a suicide detonation. do we know about the other one? was it a suicide vest? a bag or do we know? >> reporter: this is still yet unclear. a u.s. official who had oversight of some of the early evidence emerges said authorities believe it could be inside a suitcase. a suitcase carried in and put on the ground and detonated. this u.s. official certainly believes the investigates don't think there was any attempt to move through the secure zone that they were happy to cause the most daniel with the least
effort essentially. because very much a soft target. where people are arriving and eye witnesses tell us there was a higher official presence than they have been used to before at the airport here but there really wasn't any check of bags or search because they hadn't yet gone through the security check point. >> right this is obviously the most vulnerable part of an airport, the departure terminal are people are first entering. it is impossible to search all of the bags as they are approaching the airport in cars and vehicles. so this obviously as you have said is the softest of targets. is it clear exactly where in the terminal? i saw conflicting reports. obviously there are a number of american airlines in the terminal. i saw conflicting reports explosions might have taken place by the check in counter to one of the american airlines. do we know? >> reporter: we don't have any confirmation of that. as we approached the airport we
did see a grounded american airlines plane but we haven't managed to cross-reference that information as of yet. i should really say this is an ongoing operation. we've been hearing reports of house raid, searches. belgian authorities have really asked people try and limit the identification of where those searches are going on. because this is still a man hunt. they believe their possibly is a broader network. the network responsible for this attack. that that is still out there. and while of course they are looking for closely into what happened here and what happened at the train station, they believe those situation have now been contained. their fear is who else is out there and what else are they planning. so that is now really the race against time. >> and i should point out belgian state media now says the death toll has risen to 34. and again this is very early hours. that number it is very possible could rise. there's been appeal for people
to donate blood in brussels because there is a shortage of blood. is that correct? >> reporter: yes there has within. the prime minister spoke about it and he understands that people at this difficult time want to come together and he wants this to be a time of unity. and he says if you can't help please do come forward. and they have set up a hotline available on the belgium government website. so if anyone is worried about any loved ones they should check. that the dutch website has set up a website for flemish speakers here this belgium to check in and say they are safe. as facebook. really this overflow of people contacting and reaching out on social media if anyone is worried about their loved one and the belgian prime minister has confirmed there are a number of nationalities among the dead then they really need to go online and go into the belgian
website and reach out to the belgian authorities. >> it's important to point out what we don't know. it is not known how many people were involved in the attack at the airport, correct? there were two separate explosions. do we know how far apart in terms of distance? and do we know the total number of people involved? >> well we understand that geographically they were very close together. either within the same location ie the departure hall or very close. but there is really no sense how big this broader network spreads. and if we have learned anything from the paris attacks there really is almost a lattice work of interconnecting networks that work together. and some of these plots break apart for others and that is where the belgian authorities are faced with here. the prosecutors are just a day
or two ago talking about the salah abdeslam case saying we have 216 active files and even to salah abdeslam t last remaining active attack ner paris still alive is now in custody here. even he was believed to have two separate networks, the paris attack conspiracy and another network the belgian foreign minister was warning just on sunday they believe was plotting to carry out attacks here this belgian. so they are faced with a myriad of possibilities and one of the first things the belgian prime minister said was that we have been blindsided by that. and that gives you a sense of the enormity of what they are dealing with as they are trying to track out who else might -- >> and the other possibility is the capture of abdeslam, as you said the tenth terrorist involved in the paris attacks who mazz been on a man hunt for month, sbrugt custody after police raided his last known
location. shot i believe in the leg. taken into the custody. the question is, was he involved in an active effort to stage another attack? because he did have confederates with him? others were taken into the custody. and is this effect motivated because they felt the dragnet was closing in on them and this was directly related to the capture of abdeslam. >> that was what authorities were warning about since they first confirmed it was salah abdeslam they had in custody. that they believed he was involved in a potential new attack. and they also warned the belgian foreign minister warned against the possibility that jihadis could be making their way from syria to take part in that attack. so their concern wasn't just home grown networks. they believe more people might be on the way and they really were very worried they had
almost shaken the hornts nest. that it would press fast forward on any potential networks he had been involved with. but as of now they haven't confirmed any link between salah abdeslam and this attack. his network and this attack. what they have been saying is the lesson they learned post paris is the information out there was used by salah abdeslam and co-con spespirators to evad capture. they believe that. so this time around they are being very wary what is being put out there because they don't what repeat of that man hunt that dragged on for weeks and months. >> understandable on their part. we're just getting more video in now of the aftermath of this attack. let's play that.
>> stay down, stay down. >> just giving you a sense of the immediate aftermath of the attack, the chaos, the confusion obviously the dust that was created by the twin explosions. it is believed they occurred relatively close to each other. this was in the departure terminal, the most vulnerable part of an airport. anybody, often there are roadblocks before getting into an airport in many countries around the world authorities don't search every single bag in vehicle as they get to an airport or search people before
they go through screening. we're being told there may be a controlled explosion or already have been a controlled explosion at the airport. i'm-% wondering if you have he anything about that. there are some reports say another device may have been found and that is what has already been exploded or they plan to, do you know anything on that? >> well we did hear conflicting reports early about whether this was two or three reports and whether potentially the third could be a controlled device debt nad. by have seen the forensic teams go in. they wouldn't want to detonate while the teams were there on the ground combing through looking for what they could find. we haven't been given any signal here on the ground that there is going to be another detonation yet anderson.
>> one of the men killed in the raid on march 15th, that ultimately led to the capture of abdeslam is believed to have been one of the coordinators of the paris attacks. the person who abaaoud and the others actually were taking their orders from, isn't that correct? and is it known whether or not the bomb maker been apprehended or killed? >> reporter: we don't know which of the two men that are believed to have been the key co-spiriters. you had -- who you were referring to killed in the apartment. where authorities justered even confirmed they had find detonators at that property. we don't know which of the two men would have been responsible. would have been in charge of the utilizing of those detonators.
