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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
San Bernardino Officials Press Conference; Majority of Americans Don't Approve of Obama's Handling of Terrorism; Father: Son "Fixated" on Israel, Supported ISIS Ideology; Farook Tried to Make Contact with Terrorist Groups; Interview with Lindsey Graham; U.S. Theory: Wife Radicalized Prior to Meeting Husband; London Witnesses Say Attacker Tried to Behead Victim; Obama Calls for Unity, Calls on Muslims. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired December 7, 2015 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] DR. MICHAEL NEEKI, ARROWHEAD REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: This is one in 1,000 because of the regulations and the time required, lack of budget. Most of my equipment comes from my own funding. Most of my training comes from my own funding. Some of my equipment is thanks to city police department, Fontana or Colton, which donated to me to protect me in the field, like ballistic shield, some from me, some from the county, some from the fire department. But the budget is very slim for this kind of issue. It's very difficult for a physician to work and pay his bill and do volunteer work like this and take off from work, too. So, what I'm trying to do here is pretty much bring the attention to the need because this is not going to be the end of this story. So, we are trying to bring something positive to end this loss of life in at least a positive direction. (INAUDIBLE).
JAMES RAMOS, CHAIRMAN, SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: Any other questions over here? We're going to go all the way around again. Any over here?
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm John Berman.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining us.
You've been listening to many officials from San Bernardino County talking about new security measures being put in place in the aftermath of the horrific shooting there. But also hearing importantly, what stood out to us, two officials, two county officials who were not only reacting to the shooting, they were there that day. Two of them were there. They saw that shooter and the two shooters, the two attackers, walk into that holiday party as they were celebrating and open fire.
BERMAN: Trudy Raymundo said, we held each other throughout the event and we need to hold each other going forward.
Meanwhile, we have new details this morning about the investigation into the shooting and the terrorists who carried it out. The father of one of the San Bernardino attackers says his son supported ISIS and its ideology, and was fixated on Israel. Also new this morning, a new look at the two killers. This picture
shows them entering the United States through Chicago O'Hare International Airport back in the summer of 2014.
BOLDUAN: Also new this morning, there is a lot of reaction to President Obama's rare primetime address last night from the Oval Office. The president called the attack in San Bernardino an act of terrorism. He also vowed to destroy ISIS. But what will it take and how confident are the American people right now that he can make good on that promise? Well, a new poll out says six of 10 Americans don't approve of the way the president is handling the fight against terrorism at the moment.
Dan Simon's in San Bernardino. Let's get straight to Dan, though, first, on the very latest on the investigation into this horrific terrorist attack. Dan?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Kate. First of all, the scene you just watched in that conference room was pretty extraordinary. You had all these people from the county who have really been put through the wringer saying, we are not going to be defeated, despite the fact this horrible thing happened in our community. We're going to stand strong and move forward.
In terms of the investigation going forward, we learned something pretty significant over the weekend, and that is the father of Syed Farook, the shooter, actually spoke to an Italian newspaper. He said his son identified with al Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. That's pretty significant, which means in his core that he believes in the killing of Americans. Now, the father never reported that, so, of course, there are going to be some questions there.
In addition, we're also learning that law enforcement sources are under the impression or under the belief that the wife was the one who was radicalized first. That, perhaps, she turned -- perhaps turned her husband. That is something that is going to be part of the investigation.
We also know that authorities are trying to learn as much as they can from the electronic data, but we do know that computers and hard drives and phones were destroyed. So, they're apparently having a difficult time getting some of that stuff off the phones and computers, et cetera -- John and Kate?
BERMAN: Dan Simon for us in San Bernardino.
I want to talk now about the investigation with CNN counterterrorism analyst, Phil Mudd. He was also a counterterrorism official at the CIA.
