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Terror in France

Aired January 9, 2015 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Were they trying to become martyrs?

Terror confession. One suspect reveals his ties to al Qaeda in a phone call to French news media. The group reportedly claims responsibility. I will speak to the journalist from the station that interviewed him.

U.S. alert: the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issuing a bulletin to law enforcement all across the United States about the unfolding French drama. What are police in this country being told to do?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, the terror nightmare gripping France, two hostage dramas that ended with the deaths of three terror suspects.

A source says the fourth suspect, the girlfriend of one of the men killed by police, is now on the run. And 17 victims have died in three horrifying days that stunned the world. And now we're learning new information about ties to al Qaeda and possibly ISIS.

One suspect visited Yemen back in 2011, and there's now a report that the al Qaeda affiliate in that country is claiming responsibility for the attack that started all of this.

We're covering all angles of the breaking news with our correspondents, our guests, including a French journalist whose station interviewed one of the terrorists.

Let's begin near the scene in Paris with our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.

What's the very latest, Jim, that you're hearing in Paris?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, new information tonight about the arsenal of weapons that these terrorists had at their hand.

The two men who were responsible for the bloodbath at "Charlie Hebdo" hat a rocket-propelled grenade primed and ready to fire, automatic weapons, as well as grenades. And the hostage taker here at the kosher market just down the street, he had automatic weapons, automatic pistol, 15 sticks of explosives, weapons more suited for a war zone than the center of Paris, the capital of France.

And I'll tell you, witnessing that raid as it unfolded here just a few hours ago and a few hundred yards from it, the sights, the sounds, the explosions, the gunfire, more suited to war zones I have covered than the city of Paris, all this as three days of terror in this country ended in a frightening few minutes.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): Two tense standoffs in two parts of the city, the first at a printing shop in the northeast, another at a kosher grocery in the east, Parisians holding their breaths for hours.

But authorities were waiting for their moment. Several loud explosions, gunfire and, in a flash, near simultaneous raids bring two hostage standoffs to a rapid and a violent end. The first standoff near Charles de Gaulle Airport, the assailants, the Kouachi brothers.

Cherif Kouachi in the middle of it all answers a call from a French television statement.

"We are just telling you that we are the defenders of Prophet Mohammed. I was sent, me, Cherif Kouachi, by al Qaeda in Yemen."

The result there summed up in a tweet by the French ambassador to the U.S. -- quote -- "The two terrorists are dead. The hostage is alive."

Those two terrorists the same brothers whose attack at the offices of "Charlie Hebdo" magazine on Wednesday left 12 dead, and began a tense, riveting three days of attacks, manhunts and hostage- taking.

A witness describes his nervous encounter this morning with one of the terrorists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We were standing in front of the door to the factory. I shook the hand of Michel (ph), the owner, and the terrorist. He introduced himself as a policeman.

I then got into my car and left. And Michel, the owner, let the man into the factory. As I left for the periphery, someone told me what had happened. And I was shocked.

SCIUTTO: Just minutes after the first raid in East Paris, we witnessed the second operation live on CNN's air.

(on camera): Now I'm hearing gunfire, multiple shots, automatic fire. I'm going to stop speaking there just so you can hear it as well as I am. It's continuing.

Another explosion. It's all happening about 300 yards from where we are. (voice-over): An untold number did not survive, the hostage-

taker, Amedy Coulibaly, dead, his companion, Boumeddiene Hayat, escaped in the confusion. Both were wanted in the fatal shooting of a police officer in Paris on Thursday, that attack just a few hundred feet from a Jewish school.

Then on Friday, with shoppers preparing for the Jewish Sabbath, witnesses described a terrifying scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We heard someone scream, in French, I think, then in Arabic. It was a little stifled, so I couldn't understand what he said. Then, really in just a brief moment, that was followed by the arrival of police officers. And they started to get down, hide behind cars and they started exchanging fire.

SCIUTTO: A Western intelligence source says Amedy was a close associate of Said Kouachi, the younger brother,as recently as 2010. Their association since is unclear, just one of the mysteries from a violent three days here in the city of lights.


SCIUTTO: And more new information tonight about the attackers' ties to terrorist organizations, but also the ties amongst themselves, authorities saying that they had ties to terrorists not only in Yemen, but also in Syria.

But among themselves, this interesting note, that in 2014, there was some 500 phone calls between the partners, the companions of one of the Kouachi brothers who took the -- who stormed the offices of "Charlie Hebdo," and the hostage taker here at the kosher market, 500 calls between their partners.

