tv Early Start With John Berman and Christine Romans CNN March 24, 2016 2:00am-3:01am PDT
how intelligence failed. how the manhunt for the airport bomber still on the run. welcome to "early start." i'm victor blackwell. >> i'm christine romans. it is thursday, march 24th. 5:00 a.m. in the east. breaking news this morning. word of another attacker involved in the brussels bombings. a security source tells cnn a second person sought in the blast brussels subway system. the individual was caught on video holding a large bag. we now know the identity of the suicide bomber who blew up the subway car. officials say it was khalid el bakraoui. he rented the apartment. khalid's brother ibrahim el bakraoui and authorities believe najim laachraoui both wearing black here were the two suicide bombers who died at the airport. laachraoui, thought to have
built the brussels bombs has been on the run since paris attacks. the third man who dropped the bomb off at the brussels airport, left. he is unidentified and on the run. police conducting raids across brussels raising the questions did the men act alone or could there be other members of the terror cell out there? we have fred pleitgen with the latest from brussels. good morning, fred. >> reporter: good morning, christine. one of the things that is a probl problem, if you go back four months ago to paris attacks, the cell there was limited in scale. there were more people involved than they thought. of course, they are investigating the brussels attacks, they are looking into that. they identified two potential people unaccounted for.
on the pictures from the airport. the man in the light clothing and now they say as far as the metro attack is concerned, they may have identified someone else. someone appeared to be holding a large bag. it is unclear if that person was killed in the bombing or if that person is at large. there are more raids in the brussels area. we did see a few raids yesterday when they went to one apartment and raided that place. they are also trying to gather more information from the places they already found like the one i'm at right here. this is an apartment block in the schaerbeek district. it is the bombmaking lab for the suspects in the attack. that is the apartment where most of the bombs that were used in the airport bombing were made. a taxi driver led them here. when police came here, they found 15 kilograms, that's about
30 pounds of tatp explosive which is a very high grade homemade explosive which is difficult to handle unless you have expertise to do so. what they also found was a laptop. on that laptop, they found what they believe was the last will, potentially, of one of the attackers, ibrahim el bakraoui. he details police were on his trail and he had a limited amount of time and he believed he needed to conduct the attacks as fast as possible otherwise he would end up in jail. he was associated with salah abdeslam, who is believed to be one of the people involved in the paris attacks and apprehended in brussels on friday. christine. >> by all accounts, fred, they were in a hurry. their friend had been arrested. they knew he was in police custody. they didn't know what he was saying or how quickly he would be talking about a new bomb plot.
frankly, police had been so close to them. the taxi driver so interesting, saying they couldn't fit all of the bags in the taxi. the event could have been worse. >> reporter: it could have been worse. you hit on two points that are clear. first of all, police were close to catching these men only less than a week before all this happened in brussels. they raided an apartment where they shot one man who opened fire at them. two people escaped and that apartment was listed under one of the el bakraoui brothers. in that part, they found the dna of salah abdeslam, of course, was at that point in time, the most wanted man in europe. the taxi driver who came here, you are right, he said when he came to pick these men up, they had a lot of luggage. some of that didn't fit in the cab. i was here when they conducted the raids on the apartment. almost immediately the police say they found a nail bomb.
a big piece of explosive with nails and screws. it seems they had to leave some bags behind here because they had too much in the way of explosives and some of that was later found. the bombings at the airport could have been worse. >> fred for us in brussels. thanks. let's focus on isis bomb maker najim laachraoui. the key tie to the paris attacks linked through dna. investigators have been looking for laachraoui for months. his name released to the public after also arrested suspect salah abdeslam just days before. for more, let's turn to senior international correspondent nima elbagir. as we learn more about this, nima, we see how closely woven these are to what we are seeing in brussels. >> reporter: absolutely. it was the naming of najim
laachraoui that really tied that final knot together for authorities in terms of fundamentally connecting the network that carried out paris and the incidents in brussels. najim laachraoui was known to authorities. widely believed to be the isis bombmaker involved with the attacks in paris. his dna was found in the bomb lab in schaerbeek. it was also found on the suicide belts that the attackers used in france. and what has been frightening for them is the evolution of laachraoui's skill set. in france attack, one person was killed. as tragic as that was. part of it was because the explosive was very, very unstable. these attacks in brussels, you saw a new level of experience almost coming into play.
