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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  July 17, 2015 2:00pm-3:01pm PDT

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trump and the republican race they expect a long unpredictable storm. >> not end peacefully there. john king thanks so much. great to have you with us. that's all for the lead tonight. i'm john berman. that's all for us i turn you over to wolf blitzer now in the situation room. happening now, breaking news. attack investigation. the fbi says it's probing the killing of four u.s. marines in that chattanooga, tennessee, attack as an act of terrorism. new information emerges about the shooter. >> it was clear that this gunman had every intent to encounter and to murder police officers if he needed to. >> officials are searching his computers right now. they're digging into his background. did he act alone? inspired by isis? the head of the u.s. homeland security committee said he
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thinks the shooter was motivated to kill by one of the world's most feared terror groups. was he radicalized online or overseas? missed signals. investigators are now looking closely at online postings and the gunman's trips to the middle east to see if there might have been clues to his plan. could a recent dui arrest have been part of the motive? i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." we're following the breaking news. the fbi now says it's investigated the deadly attacks on two u.s. military centers in chattanooga as an act of terrorism. you can hear some of the gun shots in this new video that is emerging. a flurry of new details emerging emerging including the weapons used by the gunman. 24-year-old muhammad abdulazeez
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who officials say was killed by police gun fire. we're learning about information about trips he made to jordan and kuwait. and allegations against his father of domestic violence. all of it leading a top u.s. lawmakers to conclude the attack was in fact inspired by isis. we're covering all the angles of the breaking news with our guest, including angus king and our correspondents they're standing by in key locations as well. let's go to chattanooga first, though, cnn's victor blackwell is there. he's getting new information. what's the latest you're hearing from local investigators, victor? >> reporter: well first, let's show you what they're doing. al for a second night fbi teams are working to collect every piece of evidence inside and outside of this military recruiting center that was riddled by bullets. that's what we're seeing. what we're hearing from the fbi is that they are investigating
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70 leads. no indication that there is anyone else any terror group or any connection to isis in this investigation thus far. but, we are learning from the chattanooga police chief, fred fletcher. details about what happened. as they came in contact with 24-year-old shooter muhammad abdulazeez and how this all ended. listen. >> immediately after those reports of gunfire, officers began searching and located the gunman driving down the highway. chattanooga police officers immediately began following and chasing that vehicle between the first and second locations. eventually officers encountered the suspect at the second location. that suspect soon made his intent his cowardly homicidal
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intent clear. officers of the chattanooga police department did not hesitate. they engaged that person that gunman immediately, aggressively. >> we also learned that he had two long guns a handgun and a weight bearing vest. wolf back to you. >> i want to show our viewers this picture, the bodies of the four u.s. marines now being brought to dover air force base for formal formal ceremonies. it's a very very important, but somber scene as we're watching it. we're going to continue to show you this. victor the fbi special agent in charge also said this about the weapons, listen. >> some of the weapons were purchased legally and some of them may not have been. we will examine that. >> what else did the law enforcement officers reveal about the gunman's wipeeapons? there were several and were pretty sophisticated.
