tv NBC 6 South Florida Today at 5am NBC March 22, 2016 5:00am-5:30am EDT
the mole land beak area. it's important to note that. that is the area where on friday salah abdeslam who was the alleged mastermind of the paris terror attacks innovember was arrested. he was rested on friday, the alleged mastermind of the paris attacks. the question now is was this someort of retribution for his arrest or perhaps were there accomplices already in brussels planning something else with devices in their possession to carry out their attacksho then thought because of his arrest their locations and identities might have been compromised. they decided to carry out some attack prior to what they had en planning. let me give you a couple other details. we have several conflicting reports. at the moment we can confirm that one person has been killed in that airport bombing. there have been many juries. there were reports earlier of
stretchers to awaiting ambulances. some people hve said that some of the injured were carried on luggage carts out of the airport. there are some reports circulating that as many as 20, as many as 20 people may have been killed in these explosions. we've got people now fanning out throughout the area. i want to start with kelly koeb area who is on route to the area where the attacks took place in brussels. kelly, good morning to you. >> reporter: good morning, matt. i'm on a train on my way in to brussels, about to arrive in the next few mihat we understand is all traffic to the airport has been closed down. air traffic isn't getting in. road traffic, train traffic is not getting in. the areaa has been completely shut off while emergency crews try to deal with all of the injured. as you mentioned, we still don't know how many people have been
looks like, dealing with several different locations, not just the airport, but the possibility of people injureat at least one metro station. metro has now been shut down. it appears the city is sort of coming to a standstill, people stopping on the streets, checking their mobile phones, looking for more information, trying to figure out what to do next. we on this train heading in to central brussels have not been told anything. there were suspicions that there could possibly be some sort of attack in the days after the arrest of abdeslam. belgian officials saying abdeslam had said or had indicated that possibly something else was in the works, but he wanted to start something
but again, matt, we don't have any confirmation on whether or not this is, in fact, some sort ofof suicide attack or the details of how these explosions happened. i'm sure you've seen the pictures inside that rport, an absolutely devastating explosion inside, blasting sealing tiles, blasting out windows, people injured from flying glass as well as from t blast. we frankly still don't know how manyre injured or dead. >> kelly, thank you very much. in addition to people arriving at the airport to take departing flights, there are people on planes arriving at the airport. we understand some of those people were taken and held on a tarmac area. they were later seen leaving the tarmac area. you can see people camly walking through the streets in and around that area. we should mention that belgium
this is not somettng terribly knew new to the people o belgium. they've been living in a high state of alert after the paris attacks because there w fear that there may be akccomplices in that area that might be planning further attacks. keir simmons is in london. let's keep in mind as we come to you, keir, where we have a situation where all air traffic in and out of belgium has now@ been closed and metro traffic in the city of brussels have been brought to a standstill. keir? >> reporter: that's right, matt. when you look at the pictures from the airport, it appears from them that a significant explosion has taken place. windows blown out, debrbr strewn around. you're just struck when you lk at those photos without knowing the details of exactly what took place, matt, by the force of the
kind of an impact, and then we have the reports as kelly cobiella was mentioning at the metro stations. one eport saying smoke coming from mole lamb beak where they have been looking for a number of jihadists and where salah abdeslam was friday. there are pictures there of that particular metro station. if there were othehe metro stations hit, too, then clearly are talking about a number of attacks in a number of different places carried out by a number of different people. brussels' authorities, french authorities have bn saying in recent days that they feared another attak. but salah abdeslam was suggesting to them that there may be another attack planned, and it was clear that they were not certain how many isis --
who may have returned from syria were still on the run across europe, across brussels. perhaps this morning, matt, we are getting a picture of just how many were. >> we're getting some dramatic images, keir. let's recap for people waking up at this early hour on the east coast and finding o o o about this. shortly after 8:00 in the morning brussels time, two explosions rocked the airport. one was said to have happened at curbside, just near the departures terminal. that we understand has been perhahs said to be a suicide bombing. then another explosion -- the are the pictures you're looking at right now inside that departures area, that with dedestating impact as you can see. and then a short time later, at least one explosion, perhaps multiple explosions inside the metro system in brussels, one
