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tv   Today  NBC  March 22, 2016 7:00am-9:00am EDT

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airptnd t sub stem ov rt o a leopl more red. th morning, the chi ag fnse air dun aas eroar through tuels. sencoteteorl isorni tng nbcnews, is t i likebe ttas. eunor sctss rw 16> gd evod tos eonf "today" onuesday morning. i'm savnah guthrie alongde matt lauer. we're covering this bing news out of belgiu the prime minister said this is a terror attack, a dark moment foris cotry. what we fearedd eded has happen. >> someone or someones wentp tport, deted
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an t t qui good morning, 7:26, i'm bill leslie, here are your top local stories. four people were killed in a crash that happened outside north carolina wesleyan college in rocky mount. police say two vehicles collided last night, four people inside one of the vehicles were pronounced dead at the scene. the driver of the second vehicle was taken to the hospital with nonlife threatening injuries. police are investigating a shooting that happened inside a busy fayetteville mcdonald's restaurant. it was on raeford road. a buyer went there to buy a cell phone, that's when shooting broke out. the suspects are expected to survive. a pretty nice start, how is the weather?
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skies, but there have been a few clouds streaming in from the west this morning, not expected to have an impact on the weather. more sunshine then clouds as we get through the day. big story is cold temperatures, eengn nylaces. 30 intrinsics, 32 in south hill, dirty one in rocky mount and wilson, 33 in goldsboro, 36 fayetteville and clinton. in your forecast for today, 65 degrees. 43 tomrow morning, so not as close and temperatures continue to warm up. 76 wednesday, 78 thursday with plenty of sunshine. we start out taking a look at garner, here is i-40 and white oak road, westbound traffic is moving toward us at this point in the morning. in terms of drive times, 15 minute drive from cleveland, and a 16 minute drive from 540 this morning. things are looking clear in durham at i-40 in both
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fourad good morning. we have breaking news. this is a special edition of "today" and these are the chilling images out of brussels,
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the scene of devastating terror attacks, apparently coordinated. at least 11 people killed in a suicide bombing at the airport. at least are 15 others killed in an attack on brussels subway system. >> nbc's keir simmons joins us now. what can you tell us? >> matt, across europe, people have been braced for something like this. the belgium prime minister saying this morning, what we feared would happen has happened. nbc news confirming so far, 26 fatalities. matt, this was a clearly accord nay -- coordinated and terrifying series of attacks in europe. brussels airport rocked by the explosions around 8:00 a.m. then the metro, close to the european government. the city is in lockdown. transportation shutdown. images emerging that tells a story of substantial blasts, causing extensive damage. there you can see terrified passengers fleeing from metro cars, heading down what must be
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get away from the explosion that has taken place in another carriage, in another part of that metro station. meanwhile, at the airport, the pictures we are seeing of windows blown out, of debris strewn around, tell a story of a bstantial explosive device. you have to simply look at this to see that this was a serious blast. two blasts, we're being told by belgium officials. this is having a profound effect in europe. the president of france saying this morning, of course, france suffered its own attacks in november, saying this morning, through brussels attacks, the whole of europe has been hit. france will continue to relentlessly fight against terrorism, both internationally and internally. this morning, the belgium prime minister is telling people to stay in their area.
