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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Possible Suicide Vest Found in Paris Suburb; U.S. Issues Worldwide Travel Warning to Americans; Belgium Neighborhood Known as Home to Jihadists. Aired 7-8:00p ET
Aired November 23, 2015 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:09] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. The State Department issuing a rare worldwide travel warning to all Americans on one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.
Plus, investigators find an abandoned suicide vest just outside of Paris today as the manhunt for the missing attacker shuts down a major European city. We're live on the ground.
And Donald Trump claiming he saw, quote, "thousands and thousands of celebrating during the September 11th attacks." Where's the proof? Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, a new and disturbing warning to all Americans ahead of the busiest travel day of the year. The State Department alerting Americans of, quote, "Possible risks of travel due to increased terrorist threats." Authorities say, they believe groups like ISIS are planning to strike using both conventional and nonconventional weapons. This news comes after a shocking discovery that could be a major break in the international manhunt for the missing suspected Paris attacker.
Officials tells CNN an item that appears to be some sort of suicide vest was found in a trash can in a Paris suburb. Now, that suburb, according to reports, if you look at this map, is in the same area where the fugitives, Salah Abdeslam's cellphone was tracked, right on the same subway line. You can see he could have gotten on, gone a few stops and gotten off and it would completely match up. The manhunt for Abdeslam is at a fever pitch tonight in Belgium where the terrorist threats are at the highest level. There are new raids underway. There are a lot of fast-moving developments at this hour.
I want to begin with Martin Savidge OUTFRONT live in Paris. And Martin, what are you learning about this crucial, possible break in this manhunt, this suicide vest?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are a number of things, Erin. Number one of course, the all clear has been given in the Montrogue area. That's good news for the people over there. But again it's renewed, this kind of concern in Paris. You pointed out quite correctly that Abdeslam was traced into the same area where this vest was found. You can't consider that coincidence. There has to be a connection. And then there was TATP and the vest would just the same kind of explosives the terrorists used on the night of the attack. All of this suggested something but what exactly does it mean? The answers to that have two countries on edge tonight.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): City under siege, not since World War II has Brussels seen so many security forces on its streets. And despite nearly two dozen raids in the last 24 hours, there's no sign of Europe's most wanted man. The only known surviving suspects of the deadly Paris attacks.
ERIC VAN DER SYPT, BELGIUM FEDERAL MAGISTRATE: Salah Abdeslam is not among the persons arrested during the searches. Abdeslam was actually in the hands of French police just 12 hours after the bloodbath in Paris stopped in a car with two other men headed towards the Belgian border. They let him go since there was no warning for him at the time. Belgian authorities had since arrested the two men Abdeslam was with, charging them with complicity. Their attorney reveals something interesting.
(on camera): The two men say hours after the attacks they received a phone call from Salah Abdeslam. And then he sounded very upset, saying that his car had broken down and he needed a ride back to Belgium. The two friends came to Paris here and picked him up. The attorney stresses they had no idea that he was involved in the attacks. But the attorney also says the men noticed he was carrying something.
(voice-over) Quote, "A big jacket and other things, maybe like an explosive belt or something like that" unquote. So was Abdeslam planning a Paris-like attack in Belgium or was it something else? Ironically, ISIS may provide a clue in its statement claiming responsibility for the Paris killings. It praised the eighth brothers who attacked, quote, "Precisely chosen targets in Paris's 8th, 11th and 18th districts." But there was no attack in the 18th district. The only thing police found there was this abandoned rental car which sources closely investigation tells CNN was rented by 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam. Did Abdeslam fail to carry out the attack he was expected to do? Abdeslam's family says, he should turn himself in, speaking exclusively with Erin Burnett last week.
BURNETT: Mohamad, what do you say if Salah is watching this interview somewhere? What do you say to him about what you wanted him to do and about what he has done?
MOHAMED ABDESLAM, BROTHER OF FUGITIVE SUSPECT (through a translator): I would tell him to surrender.
SAVIDGE: That hasn't happened. So there's no way to know if Salah Abdeslam is the terror suspect who got away. Or, as his family says, the accomplice who changed his mind and ran away.
19:05:10] SAVIDGE: And the family would firmly believe that even stronger now, Erin, because with the discovery of this explosive vest, it's believed to be connected to him, they would say, well, see, he did abandon it. He did leave it behind. Authorities aren't so sure because they say if he did that, why hasn't he turned himself in? And they know that hasn't happened either.
