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tv   CNN Newsroom With Carol Costello  CNN  August 29, 2014 6:00am-7:01am PDT

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no strategy yet to fight isis. aides later clarified the president met only in syria but as you heard this morning the critics pounced. >> russia's foreign minister denying accusations russian troops crossed into spain despite the nato images showing otherwise. russian president vladimir putin is comparing actions of the ukrainian army to the nazis. u.n. officials are working to get freedom for 43 peacekeepers detained by militants in syria, another 81 peace keepers are said to be trapped in that area. joan river is in a new york hospital this morning. the 81-year-old went into cardiac arrest during minor throat surgery at a new york clinic. her daughter melissa says she is resting comfortably. good news for the millions of you making the getaway by car, the price of gas is down an average of 11 cents a gallon from last labor day weekend. there you go, heading out with good news. >> my colleague christine romans covers business says beef prices are go up.
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>> your hamburgers. >> they'll cost more for the labor day barbecue. >> wah-wah. >> thank you so much for joining us this morning. "the newsroom" with carol costello begins right now. good morning, carol. >> good morning. have a great weekend. "newsroom" starts now. -- captions by vitac -- and good morning. i'm carol costello. thank you so much for joining me. the white house under fire and on the defensive after a stunning admission from the president. how should the united states deal with the isis terrorists who are growing stronger in syria? >> i don't want to put the cart before the horse. we don't have a strategy yet. and on this morning after the white house back pedaling continues. >> we do have a comprehensive stat gee for dealing with isil. the president is waiting on
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military options developed by professional at the department of defense. also developing overnight, new causes for concern, reporters from "foreign policy" magazine gain access to what they call the isis laptop of doom, buried in hidden files preps to unleash a biological weapon attack. the army psychiatrist who killed 13 fellow americans at ft. hood from death know, nadl hassan writes from the leader of isis asking to join. and federal investigators step up their monitoring of extremist websites and chat rooms. intel identified nearly a dozen americans who have traveled to syria to become isis fighters. let's take a closer look especially at that laptop of doom and its hidden secrets according to "foreign policy" magazine there was a 19-page document that included efforts to develop biological weapons and weaponize the bubonic plague. it suggested using grenades to help disperse the bioterror and targeted closed areas like stadiums and subways where
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people would be trapped. let's turn to cnn terrorism analyst paul cruickshank on the phone with me. >> good morning, carol. >> paul, how likely is it isis could successfully carry out a biological attack? >> obviously this news has caused a concern and this guy was a chemistry graduate but there's a different between aspiring to make these sorts of weapons and having any capability. al qaeda for example had researched this kind of stuff for the last couple of decades but they've never come close to developing biological or chemical weapons. the distribution systems for these kind of things particularly are difficult but what's also concerning now is that we're kind of in unchartered territory with isis because they control a large degree of territory, and also they have deep financial pockets, they're raising millions of dollars a day and they're also attracting foreign fighters from across the middle east. now the worry is that some of those could have scientific
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knowledge, but there's no evidence yet that isis is developing a program for this kind of thing. this seems to be one individual doing some research into it, carol. >> well i know there is concern, because isis operates in syria, and we know syria has chemical weapons or had chemical weapons. so is it possible that isis managed to get a hold of some? >> i don't think there is any evidence of those chemical weapons, they are under lock and key when it comes to the regime. i don't think anybody is suggesting that isis is about to get hold of chemical weapons in syria. obviously there's always theoretical concern about that but no evidence of that yet, carol. >> we also know isis controls some major cities, moerks, mfor mosul in iraq, it has a university and medical college with laboratories. should that be a concern? >> yes, that is an obvious concern that they may have access to some scientific facilities, where they're able to sort of experiment on this kind of thing.