that third bomb that failed to detonate. that was the largest of the three in the airport that had 15 kilos of explosives in it. it is horrifying if the man in white, whose image we are seeing, if his bought detonated, all of this the work of laachraonajim laachrao laachraoui. for authorities, his signature shifted. his dna tied him to the attacks. a lot of those we have been speaking to in the intelligence community said why would they sacrifice such an experienced bomb maker? you get the sense the network was really feeling that noose tightening around them. fred said ibrahim el bakraoui felt it was this or end up in
jail. perhaps that was the thinking. all of this was overshadowed after the capture of salah abdeslam. the belgian foreign minister spoke and said our biggest fear is the network involved and built up around salah abdeslam in his week and months on the run, that will accelerate any attack they were planning for fears salah abdeslam would speak. that is what unfolded here. >> nima elbagir in brussels. thank you. our concern is rising in europe. law enforcement are not able to keep up with the tide of isis fighters returning from syria and returning from iraq to their home countries. now ready to wage jihad in europe. turkey deported ibrahim el bakraoui to the netherlands and warned belgian authorities he might be a militant. turkey says the belgians responded that el bakraoui had a criminal record, but no links to terrorism discovered. cnn found that interpol had a
standing red notice on el bakraoui's brother, khalid el bakraoui saying belgium wanted him in connection with terrorism. were there intelligence failures? could the brussels attacks been prevented? joining us is cedric leighton. going back to this is new year's eve. when brussels canceled the new year's eve celebration and fireworks celebration because of the significant risk of a terror attacks. against that back drop, you have intelligence failures, it appears in the weeks and months of the past year that led directly to where we are today. they were on high alert, but so many of these dots were not connected, cedric. >> that's right, christine. good morning. the basic situation you have is with the terror attacks. they can attack anytime.
what the belgian authorities did with the new year's celebration was try to be proactive about those particular events. that is clearly in retrospect a wise decision. the fact they canceled those events indicate they had some intelligence something would happen. they proceeded out of an abundance of caution to do that. unfortunately, these intelligence efforts have to continue. they have to not only take care of the big events we know about, but look for opportunities the terrorists will take in a train station or metro station or airport. those are the things that complete the sealing off. >> cedric, obviously, a suspect
or suspects still on the run, a promise from isis that they will attack in europe again. concern that the group will follow through with that vow. how much can belgium do in the short-term? they have to ramp up and quickly. what can they accomplish in the near future to close this deficit of intelligence and analysis? >> victor, it will be a hard thing for them to do. one thing they can do is augment the physical presence of police and military forces throughout areas they think will be targ targets. the royal palace and eu headquarters. the obvious targets. they have to protect those. the other thing is they have to get into neighborhoods like molenbeek where there is clearly a jihadist element. a jihadist element tied into the
criminal element. that element is something that they have to explore further. there is no separation with those elements on the criminal side in the muslim dominated neighborhoods and terrorist side. that's the proposition they have toave before they go in there. >> we are learning more between the paris cell and brussels cell. the interactions between all of these young men. the bombmaker, najim laachraoui. he is sort of the middle of all this along with salah abdeslam. what do you make of the fact the suspected bombmaker blew himself up? does that show the desperation of the cell? or he passed on his skills to someone else we don't know? >> it is possible he passed on his skills to someone else. the standard operating procedure so far is bombmakers tend to be protected. you see that with the al qaeda
in the arabian peninsula. they go to great lengths to protect bombmakers. that is a perishable skill set. they want to make sure they have those experts at their beckon call. i believe they felt the pressure because the police were closing in. we see that in the last will and testament that was found on the laptop for example. we see it in the attitudes and movements. i think the belgian minister who anticipated something would happen was certainly right in that. the problem is you don't know what the attack would be. that was the significant shortfall here. >> the speculation the attack planned for easter. they moved it up. their friend was in custody. cedric, thank you. the attacks in brussels and war on terror creating new controversy on the presidential campaign trail.
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17 minutes after the hour. terror attacks in belgium are dominating the conversation on the campaign trail. donald trump wants muslims and muslim communities to be more talkative with the law enforcement. >> we need to use pro-active law enforcement and intelligence and national security resources. >> they're protecting each other, but they're really doing very bad damage. they have to open up to society. they have to report the bad ones. they are not reporting it. >> hillary clinton says the anti-terror plans offered by trump and cruz are in other words, loose canynocannons.
both hillary clinton and president obama say the plan doesn't make sense. >> when republican candidates like ted cruz call for treating american muslims like criminals and for racially profiling predominately muslim neighborhoods is wrong and counter productive and dangerous. >> i just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance, which by the way, the father of senator cruz escaped for america, the land of the free. >> with everyone focusing on brussels and terrorism, the republican establishment is quietly coalesceing behind ted cruz. jeb bush endorsing cruz on wednesday with wisconsin governor scott walker expected to follow. john kasich is dismissing calls to step aside and turn this into a two-man race.
