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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
French Leader Seeks Russia's Help Against ISIS; Turkey Refuses to Apologize for Downing Russian Jet; Russia Shows Off Advanced Missile System in Syria; Fence Jumper Caught: White House on Lockdown; Suspicious Powder Triggers Scare at Brussels Mosque; American Band Recalls Concert Hall Carnage. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired November 26, 2015 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:11] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: New terror fears and new efforts to fight terrorism. I'm Brianna Keilar and welcome to CNN NEWSROOM.
With this country reeling after bloody attacks, I should say France reeling after bloody attacks, French President Francois Hollande is making the rounds of major powers. He is seeking a stronger coalition against ISIS. And, today, he took his case to Moscow, but any coalition building is threatened by growing tensions between Russia and Turkey.
Russia is demanding an apology for the downing of one of its warplanes. And Turkey's president is saying no way. Now Russia is stepping up the pressure to point sophisticated missiles next door. All of this as Europe gets a fresh security scare even as the hunt is stepped up for fugitive terror suspects.
We begin now with CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.
And tell us, Barbara, are there any progress that we're seeing in these talks between French and Russian leaders?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Brianna. Well, at the end of the meeting, the two sides agreed to share intelligence about ISIS and other terrorist organizations, but will Russia really join the coalition? It doesn't look like it's going to happen any time soon.
STARR: French President Francois Hollande's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin pressed for joint action against ISIS.
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): Because we have common victims, we must act.
STARR: But earlier in the day, Putin giving no signal that Russia is in the mood for conciliation. In the wake of the shootdown of its fighter jet by Turkey.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Until now, we've heard neither clear apologies from the highest political level of Turkey nor promise to punish the guilty.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Putin has accused you of --
STARR: Turkey's president in an exclusive interview with CNN's Becky Anderson made his position clear.
RECEP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): If there's a party that needs to apologize, it's not us. Those who violated our air space are the ones who need to apologize.
STARR: Turkish and even U.S. warplanes may soon have to deal with this. PUTIN'S latest move, the S-400 anti-air missile system the Russians say they have sent into Syria. Moscow says these are the initial components already arriving in country.
If the system becomes fully operational at Latakia Air Base, it will give the Russians the capability to control hundreds of miles of Turkish and Syrian Air Space.
The Pentagon doesn't believe the system is operational yet, but is watching developments by the hour. A U.S. military official tells CNN. If the Russians activate the S-400, U.S. warplanes may have to start flying with specialized electronic jamming aircraft.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It spoofs the missile along with the packages that are on board the fighter aircraft to cause if a missile does launch to be confused about the target so it doesn't hit the target.
STARR: But there is also concern for the safety of U.S. special operations troops set to arrive in Northern Syria near the Turkish border within days to help fight ISIS. There is worry they could get caught in the middle if Russia and Turkey have further hostilities.
STARR: And in the latest sign of tension, Russia announced it is cutting military cooperation ties with Turkey. It doesn't look like this is going to come down any time soon.
KEILAR: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you so much.
And I want to go live now to Moscow and CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance.
So, Matthew, you have Russia announcing that it's moved this anti-air missile system into Syria. We heard the whole point of this is to confuse a missile that could be fired so maybe it doesn't reach its intended target, but overall, what's really the goal here with this?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, the Russians have said that they didn't employ a missile system like this, deploy missile system previously because they didn't consider that their aircraft that are flying bombing raids against ISIS and other rebel groups would be targeted by countries that Russia says it believed were its allies. It's obviously referring to the shootdown by Turkish plane on Tuesday, you know, in the skies over the Turkish- Syrian border.
This has been a massive shock to the Russians. They're extremely angry about it. And the fact they've put these, you know, S-400 missiles on the ground now and they'll be operational soon. You can see them being loaded off the trucks into the Latakia Air Base is just part of their response that we don't know how they're going to use them. We don't know whether they're going to use it to close off the air space over Syria. But it's the kind of missile that has that kind of capability.
And so it really escalates the abilities of Russia on the ground now in Syria to control the air space, if it chooses to over Syria.
[16:05:14] KEILAR: This morning, Matthew, Vladimir Putin met with France's President Francois Hollande. Francois Hollande trying to get some global cooperation to combat ISIS, but these tensions between Russia and Turkey, are they complicating this effort that the French government is attempting?
