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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Mexican Authorities Announce Recapture of El Chapo; More of Interview with Sen. Lindsey Graham; Terror Attack in Egyptian Hotel; Domestic Terrorism Discussed. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired January 8, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[16:30:00] PRES. ENRIQUE PENA NIETO, MEXICO (through translation): ... this action against impunity is the result of permanent work of dynamic elements of our institutions which for days and nights dedicated themselves to perform the mission that I ordered them to perform, recapture this criminal and turn him over to justice. To all and each one of them, I express my recognition both institutional as well as personal. I express the recognition of all of Mexico, they are pride to our nation.
This arrest as I promised had to happen. For months of careful intelligence and investigative purpose may carried of, which allowed us to identify, disarm and infiltrate the network of this criminal.
Today, Mexico confirms that this institution -- to face and overcome anyone who threatens the tranquility of Mexican families, demonstrates that when Mexicans work together, there is no adversity that cannot be overcome. Every objective can be reached if we trust in the solidity and the strength on our institutions.
With this operation, this are 98 out of 122 of the most sought after criminals who no longer represent a threat to Mexican society. These are criminals who for years have been harming our country. We will continue to face with intelligence systems, coordination (inaudible) and efficiency. We will face up to organized crime. We will continue to do this performing our duty because we have the support of millions of Mexicans who want to live in a country under a rule of law and liberties.
Because of that, today's arrest is extremely important for the security institutions of the government of this republic. Today, our institutions have demonstrated one more time that citizens can trust us. And our institutions are at the level needed to have the strength and determination to perform any mission that is granted to them. Faced with a great national challenges, Mexicans and the government that is sided and is determined to build a better country.
Today, once again, we have prove this. There is no strength like the strength of Mexicans working together, once again, here, from the National Palace I reiterate my strongest congratulations and recognition to all the personnel, to all elements of all the institutions to the security of our country who participated in the recapture of this criminal that we have been looking for. Thank you very much. And in the commands of the institutions, they are here. I want to ask them to transfer my recognition in the transportation of this criminal. Thank you very much and good afternoon.
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JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: That's the Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto right now finishing up a speech. He just praised all the law enforcement and military personnel involved in the dramatic capture of Juaquin Guzman, "El Chapo," the most wanted drug kingpin in the world.
[16:35:00] He thanked each and every one of the people involved. He also sent a message to the drug dealers, and kingpins, and masterminds all around his country. And it is a big problem there, that they are next.
He said he will continue the fight against these people. And he sent a really interesting message to the citizens of Mexico. He said our citizens can trust us. That has been in question since "El Chapo" walked out of a tunnel, escaped from a Mexican prison, the second time he's escaped over the last 20 years despite being watched by so many inside that facility.
I'm joined now by our Chief Justice Correspondent Pamela Brown. Pamela, again, we just heard from the Mexican leader talking about this success. Today's success after six months of futility hunting for this man, "El Chapo," who walked out of a Mexican prison.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you that law enforcement officials here in the United States, Department of Justice officials, they are elated with his capture. I have to say, John, there was a lot of skepticism after he escaped from prison the second time of whether or not he would ever be captured again let alone alive. He has a lot of people around him protecting him. He is a very rich man. And the thought was that perhaps Mexican officials didn't have the gumption to go after him and capture him. And clearly they did.
This was a Mexican-led operation to capture him. The U.S. did provide some assistance and support along the way in the search for "El Chapo," but the Mexican military they were the ones to go in and actually capture him. He was there in his home turf in Sinaloa, and officials I've been speaking with say that this was not a big surprise that he was actually there. That is where his safe haven was in a sense. His refuge where he was most protected. In fact, one official I spoke to said it would have been a big surprise had he not been there.
But given the fact that they were closing in on him couple months ago and that fell through, I think there was a lot of doubts. And this is a big victory not only for Mexico but also for the U.S. He's a wanted man in several U.S. jurisdictions including the eastern district of New York. There is an indictment there.
