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U.S. Military Ships Live Anthrax to 9 States; Interview With Rep. John Garamendi; New FBI Warning on ISIS Threat Inside U.S.; Rick Santorum Declares Presidential Bid; Santorum Joins Race for White House; FBI Warning of New ISIS Threats in U.S. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 27, 2015 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:12] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: anthrax error. The U.S. military mistakenly ships anthrax in its deadliest form to multiple states. This the latest in the series of anthrax slip-ups. What's behind such a potentially lethal mistake?

ISIS plane threat. New reports say ISIS sympathizers may be responsible for major threats against airliners, snarling air traffic and creating holiday havoc. Is this a new terrorist strategy or a rehearsal for something more sinister? I'll ask a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Loss of thrust: one of the world's most popular airplanes has both engines fail in midair during a storm. How could it have happened and what does it mean for millions of people flying on similar planes?

And running again. Rick Santorum joins the Republican race for the White House, hoping to repeat his 2012 successes, including the country's first caucus. Can he rekindle the political magic?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories in the war on ISIS, including disturbing new reports of ISIS fighters fortifying their positions, as well as planting bombs and booby traps around the crucial Iraqi city of Ramadi. The Pentagon says ISIS fighters are being resupplied despite Iraqi government claims a counteroffensive is underway.

There's also breaking news involving a potentially deadly mistake by the United States military. It shipped live anthrax to laboratories in at least nine states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they've been called in. They are investigating.

Congressman John Garamendi, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, is standing by to take our questions. Our correspondents and experts, they're working their sources. They're standing by to bring us the very latest on all the breaking news.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's got the very latest -- Barbara. BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Centers for

Disease Control and the Defense Department looking into all of this. Right now, they know that last Friday, a shipment of live anthrax inadvertently went to one lab in one state.

But overall, shipments were made to nine states. So now the CDC is collecting up all of those samples and trying to make sure that none of the other samples were actually live anthrax agents.

But look at how widespread this problem is. The states that got the shipments in this original situation were Wisconsin, Delaware, New York, Texas, Maryland, New Jersey, Tennessee, California and Virginia. They're not saying yet which lab in which state got the live agent by mistake. That lab reported it to the CDC. The Pentagon then informing labs in all the other states. So they're trying to get a handle on it.

Right now, they don't have any reports that anyone is ill. But the problem here, Wolf, is how did it happen? It's not the first time. How does it happen that live agent gets shipped and nobody realizes it?

BLITZER: It's obviously a problem. We've got to figure it out and fix it.

Let's go right now to the battle against ISIS, Barbara. Is the Iraqi army going to be able to retake that critically important city, the capital of Anbar province?

STARR: Well, look, the Iraqis are making a lot of statements about their success. The Pentagon, looking at the facts on the ground as they see them, is saying they don't see a big change in the battlefield, that the Iraqis are conducting probing attacks against ISIS positions outside the city.

But that, no, the Iraqis have not surrounded the city. They haven't gotten into the city yet and that ISIS is continuing to reinforce its bunkers, its booby traps, its bombs, its protective installations in Ramadi, and indeed -- pardon me -- a supply line for ISIS remains open in the west.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara, stand by.

We're getting details on another breaking story. A new FBI warning about the growing threat posed by ISIS sympathizers right here inside the United States. Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, has been working his sources for us. What are you learning?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, this new FBI joint intelligence bulletin, or JIB as it's called, warns that U.S. military, law enforcement and government installations and personnel are today at increased risk of attack by ISIS. This was not based on a specific credible threat but issued this Memorial Day weekend because ISIS and other terror groups often time their attacks to holidays and other symbolic dates to maximize their impact. The U.S. law enforcement official tells me that the current posture

is, quote, "prudent and very concerned." Of particular concern to U.S. law enforcement is ISIS's aggressive and successful often online propaganda campaign. Thousands of people here in the U.S. have at least shown interest in ISIS online. U.S. officials fear that some of them could be inspired to then carry out attacks on homeland.

And a real challenge for law enforcement is the sheer volume of online communication and contact among known jihadis, suspected jihadis and others on social media. And that is acknowledged, Wolf, in this joint intelligence bulletin. They're just having trouble collating all this stuff, tracking all this stuff.