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citizens not to use public transportation. there are troops on the streets of brussels this morning. as officials scramble to establish whether more attacks are planned, matt and savannah, the people who carried out the november paris attacks, many of them came from brussels. one of them arrested just friday. the fear now is that this has some connection to the same group who self-declared -- a self-declared isis terrorist cell. >> you brought up the paris attacks. if you remember, after the attacks in paris on november 13th, there were a lot of people who were stranded in that city with nowhere to go. on social media, the hashtag became popular, suggesting if you needed a place to go to find shelter, those people were offering shelter. something similar in brussels now, in belgium, after these
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keep in mind, a lot of people going to the airport this morning turned away after these attacks were not from belgium. they were trying to travel to their home countries and left with nowhere to go. people coming out of the subways couldn't get home. couldn't get to work. needed a place to find shelter. the #open house on social media has become popular in belgium, just as #port due vare did after the paris attacks on november 13th. >> a smokey terminal. let's go to pete williams, following this from washington. do you have extra information for us? if not, remind everybody the context in which this happens, in which you have abdeslam, who was, of course, involved in the paris attacks, arrested. people are concerned the attacks
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>> either as retaliation or plans that were in place that were accelerated because people involved with him felt that police were closing in on them. that's a big question for investigators who are trying to figure out who carried out these attacks. in terms of the united states, there is, we're told, today no intelligence indicating there were any plans like this to attack subways, trains or airports in the u.s. as a result, there has been no recommendation from the federal government for those facilities to make any big changes. nonetheless, many major cities are already increasing security on their commuter trains, subway systems. we've been told in new york and here in washington and other big cities, you'll see much more visible security on subways and commuter trains. more of the bomb-sniffing dogs. more reminders for people to report anything they see suspicious. you're going to hear that, see something, say something message a lot in the coming days.
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recommendation to change security. there will be -- you're going to see more of those people in the airport areas. you're going to see those detectivers, the behavioral detecter people watching out for people. without intelligence to act on, there's no big change, i don't think, that travelers in the u.s. are going to see, other than more visible security. in terms of actual access to airports, curbside check-in, being able to drive up to airports to drop people off, we haven't heard of any changes along those lines. the federal government continues to follow this with their counterparts in europe. everybody has been briefed. they're all talking to their european counterparts to get more information. that seems to be the picture so far this morning. >> by the way, you made a good point earlier, pete, when you were talking to us. security in airports is handled by the tsa. the exterior of airports, that is handled by local law enforcement.
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koinscoincidence here, the new head of the tsa is actually in belgium. >> the new transportation security administration was in brussels for previously scheduled meetings with his european counterparts. he's safe. there are federal air marshals in and out of that airport all the time. they're looking after anybody they need to watch for. you're right about security of airports, not only outside the airports but inside the airports, all the way up until you get to the tsa check-point, all the security and the major waiting areas, the airline ticket counter check-in points, where you drop off your baggage, all of that security is the responsibility of the airport operator. the local authorities who run the airports. not the federal government. they certainly make recommendations. tsa's responsibility, the federal responsibility begins when you show your id and do the security screening. >> thank you very much.
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there are house to house searches conducted. investigators looking for suspects or somebody with information in connection with the attacks. we'll turn to tom costello who covers aviation but is also familiar with belgium. his family is from there. we talked this morning earlier, tom, a bit about the situation in brussels. in particular, the molenbeek neighborhood of brussels, which has lately become a community that has housed in recent days, the paris attackers, and also become something of a center of this islamist, radical activity. >> i think if you talk to bell belgans, and i know many of them, they feel they're losing their country. they have an open immigration policy over the last half
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anybody, sweeshlespecially from the areas breeding terrorism, many are not thoroughly vetted. they're given a generous social stipend to live off of. many belgians feel like they're bearing the fruits of that policy. they are seeing this kind of terrorism in belgium. let me give you an update from the airport. we're hearing of 11 people dead at the airport. we just double checked. it now appears the delta flight that was sitting on the ramp in brussels, in which they really did not want to deplane anybody, didn't want to deboard the poss passengers, they've now deplaned. the passengers are off the plane but not into the airport. they're out on the tarmac, out on the ramp. delta flight going to brussels earlier, 42, was diverted to amsterdam. a united flight has been cancelled -- pardon me -- a united flight 950 landed safely
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an hour before this attack occurred. i think what we're also seeing here on the metro attack is important, and i'll draw your attention to the fact that the date line or the locater before that metro attack explosion is different from molenbeek. molenbeek is where we've had the islamic extremism. this neighborhood is in and around the european union and the european commission headquarters. belgium is a tri-lingual country. you have an awful lot of phlegmish and french flamenames. the brussels airport is in zaventem. that's why you see the phlegmish on the signs there. >> we're lucky to have you with us, tom. we have ryan heath joining us from brussels.
