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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Bombings in Brussels Kill P1 people and Wounding 270; Urgent Manhunt For Suspected Bomber, Other Terrorists; Officials: Intel Suggests Brussels Attack Part of Wider Plot;; Trump And Cruz Fight Over Wives. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 23, 2016 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST, OUTFRONT: And then Sebastian (INAUDIBLE), a basketball player who we learned today ha a second surgery to remove bomb fragments from his legs and the American Mormon missionaries we have told you about. One young man in the group witnessed the Boston bombing and now this. They are all in our thoughts and prayers tonight.
Thank you for joining us. AC 360 starts right now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Good evening. John Berman here, in for Anderson.
Tonight, the reasons why Americans are being warned travel to Europe and face the possibility of more terror attacks. A state department alert came out last night and raised a lot of eyebrows. Now we know the thinking behind it as well as some of the intelligence and other evidence that went into it.
The assessment, Paris wasn't the first. Brussels won't be the last attack that ISIS might have some store. It may have broader and bigger plans which is why in the search for answers as well as fugitive suspects in the killing of 31 people yesterday and the wounding of 270 more, we will focus heavily on that tonight.
Reporting on that for us, CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown.
Pamela, you are getting new information that there may be more attacks in Europe. What are you learning?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. Counterterrorism officials I have been speaking with say they are very concerned about imminent attacks in Europe. This is based on a combination of electronic intercepts, human sources and database tracking that indicates several possible targets have been picked out by ISIS operatives over the last few months since the Paris attacks. And the officials say that there was chatter before the Brussels attacks indicating something was about to happen, but there is nothing specific enough to indicate where and when these attacks were going to take place.
But we know, John, that Abdelhamid Abaaoud who is involved in the Paris attacks, he boasted about 90 operatives to a confidential witness interviewed by French police. It is beliefs -- believe that several of those people who are connected to the Paris attacks and the Brussels attacks are still floating around Europe. They still want to launch attacks. They have these plans in the works. And so, because of that one counterterrorism official I spoke with today said there's a constant drum beat and fear another attack is going to happen in the near future in Europe -- John.
BERMAN: Pamela, any specificity at all in terms of the sites targeted?
BROWN: There wasn't specificity in terms of what my sources have told me. They just said that there have been targeted picked out but with the specific Brussels attack they didn't know that they were going to attack a terminal and a metro station. They just knew there was a list of targets. Of course, if they had known, John, they would have prevented the attacks from happening.
But I think you can also get some clues from that state department alert that was sent out yesterday urging U.S. citizens traveling to Europe to avoid crowded places, including sporting events and places like we saw yesterday that were attacked -- John.
BERMAN: Pamela, you are also some new information about what intelligence officials are saying in the threat versus Europe, versus the threat in the United States.
BROWN: That's right. So most of the estimated 17,000 foreign fighters in Syria are Europeans who have this readymade support network in Europe that we saw with Paris and with Brussels. That network is dedicated to the jihad cause. So officials I have been speaking with said say that even if a foreign fighter made it to the U.S. during the visa waiver program there wasn't be that integrated support structure like there is in European countries like Belgium, France and Germany.
Also when foreign fighters return to the EU zone, John, they aren't necessarily checked against the terror watch list and from there they can hop from country to country. There's still a lot of concern about that and also lack of information sharing.
BERMAN: Lack of information there. And along those lines, Pamela, I know you have new information about one of the Bakraoui brothers deported from Turkey to the Netherlands last year. What can you tell us about that?
BROWN: That's right. In fact, Turkish authorities came out today and said one of the two brothers who blew himself up at the airport was deported from Turkey last year and because for terrorism reasons the Turkish president reportedly said that he was sent back to Belgium last June because they had indications he was a foreign fighter. They said they alerted Belgium to that but didn't do anything about it. And then the other brother at the metro stop had an Interpol red notice that was issued just this past year, John, for terrorism charges.
So these big warning signs, but today the Belgian prosecutor came out and said they only knew these two brothers were connected to violent crimes, not to terrorism. So clearly, there's this big disconnect here with the information and also a big question of how they were able to operate under the radar after Belgium was under such high alert following the Paris attack?
