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Iran Nuclear Deal; Al Qaeda Prison Break; Interview With Idaho Senator James Risch; Black Box Shows Co-Pilot Sped UP Deadly Descent; Third U.S. ISIS Arrest in Two Days, All Women; Iran's Growing Influence Across Middle East; Ferguson Releases Racist Emails by Police & Officials; Controversy Easing on Eve of "Final Four." Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 3, 2015 - 18:00   ET


[18:00:02] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Terrorists escape. A prison break gives al Qaeda more manpower to plot against America. And U.S. forces are limited in what they can do to track the danger.

Drying for ISIS. The feds nab a Philadelphia woman accused of wanting to be a terrorist martyr. After two similar arrests this week, what can be done to stop American women from turning to terror?

Speeding to death, new evidence that Flight 9525's co-pilot accelerated the plane shortly before it slammed into the Alps, new information tonight from the second black box just recovered.

And racist e-mails released. The city of Ferguson goes public with the shocking messages sent by police that cost several officials their jobs.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Breaking now, dozens of al Qaeda criminals on the lose. The terrorists strengthened by a prison break in Yemen in the chaos and civil war that are tearing that country apart. Hours after al Qaeda's fiery attack, the United States is even more alarmed by the dire situation in a strategic Middle Eastern nation that is a breeding ground for terrorism.

Senator James Risch is here. He is a leading member of the Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees. Our correspondents and analysts also are standing by, and they're covering all of the news breaking now.

And first we go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr with the latest.

Hi, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna. Good evening. About 270 inmates broke out of a jail in Yemen yesterday, about one-

third of them, including a senior operative, members of the al Qaeda group in Yemen. And of course that's a group that has continued to threaten U.S. aviation, continually plotted to try and bring down a U.S. airliner.

Where does it stand now? You see Yemen unraveling. A war going on between Iranian-backed rebels, a weak government, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. on the sidelines, but in the middle, this al Qaeda group. Here is the intelligence assessment in the short run. The al Qaeda operatives may be just trying to survive the chaos in Yemen. But -- and this is a huge but -- they are beginning to operate as much as they can in a very secure fashion, using trusted couriers, using secure Internet connections, doing what they can to stay out of sight.

And that is giving them maneuvering room for future plotting and planning. U.S. commandos out of Yemen, the U.S. Embassy shut down, very little contact with what is left of the government of Yemen. The U.S. has really no eyes and ears, no intelligence on the ground. It's limited to trying to intercept the al Qaeda communications and keep satellites overhead to see if they can spot any targets, if they can spot anything that looks like al Qaeda moving around.

In the middle of this chaos, in the middle of the country unraveling in Yemen, al Qaeda seems to be making out pretty good -- Brianna.

KEILAR: The U.S. seems to be a little blind there. But is there anything that the U.S. can do to help Saudi Arabia here, Barbara?

STARR: The Saudis of course are conducting these airstrikes, trying to push back the rebels, trying to get the government back in control, hoping to bring some stability to Yemen, which would help counter al Qaeda.

But this is a long shot right now, the Saudis, using the airstrikes, and the U.S. helping with some intelligence and also helping keep an eye out for any Iranian ships trying to resupply the rebels, bringing in, smuggling in weapons either by sea or by air. But that just tells how problematic all of this is. Really, right now, Yemen a free-for- all, the people there obviously caught in the middle suffering, but the al Qaeda group there is something the U.S. right now can't quite figure out how to keep a sharp eye on -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon. Thank you.

Tonight, Iran's president is vowing to keep his promises to the United States and its allies and comply with a new tentative deal that is aimed at preventing Iran from building a nuclear bomb. There are though serious concerns about whether the country's hard-line supreme leader, the powerful ayatollah, will uphold an agreement with a longtime enemy.

Our chief national correspondent, Jim Sciutto, has that story for us.


There's no question that the proposed agreement, this outline agreement, exceeded the expectations of many.

But there are looming behind this, behind the friendly faces of Iran's negotiators, the far more hard-line and unelected supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei. He approved of the talks, even allowed imams to praise the deal in Friday prayers today, but skeptics doubt he will abandon decades-long hostility to the West and follow through.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): Celebrations on the streets of Iran overnight. The foreign minister, Javad Zarif, welcomed home as a hero, but behind the smiles, another Iran that still defines America as the great Satan and the target of "Death to America" chants.

