PoliticsNation, Friday, January 9th, 2015
Read the transcript from the Friday show
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: January 9, 2015
Guest: Jim Arkedis; Aki Peritz; Christopher Dickey, Jim Cavanaugh, Clint
van Zandt, Jim Arkedis, Evan Kohlmann
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR, POLITICS NATION: Good evening, Ed.
And thanks to you for tuning in.
We start with breaking news on the terror siege in France. Three suspects
are now dead. And a fourth is on the run after dramatic police raids at
two separate locations, including heavily armed police storming a grocery
market where an attacker held over a dozen hostages and killed four.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
SHARPTON: The latest development, a stunning interview with one of the
brothers who assaulted the magazine. He spoke directly to a French
journalist while hunkering down in a factory that would be overrun by
police shortly later. He claimed he was sent by a stop cleric with an Al
Qaeda in Yemen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHERIF KOUACHI, SUSPECT (through translator): We`re just telling you that
we are the defenders of the prophet. Peace and blessing be upon him. And
that I, Cherif Kouachi was sent by Al-Qaeda in Yemen, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes.
KOUACHI (through translator): And that I went there and that`s it`s
(INAUDIBLE) who financed me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: And how long ago was it?
KOUACHI (through translator): It was a long time ago. Before he was
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And now, there is only you and your brother here?
KOUACHI (through translator): That`s none of your business.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But do you have people behind you?
KOUACHI (through translator): That`s not your business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And late today, Al-Qaeda in Yemen issued a statement supporting
the attacks in France. At this hour, a search is on for this woman, who
police say was an accomplice of the grocery store attacker and anyone else
who might be linked to these attacks.
We have team coverage tonight on the manhunt for the fourth suspect.
Details on the raid and the links to other terrorists. We start tonight
with NBC`s Ron Allen, live in Paris.
Ron, what`s the latest?
RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Reverend Al, just an incredible
day and night here, an incredible couple of days since that assault on the
magazine on Wednesday.
As you know, police have been on the hunt for the Kouachi brothers for a
period of time that began right after they found their escaped vehicle near
the magazine. This morning we got word of a carjacking, then a police
gunfight with the brothers, then a pursuit. And then the brothers holed up
in a factory on the outskirts of Paris near Charles de Gaulle airport.
Hours later, the assault at the grocery store, in the community that I`m
standing in right now. The grocery store is down the street in that
direction. The area is still, hours later, sealed off by authorities as
they continue their investigation. Then, the somewhat simultaneous
assaults by police at those two locations.
There must have been hundreds of officers involved in these operations,
heavily armed, riot squads, tactical police. They were concerned of course
about the hostages` safety, but they were unsure during the course of the
day exactly how many people were being held.
We understand out of the factory, the two brothers emerged, open gunfire on
the officers, the officers returned fire, perhaps killing them instantly
and then the hostages escaped behind them.
We understand that the grocery store, the hostages were apparently killed
before the authorities launched the assault. We believe that at least four
people were killed. There may be more. The authorities have not given a
final figure. And as just been reported, perhaps as many as a dozen people
were held during the course of the day.
And the big unanswered question tonight, are the whereabouts of the woman
suspect, who was an accomplice of the hostage taker at the grocery store.
We were unclear as to whether she was even on scene or not.
SHARPTON: So Ron, we cannot confirm --
ALLEN: We don`t know what`s happened with her is the short answer.
SHARPTON: All right. So we do not know where Boumeddiene is her name,
whether or not she was in the store or not, we do not know.
ALLEN: We do not know that at all. All we know is that she was listed --
her picture was put on a wanted poster essentially, circulated by
authorities earlier today. It`s the first time we heard about her. We
know she had a relationship with Amedy Coulibaly, the man who took hostages
at the grocery store. I`m sorry. It`s been a very long day.
SHARPTON: I understand.
ALLEN: But the bottom line is no, we don`t know her whereabouts. She`s
considered armed and dangerous. I have to believe that she may not have
ever been at the grocery store. Because the police certainly did a
thorough accounting of the people who were taken out of the grocery store,
the hostages. So, again, just one mystery. And the search goes on
SHARPTON: Well, we don`t know if anyone was in with Amedy Coulibaly, but
we do know that four people have died.
