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Cyber Attack on CENTCOM Social Media Sites; Terror Cells May Be Activated in France; Hunt for Female Suspect, Possible Accomplices; Interview with Max Thornberry; Pro-ISIS Cyberattack on U.S. Central Command; Unprecedented Security as French Hunt Terrorists; Damage Control after Obama Skips Unity Rally; Paris Gunman May Have Known 'Underwear Bomber'

Aired January 12, 2015 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, ISIS cyber attack -- hackers seize the U.S. military's Central Command's Twitter account, warning troops that ISIS is coming and releasing names of personnel.

The new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is standing by to join us live in his first TV interview.

Sleeper cells -- new fears they'll be activated in the United States. And sources say they've already been awakened in France, reeling from bloody terror attacks.

Radical girlfriend -- she's now believed to have escaped to ISIS territory, as we learn new details about her background and romance with one of the gunmen.

And deadly roommates -- new information that another of the Paris terrorists may have lived with the so-called underwear bomber shortly before that failed attack on a U.S.-bound airliner.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Let's get right to the breaking news. Cyber attackers hitting the U.S. military's Central Command, hijacking its Twitter account and posting a chilling message to U.S. troops. It reads -- and I'm quoting now -- "American soldiers, we are coming. Watch your back. ISIS."

The cyber attack on the command heading the war against ISIS in the Middle East follows the reissuing of an earlier ISIS threat urging followers to kill police officers, soldiers and civilians -- their words. It adds to fears that sleeper cells are ready to carry out those orders.

Sources say cells already have been activated in France, now on high alert after the slaughter of 17 people by jihadi terrorists. Three gunmen in those attacks were killed. A female suspect is believed to have escaped to Syria.

France is deploying 10,000 soldiers, who will join thousands of police guarding so-called vulnerable areas, including hundreds of Jewish schools and institutions across France.

The new House Armed Services Committee chairman, Congressman Max Thornberry, he's standing by live, along with our correspondents, our analysts and our guests.

But let's go to the Pentagon first.

Our Pentagon correspondent.

Barbara Starr, is getting new information -- Barbara, what are you learning?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, not entirely clear yet who conducted the cyber attack. The claim is by a group called the Cyber Caliphate. And they hacked into the Central Command's Twitter account and also their YouTube account. Central Command, of course, being the part of the military that's overseeing the air campaign in Iraq and Syria right now.

Let's go back to one of the threatening messages against U.S. troops that the group posted. And I want to quote from it a little more extensively. It says: "American soldiers, we are coming. Watch your back. We know everything about you, your wives, your children."

That's just one of the messages that they posted. They posted also a number of documents.

Now the initial read by the Pentagon is that none of the documents are classified and that they have seen some of these messages before. Thankfully, no proven attacks against U.S. troops. So how worried are they?

Well, the FBI at this hour is coordinating with the military, trying to figure out who's responsible for the hacking. And, you know, the military is always warning the troops nowadays, be careful about what you post on social media, don't give away personal information, don't give away information, don't give away information about your family.

This may prove to be something other than an ISIS attack, but it doesn't lessen the concern that ISIS is really on a social media war against the U.S. military -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And did they hack the Central Command's YouTube account, as well?

STARR: There are reports that they did hack the Central Command's YouTube account. That has now been taken down. But I think the Pentagon would tell you that these accounts -- Twitter. YouTube, their social media accounts have a certain level of protection, but as we all know, those are not all that difficult to hack into those types of accounts. What the Pentagon is insistent about is that no classified information was divulged and that ISIS and other groups cannot, they insist, cannot get into classified military systems -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Although one item that was Tweeted had the top of it marked "for official use only" and included names and addresses of U.S. military officers. That's worrisome.

STARR: Well, it's terribly worrisome, because, again, it's just the same as the social media information that perhaps even a more junior military person might post on their Facebook or their Twitter account. Anything that goes out into the cyber world that can identify military personnel is definitely worrisome.

You know, but is there perfect protection?


Still, they got into -- somebody got into the Central Command's Twitter and YouTube accounts -- Wolf.

BLITZER: At a minimum, it's so, so awkward and embarrassing to the United States military.

