The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/13/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That`s right. That`s the latest that
we`ve got, Brian. And, I mean, you`ve been – let me actually just take a
moment to commend you for having helmed this for the last five hours plus.
This has been a remarkable day and the way this story has evolved over the
course of the day, it has just become deeper and deeper and deeper in terms
of the concern. It`s been amazing to have you here, sir.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thank you.
And I want to thank you for being with us tonight. Nights like this I
will just say as a personal matter, it is a privilege to have a job like
this one, to be able to help share what we know when everybody wants so
badly to understand what has just happened and unfortunately what may still
be under way, what may not be over.
It is now just coming up on 9:00 p.m. on the East Coast. Paris, of
course, is six hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast. And so, that means it`s
now 3:00 a.m. in Paris.
As a way to sort of reset. First, I`m going to give you the bottom
line in terms of what we know and then I`m going to tell you what we know
has happened over the course of this evening. The bottom line is this.
This is a series of apparently coordinated attacks that hit Paris tonight.
We have an unconfirmed estimated death toll of approximately 120 killed,
although that number may rise or fall as we get more confirmed information
from French authorities over the course of the night.
These were multiple attacks using bombs and guns and possibly grenades
as well. There`s also pretty well-confirmed, although at this point
nothing definitively confirmed, about the possible use of at least one
Now, the reason that is relevant here in terms of understanding the
magnitude of this and the novelty of what just happened here is if in fact
there was a suicide bomb among these attackers it would appear to mark the
first time that France has ever been hit by suicide bombing. Even though
as a country, France is no stranger to terrorist attacks, either in their
recent history or in their more distant history.
The last part of the bottom line tonight is this. And it`s scary to
say. But we do not know if this is over. We don`t know if any of the
attackers from tonight`s attacks is still at large. Nor do we know if
there are any further attacks planned as part of this assault tonight.
This wasn`t one incident. It was a coordinated series of events that
happened in very tight sequence. Are there more events that are planned as
part of this individual attack that are slightly further along in the
sequence? We don`t know. And so that`s the bottom line.
Very high estimated death toll, 120 people killed is the estimate at
this point. Also multiple tactics and weapons used including the
possibility of suicide bombers for the first time ever in France`s history.
And again the scary possibility that the attack may not be over and some of
the attackers may still be at large. That`s what we know in terms of the
Here`s what we know in terms of what has happened. Again, it is just
after 3:00 a.m. local time. It was right around 9:30 p.m. local time when
Apparently, the start of the attack were the bombs set off just
outside the showpiece national stadium in Paris, the Stade de France. That
stadium has a capacity of 80,000. It was packed tonight for an
international soccer match between France and Germany. One of those in
attendance was France`s president, Francois Hollande.
And even though the explosion went off outside and not inside the
stadium, we know from footage taken during the soccer match that at least
one explosion could be heard while the game was played.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: That was roughly 9:30 p.m. local time. Obviously, during
that big international soccer match before a packed stadium. That was 9:30
p.m. local time. That means it was about 3:30 this afternoon on the East
Coast of the United States.
Now, what I`m going to tell you here in terms of the chronology of
what happens next, this exact chronology may be revised as we learn more.
But the best we understand now is that very shortly after the attack
started at the stadium with what may not have been just one, may have been
two or three bombs, two or three explosions, again at least one, one of
which is believed to be a suicide bomber, our best understanding is that
within a few minutes of that attack, starting outside the stadium in the
Paris suburbs, about five miles away in central Paris, the second phase of
the attack began.
Again, this was within moments of those explosions at the stadium.
There are multiple reports that a gunman or more likely gunmen armed with
automatic AK-47 style rifles made an attack on restaurants and/or cafes in
central Paris. There have been mixed reports as to how many restaurants or
cafes were attacked. A lot of different news sources have many different
lists about how many different sites there were for these attacks by gunmen
with rifles in central Paris.
But at this point in the assault, even though there are different
accounts of how many cafes or restaurants were attacked, it should be noted
that all of the reports of those attacks by gunmen with Kalashnikov-style
rifles, all those reports do come from the same fairly small area in Paris,
bustling pretty hip neighborhood in Paris.
It was a warm night tonight in Paris. This was an area crammed with
cafes and restaurants including a lot of them with outside tables.
But again, reports suggest it may have been multiple gunmen unleashing
this part of the attack. What appears to have been a second part of the
attack just moments after those explosions rocked the stadium about five
miles away in the Paris suburbs. And that close coordination and the
distance between the two attacks, that is part of why this is being seen
not just as a coordinated attack but as a fairly sophisticated coordinated
And then around 10:15 p.m. local time, about 45 minutes after it all
started, we learned about what is believed to be the deadliest part of
these attacks, which took place at the Bataclan concert hall, which is a
music venue that`s not actually all that far from the restaurant and cafe
attacks. I should also mention this may or may not prove to be relevant in
the end but for reference this music venue that was attacked is only about
500 meters from the site of the “Charlie Hebdo” massacre in Paris in
At the Bataclan concert hall, several hundred people at least were
attending a sold-out concert by a California band called the Eagles of
Death Metal. I don`t have this exactly. I understand that the capacity of
that theater is 1,000, possibly more than 1,000 and it was considered to be
a sold-out show. So, we expect at least several hundred people were there.
