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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  March 23, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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something that might need to change in some ways to keep people safe. nick paton walsh from brussels, thanks so much. that's all for "the lead" today. i'm john berman in for jake. now turning you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, frantic manhunt. the search is on for a suspected bomber who escaped from the scene of the brussels airport attack. who is the man in the hat? what role did he play in the deadly terror strike? tracking the mastermind. who planned the massacres? is he still out there? and what about the isis bomb maker tied to both the paris and brussels attacks? did he design a powerful new explosive device that poses a much greater threat to soft targets? secretary of defense, our exclusive interview with ashton carter who says america will be stepping up the fight against isis. but is europe doing enough? and politics of fear. the presidential candidates weighing in on the terror attacks, suggesting everything from mass surveillance to
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torture to nuclear strikes. are they offering solutions to the isis threat or just sewing fear? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." the breaking news, an urgent manhunt is under way across belgium for a suspected bomber who got away from the scene of the bloody attack at the brussels airport. police are hunting for other members of the terror cell tied to the bombings at the airport and at a subway station. the death toll now is up to 31. 270 people were wounded. tonight investigators are attempting to unwind a complex plot involving multiple terrorists. cnn has learned two of the suicide bombers have been identified as brothers. one set off a bomb at the airport, the other at the metro. officials have now identified the third suicide bomber. they believe he built the bombs
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used in both the brussels and the paris attacks back in november and a fourth man seen in a white jacket and hat is now the focus of an ongoing search. he allegedly escaped the airport after placing a bomb at the scene. was he the group's mastermind or a guide for th suicide bombers. prosecutors say his device wheeled to the scene had the strongest explosives. what some experts now say was a hybrid of a suicide vest and a car bomb, a lethal new explosive that's portable and powerful. u.s. officials say about a dozen americans were injured in the attacks and that some u.s. citizens, including diplomats and their families, remain unaccounted for. with members of the terror cell at large and isis threatening more attacks, the state department has stepped up its warning to americans to be careful traveling throughout europe, not just to belgium. i'll speak with senators john mccain and tom cotton.
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they have been briefed on the threat. and our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories. we begin with new information on the manhunt. the investigation and the continuing threat. let's go to our pentagon correspondent, barbara starr. what are you learning, barbara? >> wolf, tonight there is growing concern across europe, are there more terrorists, are there more plots. counterterrorism authorities are unraveling the network responsible for the bombings at the brussels airport and subway, a network now believed to have clear links to the november, 2015, attacks in paris. investigators believe salah abdeslam arrested just days earlier in brussels for his alleged role in the paris attacks was likely going to be part of the attacks in belgium. >> translator: we are dealing with a terrorist organization. with its strong points, its resources hiding in our society. >> other ties between the brussels and paris terror cells,
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one of the two brothers who carried out the brussels attack rented a safe house in brussels used by abdeslam after the paris attacks and later raided by police. brothers khalid and ibrahim bakraoui are two of the suicide bombers. ibrahim is the man in the middle of the airport surveillance video. his brother, khalid, is believed to have bombed the subway. the other two men captured in the airport video have not been publicly identified, but tonight multiple european officials tell cnn one of the two suicide bombers could be the alleged bomber, najim laachraoui. authorities are checking against dna and fingerprint records. a key break came when a taxi driver led the police to the home where he picked up the three men he took to the airport. investigators searched and found bomb-making materials, including acetone and hydrogen peroxide, also detonators, a suitcase full of nails and screws, and about
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33 pounds of the explosive called tatp. enough to make several suicide vests. discovered in a brussels trash can on the street nearby, a laptop. on it, one of the bomber's wills stating he's in a rush and if he takes too long, he will end up with him in jail. belgian investigators believe he was referring to salah abdeslam. and another indication that once salah abdeslam was arrested, the cell rushed to strike. >> abdeslam's arrest helped them in the sense that it gave them an indication of what was about to happen. it also confirmed some of the suspicions that they had, but they didn't know the precise details. >> investigators now searching frantically for anyone else connected to the network. >> translator: the third suspect wearing a light jacket and hat is on the run. he put down a large bag, then left before the explosion. his bag contained the largest explosive charge. >> and tonight he remains unidentified, whereabouts unknown.
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and tonight, wolf, security and intelligence services across europe struggling to stay one step ahead of whatever terrorists may bow out there. wolf. >> all right, barbara, thanks very much. i want to bring in our justice correspondent, pamela brown. she's also getting new information. what are you learning, pamela? >> we've learned two of the suicide bombers were brothers and there were missed warning signs along the way. we've learned from turkish authorities that one of the brothers, ibrahim bakraoui was at the airport, we saw him in that surveillance photo, that he was deported from turkey last year. in fact the turkish president reportedly said that they alerted belgium saying that he was a foreign fighter, but that belgium allegedly ignored their warnings. then you have the other brother, khalid bakraoui who was at the metro stop and blew himself up there. he had an interpol red notice issued for him just this year on terrorism charges. and now we're learning, wolf, that another suspect was tied to the paris attacks. his dna was found on two of the
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suicide belts in the paris attacks. so the big question now, how was all of this missed. the belgian prosecutor today saying they were aware of the two brothers but they only knew about their ties to violent crime, not to terrorism. right now investigators are going back trying to figure out how these men were able to operate under the radar following paris when the city and country was on such high alert and then launch these attacks in brussels yesterday morning. >> there were a lot of missed signals as they try to go back and learn from those mistakes. pamela, thank you very much. let's go live to brussels right now. our senior international correspondent, clarissa ward, is on the scene for us. clarissa, what's the latest that you're hearing about this second suicide bomber at the airport? >> reporter: well, wolf, we can now say that that suicide bomber is najim laachraoui. if you look at that photograph of that surveillance video that we've been showing all day, he is the one on the left of the screen, on the far left.
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he is 24 years old. he was born in morocco. certainly it will come as something of a relief now that we know he was killed in those explosions because he wasn't just responsible for these brussels attacks, wolf, he was actually very involved with the paris attacks, believed to have been the man actually putting together those bombs with those homemade improvised explosive tatp. this can be obtained by buying nail polish remover. it's a peroxide base. you can find it in hair bleach even. and this guy really a bad guy, wolf. we know that he traveled to syria in 2013. he was spotted and stopped at the austria-hungary border last september with salah abdeslam, the other paris attacker who was arrested here last friday, and there was also an interpol red alert out for this man. he was wanted in conjunction with engineering of explosives and with terrorist activities.
