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U.S. Says Syria Used Chemical Weapons; Bloomberg, Kelly Say Suspects Planned Attack in New York; Peter King Says Attack Was Planned; Time Line of Boston Bombing; Press Conference with Bloomberg, Kelly.
Aired April 25, 2013 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are waiting comments from New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and police commissioner, Ray Kelly, on new reports. Gloria Borger just reporting that apparently after a second interrogation with the second suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, he indicated that he and his brother intended to go to New York to set off whatever devices -- explosive devices they allegedly had to set them off in Times Square. Earlier, Commissioner Kelly, yesterday, indicated based on an earlier interrogation with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, he and his brother intended to go to New York to, quote, unquote, "party." Again, we're waiting to hear from the mayor and the police commissioner. We'll bring those comments to you live.
I want to update you on a number of developments. Breaking news out of the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel now saying U.S. intelligence officials believe the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons. Hagel revealed that in an extraordinary news conference in the United Arab Emirates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK HAGEL, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: This morning, the White House delivered a letter to several members of Congress on the topic of chemical weapons use in Syria. The letter -- which will be made available to you here shortly, as soon as George gets it, we'll get it to you -- states that the U.S. intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent, sarin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The key remarks there "some degree of varying confidence" and also "on a small scale."
Let's get some perspective on what this might mean for the civil war that's been raging inside two years now inside Syria.
Mohammed Jamjoom joins us now from Beirut in neighboring Lebanon.
Do we know anything about where and when chemical weapons may have been used?
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is interesting because we've heard the last few months many time the rebels in Syria on at least three or four occasions has said that the regime has used chemical weapons against Syrian people. What's interesting is, just in the past month, you had the regime make a claim that chemical weapons had been used by the rebels against Syrian people.
And in fact, on March 19th, this is a date that's emerged a lot the last few days, first, by the head of intelligence for the IDF in Israel. Today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke about it. People are citing this date as a date they believe chemical weapons were used. There were a couple videos that surfaced that day. One on Syrian State Television, the Syrian regime was saying this proved the rebels had used chemical weapons against the Syrian people. There were other videos posted online by rebels and opposition groups there purporting to show chemical weapons had been used against the people by the Syrian regime. All these videos purporting to show people having suffered the after effects of having been exposed to some type of chemical weaponry.
But what's interesting is, just a few days after that video appeared U.S. officials had looked at that videotape, they concluded, they told CNN, they did not believe that these tapes showed that these people in the tapes had been exposed to chemical weapons, they said possibly exposed to chemicals, but not chemical weaponry. So it's a real open- ended question.
And in the last month, you also have the Syrian regime inviting the U.N. weapons experts to come into Syria to try to ascertain if chemical weapons had been used. But, in fact, just in the last couple of days, the secretary general of the U.N., Ban Ki-moon, actually said that they had a team ready to go but that the Syrian government had not given them permission to come into Syria as of yet -- Anderson?
COOPER: Mohammed, we're going to have to jump away from you.
We have developing news here on the Boston bombing investigation. Representative Peter King, from New York, joins us now on the phone.
Congressman King, appreciate you being with us. We understand you have information that Boston bombing suspects were perhaps planning something in Times Square. What do you know?
REP. PETER KING, (R), NEW YORK (voice-over): Yes. I've been talking to police officials who were told me that, in addition to the remarks -- the general remarks that the terrorist made in the contact about a party in New York. Later on in interrogation, they made references to Times Square which police are interpreting is indicating either possible or very likely attack on Times Square. Times Square was the second phase of the attacks.
Now, this has been told to me by, again, police officials who have been told what happened during the interrogation, what was said during the interrogation. And that's the latest I know. I've been told by several high-ranking police officials. COOPER: I just want to be absolutely clear. Is this a theory by the police that by referencing Times Square -- I mean, was there a specific reference to setting off explosives in Times Square? Or was there just a general reference to doing something in Times Square?
KING: My understanding is, from police, that their analysis of what they were told, the bombers said Times Square indicates to them that an attack was likely at Times Square.
KING: I'm not determining what the police analysis of the statement was.
COOPER: Right. Congressman King, I appreciate you talking to us with that.
We are waiting word from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and also police commissioner, Ray Kelly. They are expected to speak very shortly.
As we indicated before, Commissioner Kelly yesterday had previously said that -- and Congressman King mentioned, as well that the bombing suspect had indicated they were heading to New York in order to party. This obviously seems to be their new information based on another interview or further understanding of that first interview. We're going to bring you the press conference as soon as it starts.
Stay with us.
COOPER: New information just coming into CNN now. According to a number of officials that CNN personnel have talked to, law enforcement officials as well as city officials in New York, city officials now believe the bombing suspects intended to go to New York, not just to party as police commissioner, Ray Kelly, had indicated yesterday, by also perhaps to try to set off whatever remaining devices they had in Times Square. Again, we've heard this now from Congressman Peter King who says he has talked to a number of law enforcement officials in the city of New York. And that is their understanding or interpretation of the comments being made by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Again, we don't have a transcript of what he said. So this is the interpretation we're getting from Congressman King. It's also based on Gloria Borger's reporting based on two officials that she has spoken to.
