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8 Dead, 11 Hurt in NYC Terror Attack; Trump Orders Increased Vetting After NYC Attack. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 1, 2017 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The world is waking up to a horrible headline. We've been struck by terror in New York City again.

[07:00:19] We are here at the scene of the latest terror attack, the most deadly one since 9/11 in New York City. Eight people murdered. Eleven, maybe more injured. And the irony of it all is that it is in the shadow of the World Trade Center, surrounded by the best law enforcement in the world and yet, a man with a truck was able to make all of this happen, raising so many questions about how to secure yourself against this threat.

These vehicle-born terror attacks that we seem to be seeing more and more, is it coincidence? It it coordinated, who this man was? How he got to this point and why he did it. There was a note left. He made a very familiar call in the name of terror when he got out, but there are also some strange aspects to this terror attack, as well.

Where it was done and why it was done, the use of weapons that wound up being fake. So there are a lot of questions. Let's start with the facts. We have Jean Casarez on the ground with what happened -- Jean.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, the FBI and the NYPD are investigating it at this point as a lone-wolf terror attack. We are standing so close to the World Trade Center where yesterday afternoon about 3:05, 11 people were injured, and eight people lost their lives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got multiple casualties. This is a mass casualty situation here.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Terrifying moments in downtown Manhattan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need traffic shut down from the 14th Street on the West Side Highway. It's going to be a crime scene.

CASAREZ: A pick-up truck barreling down a busy bike and footpath for nearly a mile, the carnage ending just blocks from the World Trade Center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just out of nowhere, I hear -- see people -- I see people running and screaming, and then just multiple gunshots, one after another.

CASAREZ: Police say the suspect, 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, was shot in the stomach and remains hospitalized. A law enforcement source says a note was found near the truck, saying the attack was done in the name of ISIS.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: There's no evidence that suggests a wider plot, or a wider scheme. We will be vigilant.

CASAREZ: Saipov, a native of Uzbekistan, came to the United States in 2010. In 2013, he married a young woman, also from Uzbekistan, in Ohio. The occupation listed on his marriage license, truck driver.

Law enforcement sources tell CNN Saipov is connected to a residence in Tampa, Florida, but most recently lived in Paterson, New Jersey. Uber confirms to CNN that Saipov worked for them for the past six months and passed their background check. The company says they are cooperating with authorities.

Saipov was arrested in Missouri in 2016 after failing to appear in court for a traffic violation. Police say Saipov rented the pickup truck from this Home Depot store in New Jersey just before carrying out the attack.

At 3:05 p.m., the truck entered the bike path, driving south along New York City's river front on the West Side of Lower Manhattan, plowing into cyclists and pedestrians for nearly a mile. Bodies and mangled bikes strewn across the path.

EUGENE DUFFY, WITNESS: I see two gentlemen laying right there in the bike lane with tire marks across their body, and you can tell that they're not here no more.

CASAREZ: The truck eventually coming to a halt after crashing into a school bus outside Stuyvesant High School. The attacker, caught on camera, running from the truck, brandishing what appear to be two guns.

RAMON CRUZ, WITNESS: He was dragging his foot a little bit. He was screaming, and he was screaming in the street. He looked frustrated, panicked, confused.

CASAREZ: Police later discovering that Saipov was holding a pellet and paintball gun. The suspect was shot by a 28-year-old NYPD officer, Ryan Nash. One World Trade Center and Empire State Building lighting up in red, white and blue Tuesday night. Despite the attack, the city's Halloween parade going on as planned with tighter security.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: New Yorkers are strong. New Yorkers are resilient. And our spirit will never be moved by an act of violence, an act meant to intimidate us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CASAREZ: Of the eight people that were killed, we know six of them were killed instantly right here at the scene. And we're learning a little bit more about the victims, five of them citizen of Argentina celebrating together their 30th high school reunion in New York City.

We also know a Belgian national was killed -- Chris.

[07:05:05] CUOMO: All right, Jean. Thank you very much.

Look, in truth life went on yesterday. It was Halloween, and we'll talk about whether or not this was a date that was specifically planned for. The parade happened last night. People were out and living.

But this -- this hit home. This is the deadliest attack since 9/11. It's in the shadow of the World Trade Center. And it's a place that's supposed to be safe. And obviously, the man who did this knew that. Let's talk about who it was, how he was able to do it, and what he means to terror investigators.