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when it came to al qaeda, they were experimenting in sort of training camps in afghanistan in the 1990s, far away from modern civilization. if you control scientific medical facilities in an actual city, that obviously gives you a better chance of going further down the road of developing these kind of things, carol, that's true. >> all right, paul cruickshank, thanks for your insight. we appreciate it this morning. the man responsible for killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 others in a shooting rampage at ft. hood in 2009 is now asking isis for citizenship. nadal hassan's daughter provided a copy of the letter to fox news "he formally and humbly request to be made a citizen of the islamic state. it would be an honor for any believer to be an obedient citizen soldier to a people and its leader who don't compromise the religion of the almighty allah to get along with the
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disbelievers." he signed his signature and ableefgs "soa" or soldier of allah. authorities want to know how young men are being recruited to fight in syria. today they learn the family of aberham mohammad says he was killed over the weekend in syria while fighting for isis. people who knew him are trying to figure out why he decided to join ted t b join this brutal terrorist group. ted rowlands is live in minneapolis with more. >> reporter: good morning, mohammad is the latest in a group of young men from this minneapolis-st. paul area that have gone on to fight for extremist groups. he joins two men that went to high school together, both here from minneapolis. according to a friend, abu rakman mohammad is the latest so-called minnesota martyr, an american giving up his life to
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fight with the ruthless terror group isis. >> he was in the community, involved in politics. for some reason down the road he changed allegiance to a different set of philosophies. >> reporter: he was killed in syria, where he was fighting along with another american jihadist from minneapolis, douglas mccain. while it's still unclear how well mccain pneumomad, mccain knew the man in this terrorist recruiting video very well. >> if you guys only knew how much fun we have over here, this is the real disneyland. you come here and join us. >> reporter: troy kastagar and douglas mccain were high school friends. kastagar who appeared in this training video died in 2009 fighting with al shabaab in somalia. kastagara's mother tries to explain how they went from basketball buddies to terrorists. >> this was like wanting to have, you know, wanting to have a purpose, wanting to be a
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valuable human being and not finding that, and then i think, you know, some of the things they were told were lies and some things were truths. i think they felt they could go help some people who needed help. >> reporter: the fear that a minnesota terror recruit will someday attack america is a real concern for the fbi. they're investigating exactly how isis has been able to recruit. >> how are people being radicalized, what methods are being used and what are the logistics behind the travel of some of these young men. >> reporter: and carol, the fbi here in minneapolis believes there are a handful of other young men that grew up in the twin cities that are now in syria fighting for isis. carol? >> ted rowlands reporting live from minneapolis this morning. when it comes to the hostages being held by isis, we're learning more about the brutal treatment they received while in captivity. "the washington post" citing unnamed sources familiar with
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the treatment of abducted westerners reporting that four hostages including that american journalist james foley were waterboarded. foley was later beheaded and what isis claimed was retaliation for u.s. air strikes. in a statement to cnn, a senior obama administration official would not confirm the report due to sensitivity to the families aento protect intelligence and how it was gathered. owe fishes repeated calls to isis to release all hostages. i know what you're thinking, wasn't it just last week president obama called isis a cancer worth rooting out? wasn't it just a few days ago that he promised justice for james foley? >> but our message to anyone who harms our people is simple. america does not forget. our reach is long. we are patient. just will be done. >> so what gives? because the president just yesterday says that his
