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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Three Suicide Bombers Attack Istanbul Ataturk Airport; Turkish PM: At Least 36 Dead, 147 Wounded in Terror Attack at Airport. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 28, 2016 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:06] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks very much for joining us on this difficult evening.
We are devoting much of the next two hours to late developments out of Istanbul, Turkey, where the death poll is climbing now. At least 31 people known dead after suicide bombers struck one of the most tightly guarded and heavily traveled international airports in the world. The killer found a soft spot and we do have video of one of the attacks in progress. And we should warn you it is graphic. So if you have children in the room, now would be the time to get them out.
We want to show this video. We do not know that source of the video except someone posted it on twitter. You see the gunman racing through the terminal there. We are going to put a circle around him. He was shot, what appears to be by a police officer who is now you see just above him there. He is laying on the ground. The police officer appears to shoot him again at close range and then runs off, not clear exactly why. Perhaps he saw him reaching for a suicide vest. It then appears that the man is still alive, struggling, appears to be shot once again and then as time to either detonate his suicide device or it was on some sort of automatic trigger. Now the weapon recovered apparently that gunman had an AK-47.
So let's just play that video one time so you can fully see for yourself how at least some of this unfolded. You see some people in the airport running away from the gunman who is there with an AK-47. He appears to be shot by a policeman who is about to appear very close above the gunman. The policeman approaches, his gun drawn and appears to shoot, it seems once again and then runs off again, unclear exactly why. The gunman appears to still be alive and we don't know if it was a suicide belt or vest. That appears to be another gunshot wound and then the detonation.
That's just one of three bombers who struck and this is new video again now of people fleeing. We have just gotten this new video in, running as fast as they can and then seconds later one of the detonations.
Now watch. You see the crowd running away and now off to the right hand side of your screen, there you see the detonation. People staggering away. Some falling and getting back up. You see the smoke. There's no sound in this video. And we just got this literally moments ago. As we said, at least 31 people are known dead, 147 wounded. Those numbers may be changing over the next two hours. Eyewitnesses now coming forward.
The White House late this evening condemning the attacks. Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump weighing in. Our security experts are joining us. We will get to all of that.
But let's go first to CNN -- excuse me. I'm just getting new information in. The prime minister in Turkey has said the death toll is now at 36. That literally coming in just in the last few seconds. The death toll now raised to 36.
Let's go to international correspondent Clarissa Ward who is joining us with the latest.
What do we know at this point, Clarissa?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, as you said, there is the death toll went up to 36. It does tend to climb with the situation as more and more of the severely injured people succumb to their injuries.
But here is precisely what we know at this stage. We know that there were three attackers, all of them apparently armed with suicide explosive devices. Two of those attacks are believed to have taken place in and around the international arrivals hall. Now, this is interesting because the international departure's hall actually has a security screening process that you have to go through right at the entrance to the airport, before the check-in area. So it's interesting that the attackers apparently chose to target the arrivals hall. That potentially more vulnerable. You don't have the same layers of security down there. You just have the doors essentially which you're not supposed to enter. But if you were carrying a weapon, then certainly you would be able to shoot your way in.
Now, from what we know, the third attack appears to have taken place at the car park. Far less details so far on that attack. But and what is interesting here is that the men in addition to wearing suicide vests were apparently, at least one of them carrying AK-47. And this fits very much into an ISIS profile. Not just a suicide bomber, but a suicide warrior and a so-called Inhaimaze (ph), the idea of being to go in, to kill as many peoples as possible before detonating yourself.
Now, I should add, Anderson, that at this stage we don't yet have any claim of responsibility from ISIS and any other group. Turkey has been hit many times as well by Kurdish separatist groups. But traditionally when ISIS has hit Turkey, Anderson, they haven't actually claimed responsibility. And we are in the last ten days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. These are considered to be the holiest ten days of the holiest month of the year. We heard ISIS spokesperson Abu Muhammad al-Adnani coming out and urging followers to carry out attacks during this time. And of course, this Istanbul airport, a very powerful symbolic target.
This is quite literally, Anderson, a bridge between east and west. So we haven't heard a claim of responsibility yet, but certainly it bears all of the hallmarks of either an ISIS directed or at the very least an is-inspired attack.
[20:05:21] COOPER: Clarissa, the one video, the first video we showed where you see one of the attackers running, then appears to get shot by what appears to be a police officer or some sort of security official -- it's not that video. That's the third video that we had, but the video that we showed at the top of the broadcast, this one. Do we know exactly where this was in the airport, Clarissa?
WARD: We don't know exactly where this video was, but certainly based on what we know about the attacks in general, it would appear that it was somewhere in the international arrivals hall. That I where two of the attackers reportedly blew themselves up. Now, we don't know, was this some kind of a coordinated attack where the first bomber created a scene by detonating himself and allowing the second bomber to run in. We could see quite clearly in that video as you pointed out that security personnel at Istanbul's Ataturk airport clearly were engaging with these attackers. And you see also in that video quite clearly that there are very few people around the area where the bomber ultimately detonates himself. It's not clear if that's because the alarm bell had already been sounded by the first attacker.
