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tv   Morning Joe  MSNBC  December 15, 2014 3:00am-6:01am PST

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>> our only goal tonight and for as long as this takes is to get those people that are currently caught in that building out of their safely. that remains our number one priority and nothing will change. >> there's breaking news this morning out of australia. much of sidney at a standstill right now. nearly 13 hours after a gunman entered a chocolate store in the city's central business district where dozens of people were inside. australia prime minister tony abbott says the gunman is claiming political motivation. the prime minister has not declared the incident an act of
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terrorism but we do know that a jihadist flag black with arabic writing was displayed in the window with the hostages are being held. several local media outlets report they were contacted by the hostages. they had two demands. an isis flag and a meeting with the prime minister. here is prime minister tony abbott. >> australia is a peaceful, open and generous society. nothing should ever change that and that's why i would urge all australians today to go about their business as usual. >> and as we watch, this is some of the hostages, at least five of them were able to escape. there are dozens more inside. word from the white house, the president has been briefed on the situation in australia offering any assistance if necessary but obviously some really, really key questions we're looking at here.
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>> also breaking news halfway across the world in belgium. ap and bbc reporting that four armed men entered a building and police sealed off the area. no information if they tr related or not. as we look at the situation unfolding in australia last night, this is part of an ongoing pattern. bbc put up last night a time line about australia's terror threat and they have obviously been having this problem for some time and been worrying about a situation look this with one expert saying in australia and warning for some time in a lone wolves actually pose the greatest terror threat to australia. it looks like that may be what we're seeing right now. >> all right. we've g
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i want to take a look at the time line while we do not know yet if this hostage situation is terrorism, there has been growing concern in australia over the last few months about the threat from islamic state militants. in july, officials blamed an australia for a suicide bombing in iraq. on august 5th, australia unveiled ledu unveiled legislation to prevent people going to fight with is m islamist groups. the prime minister commits 600 troops to the fight against isis. september 18th, australia conducts its biggest counterterrorism raid. the raid is linked to an alleged plot by australians to kill random member of the public. in october, australia also approves air strikes against the islamic state. 11 days ago the country bans citizens from traveling to a province in syria that is an
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islamic state stronghold and on sunday, one gunman takes hostages in sidney. >> it's been a growing threat there. obviously this is something we talked about the lone wolf threat. this is something that you've been talking about for some time that you can send troops to a battlefield but if you are going against an ideology, even if that ideology is nihilism and attracts the biggest losers and most disenfranchised people, it creates the biggest threat whether you're in sidney, australia or california. >> the gunman could have all kinds of problems is now shutting down a big part of one of the major cities in this world. and part of that as you mentioned because it is a lone wolf, possible lone wolf. the first thing authorities are going to try to do is identified if he has affiliations or
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connections. he had traveled abroad. did anyone help him in trying to carry this attack out. these are questions that they will comb through quickly to try to answer. bottom line is an individual can draw the media's attention and be given a platform. just raising a flag is a flag people have seen around the world and is now synonymous with a mindset and fear it creates. >> what's interesting in that time line is it suggested they had been raising the threat level gradually and committing more resources to fight isis. is australia now drawn into good guys/bad guys scenario in the middle east. >> australia has been involved in what's been going on for more than a decade. involved in the iraq war in 2003. they are a close u.s. ally. culturally, politically. at the same time we've known now
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that australians have gone to join the fight in syria and iraq for some time and once that became apparent, once we started seeing some of the propaganda video that isis released showing individuals from southeast asia, that's when australians and also the government in new zealand began to realize that this is a potential threat and as we saw the raids, the legislation, the crackdown. >> just to review. we're 13 hours into this right now. it all began at 9:45 in the morning in sidney. martin place is a shopping plaza in the heart of city's financial and shopping district near the parliament packed with holiday shoppers at this time of year. a lot of people just getting their morning cup of coffee. we've got sound. a woman says she's the mother of an 18-year-old hostage at the cafe says that he texted her from inside the cafe and here's what she told an australian radio show. >> i couldn't believe it was
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actually happening. >> he's been in contact with you by text, has he? >> i received a message and he said i'm in the cafe in sidney and my heart just dropped. i texted back and said what's going on? are you okay. he said i'm okay. can't talk. and i haven't heard anything since. >> and, joe, there are stories of hostages calling tv hosts and other personalities and telling them that the hostage taker wants a meeting with the prime minister, among other things, which is obviously an awkward situation. one personality said i can't do that. it's not my job to be a negotiator. there are demands being made. >> the demands are being made over telephones. it's interesting wire reports
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and reports out of australian papers this morning reporting that the hostages are actually being allowed to keep their telephones. they are allowed to text the conditions. some texting that the situation is dire and they need to get out as soon as possible. but there is no doubt there's been a concerted effort to get information out from inside the chocolate store. the propaganda out of the situation in there and with the hostage reportedly -- or actually, the kidnapper reportedly telling one news anchor that he was in part doing this because the news coverage of isis has been unfair to date. there's no doubt it's a strategy that perhaps it's a lone wolf. to get information from inside the store on how dire the situation has been and so you are getting streams of phone
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calls from inside there, which certainly is unusual for a situation like this. >> a couple of updates on this and then we're going to touch base on the situation in belgium. the company which is the coffee shop being held right now posted a message on his facebook page thanking the public for its support and say they're deeply concerned over this incident praying for everybody inside. obviously the prime minister says that it is profoundly shocking that innocent people should be held hostage like this. the whole area has been cordoned off and the city is shut down at this point. >> they've created an exclusion zone around the coffee shop but the symbol ic issues is that its close to several big places. people are trying to calm the city and get people to go about business but when you shut down a major block in a major city,
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it's symbolic significance. >> it's a very delicate balance for those giving information to the media. here's more from the press conference just held a short while ago with the police commissioner and the premiere from new south whales. >> i'm proud of how we've responded as a city, a state and a nation. but my thoughts remain with those that are caught in this event and my call goes out to the state to pray for them, to pray for their families. >> ultimately we are doing all we can in these difficult circumstances and we will get through it. >> now our only goal tonight and for as long as this takes is to get those people that are currently caught in that building out of their safely. that remains our number one priority and nothing will change. i'm sure that there are many questions that you might have for us and i'm not going to
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necessarily be in a position to give you that information because i will not be going into the tactics or the strategies that we're employing. suffice to say that we have large numbers of police. they are in contact and we are working to resolve this just as quickly as we possibly can. having said that, i want to thank the community, particularly those people in the city today, you acted in a way that made our job easier than it could have been and for that i want to thank you. there's much work to be done and much more for us to do over the coming hours i'm sure. again, for those that have loved ones that may be caught up in this, for those that may be in that particular building, rest assured we are doing all we can to set you free. we will be looking after your safety as our number one priority. >> earlier we talked about this district and how important it was to sidney. the u.s. consulate also in that
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area and it has been evacuated since the beginning of this crisis. >> and the islamic state group which obviously holds a third of syria and iraq has threatened australia in the past. we talked about that with the time line but we have an islamic state spokesperson urging so-called lone wolf attacks abroad specifically mentioning australia which makes this even more concerning. >> the prime minister people will recognize him because he's been very visible on the national stage in the last few months with the missing plane and dealing with europe and the united states on security issues. the area is incredibly urban area. the police and other government agencies have had a lot of time to move in forces and while they are trying to settle this peacefully, you can imagine they are now spread out throughout the area. >> earlier reports seem to indicate that authorities know
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who this person is but don't want to say too much about him. have you heard that? >> i have heard that. >> what does that indicate to us? >> it may be an individual who traveled abroad. somebody intelligence authorities had been monitoring. somebody with known affiliations to past terrorist links or terrorist groups or someone if he wasn't operationally involved to terrorism may have been a sympathizer or supporter of these groups which is why he's asking for the isis flag and putting that other flag in the window on display. >> a talk about isis focusing on australia, has australia been more of a focus in what we heard from this group? >> probably not more than any other groups. i think from isis perspective anyone involved in this coalition or perhaps anyone who may have had a history of military involvement in countries like iraq in the past would appear to be a legitimate target and so i would not be surprised if that's in fact what
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emerges from this. >> joe, jump in. >> and again, maybe you can expand on this as well. there has been a recruiting call. "the washington post" actually has a quote out of an isis magazine saying it is very important that attacks take place in every country that's entered into alliance against the islamic state. every muslim should get out of his house and find a crusader and kill him. it's important that the killing becomes attributed to patrons of the islamic state who obeyed its leadership. obviously we don't know the situation in this case but again if you talk to terror experts out of australia, the united kingdom or i suspect even the united states, they would say this is in fact the greatest threat. people reading things like that from isis and then acting on it like perhaps this lone wolf is doing this morning. >> so if you are just joining
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us, we're in the 13th hour of a siege at a chocolate cafe in sidney. >> to follow-up on what joe is saying, there are two kpoents to this. australia is involved in these ongoing military operations. australia has a sizable muslim possible la population. they make the video in english to target these individuals in countries where it can recruit them with its magnetic appeal. we don't know who this individual is and it's important to emphasize he may be trying to seize on an opportunity but just given the context of the situation and threats that we've seen in the past, australia's response -- we're trying to find out -- he's asked for an isis flag and a chance to speak to the prime minister. it may not be the most rationale thing to ask to speak to a prime minister.
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there aren't clear demands. if he took a situation like this saying i want individuals released from prison and australians brought back, just that he wants an isis flag and a chance to speak to the prime minister is enough to make me question a little bit. >> so it's 10:00 p.m. in the night in australia right now. we're not showing live pictures of the chocolate cafe where at least 30 people or about 30 people are being held by a gunman because it is an active crime scene. we have on the phone right now, sara james. what can you tell us? >> at that cafe just a short time ago the lights were turned out by one of the hostages and so the scene is in the dark. it's quite an eerie situation here in the center of the city. we are kept back several hundred yards away.