area where salah h abdeslam, the alleged ringleader of the paris attacks was arrested. in the last couple days police in belgium said they were looking for an accomplice. a couple different scenarios playing out. one, these bombings were in retaliation forhe arrest of abdeslam. the other scenario is perhaps there were accomplices of his already in the brussels area, perhaps plotting other attacks, but clearly with devices in thei possession to carry out those attacks. they may have feltthat they had then been compromised, their identities and locations had been compromised by the arrest of abdeslam, and they decided to carry out any attacks, some attack just so they would not be arrested before they could cause carnage. they have caused carnage here this morning. you're looking at images from the brussels airport, people milling about. keep in mind there must have been thousands of people at that time of the morning trying to
thousands of others who were arriving at that airport from flights from other parts of europe and around the world. those people were taken off the planes and sent to the tarmac area until they could be safely evacuated from the airport. i want to go to pete williams now, our chief justice correspondent in washington. pete, what are you hearing there? >> reporter: a couple of things, matt. sadly brussels has had experience with this sort of response here of people being told to stay off the streets, stay off public transportation since they went through this exact thing in december and around the holidays after the paris attacks. secondly secondly, the question here is what's going to happen at airports inside the united states. airport zurt at the perimeters, before you get in, before you get to the point where you check into an airplane is the responsibility not of tsa or homeland security, but individual airports in the u.s. so far we've been told by
yet given any guidance to airports in the united states on what they should do. if past experience is any guide, i think you can expect larger airports in the u.s., new york, los angeles, perhaps miami, will respond on their own by putting additional security -- additional people -- sometimes in the past we've seen where they even restrict car travel at the front of airports in response to specific threats or perceived thrts. that's something american authoriti are going to have to work out in the coming hours as we come up to the same time of day where this bomb occurred in belgium which is roughly 8:00 a.m. no word on that yet. they're assessing the situation. they're certainly aware of these reports. the european authorities, you can imagine, are a little busy right now. there hasn't been a lot of communication. that's typical in a situation like this. the u.s. is gathering information, trying to decide what guidance to give to airports in the u.s. as i say, i suspect that many of
past where there are tacks on airports overseas and airports here in the u.s. decide on t tir own what to do. so we're waiting to hear from the port authority of new york and new jersey for the new york area air boortz, waititg the hear from the department of homeland security. they're aware and tryingng to decide what guidance to give. >> i'm joined now savannah guthrie here in the studio. your point is an important point, that this took ple at the most vulnerable part of this airport. you can drive up in a car, come on mass transit, get off a bus with a suitcase or backpack and walk into that area of the airport without passing through security. later, once you've gone through the security process, it's much more difficult, but at tha part of the airport where there are lots of people milling about waiting to check in for flights or check luggage, that's a very vunerable place. >> reporter: they've been well aware of this vulnerability.
can't move the security out any further. this has always been a concern for airports, subway stations, train stations, anyplace where people ther in the u.s., how far do you move the security perimeter. we have seen in the past where airports here take it upon themselves. they check cars as theyyet close. we've seen this across the country in past years where there are threats to airports, where they begin to restrict car traffic at airports, stop curbside check-in, for ample. these are the sorts of decisions that will have to be made in the nene few hours. >> pete, this is savannah. there's no question this is an area of intense focus by counterterrorism officials. part of security, of course, is what we just talked about, part of what you might have at the perimeter, part is tracking inviduals who might be suspicious. in the case of brussels, belgium, n particular this one neighborhood, mole lamb beak, there are smany islamists who are there, it may well be that
track of all of them. >> reporter: there's no question about that. of course, they have been sort of prepared for something like this or worried about something like this for the past several weeks as they realize the extent of this network that was involved in the paris attacks and realizing they basically have come into a rat easiness of people with all sorts of different connections. based on what they found left behind in their apartments, all the arms they have been accumulating, they worried something like this was planned. no question that the european authorities have a special problem here because so many people have been going from european countries in to syria to fight with isis, into isis controlled area and coming back to europe. there's such a resolving door there,, it's been extremely difficult to track. knock on wood, it's easier to track here in the u.s., not nearly the number.