So essentially what we see here, we can tell that this is some kind of a coordinated attack with at least three bombers. But we don't yet have the details of how exactly it all played out and we're still waiting to hear more information particularly as well on that third attack believed to have taken place in the parking lot of the airport, Anderson.
COOPER: And of course, what we don't know is how many others there may have been involved in the planning of this or even on scene. I mean, you have three people who have detonated devices who had weaponry, but a coordinated attack like this most likely requires a number of other personnel.
WARD: Well, and that's right. And that's why you've seen them evacuating the airport, getting everybody out. I'm presuming they are going to be searching every nook and cranny of this airport for any other possible devices that may have been hidden. They have essentially stopped all planes going in and out of the airport. They are saying that's just until tomorrow morning but who knows? It may carry on beyond then. And this is one of the busiest airports in the world. Not only is Istanbul an incredibly cosmopolitan city and a tourist destination city in its own right, but Istanbul airport, if you're ever traveling to the far east especially it tends to be a sort of hub, a point of transit for many millions of travelers every single year.
COOPER: Clarissa Ward, appreciate the reporting. We will continue to check in with you as developments warrant.
Will Carter was at the airport when it happened. I spoke to him a short time before we went on air.
COOPER: Will, I understand you were in the baggage area when this actually happened. You witnessed at least one of the blasts. Tell us what you saw.
WILL CARTER, WITNESS THE AIRPORT TERROR ATTACK (on the phone): We heard the shake, the sort of dull thus of two pretty loud explosions, I presumed from outside. And then a third one a few minutes later which was very close, the flashing of fireball and some of the ceiling coming off into the baggage collection area. At that point it was -- there was a lot of panic around. And there were passengers and I went to search to seek shelter further inside the building.
COOPER: So the first two blasts, about how far apart were they?
CARTER: They were very close. I would say like a minute or so.
COOPER: And about how far away -- and about how far away were you from those first two blasts?
CARTER: Not sure. They were outside. They sounded very close. And we felt the sort of shock wave through the destruction. It was loud enough to know something wasn't right. We didn't see damage at that point but then there was a preferred flash which was very, very close.
COOPER: The third one. Was that still outside the arrivals area? Outside the actual entrance to the airport?
CARTER: No. It was inside the terminal itself. It was just when you walk out through customs and after you collected your baggage through customs to where people and often their families meet. So it was just at that building, that part of the building.
COOPER: I assume where the place where the blast was that was your exit point, so what did you do? Because I understand you were kind of held or hunkered down in the baggage area for quite some time.
[20:10:00] CARTER: Yes. I mean, I was caught after the first one and most people sort of perplexed, but not disturbed. After the second blast happened, they were screaming at the ground staff to tell people where the emergency exits were. And they eventually said it wasn't anything. And it was a secure airport terminal. And the last exit was where the last bomber and we ran down back through where immigration was and sort of (INAUDIBLE) where the ground terminal staff area, so we just had to stay there. At that point in time we didn't know if there were attacks and it was progressively closer. And thankfully, it stopped and eventually we were evacuated.
COOPER: And I mean, I know you have spent a lot of time overseas. You have worked in Afghanistan. You have been in a lot of difficult areas. You sound calm. I imagine everybody else must have just been terribly upset.
CARTER: Yes. I mean, the first half an hour was pretty awful, you know. We didn't know if there would be anything else. There were very young children. There were families from different parts of the world. There were people starting their honeymoons and it was pretty awful. I probably sound composed now, but at the time it was quite a terrifying experience.
COOPER: Will, I'm glad you and the people around you are OK. Thank you so much for talking to us.
Will Carter, appreciate it.
CARTER: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: We have more reporting from the ground in Istanbul. CNN photojournalist Joe Doran joins us now.
Joe, you were on the scene less than an hour after the attack. Tell me what you first saw when you first arrived.
JOE DORAN, CNN PHOTOJOURNALIST: Anderson, yes, as you said, we arrived a little bit under an hour after the attack. And as we pulled in down this road we were headed towards the airport. That one you see behind me is the entrance to the airport. And literally this road was full of passengers making their way in a hurry out of the airport. Many of them obviously very shocked, some of them crying. We did see some people injured, with head injury, not very serious injuries. We tried to stop one of them. He said he had been injured and he didn't want to talk, but he said he was well enough to walk and he was leaving the ambulances to those who were seriously injured.
We saw so many, so many ambulances coming in. It was just nonstop. We have talked to a few people and people are really shocked. They don't want to talk. We have seen a lot of family members come here crying. And the police basically are not allowing anyone to go past the entrance.
That entrance that you see behind me, the blue Ataturk sign is where police stand by and check cars. They don't stoop every car, but there is always security there. I have been stopped. I have traveled through this airport many times as you have, as well, and that today just did not happen. Whoever got through there for some reason and we'll know in the coming days, they got through to some very tight security.