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the area is cordoned off. there is massive police presence. snipers, special operations teams are here in addition to regular uniformed officers and people are watching the situation trying to determine what's going to happen next. i would say though that it's all a very calm scene. there have been some media outlets which have been contacted by a number of hostages and they have said some of the demands that the gunman and we know there is at least one gunman. it's not clear as to whether or not there may be another. we know there's one. those demands are being put forward. interestingly though, the authorities have asked that some of those demands -- that media not mention them. they are trying to keep everything quite calm. and i would say that the scene here is very calm. one of the most surreal aspects is that there was this contrast
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between a city operating its usual taxis, workers going back and forth and yet the ribbons and on the other side of that nothing happening. and that's the strange dichotomy we see. the other thing i would say is that we're talking about an area to put in perspective for you. it's the heart of the financial and media district. this siege took place about a block from the u.s. consulate. a short walk. yes. the consulate general was there and he was evacuated as was the staff done safely and a message went out to americans. the sidney opera house that most iconic of australian landmarks was evacuated. in addition, various buildings nearby. the australian reserve bank
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which is equivalent of our federal reserve went into lockdown. what that means is that people were there at their desks, we spoke to them and said all of a sudden there was a message and it said everybody stay at your desk. there's a situation. they were told to stay there and they stayed there for hours. and then they were allowed to leave this afternoon. that tells you a little bit about what's been going on today. >> i would love to have you come back if you can. stay there and update us. we want to recap for our viewers what's going on now. we're following a siege at a chocolate cafe in sidney, australia, that could have international ramifications. up to 30 people are being held in there. the drama began 9:45 in the morning australia time at martin place. it's a plaza in the heart of the city's financial and shopping district. it's the biggest city in australia and the busiest area. what people have seen so far are people with their arms in the air and their hands pressed against the glass.
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two people apparently being forced by the hostage taker. we don't know for sure. to put a black flag in the window with the islamic declaration of faith written on it. it translates saying there is no god but god mohammad is its messenger. it's similar to "the lord's prayer" in christianity. they put that flag in the window. television news staff watched the gunman and hostages for hours counting up to 15 different faces so far. the gunman could be seen pacing back and forth past the cafe's windows. the man carried what appeared to be a pump action shotgun. he was unshaven and wore a white shirt and a black cap. what we heard so far is he's asking for a meeting with the prime minister. the city is pretty much shutdown. one massive area cordoned off and we're looking right now to
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see whether this is lone wolf and if so, what kind of lone wolf. >> one of the things that's kind of interesting is when incidents like this tend to happen, you get a sense from online reaction from some of the jihadist groups and isis and others whether there's affiliation to it by their reaction to it online. right now the online reaction to this seems to be muted from the known militant groups and other sites that are normally tracked. there's definitely been a few tweets in supports of individuals but right now the major online accounts of some of these groups as i've been seeing it from those that are monitoring has not been as loud trying to claim responsibility. >> we know australia is a key ally in the fight against isis and there have been threats against australia because of that. joe? >> all right. we're going to have a lot more straight ahead obviously going to be talking to reporters on the ground, talking to terror experts and also get a statement from the nypd who has spoken out
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about this situation and what they think it may mean for new york and other cities across the country. we'll be right back with continuing coverage. hey! i guess we're going to need a new santa ♪(the music builds to a climax.) more people are coming to audi than ever before. see why now is the best time. audi will cover your first month's payment on select models at the season of audi sales event. visit audioffers.com today.
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we want to bring you up to date on the story in belgium in just a moment. to bring you up to date on what's happening in australia. up to 30 people being held in the lindt cafe in sidney. there are several different signs as to why this points to terrorism which we're following as well. we have guests coming up on that. first, there's also a situation developing in belgium where police have confirmed a certain hostage situation or something else happening there that looked similar but thomas, you have new information. >> we have a clarification because we started following this about 30 minutes ago about these four armed men who walked into a small apartment building. now federal police are dealing with this situation. it's believed that this is a personal matter and not to be terror related. the number of hostages taken is still unknown. local residents are being asked
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to stay inside but this is an update that's come from police. this clarification saying it's much more personal than anything related that could be seen as coincidental to what's taking place in sidney. we want to make sure to make that distinction. >> looks like domestic. joining us now, a former special agent in charge of new york joint terrorism expert. thank you for coming on today. what's the first thing that comes to mind when you look at what we know so far? >> it's too early to say with certainty but it looks like a lone wolf self-inspired type situations. we don't know if the person has had any real contact with isis. it seems that he's at least sympat sympathetic to isis.
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>> isn't this the type of people that isis goes after and recruit and try to get them to spread terror around the world. >> there was a public message put out by the isis spokesperson saying go out and do what you can. everybody in the west is a potential target. take action for yourself. you don't have to be part of an affiliated group to carry the isis flag if you will. >> i want to know what you make of the demands being made. this is more from sidney police officials addressing the gunman's possible demands and communication with those inside. >> there's speculation about what he might want but we have to deal with him on the level of police negotiation. we cannot be engaged in speculation. be reassured that we're monitoring all forms of communication whether that is facebook or twitter for any
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information. >> the one thing i can say is if people are being contacted by hostages, particularly the media, we would ask that you put those people and ask them to ensure that the man inside speaks to police. speaks to our trained negotiators. they are the people that can resolve this and can help them in this situation and certainly they are available and would be looking to talk to the man that's got control of that particular building right now. >> tom, what do you make of what he's asking for and what it could signify? >> it seems again that this is a politically motivated attack that isis ideology is behind it. he wants to speak to the prime minister. it's hard to read too much into this. >> doesn't seem like there are a lot of other options. >> sounds like you're saying you don't think he's in the business of beheading or keeping hostages
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or anything violent. >> it seems to be different than the canada attack we saw recently where it was an instant kill situation. he wants dialogue. he wants to have his story put out. who knows what's behind this person if he's really motivated by isis or if there are other deep seeded issues on a combination of both. >> how does he think it ends? what do you think is in this guy's mind on how this ends? >> this cannot end well for him. you saw it on the news all of these tactical officers ready to pounce on him if it looks like he's going to take violent action against the hostages. >> what do you make of the fact that some of the hostages are able to use their phones and contact family members and contact media stations. why would the hostage taker allow that to happen? >> i guess he wants his message known. he's doing it through these hostages. it could be a situation that
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could backfire in the end. >> could indicate there are a lot of them in there at this point. >> it could. one person trying to keep up to 30 people is difficult. >> thank you very much. coming up, continued coverage of sidney under siege. we'll bring you the latest as panic runs through that city and how it relates to other situations around the world. don't go away. we'll be right back.
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we're following breaking news out of sidney, australia,
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in the city's main shopping area and close to the parliament at a lindt cafe up to 30 hostages are being held by a lone gunman. five people have escaped from this cafe. the gunman took this unknown number of people but up to 30 during the monday rush hour at 9:45 in the morning australia time. we're now 13 hours into this. the people are still being held. they were forced to put a flag in the window and the hostage taker is being asked for an isis flag and a meeting with the country's prime minister. so as we follow this, we want to take a look at the big picture as it pertains to australia and isis. joe has that. joe? >> you know, right now of course we don't know the nature of this hostage situation whether it is terrorism. it looks that way. there's been growing concern in australia over the last few months about the threat from the islamic state militants. in july, officials blamed an
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australian for a suicide bombing in august. on august 5th, australia unveiled legislation to stop citizens from joining isis. that same month, the country set up counterterrorism units at airports to keep would-be fighters from departing. in september, on september 12th, australia's terror threat level was raised to high. two days later the prime minister committed 600 troops to fight against isis. on september 18th, australia conducts its biggest counterterrorism raid linked to an alleged plot by australians to kill a random member of the public. in october, australia approves air strikes against the islamic state. 11 days ago, the country banned citizens from traveling to a province in syria that is an islamic state stronghold and on sunday, at least one gunman takes hostages in a sidney cafe. let's bring in now to keep
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talking about this, foreign affairs correspondent and retired senior british officer. thank you so much for being with us. we greatly appreciate it. obviously the message has been sent by isis through publications. "the washington post" talking about one this morning. actually calling for random attacks, the united kingdom, france, germany and australia. why? >> i think what we can't do is ignore the fact this is associated in some way to foreign policy. but it goes back deeper. you mentioned a time line this morning. if you go back to 1998, there was a drive-by gun shoot on a police station in sidney and four members were arrested in 1998. in 2005, one of the largest anti-terror raid operations conducted by the new south whales police. that uncovered jihadist cells in
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melbourne and sidney and the most recent ones you described in september also uncovering this sort of growing disenfranchisement of australian citizens who happen to be muslim. but again you go back to foreign policy time line. australia special forces have been operating in afghanistan and withdrew recently in november and they've been decimating leadership along with u.s. crews and have been operating with u.s. drug enforcement agency in afghanistan and annihilate the factories bankrolling the taliban and you go to recent policy announcementes announce and he's committed forces into iraq and put hornets in there as well. very much committed to takie ii isis on head to head. the way that people are
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radicalized because of consequences of foreign policy. >> we've seen obviously -- i'm sorry, mika. we obviously see that in great britain. we've been seeing riots in the suburbs of paris for a decade now. obviously a lot of countries in europe have reasons to worry that this could happen there next, right? >> yeah. and again, we're very quick in the west to deploy military sources. i mean, there's been this big discussion about whether you deploy troops on the ground and how you tackle the situation. at the moment we deployed airpower. there's a realization that in order to really hit isis, you need some sort of ground forces. what we identified at the moment is the iraqi kurds. you have the ypj and peshmerga who are the appropriate ground force without putting western troops on the ground in there to support and attack isis.
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without that coordinated effort, it's not going to happen. you then have to look at through the intelligence services the radicalization threat and we're seeing that grow in the u.k. specifically. the u.k. have gone hard on a strategy called prevent which targets the mosques and looks at the imams and what rhetoric the imams are putting out there which is encouraging this process of disenfranchisement of people coming in and we need to look at that in the u.s., australia and also europe. >> talk to us about tacticalicaltactically in an operation like this. does time favor the authorities or does it favor the hostage taker? at some point he'll have to get rest and not stay up. do they see a window of opportunity to act in a situation like in. >> it's a double edged sword. the person can get tired but with fatigue comes mistakes. we don't know that this person hasn't got a suicide vest
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strapped to them. we don't know if they have an ied in a backpack. >> there have been reports about bombs being in there coming from people inside. >> absolutely. i used to do this in baghdad all the time. we would hunt high value assets. there would be a drone looking at pol second by second imagery intelligence looking at the area on the ground because if this guy decides to do a runner, there will be special forces unit going after him. >> let me ask you about the separation where journalists as they report on this, we don't know if this is specifically isis or it might just be a lone wolf, what's the difference at this point? isis has been pushing for a lone wolf attack specifically in australia. this is isis, no? >> it's really hard at the moment. we don't have the information to be able to separate -- >> how do you make the separation between isis and a lone wolf when the guy is asking for an isis flag, a meeting with the prime minister and isis has made these declarations? >> i don't think you can. i don't think you can draw a
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strategic communications conversations going on between this person and someone that is officially associated with isis whether that be back in syria or whether it be someone who is the senior australian isis leader arrested in september along with 15 other people. drawing that association is really hard to do. we know in 2005 that there were jihadist terror cells operating in melbourne and in sidney. how do we know it's not part of a wider growing franchise of terror cells going on across australia because it's happened. it could be a lone wolf. how do you guard against that lone wolf situation? it's virtually impossible to do which is why you have to go back to the root of the house and understand what is turning these people and get to it before it happens. >> there's reports that the fbi is assisting australian government how robust is the counterterrorism operations?
