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Terror Threat Leads to Boost in Airport Security; Clashes Follow Murder of Palestinian Teen; Flu Fears Stoke Immigration Wars; Tropical Storm Arthur Threatening 4th of July Weekend; North Carolina Braces for Big Storm; Interview with Governor Pat McCrory; Evidence Against Khattalah Revealed; Detained American Tourists' Fate Tied to a Hollywood Movie

Aired July 2, 2014 - 17:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: New terror threats. Security is being boosted at airports with flights to the U.S. amid concerns that terrorists are creating undetectable bombs and have western passport holders who can transport them.

Middle East. Middle East tensions exploding. Clashes raging in Jerusalem after a Palestinian teen is found murdered. Was it a savage reprisal for the murders of three Israeli teens?

And holiday hurricane, Tropical Storm Arthur is already looking very mean from outer space. It could hit the East Coast July 4 as a Category 1 hurricane. North Carolina's governor warning beach goers.


GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I want to reiterate, don't put your stupid hat on.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KEILAR: Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We are beginning now with breaking news. The Obama administration is stepping up security for direct flights to the United States from some overseas airports.

Now that right there is the explosive power of a toothpaste bomb developed by an al Qaeda spin-off, but now there are growing concerns about more powerful and undetectable new bombs and American jihadists who could potentially deliver them. Chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is here with more on this.

Pretty alarming stuff, Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It is, Brianna. These changes are going to take effect very quickly. Passengers will likely see the new measures in the coming week, though not on domestic flights. These are for international flights bound for the U.S. Particularly, we're told from Europe and the Middle East. And it is in response to new intelligence that terrorists are further refining bombs to get around current screening methods and take down passenger airplanes.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): They are the first line of defense for the American homeland: foreign airports with direct flights to the U.S. And now the Department of Homeland Security is directing those international airports to step up their security screening.

In a written statement, DHS Secretary Jay Johnson said, "We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry. These communications are an important part of our commitment to providing our security partners with situational awareness about the current environment and protecting the traveling public."

Driving the new directive is increasing concern that terrorists from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the AQAP are refining bomb designed to avoid detection by current airplane screening methods.

SETH JONES, RAND CORPORATIONS: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has long looked for vulnerabilities in airport security and, in particular, finding ways to put together bombs using non-metallic material that can make its way through metal detectors but also trying to hide bombs in body crevices that will not be easily identified by some of the newer machines in place at airports.

SCIUTTO: This is the man believed to be behind the threat, AQAP master bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri. In recent months, U.S. officials have warned that Asiri and AQAP terrorists trained under him were improving designs of new explosive devices such as shoe bombs that could fool screening systems. We spoke about the new measures today with former DHS secretary Michael Chertoff.

(on camera): How concerned should flyers be about what this means about the threat?

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, FORMER DHS SECRETARY: I would be mindful of the fact that there is probably increased risk. I don't think it's dramatically different. I would not fly, and the good news here is that the government sharing information with others in other parts of the world is responding to this.


SCIUTTO: We're told that this will not change what passengers can bring onboard flights -- for instance, laptops or iPhones -- but passengers will see additional screening of shoes and electronics. They'll see additional screening for explosive residue and those swab machines you're now familiar with and you'll also see additional screening at gates, Brianna, sometimes on flights in addition to the screening you go through just after check-in. You get to the gate, they might look at your bag again or swab you again. And I'm told that this is really about AQAP and them always refining bombs to get past security: fewer metal parts, less explosive residue, and that's the real thing behind these threats.

KEILAR: It's very scary. And we want to get more now from Rafi Ron. He is the former security director for Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport, and he's the president of new age security solutions. So you hear about these -- these new concerns, Rafi, these new, really, guidelines. What do you make of this?

RAFI RON, FORMER SECURITY DIRECTOR, TEL AVIV BEN GURION INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: Well, the concerns are new, but the capability or the capacity of terrorists to produce bombs that do not contain metallic components in it, and therefore pass through a certain metal detector system has been proven, actually, two months after 9/11 by the shoe bomber Richard Reid and eight years later by Abdulmutallab, the so- called underwear bomber. They -- both of them carried devices that did not contain any metallic elements and were able to take their devices onboard.

What I make of the latest news is that there's probably some more pinpointed intelligence that indicates to the possibility that there is an intention to use these techniques sometimes in the future to actually act against American aviation.

KEILAR: We look at these new measures and then we think, well, it has to be in response to some specific threat, but it seems a little muddy when you talk to officials. Is this a specific threat, is this imminent or is this a more general thing?