BURNETT: That's right. Despite his brother's pleas to do so. Grew Griffin live in Paris, thank you.
And now, in Belgium, that manhunt for Salah Abdeslam is shutting down an entire city. No schools, no public transportation, government buildings all closed, authorities warning of what they call a quote, "serious and imminent threat."
Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT live in Brussels. And Drew, the city is paralyzed. Does it seem like authorities are any closer to finding Salah Abdeslam?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Truthfully, the answer to that is no. And keep in mind, there are two separate investigations going on here, Erin. One, the hunt for Salah Abdeslam, the eighth and missing Paris attacker. But this threat that they believe has led them to shut this entire city down is separate and above that. They have made it a point to say that the two are not connected, that this threat that they are calling serious and imminent and a Paris-style attack would be carried out by somebody other than Salah Abdeslam, other people that they are chasing. But again, they continue to make these raids night after night. In the morning, they let most of the people go. Last night, they did arrest and hold one man who they believe is involved some way in the Paris attack. But right now, they've extended this State of Emergency, this level threat four, as they call it, until next Monday. So it doesn't appear that they are any closer to resolving this situation.
BURNETT: And Drew, also, that they don't seem to know who is possibly involved. That they think there's an imminent threat of a Paris-style attack but they are not able to figure out who is behind, it is pretty terrifying.
GRIFFIN: They have been extremely tight-lipped. But in the past, when police know who they are looking for, they certainly share that with the public and ask for their help, especially after a week of this has gone on and they can't find the person. They have not even given us a brief description of the people they are looking for or what kind of things the people should look for so they basically panicked the entire city, tell them there's an immediate and serious threat and told them absolutely nothing about what it is.
BURNETT: Pretty shocking. Drew Griffin, thank you very much live in Brussels tonight.
And OUTFRONT now, the former CIA counterterrorism official Phil Mudd, our terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank and Seth Jones, director of the security firm RAND Corporation.
Paul, let me start with you. Let's just tart with what Drew is reporting. It is pretty shocking that you see an entire city shut down, no schools, no public transportation because they say there's an imminent threat of a Paris-style attack and yet they say nothing about who they are looking for. Do they not know? PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, there could be
very well be good reasons as to why they are not telling the public about that. But there appears to be some specific information that came in on Friday, that there was potentially another attack team out there. But clearly they don't know who necessarily is involved, what direction it's coming from, what the target is going to be. And so on and so forth. If they knew all of those things, they wouldn't have had to issue such an unprecedented alert. I mean, we saw that cell they broke up in Eastern Belgium in January. They didn't put out any alert before that because they were monitoring these people 24/7. They had a good handle on that plot. They clearly do not have a good handle on this one. But in light of what happened in Paris, they cannot take any chances.
BURNETT: Right. Now, Phil, let me ask you, authorities have found what appears to be a suicide vest on the exact subway line, right, where Abdeslam's phone was tracked just a few stops away. So, it certainly seems that he got, of one, got on the metro, got rid of the other. And could he really have gone home to Brussels? We know then he was stopped by police briefly at the border and continued on his way later on that very same evening. It's pretty amazing that he would have gone home to Brussels. It's a small city. It's a small neighborhood that is known for people going to join ISIS, going to join Syria. Do you think he just really went there?
PHIL MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think there's a chance early on he did in the chaos of the initial investigation, hours in when he's crossing the border. I don't think it's surprising that the officials would not know who to look for. I think the surprise here as you're heading toward Erin, over time is, with these number of people being brought in, these number of detainees, including raids last night, raid going through today, acquiring phone numbers, acquiring communications among this cell, for him to go to ground for that longer period of time, potentially in contact with or protected by people who are not identified in this investigation is remarkable. Somebody here has got to know where he went and when.
[19:10:05] BURNETT: Which is shocking, Seth, because none of those people has come forward. Now, when I spoke to his brother, his brother Mohamad Abdeslam in Brussels last week, he told me he thought Salah could though down in a blaze in some sort of shootout or some sort of attack. It was unclear what she meant. If this was a suicide vest that was found in Paris, do you think he has a different plan? Do you think it's possible he really did decide that he didn't want to go ahead with the attack?