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>> it's been growing. we go back all of the way to 1998. we have to remember that there are 330 million people in australia. there are -- sorry, 330 million in the u.s. there are 23 million in australia. 2% of those are muslim. that's just under 500,000 people. you've had this growing threat since 1998. that's almost 20 years. so the process of intelligence services, the fbi, looking at all of the situations we learned from iraq, afghanistan and now syria and growing threat of international terrorism, i think protocols and procedures will come. >> joining us now from washington, former deputy commissioner of counterterrorism for the new york city police department and more recently former state department ambassador at large for counterterrorism, michael xian. joe, first question. >> should we worry about this happening in new york and l.a. and philadelphia and washington across the country?
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>> certainly it could happen. but my parallel message is don't worry about it. continue to go about your daily business. this guy whether he's a lone wolf who are has connections to isis, it's a single event in a coffee shop that should not disrupt australia nor disrupt the united states. >> so how does the nypd plan for this? how do federal officials plan for this? worst case scenario? is thereny way to plan for it or is it just something that we have to accept as the new reality? >> nypd is very well prepared for this. they'll be sending out messages to a great group of security personnel throughout the city that will increase the security at certain locations. obviously they can't hit every coffee shop nothing you can do about that living in a free society. a guy can go into a coffee shop and pull a stunt like this. they'll be ready and have reaction forces ready and negotiators ready just in case something like this were to happen and would be better
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prepared to respond. >> can you talk about the role in the media in this? some of these news organizations are holding back information. the australian press reporting quite a bit about what they say is not being reported because they assume that the person who has taken the hostages might be monitoring the media. >> that's right. he probably is if he has any access to a radio or television, he has any brains, he'll be monitoring it. that's good that the australian press is showing restraint. this is something i think american press also do whether it be a hostage situation that's purely criminal or a crazy guy or in this case apparently inspired by isis or connected to isis in some way. they should be withholding certain information about how they are responding in order to keep this guy in the dark as they prepare an operation. >> obviously right now a lot of questions are going to be going on among officials both in sidney and in the region. can you give us a sense again
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governmentwise, regionally what may be happening and what australia is doing with counterparts around the situation like this. >> there's not much they can do regionally on this particular incident. in the future, they'll talk about the different allies that are working together to confront isis and not only in iraq and syria but capital by capital with intelligence coordination to try to prevent this from happening again. again, if it's a lone wolf, there's not a lot you can do. if this guy is connected to a broader network, they'll cooperate with intelligence services around the region to unravel those networks to prevent those things in the future. >> it will be interesting to hear from five hostages that did escape. do you have a question for our next guest? >> i'm really curious to know what the u.s. is doing in terms of addressing the organic threat of radicalization and how we're going out there and speaking to the very prolific and prominent
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people within the muslim community within the u.s. and is there a strategy like the u.k. has in terms of addressing that process of organic radicalization. >> yes, there is a strategy. domestically the fbi has the lead on that. through their joint terrorism task force around the country, they do reach out to these different islamic leaders and so do local police force and politicians. i would be cautious to say this is all a result of disenfranchisement of some person. my study of these terrorists often are not disenfranchised. instead, they are true believers in the philosophy of isis to attack the west, to attack american support for our allies in the region and it's not always disenfranchising from society. it's radical people that believe in this deadly message. >> let me ask you this. in terms of the fact that police have identified this hostage taker and yet they don't want to say who he is.
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they don't want to release his name. could that indicate something more? what do you surmise from that? >> it's an interesting question. we do know that around 70 people australian citizens have traveled to syria to fight alongside militant groups including isis and we know that around 20 of those people have actually returned back again. we know that the u.k. has a policy and i think tony abbott is trying to go along the same lines are making it difficult for people who do travel to syria to actually come back into the country and i think that has to be a way of addressing that. it can't just be a zero tolerance policy. we have to accept them back and we have to try -- rather than just block it out, we have to try to get into the minds of these people who have gone to syria and understand why they've done that and try to do something about it and put together some sort of strategy in the future which addresses the situation. >> a couple updates here. we have at least up to 30 people being held at the lindt cafe in sidn sidney, australia, in the
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busiest shopping area near the parliament. one gunman at this point. he had the hostages put a muslim flag in the window. he's asking for an isis flag and a meeting with the prime minister of australia. getting some reports in that one area of the building, one access area of the building they have ambulances and more police and security forces lining up. some indication there may be some movement. we'll keep you posted on that. "morning joe" will be right back with much more breaking news. earning unlimited cash back on purchases. that's a win. but imagine earning it twice. introducing the citi® double cash card. it lets you earn cash back twice, once when you buy and again as you pay. it's cash back. then cash back again. and that's a cash back win-win .
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australia is a peaceful, open, and generous society. nothing should ever change that and that's why i would urge all australians today to go about their business as usual. >> okay. we are 13 to 14 hours into a hostage standoff in sidney,
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australia, the country's biggest city in the busiest area of sidney near the government buildings and a major shopping district. up to 30 people are being held inside the lindt cafe in sidney happening around 9:45 a.m. people were shopping and getting coffee and going to work. five people did escape. they rushed out of the cafe at different times. it will be interest to hear from them. als also, hostages inside were forced to put a flag in the window and the hostage taker is being said to be asking for an isis flag to be brought to him. and a meeting with the prime minister. we're getting word from mm members who are being texted and called by hostages inside the cafe has they have been held up to 15 hours. stay with us. we'll be right back with much more breaking news.
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welcome back to "morning joe." we're covering the breaking news of the hostage situation in sidney, australia, and with us on the phone is a reporter from 7 news sidney. you have been covering this from every angle for quite some time now. what's the latest? >> the police allowed us back into our studios. we were evacuated early this morning when the incident first broke out because our newsroom
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studios are directly across the pedestrian walkway from the lindt cafe. we're less than 30 meters away. our glass looks straight into their glass and we could see what was unfolding. the police evacuated us at 10:00 this morning and in the last couple hours they let ourselves and a cameraman come back in and we're now marching down into the cafe. it's been fascinating as it has been confronting. we have counted 15 hostages. five managed to escape a few hours ago. ten still inside huddled at one end of the cafe on the floor. the lights now darkness here at 11:00 p.m. in sidney, you go lights were left on for the first bit of nightfall. i has since turned them on and right now it's pitch black in there. very difficult to see anything that's going on inside.
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>> you know, 10you were talking about watching the nightmare unfold for people inside. what can you tell us about some of what you saw in detail? >> it was awful. as i said, ten people left there now. we saw a variety of demographics. no children. we can thankfully report that we can see were trapped up in all of this. the gunman was putting them on rotation. making them stand up at the window. there are big windows in the front of the cafe. he was making hostages stand in turn for sometimes half an hour. one woman stood there for two hours with the hands on the glass and faces and noses touching the glass looking out what's been for 12 hours the empty pedestrian zone of martin place. you can see the gunman walking around sometimes in the background. we think he's carrying what looks like a shotgun.
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he was behaving menacingly and at one point he put that gun into the ribs of one of the hostages. as i mentioned five hostages managed to escape and from our position here as they went out the side door, we can see the gunman from here getting very agitated. shouting and screaming at the remaining hostages. very tense situation as those five managed to get out of the side door of the cafe. as i said, it hate to think wha they're going through inside this small cafe. >> absolutely terrifying. what are we hearing about people making phone calls to their family members and to tv stations? is that at the behest of the gunman? >> there's been some bizarre behavior. they've been allowed to use some social media. we've seen some of them accessing their facebook sites and updating. we've seen one of them was
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allowed to phone under instruction while gunman was there allowed to phone a local radio station and talk to some. the broadcaster didn't put it to air acting responsibly passing the information to police. he's been using other sources to get his message out. the police have been asking the media here not to redistribute that message and his demands and what he has been wanting since this began. they set up a line of communication now with him. they are talking to him. at one point about an hour ago the police started to talk again and police have since backed off. this has been a wait and watch situation for the local police here. the very beginning of the events hundreds of uniformed police and now all of those pulled back blocks away and there are only a
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handful of tactical response guys with night vision goggles stationed at corners of the cafe at the moment. >> it's the top of the hour. we're talking with chris reason of 7 news sidney covering this hostage entering its 14th hour in sidney, australia. it's happening at lindt cafe at the busiest shopping district in sidney. it broke at 9:45 a.m. sidney time. morning rush hour. people getting coffee and going to work. we heard at one point about 30 people were being held hostage. we know about five escaped randomly. and now you hear chris reason talking about at least 10 to 15 people inside. they've been able to contact their families at times but sometimes we have the hostage taker, the gunman, inside armed telling the people to make demands. he's asking for an isis flag. he's also asking for a meeting with the prime minister and he's forcing the hostages to stand in
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the window of the cafe putting their hands up against the window and their faces against the window. sometimes for about up to two hours. a nightmare inside this cafe with potential international ramifications whether this is a lone wolf or isis itself. chris, if i could ask you one other question, do we know status of five that escaped and if they're giving information and why authorities are not releasing the name of this hostage taker when they seem to know who he is? >> it's a good question. to be frank, we know the name as well. we discovered several hours ago when we broadcast his face from inside the cafe. the police have asked us not to do it. >> why? >> you want to act responsibly. we don't know how far he might go. he's got a shotgun. a backpack. you don't know if he has a device in the backpack.