And it occurred to us as we were discussing that fact, Wolf, one reason why they might do that, if the suspected terrorists knew that they were being monitored by authorities, they might have their companions speak to each other so that those calls wouldn't be monitored.

Of course, as the prosecutor let us know tonight, those calls were indeed monitored, establishing again connections between attackers here and the attackers in the northeast of Paris.

BLITZER: What are they saying if there are others that are potentially involved, other than this woman who managed to escape somehow, that there are others involved in this cell?

SCIUTTO: They don't know, frankly. And this is one thing they're checking out right now. Prosecutors making clear they have arrested some half-a-dozen other people in the last 24, 48 hours as they investigate how far this web extended.

These were two very well-armed groups. You might need help to do something like that, so that's a question they're looking at right now. Just think of that. How do you get a rocket-propelled grenade into France? These are real questions, the explosives, et cetera.

And they also say as well, Wolf, tonight that they're chasing the money trail for this. Attacks like this would have required financial support.

BLITZER: I'm sure they're chasing everything right now to try to find out what happened. Jim, stand by.

I want to bring in our senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen. He's near Charles de Gaulle Airport, near that print shop where the two brothers suspected in Wednesday's terror attack were killed.

What are you seeing and what's the latest that you're picking up, Fred?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This town is starting to get back to normal, Wolf, after it was of course a very tense day here.

The interesting thing about the raid that happened here is, it was very different from the one that Jim witnessed there in central Paris. Right here, this happened almost under perfect conditions, if you were the authorities. That print shop is in an industrial area.

It didn't take the police very long to cordon the area of. And we noticed here that the operation was under way when we heard a burst of gunfire coming from the direction of the print shop, which is only about 400 yards from my position right here. We heard a burst of gunfire.

Then we heard a damp sort of detonation. Then we only heard a couple of single shots. I would say it was about three or four single shots. That must have been what the police fired off. They seemed to be very accurate. And then at that point, you heard another two detonations and that was it. The whole thing took less than a minute.

Jim was saying that the raids were almost simultaneous. They certainly were, but it appears as though, right here, it was the attackers that came out and opened fire on the police and that's when the police decided to begin their action. One of the things that we have to note is two police officers were only very lightly wounded.

So in total, it was an operation that went very well for the police. Right after the raid happened, there were helicopters that landed there on the premises of that print shop, medical evacuation helicopters, but luckily in the most part those were not needed. There was a lot of commotion afterwards, a lot of police commotion here, but things quieted down after about an hour.

This entire area, Wolf, it's a very large area around Charles de Gaulle Airport, was on lockdown. People were told to stay inside. We were actually set up right here in front of a school where kids kept screaming out, "Je suis Charlie," obviously in support of "Charlie Hebdo," that satirical magazine that got attacked by these terrorists. That school was on lockdown as well. The kids couldn't go out.

This whole village here, needless to say, breathes a sigh of relief, but the police certainly very pleased with how this operation went down here after they eliminated two terrorists. And again that other person who was in the building who we thought the whole better part of the day was a hostage, but who apparently was on a completely different floor in that building, got out unscathed, Wolf.

BLITZER: The two terrorists said they wanted to die. They wanted to be so-called martyrs. They got their wish.

Fred Pleitgen, thanks very much.

We're also learning more about ties to al Qaeda, possibly some ties to ISIS as well.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's working this part of the story for us.

What are you learning, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Obama administration is racing to figure out all of the details about what the Kouachi brothers were really up to.

Until recently, they thought one of them, the older brother, had gone to Yemen. Now they're looking at the possibility that at some point both brothers traveled to an al Qaeda stronghold.


STARR (voice-over): U.S. officials believe when Said Kouachi spent several months in Yemen during 2011, he got more than just weapons training. He got the attention of top leadership of the dangerous al Qaeda affiliate there known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP.

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: It tells me that he had access to senior levels of the al Qaeda organization in Yemen. Who else had access? Was he there with somebody? Did he travel with somebody else?

Number two, it tells me that Awlaki was in contact with people we didn't know about.

STARR: The U.S. is urgently trying to put the pieces together. The working assumption is that Kouachi met the Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric who led AQAP external operations. It would have been just months before Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike. The U.S. is also trying to determine if Kouachi may have even met with Ibrahim al-Asiri, AQAP's master bomb maker, according to U.S. officials. Kouachi may have received some bomb-making training.