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lived in brussels for years. i'd like to have you to put this into perspective, and also the level of fear that the people of belgium have been living in over the past several months. >> to be honest, it's chaotic. i've been unable to get back to our offices. 150 yards from that metro station that was bombed. i'm back at my home, which is itself 300 yards from the molenbeek district. it has been chaotic this morning. you hear sirens in the background, people are being given contradictory instructions. it wasn't severe how all the activities were. some people are still locked up in the european union headquarters. others are told they have to go to work or they will be fired. there is confusion. you have the things in the airport where most people were evacuated. some were stuck at their gate. others like the delta passengers have been sitting on the plane until the last few minutes.
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i think after four months of graf statevitateing between the full terror lockdown in november and wondering when the authorities would catch abdeslam and his accomplices, it's been a difficult time for people here in brussels. they have started to lose some of their trust in how authorities are handling the situation. they're forced at times to rely on their gut instinct. that's never the position you want to be in when you know the threats are out there. >> based on events of the past several months, even the past several years, there are not a lot of people there who would be surprised by something like this brewing in their town, but it doesn't lessen the shock of it actually happening? >> exactly. there is a resignation or weariness about the town. it doesn't mean that people lock themselves up in their homes, but in a sense, they know that this process isn't over and done with.
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people has trained and becomrade cal -- become radicalized in syria and came back to belgium. even if you catch the people behind the paris attacks, there were surely others still operating. we were warned that by the interior minister earlier this week. catching abdeslam doesn't mean the other terror cells were shut down. we were told to be on alert and, unfortunately, that's come true this morning. >> interesting perspective. politico's chief eu correspondent. thank you so much. >> pleasure. >> what he describes, adding to everything that's unfolded, can you imagine the chaos? some people tole, you haved, you have to get to work. school rss are still in session yet the trains are shut down. cell service isn't available. this is trying hours for the people of brussels, bellgiumbelgium. we're back with more coverage in a moment. binge eaorder, or b.e
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terror attacks rocking the city. two explosions at the airport there. at least one in a metro train underground in downtown brussels. want to be joined now by pete williams. chief justice correspondent. you've been on the phone, talking to a lot of people. there are concerns about what they might have heard leading up to this, and more selfish concerns about what consequences this will have on us in this country. >> so far, the consequences seem to be limited, matt. what you're definitely going to see in major cities, at airports, already in the delairport in washington, much more visible security, bomb-sniffing dogs. this is the kind of thing you're going to see at airports all over the u.s. today. weapons at the ready. weapons deployed. these are airport police officers.
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pictures look like they're from dellus airport, outside of washington, d.c. you're looking at the counterpart of the airy a area attacked in brussels. this is where you'd go up to the airline check-in desks. they'll have more bomb-sniffing dogs. the behavioral detection people will be out in force. they're the ones who work for tsa, to spot suspicious behavior. we've already been done, in major cities, washington and new york city, much more visible security on train stations, commuter lines coming into the cities, subway stations. one of the attacks in brussels was in a subway train actually on the train car, which is reminiscent of the bombings carried out in los don,ndon when the subway system there was attacked. these are pictures from the subway station attacked in
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devastating attack inside one of the subway cars. other than that, i think travelers are not going to see a lot of changes. there don't appear to be any word from any major airport on restrictions on where you can do, whether you can check in curbside or drive your car up to drop people off. we haven't heard of changes there. more visible security. more reminders of people to report suspicious behavior. why is that? the answer, we're told, is that there is no intelligence indicating any kind of a threat to those facilities inside the u.s. that's the natural thing that they would respond to. they're doing all of this, not because of any intelligence information they have they're not sharing, it's to what we know. the message traffic we've seen from the u.s. government to
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passing along, basically, what's been publicly reported and what they're seeing on social media. what is obvious, what has happened, that's enough for them to pass along these statements of concern to local officials. they're not recommending or requiring any changes in operation. >> as you pointed out earlier, pete, there's only so much you can do at an airport in terms of extending the perimeter. you can't go off airport problem property. you start the security procedure in those roadways that lead right to where you drop passengers off. there's not much you can do beyond that. >> right. we talked about this before. perhaps it bears repeating. the security situation involving isis actual operational people, who have been to syria and trained, is a light years difference in europe than it is here.