In addition to the things we heard from Dan right there, we're also learning investigators now think that Syed Farook tried to make contact, perhaps, with terrorist groups outside the United States. An interesting list, al Shabaab and also al Nusra, which operates inside Syria, too. How hard is it to detect these types of conversations or this type of outreach as it's happening? How come these things are missed?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think you've got to look at this from two perspectives. Historically, after 9/11, you're looking at the nerve center of al Qaeda, saying I want to penetrate the organization, phones, e-mails, human source penetrations to see what operatives they're sending into Europe or the United States. What we're finding now in the case of the past few years with this homegrown phenomenon is you have to take 330 million Americans and figure out who's going in the other direction. That's phone, e-mail, human connections on 330 million people. If you think a lot of them aren't interested in al Shabaab in Somalia, al Qaeda in Yemen, ISIS, they're looking at that every day. A high school student researching, for example. So when you have this homegrown phenomenon, the fact you don't have a nerve center to target is a big problem.
[11:35:19] BOLDUAN: Also the big question that no one's been able to answer yes, were there -- were there red flags? What was missed? Where could it have been seen? We learned this morning that Pakistani security forces actually raided the home of Tashfeen Malik's father in Pakistan. What are they looking for? Or is this just part of, in your experience, beating down -- beating down all the doors and looking for some clue?
MUDD: They've got a couple of motivations. The first is political. That s we've got to prove to the world after a history of terrorism emanating from Pakistan that we're doing everything we can. There is a professional piece of this. When you're involved in an investigation like this, you want to find any threat of communication. I'd be most worried or most interested in hard drives or cell phones. We have very limited connectivity out of the couple in California. Is there more from the family before the daughter, for example, left Saudi Arabia? Did she communicate with them after she left about radicalization? A lot of questions we don't have answers to.
BERMAN: Phil, you spent years, literally o the front lines battling terror and terrorists. Based on what you've seen in the past and what we're seeing now, you know, are you prepared to tell the American people there are some attacks, maybe San Bernardino was one of them, that just can't be stopped?
MUDD: Well, we say that already. We say that in regard to drug violence in this country. We say it in regard to gang violence. Both of which are networked adversaries that use phone, e-mail, et cetera. This new phenomenon, we can't seem to be able to say that yet. That said, I do think going forward, cases outside this, we will have opportunities. Opportunities to talk to Silicon Valley about self- policing, how to get this stuff off Facebook and Twitter. We'll have difficult conversations in this country about the balance between giving someone from Europe a visa and holding back American business by slowing down visas in Europe. I think there are conversations. I don't think as the pendulum shifts that the national conversation yet is talking about what pain those resolutions might bring. For example, on visas, a lot of businesses are going to say, I don't want it to be tougher for someone to travel here, I have to make money.
BOLDUAN: Phil, great to see you. Thanks so much. MUDD: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Only the beginning of what they can learn and what more we need to talk to you about.
Thanks so much. Great to see you.
BOLDUAN: So, the big question also, what role did the wife play in this attack? There's a lot surrounding that. You're about to hear from the people who knew her, including what happened at her university in Pakistan once she left it. BERMAN: Plus, a man in London apparently tried to behead someone,
shouting about Syria during the stabbing spree. New information about chilling pictures found on his phone.
But first, the man who says another 9/11-style attack is coming to the United States, blasting the president's speech on the ISIS threat. Why Republican presidential candidate, Lindsey Graham, says the commander-in-chief's strategy just doesn't cut it.
[11:42:21] BERMAN: Weak, misleading, pathetic -- that's just some of the reaction from the Republicans candidates' reaction from last night's speech from President Obama. This is a small sample of what he said in just his third primetime address ever from the Oval Office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our success won't depend on tough talk nor abandoning our values or giving in to fear. That's what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless, and by drawing upon every aspect of American power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And now for the first time in CNN polling, a majority of Americans say the United States should send ground troops to Iraq or Syria to fight ISIS. This is a poll that was taken before the attack in San Bernardino, but after the attacks in Paris.
Our next guest has been calling for that for months. Senator Lindsey Graham, a key member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Republican presidential candidate.
Senator, thank you so much for coming in.