CHANCE: Well, I think they are, yes, because remember this visit by Francois Hollande was conceived of before the shootdown of the Russian plane. It came after the Paris terror attacks. Francois Hollande hoping to build an international coalition to defeat ISIS. Russia was also going to be affected badly by ISIS. They blew one of its airliners out of the skies recently with the lost of 224 people. So they've got common cause. And they're united in that sense.
But the fact that one of the key alliance members, Turkey, has now taken the step of shooting a Russian airplane out of the sky in combat has really complicated things because the Russians are less inclined now to join that alliance.
They said they discussed as what Putin said earlier, they discussed the possibility of a coalition being formed under the auspices of the United Nations. That's something the Russians say they support. But they said that other countries, and I think they were referring to the United States about this, are not willing to operate under U.N. auspices.
And so, you know, it looks like the idea, the brief glimpse that we had that could have been an international coalition which includes Russia to defeat ISIS is slipping away.
KEILAR: All right, Matthew Chance for us in Moscow. Thank you so much.
And I want to go in depth now on all of this with our CNN military analyst Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Francona.
So, Colonel, we're hearing about this anti-air missile system. The Russians are sending this to Syria. What does this mean, though? Certainly, I think as Russia is trying to respond to what happened with Turkey shooting down this warplane after an incursion into Turkish Air Space, that's what, obviously, what Turkey is saying and I heard you say that that happened earlier but it was a minor incursion. What will this system mean for U.S. air strikes in this area?
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it's just another complicating factor that all the mission planners have to take into consideration. This is a very capable system. This is state-of- the-art.
The Russians built excellent air defense stuff and it's got a tremendous range. It can range as far as Incirlik Air Base where we have aircraft station and about halfway into Syria. So it's a problem for the planners to have to do that.
Now we have specialized electronic jamming aircraft that can handle this system, but it's just something we don't really need. But on the other hand, the Russians have just lost an aircraft, it just is military prudence to bring some sort of air defense system in to make sure it doesn't happen again. So it's an escalation, but I don't think it's a serious problem for us, it just complicates things for our planners.
KEILAR: OK. It complicates things you say. At this point in time, you have U.S. Special Forces who are arriving, they're going to be arriving in Northern Syria in just a few days now.
Is there going to be any danger for them if this fighting between Russia and Turkey escalates?
FRANCONA: Well, hopefully, it won't, but yes, that could present a problem because, you know, our personnel are going to be operating up in that northeastern corner of Syria, pretty far removed from this border area where this incident took place. But Turkey, you know, has a long border with Syria and ISIS controls much of that -- well, a piece of it. Much of it is under control of the Kurds.
So I don't think the introduction of this system is going to effect our guys, but the strain between the relationship of Russia and Turkey is going to be a problem. The Turks control access to Northern Syria. And we need them as part of the coalition.
KEILAR: Putin is saying at this point he wants an apology for this, Colonel, and Erdogan is saying no way, we're not apologizing for this. How do you see this playing out? Do you see either side blinking at some point?
FRANCONA: Well, you know, someone has to be the adult in the room here. And I don't know which one it's going to be. I don't see any one of them stepping up to the plate right now, but we need to ratchet this down. We don't need to have these two going after each other because all that does is serve the purposes of ISIS. When you've got a coalition fighting each other, they're not going to be concentrating on fighting the real enemy. So, you know, that's a problem.
How's it going to play out? I don't know. The Russians have been very aggressive not just in Turkey, but on all of NATO's borders. And now Putin needs to realize that if we're going to work together, he cannot constantly be sticking his finger in the eyes of NATO.
KEILAR: Yes. All right, Lt. Col. Rick Francona, great insight. Thank you so much for joining us. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
And we do have some breaking news now that I want to bring to you. A fence jumper at the White House put the White House into lockdown just a short time ago. And as the First Family was at home celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday.
So this is something that obviously the Secret Service takes very seriously.
I want to go now to CNN's Athena Jones. Give us the latest on this, Athena.
[16:10:15] ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna. Well, as you said, the White House is still in lockdown, but I can tell you that the Secret Service detained this man almost as soon as he made it over the fence. But the fact that he made it over the fence is very problematic.
I believe we may have a picture that you can put up on the screen. I can't see the screen you're seeing, but we do have a picture of him.
KEILAR: We do have a picture of him with a flag jumping over the fence -- yes.
JONES: Exactly. So he made it over a first set of barriers, bike racks. And then he made it over the second larger fence that you can see there. That fence includes 7-inch steel spikes that were added just a few months ago to avoid exactly this type of scenario, because as you know, this is not the first time, it's not the second time that a person has made it over the White House fence. This is very concerning.