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they are sitting on that information. is it going to help to have that out? perhaps not. police decided there's no benefit to play that card. they've asked nobody to play that card. as for five escapees they are now being debriefed in terms of the counseling and psychology but also passing on vital intelligence to the cops right now. all five of them will be able to tell the police exactly what state of mind the gunman is in and what elements he may have inside there and what threats he was making and what he was asking them to do and the layout and design of the cafe and of course there's the status of the rest of the hostages. it gives them so much more information to deal with but at this stage i've been watching police and lots of patience on their behalf. they decided not to make any rash moves and move on this cafe at this point. >> joe, jump in. >> let me ask you, joe
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scarborough here. quick question for you. you can't reveal who this terrorist is, can you tell us a little bit about him? someone who is on a terror watch list or is he just a local crank? is he something in between that? >> i just can't answer the question unfortunately. the police have been good enough to let me into this really privileged position. i'm the only one anywhere near the cafe with camera. i don't want to risk that position by giving you that information. police are calling the shots here. i'm prepared to go by that. that information will republic leased at some stage. but for now they are staying quiet. >> okay. we have miky kay with us. he has a question for you. >> this is just but one event that's happened that we know about in sidney. there was also a package found outside sidney opera house and another panel found within the city. do we know if this is
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coordinated and what the outcome was of what that package was? is it related in terms of the hostage crisis? >> a lot of us were jumpy when that sort of stuff started to happen and we saw multiple areas of interest that the opera house which really has been considered to be the major potential target for any terrorist attack or incident of any kind. and that's where to be frank a lot of resources of police and security services have been aimed since september 2001 and that's why everyone was going, why this place? those incidents were investigated as suspicious packages and they were checked out and it was since found that none of them had any substance at all in all of the areas. a lot of people asking why it was not in place back to that issue. and a little cafe at this. the geography of this cafe sits right in the heart of the business and banking and
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political district of this capital. just to one side of it is a reserve bank of australia. opposite are two of the biggest four banks of the country and opposite is our studios and on top of our studios are the state government offices. the premier and their government workers and down the block is the second most important war memorial in this city, second most important in the country where we do all of our war memorial activities, et cetera. it's a critical geography involved here. this is the it section of some of our biggest institutions in the city. it just happens that this cafe is right at that intersection. >> at the heart of anything symbolic in sidney, australia, is where this standoff is taking place. chris, i don't want to compromise anything given the game that you're playing with the police right now. you say you're playing the police game because you don't
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want -- i do want to ask, are you compared to other reporters, are you in a specific location? have you been separated? are you working with authorities? >> yeah. the authorities took over our building this morning because it has a clear line of sight to the cafe. for them it was a great tactical advantage to see right in through the windows. they had officers here all day. we have been obviously requesting that we get access back in our offices and they were gracious enough to allow us to come back in and operate here and that's what's been happening the last two hours. it's just myself and a camera at this stage. no other staff. it's creating nightmares for us. we've had to mount our entire broadcast from out of sidney back into sidney. it's been a difficult exercise. we're thankful to have this window of opportunity and to get
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a closer look certainly than other colleagues in the media at what's happening now. >> joe? >> resetting the stage for people just tuning in in the united states. you are looking at scenes from sidney, australia. hostage crisis going on right now. we're talking to chris reason and, chris, you say again you are set up directly across the street from the cafe where the hostage situation is unfolding right now. can you tell us what the best estimate is for how many hostages are inside there? we heard anywhere from 10 to 50. what's the latest information you have and from what you have seen since you have a closer look than anybody else on the ground right now. what is your best estimate? >> well, we have a lot of confusion this morning when the ceo of lindt chocolate interviewed by reporters speculating up to 50 people might be inside the cafe. that would make sense.
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i go there a lot. it's a popular place. retail season peaking with christmas only a couple weeks away and holidays here have begun. a lot of families bring their kids in to have hot chocolate at this cafe. lindt chocolate is world famous chocolate brand and people like the chocolate as presents. normally there would be kids and families and it would be capacity in there. so it was thought that there might be that many people inside. but as i say, since we've had access the last few hours and before night fell we could see clearly in the windows and i think the numbers we counted specifically 15 faces. since that time five have managed to get themselves out of the building. we don't know if they were escaped or if they've been released. we're not sure which it is. we suspect they escaped. we expect the number around ten since then. right now difficult to see any
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movement inside because it is so dark and about a half hour ago we saw someone move across the window who looked to me like he was holding the gun so the gunman. everybody else we think is on the floor at the moment huddled in one corner of the cafe and just below the window sill line of the furthest of the four windows in front of us. >> we'll broaden out here and, chris, please stay with us. we have on set here, the ceo and editor of fp group and president of the council on foreign relations and miky kay is with us as well. as we listen to chris reasons reporting, he has a front row seat to this crisis given they are right across the street and now authorities are pretty much taking over the entire area and have one camera in there poised upon the cafe where ten hostages are being held. 14 hours into this we're hearing
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stories from chris reasons of hostages being told to stand up against the glass and put their hands and face against the glass for half an hour at a time, two hours at a time. they put a muslim flag in the window and we're told the hostage taker is being asked for an isis flag and a meeting with the prime minister. let's broaden out now to 20,000 feet. you tell me what questions come to mind. >> what we're beginning to see is unfolding of the new era of terrorism. americans think of terrorism through the prism of 9/11. large from overseas. what this is is retail and hope grown. rather than thinking of isis as an organization, think of it as a network. think of it as something that puts out ideas on social media. they're not telling people to go and do this. they are trying to inspired and radicalize. so much focus is what's going on over there for good reason in the middle east or we're worried about people physically coming home. i'm actually more worried about this. people who never leave their
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homes and stare at screens all day long. >> it's like teen gunman here in the united states. >> this is the real threat to our society. this is boston marathon on steroids. it's the stuff that gets into the way of people going to coffee shops. it gets into your normalcy as a society. this is worrisome because then you're looking over every shoulder at every face. this is a frightening thing for an open democratic society. >> david, what we know so far in terms of the international scene is that australia, a key ally with us in the fight against isis, has been warned by isis. has been threatened by isis. >> well, look, that's true. and estimates from the australians are is that perhaps there are 100 jihadists in australia right now and so the risks of attacks like this is a real thing. i do think we need to take a step back. we don't know who this is and what their motivation is. we know that one guy has gone into a small cafe and taken over a small group of people and the world media has stopped and is
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watching. and that's how you get the leverage from the lone wolf acting out there and having a global effect. and i think we have to be careful of responding to the threat posed by one guy acting alone in a small cafe and letting it infuse us with terror that's the objective of attacks like this. >> joe scarborough, jump in. >> chris reason, let's go back to you. you go back and report for your own channel. we thank you so much for being with us. as you are right across the street from the hostage taking scene, for american viewers just waking up this morning, can you set the scene for us before you leave. >> of course, guys. it's been a pleasure talking to you. i think since the beginning i just happen to be having a coffee on the way to work at the cafe just a couple doors down from lindt when we first saw the activity at the front of lindt cafe and moved toward it.
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we thought it was an armed holdup and it was the reserve bank across the road and someone was trying to rob that but it became apparent what was going on at lindt cafe and then by the time i got back into our glass window at the studios and we were looking across the windows there, then as the gunman started to put hostages up against the windows we realized it was something far more serious. police moved in and moved us out of our offices and likewise many high rises around the immediate vicinity and since then we've been in standoff. the police have been dribbling information. not as open and abundant with the information as they are in the u.s. over the 12-hour course of the day, with he got to piece together basics of what it happened. it appears there's just one gunman at the center of this and the hostage numbers not 50 but 15. since that number, we've seen five manage to escape through a
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side door of the cafe and now we believe there are ten still left inside. at this current time, they are huddled in one corner of the cafe below the window level possibly trying to get sleep right now. we saw before the light faded completely the gunman allowed food to be brought in and that was being distributed to the hostages. now it is in complete darkness. gunman turned the lights out inside the cafe. it's too dark from our position to see anything much at all in there now. the police are still gathering at the sides of the building and it's a watch and wait brief. >> all right. chris reasons with 7 news sidney. thank you for being with us. we hope to talk to you again tomorrow. you can follow chris on twitter @chrisreasons7 for latest on what's going on there. let's go to miky kay now. we're talking to chris reasons
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halfway across the world in the middle of sidney, financial district, a lone wolf has gone into a chocolate shop during christmas holidays and has shut that city downforcing the evacuation of everything in that main area and halfway back across the world i'm reminded of what happened in oklahoma city about a month ago where a recent convert to islam cut the head off of a co-worker. we were talking off air, miky, about things like this happening in britain and across the world. this is as you've said a new world order or a new world disorder that we have to prepare for. >> i think very much it is. i just like to pick up on a point that richard mentioned earlier in terms of how do you address the way that this threat metastasizes back home.
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i covered chat rooms and this is where a lot of the hatred, ideology is spread through those chat rooms and people logging onto the game and talking to people across the world and sort of building a strategic plan if you like to travel to syria. that's one of the ways. we know that isis is hugely prolific in using social media and twitter and facebook and we've just got to jump onboard in terms of intelligence in the way we address this. >> hearing from one main news organization, this hostage taker has been arrested before for extremist activity. they know who he is and what it's about. >> you have to get into the loop. we want to prevent people from getting radicalized in the first place. if they do get radicalized, we want to find out about them. it's a policing question. ultimately also it's a resilience question.
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sometimes these things are going to succeed and we as societies are going to have to figure out how to cope. we can't turn every situation into a society stopping crisis. >> we have new information from nbc news correspondent sara james live from sidney, australia. you have some information about contact with the gunman right now? >> reporter: yes. what's basically happening right now -- i'm about 200 yards away from the cafe. although the lights went out a short time ago, the conversation is continuing. and the way in which it's continuing is very much from the hostages reaching out to media organizations and others relaying some of the comments and the demands of the gunman. what's been very interesting to watch because as your guests have discussed, this is all playing out on social media and one of the things that's happened is some of the tweets which have gone out have been taken off again.