And I'm told by a Department of Justice official that they are in the process of working up a formal extradition request to Mexican authorities that was done before and denied, but perhaps it will be different this time around given the fact he escaped from prison for a second time in Mexico.
BERMAN: And U.S. officials want him here. That is the only way I think they believe they can keep him inside a prison for the rest of his life. Pamela Brown, thank you so much.
Again, the dramatic news the capture of "El Chapo," the Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto just thanking the people involved with that capture.
Our other major story today, a Philadelphia Police Officer targeted for an assassination by a man pledging allegiance to ISIS. The officer is alive. Tonight, we have new developments right after this.
[16:40:58] BERMAN: Welcome back to "The Lead." More breaking news in our World Lead, two attackers snuck into an Egyptian hotel, popular with westerners and tourists, and tried to kill unsuspecting guests with knives. That hotel is in Hurghada in Egypt, right along the Red Sea. You can see it right there on the map but it's not far from the Sinai Peninsula where terrorists shot down Russian passenger jet last year. This assault just ended.
CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto working his sources right now. Jim, what do we know about this attack?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, from what it looks like it was a pretty low rent attack, two attackers bearing knives into this hotel popular with foreigners. It was as they were leaving the hotel they were able to injure two European tourists there while they were inside.
As they were leaving police -- security guards rather, spotted them and shot one of them, killed him, shot and injured the other one.
It's a popular place with foreigners as you can see on the map. It's right across the Red Sea from Sharm El-Sheikh where as you know that metrojet took off from Sharm El-Sheikh, very popular with Russian and European tourist as well.
So this is the ultimate of soft targets, John and it shows all you need. You know, we kind of saw the whole gamut today. You saw a guy with one gun in Philadelphia attack a components. You see two attackers in an Egyptian resort with two knives, attack tourists there at a soft target. You saw a guy in France with a meat cleaver try to attack a police station. It shows just how little you need to go after soft targets in a number of countries, you know, inspired possibly by ISIS in all of these cases and carry out attacks like this. Really difficult to prevent these attacks.
BERMAN: All right, Jim Sciutto in Washington for us, thank you so much. Moments ago I was speaking with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who serves on the Armed Services Committee. He was nice enough to stick around so we could talk to him a little bit more.
Senator Graham, you know, we just heard from Jim Sciutto about this attack in Cairo. He notes that comes on the same day that we see this attack on an officer in Philadelphia. This comes a day after we saw an attack in a police station in Paris with a meat cleaver. This is happening all over the world at so-called soft targets.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM., (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, the way to stop this is go to the source of the problem which is destroy the caliphate. If you could take Raqqa, Syria back away from ISIL, most of this ends.
Again, I'm not worried -- I am worried about all kind of attacks, but what worries me the most is a Paris style attack with a chemical or biological weapon on our homeland. Every day that goes by, every day that ISIL stays in business is an opportunity for them to plan, recruit, train and penetrate the American homeland. So I'd rather fight them in their backyard than fight them in ours. And President Obama doesn't have the sense of urgency that I think we need to destroy the caliphate.
BERMAN: What does need to be done though in our yard? What does need to be done to protect the police officers around the country who could be targeted right now?
GRAHAM: Well, number one, you need to revive the NSA program so we can intercept transmissions from overseas inside to the country to direct or recruit people to help ISIL or any other terrorist organization. You need to have better intelligence gathering apparatus.
But all I can say to our police officers, you're a part of this war. You're a symbol of our country. You represent the good guys and gals. And just be on your toes to any military member and their family. These guys are after you too. So what I want to do is disrupt them. I want them to be worried about today being their last day by having a ground component that would be more effective in putting pressure on ISIL so this ends. And it will never end as long as the caliphate exists.
BERMAN: Senator Graham, one political question if you will give me the chance, you just got out. You just suspended your presidential campaign.