Those spikes were added as part of a temporary measure. They're working on a longer term measure to buttress that barrier, make the fence more difficult to scale. Certainly didn't work today. The First Family was at home celebrating Thanksgiving dinner.
And I've got to tell you this happened in September of 2014, October of 2014, March of this year, April of this year. Perhaps the most infamous one was the one back in September of 2014 when a man made it over the fence and all the way into the White House. All the way into the east room that we know from all the big events that are held there.
So this is very, very serious. Clearly, the measures that have been taken so far aren't working. So there's going to be a re-examining of this of course by the Secret Service.
Brianna? KEILAR: All right. Athena, we'll keep an eye on this, because we know the White House is still under lockdown right now. Thanks so much for the report.
Just ahead, Europe is on edge. Suspicious powder set off a major security scare to Brussels mosque as France steps up the hunt for suspects in the bloody Paris massacres.
And they were on stage when the slaughter began. Members of the band, Eagles of Death Metal, and they are talking about this nightmare at the Paris theater.
[16:16:42] KEILAR: Even as Belgium moves to lower its threat level, its capital got another scare today. Envelopes with a white powder were found at the grand mosque in Brussels and this triggered a massive security response as you can imagine.
That comes as France steps up urgent efforts to find two fugitive suspects in the Paris massacres.
I want to go live to CNN's Martin Savidge to give us the latest. Tell us what's happening from where you are, Martin.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brianna.
Yes. Well, you know, for both France and for Belgium it's sort of been an up and down and then up again kind of thing when it comes to the fear, when it comes to the level of security. Once again here in France, security is being beefed up not only for the search of the two expected surviving terrorist suspects, but also for the special environmental convention world leaders will attend starting on Monday.
And then on top of that, there's what's happening in Belgium.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Belgium remains on edge. Today police raided a home in a small town just south of Brussels. No arrests were made. And authorities wouldn't say who or what they were after.
This on the same day Brussels special decontamination teams were called in after ten envelopes containing a white powder were discovered by a mail room worker at the grand mosque, raising fears of a possible anthrax attack.
ANNE WIBIN, BRUSSELS FIRE CHIEF (through translator): They found white powder and said the person who opened the envelope called emergency services immediately, saying they didn't know what it was. We set up a preventive operation.
SAVIDGE: Seven people were isolated and treated by medical personnel for exposure to the unknown powder. Testing revealed it was nothing more than flour. Back in Paris, authorities continue to investigate the possibility
that radicalized Islamic workers are infiltrating the French transportation system. CNN's obtained a report from the French Interior Ministry showing government concerns about the problem date back to at least 2004.
French intelligence officials were worried about the possibility that radicalized employees were working at Charles de Gaulle Airport. The document mentions illegal prayer sites used by several Muslim workers at the airport and says that these same workers belong to mosque preaching radical Islam.
Some of these individuals openly showed any American views and showed their support and enthusiasm regarding the 9/11 attacks, according to the same document. One official told CNN that 50 employees at Charles de Gaulle had been denied access to secure location since January due to suspicions that they have been radicalized.
French transportation unions have been complaining about radicalization saying that some bus drivers have refused to acknowledge women and have been found praying inside their bus when they are supposed to be driving their routes. Tonight, two suspected terrorist attackers are still at large, Salah Abdeslam and Mohamed Abrini, who were pictured together at this French gas station two days before the attacks. Abdeslam was last seen headed to Belgium. Authorities believe both men may be getting help from a support network.
SAVIDGE: Tomorrow will mark two weeks since the Paris attacks. And to mark that time, there is a memorial service planned tomorrow morning. President Hollande will speak. There is expected to be a large crowd of dignitaries that will be on hand, the singing of the national anthem, and then a national minute of silence to remember all those who died -- Brianna.
[16:20:10] KEILAR: Martin Savidge for us in Paris, thank you so much.
And I want to bring in now CNN intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer. He's a former CIA operative, and CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem. She's a former DHS assistant secretary.
So, Bob, you heard that report that Martin just gave. How hard is it to track these transit workers who may have been radicalized?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: It's virtually impossible. It's a guessing game. They could be online looking at Islamic sites. They could haul them in.
But determining who's going to turn to violence, who would blow up an airplane or not is very, very difficult. And, of course, the downside of this you can't take anybody who's susceptible to Islamic propaganda and remove them from the airport. It would cause chaos in France.
The French are very good and doing the best they can, but we're doing the same thing in our airports. I mean, just because you suspect somebody doesn't mean you can fire them. This is going to be really an uphill battle to make sure the airports, the employees are properly vetted.
