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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Official: American ISIS Fighter On U.S. Radar Since 2000s; What Causes Someone to Turn Against Their Homeland?; Obama Weighs Strikes on ISIS in Syria; Interview with Rep. Adam Schiff; CDC Chief: Ebola Outbreak Even Worse Than I'd Feared

Aired August 27, 2014 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, not just one American killed fighting for ISIS, but potentially now two. What we're learning tonight about Douglas McAuthor McCain.

Plus how many more Americans are willing to put their lives on the line for Jihad? We speak to a former western Jihadi about what drew him to the fight.

And a horrible accident at a shooting range. A 9-year-old girl loses control of a gun, killing her instructor. Why was she firing an Uzi? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Jim Sciutto in again for Erin Burnett tonight. OUTFRONT tonight, alarming no details about the American who fought and died alongside the terror group, ISIS.

U.S. officials tell CNN they knew about Douglas McAuthur McCain for nearly a decade, but missed him when he traveled to the region to join ISIS. We're going to have much more on those details in a minute.

But first, this new video of a deadly battle between ISIS and a coalition of rebel groups, the coalition known as Narawan in Syria claims this is the battle and the very day that McCain was killed.

CNN cannot confirm that, but we do believe McCain was killed during this ongoing battle between ISIS and other rebels. The group that released this video also released this picture of McCain's passport along with another picture, which we are not airing tonight that they claim is his dead body.

At the same time, ISIS released this terrifying video. ISIS fighters firing an American m-198 howitzer cannon. We'll speak to the administration's point man in Iraq and ask him how those American weapons got into the hands of ISIS and also how well U.S. authorities are tracking the group's foreign recruits including Americans.

But first, Pamela Brown joins me now with new details about Douglas McCain. Pamela, were warning signs missed here?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, officials are only saying at this point, Jim, that they were aware of Douglas McCain back in early 2000 based on someone they were interested in. But at that time there was nothing linking him to anything nefarious according to sources.

However, law enforcement officials do tell us that over the years he had several associations including with someone from Minneapolis where he -- where he grew up who went to Somalia and was killed apparently committing Jihad.

And in fact sources say that they had a sense that McCain was going to travel to Syria and, of course, the concern was heightened once they learned after the fact that he had traveled there. This was several months ago.

In fact, officials say that he became the subject of scrutiny after information gleaned from his associations in Minneapolis. After that he was put on a special list of Americans believed to be linked to militant groups and that means if McCain had tried to travel back to the U.S., that he would have been subject to additional scrutiny.

But his family said they are shocked to learn of his alleged association with ISIS and Syria. In fact, one of his family members said that he was posting on her Facebook page as recently as this past Friday saying that he was in Turkey, then, of course, we learn just days after that, that he was killed fighting along -- allegedly fighting along ISIS in Syria.

We've been speaking to people here at campus at San Diego City College gym where McCain actually attended classes where he studied Arabic. People we've spoken to that knew him say that they're surprised to learn about his alleged involvement.

That he never made his extremist views known. We learned from officials that he converted from Christianity to Islam about a decade ago and his family said that they didn't think anything of it really and didn't until most recently when he posted on his social media pages sympathizing with is, that's when his family became concerned, but again those that knew him that we've spoken with are shocked to learn of what happened -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: A dozen other Americans fighting for ISIS now in Syria. Thanks very much, Pamela Brown, joining us from California.

Joining me now is Brett McGurk, he is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran. Brett McGurk, thanks very much for joining us tonight.

You heard Pamela Brown's report there that U.S. authorities had knowledge of Douglas McCain going back to the early 2000s, but they missed him going into the region.

They also missed another American, Moner Mohammad Abu Salha, he was a Florida man, who even returned home from Syria to try to recruit friends to join Jihad before he went back to Syria and set off a suicide bomb.

In your view does the U.S. have a handle on the flow of Americans to ISIS and other rebel groups in Syria? BRETT MCGURK, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR IRAQ AND IRAN: Jim, I can't comment on any specific cases, but there's thousands of foreign fighters in Syria now from about 50 countries all around the world.

So this is a real crisis for us, for Europe and for the entire international community, and that's why next month President Obama will chair an extraordinary session of the U.N. Security Council to focus global attention on this very serious problem.