Thanks very much, Barbara, for that.

In France, there are fears tonight of new terror attacks following the killing of 17 people. While three gunmen died, the hunt is on for other possible accomplices who might be at large, including a female suspect who is believed to have escaped already to Syria.

Let's go to our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott.

She's working her sources.

What are you learning -- Elise?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the worry is there are even more accomplices, as part of what French leaders believe is a terror network with cells that have now been activated throughout France. And investigators are now trying to connect the dots between the Islamic militants responsible for last week's attacks and groups like al Qaeda and ISIS, raising troubling questions about whether they could team up as a driving force for more terror against the West.


LABOTT (voice-over): Tonight, France is on high alert. More than 10,000 French soldiers and 8,000 police on patrol. Heavily armed security forces on guard at Paris landmarks and Jewish schools, as authorities hunt for more suspected accomplices in last week's terror attacks, amid new fears terror cells have be activated across the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator) we are doing everything we can to dismantle what appears to be a network or a larger group beyond these three terrorists.

LABOTT: The search is intensifying for the one known living suspect, the girlfriend of kosher grocery attacker, Amedy Coulibaly.

New surveillance video captures Hayat Boumeddiene with an unknown man at Turkish passport control, after arriving in Istanbul's airport from Madrid just five days before the Paris siege. Turkish authorities say phone logs show her staying at a hotel in Istanbul before slipping into Syria a day before the attacks. An unconfirmed Tweet from jihadist groups say Boumeddiene is now in ISIS-controlled territory.

MARIE HARF, DEPUTY STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: Obviously, the intelligence community right now is running down every lead to see if they can provide any information to the French on her and her whereabouts and how she might have gone places.

LABOTT: The investigation now centers around links between terror groups and the gunmen, who were friends for years before the attacks. The Kouachi brothers, who began Wednesday's reign of terror with the attack on "Charlie Hebdo's" offices, are believed to have trained with al Qaeda in Yemen. And video on jihadist Web sites shows Amedy Coulibaly, who took hostages at the kosher market, pledging allegiance to ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Al-Baghdadi.

Are these two terror groups at odds with one another, finding common cause to attack the enemy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sort of shows that, to some degree, this has become a social movement. While the leadership are caught up in rivalry, many of the foot soldiers don't have such big differences and are able to work together to put together plots against the West.


LABOTT: Now, there is the concern this is not over, which is why the heavy military presence across France. Not only is Amedy Coulibaly believed to have activated his contacts to launch attacks before he was killed by police, the attacks on "Charlie Hebdo" cartoonists are said to have electrified the global jihadist movement. And authorities are worried that militants inspired by what they saw last week will carry out attacks in the days ahead -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, very worrisome.

Elise, thank you very much.

And we've seen the photos of her covered from head to toe in a burka. We've seen her in a bikini, as well -- the girlfriend of the dead Paris gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, most recently was seen entering Turkey after leaving France.

We're also learning new details about the suspected accomplice in last week's killings.

Let's bring in our Jake Tapper.

He's joining us live from Paris.

What are you picking up over there -- Jake?

JAKE TAPPER, HOST, "THE LEAD": Well, we had a conversation earlier today with Amedy Coulibaly's former defense attorney. They haven't spoken in some time, but he represented him. And he had a lot to -- a lot of light to shed on how Coulibaly got radicalized.

First of all, one of the things that this attorney, George Sourvour (ph), told us was that Hayat Boumeddiene was actually more radical, more extremist in her beliefs than her boyfriend, Coulibaly, who was killed on Friday after going into that kosher supermarket and killing four Jews and taking others hostage.

She was the one who was more radical than him. And, in fact, it's very interesting, there's this whole other plot having to do with somebody who might have been a mentor of sorts to Coulibaly and to the Kouachi brothers, or at least one of the Kouachi brothers, in prison. His name was Djamel Beghal. He is in a French prison. He was there originally for trying to blow up the U.S. embassy here in France in 2001. And now he's in prison, I believe, for trying to stage a prison break, for conspiring to do a prison break, along with Kouachi and Coulibaly.