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administration, the defense department doesn't really have a strategy to deal with isis in syria. so let's talk about that. josh rogen is a cnn political analyst and senior national security correspondent for "the daily beast." you've also written extensively on this topic and you have insider information so i'm glad you're here this morning. >> glad to be with you. >> i must say when the president of the united states says we don't have a strategy to deal with the terrorists who kill americans, it's unsettling to say the least, so what gives? >> yes, it's really amazing, especially after seven days of not just president obama, but john kerry, chuck hagel, joint chiefs chairman martin dempsey all saying that it's an eminent threat, we have to confront them, both sides of the border, and then president obama saying basically we're going to wait, we're going to check it out. i believe him, the aadministration doesn't have a strategy and that raises two big questions, one, what are they waiting for and two, is it really a good idea to tell isis
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we don't have a strategy, how does that impact their actions, and what does that mean for the safety of us? >> well, along those lines, in your "daily beast" article you quote a former pentagon official who says "it's not just demoralizing to those who want to stop ice this its tracks but isis is going to act with greater impunity, now they believe they've been given a free pass. every single isis leader was watching the president as he made those comments yesterday." so has the president made things worse with his own rhetoric? >> it's hard to say. we can say that by deciding not to decide, that has were indications. so isis is doing lots of things. they're expanding across iraq, across syria. they're fighting the syrian rebels, and they're going to continue to do those things, whether or not we react. so if we don't react, if we wait, if we study the issue, we can be sure that the problem will get worse and worse, and when they hear we're about to
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weigh in, that factors into the calculations. >> so i guess the obvious question, where does the administration go from here? >> so john kerry will go to the region this weekend. he'll try to coalesce some international support around whatever it is they ultimately decide to do, and they're going to have more debate inside the administration. the white house doesn't want to intervene in syria. they've been very clear about that. there are a lot of people in the administration that say we have no choice. they haven't convinced the one man whose vote is the most important, his name is barack obama. until he's convinced, we're not going to see any movement. >> are the will, josh rogin, thank thank you for your insight. check out his article "why obama let isis off the hook" at nato released images it says shows russian forces inside ukraine. russia says that's not us. that's quite an unusual explanation, as a matter of fact. cnn's matthew chance is in moscow. good morning. >> reporter: that's right, and
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from the russian capital, the u.s. steps up its allegations about russian military involvement in ukraine, i'll bring you all the latest kremlin denials. narrator: summer.
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world leaders are condemning russian troop movements into eastern ukraine in what one ukrainian army officer calls a full scale invasion. following today's emergency meeting of nato ambassadors, the secretary-general accused russia of a serious escalation of aggression. it released satellite pictures
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of russian troops inside ukraine. kiev says rebels backed by russian tanks and armored personnel carriers have been fighting ukrainian forces on two eastern fronts. cnn's diana magnay has more for you. >> reporter: pro-russian forces gaining more ground as the fighting rages on. in rebel-held donetsk, heavy shelling killed 15 civilian as ukrainian troops tried to push back forces. town seized after rebel forces backed by russian tanks and artillery battled ukrainian military for control. this morning vladimir putin opened a so-called humanitarian corridor. the order have pro-russian separate is release are you cranetroops trapped in the battle zone and provide medical assistance to the injured. on thursday, as many as,000 russian troops with heavy weapons crossed the southern border to fight alongside pro-russian rebels according to
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nato. the fear in ukraine that russian troops might march as far as the coastal city of mariopol but this opened a third front in the fighting beyond the other separatist stronghelds holds in donet donetsk luhansk. they say russian forces are on the move inside the ukrainian territory over the last serl days. these show a convoy of self-propelled artillery units. >> they are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the overall scope of russian troop and weapons movements. >> reporter: carol, 1,000 troops is still a small troop presence spread across a very large area, all along the russian border. if this is an invasion, then it is a very small one. carol? >> diana magnay reporting.