SCIUTTO: It's not imminent. It's not a specific threat; for instance, a bomb on a particular plane at a particular time. It's a more general threat with the intention.

Intelligence officials, homeland security officials have known for some time that these groups want to get a bomb on a passenger airplane. In fact, they tried before. They've gotten it on, but it hasn't exploded. like Richard Reid, the underwear bomber.

And they know that, in the meantime, we've improved our screening. So they're constantly trying to improve their explosive bombs -- devices to get past that screening. So this is more in response to a general threat as opposed to a specific threat, but it doesn't mean it's not serious.

KEILAR: So when we see, though, governments changing their measures here and we see other -- the U.K., for instance, is changing their -- some of their guidelines to be more in line with the U.S., does it -- does it make us think that maybe there's a bigger issue than what these governments are actually saying that there is?

RON: We, we can always assume that there is a bigger issue than what is made public, because obviously, that is the nature of intelligence, and intelligence does not expose to the public the details. What we are hearing is perhaps just the conclusions that decision makers make out of the intelligence. But I want to make one comment, and I think that the -- one of the most important changes that TSA has adopted since the underwear bomber is that there's more and more shifting towards a risk assessment approach that focuses more on passengers than we did in the past and not just about what they carry, because some passengers do reflect certain indications that they may deserve than we are providing to the general flying public.

KEILAR: A look at what they're carrying may be the very last line of defense in that case.

Rafi, thank you so much.

Jim, I really appreciate it.

An explosion of rage in Jerusalem, violent clashes after a Palestinian teen is found murdered in what may be a savage reprisal for the murders of three Israeli teenagers. Their urgent efforts now to put a lid on the tensions.

Let's go live now to CNN's Atika Shubert. She is in Jerusalem with the latest -- Atika.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Within hours of reports that a Palestinian teenager was abducted we saw clashes on the streets of Jerusalem. We were there earlier today. Here's a look at what happened.


SHUBERT (voice-over): The streets of Jerusalem are seething with anger and grief on both sides. Before sunrise on Wednesday 17-year- old Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khudair was forced into a car outside his family's shop. An hour later, police found a body in a forested area of west Jerusalem so badly burned that his parents had to provide DNA to identify their son.

Within hours, Palestinian teenagers set up flaming barricades in front of the Abu Khudair home, throwing stones at Israeli police stationed nearby.

(on camera): For many of the Palestinian residents here there's no question as to what has happened. They see this clearly as a revenge attack, and they are angry, throwing stones, using slingshots. And the response from the Israeli police, stun grenades and tear gas.

(voice-over): When Palestinian lawmakers of Israel's parliament visited, Abu Khudair's cousin shouted out his frustration. "We demand the Israeli government bring the people who did this to justice," he said. "Deal with them as you did to the others. We want to see their houses demolished, their families arrested. We want revenge."

This just a day after the bodies of kidnapped Israeli teenagers Naftali Frankel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach were laid to rest. Tens of thousands came to mourn, their parents doubled over in grief. Now calls to avenge their deaths have brought yet another funeral.

The cycle of violence so familiar to residents in the city appears to have started once again.


SHUBERT: Now that violence that we saw in the streets continued for more than 12 hours and, in fact, is still ongoing. Less so in Shawafat but also in some of the areas outside of the old city in the Mount of olives, we understand. And just goes to show, once that anger boils over, it can be very hard to contain.

KEILAR: Atika Shubert in Jerusalem, thank you so much.

And let's get reaction now from Diana Buttu. She's a former legal adviser and spokeswoman for the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

Diana, thanks for being with us. We're looking, obviously, at a very complex situation and what, obviously, may be turning into a spiral of reprisal. Is that how you see it? Are you concerned that this could just keep going back and forth?

DIANA BUTTU, SPOKESWOMAN, PLO: I'm absolutely concerned, and the reason that I'm concerned is that the Israeli actions have been since day one to blame Palestinians to carry out measures of collective punishment, including home demolitions and mass arrests, including damaging homes and then killing 11 Palestinians.

And then we saw, after the death of the three Israelis, we heard statements from as high up as the Israeli prime minister himself calling for revenge and for vengeance. We heard this from other ministers, as well.

It's therefore not surprising to me at all that the Israelis have taken heed and listened to their leaders and are now carrying out reprisal attacks against Palestinians.

My fear is that because nobody is putting a stop to Israel's actions that we're going to see this spiral out of control, and again, the real question is going to be who is left protecting Palestinians?

KEILAR: And obviously, you know, from your perspective, you have a lot of skepticism, I imagine, about how -- when, for instance, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says someone needs to get to the bottom of who killed this Palestinian young man.