>> i drop out, donald trump will be the nominee because -- i'm not out here to stop donald trump. i can tell you the reality of it because i don't believe that senator cruz can come to the east and win. >> meanwhile, things are getting nastier and personal between trump and cruz. trump threatening to spill the beans of heidi after the picture of trump's wife melania posted online nude. then this message is this picture is worth a thousand words. >> that is where we are. >> we have many months to go. 21 minutes past the hour. a-rod setting a date for his retirement in baseball. andy scholes has more in the bleacher report next. (vo) new tidy cats lightweight 4-in-1
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breaking news this morning. investigators revealing a second bomber involved in the brussels subway attack. we learn about ties to the paris attacks and how european intelligence failed and a bomber still on the run. breaking right now. captured paris terror suspect refusing to cooperate with police. he's demanding to be returned to france. welcome back to "early start." i'm christine romans. >> i'm victor blackwell. a second unidentified person sought in the blast in brussels metro system. belgian media report that the second person was caught on
video holding a large bag. we know the identity of the suicide bomber. it was khalid el bakraoui. he also rented the headquarters and hideout. his brother, ibrahim el bakraoui and najim laachraoui were the two suicide bombers who died at the airport. laachraoui has been on the run since the paris attacks. the third man who dropped his bomb off at the brussels airport and left remains unidentified and on the run. the subject of a huge and growing manhunt. police conducting new raids across brussels racing the question did the men in the surveillance pictures act alone or are others in the terror cell still out there? we have cnn's fred pleitgen with us. we learned that salah abdeslam is no longer cooperating with police in belgium and wants to
get back to france. >> reporter: absolutely, victor. that is an interesting and troubling turn of events for investigators. remember that salah abdeslam was captured here in brussels on friday. his attorney said he would cooperate with authorities and tell them what he knows. initially yes he was part of the paris attacks which happened four months ago on november 19th. he was supposed to detonate a suicide vest at the french national stadium, but decided not to do so. now his lawyer came out just a couple of minutes ago and said my client will no longer cooperate with authorities. that is significant because salah abdeslam potentially is tied not only to the attacks in paris four months ago, but possibly to the people who conducted attacks here in brussels. that's because the el bakraoui brothers, the two men, one of whom is believed to have blown himself up and the other were
believed to be in the apartment with salah abdeslam last tuesday that was raided by police. that apartment was under the name of one of the el bakraoui brothers. there is a link. as the authorities try to find out more accomplices or a larger cell out plotting new attacks. of course, they want salah abdeslam to cooperate with them and help them possibly find any of the other suspect. it is unclear if he told him anything. now, a lot of the attention of this has been focusing on schaerbe, schaerbeek. the main lab here in brussels. authorities here uncovered 15 kilograms or more than 30 pounds of tatp explosives. that is very high grade stuff. it's homemade, but volatile. it does require a lot of
expertise to actually make it. the authorities believe it's here that the el bakraoui brothers and laachraoui who they believe could be the bomb maker made all of this stuff and found a laptop that they say contains something like the last will of one of the attackers. they believe he was on the run and after the arrest of salah abdeslam on friday, he believed time was running out for himself and the fact that salah abdeslam was arrested expedited the attacks in brussels. they believed they needed to act quickly. a lot of troubling developments. the police trying to piece things together, but first, finding out if others are out there who could be dangerous for brussels and belgium and all of europe. victor. >> fred pleitgen for us in brussels. thank you. as fred mentioned breaking, the paris attack suspect salah abdeslam is no longer cooperating with belgian
authorities. his lawyer says salah abdeslam now in belgian custody. he wants to be extradited to france as soon as possible to explain himself. isis bomb maker, najim laachraoui, his name was released after police arrested salah abdeslam is another key tie to the paris attacks linked through dna in the houses in belgium. for more on the paris connection, i want to bring in senior correspondent nima elbagir. she is live in brussels. we know salah abdeslam no longer cooperating. wants to go back to france. the bombmaker, the other important tie here that connects what happens in brussels to what happened in paris four months ago, nima. >> reporter: absolutely, christine. back in january, officials here were telling cnn they intercepted chatter with laachraoui who they knew under his alias and the ringleader in the paris attacks.