Let's bring in Shimon Prokupecz. He is a reporter and producer, very well wired into the investigation. We also have two great analysts, Phil Mudd, terror analyst for CNN; and James Gagliano, professor at St. John's University. He's proudly displaying. And of course, a law enforcement analyst. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Shimon, I start with you. The man, his name irrelevant, in terms of giving him any sense of infamy for what he did. But where he's from, who he may have known, how he got to this point, that is relevant. What is known?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And that is what the FBI and the NYPD is part of the Joint Terrorism Task Force are trying to figure out. They've spent the night, the Joint Terrorism Task Force in New Jersey at a home that they believe he was living at in Paterson, New Jersey.

There were search warrants conducted at that home, and we're hoping to learn more about that later. And they have been able to -- authorities have been able to build a timeline now of his movement leading up to the attack.

They believe it was around 2 p.m. or so that he left the Home Depot, drove across the George Washington Bridge, and drove onto the West Side Highway over to Houston Street, and then went into the bike path and unleashed his attack.

So they're starting to build this time line. Now the key for them is going to be who is he communicating with? Was he self-radicalized? As they now believe that to be the case. But that's preliminary, because they just don't have any other facts to say that he was talking to anyone overseas.

But the key for them is going to be, the investigators to figure out, was he self-radicalized, was he communicating with anyone, and also his other ties. He has ties to Tampa. He has ties to Ohio. So authorities there have been working through the night, as well, to make sure that there aren't any connections there that they need to worry about and are hoping that hopefully later today, he will likely be charged; and we should hear more information when the FBI and NYPD, when they hold a press conference around 11 a.m. this morning.

CUOMO: All right, Shimon. Thank you very much. Let us know what you learned throughout the show. We'll bring you back. Let's bring in Phil Mudd. I'm saying terror because of what the authority said, terror. He came out of the vehicle. He said, "Allah Akbar." He had a note that supposedly pledged some type of devotion to ISIS, said that's what this was about. You say not so fast. Why?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I'm saying terror on the outside, when I left the business. On the inside, I'm more cautious. I want to know everything from what did he tell friends and family? Did he have any history of any mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, an issue with a job? You're going back to somebody who's been in the country for seven years. I'm going to look at job history going back that long. Family history. That's interviews. That could take weeks.

I'm confident on the outside of what happened here, but on the inside I've got to follow the facts. Twenty-four hours or less in, I don't have a lot of facts.

CUOMO: He's an Uzbek. Central Asia. That's going to be new in terms of geographical significance. Or is it significant at all at this point?

MUDD: It is significant to me. The Central Asians were involved in al Qaeda. Back after 9/11, they've been involved in ISIS. That had dimensions here that are really complicated.

Was there somebody else in the community that knew? Did he ever travel. What's his travel history over the past seven years, not only in the United States overseas and that digital trail. Is he communicating with people overseas who are radicalizers? Are they communicating with somebody else in the United States we've got to be worried about? A lot of dimensions here., Chris

CUOMO: There is an emotional component to this also. If this was coordinated or not, it was still too damn easy. And I don't mean that as a criticism. But this guy rented a truck, hopped a curb, and went on a killing spree. I can't believe it wasn't worse.

We'll show you later on some of the home video that people shot in the moment. I mean, the devastation that this guy was capable to pull off maybe with no coordination, maybe with nothing except a black heart. What does that tell you?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It's actually something that law enforcement at the federal level are all right now working on and making sure that we figure out, was there anything we missed or anything we should have picked up earlier? And sometimes, it's just different. Evil people do bad things. And sometimes, they fly under the radar.

In this instance one of the things, to Phil's point, we have to establish, was he directed by ISIS? Was he inspired by ISIS or was he in a spiral? And those things are very, very critical. That's the difference between inspired and in aspired.

"Inspired" with an "i" means that somebody was being radicalized, meaning they were online. They were watching preachings and teachings from that part of the...

[07:10:08] CUOMO: It was put on them?

GAGLIANO: Absolutely. The aspiring is somebody that just hears something and says wow, maybe that would be cool. Like, it could be a copycat.

We've also got to keep in mind, Chris, three years ago, February of 2015, the NYPD and the FBI thwarted a potential attack three fellows, two Uzbekis and one from Kazakhstan that were attempting to go to Syria and join the caliphate. As the caliphate shrinks and we have military success over the Middle East, those fighters are dispersing, and they're also working hard on the propaganda piece, which is how we get the inspired and the inspirants.

CUOMO: Look, I mean, I want to be careful about something. I'm not criticizing the law enforcement effort down here. I can't believe that we haven't seen more of this. I live in this city. I lived here during 9/11. I was one of the first people on the scene that morning.

I thought that that was our reality. There's no question that they do an amazing job stopping these things. I remember, and you will do, without saying his name, that cat from Connecticut who -- who got inspired, came down here with a bomb in his vehicle. They were able to stop it. That could have been devastating. So we know they do a good job.