Our reports from inside that venue were varied and scary. But it is
reported that there were multiple attackers inside that music venue armed
with guns who started killing people inside that venue and then took many
hostages. It is also reported that they had and used explosives of some
kind in that venue in addition to shooting people with rifles.
Just after midnight local time – so this went on for about two hours,
that we knew that siege was under way with those multiple attackers at that
venue and those hundreds of people trapped inside, about two hours into
that, French special forces launched an assault on that theater to free the
Speaking at the site of the attack shortly thereafter, French
President Francois Hollande said some of the attackers were killed. Late
tonight, there have been some further unconfirmed reports that suggests
that the attackers at that music venue in addition to having guns may also
themselves have been equipped as suicide bombers and they may have used
suicide belts or vests to kill themselves at the end of that siege.
It is at that venue, at the Bataclan music hall from which we are
expecting the bulk of the death toll. And the estimated death toll right
now is considered to be approximately 120 people. The estimate is that
approximately 100 of that number will be people who died at that music
Right now, the whole nation of France remains in a state of emergency,
which was declared live on television while the siege was still under way
by the French president. The French president also announced that the
country`s borders have been closed. Although it`s not totally clear what
that means at this point.
But at one point tonight, there were arriving planes at Charles de
Gaulle Airport being held on the tarmac there. There have been varying
reports since then in terms of what the closing of the borders means and
what exactly France is doing to stop people leaving or coming into the
country. No group has taken responsibility for the attack. No one has
described anything that could have been described as a warning before this
event took place. This is a very fluid situation. Details are still
coming to light by the minute.
I want to go now to a witness. I`m joined now on the phone by
Jonathan Johnson. Jonathan Johnson is an ESPN reporter. He was at the
stadium tonight when the explosions went off nearby and they could be heard
inside the venue.
Jonathan, thank you very much for being with us tonight. I`m glad to
have you here.
JONATHAN JOHNSON, ESPN REPORTER (via telephone): No problem. Thanks
for having me on.
MADDOW: So, can you describe where you were when this happened and
what happened when threes explosions were heard inside the venue?
JOHNSON: Well, I was in the press area, which is roughly the opposite
side of the stadium to where the attack was reported to have taken place.
And early on in the game, there was a bang that was very audible in the
stadium, watching football in Paris, being a regular to go watch Paris
(INAUDIBLE) which is Paris`s big club football team, hearing that sound
normally during a game is not something to be alarmed at. It`s quite a
However, it`s never as loud as it was this evening. And that first
bang was then followed up relatively quickly by a second and there was a
third one before halftime. After the second one, it became quite obvious
that this wasn`t just a regular kind of firecracker noise. This is
something a little more serious.
And considering that there was a bomb threat made on the Germany
national team hotel earlier in the day, people already were starting to get
a little bit edgy. And this is before halftime.
Now, roundabout halftime, that`s when the reports started to filter
through, that there had been an attack at Stade de France. And over
halftime reports started to come through with more details. First of all,
we were led to believe that it was an explosion at a brasserie. Then
grenades were mentioned, a mail bomb was mentioned, and eventually a
suicide attack was also mentioned.
And during the halftime break that`s when the news about what was
going on elsewhere in Paris also then started to filter through to us. The
second half got under way, and it was a very eerie atmosphere because a lot
of us in the press knew what was going on. Some people in the stadium, the
spectators, did know about it. Some didn`t return to their seats for the
second half. Some did.
And there were other people who had no idea what was going on at the
time. France were winning 1-0 at halftime, scored a second goal before the
end of the game to win 2-0. And when their second goal went in, there were
still people cheering very vociferously. So it was clear they weren`t
aware of what was going on elsewhere in Paris at that time.
It was only after the match when the announcement was made over the
system at the stadium, that people started to suspect that maybe something
was, you know, not quite right outside of the stadium because although
certain areas of the stadium were allowed to leave immediately after the
match there were some areas where people had to stay behind, and that`s
when you started to see pictures of the people who stood on the pitch at
Stade de France.
They had to stay there for the best part of an hour. They were
eventually allowed to leave the stadium, but when I left the stadium around
half an hour ago, the Germany national team still hadn`t left. As I
understood it, the French team had. But it was – there was a real sense
of disbelief at Stade de France with the people who had gone to watch the
MADDOW: Jonathan, in terms of the security situation in the stadium,
I know the French president was among the many thousands of people there
who were watching. Was there increased security because of that? What
sort of security did you have to go through to get in tonight?