[18:05:13] This is the Iran of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the feared Revolutionary Guards, who many critics worry cannot be trusted to hold up Iran's side of the bargain.

REP. ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: The military here has a lot to say about this, not necessarily the Iranian negotiators. They don't have all the power in this. The ayatollah and the military have the power.

SCIUTTO: U.S. ally Israel is certain they cannot be trusted.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Israel will not accept an agreement which allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons, period.

SCIUTTO: Fact is, the supreme leader faces sharp division at home, between hard-liners loathe to trust the West and average Iranians eager to ease their country's economic pain and isolation.

KARIM SADJADPOUR, ASSOCIATE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: The supreme leader is in a difficult dilemma right now, because his hard-line base has long opposed any accommodation with the United States. And at the same time, there's tens of millions of Iranians who are now euphoric about the prospect of sanctions relief and international integration. It's going to be difficult for him to disappoint so many Iranians who are eager to see this deal happen.

SCIUTTO: Still, trust between the U.S. and Iran is already being tested in the differing views of what the two sides actually agreed to in Switzerland. On the key question of economic sanctions, for instance, Iran says there will be immediate relief. The U.S. says it will be phased in over time.

And while the diplomats smile, three Americans remain in Iranian prison cells, former Marine Amir Hekmati, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, and "Washington Post" reporter Jason Rezaian, all jailed on what the U.S. considers baseless charges.

Sarah Hekmati's brother Amir has been held for more than 1,300 days. SARAH HEKMATI, SISTER OF AMIR HEKMATI: Calling on Iran again to

release my brother and the other Americans openly when they are sitting face to face at this negotiating table to me seems like we're past that point. Iran needs to take steps to prove their commitment.


SCIUTTO: We often hear of Israeli opposition to an agreement. But America's Arab allies are similarly nervous, sparking fears of a new nuclear arms race in the region.

The president called many of them today from Air Force One, speaking to the leaders of UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar. He is also planning, Brianna, to invite many of these leaders to a summit at Camp David to try to allay their fears. But, frankly, we talk about how hard this is going to be to sell on Capitol Hill. It's going to be very hard to sell it in Arab capitals in the region as well. Very nervous about a Shia Iran. They are Sunni Arab allies. He has got a lot of work to do.

KEILAR: Many leaders have their work cut out for them. Jim Sciutto, thanks so much.

President Obama is going on the offensive tonight, trying to win over some of the toughest critics of the Iran nuclear agreement. Those are the members of the U.S. Congress you just heard Jim mention. This includes lawmakers of President Obama's own party.

Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta -- Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, when it comes to the nuclear deal with Iran, the president has no shortage of critics up on Capitol Hill. But White House aides tell us they have just about every top administration official reaching out to these skeptics, starting out with the president, who plans to speak with the top four leaders in Congress by the end of today.

As part of this full-court press, Mr. Obama, Vice President Biden, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and other members are pleading with lawmakers to avoid passing legislation as talks with the Iranians continue. But there's a big wrinkle here, a couple of big wrinkles.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker has a bill that would require congressional approval of the deal, while Senators Mark Kirk and Bob Menendez have a measure that would apply tougher sanctions on Iran. White House aides argue the bills would backfire, drive Iran to pull out of these talks and the U.S. and other world powers, they're trying to craft this nuclear deal, the final deal by June 30.

They are say the White House will get the blame if these bills pass through the Congress. Here is what White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told us earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If the United States were to walk away from this deal and just impose sanctions on our own, it would cause our international coalition to fracture. And we would be in a position where Iran was once again united while the international community was fractured. That wouldn't do much to limit their nuclear program at all.


ACOSTA: That's the argument they are making up to Democrats up on Capitol Hill who have almost become more important in this process now than the Republicans who are opposed to this nuclear deal.

Congressional aides tell CNN that as many as a dozen senators from the president's own party could support the Corker bill that would give Congress that final say on the nuclear deal. That may be enough votes to override a presidential veto. As you know, Brianna, from covering the White House over here, the president has had very few vetoes. A presidential override of a veto over here would be pretty unbelievable to watch. It would be unprecedented, of course, during this presidency.