You`ve been doing a great job all day, Ron. We`ve been watching you all
day. Really great reporting. Thank you so much for your reporting
tonight, staying with us.
Now, let me bring in Jim Arkedis and he`s a former department of defense
counterterrorism analyst. Joining us also, Jim Cavanaugh, retired ATF
agent and MSNBC law enforcement analyst Kevin Kohlmann. NBC terrorism
analyst, Evan Kohlmann, thank you too for being here.
Jim, what`s your reaction to claims about Al-Qaeda in Yemen?
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC ANALYST: Sorry, Reverend Al. Go ahead.
SHARPTON: I`m talking to Jim Arkedis, I`m sorry.
JIM ARKEDIS, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST:
Thanks, Reverend Al.
The fascinating thing is that there`s been this claim of responsibility.
And so, what does that really mean? We know that these guys traveled to
Yemen probably in about 2011 time frame. And then they trained. They
probably learned how to build bombs, they learned how to fire weapons, they
learned how to execute an attack and plan an escape route.
Then they went back to France and then they probably stayed in France and
went about their daily lives over a period of the next several, three or
four years. They probably picked the target on their own, the timing on
their own. They probably built their own finance networks, even though one
of the brothers have mentioned financing by al-Awlaki. Does that mean that
al-Awlaki just put them in touch with the right people, we just don`t know
And so, when we say that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed
responsibility for this attack, it`s very important for viewers to know
that in all probability, someone in the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula`s
headquarters did not call up the brothers the day before the attack and
said, OK, now it`s time to put this in motion, right?
It`s also worth noting that we should take this claim of responsibility and
verify it over the next several days just to make sure.
SHARPTON: Evan, the claim of Al-Qaeda, that the Kouachi brothers were
connected, financed. Even though did I notice in that interview, he said
yes a long time ago before he was killed. So there`s some distance and
time. Though clearly trying to firm the connection. Your read on this.
EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST: If you look at the actual claim
of responsibility, what`s interesting is what`s not in there. There is
nothing in there that definitively proves the AQAP did it. There`s
certainly is a claim and it`s an official claim, and it appears to be from
an official spokesman.
But they don`t actually say, we did it. They say congratulations to the
Mujahideen (ph) who did it. There are AQAP folks on twitter who are
suggesting that we directed it or we coordinated it. But they haven`t so
far gotten out there.
We have to see whether or not they do what they did with the underwear bomb
plot. I don`t know if you remember this. (INAUDIBLE), within a day or two
of the failed plot of underwear bomb plat, they put a photo of (INAUDIBLE)
at a training camp in Yemen, objective evidence that he was there, that he
was being directed by them.
Even that is not enough to suggest that everything he was planned by AQAP.
But at least then we have some knowledge that the claim is credible. And I
don`t know that we know a 100 percent yet whether it`s an endorsement or
whether this is really a claim of responsibility.
SHARPTON: Now, Jim, you have big experience in man hunts. Tell us how you
view how this ended with the Kouachi brothers. Jim Cavanaugh.
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC ANALYST: Well, I think that the French special
operators here, Reverend Al, did an excellent job. You know, really can`t
be done better than this. No hostages killed on their entry at the Jewish
grocery and the hostage rescued at the printing office. It couldn`t be
Now we have some wounded officers as well, we haven`t heard their
condition, but it was a textbook operation. They waited until the two
brothers were separate from the hostage. That was the commander`s
advantage. He made the decision, he read it right. They also moved on the
grocery, knowing likely that the guy at the grocery would know through
media, through texting, through cell phones that would be in the grocery,
that the operation had occurred.
So excellent move and it`s not so easy to do all the time. You can`t
expect it to always come out this way. Sometimes you can do the best you
can do and all the hostages can be slaughtered. So it`s unfortunate we had
four killed, but it looks like that was on the initial entry of the
terrorists into the Jewish deli.
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you this, Evan. Are we dealing with a large
cell or could there be more? When you hear Coulibaly who is saying that he
is the one that did the grocery, that he knew the brothers and we have
connected Boumeddiene to several hundred calls between the wife of one of
the Kouachi brothers and her. So they knew each other. Are there others?
Is this a cell? I mean, isn`t this a large concern now in France?
