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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Paris Under Attack, At Least 43 Dead; AFP: Around 100 People Killed at Paris Concert Hall. Aired 7-8:00p ET
Aired November 13, 2015 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:10] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Erin Burnett and we are continuing our coverage of this horrific breaking news story tonight. Terror across Paris. It is a city under siege. At least 43 people are dead in multiple attacks across the French capital. According to our affiliate BFMTV, there were at least six shootings in various locations and three explosions at a soccer stadium. That appears to be a suicide bombing attack.
And at this moment, police are just storming a concert hall where at least -- we don't know the exact number. It could be 100 or more or less being held hostage. France has now closed its borders. French police are urging all Paris residents to stay inside. This entire situation as we are covering it for you live at this hour is incredibly fluid. It began just a few hours ago when shots rang out across the city.
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BURNETT: France's President was inside the soccer stadium where explosions broke up the game.
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BURNETT: The game kept playing as they tried to figure out what was happening. The President of France was evacuated to a safe location. He's spoken to the people of France and the people of the world saying he's closing the French borders. President Obama also speaking out tonight.
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PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Once again, we've seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians. This is an attack not just on Paris. It's an attack not just on the people of France but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share. We're going to do whatever it takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to bring these terrorists to justice and to go after any terrorist networks that go after our people.
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BURNETT: Prominent ISIS supporters on social media are praising the attacks at this moment though ISIS has not formally claimed responsibility.
We begin our coverage tonight with CNN producer Pierre Buet, he is on the ground outside of that concert hall where there's a hostage situation right now. They are storming the hall. Pierre, what do you know?
PIERRE BUET, CNN PRODUCER (on the phone): I can't confirm that (INAUDIBLE) it's ended but I can say, it's a little less tense than half an hour ago when I heard rifle power as well as a few detonations. What I can say is that what I can see right now is a few emergency response unit, firemen going in the building and trying to rescue and evacuate a few of the hostages that were trapped inside the first floor of the building just above the nightclub. One man, I believe he suffered from a gunshot wound, was taken down using a rope. He and others are being evacuated through ladders. There is less action than there was half an hour or 45 minutes earlier. So I guess that means so far the situation has ended or is close to being ended.
BURNETT: And Pierre, you talk about seeing a few hostages at this time. You know, we know there could have been many, many people inside that theater. You have not seen very many people come out. Is there any sense that you can give us as to whether, from where you are standing right now, people have been able to survive and escape?
BUET: Yes. Thankfully, I have seen about 100 to 150 hostages, civilian people are being evacuated about half an hour ago and just a bit more than 15 minutes ago. So, I'm hoping that most of the people that were inside this building are now outside of this building and that what I'm seeing right now are the last of the civilian hostages being evacuated. I don't know how many are left inside. All I can say is there were a great number of them who have already been evacuated outside the building.
BURNETT: All right. Pierre, please stay with us. As Pierre sees more -- as we said, this situation is developing so rapidly. We're going to go back to you, Pierre.
I want to right now go straight to Patrick Klugman, the Deputy Mayor of Paris. Deputy Mayor, thank you so much for being with us. It's a horrific evening. What can you tell us about this siege right now?
PATRICK KLUGMAN, PARIS DEPUTY MAYOR (on the phone): Well, first, it's an unknown situation to the population of Paris. So far we have this state of emergency. The city is under siege, as we say. And we know that a search by the police is over at that (INAUDIBLE). We don't have a moment to report the casualties of people dead or the people that were taken into hostage there. We know so far that there were already like 42 people killed since the beginning of the evening but we know and we expect that this number may reach higher figures by tomorrow morning. Much more higher figures.
[19:05:46] So it's really terrific, it's horrible what is happening in Paris and it's like all the places where people could attend on a Friday night were aimed. The soccer game, the concert hall, restaurants. It was really like if it was coincided to hit people where they go to leave and enjoy on a Friday evening in Paris. So the city is really now under violence. And nothing happened. Nobody is on the street. Everyone is at home. Everyone is calling his/her friends, colleagues, family to know if everyone is fine, which is really a situation that we've never faced, ever in Paris.
And so far we are already far, far beyond the number of dead that were killed in January. So we are now truly facing an unknown situation in Paris and we already knew in January that we were like entering in the Iraq of terror attacks but now we are experimenting that it's never done and we still have to face it again and again.
BURNETT: And Deputy Mayor, it is horrific and hard to imagine, the thoughts and feelings of everyone watching around the world are with you tonight as they were with the United States in 9/11 and I think many are moved to tears to imagine what is happening. I know you say that the siege now is over. But it does sound like you say that the death toll and these horrific acts is going to go significantly higher?
KLUGMAN: Yes, we expect that there may be a lot of dead people tonight in Paris -- what we know already. And also what we know is higher than we've ever had in Paris. So it's a terrible, terrible situation. It's really a tragedy that we are facing. And experimenting. So I don't know what more to say. And of course, tomorrow will be another day but we don't know if it will start again tomorrow or not. Nothing says that this sequence is over. We just know that at the Bataclan it's over and we don't have so far information about who were inside, who were -- how many people were inside, how many people were -- how many people get escaped. So a lot of confusion, a lot of sadness already. And I think we are preparing to face a very odd situation in Paris.