But in any case, he had a cell phone, Beghal. And he had it in prison. And the authorities knew about it and they let him have it because they were wiretapping it, they were listening to it the whole time. And there are all of these tapes of conversations that he had.

And in some of those conversations, Boumeddiene, this young woman, actually talked to him and complained about Coulibaly, about how he wasn't serious enough, all he wanted to do was have fun. In another conversation, according to intelligence, that this lawyer told us she said that she said that she wanted to go live in an Arab country.

So as the pieces are coming together and we're finding out how it came to be that the Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly became radicalized, it turns out that this woman wasn't just some bit player, she actually played a prominent role and may have even, in her way, encouraged Coulibaly to become more serious as a jihadist, more serious as a terrorist -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, that's all shocking, shocking information.

Jake, we're going to get back to you.

Stand by.

Thank you very much.

Jake Tapper reporting from Paris.

Let's get back to the breaking news.

A cyber attack on the U.S. military's Central Command by ISIS supporters or sympathizers. Joining us now for his first nationally televised interview as the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Texas Republican Congressman Mack Thornberry.

Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for joining us.


BLITZER: It's very disturbing, or, at a minimum, very embarrassing and potentially very complicating that the U.S. military's Central Command Twitter account, YouTube account, they've been hijacked, they've been hacked, if you will, by at least sympathizers of ISIS.

What can you tell us about this?

THORNBERRY: Well, I think it tells us all at least several things. One is, this a flexible, adaptable enemy that is looking for weak spots. And they are looking to instill fear into our military, into our society in general.

Secondly, it tells us that this is an ideological struggle and other than the Egyptian president, not many other people are pushing back against the ideology that social media and other things are a part of.

And, finally, it tells us that cyber is the new domain of warfare. We've seen the North Koreans. Now we've seen some sort of terrorist group, reportedly. We're going to have to deal with cyber as a domain.

BLITZER: We know the FBI is now investigating this attack on the U.S. military's Central Command.

Should we anticipate more of these attacks on the U.S. military and the U.S. government, down the road?

THORNBERRY: Well, sure. They will attack us where they think we are vulnerable. And that includes cyber.

Now, as I understand it, it was not the military Web site -- the military networks themselves that were attacked, it was the Twitter and the YouTube accounts. So certainly, throughout the private sector, wherever they can work their way in, and, again, instill fear, cause doubt and uncertainty, they're going to do that, because they are attacking our society. They're not just about blowing people up, they're about attacking our society, as well.

BLITZER: The Central Command just released a statement from their headquarters down at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa saying that they don't believe a sensitive classified information was necessarily compromised, but they are saying they're notifying appropriate Department of Defense and law enforcement authorities about the potential release of personally identifiable information. And they're also saying they'll take appropriate steps to ensure that any individuals potentially affected are notified as quickly as possible. They apparently released information about names of military officers, addresses. This is very worrisome.

THORNBERRY: It is, and remember, the reason they did it was to instill fear. So if you put out on the Internet the names of family members, addresses and so forth, it is designed to make the military folks worry about themselves and their families' safety.

That's why I say this is in part an ideological struggle. They are trying to attack our society so seeds of dissension and fear and bombings, assassinations, social media are all part of the tools they use to attack us.

BLITZER: Yes. It's very worrisome that they could hack the Twitter account and the YouTube account of the U.S. military Central Command, which is responsible largely for this war on terrorism throughout the Middle East, whether in Syria or Iraq or Yemen or any of these other countries. That's the domain of CentCom, the U.S. military Central Command.

Stand by, Mr. Chairman. I have a lot more to discuss about what's going on in this war on terror. We will continue our conversation in just a moment.


BLITZER: A massive hunt under way right now for a female suspect, possible accomplices, as well, in the Paris terrorist attack. We're back with the Republican congressman Mac Thornberry of Texas. He's the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

What can you tell us about this woman, Hayat Boumeddiene, because there's a lot of sense now from what we're hearing she's not just a girlfriend. She was very, very directly involved in these terror operations.

THORNBERRY: Yes, as we get more information about her, we are learning more about her role, particularly in goading the others on.

