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tv   KPIX 5 News at 11PM  CBS  March 22, 2016 1:37am-2:13am PDT

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ongoing now, active cases, and they have 750 or so of people that are either in jail now, have been indicted, or are on the run, and they're searching for them. that gives you a level of the scale of the threat that they're dealing with in trance and in belgium. >> indeed. you know, just more on that molenbeek metro station, it appears to be close to the eu -- close to eu headquarters or at least eu institutions, which may be part of the reason why it was targeted. of course, it is in also molenbeek, so that would be in sort of, as you mentioned, ground zero for a lot of this stuff. you mentioned that salah abdeslam was making his way to an area where there were more weapons or other weapons. do you have any idea what was being stored and just how many weapons were available? >> reporter: yeah, well, you know, we have to rewind the clock back to november. so they immediately start this
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international manhunt. and they thought he may have even gone to make his way back to -- not back to, i should stress, going to syria because, again, we have to underline that this is an isis-directed operation in paris. so as they started clearing out, and there were dozens of raids, many of the hundreds of houses in these areas are all around brussels, not just in molenbeek. it was on tuesday that they found -- they were going into a place that they didn't think anybody was in there. there wasn't any electricity or power or water going into it. they thought it was an abandoned building. so it was what they would call a routine raid. and they entered that location. and they were fired upon. and there was one person who was killed and two people got away. and they thought that that was abdeslam. they started tracing his phone apparently, we're learning, then got to this other location friday. that's when that raid took place. now, on that tuesday raid, they found reps.
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there are even reports that they found detonators there. that led authorities to believe that abdeslam was not only in hiding, that he had gone to ground, but he is still very involved in what may be further attacks. so it's in that environment, again, the search for the bombmaker, but when they went public for it yesterday, they clearly need help here. they haven't been able to find this guy. they're asking for the public's help. have you seen him? there are pictures that have been distributed to the media and other places looking for this man. that's how an immediate a threat it is. and then this morning we wake up to find out that there's been two explosions at the airport, possibly one at a subway station. you can imagine that the belgian authorities are reeling with this problem. >> yeah. we're showing some video of people running, just running from the airport. just to bring everyone up to speed like charlie said, we're looking at two explosions at the airport in brussels. the airport now is completely shut down. all flights to belgium have been
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diverted elsewhere. also, the subway system, the metro system, has been shut down completely as well. another report of an explosion at the molenbeek metro station, which is very close to eu buildings. so we're continuing to monitor that. essentially, the country has been shut down. a high state of alert, and authorities are trying to sort of get a hand on what has been unfolding all morning long. charlie, you're on your way to brussels now. i'm wondering, what is it like out there on the roads? i mean, can you see -- can you tell that something is occurring here in this country? >> reporter: well, we're racing on a highway. so we are in between bruge and brussels itself. so we haven't got into the city center so i can give you a flavor for what's going on there. but the reason that we're in
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bruge is because salah abdeslam, the paris attacker who was arrested on friday, he was transferred to bruge, which is a high-security prison. they don't have one of that nature in brussels, so they transferred him to a high-security prison, the place for high-profile prisoners, specially trained guards. all of his furniture and equipment has been bolted to the floor, and that has been where he's been kept. and it was after that arrest that the place wasn't already on alert, they cranked it up even higher. and now, as you said, it's at its highest threat level. and that will mean things like closing down the airport, things like closing down the public transport system. it would mean obviously a huge increased presence of police in public areas. but as we said, anne-marie, the place, after the arrest and after public warnings and after asking the public's help in the search for at least two high-profile isis suspects, it was already -- when we left
