Return to Transcripts main page
More Details on Paris Attackers, Links to Belgium; International Warrant for Suspect Salah Abdeslam in Belgium; Encryption, Gaming Believed Used by Paris Attackers; Fear of Backlash Against Muslims in France; French Prime Minister Talks Attacks in Paris; Former Radical Islamist Fights Against Extremism; French Airstrikes Hit ISIS Targets in Raqqa, Syria. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired November 16, 2015 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[02:00:13] HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Hala Gorani. We continue our breaking news coverage of the Paris attacks.
At home and abroad, France is taking action after the terrorist attacks on Friday that killed 129 people. From bases in Jordan and the UAE, 12 French war planes attacked the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria. The targets, the Ministry of Defense says, are a command center, a training base and a recruiting office. Now the air strikes took place on Sunday. The French Defense Ministry says the planes destroyed all of their targets.
Meanwhile, across this country, police carried out a series of anti- terror raids in Toulouse and Calais, as well.
Across Europe, because this has become a pan-European story as well, authorities are looking for at least one suspect who remains at large they believe after the attacks.
And we are getting this hour more information about one of the terrorists identified. Delal Mutsy (ph), you see him here. He was a resident of Belgium. He was killed outside the Stade de France carrying out his attack. There were three suicide bombers outside the Stade de France. Sources say he was really young. See his picture. 19, 20 years old perhaps. Thought to have been radicalized very quickly, thought to have fought in Syria as well. Radicalized quickly because only a few years ago, it appears, according to some reports, that he was just a regular young man, a fan of football club Real Madrid, et cetera, and he turned into a very radical violent jihadist.
Senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen, is live in Paris with more on the investigation.
Tell us more about what we know with regard to those bombers who have been identified, Fred.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, absolutely. As you said, his name is Delal Hatfi (ph). The information that we are getting, Hala, he traveled to Syria in early 2015, maybe March 2015, and fought for ISIS there in Syria. Not exactly clear when he came back here to Europe to Belgium specifically. However, as you said, the authorities here believe that he was radicalized quite quickly. The photo image that we have obtained from him, comes from a video that apparently shows him calling for attacks on the West. As you said, he appears to be one of suicide bombers outside of the Stade de France. Now identified.
This, of course, comes as more and more of the alleged attackers are being identified by authorities. And then, of course, we have the manhunt that is still very much under way here in France and in Belgium and other countries, of course, as well for Salah Abdeslam. The police still looking for him as well. The interesting thing about that was from last night, apparently, the authorities here had him in custody and questioned him then allowed him to go shortly after the attack took place in Paris. During that time, they apparently took him in, while he was on the road that was leading towards the Belgian border. Will be interesting to see what the authorities come up with, how that manhunt plays out.
We are learning more about the attackers specifically. One of the suicide bombers, Delal Hatfi (ph) there, some one who was certainly the authorities believe inside Syria as late as this year -- Hala?
GORANI: Do they believe that the suspect who some reports suggest was in French custody, do they believe that individual was part of the attack team? Is that the belief right now?
PLEITGEN: That is a good question. It is not clear if he was participating in the attacks. One of the things that could indicate that is that yesterday, they found one of the cars apparently used in the attacks, a black Saat sedan, outside of Paris, it was abandoned there. If he was the only one from the plot still around, then it would lead one to believe that perhaps he was indeed part of the attack and then managed to get away. At this point in time, it is still unclear. The other thing, of course, that authorities are looking at is that he appears to be one of three brothers who authorities believe were part of the attack. One of them has already been apprehended by the police in Belgium. Another one was killed in the attack. So, at this point in time, it's not clear what his participation was but he is certainly very much a person of interest as this Europe-wide manhunt shows, initiated by the Belgians.
[02:05:05] GORANI: All right, Fred Pleitgen, we are here as we begin a week here in France, a couple of days only after the terrible attacks on Friday.
I believe Fred is still with us.
Fred, before I get back to you, I want to show our viewers a little bit what the newspapers are headlining this morning. As you can imagine, all about those attacks of Friday night, Friday the 13th. This one showing the -- one of the restaurants that was shot up by the terrorists. "Terror in Paris," Friday 13th, 9:20 p.m. This is "le Monde" newspaper, a daily. Let me show you another angle, the "le Figaro." Hollande, the French president facing the challenge of replying to these attacks. There are many ways to go. Some analysts are saying it has to be a military response, others are saying, no, needs to take care of problems at home first, perhaps increased surveillance, not go too far. There are so many ways looking at how to respond to these challenges. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) Their big headlines on these attacks on Friday. "In the war," and the question being, how will France respond? There is a French flag flying, lowered in honor of the victims.