The Security Council, in fact, just passed a very strong Chapter 7, which means legally binding and enforceable resolution to shut down the networks of these foreign fighters coming into Syria.

It's a real serious problem and it's a global challenge and working very hard now to enlist an international coalition to shut down these foreign fighter networks and their pathways into Syria.

SCIUTTO: Let's talk, if you can, about the administration response because the administration alarm seems to be evolving here. When president first announced limited military action against ISIS in Iraq some three weeks ago, U.S. officials including yourself repeatedly emphasized this action would be very limited to protecting the Yazidi people who were under assault and also American staff in Iraq.

There have now been 101 air strikes in Iraq, virtually every day since August 8th, very far from Erbil and Baghdad where U.S. personnel is. Surveillance flights over Syria proved possible airstrikes in Syria. Isn't that mission creep?

MCGURK: Well, no, two very clear missions. One to protect Americans and two, to mitigate against risks of major humanitarian catastrophes. We've now done over 100 air strikes. They've been extremely, extremely effective. We had a couple more today.

They've been focused on protecting the Kurdistan regional capital of Erbil because at one point I saw had an open pathway into Erbil. They don't any more. We've been helping Iraqi forces and Kurdish forces take back and recapture the Mosul Dam, which they've done, with great success with our help.

Because the breach of that dam would are created a humanitarian crisis. So that was a real crisis, we had to retake that dam and we did with great success. The 101 air strikes have been in line with the very limited missions.

But again as the president said, we'll do everything we can within that mission set and whenever we see ISIL fighters or ISIS formations threatening our people, threatening a major humanitarian catastrophe. We're prepared to take action and those orders have already been given.

SCIUTTO: You've just said yourself that the president is going to share an extraordinary meeting of the U.N. Security Council on this threat. The U.S. has authorized surveillance flights over Syria now considering air strikes, which seems to be getting not just at those initial missions as described by the president and you protecting the Yazidis and Americans in Iraq.

It seems to be getting after ISIS itself, striking back at ISIS itself. Can you help clarify what is the goal what is the administration strategy here? Is it to defeat ISIS, to stop its momentum, to damage ISIS? What's the goal here?

MCGURK: There's been a lot of news reports citing them here. The president has not made any decisions yet. We're obviously developing a number of options and those will be decisions for the president to make. But the goal here is to empower local actors and partners to defeat this organization.

And to ensure that they cannot have territory and sanctuary that would threaten U.S. interests and our allies. This will be a long-term campaign. This is not something that we'll be able to turn around immediately. They could have some political efforts. That's why the meeting at the Security Council will be so important next month.

SCIUTTO: The administration's response so far has been open to criticism. Senator John McCain says the administration has authorized a number of steps but that's not a strategy against ISIS. Have a listen to what Senator McCain said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We're watching air strikes in Iraq for reasons which are not totally specified yet, but surveillance in Syria. How does that work? There is no strategy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Help clarify then what the strategy is today and is the administration considering expanding that strategy beyond that initial very limited mission you describe?

MCGURK: Again, Jim, we've taken over 100 air strikes over the past weeks alone as airstrikes have been extremely effective and we're focused on the Iraqi political process because they're in the final stages of establishing a new government.

And not only establishing a new government, but also putting in place a national program and a national campaign plan to harness all the national resources of Iraq against ISIS. And if they ask us to help in that effort, that is obviously something that we'll take very seriously and we'll begin discussing with them.

General Austin, our commander of Cencom was in Baghdad today. He met with the prime minister designate. He met with the president of Iraq. He met with the speaker of parliament. He also went to Erbil and met with the president of the Kurdistan region.

So this is an ongoing conversation. We have to see the Iraqi government formed to bring the country together and a harness the national resources of Iraq in a unified effort against ISIS. That's what it's going to take. If they'll ask for our help, we'll listen very carefully and engage with them in a very close conversation. SCIUTTO: There's a question here, though. There have been conflicting messages from the administration as to how much of a threat ISIS is not just to stability in Iraq and our Iraqi partners, but to the U.S. homeland, to U.S. national security.

Several days ago, Secretary Hagel said that that threat was imminent. In his words, they're an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it's in Iraq or anywhere else then a short time later, General Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, of course, seemed to say that ISIS is a regional threat than a direct threat to the U.S. homeland.