BURNETT: And Deputy Mayor, I know that you're talking about this, the frightening reality that of what we don't know, that you as the deputy mayor, you know the siege is over. You don't know how many are alive. You don't know how many are dead. It's such a terrifying moment. Do you have -- I'm sorry. Go ahead.
KLUGMAN: Yes. As you know, there have been six to seven locations of attacks in the center of Paris and outside of Paris. So, the information is really hard to get and to be very clear for all the citizens for information and for the population. Of course, by tomorrow, we'll know more. The highest person of the police officers, of the security department, of course the military interior, prime minister and president but so far what we have is very confusing because it was spread over the Paris territory, six to seven locations of attacks. Of course, inside and outside of the soccer game, we received the attack at the soccer game. So it's really too many information. Not an expected but never seen before.
[19:10:58] BURNETT: Do you, sir, think that there, you talk about six to seven attacks and just how it's impossible to know at this point how many are dead and what is happening. Do you have any sense -- I mean, that requires an incredible amount of coordination? Do you have any sense of who did this and also whether it is over or not?
KLUGMAN: Well, again, there are many clues and evidence that shows that, of course, it is terror attacks. (INAUDIBLE) radical Islamism that we have no official -- nobody trains for this so far. So this is the situation. And again, we have no information, of course, that this is over. It may start again tomorrow. So there is a very, very high level of consciousness and awareness from the security persons to the population to stay at home, to cancel any activity that is not strictly required and we'll see by tomorrow how it goes. But already we are under state of emergency, which is also quite an unknown situation. Since I think our war but this may be checked, for years we have not faced a state of emergency in Paris.
BURNETT: Deputy Mayor, thank you so very much for taking the time to talk to us.
KLUGMAN: Thank you.
BURNETT: I know you sound very broken up, as I'm sure anyone listening to you feels. Thank you very much. Deputy Mayor Klugman.
SRUTHI GOTTIPATI, WITNESS (on the phone): Is outside the concert hall right now joining me on the phone. The concert hall of course, is where this massive siege just occurred. You just heard the deputy mayor say, that siege is now over but as the Deputy Mayor of Paris was unable to tell us how that ended, how many more people lost their lives. Obviously you can see a lot of people escaping. They do not know how many people were inside at this time, how many people lost their lives. What are you able to tell us? What did you see?
So basically I'm a few minutes away from where the concert was happening. I'm on this little street which is just off this boulevard. Basically, I can see all of these emergency vehicles which are coming up to this cafe which has become the sort of makeshift staging area where they are taking injured people inside this cafe. So I can see people being carried out in stretchers into this cafe right now.
BURNETT: Do you have any sense, from talking to people about what happened inside that hall? I mean, this siege had been going on of course for several hours.
GOTTIPATI: We actually can't speak -- none of the journalists can speak to the injured right now because they are being carried, you know, on to the stretchers and inside the cafe right now. So none of them are actually walking out of it. The emergency vehicles are being taken directly inside the cafe so we are not able to speak to them. But earlier on about 30 to 40 minutes ago, I could see people who are screaming and running down the street, and running away from where the concert was happening. And I got to speak to a couple of them and they basically told me that they just heard what sounded like these fireworks going off and then they started like crouching down on the ground and tried to hide and made a run for it.
BURNETT: Sruthi, were you able to tell from your reporting -- and I know the deputy mayor says this is almost impossible to do. So, I know there isn't a firm answer but of course you're talking about six to seven attacks across Paris. At the concert hall where you are, there were hundreds inside that the terrorists were trying to kill. We don't yet know formally how many were killed, how many escaped. Do you know what they were saying about how many terrorists were inside that hall?
[19:15:21] GOTTIPATI: No, I do not have that information at all. So, I don't know how many people were inside. Even the people who were inside the concert, I wasn't sure exactly what was happening. They just heard a lot of screaming and shouting and they thought they heard what was, you know, fireworks which was obviously gunfire. But I don't know -- I don't think they saw anyone. They just ran out. Many of these people actually ran to a bar which was next to the concert and from there fled down the street and that's where we saw them.
BURNETT: Sruthi, thank you very much. And I want to let our viewers know now, as this fluid situation develops, we told you the siege is over in the club. One of those six or seven locations of attacks across Paris. We're working to confirm right now an AFP report from the agency France press that 100 people -- about 100 people were killed inside that concert hall. As I said, we are working to confirm that number. We have 100 people, I'm sorry, total. But we are working to confirm that. As we get more information, we'll going to bring that to you.
I want to go now though to our Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour in London tonight. Christiane, obviously you know so many people who are there tonight in Paris. The deputy mayor saying he thinks the numbers can go up significantly from the 42 that he knew of at that time. This is something that Paris has never seen the likes of before.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, it's a really catastrophic attack on a major metropolitan city in Europe. It's worse if it is more than 50 or so, it's worse than what happened here in England on 7/7. It comes at a time when authorities in parts of Europe, including Paris and including London, have said publicly that they know that they are facing huge threats. The head of MI-5 here about 10 days though said that there -- one of the most unprecedented levels of spread and fear of blowback of ISIS attacks in recent memory or at all regarding the ISIS' threat.