the second co-conspirator was really the key focal point of authorities here and intensifying man hunt. at the time we only knew him and his alias. he was also intercepted giving orders for the paris attacks ring leader. he is now on the run and he is believed to have been in the same apartment with abdeslam. so now you have these two unraveling situations. unfolding and fluid attack, complex attack here that they are trying to marshal whatever remains on the network of that. and also some other guy who shims himself on the run. there is real concern about their ability to remain or even
to get one step ahead of the networks that are operating here anders anderson. >> it is an extraordinary situation authorities are facing there. in the wake of the attacks on paris just the shear volume of people who have returned from syria, the shear volume of people who have been radicalized and military training or are simply aspirational and willing to kill themselves in an attack like this for a country like belgium to deal with. they are essentially stretched to the limit in terms of their resources. >> yes. absolutely. just, they have managed to slow down that pipeline to and from syria. the numbers are still pretty extraordinary. the minister of interior acknowledged to us previously they were dealing with 15 people going every month. and for a country the sile of
belgium that is mind blowing. they managed to get the numbers down to 5-6 within 2015. but if you even have dozens returning and authorities believe you have over a hundred who have returned. and those are the ones they know of, under their scrutiny. the ones that have been able to come in without their knowledge. bo zeid was an algerian, illegally in the country. they had no record of him. and how many more? per capita the highest number of isis fighters in western europe. and if only a limited number of those make their way then authorities have a headache on their hands. and why we've been hearing from hollande this morning talking about how there will be international cooperation and there will be international support because it is so clear that the belgians are in need of that here. >> man hunts continue now for
anybody else who may have been involved in the attack but based on what you said, it is very possible and authorities frankly haven't said or don't know, whether the bomb maker who made the dwietss that were used in paris t suicide vest in paris, it is very possible that same person was involved in this attack today. >> yes, of course. authorities are trying very hard not to confirm or deny anything. i would imagine at this stage in the investigation they themselves have are trying very hard to pin down as much information as they can. but yes this is the unfolding reality here in belgium. you could quite possibly be dealing with the same bomb maker. we just don't know. as of yet authorities haven't even confirmed that this is isis. lit alone where this is or these are the same networks. but this has just been such
difficult time post paris. and all we have seen is that these networks have continued to be able to evade capture and to evade scrutiny. so really at this point in time everyone we're speaking to including intelligence sources tell us every possibility is still on the table anderson. >> we now know much more about the attacks that took place in paris. months ago we now know about the coordination what it took to coordinate three separate teams attacking multiple locations. cell phone calls were traced between the various groups of attackers and a number in brussels. one of those people were killed just last week who is believed to have been the person helping coordinate, taking those calls. what's not known is today you have essentially coordinated attacks here. twin strikes at the airport and then an hour later at the subway station. the assumption is that those are
two separate groups. what is not known is was there a central coordinator who each of these groups was communicating with to help coordinate the timing, to help coordinating the planning of this? >> well given the timing and given the way they hit both rush hour here at the airport and then rush hour on the subway, the working theory is that this would have been -- there would have been a central coordinator. that this would have been part of the same network. and the way they were planned to cause the maximum disruption, so you get the early morning flight arriving here. and then you hit the rush hour. so the sense that most of those we're speaking to have is that it would make sense this is part of the same network and this was all run by central coordinator and we've seen in paris how
smoothly when they want to these networks can coordinate. salah abdeslam was responsible for renting the cars. he ferried the attackers and he was responsible for even the way they spread out across the different locations. so their planning has already been shown to be at a very sophisticated level. >> we're going to continue to check in with you at the brussels airport. but i also want to wring in someone who was at the airport when the blasts went off. he was getting ready to travel for a business trip. joining us from brussels. thank you for being was. you are on the air. first, are you okay? how are you doing? >> i'm fine, thank you. >> where were you? what did you see and here? >> so i arrived at the airport to check in in for my flight to rome. and then when i entered the airport building there was an
explosion. and soon after that one there was a second one. >> do you know about how far apart the explosions were is this. >> i think it should be two floors below where we were standing. the entrance halls of the check-in area is linked with the first and second floor. and that is why there was so damage on the floor where i was. >> do you know about how far apart in terms of time the first and second blasts were? >> not more than two minutes. >> not more than two minutes. >> not more than two minutes. but it seems to be quite a long time. because you were devastated by fear. >> and were you -- did you -- were you immediately able to get out of the airport? >> yes. i was -- i was close to the exit
door. so then i started, the people started to run all over and running out of building. and trying to help a few people who were injured in the building and by the time the security and army was there they request us to leave the building but by then all people left the building, yeah. >> just to be clear both explosions were in the departure terminal, in the area where people go to check in? >> from where i stand, i think it was in the -- in the bottom floor. so i was in the check-in area is second floor. so the explosion was not on our floor but because like the stairway case is coming in to the departure area and that is why a lot of things where i was standing were destroyed because
the explosion looked for a get away and that was obviously the top floor. >> jeff, when you got to the airport -- >> damage below should be much bigger and ground floor and first floor but that of course i haven't seen. >> when you goth airport this morning for your flight were there checks before actually entering the structure of the airport? was your vehicle at all stopped? the trunk opened? anything like that. >> no no no. so the process area, i flight out frequently. the process area, airport is for me very easy. i have [ inaudible ] and takes me about not more than ten minutes to check in. i drive up my car. park the car and two minutes later i'm in the departure hall. it is very close distance. >> so there is no pre check of a vehicle? >> thing, nothing.
no you just start your car, you take your ticket, your park your car. i parked my car. always an the same floor on the sixth floor on the top roof. i take the elevator and go straight into the departure hall. >> jeff, i appreciate you talking with us this morning and thank you. and i know your thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this. 34 now dead according to belgian media. appeals for people to donate blood in brussels. that is how the bad the need is there right now. i want to bring in evan perez in washington. what are you hearing on this attack? >> well one of the things that investigators in brussels are looking into is whether or not one of these bombs at the airport was contained inside a suitcase. again, it is early in the investigation as you and i repeatedly state in these type of situations.
early in the investigations. we do know one of the bombs was a suicide bombing. a second explosion appears to be a working theory they have right now may have been contained inside a bag or a suitcase. this was a target of opportunity. this was an attack that occurred outside of the security cordon. and this is the most difficult part of an airport to secure. simply because people are -- there are large crowds gathering. before they go through the security screening. >> it's virtually impossible for an airport to pre screen anybody approaching an airport. you can try do that -- even in some airports after attacks there are roadblocks set up. a police officer might look in a vehicle. >> someone could attack where people are lining up to go through that security cordon. the other attack occurred on a
transit system. very difficult place again for authorities to secure. that is what's on the mind of u.s. official this is morning. there were coordinating conference calls with officials and increasing security on the d.c. metro and new york subway systems. amtrack is checking people, simply because of the concern about the possibility of copy cats. there is no information indicating anyone is trying to do anything here but given the situation and the fact that sometimes you have people who copy these attacks and follow on them, that is the concern. >> -- increased security in new york and one of the things the new york police department does is they usually send people or have people liaise overseas in the wake of an attack like this to try to get immediate
information actionable in terms of the m.o., the modus operandi of the terrorists so the new york police and other police departments around the country can adapt their tactics. >> right. >> because the enemy is adapting their tactics constantly. >> right and the fbi and nypd both have been at work in brussels trying to coron ing tc. there is a lot of information trying to be processed. and certainly just the investigation into the cell that carried out the paris attacks. there is a lot of information they have and they are trying to get some of that here so they can see if there is any nexus to the united states. so far they have found no indications there were any plots here in the united states but here is the problem as we've covered a lot on the air here at cnn. the belg -- belgium is a very difficult place. there are some antiquated laws. until recently there was a law that prohibited police from launching nighttime raids. there are laws that prohibit magistrates.
magistrates prohibit share of information with foreigners, for instance. there is a great deal of privacy concern in europe, especially in belgium, the capital of the european union. so that is one of the things they are dealing with. sharing that information is very difficult. even in the aftermath of paris and twha exposed, which is a lack of sharing of information. there is still a lot of work to be done there. the new york police department is there. so is the fbi and they are trying to get some more information to try to see if there is anything we need to be worried about. >> evan is going to continue working his sources. more with him throughout the day. paul cruickshank brings us up to date. he's standing by with carol costello. let's go to carol. >> i want to bring in paul cruickshank and also mooig weiss, cnn contributor. glad to have you both here. first off paul, how likely is another attack.