With a French passport and the ability to return to Europe, he was a prime AQAP recruiting target. MUDD: There are a thousand questions here that an intelligence

professional is going to have to sift through in the coming weeks. And we haven't even hit the tip of the iceberg yet.

STARR: U.S. officials believe it was only said that went to Yemen. But hours before he died, his younger brother, Cherif, told French media, he, too, traveled there.

CHERIF KOUACHI, TERRORIST KILLED IN FRANCE (through translator): I was sent, me, Cherif Kouachi, by al Qaeda in Yemen. I went there. And Sheik Anwar al-Awlaki financed my trip.

STARR: CNN has not independently confirmed the authenticity of the recording. The details of Said Kouachi's connection to Awlaki are critical because officials say it may give them hints if the al Qaeda organization has other operatives in the West waiting to attack.


STARR: So a key question right now is, was this original attack against the magazine in Paris, was this inspired by al Qaeda in Yemen or was it directed by them? Was this some sort of sleeper cell in Paris, Wolf?

BLITZER: That certainly is the key question right now, Barbara. Thanks for your good reporting.

Let's get some more now on the terror suspect who is on the run right now.

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us with some new information.

Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tying the two pairs of terrorists together tonight, getting more information.

This hostage drama that took place at that kosher market in Paris today closely connected to these two brothers, the Kouachis, who were of course tracked down after the magazine attack today. The suspect who was killed in the market, Amedy Coulibaly, this is him, he was with the same circle of terrorists, as we have been reporting, but it's the woman, Coulibaly's girlfriend, who law enforcement agencies are tracking tonight.

The question now is, just how dangerous is she?


TODD (voice-over): It's now her face alone on wanted posters; 26-year-old Hayat Boumeddiene, police say, is an accomplice of suspected terrorist Amedy Coulibaly, who is connected to the two brothers who attacked "Charlie Hebdo" magazine.

Coulibaly was killed by police as they stormed the kosher market in Paris seen in this new video. There's now a massive dragnet for Hayat Boumeddiene, who police say is a suspect with Coulibaly in Thursday's shooting in Southern Paris that killed a policewoman.

JAMES REESE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: This suspect is going to try to find someone who can help her.

TODD: A Western intelligence source tells CNN Boumeddiene lived with Coulibaly and the two once traveled to Malaysia together.

MATTHEW LEVITT, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: We don't know if she was involved in sort of some type of cover or more likely she was involved because she was radicalized along with her boyfriend and got sucked in, working together at some level.

TODD: The French newspaper "Le Monde" published these photos apparently of Boumeddiene with Coulibaly. CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of the photos.

"Le Monde" reports Boumeddiene once told police she and Coulibaly had practiced firing crossbows in the countryside of Central France, as apparently shown in these pictures. Hayat Boumeddiene had been in a relationship with Coulibaly since 2010, according to "Le Monde" and she was interviewed by counterterrorism police that same year.

Analysts say while the number of female jihadists is growing, their male counterparts still consider them valuable cover.

LEVITT: Many of these people now have wives, have girlfriends. That enables them to do things they might not otherwise be able to do. You don't appear to be alone, young, angry man. You're walking with a woman.


TODD: Now, we just learned from the Paris prosecutor more solid information that connects Hayat Boumeddiene and her boyfriend to the Kouachi brothers.

The prosecutor just said officials are aware of more than 500 phone calls made between Boumeddiene and the wife of suspect Cherif Kouachi.

Wolf, that is a really solid tie, more than 500 calls between this girlfriend and the wife of one of those two brothers.

BLITZER: What are your sources, your experts telling you about how she might escape?

TODD: Well, Colonel James Reese, the former Delta Force commander, our analyst, says he's experienced these hostage situations. He says, look, she's probably going to try to find some member of the cell if she's working with a cell there who might give her a safe house, some money. She may even try to cross international borders.

Hard to believe most of those aren't sealed off tonight, but, obviously, France is massive and the borders may not be all secure.

BLITZER: Yes. It's a massive woman hunt in this particular case for her. Brian, thanks very much.

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: Let's get more now.

Joining us from Paris, Thomas Misrachi. He's an anchor with the French news channel BFM.

Thomas, thanks very much for joining us.

What else can you tell us about this female suspect?

THOMAS MISRACHI, BFMTV REPORTER: Well, the worrying thing, Wolf, is that we know very little about this young lady.