BERMAN: And certainly not free flow of operation the counterterrorism officials here in the United States like to see.
Pamela Brown, terrific reporting. Thank you so much.
More now on the pieces of this latest attack that give authorities reason to suspect that it could be just one of many. There is, of course, the Paris fugitive, his suspected role in these attacks. Now there is the dead suspected airport bomb maker and his ties to Paris. With the threat of more attacks to come, traces and moving parts of this one and any other ongoing operations, it is vital. On top of that, the missing man in white. The one in the hat on the right, right there.
CNN's Clarissa Ward has that angle. She joins us now.
Clarissa, authorities still on that hunt for that man, that guy we see in the hat there. Are authorities saying they are any closer to finding him?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the million-dollar question, John. And so far authorities are not saying anything at all. They are being extremely tight-lipped, reluctant to share any information, particularly with media, anything that could jeopardize the search. The manhunt primarily focused on this man, as you said. We have seen that's surveillance photograph over and over again. He is the man on the far right. He is wearing a white or light jacket, a cap and glasses, potentially trying to disguise his face.
And what is most distinctive when you look at that photograph of all three of them, the two men in black, the two suicide bombers are both wearing one glove on one hand. Those gloves likely used to conceal the detonator. But the man in the light jacket is not wearing any glove. That would appear to indicate that he did not intend to blow himself up.
We do know that in his suitcase there were larger, more potent explosives. That suitcase did not detonate but at this stage we still don't know. Is that because there was a problem with the detonator? Is that because he somehow got cold feet? A lot of moving parts here. What we do know is that Belgium's prosecutors said earlier today, there are a number of people who are still on the loose at large, possibly armed and dangerous. And authorities don't seem to know yet, John, just how wide and deep this terror network stretches.
[20:06:51] BERMAN: It was a major development today, Clarissa. That's the second suicide bomber at the airport. A second one of the suicide attackers has been identified as Najim Laachraoui, an ISIS bomb maker, has been linked to the Paris attacks, link perhaps to the explosives here as well. What more do we know about him? WARD: Well, this is very important, John, because he was absolutely
the focus of the manhunt as well. We know that he is 24 years old. He was born in Morocco. We also know that he traveled to Syria in 2013. There was an Interpol red alert out for him. And he was known essentially for his expertise with explosives. His DNA was found in that bomb factory that police happened upon in a raid recently. So clearly a very dangerous man. Up until now it hadn't been known where he was. Now we do know that he was blown up in these attacks.
But we're starting to see the overlap between the Brussels plots and the Paris plot. We know that he was spotted, this man Laachraoui, back in September of last year. He was stopped at the Austria/Hungary border with Salah Abdeslam, who was the other Paris attacker who was captured here last week. We also know he was wiring money via Western Union to the cousin of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the ringleader of the Paris attacks. So essentially layer upon layer connecting the Belgium plots to the Paris plots and really raising very important questions about how it is that Belgian authorities were not quicker to find these guys, John.
BERMAN: These are really direct connections, Clarissa. Also, investigators uncovering key clues around the house, the apartment where these men were staying prior to the attacks. What exactly did they find?
WARD: Well, in addition to finding ISIS paraphernalia as well as nuts and bolts and screws, metallic objects that could be used as shrapnel in homemade explosives, they also found large amounts of explosives, more than 30 pounds of this TATP. Now, you have been hearing this a lot because this is the bomb making material that ISIS has been using. And ISIS and its operatives here in Europe have been using a lot. And that's because it's largely easy to obtain. It can be found in over- the-counter things. Peroxide agents, hair bleach, nail polish remover.
So essentially, what they happened upon was a bomb making factory, John. And it's not clear was Laachraoui the sole bomb maker, the one with the expertise? Can we all breathe a sigh of relief that he is now been killed? Or has this expertise been disseminated into larger groups of ISIS operators who may be still at large and still easily able to get their hands on this bomb making paraphernalia, John.
BERMAN: That is one of the most important questions we are facing tonight. Clarissa, we will get to that with our panel in just a bit.
Clarissa Ward, thank you so much.