For the sake of our viewers at home, is ISIS an imminent threat today to Americans here at home in the U.S.?

MCGURK: ISIS, Jim, ISIS is al Qaeda. It's al Qaeda and it's a global jihadist organization. That's where all the foreign fighters, the thousands of foreign fighters coming into Syria and into Iraq. They're drawn to the global jihad.

ISIS is reaching for the mantle of the global Jihad. It's in competition with the leadership of al Qaeda in Pakistan for that mantle. That's what its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, that's his desired goal.

So this is an extremely serious threat to us. It's an extremely serious threat to the region and something we have to begin to confront with our partners in the region. That's what's key.

That's why we're working so diligently around the clock with our Iraqi partners, the elected leadership of Iraq to get this new government formed over the coming weeks, and then to begin to develop a comprehensive campaign plan to begin to really roll ISIS back.

SCIUTTO: Is it a threat to the U.S. homeland today?

MCGURK: Whenever you see global Jihadists and potential suicide bombers indoctrinated and radicalized and fighting and learning how to kill people in large numbers with western passports, that's a very serious threat to the homeland.

SCIUTTO: All right, thanks very much, Brett McGurk, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran. We appreciate you joining us.

MCGURK: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Joining me now is CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. You were listening to Brett Mcgurk there. Two key questions stick in my mind. One is that back and forth on whether it's a direct threat on the U.S., but the other is, what is the strategy here? Do you see a strategy and do you believe that there is mission creep here as they expand the action possibly into Syria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: What I see is an administration trying to figure out what its strategy is and how it would then explain it to the American public. You know, as you point out, originally the American public was told that there were these two goals, you know, the humanitarian goal and to protect Americans.

And now it seems that after these hundred or so air strikes, that the mission has broadened, and we haven't been told what it's going to be broadened into and I think that's partially because the administration itself doesn't know yet.

I mean, remember, Jim, just a year ago, there was the red line with Syria and there was a lot of sabre rattling about what we were going to do, then the president balked if you recall and walked away from air strikes in Syria.

I don't think they want to get into a situation where they're promising something or seem to be saying we're going to do something that in the end they're not going to end up doing because that was a very sort of difficult political moment, I would argue, for the president.

SCIUTTO: Is it a messaging problem or a strategy problem or both?

BORGER: I think it's both. I don't think you can have a message, a clear message until you have a strategy. Until you have an idea of what you're going to do, and at that point you have to define the mission or redefine the mission, which is what I would argue they might end up doing.

And tell the American public exactly the answer to the question that you just asked, which is, how is this a threat to the American homeland? Why should we care? Why should we be doing more? And who will we be doing more with?

Will we be doing it alone, in concert with allies, with states in the region for example? So I think these are things that the White House is now saying, look, we have to figure this out and then we will explain it to the American public.

We do not want to be rushed into doing anything because now, as you know, they've got surveillance going on. And they have to take a look at exactly what they can accomplish, what they're able to accomplish given the terrain there. And I don't think they know the answers to all of those questions yet.

SCIUTTO: Meanwhile events on the ground moving very quickly.

BORGER: Exactly.

SCIUTTO: Thanks very much to Gloria Borger as always in Washington.

BORGER: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: OUTFRONT next, claims that a second American was killed fighting for ISIS. What compels these young men to join the fight in the first place? A former western Jihadi joins me next.

Plus the mother of an American being held by ISIS has a message for the terror group. What is the U.S. going to do to get him back?

And a 9-year-old accidentally kills her instructor with a submachine gun. What went wrong?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

Tonight CNN is learning that a second American may have been killed while fighting for ISIS. According to a coalition of rebel groups in Syria, the second American died in the same shoot-out where Douglas McAuthor McCain was killed just this past weekend. McCain's relatives say they're still in shock over the 33-year-old's death.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRYALA (ph) MCCAIN, DOUGLAS MCAUTHUR MCCAIN'S COUSIN: I feel like maybe it was some people he was hanging out with because that's not -- that's not who he is. He's not is. He's not a terrorist. You know? So that's my first response to what I heard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: So what could cause someone to turn against their own country? Leave their family, their friends behind to become a Jihadi on the battlefield? Ed Husain was a teenaged Muslim growing up in London when he became radicalized himself in the early 1990s while in college. He's now a senior adjunct fellow at the council on foreign relations specializing in Middle Eastern affairs.