BERMAN: Your friend, Senator John McCain, has been saying that there are legitimate questions about whether Ted Cruz is eligible to run for president.
[16:45:00] You, sir, you're a lawyer. You know the law, what's your message to your friend Senator McCain about the eligibility of Ted Cruz to run? GRAHAM: Well, if I'm John I would say the same thing because they
challenged him. Here's where -- here's my take. I think Senator Cruz is eligible to run for president of the United States. That his mother was an American citizen. And it's not where you're born. It's your connection to American citizenship.
So if a baby is born in Germany to an American soldier, or a spouse of an American soldier, I just want to let you know you're eligible to run for president, in my view. But I understand what Senator McCain's saying because people are going to ask these questions. But Lindsey Graham has no doubt that Senator Cruz is constitutionally eligible to run for president of the United States. And I have no doubt that I can't support him.
BERMAN: But your friend Senator John McCain, you think is stirring the pot here, right? I mean, you could just tell him, "You know, Senator, there's no issue here".
GRAHAM: Well, there are other people who've challenged John. We went through a lot of inquiry when he was running because he was born in the Panama Canal. These People challenge Barry Goldwater. I say the same thing about Cruz I'm saying about John. I don't think this is an issue.
I'm not a constitutional scholar, but I'm comfortable with the fact Senator Cruz is eligible to run for president of the United States.
BERMAN: Maybe your friend Senator John McCain will take your word for it. Lindsey Graham, thank you so much for being with us. Senator, I appreciate it.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
BERMAN: Right. U.S. law enforcement catches a pair of suspected terrorists, men who allegedly vow to fight in the name of ISIS, but how they got into the U.S. raising some red flags. That's next.
[16:50:05] BERMAN: Welcome back to "The Lead." I'm John Berman in for Jake today. Our National Lead, troubling new developments in the domestic terror front. Federal authorities have arrested two refugees, one living in California and the other in Texas, on terror related charges.
We have new video of the suspect from Houston. You can see him right there. Both of these men, the one right there and the one in California accused of lying to immigration officials about ties to terrorist organizations. And we are now learning more about their alleged activities once they arrived here in the United States.
Once again for us, CNN Justice Correspondent Pamela Brown. Pamela, you're very busy, what do we know about these two men?
BROWN: Well, these two men were here in the U.S. They were born in Iraq, came here as refugees. One of them is 24-year-old Omar Al- Hardan from Houston and the other is 23-year-old Aws Mohammed Al-Jayab of Sacramento. They had been living in the U.S. for several years and they had apparently communicated with one another according to the FBI about linking up with terrorists in Syria.
Now, both men are from Iraq. They were born there. One of them actually immigrated from Syria and then later returned to Syria a year later after being in the U.S. to fight with terrorists that later joined ISIS. He was allowed back into the U.S. a year later. That is the man from Sacramento. The other from Houston had a lawful permanent residency since 2011.
He is charged with providing material support to ISIS, both accused of lying to immigration officials about their alleged ties to terrorism. And according to the criminal complain, they discuss things like weapon training in Syria.
And, John, these arrests today come amid a heated debate about whether refugee screening in the U.S. is sufficient. House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul held a press conference today saying they show, these arrests show why the U.S. should clamp down on letting Syrian refugees in, but the administration has said the process now for refugees is much more rigid, includes multiple layers especially for those coming from Syria. John?
BERMAN: Indeed. We have already heard about this as a political issue on the campaign trail today. Pamela Brown in Washington, thank you so much.
Our top story, the breaking news out of Philadelphia, the attempted assassination of a Philadelphia police officer shot repeatedly at point-blank range in his patrol car. You're looking at that picture right there. We have new developments right after this.
[16:55:37] BERMAN: All right, welcome back to "The Lead." Our breaking news out of Philadelphia, the attempted assassination of a Philadelphia police officer apparently in the name of ISIS, look at the surveillance video.