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brussels yesterday, last night, you'd see police everywhere, certainly around all the train stations. i wasn't out at the airport itself, but i imagine they were there as well, including a huge presence around that specific area of molenbeek, a brussels neighborhood in central brussels. a bit run down in places. this has been a hotbed of isl islamic extremism. from that area in brussels. so we're not just talking about belgium itself that has been attacked. we're talking about the paris attacks and others. >> yeah, charlie, we are learning now at least from a.p. is reporting that there were several injuries at the explosion -- at the metro station which is near the eu. we're also hearing from american airlines, there had been some reports, cbs news has yet to confirm, but there had been some reports that the explosion, at least one of the explosions, at the airport occurred near or around the american airlines
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desk. american airlines has issued a statement saying that all of their employees and contractors are accounted for. so among those injured, among those injured or killed, at least, american airlines is saying that none of their employees are part of that, but there have been injuries at the metro station as well. can you remind us a little more about the suspects that brussels authorities had been searching for? they talked about this man who they believe was the primary bombmaker involved in the paris attacks. can you tell us what we know about him? >> reporter: yes. well, you know, this announcement came out from belgian authorities that there is now a manhunt under way. public enemy number one is a man by the name of najim laachraoui,
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after finding dna, they say, at several locations of those paris attacks where 130 people were killed. in addition to that, this comes after the arrest of salah abdeslam because it turns out that abdeslam was in a vehicle with laachraoui as they were traveling to parts of europe, notably hungary. i don't want to overcomplicate things, but where this all becomes connected is the migrant crisis that happened last summer when we saw so many people coming from syria. and i witnessed it myself. you know, one of those choke points was hungary. so when you start adding -- you know, connecting the dots, here you have the one person who did survive the paris attacks, salah abdeslam, in the same car as the suspected bombmaker, najim laachraoui, headed down to hungary, it just gives you an idea of the network that they have to search for. but this is a person, not only
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was he the bombmaker, but he was clearly directed by isis, that's what they suspect. he clearly had strong ties to -- i'm sorry, i'm just getting -- he clearly had strong ties to the paris attackers. >> right. >> reporter: and if he's the bombmaker, he's clearly dangerous. and he's on the run. and he also, we point out, is the person they're looking for. every one of those explosive devices in paris worked. and having covered this person for as long as i have, they don't always work. they don't always go off the way they are planned, so this man knows what he's doing. >> yeah, indeed. and this has been a bit of a problem for authorities in brussels. the porousness of the borders, the ability for people to travel down through turkey into syria and then come right back without them being able to really keep track of them.
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>> reporter: this is one of the major concerns. and both the belgian and french prosecutors noted that yesterday in a press conference that you have thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of unaccounted people. we know that they come from syria. we've interviewed them ourselves. and when you have something like 1.1 million migrants and refugees who have flooded into germany alone, i was at those checkpoints. they're not counting these guys in. the people that don't want to register, that don't want to identify themselves, won't. and then you have the smugglers network. and then you have people that are making false passports. and that, again, is part of this investigation. the one that they're looking for including najim is thought to have been traveling under a different fame, a different forged belgian passport. this gives you an idea of the complexity and also the level of coordination from this isis-directed attack. i mean, they are taking advantage of everything.
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tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of unaccounted refugees, a highway stretching from syria to europe, and well-connected groups in places like molenbeek here in brussels and in france where they can move people and weapons in and out of these areas. i should also note coming off a report over the weekend that they found crates full of, you know, cell phones. just disposable cell phones. they know how to commute, disappear, move weapons back and forth, work detonators, they know how to make explosive devices using household items. the level of sophistication has shocked french and belgian intelligence officials. >> i can only imagine, now, we are getting reports now out of belgium's public broadcaster that the explosion -- at least one of the explosions at the airport was indeed a suicide
