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terri, the sister, is very happy ken is coming back. it's a great day for them. >> i know you had worked with many, many others on focusing attention on this through the campaign, et cetera. how surprised are you this has happened? >> i'm not that surprised. i'm really not. i personally -- and i've spoken about this before. i had dinner with the ambassador from north korea a week ago here in new york. i speak to them every day. i've been to the mission three or four times. i have had meetings. >> did you have indications this might be close? >> i got indications it was close, yes. and i told the family that, as well. >> like what? >> it's pretty big, right? so my last dinner -- so last week, they were telling me like, just be patient. be patient. and that was the first time they had done that. >> and they hadn't said that before. >> not only hadn't they said that before. it was the first time they had actually called me for dinner. and we had had three previous to that. >> and just about two weeks ago,
jeffrey fowle being released. >> and we spoke about mr. fowl and i asked why did he come home and kenneth and they said different crimes. which i understood. >> wow. one concern has been kenneth bae's health. it has been deteriorating. we know that. how is he doing? what does the family say? >> they said he's not doing well. as reported by your network, he's lost all this weight. his hair was coming out. he had back problems. heart problems. so my understanding from the family was they wanted some time to let him recover and then he was going to be speaking to the media. >> so we know that his plane is going to land about midnight eastern time, 9:00 pacific tonight there in tacoma, washington. his family is going to greet him on the ground there, although they're not going to make statements. what have they told you through the day today. they issued this long, emotional statement. i know they also want their privacy. >> yeah, they want the privacy. they're extremely excited. i'm going to be with them on
friday. so this coming friday. i'm going to go out and see them and actually meet this guy -- >> because you've never met kenneth bae. >> i've never met him and i've been championing this cause with congressman rangel and jesse jackson and a bunch of other people that i happen to have met here. and no, i've never met him. and it's really exciting. >> what do you make of the fact that this happened the way it did? are you hopeful that this will mean an opening of relations -- diplomatic relations between the u.s. and north korea? >> i personally, yes. i mean, i have to say on the record, my relationships with the north koreans, so the counselor and ambassador have been great. i've had very good meetings with them. we've discussed, you know, problems that they're having in the country. how i believe personally the united states government can help. so i think it opens doors. >> just have to remember, there's a lot about standing issues with north korea. the u.n. commission report coming out, damming, talking
about the torture people have gone through and also others, maybe not americans, but others still held captive in north korea. >> correct. >> we'll be following this closely. i'm very happy for you and family. i want to go straight to jim sciutto on the phone. what do you make of the timing of this? >> well, traditionally with north korea, there is method to the madness. for lack of a better expression. this is a positive development, no question, for the americans released in the span of a couple weeks. but, you know, through decades of this, that normally means that north korea wants something. north korea is under a lot of pressure now. one, there is movement in the international court in light of evidence of the treatment of political prisoners there and other prisoners, conditions in prisoner camps, et cetera. that that kind of international condemnation to the u.n., international criminal court is something they want to avoid. plus, as well, there are signs that north korea wants to
restart the nuclear talks. now, that's good, no question. and that seemed to have been what they wanted to talk to james clapper about when he went out there, at least -- although he and other -- i've been told he went there toward the purpose of not negotiating on nuclear talk, certainly to get the americans home. so they may want to go there. but u.s. officials have told me that we're not there yet. that the real change is going to be not symbolic releases of americans, but change in behavior, openness, transparency on the nuclear program, et cetera. and just thinking longer term, you know, the north korean foreign policy, if you call it that, is traditionally in a cycle of provocation and reconciliation. you know, you launch the missiles, and then you back off and look for a reward, whether that's economic concessions from china that supports them economically, et cetera or a