Because one of the most difficult judgments to make is does simply following someone on, say, Twitter or Facebook, doesn't make you terrorist. So how do you make the judgment that they might then go on to buy a weapon, build a bomb and carry out an attack? Proving very difficult not only here in the U.S. but its proved difficult for European law enforcement, for instance, as we saw with the "Charlie Hebdo" attack.

BLITZER: U.S. officials keep telling me and I'm sure they tell you as well, they're constantly surprised how good these ISIS sympathizers, supporters are in using social media.

SCIUTTO: There's no question. And we saw another one of them rear his head again, Junaid Hussain. He was known to be in contact with one of the Texas shooters in Garland, Texas. He's a British ISIS recruiter. He had been taken off Twitter. Twitter killed his accounts, in effect. But he's back on Twitter posting information, his contact, to encourage people if they want to, in his words, "bake a cake," which is terrorist jingo -- lingo, rather, for making a bomb. So he's out there again trying to find new recruits.

BLITZER: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, they have that magazine, and one of the cover stories they've often ran is "How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom."

SCIUTTO: Exactly.

BLITZER: That's gone out. And they've tried to train people how to kill people in terror attacks.

All right. Jim, thanks very much.

Let's get some more on what's going on. Joining us, Democratic Congressman John Garamendi of California. He's a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Congressman, a lot of stuff I want to go through with you. Let's talk about these ISIS sympathizers. Supposedly, they may -- this is, I repeat, may. They may have been behind at least 15 airline threats in recent days. This according to Reuters, warning that the flights were carrying some form of chemical weapons.

And as you know, on Monday, two U.S. F-15 fighter jets had to escort one of those planes coming into New York. It was supposedly threatened. What have you learned about this? What is -- what is going on here?

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, I think there's two things, one of which is very troublesome. That is that there may be a real legitimate threat on any one of those airplanes. The other is economic chaos, concern and fear that they're trying and successfully breeding all across the United States with these threats.

We've often seen these crying wolf episodes in the past. We're going to see more in the future. But then we have to be very, very careful that there really is a wolf or not out there. I don't mean you, Wolf Blitzer.


GARAMENDI: But we're concerned about this. So we need to be aware of what is happening. But also we need to be wise. We've gone through all the way from 9/11 aware of potential threats. We used to have the red, orange levels, yellow levels of concern. I think all of us need to be watching carefully and aware. And yes, we're going to see these kinds of threats coming down in the future.

BLITZER: Because the question is, and it's a significant one, are these threats against these airliners coming in mostly from overseas flights coming in -- is it just simply a hoax or whatever? Somebody thinks it's fun to get everybody crazy, if you will, and get these F- 15s scrambling as these planes come in or are they testing to see how it unfolds in case they're plotting something a lot more sinister? Do you have a sense of what's going on in this area right now?

GARAMENDI: Well, I would suppose it might be both. Certainly by putting in a false threat, that creates concern. That makes everybody scramble. It upsets the normal system. You may see again the scrambling of jet fighter planes to escort airplanes in. All of those things upset the normal rhythm of economic and social life. And certainly that is and has been one of the techniques used by terrorists and others who just want to cause trouble.

But it could also be a possibility of testing and watching for the response and trying to find the weak spot that might exist. And so from our point of view, we need to be very much aware of what we are facing on the military, on the police side and on the various intelligence agencies.

BLITZER: And if it is a hoax, somebody thinking they're having some fun, they should be fully aware this is a crime. They could wind up spending years in jail if they do this.

GARAMENDI: Absolutely.

BLITZER: So this is not simply having some fun at the expense of the United States, the military, whatever. This is a serious potential crime. You're going to go to jail for a long time if you're caught doing this. Congressman, there's a Georgia man who pleaded guilty today for

providing support to ISIS. He was arrested at the Atlanta airport after he purchased a ticket to fly to Turkey. How will the FBI change the targeting of these individuals based on these most recent developments? Because it seems almost every other day or so, somebody is being picked up in the United States for trying to hook up with ISIS.

GARAMENDI: Actually, that's a very good thing, that we're finding them, we're picking them up. There may be some that slip through.

But what we do know is that they are in communication. We discussed some time ago the way in which it often happens with a Twitter account. That is perfectly legitimate for the police agencies, FBI, NSA and others to monitor those. Those are open source. Gather up the names of the accounts and the individuals and then proceed to watch them, quite possibly with an appropriate court order.