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russia has a unique response to those nato satellite images of troops in ukraine. they may be from computer games. that's what they're saying. cnn's matthew chance is in moscow with that part of the story. seriously, they expect everybody to believe them? >> well to be honest, there have been incidents in the past, carol, where images that have been shown to be images that were meant to be satellite images, not from nato obviously but from other quarters have been found to be bogus images and that's what the russian foreign minister is referring to when he said this could be from video games. look, the general point is that despite the mounting, the genuinely mounting evidence that's being gathered now, that there are russian forces that are operating inside ukraine, we saw ten russian paratroopers arrested by the ukrainian government and displayed on television in that country that gave interviews as well, that was explained by the kremlin
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saying they accidentally went to ukraine. there's been other incidents as well which is sort of building this case, that there is a real presence in ukraine of russian regular service personnel, despite that, the kremlin is categorically denying it. take a listen to what sergei laugh love had to say about this a few moments ago. >> translator: from the very beginning of the crisis, we have been blamed for everything. there have been reports that there are photographs from space showing movements of russian troops but as it turned out, it was computer games and the images were taken from there and the latest allegations are more or less the same kind. >> all right, so again, that categorical denial coming from the kremlin. the only sort of chink in the armor, if you will, that we've seen so far in terms of the message is pro-russian rebels in eastern ukraine confirming that there are russian soeltdiers
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fighting alongside them in the insurgency but saying unofficially, during their leave time they're choosing to fight alongside their ukrainian brothers in the battle against the government of ukraine. >> matthew chance reporting live from moscow this morning. some breaking news to pass along to you, britain has raised its terror threat level to severe. that means a terrorist attack is highly likely, but there's no information to suggest an attack is eminent. this decision comes against a backdrop of increasing concern about hundreds of aspiring british jihadis traveling to iraq and syria to learn terrorist tradecraft and the murder of american journalist james foley by an apparently british killer. we'll take to you london to talk more about this. we're getting a reporter in place. the terror threat level in britain raised to severe. i'll be back with more
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and that certainly is huge.
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all right, as promised, more on the breaking news this morning. the british terror threat has been raised to severe. that means, that seems to mean that an attack is eminent, although there is no specificity as to what that attack might be, so let's head out to london and cnn's erin mclaughlin to tell us more about this. good morning. >> reporter: hi, carol. that's right. british home secretary teresa
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may within the last hour releasing a statement raising the alert level from this countrysubstantial to severe meaning a terrorist attack is highly likely. it goes on to say there is no information to suggest an attack is eminent and this decision is based on the latest intelligence. now, statement also goes on to say that this is related to developments in syria and iraq where "terrorist groups are planning attacks against the west." likely to involve foreign fighters who traveled there from the uk and europe, and we know that there are estimated to be between 400 and 500 british jihadis in syria and possibly have crossed into iraq, that this government has been very, very concerned about what could possibly happen if those jihadis decide to return back to the united kingdom. carol? >> what precautions is the government taking there? >> the moment that is not clear. we're getting this initial
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information but the fact that the terror level has been raised in this country is an indication that certain precautions, certain security measures across the country need to be taken, need to be heightened and this is the first time that this kind of alert has been raised in the past several years, carol, so officials here in the united kingdom taking this extremely seriously. >> i'll let you get back to reporting. erin mclaughlin, many thanks to you. we'll be right back. hey. i'm ted and this is rudy. say "hi" rudy. [ barks ] [ chuckles ] i'd do anything to keep this guy happy and healthy. that's why i'm so excited about these new milk-bone brushing chews. whoa, i'm not the only one. it's a brilliant new way to take care of his teeth.
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good morning. i'm carol costello. thank you for joining me. more on the breaking news. british prime minister david cameron will talk with reporters live this morning at 9:45 eastern time from ten downing street. of course he's expected to make a statement on security issues after the uk raised its threat level to severe. we will bring that news conference to you live when it happens, right here on cnn, and again, david cameron expected to speak from ten downing street 9:45 eastern. so in light of that, it makes this next story, well, really more astounding. back in this country the white house remains in damage control after president obama's comment that was both blunt and politically baffling. the president says his administration has not yet decided on a strategy to deal with isis' siege on syria.
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critics say the president is sending a message of weakness to an enemy that's only growing stronger. cnn's michelle kosinski is at the white house with more. >> first we had the important national security team meeting in the situation room here at the white house, then suddenly the president was going to speak so you have everybody here waiting to find out, okay, what is going to happen in syria, but the answer the president gave was to some surprisingly clear that we're just not there yet. >> i directed secretary hagel and our joint chiefs of staff to prepare a range of options. >> reporter: another address by the president. there have been many lately, but it was these words regarding syria that many were not expecting. >> i don't want to put the cart before the horse. we don't have a strategy yet. >> reporter: his critics quick to pounce. the republican party tweeting what's the obama strategy in to have no strategy.