I think what's key is that these three or four people are just the tip of the iceberg, because thousands of people from western Europe and even some from the United States have gone into Iraq, Syria, some to Yemen, as we know, for training and now they have come back and all of those with western European passports, of course, can come to the United States without a visa.

So that's part of the reason I think so many people are so concerned that we may just be seeing the first of these folks who have gone to those safe havens, trained and are now coming to launch their attacks against us.

BLITZER: Because in France, they are saying that these terror cells have been activated, some sleeper cells, and that there are accomplices of these three terrorists who were killed as part of the rescue operations. There are accomplices at large right now. Is that what you're hearing?

THORNBERRY: Well, I'm sure the French are trying to scramble to get back on top of this situation, but unfortunately, Wolf, I think we know, we the west, know less today about terrorists and what they're planning than we did just a few years ago, because there have been so many leaks, books, movies and the like.

The terrorists have learned what we do and how we do it and, in addition to that, we've tied our own hands for some crucial intelligence collection.

So the point is we have less information about these folks, where they've gone, what they've planned, than we did a few years ago. That's part of the reason I think the danger is higher today than it's been before.

BLITZER: The Associated Press is reporting from France, quoting two French police officials speaking on condition of anonymity. They're saying that French police now believe as many as six terror suspects, this report suspects, remain on the loose right now. Six terror suspects apparently connected to this terror plot against the magazine, against that Jewish kosher supermarket.

Have you heard anything along those lines, that six accomplices may be at large some place right now?

THORNBERRY: No. I don't know the numbers. I think again, what's clear is that hundreds if not thousands of people from France, thousands from western Europe and the United States, have gone to be trained, and then many of them have come back to western Europe, some even to the United States, to launch attacks.

That's part of the problem. The way to stop attacks is not to carry signs and have demonstrations. It's through intelligence, law enforcement and strong military action. And that's going to be the key going forward to deal with this situation or any situation we may have here at home.

BLITZER: I guess the question is, in connection with this terror plot that developed in Paris over the past few days, we know there's one person, this woman, Hayat Boumeddiene, who may be in Syria with ISIS right now, but are there any others, at least as far as we know, that were involved in this plot at large?

THORNBERRY: Well, I think the authorities in France and elsewhere are still scrambling to try to figure out who was involved in this plot and are there other plots, because as your report indicated, there is some information that there may be other plots that would be separate.

And again, remember, the terrorists are an adaptable group. They learn from their mistakes. They change and they look for how to attack us where we are weak. And these sort of targets -- you know, the grocery store, and a newspaper, for example -- are examples of those softer targets that we -- that they have gone after.

BLITZER: Has the U.S. concluded yet whether this was an ISIS operation an AQAP operation, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula?

THORNBERRY: I think we're still gathering information. We know from reports that two of these guys have traveled to Yemen. Then there's the report of this lady going back to Iraq and Syria. Again, part of what concerns so many people is that you get al Qaeda and ISIS in competition with each other and maybe, in some places, even collaborating. And so that's part of the reason I think the danger's going up.

BLITZER: One final question, Mr. Chairman. These terrorists, they have Kalashnikov assault rifles. They had ammunition. They had Molotov cocktails, a grenade, rocket launchers. They had a lot of weapons over there. In France it's pretty hard to get this kind of -- this kind of weaponry. Where do they get this kind of stuff?

THORNBERRY: Well, they obviously buy it on the black market. They sneak it in. They don't have these weapons legally. They get them illegally. And if you're going to go kill a bunch of people, you don't mind breaking the law to get a bunch of weapons illegally.

It is part of this trend, I'm afraid we are beginning to see, where they may still go after airplanes and some of their traditional targets of the past, but they are looking for these softer targets with grenades, with rifles and so forth, to kill a bunch of people. They still get the media effect.

And remember, this is in substantial measure an ideological struggle where they're trying to instill fear in our society. And whether you shoot people or blow them up, it contributes to that goal.

BLITZER: Congressman Thornberry, thanks very much for joining us. We'll stay in close touch with you. Congressman Thornberry is the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

We're learning new details about the French terrorists. For a time one of them was a roommate of the man who eventually tried to bring down an airliner flying over Detroit by setting off a bomb in his underwear.