But I wonder when you look at the killings of the three Israeli teens, Israel very convinced that it's Hamas. Do you believe that it is Hamas or do you think it was someone acting in connection with Hamas or on the outer fringes of Hamas?

BUTTU: Well, Brianna, we actually don't know and this is the main problem is that we have been calling for an investigation as to what happened with those three Israelis and instead the Israeli government already convinced said that it was Hamas. They not only said that it was Hamas. They then named some suspects and went ahead and demolished homes. This is all without trial. This is all without prosecutorial conviction.

And so what we are left with is simply statements on the part of the Israelis. They didn't do -- undertake any efforts to undertake an investigation and instead we're just left with their word. At the end of the day we don't know, the Israelis don't know, but what we have felt is that Palestinians have felt the punishment for Israel's -- for Israel's actions.

KEILAR: It's really interesting, Diana, when you listen to the families of these teens on both sides, the father of this Palestinian young man, the uncle of one of the Israeli teens who was killed, they're calling for a stop to the bloodshed. They don't want to see anymore.

Do you think that the deaths of these teens are being exploited by both sides?

BUTTU: No, I don't. I think that what is actually happening is that we are getting to the root causes of the violence. The root cause of violence is the fact that there's been a denial of freedom for the Palestinians for more than four -- more than four decades, close to five decades, and it's time for us to address these root causes. It's time for us to address the military occupation and the denial of freedom.

And the reason that we see this violence being perpetuated is because of the fact that Palestinians have been denied their freedom for such a long period of time, and in exchange, when you get to this point of denial of freedom, it becomes very easily for it to turn into violence.

It's time now for the international community to step forward, to put pressure Israel to end the military rule, and if Israel doesn't want to end its military rule peacefully, it has to be -- put sanctions on Israel in order that they get the message that this -- that this type of action is no longer acceptable.

KEILAR: Do you see some of the argument, do you see the point of some of the argument from the side of the Israeli government? They say, "Look, the Palestinians have chosen to partner with Hamas." This essentially makes them feel like they are negotiating with terrorists. They don't want to negotiate with Hamas. They don't want to sit down at the table.

Do you see how that makes it more difficult for them to come to the table and how -- and earn this discussion about this?

BUTTU: Well, Brianna, I don't want to sit down with the Israelis, the Israeli Likud, and I don't want to sit down with the Jewish Home party. And I don't want to sit down with Yisrael Beiteinu party either. These are three very extremist parties that make up the current Israeli coalition. And it's not Palestinian -- it's not up to Palestinians to be choosing who is going to be on the other side.

The problem is, is that Israel is looking for excuses to continue its occupation rather than for reasons to end its occupation and one of the excuses that it continually puts forward is that it doesn't like Hamas, but as I said the Palestinians don't like Likud or Yisrael Beiteinu or the Jewish Home Party either. And we don't have the luxury of choosing who's on the other side.

It's time for Israel to be told very clearly by the international community that enough is enough and that it has to now give freedom to the Palestinians.

KEILAR: Diana Buttu, joining us from Ramallah, former legal adviser to the PLO. We really appreciate you being with us.

And next, a new forecast just in, a hurricane warning for the Carolina coast as a dangerous storm bears down just in time for the July 4th holiday.

And crisis on the border, the arrival of thousands of undocumented children in the U.S. is met by protests and fears that some could be spreading a disease. We have that next.


KEILAR: Thousands of unaccompanied children streaming across the border into the U.S. Many are already calling it a crisis, and now there's an added health concern with confirmation that at least one of the children was infected with the H1N1 flu virus.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is working that story for us. What are you finding here?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, the administration says this case of H1N1 is an isolated crisis, but it is doing a lot to rev up fears of a potential health crisis.



SERFATY (voice-over): Protesters in Southern California Tuesday surround, stop and block three busses of undocumented immigrant families. The undocumented immigrants were being moved for processing from Texas to California to help alleviate the strain on Texas from the massive flood of immigrants.

Since October, 39,000 adults with children have tried to cross the border and 52,000 children on their own. With this surge, the political temperature rises, swirling through the political cyclone fears of a rising health crisis, the Department of Health and Human Services confirms to CNN that one immigrant child came to the U.S. last week with the H1N1 flu virus and is now being treated at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

Medical experts say this one case isn't cause for alarm. The H1N1 virus is already common in the United States. This past flu season it was actually the most prevalent strain. Some, though, are back to calling it the swine flu, harkening back to the fear of 2009 when H1N1 first broke out in America. JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think you need to balance

responsible public health, scientific, rooted analysis debate and decisions against those old divisive drumbeats of fear mongering that have accompanied waves of immigrants throughout our history.