France declared three days of mourning starting Saturday. Today would be the third day of national mourning.
All right, is Fred still with us?
All right, Fred, let me ask you a little bit more about the Belgium connection. It's not just happening in France. The investigation has fully spread there with individuals who are suspected of having plotted and even carried out the attacks and having planned them in Belgium. Tell us more about that.
PLEITGEN: Yeah, certainly, Hala, Belgium is one of the main focus points of the investigation at this point in time. Of course, we learned over the weekend on Saturday there were raid that were carried out in Belgium, three raids in total at least seven people in custody after those raids. And the district of -- of Brussels. And, the authorities later coming up with information two attackers they believe were residents of Belgium. Apparently, French nationals living in Belgium. Then of course you had the connection to one of the vehicles. That was apparently used in the attacks on Friday. A black V.W. Polo rented by a French national in Brussels and driven over here to Paris. Later found at the scene of the attack that killed so many people. You have one of the attackers who came back from Paris. Apprehended by the authorities going back to Belgium. In custody, the man who rented that black V.W. Polo. Certainly appears as though there is a very clear link to Belgium, the Belgian authorities are also talking about. And also if we have to keep in mind that Salah Abdeslam was born in Belgium, even though he's a France national. So it seems as though that area around Brussels, the Molenbeek area, for a long time, known as a hotbed of radicalism in Belgium. It was prominent in the "Charlie Hebdo" attacks when raids were going around in Brussels, but also in Molenbeek as well. Authorities back then were telling us they have a problem with radicals from there. Some attempting to go to Syria. Some who had gone to Syria and fought there. The other big problem in Belgium as well, for quite a long type, a proliferation there on the black market of assault rifles like the A.K.-47. Apparently, in Belgium, are easier to get than any other European countries. Many date back to the Balkans wars when large parts of Europe were not flooded but certainly had a larger influx of the A.K.-47s and Soviet-era weapons coming into Europe, being distributed around the black market. Belgium is one of those places where the guns were quite readily available.
GORANI: Fred, yeah, quickly, let's mention Raqqa as well. France announced a massive bombing campaign. By my count, two sorties, 20 bombs, calling it massive, perhaps a little more for optics than in terms of what it will achieve here. But here you have Raqqa, which is the self-declared capital in Syria of ISIS, what kind of impact could this type of bombing possibly have on operations that are happening half a world away in Europe? [02:10:10] PLEITGEN: I mean, certainly, these -- the bombings in
Raqqa -- many analysts that we're speaking to, much of the commentary in media, saying that this seems to be more of a reaction to the attacks that happened here in Paris, more of a statement than something that could possibly alter the way that the fight against ISIS is in fact going. The most recent information we have been getting out of Raqqa from various sourcings, several places were struck. The French are talking about command-and-control centers. ISIS is saying that there were no casualties. There are other groups saying there were no casualties as well. ISIS is saying the places that were hit were abandoned. Unclear whether or not that is true. However, ISIS has been taking hits, not just on the various front lines, for instance, north eastern Syria in western Syria, as well with Syrian government forces making advances, but also, in Iraq. And then, of course, you had in Raqqa the raid on Jihadi John. The community stepping up the efforts against ISIS. Not clear how much difference this will make. Certainly something these attacks here in Paris will further embolden the international community to crack down on ISIS.
GORANI: All right, Fred Pleitgen in Paris.
France remains in state of emergency. This gives the government, the state authorities in the country more power, surveillance power, more detention power, powers of possible suspects.
But while this is all going on, authorities in neighboring Belgium are hunting for a man with a suspected link to the deadly attacks. They issued an international warrant for Salah Abdeslam. A source close to the investigation tells CNN French police questioned Abdeslam a few hours after the attacks and released him.
We touched on that with our Fred Pleitgen, but our senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson, is in Brussels with more on this angle of the story.