If that's the case, we know where they are. And that's a good thing to know where they are if you know who they are. And if they're getting on an airplane, well, then you just escort them off to the local prison.

BLITZER: Congressman, I want you to stand by. We have much more to talk about including what's going on in Iraq right now. This war against ISIS and some now calling for what they call a three-state solution in Iraq. We'll be right back.


[17:15:51] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news in the war against ISIS. The Pentagon reporting ISIS fighters are digging in. They're planting booby traps around the key Iraqi city of Ramadi, and only ISIS fighters they say are in the city, despite Iraqi government claims a counteroffensive is under way.

We're back with Democratic Congressman John Garamendi of California. He's a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Congressman, the White House communications director, Jen Psaki, she said on CNN's NEW DAY this morning that the United States needs to, in her words, and I'm quoting her now, "adapt our strategy in the fight against ISIS."

Here's the question: Why has it taken so long for the administration to admit that the current strategy is clearly not working, that they need to come up with something better?

GARAMENDI: Well, I think we need to go back to what that strategy recently was. It was one of turning the Iraqi government around so that we have a new government and one that was much broader in context, that it wasn't just based on the Shias. That has happened, but it is not yet complete.

And we also had to rebuild the Iraqi army, which was in disarray. All of that's going to take -- has taken and will take some additional time.

So the real problem that we're going to have to deal with is what is adaptation? Does adaptation mean that we have to send boots on the ground? I think not. And at some point, the U.S. Congress is going to have to carry out its constitutional responsibility of coming to grips with a declaration of war or what we now call an authorization to use military force. We have not done that.

Most have just sat back and thrown verbal stones at the situation where we really are going to have to vote yes or no, what are we actually going to do in Iraq and Syria?

BLITZER: I spent the time earlier today with Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. I assume you know her. She served a tour of duty in Iraq before she went to the United States Congress.

She told me very specifically that the United States should stop, in her words, propping up that central government, Shia-led government in Baghdad. Listen to what she said.


SEN. TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: We need to make sure that we stop continuing this failed policy of supporting and propping up this central government in Baghdad and this fantasy, really, of a one unified country of Iraq; and support this three-state solution of empowering the Sunni tribes, empowering the Kurds and the Shias, each of them having three autonomous territories rather than continuing what we've seen really has failed for so long.

By doing this, we can get rid of the oxygen that has allowed ISIS to maintain its stronghold here within this area of Iraq.


BLITZER: All right. What do you think, Congressman? You agree with her?

GARAMENDI: Well, I don't really agree with her. It has been discussed. It continues to be discussed. Actually, the lines, the borders were drawn shortly after World War I by the Europeans. And in many respects, the United States has become the executor of those agreements that were made nearly a century ago. So there is a realignment taking place.

But boy, I'll tell you, you start changing those borders, and you've got Turkey. You've got other countries that are going to look at that and go, "I don't know if that's a good idea."

So we've got to move very, very cautiously before we head down any path that way. Will it become a reality? Boy, you take a look what's going to come of Baghdad? Is Baghdad then going to become a suburb of Iran? They are already close.

So we've got to think through this thing. And right now, the policy that's been established is one that is best suited for the current situation. We are going to have to be willing to adapt and change as things move along.

One thing that has not taken place fully in that original strategy was to bring in the surrounding countries that are directly threatened by ISIL: for example, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the other Gulf states. they've stood on the sidelines. They did a little bit of military aircraft bombing early on. They may be doing a little bit now. But they certainly have not put their boots on the ground.

[17:20:10] BLITZER: Should the U.S. continue to arm the Iraqi military? Because we know it's performed dismally both in Mosul a year ago, in Ramadi much more recently, even though they vastly outnumber the ISIS terrorists in Ramadi, for example, these Iraqi military personnel simply drop their weapons, mostly U.S. weapons, and ran away. Is it a good idea to continue supplying weapons to the Iraqi military?

We have no choice but to do that, consider what happens if we don't. You're going to have ISIS sitting in downtown Baghdad. So that is a real non-starter, at least from my point of view.

So, yes, we must continue to arm them and train them. My understanding is that the Iraqi troops that left their weapons behind and ran away from Ramadi were not those troops trained by the American government. That those American-trained troops were not yet engaged. So I think we have no choice but to arm the Iraqi government. Some of those arms as Ms. Gabbard said should be going to the Sunni fighters that want to fight on the sides of a united Iraq.