And on Paris, they had been on the alert for a while now because they are hosting this massive climate change conference which starts in just about two weeks from now. And they have started a huge amount of extra police, of secured roads, of securing borders and putting more border checks in place for that and to that end, we were in Paris. I was in Paris right near that Bataclan area, near the Place De La Republique (ph) today and I was interviewing elsewhere in Paris, on the Mayor Anne Hidalgo who is obviously taking, you know, a front and center leadership role in the crisis tonight.
AMANPOUR: Earlier today, I was interviewing her about the threat around the climate -- rather about the climate meeting. But what's happened is that this is a whole new level of threat with ISIS, the idea that so many French have gone over there. Americans, British people, people from North Africa, people from all over Europe who are able to come back with passports and are able to, you know, conduct these hit-and-run attacks as now that's what ISIS threat in Europe is shaping up to be, these Kalashnikov attacks, these hit-and-runs rather than something massive like 9/11.
BURNETT: Yes. All right. Christiane, thank you very much. And I do want to just let everyone know here, obviously, the incredible scale of coordination across Paris, six to seven attacks, it's hard to understate -- overstate the importance of this. And I want to, again, go with the numbers here that we are trying to confirm from AFP that around 100, around 100 people killed in that concert hall. Just that concert hall alone. Of course, the deputy mayor of Paris as you know just on this program has said 42 others were dead. So, if that number is right, that would be well over 100 people slaughtered in this horrific terror attack.
Jim Bittermann is in Paris tonight. And Jim, what can you tell me?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): Erin, I'm about 100 yards or so away from the Bataclan but it's close as you can get because it's all been -- the area has been sealed off by the police and army troops that are here with assault rifles drawn. And they are not allowed to let anyone any closer to confirm any of those reports that you have been hearing about. And I think we'll just have to wait until the prosecutor or someone else from the Paris, from the authorities here, come out to the press and tell us exactly what is going on.
But it does appear that the attack at the Bataclan, the concert theater is over now but the question is exactly what did happen inside and exactly how many people did lose their lives in there? And there is also something that has just come across from the respectable newspaper there, that's reporting that there were seven separate and simultaneous attacks at different locations this evening. So something was completely and highly coordinated and I think that's something that the police found themselves a little bit overwhelmed with when they had all of these attacks going on at the same time -- Erin.
[19:20:40] BURNETT: And Jim, let me ask you about what we heard French President Hollande speak to the French nation and to the world saying there's a state of emergency in France, saying that he is closing the French borders. What measures are the French authorities taking tonight and I have not heard, when is the last time or has France ever done anything like this in terms of closing the borders?
BITTERMANN: I don't think France has ever done anything like this. As the President ordered the border sealed -- the whole neighborhoods would be sealed off and we've certainly run into that already this evening and he said that there would be searches just at will, when soldiers or police see somebody that they think is suspicious, they are going to stop them and search them. So it's extraordinary measures. The President, when he spoke, was vividly shaken by this. I think it's something that is really just overwhelmed the officials here because it's just kind of a coordinated attack that they've never had to deal with before.
BURNETT: And Jim, we have also reported that the attack at the stadium, at least our understanding as of now, there were at least three separate explosions at that soccer stadium. They are reporting that that was a suicide attack. Obviously the situation in the club where you are outside right now was a hostage situation. Do you know anything about these other attacks? Were they all suicide attacks? What can you tell us?
BITTERMANN: Well, the other attacks seemed were all with assault rifles and there were at least two restaurants that were attacked and I'm not sure exactly where the -- of that seven figure but there are clearly -- there's something on it. But in any case, the other attacks appeared to not have involved explosions. The explosions that were heard at the soccer stadium, apparently one was by a suicide bomb, they found apparently parts of the suicide bomber's body as well as explosive devices and a short while ago and here at the Bataclan, the concert hall, in fact, we heard the police radio saying, you know, be careful for suicide belts, be cautious of suicide belts, that some of the gunmen might have been armed and had explosive belts on their bodies. So it's a situation that I think is a little bit unclear at this time but I'm sure we'll know more as the evening wears on.
BURNETT: Jim Bittermann, thank you. Jim is going to stay with us. As he said, he's about 100 yards outside that club. The Bataclan club. AFP reporting right now that the French President Francois Hollande, is en route right now to that club and we are reporting around 100 people were killed inside that club. We do not know how many were inside altogether. We don't know the situation of how they died. But the reporting right now, around 100 people lost their lives in that club alone. One of seven locations in attacks across Paris. I want to show you the video right now that we have just coming in of the S.W.A.T. team storming that club. I'll talk you through this. We don't have audio with this but this is the S.W.A.T. team storming that club.
Okay. So this is what exactly happened, as I said, we don't know how many people were inside. Hundreds perhaps. We know that many people were able to escape. And again AFP reporting, we are now reporting around 100 of them lost their lives inside that club. We do not know how. We do not know how many. We understand it was terrorists with assault rifles.
I want to go to Pamela Brown now in Washington. Pam, you've been working your sources. And what are you learning? PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you,
Erin, just about every official I've spoken with in the counterterrorism community, intelligence community, they are alarmed by the methodology, the preplanning that went in to these coordinated attacks at six to seven locations, we're now learning. And the concern, Erin, among officials is that this may not be over, though it does appear to be contained right now at those locations we've seen in other terrorist attacks which is Mumbai several years ago, attacks that happened through over the course of several days.