KOHLMANN: Well, certainly you look at this and they appear to be all
connected. They were obviously -- initially, they were all arrested as
part of a terrorist plot to try to free arguably France`s most famous
terrorist (INAUDIBLE) who has been in prison for the `95 metro bombings.
On the other hand, you look at Mr. Coulibaly, and when he did his owned
interview or purported interview on the radio from this Jewish, the kosher
shop, he said that he was affiliated with the Islamic state. Now --
SHARPTON: Yes. He brought up ISIS and Al-Qaeda which doesn`t --
KOHLMANN: Not only do they hate each other, but actually the person that
put out the statement on behalf of AQAP, (INAUDIBLE), this person was just
viciously attacked by ISIS in the last few days. They called him a clown,
a degenerate (ph). It`s very difficult to understand why someone if
they`re so closely coordinated would mix up ISIS and AQAP. That`s a rookie
And so, you know, look. There is no doubt there`s a network here. But how
closely these folks were working together, we don`t really know that yet.
SHARPTON: Jim Arkedis, what are your questions tonight? We`ve seen so
much today. A lot going on. What questions do you have in giving your
expertise? What remains unanswered to you?
ARKEDIS: Well, certainly the big one hanging out there is where is the
woman. Where is Boumeddiene? We have to know French authorities are going
to be looking for her whereabouts. We`re going to have to be able to get
into the apartment or house where the brothers lived and go through their
cell phones and their computers and their belongings. We`re going to have
to go through Coulibaly`s belongings and cell phones and discover exactly
as we were talking about, the idea of how big is this network. Are there
any more operatives out there? Is there any other reason to be immediately
That`s probably the case for the next 12 to 24 hours, to make sure the
immediate threat has been neutralized and that we can proceed with further
And then above and beyond that, the question becomes, how do we solve this
problem? France has an amazing difficulty assimilating Muslims into French
society because it`s a secular state. This is also pervasive throughout
Europe. And to think that we are going to be able to solve this problem
just through hard security is a fool`s errand. We don`t have the time and
resources and manpower to do this. We have to talk about sustainable
democracy institution building abroad, education, employment, all --
development aid, economic aid, all of these things that will help regions
where terror cells can develop and train, become prosperous, so that quite
frankly and very simply, they have other things to do.
SHARPTON: But Jim Arkedis, if you`re saying we can`t do it with just
training and military, how do we do it?
ARKEDIS: Well, it`s all of those things. It`s education, it`s economic
development, it`s building our democratic institutions like free press and
free elections. And here is the thing. We live in the United States of
America. And we are accustomed to immediate results. We want things to
happen overnight. And this demands a sustained engagement over years,
decades, for a very long time. And gradually building --
SHARPTON: But Jim Cavanaugh, isn`t that the problem? That something
happens, we all get along, we react then and the moment passes. We go to
the next story and we don`t continue to do the things that Jim Arkedis is
doing. Until the next problem, situation, attack, and we react all over
CAVANAUGH: That`s right. You`re exactly right. And Jim is right on that
point, spot on. And so is Evan when we talks about it as well. And we
don`t listen to these terrorism experts. Look, one big thing that glares
out in this Paris attack on "Charlie Hebdo" is that terrorists are trying
to get religious bona fides, religious trust that they are protecting Islam
by striking out at people that insult the prophet.
These guys are not religious people. None of these actors that are dead
now, were raised as religious people. None of them are. They were not at
all. If you looked in their backgrounds and read about their backgrounds.
Yet they want to be seen that way. And we can`t let them do that. The
world can`t let these guys be seen that way. The west needs to speak out.
The Muslim world needs to speak out, and they do. We all need to speak out
and isolate the terrorists.
They are not the greater population of Muslims and that`s something we
really don`t take to heart in our comments. We call these people the
Islamic state. Why do we give them that power of that? We shouldn`t say
that. And that could be stopped with a directive from the president. This
is what we are going to call them, you know, whatever they are. Al-Qaeda
2.0, but nothing like Islam.
SHARPTON: Jim Arkedis and Jim Cavanaugh and Evan Kohlmann, please stay
Still ahead, new photos of the female suspect. Where is she? And is she
getting help to stay on the run? And just how real is this group`s link to
Also inside the raid, the secret of how the French police took out the
SHARPTON: Coming up, she`s the fourth suspect in the Paris terror attacks,
where is she? There`s a massive search to find her. And we`re getting new
photos of her just in to MSNBC. More on that next.