Her name is Hayat Boumeddiene, as you said. She's 27 years old. She's been with one of the terrorists for a few years, for at least four years, 2010. She's quite discreet. She's described as a religious woman. Her neighbors say very little about her. She hasn't been seen or spotted in the past few weeks.

And what we know also tonight, what we found out tonight is that she probably had some contacts with the other terrorist partner, because of her phone records. Several calls have been traced from the two phones. Now, that doesn't mean she knew them, but at least the phones were connected between the different partners.

BLITZER: Is there a suspicion, I assume there is, Thomas, that this is part of a broader cell, a broader network and there are other terrorists at large right now that may have been involved in what these dead terrorists were trying to do, is that right?

MISRACHI: Well, yes. Absolutely.

It's one of the police main fear tonight. Clearly, Hayat Boumeddiene is one of their top priorities. Her picture has been released. A phone line has been opened also to the public to call if they spotted her. As it was mentioned before, she could very well attempt to leave France. If she has a French passport or French identity card, she can cross the border to Italy, to Spain, to other countries around Europe fairly easily.

It's very difficult to stop someone. What the police fear tonight is she decides to pursue her partner, what her partner has done until now, or she might even try to avenge him. We know he was heavily armed. Explosive was found today at the site where her partner was killed. She could be armed and dangerous.

BLITZER: You were there at the scene of that factory, that paper factory, that industrial area where the two brothers, the Kouachi brothers were holding a hostage or were stuck inside and then they walked out with their weapons blazing. Explain what the raid was like. Walk us through what your eyewitness accounts showed you.

MISRACHI: Well, first of all, you have to understand that's very important that everything happened very quickly. We had been on the manhunt for about 60 hours. Most journalists

present there were expecting this siege to last a few hours or a few days. It started in the morning, at 9:00 a.m. in the morning French time. Nothing really happened until right before 5:00, about, you know, 5:00 to -- 5:00 p.m. and then all of a sudden we heard fire shot.

We heard automatic -- we heard automatic rifle -- I'm sorry -- two explosions. We saw some smoke, and then very quickly we saw some special forces on the roof, walking apparently serenely towards the factory where the terrorists were hiding.

A few minutes only after that, we saw a helicopter landed. And then a few minutes after that, we found out that the two terrorists had been killed. As for the hostage or believed hostage, well, the person was able to leave the factory unharmed.

What was interesting is that we thought the person was held hostage by the two terrorists. Actually, that person who was working there managed to side on the second floor of the building under a kitchen sink.

BLITZER: So these two terrorists, these two brothers, they simply decided at some point to walk out of that building with their weapons and they started firing at the police, presumably knowing they were going to get killed, right?

MISRACHI: Well, frankly, that's still very unclear.

What we know tonight is that one of the brothers was hurt, he was wounded following a fire exchange with the police that same morning, so this morning actually. Now, what their state of mind was at the moment where they stepped out of the building, we don't really know. We don't really know who started firing, even though the police says that the two men stepped out of the building.

But obviously they're dead. So we don't -- we only have one version of the facts tonight. So we will stick to the police version. But we don't really know in details what happened, because, once again, we were -- the whole area was sealed. It was very difficult for us to have visuals on what was happening.

BLITZER: Do you know whether these terrorists were inspired by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda in Yemen, or they were specifically directed to undertake this operation against the satirical magazine by terrorists in Yemen? Do you know if there was just an inspiration or a direct order?

MISRACHI: Well, they did claim that it was, you know, both inspiration, because they claimed they were working for al Qaeda Yemen.

They said that at several occasions. Now, whether this was an order from the organization, that's still very unclear and that's for the future to tell actually. And this will probably be revealed in the next few days. But at the moment, we don't know if they decided to do that

themselves or if it was a direct order from anyone in Yemen.

BLITZER: Thomas Misrachi, Thomas, thank you very much for joining us. Appreciate it very, very much.

MISRACHI: Thank you.

BLITZER: We will stay in close touch with you.

Much more breaking news coming up. We have new details about the part of this nightmare that French officials are calling an anti- Semitic act, the hostage crisis at that kosher grocery store. We're learning new information just coming in. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, the search for a female terror suspect on the run right now in France. Three other suspected terrorists, including the brothers blamed for Wednesday's massacre, they died as police moved to try to rescue hostages that had been taken.

And there's now a report that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is claiming responsibility for the terror massacre.

Let's get some more now.

Joining us from Paris, CNN's Hala Gorani. Also joining us, our national security analyst Peter Bergen, our counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd, and CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes.