BOLDUAN: A lot on the table, especially in light of the president speaking last night. And he put a lot of focus in his speech, some on Congress, and what he wants to see Congress do. One thing the president called for is give me authorization for use of military force so we can send a message to the world that we're all together in this fight against ISIS. You said you're ready to stand with the president on this. What are you ready to do?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think his strategy toward ISIL is not working, will never work. But I want to help this president and future presidents. If I'm not the future president, the next president needs the authority to destroy ISIL because it's not going to happen on Obama's watch unless he changes strategy.
So here's what I offer President Obama. I'm going to send him a letter today. Last Thursday, I introduced an Authorization to Use Military Force allowing this president to use whatever means necessary, not limited by geography or time, to destroy ISIL before they hit us here at home. So, that's exactly what we did after 9/11. We came up with an Authorization to Use Force, not limited by geography, time or means. I am willing to do that for this president because he's right to ask Congress to help him.
Now, Mr. President, will you back what I'm doing?
The last authorization he introduced a three-year time limit and no ground troops. That hurts the war effort.
Mr. President, I want to give you whatever authority you need to destroy ISIL and future presidents after you.
BERMAN: To be clear, you are offering to lead the effort in Congress for an Authorization of Use of Force, but not -- not the one he has been asking for, not one that puts limits, no ground troops and puts a limit and has to be reauthorized in three years.
[11:45:08] GRAHAM: Because you're telling the enemy you're not serious about destroying them. Nobody in their right mind goes to war for three years. Nobody in their right mind goes to war to destroy somebody, but I won't use ground troops. It hurts the cause to put those limitations.
BOLDUAN: You also say --
GRAHAM: I want to do for this president what we did after 9/11. Give him the authority to go after ISIL. And I think they're more lethal than al Qaeda.
BOLDUAN: In talking about 9/11, that's kind of why, the aftermath of 9/11, the vote to go into Iraq, the previous votes that folks have taken after an attack -- after a terrorist attack is why a lot of members of Congress are afraid to take another vote like this. Do you think you can get people on board?
GRAHAM: Well, get out of politics if you're afraid to defend the nation. How could you not be afraid of another 9/11 coming? From Syria, planned by ISIL. I did my 36th trip a week ago today. The president is misleading us about the 65-nation coalition. It's only on paper. The air campaign has some success, but it is not destroying ISIL. There is nobody left in Syria to work with that could destroy ISIL.
BOLDUAN: Chances you think Congress will vote on this?
GRAHAM: I'm telling you, if the president would back my authorization, it would pass overwhelmingly.
BERMAN: People are scared right now.
GRAHAM: They should be.
BERMAN: People are scared after what happened in San Bernardino.
GRAHAM: They should be.
BERMAN: How do you explain to them what you're offering to do here will help stop San Bernardino? Because these people, this couple was apparently terrorist shopping. They were reaching out to al Shabaab and al Nusra.
BERMAN: Even if you take Raqqa, how can you guarantee to the American people that this couple is not going to find some other inspiration for their deadly attacks?
GRAHAM: I can't guarantee to the American people that terrorism goes away, but I can guarantee you we can destroy the caliphate. This is not a terrorist organization. It's a terrorist army. And she pledged allegiance to al Baghdadi before the attack. She'll have a hard time pledging allegiance to him if he's dead. Please understand, terrorist organizations and ISIL are different. They have six million people under their control. They hold the land the size of Indiana. They're a terrorist army, not an organization. Without land, they die. They're more lethal than al Qaeda. There is no good reason to allow the caliphate to continue to exist. Syria and Jordan are victims of the civil war -- excuse me -- Jordan and Lebanon are victims of the civil war in Syria. There is no answer other than destroying ISIL. The president's got the right goal. He just doesn't have the right strategy.
BOLDUAN: You point to your strength on foreign policy as the reason that sets you apart from other presidential candidates running. One of the things that has also been your strategy has been New Hampshire. We do want to ask you about politics. Our big debate is coming up next week.
GRAHAM: Sure. Sure.
BOLDUAN: New Hampshire has been your strategy. What happens if you don't take top spot or a top spot in New Hampshire?
GRAHAM: I'll have to re-evaluate my campaign. I'm not running just to win South Carolina.