JOHNSON: Well, there was a lot of security to begin with because as I
mentioned earlier there was already the bomb threat made on the Germany
national team hotel. Security was heightened pre-match. And then after
the event, as it was unfolding, more and more security became visible
inside the stadium.
I should add as well about President Hollande, I am led to believe
that after the second explosion, which was approximately 20 minutes into
the match, he`d been evacuated from the stadium.
Like I said, it was sort of roundabout halftime, midway through the
match, that we really began to start discovering the extent of the attack
on Stade de France. But it wasn`t until much after that game had finished
that we really discovered exactly, you know, how atrocious this attack on
Paris had been because of what happened (INAUDIBLE).
MADDOW: Jonathan Johnson, ESPN reporter who was at the Stade de
France when the explosion went off nearby, which was apparently the start
of this multipronged attack – thanks for helping us understand what I saw
tonight. I appreciate it, Jonathan. Thank you.
JOHNSON: Thanks a lot.
MADDOW: One of the sort of remarkable moments tonight, and this
happens when attacks aren`t a single incident but they sprawl out over time
and you don`t know whether they`re over, is that tonight while things were
still under way, we heard a live statement from President Obama.
During President Obama`s remarks he had to tell us that he had not
done what president – he was not going to announce what presidents usually
announce at that point, which is that they have spoken one to one with the
leader of another country that has had a tragedy befall them. President
Obama had to explain tonight that he was giving his own remarks but he had
not spoken to President Francois Hollande because the events were still
unfolding in France and he understood the French president was quite busy
dealing with the still ongoing crisis.
So, this was still really quite in the middle of it tonight when we
heard from President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is an attack not
just on Paris. It`s an attack not just on the people of France. But this
is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share. We
stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance that the government
and the people of France need to respond. We`re going to do whatever it
takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to
bring these terrorists to justice and to go after any terrorist networks
that go after our people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama speaking earlier tonight while events were
still under way. We are getting some late-breaking news according to our
producer in Paris. The band that was playing at the music venue tonight
where it`s believed most of the people who died tonight were killed, that
band, California band called Eagles of Death Metal, there`s been some
conflicting information tonight about whether or not the band themselves
were among the victims of tonight`s event.
Per NBC`s producer and NBC she says, “I managed to pass police
barriers and made it to a corner bar where all the survivors of the music
venue shooting were taken to.” Apparently, our producer has spoken with a
sound engineer and with the Steve`s – excuse me, with the band`s manager.
And there is news, at least that we`re getting through our producer in NBC
tonight, that one member of this band, which again is a band based in
California, has been killed. One band member died tonight in this attack.
Again, that`s very preliminary information we`re getting from our
producer in Paris. We`ll update you more on that as we learn more.
I want to go now to Washington, to Pete Williams, NBC News justice
Pete, thanks very much for joining us. What can you tell us about
what U.S. officials are able to either confirm or advance in terms of what
we understand tonight?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they know very
little about the nature of the attack, who`s responsible for it. The FBI
is going to shore up its legal attache office in Paris. That`s what the
FBI has in many places around the world.
But, of course, this will be a French investigation. The FBI will be
there to help. It`s anticipated that as the FBI rolls through the next
several hours here, one thing the authorities will do is recover computers,
cell phones, any communication device that were used by the people
responsible for these attacks. What authorities will try to do is exploit
those as quickly as they can, look for connections, who is calling who, see
who was on that phone tree, step back a couple of steps from that, see if
there were any contacts with anybody in the U.S., and that`s where the FBI
says it can help out. But the officials we talked to say they have no
additional information about who was responsible for the attack.
In terms of the response here in the U.S., the Department of Homeland
Security has said three times tonight that they know of no specific or
credible threat. They say they`d adjust the security posture as they deem
But as we often see happens, many of the nation`s police departments
decide on their own to increase street patrols. We`re seeing this in L.A.,
the Los Angeles Police Department, and the L.A. County Sheriff`s
Departments are stepping up patrols around public sites, critical sites.
New York police were first to do this, saying they were sending people
out to crowded areas to provide a visible police presence. And we`re
hearing from police in New York and Washington, D.C. that they sent police
units out to anywhere that there were French government facilities to give
We saw something very similar to this after the attacks on the
satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo.”
The U.S. Capitol Police say they`ve increased the security around the
capitol complex here. That`s the kind of response we`ve seen in the U.S.
I should also note that we`ve heard from several managers of concert
venues or sports arenas here in the U.S., saying they`re well aware of
this, they`re adjusting their security as they think is necessary.
And one final point here. Some of the flights from New York to Paris
earlier today after this all started to unfold were somewhat delayed, but
we know of only one flight, that was an American Airlines flight from
Texas, from Dallas to Paris, was canceled. The others may have been
delayed somewhat. But other than that, the air traffic seems to be going
earlier today as was normally scheduled.
