tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC November 19, 2015 7:00pm-7:31pm EST
breaking news tonight from paris as the terror attack ring leader is confirmed dead. our exclusive interview with the masked s.w.a.t. commando who led the heroic raid on the concert hall, what he calls hell on earth. hundreds of hostages cowered on the floor in fear. police facing down a ferocious assault by the attackers. only a bullet-riddled ield between them. also tonight, richard engel inside the massive intelligence failure. the ring leader hiding in plain sight under their noses and europe's first female suicide bomber. new video in her final moments before blowing herself up as police closed in. >> at home, how safe are we? what the fbi director is now saying is his biggest fear. "nightly news" begins right now.
good evening. we learn today the man believed to have hatched the coordinated terror attacks here almost a week ago is dead. officials confirming he was killed in that blazing gun battle just outside paris yesterday. but the death of abdelhamid abaaoud doesn't have the city breathing easier. we'll explain in a moment. we start with an nbc news exclusive tonight. for the first time, an inside account of the dramatic police raid that ended the hostage siege at the bataclan theater where nearly 90 people were massacred. the man who led the raid is speaking only us to, describing the daring assault from start to finish. for his own security, his face is covered and he goes only by his first name jeremy. by the time paris' s.w.a.t. team arrived
at the bataclan, one terrorist had already been killed by police. jeremy knew it would be up to his team to rout out the remaining attackers and free the hostages. >> we took position at the entrance of the theater and discover a hell on earth. i mean, more than 7,000, 8,000 people were laying on the floor? >> 800? >> yeah. lay on the floor. tons of blood everywhere. no sound. nobody was screaming. >> there was no time to help the wounded and dying. the attackers were in the building. your team goes upstairs inside the balcony. where did you find the terrorists? >> in the last door, one of the terrorists asks us to go backwards. i try to speak with them. he told me that he wanted to negotiate. i said okay, give me your phone number. >> the terrorist identified himself as
a soldier and said he had come to fight france and hollande. no demands, just rhetoric and time was running out. this is your team. bri commander passed down the green light for the assault. >> translator: their behavior was unstable, considering they already killed 100 people. >> with no time to plan, the team had to improvise. they got the theater layout from fire evacuation diagrams on the wall. this is the first thing that went through the door? >> exactly. >> it's obvious what happened. >> yeah. after that, we opened the door. one of the terrorists, he shot like 25 to 30 rounds of ak47 bullets. >> that's it? these are the holes? >> exactly. immediately, the guy in the middle of the group he got hit in the hand so he fell down because of the pain. >> one of your officers was hit? >> yeah, yeah, in the middle of the group. first thing we saw the
guy shooting, and a lot of maybe 20 hostages. between the shooter and us. we cannot shoot at that time. it was tooisky for the hostage at the end of the hallway. we found the two terrorists. it was like a dead end for them. the first one blew himself with explosive jacket. the second one tried to do the same but he got shot by the two bri officers. >> they were both wearing suicides vests and one went off? >> exactly. blood everywhere. >> they rescued others who had hidden in other rooms, some on the roof. when you looked around that theater, what were your thoughts when you saw what they had done? >> for us it was so intense, the assault, the bullets, the explosion, all that stuff, we are still very focused on what we did, to be honest. after an hour we saw the other environment and it was very, very tough. >> how are you guys doing? that's a lot to take
in? >> we're still together. we came back to the office and spoke together until maybe 7:00 in the morning. maybe going to be some trouble for me of us in the next weeks or something. for now, so far it's okay. >> but you saved a lot of lives. >> i think so. >> police say none of the hostages were struck when the attacker detonated his vest during that assault. the officer shot was hit in the hand and is expected to survive. the same team known as bri helped free hostages from a grocery store after thcharlie hebdo attack and supported another bri team in yesterday's bloody, deadly terror raid in saint denis. >> more of the hunt on suspects with police confirming the death of the so-called ring leader of the paris shootings. one attacker remains on the loose. police are turning over every stone to see how deep the threat here and across
europe really is. bill neely tells us more. >> reporter: his body was so riddled with bullets, abdelhamid abaaoud was identified by fingerprints. the man who organized the massacres in paris was killed when police stormed an apartment. alongside, his cousin who blew herself up after a neighbor recorded her talking to police. police today searched a home she left three weeks ago. at the massacre sites, relief, abaaoud was dead. for the grieving parents of natalie lauren killed at the concert hall, no satisfaction. it means nothing, her mother told me. my daughter is dead. cctv video emerged of one terror attack at a