But these vehicles, Phil, we're seeing it now. We have a map that we'll put up for you this morning. It ain't a coincidence. Now, it could be copycats. Your point, Jim. But we're seeing more and more that they're using vehicles, opposed to the a new articulated means of doing terror?

MUDD: Is this coincidence. Is this copycat, or is this coordination of a new articulated means of doing terror? It is not coincidence. If you look at the evolution after 9/111 and the past 16 years initially, you had a group that is al Qaeda that wanted to draw an entire community of people. That's not only people who participated, recruits that people who are raising money, people who are radicalizers.

As Jim was saying, as ISIS loses territory, it does not have the capability to bring in people, even in the past couple years, to bring in people to conduct something as sophisticated as what we saw in Paris a few years ago. So they've got to put out the inspiration on the Internet. Those people are not going to have things like weapons training. They're not going to have the capability maybe even to build an explosive device? What did they do? Rent a truck. It's really basic terrorism.

CUOMO: The note, the fake weapons, what does that mean to you, forensically?

GAGLIANO: The note is important, too. Because Chris, there's a number of things we can draw from it. First of all, it is a type of manifesto. You pointed out he expressed fealty to ISIS. That's important to go to motivation.

But there's also pieces here. Was it written in his hand? I'm sure that they're going to work the subpoena to attempt to get hand writing example from him.

What about hair and fibers, other forensic pieces that are just basic police work to determine whether or not there was conspiracy or he truly was a lone wolf.

CUOMO: The location choice, New York, it is to the nation what the white church spire is to the village, right? It is the visible sign of aspiration. It is the white plume, saying that the way is up. Those are E.B. White's words, the very famous poem. It rings true today.

And to hit here -- literally, I don't know if you want to fan out to them, but we're in the shadow of the World Trade Center. This was a symbol of the resolve to never forget and never let it happen again. This hits hard.

MUDD: It does. And remember, this wasn't chosen by accident. He's not from New York. He's coming from across the bridge from Paterson, New Jersey. If you look at the rhetoric of these people for the past 20 or 30 years, and go after the head of the state, from their perspective, this is not only New York City, not only a cultural capital but it's a financial capital. If they hit New York City, remember the Twin Towers. They can damage the U.S. economy and the U.S. availability to project power overseas. Huge symbolism for the guys I used to follow, Chris.

GAGLIANO: And Chris, both of us having been here on 9/11, we lost 343 fire fighters. We lost 20 police officers, 30 something from Port Authority. We lost two FBI agents that day. It is visceral to us. The fact that he chose this particular spot. I'm sure there was a tactical calculus in that. Sixteen blocks, one mile unimpeded by barriers to do that kind of destruction. And as you pointed out, in the shadow of the Freedom Tower.

CUOMO: And you know, look, there are so many layers of irony when you look at this that it's supposed to be now the most policed place, that it's a symbol of aspiration, of positive things, as opposed to what this guy was motivated by. And that the reason he came to a stop was that he hit a school bus in front of Stuyvesant High School which is that it's free high school, that's it all about encouraging diversity and, you know, people from all over who come here, because this kid wants a better way of life, and then this guy puts a mark on all of that, Phil.

MUDD: He does, but let's step back here for just a moment. When I walked out of the White House Executive Office Building on September 11. If you had said the most significant attack in New York City in the next 16 years is a trunk attack that is -- it's grievous. But it leaves eight people dead. You would have said that's remarkable success. In some ways, the limitations of what he had not accessed to ISIS, overseas, I don't think he would have traveled overseas to travel. No access to special weapons. Couldn't access an aircraft. It shows you how successful NYPD and the FBI have been in 16 years.

[07:15:11] CUOMO: No question. Mean to take nothing away from those men and women, even the way they locked this scene down and ended it with that police officer from the first precinct.

Within just blocks he was able to get before he was taken down. And they have him alive. So hopefully, he'll be able to tell them a lot more.

Phil, Jimmy, Shimon, thank you very much. Gentlemen, I'll check back with you in a little bit.

Now, Phil is 100 percent right. This could have been so much worse. It was bad enough as it is, though. I'm going to show you some video. People in the moment, you know, everybody has got one of these now. Everybody uses it to memorialize things that happen.

This was a truly grizzly scene. For those of you who understand pickup trucks and are familiar with them, this was not just your normal pick-up truck. It was a rental from Home Depot, and the bed had been modified. It was heavy. It was heavy. And the damage it was able to do is a function of that. This was a truly grizzly scene that was seen by so many witnesses there. You had the eight people who lost their lives. Watch some of this video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: West -- people on Houston. I count three bicyclists. Some sort of terrorist attack. I'm not sure what it is. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

(SIRENS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there's a response.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Imagine living that scene, New York City. You know, this is where 9/11 hit that kind of opened all of our eyes to the reality of terror in the modern age.