SHARPTON: We`re back with our breaking news, the massive search to find
this woman, seen here in photos obtained by a French newspaper.
Investigators say she`s the girlfriend of the man who took hostages inside
a kosher grocery today. He`s now dead. They`re both suspects in the death
of a policewoman in Paris yesterday. And officials trying to figure out if
there was anyone else involved.
Joining me now is Christopher Dickey, foreign editor for "the Daily Beast."
Aki Peritz, former CIA counterterrorism analyst and Evan Kohlmann is back
with me here as well. Thank you for being here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Christopher, what do we know about this woman? Is it possible
that someone`s helping to shelter Boumeddiene right now?
CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, FOREIGN EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: I think almost
certainly she has somebody sheltering her and helping her out. I don`t
think that we`ve seen the end of this cell at all. In fact, we may have
seen it end as an active terrorist cell, but in terms of support network, I
think they are probably as more than we`d like to admit, or more than the
French authorities would like to admit.
I think you have to remember that they have put a lot of people in jail for
questioning already. I think they got nine or more people that they picked
up over the last couple of days because they see this as an extended
network. And I imagine that Hayat Boumeddiene has a few friends someplace
who will help hide her out.
SHARPTON: Now, these are photos that we`ve obtained of her in some kind of
training. And she`s shown in these photos with her boyfriend, Amedy
Coulibaly, who is now dead and who did do the grocery store attack and had
hostages, and has a record of violence.
Let me ask you, Aki, whether you feel after seeing and hearing what`s going
on today that we`re dealing with an extensive cell or whether this is
pretty much winding down.
AKI PERITZ, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, that`s the million
dollar question or really the million euro question. Are there other
people? Obviously there are all kinds of -- when you carry out an attack
like this, you have all kinds of friends and confederates who can actually
help you out.
So where is Miss Boumeddiene? Nobody knows. Had she been caught, we would
have probably heard about it in the press by now. So that means that she
has friends, people trying to help her out, perhaps cars, et cetera, et
And so, the fact is that the police think that she might be armed and
dangerous, means that she is a real threat to society at this juncture. So
who is actually out there helping here, we don`t know and that`s really
what the French authorities are really trying to crackdown on right now.
SHARPTON: And Evan, when Aki raises that, yesterday she and her boyfriend
were suspected of killing a policeman. Today he did this. So if she`s out
there armed, there`s cause for serious concern, if not fear.
KOHLMANN: Look, conventionally, there used to be this idea that, you know,
female jihadists were just supposed to stay home and take care of the
family. That`s not the case anymore. We`ve seen women jihadists go to a
various different conflicts, including Pakistan, Syria and elsewhere, and
actually pick up a gun. An American woman was actually killed fighting in
Syria with a jihadist faction. So it`s not that unusual right now. And as
a result, it`s a possibility we have to consider.
Another thing we have to consider is she is niqabi (ph). She wears the
niqab, right? And one of the questions, is that going to help her, you
know, conceal herself? Or is that going to be a problem? Because niqab is
a sensitive issue in France. And there issue about taking identity photos
without the niqab on. Is she going to be able to use this to conceal her -
SHARPTON: Just so the viewers are clear, meaning that if they suspect
someone that has that, it is sensitive to ask them to remove it so they can
see if in fact this might be Boumeddiene.
KOHLMANN: It`s a hugely sensitive issue in French. It`s hugely sensitive
amongst Muslims in general.
ALLEN: Chris, go ahead.
DICKEY: Evan, it`s not just sensitive in France, it`s illegal for a woman
to wear the niqab in France. I mean, you can sometimes see women from the
Persian Gulf shopping at Prada wearing the niqab, but out in the streets
where Hayat Boumeddiene may be, she`s probably not going to be wearing the
niqab. I imagine she`ll be dressed completely in western fashion.
SHARPTON: So it`s illegal to wear this, Chris is telling us, to wear.
Let me go back to you, a minute, to you Aki, the suspect inside the grocery
market called a French TV station. Listen to what Coulibaly told them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (through translator): are you linked to the two
brothers who carried out the "Charlie Hebdo" operation?