And we're -- we're also hearing and watching new information. The scramble to do damage control.


BLITZER: There is unprecedented security in France as police hunt for possible accomplices of the Paris terrorists.

CNN's John Berman is in Paris, of course. He's joining us live. You're getting new information, John. What are you learning?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The security officials that I've spoken to here in Paris, Wolf, they tell me what sticks out to them is the video that we saw of the kosher supermarket attacker, Amedy Coulibaly. The video that was posted over the weekend that included clips of him talking about the attack on the policewoman and then a video that was posted after his death. So who shot that video? Who posted that video? It makes them ask questions about whether there was someone directly involved with him. And then as for the Kouachi brothers, there is this question. They

had that rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Well, what did they intend to do with that? They didn't use it here at "Charlie Hebdo," the office which is just a block away right here. They had it with them the whole time, including when they got awfully close to the airport at the end for them. Were they intending to take a shot with that grenade launcher at some planes?

It's an open question, and it raises the bigger questions about whether there were other people involved. And the French prime minister today told our Christiane Amanpour that he does believe that there were accomplices or at least an accomplice, at a minimum, dealing with finance and at the operational level -- Wolf.

BLITZER: That's very worrisome.

John, I understand that the satirical magazine "Charlie Hebdo" has just defiantly published a new issue. They want to distribute, what, a million copies, and it has another rather provocative cover.

BERMAN: That's right. The issue comes out Wednesday, Wolf. The normal circulation for "Charlie Hebdo" has been 60,000. For this, they're expecting to publish one million copies. And the French press tonight reporting on what that cover will be. And they're showing a picture of it. It is of the Prophet Mohammed wearing a shirt that says, "Je suis Charlie. And at the top it says, in French, "Tu es pardonne," French for "All is forgiven." And the Prophet Mohammed is shedding a tear.

So there's satire, there's pointed satire continues even after the horrific attacks here.

And Wolf, I should say there is this memorial that has been behind me, I have been here for more than 12 hours today. There aren't many people here now. It's late at night, but it has never been empty. A steady stream of people coming by here, and it's not because it's a tourist attraction. People are bringing flowers even at these late hours and many of them leaving, Wolf, with tears in their eyes.

BLITZER: Yes. Totally understandable, given what has happened in Paris. John Berman, thank you very much.

We're also watching a rather unusual scramble to do political damage control after President Obama skipped that huge unity rally in Paris on Sunday that attracted millions of people, including the leaders of France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel. But the highest ranking U.S. official was the ambassador of the United States to France.

Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, we saw something rather extraordinary, unusual, happen at the White House today.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Today the White House did something amazing. Aides to the president conceded, essentially, they screwed up in not sending a top administration official to Paris for the march. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): After watching world leaders march together in solidarity with the people of France following those deadly terrorist attacks, the White House admitted it made a mistake.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there. That said, there is no doubt that the American people and this administration stand foursquare behind our allies in France as they face down this threat.

ACOSTA: But White House officials won't say who got it so wrong, only that the decision on which officials to send to the rally was not made by the president. Press Secretary Josh Earnest refused to explain why the U.S. ambassador to France, Jane Hartley, was the highest ranking American official at the march.

EARNEST: I'm not going to sort of unpack all of the planning and discussions that went into this.

ACOSTA: Still, the White House had ample options, with the secretary of state in India and Attorney General Eric Holder already in Paris on the Sunday talk shows and for meetings with French leaders. Add to that the president was at the White House and Vice President Biden at his home in Wilmington, both with no public schedule.

(in camera): The vice president was sitting at home all weekend. Presumably he could have gone.

EARNEST: So was the president.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The White House admission of regret came as some big names were rushing to the president's defense, from Kerry --

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I really think, you know, this is sort of quibbling a little bit.

ACOSTA: -- to former White House press secretary Jay Carney.

JAY CARNEY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You don't want this story to be about the American leader. You want it to be about the French people.

ACOSTA: But criticism was mounting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought this was why God invented vice presidents.

ACOSTA: Potential 2016 GOP contenders are jumping in.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: How sad was it in the streets of Paris as 40 world leaders walked down the street. Absent was the United States of America. Where was the president?