MADDOW: Pete, in terms of decisions about things like flights
decisions about whether certain events should go forward, whether certain
venues or places should be closed. I should mention that the city of Paris
has announced that all city amenities will be closed tomorrow, including
schools, museums, gymnasiums, pools, food markets. City offices will all
be closed in Paris.
Obviously, that`s specific to Paris. But as U.S. officials try to
make some of those same determinations, obviously one of them, the major
concerns and the major considerations is whether or not this is over. The
“Charlie Hebdo” attacks took place over a series of days. The Mumbai
attacks took place over a series of days. Even the Westgate shopping
attacks in Nairobi, Kenya, took place in the end over several days.
Is there – is there any American input or perspective on whether this
is done tonight?
WILLIAMS: Well, no American input on whether – there`s nothing the
U.S. can tell the French about what`s going on in France because the French
are in a better position to know that.
WILLIAMS: But in terms of response here or making decisions like that
here, I think the basic feeling here is they have to act on specific
They do some of the prudent things. But I`ve heard of no are plans to
cancel scheduled concerts for tomorrow or sporting events or anything else.
We unfortunately live in a time where there are terror attacks around
the world, and this is a western country, a city very close to the U.S. in
terms of emotional bonds, Paris. Until there is some reason they think
that the threat is beyond the borders and until they have such information,
I don`t think you`re going to see that sort of thing here.
It seems obvious to do that in Paris. They just want to reduce the
number of events or places where there are a lot of people gathered.
MADDOW: Pete Williams joining us from Washington – NBC justice
correspondent – Pete, thank you very much. It`s good to have you with us
WILLIAMS: You bet.
MADDOW: We`re getting word from the presidential palace in France.
There had been this announcement earlier from the French president that
France was not only in a state of emergency but that the borders of France
would be closed.
The presidential palace is now clarifying that, saying the borders are
not closed but additional checks are in place, additional protections are
in place among all sorts of French border crossings. And, of course, that
involves train, maritime, airports and land crossings. So, there are
additional restrictions. There are controls on the borders. But the
borders are not closed.
How you completely close borders in a modern country, especially on
short notice, is a logistical riddle at this point. But the French
government is trying to clarify more what the French president meant when
he said that France was essentially going to take measures to keep people
who are in from leaving and to keep people who are outside the country from
Joining us now from Washington is Laura Haim. She`s the White House
correspondent for the French network Canal Plus. She`s been reporting on
this story from Washington and has been the source of just incredibly
critical information for our broadcast tonight.
Laura, thank you very much for joining us. I appreciate your time.
LAURA HAIM, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CANAL PLUS: I appreciate being
with you, Rachel. It`s a pleasure.
MADDOW: How can you – can you further update us in terms of what we
know as the night gets very long tonight? In Paris, it`s after 3:00 a.m.
there. So obviously, there are still worries this may continue to be under
way but it`s now already been a very, very long night.
HAIM: It has been a very long night. In terms of what the police
people are telling me, they`re worried. They`re worried that it`s not
over. They don`t know if other people who committed those attacks have
been killed. And they really want to double-check that. That`s the first
The second point is of course they want to know what`s happening and
who were those people. Were they French?
And that`s going to be an investigation, because as you remember, the
people who committed the attacks against “Charlie Hebdo” were French
citizen, kids born in France, raised in France, who were fully radicalized
and who decided to become jihadists. And that`s a very important moment
for the police but also the French population in a very sensitive time in
France where the far right is making a lot of progress.
And then you have the (INAUDIBLE) which the people in Paris and France
are thinking tonight. Most of them are still awake. They`re completely
traumatized in shock. They cannot realize what`s going to happen.
They told me all over the phone what is going to happen. We cannot
believe the kids have been killed because in the musical, you had a lot of
young people. It was Friday night. They wanted to listen to concert.
They wanted to have fun. And they faced death.
MADDOW: In terms of the first issue that you raised there, the
prospect that these attackers may still be at large, that there either may
be other people who are waiting to be activated who are part of this
initial plan who have not yet participated in any of the attacks tonight in
Paris or that some of the people who did participate in these bomb and gun
attacks in Paris may have gotten away, do we expect to hear in an ongoing
way from French authorities about any sort of manhunt that`s under way or
anything else about whether or not this attack is in fact over?
HAIM: We don`t know. And it`s very confusing. All the people I
spoke with are telling me we don`t know what`s going to happen, we don`t
know who they are, and we don`t know if there are some people still at
large who are going to try to do something else.
And that`s the reason why there`s a state of emergency in France which
has been done by the French president. The French president is saying I
want to make sure that people don`t come to France but I also want to make
sure that people don`t leave France.
You pointed out it`s a very sensitive issue to close a country. We
don`t know precise because in Paris it`s more than 2:00 in the morning. We
don`t know how this law is going to be enforced. Again, it`s a very
You said something, Rachel, which is quite interesting. It`s the
sophistication of the attacks. There were seven attacks. There were two
or three suicide attacks outside the stadium of France.