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>> reporter: they were described as long guns either a rifle style. we've heard descriptions of an a ak-47 style or shotgun style and a hand gun. we've known there were 30 round magazines he had as well. and there's this weight bearing vest that could have held more ammunition. what we do not know is exactly when the four marines who were shot when they were killed in this chronology. we've heard from the chief of the police here when they initially started to follow to chase muhammad abdulazeez in this vehicle, and there was one officer shot. he described being dragged out of the way. but in this chronology no clear indication of when the marines were shot. and the fbi agent who is in charge of the investigation said that quote, still trying to figure that out. >> victor stand by we're also learning more about the gunman muhammad youssuf abdulazeez his family and a recent address. brian todd is working this part
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of the story for us. you're getting new information? >> tonight investigators tell us they're still trying to determine if abdulazeez acted alone. we have learned that growing up there were some truly dark moments with abdulazeez's family which belied an outward appearance of happiness and normalcy. images of a young man seemingly full of contradictions. as a boy, happily posing with his younger sister. and this high school yearbook picture with a quote, my name caused national security alerts. back then he was a witty well liked kid. later he got involved in mixed marshal arts. contradictions but few clues as to why muhammad youssouf abdulazeez would kill four marines. >> there were tears in my eyes. >> his marshal arts coaches and
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several friends have spoken to cnn. they describe abdulazeez heart working jovial with a great sense of humor. >> he was very polite and kind. he was humble in high school. >> that kid never frowned. he always smiled shook my hand. i never heard him cuss. >> friends say he came from a seemingly happy well-adjusted family. a 2009 divorce complaint filed by abdulazeez's mother alleged his father youssuf abdulazeez repeatedly beat her once show severely that she fled the marital home. the complaint said the father was occasionally abusive to their five children. the divorce case was dismissed. the couple is believed to still be married. abdulazeez and his family are said to be devout but not radical. one coach said he'd often interrupt practice to pray. that coach says after one marshal arts match his father was upset. >> it was wrong in islam to
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strike another person in the face. >> a dui arrest in april of this year the officer reporting abdulazeez smelled of alcohol and marijuana and had a white powdery substance under his nose. abdulazeez claimed td was crushed caffeine pills. abdulazeez worked at a maginant and wire company after getting an engineering degree from the university of dnstennessee. jor deignen there are no clues that might have turned abdulazeez into a killer. >> it was absolutely nothing that would show me he was upset about something. >> a close friend said abdulazeez changed after spending time in the middle east. he distanced himself for the first few months after returning. that friend told cnn's investigative unit that after that trip abdulazeez never got close to him like he'd been before. he said quote, i'm sure he had
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something that happened to him overseas. wolf that trip to jordan last year is a key folk foreign secretary investigators. >> they're investigating that seven months he spent in jordan last year. there were other recent signs of a deeper devotion to islam that his friends are talking about. >> that's right, a neighbor says abdulazeez had recently grown a large beard. and there is also a blog that has been discovered dated three days before the shooting. it encouraging readers to follow those in jihadist leadership. >> thanks very much. while the fbi investigates the attack as an act of terrorism, one top u.s. lawmakers says all signs do in fact point to a chilling conclusion. listen to the chairman of the house homeland security
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committee congressman mike mccall says. >> we've seen too much of the traffic, the targets are identical to the targets called by isis to attack. so my judgment in my experience is that this was an isis inspired attack. >> our justice reporter evan perez is also working the story for us. evan you've been talking to your sources. what are they saying? are they going as far as the chairman of the house homeland security committee who has concluded personally that this was an act inspired by isis? >> they're not ready to go there. they've been looking at the same thing and probably more than what the chairman of the how oldthe homeland security committee was. there is nothing that indicates that he was inspired or directed to do this. the key part of this investigation is going to be taking place in jordan. the fbi is going to be going there and interview this uncle to see if
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there's any association, anybody he was with during that key period. those months that he spent there. that might explain what happened here. another part is going to be focusing on the weapon and who might have helped him obtain those weapons. we might end up seeing a prosecution there. these are the two parts of the investigation that are active. >> what else are you learning about why this man was not on a terror list or no fly list? >> he's very much the classic lone wolf is in thethat he did not show any signs that would have been picked up by the fbi. the fbi has hundreds of people it's keeping an eye on because of what they're doing online or things they've said to others have indicated some thoughts about doing something like this. this guy did not do that. those blog posts are something
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definitely they're looking at. you look at what he's writing in there. if it indeed is his. it tookdoesn't fit the mold in what we've seen in some of the attackers in the past. >> those two blogs if he did write them were done days before this attack. thanks very much. let's dig dipper. we're watching the breaking news. joining us is the independent senator from maine angus king. senator, thanks very much for joining us. >> glad to be here, wolf. a tough case on all fronts. more questions than answers right now. >> that's certainly true. i know you've been looking into this together with your staff. what can you tell us? what have you learned about muhammad youssouf abdulazeez's plans for example as far as how long he was plotting other related information? >> well there's no -- i haven't
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had a briefing -- well i did have a briefing an hour ago but not on these kinds of details. there's a lot of focus, as you suggest on this trip to jordan. he was there for seven months. jordan is a relatively peaceful country in the middle east. but there are known isis and al qaeda radicals there. he could have easily fallen under their influence. you know this is the tough case. the fbi has made something like ten arrests in the last two weeks of people involved in these kinds of plots. but the problem is, you know if you did the percentages they were over 90% successful. but we still have four marines dead. that's the problem with trying to keep track of these essentially lone wolves that don't get signals, that aren't writing on facebook that they want to do jihad and those kinds of things. these are the toughest cases of
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all. and we're still trying to get to the bottom of whether he was directed -- i think the key two words that you've used are directed or inspired. directed would mean that isis or some other radical group picked him up on facebook or some social media as a potential recruit and then got in touch with him, perhaps in an incrypted way off line we don't know that. or was he responding to the kind of general, i call it a terrorist apb. we don't know that yet. these are the hardest cases to deal with. we can disrupt a case where there's a plot and communications and plans and all those kinds of things. if somebody just decides they're going to go out and commit a violent act, you know the guy down in charleston nobody knew that he was going to do such a thing. those are the hardest ones for law enforcement. >> or was he instructed and trained to do something while he spent those seven months last year for example in jordan as you correctly point out.