AMEDY COULIBALY, SUSPECT IN THE GROCERY HOSTAGE (through translator): Yes,
we coordinated to carry out the operations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (through translator): Are you still in contact
with them? Have you recently been on the phone with them?
COULIBALY (through translator): No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER (through translator): In what way did you
coordinate? Are there other events planned? Is there a scenario you`re
carrying out together?
COULIBALY (through translator): No. We only coordinated at the start.
When they started "Charlie Hebdo," I started with the police.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: How much coordination do you think there was between him and the
PERITZ: There might have been some coordination. But I think Evan had a
great turn of phrase. He says that the fact that Coulibaly actually said
he was with the Islamic state whereas the brothers said they were with AQAP
shows this is, I think you said something along the lines, that this is a
We know the Islamic state and AQAP really hate each other and they`ve
actually killed dozens if not hundreds of each other members over the
course of the last year. And so, the fact is that maybe this person had
some sort of relationship, some sort of tangential relationship and was
motivated or inspired by the events. It`s still unclear. And the French
authorities are still trying to figure out what exactly their relationships
are. And that`s why you have to capture all their cell phones, their
computers, see if there was any sort of email traffic or cell phone traffic
to definitively link these two or three these individuals together.
SHARPTON: Christopher, let me ask you, 1,000 to 2,000 French citizens have
gone to Iraq and Syria to fight. About 200 of them have gone back to
France. Could there be others of this group out there in France right now?
DICKEY: Yes, I think there definitely could be. I think people don`t
understand how deeply the roots of the Kouachi brothers go into these
networks of jihadists. If you go back ten years, they were already
involved with going to fight in jihad. When we talk about what was
happening ten years ago, we make it sound like Cherif Kouachi was just
smoking dope and decided to maybe do jihad and was sort of on the fringes
of everything, but that isn`t really true.
His group, the group that he was involved with, they sent people who died
in Falluja. They had three members of his group died fighting in Iraq.
One of them was a suicide bomber. Others were jailed trying to get there.
Really it was a pretty dense group ten years ago.
When he was thrown in jail, his mentor was a man who had plotted to blow up
the U.S. embassy in Paris. When he got out of jail, he and Amedy Coulibaly
tried their best to free the most infamous terrorist in the country. So
he`s part of a network that has been involved with a hell of a lot of stuff
for a very long time. I don`t think -- these are not lone wolves. These
are not newly discovered jihadis. These guys are veterans, and they may
not have been the most competent veterans in the world, but they were some
of the better connected ones.
KOHLMANN: And they were radicalized -- look, they were radicalized before
the cartoons came out. They were radicalized before the latest Israeli
campaigns in Gaza. These folks were radicalized a long time ago. The
beginnings of their radicalization process didn`t begin this year or last
year. If you want try to understand what brought them to the hands of AQAP
or to ISIS, or whatever they are, the answer to that question, they are to
be found in the offices of "Charlie Hebdo." They`re unfortunately probably
more likely to be found in the communities that these kids grew up in and
where they went from being a pizza delivery man to being extremists.
SHARPTON: Which goes back to your point, Aki, saying we have to get into
their house, their environment, their surroundings to really drill down to
find out not only the roots of their being radicalized, but keys to whether
or not there`s a more extensive cell and more people that are involved that
could be just as dangerous and could be moving forward.
PERITZ: Absolutely. One of the issues that you sort of talked about
before is this returning foreign fighter problem in France. But remember
that if you travel in western Europe, you can actually get around without
an I.D. And so, you have hundreds of returning fighters from France, from
Germany, from Britain, from the Netherlands and Belgium and elsewhere, who
have the ability to move through countries, through national borders very,
And so, just because you are a French citizen doesn`t mean that you can`t
actually commit a crime, a terrible crime let`s say Belgium, which happened
in May, when four people were murdered at a Jewish community center by a
One of the issues that we really need to focus on is cooperation,
intelligent cooperation between France and Belgium and other places. You
need across national borders. And unfortunately, Europe, for a variety of
reasons, whether it`s civil liberties or privacy issues, have not really
sort of fully integrated their intelligence cooperation to stop things like
SHARPTON: All right, Christopher Dickey and Aki Peritz, thank you for your
time tonight. Evan Kohlmann, please stay with me.