SETH JONES, DIRECTOR, RAND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AND DEFENSE POLICY CENTER: Well, Erin, I think it's possible. We've seen suicide bombers or individuals involved in suicide-type attacks in Palestinian territory, in Iraq, even in Afghanistan, get cold feet at the last minute and decide that they don't want to go forward. In fact, that's why we've got, in a few cases in Palestinian territory, an ability to remote control detonate a vest just in case someone gets cold feet, that the challenge he's in now is he's got a no-win situation.
BURNETT: So, Phil, the other question here -- and you point out all of the people who might be helping him now or, as Paul is talking about, another possible attack and they don't maybe know everyone who is involved with it, during the major raid in Saint Denis, right where that house is barely even standing, I mean, you know, I saw it. It's barely standing with all of the shots, that they shot everyone out there, the people that they took into custody, seven of the eight of them have now been released. So, seven of the eight people, seven of them were in that apartment with Abaaoud. Right? So, they knew he was there. They knew there was a manhunt for him. At the very least, they said nothing. Those people have all been released. That's pretty scary.
MUDD: It is. I think what you're seeing here, though, is whether you're talking about Brussels or whether you're talking about Paris, I don't view that necessarily as people who want to cooperate with terrorists. I view that as a cultural issue and I've lived in Paris where people might be saying, we don't like the authorities. We're an ostracized community, we're not trustworthy of giving the authorities a call. So, to my mind, before we draw conclusions, let's not conclude that people wanted a harbor murders. I think the better conclusions that people said, we can't trust the police enough to give them a call.
BURNETT: So, Paul, let me ask you about another guy who now has been charged with accessory but not anything stronger than that. This is the guy who when the whole world knew there had been a horrific attack in Paris gets a call from his friend, Salah Abdeslam for whom there's a manhunt tonight and he says, come pick me up. He goes and picks him up. He would desperately wants to get back across the Belgian border. This guy says nothing.
CRUIKSHANK: Well, there were two of these friends, right? That drove through the night from Molenbeek and picked up Salah Abdeslam about 5:00 in the morning from Paris and then brought him all the way back to Belgium, possibly all the way back to Brussels. They are clearly talking to investigators right now but they've been charged with helping Salah Abdeslam in connection with these terrorist attacks and there have been many more charges --
BURNETT: How long do they go to jail for if they're convicted --
CRUIKSHANK: Well, clearly, you know, with an accessory to something like this, they are looking at a relatively significant jail time. But in Belgium, you know, the prison sentences are no longer near as long as they are in the United States.
CRUIKSHANK: And what we're seeing is that some of these people convicted of terrorist offenses getting out of jail now.
BURNETT: Right. Which is terrifying that they can go back and plan it again. All right. Well, thanks very much to all three of you. The conversation continues because next, several of the Paris attackers lived in a small neighborhood in Brussels that we visited and they are far from alone. Tiny Belgium sending scores of young men to the ISIS frontlines. A special report on the terror breeding ground.
And U.S. Special Forces heading to Syria tonight. Boots on the ground could literally be this hour.
Plus, the mastermind of the Paris attacks. This 15-year-old brother spotted in Syria. Carrying machine guns with ISIS fighters. This is not a Halloween costume. Is he planning the next attack?
[19:17:01] BURNETT: Tonight, Brussels is on lockdown. Authorities on the hunt for suspected terrorist Salah Abdeslam. For days, forces have been making arrests in one neighborhood we visited that known to be home to jihadists. It's where Abdeslam, his suicide bomber brother and the mastermind of the attacks all met.
Nima Elbagir reports.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through a translator): It's a nightmare. As a mother you feel, did I not give him enough love? Maybe I did not give him enough love.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We promised this Belgian mother not to show her face. Just her voice. Her son is an ISIS fighter. He's threatened to kill her if she speaks publicly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through a translator): Truly it's terrible. I feel so guilty.
ELBAGIR: And she's not alone. Hundreds of young Belgians are now fighting in Syria alongside her son. Market days at the Molenbeek town square, a sign behind glass reads, "Together against hate." The Paris attack brothers Ibrahim and Salah Abdeslam grew up together on these streets with the architect of the French capital's horror, Abdelhamid Abaaoud.
AHMED EL KHANNOUSS, DEPUTY MAYOR, MOLENBEEK (through a translator): These are guys who met on a regular basis here in my neighborhood. I can tell you that there were no signs in the clothing they were talking is unless their behavior of radicalization. That is the most intriguing. We have no ways of anticipating any kind of behavior like this and this worries us even more.