SERFATY: On the front lines the scare tactics have already trickled down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bottom line is they have diseases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want your unhealthy people coming here making our kids and my wife and my mother and father sick.

SERFATY: And there are some health concerns from those three busses stopped Tuesday in California. The National Border Patrol Counsel confirms, of the 136 immigrants screened, ten children are now at local hospitals for unknown ailments, and seven additional kids are quarantined with active scabies.

The White House said today the public health risk is just one challenge they're devoting resources to.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is a plan for dealing with those kinds of contingencies.


SERFATY: The president has requested additional money from Congress to deal with the surge. And responding to this specific H1N1 case today, Brianna, they say this is just one of the other areas they could help with if they had that extra money.

KEILAR: All right. Sunlen, thank you so much for that report.

Let's dig a little deeper with CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

You know, Elizabeth, some people seem to feel that this one child with H1N1 is a threat to our health here in the U.S., but what's the reality check?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The reality is that there is not a public health threat. I mean, Brianna, if people truly believed that this one child with H1N1 is a threat, then they should have put themselves in a bubble that past winter when tens of thousands of people in this country had H1N1. It was rampant, so this one child with H1N1 when we already have H1N1 in this country really doesn't make a difference.

KEILAR: I personally had a very close relative who had it so I went through that with a family member myself.

There is this issue, though, I wonder, of public health when you do -- you're looking at kids, maybe as many as 1,500 a day. That's a lot of kids, some of them in confined spaces. How do you keep these kids that are illegally crossing the border healthy? COHEN: Right. That's certainly a challenge. You know, one of the

things they're doing at these shelters -- we talked to the folks who run them -- is that when unaccompanied minors come in, they're screened before -- medically screened before they're allowed into the shelters. They're also vaccinated according to the schedule put out by the Centers of Disease Control. Those are certainly two steps you can take.

And, you know, I'm assuming they do the types of things that they do at school, having to wash their hands a lot, all of that kind of thing. You know, that is a challenge when you have a lot of people in one place.

KEILAR: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks for breaking that down for us. We appreciate it.

This also brings out other discussions, as well. We want to talk about that with CNN political commentator and Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker" Ryan Lizza, as well as Jackie Kucinich of "The Washington Post" and CNN chief national correspondent John King.

You're seeing, obviously, all of this, John, ratcheting up the pressure on Congress and President Obama to do something about immigration. We now know President Obama is planning to go it alone. What are his options? What might he announce if he's talking about executive actions?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think you have to take this in two parts. The short term is he said he's going to take the resources he can control now and take insular (ph) U.S. resources and get them down to the border. Then he's going to ask for more money, for people to help process, for more facilities to help process to deal with the humanitarian crisis.

But he's taken a tough rhetorical line, and it may take months in some cases and could even take longer that, in his view, most of those children are going to be returned. That's priority one.

But the interesting part to me is then he says the lawyers are going to look at this over the summer and in August heading right into the midterm elections. Then he's going to decide what else he can do.

He can't give the undocumented citizenship. He can't give them legal status. But he create some emergency power to create a temporary guest worker program. What exactly does he mean by "I'll take additional executive steps this summer"? That's what we don't know, the specifics.

KEILAR: And how does that affect the politics of it? It's a midterm election year. How does this maybe fire up Democrats and Republicans.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, there's a coalition that the Democrats are trying to turn out in 2014, that turned out for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and doesn't generally turn out in midterms. A big part of that coalition is Hispanic voters. And I think Obama is going to have two tracks here. He's going to bash the Republicans for not passing immigration reform. It's always been sort of the threat he's held over their head, is you're going to pay the price at the polls. And he's going to try and go as far as he can with executive actions.

And so, you can't pass the immigration bill to pass the Senate, the comprehensive reform bill, and you can't pass that through executive actions. If you could, the president would have done it already. So I think it will be a little bit for show.

KEILAR: And we look beyond the midterm elections and, of course, some Republicans say immigration reform has to be passed if we're really going to have a shot at the White House. What does all of this do? Or does it do anything when it comes to the chances of maybe passing immigration reform in 2015?

JACKIE KUCINICH, "WASHINGTON POST": National Republicans playing the long game. The short game, they're looking at their districts, and the Republican base does not want comprehensive immigration reform, so they're worried about their jobs.

2016 going forward, the national Republicans are saying, "We need to do something on this." I don't think this happens while President Obama is still in office if the House Republicans, if that makeup stays the same.