And obviously some of that is also going to the Peshmerga, the Kurds. That is presently flowing through the central government, to give those weapons directly would basically put the United States at odds with the central government and quite possibly accelerate a complete breakdown of any centralized government in that area.

BLITZER: It's a pretty awful situation. And I've got to wrap it up. But I'll remind you what the defense secretary of the United States, Ash Carter told our Barbara Starr the other day, the Iraqi military including U.S.-trained members of the Iraqi military in Ramadi, in his words, they showed no will to fight even though they vastly outnumbered those ISIS terrorists. We're going to have a lot more to talk about, Congressman, always appreciate you joining us. Thanks very much.


BLITZER: Coming up next, we have new information about terror data recovered in a deadly U.S. Raid. Will it help the war against ISIS.

Plus, a plane with almost 200 people onboard drops 13,000 feet after both engines fail during a storm. What happened? Stand by.


BLITZER: Welcome back. This is a key race alert. Rick Santorum -- there you see him in Pennsylvania -- the former senator from Pennsylvania, the former Republican presidential candidate, has just announced once again he's going to run for that Republican nomination. I want to listen in.

[17:35:08] RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can create jobs. But as we've all seen, America can't succeed unless we strengthen the first economy, the American family.

It's time we have a president who sees the struggle of working families in America not as an opportunity to divide us along race or class but as a chance to unite us around the ideal that every child in America deserves her birthright to be raised by her parents in a healthy home.

Stronger families and more jobs will result in better schools. But our children, well, they deserve an education customized -- customized to maximize their potential.

The first step in that process is joining me to drive a stake in the heart of common core.

I can't forget about the other people that I grew up with out at the V.A. in Butler, our wounded warriors. I saw the price of freedom. I saw the cost of failed political leadership. The Obama/Clinton team, they don't understand that peace comes through strength.




SANTORUM: But what I see are heroic veterans dying, waiting in line at the V.A. because these very same leaders don't care enough to give them what they've earned, the best medical care in the world, I say, join me, take back America and help these veterans.

As you've seen, commander in chief is not an entry-level position. And the White House is the last place for on-the-job training. It's critical that both our allies and our friends know what to expect from our next president.

Last month I was featured in an online magazine. That's usually a good thing. But in this case, the online magazine was the magazine of the Islamic State, ISIS. Under the headline -- under the headline "In the Words of Our Enemy" was my picture and a quote. After 12 years of legislating and warning about the gathering storm of radical Islam, they know who I am, and I know who they are.

In that article, I described who they are and how to defeat them. And, ladies and gentlemen, if I'm the next president, we will defeat them.

Finally, we must take back America for those who seek to deny us, our God-given rights of life and liberty. As president, I will stand for the principle that every life matters: the poor, the disabled and the unborn.

[17:30:15] I will also fight for the freedom for you to believe what you are called to believe, not just in your places of worship, but outside of your places of worship, too.

Karen and I have learned a lot in our life. And if there's one thing we've learned: man is limited and God is not. There's much that we can do. But first we need to pray for the same kind of great awakening that inspired and provided our founding to come to this country to heal our land.

Now, if you watch any of these announcements here coming up this week, you're going to see a lot of folks saying what they're going to do. That's what they do. But how do you know who to trust? Well, you look at their record.

I went to Washington and said I was going to fight corruption, and I delivered. I went to end welfare, to reduce poverty and to put people back to work, and I delivered. I went to give patients control over their health care through health savings accounts, and I delivered. I went to end partial birth abortion, and I delivered. I went to impose sanctions on Syria and Iran to protect the state of Israel and this country, and I delivered. And I went to cut taxes and promise to never raise them, and I delivered.

Our record of standing for you and standing up against big government is clear: 92 percent conservative voting record. How does someone like that get elected in the Mon Valley of Pittsburgh in one of the most Democratic areas of the state? How does someone with a conservative voting record get elected twice to the state of Pennsylvania where there's over 1 million more registered Democrats than Republicans? Because I stood for you and against big government in Washington, D.C.

Fighting in those races both here in southwestern Pennsylvania and across Pennsylvania, I know what it's like to be an underdog. Four years ago, well, no one gave us much of a chance. But we won 11 states. We got 4 million votes. And it's not just because I stood for something. It's because I stood for someone: the American worker.