ELBAGIR: Salah and Ibrahim's brother Mohamed agrees, telling CNN's Erin Burnett young men in most cases able to slip out of Belgium undetected.
MOHAMED ABDESLAM (through a translator): Young people in my neighborhood who came up with this went indeed to Syria. I know it from the appearance, from their brothers, or from the media. It's important to know that some people have indeed been able to go there. ELBAGIR: Often, though, the travel would initially at least be
Molenbeek is now almost synonymous with the horrors of that night in Paris but this is a national nightmare. Belgium per capita contributes the highest number of foreign fighters to ISIS. Their communities, their mosques are struggling to fight back.
EL KHANNOUSS: There is a first contact to the -- to convince them. Then they get in contact with someone who is thousands of kilometers away and then the (INAUDIBLE) kicks in with tickets pay for the flights.
ELBAGIR: All under the nose of Belgian authorities. High security alerts, government raids and a nation faced with tough questions and the enormity of the task ahead.
ELBAGIR: The pictures there emerges Erin really is of an extraordinarily organized, extraordinarily targeted apparatus. You get really a sense that they know exactly the demographic that they are going after. Many of these young men will have always been, the word that was used for me was groomed, the word that we often hear in pedophile cases, from a very young age and then they start leaving at 16, 17, 18. Many of them will be completely distance from the mainstream, they will be criminals, they will come from families that have a lot of domestic issues. But all of that, being said, and a lot of people talk about this almost like the brainwashing of a cult, all of that being said, so many of those we spoke to into the community say that fundamentally, in spite all of this, the fundamental responsible at the rests with those young men themselves and the choices they have made.
BURNETT: Certainly does. And of course, young men like Mohamed, Salah's brother knows other young men, these mean are going to turn their friends in.
Back with me now, Paul Cruickshank along with Chris Swecker, former assistant FBI director for the criminal investigative decision.
And Paul, per capita, you heard Nima's statistics there. Belgium contributes the highest numbers of fighters to ISIS. When you go to Molenbeek, you know, as an American, it seems at least parts of it, to be very idealic, little cobblestone streets. It's not a huge neighborhood. Why is it? Why is it that so many of these young men are going to join ISIS?
CRUICKSHANK: It's a great question. I think there's several factors here. One is the spread of solid (ph) fundamentalism in Brussels and Molenbeek. It's a very viscerally anti-western world view and can make youngsters receptive to the ISIS ideology. Another factor is the fusing of gangsterism on the one hand and jihadism on the other hand. And we're seeing in the prison, there's a large Muslim, prison population and they are getting radicalized in jail.
And also there's been a snowball effect where early on in the Syrian civil war and this Syrian Jihad, you actually saw -- youngsters go from Belgium and when they got to Syria, they encouraged their friends to come and join them over there in Syria. So you saw it more and more and more, so a snowballing effect of more and more of these youngsters going over there. Probably there's a sort of problem to be in the city areas of Brussels --
CRUIKSHANK: -- and a certain amount of frustration, alienation for mainstream. You've got to remember that Abdelhamid Abaaoud went to an elite Catholic school in d'Uccle, a very elite districts of Brussels. He had every chance in this world. Ad so what Nima was saying there about, you know, some of these young men, it's just their personal responsibility I think --
[19:22:26] BURNETT: Right. Right. In his case, it wasn't as if he lacked economic opportunity or hadn't been integrated or any of those things. His family desperately tried to integrate him. I know his father's lawyer telling me how hard they tried to integrate into Belgian society. Belgium is a small country, limited resources when it comes to counterintelligence. Perhaps a naivete, part of a borderless Europe. Right? And this can't happened here and now this is going to be a place of wealth and progress. How does a country like Belgium track terrorists, terrorists to that are now threatening innocent civilians in many other countries when it takes 25 people to monitor just one person?
CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER ASSISTANT FBI DIRECTOR, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION: Right. It's almost impossible to keep track of the number of potential terrorists that they have in that country and, you know, that's pretty much across the EU. I mean, it takes -- as you mentioned, it takes a lot of people to conduct surveillance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It just can't be done.