>> certainly very possible in the hours 4d ahead. there is an active man hunt going on according to the belgium media. they have agreed to not report any new information about this ongoing man hunt, this gonna oing investigation. because they want to give the belgian security chances to apprehend these suspects. so there is grave concern there could be more attacks. that is very fluid and dynamic situation in brussels. i think the working assumption -- >> let's hold on. the media blackout. as an american citizen that would freak me out. i'm watching television trying to get any information i can about where this investigation is going and i can't get any information. that would scare me probably. >> it is an extraordinary step. it is voluntary. the belgian media are not force
dod this but a number of publications the main publications and networks have agreed to this for the time being just because it is such a dangerous situation in brusselss and they want to give authorities every chance to co-their work and protect and prevent further loss of life. the presumption is that this is the same network behind the paris attacks. that network was based in brussels. they have three safe houses there. they did all of the organizing there. they congregated there in the weeks before the attacks just in the last two days before the paris attacks moving to paris to launch those attacks. there are still a number of individuals who were part of that larger cell responsible for the paris attacks. still at large despite the fact that salah abdeslam and an accomplice were captured last week. >> let's talk about the cell itself, michael. was this planned? was it ready, set, go and then abdeslam was arrested and it was execute it faster? is that how it happened? >> i think what we can say with
certainty was that this was in the works. they had planned this. target, scouted the airport. probably the metro as well. the question is, was the operation sped up as a result of abdeslam's capture or possibly as a result of the killing of the chief koompcoordinator of t cell. isis plans long-term but there also is an improvisational or ad hoc component that this as needs must. they are debating a european wide count terrorism dragnet all the time. >> why belgium? why not someplace else? >> that's where the cell was based. this network is a belgium, brussels-based network. they created a logistical support structure there. mohamad bell kad one of the coordinators was killed in that
raid on their hiding place where tuesday last week. hiding on - but there are also a number of other senior members of the conspiracy still at large including al shaarawy who was coordinating the paris attacks in real time from belgium during the attacks giving orders to abaaoud and the paris attack team. now his dna was at the bomb factory where they constructed the tatp suicide vests for paris attacks, suggesting that he may have been the bomb maker behind the paris attacks. somebody may be able to make these kind of suicide vests and if that was the case it's possible he was the guy that perhaps built devices for these attacks. they are still trying to figure out who the bomb maker was.
>> belgian authorities now all this right? they knew a cell was operating within their country. why couldn't they stop a large scale attack like this? belgium? >> it is a small country. you have as has been pointed out these communities that are essentially ghettoized. radical preachers and jihadi preachers are the ripe. it's difficult to turn informants because isis operatives will have harassed people into the silence and submission. there is another aspect of this i want to mention. after the paris massacre, the propaganda organ of isis put out essentially eulogies for all of their attacks but for abdeslam. the guy who got away. the guy who didn't detonate his suicide belt because it didn't
work or he chickened out. what they were trying to telegraph to the world was these are our boys. we trained them. we knew about this operation well in advance. meaning the chief decision making body of the isis hk was well aware there was an attack under way in paris and we are a among you. we live in your communities. we are there already. we don't have to come back from places. we are already there, we are planning these populations. and the video that came along with that magazine or preceded it by a few days ended a bull's eye super posed on david cameron's face, suggesting the next target was london. >> was this attack meant to symbolize a bigger attack? an attack, you know, on the heart of europe? >> the metro station targeted is right under european institutions. the european institution, the european parliament.
european commission. so this was a very symbolic attack against those constitutions and also the international airport and international target. belgium is involved in the anti-iasis coalitio it is launching strikes against isis in iraq. isis has repeatedly threaten belgium with attacks. there's been a drum beat of plots over the last couple of years. may 2014 an isis gunman killed four people at the jewish museum in brussels. there was a major gun and bomb plot thwarted in january 2015. the high speed train where there was this gunman linked to isis and three americans saved the day. and there have been this steady drum beat of plots in belgium. when the police went in on tuesday this week about exactly this time last week to
abdeslam's hiding place they found an isis flag, a kalashnikov, detonating explosives, ammunition, all suggesting that there was an active plot in the works. the working assumption is this was the same group behind the paris attack, abdeslam's group, that carried out this attack. did they accelerate their plans in some kind of way because abdeslam was captured, they feared he might talk, feared he might give information up, perhaps? but that is the working assumption. >> thank you very much. and by the way as, you know, president obama is in cuba, he was meant to give a speech later today about cuban relations. we know that -- we know that the subject matter of his speech has changed. president obama will be talking on the attacks in brussels in cuba. we which part that around 10:20 eastern time. ooel i'll be right back.
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suitcase. an hour later in a few miles away another explosion. inside a busy metro. this video taken moments after the blast. at least 20 people killed at this location. all public transportation in the city now paralyzed. police looking for anyone who may have been linked to the explosion. this man was aboard the train and joins us now by phone. first of all evan, how are you doing? >> i'm doing well, thanks. >> where were you? what did you hear? >> i was traveling to work. i was on one of the the trains in the metro system. and apparently the one that had the explosions was the one that left just before mine. so i was one metro back. and we felt a small blast of air and heard some thuds in the distance. the metro immediately stopped
and a power over and a message came over immediately that there was a disturbance on the line and they were working to fix it as quickly as possible. >> were you in the middle of a tunnel? >> we were in between metro stations. on the way to the maabeek metro station in the tunnel between the two. >> and did you evacuate the train there or did the trainite move back? >> it took a couple of minutes until we evacuated and someone came from the front of the mote row eventually and opened the door at the back of the metro, which is where i was. they installed a ladder to climb down and we walked back towards our station and went up to the street from there. >> obviously there's been increased security throughout brussels over the last several months. can you give us a sense -- i assume you lived there or visiting there obviously. what is security like? did you see security on the
platform when you got to the train this morning? >> sure, so i've been living in brussels for the last four or five years and here in belgium for 15. for the last while we've had increased security measures throughout brussels as reaction to the terrorist attacks in paris so it's become normal to see military guards in the main transport hubs outside of government buildings and so on. so i saw those -- some of those military guards as i was on my way to work this morning. actually i was reading the news and i heard about the explosion at the airport so i was reading that on the metro on my way. the military guards were completely on high alert. as i changed metros at the station, i'm sure they had heard already of course at the explosions at the airport. and so i think security was certainly heightened. just ahead of the explosions. >> obviously one of the attempts in all of this is to sow terror,
fear. to strike at places people use every day. a metro stop, train station, airports. what is the mood in the capital? what has it been over the last several weeks? had things started to return to normal? >> i think so. my own reaction after the paris attack was that life has to continue on. i don't think we can stop doing what we do just because someone has decided to try to strike terror into people's hearts. so there were increased security measures and at a certain point you have to go back the a normal life and go on living the way you normally live. so i think that was the mood to some degree here in brussels. certainly that is how i sell. and i think -- from what i could see of the immediate reaction there wasn't mass panic. people weren't pushing other people to evacuate quicker. so i hope that we all kind of keep that same mentality.