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ukraine, isis, russia. but the white house was eagerly quick to explain, the press secretary coming to cnn's "the situation room." >> the commotion those words generated was enormous. so go ahead and tell us what the president precisely was remembering to. >> he was referring to military options for striking isil in syria. those options are still being developed by the pentagon. the president has been clear for months who our comprehensive strategy is for cor fronting the isil threat in iraq. >> reporter: that is true, clear and careful, some say to the point of being too slow. u.s. air strikes are still presented as being for the primary purpose of protecting american personnel, then supporting iraqis and adding a humanitarian component. the president still repeatedly emphasizes the need for a unified iraqi government so that country can solve its own problems. >> and the options that i'm asking for from the joint chiefs focuses primarily on making sure
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that isil is not overrunning iraq. >> reporter: but the terrorist spread has been fast and furious. the white house's view of the syria component is more deliberate. >> it is not simply a military issue, it's also a political issue, it's also an issue that involves all the sunni states in the region and sunni leadership, recognizing that this cancer that has developed is one that they have to be just as invested in defeating as we are. >> reporter: but he did say a long-term strategy will involve a military aspect. what will not? the situation in ukraine. and the u.s. will not call russia's latest moves an invasion, even though some in ukraine are. >> i think it is very important to recognize that a military solution to this problem is not going to be forthcoming. >> in the situation in iraq and syria the president is going to accepted secretary of state john
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kerry to the region sometime soon and he said that the strategy for syria that is forming is going to be a broader one. it is going to include those regional and international partnerships, building a coalition, it's going to of to take into account some kind of plan for at least some degree of stability in syria, so from what that sounds like, it is going to take some time, carol. >> certainly sounds that way. michelle kosinski many thanks to you. my next guest says while isis has been successful so far due to the weakness of its opponents and military capabilities, the real test could be maintaining all the gains especially'group is attacked by multiple forces at ones or if its allies start to defect. join me michael knights, fellow with the washington institute for neareast policy. welcome. >> thank you for having me on. >> michael, i'd like to start with britain. write tain raised its terror threat to severe. what do you make of that? >> there are many more foreign
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fighters from concern countries within isil today than there were in the old al qaeda in iraq so it's unsurprising that western countries would start to feel some blow-back from what's going on in iraq and syria. >> raising the terror left to severe in britain means there's a chance of an eminent attack. the british prime minister is going to make a statement at 9:45 eastern time. what do you suppose he'll say? >> they always try and act with an abundance of caution whenever they get warning data. i would think he say the security services in the uk have detected some kind of indicators of an incoming threat, and are taking measures to prevent it. >> all right, let's talk about president obama, and the president saying that his administration has know serious strategy. number one, do you think isis is aware of the president's remarks, and two, will isis be
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emboldened if it thinks that the united states doesn't have a plan? >> they pay very close attention to international news media and also social media, so they will be watching this and taking note. what really matters is how the u.s. acts on the ground. it has a golden opportunity to build up some momentum against icition. if you look at isis, it's very difficult for it to defend most of the points that it's captured, particularly if we have multiple axis, where the iraqi and kurdish forces attack with air support. wherever that is happening, isis is falling back, it's demolishing areas, blowing up bridges, defensive measures, showing that it knows it can't hold areas, where you have the combination of local security forces and also u.s. air power. >> you also say that isis' roots date back several years to 2010. so did the united states and
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britain, for that matter, miss warning signs? >> well, isis bounced back very rapidly, had its low point in 2010 when it began what i call a reboot in 2011. one of the problems is that we killed its two leaders in april 2010, and the guys who replaced them were actually better. that's one of the first results that can sometimes happen with targeted killings, and so they bounced back very quickly and i think the u.s. government and others were a bit slow to pick up on the fact that they weren't dead in the water, that they were actually recovering, because of the mistakes of the maliki government in iraq and u.s. military withdrawl. >> in ace piece for west point counterterrorism journal you write isis military might and surprise attacks has been its strengths. is there any side opponents are becoming better at predicting