LIZZA: That is such a good point, because this is a tale of two elected -- two coalitions, right? The Republicans are much more a party of the House and Congress, and the Democrats right now are much more a party of the White House. And they have -- very two different electoral coalitions right now, one that helps in the midterms and one that's better in presidential elections.

KING: Tell it to Americans. Look at the map. You say long term, short term. I would say lead them. The congressional leaders are saying, "Worry about me. I want to stay a speaker. I want to get the Senate majority. Not acting on immigration helps me." It might not help the presidential candidates down the road. But if Mitch McConnell is majority leader, John Boehner, the speaker with the bigger Republican caucus, they'll take that.

KEILAR: I want to talk a little bit about Hillary Clinton. One of the stories that we've seen lately has to do, actually, with something that happened 40 years ago.

She defended, as a legal aid lawyer, a rapist, or an alleged -- someone who was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. And then recently audio came out where she was sort of admitting that she believed her client at the time was guilty. This was a case from 1975. This was audio from the 1980s.

There's an interesting legal take that we're now hearing on it, and our CNN legal analyst Paul Callan wrote about it. He said, "Clinton performed her role as defense counsel to an unpopular indigent client with skill and competence, according -- affording him the constitutional rights cherished by Americans. So it is sad, really, to see her throw this all away and apparently betray the secrets and interests of her client for the sake of telling a good story to a reporter."

I guess first off, does this story line -- is this pause for any trouble, you think, if she runs for president?

KUCINICH: It depends on how she answers the question. And it depends on how hard...

KEILAR: And she'll be asked it.

KUCINICH: And she will be asked this question. It depends on how Republicans and perhaps if she has Democratic opponents, how hard they hit her on this. And if she doesn't have a good answer to that question, then it turns into a problem much like the wealth has.

KEILAR: Does it hurt her? I mean, she's being right now such a -- I wonder for younger people, this is something that I wondered about. Younger people who really don't even know a lot about her, some of them, but she's being framed as a champion of women and girls. Does it poke a hole (ph) in that?

KING: Those younger people may not even know she's an attorney because they know her from politics. They might not even know she was the first lady of Arkansas. They may not know her husband was governor of Arkansas before he was president of the United States. So some younger voters are going to have a history lesson.

She is new to some people. We think we know everything about Hillary Clinton. We don't. I think Jackie has it just right. If she's asked about this, how does she handle it? Does she say, "I was not a very experienced trial lawyer in those days, and perhaps I've spoken out of school and I shouldn't have." Then I don't think anyone's going to, you know, hold something from 40 years ago against her. It's a long time ago, and I think this election will be about many other things than that. But she will have to answer for everything on her record.

KEILAR: All right. We'll be watching and waiting.

John, Jackie, Ryan, appreciate it.

And coming up, hurricane warnings are up as Arthur churns up the East Coast, threatening to rain out the Fourth of July for millions of people. We'll have the latest forecast. And also we'll talk to one governor who's warning of the storm's deadly potential.


MCCRORY: I want to again reiterate, don't put your stupid hat on.


KEILAR: Some words to live by, I'd say.

Plus how a movie comedy may be endangering two Americans being held by North Korea. Is Kim Jong-un planning to get revenge?


KEILAR: We have a new forecast warning that Tropical Storm Arthur could soon turn into a dangerous hurricane just in time to wreak havoc along the East Coast for the July 4th holiday. We'll be taking you to the Carolina coast. I'll speak with North Carolina's governor as well, but first let's go to CNN meteorologist and severe weather expert Chad Myers.

What's ahead of us here, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Brianna, a brand new hurricane warning all the way from Duck up near Carova, north of Madison, right where our reporters are. All the way down to Surf City which is just to the north and northeast of Wilmington in North Carolina. This is the new projection for where we think Arthur is going to go. Arthur is now up to a 70-mile-per-hour storm. Last hour it was only 60. Hurricane hunters finding stronger winds than 60. The Hurricane Center made the numbers higher. 70 miles per hour now.

You can believe this is the eye right there of the storm. It's had an eye for quite some time today, but now that eye is what we call breathing. Literally it's sucking air down at the surface, rising it up through the eye wall and then expanding or expelling that air at the higher elevations and making those cirrus clouds blow off of the now increasing in strength hurricane, soon to be hurricane. The Hurricane Center now saying within 12 hours this will be a category 1 hurricane.