I promised then as I promise you now, I will take money and power out of Washington and put it back where our Constitution says it belongs: in the people who earned it.




[17:35:00] SANTORUM: The last race we changed the debate. This race, with your help and God's grace, we can change this nation. Join us, join us., and let's take back America.

God bless you. God bless America.

BLITZER: All right. There he is, Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, former Republican presidential candidate, now yet again a Republican presidential candidate, in Cabot, Pennsylvania, with his family there, his wife obviously making his case. Gloria Borger, our chief political analyst, is with us, as well.

He did very well four years ago. He won the Iowa caucuses barely, but he did win the Iowa caucuses.


BLITZER: Yes, but he won.


BLITZER: And as he pointed out, he carried 11 states. He didn't get the nomination, though. He's trying again.

BORGER: Right. And don't forget: he also lost the Iowa primary by less than 1 percent. And what I'm seeing here today, Wolf, is a Rick Santorum with a bit of a different twist. We know he's a conservative evangelical candidate, appeals to that slice of the electorate. But that's kind of a crowded field this time.

What we heard in Rick Santorum today was the candidate who's really trying to appeal to blue-collar voters, as he said, who want to take the power back against big government, running as he says, on behalf of the American worker, as a Republican. He believes that he's got a lot of blue-collar appeal. Don't forget, as he points out, he won statewide in Pennsylvania.

And then he also talked about his national security credentials, which, as you see in the polling -- I was talking to a senior adviser of his today -- that's near the top of the polls for Republican candidates right now.

And he's saying, "Look, I was fighting ISIS before anyone knew about ISIS. I've been singled out by ISIS. I was on the Senate Armed Services Committee. I have the most foreign policy experience and the toughest credentials of any candidate in the Republican field."

So first blue-collar; second, national security; and third, the values candidate, where it's a little crowded.

BLITZER: He said he's -- being president is not an entry-level position.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: Is that going after President Obama or was that going after some of his potential Republican opponents?

BORGER: I think all of the above, Wolf. Clearly, going after the president, but also you have first-term senators running like Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz. And what he is saying is, no on-the-job training for commander in chief. And he's going to try and break out of the pack with this kind of experience that he says he has from the Senate.

One other thing he has, Wolf, which we also ought to point out, is that his big backer, Foster Freese, his sugar daddy last time around, is sticking with him, going to continue to be with him. He's there with him today for this announcement speech. And do not underestimate that, because that engine was what kept him going the last time around. And he's in it for the long haul, counting delegates this time. Important to have the money.

BLITZER: Yes. You have a billionaire, that always helps.

BORGER: Oh, it does.

BLITZER: Should have the money. All right. Rick Santorum, the next -- the next Republican to seek the Republican presidential nomination. We'll have more on this story coming up.

There's other news we're following, as well, including this, both engines die as a fully loaded airliner flies through a storm. We're learning new details of the midair scare.


[17:43:35] BLITZER: We're following breaking news. A new FBI warning about the growing threat posed by ISIS sympathizers right here inside the United States.

The alarm follows this month's unexpected attack by a pair of men near Dallas. A law enforcement source telling CNN there are now growing concerns about ISIS-inspired attacks on members of the U.S. military, law enforcement, and even government workers.

With us in THE SITUATION ROOM, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, former CIA counterterrorism official Phil Mudd and CNN national security analyst Peter Berger -- Bergen, sorry. Guys, thanks very much for joining us.

Phil, Reuters is reporting that these recent 11 plane threats may -- their words, may -- have some from ISIS sympathizers. How can you stop anything like this? Somebody makes a random call and says there's chemical weapons on a plane coming in, an Air France plane coming into JFK, into New York? You've got to scramble jets, I guess.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: You've got to look at it seriously. There's a couple of ways you want to attack stuff like this. First, looking at the digital trail. Did this person make a mistake if they e-mailed or phoned in their threat? And second, the old piece of the spy business, did they talk to the wrong person and indicate to a friend, family that they were going to do this?

The one piece of this that's making this spy story tougher is that we've talked about the government collecting more intelligence, e-mail phone traffic.

Meanwhile, private citizens have more access to things like anonymizers, things that allow them to get online and obscure who they are. So this game, finding people like this, might get tougher, because some of that over-the-counter software is very difficult to track. And I suspect that's been used in this case.