ACOSTA: The White House notes the president did pay his respects during his trip to the French embassy.


ACOSTA: And the White House suggested the security needs of the president made a trip to Paris difficult, but press secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged that the Secret Service could have pulled it off.

Still, a Secret Service official said the agency was not asked or notified about a potential presidential trip. A spokesman said it would have been a challenge, but he did not say it was impossible.

And, Wolf, we should mention, Secret Service officials said they had agents on the ground in Paris just in case -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. All right. Well, thanks very much. Not every day the White House admits they made a mistake.

Among the critics of the president's decision to skip the Paris unity march is Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. I spoke with him earlier today.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Anyone, I mean, the important thing, some high-ranking official from the administration should have been there, would have been good if they had been there, would have shown a strong level of solidarity. I think in hindsight I would hope they would say maybe we should have done it differently. But the more important issue is the terrorism that happened and how we can prevent that moving forward.


BLITZER: We had an extensive interview. It will air tomorrow here on THE SITUATION ROOM. You can learn more details about what Senator Rubio says are the most urgent threats to the United States right now, how the nation should combat them. He's a key member of the intelligence and foreign relations committee. The interview with Senator Rubio in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow.

Coming up, new information that one of the Paris terrorists may have actually roomed with the so-called underwear bomber shortly before that failed attack on a U.S.-bound airliner.


BLITZER: A new twist in the aftermath of the bloody attack in Paris. We're learning now one of the gunmen may have known the notorious underwear bomber who tried to bring down a U.S.-bound airliner.

Brian Todd is looking into this story for us. What are you learning, Brian?

TODD: Wolf, there is new information tonight that the Kouachi brothers, who attacked "Charlie Hebdo" magazine, were both in Yemen at the same time in 2011. But there was another visit by the older brother, Said Kouachi, in

2009, which has the intelligence community buzzing tonight. The reason? A new account that Said Kouachi may have moved in the same circles as a terrorist from another well-known plot. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): They're behind two of the world's most notorious terror attacks. Tonight, a chilling new account that they may have crossed paths, may have even been friends.

Said Kouachi, the older of the two brothers who attacked "Charlie Hebdo" magazine, was in Yemen in 2009, according to a Yemeni journalist, and was in the same orbit with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, now serving a life sentence for trying and failing to bring down a passenger plane bound for the U.S. on Christmas day, 2009.

Journalist Mohammed al-Kibsi tells CNN he spoke to Said Kouachi in Yemen a few years ago. Just how well did the future Paris gunman know the future underwear bomber?

MOHAMMED AL-KIBSI, JOURNALIST: He said that he lived with him in the same residence. Then he accompanied us to the residence to show us where Umar Farouk used to live.

TODD: Al-Kibsi says Said Kouachi told him he had roomed with Abdulmutallab for a week or two at an apartment in Yemen's capital just a few months before Abdulmutallab got on that flight with a bomb. Kouachi told the journalist they would pray with Abdulmutallab.

AL-KIBSI: All he told us about him was that he was a nice guy and he was -- he said he kept silent most of the time and doesn't like to talk to people.

TODD: Abdulmutallab at that time was being trained and directed by Anwar al-Awlaki, a charismatic American born leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Could Kouachi have known about the underwear bomb plot then?

KATHERINE ZIMMERMAN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: It would have been kept compartmentalized because of the security protocols that even AQAP was undergoing at that time where you actually see Abdulmutallab move very slowly into the senior leadership. TODD: CNN cannot independently confirm the journalist's account and

U.S. and Yemeni officials say they can't confirm that Said Kouachi and the underwear bomber knew each other but the accounts link two of the most high profile attacks on the West with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, whose master bomb maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, also designed bombs that were discovered on cargo planes bound for the U.S.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: The threat to the United States from AQAP is extremely serious. Hitting the United States is priority one, priority two and priority three for AQAP.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD: But there is still a huge question tonight regarding the Paris attackers' real connections to the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen. A senior Yemeni intelligence source tells CNN the Kouachi brothers were both in Yemen for a period of about three months starting in April of 2011 right before Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone. But it's not clear if either brother ever met with al-Awlaki or any other senior leaders of that group -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I suspect we're going to learn a lot more in the coming days.