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the u.s. estimate that almost 7,000 people, 7,000 people from western european countries have gone to syria to train with isis and returned to europe. that is a huge number of people to track. it's tiny in the u.s. compared to that. one of the problems that european authorities have had is they're overwhelmed, trying to follow this rapidly developing threat they have. now, that's separate and apart from the focus on this specific group in brussels. i'm sure we'll hear more on whether authorities in belgium were doing enough. the complaint we've consistently heard from authorities in europe, intelligence and local police, is that this is such a big problem. they have to try to focus on the worst of the worst. they can't follow everybody. >> exactly. we remember from the paris attacks, as the ringleader, abaaoud has been to syria and had come back, name was known to
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challenge. the magnitude of what is before these counter terror officials as they try to detect the plots before they happen can't be overstated. pete, stand by there. we'll turn to tom costello. i don't know if you heard, we had a witness on, nato consultant, who was very, very close to the explosions. he described those two explosion explosions that sounded to him like both had taken place inside the terminal. what did you make of that? >> i have to tell you, we talked about how well i know that terminal. matt knows the terminal well. the devastation there looks really quite significant. i'm not sure that they're going to be able to reopen this airport as quickly as they originally thought. by the way, every u.s. carrier that was flying into brussels, the planes have either been diverted or the passengers are safely on the ground. several flights into brussels already in the air from other
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united states, have been amsterdam, paris or antwerp. they're small regional airports but putting some planes there. i think you think of thatis as belgium's 9/11. putting the entire city, the entire country of 11 million into a lockdown here. i was just on the phone with my wife, who is in touch with family in belgium. all the schools are on lockdown, as we've discussed. the free university of brussels announcing they're evacuating their campus. primary schools through high school are on lockdown. probably not a safer place for them to be. several individuals in belgium are telling me their cell phone rs not working for voice calls. they are speculating, they are speculating, that that could be the government or the police, trying to shut down the cell phone network to make it more difficult for any potential suspects to communicate. that is conjecture and talk. that gives you a sense of where
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you can imagine the terror we kept on 9/11. especially those of us on the east coast. how people in brussels are feeling at this very moment, with the entire country locked down. no rail service, no subway service, no plane service. busses have been shut down to a large extent. buildings closed. schools on locktown. it is it is a state of fear and concern at this hour. >> tom, thank you. we know you'll continue to stand by. >> let's bring richard engel back in for more on the terror investigation. good morning. >> good morning. a senior u.s. terrorism official says this is a terrorist attack, described it as sophisticated and are concerned there could be llow-up attacks. 50 to 100 syrian-trained, isis militants are in europe looking for targets. they don't know exactly which countries they're in. they don't know exactly which targets they're looking for. but that is a significant number.
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was saying earlier. thousands of europeans have gone to link up with isis. many of them getting combat training in iraq and syria. then returned home. that's compared to only 70 americans who i'm told either went to join isis or tried to join isis. still, 70 is a number, a high number, but nothing compared to the thousands in europe. so far, there's been one claim of responsibility from isis. we have not verified it yet. what we have seen is many isis supporters online, on facebook, on different social media platforms, celebrating this attack, cheering this attack. isis had been actually weakened, as of yesterday or a few days ago. their number of tweets was at an all-time low.
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way for isis to show that it is back. that it is trong. that -- strong and has recovered from personnel loss that is the group has been suffering in iraq and syria. >> richard, as we've seen, and talked about earlier, it's not necessary that isis even directs or coordinates from its stronghold in syria. a lot of times, these are fighters who get some measure of training, come back holding western passports and are on their own and have a good idea of what to do once they're there. >> that's usually the way isis operates. it is very cellular organization. you could have a small group go, maybe one or more of them go to syria, get combat training, operational training, and then they come back and find their friends, relatives, associates. they form a very secretive cell. those cells can operate autonomous autonomously.