[19:25:05] That is something that is in the minds right now of counterterrorism officials. That concern is very much there. There was an inner agency conference call, video conference call today led by the White House that is still ongoing. This is with all of the major agencies here in the U.S., including the CIA and the FBI to make sure that there is adequate information sharing and situational awareness and also make sure that there are no threats here and the United States. I'm told, that at this point there is no indication of any threats. But officials want to know, Erin, if there are any U.S. citizens that may have been targeted in Paris involved with this in any way. And that's the information they are looking for. Is there any nexus for the United States, either through the potential terrorists or through -- were there any victims, United States citizens that were victims.
That is information that officials are still waiting on. It's been very hectic. The information coming in from the French has been slow, understandably, because it's been such a chaotic situation and the hostage situation at that theater was just recently resolved. So they are waiting to get some more information but I can tell you, cities across the United States right now, Erin, on heightened alert, specifically New York and L.A., other major cities are boosting patrols at sensitive sites just as preparation. Though again, there are no credible threats at this hour. Everyone just wants to be extra cautious.
BURNETT: Pam Brown, thank you very much. I want to go to Tom Foreman. Tom, you know, the deputy mayor of Paris just on this program talking about six to seven attacks. Le Monde now reporting that it was formally seven. The deputy mayor was talking about how it was -- the police were not, you know -- it's messy. They were not prepared for so many simultaneous attacks. Who in a sense would be? What can you tell about where these attacks happened?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I know right now, what we really know about -- the only three that seem to be very big, they were all north and one was east of the traditional tourist areas that you would know about. That's the river winding through Paris. Let's go in to the Bataclan theater, which is the one that we have been talking about most recently here. This theater is a very short walk from the old offices of "Charlie Hebdo" and it is generally surrounded very tightly by these other places around here. Take a look at this. This is a picture that was tweeted out by the base player in this California rock band that was playing there tonight.
They are called the Eagles of Death Metal. The man who tweeted this out named Marc McFettridge, he was the base player. This was shortly before the concert began tonight. Beginning from a witness and from looking at the records here. This theater holds about a thousand people, maybe 1500 at the most if it's full. But again, this is what it looks like from the street there and, of course, a very different scene tonight. So that's what was happening at that theater. Now, not terribly far away from there either by foot or by car, you go to this restaurant, Le Petit Cambodge which is over in the 10th -- this month. The first one is in the 11th. They're basically districts of France.
This is a place that would be frequented by a lot of young people in a very densely populated neighborhood there. Let's back off from this picture. That's an older one where it looks sort of a close-up. There you can see, it looks like more typically. It is not necessarily a tourist place but it's featured in some tourist guides as a nice place to go to. So, we don't really know who would have been there but that was one of the locations. And then if we move off to the stadium further to the north, this is a very modern stadium. It's capable of holding about 80,000 people. From what we know, none of the attacks appear to have taken place inside the stadium but very close outside the stadium. So that obviously is a huge target if a suicide bomber had been inside. But we'll learn more about that and presumably, Erin, we're going to find out more about all of these other locations or suspected locations where it doesn't appear the attacks were nearly as effective as they were in these three -- Erin.
BURNETT: Tom Foreman, thank you very much.
I want to bring in our panel now, former CIA Operative Bob Baer, our terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank and the former counterterrorism analyst with the Department of Defense Jim Arkedis along with Republican Congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who has been getting briefed this evening.
Let me start with you though, Paul. What are you hearing? The Deputy Mayor of Paris saying, they don't know whether this is going to continue, whether they will have more of these attacks happening over the next hour, over the next days. What are you hearing from your sources?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, there is a significant concern that there could be more attacks in the hours ahead, that this is not over yet through the night or even tomorrow or in the weeks ahead. No terrorist group has yet claimed responsibility for this. I think we can expect a major claim from a terrorist group. A lot of people are going to be looking at ISIS, given the number of French who have gone over to Syria and Iraq to fight with the group and a number who have come back. There's been a huge concern in France over the last year since the "Charlie Hebdo" attacks, since the attack against the Kosher market, about the terrorist threat, particularly the ISIS terrorist threat. Really disgruntled and unprecedented terrorist threat. Every week they are getting new intelligence on new plotting -- Erin.
BURNETT: Chairman Royce, have you been briefed? What are you able to tell us right now? ROYCE: Well, first, I should tell you, our sympathies are with
the people of France.
What I can tell you is that there are 185 fighters in France who have returned from Syria and one of the concerns we've had for some time now is the request by ISIS that their fighters carry out attacks on soft targets in France. Three French jihadists who were is fighters recently appeared in a video and called for these attacks and ISIS formally does this on a regular basis.
So, the concern here is that this is targeted to civilians, soft targets. It's not like al Qaeda where they were targeting institutions and this is a new form of warfare, certainly we've seen the likes of it in Lebanon recently. Again, targeting apostates, as they call it.
BURNETT: Bob, what is your understanding here when we're talking about six to seven attacks which the deputy mayor said are highly coordinated? They don't yet know anything else. They said they've got no formal claim of responsibility. They don't know more about the perpetrators that we're aware of at this hour.