BLITZER: A very worrisome development. Does ISIS, Peter, really have the capability to launch some sort of chemical attack here in the United States? Al Qaeda might, AQAP, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Does ISIS have that capability?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think the short answer is no. I mean, the parent organization of ISIS, Al Qaeda in Iraq, did launch some crude chemical weapons attacks in Iraq during -- when the U.S. was, you know, occupying the country. Seventeen of those attacks. But that's very different from getting something on a plane into this country and conducting an attack here.

BLITZER: It could be really a big threat, General Hertling, if the U.S. aviation industry, if these threats keep coming in and the U.S. Air Force or the Navy for that matter, they've got to start scrambling jets. That's a big deal, isn't it?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It is, Wolf. And right after 9/11, you may recall being in Washington that, you know, there was an operation called Noble Eagle, which not only scrambled jets but put air defense systems around the perimeter of major cities.

This is a tough action and it's last-ditch effort for scrambling either active duty or National Guard Air Force jets to intercept. But that's not where you want to be. That would really be last ditch.

BLITZER: You know, Phil, Barbara Starr reporting that Abu Sayyaf, the so-called CFO of ISIS, he was killed not that long ago. They did find what they called huge amounts of information. Terror bits of information. If you were going through all that information, what would you be looking for right now?

MUDD: You've got to prioritize. And the priority is pretty simple. The first is imminent threat. You're going to have a team of analysts working overnight, multiple agencies working in tandem. First question is, is there anything on there that suggests there was a plot about ready to explode? Then you go to secondary issues. Number one, people. Are there people who he's talking to, people he's been in contact with that help you identify a bigger web of ISIS sympathizers?

Then you get into further issues. Things like, do you have a pattern of activity around buildings, around cities that allows you to disrupt ISIS cells? But the first thing you want to look at in this case, Wolf, is, is there information on here that suggests that there was a plot about ready to go up that you didn't know about?

BLITZER: You went through the bin Laden raid documents that were found there, all the thumb drives and all that stuff, useful information. How useful potentially could this information be?

BERGEN: Well, it's particularly useful in the potential criminal prosecution of the people that murdered Kayla Mueller, the American aid worker who's been held by this man and his wife. But adding just to Phil's laundry list, also you'll be looking for money flows. If this guy was a CFO, clearly he's going to have ledgers about where the money was going, to whom it was being paid and who -- where was the money coming into the organization.

BLITZER: And getting to Ramadi, General Hertling, very quickly, ISIS apparently launching these booby traps, improvised explosive devices, all over the city in case Iraqi forces or Shiite militia come in. This represents a huge problem, doesn't it?

HERTLING: It does, Wolf. And this gets back to the ISIS tactic of infiltrate, intimidate, assassinate, and then continue to attempt to control. These house-borne IEDs, the road-laid IEDs the vehicle, the VBIEDs, the vehicle-borne IEDs, are all devastating. And they're easy to make with material from fertilizer or if you have artillery pieces, they're even simpler. This is the way of war today. And it's going to affect the attempt at retaking the city by the Iraqi Security Forces.

BLITZER: Certainly will.

All right, guys, stand by because we're also following an in-flight scare. A jet with 194 people onboard losing power as both engines died during a storm, the plane dropping 13,000 feet.

Our CNN aviation correspondent Rene Marsh is working this story for us.

Rene, what is going on?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it was a brand new plane, not even a year old. And the jetliner loses power to both engines midair. It is a highly uncommon occurrence. And now an investigation is underway to figure out what caused these frightening moments in the air.


MARSH (voice-over): Singapore Airlines Flight 836 with 194 on board was flying over the South China Sea bound for Shanghai when both engines went out. The sudden loss of power at 39,000 feet as the jetliner passed through bad weather. Within seconds, the aircraft dropped nearly 13,000 feet.

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: The pilot has to basically put the plane that's now lost power in its engines in a dive and that wind going through those engines spins the turbines and helps the pilots get a relight. But even with a relight, getting your engines actually going again, the fuel is burning, you have to be able to sustain those engines. So it's a really tricky maneuver.

MARSH: Singapore Airlines says the problem started about 3 1/2 hours after departing from Singapore. They say one engine regained power while pilots worked on the second.