worrisome pressure point in the worldwide their record tleelt picture because of this easy back-and-forth access and almost impossible to track. even though they may have a number of people that they're trying to watch, at some point it gets so extreme that you're conducting tree yaj on which are the people you want to watch most carefully, it's not possible to watch them. >> pete, we've talked over the last couple months about isis switching and terrorists switching to soft targets. while these are both soft targets, they're extremely important because what they do, they shut down a city and in this case, part of a country. when you attack airports, metro hubs, you're basically freezing people in place. >> these are terrorists, and they want to spread fear in addition to causing injury and chaos. they know airports have a special kind of resonance when you carry out these kinds of attacks. people feel especially
it's a place where people come from all over and they get a lot of attention. so so you can understand the twisted thinking that went into this. >> as we've been talking about this morning, pete, salah abdeslam who was one of the fixers in the paris at tackletackstacks in november has been captured. not only did they want to know % what they could find out about the paris al attacks, one of the key issues is were there any others connected in any way. certainly they has to raise eyebrows, you have abdeslam's capture and then these incidents within a few days. >> reporter: i think the question they'll try to figure out, was this a plan that was alreadin place and they simply accelerated it because they feared more and more people were
of now or never, or was this sort of an ad hoc thing done in retaliation. they'll have to figure that out. there will be plenty of time to et the answer to t tse questions. the authorities were poised or worried about just this sort of thing. they didn't know specifically where or when. they seemed to be resigned to the fact that there were going to be more attacks. >> pete, going back into your memory, based on attacks like these in a place like brussels, how long would it generally take for u.s. security officials and law enforcement officials to decide if they wanted to change the stus of security or change some sort of alert status here in this country? >> reporter: a matter of hours i think. the contours here are quite obvious really. i don't think it's going to take lot of time to decide and get a picture of what happened. i think they have the basic
they simply have to decide what the best thing to do is. i don't think from past experience you'll see major changes at airports in the u.s., but you probably will see some restrictions at major airports on the sort of pereter access, how close you can get with a car, for example. we don't know how these bombs were delivered, whether it was simply people walking up with suicide vests, whether they were car bombs or in suitcases. it's the most worrisome part about airport security, what happens in the areas that are not screened, not secure, that anybody can walk in to. it's long been the concern. there's only so much you can do about it. you can keep moving security further and further away, but wherever you move it, that becomes the vulnerable point. it's well understood, but what i think -- agagin, just to be clear, the responsibility for
of airports and inside airport buildings is not the responsibility of tsa or the deral government. it's the decisions that individual airports will make. my of them will simply make these decisions on their own. we've seen that in past years. they don't wait for the federal guidance. they justdo it. it takes a while to put people in place. >> for people just joining us, multiple explosions in and around the brussels area, two at the airport, jt after 8:00 their time. at least one, perhaps multiple explosions in their subway system shortly after that. at this moment we have reports that one person has been confirmed dead. we have other reports saying there may be many more dead. based on some of the footage we've seen in the airport, the destruction sizable. we know that there were many injuries. there are reports of the injured being taken on stretchers to
cases taken on package carts out of that departures area. >> we're getting word that the subway system has been shut down the wake of an explosion at the train station said to be close to the capital of the european union. we have keir simmons,s,i believe, on the phone. unfortunatelyou have spent quite a bit of time in this area in recent days because of fears of this very, very thing. what can you tell us in terms of theesponse there and what authorities are saying at this hour? >> reporter: savannah, brussels is in lockdown. they've closed the metro system, the trams t buses, the airport saying all airport operations today have been suspended. so we are seeing once again in brussels and we saw this after the paris attacks when they realized many of those who
from the brussels area, the same kind of panic and fear sweeping across that city. remember, the capital of europe, the place where european government happens, that is what is now happening across that city. one of the explosions said to have happened near european union building. but, as you mentioned, they have been bracing themselves for something like this for some time. salah abdbdlam who was arrested on friday, they fofod him because they raided a property on tuesday last week and unexpectedly came across a them. one was killed. salah abdeslam escaped. it was from there they were able to track him down and finally
before tuesday, though, they simply did not know where he was. i'm afraid what's happening today is going to raise serious questions about how across all of this, the intelligence services across europe and in belgium have been. it is clear that they have struggled to trace many of those who have been coming back from syria affiliated to isis with the intent of carryinggut attack like this. the question, as you were talking to pete williams about, is whether this attack was always planned. salah abdeslam, we have been hearing, was telling officials that they were planning another attack attack, or some of the planning was under way but at the same time was the timing changed when
out, had heard thatbdeslam was talking. again, officials there put out an alert to find another isis jihadist and was he, somebody connected to this, was it the alert to try to find him and a number of others that pushed him to move in this way. from what we're seeing, savannah, this is not the kind of attack that you can carry out in a hurry or sdenly plan, grou'd like. it has to be planned in advance. there are many questions today. >> al right, keir. thank you very much. let's bring in richard engel, our chief foreign correspondent. richard, two ppnts. one is followup on what keir is talking about, the possibility that this chain of events we have seen in brussels was preplanned. the other, that it was accelerated because of the arrest of salah abdeslam.
something we talked abo after paris and the holiday time, why belgium, why brussels, why it has become such a hot bed of terrorist activit >> reporter: well, there are reports now that the entire eu, eu officials are being told to stay at home. so that would be a shut doup of the pan-european government. right after the arrest of salah abdeslam, the last well-known fugitive from the paris attacks, we talked on air about what was going to happen. i remember brian williams asking, is does this mean there would be more attacks or less attacks? i said at the time there is one of two ways this can play out. one is that after they know, his colleagues and associates and con spear tors know that a key persrs has been grabbed, they
they can decide that their cover is blo, they have nothing to lose and they can launch whatever attacks they have in the works. so to keir's point that perhaps this was something in the works that was accelerated, that is a real possibility. we have seen that historically when there are key arrests. that happens in the united states where the fbi or homeland security will wait in order to arrest a key fugitive so they can try and arrest all the fugitives at the same time to prevent any kind of follow-on or knock-on attack. this seems to be quite a significant event. ou have multiple targets. you have the airport. you have the metro station in molambique. it's the area where many of the paris bombers were from.