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direction from iraq and syria. then you've seen groups from isis saying, don't come here at all. just do these operations on your own. be inspired by the message of isis in iraq and syria. in order to carry out a sophisticate sophisticated, coordinated attack, counter terrorism officials say if you make the trip and militants get bomb-making experience, it elevates their capacity significantly. >> richard, back to a point you made a second ago, where there could be dozens of isis-trained operatives or isis sympathizers in europe looking forarts to strike, one of the very things that europeans love so much about the european union is that they can move freely between countries. that is the very thing that makes it so hard to stop terror suspects from moving freely between countries. >> the open border system that has been inside europe has come
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pressure for two reasons over the last several months or about a year. one is the migrant and refugee crisis. hundreds of thousands of people have been leaving primarily iraq and syria and making their way up through turkey, greece, macedonia, syria. following the miegrant trail into europe. the second is the security implications. where the two meet is a very sensitive and explosive issue for europe. we're already seeing the rise of the right wing. we're already seeing the rise of hate attacks, where people will use the terrorist attacks, these incidents, to vilify all of the muslim community. which, of course, only makes the situation worse. then people feel isolated, ostracized, ghettoized, and they
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>> richard engel, stand by. thank you very much. let's go back to keir simmons who has been following the developments from overseas. what are you hearing? >> savannah, good morning. we're looking now at the people -- the authorities in belgium were trying to track down before these attacks this morning. savannah, i think in some senses, we should talk about this as not just one attack today, but as an ongoing attack. if you think back to france, to the attack on "charlie hebdo"," the satirical magazine earlier in the year, and then the attacks in paris in november, now these in belgium, they are part of a continuum. many of the people involved in each of the first two attacks i mentioned came from brussels. now this is brussels. we've been talking about salah abdeslam. he is the man, of course, arrested by belgium authorities on friday.
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emerged that he may have been talking and saying that another attack was planned. too. a man called najim laachraoui. his details were released yesterday. him. said he was dangerous. his dna was found in apartments where they also found explosive material. there has been reporting suggesting that he may have been on a cell phone communicating with the paris attackers from pearl belgium while the attack was taking place. while we've been talking about the arrest of salah abdeslam and what connection this may have to that, we should also be talking about the other people connected to him. the authorities have been saying openly they want to find. whether those people will have felt like they were under a good deal of pressure. >> connected either loosely or directly. it's hard to know how.
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>> keir simmons. >> exactly. >> thank you very much. >> matt, i was going to say, i think just to add so that, we are going to look at growing criticism of the intelligence agencies in europe because every time an attack happens, the dots are connected. yet, they don't seem to be able to connect those dots enough, and richard was just saying how many isis jihadists may have come from syria. it's a big task. but people are going to start asking in europe, how come we aren't able to stop this when we appear to have the intelligence available? that is just going to add to the sense of insecurity and fear. another attack, another attack again, ha z thes the risk it will have a profound effect on the phycology of europe. >> just as 9/11 did in this country.
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>> we want to pause for a moment and give our other stations a chance to join us.
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coverage. good morning again. this is "today"'s special coverage of the terror attacks unfolding this morning in brussels, belgium. there have been explosions at the airport in brussels, as well as at a subway station near the seat of government.