Ed, very good to have you on today.

ED HUSAIN, FORMER ISLAMIST FUNDAMENTALIST: Thank you for having me.

SCIUTTO: Ed, in light of your own experience but also your studies, can you describe how someone who grows up in the west can become enthralled with an extremist cause, with jihad?

HUSAIN: There's this problem of immigration integration and the lack of belonging here in Europe that allows for the most extreme preachers from the Arab world to come to European countries and then find an open field for recruitment which then led to them radicalizing an entire generation of young Muslims here with a very, very appealing and seductive message of you're not Europeans, you're not British, you're not French, you're not German, you're only Muslim. Your allegiance is not just to your fellow country and your fellow citizens but to a global Muslim community.

And your cause is to create a leadership, a caliphate spiritual and political for this community which will then go to war to solve the problem of the Muslim world be it with Israel, the United States, with Russia, with China because only the language of war and confrontation and death essentially matter.

SCIUTTO: I know you've made the point that, while Britain has a bigger problem with this in part because the Muslim communities are separated, they're more insular, that the U.S. has an advantage, there's more of a national identity, an American identity that helps fight this, the fact is there are Americans today going to fight alongside is and other radical groups there. It is still happening. How do these groups manage to be such magnets even in the U.S.?

HUSAIN: What we're seeing is converts, new-comers to Islam or recent immigrants coming into the country who feel that same pang that people here feel, a sense of rejection or petty criminals or exposures in prisons or online on the university campuses. So you can identify three or four arenas of action where these people are drawn in vulnerable lines or criminal lines where they're not fully integrated individuals who have a good sense of scripture. In other words, religious literacy often helps defeat religious illiteracy and religious radicalization.

SCIUTTO: Now, in effect, self-de-radicalized. You made a decision to leave a radical Muslim movement. What made the difference for you?

HUSAIN: My own family. My parents, my brothers, my sisters were critical that constantly criticizing and rejecting my former activism. A second factor would be meeting in my case Americans and others who were critical of my rejection of Islam but my embrace of Hamas. A third factor would be going to travel in the Middle East, ironically enough, and meeting mainstream orthodox traditional Muslim scholars who opened my eyes to the difference between normative Islam as understood by affiliate trust Muslims and this modern, warped perversion ideological form of activist Islam.

SCIUTTO: Do you think that the U.S., that the west is doing enough to help stop this pipeline of young Muslim men from Europe and the U.S. to these groups? Are they doing it smartly? And can they do it successfully?

HUSAIN: They're not doing it smartly, Jim, but they can do it successfully. There's a whole host of problems in our work. Firstly, too often as the debate now in the U.S. and here in Europe, we're reverting to old solutions. In other words, can we bomb ourselves out of this? What we should be doing is fighting that war of ideas within Islam and Muslims because the vast majority of Muslims are still with the west. And we should be unleashing an ideological war that leads to winning hearts and minds and offers a better narrative, a better way forward than the darkness of the evil that the ISIS (INAUDIBLE).

SCIUTTO: Thanks very much, Ed Husain, a former radical himself. He would have a better perspective on how to stop this flow of westerners to group like ISIS.

HUSAIN: Jim, thank you.

SCIUTTO: I want to bring in CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd. He is also a former CIA counterterrorism official.

Philip, in the case of al Qaeda, al Qaeda attracted a small handful of Americans to the cause. ISIS has been particularly successful, at least at dozen of a knowledge of U.S. officials, perhaps 100 Americans fighting for other radical groups there. Why has ISIS been so successful?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think if you look at the decade and a half we've had since 9/11 you've had multiple organizations emerge that have proven to be magnets for Americans. Remember, we had an American fly over Detroit and try to blow up a plane out of Yemen. Yemen was trying to emerge as the ISIS about three, four, five years ago. We had Americans go to Somalia six or seven years ago. Some of these smaller extremist movements had minimal success over the past decade. The difference with ISIS is they're in the heart of the Arab world. They've been around for three-plus years, they control a broad swath of geography and they're good, I think, at presenting their aim j for people that want to be drawn into an extremist movement. So we've seen snippets of this in the past, Jim. But these guys are bigger and some ways better and they've been around for a longer period of time.