COOPER: And Joe, I mean, just from what you're saying, obviously, it's understandable, you know, would people be wanting to get part of the airport as soon as possible. Just from a security standpoint, though, if there were other people involved in this attack, it sounds like from what you are saying, there was nothing to stop people from actually leaving the area. I mean, the police weren't trying to at least get people off to the side so they could question them or kind of go through later, is that correct?
DORAN: Well, I think -- I think there were so many people when this happened at the airport, there were so many people and there was such chaos and people crying and running and it was just complete chaos. There's a fence to my left here where you saw passengers behind the fence trying to get out of the airport. I can't imagine and I'm not there what it must have been like for them. People just wanted to leave the airport.
DORAN: And if, in fact, what we were hearing is that one of the bombs was set off in the arrival part. I know when you leave the airport, when you arrive at the airport, and you leave the terminal, there's one person at that door that automatically opens and shuts and there would have been no way for that one person to stop anybody if they were armed as we hear they were.
COOPER: And right now the scene is it is still obviously blocked off, still being gone over by law enforcement?
DORAN: Absolutely. There is a lot less people here. There is still, we've been pushed back about 200 meters. Where you see the blue sign is the entrance to the airport and that is where everybody was earlier. We have been pushed back about 200 meters, but you still see a lot of emergency vehicles coming back and forth. And in fact, we've seen a few passenger, I don't know, why on their way to the airport with their bags not knowing that the airport is actually closed.
[20:15:22] COOPER: Joe Doran, I appreciate you being there. Thank you very much. Be careful.
Joining us is CIA intelligence and security analyst and former CIA officer Bob Baer, also "Daily Beast" senior editor Michael Weiss, co- author of "ISIS, inside the army of terror" and CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem, former assistant secretary of homeland security.
I mean, Michael, you have been in that airport 20 times. You know it very well. Based on what we know now, no claim of responsibility, but coordinated attack, multiple people and probably more than the three who are known to have had detonation devices and using not just suicide devices, but also AK-47s.
MICHAEL WEISS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes. I mean, without a doubt there would be more people involved in this including the bomb makers. I doubt very much the bomb maker was one of the suicide bombers here.
Look. It looks, it smells, it sounds like ISIS to me. There were earlier allegations it could be PKK. PKK is the vanguard fighting force helping had the coalition vanquish ISIS in northern Syria. They would be absolutely stupid to set off a bomb and to wage this kind of attack on an international target like this airport where they could kill Americans and French.
COOPER: They're hoping to get their own state.
WEISS: Right. They tend to target Turkish security and the Turkish military. And now there were several factors, too, why ISIS which is now. They're losing terrain at a rapid pace.
COOPER: And we should point out, the Turkish prime minister just said they suspect ISIS.
WEISS: Yes. I mean, they lost Fallujah, the (INAUDIBLE) pocket which is an area in Aleppo province. (INAUDIBLE) in particular is one of three the major cities or towns in Aleppo that they still control. It is completely encircled by U.S.-backed coalition forces there. It is about to fall any day.
There is another element to this, too, a part also I should mention, Israeli and Turkish (INAUDIBLE) happening, is always a galvanizing event for Islamist attacks whenever the Jewish state is involved. But there is another thing here, too.
The head of the (INAUDIBLE), which is ISIS' foreign intelligence French is a French national called (INAUDIBLE). Now I heard from multiple sources, including the guy who told me about this man's existence, a former ISIS member himself. But this guy was picked up at the border by the Turkish government while he was fleeing from the carnage in northern Syria. He was going to (INAUDIBLE). If that's the case, and imagine, you know, the coalition in capturing the head of the CIA for ISIS, that's essentially what this would be. If that was indeed did happen at any kind of planning or operations they have underway, they would have accelerated to try and strike Turkey right now.
COOPER: Before he starts potentially to talking?
COOPER: Juliette, I mean, we should point out that over the last year, there have been a string of attacks in Turkey, some by ISIS, some as Michael saying, by the PKK, the Kurdish militant separatists. What's your take? I mean, does it sound like ISIS to you at this point?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Absolutely. I completely agree with Michael. And I wouldn't add much to that. I think it sounds, smells, what are we waiting for is, you know, taking credit which may not happen as we have seen recently. These are the last days of Ramadan and just to make the point clear, the loss of Fallujah is a galvanizing moment for ISIS to extend past borders that they're losing and past Iraq and Syria. And so this is -- I don't want to say it's not a surprise, but it would be shocking to me if it wasn't ISIS just based on my experience and what we know is happening in the world.
COOPER: You know, Bob, when you look at that video where you actually see one of the attackers being shot, falling down, seems to be shot multiple times and then the vest detonating, what stands out to you? Because I mean, does a person who is wearing one of these devices actually have to detonate it? Could it be on some sort of a timer? Because it does appear he is a very powerful shot that he is hit just moments before the device detonates. I mean, right now we are seeing one of the law enforcement personnel running away, I assume, because he sees there is a vest. And then it appears that seems to be a shot right there on him and then the device detonates.