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so certainly it will come to a relief to many here that he is now known to be dead. he was very much the focus of the manhunt because, of course, he is the one believed to have the expertise in forming these crudely made explosives. we know that he was very involved with the paris attacks as well as these brussels attacks, wolf. >> clarissa, what else are you learning about that man on the run right now, seen in the light-colored jacket in that airport surveillance image, the man all the way to the right with the hat on? >> reporter: well, wolf, we still don't know the identity of this man on the far right. we know that there is a major manhunt ongoing for him. he's particularly distinctive not just because he's wearing a light-colored jacket as well as glasses and a hat, potentially trying to disguise his identity, but he's the only one of the three who is not wearing one glove. those gloves believed to have concealed the detonators that
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would have set off those explosives. now, his suitcase contained the largest amount of explosives. we don't know whether he got cold feet, whether the bomb simply didn't go off, but certainly it's fair to say, wolf, that belgian authorities are under a huge amount of pressure at the moment. they are keeping very quiet and very tight lipped, not telling the media anything for fear of interfering with their larger investigation. but what is becoming clearer and clearer, wolf, is that many of these men were well known to authorities both in a criminal capacity and in a terrorist capacity, and many people here are asking how they were able to slip under the radar and elude capture for so long, wolf. >> clarissa ward on the scene for us in brussels. thank you. joining us now republican senator tom cotton of arkansas. he serves on the intelligence and armed services committee, he's a u.s. army veteran, an officer that served both in iraq and afghanistan. senator, thanks very much for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. >> this man who has not yet been identified with the hat and
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light jacket, have you been told who he is, what they suspect? >> wolf, i don't want to get into the details of the investigation as it's ongoing. one thing that's increasingly clear from the reports we just heard from pamela and clarissa is these were not unknown terrorists. this is not a sleeper cell. these slipped through the grasp of belgian authorities. >> known to whom? >> the belgian authorities it's very clear based on the reporting we've just heard. >> how long have they known about these individuals? >> at least going back to the paris attacks in november. >> and they couldn't find them? they couldn't arrest these individuals? >> well, no, obviously not. >> what does that say to you? >> well, it says that there are some gaps in the belgian authorities' capabilities but also europe's capabilities. ultimately it says you can't win the war on terror playing a prevent defense. you have to go on offense. to expect to be able to stop every terrorist that rolls a piece of lug annugage to an air is like trying to stop an nfl
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team trying to get to the end zone from the 3. >> but there are hundreds of -- supposedly hundreds of these terrorist sleeper cells, if you will, already not only in belgium but throughout europe. >> well, again, i wouldn't even say they're sleeper cells if they're well known to the belgian authorities. abdeslam was caught on friday. >> who was involved in the paris attacks, he was on the run for four months but he was hiding in plain sight. >> yeah. it would be like if people were looking for me in the streets where i grew up and no one was willing to turn me over. that's a real problem that belgian and european authorities have. >> is there a code of silence among these individuals, people in the muslim community, for example, in brussels, because that's what has been widely suspected. >> i think you have to really ask serious questions about the kind of work that the european countries have done to integrate muslim immigrants into their cultures. and in places like molenbeek or some of the suburbs around paris, it's pretty clear they haven't done a very good job.
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certainly not the job we've done here in america. >> the other individual that was blown up, najim laachraoui, on the surveillance photo he's all the way to the left. normally the bomb makers, they don't want to kill them because they need bomb makers for future terror attacks. why do you think he agreed to blow himself up if he was a master bomb maker? >> you're right, woclf, it's vey unusual for a bomb maker -- you can't just mix things up in your apartment in belgium and learn that. that's why in part he was in syria for two years and he came back to europe it's believed in the flow of migrants from the middle east and north africa. it's possible that they felt the plot might be compromised by the capture of salah abdeslam on friday and they accelerated the attack. >> because salah abdeslam was finally captured and there were reports out that he was talking, he was cooperating, if you will, although he wasn't cooperating enough to advise them that this attack at the airport and at the metro station was about to take
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place, that they decided, you know what, it's over, let's go kill ourselves? >> that's certainly one possibility. it's hard to get into the minds and the head of someone who would blow himself up and kill innocent civilians. but also i get back to the root of the problem which is the growing safe haven the islamic state has across northern africa and the middle east. again, you can't just learn how to make bombs in your sink. you have to go somewhere and have training and have the safe space that you can find in places like iraq and syria. >> the working assumption is that there is a direct link between the november paris attacks and what happened this week in brussels. is that your assumption? similar individuals, all working with the same, shall we say, leader, if you will, the same operatives? >> same leaders or same operatives. the bomb maker who's now been reported wasn't one of the suicide bombers, his dna was on some of the bombs in paris as well so there's increasingly strong links to these attacks. it's been four months since the
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paris attacks and the belgian authorities weren't able to stop this attack which raises real questions about our european partners' capabilities. >> specifically belgium. the cooperation between various elements in europe not what it should be by all accounts and you're well briefed on this. the state department issued a pretty rare, i shall say, extraordinary warning to americans thinking of traveling not just to belgium but to all of europe to be alert for what they call near term attacks. near term attacks means almost imminent. it's pretty extraordinary what they're saying. be careful when you go to a restaurant, be careful when you go to tourist attractions, be careful when you go to sporting events in europe. that basic aem is saying to me if i'm thinking of going, maybe it's not a good time to go to europe. >> i think all americans should heed that warning. as time progresses and the intelligence improves and we take stock of different countries, there may be more granular warnings. for instance, london and dublin aren't in the visa-free travel
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zone. or norway is a small and homogeneous country so you might expect some finer gradations on this warning. but almost every country in europe is facing a migrant crisis, some of whom have been involved in the attacks in paris and brussels. >> when they say near term attacks, is there specific and credible information that there will be more attacks in the coming days and weeks that they know about plots that are under way? >> wolf, i don't want to get into that sensitive intelligence, but i do think that the american people should have concerns and they should heed this warning that went out from the state department. >> if your constituents in arkansas call you and say is it a good time for me to go to paris or rome or brussels? >> you might want to reconsider. if you do go, heed the advice about safe places to go and times to go to those places. >> stand by. we have more to discuss. i know you're well briefed on all of this. we'll take a brief break. much more with senator cotton when we come back.
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we're back with republican senator tom cotton of arkansas, a member of the intelligence and armed services committee, a veteran of both iraq and afghanistan. salah abdeslam, one of the terrorists who was involved in the paris attacks but apparently left his vest behind ran away, escaped, he was on the run for four months. as we said earlier, hiding in plain sight in brussels. he was picked up the other day supposedly we've been told he was going to be part of this new effort with these other individuals to blow up various places inside brussels. so the question is, he is now under arrest. he's being questioned. supposedly he's cooperating. would it be wise to do to him what donald trump has recommended, basically torture him to get more information, because clearly he knows a lot. >> well, wolf, america doesn't torture. we never have tortured.
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it's a violation of our laws and international norms as well. >> what about waterboarding, is that torture? >> i don't think it's torture. >> would you support waterboarding? >> yes. it's not something you'd do for fun but if experienced and expert interrogators say this is a ticking time bomb situation and this is information that will help stop the attack, yes, that's a tough call. if you don't want to make tough calls, you shouldn't seek that job. but it's important to know that american soldiers volunteer to be waterboarded as a part of their training. we don't torture our own personnel in our military. >> under the law now it is consider editor tour, waterboarding. >> so techniques are limited to the army field manual which is widely available online. >> when you served, never did waterboarding, that was left to civilians at the cia. >> it was only done in the intelligence agencies in a very limited set of circumstances.