[18:10:00] KEILAR: Yes, it sure would be. It would be something to watch.

All right, we will wait and see if that does move in that direction.

Jim Acosta at the White House.

Don't forget Jim Acosta will be back hosting "STATE OF THE UNION" this Sunday at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern.

We will see you then, Jim.

ACOSTA: Sounds good. Thanks.

KEILAR: And joining me now, we have a leading member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees, Republican James Risch of Idaho.

Thank you so much, Senator, for being with us.

And I want to ask you about this tentative deal with Iran. But first you have this -- I want to about something else, Yemen. And we have a U.S. counterterrorism official who is calling the situation there dire. President Obama called Yemen a success story just this past fall.

But has it completely collapsed? Is that your opinion?

SEN. JAMES RISCH (R), IDAHO: It has completely collapsed. I think the report that had you earlier was very accurate.

Look, we have got all of these countries in the Middle East failing. You started with Libya. Then you went to Syria. Now you have Yemen. Yemen, of course, is driven by the Iranians who have been in there supporting the Houthi rebels. Then it was the Houthi rebels that overthrew the government of Yemen who were friends of ours, and now have turned to al Qaeda. It's a mess over there.

And I frankly am greatly disappointed in how the administration handled it from recent months to where we got to today, because it is a failed state today.

KEILAR: What role, I guess, would Congress have had in this? Obviously, the intel available to the White House, much of it is available to members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans. This is something that spiraled out of control very quickly. Couldn't Congress have stepped in and said something?

RISCH: Well, I disagree that it spun out of control very quickly.

Indeed, I'm sure the president sees the exact same intel that we see on the Intelligence Committee. By the time he made that statement that this was a poster child for this was how things are supposed to be handled, he had to have known that there were difficulties there.

And they needed substantially more support than they were getting. Everyone knew that Iran was in there supporting the Houthis, both with military, with advice, with every way you could support them. And the administration had to know that that was going on. And there were a lot of us that were urging that the administration do substantially more in Yemen.

Admittedly, their focus at the time was much more on Syria than it was on Yemen. But Yemen is a very, very dangerous situation because of how difficult it is to do intel in that country. And I think the report that you had earlier about the Saudis doing the airstrikes there, those are all well and good, but you really need to know what you are doing if you are going to be doing airstrikes.

KEILAR: Yes, certainly, and really without any major eyes on the ground, no ears on the ground.

You have 270 prisoners about who were released in this prison break in this coastal city of Yemen. I think we're seeing reports that about a third of them, so you are talking almost 100, who have links to al Qaeda. We have seen reports, according to Twitter and AQAP accounts, they are saying that you have a senior al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula figure who is among those who have been freed.

What can you tell us about this? And how much danger does this pose, including to the U.S. homeland? You are talking about some folks who are trying to plan attacks on U.S. targets.

RISCH: That's a really good point.

And you're right. The number is about 90 that are hard-core al Qaeda operatives. And, look, these people got to prison with blood, sweat and tears. It wasn't a situation where they just went out and gathered them up and put them in prison. It's very, very difficult, particularly in a country like Yemen, to identify who the hard-core people are and then get them into prison. It is very disheartening to have gone through all of that, get them

into prison and then in one fell swoop after the Houthis take over, they go in and let them back out. These people are going to go back to fighting against the United States. And, indeed, your point about a danger to the America homeland is well taken, because it's well known that Yemen is a hotbed of activity trying to bring down an American airliner.

The recent plots that have been uncovered in that regard, the attempts, the near misses, every single one of those have originated in Yemen. This is a serious problem, not only for the region, but for America.

KEILAR: All right. And just before I ask the next question here, I do want to take note -- you can see on your screen we are watching a tornado warning. This is near Nashville, Tennessee. It's actually northeast of Tennessee. We will be monitoring that as we continue on talking about our top story, one of our top stories here, Yemen.

[18:15:02] Senator, so, Yemen obviously a hotbed, as we have been talking about, for terror. But when you have Saudi airstrikes taking on Houthi rebels, does that leave a vacuum? Does that leave breathing room for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to really get its stuff together more?

RISCH: Well, I think more importantly what it does is it distracts from other things that we need to be doing, such as in Syria and in Western Iraq, where things are also getting very bad and going from bad to worse.