salah abdeslam was captured just a few days ago, just a few meters from his house. thehe arrests at his house is alsoo not very far from where he and the original mastermind met as childhood friends. it is an area in brussels where there are many immigrants, particularly from morocco and other north african countries. it is considered in the country to be something of -- an area where they have sympathy, an area where police have struggled to deal with radicalism. there are other neighborhoods in europe. per cap tax belgium has had the highest number of people going -- of its nationals going abroad and joining isis. many of theke people have gone to and returned to this area. >> richard, )t highlights the challenges and perhaps the shortcomings of some of the
counterterrorism efforts in belgium in the wake of the paris attacks, the fact that you just mentioned that abdeslam ultimately was found not far from his childhood home in the very neighborhood from whence he had come. it spiels to the difficulties but the insol layerity of this community and how difficult it is for authorities to really break through and detect these plots in advance, let alone find a suspect they have been looking hard for for several months. >> ala abdeslam came from this neighborhood. he knew abaaoud, considered the mastermind of the paris tacks. they met in that neighborhood. this cell that carried out the paris attacks in november, killing 130 people, was often called the brussels cell. they should have been or could
maelbeek cell. abdeslam is a peculiar character. if you remember, he didn't carry out his suicide aission. all the other attackers that were directly involved in the bombing at the shootings at the bataclan died in either a hail of bullets or by exploding thr suicide vest. he left his suicide vest and decided that he -- this attack wasn't for him. so at that stage, he maet made himself a non-entity for isis. if you're an isis fighter, you're expected to die in the battle. he went into hiding. he went back to where his child hollywood friends were, where there was a network of supporters.s. >> richard, let me interrupt for a second. i want you to stand by if you don't mind. we're also getting more information right now. we just got word that the cell
the brussels area are going down now. we don't knowwhether law enforcement has decided to take those cell phone networks down to prevent communication between other terrorists or whether those are just going down for some other reason. but now consider yourself a citizen of belgium or brussels and your airport travel has been suspended by these bombings at the airport. your subway travel has been shut down because of bombings in the subway. now you find your cell phone is not of use which obviously we all know on a daily basis we have come to incredibly depend on and imagine the isolated feeling of the people of belgium this morning as they try and deal with what is an unfolding terrorist situation in their mix. >> the very definition and goal of terror. in fact, crisis center belgium tweeted out to its followers, don't call.
the network is getting saturated. they're asking people to use facebook, whatsapp, twitter. it sounds like this is something the authorities have tried to do and attempted to do perhaps to save the cellular technology for emergency personnel. as you mentioned, can you imagine being a citizen of the capital, of the eu today with the airport, the subway and now the cell phones suspended. >> those people have become used to living under a high level of al leftert alert. but this morning something extraordinary. you're watching nbc news coverage of the deadly explosions in brussels at the airport and also in the metro system. we're going to pause to give more stations a chance to join us. we'll return others to local programs. all right.
report from nbc news out of new york. obviously multiple attacks, one on the brussels airport, a couple of explosions reported there. i think one of the interesting things here coming out o o this, of the two confirmed explosions that happened at the airport, one happened curbside is one where you don't have to go through security. they're thinking that could be a suicide bomber. the second explosi in the airport was at the departure area. it's difficult because we don't know the exact layout of that airport to know whether or not the second explosion that happened in the departure area, whether that required someone to go through security or not. we know one of the explosions happened curbside. once again, dlaes not confirmed. >> one of the things they mentioned was the concern, how will the u. sfrmt respond? curbside is local jurisdiction. it's not necessasaly tsa.
respond and what kind of safety measures will they take as a precaution amid this attack here in brussels. so they are talking to homeland security and also several agencies to figure out exactly what their game plan is moving forward. m.i.a. does fly to brussels, however, they don't have any flights to the weekend. we did check on that just in case. you know, no flights are going into the brussels airport. everyone has been evacuated in that area. there have been a lot of numbers floating around, how many people are killed. it's important not to get bogged down in the numbers because as the investigation continues, they're going to find even more casualties perhaps. it's important to remember that there have been multiple casualties. the big concern is this terror related. this happened in the same area where salah abdeslam was just arrested. the question is was this retaliation o o was this something that was accelerated, had already been in the works but was accelerated amid these