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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Police Make New Arrest in Belgium Terror Attacks; Cruz to Trump: "Leave Heidi the Hell Alone". Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired March 25, 2016 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We could see the man appeared to have some sort of a backpack on him, and that bomb robot seemed to have checked out whether there was anything explosive inside that backpack.
[11:30:08] What's going on now is this massive police operation which really did involve a lot of police officers, obviously a lot of special units like the bomb squad as well, is now over. The tram traffic here on the rails is actually running once again. The police say that they have one man in custody, and that they believe that the arrested person is, quote, "linked" to Tuesday's terrorist attacks in the Belgian capital. So someone apparently linked to the attacks at the airport and in the metro system as well.
That explains also, Kate, why this was such a large operation, because, clearly, they believe they were onto someone who was very, very significant. Remember, at this point in time, the authorities are still certainly searching for two people that were seen in those CCTV cameras at the airport as well as at the metro station and, of course, still trying to uncover any sort of larger web that might be out there that could be linked to these attacks and to the Paris attacks as well, Kate.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. Fred, thanks so much. Stand by.
Let me bring in Clarissa Ward right now, our senior international correspondent. She's also standing by in Brussels with new details on the investigation, as Fred and I were talking.
And, Clarissa, I don't know if you had the chance to see, but that new video that was coming in is truly amazing, of that suspect being shot and taken away. You see the robot moving in. What are you picking up in terms of the investigation, in terms of the hunt for the suspects still out there?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the investigation and the hunt seems to be spreading further and further, not just in Belgium. We also saw raids in France last night and now, we're hearing about a couple of important potentially arrests in Germany. One man who was arrested had a text message on his phone, Kate, that mentioned the name of the metro bomber, el Bakraoui. That was sent at 9:08 local time.
We don't have anymore information from Germany authorities yet as to what this man's involvement may have been with the Brussels plot if he was directly involved. He was reportedly just stopped during a routine check because he seemed shifty or uncomfortable. So, we're waiting to hear more on that.
Meanwhile in France, we had some major terror raids, anti-terror raids overnight. Police acting after arresting a man who they say was nearing the final stages of -- or the advanced stages of plotting a significant attack. What we're seeing here, essentially, are these different cell structures in Paris, in Brussels, now arrests happening in Germany, unclear to the extent they're all operating together or to what extent they're overlapping.
But the two men who are the primary focus of the manhunt here in Belgium continue to be the third man in that picture of the airport bombers. He's wearing that tan jacket with the glasses and the hat, apparently disguising his identity. He was the one pushing that suitcase filled with the super potent explosives that did not actually detonate.
And, of course, as yet, the unnamed and unseen man who was reportedly captured in surveillance video outside the metro, near Khalid El Bakraoui, carrying a large bag. But police have not released any information in terms of name, identity. They haven't even released the surveillance image showing this man.
And we've seen this is a common theme, Kate. Belgian authorities really keeping very tight lipped here, not sharing too much information with the media for fear that that could tamper somehow with their investigation, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Fascinating. Clarissa, thank you so much.
Clarissa is on the ground working her sources on the investigation and the developments that are fast moving.
Let me bring my panel back in to continue the discussion about everything that's going on. All of these raids underway, these operations that are underway to look for the suspects.
Paul, when talking about this, the pick up of this suspect, the guy in Germany, you've picked some really interesting details about who this person is, what they found and the links?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: This comes from a source by German officials who is telling me about this operation yesterday in Germany. Two arrests, one in Giessen, which is near the Belgium border, the other in Dusseldorf.
The arrest in Giessen at a train station, a routine check of somebody, but he then started acting suspiciously, the local police took him into custody. When they got hold of his phone, there was this text message sent just three minutes before that second bombing with the name of the bomber in that second metro bombing, Khalid El Bakraoui. So, they believe there may be a tie between this individual and the Brussels attacks. The other individual arrested in Dusseldorf also believe connected to
the El Bakraoui brothers. These are fast moving developments, all of these developments in Belgium and Germany and in Paris last night. They all appear to be connected. I can just walk through that. This raid in Schaerbeek, we saw it on the screen -
[11:35:01] BOLDUAN: The one -- we're just looking at right here, right.
CRUICKSHANK: This man was believed to be as Belgium officials have been speaking out, believed to be connected to the Brussels attack. But also believed to be connected to that man, Reda Kriket who was arrested in Paris last --
BOLDUAN: The raid outside of Paris last night.
CRUICKSHANK: So a connection there. But now, between the Brussels attack investigation and that raid in Paris last night, they've got this individual, Reda Kriket into custody. He traveled to Syria in 2014. He was a known associate of Abdelhamid Abaaoud who is the ring leader of the Paris attacks. He was found --
BOLDUAN: The connections are --
CRUICKSHANK: The connections are myriad. He was found with TATP in his possession. The French interior minister said he was in the advanced stage of attack planning. What I think we're seeing play out here is a major push by ISIS in Europe to attack at least potentially two countries, perhaps more.