That's a problem there. Having said that, I mean, things can't get much worse in Yemen, where the government failed and the Houthis have taken over. Every day, you pick up the paper and something like them taking over the palace or the government buildings or the American Embassy vehicles, those kinds of things, it happens every day.

And it can't get much worse there, really. I wouldn't call it a vacuum, as much as it is just a failure of the people that we want to see in control in that country.

KEILAR: Yes, and so key in that region.

We have many more questions to ask you. Senator Risch, stay with us. We are going to get in a quick break, and we will be right back.


[18:20:41] KEILAR: We're back now with Senator James Risch, as President Obama steps up his efforts to sell members of Congress on the new tentative nuclear deal with Iran.

And, senator, I understand the president is already in touch with Senate leadership. Let me know if you have heard him calling anyone at this point. But he is warning Congress not -- to not force the U.S. to walk away from this deal with Iran.

What kind of deal would you support?

RISCH: Well, the difficulty is, Brianna, I think they gave away the farm right at the beginning.

I would support a deal where Iran says, look, we made a mistake, we're going to abandon our nuclear ambitions, we're going to destroy all of the centrifuges that we have that make war material. We're going to get rid of the enriched uranium we have and we're going to be good people.

And that's not what you have at all. Instead, you saw the celebrations in Iran. They are celebrating the fact that they now have a path forward to a nuclear weapon. They know what they have to do and how they can do it. At the end of the 10 or 15 years or whatever it is, they will have the right to have a nuclear weapon.

And the other part is, we don't really know what's been agreed to so far. I have been -- I had a member of the administration call me earlier today. And they briefed me on what the situation was. Then this afternoon, I hear the Iranians telling their people that, in late June, when the deal is inked, that all the sanctions will come off immediately and they go away.

The administration is telling the American people, no, that's not the fact at all, that the sanctions stay in place and the sanctions regime stays in place, so that we can ensure that they will behave themselves or we will be able to pull on leash again.

We have two different stories here. And that is very, very problematic. I know the media is reporting on that this afternoon. We're going to see how that plays out.


RISCH: I understand the administration has offered an explanation of that, that, oh, they're just telling this to the Iranian people so they will accept the deal.

What's that all about? How can you make an agreement like that, enter into a treaty like that where one of the governments is lying to their people? That doesn't make sense.

KEILAR: And, obviously, there's still a lot of details to be worked out as well. But I agree with you. Those are two huge -- a huge discrepancy there between the two sides.

But if you have Iran saying that it's going to reduce its centrifuges dramatically, that it's going to reduce its uranium dramatically and really pushing back its ability to enrich for some time, and then certainly having inspections, if they are to be inspections that can be impromptu, where Iran couldn't, say, clean up some efforts to try to hide them from inspectors, is there something along those lines that you could agree with?

RISCH: Well, I think you have to look at the package in total. And the problem I have got is that they can still enrich, they can

still do research, they can still do all the planning they want to make a nuclear weapon. Now, certainly, their enrichment is ratcheted back. But there's nothing to stop them from making the preparations so that when they have the end of this period, they can immediately produce a nuclear weapon and say, we're in full compliance.

And, by the way, we also have a nuclear weapon. I don't -- I have real difficulties with this. The two governments are coming at this from a different point of view. We want to see that they never have a nuclear weapon. I heard the president say that the other day. He knows better than that. Indeed, the deal gives them a path towards a nuclear weapon.

The other side is saying, we want a nuclear weapon and we want to know what we have to do, what hoops we have to jump through, how long we have to wait, and then we can have a nuclear weapon.

So, we're coming at an agreement that isn't an agreement at all. Indeed, it's two different views of their ability to possess a nuclear weapon.


KEILAR: It is an agreement that we have heard certainly a lot from the foreign minister of Iran on this, but what about the ayatollah? Do you believe that the ayatollah will follow through in the way that perhaps the Iranian foreign minister says he would?

[18:25:06] RISCH: Well, I can't answer that.


KEILAR: Do you trust him? Do you trust the ayatollah to go along with this?

RISCH: No, I don't trust any of them. And I have good reason to.

They have got a long history of lying and cheating. And I have no reason to believe that they are going to behave themselves this time. You need to have the strictest sanctions in place, and you need to have an inspect regime that is overall. They have not even declared yet what they did previously as they prepared a nuclear weapon. And the inspectors have been complaining about that even in recent weeks.