Tom, how should law enforcement be approaching this search for this suspected female terrorist?

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They have to approach it, Wolf, that she may have other friends and accomplices that might not be as small a cell as what was indicated so far.

She also may have access to a great deal of weapons, explosives, rocket-propelled grenades. We don't know that everything they had in their possession was used in the attacks. There's probably more out there that she would have access to.

BLITZER: Phil Mudd, do you believe these raids were simultaneous at the factory, as well as the kosher market? Were they simultaneous for a reason?

MUDD: Yes, I think they were. We know obviously the two cells are connected.

You have got to make a guess that both are potentially communicating with one another or even watching TV and realizing that a raid potentially is going on at another facility. If you don't do them simultaneously, and one of the cells, the one in the grocery, for example, learns that the other cell has gone down, and the two individuals had died, I think the risk to the hostages goes up.

That person is going to say, the jig is up, either I kill the hostages or these guys are going to come in and kill me.

BLITZER: Hala, as you know, the French president, Francois Hollande, he called the attack at the kosher grocery market a horrific anti-Semitic act, his words.

You're in Paris. You know that country well. Explain what's going on. I assume the Jewish community in France is pretty concerned about all of -- this isn't just the only attack on a Jewish institution. There have been several over these past weeks and months.

HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There have been several over these past weeks and months, Wolf, of course. You're right.

And in 2012, in March of that year, Mohammed Merah went on a killing spree and in front of a Jewish school Toulouse in the South of France killed three children who were coming out of that school. There is a malaise within the Jewish community in this country. And you mentioned Francois Hollande.

Also, the previous president, Nicolas Sarkozy, said the country stands in solidarity with the Jews of France. One of the interesting statistics is that last year, in 2014, 7,000 French Jews left the country. That was twice the number of 2013. Many people are saying that they feel targeted, that they feel like they may not be safe anymore.

So that's why many of them, and there are thousands, in fact, are packing their bags and leaving France. This anti-terrorism plan that's now in place in France, in fact, is deploying thousands of security officers to protect very sensitive targets, including synagogues and Jewish schools. One person I spoke to today who lives on a street where there is a Jewish school said that there is a much heavier police presence to protect that particular institution.

Yes, there is fear, there is discomfort. After this attack on the kosher supermarket in the east of Paris today, Wolf, certainly that anxiety level is bound to increase.

BLITZER: Yes, I'm sure it has. Hala, stand by for a moment.

Peter Bergen, hard to believe, but for these terrorists, they think what has happened over the past couple of days is a huge propaganda for themselves.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Indeed. And they will certainly learn from this attack.

It's a sort of combination of the Boston Marathon attack, which was also spread out over three days and generated vast media coverage, and the Mumbai attacks, which were also over three days, and the idea of doing kind of a suicidal attack that takes a long time, the generates global media coverage. People will be watching this and they will be learning.

BLITZER: Phil Mudd, as you know, there were hours and hours of unsuccessful negotiations that led to the raid. The three terrorists are dead, but four people inside that kosher supermarket, they are dead as well. We don't yet have their identity or their names.

I assume we will get that fairly soon. The fact that these terrorists are now dead, that's a loss of potentially valuable intelligence, right?

MUDD: I wouldn't say valuable. I would say critical.

You have got to think of the intelligence picture here as a mosaic. You can look in these people's computers and find what they posted on Facebook. Maybe you can find e-mails to potential associates. You can look at phone records.

But there is now a critical piece of the mosaic we will never see. Two questions, top set an example: one, who was part of the network, potentially, over the last years in France? Did somebody recruit you? Did somebody pay for your ticket? Did somebody give you false documents? And second, when you were at a camp at Yemen, did you see anybody else from western Europe or North America, for example, who trained with you? You can't get that piece of the mosaic, potentially, from electrons. You've got to talk to a human being, and right now those human beings are gone. We'll never see that picture.

BLITZER: Yes. That's one of the reasons I assume they want to capture this female terrorist suspected terrorist alive. I don't know how much information she might have. I'm sure they would love to question her, as well.

I want everyone to stand by. We have much more of the breaking news coming up. We're also getting new information about al Qaeda ties to these Paris terror attacks. We're going back live to the French capital right after this.


BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. This is new video just coming in. This was the raid at that factory where the two terrorists, those two brothers, Cherif and Said Kouachi, were eventually killed as they came out, their guns blazing. Let's watch this for a second.