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Anderson, you know, we are going to have to wait to see what the forensic experts say. But I think a lot of these vests would enable to detonate switches. It's a pressure device once you take your thumb off out of your hand. And as you're dying possibly, that sets off the detonation. It could have a delay on it. This was a very well-organized attack that probably all three detonators went off as planned. I doubt there was a fourth, but we don't know yet. The guns and the rest of it, maximum carnage considering that these people didn't actually get into the terminal where most of the people were. They got in the arrivals lounge, but it doesn't look like when you can actually got in the departure lounge where so many people are waiting so they did know what they were doing. They cased the airport. They knew that Istanbul airport would cause maximum damage to the Erdogan government which is already under pressure.
And as Michael was saying and Juliette is the Islamic state is on an international offensive. They attacked in Jordan. They attacked in Yemen. They have attacked in Lebanon all last week. And so this attack really coming in this context is not much of a surprise.
[20:20:30] COOPER: Well, it is also interesting, Michael, because, I mean, there was the belief it seems like early on with ISIS, they needed to have actual territory. They needed to take huge swaths in Syria and in Iraq. But to your point with battlefield losses mounting and the fall of Fallujah, it seems like this is perhaps a tactical term.
WEISS: Strategic, I would say, actually. Their slogan remaining and expanding. It's not quite living up to its expectation anymore. They're not expanding of how much you can. Of course, the establishment of these (INAUDIBLE), where these colonial outposts in other places like Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan where they don't really have the significance and the prominence that they do in Syria and Iraq.
Remaining, yes, they still control Mosul, they still control Raqqah, but there is a new phase that was inaugurated and it began in 2014 with Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. We call him the ISIS spokesman, but really, he runs all of Syria. He is effectively the number two (INAUDIBLE) today, saying wherever you are in the world, we will send operatives from the caliphate into your territories to kill the Kufar. But also, if you are a Muslim or even a non-Muslim, you want to convert and join, you know, the Islamic state, take a rock, smash in the head and go for getting your car, drive over him, take a knife stab in the heart, shoot him with the gun, wage. This is all-out total war against what they consider to be the land of disbelief which happens to be anybody but those living under the Islamic state.
COOPER: And Muslims, as well.
WEISS: Muslims as well. They are the first victims of ISIS' reign of terror. It started inside.
COOPER: I mean, you can only imagine how many Muslims were in this airport, Juliette, at this time?
KAYYEM: Yes. I would guess. I mean, look. It's an international airport. It's a global airport. It doesn't really belong to Turkey. I mean, the last count, it services 113 countries. So we don't know what the victim count is, but my suspicion is it would be a high Muslim death toll in this regard. But just picking up on this notion of then lose -- ISIS losing ground.
So when you are losing, you also lose recruitment capability, right? And so how do you get people to think ISIS is the winning team when the news stories are they're losing Fallujah and other areas. And its attacks like this. It is we are still in the game. We are still alive and well and come join us. And so, you know, I say this just factually. It is awful. This is a horrible thing that happened. But recruitment is a key part of the survivability of an organization like ISIS. They don't have it with land as much so they are going to use sort of either direct or promote. We don't know yet, attacks like this.
COOPER: We're going to come back to all of you shortly. There's more ahead on this breaking story and late reporting about the terror attack at the airport including more details from another witness whose plane landed after the blast and what he saw and heard at the scene.
We are going to take a short break. We'll be right back.
[20:27:12] COOPER: The breaking news, a terror attack out of Istanbul Ataturk airport has killed at least 36 according to Turkish prime minister and wounded 147. The prime minister has now said the attackers arrived by taxi. No claim of responsibility, but (INAUDIBLE) who tells us his government does suspect ISIS. And now U.S. officials are weighing in, as well. They're talking to CNN's Pamela Brown who joins us.
What are you hearing, Pamela?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the preliminary assessment by U.S. counterterrorism officials, Anderson, is that this was the work by ISIS or a group inspired by ISIS. And there is a strong possibility that a Turkish ISIS cell could be responsible for this. Officials tell us that this bears all the hallmarks of ISIS, considering the target and the method and the fact this was coordinated with weapons, with explosive vests and it's very similar to what we saw in the Brussels airport. We have learned that these attackers pulled up in a tax, went in and launched their attacks.
And my sources tell me that it would be a surprise if this was the work of the PKK. Normally the PKK targets military installations. That would be very unusual for it to target a place where there international travelers particularly American citizens. I am being told by my sources that there was no specific intelligence they were aware of right now to indicate there were being attacked at this airport. So this has been an ongoing concern. We know how prevalent ISIS is in Europe. So there was a concern there. But right now the intelligence community in the U.S. is leveraging all of its assets, looking at electronic intercepts going to U.S. sources and trying to figure out exactly who was behind this. And, of course, keeping an eye out for claims of responsibility - Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Pamela Brown. Pamela, thanks for the reporting. Three suicide bombers that we know of striking in the arrivals hall
that world's 11th busiest airport. Laurence Cameron was there to see the aftermath. He landed the airport just after the explosions. He joins us now.