BOLDUAN: It almost feels that they're just scratching the surface of how wide and deep it is in Europe right now, Karen. I want to get your take, Karen, on the fact that as Clarissa was pointing out, the third suspect that we have in that surveillance video from the airport. We heard from Evan Perez, from his sources, that the United States knows the identity of this suspect. They're not releasing it, though.
What's the thought behind that?
KAREN GREENBERG, DIRECTOR, FORDHAM LAW SCHOOL CENTER ON NATL. SECURITY: The thought behind is, you don't want somebody who you're pursuing to know what you know about them. I mean, it's just good law enforcement work. It's good intelligence work.
What you are seeing here, I just want to point this out in terms of finding these people is that Brussels came under -- and Belgium under a tremendous amount of criticism early on in the investigation right after the bombings. And what we're seeing now is excellent intelligence work and law enforcement work. One after another, people are being rounded up, people are being arrested. People are being identified because of coordination of the United States and inter- European officials. And you saw the same thing in the Levant, in Syria, where you saw that there was, what kind of intelligence to be able to get the second in command. So, this is really a pushback on two levels. One is the law
enforcement level of taking people out in a military level, and the other is the sheer "we can do this, we can fight these guys, this is a story we're going to own." And so, they don't release names because just good practice. Best practices. They'll find them and then tell us.
BOLDUAN: I want to get your take on that, phil. Does that mean if they're not releasing the name of this suspect, this third suspect, does that tell you they're close to finding him, that they don't need the public's help in rooting him out?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: To my mind, what they're going to do initially is ensure that they don't spook the target. That is -- he may be 95 percent certain the noose is closing around him, but as soon as you put the name out on CNN, put yourself in his shoes, what are you going to say? Now, your certitude is 100 percent, you're going to try to disappear.
I think what will happen is if they can locate him quickly, obviously, they'll take him down, but over time, if we find out in two or three days that they can't find him, you may see the name released because you're going to say, we need the help from the public.
BOLDUAN: Guys, stand by with me, if you could. We've got more information. I was listening to it in my ear. We're going to take a quick break.
We've got another live report from the latest raid outside of Brussels. A lot of moving parts as the operations intensify to search for the suspect still out there responsible for the horrific attacks in Brussels.
We'll be right back.
[11:42:58] BOLDUAN: Back to our breaking news coverage out of Belgium. A major police raid and a new arrest in the Schaerbeek district of Brussels.
CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh, he is there, joins us live.
Nick, as I'm looking at this, as I'm looking at you, I'm also watching this video that came in, a really amazing video of the arrest and how they took this guy down. You're right there at the tram station where it all happened. Walk us through the scene.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as far as we know at this point, this man we don't know if he emerged from the building or was walking on the streets or on one of the trams that regularly pass along here. He was tackled or confronted by police. Two shots were fired. One we understand hit him in the leg, and after that there was a third noise, and explosion. Now, this man fell on the ground and was subsequently in police
custody. We don't know how police came to find him here. We don't know more importantly who he is. But we can tell by the scale of the police operation here, they were here in force, that they were deeply concerned about who he might be. He may be, obviously, some kind of important suspect in all of this.
But after that moment there, these trams that you can see passing behind me now going about their normal daily business and routine. Two trams were emptied of the people and the trams moved slightly further down the track and then went about their business.
Right now, you can see here, the glass his tram station broken. We don't know how. Whether it was from one of the shots or the explosion or some other means, but despite the broken glass on the floor, hoards of media and locals coming back to try and go about their daily life.
But it shows you the challenge police have here. They want don't want to interrupt daily life much. They still have to deal with the crime scene here. We saw -- witnesses saw police bomb disposal experts approach a bag abandoned on the floor, didn't seem to be witnesses reported the man wearing.
[11:45:00] That was clearly safe because we then saw police go up to it and begin to pick through what was in it. It's since been taken away here.
But very tense scene for a number of hours here in the heart of Brussels and also two gunshots fired and an explosion. Clearly, this police investigation tightening on certain individuals. I have to say, at the same time, Kate, the biggest concern for investigators is how day by day the number of people they seem to be searching grows rather than diminishes or finds people in their custody, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. I mean, at this point, it's becoming difficult to keep track of the raids and arrests and the myriad of links between these actors. We're seeing one of them behind you, clearly surprising to see just how quickly they're trying to get back to normal life there at the tram station after that arrest took place.
Nick is there for us. Thanks so much, Nick. It's very good to see you.