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attack which means that -- >> reporter: okay. >> -- somebody walked in with explosives, you know, possibly strapped to them. it wasn't a matter of planting a bomb and walking away. just to bring everyone up to speed, what you're looking at now are images from brussels airport. there have been reports of two explosions there. we're now learning that one of those at least was the result of a suicide attack. i'm sure we will learn about the other one. it occurred in the departure lounge. there have been some reports that it happened at the american airlines desk. that has yet to be confirmed by cbs news. but american airlines issued a statement saying that all of their employees and their contractors are okay. then later on, there was another explosion at the molenbeek metro station. the train station there. the airport has been shut down. the train station has been shut down. the photo that you're seeing
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right there is of the outside of the metro station. you can see there's some smoke billowing out. the metro station is also close to some eu buildings, possibly an eu headquarters there. this all is happening with the backdrop of a very high-profile arrest of a terrorist tekt econ to the paris terror attacks. and there was a concern that he as well as others were planning several other attacks when he was picked up on friday. he is now in custody. salah abdeslam. but belgian authorities say that they were searching for others including a man who is known for his bomb making skills. charlie d'agata is on his way to brussels right now. and we've been talking all morning long about the challenge that authorities are facing. it seems like this neighborhood, mollenbeck, has become a hotbed
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for jihadists who are able to move back and forth throughout the borders, across europe into syria and make their way back. and charlie, it has become very challenging for authorities to sort of break into this community. i mean, i think a lot of people would find it very surprising that, you know, this man, salah abdeslam, who was probably one of europe's most wanted was able to cross back into belgium and go right back to his neighborhood. >> reporter: yeah. exactly. right under the noses of anti-terror squads. this would have been one of the most spied-on areas in the world because of the number of terrorist attacks that all lead back to mollenbeck. now, we spoke to the mayor. they said, look, you can't search every house. there may be 100,000 people in that area itself. and in speaking to the home secretary, i asked what everybody's asking, what took so long? and he said, we really don't
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understand the complexity of the network here. that they are able to communicate without being surveilled, that the neighborhood itself is very tight. we spoke to georgetown professor who was featured in last night's report, and he said they do not snitch on their neighbors. and the reason is these are brutal people. these are people that killed 130 people in paris. they're not about to pick up the phone and call the police and say, yeah, he's down at the end of my street. i know where this person is. so you not only have an allegiance, a loyalty to the people in that neighborhood, but you also have a level of fear. but still, people here in belgium are outraged to find that this person is the only one to get away from the attacks in paris, salah abdeslam, not only made his way back into belgium, but he was hiding out in an area that is five blocks from where he grew up. now, i have to stress that the
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belgian prosecutor said we are just assuming that he was there the whole time. you know, he's been on the run for four months. maybe he just reappeared. his fingerprints have shown up on a couple of residences in that area. but we don't know. as he said yesterday in his words, there's no gate on dna and fingerprints. we don't know when he was there or if he had been there for four months. but they think that he wasn't just in hiding, but he may have been planning further attacks, and that triggered this national -- international manhunt for najim laachraoui, the alleged bombmaker, obviously connected with abdeslam and connected to the paris attacks. and it was literally just yesterday, they said we need help finding this man. and then today they're dealing with what they're dealing with. i guess the nightmare scenario for them is if this bombmaker is out there and he was making bombs, how many suicide vests are out there? where are they? >> indeed. >> reporter: how are they moving? >> exactly. just to bring people up to speed, what you're looking at
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here is the exterior of a metro station i believe in mollenbeck where an explosion has occurred. you can see the smoke coming out. and this is close to the eu headquarters. we're hearing that eu -- the eu has asked for its employees to stay home, not come to work today. that's one explosion in brussels. what started this whole thing off, though, were reports of two explosions at the airport we are now learning that there was at least one suicide bomber at the airport. you're watching video of people quite literally running for their lives out of the airport. the airport is completely shut down. in terms of number of injuries and number of people dead, that still has yet to be confirmed. we know at least one person is dead at the airport, and there are several injuries. the a.p. is reporting that at the metro station, people were seen with facial injuries.