Ahead, we`re learning new details about the terror raids today. And will
we see changes in fights against al Qaeda and ISIS? More of our breaking
news coverage ahead.
SHARPTON: Coming up, we`re learning extraordinary details about the two
simultaneous raids that took down three terror suspects.
We go inside the raids next.
SHARPTON: It`s been a day of fast-moving breaking news. Tonight, the
Associated Press is reporting that al Qaeda in Yemen is taking
responsibility for the terror attack that left 12 French journalists dead.
This news comes just hours after the brothers linked to those attacks were
killed. After a dramatic stand-off with police at a printing factory
outside of Paris. One of the brothers spoke to a French journalist while
inside that factory today, claiming he was sent by a prominent cleric with
al Qaeda in Yemen. In a separate stand-off in Paris, a gunman linked to
the brothers held over a dozen hostages at a kosher grocery store. He and
four hostages were killed in a siege. At this hour, a massive search is
under way for a fourth suspect. This woman who is seen in these newly
released photographs with a crossbow. We`re learning new details about the
police raid that ended these stand-offs with the brothers. A person hiding
inside the building was sending text messages. He remains stuck inside.
But the gunmen were unaware of his presence for almost three hours, he
communicated with police.
Back with me, Jim Arkedis and Jim Cavanaugh and joining us is former FBI
profiler and hostage negotiator Clint van Zandt. Clint, you were a hostage
negotiator. Have you ever seen something like this, someone inside texting
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, yes, I have, Al. I`ve seen
bank robberies that I`ve gone to before where tellers have hidden inside
closets and the bank robber doesn`t know they`re inside. So it does
happen. In this situation, it looks like the police thought the bad guys,
the two brothers, knew they had a hostage inside initially. And now
they`re getting the texting information. They don`t want to reveal that
they know somebody else is in there. So it was kind of a cat, mouse game
that they played until all of a sudden the two brothers made a decision
they were going to assault. And what makes that clear, Al, is that
normally, Jim Cavanaugh and I have done these things many times before.
Normally before you go in, you throw a flash bang, two, three flash bangs
and then you go in and shooting if you have to. But when you look at the
print shop where the two brothers were, you hear gunfire first. Apparently
where the brothers come out, start shooting, then the police throw a couple
of flash bangs, and they take the two brothers out. But then they do just
what they had to do, Al, because they knew another situation was going on.
They knew the third terrorist said I`m going to start killing people if you
don`t let the two go.
So they made a decision, we`ve got to go, we`ve got to go right now, and
they went ahead and pulled the pin. And now I use "pull the pin," that`s
an interesting phrase, because all three terrorists, Al, had hand grenades.
At least the two brothers had a rocket-propelled grenade, and they had
sticks of dynamite. One can only imagine had they loosed those grenades,
RPG, or dynamite, what a terrible blast that would have been, and how many
more hostages or GIGN troopers would have been killed if they got a chance
to use those.
SHARPTON: Jim Arkedis, we also learned at the grocery store, police
reportedly hacked into the shop`s internal TV system to monitor the
gunman`s action during the siege. Watch him react as he saw his name
spread across the media. How much could this have happened the police in
their raid of the store?
JIM ARKEDIS, FORMER DOD COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Oh, it helps immensely.
I mean, no question about it. You have eyes and ears on the target. The
fascinating thing about this raid, is that the two guys in the printing
shop, the Kouachi brothers, said earlier in the day that they were prepared
to die like martyrs. Right? Yet they managed to take their own hostage in
order to perpetuate their own lives and then had their accomplice take over
hostages in the grocery store and said let the other guys go. And so these
are some of the amazing unanswered questions that have unfolded throughout
the course of the raid.
SHARPTON: Jim Cavanaugh, what can authorities look at now inside the
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, certainly it`s a crime
scene. You know you had four people killed initially when they went in.
So they`ll going to be looking at that. Like, Clint mentioned, you know,
did he have hand grenades, other weapons, RPGS, they want to know what he
had and where did he get it. Likely Coulibaly there at the grocery store
was killed pretty quickly by the special operators probably with a rifle
shot pretty quickly. He didn`t have a chance to get the hostages. Like
Clint said, when the two brothers came outside, they were pretty quickly
dispatched by the special operations team. They didn`t live very long.