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you're seeing these images, a it. we've got tom costello who covers these issues for us and is intimately familiar with the region. costel joins us now. tom, what do you know? >> flemish television is reporting this morning -- and this is unconfirmed by nbc news -- but flemish television is reporting a third suicide pelt has been found at the airport, undetonated, and they are therefore looking for the possibility that somebody got away. again, that is from flemish television reporting that a suicide best undetonated was found at the airport. belgian police are looking for a to sen potential suicide bomber who got away. we have been inundated with e-mails, tweets and phone calls
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their relatives or students studying abroad in belgium. 16 university of missouri students are said to be fine and well and not harmed at all. of course, many of these universities that have study abroad programs are right now reaching out to the students and trying to find them. it's going to be difficult because cell phone service through much of the country, or around the capital region, has been shut down. it's not clear whether that's an official police action, though that's the rumor on the streets. cell phone conversations in and out of brussels is very difficult, as parents and concerned individuals on this side of the ocean try to reach their kids on that side of the ocean, or their loved ones on that side of the ocean. 200 flights cancelled so far. all of the u.s. flights inbound into brussels are on the ground safely or have been detoured to other airports. >> thank you for that information. don, back to you. he says according to sources that a third undetonated suicide
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what's your first reaction to that? then i have another question for you. >> great piece of evidence is my first reaction. you c g a. you can get fingerprints. look at the device itself and, a lot of times we talk about how bomb makers have their own signature. the way they put things together. they may be able to trace it back t the origin to see if 's the same person that made th explosives in paris and this one. a lot can be gleamed from that. >> given that, that there may be someone -- and there probably are other people still on the loose as a result of something like this -- if you're the person making the decisions, when does brussels, when does belgium, get back to business? do you allow people tomorrow morning who weren't directly affected to get back on busses, to go to their jobs, go to the banks, to go to school? how do you start to gauge this sort of thing? >> very difficult situation. obviously with somebody potentially during the early hours, they're going to be
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that there's at least another person who has left the belt behind, and maybe more. are the attacks over with? the first priority has to be public safety. until the officials feel like they've got their hands wrapped around the situation, i can't see they'll be opening up the subways and airports. we saw what happened in belgium. i believe it was around christmastime, when things shut down. here we go again. so i know there's going to be a lot of pressure to make that decision. public safe they has to take precedent. >> potentially a hunt for a suspect or someone who will be connected. the third may be a suicide bomer if the phlegmer tell erflemish television report is correct. salah abdeslam, one of the paris attackers, was able to live, perhaps not well or out in the open, but was able to be for the
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what can authorities really do? we heard a routeeuters report of going door to door and house to house. >> network of your own intelligence people that can infiltrate a community like that. it doesn't appear they have that. if they have an intelligence network, it's not robust. you do go door to door. you can't plant yourself in front of the door 24/7. you need intelligence. you need the cooperation of the community. we said that all the time. prevention is the key to this thing. the best way to prevent is not more rings of physical security. yes, you need those. but you need people that will come and tell you that an attack is in the works. >> richard engel, i believe, or maybe keir simmons, just said there has already been criticism within europe of their intelligence gathering capabilities. their ability to stop things like this. although it's extremely difficult. an attack like this in belgium will amp up that criticism.
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between european officials and american officials, and can american officials really have any impact when we're talking about what goes on in places like paris and belgium? >> i think so. first off, there is good cooperation between our european partners and the u.s. certainly, we share even some of the most classified information with our trusted partners in europe. and expect the same from them. there will be a lot of pressure for the belgians to step up what they're doing. the u.s. will offer whatever resources can be brought to bear. at the end of the day, it's their country. it takes a lot of resources to build a robust counterterrorism network like we have in the united states. we have joint terrorism task forces that are run by fbi all over the country. i think the notion of that is still somewhat new in europe. i mean, imagine if each state in the united states didn't coordinate with one another through the fbi and through
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i mean, it would be chaos. >> people in your business call these soft targets. to the layperson watching this, this is real life. it's a cafe in paris or a concert hall or an airport or a train station. it's so terrifying to think that these areas are so vulnerable. >> that's a lot of the key, what makes isis and other organizations so successful. you don't necessarily have to kill thousands. but the psychological effect, the fear, i mean, that's what these groups really trigger. the gut, the fear that makes you not want to go out of your house. then when they do that, they win. >> don, as always, thanks very much. we have much more to get to this morning as we continue to cover this breaking news coming out of brussels in belgium. at least three explosions have rocked that european capital overnight. two at the airport, one on a subway train. many more developments headed
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" a we con thi aac s in beee aorni -mov de eaotpo ubstat u ajoreu a wnhi in c' . eling brls n etr veadeourertehat sndar. >> g rng,avh matt justrrive at the metro station where that blast happened seval hours agono you can sbehind me som tactical police onscene. investigationsongoing. quit a waysown the street, as well, o of the entrances is off to the left. another onearther down the street. we spoke to aitness here who was here at te ex e wanrk, traveling meo, .


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