diplomatic mission to the u.s., starting talks, et cetera. and then all too often, you have seen those periods of reconciliation, and with further provocati provocation. so i think we need some ex tri occasions management at this point, and in light of that history. but when you talk to u.s. officials, you're not cutting off that possibility. they're saying for real progress in a relationship, they have to see substantive change, you know, and as important as this is for the family, they need that substantive change on their nuclear program, et cetera. >> and i know, jim, you qualified this with the reminder to people that what pyongyang does is to unexpected that we have to be careful, because, you know, they could suddenly take another american into detention. i mean, this is not a clear road ahead. >> well, no question. and then you've had other americans taken there and released. the sister a few years ago. you've had this happen, and people say hey, this could be an opportunity. and then too soon after, you
might have an artillery exchange with south korea. other provocative events, particularly alarming progress with the nuclear program. so we shouldn't imagine that this won't happen again. it's certainly not to close off the possibility of positive progress, but, you know, multiple administrations have reached out or been open to reaching out than before. so you have to factor that into your expectations at this point. >> you said that it was a big get for north korea to have america's top spy, james clapper, go there. talk to me about that. >> listen, north korea is about face and, you know, propaganda largely consumed at home about their position in the world. their rightful position in the world. they believe they should be treated on par with a country like the u.s. or at least be able to have a seat at the table with them. so when u.s. -- this is something that is being fed to the population through
state-controlled media, et cetera. so to have a senior u.s. official go there, particularly the top spy, this is something that they will take, i'm sure, brag about at home as they have when past senior officials, former presidents jimmy carter, et cetera, when they go there. and that's something to think about as well. now, you know, there's an advantage from the u.s. side to bear as well. the north koreans asked for a cabinet level official. it's -- the director of national intelligence, james clapper, he was chosen not because he's the director of national intelligence, but he was a cabinet level official chosen. but i think there is an advantage from the u.s. to help their top spy in north korea, to have a look around a little bit, perhaps. not that he could learn much. but you can say there is an advantage there, as well. >> yeah. well, you know, so much talk about this. but the big headline here, these two men are free, they're coming home tonight.
jim sciutto, thank you so much. >> thank you, poppy. i know you have been making a point of, this we shouldn't underestimate that. if you're a family who has someone trapped in north korea, you don't know how it's going to end. we know the stories about political prisoners are treated there. so this is a -- you know, we shouldn't -- and i have no intention of underestimating the relief of the family and what an achievement it is for these two americans, in addition to jeffrey fowle released a couple weeks ago. >> absolutely. jim sciutto, thank you so much. we're watching u.s. air strikes targeted as the brutal leader of iraq was among them. we'll discuss next. great rates and safety working in harmony. open an optimizer plus account from synchrony bank. service. security. savings. synchrony bank engage with us. ♪ i thought it'd be bigger.
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we are following new developments related to coalition air strikes in iraq. we're told the attacks targeted a suspected group of isis leaders. the top leader of isis is this man, his name abu bakr al baghdadi, a spokesman for u.s. sent com, cannot confirm if al baghdadi was in the convoy. let's talk with the senior vice president with the sue fund group and terrorism expert. and bob baer, also cnn national security analyst. let me begin with you, robert. do you think it is right strategy to go after baghdadi? because bob baer doesn't. >> well, i mean, i do. i think going after the leadership element would always be a part of it. not necessarily baghdadi himself, but those in the shore council, to at least let them know they're in the cross-hairs. see, but that by itself, though, is -- as bob and other experts
know, going back to for example, the french with the algiersy experience, it saw for many years to cut off the head of the snake but kept recreating itself. >> bob, that's your point, right? if you take baghdadi out, you don't know who he's going to be replaced with. >> we could have somebody a lot worse. he's very articulate. and he has a big following. but he's in the a military commander. i think what we look at with isis is how quickly they moved into large parts of iraq, especially mosul. and it's those military commanders that really worry me. you know, if we could get the kind of intelligence, we could start taking them out in a systemic campaign against them, and truly decapitate the organization. but the symbolic head, you know, i agree with robert. it's -- it would be a victory of sorts. but it wouldn't end the war. >> what about, robert, the president's announcement of -- announcement came from the pentagon this week they're sending 1,500 advisers more to