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not because they were incorrect but because there is a very strong feeling that nobody wants to play into this gunman's hands. and send all of his demands out there for everyone. so it's this very careful situation. that is how this dialogue is happening. and another aspect of that is that the authorities know who this is. we know they know who it is. we know that they know things about him and his background. he's well known to law enforcement. authorities have asked media not to say his name. and not to release details. this is a complicated situation of course. that's one element of it. another element you were talking about sort of the emerging face of terror and that's interesting too. the social media presence of isis is very sophisticated. while we're still figuring out who this person is in this
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particular situation, we can talk generally about what's happening. isis has a new online magazine and it's actually quite sophisticated and glossy and in the last couple of issues, isis has called for sympathizers to go out and basically execute lone wolf attacks. don't ask for permission. go do this. this is going to be very complicated for law enforcement to handle and it's going to be something that all of us are going to have to think about because it's very much a changing way for all of this to happen. that's because somebody who was in new york on 9/11. this is very, very different. >> sara james, hope you can stand by. we'll be recapping and taking a break. do you want to jump in, joe? >> the gunman holding staff and customers there is a report in the sidney cafe is referring to himself as the brother and is claiming to have plotted two
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bombs in the store and two in the banking district according to local media reports. that's coming from international business times. the hostage taker referring to himself as "the brother." mika, it's fascinating. obviously things work differently in australia than they do in the united states where they have the identity of the gunman and have information. chris reason reporting. doing remarkable work for channel 7 there in sidney. saying that when we find out details about the hostage taker, it will be fascinating information. i'm not exactly sure what that means. obviously the police know who this hostage taker is. obviously it's going to lend a great deal to the story and nature of the story and hostage taking itself. >> david, you want to make a quick point? >> listen to the report. the hostages are being allowed
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to tweet out. this is not just a hostage play. it's a media play. this ties into the social message we were talking about before. we have to keep that in mind. we overreact in just the way richard was talking about. >> iwonder if it indicates a level of sophistication to a point. >> we've seen how isis uses social media on youtube, twitter, facebook to actually get their message across. i think what's really interesting about -- there's a big question at the moment about why we don't know his name or why the police might be holding that back. having been involved in these type of operations over 20 years, this situation is what we call dynamic. it means that anything can happen. there are various contingencies. snipers on top of rooftops and intelligence in the overhead all trying to work out what this guy's next move will be. the intelligence authorities will also be looking at
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connections to this guy. they don't want to release his name because they want to understand whether this guy is part of a bigger terror network. if this is just the first of a second or third incident that's going to play out today, tomorrow, in the near future and get to the bottom of that before they start releasing this guy's identity. >> we're following breaking news out of sidney, australia, that could have implications around the world. we're looking at potentially ten hostages being held in the lindt cafe in the haeart of sidney surrounding by four major banks, parliament building and a war memorial. as symbolic as it gets. the gunman has taken at one point 15 hostages. five escaped. he was forcing at least ten hostages that remain in the cfef with him one by one to stand in the window pressing their face against the window and hands against the window. one of the hostages for up to two hours forced to stand in this position and had hostages put a flag up with muslim flag
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up in the window. he's making demands. he's asking for an isis flag as well as for a meeting with the prime minister. we know a certain area of the building complex has a much larger amount of authorities highly trained law enforcement officials as well as ambulances nearby potentially a sign that that may be an entry point they want to close in on. they're not releasing his name. we know he has a past. we know they know who he and he may be linked to other extremists activities. across the street, 7 news sidney has become the touch point for all information coming out of there. reporter chris reason is there with one camera and authorities basically focused in on that cafe. we do not have a shot of the cafe. we have a shot nearby, which we can move but at this point we're not going to be showing the cafe as it's a live, active crime scene. the authorities are working closely with the tv station
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there, which was shut down and evacuated as were many other buildings in the area. sidney basically at a standstill until this comes to a close. we'll be following this breaking news as it develops. we'll take a quick break right now. we'll be right back. ♪ my baby drove up in a brand new cadillac. ♪ ♪ look here, daddy, i'm never coming back... ♪ discover the new spirit of cadillac and the best offers of the season. lease this 2015 standard collection ats for around $329 a month.
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we are following breaking news this morning out of australia. roughly 14 hours after a gunman entered a chocolate store, a coffee shop, in the city's central business district. the city remains at a standstill and that building complex is completely surrounded. australian prime minister tony abbott has not declared the incident an act of terrorism and is urging people to go about their lives as normal and not give into fear. we do know that a jihadist flag, black with arabic writing was displayed in the window where the hostages are being held. the hostages were forced to put that flag up. several local media outlets report they were contacted by the hostages and that the gunman has made demands. officials are promising to do all they can to resolve the crisis. >> i'm certainly proud of how we
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have responded as a city, a state and a nation. but my thoughts remain with those that are caught in this event and my call goes out to the state to pray for them, to pray for their families. ultimately we are doing all we can in these difficult circumstances and we will get through it. >> our only goal tonight and for as long as this takes is to get those people currently caught in that building out of there safely. that remains our number one priority and nothing will change. i'm sure that there are many questions that you might have for us and i'm not going to necessarily be in a position to give you that information because i won't be going into the tactics or strategies that we're employing. suffice for say that we have large numbers of police. they are in contact and we are working to resolve this just as quickly as we possibly can.
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having said that, i too want to thank the community particularly those people in the city today. you acted in a way that made our job a lot easier than it could have been. for that i want to thank you. there is much work to be done and much more for us to do over the coming hours i'm sure. again, for those that have loved ones that may be caught up in this, for those that may be in that particular building, rest assured we are doing all we can to set you free. we will be looking after your safety as our number one priority. >> all right. five hostages did escape and they are being held by police. they are under strict orders not to talk. police have identified the hostage taker. they know who he is. they know his history. and they do not want anybody to release his name. some members of the media do know his name and they are not revealing it at this point. right now we want to show you
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some video of a man inside that chocolate cafe reported by local media as the hostage taker. you can see he's wearing a black vest with a white shirt in addition to a bandanna with writing on it. police identified the gunman. he's known to them. they refuse to release his name at this point and cite security concerns as the reason. there are a lot of things to put together here in terms of the big picture. i do want to point out he was forcing the hostages to stand in the window and put their hands against the window and faces against the window for 30 minutes a time. one of them for two hours exposing themselves and also had them put a flag up in the window, a muslim flag. he's asking for an isis flag. we do not know if this hostage situation is terrorism, it's kind of clear that in some capacity it is. there has been growing concern in australia over the last few months about the threat from islamic state militants. in july, officials blamed an
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australian for a suicide bombing in iraq. on august 5th, australia unveiled legislation to stop citizens from joining islamist groups. that same month the country set up counterterrorism units to keep would be fighters from departing and september 12th, the threat level raised to high. september 18th, australia conducts its biggest counterterrorism raid. the raid is linked to an alleged plot by australians to kill a random member of the public and in october australia also approves air strikes against the islamic state and citizens banned from traveling to syria and on sunday one gunman takes hostages in a sidney cafe. let's talk about tony abbott expanding the footprint here in response to threats we've seen
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growing against australia. >> this is more broadly this is the question. tony abbott, australian prime minister's stance on isis is quite clear. "we've made a strong commitment to degrading the isil group and we talk to partners about how this is best achieved." this played out in terms of military activity. 600 troops committed to the war on terror in september and eight hornets were authorized on air strikes in iraq only and my question now is how does this play out in terms of that growing footprint? will tony abbott now consider air strikes in syria and a greater footprint along with what the u.s. has deployed? >> what is the best way for the government to handle this in dealing with the media in your experience? you've been in situations like this. what's the best way for them to balance public right to know and information escaping with the fact that they do control the situation better. >> they are collaborating right
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now. let's say it. >> i think there's a two layer approach. the officials need media right now. press conferences are there to urge the public that they are in control. at the same time we know that the media is withholding information giving authorities the ability to continue these negotiations. >> it's more than that. we have the main tv station that's been taken over by authorities and they are working together as they hone in on the one shot they have of the cafe. >> that's from a tactical perspective. you have to make distinction here what is it about information in terms of a facility they are using a media building because it overlooks a cafe. that's definitely tactically important. i think the question here is in terms of the flow of information between the media. you have to watch that fine line to make sure that the authorities are not manipulating the media for the sake of information being controlled to the point that it deters the public. withholding information in terms of identity of the individual is important but if we can learn more about this individual, i
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think there will be questions as to whether or not this is a threat beyond a lone wolf. if authorities know this guy and they know that he has affiliations and he's traveled before, there could be some tough questions. why wasn't this person stopped if he traveled back into the count country? why was he released? identity can be an important part. there could be critical questions. it may not be the right time. we're in the early hours. this is where i say from a media perspective it's a fine line. journalists in australia who are doing a tremendous and fantastic job say if we know identity of this individual, who is accountable for this? these are questions. >> related to extremists activities in the past which there is indication of that. >> what australians are doing is trying to handle the situation. they sent out a message and said they want to isolate this. they want people to go about their lives. they want to focus in on it and
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have information as their advantage and not their enemy. later on these questions are the right things to ask but right now contain it and deal with the situation. >> and people in the u.s. should understand because of the time difference we're headed into an overnight situation and so we may well see just a standdown. >> it's well past 11:00 p.m. in sidney, australia. the dark of night. it broke at 9:45 in the morning sidney time. we're looking at at least ten hostages being held in this caffey. some are calling family members. requests are being made by hostage taker but so far no movement out of that cafe. five people did escape leaving ten in there. and we're following this breaking story. the ramifications around the world and we'll have much more coming up. also coming up, the british chancellor george osbourne. we'll be right back. ♪
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we're following breaking news out of sidney, australia, where at least ten people are being held at a cafe near major bank institutions. ten people being held that we know of so far. five had escaped. there were more in there. those being held were at times being forced to stand in the window and put their hands up. they are now clustered on the
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floor and gunman is making demands. reports that he has an ipad, an assault weapon and that he wants an isis flag and a meeting with the prime minister. and that there is some sort of contact with him but his name is being withheld. his history is being withheld. authorities know who he is. and they are very, very concerned that his name is not released. with us now, the british chancellor george osbourne. good to have you back on the show. let's talk about the alliance against terrorism. britain obviously along with australia and united states joining against isis in iraq. >> we're all good friends. everyone will be wishing the australian authorities well and poor people caught in the cafe. it just reminds us that this is an international issue. we have to work together to confront this evil and australian soldiers and british soldiers alongside u.s. soldiers are taking this fight to the
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enemy in the middle east and we need to stay the course. >> there's a couple of different ways to attack the problem if this is indeed specifically isis or a lone wolf inspired by isis. there's the attempt around the world to crush isis. there's that. there's also strong economies who have influence and how important is that against the fight against sentiment or an ideology? >> i think ultimately if we want values promoted around the world and values of liberty and open markets and freedom, we have to have strong economies for the long-term. ultimately you have to back values with strong jobs and gdp growth and the like. there's a debate at the moment which are these economies that have come out of the financial crisis but what's the long-term prospect? are they facing long-term secular stagnation and i want to confront that and say those pessimists are wrong and they can grow strongly if we make difficult decisions to deal with
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our debts, create jobs and then we can have the economic might to make sure our values are felt around the world. >> it's one thing for the u.s. economy, british economy, to come back. that's obviously key. what about spending your tax money, our tax money, in these countries around the world that do have where terrorists are and they try to build economic development. is that a good idea? >> you can't have strong defense. you can't have a development commitment unless you have a strong economy. britain has a big military budget. it punches its way abroad. and at the same time we're one of the few western countries that's committed to spend .7% of our national income on development aid and we use that to try and get into communities that are in danger of being radicalized and make sure people can see there's an alternative to the offer being put there by the terrorists and of course in our own countries we have had
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terrible situations with lone gunman and individuals like that in london and elsewhere in the u.k. you have to get into those communities and show them there are real economic prospects and can participate in our society. i don't see these as separate subjects. the economics and politics and security. they are all wrapped up together. >> so let's bring in another topic that also could be related. what do you think about the other news headlines that we've been covering over the past few weeks pertaining specifically to torture and how it plays into what we're seeing unfold with isis. >> well, you brought up our values and i think that's the critical issue. how do you project strength? one view of projecting strength that was popular. vice president cheney was on television yesterday. we'll do anything we need to stop them. i would argue there's another way to project strength and that is to say we will defeat you by sticking to our values. we'll defeat you by becoming stronger economically as a country. we will defeat you on our own
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terms and we will not fall to your terms. the cheney argument puts the risk that we get into a terror spiral. we do worse, we motivate them to do worse and it gets down into the drain. socially i don't think that's the right way. what you're talking about which is get out there and say we have successful societies and we are the envy of the world and we'll focus on that. that's the way you win. >> providing opportunity and education and growth certainly is one angle against these disenfranchised groups of people. >> yeah. if i could just ask you a question, chancellor. the way the conflict comes about in terms of economic depreciation is fascinating. oil is depreciate ate edeprecii. as we go into this sort of 2015, what's the bigger threat?