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and staving off those kinds of attacks? >> yes, that's exactly what we've been seeing over the last couple of weeks. it's one of the reasons why isis has been receiving small battlefield defeat after small battlefield defeat. things liar mosul dam showed once opponents regained balance, had u.s. air support and u.s. intelligence support it made it harder for them to to be surprised and they could concentrate on points where iraq and the kurds want to fight rather than isis constantly gathering its heavy weapons and troops at the points where isis wants to fight. there's a thousand kilometer front line in northern iraq, and that's good for the side that's attacking, because they can bring their forces and their heavy weapons to bear exactly where they want to bring them to bear, so if you're on the attack, you have the advantage, and currently iraqi security forces and kurds are on the attack. what we need to do as the u.s. is keep up momentum by providing
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that air support that allows them to stay on the attack. if we keep building momentum, we'll see isis' local tribal allies and other insurgent movements start to abandon it, and then you get that waterfall effect that you're looking for to push them back into the rural areas and to turn them back into an insurgent movement rather than a full scale army. >> all right, michael knights with the with a uashington inst for intoereast policy. you see on your picture ten downing street, where the prime minister will speak about raising the threat level to severe which means an attack is eminent. we'll talk more about that when i come back. we needed 30 new hires for our call center.
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we are expecting the british prime minister david cameron to
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appear behind that podium in just about two minutes. as we've been telling you, britain raised its terror threat to' s severe which means an attack is highly likely and it probably is doing this in light of all you've been hearing about isis' growing strength in iraq and syria and all about the british nationals going overseas to fight for isis. we're expecting the british prime minister to speak at any time. barbara starr is live at the pentagon for us, also julia kay me s our national security analyst, she'll be along shortly, john allen is here, our vatican analyst but you're important because there have been threats from isis against the pope. we'll get into that in just a little bit. i want to start with you, barbara. it's kind of scary britain is raising its terror threat. is it a harbinger of things to come here? >> that remains to be seen at this point. i think what many nations are worried about right now is these
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foreign fighters with isis in syria possibly in iraq with visas and passports that will allow them to come back to their home kr iz in europe and the united states and potentially carry out an attack. this is a growing concern in european capitals, it is a concern in the united states. what the u.s. intelligence community has said is they're not sure in this country whether people are going to come back at the orders of isis and carry out an attack here or basically try and come back to the united states on their own, and set up their own cells and engage in militant and terrorist activity here. not clear that isis itself is ordering people back to their home countries and saying go and engage in attacks. isis very focused on the region, but also focused in the middle east on attacking u.s. and western interests in that region. so there's lots of concern all over the place. on both sides of the atlantic, both washington and european
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capitals increasingly working very close together on trying to track these westerners, identify them, understand who they are, figure out where they are, and track their movements if they try and travel back either to europe or to the united states. it's a huge effort with law enforcement agencies and intelligence services across europe and in the united states and of course, this week we've seen at least one u.s. citizen who was killed in syria fighting alongside isis, so this is part of the concern, these people that are going over there, joining up with isis, and what they may do next. carol? >> all right, thank you, barbara. let's head to london and check in with erin mclaughlin. erin, set the scene for us. what happened this morning to prompt this news conference? >> reporter: well we know that this morning the home secretary teresa may releasing a statement announcing that the threat level has been increased here in the
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united kingdom from substantial to severe, meaning that a terrorist attack is highly likely. it's the first time that the terror level or the threat level rather has been raised to severe in the past four years. now the statement went on to say there's no information to suggest that an attack is eminent, and that this is a judgment call based on immediate intelligence reports. now we know that the british government authorities here in europe have been very concerned about the events unfolding on the ground in syria and iraq specifically with the estimated 400 to 500 british jihadis that have gone to syria to fight on behalf of isis. very concerned about that, and clearly this decision that they've taken today to make this announcement again we're expecting to hear from the british prime minister david cameron shortly is a reflection of that concern, and it is meant to prompt security officials both in the public and private