Lawrence, thank you very much for joining us. From what I understand, you had actually just stepped off a plan when this happened. Tell me when you first realized something was terribly wrong.
LAWRENCE CAMERON, WITNESS THE AIRPORT TERROR ATTACK: Yes, we see people running towards me, and I initially I thought, OK, everyone was shouting and scared. I thought it was just someone that left a bag out and everyone panicking, but it quickly became apparent that something was very wrong. You know, police were around and it wasn't a drill. Things got nasty after that and people started bursting into tears.
COOPER: So at this point, had all the detonations occurred?
I think we have just -- I think we just lost Lawrence Cameron, obviously, problem with the connections.
[20:30:00] So what about this warn by the State Department issued a new travel warning for Turkey citing increased threats from terrorist throughout the country and advising U.S. citizens to avoid travel to south eastern Turkey.
Elise Labott joins me now from the State Department. So what about this warning, what do we know about it?
ELISE LABBOT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the State Department had a travel warning out on Turkey for sometime, Anderson, alerting Americans to the potential for terrorist attacks in Turkey.
And yesterday, they went that step further urging American citizens not to travel to various parts of the country, particularly, in that south east region on the border with Syria.
Now, diplomats travel in that area. It was already restricted. The State Department a few months ago took the very rare step of sending away the families of those diplomats and those high-threat areas of the country. U.S. very concerned about the growing threat by ISIS in Turkey.
And officials have been somewhat frustrated at what they say was a focus by the Turkish government on those Kurdish separatists, the PKK as the bigger threat blaming them for some attacks when the signs clearly pointed to ISIS. Tonight, though, the White House condemning the attacks. Spokesman John Ernest reaffirming U.S. support for its NATO ally and its fight against terrorism in all forms, Anderson.
COOPER: You know, when you think back to the Brussels attack, also they came by cab which is what the Turkish Prime Minister saying occurred here as well in Brussels, it was the departure terminal that was hit, and particularly, people -- American carriers or the ticketing area for American carriers, any idea or any information about the possibility of American citizens being at the site of this attack?
LABBOT: I'm very careful to note that the U.S. has also banned flights, direct flights from Turkey to the U.S. talking about those air carriers.
Now, the U. S. consulate is accounted for all of its personnel. Right now, U.S. Consular Affairs officers are at the Turkey airport trying to locate Americans who have been injured or killed. No word of any U.S. casualties yet, but you know it's very early. And you also remember from Brussels' attack what a pain staking process it was to identify victims and their nationalities.
Tonight, the State Department is asking Americans in Istanbul to notify their families that they're safe. There's information on their website at state.gov, to e-mail them if you need assistance if you're an American in Turkey watching. And is urging Americans to stay away from the airport, areas, avoid them where large crowds are gathering. And generally, be on alert in Istanbul tonight taking steps to strengthen their own safety, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Elise Labott, thank you. Joining us is now, CNN senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson who lived in Istanbul for a number of years and he's very familiar with that airport.
You traveled through the airport, I mean, by a hundreds of times. If you can walk us through what security is usually like there.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. When you are driving into the broader airport compound, you go through a police checkpoint where the police tend to stop cars, search them and check your identities, they're carrying submachine guns. Then most of the traffic moves through pretty smoothly.
At all of the entrances, the arrivals and departure terminals of the international airport, there are security checkpoints just to get into the building, and those consists of police, security guards, private security guards, contractors, X-ray machines, metal detectors where you have to take your luggage out, you have to take your laptops out. That's just to get to the broader terminal where you would check in or in arrivals to try to get to an area to greet a loved one who may have just landed. And then, of course, there's another level of security if you are going to be boarding a plane. So lot's of security.
However, big question here, if you've got multiple attackers with Kalashnikov rifles as the Prime Minister said and one attacks in one place, what does that do with security at another one at the entrances? And that may have been one of the soft spots here, Anderson.
ANDERSON: And then we've seen that in a number of a kind of attacks really over the last several years where there's an initial explosion, which was kind to use to create a breach through each others then enter a structure.
WATSON: That's right. And perhaps that is one of the weaknesses that these attackers and what appears to have been a coordinated attack could have exploited. Now, the Turkish Prime Minister has come out, he said that this does look like it was ISIS. The casualties were higher because these attackers had these weapons. If this was, in fact, an ISIS attack, get this, this would have been the third ISIS suicide attack in Istanbul just this year, Anderson. There were previous attacks in January, in March. Both of those attacking foreign tourists in the touristic heart of the city.
And in 2015, ISIS believed to have carried out twin suicide bombings of a rally of leftist Turks and ethnic Kurds that killed more than 100 people in the capital of Ankara.
[20:35:06] And Turkey has come under a lot of criticism over the past couple of years for allowing Jihadist to cross its territory, to travel through airports like Istanbul airport, to get to the Syrian border, to fight the Jihad against Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
It is very clear that it has a growing terrorist ISIS problem within its own borders. The government has been cracking down on believed ISIS suspects for more than a year now, but this is clearly an attack on Turkey's transport infrastructure, on its tourism infrastructure. And tourism is crippled in this country and that is a major cash cow earner for Turkey's now increasingly crippled economy. Anderson.