We are awaiting, as you see, what will be statements being made by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and police commissioner, Ray Kelly. It's going to be made in that room you see on the side of your screen there. We're, of course, going to bring that to you as soon as it starts. Want to give you all the latest information we can.
Also new today in the Boston investigation, federal law enforcement officials say that a remote-controlled device was used to detonate the second bomb near the marathon finish line, but they have not definitively said how the first bomb was set off. They say no video has shown pictures of Tamerlan Tsarnaev putting down a bag with a bomb. We know one of the victims saw the older brother putting his bomb bag down, according to one of the victims themselves.
Randi Kaye traces the tips and images that led to the two brothers.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From his hospital bed not long after surgeons amputated both his legs, this man scribbles something on a piece of paper. It would give investigators a big jump in catching the Boston bombers.
Jeff Bouman, who had come to watch his girlfriend race, writes, "Bag, saw the guy, looked right at me," according to a Bloomberg interview with his brother, words that help investigators narrow down the suspects as they pore through hours of security camera footage and hundreds of spectators' photos. Bouman saw the older Tsarnaev place a backpack right next to him close to the finish line. He was wearing a baseball hat. He's found on video footage. Behind him, another young man. Investigators zero in.
RICK DESLAURIES, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Today, we are enlisting the public's help to identify the two suspects. After a very detailed analysis of photo, video and other evidence, we are releasing photos of these two suspects. They are identified as suspect one and suspect two.
KAYE: April 18th, just three days after the bombing, authorities give us our first glimpse of the suspected bombers, brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
How did they isolate them? Chilling details from the FBI affidavit. At 2:38 p.m., the day of the marathon, a security camera picks up the two suspects turning east on Boylston from Gloucester Street. Both are carrying knapsacks. Bomber one, a few steps ahead of bomber two, who made the mistake of wearing his baseball hat backwards and no sunglasses, making him easily identifiable.
Additional security video from the Forum Restaurant, site of the second explosion, shows the two men standing together at 2:41 p.m. At 2:42, the same camera shows the older brother heading for the finish line. The younger one stops right in front of the restaurant. He stays there for several minutes. Only when the first bomb explodes at 2:49 does he begin to walk away, leaving his knapsack on the ground. 10 seconds later, it explodes.
KAYE: Marathon veteran, Bob Leonard, snapped hundreds of photos at the finish line. When the FBI released the security camera footage showing images of the suspects, Leonard used his time stamp to see if his camera had picked them up too. Sure enough he had photos of the men's faces. He uploaded them to the FBI.
(on camera): But even with such strong leads, there was no sign of the suspects. It was as if they had vanished after the bombings. Had they left town, or did they make the mistake of laying low until they could escape safely? Authorities had no idea until late thursday night when, hours after the suspects were I.D.'d, they got word of shots fired.
(voice-over): About 10:30 p.m., on the campus of MIT, police find campus officer, Sean Collier, dead in his car, shot multiple times. Just before midnight, also in Cambridge, a carjacking and another series of mistakes by the suspects. The driver tells authorities that one of the suspects pointed a firearm at him and admitted the bombing saying, "Did you hear about the Boston explosion? I did that." The suspects need cash. The man is forced to hand over his ATM card. The stolen SUV is running low on gas. They stop at a gas station at 816 Memorial Drive in Cambridge. The younger brother caught on surveillance video.
ED DAVIS, COMMISSIONER, BOSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: It was the first clear cut image not only showing physical description but also what they were wearing.
KAYE: According to the carjacked victim, he manages to escape while one is inside and the other pumping gas. A short time later, the police track the men down in Watertown. Not only had they kept their hostage's car, but also his phone, which allowed police to track their location. Another goof.
When approached, the suspects throw explosive devices out of the car. An intense gun battle begins on Laurel Street in Watertown.
DAVIS: There was exchange of over 200 rounds of gunfire. There were improvised explosive devices and handmade grenades that were thrown at officers in the scene. This is stuff that, in an urban police department, it's almost unheard of.
KAYE: The older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, dies at the scene. 19- year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev escapes.
The later Friday, a Watertown resident man notices the straps on his boat's tarp are cut and there is blood. A state police helicopter's thermal imaging spots someone inside.
KAYE: It is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Law enforcement uses stun grenades, call on him to surrender. After a brief standoff, Tsarnaev stands up, his hands raised.
Five days after the city of Boston was terrorized and countless lives shattered, it is over.
Randi Kaye, CNN.
COOPER: Well, as I said, we are awaiting a press conference of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and police commissioner, Ray Kelly, hoping to get some clarification on what the younger suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, has told investigators, whether in fact he has indicated, as is being reported to us both by Congressman Peter King and also Gloria Borger, two sources, that law enforcement believes they may have intended to come to New York not to party, as the police commissioner had indicated yesterday, but perhaps to set off whatever remaining devices they had.
Again, these are sort of -- seem to be more interpretations on both from the alleged carjacking victim believes he heard, though they were speaking -- they were not speaking in English at the time. But he believes he heard the word "Manhattan," according to Commissioner Kelly, and also an interview with the suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Again, we're trying to get as much detail as we can, hopefully, from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly, we will get some sort of clarification on this. We'll, obviously, bring the press conference to you.