you should see what the belgian government reports and what measures they will be taking but i hope that everyone has a measured reaction to this and doesn't give into feelings of panic and terror. >> evan, i'm glad you are okay and appreciate you talking to us this morning. the u.s. is on alert for any hint of what's going on we'll take any story. >> if you are traveling through any of the nations airports which you will immediately notice is a stepped up police presence here in the nation's capital. i just got word that plans are under way for a major show of force. we're talking about bomb sniffing dogs as well as swat teams defloied here in the nation's capital. but here seeing a ramped up show of security presence in the airports' perimeter, at airports around the country but in major
cities anywhere from los angeles to atlanta. probably the same thing in miami. all of this stemming from the images that you are seeing there. the attack that happened in this so called soft part of the airport. soft target, i was just speaking with a police chief at one of the nation's major airports just last month and he told me one of the major things that keeps him up at night is this potential of an attack, a lone attack in this soft area of the airport. the ticket counters outside of the airport. that is his worst fear. because when you think about it, it really is hard to guard against that sort of thing. it's virtually impossible to scan every single individual who shows up at the airport. so this vulnerability does exist and they are highly aware of that anderson. >> rene thank you very much for the reporting. tedious's terror attacks at the
brussels arpd happened just inside the terminal where passengers report for departures. you were there in terms of security. you flew out was it yesterday? >> i to belgium last wednesday and back through yesterday. passed through the airport on a fleiss flight with lot of u.s. officials and diplomats in brussels. there was uniformed security. uniformed men, armed. most of the actual checks were between the airport terminal and the gate. there were increased checks. increased baggage inspection. >> so as you approach the airport there is no stop, no inspection as you approach. >> exactly. anyone could just pull right up to the airport. the airport only 15 minutes from downtown brussels, along a major transportation route and up to the main terminal, nobody checks you. nobody looks twice. there are some uniformed guards
to provide a sense of security that. turned out to be false. >> what's amazing is when you look at the maps of the locations of all this, this is happening in a pretty closed geographic area. brussels is not enormous. even the area where abdeslam was apprehended just the other day is not far from the train station where the bomb went off and not far from the airport. >> we were in downtown brussels on friday when abdeslam was arrested. we could hear the sirens. we could see the police presence. there were men on the street shouting about the arrest. one man shouted they caught our brother in mole booek to a group of on lookest. belgium officials spoke and he said unlike in other countries areas that are the center of counterterrorism operations in brussels are downtown. that's different than in, say, paris where some of the most
sensitive areas are pushed out to the sbush. >> and officials you talk to do they feel they have a handle on things? or do they feel overwhelmed? >> it is interesting because people were sbrag the recent arrest but belgian foreign minister said the information they had gotten from salah abdeslam in custody revealed that he was planning more attacks, that he rebuilt his network since the paris attacks. that the network included at least 30 people and that terrorists and criminal gangs were cooperating in a way that belgian authorities had not seen before, sharing resources, apartments, weapons. he was very clear that the threat was real and attacks were being planned. unfortunately, that warning was not enough. >> we should point out the bomb maker from the paris attacks still unknown and still potentially out there. unknown whether that bomb maker had anything to do with today's attack, whether the network of salah abdeslam was part of was directly related to this as well. a lot to learn. thanks for being with us, josh.
let's go back to carol. >> thank you, anderson. i have people with us this morning. thanks to you both for sticking around. paul, there's new information coming out of the airport in brussels. there was a certain type of gun found at the airport. what's the significance? >> belgian media reporting that the police recovered an automatic weapon at the airport. there were reports earlier that this was a gun and bomb attack at the airport that shots were fired by the perpetrator or perpetrators of the attack at the airport, and some more evidence of that now emerging. the fact that a very powerful weapon, the same weapon that was used in the paris attacks was found at the airport, the same weapon, type of weapon as were found exactly a week ago in salah abdeslam's safe house where he was hiding out with two other isis terrorists. >> in short, this gun may tie
the attack at the airport to salah abdeslam and maybe a larger cell? >> it would be consistent with this being the same network behind paris, but obviously all kinds of networks can get ahold of that kind of weapon. it's consistent with the working assumption that this is the paris attack cell that carried out the attack today in brussels. >> of course, there's fear all across europe. i heard trains were shut down in paris, and there have been a number of -- increased security in airports throughout europe and the united states. how big will the investigation be and how concerned should people in other parts of europe be? >> concerned. the isis threat is beyond the capacity of european security services to deal with right now. there are just too many european extremists that have gone to join isis in syria and iraq and too many that have come back to europe. european security services
working around the clock to prevent attacks. as isis loses territory in syria and iraq and it's lost about 20% of the territory over the last year or so, it's been rations off the international attack planning, lashing out against the countries involved in the coalition. belgium was launching air strikes against isis in iraq. they believe the caliphate is devinely ordained so they're throwing the kitchen sink at retaliating for what they see as a hostile intervention against them, and there are recruits and fighters are true believers. they think they're going to paradise and they're coming back to launch attacks. they're exploiting migrant flows coming through greece and other parts of southern europe, several of the paris attackers posed as syrian refugees to gain
access to europe. and belgium has become one of their main logistical hubs in europe. this paris attack style, not just the ten attackers, at least a 30 strong group. they have more than ten people in custody so far in belgium with various links. but also a number of key individuals including potentially the bomb maker still at large. the potential bomb maker in this plot, an individual who traveled to syria from belgium in 2013, and is believed to have played a key role in the paris attacks, coordinating them in realtime as they progressed. >> there's also security concerns in the united states, jonathan. how worried should americans be in cities like new york and washington d.c. and atlanta where they've all increased security at airports and train stations? >> i think it's time we stop being worried.
we have to realize that these attacks, if they can get the la gistics down, these attacks are going to happen, and what paul was just pointing out about belgium is that logistically it's centered within all of europe. >> people don't realize where it is. it's right between jeremy agerm france. >> right. and it has a very dense muslim population in this area where they have been able logistically to move fighters in and out and people can be trained easily and come back. in the united states we need to realize all these things. and we need to understand that the more we can do to prevent an attack or disrupt these different groups, we need to do that, but one thing that we were talking about earlier is that when an attack happens, i see this time and time again, in the united states, overseas. we have to pause what we're doing and the people have to say
i'm not going to work or companies need to say stay at home. in this case what happened was they had an attack at the airport, a very substantial attack, and they did not shut down the subway system, and there you go. >> all right. i have to leave it there. paul and jonathan, thank you so much. more of our coverage when we come back. man 1: [ gasps ]
man 1: he just got fired. man 2: why? man 1: network breach. man 2: since when do they fire ceos for computer problems? man 1: they got in through a vendor. man 1: do you know how many vendors have access to our systems? man 2: no. man 1: hundreds, if you don't count the freelancers. man 2: should i be worried? man 1: you are the ceo. it's not just security. it's defense.
cuba. also he's going to talk about a major european capital has it grinds to a halt. brussels belgium under lock down. cell phone video captures the moment after terrorists struck. one decide bomber detonated an explosive, and they say another bomb may have been hidden in a suitcase. that has not been confirmed. an hour later and a few miles away attackers targeted a subway station. between the sites belgian media reports more than 170 wounded and at least 34 people killed. this is early hours. the numbers could change. most the dead at the metro station as it bustled with morning commuters. forced to evacuate and stumbling out of the tunnels that rapidly filled with smoke.