The danger is for North Carolina, parts of South Carolina as well. There will pounding surf. There will be waves, six to 10 feet tall, eroding the beach itself. It may be completely gone in many areas. Maybe some overwash in some of these very low roads as well, and also the rip currents that we've told people over and over and over today to please stay out of the water and yet I can look right here and I can look at a picture, here it is.

This is Jacksonville Beach, waves about six to 10 feet. Where are the people? Right there along the shore playing in the water. So you can tell them what you want, but sometimes you just can't get them to do what you want.

Up here a little bit farther and closer to you, into New York, also parts of -- even into Connecticut seeing some very big weather. We'll watch that for you as well. Some of these storms across the northeast could be severe tonight. Not even part of Arthur, a completely separate system and a couple of things going on tonight -- Brianna.

KEILAR: That's right. I wish people would listen to you, Chad. You keep saying it, maybe they will.

MYERS: Maybe, over and over and over until I'm blue.

KEILAR: I know. All right. Thanks, Chad. Well, astronauts aboard the International Space Station got this view

of what could soon be hurricane Arthur and one ever them said it looks -- it already, I should say, looks mean, doesn't it? I think it does as well.

Now North Carolina is getting ready for that potential impact and CNN senior correspondent Joe Johns is live from Kill Devil Hills.

Joe, I mean, that's sort of what you're seeing, right? Even though people really at this point should be heeding some of these warnings, some people are still in the water.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right. There are concerns over the next 24 hours of rip currents. There are concerns about coastal flooding especially along North Carolina Highway 12, one of the main thoroughfares out here. It floods again and again when these big storms come through.

As you can see right here in Kill Devil Hills there are still people on the beach, but the officials behind the scenes are very concerned about this situation. They're stopping fireworks celebrations that are supposed to go on, on July 4th, moving them to other dates.

The beach down here, about 45 minutes from here has actually been shut down as of 9:00 this evening. A lot going on and there are a lot of concerns here in North Carolina.


JOHNS (voice-over): It's coming up the coast from Florida after forcing officials there to put out the warning flags. Authorities are scanning the skies and the beaches for signs of trouble with the holiday weekend imminent. For now, most people have not left the beaches, but some report worsening conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can definitely feel the rip current.

JOHNS: Here in North Carolina, the most likely potential landfall, officials are begging the public to take the threat seriously.

MCCRORY: We want to make sure people don't try out the great waves right before the storm comes. So even though they are good waves we don't want you to go into the ocean.

JOHNS: But so far they are not asking people to shy away.

WARREN JUDGE, DARE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS: Go ahead and enjoy themselves. Make use of today and tomorrow, but pay attention, pay attention to what may come.

JOHNS: Hanging in the balance, not just weekend vacation, 4th of July parades and fireworks, but also more serious concerns. Everyone here remembers Irene in 2011. The pounding waves, the flooding and the houses ruined. The ocean breached right through the island in several places washing out the only roads and cutting off several thousand people from the mainland. Could a storm that serious happen again? MCCRORY: We've got to be ready for anything.


JOHNS: 250,000 people expected here in the North Carolina beaches over this holiday weekend. The question is how much they're going to adjust their plans until they figure out what the storm is going to do -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Joe Johns, thank you so much.

Well, he has already warned beachgoers not to take chances, you heard him there. Joining me now is North Carolina governor, Pat McCrory.

Governor, thanks for being with us, and just let us know exactly what's being done to prepare for this storm on such a busy weekend.

MCCRORY: Well, first of all, we just had a good conversation with the FEMA representatives in Washington to ensure that we -- if we need any potential recovery help from the federal government we'll get it. And we've opened up food supply areas that will be opening up tomorrow with water and supplies especially if any flooding occurs in eastern North Carolina. We are going to be making decisions tonight, each of the county officials will be making decisions tonight on whether to do either mandatory or voluntary evacuation in the morning at the time of daylight.

That most likely, if it does occur, would occur most likely, from all indications, that the outer banks if that decision is made and we're also just warning people about getting their supplies ready and also, as I said earlier, don't put your stupid hat on and get in the water before the storm or during the storm just because there are good waves and don't get near high flooding or after the storm leaves if we have down power lines, don't get near the power lines.

That's usually when we have casualties is right before or after the storm as opposed to during storms. Very similar to the ice storms that we had this past winter.

KEILAR: And let me ask you this because I'm hearing some mixed messages. We're hearing from our severe weather expert Chad Myers. He's saying, you know what, stay out of the water because if there is a sandbar break you could be just swept out even when you think everything is fine and everything is calm. He said people aren't doing that. But we just heard in our reporter Joe Johns' piece there, a county official saying no, come out and enjoy it.