KEILAR: All right, Senator Risch, thank you so much. Great conversation on this Iran deal. Really appreciate you being with us.


RISCH: Thank you so much for having me.

KEILAR: Of course. Thank you very much.

And we have some more breaking news right after this.


KEILAR: Tonight, the first information from the damaged black box found buried at the Flight 9525 crash site. It's more incriminating evidence against the co-pilot.

[18:30:32] Pamela Brown joining us live from Germany with more on the investigation.

Pamela, this is -- this sense of acceleration before the plane hit the mountain, this is very incriminating.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It is. It's very disturbing, Brianna, this new information coming from that newly- recovered flight data recorder that Andreas Lubitz changed the speed of the plane multiple times right before the crash. Investigators say this new information is providing crucial clues showing the co-pilot's actions were voluntary, deliberate and premeditated.


BROWN (voice-over): Investigators now say the information recovered from the plane's charred flight data recorder shows that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz changed the driver setting multiple times to speed up the plane as it headed straight into the French Alps.

The first reading of the recorder shows Lubitz used autopilot to engage the aircraft down to 100 feet as he manually increased the plane's speed. Investigators say Lubitz also tried to shut down the plane's alarms.

ROGER CONNER, flight instructor: It would have been apparent to the passengers something was wrong, that sense of speed building up, increased wind noise would have definitely given the sense that something was wrong in addition to the descent.

BROWN: The German prosecutor says a tablet found in Lubitz's apartment reveals he made searches on suicide methods and cockpit doors and their locks, on March 16, the 23rd, one day before the crash. The new findings bolster the investigators' belief the crash was premeditated. Investigators have also interviewed a pilot, who flew with Lubitz the day before the crash. He says he didn't suspect anything was wrong.

LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It was probably planned on some particular flight. I don't believe that it was necessarily this flight. It sounds to me like there was some urging with reference to the captain's lavatory usage on this one.

BROWN: Inside Lubitz's apartment, a law enforcement source says investigators also found personal memos with only a couple of words involving stress and his pilot license. That source says Lubitz was prescribed medication for depression in the months leading up to the crash.

The source says Lubitz told at least one of his doctors he was afraid his medical issues could jeopardize his ability to fly. And that remains a main working theory, that he was afraid to lose his pilot license. We know that, from a source that investigators have been talking to his doctors, looking at the medical records. They have not found any wrongdoing or negligence on behalf of his doctors, because they gave him a not-fit-to-work notice, which as we know, he did not give to his employer -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Pamela Brown for us in Germany, thank you.

I want to bring in now CNN safety analyst David Soucie. We have CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien; and once again, CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes; as well as former United Airlines captain Kit Darby.

I want to talk about this data recorder, very much like this one we have here on set, this flight data recorder. This is one of the -- the second one just like this, a second data recorder has been found, David Soucie. And I think one of the questions we had was, will this tell us what position the cockpit door lock was in from this data recorder?

You've got different options. Essentially, it could be open or unlocked, which it would not be in the air, you would expect. Unless, while the captain was leaving to go to the restroom. It could be locked but still then accessible by a code. Or it could be locked and inaccessible through a code dialed in. Are we going to learn that?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, all of those things that you discussed are things that the co-pilot would have had to do from the inside of the cockpit. So this is a retrofit aircraft. This door was not initially installed in the aircraft when it came out. So I doubt that there's going to be a channel on board that flight data recorder that would record the position of the switch.

On later models in the aircraft, I believe it is in that. But this is a retrofit. So I don't think that's going to be in there.

KEILAR: OK, so maybe -- probably not in this one, because this is a much older plane.

Kit, we're learning that, from the early data, that Lubitz increased the speed of the aircraft as alarms were sounding. Walk us through the steps that he would have had to take to do this while the plane remained in autopilot.

KIT DARBY, FORMER UNITED AIRLINES PILOT: Well, this is an emergency descent. The rate of descent is consistent with what the autopilot would give you if you were making a maximum descent. The speed limit would increase as you went down. And the pilot, it's typical you would increase the speed or maintain a maximum speed to produce the maximum rate of descent. So he has training doing that. That's my guess that he is making these speed adjustments. It's somewhat normal for an emergency descent to change the speed as you descend.