Let me bring in to talk about this and a little bit more, David Rohde. He is let me bring in him -- he's a national security investigations editor for "The Reuter News Agency".
David, it's great to see you. Thank you for coming in.
Talk to me first about what we're seeing and talking about with Nick Paton Walsh. You have this arrest at the tram station. Take that with the raids and the police operations that are taking place that are not just in Brussels to look for people involved but now it's reaching to Germany and back into just outside of Paris and the -- what looks surely like some links that are beginning to emerge to all of this. What does this tell you? DAVID ROHDE, NATIONAL SECURITY INVESTIGATIONS EDITOR, REUTERS: I
mean, there's two ways to look at it. An optimistic way, and a mention about the arrest in Germany and the text message on that individual's phone. If this network is using their phones more, if they're using more electronic communications and that's how the police are locating them in the different areas, that's a big step forward.
The real danger and what really frightened officials in Europe and the U.S. in terms of Paris attack and the Brussels airport attack was that the operatives were not using cell phones. They had sort of gone black. They were either using encryption, but, you know, clearly the French and the Belgians were sort of blind to this attack. That's a positive way to look at it.
The negative way is what you've talked about, you know, these are people all across Europe. There could be hundreds of them, fighters who have returned from Syria. So, it's a very difficult situation.
BOLDUAN: And, David, I could also lean on your expertise to get your take on the big news at the top of the hour, the secretary of defense announcing that the U.S. has taken out the number two in command, the finance minister of is, a man who is also involved and responsible for some external plots. What is the impact of taking him out? What is the impact on most immediately Europe, but also here in the U.S.?
ROHDE: Well, my colleagues have heard he's a long-time jihadist. He was actually detained apparently by Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq long before the U.S. invasion. But he was released by Saddam's government and then went to Afghanistan. So, he's clearly an experienced operative. It's a step forward.
The reports, you know, about ISIS's territory shrinking are true, but the danger is and what people expect are that they will sort of counterattack, if you will, in Europe. That's the biggest danger. They want to show that losing this deputy commander won't slow them down.
And American officials are less concerned about the U.S., not that there's a network in the U.S. or teams of people. It's can ISIS inspire a lone wolf attack in the U.S.? No one knows. I don't think even ISIS knows. But that's -- there's a smaller threat here, but clearly when they lose territory, lose their number two commander, they want to show their strength if they can in Europe and in the U.S. as well.
BOLDUAN: Yes. And as the secretary of defense points out, he says taking out a top leadership person like this is necessary but in no way sufficient. I think that's an important message as we look going forward and how hard the fight.
David, thank you for coming in. I appreciate it.
ROHDE: Sure. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: We also -- of course. We also have this just in. CNN can now confirm the death of a 21- year-old Belgian national, the boyfriend of an American woman. His family is learning today that Bart Migom, he was killed in the Brussels airport while on his way to the United States to visit his girlfriend Emily in Atlanta. They met five months ago on a health and wellness retreat in Georgia.
Emily spoke emotionally to CNN the day after the attacks, after she never heard from him. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMILY EISENMAN, BOYFRIEND KILLED IN BRUSSELS ATTACK: I talked to him on the phone before he was going to get on his train to go to Brussels which was a two-hour train ride. And, you know, he promised me he would tell me once he got to the airport safely, and he did send me a message saying I'm on the train, and just excited to see me, and that was the last I heard of him.
These last two days have been something I never thought I would feel. It's been the worst days of my life. I just -- I guess I didn't know how much one person can love another until -- until you just don't know where they're at. You just have no idea.
And you -- I'm just hoping for a sign of some sort that he's OK. And I'm just -- I -- I believe in God and I believe that God is with him. And that is what I hold on to. That is where my hope comes from.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That was before and then with this news. Our heart just breaks for Emily and, of course, for Bart's family. Our thoughts are with them in this horrific time that they're now facing.
Well, let's talk about the flip side of the coin. The really amazing moment we have to show you -- American parents reuniting with their son. Who survived this being his third brush with terror. CNN was there for that moment, for that reunion. You're going to hear an interview with him from his hospital bed, just his strength and perspective.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was so lucky. Thinking how close I was. And I saw a lot of people that were injured worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:54:34] BOLDUAN: All right. Right now, you're looking at live pictures of Ted Cruz speaking to voters in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the next big fight for Republicans. This is one day after the feud between him and Donald Trump exploded, as Cruz blasted Trump for a retweet that targeted Cruz's wife. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not easy to tick me off. I don't get angry often. But you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that will do it every time. Donald, you're a sniveling coward and leave Heidi the hell alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That was then and this is today. So, what does another day bring?
Joining me to discuss, Amanda Carpenter, a CNN political commentator and former communications for Senator Ted Cruz. And Adriana Cohen, she's a columnist for the Boston Herald, a radio host, and a Trump supporter.