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sector to be especially vigilant and they're asking for members of the public here in the united kingdom to be especially aware of their surroundings at all times and things such as public transportation for any signs of anything unusual, and then to notify the police, but again we're waiting to hear from british prime minister david cameron shortly. >> he's expected to speak at any time. erin thank you very much. also on the phone with us, juliet kayem, cnn's national security analyst. juliette, the threat level is at severe. erin went over some of this but what precautions is the british government likely to ask of british citizens and also of, you know, maybe train stations or airports, things like that? >> my guess is that this is or the reason why britain is doing this is they have a lot of people under surveillance, there are increased concerns about what's happening in syria, and it may be that they've lost track of people that they were following because i don't want
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to say this came out of the blue but it is a height. ed elevation that would come from likely intelligence that they may have lost, which is a clue that a cell or a group of people may have gone underground to attack. so what they're going to do now is ask for increased vigilance of the british in terms of, in particular communities that may know where people are, and to keep an eye out on what's going on in their communities, and then you're just going to have obviously the increased physical presence, visual presence of police and other lawfficials in transportation given what happened july 7th with the attacks several years back in the train and on the bus. i guess, and i'm only guessing here is that they'll also be increased vigilance of british nationals who are traveling in the middle east and europe and
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even the united states, just for this period, when cameron has elevated the threat assessment. >> juliette, thanks so much. we want to bring in john allen. there are security threats in many parts of the world, including in italy, because supposedly isis has made >> as opposed to the british government, which is raising its threat level, the vatican is publicly playing down these threats. they don't believe it's serious. in part, because this came from an italian newspaper report citing unnamed officials and the israeli security intelligence. that said, given what's going obin the world today, i can guarantee you that vatican is in conversation right now trying to ascertain if there is something to be worry about here and if so what additional precautions they might need to take, which of
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course is a particular challenge. >> he's been very vocal in his tweets, right, about what's happening in iraq. the italian government is focusing on pope francis. >> behind the scenes, the vatican security guys certainly are. publicly, the vatican always plays this kind of thing down. they don't want to make themselves a target. the vatican is very concerned not to frame what's going on in iraq as a christian versus muslim -- >> i see david cameron coming out. >> earlier today, the home secretary confirmed that the joint terrorism analysis center has increased the threat will he level in the united kingdom from
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substantial to severe. this is the first time in three years the threat to our country has been at this level. my first priority as prime minister is to make sure we do everything possible to keep our people safe. today, i want to set out the scale and nature of the threat we face, and the comprehensive approach that we are taking to combat it. we've all been shocked and sickened by the murder of american journalist james foley and by the voice of what increasingly seems to have been a british terrorist recorded on that video. it was clear evidence, not that any more was needed, that this is not some foreign conflict thousands of miles from home that we can hope to ignore. the ambition to create an extremist caliphate in the heart of iraq and syria is a threat to our own security here in the u.k. and that is in addition to the many other al qaeda-inspired terrorist groups that exist in that region. the first isil-inspired
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terrorist acts on the continent of europe have already been taken. we now believe that at least 500 people have traveled from britain to fight in syria and potentially iraq. let's be clear about the source of the threat that we face. the terrorist threat was not created by the iraq war ten years ago. it existed even before the horrific attacks on 9/11, themselves some time before the iraq war. this threat cannot be solved simply by dealing with the perceived grievances over western foreign policy. nor can it be dealt with by addressing poverty, dictatorship or instability in the region. the root cause of this threat to our security is quite clear. it is a poisonious idealology of islamic extremist that is condemned by all faiths and faith leaders. it believes in using the brutal
