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Berlin Attack Suspect Killed By Police; Terror Attack Increases Pressure on Politicians; Anis Amri Had Long Criminal History. Aired 5:30-6a ET
Aired December 23, 2016 - 05:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[05:31:25] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: All right, breaking news. The suspect in the Berlin truck attack shot dead by police in Milan, Italy.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN HOST: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Miguel Marquez.
ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour. We welcome all of our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. Again, we can tell you that that suspect in the Christmas market attack in Berlin is dead.
He has been shot dead by police in Milan. Actually, outside of Milan -- a suburb of Milan near a train station. He was asked for his identity papers at 3:00 in the morning local time and he did not pull out papers, he pulled out a 22 caliber pistol, took a shot at police officers. An officer was hit in the shoulder and wounded. A fellow officer shot and killed him. The Italian Ministry -- Interior Ministry saying without any doubt this is the suspect in the Berlin attack and he is now dead.
For the very latest let's bring in journalist Chris Burns. He is live for us in Berlin. This manhunt has been extraordinary over the past few days. Not really a surprise, I think, that he would try to make his way to Italy. This is, of course, someplace he'd spent time in prison. He'd been in six different prisons according to "The New York Times" -- or jail facilities in Italy, and he was found there in Milan apparently alone, Chris.
CHRIS BURNS, JOURNALIST: Well, that's what we know so far. He was apparently alone, Anis Amri. He -- according to the Italian news agency ANSA, he took a train from Savoie -- in Chambolle and took it to Milan to the central station, and then took another train just outside -- to a town just outside the suburbs just outside of Milan and that's where the police accosted him.
So where was he trying to go? Obviously, he was trying to find a place to hide and, yes, he had spent years in Italy and probably had some very good contacts. It is believed that during his prison stints in Italy, over four years, that that is where he radicalized and that's what authorities are going to have to be answering about as well, Christine. MARQUEZ: Chris, do you -- it is interesting that they were -- they are reporting that he had this ticket from France to this train station in Milan on him so, clearly, he went from Germany possibly then directly to France or maybe had some other connection in order to evade capture, and then went on to Italy. He clearly seemed to have some sort of plan. Do you know the level of discussion between the German authorities, the French authorities, the Italian authorities, and just how in lock step they were in the aftermath of this attack?
BURNS: Yes. Well, Miguel, yes, they're very much in contact. I mean, there's Europol, there's Interpol, there are contacts with the Americans, they're watching phone calls and so forth. Yes, it's very, very intense.
But keep in mind, too, that between Italy, and Germany, and France, they are within the Schengen group of countries where they have open internal borders, so they're not checking everybody going through the border. This is like going between states in the U.S. -- the same thing. They're not checking all the passports, they're not checking every identification, so it's very easy for a guy like Anis Amri to slip from Germany into France, and then France into Italy as, apparently, he did, Miguel.
ROMAN: The question now, Chris, is how extensive is his network? Was this a case of, you know -- we've heard terrorism officials talk of this loser to lion trend where a guy is just a loser. Goes into the prison -- goes into prison, somehow latches onto the Jihadi romantic narrative, and then is on this brainwashed mission.
ROMANS: How much help did he have in that? That's what we're trying to find out now, right?
[05:35:00] BURNS: Well, you know, yes, and CNN got ahold of nearly 350 pages of German intelligence papers that show that, yes, he was very much planted in a group that is -- that was led by Abu Walaa who was a hate preacher who is now in custody. And that organization had worked very effectively in Germany to recruit people, to train them in boot camps, hiking them for 10 miles with backpacks. And that is the kind of training and influence that Anis Amri had in preparing for this kind of attack.
We even heard that he had said that he wanted to be a suicide attacker. So this was a guy -- and how many other Anis Amris could there be out there? That is also the question and that's what authorities are very much on edge watching for as well.
ROMANS: The guy turned 24 years old yesterday and dead today. And now, still many, many questions for German authorities about how you prevent another one of these guys from wreaking havoc.
MARQUEZ: And you had a foiled attack, possibly unrelated, at the same time in Germany. I want to bring in Ben Wedeman who's in Italy for us -- in Rome. He knows that train station and that area of Italy quite well. He knows about the background of this individual. Ben, if you could just walk us through what the Italians are saying about how they brought this man down.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, it happened around 3:00 in the morning local time -- that's about nine hours ago -- when an Italian police patrol routinely was looking for -- he was asking people for ID's outside the Chiasso San Giovanni train station which is on the outside of the city of Milan. And when they asked this individual for his ID, he reached into his backpack, pulled out a 22 caliber pistol and shouted "Allahu Akbar" and started to open fire on the police. One of them was hit in the shoulder. Another officer responded, killing Anis Amri.
