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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  November 20, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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>> we hope to see you back here at 6:00. good night, folks. breaking news tonight. at the hotel hostage siege. a new terror attack leaves at least 20 dead, including an american. other americans rescued as islamic militants storm a radisson hotel packed with westerners. and new developments in the terror investigation in paris. a surprise discovery in the rubble at the final standoff. as we talk to the man who led the raid on the ringleader. the politics of fear. new backlash as donald trump said he would implement a data base to keep track of all muslims in america. are he and some other gop candidates going too far? and a spy freed 30 years after getting caught selling america's top secrets to israel. jonathan pollard walked out of prison amid a heating debate over the damage he's done.
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"nightly news" begins right now. good evening. the deafening drum beat of terror struck in mali, in west africa today, and the state department has confirmed an american is among the dead. at least 20 people were killed after gunmen burst into a rad is on blu hotel, firing in all directions. at one point more than 100 people were held hostage, freed after a assault by government assault by government forces. it comes on the heels of several major terror attacks, blamed on isis, from the plane bombing in egypt to the attacks in paris. but this may bare th thee ther marks of an older foe. richard engel has the latest. >> reporter: just a week after paris, another terrorist attack. in mali, targeting the capital's most luxurious hotel.
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an al qaeda linked group, not isis, claiming responsibility. mal ee -- mali s.w.a.t. teams cautiously approach the hotel. inside, at least two gunman armed with grenades and assault rifles holding some 170 hostages, including about a dozen americans. the terrorists released those who could prove their muslim by citing passages from the koran. a body under a blanket shows what they did to those who couldn't. those jihadis, they killed anyone, anyone who was moving, said the hotel staff. upstairs, terrified hotel guests barricaded themselves in the rooms. reinforcements arrived, helped by two american soldier forces who were nearby and joined the effort. the siege continued all day until security forces finally managed to overpower and kill the gunmen and free the rest of the hostages. but by then, at least 19 hostages, including one american, and a
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mali soldier were dead. the group claiming african jihadist association linked to al qaeda. >> it should be no secret to anybody, that al qaeda off shoots continue to exist and to metastasize in africa and that is why we are working in international community to find ways to combat groups like this. >> nbc news can't verify the claim but the group has attacked westerners in mali before and fought the french-backed government of mali, a former french colony. this might not have been isis but now islamic militant groups are flying the flag of global jihad. >> reporter: u.s. officials say the american killed worked for a nongovernmental organization. lester, a peace conference was about to begin at the hotel which is why aid workers and diplomats and military personnel
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were in the area. that high-profile event could have been the target and would explain the timing. >> all right, richard. it was one week ago tonight we came on the air with news of a series of violent attacks in paris. what we didn't know is the full extent of the horror unfolding. the ring leader is now dead and as the manhunt for others possibly involved continues there are new developments in the investigation from the scene of wednesday's dramatic raid on a terrorists' hideout outside in paris. nbc's bill neely has new details. >> reporter: new video outside of the paris apartments stormed by police shows the moment a suicide bomber detonates. in the rubble, they found a third body, still unidentified. after examining it, police now say this woman killed in the raid was not the bomber, as they previously thought. they followed her to the apartment with the ringleader of the paris massacres, abdelhamid abaaoud. today the man who led that raid described the terror group they faced.