I mean, at what point do people need to start really exercising caution?

MCCRORY: Well, we have a large coastline and each county will be making that call for themselves all the way from Wilmington, all the way to Nags Head which is a long way and we don't know where the storm is going to get hit. All indications most likely will be north of Moorhead City. And if this storm is bad it will be the outer coast or the outer belt in the Nags Head area and that area that will get hit, but again, late tonight we'll be making decisions.

The county officials will be making decisions. Oak or Cook Island has already made a decision for voluntary leaving the island and we're providing 24-hour ferry service for that. And so as the officials on the beaches and in those towns along the coast make those decisions the state will cooperate with them and help in any way and help heed the warning to people.

This is a very unique time with 4th of July weekend but right now our major concern is the life and safety of our citizens and also our visitors, and many who are coming to North Carolina this weekend during the 4th of July holiday weekend.

KEILAR: And we are watching some of them there in Kill Devil Hills on the outer banks of North Carolina, a very nice vacation spot.

There are some people in those areas, in the outer banks, who may be wondering, who may be on the fence about leaving. How do you convince them, you know, get out, you need to seek, I guess, safer ground?

MCCRORY: Well, again, we will be -- officials in that area will be making those decisions later on this evening and then if any evacuation is ordered it will be -- it will be communicated tonight and then that evacuation --


KEILAR: But just --

MCCRORY: -- will start early morning at daylight.

KEILAR: Just really quick, Governor. Because I only have you for one more moment. If there are evacuations ordered and some people are thinking maybe I'm not going to go, what would you say to those people?

MCCRORY: If it's mandatory evacuation, move, get out. If it's voluntary evacuation, that's your decision, but even if you don't move then stay away from the water as much as possible. We're also concerned inland. We have a history of flooding. We hope this storm -- of course, we hope the storm doesn't hit and goes further out, but we also hope it's a fast storm so we don't have inland flooding, inland or on the sound also.

So we also have to be worried about inland flooding and that's why we have the National Guard with some high water trucks ready to operate. We also have some swift boat rescue teams that have been deployed already at this point in time for eastern North Carolina.

KEILAR: All right. As you said, be smart, don't wear your stupid hat.

Governor McCrory, really appreciate the time.

MCCRORY: Thank you very much.

KEILAR: And next, the first look at the evidence against the suspect in the Benghazi attack. It points to other deadly crimes as well.

And is Kim Jong-Un putting two Americans on trial because of a movie? We have details of the film that may be sparking Kim's revenge.


KEILAR: The suspected ringleader of the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, was back in court here in Washington today and we're getting a first look at some of the evidence against him.

CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown is on the case for us and we're learning more about the case against this man.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we certainly are, Brianna. In fact federal prosecutors saying they have evidence against Abu Khattalah including eyewitness interviews, forensic evidence and voluntary statements from Khattalah himself. But the defense in court today claimed the government has a weak case.

The proceeding did go as expected with the judge ordering Khattalah to stay behind bars pending trial. While the terrorism suspect didn't talk today he did make two special requests through his attorney.


BROWN (voice-over): Under heavy security, Abu Khattalah arrives at court in Washington for the second time since landing on U.S. soil. Wearing a green prison jump suit and disheveled hair he sat in court stoic, making two requests through his attorney for a copy of the Quran and a special Halal diet.

The U.S. government now indicating for the first time it has evidence Khattalah attacked a nearby CIA annex that left two former Navy SEALs dead in addition to allegedly attacking the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stephens and three others.

In this 11-page court document prosecutors say Khattalah, who they claim is a leader of the Islamic extremist group Ansar al-Sharia entered the compound and supervised the exploitation of material from the scene by numerous men, many of whom were armed. And following the attack on the mission, the defendant returned to an AAS camp in Benghazi where a large group of armed AAS members began assembling for the attack on the annex.

Government sources tell CNN that they have surveillance video of Khattalah inside the compound, but the defense claims the government has shown no evidence Khattalah was directly involved in the attacks, saying they're having to rely on the media for information. CNN asked the prosecution about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll try the case in court.

BROWN: In his only interview, Khattalah, before he was captured, admitted to CNN's Arwa Damon in May last year that he was, in fact, at the embassy the night of the attack, but he claims he was just a bystander.

In the days after the attack the U.S. government alleges Khattalah began stockpiling weapons fearing American retaliation for the attack, trying to protect himself from capture, but last month U.S. Special Forces got him just outside Benghazi. They put Khattalah on a U.S. Navy ship, a special team of FBI interrogators questioning him for two weeks as they crossed the Atlantic from Libya to the U.S.