SCIUTTO: There's been no greater tool than the success that ISIS has had. But what does the U.S. government need to do, U.S. authorities, these intelligence agencies needed to do that they are not doing to stop this flow of Americans and other westerners to ISIS?

MUDD: Look, let me be blunt. You cannot stop the flow. Three hundred and thirty million people in an open democratic society. If some kid in Minneapolis or Los Angeles or Miami wants to buy a one-way ticket and fly to Turkey, he's going to be able to do it. I think the question in the coming days, particularly after the president's announcement of surveillance over Syria is we've been going after frontline guys. For example, ISIS guys who are trying to attack Kurdish forces in northern Iraq. Some 17-year-old Syrian or Jordanian on the frontlines of ISIS is not the same person who is going to show up in central park in New York and explode a bomb. The question in coming days is going to be do we go after the command and control in Syria who might be involved in training foreign fighters from London or Washington or New York. That's a lot different than going after the frontlines in Iraq. And I think that's what we'll see when U.S. air strikes start, as I believe they will, in Syria.

SCIUTTO: No question and also stopping potential ISIS veterans from coming back here and carrying out jihad on the U.S. homeland.

Thanks very much to Philip Mudd, CNN's counterterrorism analyst.

MUDD: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: OUTFRONT next, after the execution of James Foley, the mother of another American pleads to ISIS for mercy on her son. How far will the U.S. go to get him back?

Plus the head of the CDC tells CNN that the Ebola outbreak is worse than he feared. We're on the ground in Liberia where the fear is paralyzing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Tonight, the mother of a captured American is making a heartfelt plea to ISIS terrorists to spare her son's life. Steven Sotloff disappeared in Syria last summer but recently

resurfaced in the ISIS video that showed the gruesome beheading of fellow journalist James Foley. The executioner vowed to kill Sotloff, too, if U.S. airstrikes did not stop.

Sotloff's mother appealed directly to the leader of ISIS today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHIRLEY SOTLOFF, MOTHER OF STEVEN SOTLOFF: Since Steven's capture, I've learned a lot about Islam. I've learned that Islam teaches that no individual should be held responsible for the sins of others. Steven has no control over the actions of the U.S. government. He's an innocent journalist.

I've always learned that you, the caliph, can grant amnesty. I ask you to please release my child. I want what every mother wants, to live to see her children's children. I plead with you to grant me this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: As that mother pleads for her son's life, the White House is considering airstrikes against the ISIS terrorists in Syria that are holding her son.

Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT tonight from the White House.

Jim, as the president considers next steps, is he going to go to Congress before pulling the trigger on any military action inside Syria?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, that is a key question this week, Jim. And we can tell you that senior administration officials are telling us that at this point the president has not made a decision on airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria.

But as to this question of congressional authorization, you know, it's come up a couple of times this week. Earlier this week, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, was reminded that when the president was considering military action against Bashar al Assad's forces in Syria a year ago, the president stopped short of that decision, said he didn't want to do it without the authorization of Congress, and he called on Congress to vote on the subject.

Reminded of that, Josh Earnest said earlier this week that, well, this is different. The threat posed by ISIS is different. And so, that was an indication, I think, Jim, that the president may not go to Congress for that authorization.

However, we should point out that a growing number of Democrats are starting to ask for just that. Tim Kaine, prominent senator on the Democratic side, has said that the president needs to ask for that authorization. At the same time, he's hearing from a chorus of Republicans who are now starting to say the president needs to lay out a strategy for defeating ISIS.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, said if the president were to go to Congress after they come back from recess and explain, that he might actually get some support. He said that to Dana Bash, our chief congressional correspondent, earlier today.

And when I asked Josh Earnest earlier today whether or not the president wants to defeat ISIS, it took a little bit of time but he said, yes, of course, the president wants to defeat ISIS.

But, of course, Jim, going to Congress is a very different matter. They don't have to do that. They can launch airstrikes and then come back and notify Congress within 48 hours and then have 60 days for Congress to weigh in.

So, it is a murky legal question and it's the one that the White House knows that they'll have to deal with, Jim.

SCIUTTO: And, of course, first decision has to be made on whether they are going to take military action on Syria. That's still up in the air.

ACOSTA: That's right.

SCIUTTO: Thanks very much to Jim Acosta at the White House.