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>> they shot just enough to be dangerous. we didn't see them. it was very difficult to know where they were. >> they knew what they were doing? >> yes, exactly. >> reporter: he said the woman shouted to them, "i'm scared. i'm scared." they believed she wanted to trap them. suddenly the suicide bomber detonates. >> a big flash and big lights and the building, it shook. >> the terrorists fired to the head. >> bullets come -- came by this way and you could see the exits. >> so the bullet went through the helmet and came out here. >> yes. >> he was very lucky. >> yes. very, very lucky. >> reporter: new images emerge for the paris massacres and sounds of the moment the gunman struck inside of the concert hall. [ gunfire ] >> reporter: today that terrible screaming was replaced
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by silence. the rain falling hard on the faces of the dead. 130 now. at the concert hall where most victims died, they sang their national anthem, exactly a week after the killers struck. a song of courage amid terror. and police were storming this concert hall exactly a week ago -- a week that has changed france. the aircraft carrier now nearing iraq and syria, tripling its capacity to strike isis. revenge for all of this. lester. >> bill neely in paris tonight, thank you. here at home, the fallout from those attacks have been swift on the campaign trail. heated rhetoric among the republican candidates for president. the front-runner, donald trump, going so far as to say he would implement a data base to track muslims in america. the backlash has been intense as hallie jackson tells us tonight.
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>> reporter: today, after suggesting support for a data base tracking muslims in the u.s., donald trump backtracking. tweeting, i didn't suggest a data base. a reporter did. but trump isn't ruling it out. >> i would certainly implement that. >> specifically, how do you get them registered? >> it would be good management. you have to do good management procedures and we can do that. >> reporter: now the backlash building, from muslims like this marine, his tweet going viral who said he already has special i.d. and from the first muslim american in congress. >> so i think that the historic record is clear, religious bigotry is bad. it's wrong. >> why would muslim data bases not be the same thing as requiring jews to register in nazi germany. what would be the difference? is there a difference between muslims and
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jews. >> you tell me. >> critics say there is not much difference. before the holocaust, jewish germans were singled out because of their religion and japanese-americans because of their race. during world war ii. an era when most americans did not support political refugees entering the u.s. and polling now shows similar opposition to syrian refugees. today calling trump's remarks reminiscent of darker days in a gut check moment for his republican rivals. >> you are talking about closing mosques and registering people. and that is just wrong. >> i'm a big fan of donald trump but not a fan of government registries of american citizens. >> reporter: ben carson seems to support it. >> hopefully, we already have a data base on every citizen who is already here. >> reporter: donald trump now surging in the survey monkey online poll taken after the paris attacks. the terror overseas raising the rhetoric here at home. >> this is a clash of civilization. >> allow us to determine who the mad dogs are.
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>> i would encourage you, mr. president, come back and insult me to my face. >> reporter: tough talk, some call fiery, and others over heated. >> i think the rhetoric has gone too far. >> reporter: and while the islamic faith is the focus, tonight it is christianity. at this faith forum, seven republican candidates are attending. many in the audience, evangelicals, seen as key to winning this voting state. lester. >> hallie, thank you. let's bring in chuck todd. chuck, the whole idea of a data base, it has chilling connotations. what is happening here? >> it has. i think in many cases we see what happens when the politics of fear mixes in with an actual fear of terrorism. i mean, you look at sort of the political response this week and how our political discourse was conducted this week, after the paris attacks, one week later and you can't help but wonder what
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would happen if god forbid, something happened here. could our political system as it is structured right now, could the republican party as it is structured, could washington, could the media handle it in a sober way? could we put ourselves above toll picks right now.p right noo right nol right noo right not right noi right noc right nos right now. politically, it is clear that what has happened here is that donald trump is successfully conflating the immigration issue that sky rocketed him to the top of the polls. and replace the word mexicans with muslim. so he has taken a national security issue and turned it into an immigration issue. that has helped him. he has solidified himself again. i think a lot of us thought national security would take over the campaign and become sort of a new test. trump changed it and he is back to, in his successful lane and a whole bunch of candidates trying to catch him are now following him and they may pay a price. the party will, in a general election if they are not careful. >> chuck, thank you. we'll see you this weekend for "meet the press." much more on the
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political fallout from paris and examining the questions so many people are asking, how do we defeat isis. after 30 years in prison, one of the most infamous spies jonathan pollard was convicted of giving suitcases classified material to the israelis and if he gets his way, as stephanie gosk reports, he won't call america home for much longer. >> reporter: jonathan pollack, convicted spy, sentenced to life in prison, is now a free man. >> can you comment? >> i can't. >> released after 30 years in federal prison for handing over hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to the israelis in the mid '80s. he is appealing the conditions of his five-year parole and hopes president obama grants clemency so he could move to israel. >> there is absolutely no logical reason to think he would throw his life away, risk going back to jail for the rest of his life, simply to disclose 31-year-old stale
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information. >> a u.s. citizen born in indiana, he was a officer in the naval investigative service. this video obtained by nbc news shows him at a cubical stuffing so many documents in a suitcase, he actually struggles to close it. a mostly redacted cia damage assessment concludes that the espionage put at risk important u.s. intelligence and foreign policy interest. but for decades there has been a heated debate over the extent of the damage pollard caused. we spoke to the government's chief prosecutor in the case over skype. >> he had access to the highest caliber of intelligence. he stole it. he sold it for money. he was not remorseful. i would have been happy to have seen him rot in a federal prison. >> reporter: but the justice department didn't object to his parole. now critics worry what message his release is sending to the rest of the world. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. we are still a month out from winter. but tonight winter storm warning for the 15 million people across the great lakes and down to the upper midwest.