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the leadership said that it did elicit useful information. now, there is a practical debate. you can say it may not be effective or counterproductive but i don't think that something our soldiers volunteer to undergo is torture. >> did waterboarding provide useful, valuable information? >> senior cia officials have said it did. they were there, they were present, i was not. i trust their judgment. >> as far as enhanced interrogation techniques, that's what the play phrase what some call torture, donald trump says he would go further than waterboarding, he would use torture in this war against isis. would you? >> again, the united states does not torture nor have we ever tortured. but there are techniques beyond just asking politely like sleep deprivation and playing loud music every now and then. i don't think most americans will object to those things. nor do i think we should rule out of bounds techniques that our military personnel willingly volunteer to undergo in a situation like you saw here. on friday morning the belgian
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authorities captured a terrorist operative. on tuesday morning, his cohorts killed over 30 people in belgium. if that happened in the united states, the american people would rightly ask a lot of tough questions about the kind of interrogation techniques that were used in that 96-hour period. >> and they'd want to know if more plots are in the works right now and is this individual talking about them. if not, what else can be done. you're saying enhanced interrogation techniques might be useful. >> if the experts who have been interrogating terrorists for decades say we need to deprive this person of sleep or use other techniques that are not torture, then i would say as the president, yes, you should do that. it's a tough job. you've got to make tough calls sometimes. >> there are reports that isis has trained at least 400 fighters to target europe right now and that some of these terrorists may actually have been trained in what's called the former soviet bloc. you're well briefed. what can you share with us. >> it was run in large part by the kgb so they're well trained
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in interrogation techniques and how to resist them. our techniques are limited to what's in the army field manual and that's widely available online. >> were some of these terrorists on large plotting terrorist operations in europe trained in the former soviet bloc. >> if you mean by countries. >> by individual countries, in what was once the soviet union -- >> it's certainly possible that you have citizens of those countries receiving training either in those countries or in syria or iraq. that's a possibility. there are a large number of citizens of almost every european country in the former -- or in the west and in the former war saw pact nations. >> let me move on and play this little clip. this is the president of the united states. he had very tough words for senator cruz today. i want to play this clip for you. >> as far as the notion of having surveillance of neighborhoods where muslims are present, i just left a country
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that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance. which, by the way, the father of senator cruz escaped for america. >> the point being that cruz has proposed law enforcement patrolling what he described as muslim neighborhoods. the president says that's a bad idea. you say? >> senator cruz can speak for himself. i will say here in the united states, we've always done a better job of integrating immigrants from all around the world, including immigrants from muslim lands. we have a high degree of cooperation assistance with our muslim citizens. we need to make sure that continues so they aren't subject to radicalization attempts. but i would say about barack obama, yesterday in the middle of a terrorist attack, when americans were missing and maimed, he went to a baseball game in havana with raul castro and did the wave and did an
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interview on espn wearing sunglasses comparing himself to big papi. >> if he were to have cancel those activities, don't the terrorists win? >> no. he's the president of the united states. it is his job to help keep americans safe. if other americans are in florida for spring training to take their kids to a baseball game, then they should go forward with that. the president should have simply gone to our embassy in havana and made sure that every element of the united states government was working to assist the belgian and european authorities to prevent a terrorist attack. >> you were at a small meeting this week with donald trump and other lawmakers. were you impressed by what you heard from the republican front-runner and are you ready to endorse him? >> no, i'm not endorsing anyone in the race. it was a private meeting, i don't want to characterize it. it wasn't much different than much of what mr. trump has said in public. >> what do you think of his foreign policy views? what he said publicly. forget about what he told you privately. >> like any of the candidates, i have my agreements and i have
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disagreements as well. >> what's your biggest concern about him? >> well, i think donald has taken some positions on foreign policy that i would not go as far on. for example, he said that we're spending way too much on nato. i don't think the problem is that the u.s. spends too much on nato, i think the problem is that europe doesn't spend enough. in the cold war it was a 50-50 divide. it's now a 70-30 divide. rather than reducing our sper expenditures on nato, we need to encourage europe to spend enough on nato to stop the kind of terrorist attacks we've seen this week. >> and nato should get more involved in this war against isis. senator cotton, thanks for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. we'll get another perspective when we come back. senator john mccain is standing by live. there he is. we'll get his thoughts of what's going on in the aftermath of the brussels attacks when we come back. t predict market. but ugh good times and bad... t. rowe price... ...we've helped our investors stay confident for over 75 years. call us or your advisor.
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our breaking news, an urgent manhunt under way right now for a suspected bomber in the brussels attacks and other possible terror cell members at large right now. joining us now the chairman of the senate armed services committee, republican senator john mccain of arizona. senator, thanks as usual for joining us. i guess the simple question is this, do you know whether this latest terror attack in brussels was either isis-inspired or, as a lot of us suspect, directly ordered by the isis leadership in raqqah, syria, where they're headquartered? >> no, i don't know the answer to that, but it -- the sophistication of the operation, the capabilities that they have shown, in fact the extent that
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this operation has been operating in two countries clearly indicates an operational level that it would certainly be logical to assume that the inspiration and perhaps a significant degree of the planning came from raqqah, syria. could i -- >> go ahead, senator. finish your thought. >> i think we know, we know for sure that they are training young men to go into the refugee flow and for the exact purpose of committing acts of terror. we know that for sure. and of course that's logic. and that brings us back to this root cause, which is our failure to take out raqqah and mosul because as long as they have a geographic base to export terrorism, then they're going to do it, including we have information, public information that they are -- established a chemical weapons factory there in raqqah. so it goes back to our failure to address the issue seriously
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of the islamic state having a geographic base. >> but the u.s. knows there's a chemical weapons factory there in raqqah, why not simply drop a bomb on it? >> well, i'm not sure they know where it is. as we found out when we took -- when we have regained some territory that they are capable of digging underground and protecting themselves, as you know. so it's not so easy to take it out from the air. air power alone does not win conflicts. you're going to have to have boots on the ground. and some of those boots, like 10,000 out of 100,000 person military would have to be american boots on the ground. you're going to have to go in on the ground to take them out. >> where are the other 90,000 going to come from? >> from sunni arab countries ranging from turkey to saudi arabia to others. and right now that's very
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difficult because there is a failure and a vacuum of american leadership. if there was american leadership, we could lead these other countries into what is clearly their interest and that is to destroy isis at their headquarters. >> donald trump says in order to destroy isis, he would go beyond waterboarding, which is now illegal, other enhanced interrogation techniques. he would actually engage in what he even describes as torture to get information from these terrorists who are prisoners. you were a prisoner of war for five years in vietnam. do you agree with him that these kinds of torture techniques should be used against these isis terrorists, especially if they're plotting some sort of attack? >> wolf, it would be a violation of the geneva convention, which we are largely the authors of. i've forgotten how many nations, 50 or 100 nations are signatories to.
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it would be in violation of the law which we passed 93-3 on the defense authorization bill that prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, which waterboarding fits into. i might remind you at the end of world war ii, we hung -- tried and hung japanese war criminals who had inflicted this kind of torture on american prisoners, and one of the charges was that they had waterboarded. also the point is, i think anybody who has been engaged in this firsthand will tell you that you don't get good information. you only get what the person who is being tortured thinks will make the torture stop. and that is the fact. but if you do this, if you do this, what about the people that do it? what does it do to them? and then what does it say about us? how are we then different from the people that we dislike and hate so much that are doing such
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terrible things? >> if after hearing what donald trump has said about waterboarding and torture, could you see yourself actually supporting him if he were the republican presidential nominee? >> i've said many times that i will support the nominee of the party. i have disagreed with other nominees on specific issues. i will do the best that i can to help any president as we are facing the greatest crises since the end of world war ii. that doesn't come from john mccain, that comes from the director of national intelligence, who testified before the senate armed services committee, general clapper, just a couple of weeks ago. i have to work with any president to try to prevent attacks -- further attacks on the united states of america, which i will tell you right now is probably going to happen, most likely going to happen because of a failure of this president's leadership in allowing all of this to happen beginning with withdrawing
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everybody from iraq. >> why isn't nato as an organization involved in this war to destroy isis? >> again, one is american leadership, again, but the other, of course, is that these nations are not doing well. i mean they are -- they are not cohesive, they haven't spent as much time on defense and money on defense. they have not had american leadership there and they're not pulling their own weight. we all know that. but to -- but the answer is not to withdraw from natnato, it's strengthen nato. maybe after these attacks, you will see much more cohesion. by the way, general breedlove said that vladimir putin is using the refugees to dismantle the european union. >> senator mccain, we've got to unfortunately leave it there. let's resume this conversation in the days ahead. john mccain joining us.