OUTFRONT tonight, senior member of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, joining us.

Thanks very much. Always good to have you.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: You bet. Good to be with you.

SCIUTTO: Congressman, you heard Jim speaking about the president and the White House not deciding yet or hasn't determined definitively if it would need congressional support if it decides to attack ISIS. Do you believe it needs congressional support?

SCHIFF: I believe it does, Jim. Apart from circumstance where there's another rescue attempt or where there's a very immediate threat as in a cell is planning and well along in launching an attack against the homeland, under those emergency circumstances, the president can act first and then come to Congress. But if he's talking about a sustained air campaign in Syria with the general objective of setting back ISIS or defeating ISIS, then he really does need to come to congress for an authorization.

SCIUTTO: The president's decision-making on this has fallen into a familiar rhythm. You have the presentation of options, the consideration of those options, and initial step in this case, surveillance flights but not airstrikes over Syria authorized.

Do you believe that the Obama administration's response to this is being outpaced by events on the ground?

SCHIFF: I don't think it's being outpaced, but I do worry about the expectations that are being created. On the one hand, I can understand the president saying, well, tell me if you can get good targets and then tell me why I should go after these targets. There's a certain logic to that.

At the same time, there's also a certain momentum that's put into place when you ask for targets and you get them. The people expect you to act on them. And if you don't, they say, well, you had this person in your sights and you let them go.

But I haven't seen a compelling case yet, Jim, and I'm not sure the White House can make one, what strikes in Syria at this point would accomplish, because we don't have anybody on the ground that can really work with us the way the Kurds an the Peshmerga work with us, the way the Iraqi government can work with us. And if we are to attack ISIS in these pinpoint airstrikes, who will come in and occupy territory that ISIS might have to temporarily give up, is it going to be the al Qaeda affiliate, al Nusra, is it going to be Hezbollah? Is it going to be Bashar al Assad's forces? Because I don't think the rebels such as they are, are cohesive or strong enough to really maintain any kind of ground offensive or hold ground they seize from ISIS.

SCIUTTO: The administration has two challengers here, because you have ISIS' advance on the ground, how do you respond to that militarily?

But you also have the threat of ISIS fighters, foreign fighters, including Americans going back and forth, you know, signals that missed possibly with Douglas McCain before he went there. U.S. authorities also missed when a Florida man Mohammed Abu Salah who later became a suicide bomber in Syria, he actually went to Syria, came back to the U.S., tried to recruit his friends to jihad before going back to Syria and carrying out his attack -- certainly a worrisome thing to happen.

Do you believe U.S. authorities have a handle on these fighters, particularly Westerners, particularly Americans?

SCHIFF: We're certainly very focused on it. The challenge is that you can get into Syria pretty easily through that Turkish border. It's quit a se a sieve, and getting to Turkey which is a tourist attraction, is not very difficult to do. So, for us to keep track of everyone who's going to Turkey, for example, and separate those who are going on vacation from those who are going to join the jihad is tough in and of itself.

But certainly in the case you point out where an American goes to Syria, joins the fight, and then comes back home and then goes back to Syria, that's a real red flag. That's a real danger sign when somebody has been radicalized, has been in the fight and comes back home because they could have attacked us while they're home instead of heading back to join the fight again.

SCIUTTO: There seems to be a mismatch in the administration's messaging here whether ISIS is a direct threat to the U.S. homeland today. You heard some officials saying, well, it's largely a regional threat. They're not an al Qaeda 9/11 sort of level of concern. But earlier, we had Brett McGurk saying it's a serious threat to the homeland right now.

Where do you stand? Where should -- how concerned should our viewers be?

SCHIFF: Well, there is a near-term threat, but the broader threat is going to be in the mid and long-term. When these hundreds and thousands of European fighters come back or try to come back home, trying to keep track of those that mean us harm is a monumental challenge.

But there is no near-term risk. I mean, this Floridian you mentioned, he could have come back and attacked us. It may not have been very effective or very destructive, but as we saw in Boston, it doesn't take much to create a lot of mayhem.

So, there is some near-term risk but I don't think it's on the scale it's going to be, frankly, a few years down the road.