KEILAR: OK. So it's a normal skill. And we just employed it, obviously, in a manner it was not meant to be employed in. Miles, people wonder if there's a way to stop this from happening, if

the technology exists that could have prevented the speed from being increased like this, the route being changed the way Lubitz appeared to have changed them. We know that Airbus passed on deploying an automated system that would have prevented this type of plan from being carried out.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, you have to think about the Airbus technology for a moment. It's really -- the airplane is already flown by computers. And the pilot is managing that system. And there are all kinds of ways the computer overrules the pilot. It already has a speed limit capability built into it, as Kit referred to it.

I think something has been lost in translation here. He was changing the rate of descent, probably just trying to point the nose at a mountain. And the aircraft, it was flying on auto throttles, would have maintained something less to or up to the maximum allowed speed. So he was increasing his rate of descent.

Do you want to make it impossible for a pilot to do that? That's a dangerous thing. Because if you have some rapid need to get down to a lower altitude, a decompression event or a fire, you want the pilot to be able to do that.

And the same goes for this, you know, inability to fly to a certain location at a certain level. There's some emergency reasons where you want to give the pilot some latitude.

So I guess the bottom line is here. Eventually, you have to trust the person driving the bus. We should be focused on making sure the person in that seat is trustworthy. And that's a key here.

KEILAR: And we've had so much talk in the last several months, in the last year about how pilots rely too much on automation, in fact. I want to ask you maybe about a legal matter here, Tom.

The airlines in cases like this, they shoulder a tremendous amount of liability. So if you have it proven in a way -- if it's determined that this was premeditated murder, what is Lufthansa facing in terms of liability?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think, Brianna, that Lufthansa is going to have the standard insurance package that they have, could be $2 billion. So I think financially, Lufthansa is not going to be hurt. But their six-decade reputation for excellence, it's in severe trouble. The fact that -- what did they know about this pilot? When did they know it?

KEILAR: And we know that they knew. We know that they were aware that he had severe depression.

FUENTES: So how could they still put him in the cockpit? But that's going to be the issue for Lufthansa and the subsidiaries of Lufthansa. It will come up for other airlines, as well. I don't think financially it's a big issue for them. KEILAR: OK. Tom Fuentes, thanks you so much. Kit Darby, Miles

O'Brien and David Soucie, thanks to all of you.

To find out more about what you can do to help those affected by the Germanwings plane crash as well as other air disasters, go to

And just ahead, new information about a Philadelphia woman accused of wanting to die fighting for ISIS. She's now under arrest.

And the shocking details about the racist e-mails sent by Ferguson, Missouri, police. The actual messages and the photos, we have them. They are now public.


[18:44:34] KEILAR: More now on the breaking news out of Philadelphia where a third U.S. woman now faces charges of supporting Middle East terrorists. Court papers allege the suspect, who went by the name Young Lioness actively supported ISIS on social media.

One of her tweets reads, "If we truly knew the realities, we all would be rushing to join our brothers in the front lines and pray Allah accept us as martyrs."

Her arrest comes just a day after two New York women were charged in an alleged ISIS-inspired terrorist bomb plot. CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll is covering the latest arrest. Three in two days, this is alarming.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very alarming. Let's start out with this one in Philadelphia, the Young Lioness. Her real name is actually Kiana Thomas. She's 30 years old, a U.S. citizen from Philadelphia. And the criminal complaint, Brianna, spells it all out. She's accused of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

One quote here says, Thomas attempted to travel overseas in order to join, fight with and martyr herself on behalf of ISIL. Federal agents say that, as far back as 2013, she started posting jihadist tweets on Twitter. Also in 2013, she allegedly sent an electric communication to a known Somali terrorist several times over the course of last year. Again, according to the criminal complaint, she also reached out to a known terrorist in Syria -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Jason Carroll for us in New York, thank you.

[18:45:00] As ISIS and other terror groups cause more death and destruction, we are seeing that Iran is wielding more and more influence across the Middle East.

CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd is here to map it all out for us.

It's really something you need to see to understand the reach of Iran. PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Sure. Let's take a look

at where we've gone over the past 30, 35 years. If you're in the center of the Sunni universe, not the Shia universe, the Sunni universe, you are, of course, in Saudi Arabia in the center of the map.