Even as new information comes to light about yesterday's bombings, we have also begun seeing video of the very immediate aftermath, in this case taken by a father, a taxi driver who rushed to the airport terminal in search of his son among the dead and wounded. We have to warn you now that you are going to see exactly what he saw which can be very tough to stomach, let alone watch. It is however, the clearest window we have into the very worst of humanity at moments like this, as well as the very best.
[20:10:14] BERMAN: The first thing you hear are the screams. Presumably the wounded crying for help. Debris is everywhere making it hard for rescue workers to get around. Fires still burning from the blast. Bodies buried under the rubble. And this. A baby in the middle of the wreckage on the floor next to his mother who appeared to be dead. The horror doesn't end here. Frightened bystanders still trying to make it out of the building.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) BERMAN: The taxi driver who shot this video reaches the food stand where his son worked only to find it deserted.
Outside the terminal, survivors wait for help. Those who are able lend comfort to the wounded. Though many inside did not survive. Amid the wreckage and debris, a single flower, perhaps a welcome home for an arriving passenger now buried among the shattered remains of this terror attack.
BERMAN: And all of that at least one welcome development. We have learned the taxi driver's son was eventually located alive and well.
Just ahead our panel of experts on all the developments today. There's been a great many.
Later more on the state department travel alert and what it means with summer vacation season coming up and millions of Americans planning to fly overseas.
[20:17:23] BERMAN: The state department warning Americans about traveling to Europe. Manhunt is under way. More attacks possible as Pamela Brown just report at the top of the show. And new information coming in all the time. It's only natural to ask a lot of questions. How widespread is the threat? What are intelligence and counterterrorism agencies doing to identify and deal with the threat? What more could be asked of them and what should people do when they travel or do in their daily lives.
Joining us are people with answers right now. CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank, CNN national security analyst and former senior federal homeland security official Juliette Kayyem and also former CIA officer Bob Baer, currently our intelligence and security analyst.
And Paul Cruickshank, let me just start with you. You have been working your sources all day. Why don't you give us the latest on what you are learning?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, that this manhunt going on for the individual who is on that CCTV footage from the right of the screen.
BERMAN: The man in the hat. CRUICKSHANK: In a jacket. They haven't identified him yet.
Obviously, concerned that he could launch some kind of follow-on attack. Concerned that other members of the cell could launch a follow on attack. Remember, the Paris attacks. I mean, this is the same network, the same cell behind both attacks. I mean, those Paris attacks, some of the Paris attackers that's survived were planning another big attack just a few days later. That was thwarted. So there's always concern there could be follow-on attacks. That people still could get ahold of Kalashnikovs, even explosives and launch something in Brussels or somewhere else in the days to come.
BERMAN: And it is that's man in the hat, is he the key or there are more people they are looking at also?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, he is one of the missing people. There are others linked to this wider network, Mohammed Abrini (ph) who drove the Paris attackers from Belgium to Paris to carry out those attacks. Part of this same network, the same ISIS cell. It's believed this goes up to the ISIS senior leadership that they dispatched this group of operatives for the express purpose of launching an attack against Paris and an attack against other targets.
The overall commander of the plot in Europe, an individual called Muhammad Belkai (ph) was killed in a shootout last week in Belgium which already started off this whole chain of events. And Salah Abdeslam obviously arrested. But they actually thwarted half of this plot. This plot could have been twice as bad. They managed to get Abdeslam, Belkai and another individual. They have a lot of explosives, but not as many attackers as originally out planned.
BERMAN: But it could have been worst.
But Juliette, the threat is not over as we are getting from all of our reporting right now. The state department obviously doesn't think it's over issuing this travel alert. Based on what you are seeing inside Belgium with what the Belgian officials are doing right now and even Europe wide, do they have a handle on this situation?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I do not think they have a handle. I'm not sure when they will have a handle. So, one of the reasons why the state department has issued this rather vague yet nonetheless a very different kind of report is, I think it would be negligence to not do so at this stage. We would be delusional to believe that the attacks in Paris, guys going into hiding for four months, then arrests and then another series of attacks was all they had planned, right? The network that has to exist to make all of those things operational and successful is much more expansive than the guy in the white hat, right, or guy that we arrested on Friday. And so, we have to base this on the assumption that not only are there more people involved but they are now on the run. They are defensive. They feel like they are -- they could be disrupted and they would rather die in a suicide attack than be detained in jail.