Now, we know that he did spent three and one-half years in six separate Italian prisons, mostly in the southern part of the country. And it was probably during those years in prison that he came into the individuals who led to his radicalization.
MARQUEZ: Ben, we're looking at pictures now, it appears, of that train station outside of Milan and it appears that Anis Amri never even got into the station. It appears that his -- they challenged him just outside the station and --
ROMANS: Or he'd been in the station and left the station and was walking someplace else.
MARQUEZ: Perhaps, or was running from authorities or trying to get away from authorities. It doesn't look like a large European train station as one might suspect. What sort of place would this be and at 3:00 a.m. in the suburbs of Milan wouldn't he stick out like a sore thumb?
WEDEMAN: Well, this is a working-class neighborhood on the margins of Milan so it's not a big station. But what we understand from the Italian press agency is that he came via France by train, went to Turin, and from there he went to the Centrale train station in Milan, and then he went to this train station, the Chiasso San Giovanni train station. So he clearly was going somewhere specific. He wasn't just going to Milan or to the Centrale train station.
And yes, he would stand out a bit like a sore thumb at 3:00 in the morning in December, which is not a time where there's an awful lot of people out. So certainly that immediately would raise a suspicion to the police. And according to the Italian officials and the Italian news agency they described him as acting strangely, which is one of the reasons why the police stopped him.
ROMANS: All right. Ben Wedeman, we know you'll continue to report for us. Thank you for that information. Don't go far away.
We are also watching a news conference out of Germany right now where German officials are speaking to the press. Let's listen in for a little bit of this and see what they are saying about their coordination with Italian authorities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): -- that they had and please understandI can't give you this information.I, of course, can't say more than Mr. Fladden (ph) or Dimmar (ph). I cannot confirm the death of Mr. Amri. That's what the Italian authorities do if they can, and they have done so. The events took place there and the information is there.
[05:40:00] I would like to thank the Italian authorities that right from the beginning we had a close, trusting exchange of information. And also with the foreign officers, the German ones in Rome and Milan. I can confirm that we have close exchange of information with Italy but an official declaration is still to come from Italy.
REPORTER (through translator): Mr. Schaeffer (ph) and Mr. Fladden, is it the same liaison officer that --
ROMANS: All right, you're listening to a German press conference. We'd heard an Italian press conference for confirming the death of that Berlin attack suspect. He was shot dead by police near a suburban train station near Milan. We're going to take a quick break and come back. A lot moreinformation for you after the break.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
MARQUEZ: Anis Amri, the man who carried the Berlin market attack is dead. Shot dead at a train station outside of Milan, Italy. That, according to the Italian Interior Minister. German officials who have just concluded a press conference say while they have not received official confirmation from the Italian authorities, they thanked them for their work. But the Italian Interior Minister being very forthright. Without any doubt the Christmas attacker in Berlin is dead.
[05:45:04] ROMANS: Let's go straight to Rome now. CNN contributor Barbie Nadeau is there and, clearly, this is something that happened nine hours ago, maybe 10 hours ago, under wraps for several hours, I'm sure as Italian authorities are trying to confirm they definitely have their man, Barbie.
BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's absolutely right. They say they have confirmed by digital fingerprints and his fingerprints of the dead person that this is an actual match. What they're looking at right now, and this is perhaps why they kept it a secret for so long, is surveillance tape. Did he meet someone in that station? Did he talk to someone in that station?
He had a train ticket from France to the main station in Milan, which is not where he was found. What they're looking at is surveillance tape to determine whether he met anyone there, as well. All of that they want to keep under wraps, of course, until they know with certainty if there were any other people involved.
I think the fact that he was traveling alone on a public train in a big city -- Milan is a big city -- would undermine this idea that there's some hidden terrorist network that he's involved with in the sense that he wasn't protected. He was out in the open. And while the police did not stop him because they thought he was the killer, they stopped him because he was acting suspiciously at 3:00 in the morning in a train station. It's something they do all of the time in Rome, in Milan, in other cities across Italy, but especially now.