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it is coming down in iowa, making for a dangerous commute. chicago and detroit will see the first significant snow of the season tonight and into tomorrow. some parts of the region could see up to a foot of snow. the cdc has warned that the e. coli outbreak links to chipotle has spread to three more states. new york, california and ohio. one case in minnesota was reported earlier this week. the outbreak began in washington and oregon but the cdc has still yet to identify which specific food or ingredient is making people ill. still ahead tonight, hackers versus terrorists. the group anonymous wreaking havoc, now fighting on the same side of the u.s. government it has so often targeted. but declaring war on isis propaganda. but will it leave any lasting damage?
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the war against isis is being waged not just in the air or on the ground but also online. the paris attacks have fired up the hacker group anonymous and declare an outright cyber war against isis, and for once these hackers share a common cause with the u.s. government. >> they wear identical masks in their videos and target the u.s. government, shutting down websites and posting private information online. but in a string of
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videos, the hacker group anonymous said it is now on the government side. declaring war on isis. >> we will retaliate, not with violence, but with our intelligence about hacking. >> videos in many languages went viral, prompting widespread support. it is about time someone has a good, effective plan said one tweet. keep up the fight. i hope the world governments are doing their part offline said another. the target, the isis propaganda campaign on social media. some anonymous members claim to have gotten more than 5500 accounts suspended with more than 100 isis websites shut down since the group first went after isis more than a year ago. but experts say making a dent in the isis social media machine won't be easy because banned accounts could be quickly renamed. >> someone could easily change their name on twitter or facebook or the social media identity. it is whack a mole and ineffective. >> but even so arks stay stab ford stay stab ford nford
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executive says what anonymous is doing could be a useful nuisance. >> when you get harassed, you are less effective in doing your work. and so while they are recovering from the harassment, they are not doing as many bad things as before. >> reporter: the government welcomes anything that weakens terrorists but some don't want them taking off social media because it is a place where potential recruits could be tracked. pete williams, nbc news, washington. we're back in a moment with a young veteran who wrote to us with concerns for his family, which now include a threat of isis.
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the recent terror attacks have raised fears about how safe we are at home. one of our viewers asked us to come to his town to talk about his concerns. tonight, our kevin tibbles, as part of his series "america's correspondent," takes us to gettysburg, pennsylvania, a town that knows all too well the cost of war. >> reporter: the plains of gettysburg, pennsylvania, are
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haunted, to this day, by the deaths of more young soldiers than any other battle on american soil. >> it is a rewarding career. >> but it is here where trucker and former soldier rich philip winds the local roads. he sees a change in the wind. >> i think foreign policy has become a huge benchmark for our candidates. >> he wrote to us out of concern for his young family. >> what is the government going to do to keep us safe. the people want to know about today. >> reporter: the carnage in paris brought the horror of 9/11 in reality back to this town. dwight thompson works in a local hotel. >> they are always going to retaliate against the united states and i think it is almost impossible to really think what they are going to do. >> reporter: in gettysburg and elsewhere, concern about the united states should do about isis is growing. >> we should help, but we should be -- i say secondary. the french should take the lead.