And yet, life went on. People survived. Not everybody, but people survived. You had your Halloween parade last night. And this morning the city is bustling once again, although everybody has this heavy in their head and on their heart.

So we have two eyewitnesses with us, with us this morning. We've got Elizabeth Chernobelsky -- I get it right?

ELIZABETH CHERNOBELSKY, WITNESS: Yes.

CUOMO: Good. And Ruben Jacob Cabrera. Good to have you both. Thank you for being with us this morning. How are you doing?

CHERNOBELSKY: OK.

CUOMO: Did you get some sleep last night?

Barely, but, you know.

CUOMO: Did you get some sleep?

RUBEN JACOB CABRERA, WITNESS: Some hours, not much.

CUOMO: You know, you guys are young. And yet, this has been the world that you've grown up in. Right? I mean, 9/11 is in your lifetime. That's the reality of this. But no one ever expects it to hit home like this again. Where were you yesterday? What did you see?

CHERNOBELSKY: So I was at my school. And a boy ran in, announced he heard gunshots, and we were in a lockdown for about three hours right here. And I ended up on a pool deck watching out of a window with a few of two body bags and several destroyed bicycles. And I saw all of the police arriving at the scene with FBI, SWAT team, bomb squad, firefighters and other personnel.

CUOMO: Ruben, what did you see? Where were you?

CABRERA: I was sitting in front of BMCC by the basketball court. I was -- I just thought it was a normal day sitting out there for a few minutes. I hear some gunshots go off, and then I see kids running away from it laughing so I thought maybe it was some type of Halloween joke or prank.

Give it two or three minutes, I start walking in that direction to see what's going on, and I just see all types of police, firefighters, EMS rushing to that area.

So I walk over, and the first thing I see is one man laying down on the floor with EMS trying to assist him. So I walk up to the overpass where I can see an overview of everything, and I see a pickup truck from Home Depot that looked like it was smashed into a light pole. And then I look over to my right, and I see two bodies covered with white sheets and two bicycles next to them. And I was looking at the bicycles, and they looked like they had been run over and hit or something.

CUOMO: Now you know what happened.

CHERNOBELSKY: Yes.

CUOMO: And we were saying this morning, you know, life changes so fast in these situations. When you go on Google Maps now, that whole route that this madman took is now identified as New York City attack route.

What does it mean that this happened here and now? CHERNOBELSKY: Well, my parents remember 9/11. I was really young.

But it still impacts them. And they remember it and they tell the story. And it's really surprising and scary that this happened again, you know, 15 years later in the same area next to my school with all of these young children around.

[07:20:03] CUOMO: What do do you with this once you realize what it was? How does it impact you?

CABRERA: You just can't believe something like that would happen as part of Manhattan downtown. But then, again, we live in New York City where anything can happen. And all over the world crazy things are happening to all different kind of people. So I guess it's not too farfetched to think why would we be, like, special.

CUOMO: Do you think it's more surprising that this happened or that it hasn't happened sooner?

CABRERA: I -- I think it's more surprising that it hasn't happened sooner, to be honest.

CUOMO: Let me ask you something. People your age -- how old are you?

CHERNOBELSKY: I'm 17.

CABRERA: 23.

CUOMO: When they hear about that this, and they hear what the guy said when he jumped out of the truck, that he has the note, what is the reaction among people your age in terms of how to view Muslims as a result of this, how to view people who say that they're ISIS- inspired? Your generation, what do they say?

CHERNOBELSKY: Well, once it is identified as an ISIS attack people still don't try to put the blame on the entire Muslim race. You try to separate radical Islam from other Muslim people. So -- but overall, they know that the people that did the attack did have certain motives and, you know, they try to work with the information that they have.

CUOMO: Now, look, I'm asking because, one, you guys are part of a very rare group. All right? You're part of a generation that was raised with a heavy emphasis on multi-culturalism. And you're New Yorkers. You know, this place is -- you can't be here if you're not going embrace diversity.

And yet, you know, you're in your 20s, you're in your teens. We're struggling with what to make of the threat. And when people find out that this guy was a Muslim or, in his case, Central Asian, you know, and a member of the Islamic faith, they say, "There it is. That's them coming after us again." People your age, do you hear people having that same struggle, or is it different?