ANDERSON: Yeah, I think, Ivan, I think I saw a figure recently saying tourism was down something like 45 percent and that's before this attack. So one can only imagine what is going to happen afterward.
Ivan Watson, appreciate it.
As we've said, all the security camera video we have been seeing speaks to the fact that this is an airport known for being heavily guarded. It also reminds us even with tight security, with screeners, police, troops, vulnerabilities remain as we've been seeing where this happened underscores that fact with that in mind.
Tom Foreman joins us with the closer look at the layout of the turmoil and why the killers chose to strike where they did.
Tom, walk us through or give us a sense of where everything happened.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, take -- think about what Ivan just said here. This is where ISIS is strong over in this area. This is about 800 miles away, up here to Istanbul, and yet for a while, ISIS seemed happy to use this as an entry point for people to come down here. Now, this signals something very different.
Let's move into the terminal and talk about it. All of the security we've heard about on the road coming in, security, obviously, to keep people away from the planes, and the security that we don't really see in this country to keep you out of the terminal.
It looks like the attacks took place right here. This looks like the first explosion sort of right in the middle. The second one seems to have been somewhere over here. And if there was a third explosion, we don't know exactly where that is yet. Look at some of the details of that, Anderson, because that will tell
you a little bit about where they went. This is the first one. We believe the first one. On a normal day, this is an arrival section. It's on the lower level. And people would be gathered here to meet people coming off planes as you would expect.
Look at the video. Here are the people standing around in that area, it doesn't seem to be a lot of agitation in the moments before you see the blast. But then, look at the blast, Anderson, right in the middle of it all, there, everything changes. That was pretty much in the middle of everything there, Anderson. Although still not terribly far inside the doors, maybe 80 feet, but it is clearly breaching somehow that first line of security.
COOPER: Did -- do we know if the attackers got very far into the actual airport because that video where we see one of the gunmen being brought down and then ultimately exploding a device. That does seem to be inside a terminal or inside a structure.
FOREMAN: That does, just like this one. I think the one we just saw was actually a little further physically inside. The second one, you know, I mentioned was somewhere over in this area. If you look at that area on a normal day, it would look sort of like this and you're very close to the doors here. The place where you see the police officer shooting at the gunman, the gunman appears to come around here, the police officer seems to be right in here and he encounters him in this area.
Look at that explosion as it moves forward here. And if you watch that video, you see that location, the police officer tucks in here. The gunman comes around the side. You see him moving this way? And then the police officer comes out and down he goes. And shortly after that, the police officer comes over toward him then he runs off and the explosion occurs. But there's really no sign of anybody being close.
But again, Anderson, really quite close to the door. So I think that first explosion, the one where all of the people were gathered around, probably that's the place where they got the deepest in the airport. And there, they would have had to get through some kind of security at the opening, but they didn't get to the next level of security, it doesn't seem.
ANDERSON: We also don't know if there were other accomplices who were on the scene kind of monitoring things or orchestrating it in any way or any kind of central control and if any of them, if they were there, if they got away.
FOREMAN: And that's a really excellent question right now because we have had numerous reports today about people saying there was gun fire out here connected to the parking area. We have no confirmation of what that was, if it occurred, if people were confused or something else. Was that people coming in? Was that people going out? Was that a diversionary tactic? We don't know.
So in this case, Anderson, I think that the things that need to be cleared up is we need to know where this third suicide bomber was because it's not clear yet, really, and whether or not something else was going out here and did some people get away? Were the people in the taxis if that was the case, were they the entire squad or were other people somehow involved in this?
ANDERSON: All right, Tom Foreman, thanks for that. Back with Bob Baer, Michael Weiss, Juliette Kayyem and Clarissa Ward.
Michael, I mean, this airport is, you know, we're talking before we went on the air. This has been a transit point for Jihadist coming from Europe and other spots to try to get into Syria or Iran.
MICHAEL WEISS, "ISIS INSIDE THE ARMY OF TERROR" CO-AUTHOR: Yeah, I used to take it, and I would land at a Turk and then I spend about it 13-hour layover from New York to connect to the airport in Hatay Province, which was essentially the barracks to fall back, you know, a zone for the Syrian revolution in Southwestern Turkey.
We still call that and other journalist who've taken that right, it used to call it Jihadi Express. You get on the plane and you'd see these scrupulous characters with the long black beards. And it's very clear they weren't going over to build the secular and national estate, right. I mean, and for a while it was true, the Turkish government allowed the boarder and allow it's international airport to become essentially as if through which, you know ...
WEISS: Yeah, I mean, I remember, there was a distinct moment in 2012 when all of a sudden there was a connecting flight from Riyadh to Hatay Airport to go to Antakya.