at the airport, smoke billowed and passengers evacuated. cities across the world and here in the united states are scrambling to bolster their own security. our correspondents are covering all the angles from the scene to the world capitals now going on guard to the possibility of more attacks. we want to begin with jim acosta with a look ahead at the president's remarks. jim, if you can hear me, what are we expecting president obama to say and when is he expected to come out? >> reporter: that's right. at about 10:10, we expect the president to talk about the brussels attacks at the top of his remarks. this was a speech that was originally designed to be an address to the cuban people to talk about human rights and all of the advancement made in the relations between the u.s. and cuba as the president is reopening ties with the island nation, but obviously things have changed. instead of talking about human rights solely here on the island, he'll be talking about
the human right not to be terrorized by violence all around the world. you'll recall, anderson, that after the paris attacks last year, the president was criticized in some quarters for not being forceful enough in responding to the attacks. i'm guessing we'll hear the president be forceful about the attacks that took place in brussels earlier today. he is expected to give this speech here in just a few moments. and then attend a baseball game later and head to argentina. we have not been given any kind of guidance that the plans are changing, that he might go back to washington. at this point the travel plans appear to be the same. in just a few moments we'll here the president talk about what happened in brussels. he's been briefed. he's talking to officials, and the white house says u.s. officials are in contact with their counterparts in europe right now as this investigation moves forward. >> all right. jim acosta, thank you very much. again, as we await the remarks,
let's go to brussels. also joining us nick robertson from london. bring us up to date. two explosions at the airport. one explosion at the metro station about an hour apart. talk about what happened at the airport first. >> reporter: well, from what we understand from eyewitnesss, there was an extended gunfire. some reports that words were shouted in arabic, and then they report hearing this explosion. very soon after, a second explosion. u.s. officials at cnn have been speaking to those who have had access to the preliminary access, saying the bomb was located in a suitcase. about an hour later as authorities were rushing to deal with the scene here, in fact, as we were making our way here, we saw a line of police cars going in the opposite direction from the airport. that's when we heard that there
had been another blast at the maelbeek train station. almost on top of it is the european commission. one eyewitness inside the commission reported to us that he felt that detonation. he felt that explosion inside there. and it is that explosion there at the train station that seems to be resulting in the higher numbers of casualties. the plusls mayor has said that 20 so far have died from either the initial blast or injuries sustained. a number of people of the 55 wounded are believed to be in critical condition. here at the airport the death toll is at 14. within the last hour we've been speaking, that number has been rising. it went from 10 to 11. there's a real worry that the death toll will continue to rise. authorities immediately cordened off the area around the airport.
they shut off some of the underpasses through the central area of brussels. they closed the schools. then the prime minister announced that the threat level had been raised to level three which means potentially now that they are -- well, we know what it means. we know it means that they are deploying on the streets. we've seen military helicopters going back and forth from the airport. soldiers will now be on the streets of brussels, and the prime minister has announced the city is now in lockdown. >> we saw that occur in the days after the paris terror attacks as well. the big question, of course, this morning is are the same people involved, the master minds, the organizers, the coordinators behind the terrorist attacks, are they actually the ones behind this? is it perhaps even the same bomb maker? if it is, that would be an extraordinary development that an operation like this could occur months after the paris terror attacks with all the
security and the investigations and the raids, more than 100 raids that have taken place in belgium since the deadly attacks in paris. the bomb maker from paris still believed to be on the loose, although his identity not known at this point. in terms of the situation at the airport, there was also, we understand, a controlled detonation of what was believed to have been another explosive device. do you know anything about that? >> well, all we know is that the interior ministry warned people that this would be occurring. we don't know yet whether they suspected it was a device. we know forensics teams are on the site and trying to really get as much evidence, as much usable evidence, because this is also an ongoing operation. we understand that there are raids. there are sweeps. they've asked members of the public not to go on social media
and give any signal where the sweeps are happening. we have heard that eyewitnesss that they've seen the operations are ongoing. this is trying to grab whoever else is out there while trying to contain, potentially, what else could have been lying in wait for them here. when we were speaking to eyewitnesss that evacuated the train, that was the specter that was on all of them, the first responders who bravely went in there to evacuate people, they didn't know what they were going to find down there in the dark as they walked people out, and you saw that in the faces of peep as they emerged from the station in the images we've been seeing. just the shock. one woman was drying saying there are still bodies down there. this is a government that's having to deal with a nation that is reeling while at the same time making sure that they are trying desperately to get ahead of what else potentially could be out there, anderson in.
>> and nick robertson in london. as we await president obama, this comes days after salah abdeslam, the tenth terrorist involved in the paris terror attacks several months ago was apprehended. was shot while being apprehended. he's now in custody after what had been a massive man hunt. that was a real victory for belgian authorities, but it raised a real concern that there was another operation underway, because what else they found and who else they found salah abdeslam with. >> reporter: they found him with a neutralized somebody who was one of the prime suspects in helping coordinate the paris attacks. they found in the house they disrupted this time last week in brussels, detonating equipment for explosive devices. the paris prosecutor has detailed some of the things that
salah abdeslam was involved in in the leadup to the paris attacks. he made those details public this weekend saying that salah abdeslam was involved in buying chemicals and equipment that could be used in detonators. you piece that together and you begin to realize that salah abdeslam was at the core, not just in the planning and preparation, but potentially close to those making the explosives, at least buying parts of those explosives. so when the police in brussels last week disrupt a building where there are the components for making explosives, this what happens leads us to understand better why they said it's a major blow that they captured salah abdeslam n. they also said this isn't the end of the fight. his lawyer, salah abdeslam's lawyer said he was cooperating with police. if that is not a direct or coded message for his cohorts to step forward with any attacks because he might be about to hand over vital information to the police or just a coded warning, that has to be one of the ways
intelligence authorities are looking at it. as we look at the attack in the airport in brussels, this is a classic terrorist attack. you have not just the decide vest, not just the gunshots, but a few minutes later, a second device detonating. typically we've seen that all across the world with a second device is meant to catch first responders. it's not clear that was the case this time, but it has the hallmarks. we've had david cameron meeting with his internal high security cabinet, the french president doing the same. all of them stepping up their security measures. the irish are doing it today. the swiss, the russians, the italians and spanish and greeks have offered their condolences and all are looking what can they learn and what can they do to improve security in their capitals and major cities? >> and nick, while we're talking on the left side of your screen,
that's the seen in havana cuba where we're awaiting president obama. we don't have control over the cameras. the audience is gathering. dignitaries and people from havana and on the right, obviously, the scenes out of brussels. what had been an address by president obama about relations with cuba is obviously going to be in part focussed on the terror attacks in brussels and what we have witnessed, the carnage we've witnessed. nick robertson, so much more is now known about the paris terror attacks. i keep bringing you back to that because of the apprehension of salah abdeslam. one of the men killed in the apprehension of salah abdeslam by, i believe a sniper, by a belgian authorities, is actually believed to have been kind of over salah abdeslam and abaaoud in the paris terror attacks, the coordinator. he was the person who was actually called by the various teams, phone calls were traced
from the attackers in paris to a number in belgium that's believed to have been this man who was killed in the apprehension -- or in the initial attempt to apprehend salah abdeslam. >> reporter: yeah yeah. he was killed, but there was also another operative that was also believed to have been involved in phone calls from brussels to the teams on the ground. and it's him that was formally known, he is now on the run. authorities have named him. he is the suspect that they are looking for, because he played that same leadership role that was helping coordinate the paris attacks by phone, talking to the attackers on the ground before they perpetrated those attacks even at times immediately before they were activating cell phones that hadn't been used prior to that attack just for that role of coordination. downloading maps of the
nightclub. that was another thing that was done with the cell phones, and all of this was coming back to those two men. one now dead and one on the most wanted list. belgian authorities now, we understand, are continuing their active investigation. they don't want details getting out about that, because they believe that could compromise their investigations ongoing on the ground, and as we've witnessed over the past week, those confrontations can turn to gun battles that can be dangerous for the public and dangerous for the police as well. so this is a very, very dynamic situation. even though those attacks in the morning are now over, the police are continuing with action. >> we understand three american missionaries have been injured in the attacks this morning in brussels. we're just starting to get more information about those who have been killed and injured. i want to bring in pamela brown who is working her sources.