What does it say to you that in a city that was attacked in January in such a horrific and spectacular way is now facing this sort of an attack this coordinated?
BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, Erin, what concerns me is the French were on high alert. Clearly they were looking at all communications. They were rounding up anybody who was a radical, interrogating them, and yet a military size force was able to get in a military-style attack and took down these targets.
It all happened, as far as I can see, within 30 minutes. It's the kind of tactics you learn in Syria and Iraq. I would say offhand, we'll find out later, that these attackers have been in combat of some sort. They take on first responders. They don't try to hide from them. They don't try to hold buildings.
And as ISIS will do, they will get as many casualties as they can, as quickly as they can before the hostage rescue teams come in and sure it looks like ISIS to me.
JIM ARKEDIS, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST, DEPT. OF DEFNESE: At this point, I think we're jumping the gun a little bit if we're going to assign responsibility. As Paul said a second ago, I think it's important to wait for a claim of responsibility. As we know in January, the attacks were linked to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is a group in Yemen and does have affiliations with core al Qaeda.
What we've seen with this coordination is really an improvement of whomever conducted this attack has taken the time to collect operatives, to train, to acquire of weapons, assemble the devices and plan the attack. And this didn't happen overnight. So, as we investigate the attack further, there should be a lot of attacks that come out of it.
BURNETT: Bob, how do you think they communicated it? If you're talking about military-style assault, you're saying these people, in your view, likely experienced some sort of combat. Would every single conversation have happened in person? How would they have gotten the weapons they got? This is not the United States where getting assault rifles is relatively easier.
BAER: Assault rifles are very difficult to get in France. Of course, they are illegal there. They have to be smuggled in from places like Albania or Eastern Europe. This many explosives are unavailable to the public. They're unavailable in France, to the public.
I would imagine these guys, if they communicated, it was probably on the dark net, in coded and encrypted communications, peer to peer. Now, this is all speculation at this point.
BAER: We're going to learn a lot more by tomorrow. And they just stayed off telephones. They've learned. They've read Snowden. They understand what the French can do. You don't call each other on the phone. And I think they are getting better from the "Charlie Hebdo" attack.
I can't emphasize enough how shocking this attack is. Even in the Algerian war, there was never this sort of violence in France ever that I can remember in modern times.
BURNETT: Paul, this is something that is stunning. I sit here as an American with a feeling like 9/11, with so many innocent people attacked, going about their Friday evening as a deputy mayor said, on a Friday evening in their time to relax. I mean, it is impossible to truly overstate the significance of what is happening in Paris right now.
CRUICKSHANK: You're absolutely right. This is really staggering. They have closed the borders. There's a state of emergency we haven't seen scenes like this since the Second World War in Europe.
[19:35:01] And this is not just a one-off event. I think we can expect a lot more of this in Europe in the future.
Unfortunately, this really is just the beginning. More than 6,000 European nationals are traveling to Syria and Iraq, many joining ISIS, 1,500 back in Europe. I speak to intelligence officials. They are completely overstretched. They cannot monitor everybody all the time and that's why they are taking some of these emergency measures now in France. It's going to be a lot of concern moving ahead and there have been a lot of warning signs for some time.
I mean, back in January, in Belgium, they plotted a major plot, a gun attack, a bomb attack when they went in and also raided in eastern Belgium. That was an ISIS-directed plot. ISIS increasingly getting involved in the terrorism business as we've seen over the last weeks and days.
And so, this is a very worrying new direction, both the Europeans and also for the United States.
BURNETT: Chairman Royce, I would imagine this is very, very frightening for the United States intelligence. French intelligence, among the best in the world, we all know that. We know that from reporting on the "Charlie Hebdo" attacks, and not only were they the best of the best then, they were then more prepared and more ready for an assault than arguably anywhere in the world and yet this has just happened and they are admitting that they are overwhelmed and unable to fully process six or seven simultaneous attacks.
ROYCE: And one of the greatest challenges has been the sheer number of fighters that have gone from France in order to fight with ISIS, for example. We have some 390 that they know of that are fighting on the front lines. But as I indicated earlier, many have come back, 185 that they have been able to track have come back in to France. We have 250 fighters from the United States that have gone to fight in Syria as jihadists.
And so again, we have a similar challenge here in the United States in terms of those who try to find their way back and take the demands seriously that the is leadership is making. And that demand is to carry the attack to apostate civilian populations, attack soft targets, attack women and children, civilians. And that's why our hearts go out to the people in Paris tonight.
BURNETT: I want to let everyone know the deputy mayor of Paris has just told our show, told CNN that 118 people, Paul, is now the number in the Paris club and the latest number he's giving us. Of course, that number could change. That is the club that they stormed, the Bataclan, that 118 people were murdered there. That number has gone up.
CRUICKSHANK: And that's just in one of these seven attacks. And I think the final death toll could be truly staggering in the worst terrorist attack in Europe was still that attack in Madrid, 191 killed in the train bombings in 2004, but I think concern that the death toll in Paris tonight could exceed even that.
Certainly, the coordinated nature of this, suicide bombers, gunmen with Kalashnikov, hostage takers, we haven't seen this spectacular terrorist attack in Europe ever, you know, in modern times. If this is ISIS, it will be a huge victory for them. I think you can expect a propaganda video.