It`s the first time in the history of France that you have suicide
bombers. Paris is not the Middle East. But tonight, with the suicide
bombers, it`s a new page in the French history.
And then right after 15:00 minutes later, you had those horrible
attacks against a restaurant. Then you had some shootings in a country
where to buy a gun is not authorized. And then you have this horrific
attack in a musical where you have hundreds of people who are just coming
to listen to a band.
Apparently, according to some witnesses who went to the hospital after
who were injured, they said the guys who arrived inside the theater were
saying, “We`re stronger than the French” and apparently one of the guy
exploded himself in front of the crowd, injuring and killing with the
explosion many other people.
Again, that was said in the hospital room in the emergency room when I
called some people. We – again, the French people are in shock, and they
want to know who did that and what was the reason?
MADDOW: Laura, when you say seven attacks, seven locations attacked,
it has been hard for us to pin down the number of specific places, the
number of different places that were attacked. Obviously we know about the
music hall. Obviously, we know about the stadium and we know that there
were other attacks with guns on restaurants and/or cafes.
Is it your understanding that there were five different restaurants or
cafes, five different locations that were hit?
HAIM: No, it`s a good question. And I`m going to make an analogy
with New York, because I think it`s going to be easier for your viewers to
It`s like the attacks happened outside New York City, let`s say
outside the Yankee stadium. You had two suicide bombers detonating
themselves. We heard three explosions. That`s what the people tell me.
But we know it was two suicide bombers and probably a gas tank, when the
French president was inside the stadium of France. And again, it`s like
the Yankee Stadium during the World Series with President Obama inside.
Then simultaneously, 15 minutes after, in the middle of the 10th
arrondissement, and it would be a little bit like Broadway, on four blocks,
you have different shootings. You have according to witnesses, a car who
shot in a big street like a car shooting on Broadway.
Then according to some witnesses a car, and we don`t know if it`s the
same car, went to a restaurant. And again, it will be a restaurant on
Times Square. And the people, very quietly came out of the car, went to
the restaurant, killed in cold blood the people who have dinner there. We
have witnesses who saw that from the window.
And then two blocks away, and again, I`m taking the symbol of
Broadway, two blocks away from Union Square, you would have an attack
against a theater on Broadway. And that`s what happened in France.
So you had two or three explosions outside the stadium, and then 15
minutes later four or five shootings with the hostage situation in the
center of Paris.
MADDOW: In terms of what you said about there being a vehicle
involved for the shootings that happened, what you described as the
equivalent of New York`s Broadway, this restaurant attack, do we believe
that the attackers left that scene in a vehicle after they arrived in a
vehicle, or do we know what happened to them after those shootings?
HAIM: I spoke with a woman who witnessed the attack against the
restaurant, and it was amazing. She said, here`s what happened, I saw from
my window a car arriving quietly, and people were eating at the restaurant.
Some people were eating outside on the terrace, and some people were
It was a popular restaurant, a small restaurant. Not a fancy
And she saw two men with no mask on their face coming out of their
car, going quietly with automatic weapons to the people who were eating at
the roof. She said that one of the attacker put the gun on the face of the
person who was eating and without any word killed him. She witnessed that.
And then after she witnessed the other guy going with the killer
inside the restaurant, and they began to fire very quickly. She said that
there was a lot of noise of guns. And apparently according to the police
people, it was an automatic gun.
The police investigators tell me that it was probably more than 60 to
100 bullets shot at this restaurant. And then they came out and they went
back to the car and left.
And we don`t know if those two people left to go to the theater and
were part of two other – now we know that the theater during the hostage
situation, there were four men. We don`t know. We don`t know if it`s a
group, those two men who killed the people in the restaurant left and
joined with two others and took hostage and began to kill them.
MADDOW: And that prospect, that those two in particular and maybe
more might still be at large is one of the great unknowns and one of the
most worrying things about this still as the night gets very, very long in
Laura Haim joining us from Washington, correspondent for the French
network Canal Plus – Laura, again, you have been absolutely invaluable
this evening. Thank you very much.
HAIM: Thank you.
MADDOW: There`s been several references tonight to the “Charlie
Hebdo” attack. And one of those is logistical. This music venue where so
many people appear to have lost their lives this evening is only about a
few hundred meters away from the offices of “Charlie Hebdo.”
And that attack, it feels like it was much longer ago, but the
“Charlie Hebdo” attack was just earlier this year. That was January of
this year, when Paris endured another multipronged, prolonged terrorist
attack. That attack took three days to resolve.
You may remember, it started in the middle of the week. It started on
a Wednesday morning. Two gunmen stormed the offices of the satirical
magazine “Charlie Hebdo.” They killed 11 people at the magazine offices.
They injured 11 others. Then they shot and killed a French police officer
outside the magazine offices, critical thing there was that after that
initial part of the attack the two gunmen got away, the following day in
Paris, the attacks continued although it wasn`t totally clear it was a
continuation at the time.