Tell us more a little bit about the suspect, the fact that French authorities had him in custody, released him. What happened there? Clearly there was some sort of a failure in gathering enough information to keep him in custody.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Apparently, Hala, the French authorities did not have Abdeslam on a watch list. In the aftermath, the Belgium prosecutor's office tells CNN they're focusing a lot of their investigations on Salah Abdeslam and his two brothers, both basically natives of Brussels, capital of the European Union. One of the brothers was killed. He was an apparent suicide bomber Friday night. Another brother was arrested here in Brussels. And he is one of more than at least seven people who have been detained here by the Belgian authorities in the last 46- 48 hours since the attacks.
Belgian authorities say that at least two cars that were believed to have been used in the Paris attacks were actually rented here in Brussels last week and that the individual who is believed to have rented the vehicles was intercepted at some point en route from Paris, apparently back to Belgium. And then the car that individual was traveling in was subsequently found here in Brussels in neighborhood of Molenbeek, a neighborhood that has come up more than once in this investigation. In fact, the Belgian interior minister asked, out loud, why is it that this neighborhood, Molenbeek, in Brussels, more than once has been involved in international terrorism investigations. It does appear that some of the militants, who carried out this attack in Paris, had previously lived in this neighborhood of Molenbeek, an area with a large immigrant population, large Muslim population. That has also been to some degree a hotbed for Islamic radicalism and has been involved. Residents of that neighborhood have been implicated in other violent acts of terrorism, such as an attack on the Jewish museum here in Brussels in 2014 -- Hala?
GORANI: All right, the Belgian connection.
Thank you very much, Ivan Watson, as we continue to follow the investigation.
By the way, police are getting help from the FBI as they try to trace how these ISIS terrorists managed to carry out the massacre that killed at least 129 people in Friday night's attacks.
CNN Justice Department Pamela Brown has more on what intelligence officials believe may have been used by the terrorists to stay under everyone's radar.
[02:15:15] PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This an investigation led by the French, but the FBI is playing a support role and has already sent several agents to Paris to assist with this investigation through forensic expertise and political expertise as well as investigative expertise because this is a big investigation with a lot of moving parts. As one official I spoke with said it could be weeks until we have a clear picture.
One of the big concerns among officials is these Paris attackers could, I emphasize could, have been using encryption. One official I spoke to said he would be surprised if they weren't using encryption, so common among terrorists now. That is another piece of this puzzle. And officials are also looking into whether perhaps they could have used gaming, such as Playstation or Xbox, to communicate with ISIS in Syria. That is something that officials are growing increasingly concerned about, that type of communication. The FBI has a unit, a Communication Exploitation Unit, that looks at that and looks to see how terrorists exploit different methods of communicating such as through Playstation and Xbox.
In the U.S., the FBI has run names they have been given from Paris as to who the potential attackers could be. So far, we are told, there are no indications that these are people that open cases in the U.S. These were not people that were known to U.S. officials. However, it is still very early in the investigation. They don't have certainty as to who every attacker was, that identity, and the location of the every attacker. So still very early on, officials caution. The big worry now is copycat attacks in the U.S. That is why they're
going back looking at all their cases. They have 900-something terrorism cases in the U.S. looking at the highest priority concerns, increasing monitoring of them, surveillance, wiretapping to ensure that we don't see something similar in the United States.
Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.
GORANI: And a French lawmaker tells CNN the first suicide bomber at the soccer stadium entered the country by hiding in plain sight. We will explain that next.
Plus, some of the backlash from the Paris attacks could fall squarely on the innocent Muslim community. We'll talk to one young activist here in the city. Stay with us.
[02:21:47] GORANI: Welcome back. French war planes have responded to the ISIS attacks that killed 129 in Paris on Friday. 12 planes took off from bases in the UAE and Jordan. They attacked the city of Raqqa in northern Syria, the self-proclaimed capital of Daesh, the Islamic State, as they call themselves. The fighter planes dropped 20 bombs. The French Defense Ministry says all the targets were destroyed.
Meanwhile, in France, police are conducting some anti-terror raids in multiple cities across the country now. Whether or not this will actually yield results directly connected to the Friday attacks is another question. They're working overtime, Calais in the north, Toulouse in the south as well. Unclear what emerged from those particular operations.