Thank you both so much. I really appreciate it.
So, Amanda, Ted Cruz, this is his first big event of the day. I mean, yesterday, his words for Donald Trump were just -- I mean, the gloves are off, if they were still on, I guess we could say. Do you think he should he be taking this on another day, this feud over Donald Trump and his wife?
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Ted Cruz has every right to defend his wife. But I would like to see more Republicans doing is defend women from these sexist attacks that Donald Trump launches almost on a nearly daily basis. Take us back to where we were a few months, the first big question, the FOX News debate, Megyn Kelly asked Trump about these sexist things that Trump has said. And he blew up. And instead of downplaying that, he continues to play it up every single day, it seems.
This isn't a shtick. It's who Donald Trump is. He's not stopping. And Republicans can't stand on the sidelines and allow this man to continue the vile attacks. I think they should do what Ben Sasse, senator, is say, hey, if you have a mother, sister, wife, you have an obligation to say this is not OK. And hold Donald Trump to a higher standard.
BOLDUAN: Adriana, are you ready for Trump to move on from this feud?
ADRIANNA COHEN, BOSTON HERALD COLUMNIST: Oh, absolutely. I think we should move on. Where we should move to is the "National Enquirer" story that says Ted Cruz has allegedly had affairs with at least five mistresses, including -- you have been named, Amanda.
BOLDUAN: I'm sorry. I don't think that's moving on at all, Adriana.
COHEN: No. Well, I'd like to know -- you know, if we're going call Donald Trump's character into question, I would like Ted Cruz to issue a statement whether or not "The National Enquirer" story is true, that he's had affairs with many women, including you were named, Amanda. Will you denounce this story or will you confirm it? (CROSSTALK)
BOLDUAN: Let me step in really quick. I mean, I will give you a second to -- let me just be very clear. It will come as no surprise to our viewers. CNN has no reporting on what you're talking about coming from "The National Enquirer".
Amanda, go ahead.
CARPENTER: I mean, what's out there is tabloid trash. If someone wants to comment o nit, they can talk to my lawyer. It's categorically false. You should be ashamed for spreading this kind of smut. Donald Trump supporter should be held to account. And I will not be intimidated.
COHEN: I'm not spreading smut.
CARPENTER: I will continue to make my thoughts known about Donald Trump. I'm not backing down.
BOLDUAN: Let me just do this. I have spent two shows talking about this back and forth.
Yes, right, let me do this. I'm going to be much more comfortable talking about a "National Enquirer" report when CNN has done some more reporting on that topic.
Let's do this, let's move on because I don't want to talk about the message, the messenger, the intent of the message. At least for today, please, ladies, I don't want to talk about a "National Enquirer" report.
Let's talk about Wisconsin. How important Wisconsin is to the future of these candidates.
Amanda, to you. Wisconsin has become the surprise make or break for both Ted Cruz and John Kasich, because a lot of folks are saying -- if you look at the math, folks are saying, if they don't stop them in Wisconsin, they can't stop Trump from getting to the magic number of 1,237. What's Cruz going to do about it? How make or break is it?
CARPENTER: Well, listen, he has to show John Kasich up in this state. John Kasich has said, I can win Ohio. He's trying to say that he can win these Midwestern type states. Cruz has to beat Kasich out and run him out of the race. I think he's in a good position to do that and continue to make the case that he's the one to beat Donald Trump.
And quite frankly, bring in the attacks that are out there, address them, because the more Donald Trump brings up this stuff, the more his supporters do this, the more people will continue to turn against him.
BOLDUAN: The one thing we hear from Donald Trump. He has a lot of mantras he likes to repeat, Adriana. One of the things is how easy it will be for him to beat Hillary Clinton in a general election. He always talks about the head to heads in the polling. And that he's light years ahead of her.
Let's move light years ahead to a general election matchup between Trump and Clinton. In the latest CNN poll, he's not light years ahead. It does not look like he would beat Hillary Clinton. She's beating him by 14 points. What do you say?
COHEN: Yes, but, I think that's a variable number that will change, leading up to the general, because Hillary Clinton is tethered to President Obama's failed foreign policy. We see the world has become a much more dangerous place. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state is directly tethered to the failing foreign policy.
So, that's an advantage that Donald Trump or even any presidential candidate should another candidate win is going to have against Hillary Clinton. And then you still have the pending indictment that could come down from the FBI. So, it's very possible that Donald Trump or a GOP candidate could win, could beat Hillary Clinton in the general.
BOLDUAN: Amanda, Adriana, thank you very much. That segment took a turn I was not anticipating.
I appreciate your time. Let the conversation continue.
Thank you all so much for joining me.