it appeared to them as if najim laachraoui was giving the instructions. this is the man we know only to be 24 years old per the identifying information released by the belgian authorities. he seemed to be playing a key role in terms of who should move where and what was being done. these were intercepts back in january. it was the last few days, last week, they managed to pin down his real identity. najim laachraoui. the manhunt resulted from the raid on that first raid on the apartment. that triggered all of this. it was where the el bakraoui brothers are believed at this point to have escaped from. it is where they finally picked up salah abdeslam's dna conclusively for the first time since the paris attack had happened. you have these concentric circles of reinforcing links
between abaaoud and el bakraoui and salah abdeslam to the apartment that was raided. the question i'm hearing from intelligence sources, given that laachraoui was the bombmaker, if he is indeed the bombmaker, why sacrifice your bombmaker? someone who's skill set was evolved with the explosives in paris, christine, which was seen as very unstable. now the explosives used in the brussels airport attack which leaves a horrifying degree of damage. why sacrifice him? that reinforces the intelligence that with the capture of abdeslam, the noose was tightening. abdeslam's refusal to cooperate will be a blow to ascertain who else is out there. he is the remaining surviving lynch pin. he is the one who could
potentially lead them to whoever else is out there. >> nima elbagir for news brussels trying to connect the dots. thank you, nima. concern is rising in europe that law enforcement and intelligence services are not able to keep up with the tide of isis fighters returning from iraq and syria to the home countries. turkey deported najim laachraoui to the netherlands. turkey said that the belgians responded he had a criminal record, but no links to terrorism. in the meantime, cnn found that interpol had a red flag against him in connection for terrorism. could the brussels attacks been prevented? joining us is senior analyst cedric leighton. good morning, colonel. i want to start with the breaking news. the attorney for salah abdeslam saying his client is no longer
cooperating. is there an obvious impetus to you that you see after allowing his client to speak for days with investigators now cutting off that cooperation? >> i think, victor, it's one of the legal issues where they either know something that they want to keep from the belgian authorities as the attorney and abdeslam or they are just basically saying we only want to be punished under the french system. there are certainly legal things out there. i'm suspicious they are keeping information from the belgian authorities and hindering the investigation deliberately. maybe they are protecting a further attack or it is something elsewhere they are just doing legal maneuvers. i'm certainly suspicious of it. >> if he had been cooperating three days before the bombings, it didn't do much good.
it did not reveal the other co-conspirators here. it makes you wonder what cooperation was in the first place. >> it sure does, christine. it looked like somebody who may have lied to investigators in belgium or i just didn't know as much as he think he does. that is one thing if they compartmented the cells, he may not know as much as we believe. i think he probable deliberately lied to them. >> we heard chatter on the campaign trail in the u.s. of enhanced interrogation techniques should be used to get more information out of him. do you fault belgian authorities to not get more from him to stop the attacks? >> interrogation is a difficult thing to do. one thing we found in the military is torture or enhanced
interrogation techniques generally do not work. some things may lead you to conclusions or lead you to getting more information perhaps sleep deprivation or something like that. things like waterboarding generally tend not to be that effective and may result in false confessions or false information to get out from under the pressure. >> let's take this a step further beyond the intelligence gathering to analysis. and how we have seen over the last 72 hours the problems that belgians have had with analyzing all of the elements. you say the best way to do that is the fusion cell. explain what that is and are the belgian authorities close enough to the step where they can move into realm or do they still have smaller steps to get to that point? >> there are two levels that
this has to be dealt with. the first one is the upper management level. the one in which the politicians and the leaders of countries deal. they certainly set up mechanisms that are the beginning of a fusion cell. that is basically designed to put together all of the information out there from all the different sources. be from technical intelligence or from human-based intelligence. they should also include what police men and women find on the beat. if they are walking the streets of molenbeek, for example, the information they gather in the daily duties should be passed to the fusion cells. when you get down from the upper level to the middle level and lower level, that is where the rubber meets the road in essence. i don't believe the belgian authorities specifically are there yet. they don't have that mechanism where intelligence sharing is part of the culture. it is beginning to do it, but not at the level where these
attacks could have been prevented unfortunately. >> we know that secretary of state john kerry is heading to brussels to reaffirm the u.s. commitment in the investigation and moving forward. colonel leighton, thank you for joining us. >> thank you, victor. donald trump and ted cruz demanding muslim neighborhoods need to be patrolled. president obama lashing back. (boy) ma, pa - why do we settle for cable? (mom) because we're settlers and that's what we do. (girl) but with directv and at&t, you can get your tv and wireless service from one provider. (dad) are not we your providers? do we not provide you with this succulent jackrabbit pie? this delicious graywater soup? and a single lick of the family lolli every harvest moon?