SCIUTTO: Well, it's an alarming prospect for sure. Thanks very much, Congressman Adam Schiff. We appreciate your thoughts.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: OUTFRONT next, a 9-year-old girl accidentally kills her instructor at a shooting range with an Uzi. Should children be handling submachine guns?

Plus, the head of the CDC gets an on-the-ground look at Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and his assessment is extremely bleak. CNN spoke with him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: OUTFRONT tonight, a story that is really shocked so many of us. This video shows the moment just before a 9-year-old girl accidentally kills her instructor with an Uzi submachine gun at a shooting range outside Las Vegas. We learn that no criminal charges will be filed.

David Mattingly now has more on how an Uzi gets into hands of a 9- year-old girl.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bullets and Burgers, the gun range where a young girl firing a machine gun accidentally killed her instructor is part of a Las Vegas area tourism niche that's growing almost as fast as the bullets are flying.

And critics say there are no laws keeping children from firing away.

MICHAEL MCLIVELY, LAW CENTER TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE: This tragedy just illustrates how you never know what could happen. And we really do need to use common sense when thinking about when a child can have access to a weapon like that.

MATTINGLY: Authorities say the girl seen in this video is just 9 years old, firing a mini Uzi submachine gun. The only restrictions at the range, you have to be at least 8 years old and accompanied by an adult if you're under 18.

REPORTER: How does a 9-year-old get an Uzi in her hand?

SAM SCARMARDO, BULLETS AND BURGERS OPERATOR: Well, a 9-year-old gets an Uzi in her hand when the criteria is 8 years old to fire firearms. We instruct kids as young as 5 on .22 rifles and they don't get the handle high firearms, but they are under the supervision of their parents and our professional range masters.

MATTINGLY: The Bullets and Burgers Web sites lists tour packages costing up to $1,000 to shoot different weapons. They offer bachelorette parties, birthday parties, weddings.

Bullets and Burgers is one of about a dozen gun ranges around Las Vegas now catering to tourists around the world.

Authorities say the young girl was with her parents visiting from New Jersey.

BOB IRWIN, THE GUN STORE: This is an aberration. It is -- I have never seen anything like this in all my years.

MATTINGLY: Bob Irwin of The Gun Store takes credit for getting tourism gun firing started in the '80s.

In this promotional video, you see how Irwin's customers pay to fire off heavy duty automatic weapons, but he says that's only if they're physically able to handle them.

IRWIN: It appears that the girl just had too much gun for her and the gun was too small and too fast.

MATTINGLY: Irwin says the Uzi she was using is capable of firing off five rounds in a third of a second. She was gripping it with both hands when she pulled the trigger and lost control.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: David, the real issue here seems to be with high powered weapons like this. When I was a kid, I fired .22s as an adolescent. Does any state prohibit high powered automatic weapons?

MATTINGLY: Well, the state of Connecticut does not allow children to fire weapons at a gun range until they're 16. As far as Arizona, though, where this actually happened, there were no laws broken. The criminal investigation still ongoing, about to be wrapped up by the sheriff's department there. But at the moment, the only investigation that seems to be moving forward might be an OSHA investigation in Arizona looking at this as a workplace accident.

SCIUTTO: Connecticut, of course, is the state where the Newtown shooting took place.

Thanks very much to David Mattingly there.

OUTFRONT next, the CDC says the Ebola outbreak is even worse than feared. This as a worker with the institute is flown back to the U.S. after being exposed to the deadly virus.

And are these people mugging for the camera? Or are they just caught in a shocking moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Tonight, the director of the CDC tells CNN that the outbreak of Ebola in Africa is even worse than feared. We also learned today that a CDC employee has been exposed to the virus and flown from West Africa to the United States on a private plane. Nearly 1,500 people across West Africa have died in what is now the largest Ebola outbreak in history.

Nima Elbagir is in Monrovia, Liberia, where the government has quarantined some 70,000 people, sparking deadly riots.

Nima, I know you spoke with the director of the CDC, Tom Frieden, today. What did he have to say?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tom Frieden is on a tour of the Ebola-hit region, and he's told us that already what he's found here is so much worse than what we expected. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. TOM FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: No one has ever seen an outbreak of Ebola like this, with this kind of explosive spread in urban areas. We've seen clusters in hospitals and terrible hundreds of cases in the other outbreaks, but we're in the thousands here.