One of the things they've been telling their recruits is to film everything with GoPro cameras and if it is ISIS, we could be in store for a really horrible propaganda film that may be released by the group.
BURNETT: All right. Paul, thank you very much.
I want to just -- for everyone joining our program right now, anyone joining in the United States and around the world, bring you up to speed on this horrible breaking news situation.
Terror across Paris tonight. At least 118 people killed in a series of attacks across the city. We know that number of 118 from the deputy mayor of Paris applies to just one location, a nightclub. We know at this time that there were about six other locations. We did not know how many people have lost their lives at this time. Officials do expect this death toll to climb.
There was an apparent suicide bombing at a soccer stadium. More than 100 hostages were just set free from the concert hall. So, 100 people have been set free, 118 at this time died in that location. These are police who stormed that location just moments ago.
Witnesses who were able to escape that nightclub describing what they say looked like a bloody battlefield.
And in an unprecedented move this evening, France has now closed its borders. Police also urging all residents in Paris to stay inside.
ISIS supporters now praising the attacks on social media, but there has been no one claiming responsibility at this time.
The U.S. President Barack Obama has spoken out to the American people and people around the world, calling this an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians.
[19:40:05] Jim Bittermann is in Paris for us tonight.
Jim, we're just getting that death toll from this club of 118 people from the deputy mayor. What more are you able to tell us as the situation unfolds?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Erin, I've gotten a little closer to the club now than I was before and I can tell you that this is a really grim scene out here. There are probably several hundred people waiting around for news just like we are about what exactly happened here.
We understand that President Hollande himself may be on his way and we've seen a couple of what could be advanced guards of police on their way. It is a -- it is a grim scene and we can't really see what has happened in the inside. It's -- if those numbers are correct, it's just an act beyond imagination and we'll just have to wait until we hear from the authorities to see what is going on.
But the police are taking no chances. We just saw a car turned around at gunpoint by one of the police officers, a car that was coming too close to the area where they have sealed the neighborhood and the young policeman pointed his weapon at the guy in the car and said turn around and the guy immediately did so.
But if he didn't, I was sure that he was going to shoot. It really is a very tense scene out here because no one knows exactly to what extent there may be something else out there. And as reported earlier, there were seven attacks tonight, almost simultaneously. So, this is a high-degree of coordination. A number of attackers were involved in this. So it's still a very tense situation.
BURNETT: Jim, in terms of the attackers, do you know anything about their status tonight? Have they all been killed? Do you know? Do they know at this time?
BITTERMANN: No, I don't think they know. I think that's why the police are so much on their guard because they may face another attack here at some point. We heard a couple of rumors about other attacks but none of those have been confirmed and I'm not sure that there's anything more than just rumors, but it speaks as to how tense everybody is, that these sorts of things are happening.
We're seeing an ambulance going right to the scene and there's just been a pretty steady stream of ambulances coming and going from the scene. So, that death toll could well be increased.
BURNETT: Jim, thank you very much. Jim's going to continue to report from there outside the Bataclan nightclub in Paris.
I want to go now to Deborah Feyerick here in New York as the rest of the world responds to this, alerts rising everywhere, including here in the United States.
Deb, what do you know?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know is here in the New York City, NYPD, is deploying many of it is resources from its counterterrorism teams. They're sending them to crowded areas. This is not because of any intelligence that there are threats against the U.S., but obviously police here are responding to what is going on in Paris.
You know, I can tell you -- this is law enforcement's greatest fear. This coordinated chaos, simultaneous attacks, hitting soft targets. This is what police have been warning about since September 11th, these soft target attacks.
Think about it. They hit a sports stadium, a theater, a restaurant, a shopping area -- all almost impossible to protect and to guard against. And so they knew where they were going.
The mayor, the deputy mayor very emotional, as you spoke to him, Erin, basically saying, look, these attacks right now, they are contained but you could hear him choke up when he said, we don't know if these attacks could begin tomorrow. And that's what is so terrifying about it. You've got that carnage that has happened on the streets of Paris, carnage that obviously police departments around the country and around the world are fearful of. But you don't know whether in fact it's over in the short term. Clearly, not in the long term.
And so, that's why you're having this increased state of alert with France closing it is borders and with the police departments really ramping up to make sure they are aware of what is going on.
BURNETT: All right. Deb, thank you very much. I want to bring back now Paul Cruickshank, Republican
congressman, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, Jim Arkedis, terrorism analyst of the Department of Defense formerly, and Bob Baer, former CIA operative.
Paul, these numbers are continuing to rise and as we have to emphasize, we don't know what the final situation will be here and as authorities in Paris are emphasizing to us, they are not confident that this is over.
CRUICKSHANK: They are not confident that this is over. I mean, the sheer scope of this is really staggering.
[19:45:06] That the coordination of it, it all happening very quickly, and I think all of that pointing towards this being an attack by an established terrorist group, by a group that would have planned this, would have trained the people involved at several places in the Middle East where the training could take place.
But all eyes will be on Syria and Iraq which has emerged over the past few years as a major terrorist safe haven. I think if it is linked to Syria in any way, there's going to be a lot of pressure on the international community, on all of our leaders to act, to rid this terrorist safe haven in Syria and Iraq now.