BURNETT: So they have to prioritize what they do and that takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. Paul, what about the arms market? We're keep hearing about, you're talking about the overlap between gangsterism and Jihad. Belgium has a huge arms market. Many people are unaware of that? How significant is it?
CRUIKSHANK: There's been concern about these weapons coming in from the Balkans, the former -- we've got to remember what these gangster kids getting involved in Jihad, they have all of the connections to people who can get them every weapon under the sun. They have been in jail, many of them. And so not difficult for them to get very powerful weapons, Kalashnikovs through all that criminal contacts. We saw that in the Coulibaly in the Paris attacks.
CRUIKSHANK: They've been in jail. He knew how to get weapons. Not hard for these individuals to get weapons.
BURNETT: Paul, Chris, thank you both very much.
And OUTFRONT next, more on our top breaking news story tonight. The American warning, telling Americans to be on high alert for terror attacks. We have a special report on all you need to know on that move from the State Department.
Plus, Donald Trump says bring back waterboarding, claiming it's peanuts compared to what terrorists do to Americans. That story ahead.
[19:28:26] BURNETT: Breaking news, the U.S. just issuing a worldwide travel warning to all Americans in the last week along ISIS threatening to attack both New York City and Washington.
OUTFRONT tonight, Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. And Barbara, what more can you tell us about this warning?
BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is coming from the State Department as one of their regular alerts that we've seen over the years but this time, as we approach the holiday season, this one is causing a lot of concern, Erin. A warning to all Americans traveling, to be careful if you're going to be in public places, if you're going to take public transportation, if you are traveling to Europe, Africa, anywhere in the world. Be careful. Be aware of your surroundings. Be aware of the local security situation where you are. Part of this absolutely because of the ISIS threat, because of the anxiety about what happened in Paris, what we're seeing unfolding in Belgium but this alert goes further.
It talks about Africa. So the attack in Mali that we just saw, and other groups along the world also lone wolves inspired to conduct terrorist attacks, we are going into a holiday season where many of us have gotten used to seeing these alerts, these warnings from the U.S. government but that does not mean there is not a good deal of anxiety in this holiday travel season.
BURNETT: Certainly Barbara, they have the desire and as they have shown in Paris now. The capability. Now, you've been talking to your intelligent sources about what the United States is going to do about this. The game has changed after Paris in terms of fighting ISIS. What did they telling you?
STARR: I think tomorrow will be a very significant day here in Washington. The French president coming to meet with President Obama and the French minister of defense coming to the Pentagon to meet with the U.S. Defense Secretary. Expect the two men, the two military leaders to sit-down and talk about what they may do. What we are hearing is the U.S. would like to see both France and Britain put more special operations forces into the fight, specifically to join some of those 50 U.S. troops that are headed towards northern Syria. The big effort there is to help local Kurdish fighters open up some routes to get them to be able to challenge ISIS in its stronghold of Raqqa.
All of this really now putting more focus on Syria and more focus inside Syria to boot ISIS out of Raqqa if they can make it happen. It's a very tall order. ISIS has seen Raqqa as its de-facto capital, as its center of power for its leaders. But there is an effort now really to focus some serious firepower on that problem -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Barbara Starr, thank you very much from the Pentagon tonight.
And now, our national security analyst, former assistant secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, Juliette Kayyem, joins me, along with our military analyst, former defense intelligence agency officer, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona.
Colonel, let me start with you.
Obviously, this is a very sobering warning. It is broad based. It is based off of the MetroJet attack and off of the attacks in Paris -- a pretty frightening thing for Americans to hear.
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, I think so. And what we're seeing is that many of these terrorist groups being emboldened by what they are seeing as success on the part of ISIS. They watched ISIS' four operations and they said they are on roll. They've actually done well and they've demonstrated a capability to operate against, you know, Western targets.
I think the Mali attack was just symptomatic of that, because it was -- look like it was put together fairly quickly, fairly low level planning, a bunch of guys with some automatic rifles yielding a great effect.
So, I think that we may be in for a really tough season ahead as we see these lone wolves possibly in the United States and, of course, the ability -- and we've heard this from our homeland security people -- the ability to detect these people is very, very difficult, especially if they are clean, if they got no involvement with law enforcement.