We know more about some of the suicide bombers who detonated explosives at the Stade de France. The first of them was carrying a counterfeit passport, some sort of Syrian passport from a French Senator briefed by the Interior Ministry. The Senator added that the bomber was also carrying a document registering him for refugee status. The attacker was processed by Greek authorities with a group of around 200 migrants in Leros, Greece, October 3rd. European officials suspect terrorists may be blending into large migrants along the route and use the crisis to attack areas targeted by their organizations. Some fear the attacks may increase the existing tension between migrants, refugees, and the communities that they hope to join.
Well, here is a case in point in Canada. Unrelated or related, we don't know yet. But what we do know is that there was a fire at a mosque in Canada and that it has been ruled arson. Police in Peterborough, Ontario, tell CNN they're investigating it as a hate crime.
In the southern United States, the Council on Islamic Relations in Florida said two mosques there have been the targets of terror threats.
Staying in the southern U.S., the Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said Sunday that he would refuse any Syrian refugees hoping to settle in his state, saying he would not stand for a policy that, quote, "places the citizens of Alabama in harm's way." Now, it has to be noted, no Syrian refugee has relocated to Alabama to date, though some neighboring states have accepted a few.
Back to France now, a country with a huge Muslim population, the biggest in Europe, in fact, four million, many of them are now concerned that their community could face discrimination or backlash after attacks in Paris.
Leila Alaouf is a "Huffington Post" contributor, an activist, and also the age group of young people who go to concerts like the one in the Bataclan.
Leila, thanks for being with us.
Let me first ask about your generation, "The generation Bataclan," I think one newspaper headline, and your reaction to what happened Friday night as a young French woman?
[02:25:16] LEILA ALAOUF, CONTRIBUTOR, HUFFINGTON POST & ACTIVIST: First, I would look to extend the deepest condolences to all the families of the victim. As a young French citizen, it was very shocking because, for the first time, it was targeting the youth in general and not only, you know, the local journalists or "Charlie Hebdo." So it is very different because anyone can himself or herself in the attacks and in these victims. It is very, in this case, when you see like the majority of the victims, in fact, they're all young, very young. I think it's between 25 and 30 years old.
GORANI: It was a rock concert. You had all sorts. This is something to important to underline as well, all sorts of origins, all sorts of religions, some from North Africa.
ALAOUF: Even more. I was reading yesterday that, all of the members of Muslim organizations had been killed during the concert. So it is very, it's very hard for all of the populations. And even though we can say, we can also read the names, only the names of the victims, it's very, there is a big diversity. And there is -- lots of Muslim and people from everywhere.
GORANI: Let me ask you though, there is still all that being said. All of that it's true. There is still a problem in the Muslim community, in Europe, France, Belgium, for instance, of a tiny minority who becomes extremely radicalized and vulnerable to these brainwashing messages coming from groups like is. Why is Senate what's going on there?
ALAOUF: For me, we have to see the problem from the government side. The real problem is how seven attacks can happen in the center of Paris without the knowledge of the intelligence services. This 'tis the real question.
GORANI: Yes, at the source of it is also the desire on the part of -- some in the community to attack their own country?
GORANI: Go abroad, learn to fight and attack in the case of these particular terrorist assaults. What is going on there? Why is there a vulnerability in a small section of the male Muslim population?
ALAOUF: Well, I think there's a lot of reasons. There's a lot of profiles. When see the person who is responsible of at takes, you have converted people, you have people from, from North Africa, from these origins, you have people who had been, who had also problems with the police. So it's -- you know, I think we cannot generalize. But there is a real, the sources of the problem is from what's happening now in Syria and in the Middle East. Now concerning the young people, I think we are living in, in society of consumerism. What's these young people search is what every young people search. I think there is a real problem about what we have to -- what they are searching in this life. It's not a problem that only young Muslim, like have it. It is a problem that this society in itself, you know, comes from.
GORANI: Leila Alaouf, thanks very much. Thank you for coming on sharing your thoughts.
As France continues mourning and continues trying to digest what happened on Friday night, we will discuss the fight against this extremism, in fact, with a former violent Islamist. Hear his response to these Paris terrorist attacks after the break.
[02:32:17] HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. The French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says the attacks in Paris were planned in Syria. He was on the radio this morning. In fact, I believe the interview is still on going. And he said the attacks were, quote, "organized, conceived and planned from Syria."
Now French war planes earlier dealt a forceful response to Friday's attacks in Paris. Early Sunday, we understand several planes took off from bases in the gulf and in Jordan and bombed the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. You are seeing video there from the French Defense Ministry. This is something they want to publicize. They are using strong language, like massive bombardment campaign, et cetera.