pamela, one of the questions, of course, about this attack is was it put on an accelerated schedule. it's obviously something that required a great deal of planning. was it accelerated because of the apprehension of salah abdeslam just several days ago? what have you learned? >> reporter: well, that is the main working theory from talking to counterterrorism officials in the united states tracking what's going on in belgium. the belief is this is a plot that was in the works, and after salah abdeslam was arrested last friday that the plan was accelerated rather than just a few people hastily throwing something together after his arrest. officials say that is unlikely, but that they think this was something they were intending to do. they had already scoped out their targets, probably did surveillance. as we saw in the paris attacks as well. and decided after salah abdeslam's arrest that they would launch it. officials i've been speaking to said it's clear that the attacks were timed for maximum impact. a very busy time at the metro station as well as the airport
terminals. speaking to officials about the types of bombs that were likely used, and officials are looking at whether military grade explosive was used particularly at the airport just given the damage there. one of the reasons they believe there was a bomb in a suitcase is because of the types of injuries we're seeing. a lot of leg injuries. officials i've been speaking say that would indicate there was a bomb on the ground that exploded to cause those leg injuries and a lot of fragmentation. also you see the structure is damaged as well. that would indicate there was something more than just one decide bomber. but at this stage, everything is under investigation. very early on they're trying to collect the evidence as we speak. one thing to point out is that every single counterterrorism official i've spoken to said this is not a surprise. this only thing that's surprising is that this didn't happen sooner. >> we also understand, pam, that the belgian nuclear power plant has now been evacuated.
that may just be a precaution. we don't have any more information about that. it may just be a decision of caution. we're awaiting president obama speaking from cuba. that's the scene on the left-hand side of your screen. the scene on the right-hand side of your screen, views of the airport this morning. pam, obviously the target of the airport, we don't know exactly which part of the airport, what counters were struck at. there was an american airlines plane on the ground in brussels. there was a morning flight out. there were a number of other carriers as well. but this is a very -- at airports, it's often in the area where passengers first arrive. it's the area that's the least secure of anywhere because nobody has gone through screening. sometimes there will be p prescreening at some airports around the world. cars checked, but that's a
difficult thing to do. >> reporter: absolutely. this is a soft target. an area where passengers are gathering before they board and before anyone really has to go through security. in terms of that, it's not surprising. i can tell you that officials are looking at some new technology right now to identify potential decide bombers or bombs before they get to the airport, but the question is, i mean, how far out do you push your perimeter of security? there's going to be a group no matter or a large group of people no matter what you do. this is a kwauquandary for offis looking at security and the threat that isis presents, that they're going after the so-called soft targets where a lot of people are gathering, and we saw it play out today in belgium. >> we are told president obama will be speaking momentarily. these remarks obviously will be different than they would have been just a few hours ago. we believe he will address the attacks in brussels.
there has been no indication according to jim acosta what is in cuba that the president is going to change his schedule in any way. he was supposed to attend a baseball game later today then go onto argentina. that plan, supposedly, we're told, is still in place. no indication that he was going to be returning to washington. here is president obama. let's listen in. [ applause ] >> thank you. thank you very much. president castro, the people of cuba, thank you so much for the warm welcome that i have received, that my family have
received and that our delegation has received. it is an extraordinary honor to be here today. before i begin, please indulge me. i want to comment on the terrorist attacks that have taken place in brussels. the thoughts and the prayers of the american people are with the people of belgium, and we stand in solidarity with this in condemning the attacks against innocent people. we will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally, belgium in bringing to justice those who are responsible, and this is yet another reminder that the world must unite. we must be together regardless of nationality or race or faith in fighting against the scourge of terrorism. we can and we will defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around
the world. to the government and the people of cuba, i want to thank you for the kindness that you've shown to me and michelle malia, sasha, my mother-in-law, marion. [ speaking foreign language ] [ applause ] in his most famous poem, jos e marte made an offering of friendship and peace to both his friend and enemy. today as the president of the united states of america, i offer the cuban people -- [ speaking foreign language ]
[ applause ] >> havana is only 90 miles from florida, but to get here we had to travel a great distance. over barriers of history and ideology, barriers of pain and separation. the blue waters beneath air force one once carried american battle ships to this island. to liberate but also to exert control over cuba. the waters also carried generations of cuban revolutionaries to the united states where they built support for their cause. that short distane has been crossed by hundreds of thousands of cuban exiles on planes and makeshift rafts who came to america in pursuit of freedom and opportunity, sometimes leaving behind everything they owned and every person that they loved. like so many people in both of
our countries, my lifetime has spanned a time of isolation between us. the cuban revolution took place the same year that my father came to the united states from kenya. the bay of pigs took place the year that i was born. the next year the entire world held its breath watching our two countries as humanity came as close as we ever have to the horror of nuclear war. as the decades rolled by, our governments settled into a seemingly endless confrontation, fighting battles in a world that remade itself time and again. one constant was the conflict between the united states and
cuba. i have come here to bury the last remnant of the cold war in the americas. [ applause ] >> i have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the cuban people. [ applause ] i want to be clear. the differences between our governments over these many years are real, and they are important. i'm sure president castro would say the same thing. i know because i've heard him address those differences at length. but before i discuss those issues, we also need to recognize how much we share. because in many ways the united states and cuba are like two brothers have have been estranged for many years even as
we share the same blood. we both live in a new world, colonized by europeans. cuba, like the united states, was built in part by slaves brought here from africa. like the united states, the cuban people can trace their heritage to both slaves and slave owners. we've welcomed both immigrants who came a great distance to start new lives in the americas. over the years our cultures have blended together. dr. carlos finlez east work in cuba paved the way for work in cuba including walter reed who drew on his work to help combat yellow fever. just as marte wrote some of his famous words in new york, earnest hemmingway made home in
cuba and found inspiration in the waters of these shores. we share a national past time and later today our players will compete on the same field that jackie robinson played on before he made his major league debut. [ applause ] >> it's said our greatest boxer once paid tribute to a cuban he could never fight saying he would only be able to reach a draw with the great cuban, mr. stephenson. [ applause ] >> our people continued to share a common fashion. particularly as so many people came to america. and miami or have vannah, you
can find places to dance the salsa and eat foods. people in both of your countries have sung along with celia cruz or gloria estephon. we pay tribute to people. a peace that cubans find in l a achita. we share common values in our own lives. a sense of patriotism and a sense of pride. a profound love of family. a passion for our children. a commitment to their education. that's why i believe our grandchildren will look back on this period of isolation has an
aberration as just one chapter in a longer story of family and of friendship. we cannot and should not ignore the very real differences that we have about how we organize our governments, our economis, and our societies. cuba has a one party system. the united states is a multi-party democracy. cuba has a socialist economic model. the united states is an open market. cuba has emphasized the role and rights of the states in fact the united states is founded upon the rights of the individual. despite these differences, on december 17th, 2014, president castro and i announced that the united states and cuba would begin a process to normalize relations between our countries. [ applause ]
sense then we've established diplomatic relations and opened the embassy. we've begun initiatives for health, agriculture, education and law enforcement. we've reached agreements to restore direct flights and mail service. we've expanded commercial sites and increased the capacity of americans to travel and do business in cuba. and these changes have been welcomed, even though they're still opponents to the policies. still, many people on both sides of this debate have asked why now? why now? there's one simple answer. what the united states was doing was not working. we have to have the courage to acknowledge that truth. a policy of isolation designed
for the cold war made little sense in the 21st sechcentury. the embargo was only hurting the cuban people instead of helping them. i always believed in the fierce urgency of now. we should not fear change. we should embrace it. [ applause ] >> that leaves me to a bigger and more important reason for the changes. [ speaking foreign language ] >> i believe in the cuban people. [ applause ] >> this is not a policy of normalizing relations with the cuban government. the united states of america is normalizing relations with the cuban people. [ applause ] >> and today i want to share
with you my vision of what our future can be. i want the cuban especially, especially the young people, to understand why i believe that you should look to the future with hope, not the false promise which insists that things are better than they really are, or the blind optimism that says all your problems can go away tomorrow. hope that is rooted in the future that you can choose, and that you can shape and that you can build for your country. i'm hopeful because i believe that the cuban people are as innovative as any people in the world. in a global economy powered by ideas and information, a country's greatest asset is its people. in the united states we have a clear monument to what the cuban people can build. it's called miami. here in havana, we see that same talent in cooperatives and old
cars that still run. [ speaking foreign language ] [ applause ] >> cuba has an extraordinary resource, a system of education which value every boy and every girl. [ applause ] >> and in recent years the cuban government has begun to open up to the world and to open up more space for that talent to thrive. in just a few years we've seen how people can succeed while maintaining a distipgtly cuban spirit. being self-ployed is not about becoming more like america. it's about being yourself.