[20:20:50] BERMAN: And things are happening at a furious pace right now. You have Belkai, that man got killed last week. You had Salah Abdeslam in custody right now. You have these attacks as well. It just seems like there's a cascade of events.
KAYYEM: They are related. I mean, in fact, that is exactly right. They are responding to sort of the cat and mouse aspects of terrorism and counterterrorism. So after the arrest last week and the fact that he was captured alive and is, therefore, talking, or, you know, officials are saying that he is talking, that hastened the pace for them to do an attack.
You have to remember, these are suicide bombers. Failure to them is detention, right. It's getting detained. Failure is not death. So all they want to do is make sure they can actually execute their suicide plans.
BERMAN: Bob Baer, I want to bring you into this discussion. One of the major developments today was the idea that Najim Laachraoui, the man believed to be one of the bomb makers for the Paris attacks, perhaps making some of devices for the Brussels attack as well, that he is dead. He was killed. He was one of the suicide attackers at the airport. How significant is that because there seems to be a division of opinion here. Some people say, well, on the one hand it just shows how desperate they are if this man with that much human intelligence, one of the bomb makers, one of the more precious assets ISIS might have. If he killed himself, it shows they were desperate or the flipside of that is that it shows there might be more bomb makers.
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: There are more bomb makers, absolutely for certain. We have been tracking this technology since the '80s. It rose in Iraq in 2004. There's a Palestinian that showed up and taught the Iraqis. And from there it's been further disseminated.
Paul and I were talking earlier before about its best if you can get to a place like Iraq or Syria and actually test these things at a range, which they are doing. But as, you know, as far as this master bomb maker, if we get him, the threat is over. No. I mean, TATP, hydrogen peroxide and acetone bombs are very, very easy to make. Seriously, I could walk you through it in a day and if you were careful and listen and paid attention to the security protocols you can make a lot of these bombs. And, you know, losing one bomber isn't the end of the story.
And as Juliette was saying, you know, there are a lot of networks out there. We're just looking at the Paris attackers, the 13th November attackers who have now been hit again in Brussels. But there are more cells out there we don't know about. I mean, the Europeans, let's be frank about it, have failed utterly in getting inside these communities, mainly North African origin. They don't know what's going on. And the United States all these years has depended on our European partners to tell us and they don't know. And they are not - they are way behind the curve. And it's a good idea to warn Americans if you go to Europe, there's a good chance, there are not a bad chance, you are going to get caught in a terrorist attack. So we are just warning you in advance. We don't know where it's going to be or when but there's a good chance. BERMAN: And the fact he was willing to kill himself, that just
indicates to you that there are more people who can do exactly what he can do out there?
BAER: There are hundreds of them that are ready to die, martyrdom. They call it a death call, call it a virus, whatever you want. Or, you know, they are fighting for orthodox Islam. It doesn't matter what name we put on it. Terrorists, that's fine. But there are a lot of people. There is an unlimited amount of people willing to die either in Iraq or Syria or in Europe.
BERMAN: Paul, I want to go back to another one of the developments today. We are learning what's was discovered near this apartment where these men had been holed up, a computer, a lot of bomb making materials. But again, on that computer, there was a message that one of the brothers wrote. It said he was in a hurry. No longer know what to do being searched for everywhere. No longer secure. Also made reference to the fact he was worried he would end up in a jail cell next to someone we don't know but we can assume it was Salah Abdeslam.
CRUICKSHANK: That's right. In fact, Belgian officials assume that it was indeed Salah Abdeslam and they believe that this cell accelerated their plans when Sala Abdeslam's hiding place was raided last week by Belgian authorities. Did they already have plans in the work? And Salah Abdeslam was going to be part of that, they believe. Part of a bigger attack.