the ground, not quote, unquote, boots on the ground. is it the right move? do you think it is enough? do you think it's too slow of an escalation? >> well, i think going by what we're hearing consistently about the performance or lack thereof of the iraqi regular forces, there's no surprise really that another group of experts, large group of experts, doubling would go in there to try to shore up and accelerate both the iraqi arab army but also the iraqi kurds. so in order to actually work toward taking back territory which is going to take some time, no surprise that those amount of experts would be going back. >> bob, you have said that it's just a matter of time that we're going to need combat troops on the ground. >> i don't think the government in baghdad can take back anbar province by itself. we fought really hard for fallujah, almost a decade ago. and it took a lot of fighting, and frankly, the iraqi army, the shia organized army, is not very
competent. i recognize, poppy, they're trying to recruit sunnis, that maliki, the previous prime minister had thrown out of the army. i know one of the generals is out trying to train these people. i hope he's successful, because we do not want to be on the side of a shia in the civil war, because we're talking about 100 years war. and how you threat that needle, i don't know. but we better do it. >> yes. very good point. stick around. don't go anywhere, gentlemen. we'll be back after a quick break to talk about this. also u.s. air strikes in iraq and syria are not only targeting isis. who are the other groups? you have heard these names, khorasan, al-nusra. we're going to talk about what it means, next. [ female announcer ] we help make secure financial tomorrows a reality
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against al qaeda offshoot seems to show the president playing whac-a-mole against radical islamic groups, including the khorasan group. several militants from the al-nusra front took out buildings belonging to the group, all with the goal of defeating isis. let's bring in robert mcfadden and bob baer. let me begin with you, bob. talk about the al-nusra front. this is a name that if our viewers have heard it, they have heard it recently. >> it's another name for al qaeda. these groups tend to merge one into the other. they have moved out of pakistan, they went to yemen and now have shown up in syria. it's the same ideology. a lot of the same people. they move around, change names. but it's -- they're jihadists, essentially. and militant jihadists and use different names. but what's disturbed us in the united states is the technology
the so-called khorasan group has, which is effective in blowing up airplanes. it's old technology from i'll go way back in history, the may 15th group. but they have it, and they are very dangerous. >> yeah. well, that, robert, is why it is so key -- the coalition forces were able to target and kill that bomb maker with the car ason group, because he was one of about a dozen who had that technology and knowledge to build these bombs to get past u.s. airport skrurt security. what is significant about the khorasan group? >> to make this complicated, as bob mentioned, khorasan group, you know, linked with al qaeda. but we refer to it more in terms of its al qaeda core down range. where it's had at least four senior operatives in the last year to syria to take advantage of the chaos and have some sanctuary and then continue to plan worldwide operations. so with what happened, if the french bomb maker, french citizen was taken out, is significant. because the danger here over the
preceding months is that the the al-qaeda affiliate, the most lethal one in yemen, al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, has sent bomb-making expertise up into syria. >> right. and what about akbar al sham, talk about that group. and they also fight amongst one another. >> it's -- as they say, these groups are -- it's the old name for syria, sham. the khorasan group is the islamic name for pakistan and india. they're going back to this idea of a caliphate and whether they swear allegiance to baghdadi, the head of isis or not. it will change from day to day. the point is, they can do us damage, and the big question is, will they. and what's taking them so long to do it. because i think they're perfectly capable of hitting
europe and hitting the united states, at least small-scale operations. and i simply cannot explain to you why they haven't tried, other than they're tied up in the wars in syria and iraq. >> to you, robert. does having all of these different groups that have this complex relationship amongst one another make it harder for us in coalition forces to fight them, rather than our previous ten-plus years against al qaeda? >> definitely. i mean, the lead-in said back in the day with al qaeda, it was kind of a much more simpler landscape. but now, though, you have these groups with the same terrorist ideology, al qaedaism, that are largely focused on local and regional events. but then you still have al qaeda core focused on the international targeting, primarily against the u.s. and european allies. so it does make the analysis, does make the parsing of the information extraordinarily more difficult. it's not focused on the u.s. that's been hyper focused on the al assad regime.