Brian, thanks very much.

Let's get some analysis of what's going on. Joining us, Guillaume Debre. Guillaume is a correspondent for the French television TF1. He's joining us from Paris. Our national security analyst, Peter Bergen, and our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes. He's a former assistant director of the FBI.

Guys, actually stand by for a moment. I want to take a quick break. We have a lot to dissect, to digest. Stay with us.


BLITZER: There's unprecedented security in France as police hunt for possible accomplices of the Paris terrorists.

Let's bring in our panel.

Guillaume Debre, you're there in Paris right now. What are you hearing about these reports that there may be other suspects, accomplices at large right now, people who were involved in these terror attacks against the magazine and the kosher supermarket?

GUILLAUME DEBRE, TFI CORRESPONDENT: Well, the authorities are looking for at least one possible accomplice, someone who has shot this famous video now that was released Sunday and who has put together after the massacre at this Jewish grocery store. So someone was helping Amedy Coulibaly.

As you know, there was a jogger who was shot and is in critical condition in the suburb of Paris on Thursday. The cops couldn't understand exactly what happened. The gun that was used to shoot this jogger has been found in this Jewish grocery. What the cops -- what the cops don't know is whether Amedy Coulibaly shot this jogger or whether someone else used the same gun and shot him.

So there's a lot of interrogation, a lot of, you know, possibilities. And of course, they are the members of the so-called Buttes-Chaumont cell, the cell that, you know, funneled French people to Iraq in 2005 and 2006, to which both the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly belonged to. And there are members of this cell that are still at large. So yes, there are a lot of suspected people that, you know, the French authorities are looking for right now.

BLITZER: And the jogger, I take it, in critical condition but still alive. What was the motive in going after a jogger?

DEBRE: We don't know. The cops are -- you know, they don't really understand exactly why it was done. And they don't -- again, they know that the gun, you know, was used in both -- you know, both killings, not the killing for the jogger because he's still alive. But they don't -- they're not quite sure that it's Coulibaly who did it.

There is another instance which is very worrisome is that in this videotape, Coulibaly talks about a car laden with explosives. And there's a car that exploded in another suburb of Paris killing nobody but it exploded. And the thing that might (INAUDIBLE). So there's a lot and lot of unknown pieces that, you know, the French investigators have to piece together. So, yes, they don't understand the whole picture yet.

BLITZER: Yes. Very unclear but intriguing.

Clearly, Peter, this Coulibaly, Amedy Coulibaly in that video that was released on the Internet said the attacks on the French police woman, on the kosher supermarket, he says they were led by ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Is there a possibility that these two terror groups have aligned?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Wolf, I don't think there's any evidence for that at all right now. You know, Coulibaly shot this video in the -- in his bedroom in France, it looks like. There's no evidence so far that he ever went to Syria or trained with ISIS. He simply seems to have self-identified with ISIS. It seems much more likely that this plot was directed by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

These guys all knew each other from this Buttes-Chaumont network and sort of coming and going in and out of prison. He has merely self- identified with ISIS. It doesn't suggest an ISIS-al Qaeda linkage in a formal sense -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You believe, Tom, that the deployment of 10,000 additional French troops is going to get this job done?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I think the job is to guard every Jewish school, synagogue, community center, police station, government office, every place where police, military or Jewish people congregate. And that will take a lot of people, and probably a lot more than they have on their police forces to do it. At the same time, continuing the intelligence gathering investigation of these cells. So that frees up the police to investigate rather than stand guard at all these locations.

BLITZER: Guillaume, is it just Jewish institutions, schools that are at risk right now?

DEBRE: No. All the institutions, I mean, Jewish and Muslims are being protected. You know, they're very worried about the so-called either copycat or other, you know, associate of those killers, you know, doing, you know, attempts in Paris. So there's a huge security force that have been deployed. And also in mass transit, in television, in front of a television network where there's a lot of cops now.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, stand by. We're going to have more of the breaking news right at the top of the hour.