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they're spending a lot of time investigating together with jordanian authorities. there's a very close u.s. intelligence law enforcement military cooperation between the u.s. and jordan. we'll see what happens on that front. senator, we have a lot more to discuss. i want to take a quick break. much more with senator angus king right after this. are you moving forward fast enough? everywhere you look, it strategy is now business strategy. and a partnership with hp can help you accelerate down a path created by people, technology and ideas. to move your company from what it is now... to what it needs to become.
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we are following the breaking news. the fbi now revealing new details of the attack by a gunman on two u.s. military centers in chattanooga that left four marines dead. that case is now being investigated as an act of terror. we're back with the independent senator angus king of maine. he's a member of the intelligence and armed services committee. center the chairman of the house homeland security committee mike mccall is a very serious guy. he says based on his experience this attack was in fact isis inspired. at least isis inspired. what information do intelligence officials have about what may have happened if in fact they're reaching that conclusion? >> well i don't think chairman mccall was saying necessarily there was intelligence to that effect. i think he was looking at the overall picture. and also i noted he particularly said we do know that there were
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isis plans or plots or suggestion,s if you will over the last month to do this kind of thing. i think that is what he was really saying. i know of no specific intelligence that connects this guy to isis or any other particular group. i do think -- >> let me interrupt, senator. for a second. because u.s. intelligence officials for weeks have been saying that they believe during the closing days especially of the muslim holy month of ramadan there would be attacks and that there would be attacks against u.s. military targets. it's one of the reasons the u.s. military just before july 4th went on a higher state of alert. >> well that's -- and that's what chairman mccall was referring to. and i don't disagree with that. the circumstantial evidence point to that being that type of
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attack. whether there's a connection between this fellow and isis is what we don't have yet or some other radical group. remember there are hundreds of these different groups. isis is the one that we know the best. but there are other groups out there that are trying to foment this kind of activity in this country. i don't disagree with the chairman's conclusion. i don't think he would assert there is specific intelligence on this. it looks this way. i don't disagree with that. >> abdulazeez he wasn't on the radar of u.s. intelligence fbi, but he did have a blog talking about jihad. one of his blogs i wrote, i'm quoting him, he said that the event we've most worried about, he said there were these kinds of events that would be good for jihad and islam. what do you make of that? >> well that's the kind of signal that the fbi is looking at. and as i mentioned earlier, they
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made about a dozen arrested. i think ten, actually over the last several weeks based on a variety of kinds of evidence. and this points up i think, something important, wolf that i haven't heard mentioned. one of the issues -- now that we're on alert and on notice that this is something that we're facing i believe we need to talk about a more focused effort here in the u.s. we've got the fbi, we've got the counterterrorism center. we've got the fusion centers around the country, we've got the department of homeland security and i think there has to be a central focus on somebody that's in charge of dealing with this kind of threat. when everybody's in charge nobody's in charge. i think that's one of the things that this issue points out. this is a classic case where there has to be close coordination with local law enforcement. as well as people that are watching the social media that are watching these kinds of blogs and trying to pick these
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things up. i think this -- as i say the fbi has done a good job and made a series of arrests over the last few weeks and it looks like they thwarted a lot of plots. >> four marines are dead as a result of what happened in chattanooga. thanks for joining us. >> always a pleasure wolf. coming up we'll have more on the possible terror ties in the chattanooga attacks. stay with us. th breather. a mouth breather! well, put on a breathe right strip and shut your mouth. allergy medicines open your nose over time, but add a breathe right strip and pow! it instantly opens your nose up to 38% more. so you can breathe and sleep. add breathe right to your allergy medicine. shut your mouth and sleep right. breathe right and look for the calming scent of breathe right lavender in the sleep aisle.