Now, again, why did that happen in 2012? Well, it was come on in and, you know, wage Jihad or at least, you know, help the Syrian revolution if foreign governments aren't going to do that.
In recent days, do I have to admit, I've been there, the last time I was there was late 2013 and the early 2014. And then, they have been more robust and they have invigilated that airport much more than they had done.
I mean, I've been questioned by personnel multiple times while waiting for the same flight to depart. So they've gotten better about it, but still, it's quite vulnerable.
COOPER: Clarissa, what kind of intelligence operations do Turkish authorities have? Obviously, the Syrian boarders are major concern. How plugged in are they on possible terror cells already in the country?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think Turkish intelligence are very plugged in to the situation in Syria, but for a long time, as you just heard Michael saying, they were kind of doing a deal with the devil a little bit, which was to turn a blind eye while all of these Jihadists, quite openly as Michael said, gone on the Jihadi express and made their way into Syria. And they did that because, at that time, they saw their primary two enemies as being or their primary two objectives being ousting Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, and also dealing with Kurdish separatists such as the PKK.
So they had a feeling or they were misled into feeling that they had some kind of control over it, that the Jihadist weren't going to hurt them, that there wasn't going to be an issue between them because they had turned that blind eye, because they had let them infiltrate and go back and forth across that porous border.
Of course, what you see now when ISIS starts to get hit hard by Turkey, when the Turkish start to seal that border, ISIS then retaliates and hitting them back.
But I think what you really see here, I mean, you know, it's like the Old Testament saying, "All roads lead to Damascus." All of this, Anderson, comes back to Syria, to the giant festering wound that is the Syrian civil war, which has been going on for more than five and a half years now. And the longer it goes on, the worse the situation gets because everything that ISIS do immediately ties back to the Syrian conflict. And as long as you have this terrible situation inside Syria, you're going to continue to have attacks like this and the Turkish intelligence service can be the best in the world. But they can't stop all of them.
COOPER: Bob, I mean, do you believe Turkish intelligence, you know, kind of has a grip on the problem or at least is now taking it seriously?
ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Oh, Anderson, I think they were surprised by this sort of like the Pakistanis were by Afghanistan when the Jihadists came home and attacked them. It's supported them at the beginning and then they turned on a bit the hand that fed them.
What I'm seeing now more and more is this cancer, really is, is Syria and it is spreading into Lebanon, and it is spreading into Turkey. And worse for the Turks, there are a lot of Turks being recruited into the Islamic State, which makes it very difficult for the Turks to stop this.
What we don't know is just how bad it is because Turkey is unlikely to come to the United States or anyone else to say we have a real problem. I mean, you know, as long as Syria goes on, the more the chaos will spread.
COOPER: Juliette, I mean, when the State Department warns Americans to be careful in countries like Turkey to avoid heavily populated tourist areas, other potential targets when the one place travelers can't avoid is an airport. You're traveling through Istanbul, you've got to use the airport.
JULLIETTE KAYYEM, FMR MASSACHUSETTS HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: That's exactly right. And so, we talked about this notion of soft target just to make it clear, any entity placed that services the public is going to be soft, right, because airports living a word of flow. You got to get people from point A to point B.
So at any airport, you're just talking about a range of soft to softer, right? And so, you can put a lot of security into it, but just given the flow of airport like this or any a lot of American airports, you were never going to be able to hire and then making them vulnerable targets.
[20:45:02] And no matter what the U.S. does. So, we have this, you know, last point of departure program for any airport that has direct flights to the U.S., this Istanbul airport is one of them. They have many flights directly to the U.S. 10 of them were in the air when the attacks happened.
They can check the cargo, they can the planes, they can check the people, but there's no way you're going to be able to stop the front door, right, and because you need that access. So that's the challenge is that you're just talking about a range of soft to softer to softest if you're servicing the public.
COOPER: We have to take a break right now. Up next, we're going to hear from another eyewitness.
And later, it didn't take long for Donald Trump to weigh in on today's attack on Twitter. He and Hillary Clinton both have responded with statements on the attack. They also both have campaign events this evening. What they are saying, next.
COOPER: We're continuing to get new eyewitness accounts of the Istanbul airport suicide bombings as even as the death toll climbs, the shock wave spread at least part of the carnage caught on video.
And again, before you see it, we should warn you, it is graphic. One of the killers, assault rifle in hand, racing through the terminal before a gunshot takes him down.
We don't know the source of the video, but judging by the perspective and quality, it appears to be from a security camera overhead.
[20:50:02] But again, we don't know for certain.
The -- what appears to be the police officer who brought the gunman down approaches him, unclear whether he fires again. He then runs off. There maybe one more shot on the gunman himself before his device is actually detonated right there.
That is -- were just one of the many videos that we have seen. Three bombers according to authorities were involved in this attack. Unclear of how many more might have been involved in the coordination, the planning of it or the bomb making itself. As we said, more eyewitnesses are coming forward.
Joining us now by phone is Richard Kalnins. He and his wife had just arrived as this all was unfolding.