look at one who chose to start a small business. cubans, she said can innovate and adapt without losing our identity. our secret is not in copying or imitat imitating but simply being ourselves. look at papito, a barber whose success allowed him to improve conditions in his neighborhood. i realize i'm not going to solve all the world's problems, he said, but if i can solve problems in the piece of world where i live, it can ripple across havana. that's where hope begins. with the ability to earn your own living and to build something you can be proud of. that's why our policies focus on supporting cubans instead of hurting them. that's why we got rid of limits on remittances so ordinary cubans have more resources.
that's why we're encouraging travel which will build bridges between our people and bring more revenue to those cuban small business. that's why we've opened up space for commerce and exchanges so americans and cubans can work together to find cures for diseases and create jobs and open the door to more opportunity for the cuban people. as president of the united states, i've called on our congress to lift the embargo. [ applause ] it is an outdated burden on the cuban people. it's a burden on the americans who want to work and do business or invest here in cuba. it's time to lift the embargo. but even if we lifted the
embargo tomorrow, cubans would not realize their potential without continued change here in cuba. [ applause ] >> it should be easier to open a business here in cuba. a worker should be able to get a job directly with companies who invest here in cuba. two currencies shouldn't separate the type of salaries that cubans can earn. the internet should be available across the island so that cubans can connect to the wider world and to one of the greatest engines of growth in human history. [ applause ] there's no limitation from the united states on the ability of cuba to take these steps. it's up to you. i can tell you as a friend that sustainable prosperity in the 21st century depends on education, health care, and environmental protection, but it
also depends on the free and open exchange of ideas. if you can't access information online, if you cannot be exposed to different points of view, you will not reach your full potential. and over time, the youth will lose hope. i know these issues are sensitive, especially coming from an american president. before 1959 some americans saw cuba as something to exploit, ignored poverty, enabled corruption, and since 1959 we've been shadow boxes in this battle of gee owe politics and personalities. i know the history, but i refuse to be trapped by it. [ applause ] i've made it clear that the
united states has neither the capacity for the intention to impose change on cuba. what changes come will depend upon the cuban people. we will not impose our political or economic system on you. we recognize that every country, every people must chart its own course and shape its own model. but having removed the shadow of history from our relationship, i must speak honestly about the things that i believe, the things that we as americans believe. as marte said, liberty is the right of every man to be honest. to think and to speak without hypocrisy. let me tell you what what i believe. i can't force you to agree. but you should know what i think. i believe that every person should be equal you should under
the law. every child deserves the dignity that comes with education, and a roof over their heads. i believe citizens should be free to speak their mind without fear. [ applause ] to organize and to criticize their government and to protest peacefully. and that the rule of law should not include arbitrary detentions of people who exercise those rights. [ applause ] >> i believe that every person should have the freedom to practice their thoughts peacefully and publicly, and i believe voters should be able to choose their governments in free and democratic elections. [ applause ] >> not everybody agrees with me on this. but i believe those human rights
are universal. [ applause ] >> i believe they are the rights of the american people, the cuban people, and people around the world. now, there's no secret that our government us disagree on many of these issues. i've had frank conversations with president castro. for many years he's pointed out the flaws in the american system. economic inequality, the death penalty, racial discrimination, wars abroad. that's just a sample. he has a much longer list. but here's what the cuban people need to understand. i welcome this open debate and dialogue. it's good. it's healthy. i'm not afraid of it. we do have too much money in american politics, but in america, it's still possible for somebody like me, a child who was raised by a single mom, a child of mixed race who did not
have a lot of money to pursue and achieve the highest office in the land. that's what's possible in america. [ applause ] >> we have do have challenges with racial biases in our communities and criminal justice system and our society. the legacy of slavery and segregation. but the fact that we have open debates within america's own democracy is what allows us to get better. in 1959 the year the that my father moved to america, it was illegal for him to marry my mother who was white in many american states. when i first started school, we were still struggling to desegregate schools across the american south. but people organized. they protested. they debated these issues. they challenged government
officials, and because of those protests, and because of those debates and because of popular mobilization, i'm able to stand here today as an african american and as president of the united states. that was because of the freedoms that were afforded in the united states that we were able to bring about change. i'm not saying this is easy. there's still enormous problems in our society. but democracy is the way that we solve them. that's how we got health care for more of our people. that's how we made enormous gains in women's rights and gay rights. it's how we addressed the inequality of so much wealth at the top of our society. workers can organize and ordinary people have a voice. american democracy has given people the opportunity to pursue their dreams and enjoy a high standard of living. [ applause ] >> now, there's still some tough
fights. it isn't always pretty, the process of democracy. it's often frustrating. you can see that in the election going on back home. but just stop and consider this fact about the american campaign that's taking place right now. you had two cuban americans in the republican party running against the legacy of a black man who was president while arguing that they're the best person to beat the democratic nominee who will either be a woman or a democracy socialist. who would have plooefbelieved t back in 1959? that's a measure of our progress as a democracy. [ applause ] >> so here's my message to the cuban government and the cuban people. the ideals that are the starting point for every revolution,
america's revolution, cuba's revolution, the liberation movements around the world, these ideals find their truest expression, i believe, in democracy. not because american democracy is perfect, but because we're not, and we like every country need the space that democracy gives us to change. it gives individuals the capacity to be catalysts, to think in new ways and to reimagine you our society should be. and to make them better. and there's already an evolution taking place inside of cuba. a generational change. many suggested that i come here and ask the people of cuba to tear something down, but i'm appealing to the young people of cuba who are lift something up, build something new.