In 1979, you remember, we had the revolution in Iran. The shah is ousted, you get -- you get Iranian clerical leadership take over. They extend influence into Syria, over into Lebanon, back in 1980s.

Let's fast forward today. You have the revolution supported obviously by the American military incursion in Iraq. You have not a Sunni Saddam Hussein, you have Shia leadership.

You go into the story of today, down into Yemen, the story of today has Shia supported by Iran taking over the capital of Yemen.

So, if you look at this from Saudi Arabia, also with a large Shia presence in its largest province, the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, you can see what the world looks like in the midst of these nuclear negotiations. The world is starting to look more and more Shia.

And this is an adversary that is Iran for Saudi Arabia. It's been an adversary for centuries. They are nervous. They think that it's enclosing them with Shia influences going to get a nuclear weapon. You can see why they're concerned.

BLITZER: And this is why you see Saudi Arabia and Iran really fighting for pre-eminence in the region.

MUDD: Not just in the region. If you look at Islamic areas go Asia, into places like Pakistan, over in Indonesia and also into Africa, you see a fight for influence, not military, but a fight for ideological influence between those two.

BLITZER: It gives us a much better understanding. Phil, thanks so much.

MUDD: Sure.

BLITZER: Next, for the first time, we are seeing the racist e-mails that cost three Ferguson, Missouri, officials their jobs.


[18:51:36] KEILAR: Tonight, we're getting first look at the racist e- mails that forced three Ferguson officials resign or be fired. The city just released the actual offensive photos and messages.

We want to talk about it with community activist John Gaskin, as well as CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

You know, John, we've been talking ever since the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson. We've been talking about the race issues in Ferguson. I want you to talk to us about some of these e-mails.

I know you've seen them. Let's take a look at one of them that was sent by Ferguson police sergeant. This is a sergeant. This is a leader in the police force, William Mudd. He resigned following the DOJ investigation. And Mary Ann Twitty, the court clerk for Ferguson police, she was fired.

This is comparing these two dogs to welfare recipients. The email read, "My dogs are mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English, they expect me to feed them, provide them with housing and medical care."

I mean, you see something like that. What's -- what's your reaction to that?

JOHN GASKIN, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: You know, those e-mails are absolutely atrocious. You know, the old saying goes, silence gives consent. For leaders within that department, within that city to remain silent on those types of terrible issues and not stand up and say something and continue to allow that behavior to take place on taxpayer's time and with their resources is very disappointing.

We know these issues existed in the city of Ferguson but certainly not to that extent. If they were making those types of statements about the president of the United States, can you imagine what they were saying about the common every day citizen that walked the streets of that city?

KEILAR: Yes, and the idiocy of putting it on the work e-mail, too.

Tom, you've seen these emails. Some of them, as John mentioned, they took aim at President Obama, the first lady. This was an email that was sent by Mary Ann Twitty. It included an image of former President Ronald Reagan feeding a baby monkey. And beneath the photo, there's a caption. It says, "Rare photo of Ronald Reagan baby sitting Barack Obama in early 1962. There's another photo that was sent by Twitty. It was captioned Michelle Obama's high school reunion.

I mean, these are horrible, horrible images and connotations that they are talking about. What do you say as a law enforcement professional and you're looking at some in law enforcement sending these emails?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Frankly, Brianna, I'm embarrassed and ashamed as a law enforcement official that another law enforcement official, a sergeant at that, could send such a thing.

Now, I completely agree with John. Who else knew about it of higher rank in this police department that either condoned it or encouraged it or just allowed it even by silence as John mentioned, it's appalling to me.

KEILAR: Yes, because there are some names redacted of people that it was sent to but maybe didn't receive.

FUENTES: Maybe they shouldn't be redacted.

KEILAR: Yes. And we don't even know exactly the facts behind that.

But, Jeff, I wonder, what about the mayor of Ferguson, James Knowles. He's saying that he's going to stay there, that there's still work to do. And he's saying that when you look at these e-mails it's not reflective of the culture within the Ferguson police department.

But what do you think about that? Does not acknowledging the issue make him a part of the problem and do you think this is reflective of the culture in the police department?