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thank you. >> thank you. >> coming up, we'll have more on the breaking news we're following. a suspected bomber now on the run after escaping from the brussels terror attacks. is he an isis mastermind and is he now planning future attacks?
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just into the situation room, we're getting exclusive reaction to the terror attacks in belgium from the defense secretary, ashton carter. cnn's carol costello just wrapped up an interview with the secretary. carol, what's he saying to you about the efforts to fight isis right now? >> lots of interesting things,
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wolf. i sat down with ash carter at west point where he spoke with the future leaders of our military. he told me europe needs to accelerate its efforts to defeat isis along with the united states. it's not enough for europe to protect its borders. it has to join the united states' efforts in earnest in iraq, in syria, actually wherever isis exists. >> it's not enough that we defeat them in iraq and syria. what brussels tells us is that they have sympathizers, people who are belgians or french who live there already and, therefore, an important part of the fight is also going to be a homeland security and intelligence and a law enforcement fight. now, that's not what the department of defense does, but that's important as well. the other thing i think that the brussels event is going to further signify to europeans is that they, as we have been
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accelerating our campaign to defeat isil in syria and iraq and elsewhere, they need to accelerate their efforts and join us. >> some suggest that we should revisit the subject of torture to get information faster. is that a good idea? >> all of our military and intelligence leaders have spoken on this. we in the department of defense follow the army field manual. it does not allow torture. america conducts itself in accordance with its values -- >> does torture work? >> the experts there who have laid down our policy in that area have agreed for both effectiveness reasons and for reasons of reflecting our own values that we're not going to do that sort of thing. >> okay. so no torture and no carpet bombing. ash carter says it goes again
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american policy and expertise. as for, you know, how america is accelerating its efforts to defeat isis, he brought up mosul, right. mosul, the second largest city within iraq. he said that the united states military will begin helping iraqi forces retake that city from isis in earnest. he said the united states will also focus in raqqah, syria, which is isis' de facto capital. as for how europe can step up its efforts to help the united states, secretary carter says he understands europe doesn't have the military capability that we have and that's fine, but it can do other things like help rebuild cities destroyed by isis, help locals govern themselves, and of course europe can help with money, as in funding those things, wolf. >> good ideas. thanks very much, carol, for that. let's take a quick break. much more news right after this.
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we're following breaking news. a massive manhunt under way for a suspected bomber who escaped after the attacks in brussels. meanwhile, here in the united states, the candidates for president are doing their best to respond to the disturbing developments in europe. phil mattingly reports. >> reporter: terror and politics once again linked. >> it's not about patrolling neighborhoods. it's not about shutting our borders down. >> reporter: twin bombings in brussels like the attacks in paris and san bernardino shining a spotlight on the candidates. donald trump saying when it comes to foreign policy, he will keep u.s. enemies guessing. >> we need unpredictability.
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we have enemy. isis is an enemy. i frankly don't want the enemy to know how i'm thinking. >> reporter: going all in on the use of terror. >> i think we have to change our law on the waterboarding thing where they can chop off heads and they can drown people in cages and heavy steel cages, and we can't waterboard. >> reporter: and considering the use of a nuclear weapon against isis. >> i'm never going to rule anything out. >> reporter: ted cruz under pressure from new york city police officials. >> the statements he made today is why he's not going to become president of this country. >> reporter: dhfgsd own proposals to increase u.s. police patrols in u.s. muslim neighborhoods. >> it's that ostrich head in the sand political correctness that's made america so vulnerable. >> reporter: hillary clinton challenging both in a sweeping foreign policy speech in california today. >> we can't let fear stop us from doing what's necessary to keep us safe. nor can we let it push us into reckless actions that end up
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making us less safe. >> reporter: each candidate fighting for position in the wake of the western tuesday contest. a day that saw hillary clinton come closer to lock up the democratic nomination. >> i'm very proud to have won arizona tonight. >> reporter: a delegate split in the gop. ted cruz winning utah and donald trump dominating in arizona. another primary night raising questions about the effectiveness of the stop trump efforts. cruz securing the endorsement of jeb bush pointing to it as another sign the party is coalescing behind his candidacy. >> what we're seeing across the country is the momentum is with us. one of the things that shows that is this morning jeb bush endorsed our campaign. >> reporter: all coming after a night punctuated by a twitter exchange introducing a traditionally off-limits element into the campaign, candidates spouses sparked by an anti-trump superpac facebook ad showing an old modeling photo of his wife
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melania. donald trump defending his wife. >> you want a character to debate bob, you better stick with me because sydney alan wade is way out of your league. >> reporter: if donald wants to get in the character fight, he's better off sticking with me because heidi is way out of his league. >> reporter: highs heidi cruz wg in on the matter. >> most of the things donald trump says have no basis in reality so we're not worried in the least. we're focussing on our campaign. >> reporter: now, wolf, ted cruz and his campaign have looked to move beyond last night's twitter dust-up. donald trump rolling out a string of attacks on ted cruz recently including one that says not unlike how cruz tries to steal from donald trump's foreign policy. he steals movie lines from michael douglas. >> thanks, phil mattingly. more on the search for the suspected bomber who escaped from the scene of the brussels airport. show me movies with explosions.