Meanwhile, back in France, police carry out several anti-terrorist raids across the country. Authorities have released new details about one of the attackers who was killed while carrying out his bombing. His name Delel Hafsi (ph). He is a Belgian resident. You see his picture there. That is the screen from a video. You can see sadly how young he looks, authorities believe 19 years old, perhaps 20 years old. And authorities said that he spent some time fighting in Syria at the beginning of this year.
Our senior international correspondent, Jim Bittermann, joins me now live from Paris with the very latest.
Jim, you have been listening to the French prime minister interview on RTL. What is he saying about France's response to the attacks?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He said the response will continue. On the attacks, he is going to continue for the near future. He is going to be in front of both houses of parliament this afternoon at Versailles. They're going to ask -- President Hollande is going to act for extension of state of emergency for three months, so they're planning ahead to keep the lid on here as much as they can for next three months.
What was interesting this morning was Valls' tone. He said we are confronting a terrorist army. He said we have to remain united. He said a lot of the platitudes we heard before from the government. But in a very interesting exchange. One of the callers -- a call-in show, one of the callers said, "Look, I am a school teacher and I just found out that several of my students are on the intelligence service's watch list, so what am I supposed to do in the classroom?" Valls said, "Well, we have to teach Republican values. That raised the whole question about security of schools. Another parent called in said, "What about the security of the schools." And it was a rather dynamic exchange.
GORANI: Really, what it says to me just listening to the story is that overall people are afraid. I mean, school teachers, parents, or people. There was panic yesterday because I think some one set off fireworks probably the worst idea that anybody had in the last -- in a long time in Paris. People started running. So, there really is defiance. But also you feel -- you feel a lot of fear still in people.
[02:35:10] BITTERMANN: I think one of the things-- it's interesting to me, because I had reaction from a number of young people, including my daughter, and people that I know in France very well. That attack at the Bataclan was something that a lot of young people particularly identified with, rock concerts, that sort of thing. It really touched a nerve with young people, especially. I think that is something where they're going to have to do a lot of work here in terms of education and other things.
GORANI: What's different about these attacks, the targets were not obviously targets that you would expect ISIS terrorists to go. These were really soft targets, way of life, Parisian targets, cafe, restaurants, concerts. Is that a game changer, do you think?
BITTERMANN: Absolutely a game changer as far as people are concerned. I think the idea you could be safe in public has kind of gone away now. We saw that last night with the panic in the other places last night when the fireworks set off a panic. But, yeah, I think that is a game changer as far as the French are concerned. Looking at the area this morning, very few people out and about.
GORANI: But seeing more traffic now.
BITTERMANN: More traffic now.
GORANI: Getting more back to normal, but, yeah. BITTERMANN: It is a game changer. And one of the thing that's
happened, too, in 24 to 36 hours, there have been a number of cancellations. I heard meetings that have been canceled, concerts, people canceled trips, hotels reporting cancellations coming in.
GORANI: But importantly, COP21, the big climate conference that is still on. That's in two weeks.
BITTERMANN: That's still on, but what a nightmare for the security forces.
GORANI: Just before we leave it, Jim, the front pages, "le Monde," "Terror in Paris." You have forensic technicians combing the scene. This one, I found interesting. This is the right leaning "le Figaro," and it translates to, "Hollande faced with the challenge to respond." This is not an easy -- an easy decision for him.
BITTERMANN: This morning, there is criticism of the air strikes, saying does it really mean anything? There were tweets out of the Middle East they hit targets that were empty and things like that. But, that's not what the defense ministry says. In any case, there is some questioning about whether this was just some kind of a knee-jerk response that was meant to please public opinion, or whether it was really meaningful.
GORANI: I found interesting the terminology they used. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE), "Mass bombing campaign." That was the word chosen by the defense minister.
BITTERMANN: Right. And it was only, in fact, 20 bombs.
GORANI: And two sortees, I believe.
GORANI: Jim Bittermann, we will be speaking with you all morning as we continue our special coverage. Thank you very much.
Joining us now is former radical Islamist, Adam Dean, a senior researcher at the Quilliam Foundation. That is a counter-extremism organization based in London.