They asked him for his documents. He reached in his jacket to pull out what they thought were documents and pulled out a gun instead. Shot one officer who is -- who is going to survive those injuries -- and then they exchanged fire and he was shot. But the police here want to know why he was coming to Milan. Of course, Italy was the only place he spent any substantial amount of time. He was in prison in six different facilities for four years here in Italy.
He came in through the Sicilian Island of Lampedusa in 2011 at the height, really, of that exodus from Tunisia during the beginning of the Arab Spring. He's not part of the refugee wave we're seeing right now from Syria. He was part of an earlier wave of refugees where 50,000 people came in 2011, escaping the Arab Spring problems in Tunisia.
All of that has slowed down now. We don't have a lot of refugees coming from Tunisia. A lot of those people were repatriated. He wasn't because he was in prison. He was convicted of arson and assault and he was well-known to the authorities here and well-known to the authorities in Germany.
What they want to do -- know right now, though, is who he was going to meet in Milan, if anyone. If he had a safe house he was traveling to and, also, why was he alone, or was he? That's the big question right now.
MARQUEZ: Barbie, I want to point out to our viewers both here in the U.S. and around the world the pictures you're looking at on the right side of the -- of your screen is that train station outside of Milan. The point at which he was shot dead by Italian police. You can see Italian authorities going through that scene in very fine detail to get every scrap of evidence as, Barbie, you point out. They want to know exactly what he was doing there.
His travels from Berlin to Milan were not direct. He could have gotten there a heck of a lot easier and faster if he went direct. But he went to France, and then to Turin, and then to the Milan main station which is a huge station, and then to this smaller station outside of Milan. That must raise a lot of concerns about what exactly he was doing in that particular neighborhood.
NADEAU: Oh, absolutely. I think the authorities are really going to be focused on who he might have been meeting. They've got all sorts of people on various watch lists here in Italy all of the time, especially in the north of the country. This is not a unique situation which they've had terror arrests -- terror suspect arrests over the course of the last couple of years by the dozens in this part of Italy.
Whether or not he was affiliated with any of these groups is unknown but he spent a lot of time in Italy. He spent a lot of time. He was said to have been radicalized in a prison in Palermo. Whether or not -- I'm sure they're looking at some of the people he served time with there, whether they might be in the area right now. But, you know, there are a lot more questions right now than there are
answers, but the only certainty is that he is dead. Whether or not he was confirmed to be the man driving the truck -- as we know, he was. Whether or not he was working alone, whether or not there was anyone else involved, those are things that will come later. But we know with absolute certainty, according to the Italian authorities, their man is dead now.
ROMANS: One last point I would like to ask you about quickly, Barbie, before we let you go and continue to work your sources is this is a guy who essentially was not in Europe legally but the Schengen whole system of --
MARQUEZ: Travel everywhere, basically.
ROMANS: -- borderless travel, this is exactly what governments are looking at and are very concerned about because even if somebody's on the radar like he definitely was -- he was not legally allowed in that -- they couldn't even deport him from Germany because they didn't have the right papers. Some kind of paperwork gaffe. But once somebody is radicalized, basically, Europe is all one big backyard.
NADEAU: Boy, it sure is, and that is a question that a lot of politicians are struggling with -- whether or not they institute some sort of border control. You know, the last thing anyone really wants to do in Europe is close all those borders that they've opened over the course of the unification of the European Union. But there is -- there are questions that need to be raised, especially with so many people, so many refugees, migrants, and people that come into Italy, especially, because Italy is, of course, the ground zero in the refugee and migrant crisis. Most people come in through Italy.
[05:50:23] The big question is whether or not there should be some help afforded to Italy to try to monitor who's coming in and who's not. You know, 1,000 people come in a day over the course of the summer and the fall. One hundred people came in overnight last night and this is the height -- you know, really the height of winter. There's just no way to keep tabs on every single person that comes into the country, although Italy can't do it alone. And Italy has long asked for help from the rest of Europe.
But, your right, it is one big backyard. People move freely and that's what people like about the unified Europe. Obviously, that's going to be one of the big questions that people raise and those are questions that come up in elections.
NADEAU: That's, you know, questions that come up and Italy is going to be facing an election next year as well. These are going to be issues and rightly so, perhaps.