BLITZER: All right, you see the windows there. You see what's going on. It was a very dramatic scene indeed.

I want to go back to Paris, though, right now. Jim Sciutto is joining us. He's getting more information.

What else are you learning, Jim?

SCIUTTO: Wolf, just some fascinating details about how the police investigated this as it was unfolding.

We're just learning that one of the ways police identified the attacker, the hostage taker who took over the kosher market here in the east of Paris, his name Amedy Coulibaly, is from DNA contained on a raincoat that he left behind in the car. You'll remember, after the shooting at "Charlie Hebdo" magazine on Wednesday, they left behind a car. They found his I.D. card, but they also identified him via DNA left on that raincoat.

So police scrambling, investigating, even as these attackers were still on the run.

Some more information about something we reported just a bit earlier, and that is contacts that took place between the wife of one of the Kouachi brothers, Cherif Kouachi, and a companion of Amedy Coulibaly, who took the kosher market here. That companion, of course, is the woman who is at large tonight. Her name, Hayat Boumediene. She was calling 500 times in 2014 the wife of Cherif Kouachi.

So there were clear contacts between the attackers here and the attackers who were -- who were killed northeast of Paris today in that video that you're showing right now.

And the thought occurred to us here, why would the companions speak to each other so much? It is possible that those terrorists thought, or presumed that they were being monitored by police, so they took the step of having their companions speak to each other. But as it turns out, police aware of those communications, as well, Wolf.

BLITZER: I just want to be precise, Jim. The DNA that was found in that abandoned -- that black Citroen that was there at the magazine, that was whisked away and one of the I.D. cards was found inside, you're saying that Amedy Coulibaly, that his DNA was found inside that vehicle, as well?

SCIUTTO: No, I'm saying that the DNA identified Coulibaly -- well, you're right, Wolf, let's be clear here. Because there was an I.D. left behind from Kouachi in one car. Coulibaly was identified from DNA from a raincoat that he left behind. Apologies for not being clear there.

But just remember, as this was going on, there were questions as to how confident police were in the I.D.s of these attackers. One way that they identified one of the Cherif brothers, an I.D. left behind. The way they identified Amedy Coulibaly, who took the kosher market here, was from DNA left behind. That's how they got the certainty.

You'll remember that during this, they said they had ways of knowing, ways that they were confident. And this is one of those ways. BLITZER: Very interesting. I'm sure they're going to be

learning a lot more.

Jim, stand by. I want to get back to you.

This just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM, as well. The State Department here in Washington just issuing what they describe as a worldwide caution, asking all U.S. citizens, in their words, to maintain a high level of vigilance and "take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness," direct quote, in light of the recent attacks in Paris.

Tom Fuentes, I guess that's prudent to go ahead and tell Americans who may be traveling around the world right now, be careful.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Typical cautionary warning to go out like that.

BLITZER: Do they do that even though there's no credible, direct plot that the U.S. is worried about?

FUENTES: They do. Because if they had a credible, direct plot they'd get it; they'd take it out. So when they don't have a direct, credible plot but they think it could happen, that's when they put the warnings out.

And this comes on the heels, Philip Mudd, earlier in the day the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, they issued a separate bulletin to U.S. law enforcement, local, state, federal all over the country, saying you've got to learn the lessons of what happened in France. Everyone seems to be going on a little bit of a higher state of alert, right?

MUDD: That's right. I mean, in this situation, you've got to do the initial, what you've seen the initial sort of warning to American citizens overseas and domestically.

But Wolf, there's something that's got to follow on, on the back end of that, and that is looking at things like the specific tactics, the travel routes, the kind of associates these people had in a place like Yemen to determine if there were follow-on warnings or cooperation with state and local police, for example, based on the intelligence from this case.

So the first general warnings, as Tom said, are standard. But we've got days or weeks to go to figure out if there are more threads to pull that will result in more warnings or more action.

BLITZER: Hala, you've spent a lot of time in your life in Paris, in France. You know that country well. You speak the language.

If this were to happen in the United States, what's happened in Paris over the past few days, there would be a tremendous anger. There would be a tremendous desire to go ahead and try to get even, find these people who were involved. What's the mood over there in Paris right now? Do they want the

French security services, the military, the police to retaliate specifically against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula?

GORANI: I'm not hearing that, actually, and we didn't hear that when people gathered spontaneously on Wednesday evening after that horrific attack against "Charlie Hebdo" that left 12 people dead.