SCHIAVO: That is something that they're trained to do. And in all cases on all planes, there is a point at which the manuals say, don't try any more diving restarts. Just look for a place to put it down and set it down. [17:50:13] MARSH: This is the latest of several incidents involving

Asian airliners. In February both engines on a TransAsia flight lost power. Flight 235 crashed into a river in Taiwan. In December, AirAsia Flight 8501, an Airbus 320, disappeared from radar and crashed into the Java Sea minutes after the pilot asked for clearance to climb in altitude to avoid bad weather.

And Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared without a trace more than a year ago. But as for Singapore Airlines' safety record is one to brag about. This year it was rated one of the top 10 safest airlines.


MARSH: While the airlines tells once CNN was on the ground they found no anomalies with the engines. The aircraft was back in operation just a few hours later. We did speak with a former Federal Aviation officer who said here in the United States it's likely would not have been back in service that quickly.

But, Wolf, it is worth pointing out if the pilots were unable to restart those engines the plane would not fall out of the sky. It is capable of gliding for miles. We should point out the working theory, at least right now, is that bad weather may have caused this, a severe downpour of rain can cause engines to flame out, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, it can be very, very frightening.

Rene, thank you very much.

I want to dig deeper with our aviation correspondent Richard Quest.

Richard, both engines, they lose power. How unusual is that?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It's extremely unusual. One can count on the fingers of one, maybe two hands, the number of times it's happened. And when it does, I mean, there are procedures as Rene rightly points out. You go into a gradual descent to make sure that you get maximum amount of distance before you have to ditch. But you do have to dive to get the engines started again to do the real procedure.

Nobody would be under any doubt, it is one of the most serious things that can happen because obviously you need the engines for the powered flight. The most famous of all is in 1982, British Airways Flight 9, where engines stopped because they became clogged with volcanic ash. And there the pilot famously said to the passengers that all the engines had stopped on the 747, he was doing his damnedest to get them started, and he hoped they were not in too much distress.

BLITZER: And elaborate a little bit about how one of those engines all of a sudden went back and got back on power. They're going to have to try to determine what happened.

QUEST: Well, see, that's the interesting part, Wolf, because when engines stop, it's either because of bad weather, so the sheer amount of water ingested into the engines, causes the engine to flame out. But here we could also be looking at some sort of fuel event. Again, British Airways 32 at Heathrow, where ice crystals prevented the aircraft from receiving fuel. They won't know until they really get to grips with it.

What I find fascinating is the decision to do two things. Firstly, once the engines have restarted, to continue the flight to Shanghai. And secondly, after only a four-hour review on the ground, to fly the plane with passengers back to Singapore. That tells me they were pretty certain they knew what had happened. They knew what the cause was. But there are some people in the industry that are saying, that might not have been the wisest thing to do in either situation.

BLITZER: Is this model Airbus -- should the FAA here in the United States investigate this particular Airbus plane?

QUEST: It wouldn't just be the Airbus, you'd be looking at the Rolls Royce Trent engine. And the plane is absolutely safe. And you know, we can point to many -- to other examples where, for example, it was a 777 with British Airways where the engines stopped. You have the famous case of the Transat, the so-called the Azores glider, where the engines ran out of fuel.

You've got to determine what caused it. And once you've determined that, you ask yourself was it the aircraft, the engines, or was it the way it was being flown? Or was it one of those things?

BLITZER: Richard Quest, thanks very much for the information.

Up next, breaking news. New information on an Anthrax scare here in the United States. The United States Military mistakenly shipping live Anthrax to laboratories in at least nine states.

Plus the Vice President Joe Biden goes after the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, with some very tough talk. Will the U.S. back it up by starting to send lethal weapons to Ukraine?



BLITZER: Happening now. Anthrax danger. The U.S. military mistakenly sends live samples of a deadly bacteria that can be used as a biological weapon to labs in nine states and overseas. How could this happen?

ISIS targets. Did the terror group have a hand in threats to more than a dozen U.S.-bound passenger jets? We're getting new information about ISIS and its strategy.

Provoking the United States. The White House response to aggression by Russia's Vladimir Putin at the same that China is threatening America's military. I'll ask the top State Department's spokeswoman about brazing challenges from two powerful nations.

[18:00:06] And rising death toll. Crews search for the missing in miles of flood waters, racing to beat more severe weather that could strike very soon.