tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC May 19, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT
>> the news continues now with nightly news with lester holt. we'll see you back here at 11:00 tonight. . breaking news tonight, air disaster, egyptair flight 804, it could have been a bomb. what u.s. officials tell nbc news are strong indications of an explosion. the plane making abrupt turning before plummeting off the radar into t ocean. could someone slip a device past security at a western airport? hillary clinton unloads on donald trump more than ever before accusing of being a recruiter for tes ris m. an isis recruit that trained with the enemy and escaped. what he saw and what he knows now helping u.s. intelligence. >> and morley safer dies at 84. we remember a
legendary worker of "60 minutes." nightly news begins right now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. there is an especially uneasy feeling what may have brought down an egyptian airliner over the ocean today. the plane with 56 on board vanished from paris to cairo. in distress call. in cairo anxious families waited for hopeful news that never came. on sun up, planes will resume searching for plane wreckage where near officials said there was indications of an explosion. tonight egyptian authorities are suggesting it might have been an act of terror. if true, it leads to the possibility an explosive device somehow went undetected through one of europe's busiest air hubs. we have full coverage
and analysis starting with nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: in the mediterranean, ships and planes searching for debris from equipment air 804 after it disappeared from radar in the dead of night. data suggestions some sort of explosion on board the plane. of having a technical error. >> reporter: the airbus a-320 left paris charles de gaulle after 3:00 p.m. local time for a four-hour trip to cairo. on board 56 passengers, including three children, crew of seven and three security agents. the plane was traveling 519 miles per hour at cruise altitude. the radar showed the plane making an aresult turn and flying in a circle
dropping to 15,000 feet. final radar contact lost at 10,000 feet just inside egyptian air space. the a-320 is a workhorse. one takes off every two and a half seconds this plane was considered young, just 13 years old with 48,000 flight hours. the crew was experienced, 9,000 hours of flight time between them. but could the plane have suffered a mechanical failure and structural breakup in flight? >> modern jet airliners are very well designed and it would be very, very unusual to have a structural failure resulting in an in flight breakup. >> reporter: a leading theory, an explosive planted on board by a passenger or someone on the ground brought down the plane. >> they are going to be looking at rest dee. they will be looking at shrapnel. they will look at things whether or not there was some explosion aboard the aircraft that compromised the structure. >> reporter: they are comparing names on the passenger manifest
against known terrorist watch list and interviewing ground staff that had access to the plane. the plane's black boxes may hold the key. conversations between the flight crew and any alarms of sounds of explosion. the flight data recorder should contain thousands of pieces of data on the plane's mechanical performance. meanwhile, in paris the distrot families have gathered hoping for answers. a british citizen richard on born and his brother alister. >> i never would expect to wake up to this. >> reporter: so far, no credible claim of responsible and no wreckage found. u.s. intelligence sources say an initial check of the passenger manifest found no one on the u.s. terror watch list. lester? >> all right. tom costello, thank you. let's bring back former ntsb investigator greg feith. there was a flight a couple years ago but those were attributed in part to what the
pilots did in the cockpit. what makes this potentially more suspicious and what do you make of the sharp turns before it dropped off radar. >> when you look at air france 447, lester and of course, asia area those airplanes were traversing bad weather so they stayed airborne for awhile before they got themselves basically because of pilot import or lack thereof into a situation unrecoverable for the pirates. in this instance, you have an airplane that's in a steady state cruising flight 37,000 feet and for whatever reason after normal communication, the airplane goes into a high-speed dive according to the radar information released, and it was making several, what they call, abrupt turns followed by a circular spiral turn that ended up in the mediterranean sea. that's the strange part. everything was nominal and in the last seconds of flight, the
airplane went straight down in the water. >> greg feith, thank you. the possibility that the egyptair crash was an act of terrorism focuses on the vulnerabilities of flying here at home including the potential threat of an airport insider and growing concerns over the screening of cargo that's loaded on board. nbc's pete williams has those details for us. >> reporter: passenger screening lines were longer and slower today in atlanta snaking through the airport but generally shorter elsewhere and moving faster, notably better in chicago. waiting passengers say the egyptair crash puts the inconvenience into light. >> when you're flying overseas, it's really scary. >> reporter: authorities in los angeles stepped up security as a precaution. in recent months, homeland security has done more to check flights bound for the u.s. from overseas.
some security experts say more could be done to further protect air travel at home. one suggestion for dealing with potential insider threats, screening check points for airport employees who have access to planes. in addition to checking their backgrounds before giving them a badge. >> if you're doing 100% of one or the other, they are get used to the system. introduce random security measures for employees so they don't know what will happen from day to day. >> reporter: and many in congress called for more thorough inspections of cargo carried on passenger planes, the system now relies in part on screening by known and trusted shippers. tsa says it's constantly improving the technology for trying to find explosives that are intended to be undetectable, a constant race with terrorists bomb makers such as al qaeda and yemen that made developing such bombs a priority. u.s. officials say tonight that until the cause of the egyptair crash is known, it's impossible to say whether airport security will be changed here at home.