KEILAR: What about in the U.S., Juliette? Do officials here monitor transit workers?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER DHS ASSISTANT SECRETARY: They don't at airports for the most part. I mean, there's the overall assessment about who this person is when they get their original security clearance, but most airports do not have metal detectors or other things like that for most employees. They get in through different doors than passengers like us.
So, there's a series of layer defenses at all of these airports, one is the security check, the background check randomness. So, they'll come in.
But, you know, Bob is right. You can't -- no check is going to discover the mindset of a person. And so what needs to be done is determine whether there's activity that would suggest nefarious actions in the future.
KEILAR: What about some of the screenings, Juliette, pilots go through schooling? They have screenings including mental health screenings. But what about for bus drivers or maybe even more importantly, transit workers who operate train systems? What about them?
KAYYEM: Well, there's different sets of clearances and credentials for different transportation systems. It will seem confusing to most people. There's something called TWIC, it's transit worker identification card for ports and transit. Lots of states and localities have different systems in terms of identification and clearances.
But no system is testing every person at every moment. And we just have to balance that against major urban transit systems that can't come grounding to a halt because you're checking everyone who works there or works around there.
So, it's just a constant balancing act that's never going to get the risk to zero. But through layer defenses, you can try to minimize the risk. But we can't bring the transportation systems to a halt because you put a security layer so strong up against it.
KEILAR: Bob, I want to turn now to talk about these two suspects in the Paris attacks still on the loose, Salah Abdeslam and Mohamed Abrini. What does it say to you about whether they're getting some sort of help here? Do you think there's any way that they can remain on the run here without getting some sort of assistance?
BAER: Look, the problem is that these people obviously have a network. You can't move around Europe without a network. I mean, I've operated in Belgium and France. You can't use your own documentation, credit cards and the rest of it. So, yes, they'd have a network. And I'm sure they've fallen back on
that which makes it very difficult for the police to run them down.
KEILAR: What do you think, Juliette, a network in Europe they can rely on, but what about leaving Europe? Do you think they could have?
KAYYEM: I think it's much more difficult. They can certainly go to northern Africa and then from there travel to the sub-Saharan Africa or other places, but the chances since we know who they are and presumably we know who their backup folks are, it would be much more difficult for them to get on a plane and get to the United States at this stage, or even Canada or Mexico for that matter.
KEILAR: All right. Juliette, Bob, thanks so much to both of you joining us on this holiday. And a very happy Thanksgiving to you and your families today.
KAYYEM: You too.
BAER: Thanksgiving, thank you.
KEILAR: All right. You as well.
They witnessed the horror, they came face-to-face with killers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN LONDON, SOUND ENGINEER, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL BAND: And I can see the gunman. And he looked right at me. And he shot at me, and he missed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Now, members of the American band that was playing in that concert hall in Paris, well, they're sharing how they survived the terror attacks, yet they watched as so many others lost their lives.
[16:28:25] KEILAR: For the first time, we are hearing from members of the American band that was playing in the Bataclan concert hall where terrorists killed 89 people the night of the Paris attacks. This is a gripping interview where they reveal chilling new details of the carnage.
CNN's Brian Todd is here with this story -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, this was a nearly two-hour siege. And these band members along with other survivors say one of the memories that haunts them is the image of the attackers constantly reloading their weapons. One band member says whenever the shooting stopped, it would start again.
TODD (voice-over): The moment when an upbeat joyful evening at the Bataclan theater turned chaotic. The band Eagles of Death Metal was on stage and exposed.
TODD: In their first interview since the Paris attacks, the band's sound engineer tells the news organization "Vice" people started dropping to the ground. And he came face-to-face with a gunman.
SHAWN LONDON, SOUND ENGINEER, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL BAND: He looked right at me. And he shot at me. And he missed. And he hit my console. Buttons went flying everywhere.
TODD: Shawn London told "Vice" that's when he hit the floor.
LONDON: I think he thought I probably got hit because I went down so quickly and everybody else around was injured. There's blood all over. He stayed there and continued to shoot and shoot and slaughter and just scream the top of his lungs, "Allahu Akbar".
TODD: Band members say the most awful thing they saw was the attackers relentlessly shooting into the audience in the packed ground floor section. Other survivors gave similar accounts, saying after the gunmen came through the front entrance and shot people there --
ISOBEL BOWDERY, BATACLAN ATTACK SURVIVOR: Then they moved upstairs by the stage on to the first level.