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call or go onliand switch to x1. only with xfinity. happening now. the manhunt. a frantic search under way for the surviving terrorist behind the triple bombing that left dozens dead, hundreds more wounded in brussels tonight, concern that there could be more terror cells planning more carnage across the west. the plot. new details about the coordinated attacks. bombers setting off explosives in two locations at near -- both nearby at nearly the same time. was the plan directed by isis in syria? and did the terrorists move up what was supposed to be an easter holiday attack because they feared police were closing in? the bombmaker. cnn has learned the man behind the brussels explosions may also
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have built the suicide vests used in the paris attacks in november. now there's deep concern the bombs built for this attack packed in suitcases may represent a frighteningly lethal and new powerful and portable bomb. and the warge. the state department issuing blunt and stern advice to americans planning trips to europe. what to avoid, where not to go as the u.s. says it fears new terror attacks may be in the pipeline. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> we're following the breaking news. new details about the brussels terror attacks. and new confusion about how many isis terrorists remain on the loose right now and how they fit into the group's power structure. sources tell cnn the man in the light jacket and dark hat in this surveillance picture most
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likely got away. what's not clear is if he was the terror cell's master mind or simply a guide for the suicide bombers. also new information about the suspected bombmaker and the alarming possibility isis could be capable of building more sophisticated, more portable and potentially deadlier bombs. some experts now saying the bomb used in brussels was a hib rid of a suicide vest and a car bomb. all of this as the u.s. state department warning americans that traveling to europe right now is risky because of what the u.s. government is calling a threat of, quote, near-term terror attacks. i'll ask congressman adam schiff, a top member of the house intelligence committee, what he can tell us about the briefings he's received. and/or correspondents, analysts and guests are all on top of all of the breaking news. let's begin wither justice correspondent pamela brown. pamela, you've been working your own sources and keeping up with the investigation. what are you learning about the suicide bombers and their
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possible accomplices? >> we're learning about missed signs. turkish authorities say one of the brothers at the airport was deported back to belgium last year for his ties to terrorism. and the other brother had an interpol red notice issued this year for terrorism charges. yet both of them were able to wreak havoc in brussels yesterday morning along with a man connected to the bombs used in the paris attacks. tonight cnn has learned the alleged paris bombmaker, 24-year-old najim laachraoui was one of the suicide attackers. a belgium counterterrorism official says investigators believe he's seen here on the left in this surveillance image from the brussels airport. authorities say belgian national ibrahim el bakraoui was the second suicide bomber. the unidentified man on the right is still on the run. and investigators say he dropped off a large bafg explosives before fleeing. >> his bag had the sfrongest explosives. a few moments after the bomb
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squad arrived at the scene, the bag exploded. fortunately, no one was hurt by that bomb. >> reporter: el bakraoui's brother khalid detonated his own bomb at a metro station an hour after the airport attack. the taxi driver who drove the three attackers to the airport led police to the brussels residence where he picked them up. inside, investigators found bomb-making materials, including acetone and hydrogen peroxide, also detonators, a suitcase full of nails and screws and about 33 pounds of the explosive called tatp, enough to make multiple bombs. in a trash can on the street nearby, investigators found a laptop. on it messages from ibrahim before the attack stating he was, kwoetd, in a rush and if he takes too long, he will end up with him in jail. belgian investigators believe he was referring to salah abdeslam, one of the ring leaders of the november paris attacks who was captured last week.
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investigators believe abdeslam was likely supposed to take part in the brussels attack and after his arrest the cell accelerated their plans. as the manhunt continues for additional suspects, officials warn the threat is not over. >> a war has been waged against us and we must be totally determined in fighting this scourge. >> the ccern among intelligence officials tonight is that there are others who are part of this network still on the loose in europe and plotting right now to launch more attacks in the near future. >> pamela, thank you. the toll of the brussels attack is up to 31 dead and 270 people wounded. in addition to searching for the plotters, police in brussels are collecting more evidencekillers. clarissa ward is in brussels for us. tell us what's you are learning about the man believed to be the bombmaker. >> wolf, what we're trying to ascertain at this stage is was he the sole bombmaker, the man
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responsible for putting together the explosives both in the paris attacks and here in these brussels attacks? or is he one of several bombmakers? are these bomb-making skills now more readily available to these young isis recruits? but here's what we know about najim laachraoui. 24 years old. born in morocco. known to have traveled to syria, wolf, in 2013, meaning he was definitely on the radar of authorities. there was an interpol red alert out for him in that red alert, it details he was believed to have involvement with terrorist organizations, that he was believed to have expertise in terms of dealing with explosives. and we know he was very closely involved with the paris attacks because his dna was found at the scene of one of these bomb-making factories. in addition to that, we know that he was wiring money at a western union to abdelhamid
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abaaoud who was the ringleader of the paris attacks. there will definitely be a sense of relief here in belgium knowing he is dead, he is now confirmed to be the other suicide attacker in those airport bombings. but certainly there are a lot of questions as well as to how he was able to elude capture for so long when authorities -- when he was so well known to authorities, wolf. >> it's very disturbing. i've got to tell you. clarissa, what are you learning about the man on the run seen in the light colored jacket and airport surveillance image? the one with the hat on? what are you hearing about him? >> well, wolf, authorities are being extremely tight-lipped at the moemment. that's been a common theme. there's a sense here they don't want the media to get wind on any of their leads because they don't want it to spread and contaminate one of the sites or tip off one of the terrorists. what we do know is he is the primary focus of this manhunt.
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you've seen this image now so many times. he looks very distinctive next to the two men in black. he's wearing a lighter jacket. glasses and a cap. fo tentially an attempt to disguise his face. perhaps what's most noticeable is unlike the other two men who are both wearing one glove each, those gloves likely used to conceal a detonator, he is not wearing any gloves. that could be a sign that he was never intended to act as a suicide bomber. we know in his suitcase there was the largest amount of most powerful explosives. what we don't know yet is did he get cold feet? did the bomb just not detonate and perhaps most importantly, wolf, where is he now? we heard belgium's prosecutor earlier on saying there is still a number of wanted people, potentially armed and dangerous at large. this is very much still an unfolding and ongoing situation, wolf. >> certainly is, clarissa ward in brussels for us. let's get some insight. congressman adam schiff of
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california is joining us, the top democrat on the house intelligence committee. congressman, thanks for joining us. >> you bet. >> you're well briefed. what can you tell us about this third suspect, the guy with the hat, the white jacket. he's at large right now. >> obviously an intensive manhunt for him. we're trying to do everything to support the belgian efforts. when they're able to identify people, when they're able to produce selectors, phone numbers or whatnot, we run them through our system to try to find out are there any leads we can help supply. we're doing everything we can. it's important to know while the manhunt is focused on this one person, there's a broad concern there may be a great many other facilitators -- >> hundreds of others? >> potentially throughout europe. i don't know there are hundreds throughout belgium. >> all isis related? isis members, if you will? organized by isis, not just what they call lone wolves? >> these would include foreign
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fight whoerers who have returne and those like involved in the brussels attack that have been afltd with isis, have made contact with foreign fighters, may have had some communication with isis in raqqah. >> what about the bombmaker, najim laachraoui. normally you don't want to see them dead because isis wants their -- >> i don't have confirmation the bombmaker is dead. >> that's what they are saying. >> but i think the materials, frankly, are quite readily available. and isis is doing its best to disseminate the skills necessary to make these bombs. so if this bombmaker blew himself up, as you say the belgians are confirming, there are many others to take his place. and this is why this effort has to be so intensive. they demonstrated that capacity to resupply, they had people obviously in paris that
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detonated themselves. and there are more that are willing to do the same. >> the timing of this terror attack in brussels, did it occur, because the other day they rested one of the suspects, one of the terrorists from the paris terror attacks salah abdeslam and thought he was talking and thought we better do this before we get rounded up? >> i think it accelerated the plot but that plot had to be already in the works. too sophisticated with multiple targets and multiple parties -- >> abdeslam, was he going to be part of these additional plots based on what you are hearing? >> certainly if the reports are accurate about what's found on that laptop, it looks like he was going to be part of these plots. what his role may have been, i don't know. whether he would have tried to live another day to organize yet another plot, still to be determined. >> is he cooperating and sharing important information? >> that's not something i'm able to speak to today. and i think part of the concern frankly is that may have led to the acceleration of the last
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plot, the belief by others that he was talking. and i just can't confirm whether that's accurate. >> congressman, we have more to discuss, including this pretty extraordinary state department travel alert issued warning americans maybe this is not a good time to go to europe because of near-term terror attacks. much more with congressman adam schiff when we come back. and during this event, you can get a great deal on this jetta. it drives great... volkswagen believes safety is very important so all eleven models come standard with an intelligent crash response system... hmm..... .....and seven stability-enhancing systems... hmm... ...for more confidence... on road trips. hmmfff... hmm... for those who take safety seriously. like we do. the volkswagen safety in numbers event... hurry in and get a $1,000 volkswagen reward card when you purchase or lease select new 2015 or 2016 volkswagen models. you're an at&t small business expert? sure am. my staff could use your help staying in touch with customers. at&t can help you stay connected.