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we're following the breaking news. the fbi today saying tha chattanooga shootings are being investigated as an act of terrorism. with us here in the situation
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room our terrorism analyst paul crook thank and tom fuwents and jane harmon. and the former cia official phil mudd. paul a lot of focus last year, he spent seven months in jordan. jordan's a are friendly state, but there's some in savory people in jordan. >> that's right. isis has a footprint in jordan. there's a significant number of isis. more than 2,000 jordanians have gone across the border to syria and iraq to join up with isis. there's been demonstrations in some towns in support offize. when the caliphate was announced a year ago, there were big
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demonstrations in jordan. there's a possibility he may have met with somebody with a terrorist agenda over there. >> presumably the jordans will help the u.s. better appreciate what was going on in jordan. phil abdulazeez had a court day coming up on july 30th. yesterday, as you know was the last night of ramadan, during the last ten days of ramadan there's an occasion known as the night of power during which the faithful worship, they seek repentance. do you think there's any coordination between what happened in chattanooga yesterday and the attacks specifically and the end of ramadan? >> i don't think it relates to the end of ramadan. i think that would be too simple an interpretation. in these cases you're talking about an individual who is going through an emotional process that involved an attack that not only will lead to deaths but most probably in my judgment he knew would lead to his own death. you've got to go to the process of weeks and months including
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other individual whose are radicalizing him that leads him to a decision based on a combination of factors. maybe something was happening in his personal life one date i rarely saw instances where a terrorist, especially somebody who as emotionally invested like this guy, it's got to be more complicated. >> what do you think, paul? >> isis called for a surge in terrorism during ramadan. he said there will be ten times more rewards in the afterlife if people carried out attacked during ramadan. it's been a powerful motivating factor for people who have plotted and carried out these terrorist attacks. the promise of rewards in the afterlife not just for them but also for their families. >> we heard from one of his friends, when he came back from jordan he seemed to be different. more devout less friendly e. when he graduated from high
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school he wrote my name causes national security alerts with what does yours do? obviously he was trying to be funny and cute. there's a sensitivity. >> absolutely. it's a sensitivity we should be alurt to. if we just generalize because someone has a muslim or arab name and assume he's in a bad category not only might we cause damage to that person but we unfairly target these folks. i applaud what the joint terrorism task force and local law enforcement are doing. they're not leaping to conclusions. they're saying they think this is a terrorist inspired act. but they're not labelling it isis until they can get the proof. maybe there won't be proof. >> we know the fbi is going through all of his computers, his cell phones anything that he had there. but you and i have discussed this tom, it's possible he was using incrypted communications and the fbi or the nsa for that matter they're not going to be able to crack that. >> if he was using it.
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there's no indication yet that they can see that he was directed to do that or actually trying to do that. you know so far what they're saying is there just isn't yet the smoking gun that's been found in his e-mails, in the material on his computers. in the phone calls that he's made or the conversations with friends. doesn't mean he's not inspired it doesn't mean that's not true. it just means since they can't find it or haven't found it yet, they're not ready to call it that. >> he was obviously an intelligent guy. he graduated for umthe university of tennessee, chattanooga with a degree in engineering. he had a job. he must have been pretty savvy with computers, stuff like that. what does it say to you -- how does someone like this become mass murderer? >> it involves the indoctrination or radicalization by another human being. the first question i have is not why he did this. who did he talk to personally because typically, despite these
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stories in the public domain that people are inspired by the internet. the action is usually inspired by another individual you're talking to personally face to face. you're talking to overskype, you're talking to over e-mail. who led him down a path first to believe that this was the correct interpretation of the quran and second to believe that an act of violence was the proper way to respond. the hunt in jordan and chattanooga is not for an answer to why he did this. it's for an answer to who led him down this path. i'm going to bet you, someone this intelligent, there is somebody else out there. >> you agree? >> i do. remember he at least was sensitive to his name in high school. it's a long history. his father may have been violent. there are obviously daexor was alcohol and drugs which is surprising for a devout muslim. something wrong with this kid. he may have not gotten an additional clearance for the job
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that he had. we'll learn more about it it's only been several days. it seems to me the way the investigation is being conducted is commendable. we shouldn't generalize. >> it's only been yesterday. >> it feels like 20 years. your coverage is good wolf i'll sure we'll learn it first on cnn. >> thanks very much. coming up the fbi says it's looking at the suspect's electronic devices right now. what clues are investigators homing to find. what is the fbi telling the u.s. congress. i'll speak with congressman peter king of new york. he's standing by. s equal danger. ...that sound good? not being on this phone call sounds good. it's not muted. was that you jason? it was geoffrey! it was jason. it could've been brenda. got the card, hon? yep. as a member of aarp... the discounts are right there with you. like roadside assistance from allstate... all set! and expedia vacations.