knowing what measures to enhance will depend on finding out which ones were exploited. lester? >> pete williams, thank you. if the crash of this egyptian airliner was an act of terror, there is so far no claim of responsibility but isis made threats against egypt recently and as nbc's bill neely reports from egypt, passenger planes remain a top target for terror. >> reporter: egypt's president and ministers meeting for crisis talks, refusing to rule out any explanation for the missing plane including a bomb. concerns growing globally. >> we have seen a desire on the part of extremists around the world including some extremists in the middle east to carry out attacks targeting the national aviation. >> reporter: egypt is a prime target. last year, isis brought down a passenger plane in egypt with 224 on board, a russian jet bombs say isis with
explosives in a soda can. >> you don't need a lot of explosives. the airline is at full altitude to compromise a structure that high up, you can force a plane to break up. >> reporter: three months ago it was a bomb in a laptop that exploded in a plane blowing a hole in the fuselage and blowing the islamist bomber out. security cameras capturing airport workers handing him the bomb in the departure lounge. planes have been a favored terrorist target from pan am 103 that exploded to hijacking 9/11, plots to smuggle bombs on board enclosing liquids, anything. >> terrorists find airliners a target. when a terrorist group goes after an airliner, it ends up being a major news story for weeks at a time. >> reporter: in brussels this year, it was the airport itself targeted.
in france, 70 airport workers badges withdrawn. egypt tonight searching for a plane and for answers. and i would stress there is no proof it was a bomb. they say no placlaim from isis and boasted about the metro attack quickly. there is no convincing reason why a bomber in paris would ignore an american or western plane and choose to bomb an egyptian one instead. as ever, lester, unanalyzed questions. >> bill neely in cairo, thanks. let's turn to michael lighter now executive vice president of litos working on national security measures. michael, if it was a bomb on the plane, how significant was it if it got past security at a major western airport like paris? >> it's very meaningful, lester. the french are really some of the best in the world at airport security, certainly they use the same techniques, the same tools, the same technology that we use in the united states. so if a bomb got
through either checked baggage or carry on shows a real vulnerability and one we have to understand to change our processes. if it was carried on by an insider, that of course is in and of itself troubling but it might be a little more localized. under either circumstance, a problem but if they got this through the screening divisions that is worry some for global travel. >> what do we know about the state of the art of terror bomb making now? are there alarms set off with u.s. intelligence? >> there had been generally. the best bombers are al qaeda and yemen. the underwear and printer bomber highly sophisticated and able to elude. some expertise made its way to organizations like the islamic state in iraq and syria. so whatever that knowledge starts to provad in p provad into other sources it's worry some. amid the air disaster, donald trump was quick to tie it to
terrorism while hillary clinton was quick to unload on him like we've rarely seen before. saying things like trump's muslim ban recruits more people to join the cause of terrorism. nbc's andrea mitchell has details. >> reporter: in her illinois hometown, hillary clinton in her toughest attack yet against donald trump. slamming him on foreign policy. does she think he's qualified to be president? >> no, i do not. i have concluded he is not qualified to be president of the united states. >> reporter: on cnn attacking him for tweeting today that the egyptair crash looks like another terrorist attack. even without hard evidence. and accusing trump of irresponsible reckless dangerous comments about north korea, nato and nuclear weapons. in fact, claiming trump's muslim ban is helping recruit terroris terrorists. >> we have seen how donald trump is being used to essentially be a recruiter for more people to join the
cause of terrorism. >> reporter: but even as bernie sanders signals he is fighting to the finish, clinton declared herself the winner. >> if you're the nominee for your party -- >> i will be the nominee for my party. that is already done in effect. there is no way i won't be. >> reporter: as trump escalates his personal attacks on bill clinton, hillary clinton is not engaging. >> you pick a fight with, you know, a bully, you know, you are going to be pulled down to their level. >> do you ever feel compelled defend your honor, the honor of your husband? >> no. >> reporter: tonight a new new york times cbs poll has the race tightening, clinton six points ahead of trump as more republicans are coming to material with him as their nominee. >> thank you. still ahead he went from ivy league student to isis recruit. our nbc news exclusive with an american that joined isis overseas only to later escape and turn informant.