BURNETT: And, Juliette, you know, in the past week, ISIS threatened to attack New York City and Washington. Obviously, they intended that to be a threat of planned attacks, but to the point that Colonel Francona is raising, that you have people who could be inspired by or motivated called to action because of those sorts of threats, what can they do? I mean, how could they know that something was coming in New York or Washington?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, the truth is, they may not know, and I think that's why there is advisories to get people engaged with their own safety and security. This is very different than post- 9/11 when the government was sort of like, we got this. You know, we'll take care of this.
I think given the nature of the threat now, there is a great focus on engaging and communicating with citizens of all these different countries because it's not just that you're going to have the lone wolf or the copycat, which are serious, but the difference now, as Rick was saying, is that the runway is so short with these attacks. If you look at what happened in France, at least with some of the terrorists, it looks like they were contacted, trained, planned the attack and then did the attack in two or three short weeks. That's very hard -- that runway makes it almost impossible to disrupt.
BURNETT: Which is frightening.
I mean, Colonel, you also have the possibility, you know, that you have obviously people in the United States who are inspired by this. You also have this issue now that is well-raised, right? That you could have people with European passports, who come off as clean, and who can fly into the United States on a tourist visa, no visa forms, no anything, just come in through customs, and you're here for 30, 60, 90 days.
How likely ISIS it that someone from ISIS has already done that?
FRANCONA: Well, we don't know. They could already be here.
And, everybody is worried about, you know, the refugee entry, using the refugee program as some sort of way to enter ISIS into the country. I don't really see that as the big threat. The big threat are these clean passports, Americans and Europeans.
And, you know, as we've seen, the Europeans are very concerned about the Schengen Agreement where now you can enter one side of Europe and drive all the way to the other, carrying weapons and barely even see a border officer.
FRANCONA: The United States also looking at this with this visa waiver program. I think we're going to have to look at that in the future, do we want all of these Europeans showing?
BURNETT: Juliette, what do people do? People are afraid to fly, they look at the bomb that ISIS put out, the pictures of what brought down MetroJet. Certainly the system is much better than what would have happened in the Sharm el-Sheikh security but it's far, far from fallible.
Bob Baer has talked about anytime they tried to take a hypothetical bomb through, they succeeded almost every single time.
[19:35:03] KAYYEM: I think that's right. And I think that the range of hypotheticals or the range of vulnerabilities in a nation like ours is someone infinite. And I do -- you know, first of all, tellingly, the Department of Homeland Security has not followed up with the State Department global threat. So, there is a difference between this sort of obvious nature of what the State Department is telling everyone today, which is be very careful. There is an increased threat environment and what we're hearing from the department.
But I do also think that we can sort of all live in anxiousness because of our vulnerabilities. But our own vulnerabilities are actually things that we like, right? We like mass transit that works on time. We like traveling. You know, the movement of people and goods.
And I think we're at a stage where we have to accept those vulnerabilities. We're never going to close them all off. Not given both the copycat nature of the lone wolf. But also, it would be impossible to make every soft target hard.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you both very much. Pretty sobering there, infinite possibilities.
OUTFRONT next, the mastermind of the Paris attacks, his younger brother, younger -- I mean really younger, barely a teenager, spotted in Syria. Is he on a mission to avenge his brother's death?
Plus, Donald Trump rallying in Columbus, Ohio, tonight. The candidate under fire over his memory of the 9/11 attacks and how one Arab community reacted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone): They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:40:26] BURNETT: Tonight, France launching airstrikes against ISIS and Syria from the Charles de Gaulle carrier. And while the mastermind of the attacks is dead, his 15-year-old brother has been spotted in Syria with ISIS fighters, his family has not heard from him in almost two years. Could he be planning to avenge his brother's death?
Deborah Feyerick reports on one of the world's youngest jihadists.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brothers joined not only by blood but now it appears by ISIS' violent ideology. Paris attack ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud and his baby- faced brother Younes. Younes was just 13 when his older brother bought him to Syria to join ISIS, stunning his Moroccan family who had been trying to assimilate into Belgium's culture.
NATHALIE GALLANT, LAWYER FOR FATHER OF ATTACK MASTERMIND: He called his father on the next day just to tell him, I took your son and I'm going to give him a good education, a Muslim education, a man education.
FEYERICK: The family's lawyer telling Erin Burnett the Abaaouds are convinced Younes was kidnapped.
GALLANT: The last news that the father had concerning Younes was this horrible photograph taken in February 2014 where you could see the little Younes with a big Kalashnikov, even bigger than he, because he was really looking like a child. It's the last image that his father has from his son alive.