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where medicine meets the future. let us help grow your company's tomorrow - today - at we're back with the top democrat on the house intelligence committee. we follow all the breaking news of the isis terror attacks. a state department spokesman tells me about a dozen americans were hurt in the terror attacks. some u.s. citizens, including diplomats and family members right now remain unaccounted for. also breaking now, an
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extraordinary state department warning to americans about travel to europe. not just belgium but to europe. let's get more from our global affairs correspondent elise labott. it talks about near-term attacks. does it get more specific? >> no, wolf. they definitely think there are attacks throughout europe but nothing specific to any country or place. it's a big deal. the state department doesn't issue a caution of this nature lightly, particularly ahead of europe's busiest tourist season. with about a dozen americans injured in the attack and many more miss, officials are warning isis attacks could be coming in europe and americans need to be extremely vigilant. with officials warning isis is on the loose and a massive manhunt under way, the state department is taking the rare step of urging americans to think twice about traveling to europe. warning that terrorists, quote,
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continue to plan near-term attacks throughout europe. targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants and transportation. a dire assessment ahead of the summer travel season. a former house intelligence chair says such a dramatic warning is likely the result of alarming intel pointing to the possibility of more terror. >> what's they know is that probably brussels was not the only target set. paris was not the only target set. there are likely other target sets in europe. >> reporter: isis fighters, many trained on the battlefields of syria, are returning home to carry out their jihad in the weflt. sometimes infiltrating the flux of migrants fleeing the violence. brussels, the headquarters of the european union and nato has important symbolic value and has emerged as a hub for jihadis planning attacks. the paris attackers capitalizing on lax security crossed into france from brussels.
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and the weapons used in the charlie hebdo attack last january were also smuggled from across theorder. steps to shore up security not coming fast enough. >> brussels indeed as a capital of europe is centrally located. and that means that it is perhaps a platform where people come, meet, arrange, plan and that kind of thing. >> reporter: intel experts say belgium remains ill equipped to tackle the problem. >> nine different police districts. some of them don't speak the same language. a hard time sharing. there are signals, intelligence is very old. >> reporter: the european union with no common defense or intelligence body has failed to share vital intel with belgium and the u.s. >> we're likely to have more plots. that doesn't mean they would succeed. we need to scale up extremely quickly european response. >> reporter: and the state department just announced that
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secretary of state john kerry will be traveling to brussels on friday. in addition to offering condolences for the belgian people in the wake of the attack he'll meet with belgian and european union officials to talk about the investigation and efforts to fight isis, including how the u.s. and eu can better work together to share intel on these threats, wolf. >> certainly a lot of work needs to be done. thanks, elise. let's bring back congressman adam schiff, top democrat on the house intelligence committee. what are you hearing about the state department warning of near-term attacks and americans should be very cautious about going to various locations in europe right now? >> this is extraordinary for the state department to be warning travelers about something as broad as europe. usually it's very country specific. but it's reflective of the fact the intelligence community does have information, that there are plots and great number of people unaccounted for, different targets within europe so the state department evidently
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decided to be extraordinarily prudent and provide these warnings. >> i assume you agree with mike rogers they wouldn't issue a warning like this unless there was hard intelligence of near-term attacks. >> i don't think they'd do it without considerable intelligence that there were attacks potentially in several european capitals or other cities. this happened to be a very weighty decision. imagine the impact on europe. already reeling from the attacks and now they potentially could be reeling from the economic consequences. it's a big step for the state department to undertake something like this. >> the state department says about a dozen americans were injured in these two terror attacks. three bombings in brussels. and that others remain missing right now including some diplomats and family members. what, if anything, can you tell us about that? >> i don't have any more specific information on that but it's extraordinary if you can account for all your people because that's the first thing that happens after a terrorist attack is our embassies will reach out to our people. they'll try and make sure they
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get in contact, they know where people are. so anyone who is not accounted for is subject of great concern. >> have you heard any indication that americans were specifically targeted in these attacks? >> i have not heard that. now we have seen public reports that the location of some of these bombs may have been near some of the american carriers. it's also, i think, pretty evident, though, in terms of the metro that was an attack on the whole fabric of europe. many european institutions. they were, i think, as much a target if not more than we were certainly in terms of the metro. >> u.s. officials have told cnn, congressman, that there were warning signs out there what they call nonspecific chatter in the weeks leading up to these terror attacks in brussels. here's the question. could it have been prevented? >> i don't know. certainly could have been prevented perhaps if belgium had greater capacity but could have been prevented in the sense we
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have intelligence? were there dots we didn't connect? i don't think that's the case. we have been aware there were ongoing plots against cities in europe. there were concerns about brussels but there have been concerns about paris and berlin and many other cities as well. we often get a lot of information about the general timing and the general location but we generally don't get very specific about on this date they're going after these targets. >> what's worrisome is these terrorists were well known to belgian authorities. interpol had what they call a red notice on one of the suicide bombers. yet they were moving around in daylight, if you will. and no one was picking them up. it looks like a major security failure. >> it was certainly that. when you consider the fact that salah abdeslam was in molenbeek, i was in molenbeek just a few weeks ago. >> he was one of the paris bombers on the loose for four months, hiding in plain sight in his hometown. >> right in that molenbeek
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neighborhood. when i was there the police were quite active in the neighborhood. there have been arrests on a weekly basis if not more. but the fact that it could continue to serve as a logistical hub for additional attacks even when the belgians were pressing the way they were, state of heightened vigilance. that says that really the belgian services don't have the capacity to deal with the magnitude of the problem both from foreign fighters as well as belgians who are radicalized at home. >> there are now reports that isis has trained at least 400 fighters to target europe. can you confirm that? >> i can't confirm the number but there is a large number of people -- >> hundreds? >> potentially hundreds. if you include foreign fighters that have returned from the fight as well as people that didn't leave for the fight but in communication with isis, it could well reach those kind of numbers. >> congressman adam schiff, thanks for coming in. we'll have more on the manhunt for the surviving bomber
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and if possible accomplices are at large. also the frightening new bomb used in the brussels attack. some experts believe it's a hybrid of a suicide belt and a car bomb.
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we're getting more details about the alleged isis bombmaker and a frightening new type of
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explosive used. brian todd has been looking into all of this for us. >> new information tonight from investigators about the three suspects at the airport. a belgi counterterrorism official tells our paul kr cruickshank this man on the left is likely najim laachraoui. they believe he blew himself up at the brussels airport yesterday. also new tonight, concerns from terrorism experts that the kinds of bombs these men used are newer, more portable, more lethal devices than we've seen in the past. this man on the right, a suspect on the run. still unidentified tonight. considered one of the most dangerous men in europe. he's believed to have been a leader of the suicide bombers at the brussels airport, tasked with making sure the others carried out their attacks. belgian investigators say the same terrorist cell masterminded the paris and brussels attacks. and tonight experts worry the
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brussels bombings have revealed a disturbing hybrid terrorist capability. combining the portability of a suicide vest with a more powerful explosive in a suitcase. >> what flexibility does it give them to pack something, maybe with the explosive power of a car bomb into this? >> this certainly gives them a lot of flexibility. >> reporter: this photo shows the three men pushing suitcases on carts. two men are wearing only one glove each. they think it's possible each man's glove hid a detonator. one possible clue is what police later found in an apartment raid. >> fiend kilograms of explosives, tatp, acetone, 30 theaters are hydrogen peroxide, detonators. >> reporter: tatp, a peroxide based very unstable explosive that packs a nasty punch. this video shows tatp combusting just from a tiny film canister.