CABRERA: It's kind of different. Because from what I talk to, with people my age, it's more as if one bad apple doesn't ruin the tree. So one person from one race doesn't define a whole race. CUOMO: Why doesn't everybody think that? Because they'll say, no,

no, this isn't a religion of peace. This is what happens. Every time you hear "Allah Akbar," it's bad for you, my friend.

CABRERA: Well, I guess it comes down to a generation thing. We were raised on a multicultural generation to accept all different races.

CUOMO: You have Muslim friends?

CABRERA: Yes.

CUOMO: You have kids in the school and people in your life?

CHERNOBELSKY: Yes.

CUOMO: And what do you think that's meant to you?

CHERNOBELSKY: Well, it's helped you learn how to work with different people and stand united as New York and accept different cultures and races and religions. And you know.

CUOMO: And that's enough for now, right?

CHERNOBELSKY: Yes.

CUOMO: Thank God you weren't hurt. Everybody you know is OK.

CHERNOBELSKY: Yes.

CUOMO: Good. Life goes on. School today?

CHERNOBELSKY: Yes.

CABRERA: Work today.

CUOMO: Good. Elizabeth, thank you.

CHERNOBELSKY: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Hopefully you sleep better tonight.

Ruben, appreciate it.

Alisyn, to you. I wanted to have that conversation about the generational difference. Look, you've got to be real about these situations. OK? There is no question that we see a propensity of people that have bastardized that faith, who were involved in the terror game.

But how you view it, what it means to you, how you contextualize the threat versus a billion plus people who are members of a faith, that members -- that matters also. And you do see a difference generationally. And in this case it's probably a good thing.

CAMEROTA: So interesting to hear from Elizabeth there, who was a baby, obviously, on 9/11. And now, this is her reality as a teenager. It's just really interesting to get young people's perspective on all of that, Chris.

So we'll be back with you shortly.

But we do need to talk about what's happening at the White House. President Trump is tweeting that he's ordered increased vetting after this New York City attack. What does that mean?

And then in other news, a source tells CNN the president rejecting the advice of his former chief strategist Steve Bannon to take a harder line against Special Counsel Robert Mueller. What does that mean?

CNN's Joe Johns has the answers for us. He is live at the White House with more -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.

Hoping to get more on that today. The president has his intelligence briefing just a few hours from now. After that, he is expected to have a cabinet meeting. At that time, we do expect to see the president on camera.

There are no official remarks on the schedule at this stage. However, it would not be surprising if the president wanted to weigh in on the rampage in his hometown. His wife, the first lady, Melania Trump, was in New York City at the time of the attack and even tweeted about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump responding to the deadliest terror attack in New York City since 9/11, tweeting that he ordered homeland security to step up our already extreme vetting program, but providing no additional information about what the order means.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, the president sent a series of tweets calling the suspect sick and deranged and asserting "We must not allow ISIS to return or enter our country" before offering his condolences to the victims.

[07:25:11] The suspect is from Uzbekistan, a country that has not been included in any version of the president's travel ban.

The New York City attack comes as the White House is facing tough questions about two former Trump campaign aides, now charged, and the third who pleaded guilty in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb telling CNN the president has decided to stick with his strategy of cooperating with Mueller for now, despite being urged to take a harder line by his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, sources tell CNN.

One of the president's closest and longest-serving aides, communications director Hope Hicks, will be interviewed by Mueller's team in mid-November.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.

JOHNS: President Trump ignoring questions about former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos after it was revealed he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during the campaign.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What Papadopoulos did was lie, and that's on him, not on the campaign.

JOHNS: The White House press secretary attempting to discredit Papadopoulos and distance the president from him after Mr. Trump called his former adviser a low-level volunteer and a proven liar on Twitter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the coffee boy. He had nothing to do with the campaign.

JOHNS: This as a new court filing sheds light on why authorities place the president's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his deputy, Rick Gates, on house arrest. Both men pleaded not guilty to 12 criminal counts this week, including money laundering and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

The new document shows Manafort holds three U.S. passports, each under a different number. He traveled to Mexico, China and Ecuador this year with a phone and e-mail account registered under a fake name.

Prosecutors say Gates frequently changed banks, opening 55 accounts with 13 financial constitutions and that both men were frequent travel stories to Cyprus where some of Gates' bank accounts are based.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Now, we're told we could see Manafort and Gates in federal court here in Washington, D.C., as early as tomorrow. If convicted they could face upwards of ten years in prison -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Joe, thank you very much for all of that from the White House.

Meanwhile, a New York City bike path, the ultimate soft target for a terror attack. What's the solution? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: A joint NYPD/FBI investigation now looking into what happened in Lower Manhattan with this terror attack. President Trump tweeted just moments ago about this suspect.