Richard thanks for being with us. I know your flight had just landed. You were in passport control. When did you realize something was going wrong?
RICHARD KALNINS, WITNESSED AIRPORT TERROR ATTACK: While we were on our way to passport control, probably about 200 meters from the passport line, when people just started rushing towards us screaming bomb and screaming, you know, gunfire and shooting. And everyone turned around and just started running. Then we ended up in a dead end corridor, so that, you know, a lot of panic just set in.
COOPER: So you didn't hear any of the bombs? You didn't hear any of the shooting?
KALNINS: I didn't hear any of the explosions or any of the shooting. I just saw people running toward me. But later, talking to people, you know, they were saying things like yeah, we heard explosions. We think we heard gunfire. It's the only information started coming in about what was going on, but, you know, everyone was sort of in the dark about what was happening. Just a lot of panic, kind of frightening scenario, just not knowing what's going on ...
KALNINS: ... being stuck in a corridor and thinking that perhaps around the corner, someone's running around with a, you know, an assault rifle.
COOPER: And how long were you there before you were actually able to get out?
KALNINS: We were stuck in the airport for about three hours. And eventually some ...
COOPER: What was the scene like as you left?
KALNINS: Well, I mean, after about three hours, the airport personnel said that everyone was OK to leave. So we went to the passport area, went through the passport control, and then into the arrivals area and realized that actually the scene of all the damage, of the bomb explosions, was only about 200 yards away from where we were kind of hiding out. So we went through the arrivals area and saw the extent of the damage, a lot of smashed glass everywhere. The ceiling partially collapsed. There's blood on the floor. Obviously, a lot of medical personnel, a lot of police everywhere, ambulance lined up outside, people lined up outside waiting for passengers, waiting for their friends and family to leave the building. So, a really chaotic scene outside the airport as well.
COOPER: And I understand despite obviously the fear and chaos after the attack, you were heartened by the kindness of people.
KALNINS: That's right. Yeah. Outside the airport, no one really know -- knew where to go. We kind of just all started walking down the highway, kind of veered off onto a side street and, you know, some guy just pulled over and offered us a ride to the nearest metro station. So, it's nice to see even in a tragedy like this, the kindness of strangers.
COOPER: It's extraordinary. Again, Richard Kalnins, I appreciate you talking to us. This latest act of terror like many acts of terror plays out in a political context globally and of course here at home.
Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton each weighing in tonight.
CNN's Sara Murray is covering Trump. Jeff Zeleny following Secretary Clinton. Let's start with Sara Murray to Trump in Pittsburgh. Sara?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Anderson, Donald Trump quickly put out a statement saying he sent his prayers to the families of the victims in the Turkey attack. He also said that the world is stunned and horrified by this attack and went on to say that the terror threat has never been greater. And that's really the message we heard him continue to hammer home at his campaign event in Ohio this evening. The notion that, terror -- the terror threat is so great that our focus right now needs to be on protecting America, protecting the homeland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wanted to talk to you about a few things. And then as you know, we had another suicide bombing in Istanbul, Turkey. Many, many people killed. Many, many people injured. Folks, there's something going on that's really, really bad. All right. It's bad. And we better get smart and we better get tough or we're not going to have much of a country left, OK? It's bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Now, National Security has been a cornerstone of Donald Trump's campaign. He tried to position himself as the toughest on terrorism. And as part of that, has suggested certain limits on immigration that of course have been very controversial.
[20:54:59] And so, I think we'll continue to hear a lot of this from him over the next of couple days, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Sara Murray. Sara thanks. Now, Hillary Clinton and CNN's Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, what was the Secretary's reaction?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, she put out a statement a short time ago, Anderson. It said this. "Today's attack in Istanbul only strengthens our resolve to defeat the forces of terrorism and radical Jihadism around the world. And it reminds us that the United States cannot retreat. We must deepen our cooperation with our allies and partners in the Middle East and Europe to take on this threat."
So significant there, Anderson, that she used the word radical Jihadism, not radical Islamism as some people have criticized her for not using. But, by saying the word radical, so important there. She's trying to again show that she is as tough and will not back down to any of these suggestions that she's not.
COOPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thanks very much.
Coming up, another live hour of "360". We're going to hear more from witnesses today's deadly terror attack in an airport in Istanbul.
We're getting new pieces, new information real by the minute. An airport worker says it was total panic after the suicide bombings. No one knew what was happening.
What we know right now about what did happen after a quick break. Our breaking news coverage continues next.
COOPER: Welcome back. We are learning more by the minute about the terror attacks. Three suicide bombers striking Istanbul's busy heavily guarded international airport, the death toll also rising also by the minute.
Cameras catching the pandemonium as people ran through the arrivals area, fleeing gunfire, and then the following explosion.
At least 36 people have now lost their lives according to Turkey's Prime Minister.
[21:00:00] His government suspects ISIS, so as U.S. Intelligence.
Just one of three detonations, another caught on video along with the gun fire, and chase preceding it. Again, before showing it, I want to warn anyone with kids, this would be a good time to have them leave the room.