[18:55:00] JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Of course, it does. One thing they all have in common is there are all these idiotic jokes. One thing about jokes is they express the shared assumptions of the people telling the jokes or passing the jokes along and the people who are meant to receive them.

And, you know, the whole thing just struck me as a perfect example of why diversity is so important, because if you have an integrated police force and integrated employment situation anywhere, television network, a factory, you just don't talk that way. It's just unthinkable and inappropriate, but in an essentially whites-only operation, this is the kind of thing that's allowed to fester and it's terrible.

KEILAR: Yes, thank you so much for your input on that, Jeff Toobin, Tom Fuentes, and John Gaskin. A great conversation to have and really appreciate you guys having it with us.

Another heated controversy is easing on the eve of one of the nation's most popular sporting events, the NCAA's Final Four.

The association is praising changes made to Indiana's religious freedom law in response to concerns that the original legislation would allow anti-gay discrimination.

I want to bring in Rachel Nichols of CNN Sports. She's in Indianapolis, the host city for the Final Four.

Rachel, thanks so much for joining us ahead of this exciting weekend. I know that you've been talking to a lot of folks there. Duke's head coach, Coach K, he spoke with you about the role that sports has played in changing many things throughout society. Talk to us about what he told you.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, I had the chance to sit down with Duke's Coach K yesterday. And he was praising the world sports takes in social change in this country. And, look, sometimes it's by example. He talks about racial integration. And you can certainly look at sports all the way back to Jackie Robinson.

But it's also the economic engine that sports brings these days. Look, sports is one of the most popular things we have in this country. We spend a lot of our money on it.

So, this week in Indiana, when the NCAA felt strongly that there needed to be an amendment to the law in this state, they got very involved. President Mark Emmert actually met with the governor of the state and several Republican leaders. He said that there's no way that they could continue to have their headquarters here in this state if there weren't some changes made and he talked about not holding final four events here in the future.

Brianna, this next four days here in Indiana is supposed to bring a half a billion dollars into local businesses. That's a lot of clout to throw around and certainly, you can be sure that their message was heard. They had an active role behind the scenes.

KEILAR: Yes, heard loud and clear even if it was behind the scenes.

So, talk about some of the fun of the weekend. Kentucky, of course, wants to do something that no team has been able to do in nearly 40 years. What are they planning? How are they planning to pull this off?

NICHOLS: Well, they are hoping for an undefeated season. It used to be in college basketball, this wasn't that uncommon from 1956 to 1976, that 20-year span, seven different teams went undefeated. But then, all of a sudden, it was like musical chairs and the music stopped.

From 1976 on, nobody has done it. And Kentucky has the chance to become the first ones. And take a listen to my conversation with their coach, John Calipari.


NICHOLS: There are some coaches who think, oh, it's better to lose one along the way, relieve some of the pressure. Do you put any credence in that? Or is that just an anathema to your competitive nature?

JOHN CALIPARI, KENTUCKY COACH: No. There's -- losing breeds losing. It puts losing in their minds. I don't believe that.

And the only other thing is, do you think there would be any less pressure on us to win this thing whether we had won 7-11. We're all in the same boat. Everybody is 0-0 this weekend.


NICHOLS: You know, it's funny, (INAUDIBLE) still obviously been in the driver seat in this tournament. Instead, they're going for the whole boat. They are all in.

KEILAR: Yes, all in. OK. So, you've got the lead up here that's been a lot of surprises. But what are viewers looking forward to this weekend. What do they have to look forward to?

NICHOLS: Well, one thing is the Cinderella of this final four and the number seven seed Michigan State. They are battling against the big boys, all the other number one seed here in this Final Four. Tom Mizzo, their coach, he's known for March magic, if you want a little bit of an underdog story, not a huge underdog, of course, but a little bit. They're the team you want to follow. KEILAR: Everyone loves an underdog. I love that train trying to get

in on your live shot, Rachel Nichols.

NICHOLS: I know, right.

KEILAR: You have a wonderful weekend.

NICHOLS: Tunnel vision for you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Totally. So, amazing focus like an athlete.

Rachel Nichols, be sure to catch her tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 Eastern for "All Access at the Final Four. It's a CNN Bleacher Report special.

And remember that you can follow us on Twitter. Tweet the show @CNNsitroom. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Wolf Blitzer.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" begins right now.