President Obama today saying that ISIS has been contained in Syria and Iraq and their momentum has been stalled to some degree. But, of course, they've been getting more --
BURNETT: This happened just hours after he said that.
CRUICKSHANK: -- more and more in the international terrorism business we've seen a string of attacks linked to them. In Turkey, a hundred killed, suicide bombers. In Tunisia, on a beach, 30 British tourists killed. The double suicide bombing in Beirut.
We've seen plots thwarted across the border of Europe. The international community is going to have to deal with this, ISIS (INAUDIBLE), if it indeed is an ISIS terrorist attack here.
BURNETT: And, Bob Baer, talking to your sources in the intelligence community, what are you hearing?
BAER: People are telling me that are in Iraq now that ISIS for some time has been trying to what -- they are called recycle gunmen in to Europe as they get recruits in Europe, the ones that are trained, they send them back. This is coming from the Kurds.
They are combat trained, as I just discussed. They want -- this operational window has to go down in 30 minutes. They have been teaching them how to respond to the police, to draw the police off in to one part of town so they can hit the other targets. This may have happened in Paris.
But again, the importance for the group like ISIS or al Qaeda or the rest of them is training on guns. You simply don't go in to the center of a large city with a well-trained police force and not have people who have not been in combat. You have to have actually fired a bullet in anger and I think this is what we're seeing in Paris.
And this is what the FBI has been warning us about and this is what the FBI is scared about, Americans coming back to this country will do the same thing. It's a lot easier to get weapons here in the United States. And as Chairman Royce said, it's our biggest worry.
BURNETT: And, Chairman Royce, the issue also here again, we have to emphasize that France was prepared, was expecting further terror attacks, was as ready as a country could be.
They did not know this was come being. It involved multiple locations. It involved a lot of people. It involved explosives. It involved assault weapons.
Is there a great fear that something like that could happen in the United States when they say they are not worried, they don't hear any chatter, there is chatter happening somewhere that he that they cannot see?
ROYCE: Well, in the case of France, they had thwarted five previous attacks and in this case, obviously, they were not able to get the intelligence despite the effectiveness of their intelligence apparatus.
So, yes, this is a concerned and this goes to the original criticism of the full year that was spent with ISIS developing in Raqqa, Syria, and beginning to take cities one after another, Fallujah, Mosul, without any response from the United States. We did not use our air power back when ISIS was on the open desert road, despite calls from many calls from us in Congress, to use our air power to eliminate ISIS when it was a clear target.
And my concern is that as a result of them taking so much territory, they have been able to recruit worldwide on the Internet, bring fighters in, train them because they now have a terrorist state basically where they can train them to use bombs, they can train them how to use automatic weapons. And then ship those fighters out. So it's very much a concern.
BURNETT: Paul, you also are going to have your questioning. We know that France, in terms of Syrian refugees, have accepted far fewer than other countries in Europe, I believe what, about 20,000, a de minimis number compared to countries like Germany.
But you're going to have all of Europe now evaluating those refugees, whether they're going to take them, whether they're going to shut their borders.
CRUICKSHANK: We have to remember, these refugees are fleeing the same terror that we've just saw --
CRUICKSHANK: -- in Paris tonight. They want to get out of Syria. They want to get out of Iraq. They want to get out of Libya. They want safety for their families.
There have been hardly any cases of refugees being terrorists or getting involved in terrorist activity, maybe a couple of cases. But they are fleeing the same terror we saw in Paris tonight, Erin.
[19:50:02] BURNETT: They are. But the attitude in Europe, will that change?
CRUICKSHANK: The worry is that may be a reaction. You know, a reaction, sort of anti-Muslim reaction, and then you could get a vicious sort of cycle that feeds radicalization in countries like France where there are 5,000 people watching in one way, shape or form at the moment because of suspected ties to Islamic extremism.
BURNETT: So, Bob Baer, what are intelligence operatives doing right now, right now they are concerned this is not over, that more attacks could happen in the next few hours, in the next days, how when they did not see this coming are they going to be able to try to stop those if they are indeed in the works?
BAER: Well, Erin, the FBI is all over the net. Anybody who expresses radical views gets a visit from the FBI. They are looked at and end up on a no-fly list.
But as the FBI told me over and over again, it's what we can't see that worries us and again, the easy availability of weapons in this country and people returning. I mean, our police, no police force in this country is prepared for military style assault including Washington, D.C. and New York we're just not -- we're not prepared for it.
BURNETT: Chairman Royce, is that fair to say?
ROYCE: Oh, I think there is every effort to make certain that we are prepared but as you can see on the streets of Paris tonight, regardless of the amount of preparation, once they have the ability to train, once they have a sanctuary where they can test out bomb making capabilities and automatic weapons, they are now prepared to come back and carry the war to the infidelities, if you will. That's the way they look at it.
And so this, again, takes us back to the failure of having a strategic plan to take down is early on, especially from the air when we had the opportunity or arming the Kurds, which we did not do despite their repeated requests for direct armament. You had 190,000 Kurds still don't have the weapons they need to take on ISIS.
BURNETT: All right. And I just want to hit pause there for a moment, go to our Rene Marsh, our aviation correspondent.