When they were going to the international airport in Brussels from their bomb factory in Schaerbeek in Brussels. They were picked up by a taxi driver. They had so many bags full of explosives. They couldn't fit those explosives into the taxi. They had to leave a bag behind. And that's why they recovered all these additional explosives. So they had a lot more explosives for a bigger scene. Half of the team were arrested or killed. This could have been spectacularly more huge this attack. So they thwarted half the plot.
BERMAN: Hey, Bob. What is life like for Salah Abdeslam right now in custody by Belgian officials right now?
BAER: They don't torture there. They are going to question him. My question, though, is how much did he know? I found these people to be their trade craft is pretty good. They stay off the phone. They stay off the internet. And giving Abdeslam, a wanted man, the most wanted man in the world, the plans for their future attacks is unlikely but we're going to wait to see.
I mean, clearly, though, when under questioning, he didn't give away the plot against the airport and the metro. I mean, he didn't know the details or what was withholding, you know. He was advertised a key to all of this. But I just don't believe it. They compartment information. They regenerate leadership. They regenerate suicide bombers at an amazing rate.
BERMAN: All right. Paul Cruickshank, Juliette Kayyem and Bob Baer, thanks so much. Interesting discussion. More details on the bombs that Bob just said are so easy to make
specifically the possibility of the ISIS bomb makers are making their designs even deadlier. The men who carried out the Brussels terrorist attacks, a look at the streets where they lived and were able to hide in plain sight. That's ahead.
[20:30:37] BERMAN: Tonight, Belgium is a country in mourning and on high alert with an intense manhunt underway. Over the past 24 hours, authorities have begun to tie yesterday's deadly bombings in Brussels to those in Paris four months ago. Direct links, many threads that run through neighborhoods that are known as hot beds of Muslim extremism, immigrant communities wrecked by crime, isolation and poverty.
When Paris attacker, Salah Abdeslam was finally captured last week, he was hiding out near the neighborhood where he had grown up. No one turned him in or tipped off police.
Nima Elbagir joins me right now. Nima, you've been working so hard, you've been doing a lot of reporting on these neighborhoods. What do you've been learning?
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNALTIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, when you speak about neighborhoods like Molenbeek, obviously Molenbeek which has emerges and next is in the Paris attacks conspiracy but also now in the conspiracy to perpetrate this recent outrage. It isn't just Molenbeek, you're talking about bubbles of extremist cells that have shown that they can move outside of where the authorities have typically been looking for them, neighborhoods with high concentrations of Belgians of Moroccan origin, Muslim Belgians.
And what you start to see is what all these neighbors have in common, highly unemployment, disenfranchisement. And often that then leads to the criminalization of these young men. They end up in gangs.
Most of the key characters in both Paris, Abdeslam brothers and now the El Bakraoui brothers were implicated in violence, crime. The El Bakraoui brothers are horrifying car jacking, where they were waving around Kalashnikovs, you know, a really, really violent acts of criminality. These are the young men that the networks are going after, that they kind of taking advantage of the morass and it's clearly vary fatal ground.
And the problem is, John, that the authorities don't have penetration into these communities. So when we talk about these communities not giving them up, it isn't just because the entire community is implicated, that's a very simplistic reading of it, is that the community doesn't trust that the authorities can keep them safe.
So many of the people we've been reaching out to, John, they don't want to talk us. They don't want appear on camera. They don't want to be quoted because they are so scared of the ramifications from ISIS here in a European capital city. BERMAN: You know in the United States, in some cities and some neighborhoods, we have community policing where cops build relationships with people in the area. Is there any such thing there or is it just an adversarial relationship between the police, law enforcement and these communities?
ELBAGIR: There have been attempts at it but they haven't really been incredibly successful. And even before these attacks, the Belgian interior minister admitted to us, I actually put it to him and we've been speaking to third, fourth generation Belgians of Moroccan origin, who tell us, they don't feel Belgian. They feel marginalized. This is a community that is at 40 percent unemployment, far above the national average. And he even --even he admitted there was more work to be done.
At the moment, it is as you put it, an entirely adversarial relationship. But at the same time, you're carrying out house raids, searches. You're in a race against time in this manhunt. It's very difficult to balance these two competing priorities to try and bring the community on side while having to -- essentially use very blunt instruments to go in as deep as you can to find these people.