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>> tatp is one of the most sensitive explosives known to the bomb tech community. it takes very little initiation to set it up. >> reporter: it's so delicate that just trying to make a bomb with tatp can be deadly. if a terrorist is successful in making one, he has another advantage. >> it can be more dangerous because it's difficult to detect. >> reporter: bombs that are difficult to detect, easy to make, combining massive explosive power with enough maneuverability to navigate through a crowded airport. a tactic soeffective, experts worry it will be repeated. >> something we'll see quite a lot in the future. the number of casualties is usually high, and the effect the terrorists want to achieve as a result is also very high. >> reporter: does this kind of bomb, do these tactics mean that's passengers are going to be screened at the entrances now to airports? terrorism expert rafi ron says
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that would create long lines of passengers at the curb. they might be exposed to bombings or drive-by shootings. no easy answer to this. >> absolutely right. what kinds of measures, brian, can help thwart this kind of an attack at airports? >> what this may require, wolf, is more law enforcement officers roving near the entrances and near ticket counters using detection dogs, behavioral screening methods and other measures. but that may not prevent attacks like the ones we saw in brussels. >> nothing is perfect, i guess. let's get more insight from our experts. i want to bring in cnn terrorism analyst paul cruickshank, justice reporter evan perez and former cia official, cnn counterterrorism analyst phil mudd. is it a surprise thathis new kind of bomb hadn't been used before? >> well, wolf, it's quite similar to other things we've seen. tatp has been used by richard
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reid, azazi tried to use this with some subway bombings. what isis has been trying to do and their operatives in europe are trying to do is test new ways. they've been kngetting better, more sophisticated. some of their early attempts failed miserably. they're getting better at trying to do this. >> it seems so much more deadly this hybrid bomb. you don't just wear it on your vest. >> it's a curious evolution. for years we've been talking about skilled bombmakers who want to get bombs into enclosed spaces secretly like aircraft, backpacks into trains. here you van evolution not necessarily in the bombing material, tatp, but in the conception of the attack. forget about trying to be secret. we'll go into a public place with a massive device where you are suggesting the casualties could be greater. >> certainly could be. paul, you've been doing a lot of reporting on this bombmaker. what have you learned about him? >> najim laachraoui, they don't
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know yet for absolutely sure that he was the bombmaker but they found his dna at the paris attacks bomb factory in brussels. he was either handling the devices or making the devices. they believe he was possibly the bombmaker. they need to come up with a conclusive evidence of that. still, he's believed to have gone to syria in 2013 from belgium. the belgian authorities were aware of this. he was even convicted in absentia in a trial in belgium but managed to slip back into europe. he was possibly picked up by salah abdesbam laws he was in a car with him as it crossed the hungary/austria border. he then came back in to belgium. and during the night of the paris attacks he was coordinating the attacks in realtime from brussels in touch with those three attack teams in paris, wolf. and then was part of that network that helped abdeslam
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hide after the paris attacks. and, obviously, then planned this follow-on attack in brussels. >> ushlgly, phil, they don't want these terror organizations, the master bombmaker with a lot of skills to be a suicide bomber because those skills then disappear. they want to keep the bombmaker for future operations. what does this is a if he's the master bombmaker and blew himself up, he's gone now? >> first, you're right. in a lot of situations, al qaeda in yemen, the bombmakers are so hard to come by you don't want to sacrifice them because it's not easy to build these devices. this signals a couple of things. you have a commitment to conduct an attack by the bombmaker. he wants to participate. also that noose is closing. we've seen in the last day or two one of the individuals saying i thought i was going down. we've got to do something. he might have figured i don't have any time left. i've got to go. >> what's the fbi role right now, evan? in this investigation and the
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concern something like that could happen here? >> i think it's somewhat what phil is getting at. the fbi is there partly because they are interested in the bomb and how it was made, and really one of the interesting things that's been happening is this idea that perhaps there's a master bombmaker who is teaching these guys in syria and sending his graduates to europe. so perhaps this bombmaker was someone who, you know, just one of many they have that they've sent to europe. so that's the reason why they were willing to let him go and have him blow himself up. the fbi is very interested in the device, wolf. they know this device was made from a lot of homemade components, things you can get at beauty stores in the united states if you are going to buy large supplies of beauty supplies, you are going to trip wires for the fbi. the fbi is going to come knocking on your door. >> stand by. we'll take a quick break. a lot more information coming in. there were about a dozen americans injured in these terror attacks. and other americans right now including u.s. diplomatic personnel and their families are
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unaccounted for. they are missing right now. here's the question, were americans targeted? much more when we come back. these are the hands, the hands that drive commerce,
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♪ we can't let you download on the goooooo! ♪ ♪ you'll just have to miss it! ♪ yeah, you'll just have to miss it! ♪ ♪ we can't let you download... uh, no thanks. i have x1 from xfinity so... don't fall for directv. xfinity lets you download your shows from anywhere. i used to like that song. we're back with our terrorism and justice experts. following today's breaking news, the manhunt for the suspected bomber and another terrorist involved in the brussel
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terrorist attacks. about a dozen aricans were involved and a whole bunch of americans still missing right now, unaccounted for, including some diplomats, family members. the fear is maybe these americans were targeted by these terror attacks. what do you think? >> i don't buy that. what we have are classic terrorism branding. since 9/11 we've had the attacks in madrid a decade ago, attacks in london, al qaeda tried to take down an aircraft over detroit. this is isis saying we're going to go back to the same locations, same vulnerabilities, and you can't stop us. >> paul cruickshank, is there any evidence, do you think, these terrorists were deliberately looking for americans? >> well, we haven't heard any evidence of that so far. but we know during the bataclan attack in paris, they were asking where is that american rock band, the eagles of death metal because they wanted to
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target americans. and the reason they said that was because both america and france targeting isis in syria and iraq. so i think it is certainly possible that they would have been on the lookout for americans. they would have hoped americans would be at brussels international airport. many americans travel through that airport, wolf. >> evan, what are you hearing? >> they think it's probably the opposite. just the location of this explosion was closer to actually a belgian airline. there was an american airline -- a u.s. airline near, but the cluster of people that were injured was largely belgian nationals, peoe who are traveling on a belgian iairline not a u.s. carrier. if you are going to carry out an attack in belgium, you're going to hit a lot of americans, uks is the, people from all over europe because it is the center of europe. >> some of these terrorists had lengthy criminal records, well known to prosecutors, well known
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to law enforcement. yet they were free if you will, and they could plot a terror attack like this. >> sometimes i can't figure it out. the intel in law enforcement business you have a phrase we use, case management. in case management you are always sitting on risk. who are the players? do they have access to weapons and explosives? where have they traveled? if you have four months and people named in red notices, a couple of days i get. i don't understand how case management is working here. these guys should have gone done. >> paul cruickshank, you heard adam schiff, the top democrat of the house intelligence committee say that he thinks it's probably true there are probably hundreds of isis terrorists roaming around europe right now involved in these plots. what are you hearing? >> well, here's the arithmetic. 6,000 or more european extremists have gone to syria and iraq, joined up with groups like isis. most of them perhaps joining isis. at least 1,500 have come back. many of those people experienced