We're going to take another short break. We'll be right back.
COOPER: And welcome back. As I mentioned, we are awaiting a press conference from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on what seems to be new information, interpretation, of what the suspects, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, intended to do after leaving Boston. The intent, apparently, to head toward New York. Exactly what they were planning in New York is unclear. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly yesterday had indicated law enforcement believed they were coming to New York to party, in his words. Now there are a number of reports, Congressman Peter King telling us, based on conversations he's had with New York law enforcement, as well as our own Gloria Borger from two sources, one law enforcement source, one city official, telling her they now believe the suspects intended to come to New York in order to continue causing mayhem, allegedly setting off whatever remaining devices they had. Again, we're trying to get more clarification on it. And hopefully, we'll get some facts from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly.
I want to play you some of what Commissioner Kelly said yesterday about his understanding of what the suspects were intending. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAY KELLY, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT: It was some information that they may have been intent on coming to New York but not to continue what they were doing.
The information that we receive something about a party, having a party. A bit of information that we have that may have been words to the effect of coming to party in New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He later went on to say that information came from a session that interrogators had with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Tom Fuentes, former FBI agent, joins us from Washington.
Tom, what do you make from this information? Obviously, we need to wait to hear from the mayor and police commissioner on what their understanding is. But if, in fact, these suspects did intend to go to New York, did intend to continue their alleged activities there, what does that tell you?
TOM FUENTES, FORMER ASSISTANT FBI DIRECTOR & CNN ANALYST: Well, I think, Anderson, you're right, we need to hear from the press conference what they've been told as to what the target may have been or what the threat was or how they obtained the specific information about that. So, I would kind of defer to that at the moment, but New York City is New York City, and there are just an abundance of soft targets that could be easily used to attack people quite easily. You've got the major train terminals, New York Central Terminal, Penn Station, you've got the ferries, you've got the massive subway system. And subways and trains were used in 2004 in Madrid, 2005, in London. So that certainly would not be a first for any terrorist that reads about it on the Internet that a target of mass transportation will have a lot of people and be a relatively soft target.
COOPER: You know, Tom, it is interesting for two suspects who are accused of planning this, plotting this attack on the marathon day, they did not seem to have much of an end game. I mean, we now know that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev attended classes, hung out on campus, even, you know, went to a party in the days after the bombing, was seen on campus kind of living his life. Tamerlan was seen by his wife, apparently, on the Thursday, the last day, Thursday, after the bombing. But they had to get money from ATMs late Thursday night, early Friday morning.
Oh, let's listen to this press conference now.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Good afternoon. I'm joined here in city hall by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
10 days ago, our city and nation received a horrific reminder that we remain targets for terrorists, and immediately upon news of the explosions in Boston, we fully mobilized the New York City Police Department Counterterrorism Operations because we thought there was a possibility there could be a related attack here. We now know that that possibility was, in fact, all too real.
Last night, we were informed by the FBI that the surviving attacker revealed that New York City was next on their list of targets. He told the FBI, apparently, that he and his brother had intended to drive to New York and designate additional explosives in Times Square. They had built these additional explosives, and we know they had the capacity to carry out the attacks. If, god forbid, they had arrived in New York City and gone to Times Square, one thing for sure, they would have seen an enormous police presence, but they would not have seen extensive networks of cameras that are part of our security initiative to help police identify suspicious movements, such as packages left unintended on the streets. The investments we've made in counterterrorism operations, technology, and intelligence, help reduce the possibility of a successful terrorist strike, but they certainly do not eliminate it. Nothing can do that. We don't know if we would have been able to stop the terrorists had they arrived here from Boston. We're just thankful we didn't have to find out that answer.
And as a result of the extraordinary work of the Watertown, Massachusetts, Police Department, the Boston Police Department, and the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and other law enforcement agencies, the terrorists were stopped before they could carry out further attacks, but not before, sadly, murdering an MIT police officer, Sean Collier, and wounding others.
The role surveillance cameras played identifying the suspects was absolutely essential to saving lives, both in Boston, and now we know here in New York City, as well. We've made major investments in camera technology, notwithstanding the objections of some special interests, and the attacks in Boston demonstrate just how valuable those cameras can be. We've been able to make these investments and many others with the support from the federal government.
And I did want to thank Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and President Obama for recognizing security should be based on threat and threat alone, not pork-barrel politics.
The fact is New York City remains a prime target for those who hate America and want to kill Americans. The attacks in Boston and the news that New York City was next on the terrorists' list shows just how critical it is for the federal government to devote resources to high-risk areas. It also shows just how crucial it is for the NYPD to continue to gather -- to expand its counterterrorism capabilities and intelligence gathering activities.
Now let me turn the floor over to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly -- Ray?
KELLY: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
As the mayor said, last evening, we learned through the Joint Terrorist Task Force that the Boston Marathon bombers had planned to travel to Manhattan to detonate their remaining bombs in Times Square. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the terrorist suspect, who was captured alive, initially told investigators that he and his brother decided after the Boston bombings that would go to New York City to "party."