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we're following breaking developments in the investigation of the chattanooga shootings. that left four u.s. marines dead this afternoon. the chairman of the house homeland security committee says this was an isis inspired attack. he also gave reporters this chilling warning. >> there are isis investigations in all 50 states across the united states of america. they are permeating their society and thins country through the internet and social media. it's very, very difficult to stop it. i believe yesterday, unfortunately we couldn't. >> let's bring in pamela brown who is watching what's going on talking to a lot of sources. the chairman says he believes this was isis inspired. what are you hearing? >> that's a theory.
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at this point we're being told they don't have the evidence they're looking at other possibilities as well at whether the gunman was inspired by other terrorist groups such as al qaeda. we heard that at this point, the only one directing or inspiring the gunman was the gunman himself. so that is an indication that they haven't found a smoking gun or anything so far to indicate that he was acting on behalf of a terrorismarrrorist organization. he didn't say anything that would indicate he was, but the key here is what they find in his apartment. >> he explained that the fbi is looking very closely at all of
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abdulazeez's communications devices. they brought, i think all of them to quantico where the fbi has their top investigative unit. what are your learning about that? >> we're learning that process began last night. it takes a while, depending on what kind of security measures were on his electronic devices. so it could be a while until we learn more but that is key there. looking through his laptop his cell phones any electronic devices he may have had. what they're going to want to do is analyze his social media activity. what we know before this happened he wasn't on the fbi's radar. he wasn't putting anything out there on social media that was alarming to them or authorities didn't know it was him behind it. sometimes people use twitter handles and they can't make the connection with who is behind it. bottom line what was on his computer, what was on his electronics, is a top priority for investigators right now. >> murdered four u.s. marines, obviously, it is a top priority.
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thank you. we're joined now by a prominent member of the u.s. homeland security committee as well as the intelligence committee, peter king of new york is joining us. the chairman of your committee, you know him, mike mccall. he says in his experience this attack was isis inspired. at a minimum, what do you know about this? >> pamela brown just said the fbi is going through all the electronic devices and there may not be any specific evidence they have yet. that it was isis inspired. what mike mccall was saying the totality of the communication so far this is something that could have been inspired by isis. if not, it's certainly been inspired by the whole world of islamic terrorism. because we've been hearing for months about the need for isis and others to attack law enforcement, to attack the military. there's been the repeat calls coming over the internet through
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social media. he got the idea of someone. since it follows the pattern of attacking the military to me it's almost semantics whether he was actually inspired by isis or whether or not he just inspired generally because islamic jihadism. >> or if he was ordered to do something like this maybe while he spent last year seven months in jordan. that's a possibility as well. >> absolutely. that's a whole separate issue. that's why the fbi is putting such a full core press on this. the fact is he did spend several months in jordan. that has to raise alarm bells now looking back at it. you know why a young man of his age, went over there to join -- that's a long period of time to be out of your own country, to be in jordan. and while jordan is one of our very very closest allies in the entire world, there's no doubt there are islamic forces in jordan as well.