The following day in Paris after the “Charlie Hebdo” attack a
policewoman was shot and killed and another man was shot and injured in
another part of Paris. It wasn`t totally clear that that was a related
attack at the time, but it was a related attack.
Later that same day, the second day of the “Charlie Hebdo” attacks,
the two gunmen from the “Charlie Hebdo” office attack, they robbed a gas
station outside Paris and after a police chase ensued, they holed up in an
It was the day after, that the third day, that those two basically
committed suicide by cop. Facing a siege, they came out of that industrial
building guns blazing. They injured two police officers before the two
brothers were themselves killed by police.
But even then, it wasn`t over because that third day, even as the
“Charlie Hebdo” attackers were killed in that hail of gunfire with police
at that industrial building outside Paris, even as that was under way, you
may remember it still wasn`t over because another terrorist who was linked
to them took hostages at a kosher supermarket in Paris. He ended up
killing four of his hostages before police killed him.
Among his demands, that the other two attackers be freed. In all the
attacks that started with the “Charlie Hebdo” office massacre in January of
this year, in all in, in those attacks, 17 people in total were killed, not
counting the attackers. But again, part of what is sort of looming large
tonight is that with those attacks it did not happen all at once. Those
two were coordinated and consecutive events. And that of course adds to
the terror because you don`t know when it`s over.
Joining us now is Laith Alkhouri. He`s an MSNBC terrorism analyst.
He joins us here on set in New York.
Laith, thank you very much for being here.
LAITH ALKHOURI, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about a few different bottom line things, then
I want to ask you about some details.
Bottom line things, as far as I know we`ve got no claims of
responsibility and no warnings ahead of time that something like this might
happen. Is that right?
ALKHOURI: That is indeed right. There has been no official claim of
responsibility by any group, al Qaeda, is, or any other radical factions or
by any individuals themselves to claim.
And there`s been certainly no signs, whether in the deep and dark web
environments or in the surface web in social media, that would have shown
us any sign or given us any sign such attack would take place today.
But let me caveat that – there has been calls for attacks in France,
in Germany, all across Europe, every single country that is allied with the
United States in the coalition, target Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
There have been calls for attacks on these countries.
So, let`s caveat it with that, that there`s been a long-term call for
MADDOW: On that point, though, do you mean that there is in general
an ongoing call for attacks against countries that are a participating in
this coalition war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria?
MADDOW: Or do you mean there has been a specific call for attacks on
civilians in Paris, there`s been a specific call by someone in the
community calling for these sorts of attacks? Or is it an ongoing thing?
ALKHOURI: It`s an ongoing generalized call for attacks –
ALKHOURI: – all across Europe, but they have definitely named
France, Germany, and of course the United States as primary targets.
MADDOW: One of the things I`ve heard you talk about tonight is you`ve
seen a lot of, if not claims of responsibility certainly celebration –
MADDOW: – of these attacks.
ALKHOURI: There`s been a lot of people rejoicing these attacks.
Indeed, actually some ISIS hard-line jihadists whose accounts on Twitter
has been suspended 300 times, that`s how active he is, he said this is
actually a planned attack. Of course this is unsubstantiated.
But the mere fact that you have is guys actually are saying – if they
have any knowledge we don`t know. But that looks like it`s a planned
MADDOW: Why is that important, a planned attack? What do you mean?
ALKHOURI: It`s important because we still don`t know whether there`s
a link between actual terror groups or terror group and the actual attack.
They look like they could have been coordinated among themselves, maybe
inspired by an ideology of some sort, whether ISIS or al Qaeda, but some
are saying this looks more coordinated than just a few wolf actors –
MADDOW: I don`t want to belabor the point but that is a claim of
responsibility but this known extremist who`s been suspended from Twitter
all this time. He`s saying when I look at this attack it has the hallmarks
of a planned attack.
ALKHOURI: Exactly. He`s not claiming responsibility but this is his
opinion and that mobilizes a lot of people to go online and continue
celebrating these attacks.
MADDOW: When we look at the details of the way this was carried out,
one of the things I was really struck by from Laura Haim`s reporting and
one of the things that`s been great about having Canal Plus`s reporting
represented on our air tonight is the number of witnesses to these events
they`ve spoken to.
And so, they`re giving us the most granular detail we have about how
these things were carried out and the most that we know about the
attackers. Does it say anything to you as a hallmark or any sort of
signature that they didn`t wear masks, that they didn`t make any effort
apparently to disguise their identity or to try to blend in in some way
that would allow them to get away?
ALKHOURI: I think wearing masks makes them maybe stick out in the
MADDOW: Sure. It makes them identifiable.
ALKHOURI: Identifiable. It makes them unidentifiable wearing the
mask but it makes them identifiable that they are the only ones wearing the
MADDOW: Right, sure.