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>> reporter: gina spent eight years aboard submarines in the navy. a now she makes subs in his sandwich shop. how to keep america safe, without sacrificing values, especially when it comes to refugees. >> i was online trying to find a family i could help, because that is what america is about. >> reporter: rich philip believes compassion should be shown at home first. >> we have homeless veterans, people that are struggling and we need to take care of the american people. >> reporter: as winter approaches, stark, difficult choices are weighing heavily on the voters' minds. kevin tibbles, nbc news, gettysburg, pennsylvania. >> if you would like america's correspondent to come to your town to talk about issues important to you in this campaign, send us a message on our facebook page. when we come back, the emotional letter that has gone viral from a man who lost his wife in the paris attacks. only on nbc bay area: a man
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released from prision now forced to sleep in his car. ===take vo=== the reason his lawyer says he's being unfairly targeted by police. ===take vo=== any the new problem for anyone trying to get their hands on dungeness crab for thanksgiving. ===next close=== the news is next. ==take sot== today's feeds hd: the candles still burning in paris, one week since the attacks there. finally tonight, a powerful message about refusing to give into hate. so many have been touched by a letter written by a man whose
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wife was killed in the paris attacks. as our kelly cobiella tells us, after losing so much to isis, he refuses to let the terrorists take anything more. >> reporter: while paris mourns this week, lighting candles, laying flowers, one facebook post expressed the grief and defiance of a nation. it was a letter to terrorists from antwan laris whose wife was killed at the bataclan. >> she was the -- the most fiery brunette in the world. >> reporter: i will not grant you the gift of my hatred, he wrote. you want me to be scared. you lost. words instantly shared around the world. >> why the letter did so much, because we all want to be hopeful for the world. >> reporter: a message that was also a love letter to his wife, written the day he identified her body. i saw her this morning, antwan wrote. she was just as beautiful as when she left on friday night. just as beautiful as when i fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago.
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he said he is like any father, now trying to comfort his 17-month-old son. >> this is the pain, the missing -- he misses his mother. >> we are just two, my son and me, he wrote. but we are stronger than all of the armies in the world. for his whole life, this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. and he has a message for all of us. live life, don't let them win. >> go play and listen to music and drink some beer. we are opportunistic, so let's go and play. >> reporter: tonight, people are strolling the streets, shopping, drinking wine, just as antwan hoped, bringing back life to the city of life. kelly cobiella, nbc news, paris. and that will do it for us on a friday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us here at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night.
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it's hysteria. it is like a witch hunt. >> a sexually violent predator released after serving time for his crimes. but now he can't find anywhere to live. tonight his attorney talks exclusively to nbc bay area about the fight to find housing. thanks for joining. i'm janelle wang in for jessica. >> and i'm raj mathai. out of jail but still trapped. his boyers say he is getting a raw deal. but others don't want him in their neighborhood. fraser smith spent the last
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couple of nights in his car after getting kicked out of a motel six in vallejo. what is his next move? jody has the interview with the attorney of the convicted sex offender. >> his attorney is not happy at all about what is going on. tonight vallejo police say frazier smith is preparing to spend another night in a car because he can't find a motel room to rent here. now tonight, fraser smith's attorney spoke exclusively to us, claiming that val eye hoe city leaders are inciting needless panic. >> it is hysteria. it is like a witch hunt. >> that is how his attorney describes the backlash in the city of vallejo, following this week's release of the sexually violent predator in the blue-collar community. >> there is political hay to be made here by some who would whip up hysteria. >> we don't want him in our city. he is a v


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