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from the likes of isis or destabilization in places like russia due to the economic situation? >> i think the fall in oil prices is a challenge to producers in the u.s. and off the coast of the u.k. is basically a very good thing for our societies. it's a big tax cut for america and british families. and now it's going to cause lots of pressure out there in the world. i think it's a good thing. it's going to put a lot of pressure on russia and vladimir putin has been relying on high oil price to basically sustain the lack of basic reform in russia. all of these things are about the west standing up for its values and not allowing spaces to develop in the world where we are not seen and we are not there and making our case strongly whether it's in ukraine or in the middle east. ultimately we all know there's a debate in britain about our involvement in the iraq war a
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decade ago. there's a price to be paid for not being involved as well. i think sometimes over the last 15 years you've seen the price of the west actually retreating a bit and we need to be out there making it clear not with soldiers on the ground anymore but promoting values and our economic strength and making it clear that there is an alternative that is prosperous and delivers a brighter future for many families. >> so thank you so much. i know you are delivering a speech today on world economies. we appreciate your coming in. david cameron has been briefed. they just released a statement saying that they're watching what's happening in sidney. president obama has been briefed as well. the white house is keeping tabs on this as well. again, if you're just joining us, at least ten people are being held hostage at a cafe in sidney, australia. not just any cafe. a cafe in the heart of the business district. four major banks are nearby. the parliament is nearby. a major war memorial is nearby.
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and it happened at the heart of rush hour in the morning when people were going to work. christmas shopping and having their coffee. five hostages did escape so the ten in there -- there were more. they escaped. they are being held close in authority custody. they are told not to talk to the press. the authorities do know who this individual is. it appears he has a past pertaining to extremists activities and they don't want his name released even though some members of the media know his name. there are law enforcement officials who have cordoned off several blocks around this cafe and one area of the perimeter of the building has heavy amount of ambulances and paramilitary officers near showing that may be a major point of entrance and there's been threats to australia on the part of isis over the past few months especially as australia has joined with the united states in
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the fight against isis and helped in that. again, we'll be right back with more breaking news out of sidney. looking for one of these?
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visit angieslist.com today. we're following the breaking news out of sydney, australia, where at least ten hostages are being held by a gunman who has asked for an isis flag. eyewitness accounts from the area surrounding the lindt cafe. a news reporter who workings right across from the cafe say he and his co-workers could see through the windows and notice the groups of hostages moved around, looking calm, but extremely frightened. he said he could see one gunman occasionally. a gun slung over his shoulder. mr. conley says a black flag appeared in the window alongside where the hostages were held. initially, we thought it was an armed robbery but when the flag
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went up it appeared that someone had a different motive altogether. joe. >> david rothcough, we saw last year a crude bomb put in a backpack shut down one of america's great cities for almost a week. this morning, this news, again, knocking most news off of the front pages of all newspapers across the globe. what is it about these type of events that attract such attention? >> look, there's human drama at the center of it. it's a story you can hardly look away from. i think that's what the terrorists, whomover is behind this, are playing exactly to. there's a human climate deal over the weekend. the russian ruble has followfol fallen by half. situation's not going well in libya. there are a lot of big issues in
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the world right now. and one guy armed with, as noted here earlier, an assault rifle and ipad, can go in and change the focus of the world. i think those are the tools. that's the tool of the new breed of terrorist. an assault rifle, an ipad and one guy who can grab our attention because we know what kind of story we all turn to. >> we know he has a history. >> he has a history. mika, we were talking before about how after 9/11 how it wasn't nation states that would dictate the news, it would be groups of terrorists that gets airplanes. now this boils it down more. it's not even organizations like al qaeda that can command news for this idealistic ideology, one lone wolf that can do something like this. it happened in boston. now it's happening in sydney. >> we'll prepare now for the top of the hour. right back with more coverage on this story. and describes the scene as he
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sees it from his tv studio across the street from the cafe where this hostage scene is still unfolding. many americans who have prescriptions fail to stay on them. that's why we created programs which encourage people
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there are potentially disturbing details on this breaking news out of sydney we're working on sourcing. much of sydney at a stand still. nearly 15 hours after a gunman entered a chocolate store, a chocolate cafe in the city's central business district, where
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dozens were inside. we know the location is extremely symbolic. major banking institutions are across the street. a war memorial is nearby. the parliament is nearby. it is an extremely busy business district in the heart of sydney. the biggest city in australia. we know a jihadist flag, black with arabic writing, was displayed in a window. several local media report they were contacted by the hostages and the gunman has made demands. the police commissioner and the premier from the new south wales have an update. australia prime minister tony abbott has not described the incident an act of terrorism and is urging people to go about their lives as normal and not give into fear. >> we don't know whether this is politically motivated. although obviously there are some indications that it could be. we have to appreciate that even in a society such as ours, there
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are people who would wish to do us harm. that's why we have police and security organizations of the utmost professionalism that are ready and able to respond to a whole range of situations and contingencies including the situation we're now seeing in sydney. the whole point of politically motivated violence is to scare people out of being themselves. australia is a peaceful, open and generous society. nothing should ever change that. that's why i urge all australians today to go about their business as usual. >> we know five hostages did escape. they're being closely watched and spoken to by authorities. their families are being told not to talk to the media.
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we also know authorities know who this person is. he has a history, potentially linked with other extremist activity, and they're not releasing his name. now, video of the man inside that chocolate cafe, the lindt cafe. you can see him in the shadows there, wearing a black vest in a white shirt, in addition to a bandanna with white writing and he has an ipad as well. there might be more pertaining to that we're trying to double and triple source. mark halperin is back. also foreign affairs correspondent and retired senior british officer mike kay. editor of the foreign policy group david writekauf. and of the terrorism task force, don pareli. what is the most interesting piece of information as it pertains to isis and ram fa i kas around the world, if any.
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>> we've seen in numerous cases with isis they've been able to harness the power of social media. appears to be what this person is doing here. using social media to get that word out. he's captured everybody's attention. the world is watching this guy as this situation is unfolding. he's very effective at basically using this as a plat for for isis or waver his ultimate agenda is going to be. >> the thing we should be most concerned about is the people who are there. we also should be concerned about keeping it in perspective. we don't know whether he's isis. we don't know what his agenda is. we don't want to play into his hands if he's trying to play into the media. it's a fine line to walk. on the other hand, you know, if what he is looking for is a megaphone, we want to be careful. >> well, he's got it. >> i understand.
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>> mikey kay. >> i think the next step tactically will be interesting. it's now midnight. it's dark. when you go from a day to night situation in these particular environments they're going to have to switch to new equipment, thermal imaging gear. being able to identify. let's say we get a runner. it's going to be really hard to try and discern whether -- who the perpetrator is. the rules of engagement and how they deal with that particular situation is going to be interesting. >> we're 15 hours now into this. it's the dark of night. everyone is inside is worn down, including the hostage taker himself. and the dynamic certainly changes. david was talking about not wanting to give this man a megaphone. i totally understand that. having said that, don't we have to cover this at this point? there's no other way around it. >> it's being covered around the world. not just in australia. obviously in the united states and around the world.
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the balance is quite a challenge. you see that in a modern age. if the hostage taker has an ipad, he has access to everything that gets reported and the tactical advantages law enforcement has is to try to keep him as much in the dark as possible. >> we're looking at developing situation out of sydney stra where the main tv station, seven news sydney, is right across the street, which begin makes this a very interesting location if someone choses it that way for its value. that building was evacuated as were several others in the area. blocks and blocks of buildings. but the authorities have now taken over seven news sydney. i don't know if taken over is the right term. they're in there working with reporter chris reason. they have one camera poised on the cafe. the live picture we're showing is just off the cafe because
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this is such a live active crime scene we want to be careful. we have the authorities actually working with the tv station trying to figure out what the best angle is, and they have it, that tv station being that it's right across the street. earlier, we spoke with chris reason from seven news sydney. as it unfolded extremely close. he could see the faces of the hostages. i asked him to describe exactly what he saw. >> fortunately, the police have allowed us back into our studios. we were evacuated when this incident first broke out because our newsroom studio is a fish bowl studio we inhabit here in sit ni sydney is directly across from the lindt cafe. our glass looks straight into their glass. the police evacuated us at 10:00 this morning. within the last couple of hour, they've let myself and a cameraman come back in. we're watching down into the
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cafe. it's been fascinating as it has been confronting. we're counting -- we counted in the few hours we've been here some 15 hostages. 5 have managed to escape a few hours ago but 10 still inside huddled at one end, on the floor. the lights now -- it's darkness now in australia. almost 11:00 p.m. in sydney. but the lights were left on by the gunman inside the cafe for the first bit of night fall. it's pitch black in there. difficult to see anything going on inside. >> you were talking about being able to see inside the glass, watching this nightmare unfold for the people inside. we know they were asked to put a sign in the window. what else can you tell us about some of the things you saw in detail? >> it was just awful watching. we saw -- as i say, about 10 people left there. a variety of demographics.