BERMAN: All right. Nima Elbagir, working around the clock in Brussels. Thanks so much.
We've been talking all night about the dead bomb maker. More now on the kind of bombs he made. Authorities fear they could be the first of a new generation of explosive devices smaller, deadlier harder to stop.
CNN's Brian Todd explains.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has experts worried, the idea the terrorists in the Brussels bombings have managed to develop a new type of device, one that combines the portability of a suicide vest with a more powerful explosive in a suitcase.
What kind of flexibility does it gives them to be able to pack something maybe with the explosive power of a car bomb into this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a -- certainly it gives them a lot of flexibility.
TODD: This photo shows the three men pushing suitcases on carts, believed to be the bombs. Two of the men are wearing only one glove each.
Investigators tell CNN, they think it's possible that each man's glove hid a detonator. What kind of explosive did they use? One possible clue is what police later found in an apartment raid.
[20:35:03] FREDERIC VAN LEEUV, BELGIAN FEDERAL PROSSECUTOR: 15 kilograms of explosives, TATP, 150 liters of acetone, 30 liters of hydrogen peroxide, detonators. TOOD: TATP, a peroxide based, very unstable explosive that packs a nasty punch.
This video shows TATP combusting just from a tiny film canister.
BRIAN CASTNER, FORMER AIR FORCE BOMB DISPOSAL TECHNICIAN: TATP is one of the most sensitive explosives known to the bomb tech community and it really takes very little initiation to set it off.
TODD: It's so delicate, experts say, that just trying to make a bomb with TATP can be deadly. But if a terrorist is successful in making one, he has another advantage.
CASTNER: It can be more dangerous because it's difficult to detect.
TODD: Bombs that are difficult to detect, easy to make, combining massive explosive power with enough maneuverability to navigate through a crowded airport, a tactic so effective, experts worry, it'll be repeated.
RAFI RON, FORMER ISRAELI AIRPORT SECURITY CHIEF: Certainly, something that we would see quite a lot in the future, the number of casualties is usually high and the effect of the terrorist want to achieve as a result is also very high.
TODD: Does this kind of bomb, these kinds of tactics mean that passengers are going to be screened at the entrances to airports?
Rafi Ron says, that would create other security risks like long lines of passengers at the curb and they might be exposed to bombings or drive-by shootings.
What this is going to require, he said, is more law enforcement officers roving near the entrances and near the ticket counters using detection dogs, behavioral screening methods and other measures. And even that may not prevent attacks like the ones we saw in Brussels.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All thanks to Brian for that.
Just ahead, new information on the basis foreign impact of the State Department's travel alert for Americans heading to Europe.
[20:40:52] BERMAN: Tonight's breaking news, new information about the ties between the Brussels and Paris terror attacks and also about the thinking behind the travel alert that the U.S. State Department just issued last night.
The upshot counterterrorism officials say evidence suggests the deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels were not the last that ISIS has in store across Europe. More attacks aimed at soft targets, airports, trains, tourist attractions, they are likely coming.
Here's Elise Labott with more on why the State Department is now urging caution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORESPONDENT: With officials warning ISIS is on the loose and a massive manhunt underway, the State Department is taking the rare step of urging Americans to think twice about traveling to Europe, warning that terrorists "Continue to plan near term attacks throughout Europe targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants and transportation." A dire assessment ahead of the summer travel season.
A former House Intelligence Chair says such a dramatic warning is likely the result of alarming Intel pointing to the possibility of more terror.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they know is that probably Brussels was not the only target set. Paris was not the only target set. There are likely other target sets in Europe.
LABOTT: ISIS fighters, many trained on the battlefields of Syria are returning home to carry out their Jihad in the West. Sometimes infiltrating the influx of migrants fleeing the violence.
Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union and NATO has important symbolic value and has emerged as a hub for Jihadist planning European attacks.
The Paris attackers capitalizing on lack security crossed to the France from Brussels. And the weapons used in the Charlie Hebdo attack last January, were also smuggled from across the border. Steps to shore up security not coming fast enough.