It shows a gunman ambushing a police officer in his patrol car, then moments of extreme drama and bravery as the officer calls for help.
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OFFICER JESSE HARTNETT, VICTIM: Shots fired. (Inaudible) I'm bleeding heavily!
BERMAN: Police say the gunman have fired 13 times, 13 times at Officer Jesse Hartnett. The officer shot back. He managed to survive. So too did the gunman. And he later confessed to police. He said he did this in the name of the Islamic state, for ISIS.
CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Jonathan Gilliam joins me in New York, CNN Intelligence and Security Analyst Bob Baer joins me. Bob, first of all, these claim that this man did it for ISIS. People will be digging into the fact, you know, has he had conversation with ISIS over the last weeks or months, but even if he did, this claim, this pledge to ISIS now is significant in and of itself.
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Oh, John, this is a huge turning point for us where you've got somebody like this answering the call of Raqqa to attack people in uniform. You know, it doesn't matter whether this was coordinated from Raqqa, no. It's the fact people, you know, believe in this and are willing to pick up weapons and shoot at law enforcement or military. And for the longest time, I didn't think this was going to happen, now it's come to pass. This is very bad.
BERMAN: You know, and, Jonathan, in your myriad of jobs, you've been a police officer. You've been in these patrol cars at night. When you see this in New York here they put out a warning for people to protect themselves, for officers to protect themselves. They are concerned here. I've talked to people on the force. They're worried.
If you're a cop on the streets in the cities of the U.S. right now, what do you do to be safe?
JONATHAN GILLIAM, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think first and foremost, you know, you have to get rid of complacency because it can happen at any time. Secondly, I want to say Officer Hartnett, the fact that he continued to engage this individual and didn't assume, "I'm shot, I'm going to die", that is probably one of the greatest lessons that we've learned in law enforcement is that if you keep fighting as though you're alive, you'll probably stay alive.
And officers need to be aware. And if they get themselves into this situation, they have to stay in the fight until the fight is over and their partners get there.
BERMAN: The attacker, the shooter, he's only in custody right now most likely because Officer Jesse Hartnett shot him in the behind. He shot him behind, they captured him, he is now in custody which, Bob, brings up this question. What do you do with this guy now? How do you work him to find out information about why he did this, if he was talking to anyone? How much can you learn here?
BAER: Is that for me, John?
BERMAN: Yes, Bob.
BAER: Yeah. Well, what they're going to go to is internet connections, there's telephone and the rest of it. And I think they'll probably be able to piece this together fairly clearly. It's not something that would have been caught in advance. You know, simply getting on websites, looking at Islamic state propaganda, you know, and the rest of it or even getting on social networks. And talking about, this isn't enough to get you arrested.
I think they'll piece together that this man who had converted himself. And I guess, right now, that this attack was not ordered from Raqqa. That's something that could be picked up by the national security agency very quickly. So I think we'll get a very clear picture in the next 48 hours of what motivated this man.
BERMAN: Yeah. And, Jonathan, maybe nothing that they could have detected beforehand, which again begs the question. You know, police officers on the streets in patrol cars, you know, they can't be in full body armor all the time, in an armored vehicle all the time. They have to be with the people.
GILLIAM: Right. I tell you one of the things I think that needs to start right now is that, they need to trace back where this individual went to mosque, who he worshipped with. And people need to start stepping forward. If there was any sign that anybody knew that this person was being radicalized, then they should start being held accountable for not coming to law enforcement and notifying them.
BERMAN: Yeah. Any sign of that, or any sign of any, you know, desire for violence, you know, apart from Islam as well. These people need to come forward right now.
Jonathan Gilliam, Bob Baer, thank you so much for being with us again.
The breaking news this officer shot in his patrol car in Philadelphia. The suspect now says he did it for ISIS.
That is all for "The Lead" today. I'm John Berman in for Jake Tapper. Now, I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room."