I think people are a little bit more divided on what the response should be longer term, in terms of how their government should monitor possible terrorism suspects; whether or not they should increase surveillance; whether or not they should take away more privacy rights.

France is a very different country than the United States in that respect, even though their intelligence services are very much on top of terrorist networks, and certainly, they've foiled attacks. They may not say so publicly, but we hear so from our sources, that this is something that they do on a regular basis.

Even though all of that is true, when you ask ordinary French people or Parisians here, even after this attack, they all say, to varying degrees, that we must be careful with the response, that what has angered so many in the wake of some of those leaks in the last year or so in terms of what the NSA surveillance program was all about in the United States, that here, too, people say we should be careful with the balance of what we take away in terms of privacy and how much power we give the government to conduct surveillance operations on ordinary citizens.

BLITZER: All right.

GORANI: That being said, the anger, the grief is palpable, and we're going to have to wait and see in the wake of this one, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll see what the retaliation is, if there is, in fact, retaliation. Hala, thanks very much. Thanks to everyone else. Don't go too far away.

By the way, to our viewers, if you want to find out more about the outpouring of support for those directly affected in these deadly terror attacks, visit You could impact your world.

We're getting new disturbing information that one of the French gunman was caught trying to join the fight against U.S. troops in Iraq a decade ago. We're going to update you on that. Much more breaking news right after this.


BLITZER: We're following the breaking news: the search for a female terror suspect on the run in France after the deaths of three others, including the brothers blamed for Wednesday's massacre. CNN has learned one of the brothers has been well known to French authorities for at least a decade.

Our senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin is joining us now.

Drew, you've uncovered some more very troubling information. What have you learned?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the tales revolving around that younger brother will again raise questions of how the French and the French anti-terrorist officials could have lost surveillance and quite frankly, the judges dropping the ball on what court documents look to be a very dangerous person.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): In 2005, Cherif Kouachi was caught by French authorities just as he was trying to travel to Syria, in an effort to join the fight against American soldiers in Iraq. In his own words, from a deposition in this 400-page court report, Kouachi describes how his perceived injustices in Iraq drive his hatred and willingness to die.

"I was ready to go and die in battle. I got this idea when I saw the injustices shown by television on what was going on over there in Iraq. I am speaking of about the torture that the Americans have inflicted on the Iraqis."

Kouachi is one of several men radicalized and recruited at this now demolished Paris mosque. And now incarcerated radical cleric preached hatred here and told young Muslim men they had a duty to kill.

According to court record, Cherif committed himself to this idea during Ramadan in 2004. He told his friends he was going to Syria to fight. Cherif says he came to the idea of jihad through Farid Benyettou, the well-known spiritual leader who has been long associated in France with supporting jihad and terrorism.

The documents say when police interviewed his accomplices, they stated Kouachi said he was ready to firebomb and to destroy Jewish shops in Paris.

When officials confronted Kouachi, documents say he told police something else. "That's not exactly what I said. I don't hide having proposed anti-Semitic ideas. But I would note that I never really would have done that."

The documents said Cherif said the wise leaders in Islam called upon him and his friends and if they die as martyrs in jihad, they would go to heaven.

Under a section called "motivations of influence", the prosecuting documents say, "For him, Kouachi, any place on earth where there is such an injustice is justification for jihad. What was going on in Iraq was, in his eyes, such an injustice."


GRIFFIN: Wolf, as to why or how French officials lost track or stopped watching a guy with this kind of radical Islamic thinking, a former director of the counterterrorism and espionage department for Paris told us somewhat frightening last night, "there are too many of them and far too few of us."

But I must tell you, given all we've learned today about travel patterns, about the second brother, about training in Yemen, about the acquisition of this military type armaments, I don't think the French people will be satisfied with an excuse like that. We may be heading to a total revamp of how France handles its intelligence.

BLITZER: Yes, I'm sure, some have suggested that for the people of France what has happened over the past few days is sort of like 9/11, what happened here in the United States.

Drew, thanks very much.

Let's continue our analysis. Joining us our military analyst, retired U.S. General Mark Hertling, also our terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank, and our national security analyst Fran Townsend.

There are a lot of guys out there, and gals we should say, like these terrorists who have now been killed in Paris.

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's right, Wolf. But I think we have to be fair. I mean, it is right, we're going to go back and look at what the intelligence was and what should have happened, but it is true to say, particularly in France and many of these western European countries, it's near impossible to follow all of them that come back. Some back, they're radicalized but are they operational?