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at least one person removed on a stretcher. just a lot unfolding now in brussels. and in terms of security, they are on high alert. the airport is completely locked down. the metro station is completely locked down. and things are very, very tense. just to bring you up to speed once more, two explosions at the airport. one explosion at a metro station close to the eu headquarters. and a lot of very, very, very tense, on-edge people in brussels today. charlie, you know, when i think about the fact that salah abdeslam is now in bruge in prison, yet -- now, we don't know how coordinated these attacks are, you know. we're still waiting to find out details. but i would think of him as he's called the mastermind, one of the masterminds of the paris attack. he would be the ringleader. removing him clearly did not slow anything down if, in fact,
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these explosions are all connected. which i would think would have authorities thinking, there are other people out there, other people who can pull the strings, other people who can take over in terms of ordering a suicide bomber to move into place like it's believed a suicide bomber was at the airport or somebody else to plant a bomb. >> reporter: yeah. it just shows you the level of sophistication and coordination with this isis network. you know, the french and the belgian prosecutor both said that this is ongoing. they're not just dealing with this one terror cell. the one remaining survivor. if you take care of that terror cell. no, they're talking about multi terror cells. i think what came as a surprise to us and others here in belgium is not only was this man in hiding in that neighborhood, abdeslam, his fingerprints were found at a place where they found, in the words of the
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french prosecutor, lots of heavy weapons. they found detonators. so this wasn't a man who just went to ground. if he's on the run from authorities, you would imagine he'd still be involved in isis operations. he would just be too hot. there would be too much attention on him. it seems that was the case. certainly wherever he was hiding, further operations were being planned, that's what they believe. so yes, if you arrest somebody like abdeslam, the person he's identified he's running with, he was thought to have gotten the detonators for the paris attacks, shuttling fighters back and forth. he drove them to the stade de france. french prosecutors said he was supposed to blow himself up at the stade de france, but he backed out. according to abdeslam himself. the conversation that he had. so yes, you arrest somebody like that, high-profile person from a known isis cell directed from isis headquarters in syria, and then the next day, you have what appears to be another active
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cell ready to go that quickly. people that have suicide vests already in place and suicide bombers. that's important, too. they have suicide bombers who are ready to attack. they have weapons. and they know how to get to places. and not only get to places, but anne-marie, as you said, the whole place at a heightened level of security since the arrest on friday. so places like the airport, you would have thought, and places like the metro station and other areas, they have an increased security presence there. even with that increased security presence, they know how to get around it, apparently. apparently, that's what's happened today at the airport. >> yeah. you know, i've heard people before, you know, use a phrase along the lines of you cut off the head of the monster, and another head sort of pops up. just to give you a few more details here in terms of confirmation as we're getting it in, belgian broadcaster vrt is saying that 13 are dead, 35
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severely injured. now, we're not sure in terms of the location, but i'm going to presume that that's at the airport. the belgian crisis center has confirmed that there were two explosions at the brussels airport with several victims. and also that the explosion happened at the departure hall. charlie, i know that you're on your way. we may come back to you now. i just want to talk to suzanne lynch. she's from "the irish times." suzanne, can you hear me? >> yes, good morning. >> give us an idea of what your location is, and what have you been hearing? >> i'm here in central bufrusse just south of the city. like all journalists, i got the story many morning, immediately tried to get to the airport. but as soon as this story started emerging, we began to hear other stories in the center of brussels. it looks like there are at least two parallel incidents going on
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now. at least 10, maybe 13 according to some reports now, people have been killed this morning in attack at brussels airport which is to the east of the city. but now there's also been incidents in some of the metro stations in the center of brussels, particularly a metro station that's just 500 meters away from the headquarters of the european union institutions. so it's very much a developing and very worrying story here this morning in brussels. >> so suzanne, are you hearing that more than one metro station may have been attacked? >> yeah, there are some reports that up to four have been attacked, but that is not clear because there have been live pictures from the metro station. one metro station melbeck has been attacked. the next-door station which is right at the eu institution, there are unconfirmed reports there has been an attack there. however, it may well be that people have moved along the tunnel and come up out of the shuman entrance if you like. these metro stations are
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extremely close together. so we're not actually sure, in fact, if there was a separate explosion or just at melbeck station. there's definitely something happening there. smoke can be seen emanating from that station. >> now, suzanne, you're based in brussels, right? >> yes. yeah, i live here, covering for the "irish times" newspaper, so i've been here for over three years. >> give us a sense of what the mood has been like since friday, since that high-profile attack of salah abdeslam, a key figure in the paris attacks. were people nervous, or were they relieved to hear about this arrest? what has the mood been like in brussels? >> i think what happened last week when these arrest happened, people were extremely shocked. things had kind of settled down here. there had been a sense that maybe salah abdeslam, this man who was on the run, had maybe fled to syria. things had really calmed down