BOLDUAN: Do you see getting out before you have to win votes in your home state?
GRAHAM: I see myself having to break through in New Hampshire. That's where John McCain won twice. He's endorsed me. For two years, Kate, I've been talking about a strategy that required American boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria, part of a regional army. There is no indigenous force in Syria that can destroy the caliphate. The Arabs in Turkey are ready to go, but have you to put Assad on the table because he's a puppet of Iran. I've laid out a plan that will work. People are coming my way within the party. But if I don't break through New Hampshire, I re-evaluate my campaign. What I'm trying to tell people is I'm ready to be commander-in-chief. I saw this coming before anybody else. I have a plan that will lead to ISIL's destruction.
But, John, you asked the best question. Is that --
BOLDUAN: Actually, mine are generally better.
GRAHAM: No, about how you win the war. You empower others. You offer a hopeful life versus a glorious death. You build small schoolhouses for young, poor girls throughout the Mideast you wouldn't send your dog to, to give them an education, to give them a voice about their children. It's about empowering people, not just killing terrorists. I've got that. But you can't do it without security.
BERMAN: Senator Lindsey Graham, great to have you here with us.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
BERMAN: Before you get to New Hampshire, you've got the CNN debate next week in Las Vegas.
GRAHAM: I'll be there. Little short guy. You can't miss me.
BERMAN: Tuesday night.
BERMAN: Senator Graham, thank you.
BOLDUAN: Thank you, Senator. Thank you so much.
BERMAN: We have brand new clues this morning into the San Bernardino attackers, and if the wife, Tashfeen Malik, could have been the driving force in these attacks. This is what we know at this moment. She was born into a wealthy Pakistani family. She grew up in Saudi Arabia. She returned to Pakistan in 2007 to earn her pharmacy degree. According to "The New York Times," after she left, her university was so concerned about radicalization that officials began monitoring the campus for extremist activity.
BOLDUAN: One of Malik's professors described her as just an ordinary student, though.
Let's get to CNN's correspondent, Brian Todd. He's been taking a closer look into her background.
Brian, what are you picking up?
[11:49:55] BRIAN TODD, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, John, good morning. We're picking up kind of competing threads of the narrative of Tashfeen Malik's life in Pakistan before she came to the United States.
You mentioned some of those points there. We learned she went to Bahauddin Zakariya University, studied pharmacy there, got a degree in 2012. You mentioned that one school official described her as an ordinary student. But another professor who taught her there for two years, Professor Hussein said, quote, "She was a very good student. She always remained very busy in studies. I don't think she was more religious or anything like that." But there are competing narratives of her life. We have confirmed that she also attended a chain of religious institutions called al Hooda, a chain of institutes in Pakistan, Multan and elsewhere, which apparently preach kind of a puritanical form of Islam. An Islamic scholar I just spoke to said it's not necessarily considered fundamentalists, that it does not promote violence. They teach just the religion, not the culture, the art, or any other aspect of it. You get a narrow interpretation of Islam. We confirmed she did attend that institute called al Hooda. She may not have gotten a degree.
Also, according to various media outlets, quoting friends and relatives, "the Wall Street Journal," "The New York Times," they get a picture of her father possibly splitting from the extended family after he kind of also adopted a more district form of Islam with his own beliefs. He apparently, according to these people who spoke to those media outlets, distanced himself from the rest of his family. And so picking up some clues, John and Kate, of maybe the point of departure where she got more radicalized in her time in Pakistan.
BOLDUAN: And how it was all brought here and what happened then is another lingering question.
Brian, thank you so much.
We will have much more of Brian's report and you can watch it later today on "The Situation Room" starting at 5:00 p.m.
Thank you, Brian, so much.
And new details about a knife-wielding man who stabbed two people at a London underground station. Witnesses say the attacker tried to actually behead one of the victims. BERMAN: 29-year-old Muhaydin Mire is being treated as a terror
suspect. And this cell phone video shows the moments before he was taken down by the police stun gun. Chilling video. His first court appearance happened a few hours ago. And he is charged with attempted murder.