FEYERICK: The father traveled to Syria to find his younger son, but was unsuccessful, except for these photos gathered by a Belgian journalist. The family has received no word whether Younes is still alive.
Terror experts say teenagers like Younes are extremely vulnerable to brainwashing and radicalization, especially from an older brother.
GARY LAFREE, TERROR ANALYST: Young people are the most malleable and most susceptible to these sorts of narratives, particularly when the message is coming from someone that you look up to and admire.
FEYERICK: Younes's father said that the teen never showed signs of religious extremism.
But with his older brother, Abdelhamid, now dead after last week's gun battle with police in a Paris suburb, it's unclear whether the teen will try to make his way home or become even more committed to ISIS.
WILLIAM BRANIFF, TERROR ANALYST: If an individual looks at what they see on those videos, they see children who are more empowered to defend Islam.
FEYERICK: A type of radical Islam that children like Younes are unlikely to comprehend.
BURNETT: I mean, Deb, it's incredible. We're talking about a child, 13 years old. His family now says he's 15 --13 years old when he was taken. How could anyone see that coming?
FEYERICK: Nobody can see that coming. That's what is so scary, especially to the families. Look, there are signs usually when someone is becoming radicalized. A 13-year-old doesn't even know enough about themselves.
So, it's really a quest for identity. His older brother making the decision for him and that's one of the reasons his family really calls it, you know, a kidnapping. But once this young man, if he ever comes back, he could potentially be very lethal and moreover, now that his brother is a martyr, he has a whole stature within the culture of ISIS. That also could ever prevent him from wanting to come back. So, it's very dangerous. It's a big consideration.
BURNETT: A big consideration. And certainly stunning when you think about it. Now, you're looking at a child, 13 years old.
Deborah Feyerick, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump speaking in Ohio tonight as his claims about the 9/11 attacks in Lower Manhattan are being widely disputed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: T1here were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey where you have large Arab populations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Does the truth matter when it comes to Trump?
Plus, competing terror groups claiming responsibility for the deadly terror attack in Mali. Are ISIS and al Qaeda now in a deadly race to kill the most?
[19:48:05] BURNETT: You're looking at live pictures out of Columbus, Ohio, Donald Trump holding a campaign rally as he finds himself at the center of another controversy. The Republican front- runner under fire for claiming thousands of Arabs in the United States celebrated the 9/11 attacks -- the statement that has been discredited.
Sara Murray is OUTFRONT.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER (voice-over): In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, Donald Trump is sharpening his anti- terror rhetoric, with some of those salvos now coming under intense scrutiny.
Trump contends he saw thousands of people celebrating in New Jersey after the 9/11 attacks.
TRUMP: I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.
MURRAY: Standing by his claim even as news organizations and government leaders call it false.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: You know, the police say that didn't happen.
TRUMP: There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down.
MURRAY: And tonight, Trump is not backing down, pointing to this sentence in "The Washington Post" story published a week after attacks as proof of his claims. The paper said law enforcement had detained people allegedly seen cheering on rooftops in Jersey City.
Today, that city's mayor said the reports were unfounded. CNN has found no evidence of arrests or a video showing Muslims cheering.
Still, despite that lack of evidence, today, Trump's main rival, Dr. Ben Carson, said he saw the same thing. REPORTER: Did you see that happening, though, on 9/11?
BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I saw the film of it.
REPORTER: In New Jersey?
MURRAY: Trump also talking tougher when it comes to the treatment of suspected terrorists.
TRUMP: They don't use waterboarding over there. They use chopping off people's heads.
MURRAY: Calling Sunday for reinstating waterboarding as an interrogation tactic.
TRUMP: I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they do to us.
[19:50:01] MURRAY: Now, this afternoon, Ben Carson backed away from his previous comments. He said that he did not believe Muslims were protesting in New Jersey but he saw a video after 9/11 of a protest in the Middle East and found that video disturbing.
As for Donald Trump, no sign that he's backing down. He just reiterated here in Columbus, Ohio, that he does support waterboarding -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you very much, live. You hear Donald Trump speaking behind Sara.
OUTFRONT now, our senior political analyst, former presidential advisor to Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, David Gergen.