restaurant. bullets shattering glass. the video from dailymail.com shows a woman escaping, shot in the wrist. customers hiding. outside, a terrorist calmly shooting, taking aim at the head of a woman. but she said later, his gun jammed. no one died inside. five were killed on the street. the threat to france is still real. >> we cannot say today this is an end. we think we arin the middle of the storm. >> isis threatened more attacks today on italy in a video called "paris before rome." the french prime minister warning today of the risk of terrorists with chemical or biological weapons. after the unthinkable here, that's a warning france won't ignore. and france is still hunting for two men on the run and a mb maker. the state of emergency here has been extended until spring next year. the prime minister
saying france now faces a permanent threat from terrorism. lester? >> bill, thank you. >> as the ring leader is confirmed killed, his death is only raising new concerns about what's being viewed as a massive intelligence failure. the intel community across europe thought abdelhamid abaao was in syria. instead he was under their noses, traveling freely, allegedly plotting the deadliest attack in france since world war ii. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel reports that raises fears about who else could be hiding in plain sight. >> reporter: the man french officials describe as the master mind behind last friday's attacks was found just a mile from the stadium that was among his targets. there's an old arab saying, the best place to hide is in the sun. but how did abdelhamid abaaoud featured in isis propaganda and linked by french officials to previous terror plots manage to travel to syria then slip back into europe
perhaps more than once, assemble a group of attackers, amass an arsena then plan and carry out a series of coordinated deadly attacks, all undetected? they found the ring leader, but clearly too late. >> so the success was knowing who to look for and the failure was not actually looking for him. >> all theseeople were known to some extent, varying extents, if not by the french directly, by the security services of other countries in europe. we did not do what was necessary to keep track. >> reporter: keeping track is harder now that thousands of refugees are landing unchecked on europe's shores every day. if as suspected, abaaoud or some of his accomplices were hiding among them, french senator natalie goulet says they would have an easy run to paris, even if they were on terrorist watch lists. if they are under surveillance, they can
still move arod? >> of course. there is no border betweeeuropean countries. >> reporter: and now a breakdown in border control between the middle east and europe. that means there could be more of abaaouds coming. how many so-called masterminds are out there in france and europe? >> i don't know, but the number is probably quite large. >> reporter: abaaoud was one of 10,000 names on france's terrorist watch list. the problem is actually watching them. something security services are not doing. lester? >> richard engel, thanks. with isis making threats of attacks on u.s. soil, the attorney general and fbi director today tried to calm the fears so many americans may be feeling right now. are u.s. cities safer than those in europe? our justice correspondent pete williams on concerns of a copycat attack coming. >> reporter: in new york city, police put on a show of force largely intended to be reassuring as u.s. officials brushed off
an isis video that includes a segment juxtaposing pictures of guns d explosives with recycled still photos of times square. >> we are not aware of any credible threat here of a paris-type attack. and we have seen no connection at all between the paris attackers and the united states. >> reporter: the fbi's biggest worry, dozens of potential home grown extremists who have shown some response to isis propaganda who might try to carry out copycat attacks like what happened in paris. >> we are watching people of concern, using all our lawful tools. we'll keep watching them if we see something, we'll work to disrupt it. >> reporter: but the fbi's comey says he's seen no sign of isis members coming to the u.s. in the past days or weeks. while the paris attacks have western europe on high alert, american officials say there are reasons why the u.s. is generally safer. among them, the u.s. does not have the porous borders of europe where it's so easy to get from one country to another undetected. far fewer americans have gone to syria to
join isis and return. police in europe are overwhelmed trying to track the estimated 5,000 people there who have been to syria and back compared to what comey said today is a number in the teens of people from the u.s. who have gone overseas associated with isis and come back. comey said the pace of attempts by people here to get to syria slowed in the past four months. and officials say muslims in the u.s. generally feel more welcome here, better assimilated than this europe. their cooperation has been important in alerting u.s. police to potentially suspicious behavior. tonight, several members of congress are pushing to tighten scrutiny on people traveling here from countries where a visa isn't required. one senior democratic called the visa waiver program the soft underbelly of national security policy. thanks. heightened fears in the u.s. over syrian refugees in the wake of the paris attacks led the house to approve a bill today that would virtually
halt all syrian refugees from coming to the u.s. as andrea mitchell shows us, the republican front runners drummed up the fear talk today to a new level. >> reporter: today the fear about syrian refugees got ugly on the campaign trail. >> if there is a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you probably not gng to assume something good about that dog and you're probably going to put your children out of the way. we have to have them placed, scening mechanisms that allow us to determine who the mad dogs are, quite frankly. >> reporter: donald trump telling yahoo he wouldn't rule out requiring muslims to register and carrying identification. trump saying the syrians are coming. >> syrians are now being caught at the southern border just like i said. they're going to be pouring in. we don't know who they are. could be isis. >> reporter: in fact, two syrian filies, including four children, presented