And that's -- it's not whether or not they are radicalized. It's whether or not they're going to be operational. And that's a sort of an art, as supposed to a science of making that judgment.

BLITZER: Was there an intelligent blunder here? Because these guys were well-known to French authority, yet apparently they were not under surveillance.

TOWNSEND: And, Wolf, that is what they'll have to go back and look at, whether or not they should have been. But it takes a lot of people. They can't possibly cover everybody who has been radicalized, been to the fight and come back. They've got to make judgments. Here, it was wrong.

But did they have all of the information, both domestic and foreign intelligence services, to make that judgment. We don't know that.

BLITZER: And the fear, Paul, is they were quiet for a few years and may be part of a sleeper cell that could be activated as apparently they were.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: That's absolutely right. It seems now that both brothers traveled to Yemen in 2011 and as certain point, they come back to France. But they don't launch their attacks straight away after getting training in Yemen, and possibly a meeting with al-Awlaki, and the terrorists out there. There is a big time gap. It's not clear why that's the case.

Did they put some plan on ice or did they come up with this on their own stead?

BLITZER: And I want everybody to stand by. General Hertling, we're going to get to you in a moment.

We're following the breaking news: the search for the terrorist suspects still on the run. France's terrorist nightmare, unfortunately, is far from over.


BLITZER: General Hertling, you spend a lot of time as a commander in Europe, can you speak a little bit about this anti-Muslim sentiment, how it feeds potentially into these kind of terror attacks that we've just seen?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think it's significant, Wolf. The Diaspora of Muslims throughout Europe, immigrating from some of the countries that have seen conflict in the last few years is significant, it's the most significant in France, but it also affects several other countries.

And if you only take a percentage of the 8 million in France and say, well, there is only a small percent that may be extremists, even if you take one/one-hundredth of 1 percent, you're still going to get several hundred potential Islamic extremists. So, that's significant and it's very difficult to watch all of those individuals.

BLITZER: Fran, you know, these guys were well-armed. They didn't just have semi-automatic Kalashnikov, but they had the grenades, they had some pretty sophisticated weaponry.

TOWNSEND: That's right. And what people in the United States forget, Wolf, is that weapons -- you don't have access to the guns in France and Western Europe that you do in the United States, and so, it begs the question what was the infrastructure that supported them. How did they get them, how did they move those guns, how were they trained on them?

I mean, this is very different than getting access to guns in the United States where we have the access and the right to bear arms. That is not the case in France. Most police officers don't have guns.

BLITZER: Yes, these weapons are rocket-propelled launchers. I mean, they had pretty sophisticated stuff and I assume there's a lot more of it out there.

CRUICKSHANK: How did they manage to get rocket propelled launchers? I mean, that's going to be a huge question in this investigation. This is a pretty unprecedented thing for Islamist terrorists in Europe and the West to get a hold of these kinds of weapons. They would have had to have contacts and money, perhaps a support network as well. Huge questions for the French right now.

BLITZER: So what does the U.S. do now, as it sees what is going on, not only in Iraq, Syria, with ISIS, General Hertling, but in Yemen? I know there have been drone strikes but is it final for more action based on what we are seeing right now in France?

HERTLING: Well, Wolf, we're seeing terrorist activities all over the world. You can take AQAP, in the Arab Peninsula, al Qaeda in the Maghreb, the northern part of Africa, ISIS in Syria and Iraq, you can take Boko Haram in Africa. I mean, you have a choice of a lot of terrorist groups, all of which are special operations command is contributing in a fight against.

It's hard to say today, well, the most dangerous target is an order to a bunch of French potential terrorists to do something from AQAP and should we shift our attention there and forget about the other ones. It's very difficult to do in an overall strategic campaign plan against terrorism.

BLITZER: It's fair to say, Fran, that the terror threat is growing now. It's not receding.

TOWNSEND: That's right. And I think in some way Americans have to accept this type of an attack is so easy, is such -- sort of a low- hanging fruit for the bad guys that it is almost inevitable here. Look, your intelligence and law enforcement authority are doing everything they can to prevent it, but it's very, very difficult. This is not a complicated operation. There are very few opportunities for law enforcement and intelligence to interrupt the operational chain. And so, this is -- this is very frightening.

BLITZER: Yes, it certainly is.

All right. Fran Townsend, Paul Cruickshank, General Hertling -- guys, thanks very much for joining us.

That's it for me. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.