[ speaking foreign language ] [ applause ] >> and to president castro who i appreciate being here today. i want you to know, i believe my visit here demonstrates you do not need to fear a threat from the united states. and given your commitment to cuba's sovereignty and self-determination, i'm confident you need not fear the voices of the cuban people and their capacity to speak and assemble and vote for their leaders. in fact, i am hopeful for the future because i trust that the cuban people will make the right decisions. and as you do, i'm also confident that cuba can continue to play an important role in the hemisphere and around the globe. my hope is you can do so as a
partner with the united states. we've played very different roles in the world. but no one should deny the service that thousands of cuban doctors have delivered for the poor and suffering. [ applause ] >> last year american health care workers and the u.s. military worked side by side with cubans to save lives and stamp out ebola in west africa. i believe we should continue that kind of cooperation in other countries. we've been on the different side of so many conflicts in the americas, but today americans and cubans are sitting together at the negotiating table and we are helping the columbian people in the civil war that's drug on
for decades. that kind of cooperation is good for everybody. it gives everyone in this hemisphere hope. we took different journeys to our support for the people of south africa in ending apar tide, but president castro and i could both be there to pay tribute to the legacy of the great nelson mandela. [ applause ] >> and in examining his life and his words, i'm sure we both realize we have more work to do to promote equality in our own countries to reduce discrimination based on race in our own countries. and in cuba, we want our engagement to help lift up the cubans who are of african american dissent who have proven
there's nothing they can't achieve when given the chance. [ applause ] >> we've been a part of different blocks of nations in the hemisphere, and we'll continue to have profound differences about how to promote peace, security, opportunity, and human rights, but as we normalize our relations, i believe it can help foster a greater sense of unity in the americas. [ speaking foreign language ] [ applause ] >> from the beginning of my time in office i've urged the people of the americas who leave behind the battles of the past. we are in a new era. i know that many of the issues that i've talked about lack the drama of the past, and i know that part of cuba's identity is its pride in being a small island nation that could stand up for its rights and shake the world. but i also know that cuba will
always stand out because of the talent, hard work, and pride of the cuban people. that's our strength. [ applause ] >> cuba doesn't have to be defined by being against the united states any more than the united states should be defined by being against cuba. i'm hopeful for the future, because of the reconciliation that's taking place among the cuban people. you know, i know that for some cubans on the island there may be a sense that those who left somehow supported the old order in cuba. i'm sure there's a narrative that lingers here which suggests that kukcuban exiles rejected t struggle to build a new future. but i can tell you today that so
many cuban exiles carry a memory of painful and sometimes violent separation. they ve cuba. a part of them still considers this their true home. that's why their passion is so strong. that's why their heart ache is so great. and for the cuban american community that i've come to know and respect, this is not just about politics. this is about family. the memory of a home that was lost, the desire to rebuild a broken bond. the hope for a better future, the hope for return and reconciliation. for all of the politics, people are people, and cubans are cubans. and i've come here.
i've traveled this distance on a bridge that was built by cubans on both sides of the florida straits. i first got to know the talent and passion of the cuban people in america. and i know how they have suffered more than the pain of exile. they also know what it's like to be an outsider and to struggle and to work harder to make sure their children can reach higher in america. so the reconciliation of the cuban people, the children and grandchildren of revolution and the children and grandchildren of exiles, that's fundamental to cuba's future. [ applause ] >> you see it in gloria gonzales who travelled here after 62 years of separation and was met
by her sister, yorka. you recognize me, but i didn't recognize you, gloria said after she embraced her sibling. imagine that after 61 years. you see it in melinda lopez who came to her family's old home. an elderly woman recognized her as her mother's daughter and began to cry. she took her into her home and showed her a pile of photos that included melinda's baby picture which her mother had sent 50 years ago. she later said so many of us are now getting so much back. you see it in christian miguel, a young man who became the first of his family to travel here after 50 years. and meeting relatives for the first time, he said i realize
that family is family no matter the distance between us. sometimes the most important changes start in small places. the tides of history can leave people in conflict and exile and poverty. it takes time for those circumstances to change, but the recognition of a common humanity, the reconciliation of people bound by blood and a belief in one another, that's where progress begins. understanding and listening and forgi forgiveness and as the cuban people face the future together, it will be more likely that the young people of today will be able to live with dignity and achieve their dreams right here in cuba. the history of the united states and cuba encompass revolution and conflict, struggle and
sacrifice, retribution and now reconciliati reconciliation. it is time now for us to leave the past behind. it is time for us to look forward to the future together. where c and it won't be easy and there will be setbacks. it will take time. but my time here in cuba renews my hope and confidence in what the cuban people will do. we can make this journey as friends and neighbors and family together. [ speaking foreign language ] thank you. [ applause ] >> president obama speaking to a packed house in havana, cuba. the leader, raul castro attending as well. jim acosta is with the president in havana. joins us as we wrap this up. we'll shortly return to the
ongoing situation in belgium. jim, the president talked a little bit about the terror attack in brussels saying we all have to stand together. also saying his thoughts and prayers are with the people of belgium. it's a reminder we must do whatever it takes to defeat the sur scourge of terrorism. >> reporter: that's right. it was only about a minute out of the 40 minute speech that the president addressed the terror attacks in belgium. we should point out that the president as far as we are being told right now, is going to be heading onto argentina to complete this trip into latin america over the next couple of days, and people might be asking why is the president continuing on with this trip? you talk to white house officials about this. here we go with the president traveling overseas and the specter of terrorism is hackiha over his trip.
he has air force one and he can stay in contact 24 hours a day. there are others who might say well, why doesn't the president go immediately over to belgium to answer that question in advance, i've heard this one before from white house officials. they'll say, listen, the president cannot just go to a breaking news situation with the security footprint that comes with the president of the united states. it is just too massive and disruptive and would get in the way of the first responders there. to preanswer a couple of the questions people might ask about why the president is doing what he's doing. that's essentially what the white house will say. no question about it. this is the president of the united states. once again, with the specter of terrorism, international terrorism hanging over his foreign policy, you know, the president has said time and again that he is doing everything that the united states can do to go after the terrorists in iraq and in syria, but once again, we're seeing the
ramifications of one isis is not fully defeated, isis is not fully pounded, and you have people like donald trump already trying to exploit the situation politically. he was immediately on the air waves this morning saying perhaps we should rethink our relationship with nato. the president talked to the prime minister of belgium earlier this morning, and emphasized in that conversation with the prime minister that the united states must continue to cooperation with nato. so the president taking a subtle swipe at that line of thinking tr donald trump. >> all right. thank you jim. we're getting new video of the aftermath of the attacks at the airport. twin explosions. let's listen. [ screaming ]
>> that is the latest video that we have as events have progressed over the last several hours. we have been getting new information. we're going to take a short break. our coverage continues at this hour with john berman and kate bolduan. that's going to start right after this short break. oh, look... ...another anti-wrinkle cream in no hurry to make anything happen. neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair works... ...in one week. with the... fastest retinol formula. ...to visibly reduce wrinkles. neutrogena®. and to help you accelerate,ast. we've created a new company. ♪ one totally focused on what's next for your business. a true partnership where people, technology and ideas push everyone forward. accelerating innovation. accelerating transformation.
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