ALKHOURI: However, a lot of those sort of attacks that have been
carried out inspired by al Qaeda or is, a number of individuals did not
wear masks. They expect to be killed during these kind of attacks and they
expect to be as you mentioned earlier, essentially suicide by police that
ultimately, they`ll have a siege and a kind of firefight, of course,
they`ll receive martyrdom and in the end, they will be lionized in the
jihadist community as heroes.
MADDOW: Does it say anything to you – again, looking at what we know
about how this attack was carried out, it appears they were age to launch
nearly simultaneous assaults of two or three different kinds in
geographically disparate places all within or around Paris but not right
next to each other, right? The stadium attack was a few miles away from
the attack on the restaurant which was again some distance away from the
attack at the music venue.
When we look at that level of coordination, the type of weapons that
they had, the number of people who appear to have been involved here, the
only thing that says to me as a lay observer is that this isn`t a coffee
klatch, this isn`t a casual group of people, this is a group of people that
must have at least trained among themselves if not have been trained by
somebody who`s got military tactical experience.
Does it say anything to you about which kind of group might have been
ALKHOURI: Look, this bears the hallmarks of a number of al Qaeda
attacks, for example. Look, they targeted soft targets. They appeared to
be coordinated. They put their hands on high-caliber automatic rifles.
And they targeted civilians when their guard is low.
It`s not an attack on a military base. It`s not a stabbing attack
down the street or hacking attack. It looks like it was highly coordinated
at least among themselves, they have purchased weapons, they have planned
the locations, it appears it was semi-simultaneous attacks.
But the people who attacked the restaurant could have easily been the
same people who finished attacking the restaurant and went over to the
music venue and to continue attacking there until of course weapons, they
have planned the locations, it appears it was semi-simultaneous attacks.
But the people who attacked the restaurant could have easily been the same
people who finished attacking the restaurant and went over to the music
venue and to continue attacking there until of course they were taken down.
Now, there`s some confusion regarding how many bombings or suicide
bombings actually took place. We heard that two, possibly three. So, it`s
not clear how many of them died in suicide attacks versus how many of those
attackers died fired by police.
MADDOW: Yes, and the ambiguity, let`s be clear about the ambiguity.
There are unconfirmed reports that it wasn`t just one explosion outside the
stadium, that it was multiple either two or three. Within that ambiguity,
there is also ambiguity about whether or not any of those explosions was
caused by suicide bombers. Although there is reporting, unconfirmed
reporting that suggests that it was.
There`s also unconfirmed reports from inside the music venue that the
gunman inside that venue may have been armed not just with guns but also
with explosive that`s they either used – either or both used as weapons
against their hostages or potentially used to kill themselves at the end of
the siege. That`s all this point up for discussion. We`ve got multiple
Let me ask you one last point.
ALKHOURI: Of course.
MADDOW: We have come to learn that symbolism and anniversaries are
important to extremist groups of this kind, terrorist groups of this kind.
Is there any specific anniversary – is there any specific symbolic nature
of either any of those venues or of today`s date you that know of?
ALKHOURI: Not that I can recall. Look, this is about, I don`t know,
14 months after the U.S. launched its campaign on Iraq and Syria. Of
course 14 months it`s not really an anniversary per se.
But I think this looks like it was an attack of opportunity.
Everybody`s guard was down. These guys looked like they had actually
planned it by buying all these weapons and coordinating these locations.
But they chose the venue because it holds a big number of people, and
with high-caliber automatic rifles you can take down as they did well over
100 people in a short period of time.
MADDOW: We don`t have a confirmation on the death toll there, but it
is believed to be over 100 at that one venue.
Laith Alkhouri, MSNBC terror analyst – Laith, thank you.
ALKHOURI: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: We do have some new information. This is not directly
confirmed by NBC News. I`m going to source the “A.P.” on this. The “A.P.”
is quoting a Paris police official – this is important – as saying that
all of the attackers are believed to be dead.
Again, this is one of the key issues tonight, that there were
definitely multiple attackers here. It`s not clear whether any of them or
a number of them died in suicide bombings as part of these attacks. That
remains to be confirmed.
But again, a Paris police official is saying that all of the attackers
are believed to be dead. Although according to the “Associated Press”
authorities still say they are hunting for any possible accomplices.
Obviously, the news that this is over and that everybody responsible has
been accounted for and is gone would be welcome news tonight. But again,
Paris police even while saying that they believe that`s the case, they are
still hunting for any possible accomplices.
We`re going to go now to Richard Engel, NBC chief foreign
correspondent, who joins us from Istanbul. Richard, of course, has been
covering terrorism and American efforts against terrorism for years.
Richard, thanks very much for being with us. I guess I just have to
ask you if you see any reason to believe or if you have any indications
from your reporting that these attacks were targeted for a reason that we
can tie to the fight against ISIS. If there`s anything that we can learn
in terms of why this venue might have been picked, why this date might have
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think
you have to think of it as one attack. You keep talking and everyone keeps
talking about the Paris attacks. This was one military-style assault.