Your perspective is invalid this morning, Adam. We have been discussing and asking the question, of many of our guests, how does a young man we saw the picture of one of the young guys, 19, 20 years old, seemed like a there mall guy. Two years ago, he liked Real, Madrid. You know, he hung out with friends. And then two years later, here he is blowing himself up outside a soccer stadium. How does that happen?
ADAM DEAN, SENIOR RESEARCHER, QUILLIAM FOUNDATION & FORMER RADICAL ISLAMIST: Well, in an eerie way, I can totally understand how that happens. What we understand is ISIS has an ideology. Francois Hollande said we are at war. He is right. It is an ideological war we have to consider. And ISIS's ideology is underpinned by a particular reading of Islam. It is known as Wahhabism, a puritanical reading of Islam, which it effectively undoes and eradicates ethical content of Islam. Then we have politicized understanding of Islam that wants to impose itself on other people. That is Islamism. These combined views create a -- a psychological state and an intellectual landscape which makes it very easy for someone to be recruited and lend themselves to violence.
GORANI: But explain to me psychologically what happens in the mind of a young man -- I mean, really the question, majority are men -- who is leading a normal life, that we would consider normal, hanging out with friends and playing soccer, et cetera. What happens? At what point does that sort of -- that that transition happened that turns him into a murderous, callus, extremist killer.
[02:40:12] DEAN: Well, what happens is that -- when you -- when you, encounter a particular interpretation of Islam, such Wahhabism and Islamism, that becomes your default position. What that does it creates a binary outlook. It creates a world where everything that is good and which is right and moral is on the side of Islam. Everything else, the West, non-Muslims, is on the other side. When that happens, there is no middle ground. There is no co-existence. There is no tolerance and respecting the other. When that happens, you actually begin to dehumanize the other. And that process allows an individual to rationalize committing violence and committing terrorism and such terrorism that we have seen in Paris. What we have to understand is that this is a pernicious ideology, which has infected many young Muslims and it's not far removed from -- if we teach our children such views as that we can kill apostates, kill someone that disagrees with you, and which Wahhabism is very well known for --
DEAN. Sorry. Yes?
GORANI: I have to ask you, Adam, because this is the question everyone is going to have listening to you. You have these young, vulnerable men, who feel like they're victims, who feel like they're discriminated against. Maybe they live in communities disenfranchised. They're vulnerable and perfect hosts for these ISIS brainwashers to implant ideas into their head, that the West and everyone is evil, you must kill them. So that is kind of the picture we have just painted. So how do you fight that? How do you prevent that from happening in Muslim communities in France and elsewhere in Europe?
DEAN: That is a very good question. Before I answer that, let me say this. We must be careful that we don't buy into this grievance narrative, if you like. Because what it does, it downplays the importance of ideology here. There is no explanation for why someone would join ISIS, become an extremist, and start enslaving Yazidi women, raping them, throwing homosexuals off high buildings because they were disenfranchised. That was not the case for me and it's not the case for many, many young Muslims. How do we combat this? We have to call out these pernicious theological understanding, these pernicious world views of Wahhabism. We have to identify it. Isolate it. Challenge it. That's the only way we will win the war against extremism. GORANI: All right. And the question is, how do you do that? I mean
-- how do you, of course, we can identify this ideology as being the inaccurate interpretation of mainstream Islam. How do you fight it?
DEAN: The work we do at the Quilliam Foundation is vital in this game. We are providing a counter narrative, which is essential. When I was growing up, in my late teens, there was no such thing as a counter narrative. I found myself joining an extreme Islamic organization. I was not aware it was extreme. It was just Islam. It's important now that we provide a counter narrative to challenge the ideas and to present Islam in its true light.
What we have to understand is that we can't kill an ideology. No matter how many troops we send to ISIS, to that region, it won't work in the long run. We have to present a counter ideology, a counter narrative, to make it obsolete and irrelevant.
GORANI: Adam Dean, thank you very much, from the Quilliam Foundation, joining us live from London. Appreciate your time. Great discussion.
DEAN: Thank you.
GORANI: Quick break here on CNN. Our special coverage continues after this.
[02:47:47] GORANI: Welcome back. At a news conference at the G20 summit later today, U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to discuss American assistance in the French air strikes against ISIS. A senior White House official told CNN, the United States helped France determine targets overnight. Several war planes attacked the city of Raqqa in Syria Sunday. That was, of course, less than two days after the terrorist attacks in Paris. Raqqa is a stronghold for ISIS.