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by t i can guarantee we will get total and full cooperation from king abdullah and his intelligence forces in jordan to the extent they have any idea what this man was up to while in jordan. >> have you had any briefings? >> i've received briefings through my staff. i would say based on what we're hearing privately is pretty much what you're hearing publicly. the main thing is the electronic devices and also whatever they can get from jordan as to what he did when he was over there. that's the key components right now. i guess, we're in the first 24 30 hours of this investigation and there is so much more that could come out. like with the boston marathon bombing, it was weeks and maybe even longer than that before the full story came out about the
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tsarnaev brothers. we should keep in mind this is clearly an islamist act. and whether he was inspired or directed or whether there could be friends and associates that could still be involved in this. that is what the fbi has to be looking at. also i want to add it is very hard to stop these type people by monitoring social media. that's why i think it's more important than ever that local police be brought in by the fbi -- that's what we've seen in new york city where you had the five arrests last month. the police on the ground they get information that the fbi would not be able to get through their source and methods. the two working together. for instance the fact his father was investigated several years ago. i hope the fbi made that known to local police. in that case then the police can keep an eye on or the members of the family. not a full scale surveillance but monitor and see what's happening. the fbi is limited in what it can do and just by you know
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limited amount of man power. it's really important we'll find out who the lone wolves or accomplices. you have to have police on the ground. there's no substitute for having cops on the ground. that's what we've seen in new york with the fbi and nypd and the jttf. >> he apparently wasn't on any terror watch list or anything like that. stand by congressman, i have nor questions. especially about u.s. military soft targets. does more need to be done right now to protect the men and women of the united states military?
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we're back with peter king. congressman, as you know this guy mohammad youssuf abdulazeez he attacked what is called a soft target. yes, two u.s. military targets but the military personnel there are not armed. should officials at these recruitment offices, they're in your district all over the country, shopping centers, the strip malls. they want young people to come in men and women to get in serving the country. should there be heightened security at these recruitment centers? should these u.s. military personnel, marines or others be armed? >> two things. my understanding nypd has already increased security at the recruiting stations in new york city. secondly, that i believe yes. i think that the personnel there, at least several should be armed.
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the world has changed. and we know whether it is isis or other islamic forces they have said all military personnel, particularly military and police. all uniformed person relevant now targets. so in view of that this is such an unfortunately a soft open target. they should be armed and we should reinforce them as far as bullet proofing the glass, to the extent we can. maybe have some type of alarm. that's not the type where we want to live. unfortunately, we've been put in that situation and we saw the consequences of it yesterday. >> we know the governor of oklahoma took a step today to do some of those, take some of those steps. should the governor of new york governor cuomo do that? >> i'm not surprise that had she did it. as far as governor cuomo, in new york that is primarily a local obligation. and new york city has gone ahead and done it and i would think other municipalities should. if they believe they need assistance from the state police then yes. the governor should get involved. >> as far as you know, the fact
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that he is on no fly list no watch list. was there an intelligence failure there? >> i wouldn't say intelligence failure but i think it shows the need to have more comprehensive analysis going. on for instance in the boston marathon bombing, the fbi was told to be suspicious of the older brother. the fbi did an investigation and found nothing and dropped it. never told the boston police. i would think in each of these instances, the fbi should do its own investigation which they can of the father. then let the local police know and ask for any additional help from the local police and the local police should keep at least a monitoring of that, of those people. in doing that you may have found out something about two him. it shows in the new world in which we live, there has to be more surveillance. when you have elements like the new york time, the civil liberties union who go after,
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the said in. it should be looked into by comes on the ground. with the overview. that is only way that we have hope that we have of stopping these type of attacks. >> congressman peter king of new york. thank you. >> thank you very much. coming up new information from some of the closest to the killer. one friend is now saying, and i'll quoting, something happened to him overseas. and how vulnerable are other u.s. military recruitment centers all across the country? we're going live to the pentagon. under pressure to ramp up security after what is being called the soft military targets. put your hand over your heart. is it beating? good! then my nutrition heart health mix is for you. it's a wholesome blend of peanuts, pecans and other delicious nuts specially mixed for people with hearts. planters. nutrition starts with nut.
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we're getting new information about the terror investigation in tennessee and the weapons used to gun down four u.s. marines. i'll talk to a woman who recorded chilling video, capturing the shots as they were fired. motive for murder. the fbi is digging deep into the gunman's communications online and his travels to the middle east. the house homeland security chairman believes investigators will find a clear link to terrorists. >> my judgment in my experience is that this was an isis inspired attack. >>