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from the height of the security threat back in november. so people were extremely shocked when the first raid happened last wednesday and then when the arrest of abdeslam happened on friday. now, there's been -- i mean, maybe i'm being a bit critical, but not self-congratulatory, but there was a sense of relief by the police that they successfully got their man, if you like. and there's been a lot of interviews by a lot of senior politicians thanking the police. and maybe people got slightly complacent. the public got maybe complacent about this. we do have to remember the interior minister on monday warned that the country was on high alert for some kind of a revenge attack since the capture of abdeslam. but i don't think anybody was expected the level of coordination attacks we seem to be seeing this morning. i mean, one thing to keep in mind, it was prime rush hour here. the first attack incident in brussels airport took place just before 8:00 a.m. local time. and then the incident on the metro took place around 9:00
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a.m. local time. that would have been exactly when people were going to work in the eu institutions. so, i mean, there's a real concern here. the metro station has been shut. the security level has been notched up to level 4. and the prime minister is holding emergency meetings of his cabinet this wemorning. >> suzanne lynch, thank you so much for talking to us. i know you're probably going to be really busy. hopefully we'll get a chance to check in with you a little later on. i'm joined now by vlad, thank you for joining us, vlad. >> good morning. >> i know we got you up a little earlier than usual. i'm really happy that you're here, though, because you spent a lot of time in mollenbeck, and you did some great reporting about the nature of that neighborhood, the challenge that authorities in brussels are facing when trying to make connections in that neighborhood. i think a lot of people were really surprised to hear that salah abdeslam went right back across the border from france and went right back into the neighborhood that he called home.
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>> that's right. mollenbeck is and belgium in general is considered the country that sends the most foreign fighters to syria, to iraq per capita than any other country in europe. a lot of european capitals is facing much of what belgium is facing, in other words, a young disaffected youth mostly with immigrant backgrounds that come from north africa predominantly, but in belgium in particular because of the unique nature of that country itself, the country has multiple languages, french, flemish, even german that is spoken. there are multiple governments. on top of that, there are multiple police forces. imagine you're trying to coordinate a response to any kind of terror threat, but you have one police department that deals in flemish and another police department that deals in french. and they have to coordinate with each other. and they might not speak the languages that the other police department faces. on the other hand, you also have the local administration. for example, where abdeslam grew up is less than 100 yards for
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our american friends away from where the mayor's office is. we actually stood on the doorsteps of the office of the mayor and looked across the plaza, and we could see where abdeslam grew up. and when i asked the mayor, just as charlie d'agata did recently this week when he asked her, how is it that he was living still here in the neighborhood right under your noses? the same question was put to the mayor back in december. how can this coordinated effort to root out these jihadists work if you've got people that are trying to attack the country that are living in the plaza where you come into work of single day? and her response was that normally the federal police, the government police does not share national security matters with the local police. so there again, you see what red tape is occurring in a country like belgium. for example, you don't have the same red tape that you have in belgium that you would have in trance, for example, or in britain because the police forces are coordinated in how
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they approach terrorism. so that's a problem. the young people that live in mollenbeck, look, for the most part, there are a lot of good, hardworking people, law-abiding people in mollenbeck, but there is clearly a problem. there's clearly a jihadist strain running through brussels, and particularly in some of these neighborhoods within brussels. that makes it very, very difficult for police to root them out. >> let's explore that a little bit. when the paris attack happened, there was a lot of talk about young people feeling disenfranchised, feeling not connected to the greater european culture, whether it was in france or in brussels. when you were in mollenbeck, did young people talk about that? >> they talked about -- they talked about the fact that they feel as if they are not part of belgian society. belgium has made them feel as if they are other, as if they are not of that country. and part of that is because if,
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for example, all right. so i'm being told that our cbs news national security analyst is joining us now on the phone. juan, can you hear us? >> reporter: i can, vlad. thank you very much. >> juan, unfortunately, we talk under these very terrible situations. what's happening now in brussels, i'm curious for your take on it. it appears that this is a coordinated attack that belgium, that brussels specifically, is under attack. one explosion at the airport. another at a metro station. what do you make of it? >> reporter: well, an awful tragedy, obviously, and our hearts go out to the victims. we'll have to see how this unfolds, but it's certainly an incredibly sophisticated attack in the wake of the arrests that we've seen this past week. certainly a suggestion that these attacks had been pre-planned and that perhaps elements of networks have perhaps understood that they were going to be revealed and perhaps arrested or disrupted in the coming days and weeks decided to act quickly on plans that perhaps were already under way.