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in killing. and so there's a very grave concern about the terrorist threat that isis poses. isis has created an external operations division dedicating to hitting europe, dedicated to hitting the west. that report is up to the top leadership of isis. so they are ratcheting up the international attack. they have all these extremists in their ranks who they can train and then send back. so it is an alarming time for european security officials, wolf. >> guys, stand by. we're going to move on. i want to get to some other important news with their latest primary contest overshadowed by the terror attacks in brussels, donald trump and ted cruz have been talking very tough, suggesting everything from mass surveillance to torture to nuclear strikes, if necessary. cnn's sunlen serfaty has been looking into all of this. a lot of fallout from their remarks. what's the latest? >> that tough talk from both
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donald trump and ted cruz is receiving a lot of heat today in what could be a preview of a potential general election argument, hillary clinton going right after both of them today calling their response to the terror attacks wrong and dangerous. tonight the terror attacks in brussels are reverberating through the presidential campaign. >> we need unpredictability. >> reporter: gop front-runner donald trump saying he would potentially use nuclear weapons to stop isis. >> i'm never going to rule anything out because at a minimum, i want them to think maybe we would use them. >> reporter: trump also telling wolf that he would support waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods. >> they can chop off heads and they can drown people in cages and heavy steel cages and we can't waterboard. so we have to change our laws and we have to be able to fight at least on an almost equal basis. >> reporter: democratic front-runner hillary clinton is
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outlining a contrasting counterterrorism agenda. >> we can't let fear stop us from doing what's necessary to keep us safe. nor can we let it push us into reckless actions that end up making us less safe. >> reporter: taking aim not just at trump but ted cruz who is calling for stepped up policing of muslim communities in the u.s. >> it is that ostrich head in your hand political correctness that has made america so vulnerable. >> reporter: cruz was rebuked by new york city officials for his comments, including the police commissioner. >> doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. >> reporter: and the mayor. >> i just have to say it's reprehensible. his comments are not about safety and security. it's demagoguery. >> reporter: cruz in new york today pushed back. >> and the mayor's response is essentially, who are these terrorists of which you speak? >> reporter: this on the heels of a split decision in tuesday's
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western state contest. and a new endorsement from former rival jeb bush. >> what's we're seeing all across the country is the momentum is with us. i'll tell you one of the things that shows that is this morning, jeb bush endorsed our campaign. >> reporter: and as the trump/cruz feud intensifies, their wives are now being drawn into the fight. sparked by an anti-trump superpac facebook ad showing an old modeling photo of trump's wife melania. trump blaming cruz for the ad tweeting be careful or i'll spill the beans on your wife. cruz denies his campaign had anything to do with the ad. >> that should be beneath donald. >> reporter: heidi cruz is also weighing in. >> there are a lot of things that donald trump and his campaign say that have no basis in reality. >> reporter: her husband using a line from the american president to punch back at his rival. >> you want a character to debate, bob, you better stick with me because
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>> if donald wants to get into a character fight, he's better off sticking with me because heidi is way out of his league. >> reporter: donald trump doubling down today sweeting, quote, lying ted cruz steals foreign policy from me and lines from michael douglas. just another dishonest politician. cruz today called this gutter politics, a new low, he says, for donald trump. >> sunlen, thanks very much. we'll have more on the breaking news coming up right after this. ♪ ♪look out honey... ♪because i'm using technology...♪ ♪ ♪ain't got time to make no apologies...♪ ♪ ♪soul radiation in the dead of night...♪ ♪love in the middle of a fire fight...♪ ♪ ♪honey gotta strike me blind...
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terror attacks and their impact on the u.s. presidential race. let's bring in our senior political correspondent brianna keilar, who is following hillary clinton's speech, and gloria borger and rebecca burg. gloria, how is the path for the republican nomination looking for donald trump? >> i think he's chugging right along there, wolf. you know, the interesting thing about donald trump is the unease with which conservatives still regard him and his frontrunner status. you can see that cruz won last night and got all the delegates in utah. you see conservatives trying to rally other conservatives around cruz like jeb bush, for example, today. usually at this point in a race where you have somebody who is such a frontrunner, the party usually tries to coalesce and
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gather around this person and prop them up. at this point, just the opposite is really occurring, which is the party is continuing to split and fracture and will continue perhaps until the convention. >> brianna, hillary clinton, she hit both trump and cruz today in ore speech on counterterrorism. will those hits be effective? >> reporter: you know, that's a very good question. republicans, wolf, would actually see this as a vulnerability for hillary clinton because she was secretary of state during the rise of isis, but hillary clinton and her campaign feel like they're in a really good place to show that she has a broad base of knowledge on foreign policy. she said they're in over their heads, loose cannon was one way she described donald trump, dangerous and wrong, cowering in fear and hiding behind walls. she's trying to paint these republican frontrunners as not knowing what they're talking about and not having the
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temperament to deal with foreign and the safety of americans. this is something hillary clinton is not always comfortable with personality politics and selling herself, but this was a clearly an area where she was much more comfortable. >> what do you make of the escalating fight between cruz and trump? >> it certainly is escalating today, wolf, with the fight over their wives of all things. these are the two heavyweights in the republican race. john kasich obviously still running. he says he intends to keep this fight going into the convention, but he's not racking up delegates. he didn't win yesterday. in arizona, he came in behind marco rubio, who is no longer in the race. really it's a race now between ted cruz and donald trump. at least at this point. what's really interesting about the race at there stage is republican elites, so mitt romney, jeb bush, are rallying behind ted cruz because they're
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seeing him as the best chance to take out donald trump. >> pretty amazing these republican leaders are now saying ted cruz is the guy. >> they loathe ted cruz. they cannot believe it themselves, but when they take a look at donald trump and they believe like hillary clinton in many ways that he is too erratic, that he is not dependable, and they don't know what they're going to get with them, at least with ted cruz, whom they don't like, and by the way whom say to me they consider him dangerous, at least they figure they know where he stands. i think right now, wolf, there's talk about a third party. if there is one, it's only because they want to save their candidates down ticket, down ballot who are running for the senate and give them an alternative because they say may say, you know what, we can't endorse trump in a presidential race. >> president obama today going after ted cruz on carpet bombing. listen to this. >> when i hear somebody saying
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we should carpet bomb iraq or syria, not only is that inhumane, not only is that contrary to our values, but that would likely be an extraordinary mechanism for isil to recruit more people willing to die and explode bombs in an airport. >> looks like he's really stepping into the -- even though he is in argentina, he's getting increasingly involved in politics. >> reporter: he certainly is. he's clearly concerned about his legacy. today, hillary clinton was quoting the new york police commissioner bill bratton when he said that senator cruz doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. she said that ted cru saying this doesn't show he's tough. it shows that he's in over his head. both of them trying to work it, labeling ted cruz as well as donald trump. >> thanks very much.
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we're going to stay on top of all the political news, the race for the white house. that's it for me. i'm wolf blitzer. thanks very much for watching. next, live from brussels where the breaking news tonight. cnn obtaining exclusive new video from inside the airport moments after the blasts. plus, the explosive known as the mother of satan found in one of the suspect's apartments. ted cruz says patrol muslim neighborhoods. donald trump says waterboard. hillary clinton says they're both dead wrong. let's go "outfront." good evening. i'm erin burnett. and i live in brussels tonight. outfront, the breaking news. the exclusive new video, terrifying


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