They wanted to be martyrs and they were put on the express train to hell
pretty fast. So luckily the hostages all got out. That is exceptional
police work. Exceptional police work on the part of the French
Clint Van Zandt and thank you for your time tonight, Jim Arkedis and Jim
Cavanaugh, please stay with me.
VAN ZANDT: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, al Qaeda in Yemen claims it directed the attacks.
What`s next in the fight against Islamic terrorists? Richard Engel joins us
SHARPTON: We`re back with the breaking news tonight. According to the
Associated Press, a member of al Qaeda in Yemen is claiming it directed the
attacks in Paris.
Joining me now is NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel
outside Paris at the scene of the stand-off where the attackers earlier
today. Thank you for being here tonight. Richard, what do you make of
this news from Yemen?
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there have been
a lot of information over the last several days coming out that was
pointing toward Yemen. What we didn`t have was confirmation. The first
clue was the attack itself on the satirical magazine, a target that al
Qaeda in Yemen had identified. Al Qaeda in Yemen specifically said it
wanted the editor of that satirical magazine killed for insulting the
Muslim Prophet Muhammad. That was an indication, but not proof because
there are many Islamic groups that have similar emotions. Then we heard
about one of the two brothers traveling to Yemen and being specifically
trained by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in 2011. Trained for months,
U.S. officials said. That, an even clearer indication, but then today, one
of the others, Cherif, in a phone call that he actually made during this
hostage stand-off, he called -- he received a call from a French journalist
SHARPTON: Now, Richard, right there, let me play --
ENGEL: Which was recorded and --
SHARPTON: Let me play a little of that and I want you to tell me what you
make of that. I want to play part of the phone call that one of the
Kouachi brothers made to this TV station.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHERIF KOUACHI, SUSPECT IN THE CHARLIE HEBDO MASSACRE: We`re just telling
you that we are the defenders of the prophet. Peace and blessings be upon
him and that I, Cherif Kouachi was sent by al Qaeda in Yemen, okay?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes, yes.
KOUACHI: And that I went there and that it`s Imam al-Awlaki who financed
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And how long ago was it?
KOUACHI: It was a long time ago. Before he was killed.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Okay. And now there`s only you and your brother here?
KOUACHI: That`s not your business.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: But do you have people behind you?
KOUACHI: That`s not your business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: What do you make of that conversation, Richard? No one knows al
Qaeda and knows the operations around this whole terrorist -- these
terrorist cells better than you do.
ENGEL: Well, thank you for that, but it is quite a stunning conversation.
You don`t hear conversations like that very often. I can`t think of a
similar one, in fact, where you have a militant holed up during a hostage
situation, talking to a journalist, and, one, taking credit for the murder
of 12 journalists at the satirical magazine on Wednesday, and then
explaining why. He said that he was from al Qaeda in Yemen. He said that
he was specifically sent on this mission, which was financed by -- these
are his claims -- Anwar al-Awlaki. Anwar al-Awlaki is the late Anwar al-
Awlaki was one of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula top recruiters, a U.S.
citizen killed by an American drone strike in Yemen in 2011. He seemed
quite calm on the phone. He seemed like he wanted the world to know who he
was and why they were doing it, and that they were doing it, in his
explanation, to defend the Prophet Muhammad from being insulted by this
magazine and he said he did not consider that an act of murder.
SHARPTON: Richard Engel, NBC news chief foreign correspondent in France,
tonight we thank you for your time. We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: Back with me now, Jim Arkedis, Jim Cavanaugh and Evan Kohlmann.
Evan, where do we go from here? How do you expect the United States to
EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it`s a tough one. I
mean, look, Anwar al-Awlaki is not the proper target for a drone strike.
He was killed four years ago. And I think part of the question behind this
is why did it take so long for these folks to follow what apparently they
were given the orders to do. I mean, look, we can continue to far and
drone missiles in Yemen and AQAP targets in Yemen. And we will continue to
take out senior leaders in AQAP but there`s no guaranty we`re going to stop
them from engineering stuff like this. Let`s not forget that they are not
just trying to encourage people to carry out terrorist attacks by directing
them specifically, they`re also putting out inspire magazine which tells
people, look, even if you can`t get to Yemen, even if you can`t reach our
training camps. Here`s everything you need. Here`s all the targets that
we want you to hit, this is way to hit them, go out and do it. So the
problem is that, even if you took out AQAP right now, that philosophy, that
kind of lone-wonderful philosophy is still out there and it`s available and
being specifically put out there in English. I think part of the problem
here is we have to address this from two different sides of the equation.