JOHAN VERBEKE, BELGIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Europe is Europe without borders and Brussels, indeed, as the capital of Europe is centrally located. And that means that it is perhaps a platform where people come, meet, arrange, plan and that's kind of things.
LABOTT: Intel experts say Belgium remains ill-equipped to tackle the problem.
ROGERS: They have nine different police districts. Some of them don't speak the same language. They have a hard time sharing their signals. Intelligence is very old.
LABOTT: The European Union with no common defense or Intelligence body has failed to share vital intel with Belgium and the U.S.
GILLES DE KERCHOVE, E.U. CONTERTERORISM COORDINATORA: We're likely to have more plots. That doesn't mean they would succeed. We need to scale up extremely quickly the European response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Elise Labott joins us now. Elise, how rare of a step is that issuing a travel alert like this one?
LABOTT: It's very significant, John, extremely rare occurrence. When you think of how many Americans travel to Europe, the State Department really agonizes over having to issue these warnings, particularly ahead of the summer vacation season to say, "To all Americans traveling to all of Europe is risky, essentially hunker down, avoid going to public places." They know many Americans are going to cancel their plans and how damaging this could be to the European tourist economy.
It's just a reflection of how concerned they are. They know ISIS is plotting attacks. There isn't enough specifically incredible information to thwart them. So they have a responsibility to sound the alarm bells as sorry as they are to have to do it.
Now Secretary of State John Kerry traveling to Brussels on Friday, not just to offer condolences but to meet with European Union and Belgian officials about how to counter this threat and including sharing information about these plots that are going on.
BERMAN: And they have a lot of work to do on that from Elise Labott, thank you so much.
As you can imagine the past two days have just been agonizing for the families whose loved ones were in the wrong place at the wrong time yesterday. Again, 31 people were killed in the Brussels attacks. More than 200 people wounded, some gravely. And then there were those whose faiths are still unknown. They are missing. Their loved ones desperate for answers trying to hold on to hope.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[20:45:01] BERMAN: Alexander Pinczowski was at the airport with his sister Sascha waiting to fly back to New York. Alexander was on the phone with their mother when the bombs went off. The phone line dropped. They haven't been heard from since.
Friends and relatives have flooded social media with please for information. "We love you. Let us know you're safe," one post reads. Another says, "We still have the hope they might be with somebody."
Andre Adams was also at the airport with his wife Danielle. They were waiting for a flight to Miami. Both were missing after the blast. Their daughter Gigi pleaded on Facebook for any news. Every tweet, ping, gold ring has us trembling just in case she wrote then she posted this, "My mother is found in hospital in Flanders, still no news of my father." 79-year-old Andre is still missing.
Bart Migham texted his girlfriend Emily Eisenman on the way to the airport. He was on his way to visit her in Georgia and was supposed to text her a picture of his boarding pass. But Emily never heard from him. When she calls his phone, there's no answer.
EMILY EISENMAN, BOYFRIEND MISSING AFTER BELGIAN ATTACKS: These last two days have been something I never thought I would feel. It's been the worst days of my life. I just -- I guess I didn't know how much one person can love another until you just don't know where they're at. I'm just hoping for a sign of some sort that he's OK.
BERMAN: Bart is a Marketing student in Belgium. He's 21 years old.
David Dixon texted his aunt to tell her he was safe after the explosions at the airport. But then commuted to work on the metro and hasn't been heard from since. Friends and family have been desperately trying to find him. They fear he was caught in the second attack. His partner has been driving from hospital to hospital trying to locate him.
Aline Bastin was also traveling on the metro during Tuesday's attack. 29-years-old. The Brussels resident has been missing since then.
"We are desperately looking for her," posted a friend. "Should you had any news, please give a sign."
24-year-old Nursing student Sabrina Fazal's phone was found near the Maalbeek station after the terror attack. Friends told the BBC, she has a 1-year-old son who is staying with his grandmother as they search for her.
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BERMAN: Our heart gluts to all those families and we hope they get good news soon. More in their stories in the hours and days ahead.
Coming up, turning to the Republican race for the White House, a strange twist in an already unusual election, just when you thought that presidential limbo couldn't get any lower. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz get into a fight about each other's wives. Now, an old nude photo shoot featuring Melania Trump somehow became part of a presidential election. That's next.