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but there's no doubt this is a sophisticated attack. you now have multiple explosions at a major european airport in brussels in the metro system in belgium, and it's paralyzing yet again a major western capital. and so this is a terrible development, of course, and one that, as you were just saying, suggests that belgium has a much deeper problem and one that dates back many years to a deep pocket of radicalization that has emerged in that country, now accelerated and manifesting in what has become one of the deadliest attacks on european soil in modern history. >> juan, we're hearing that all public transportation has been shut down right now. we know that the airport has been shut down. nights are being diverted if they were headed towards brussels. you know, this comes at a time, though, today, these explosions,
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when the country was already on high alert. we already had news of this high-profile arrest and news that authorities were searching for other suspects, one that was an expert bombmaker. and i think it would come as a surprise, and i'm sure authorities are going to be asked, how, when a country is already on high alert, how were terrorists able to pull these three or these three explosions off? does it speak to just how difficult it is to stop this sort of thing? >> it does, unfortunately. it demonstrates not only that these types of attacks are difficult to ferret out and to prevent before they happen, but it does suggest the broader problem that we're having in europe, to determine where these cells and networks are emerging and how they're planning and plotting attacks. i think paris was the extreme wake-up call here. we had elements of the islamic state, elements within european
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terrorist networks that were mobilized. and we know that many of those networks have preexisted, and we have known that there have been thousands of foreign fighters from the west. in particular from pockets in europe that have been traveling to and from iraq and syria. many of those have been known and tracked. many of them have not. and i think this, again, reflects not only the difficulty of this work but the challenge of the volume of the number of individuals who are part of cells that could prove deadly. and it also underscores the fact that you don't necessarily need thousands to be deployed. if you have a few dozen who are committed with an expert bombmaker in the mix, that can prove strategically incredibly valuable to the terrorists and certainly incredibly deadly to a western capital. and i think that's unfortunately
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the reality we face, that europe is embedded with some of these terrorists and radicals. and it's very difficult for european authorities to ferret them out before these kinds of attacks happen. >> juan, you know, when i was talking to charlie d'agata earlier, he said that what struck him was just how successful today's attacks have been, that all three of these bombs went off. and that it's not necessarily always the case and oftentimes bombmakers are not very skilled at that job. what do you make of just how successful, for lack of a better word, today's attacks have been and the sort of training that this bombmaker would have had to have? >> well, i think there are two troubling elements to the success of the attacks that we're witnessing. one is the fact that you've had these explosions occur and the fact that they've been so
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devastating. news reports with victims coming out of the scene saying this looked like a war zone. and so these were not just simple pipe bombs or minor bombs. these were significant bombs, coordinated in multiple locations. the second part of this that's so dangerous and troubling is the synchronization of the attacks. the fact that you have them in major centers of activity commercially in terms of transport and the fact that it's so well coordinated and effective. and so the fact that the bombs were deadly and the fact that they were synchronized in a major european capital that, again, is incredibly troubling, and we're witnessing the effects of it. >> yeah, that's what people said was significant about the paris attacks, that it spoke to a shift in strategy, a shift in
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the style of terror attacks, that it was so coordinated that authorities were kept on their toes. when they ran to one explosion, then another one happened. >> it's almost meant as if distract. you wait a moment before you launch another one. juan, i guess the question that i have in looking at the reports coming in as we show images of the scene at brussels airport around the city, in your estimation, and i'm asking you to speculate a little bit, but also based on your intelligence analysis, would this be something that is done -- that was done in retaliation for the arrest of salah abdeslam? because we know, according to belgian media reports, that he was perhaps planning something else, or was this perhaps already in the works, and this is just an opportune moment to strike back in the wake of his arrest? >> this strikes me, vlad, just based on what i know, and again, we're speculating a bit here, but it strikes me that these are


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