Certainly we have to fire drone missiles at targets in Yemen, but let`s
also try to focus on taking away the glamour of joining these groups.
Trying to take away the attraction of these individuals who were joining.
SHARPTON: So long-term, short-term, Jim Arkedis, I`m hearing. But let`s
not forget that we still have a very active investigation and a pursuit by
French authorities looking for Hayat Boumeddiene, the young lady who was
the girlfriend of Coulibaly who did the attack of the policeman yesterday
and of the hostage takeover today. She`s still out there. We have
conflicting reports whether she was in the store or not. So in the
backdrop of all of this, there`s still somebody at large that could be very
ARKEDIS: Yes, absolutely, no doubt. So short-term, long-term. The short-
term is going to be how long is Boumeddiene going to be able to stay on the
run? The French intelligence services, as we`ve seen today, as we`ve seen
over the course of the last 20-plus years, when they`ve had an Islamic
terrorist problem in France, they are very, very good at what they do. You
can`t keep your thumb on every single terrorist all the time. But now that
they have an active target, they will use all of the mechanisms and tools
at their disposal. I also want to pick up on a point that Evan just
raised, talk about a third aspect of it which we discussed a little bit
earlier. Where do we go from here? We have to make sure that we are
deploying economic aid. We have to make sure that we`re helping build
institutions of democracy. We have to make sure that we`re helping people
in the Islamic world get education. And things like that.
These are really active things that American foreign policy can help with
and that we should do and we should want to have the United States be
active in the world, to try and solve some of these problems over the long-
term. We can`t expect that everything is going to be taken care of
overnight. And so, we really need to have kind of an internal gut check as
a country to say, you know what, we`ve been fighting this problem for over
15 years, all the way back to, gosh, 1996 and the Khobar Towers, 1998 and
the East Africa bombings. Obviously September 11th and bombing in Yemen of
the USS Cole. So we have to have some internal fortitude and say, look,
everything that we`ve tried so far, mostly based on hard power, military,
drone strikes, there`s certainly a time and a place for that, no question.
Also, we have to be looking at some of the quote-unquote, "soft power
tools" of our foreign policy and national security to make sure that we`re
addressing this problem at its root.
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you, Jim Cavanaugh, America, we have police
chiefs all over the country that are looking at this. I mean, we went
through Fort Hood and other things. What are you hearing that police
chiefs in this country are saying, thinking? I mean, what`s the reaction?
CAVANAUGH: Well, police commanders are always looking at this. Listening
to people like Jim and Evan, they`re listening and telling us, you know,
what`s going to happen? What`s next? But they watch this very closely. I
can tell you the tactical officers around the country. The tactical
commanders have watched every second of what`s going on here. And they`ll
get briefings from the French police eventually and through the FBI and
other law enforcement authorities. They want to know exactly what happened
every step of the way. They`ll study it. We did that after Mumbai, we did
that after many different activities. The Kenyan mall. Everybody wants to
know what happened so they can counter it. But I totally agree with what
Jim said. One of the weakest things we do as a nation and really as a
world, is to counter the terrorist narrative. We got the hardware, the
navy, the Air Force, the drones, we need to do that on that front, but we
don`t counter this narrative. We have a 50-person unit at the State
Department. That`s not near enough people to be able to start to counter
the narrative of these guys for recruiting --
SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there, but I think you are
touching on exactly where we have to go, a combination of things. Let me
thank my panel. We`ll be right back.
SHARPTON: Many people are calling the attacks in France their 9/11.
Earlier this week, we saw this stark image from a cartoonist, showing
solidarity with the magazine artist who were murdered. You can see the
pencils representing the twin towers. As horrific as it`s been, this
tragedy has not had the carnage of 9/11, but its effect has been where just
a few people can paralyze a country. We`re in a new phase in the fight
against terror. There will be a need for security changes. This attack
was an assault on freedom everywhere. But we can`t let it affect our way
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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