Federal prosecutors say after his capture, Khattalah gave voluntary statements corroborating key facts. Some legal analysts say this is likely just the tip of the iceberg in the government's case.

KAREN GREENBERG, DIRECTOR, CENTER ON NATIONAL SECURITY: I think that they kept it as broad and as vague as they could to leave room for whatever further, more specific charges they want to make.


BROWN: The government today saying it handed over video evidence to the defense as part of the discovery process and so far Khattalah has pleaded not guilty to the charge of conspiracy to provide support, material support. The government has said, though, Brianna, that it will bring addition charges against Khattalah.

KEILAR: Yes. Really interesting new details. Pamela, thank you so much.

And still ahead, extra airport security measures about to go into effect. Why U.S. officials are so concerned about a possible terror attack. And that there, that's an American movie comedy about a plot to kill North Korea's leader. Is he striking back by putting two Americans on trial?


KEILAR: Ominous signs from North Korea including a spate of recent missile launches and now a vow to prosecute two American tourists detained this year.

Could all of it be tied to a movie that hasn't even been released yet?

CNN's Tom Foreman is looking into it for us. This is a pretty bizarre story.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. But what we are seeing here maybe is this strange collision of events that have put these American tourists in peril. First, the timing of their visit to North Korea. Second, the White House's current state of play with that nation. And lastly, and most surprisingly, the upcoming release of a new movie, a comedy of all things.


FOREMAN (voice-over): "The Interview" is a spoof about tabloid journalists sent to kill the North Korean leader. LIZZY CAPLAN, ACTOR, "THE INTERVIEW": Kim Jong-Un's people believe

anything he tells them. And including that he can speak to dolphins or he doesn't urinate and defecate.

JAMES FRANCO, ACTOR, "THE INTERVIEW": Whoa, whoa. You're telling my man doesn't pee or poop?

SETH ROGEN, ACTOR, "THE INTERVIEW": Everybody pees or poops. Otherwise he'd explode.

FRANCO: But he does talk to dolphins.

FOREMAN: North Korea is already condemning it, accusing the United States of provocative insanity, an act of war, and promising a decisive and merciless counter measure if the U.S. supports the release of the film.

And that is where the two tourists come in. Arrested this past spring some foreign affairs analyst believe their prosecution now may be retribution for the movie and to goad Washington into reengaging talks about weapons, trade and international aid.

Victor Cha, Center For Strategic And International Studies: The administration right now seems to be sitting on its hands looking for some sort of signal that the North Koreans are serious about negotiating on their nuclear weapons. They don't see such a signal so they haven't really been engaging very much at all.

FOREMAN: Beyond that, why North Korea would prosecute 24-year-old Matthew Miller is a mystery. He allegedly tore up his visa and asked for asylum. And 56-year-old Jeffrey Fowle according to family and friends truly was just visiting, even if he did leave a bible in his hotel room possibly violating laws against proselytizing.

TIMOTHY TEPE, ATTORNEY FOR THE FAMILY OF JEFFREY FOWLE: Miss Fowle and the children miss Jeffrey very much. And anxious for his return home.

FOREMAN: But all this along with the sentencing last year of another captured American, Kenneth Bae, to 15 years hard labor has the State Department concerned.

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: I don't have the North Korea travel warning in front of me. But I can assure that it suggests strongly not to travel at all to North Korea.

FOREMAN: Maybe especially when the movie comes out this fall.

FRANCO: You want to go kill Kim Jong-Un?

ROGEN: Totally. I'd love to assassinate Kim Jong Un. It's a date."


FOREMAN: To be fair, people here would not react very well to a movie about an assassination attempt on United States leaders. But here's the thing, Brianna, when you think about this, this seems ridiculous. And maybe it's just an excuse for North Korea making all of this noise. But there is a very strong cult of personality at work here. Something unlike anything else we know. And clearly they take great offense to the idea that their leader is specifically named in this movie, no matter how the movie was made. And that's what they are acting upon now. So we'll have to see how it plays out.

KEILAR: They revere their leader.

FOREMAN: A very, very big, near deity for them. And that is something that really matters. They don't take it lightly, even if it's just Hollywood making what we just consider to be a light-hearted joke.

KEILAR: Fascinating report.

Tom Foreman, thank you so much.

And coming up, a new terror threat. Security is being boosted at airports with flights to the U.S. amid concern that al Qaeda is working on undetectable bombs.

And a holiday hurricane, the warnings are now up and a big storm could wreak havoc on the East Coast. We have the latest details.