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no children. we can thankfully report we can see were trapped up in all this. the gunman was putting them on rotation. making them stand up at the window panes. he was making the hostages stand in turn for sometimes half an hour. one woman had to stand there for two hours. with their hands flat on the panes of glass. just looking out at what has been for 12 hours the empty pedestrian zone of martin place. you can see the gunman walking around sometimes in the background. we think he's carrying it looks like a pump action shotgun. he was behaving menacingly. at one point, he put that gun into the ribs of one of the hosta hostages. five of the hostages managed to escape. from our position here, as they went out the side door, we can see the gunman from here getting very agitated. shouting and screaming at the
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remaining hostages. very tense situation as those 5 managed to get out of the side door of the cafe. as i say, it's been confronting. it's been instructive. but by this, hate to think what these guys are going through inside this small cafe opposite us now. >> absolutely terrifying. what are we hearing about people making phone calls to family members and tv stations? is that at the behest of the gunman? >> there's been some bizarre behavior. they've been allowed to use some social media. we've seen some of them accessing their facebook sites and updating. one of them was allowed to phone, under instruction, while the gunman was there, a local radio station, a broadcaster, and the broadcaster didn't put it to air, acting responsibly, passed it straight on to the police, the information. yeah, he's been using other sources to get his message out. the police have been asking the media here not to redistribute
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that message. they've set up a line of communication. they're talking to him. at one point, the police started to mass in numbers at the side of the building. we heard communication lines open up again. this has been a wait and watch situation for the local police here. now all of those have been pulled back. only a handful at the moment. >> let's bring in nbc news correspondent sara james live from sydney australia. what's the feeling on the ground? i know authorities are -- there's at least one area of the
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building but the whole place is surrounded and shut down. >> yes, i think there is no one in australia who is not affected in one way or another. this is a country of 23 million people. relatively speaking, a small population. 4 million in sydney. everyone is affected. tweeting about it. they're watching. they want to know everything that's happening. in a way, what's happening is in some ways that's being used against them. the gunman holding these hostages, he is using that as a way to reach out to media and then by proxy on to the police. it's a delicate dance for people trying to keep lines of
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communication open. they know would it is. they've asked media not to release details. the media coverage has been excellent. it's been very apparent. snipers. other kinds of special operations teams. of course as you know the sydney opera house was evacuated. it's nighttime, midnight. the city center is quiet. save for the fact of the police cars and 200 yards behind me this drama tib continues to unf >> mikey kay, i don't know if you have a question for sara but talk about the dynamic of night fall. >> i think the dynamic of night fall, it's really important.
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just picking up on the point that chris reason said earlier on. there's just a handful of officers in that zone now. if this situation does go dynamic and you get a breakout and you get hostages all other the place, the night vision goggles won't be able to determine the identity of who's who. it's going to be an incredibly interesting situation if it does go dynamic. if i was the security forces, i'd be looking to contain this and make sure it doesn't break out of that particular cafe until at least we get to morning and day fall. is that sort of the the situation on the ground? is that sort of what you're hearing? >> i think one thing that is important in this situation is they've been very close h-lippe about the specific tactics. a police conference about four hours ago. they made it clear, we're not going to talk about our tactics.
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but they did say some things that were interesting. for example, they said, we understand no one has been hurt. that seemed to many people listening to be pretty much a direct comment to the gunman. so this kind of loop that's happening. you're right, night fall does add another dimension to it. of course, people are tired. that fatigue and edginess doesn't ratchet things up. calm and care and discretion i think are the order of the day. that's what we've seen so far. >> sara james, thank you so much. again, 15 hours into this hostage crisis. we know about a dozen hostages are still being held. five escaped. authorities know the hostage tak taker. he has a history with them. they know his name. he apparently is using the hostages over the past 15 hours
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to make demands, to make calls. to send out messages. and could possibly have an ipad. there's other information we're working on sourcing right now that could be disturbing about this situation. a woman would says she's the mother of an 18-year-old hostage inside the cafe says he texted her from inside the cafe and here's what she told an australian radio show. >> i couldn't believe it was actually happening. >> he's been in contact with you by text? >> i received a message about 3:00 and he said mom, i'm in the lindt cafe in sydney and my heart just dropped. text message, said, wahat's goig on, you okay. he text message, i'm okay, mom, can't talk. and left it at that. i haven't heard anything since then. >> we're going to have more details on the breaking news out of sydney in a moment. we'll go live to the white house
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all right. the breaking news out of sydney australia. we've been talking all morning with chris reason from nbc affiliate seven news sydney located across the street from the cafe. he had an incredible vantage point throughout the many hours of this breaking news situation where he could see right inside the cafe and see the hostage's faces as well as the hostage taker. he's there now. there's one camera now focused on the cafe, along with chris reason and paramilitary officers and law enforcement officials who have basically taken over the tv station and are using it as a vantage point. he tweeted this.
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there's been movement at the cafe. the gunman moving a hostage past the window. two more hostages change positions. not much sleep in there. that reflects what he reported earlier. seeing hostages being paraded in front of the window. at one point, they were forced to press a flag with arabic writing on it, muslim sayings. a black flag against the window. the hosta agage taker is asking an isis flag. also having the hostages stand in front of the window of the f cafe for long periods of time. pressing their face and their hand against the window. again, reporter chris reason now seeing movement inside the cafe. at one point, people were clustered on the ground and they couldn't be seen. the lights are out. it's well after 11:00 at this point. we are, what, 14 hours into this standoff. and now hostages are being seen again parading, being paraded in front of the window. the fight against terror is
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truly a global one as we now know. everything has sort of stopped and we focus on this one cafe in sydney. it's not just one cafe. it's a cafe in the heart of sydney, in the heart of the business district in a very symbolic section of the largest city of australia. australia being an ally in the fight against isis. it is four major banking institutions. it happened in the middle of the morning rush, people were shopping, out and about for the day. earlier, we were joined by the british chancellor george osbourne. let's talk about the alliance of terrorism. britain, along with australia and the united states, joining against isis and iraq. >> yeah, we're all good friends. i think everyone will be wishing the australian authorities well and the poor people caught in the cafe. it just reminds us this is an international phenomenon. we don't know all the details.
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we've got to work together to confront this evil. australian soldiers and british soldiers alongside u.s. soldiers. they're taking this fight to the enemy in the middle east. and we need to stay the course. >> there's a couple of different ways to attack the problem. if this is indeed specifically isis or a lone wolf inspired by isis. there's the attempt around the world to ally and to crush isis. but there's also strong economies who have influence and how important is that against the fight against sentiment or even an ideology? >> if we want our values promoted around the world, values of liberty and open markets and freedom, we have to have strong economies for the long term. ultima ultimately, you've got to back your values are strong jobs and the economy. there's a strong debate at the moment. are these economies out of the financial crisis, what's their long-term prospect?
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are they facing long-term stagnation? britain, america and others can grow strongly if we go on making difficult decision, to deal with our debts, back enterprise, create jobs. then we can have the economic might to make sure our values are felt around the world. >> so it's one thing for the u.s. economy, british economy to come back. that's obviously key. what about spending your tax money, our tax money, in these countries, these countries around the world that do have where the terrorists are? that try to build economic development, a modern marshall plan, is that a good idea? >> you can't have a strong defense unless you've got a strong economy. britain has a big military budget. it punches its way broad. at the same time, we're one of those few western countries that's committed to spend .7% of our national income on development aid and we use that to try and get into communities that are in danger of being radicalized. make sure people can see there's
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an alternative. and of course in our own countries, we've had terrible situations of lone gunman and individuals like that in london and elsewhere in the uk. you've got to get in to those communities and show them there are real prospects and they can participate in our society. i don't see these as separate subjects. they're all wrapped up together. >> of course, david rothkauf, earlier today, we had michael sheenen on who said not so fast on the disaffected front. that many times it's not the down and out economically leading the charge in these type of lone wolf terror operations, if, in fact, it's a lone wolf terror operation. that sometimes it's people from the middle class who just believe in the ideology.
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at least from the countries they were from, distinctly middle class. >> that's true. we begin with the caveat that we don't know and we don't want to characterize what's happening now as a terrorist attack or effort. but having said that, within terrorist groups, while a lot of the support for them comes from people who feel alienated. sometimes they feel alienated by western civil situation. by the treatment they see islam as getting from western civilization. you cannot doubt for a moment the discussion we are in the united states right now on issues like torture is feeding into the narrative spreading around and enabling people to bring more recruits into this group. and, you know, australia's a
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perfect example. this is a rich country that is doing very well. and literally hundreds of australians have gone off to fight in syria and iraq. they have been recruited because they have an affinity with the fight. it doesn't necessarily mean something economic. it can be eideological. >> you look at the danish girls that slipped out of their middle class homes and escaped to syria. we're seeing that across the globe. westerners. western teenagers from middle class families wanting to go over and join the fight. making it that much harder to trace down who potential terrorists might be. >> i think david's absolutely right. i don't think we can pin this on social economic problems. i think there are all sorts of reasons as to why people might decide to travel to syria or even sort of generate some sort of terrorist event within their organic countries.
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it's definitely not just social economic. i'd like to pick up on the point about the guy who's the perpetrator at the moment. the terrorist, the intelligence agencies will be working around the clock at the moment to try and understand who that person is. what their connections are with jihad and syria. if they're actually talking through any communication channels to anyone in syria. they'll also be looking at whether the guy is, this perpetrator is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. that's something we've got to get into the minds of this ideology is. these people live this life for what's called the hereafter. you know, these guys believe they're going to go to paradise and heaven if they commit the ultimate martyrdom act. that's the other thing the security forces have to be mindful of. >> they seem to know who he is. and they've had past dealings with him. so they may know the answers to those questions. which could explain a lot of what they're doing at this point. we're going to be following this developing story, this breaking
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news, after the break. 12 hostages being held at the lindt cafe in sydney. about a dozen left. we're going to go live to the white house next.
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possible video. we're looking at videos coming in on different websites that may be video from inside the cat cafe. it's pretty chilling. before we go to the white house.
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you bring up a good point about the hostage taker in sydney. five have escaped. he was making the dozen remaining or so stand in front of the window, putting their hands and their face against the window. you cite a potential level of sophistication there. >> it's something we can't ignore. raises a good point in terms of the perpetrator will want to show he's got these hostages. this is a rell tatively confine space. he'll know that in a situation like this, one of the first things you do is go to the vantage points and put some snipers on the rooftops who will be looking for that line of sight. we don't know what the rules of engagement are. but what we do know is they will be there. if i was that person, i would want to shield myself in some way. yes, putting these people up against the window is a way of saying yes, i've got hostages, and they're okay. >> we're hearing from chris
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reason who has been covering this story now, the tv station from the cafe, that just recently in the past hour he's seen hostages paraded in front of that window. nbc news has confirmed that president obama was briefed about the ongoing hostage standoff in sydney. nbc news correspondent kristen welker is standing by at the white house. >> that's right, president obama was briefed overnight by his counterterrorism adviser lisa monaco, a senior administration official also saying that the obama administration has been in contact with officials in australia and has offered any support deemed necessary. a state department official says the consulate has been evacuated, u.s. citizens told to stay away from that area. president obama later today
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heads to new jersey. he's going to speak to troops there. it is possible we could hear him address this situation when he addresses troops. at this point, the white house not confirming that. but clearly they're monitoring the situation quite closely here. obviously, a close ally, helping in the fight against isis. this kind of hostage situation takes on new meaning against that backdrop. it's obviously too soon to know who is behind this hostage situation. the white house continues to monitor it quite closely. president obama will get regular briefings throughout the day. >> we've seen lots of international stories sort of take over the news in the white house agenda. that this could be what the white house is dealing with all day? >> oh, absolutely. i can tell you we have been e-mailing our sources here
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overnight. this situation now is dominating the discussions. this is one of those situations that's sort of all hands on deck. again, they're in regular c contact with officials from the government. >> if you're just joining us, we're now well into 14 hours after hostages have been taken at a cafe in sydney. five were able to escape. they're being held by authorities, their families as well. being told not to talk to anyone. the gunman holding these hostages in a prime symbolic area in the biggest city of australia surrounded by parliament and banking institutions. apparently authorities know exactly who he is and know what his history is. >> they're doing that, very important in sydney. and in fact the u.s. consulate
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is there. it was evacuated soon after the standoff. and you were right, we've been talking to chris reason with channel seven in sydney. and he has a prime vantage point across the street. the police have told him and other reporters who the suspect is. and apparently he's had brushes with authority before. mika, right now, reporters in australia are saying absolutely nothing about this. but chris reason did tell us earlier that when the identity is known, it will be fascinating to many viewers. >> yeah, and it will all make sense. we're learning from some news organizations. they're reporting that he has been tied to extremist behavior in the past, so we shall see. at this point, we're just monitoring the situation inside the cafe.