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many form of terrorism. its own citizens would suffer unimaginable brutality, the widespread slaughter of muslims by fellow muslims and the exporting of terrorism abroad. this is about a battle between islam on the one hand and extremists who want to abuse islam on the other. it is absolutely vital that we make this distinction between religion and political ideology. islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people. it is a source of spiritual guidance which daily inspires millions to countless acts of kindness. islamic extremist is an ideology
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is by a minority. this is not a new problem. we've seen this extremist before in our own country. we saw it with the sickingen murder of kigby and the bombs that blue up buses. many of those who sought to do us harm in the past have been foreign nationals living in britain orb even british citizens who have returned from terrorist training camps in pakistan or elsewhere around the world. but what we're facing in iraq now, with isil, is a greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before. in afghanistan, the taliban were prepared to play host to al qaeda, the terrorist organization. with isil, we are facing a terrorist organization not being
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hosted in a country, but actually seeking to establish and then violently expand its own terrorist state. and with designs on expanding to jordan and lebanon, right up to the turkish border we can be facing a terrorist state on the shores of the mediterranean and we cannot appease this ideology. to do this, we need a tough comprehensive approach to defeat the terrorist threat at its source. tough in that we need a firm security response, whether that is action to go after the terrorists, international cooperation on intelligence, and counterterrorism or uncompromising measures against terrorists here at home. but it also must be an intelligent political response. we must use all resources we have at our disposal, aid, diplomacy, political influence, and our military. learning the lessons from the
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past doesn't mean that there isn't a place for our military. the military were vital in driving al qaeda from afghanistan and we support the u.s. air strike against isil in iraq. the key point is that military force is just one element of what we can do, and we need a much wider approach, working with neighbors in the region, and addressing not just security but politics too. we know that terrorist organizations thrive where there is political instability and weak or dysfunctional political institutions, so we must support the building blocks of democracy, the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, the rights of minorities, free media, free association, a proper place in society's place for the army and we must show perseveran perseverance. not just because these take time to take place, because we are in the middle of a generational struggle between a poisonious and extremist ideology that
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we'll be fighting for years, and probably decades. we must take whatever action necessary to keep the british people safe here at home. brit be -- britain has some of the finest intelligence services in the world. we will always act with urgency when needed, and we've already taken a whole range of measures to keep our people safe. we are stopping suspects by traveling by seizing passports, we're barring foreign nationals from reending the u.k., we are depriving people of citizenship and we have stepped our operational response, since last year we've seen a five fold increase in syria--related arrests. we've seen port stops and crash seizures grow by 50%. we've taken out 28,000 of extremist material off the internet this year alone. we've made clear that those who
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carry isil flags or seek to recruit will be arrested and their materials seized and we've seen a 58% increase in referrals to our deradicalization project. people are rightly concerned about foreign fighters who come back to threaten our security here at home. the threat is growing. i said very clearly last week there will be no knee jerk reactions. we'll respond calmly and with purpose. we will do so driven by evidence. but we have to listen carefully to the security and intelligence officers who do so much every day to keep us safe. i chaired a meeting a week ago with our intelligence and security services and we agreed that the answer to this threat was not to dream up some sweeping new power that would be ineffective in practice, but it is becoming clear that there are some gaps in our armory and we need to strengthen them. we need to do more to stop
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people traveling, to stop those who do go from returning, and to deal zies civil with those who are already here. i'll be making a statement in the house of commons on monday. this would include further steps to stop people traveling with new legislation that will make it easier to take people's passports away. now, as well as being tough, patient, and intelligent, we also need to take a comprehensive approach. dealing with this threat is not just about new powers. it is about how we combat extremism in all its forms. we need to tackle that ideology of islamic extremism head on, at root before it take the form of violence and terror. that means challenging the thinking of extremist ideology, countering them by empowering the overwhelming majority who believe in british values of democracy, rule of law and respect for minorities. that's why a


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