themselves to u.s. customs in texas asking for asylum. in manila, the president accused republican law makers of playing politics. >> the idea somehow they pose a more significant threat than all the tourists who pour into the united states every ust doesn't jibe with reality. >> reporter: hours later, 47 democrats voted against the president. joining republicans to virtually stop refugees from syria and iraq from coming to the u.s. by requiring the homeland security secretary, the fbi director and head of national intelligence to personally certify that each applicant is not a threat, an impossible task. going against the tide, hillary clinton today. >> turning away orphans, applying a religious test, discriminating against muslims, slamming the door on every syrian refugee, that is just not who we are. >> reporter: in alabama tonight, ben
carson again compares some syrian refugees to rabid dogs, but called the news media dishonest for reporting his comments. as the paris attacks starts fueling an angry debate here at home. andrea, thank you. still ahead, the women of isis. western europe's first female suicide bomber was one of a growi number of women radicalized by isis. what possesses them to join the militants who murdered and enslaved so many? well, when you have copd, it can be hard to breathe. it can be hard to get air out, which can make it hard to get air in. so i talked to my doctor. she said... symbicort could help you breathe better, starting within 5 minutes. symbicort doesn't replace a rescue inhaler for sudden symptoms. symbicort helps provide significant improvement of your lung function. symbicort is for copd, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. it should not be taken more than twice a day.
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we are back from paris with more now on the woman who detonated a suicide bomb during the raid on the ring leader of the tacks here. she is the first woman to commit that kind of horrific act in western europe, but one of a growing number of women joining isis. keir simmons looks how they are falling under isis' spell. >> reporter: some friends said she was fun. others said she drank and took drugs, seen here in pictures from dailymaicom, a stark contrast with wednesday morning when hasna aitboulahcen's voice was heard in a barrage of bullets. seconds later, she became the first female suicide bomber in western europe. 10% of isis western recruits are female. this expert says they're lured with false promises. >> it's exactly the same process as those charming pimps. yeah, yeah, like a pimp who takes a girl,
seduces her. >> reporter: once with islamic state, they must cover up and be accompanied by men. a girl can be married by the age of 9 in the manifesto. an isis all-women vigilae group. the rules also allow them to leave the home if they choose to wage jihad. online, isis women answer questions from potential recruits, like should i bring a hair dryer? >> we are seeing women acting as a mout mouthpiece to isis, reaching directly to other females.hpiece to isis, reaching directly to other females. >> reporter: this 20-year-old went to join isis from birmingham, alabama, now urges attacks on america like the terror attacks. her family say they never saw her open a koran. like all the people of france, they cannot understand what she did. tonight, some neighbors claim she was mistreated as a child, perhaps offering a clue to the dead path she took. keir simmons, nbc news, paris. >> we are back in a moment with a eck on
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we are back from paris with other news of the day. it was judgment day for former subway pitchman jared fogle, sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for trading child pornography and having sex with underaged prostitutes. fogle pleaded guilty in august. the sentence was three years longer than prosecutors had sought. a new wave of violence in israel today where an american teen is among five people killed in a pair of attacks by five palestinians. 18-year-old ezra schwarz was an israel as a student. his family bk in the boston area tonight grieving his loss. for the first time, the fda has approved a genetically modified animal, a
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finally tonight, a story that really caught our attention here in paris that's connecting with a lot of people around the world. there is a lot of fear and suspicion over what happened last friday. our kelly cobiella has a story of two muslim men trying to heal the tensions one hug at a time. >> reporter: in the past week, stranger after stranger embraces. young and old, women and men. this woman is saying, don't you see? i'm jewish, he's muslim. this man stands blind folded with the sign, i'm a muslim and i'm told i'm a terrorist. i trust you. do you trust me? if yes, hug me. one by one, parisians
approached and wrapped their arms around him. this is a syrian refugee. behind each of his hugs, a message. >> we are with them. we are not terrorists. and we love french people. >> reporter: he is just 17, also muslim, also from syria. >> we want to show that we are with them. we are not against them and we love them. we love them. we don't hate anyone. >> reporter: in this city where emotion is still so raw, a simple hug can help with healing and understanding. >> we have the same blood in his vein. he has the same heart. he's not different. >> reporter: while paris is the city of light and of love, people here aren't normally in the habit of hugging strangers. but there's a new norm on these streets, finding strength and support in a simple gesture.