i can't imagine for an analyst let's say in the u.s. central command trying to discern different pieces of intelligence as to which group is which group, especially in that part of syria, where they're often intertwined. >> thank you so much, robert mcfadden. bob baer. thank you both. two americans detained in north korea are hours from landing back here free on american soil. but there are still at least 12 others being held hostage overseas. we'll discuss that, next. ♪ limits are there to be shattered. ♪ barriers are meant to be broken. ♪ lines are drawn to be crossed. ♪ introducing the first ever 467 horsepower rcf coupe from lexus. once driven, there's no going back. ♪
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two newly freed americans are no longer in custody in north korea. they are free and due to arrive in the seattle area in the coming hours. and with them on the plane is the u.s. official who traveled to pyongyang to help set them free. our ana cabrera is there right now. what do we know? what's the arrival schedule? who is going to be there to meet
them? >> reporter: we're learning a little new information. in fact, we've now heard they are expected to arrive here at tacoma washington around 9:00 pacific time, four and a half or five hours from now, poppy. and we understand bae's family, who is from this area in washington state, will be here to greet that plane and are so excited to embrace their brother, son, father. we also understand matthew miller will also be on that plane, along with james clapper, director of national intelligence, who was so instrumental in securing their release, as well as u.s. delegation who also went to north korea. we have learned more too about exactly what happened leading up to that event and their release. apparently, the family, bae's family, got the call at 2:00 a.m. this morning that he had been released. we understand that the u.s. administration received some kind of a call for a contact from pyongyang about midweek this week, and asked for the u.s. government to send a senior
u.s. official to north korea immediately to discuss these detained americans. but it was unclear at the time when james clapper became that individual to go on behalf of the u.s. and on behalf of the president. it was unclear that he would be coming home with the two americans. so, of course, a joyous day for both families here in the u.s., as they look forward to greeting their loved ones. of course, kenneth bae has been held in north korea for two years. the longest of the hostages held there. he was sentenced to hard labor, and has already been serving that sentence. it was 15 years he was going to have to do hard labor. matthew miller was arrested about seven months ago in april, also just very recently sentenced to hard labor. both men convicted of hostile acts against the north korean government. so a lot of questions still, but most important here, poppy, they get to come home, and everybody is excited for their return. >> yeah. absolutely. it is great news and we're waiting to see if we do hear from the miller family. we earlier received that
statement from kenneth bae's family. ana cabrera, live for us. thank you. bae and miller are not the only being held hostage overseas. at least 12 are sitting in jail in countries that are hostile to america. among them, robert levinson who disappeared in iran seven years ago. his captors sent pictures to his family. 72-year-old warn weinstein, he was working as a government contractor in pakistan during the summer of 2011 when he was grabbed from his home. he has been held hostage by al qaeda. and allen gross, u.s. government contractor in jail in cuba. several u.s. officials, including former president, jimmy carter, have personally pleaded for his release. so far, though, no success. that will do it for us this evening. i'm poppy harlow in new york. stay with us here and online at cnn.com because we are waiting for that joyous return of two americans free now from their detention in north korea. we're hearing the plane lands at midnight eastern time here in the united states. 9:00 p.m. pacific.
we, of course, will cover that for you, as soon as it happens. now, don't miss cnn heroes, stars and stripes unite. ♪ veterans day. it's a day to honor and thank military personnel who served the united states. since 2007, cnn heroes has honored many everyday citizens who devoted their lives to supporting the men and women of the armed forces. among those who are giving back are some familiar faces, as well. >> people did recognize me from forrest gump. >> reporter: celebrities who step away from the limelight to honor, support, entertain and even humor the troops. >> my official name in afghanistan was general foxy lady. >> tonight, we take a look at some of our famous friends. big names who are helping u.s. veterans in g
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