MARQUEZ: All right, Barbie Nadeau for us in Rome. Keep working the story, Barbie. We will come back to you again. We are going to take a short break and then come back with more.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ROMANS: All right. Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. That man, Anis Amri, turned 24 years old yesterday. Today he is dead, killed by police near Milan. He is the Berlin attack suspect. Ben Wedeman is in Rome for us. We also have Josh Rogin in Washington, D.C. Columnist for "The Washington Post" and CNN contributor. I want to start with Ben. Reset the stage for us here. What happened, Ben?
[05:55:00] WEDEMAN: At about 3:00 in the morning an Italian police patrol stopped a man outside the Chiasso San Giovanni train station which is in the suburbs of Milan, a working-class neighborhood. There, they asked him for his identification, something not unusual at 3:00 in the morning in an Italian city. He reached into his backpack and rather than pulling out a passport or an ID card, he pulled out a 22 caliber pistol and shot one of the policeman in the shoulder.
Now, the Italian media is saying that he then took cover behind a car and continued to shoot. Another officer returned fire and killed him. Now, the police are saying that they found on his body tickets -- a ticket stub that would indicate that he traveled via France from Germany. He went through Turin, went to the main train station in Milan, and then went to this train station in the suburbs. The question was why did he go to that particular train station outside of Milan and who, perhaps, was he going to meet?
ROMANS: All right, Ben Wedeman in Rome. Thank you so much for that, Ben.
MARQUEZ: We want to bring in Josh Rogin now. He is in Washington, D.C. Josh, in the last couple of days or hours you have a plot foiled in Germany.
MARQUEZ: Another plot possibly unrelated. You have a plot foiled in Australia. Concerning about that one, seven were arrested, two were released. Of the five, though, one was Egyptian-born. The other four were Australian-born, all self-radicalized. It is Christmas. Clearly, there is concern about attacks on sort of the Christmas season, essentially. What is your sense of clearly good news that this individual's been taken down but the concern across Europe and across capitals in cities around the world about Christmas coming up?
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Sure, I think the alert level couldn't be higher and at least now there's a realization that whatever systems and processes we have need to be shored up, they need to be tightened. There's no more time to wait.
You know, there's also a big political story here, you know. These are existential crises for these governments, all right, and the overall big takeaway should be will these western countries continue to be a beacon of hope for the thousands fleeing war and persecution despite the fact that it may leave western societies vulnerable to arrivals with far darker motives.
ROMANS: Or will these societies move to the right and try to limit immigration substantially to protect their populous.
ROMANS: All right.
MARQUEZ: That is a question that this country will be wrestling with and the Europeans will be certainly wrestling with in the days ahead. Just to recap the news. Anis Amri, the attacker in the Berlin Christmas market attack is dead. Italian authorities announcing that he was shot and killed by Italian police at a train station just outside of Milan. We want to say thank you to our audience both here in the U.S. and around the world.
ROMANS: "NEW DAY" is going to pick up this story now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. This is Friday, December 23rd, 6:00 in the East. We begin with breaking news. The search for the Berlin Christmas market attack suspect comes to an end near Milan in Italy. Police there say officers killed Anis Amri in a shootout.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Investigators say Amri pulled a gun when police stopped him at a checkpoint and opened fire. We have every angle of this breaking news covered for you beginning with CNN's Chris Burns live with the latest from Berlin. Chris, what have you learned?
BURNS: Good morning, Alisyn. Well, this is what we know so far, is that Anis Amri had taken a train from Savoie in France -- from Chambolle -- the town of Chambolle to Milan -- to the main train station in Milan from where he took another train to a suburb and that is where the police checked -- they wanted to do an identity check with him and instead of pulling out his documents, he pulled out a 22 caliber pistol and starting firing. And then police shot back and killed him but not before one of the police who was in it was injured in the shoulder in the gunfight. That's where it stands right now.
German and Italian authorities very much in contact. At the same time, though, that does not mean that the pressure is off over here in Germany. There could be other Anis Amris. He was part of a network and German authorities are very much watching for that right now. Back to you.
CUOMO: All right, I'll take it. Ben (sic), stay with us. Also joining us now, CNN terrorism analyst and editor-in-chief of "CTC Sentinel" Paul Cruickshank. Paul, you've been on -- in front of this reporting right now. Does it comes as a surprise that he made it this far and what do you make of how it ended?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, CTC SENTINEL: I don't think it comes as a surprise because this individual was being supported by a network, as we understand. A network which could have smuggled him out of the country -- given him some assistance. He has spent a number of years in Italy before moving to Germany.