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we know the gunman apparently has an ipad and is using people inside the cafe. reaching out to tv stations and the authorities are quickly trying to get a hold on that and get in the middle of those situation, to be the main ones who negotiate with him. there is some sort of movement. chris tweeting within the past hour, across the street with officers and other law enforcement officials there watching what's happening in there. and apparently in the past hour, a couple of hostages were paraded in front of the window as well. so they were clustered on the floor for quite some time. the dark of night. well past 11:00 p.m. we're well into the 14th hour of this crisis. so we'll watch the changing dynamic, and we'll watch this story as it develops. and we will be back after a quick break. thanks. ♪ [ male announcer ] fedex® has solutions to
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we're following breaking news out of australia. there has been of course growing concerns in that country over the last few months as we've reported earlier. about the threat from the islamic state militants. in july, officials blamed an australian for a suicide bombing in iraq. then on august 15th, australia unveiled legislation to stop citizens from joining islamist groups. the country set up counterterrorism units at airports seeking would-be fighters. in september, australia's terror threat level was raised to high. conducted its biggest counterterrorism raid -- >> so let's talk about where we are. let's talk about the impla i k s implications of it being nighttime there.
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what would authorities like to have happen? would they like to try to resolve it at night or is it too tang ru dangerous? >> i think it's too dangerous. i think what they're trying to do is certainly what i would. contain that environment. when it gets dark, it's incredibly hard to get a visual identification on those people. we already heard from chris in australia that he said the number of officers within that particular zone have been reduced to a very small amount. if this situation goes dynamic, if we get a runner on the perpetrator, we have to identify who. or if they'll try and apprehend him for questioning. the more broader debate of enhanced interrogation techniques.
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if i was the commander on the ground, i would look to contain this information. fatigue is a double-edged sword. it could work for the authorities. >> another dimension of this, though, if this is a message mission, which he seems to be, so he can reach out to governments. the longer that goes on, the more time he has for his message. if he can stretch that through the night, it works for his advantage. i think that's something else we have to take into consideration. >> ultimately, the first priority is going to be the safety of the hostages. so whether this situation takes 15 hours or 15 days, the authorities are going to do what they can to make sure the hostages get out safely. his message comes out during all this, then it comes out. the hostages take priority. >> we spoke to the former deputy commissioner of counterterrorism for the new york city police department and more recently former state department ambassador at large for
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counterterrorism. >> michael, let me ask the question a lot of americans are asking this morning. should we worry about this happening in new york and l.a. and philadelphia and washington across the country? >> well, joe, certainly couldn't happen, it could happen. my parallel message, continue to go about your daily business. whether he does have connections to isis, this is a single event in a coffee shop that should not disrupt australia, nor the united states. >> so how does the nypd plan? again, worse case scenario, how -- is there any way to plan for it? is it just something we have to accept as a new reality? >> nypd is prepared for this. that will increase security at certain locations. obviously they can't hit every coffee shop so there's nothing
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you can do about that living in a free society. they'll have their negotiated ready just in case something like this were to happen. >> can you talk about the role in the media? some of these organizations are holding back information. they assume the person taking the hostages might be monitoring the media. >> that's right. certainly, he probably is. if he has any access to a radio or television. this is something i think american press also do. whether it be a hostage situation that's purely criminal or some crazy guy or in this case apparently inspired by isis or connected to isis in some way. so they should be withholding certain information about how they're responding in order to keep this guy in the dark as they prepare an operation.
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>> a lot of questions going on among officials. both in sydney or the region. can you give us a sense, again, governmentwise, regally, what may be happening? what is the government doing in a situation like this? >> there's not really much they can do on this particular incident. in the future, they'll be talking about the different allies working together to confront isis, not only in iraq and syria, but capital by capital with intelligence coordination to try to prevent this. if it's a lone wolf, there's not a lot you can do. if this guy's connected to a broader network, they'll try to unravel those networks in order to prevent these things in the future. >> it will be interesting to see what we hear from the five hostages that did escape. if they can give us any insight as to what happened. do you have a question for our next guest? >> i'm really curious to know
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what the u.s. is doing in terms of addressing the threat of radicalization. how we're going out there and speaking to the prolific people within the muslim community within the u.s., and is there a strategy like the uk has in terms of the prevent strategy of addressing that process of organic radicalization. >> well yes, there is a strategy. the fbi has the lead on that. through their task force around the country, they do reach out to different islamic leaders. they do so as well. i would be cautious to say this is all a result of disenfranchisement. my study of these terrorists, they're not disenfranchised. they're true believers in the philosophy, to attack the west, attack american support for our allies in the region. it's radical people that believe
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in this deadly message. >> up next, we're going to speak with a former hostage negotiator as the situation unfoldings s i sydney. up to 12 hostages being held in a cafe in sydney. we'll be right back with much more. take a closer look at your fidelity green line and you'll see just how much it has to offer, especially if you're thinking of moving an old 401(k) to a fidelity ira. it gives you a wide range of investment options... and the free help you need to make sure your investments fit your goals -- and what you're really investing for. tap into the full power of your fidelity green line. call today and we'll make it easy to move that old 401(k) to a fidelity rollover ira.
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we're following the breaking news out of sydney, australia. at least a dozen people being held in the heart of sydney, right in the middle of banking
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institutions, the parliament and a major shopping district. five people did escape. about a dozen being held in there by a gunman who has got at least one weapon as well as an ipad. there are reports of other potential devices but they're not corroborated. we also have him using hostages to get information out and demands out and possible hostage videos. you're getting more information, mark halperin, on the gunman himself, which i'd like you to give us whatever update you can give us, knowing authorities do not want us to reveal his name. we do know he has a past. they know exactly who he is. and clearly there's a reason they don't want too much about him out. >> according to the australian, he's a 49-year-old male of iranian descent who moved to australia in 1996 and they make clear again without naming him that he has a history of being associated with islamic
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extremism. >> we have jim cavanaugh, retired atf special agent in charge and a former hostage negotiator himself. from what we've seen so far, he has been putting the hostages in the windows, making them stand in the main window of the cafe with their faces and their hands against the window. sometimes for up to two hours. when night fell and for a while things were fairly dark and nobody appeared in the window but just within the past hour he has been putting hostages in front of the window again. what can you tell us, especially as a negotiator, about the approach being taken here? >> i think it looks, mika, very steady. and steadied, schooled. this is a textbook operation for a tactical unit, unseen commanders, negotiators. from everything i've seen, they're doing it just according to the book. the police have great tactical units and negotiators. they know what to do.
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they're doing right things. there's a lot of negatives and scary things here people are still being held. this guy obviously is fanatical. you know, it's probably planning to die in some kind of an operation. there's positives as well. you have to look through those and the on scene commander makes decisions based on the situation at hand. >> let me ask you and others can weigh in. last week when the senate reported on enhanced interrogation techniques, secretary kerry and others expressed concern this could lead to an outbreak of terror events. what are your thoughts in terms of timing? >> obviously, we don't know. clearly by depicting in so many detail as the report did the kind of things the united states did to our prisoners, it is certainly going to inflame the world. certainly going to inflame those who are already predisposed
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against us. whether this is such a response or not, there will be responses. >> we're wrapping up our coverage here. i want to get some -- you were bringing in some interesting side points as to how this all could be tied together. also looking at what potentially could be happening here as it pertains to ramifications around the world. >> we know last week the defense budget was approved. $580 billion. i think really we need to be looking inwardly as well. we need to be looking at how we can resource and provide manpower towards the indigenous threat, the organic threat. and really place an emphasis on spending money there as well as the huge amounts that are going on. >> what can governments do today to help? >> clearly, they'll be able to land whatever resources are available. there's an fbi -- any
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negotiators that the australians may need. the u.s. will be helping with the intelligence piece because if we know who this person is, it seems that's the case, they'll be putting that information and asking all the partners to share anything they might know about this individual, family members, trying to get that full circle of the person they're dealing with. >> we are approaching the top of the hour. we're approaching hour 15 of a standoff, a hostage situation in sydney that could have ramifications around the world. we know five hostages escaped. we have video of that. they ran out of the building, and their families are being held by authorities in sydney, being interviewed. we know this is the lindt cafe in the heart of downtown sydney near four major banking institutions, near a war memorial and across the street from a major television station. reports from a reporter, chris reason, from sydney news seven,
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says the hostages were frightened inside, they were being paraded in front of the window, putting their hands against the glass and being forced to press their faces against the glass. some forced to do that for up to two hours. the hostage taker himself has a weapon. he has been using his hostages to communicate with the outside world and he is making demands. he is demanding an isis flag and a meeting with the prime minister. authorities are saying very little about who he is. they say he has a history of extremist behavior. so we're going to be following the story here on msnbc. jim, mark halperin, thank you all for your help this morning. much more on this story ahead on "the rundown."
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or do it right. for almost 90 years, we've stayed true to the belief that if you put quality in, you get quality out. it's why everything we build, we build to last. build on progress. build on pride. build on a company that's built for it. good morning. breaking news this morning on the rundown. it's 9:00 in the east, 1:00 a.m. in sydney, australia. a dramatic standoff in the heart of the shopping district of australia's biggest city. at least one gunman took over the lindt chocolate cafe, forcing customers and staff to hold up their hands. and this islamic banner. overnight, our time, we saw

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