ELBAGIR: The World Health Organization has spoken about an underestimation of the death toll. They've also spoken about a secret patient case load. Is that the sense you've got here on the ground, that this is actually -- it could be so much worse than we know right now?

FRIEDEN: It's definitely worse than the total numbers. How much worse, we don't know. But we know that not all the cases have been reported. Not all the cases have been diagnosed, not all the cases have been tested.

So, it's a much bigger problem than anyone anticipated. The world cannot isolate Liberia and West Africa. That won't help, and it will make it harder to stop the outbreak, and ultimately, will increase the risk, in other places, because every day, this outbreak goes on, it increases the risk for another export to another country. So, the sooner the world comes together and helps Liberians and West Africans to stop it, the safer we'll all be.

We're already seeing survivors. I interviewed one this morning. We saw people there who are feeling well enough to complain about the food.

So, there's definitely hope for individuals, and we can turn this around. What we have to do is basically two things. Stop spread among caregivers and health care and in homes and stop spread through the burial process.

ELBAGIR: What is your sense about experimental drugs? We've heard a lot about ZMapp, and that's been used in some cases successfully, in others not. Do you think that's something that perhaps should be explored here?

FRIEDEN: The key right now is getting good quality care to as many patients, as fast as possible. That means helping them with their symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting, bringing their fevers down, giving them medication for pain, and perhaps most importantly, giving them rehydration, oral rehydration, and whenever possible, intravenous rehydration.

These are life-saving, proven interventions. Experimental drugs are experimental. We don't know if they work and we don't have many of them or lots of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELBAGIR: The really sad thing is Dr. Frieden believes that we still haven't yet seen the worse of this outbreak, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Nima Elbagir on the front lines of the fight against Ebola -- thank you.

Coming up next, why do these people look so -- what's the word -- stunned? Jeanne Moos is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: A photographer was tired of taking the same old posed portraits, so he did something shocking about it.

Here's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When you think of stun guns and tasers --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't tase me, bro!

MOOS: -- you tend to think of them in the hands of police. Not photographers.

PATRICK HALL, STUN GUN PHOTO SHOOT PHOTOGRAPHER: This is the taser that I use and this thing, it hurts.

MOOS: Charleston photographer, Patrick Hall, recruited 80 participants willing to be stun gunned. And at the very moment, they were shocked, he shot slow-motion video and stills. HALL: I wound up buying a bunch of tasers off Amazon and they were

the perfect strength. When you got hit with this taser, it was enough to make you scream and jump up out of your chair.

MOOS: But do no permanent damage.

Kathleen Holland, a friend of the photographer, got shocked on the leg.

(on camera): Did it hurt?

KATHLEEN HOLLAND, STUN GUN PHOTO SHOOT PARTICIPANT: Oh, yes, it did. You know, I think it was more of literally, of a shock. It feels like a little sting, essentially.

MOOS (voice-over): It was mild compared to the jolt former CNNer Rick Sanchez --

RICK SANCHEZ, FORMER CNN ANCHOR: Do it.

(SCREAMING)

MOOS: -- once endured in an electrifying situation.

SANCHEZ: It hurts!

MOOS: Rick kept his clothes on.

The photo shoot participants partially disrobed so the photos would be clean, no distractions. Even the photographer himself got shocked.

He recruited people on Facebook, by word of mouth, and using flyers. Everyone had to sign a waiver.

(on camera): But besides the fact that you get shocked, what is the point of these portraits?

(voice-over): Patrick said he wanted portraits not so posed.

HALL: There's no way you can fake your emotion and your expression when you get hit with 300,000 volts of electricity.

MOOS: But he didn't just shoot the people getting zapped. He shot the zappers, too.

Kathleen's case, it was Patrick's sister wielding the stun gun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She loved it!

MOOS: Most of the zappers seemed to enjoy inflicting a little pain. They were friends or significant others, though one couple was out on their first date. Talk about a connection.

Some of those being zapped looked like they were in pain.

While others laughed and even looked orgasmic, and reminded us of the recent slap video, featuring folks slapping each other silly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harder. Harder.

MOOS: All this slapping and zapping, soon there'll be nothing left to shock us, to make us roll our eyes. But did they have to do it there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go!

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: I am not doing that. Thanks very much for joining us again tonight.

"AC360" starts right now.