Let's get more insight on these air strikes. We turn to CNN military analyst, retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona. He joins us from California.
What impact do you think the air strikes could possibly have?
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think in the first strikes we are going to -- it is visceral reaction. It's the French wanted to send a message to ISIS that they're not going to take this lying down, they are going to respond. Raqqa is a very symbolic target, the self-proclaimed capital of the caliphate. But those targets that they have struck have been hit before. I suspect that this was more for French domestic political consumption. As you were talking earlier, the headlines reading, "Massive bombardment." 20 bombs on Raqqa is not massive bombardment. It's merely a pinprick. The overall air campaign has been anemic. It's more symptomatic of what they've been doing.
GORANI: You call it "anemic." It's also been going on a year and a half. Do you think there are measurable gains as a result of this very, very long, right now, more than 18 months, bombing campaign by the coalition?
FRANCONA: Yes, it's very, I would say, problematic. We have been putting a lot of time money and effort into this with very little to show. About half of the sorties that take off, I'm speaking for American sorties, come back with weapons still on the aircraft because the command-and-control process, the rules of engagement are so cumbersome that the pilots can't expend the ordinance when they have targets. They have to get permission from higher headquarters and that has to go back to the operations center in Baghdad. And there is a whole coordination committee that has to agree whether they can strike these targets. We are seeing opportunities wasted on the ground.
So you are right, it's been going on over a year with very little to show for it. We are containing ISIS in certain areas, but if you look overall, ISIS has been expanding on the ground in Syria, up until the time of about two weeks ago.
[02:50:25] GORANI: It brings into focus once again the challenge of trying to defeat an insurgent terrorist army, a terrorist army from the air. Even in the initial days of the campaign, many said it wasn't going to work without ground troops. What's the solution here?
FRANCONA: You can't do this from the air alone. I think that is beginning to set in, in some of the leadership in Washington. Now we are starting to see the deployment of about 50 Special Operators into Syria. What are they going to do? They're going to work with the local forces. One of the main things they're going to try to do is get more air power in there more effectively. What they're doing now isn't working. They're doing air power, they're going after targets. But these targets can't be close to troops. If you want to, if you want to really hurt ISIS, you have to hit them on the front lines. And right now, the sorties can't do that. You don't have American eyes on the target. Dropping ordinance has to be controlled by somebody on the ground. The Kurds and Syrian rebels, as brave as they are, just don't have capabilities to do that. I think what we are trying to do is to train them or get American Special Forces. I'll call this the Afghanistan model. What we did in Afghanistan worked. You put U.S. Air force, Army, combat controllers who can guide the air strikes, they can be effective, but we are reluctant to do that because that constitutes what the Obama administration does not want, boots on the ground.
GORANI: Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, thank you very much, joining us from California.
A quick break. When we come back, pop superstar, Madonna, honors victims of the terror attacks by making sure her show goes on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[02:54:27] PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Thank you for watching CNN across the Americas. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri for "Weather Watch."
GORANI: Welcome back. France wants to send a message that it is reacting with force to the attacks in Paris that killed 129 people. On Sunday, French war planes attacked the city of Raqqa in northern Syria. The city is the self proclaimed capital of the terrorist group. War planes took off from Jordan and the UAE, bombing an ISIS a command center, ammunition depot and training camp. Unclear how effective this will be.
Across France, police carried out a series of raids, reporting that raids near the city of Lyon led to five arrests and the seizure of an arsenal of weapons, including believe it or not, a rocket launcher in Lyon.
Several big name rock bands are canceling shows after the attacks. Fu Fighters canceled their gig. Coldplay, among the first to respond, postponing a live stream of their L.A. show Friday out of respect for the victims. U2 postponed Paris shows on Saturday, Sunday. Fu Fighters canceled the rest of their European tour, including their stop in Paris, which was due to happen today.
Now, Madonna decided her tour must go on despite the attacks. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADONNA, SINGER: I feel torn, like why am I up here dancing and having fun when people are crying over the loss of their loved ones?
MADONNA: However, that is exactly what these people want to do. They want to shut us up. They want to silence us.
MADONNA: And we won't let them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, the singer then led the crowd in a moment of silence Saturday night before performing a tearful rendition of her song, "Like a Prayer," and dedicated it to the victims.
Thanks for watching. I'm Hala Gorani. We are live in Paris. I'll be break after a break.