[20:51:53] BERMAN: Donald Trump issuing a new threat to his rival Ted Cruz, one that is as vague as it is foreboding. He's going to spill some sort of unknown beans about Ted Cruz's wife. This is a Twitter feud that's spilled over into the television airwaves and seems to have started with a Facebook ad showing Trump's wife in an old photo shoot, sand clothing. Yes, these are Presidential candidates were talking about, embroiled in just the latest bit of bizarre banter this become the hallmark of a very strange election year.
Sunlen Serfaty, reports.
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SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENTS: The Donald Trump/Ted Cruz feud is getting personal, with each of their wives now being drawn into the fight.
TED CRUZ, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She is used to dealing with bullies, and Donald Trump doesn't scare Heidi remotely.
SERFATY: Trump calling foul, blaming Ted Cruz for a controversial Facebook ad featuring his wife Melania. The GOP frontrunner tweeting, "Lying Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad." Adding this warning, "Be careful lying Ted or I will spill the beans on your wife."
The ad uses one of Melania Trump's old modeling photos from G.Q. magazine showing her lying across a fur blanket on Trump's jet wearing nothing but heels and jewelry. Superimposed over the photo the text, "Meet Melania Trump, your next first lady, or you can support Ted Cruz on Tuesday." The ad was aimed at Mormon voters in Utah ahead of Tuesday's caucuses and produced by an anti-Trump Super PAC called "Make America Awesome." The Republican Strategist behind the group today it taking full responsibility.
LIZ MAIR, MAKE AMERICA AWESOME FOUNDERR: Donald Trump is kind throwing stones in glass houses here. And I really don't think that he has a leg to stand on.
SERFATY: Cruz denies being behind the ad and campaign officials say that Texas Senator was angry about the allegations and the threat against his wife. His displeasure on full display in his aggressive push backed today.
CRUZ: It reveals a lot about character. Reveals a lot about class that Donald's instinct is to try to attack my wife and sully her. And, you know what, that should be beneath Donald.
SERFATY: On the campaign trail today, even Heidi Cruz getting into the mix.
HEIDI CRUZ, TED CRUZ' WIFE: That didn't come at all from our campaign. In no way shape or form are we related to it.
SERFATY: Denying there's anything to spill the beans about.
H. CRUZ: Most of the things that Donald Trump says have no basis in reality.
SERFATY: While her husband borrows a line from the American President to punch back at his rival.
MICHAEL DOUGLAS, AMERICAN ACTOR AND PRODUCER: You want a character debate, Bob, you better stick with me because Sydney Ellen Wade is way out of your league.
CRUZ: If Donald wants to get in the character fight, he's better off sticking with me because Heidi is way out of his league.
SERFATY: Trump doubling down today mocking Cruz tweeting, "Lying Ted Cruz steals foreign policy from me and lines from Michael Douglas, just another dishonest politician."
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BERMAN: All right. Sunlen Serfaty joins me right now with some of the fact that the campaign put Heidi Cruz out front and center to deal with this, just shows how seriously I suppose they're taking it. [20:55:00] SERFATY: Well, absolutely. You know, Heidi Cruz is very visible out on the campaign trail. She's typically out stumping for her husband, holding solo events, but she rarely, rarely speaks directly to press holding these sort of gaggles with press answering questions. But today, she did and she took questions from press about this and really pushed back on those allegations as you heard in our piece. Same coming from Ted Cruz too, a very aggressive pushed back from him.
You know, he had say, he was very angry like any husband would be if something was untrue and being said about them.
And he personally twitted the first response last night. He tweeted it out from his iPhone last night during election night while results were coming in, he was tweeting about Donald Trump being a classless in his words. So, very clear that the Cruz campaign wanting to not let this linger out there, wanting to address it head on.
BERMAN: A public fight. Donald Trump doesn't give much up. All right. Sunlen Serfaty, thanks so much. Great to see you.
Coming up in our next hour of "360", back to our top story much more serious stuff, the latest on the Brussels investigation, the manhunt intensifies, disturbing new questions lingering about the possible threat of more attacks that could be to come.