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ask your doctor if chantix is right for you. we're back now with an nbc news exclusive interview with an american citizen that fell under the spell of isis. he went from college student to an isis training camp in syria and after the horrors he saw, he escaped with his life and turned informant. for the first time, he reveals himself to
richard engel who joins us from turkey, richard? >> reporter: good evening, lester. we've been investigating the isis personnel files for months with a special focus on recruits that came from the u.s. but there has been one american we couldn't reveal until now. he went to coal lulombia university but ended up in the isis capital. we've been asked to call him mo. when fbi agents brought mo to meet us, he was wearing clothes his mother got him for the interview instead of his prison uniform. mo that came to this country when he was a year old and grew up in new york, plead guilty to terrorism charges and faces up to 25 years in prison. >> i've let my family down. i've let my nation down, and i've let god down, and i have a lot to make up for. >> reporter: so you in this interview and other places apologizing? >> absolutely. i lost sight of how
people could be so evil. >> reporter: mo dropped out of colombia university. he found isis propaganda online and lured by the promises about pure islamic state, he traveled to turkey and snuck into syria. at 25, he ended up in an isis training camp like this one. did you see evidence of the golory that we see in t -- gore that we see in the propaganda. >> i seen severed heads. >> reporter: you seen heads ochoen a stake? >> yes. >> what did you think. >> i blocked it out. you can see madness in their eyes. >> reporter: you can see madness in their eyes? >> yes. >> one scholar was showing off a suicide belt mo says. >> people were gravitating towards it, touching it like it's an exhibit and people were in awe of it. >> reporter: did they want to try it out?
>> they didn't allow anyone to wear it. >> reporter: mo says this was not the islamic state he was hoping to immigrant to. did you regret going there? >> absolutely. the worst decision i made in my life. >> reporter: he eventually managed to escape to syria and went right to the u.s. consulate in turkey. when he got back to the u.s., the fbi put him under arrest and for the last year and a half, he has been working with the governmen government. >> he'll say whatever is necessary to look sympathetic to get softer treatment and lighter sentence. >> that's legitimate and, you know, i think i have a real message and that's the most important thing. islamic state is not bringing islam to the world, and people need to know that. >> reporter: the fbi told us mo is now incarcerated but for security reasons couldn't tell us where. the agency says mo has assisted the government in a number of ways some of which are sensitive because
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in oklahoma today, lawmakers passed a bill that would make performing an abortion a felony that would be punishable by up to three years in prison. it now goes to the governor to review whether or not she will sign it. abortion rights groups say the bill is unconstitutional as row versus wade is the law of the land. the prime minister apologized for a physical altercation as tempers flared in parliament. he is caught on camera grabbing an opposition member by the arm and elbowing a female lawmaker in the chest in the process. it sparked an uproar with lawmakers yelling at him on the floor.
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finally tonight, we say good-bye to legendary journalist morley safer who died at the age of 84. it comes a week following his retirement after spending five decades as a trusted presence in america's living room. our harry smith takes a look back. >> i'm morley. >> reporter: the morley safer we knew best was arguably the most gifted story teller on television. >> people might find it very odd, but i really don't like being on television. it makes me uneasy. it is not natural to be talking to a piece of machinery. but the money is very good. >> reporter: during his decades on "60 minutes" he wondered
the world enlighting us and often amusing himself but safer always understood better than most that a journal's first task is the truth. safer changed the way americans view theed the vietnam war when he showed marines torching the hut of civilians. >> this is what the war is about. >> reporter: years as a foreign correspondent followed with the eventually move to "60 minutes." he was at his best skewering sacred things like modern art. >> it's a white rectangle. >> he's a minimum artist. >> i would say so. >> reporter: and finding humor where there was none. >> the finished tango is not to be confused with the grinding passionate latin american version. >> reporter: he loved wine and art and cars and shared that appreciation with
frequency. morley safer set a standard few have been able to equal. harry smith, in, nbc news new york. >> our thoughts with morley's friends and family. that will do it for us on thishursday t blake shelton revealing how gwen saved his life. >> his new interview about finding love after both of their breakups, now, on "extra." blake shelton pours his heart out about gwen.
>> we could not be on paper any more different. >> their unexpected hook-up. the new untold story behind the music of their new duet. donald trump's explosive new clinton slam. >> it's about groping and fondling. >> and rape. >> far will trump go to destroy hillary? >> will it work? we'll see. >> and why megyn kelly's unleashing on the daily show's trevor noah over her trump interview. beyonce's surprise reconciliation with her dad. is he actually the target of the cheating lyrics in lemonade? countdown to eva longoria's weekend wedding. >> from the celebrity guest list to the designer making her gown. >> oh, is it? >> yes! "saved by the bell's" screech dustin diamond sending a message to the co-stars targeted in his book. >> is there anything you'd like to say to them? plus, mcdreamy, mcsteamy, and now --