We've been reporting, Rene, on French President Hollande closing the country's borders, an unprecedented move from modern France. What are you learning about what that means now?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: As far as airport activity, at Charles de Gaulle airport, we are not getting any word that that airport has shut down. I spoke to several airlines that say they are still planning flights there.
However, we do have an update from American Airlines. We know that there was a flight from Dallas that was scheduled to go to Paris tonight. They decided not to board that flight as they evaluate the situation. I just got off of the phone with a representative from the airline. They tell me they have cancelled one flight from Dallas to Paris.
There are four other flights American Airlines has scheduled to fly to Paris, however, they are in a holding pattern. The airline says it is gathering information to make a decision on what to do next. That could mean cancelling the flights. That could mean delaying them until tomorrow. It's really unclear at this hour.
But we're seeing several airlines with service to Paris collecting as much information as they can to make the determination will they cancel flights, will they offer refunds to customers but still fly there, but allow customers to bow out if they don't feel like they want to take the trip or will they delay.
This is the case for American Airlines. We have calls out to several others, but this is the definitive information we've received so far from one American carrier.
BURNETT: Rene, thank you very much. Just looking right now online, the front page for "Le Figaro", one of the main Paris publications, the headline there "War in the Middle of Paris."
I want to go to Maxime Dupuis right now, reporter for Euro Sport. He was inside the stadium at the time of those explosions which we now understand to be, perhaps suicide bombs there at that stadium.
Maxime, what can you tell us happened?
MAXIME DUPUIS, WITNESS TO EXPLOSIONS AT SOCCER STADIUM (via telephone): Good night.
What I can tell you is, we're in a situation, Erin, in Paris, in the stadium, because we were tonight at the center of everything and we knew nothing because we heard two explosion at the beginning of the game and sometimes in the stadium, there are little noise like this. So, nobody seemed to -- there was no problem from nobody and during the whole game, there was this feeling that everything was OK. Only at the end of the game that the speaker told the person in the stadium that there was incident outside.
[19:50:09] So, there was no panic. And the people that left the stadium, obliged some of them to come back on the field, to stay, because there was some (INAUDIBLE). So, they stay on the field, and they left after maybe 20 or 30 minutes. They left the stadium by the door.
And what is really, really strange is difference between the situation in the stadium and what we heard outside, there were helicopters, there were siren of police in the stadium. It was like a normal game of football. It's really, really sad day and really weird when you're inside
the stadium because you don't -- to know what happened outside.
BURNETT: When you first heard the explosion, Maxime, we understand there were three explosions, that the game continued as people were confused as to what exactly was happening. What --
DUPUIS: Yes, I only heard two explosion, really big at first but as I solute, in Europe in the stadium in football, people will come to the stadium, a bomb, not -- just, I don't know the English word, like during the bodies makes noise.
So, it's not a huge problem. We don't know what it is, but we only hear two -- sorry, two explosions and the game continued because I think it was the best solution because there were 80,000 people in the stadium. At halftime if you say, OK, there is a bomb outside, exit the stadium, there will be a panic.
You know, several years ago in a big game in Belgium, there was 39 people dead because of panic. It's really up to take the decision to say, OK, we continue the game. I think inside the stadium, people were safe and when the game finished, there was no panic. So, it could have been worse when people came back in the stadium because there was a little bit of panic outside. So, I think it was a good solution.
BURNETT: All right, Maxime, I appreciate your being with us.
I want to go back to Paul.
French President Hollande approaching that club and is now speaking out saying they will fight and they will be ruthless.
CRUICKSHANK: There will be a remorseless response here not saying who against in this point but remarks he just made, there will be a remorseless response from France against those responsible for this. Clearly, if this is linked to ISIS in Syria and Iraq, in some kind of way, I think we can expect a massively stepped up French response. They are sending an aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the Mediterranean to beef up presence there. They have been hitting ISIS both in Syria and Iraq.
BURNETT: Could this change the Syrian war as 9/11 did for the United States during the war and Afghanistan, could this change the Syrian war?
CRUICKSHANK: If this is linked to Syria and not is, I think there is a wakeup call for the Western world, that the Western world cannot allow this safe haven in Syria and Iraq to continue. It's too dangerous for all our security.
We just cannot have this attack repeated month after month in Europe, in the West. I think it really could change everything when it comes to the Western response to the Syrian war, if indeed, it is ISIS that is responsible. Clearly, a lot of suspicion this is some kind of ISIS attack
because they are getting increasingly into the international terror business and they've been promising and threatening exactly this kind of attack.
BURNETT: Right. Yes, at this moment I want to make sure everyone knows there is no formal claim of responsibility for who perpetrated these horrific attacks. We understand there were six to seven across Paris in these attacks.
We don't have a death toll at this time. More than 118 is the number we have. We know that number will be going up. We do not know what happened to those attackers.
There are so many questions we do not know right now the answers to.
I do want to make sure everyone knows whose watching, of course, the State Department is asking all Americans affected by the terror attacks to contact the bureau of consular affairs if you're in France. They want to account for all Americans. We're going to have those phone numbers. You see them on the screen. Please reach out and make a call to those numbers if you are there in Paris.
Our live coverage of the terror attacks continues right now with Anderson Cooper.