And joining us from London with the latest is CNN terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank.
And, Paul, the attacker shouted allegiance to Syria and what is going on in Syria, and said this is for Syria, and apparently had images on the cell phone.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: And he had images and content on his cell phone, which is consistent with being an ISIS supporter and ISIS flag and ISIS propaganda. And he had images related to the Paris attacks and also content and religious information about attacks in San Bernardino, and so it's possible this was some kind of copycat attack inspired by what he saw play out in California last week. There is a lot of concern now in the United States that you could also see copycat attacks from the extremists in the United States that 900 of them being investigated by the FBI now, and of course, some out there that are not on the FBI radar screen just like that from last week -- John?
BOLDUAN: Yes, and, Paul, different from the other attacks, this man has been captured and captured alive. What do you think, and what are the intelligence services, and police and investigators looking to get from him in the fact that he was maybe just inspire and he is a lone wolf and maybe he doesn't have any connections to anybody.
CRUICKSHANK: And that is what is seeming to be the case at the moment. It is somebody inspired by what ISIS is putting out there, and inspired by the past attacks, but if you can compare the attack to what we saw play out in California, one very big difference in the United Kingdom, this guy did not have any automatic weapon, and it is much more difficult to get a hold of the weapons in the united kingdom and much more difficult in Europe where they are more freely aware on the black market which speaks to what the president was saying about the availability of guns in the United States. More than 2,000 people on the terror watch list in the past decade in the United States buying weapons, including the automatic weapons.
BERMAN: Paul Cruickshank for us in London, following the news of the attack there, a man who perhaps some allegiance to ISIS.
Thank you, Paul.
President Obama is calling for unity among Americans as the country battles terrorism. In his address in the Oval Office, the president appealed to Muslims in the United States to address radicalization in their communities, balancing that with a call for other Americans or for Americans to avoid turning on each other.
Joining us right now is Farhana Khera, the executive director of the group Muslim Advocates and the National Association of Muslim Lawyers. Thank you so much for joining us.
Do we have the sound, and able to play the sound are from the president from what he said last night? We don't have it with us.
But the one things that the president, people said he made a passionate challenge to the Muslim community say, to succeed in defeating terrorism, we need to enlist Muslim communities, some of our strongest allies, recruit our Muslim Brothers and sisters, and they need to also find the hate within their own communities take it out. What was your reaction?
FARHANA KHERA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MUSLIM ADVOCATES & THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MUSLIM LAYERS: I was so glad to hear the president address the fear and anxiety that the American people are feeling right now, and naturally, after such and attack. But, first, I think his call for Muslims to address extreme ideology was a call to Muslims globally. Near the United States there have been imams who have condemned and continue to condemn extremist strains of Islam. And I think you'll see them continuing to condemn these deviant interpretations of Islam.
BERMAN: And explain to me the difference, because he said it is not just enough to condemn the violence, but it is important to condemn the actual faith that these people are following, but not the faith, but the interpretation of the faith.
KHERA: And as the president eloquently said, this is not Islam, this is a death cult. These are people who are taking a religious tradition and use it for their frankly twisted political agenda, and so I was very pleased that the president made it very clear. I think where the role for American Muslims and all Americans --
BOLDUAN: And what more? Because the imams have been speaking out and condemning, and what more can be done, because the president clearly thinks that more can be done?
KHERA: Right. It is clear that on the recent FBI arrests and investigations, the vulnerable Americans who are vulnerable to the death cult messages are not just Muslims, but young non-Muslims who have converted online and joined this death cult. So there is a role for all American, and not just American Muslims, to be vigilant and watch out for signs in your friends, and family and co-workers for signs of violent behavior.
BOLDUAN: Something that we are hearing from the folks San Bernardino and the federal investigators.
Farhana Khera, thank you, so much for joining us.
KHERA: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: And thank you for joining us AT THIS HOUR.
BERMAN: "LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right after a quick break.
[12:00:03] ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. And this is LEGAL VIEW.
We've got breaking news this hour. Right now, we are waiting for a live press conference to get under way. You can see the room in action now.