the terror attacks in belgium are dominating the campaign trail. donald trump calling on members of the muslim communities here in the u.s. to be more cooperative with law enforcement. trump and ted cruz are calling for more aggressive policing in muslim neighborhoods. >> we need to be using pro-active policing and proactive law enforcement and
intelligence and national securities resources. >> they're protecting each other, but they're really doing very bad damage. they have to open up to society. they have to report the bad ones. when they see trouble, they have to report it. >> hillary clinton insists the anti-terror plans offered by cruz and trump consider them quote loose cannons. >> when republican candidates like ted cruz treat american muslims like criminals and racially profiling muslim neighborhoods, it's wrong and counter productive and it's dangerous. >> i just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance. which by the way, the father of
senator cruz escaped for america, the land of the free. >> this morning, we are learning new information about salah abdeslam. the paris bomber. also we're learning new details about the victims of the brussels bombings next. ♪ evauto insurance policy has a number. but not every insurance company understands the life behind it. ♪ those who have served our nation have earned the very best service in return. ♪ usaa. we know what it means to serve. get an auto insurance quote and see why 92% of our members plan to stay for life. well, staples has low prices and a price match guarantee. i took a body language class once and the way you're standing could mean you're hiding something. oh! uh, staples has low prices. okay, now you're shouting... [laughing] we can hear ya! the lowest price. every time. staples. make more happen.
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something i never thought i would feel. it's been the worst days of my life. i guess i didn't know how much one person can love another until you just don't know where they are. >> joining us now is cnn's atika shubert in brussels. >> reporter: yesterday, i went to the royal military hospital and spoke with doctors that are part of the medical team trying to identify victims. the problem they told me is the blast was so powerful that it literally ripped the victims apart. the only way to identify them is with fingerprints, dna samples or dental records. family members are going from hospital to hospital to find out what they can. i spoke to one man trying to find his girlfriend. his iphone last located her in front of the metro station. then nothing.
so he has been going from hospital to hospital to find information. they have a 1-year-old son together. he is desperate to find out where she may be. it's a grim search for families and painful one. out of the 31 people killed, only 3 had been identified. there are, however, also a number of wounded that have not been identified. at least four people still remain in a coma. there's a slim hope among families that possibly their loved ones are simply in hospital and not identified yet. atika shubert, thank you. 57 minutes past the hour. let's get an early start on your money. u.s. stock futures lower. oil prices weighing on stocks. markets are closed tomorrow for good friday. european stock markets are down. shares in asia dropping overnight. a bill in georgia, a bill that critics say discriminates. disney says they will not film in georgia if the state's
governor signs the bill passed by the legislature last week. salesforce.com and others threatening to move business out of the state. georgia offers big tax credits to lure in the tv and movie industry. the nfl said this week the bill could hurt atlanta's chances of hosting a super bowl at the next stadium. new revelations in the brussels terror brussels is a major hub for jihadists. >> until now these belgium-born brothers had been linked to violent crime and not terror. >> authorities really looking at a two-headed monster here. >> if i am president, united states will not condone or
practice torture. >> escaped for america, the land of the free. >> they are more concerned about political correctness than they are about keeping us safe. >> sounded like it went underwater. >> it has been the worst days of my life. >> this is cnn breaking news. good morning, everyone. welcome to your "new day," and i am alisyn camerota live in brussels and makayla and john are in york this morning. sources are telling cnn a second man is suspected of taking part in the metro station bombing in brussels, and they have captured the image of a man with a large bag, so the manhunt here now expanding to two unidentified terror suspects.
the second fugitive is suspected of leaving behind the heaviest bomb at the airport, and investigators are scrambling to piece together these clues to prevent more attacks and the attorney for the captured paris terrorists, abdeslam is no longer cooperating, and he wants to be extradited to france. let's begin with our senior international correspondent. two fugitives that we know of on the run? >> reporter: yes, and if he is still alive, he is part of the intensifying manhunt as the raids continued overnight. i want to break down the details, but i want to warn our viewers that this is going to be