David, he's been accused of exaggerating here. He wrote, though, in his book, "Art of the Deal," his bestseller. He wrote, in part, quote, "A little hyperbole never hurts. I call it truthful hyperbole. It's an innocent form of exaggeration and a very effective form of promotion."
Is he right? Is that what is happening here?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it's a form of promotion. It's not an innocent form of promotion.
And I think there's something very, very different from making exaggerating claims about a product, or when you're making a deal versus trying to run for president of the United States. When you go before the public and you play to their worst fears, especially about others, about Muslims, about blacks as you did over the last couple days with the tweet that was outrageous. When you do that and you also exaggerate, that's the essence of a demagoguery. That's what we called a demagogue. And if he wants to play demagoguery, he may get some votes for it
early on. Ultimately, it will come back and hurt him very seriously. People won't trust him.
And, you know, we're already seeing on the Democratic side with Hillary Clinton how much this distrust matters to her campaign. She's trying to get over it and moving hard. He's got to do the same thing. He's got to contain himself and acting like a president.
BURNETT: Now, he is as we speak, your face is on our screen, David, as is Donald Trump. Donald Trump is defending what he said.
Here's the truth of it -- people though, David, have claimed Donald Trump can't last. He can't last. Those people had been proven wrong again and again and again, controversy after controversy after controversy. The first votes are cast in 10 weeks in Iowa. He has been at the top of the national polls for 20 weeks.
Isn't it now becoming a very realistic scenario that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee?
GERGEN: I think it is becoming a very realistic scenario he could be the Republican nominee. When he first started, a lot of people said he couldn't make it. It's clear that he can make it. An ordinary campaign, the time between sort of Thanksgiving and the holidays coming up at the end of the December, things will be sort of frozen in place. The candidate would move and that's probably what will happen here.
But what we've seen in Donald Trump is he's capable of saying things that can cause huge controversies and just as Ben Carson, we saw Ben Carson went down fast when he said things and said he was over foreign policy. These things can shove quickly.
So, Donald Trump is not a safe candidate. He is definitely the front runner. He is definitely going to be hard to beat. Somebody has to get their campaign going as long as Cruz and Rubio are using each other's punching bags, it's going to be hard, either one of them to get in front of Trump.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much to David Gergen.
And next, new details in the Mali terror attack. Two of the most dangerous terror groups claiming responsibility.
[19:57:40] BURNETT: New details tonight on that deadly attack on a luxury hotel in Mali's capital. Two to three gunmen killing at least 20 people in the attack. Now, two Islamic militant groups have claimed responsibility.
David McKenzie is OUTFRONT. He is in Bamako tonight.
And, David, two competing terror groups claiming responsibility? DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's
right. Two groups that have cooperated and have competed, one linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. They are saying they planned this. They had two gunmen which killed 20 people as you described, sowing fear here in Mali and West Africa -- Erin.
BURNETT: And, David, you know, a few years ago, we hosted OUTFRONT from the northern Mali border. At that time, al Qaeda-linked militias were in control. At the night we were live, President Obama actually said al Qaeda was on the run and at the time, we said it sure didn't feel that way where I was standing at that moment.
How deep is the foothold of Islamic radicalism in Mali now?
MCKENZIE: Well, the foothold is deep but the situation changed. The French sent 4,000 troops in here, Erin, to push back the jihadi groups which were threatening to take the capital. They pushed them back. They managed to secure the towns in the region.
But these groups that we've seen from this attack have been able to organize, strike at a Western asset, kill Americans and others and the fear is by being cornered, they could become more dangerous and it really filters into that State Department threat that came out recently -- Erin.
BURNETT: And, David, what is the mood on the streets there? How much fear is there?
MCKENZIE: There is fear. There is also resilience but we were out with patrol last night with the U.N. and Mali enforcers.
You know, it's unusual to see big armored personnel carriers here in Bamako, the capital of Mali. We're used to seeing that out the way you were, out in the hinterland where the jihadists operate more effectively, and in the vast deserts of northwest Africa.
But they are here, these patrols, patrolling the streets, keeping the peace, checking for vehicles of any terrorists might becoming through into the town. But it's very difficult in these circumstances to check everyone so the terror threat remains, certainly -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. David McKenzie, thank you very much live from Bamako, Mali, tonight.
Thanks so much for joining us. Be sure to set your DVR to record our show. You can watch it at any time.
"AC360" starts tonight with John Berman.