The first bombings, suicide bombings or roadside bombings because
there was some talk about a canister bombing by the stadium where the
French president was inside, that`s a come-on attack. That`s going to draw
a lot of attention. It`s going to draw first responders. And then 15
minutes later or so, you saw the much more deadly phase where you have the
opened fire in the restaurants and then this siege and massacre at the
That is one attack. It does significantly suggest military
experience, people who know how to fire weapons, know how to communicate,
know how to kill, because you can sit in front of your internet all day
long and get radicalized. It`s very different to actually know how to
operate a weapon and stay calm and kill people. So, it suggests that they
have had some degree of combat experience either in Iraq or Syria. Those
would be the most likely places.
So, absolutely, the assumption of all the officials I`ve spoken to is
that this is related to the fight against extremists in the Middle East.
They just don`t know which extremists in the Middle East because you have
this convoluted situation right now where you have ISIS and al Qaeda and
lone wolves all trying to one-up each other.
If you remember during the “Charlie Hebdo” attacks, while analysts and
police officials were trying to figure out who was responsible, you also
had a shouting match almost online between al Qaeda and ISIS, claiming
responsibility. And toward the end, it was pretty much assumed it was al
Qaeda – specifically al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that was
responsible for the attack. And one of those brothers had traveled to
Yemen to get some training and he was inspired by an American cleric. And
in the end, it was determined the American cleric in Yemen was in fact, at
least a central part to that plot.
So I think U.S. anti-terrorism officials are trying to figure out who
did it, was this a result of that rivalry, was ISIS trying to prove that it
has now finally arrived on the world scale and is looking beyond the
caliphate, as it calls it, in Iraq and Syria and can carry out attacks in
Beirut on Thursday, like as it claims downing the Russian airliner in Sinai
and now carrying out this atrocity in Paris, because if the credit went a
year ago to al Qaeda, perhaps ISIS wanted to show that it can do it bigger
and better and in an even more spectacular and horrific way.
MADDOW: Richard, we`ve got a little bit more information again, cited
to Paris police officials tonight. They`re now giving us a little bit more
information, I should say giving the associated press more information
about exactly what happened inside the music venue. The Paris police
official telling the “A.P.” that the attackers at the Bataclan rock venue,
they did blow themselves up with suicide belts as police closed in.
According to this Parisian police official, the gunmen first shot into
cafes outside the music venue using their rifles. Then they went inside
the concert hall and killed more people there. And then there was the
assault by security forces, at which point they blew themselves up with
I want to put the issue of suicide attacks to you specifically,
Richard. One of the things we`re hearing tonight from French reporters is
that it seems important to them to note that this was the first time there
have ever been suicide bombings specifically in France, this is a tactic
that has never been used in the country of France even though they`re no
strangers to terrorist attacks.
Thinking about this as a counterterrorism challenge, are – is it –
is it an order of magnitude more difficult to stop people who are willing
to die while carrying out their attacks rather than people who try to get
away, either to commit more attacks or to elude the police altogether?
Suicide bombers, qualitatively harder to stop than people who carry out
more traditional attacks?
ENGEL: It also goes to Laith`s point, that these people do not want
to be captured. They want to die.
And if you – the worst thing you could be if you`re one of these
attackers is wounded. You get shot by the police, you drop your weapon,
and you`re captured. And you go on trial. Then you`re not then you`re not
So they would wear suicide vests, so that they can keep fighting and
then when they can`t fight any longer, they can kill themselves and kill
other people around them.
I think a lot of the French are culturally shocked that they have
suicide bombers now in Paris. And they should be culturally shocked
because it is a significant change. That is something that Europeans, that
Americans, that Westerners, let`s call it, have always thought was limited
to the Islamic world, that this is not something that would come to the
shores of Europe.
But I`ve watched that just over the last year change dramatically.
I`ve been covering the Middle East, covering the land of the suicide bomber
for the last 20 years or so. This year, starting with “Charlie Hebdo,” I
was here in Istanbul at the time, it was a very cold January day, and I
remember hearing these attacks begin, getting on the next flight to Paris.
And I`ve been in Europe more days this year than in the Middle East,
because the problems of the Middle East are washing up into Europe, with
attacks, with massive counterterrorism sweeps, with the hundreds of
thousands of refugees who are still trying to make their way into Europe.
And frankly, most Europeans have no idea who these people are. They know
that many of them refugees, desperate families, if you`re ISIS, if you`re
al Qaeda, it is obviously an easy way to slip back in if you have no
papers, if you have just are joining a refugee convoy and crossing borders.
That is an opportunity.
So, I think it`s a huge cultural and demographic issue, that Europe
and tonight, the French are struggling to deal with. And it has enormous
long term implications. We`re already seeing the rise of the right wing.
We`re seeing countries like Hungary closing down their borders. France
tightening their border restrictions.
These kind of attacks have the impact and are already having the
impact of changing the culture, the mindset and the feeling of European-
ness that France and Germans and many others have felt for a long time.
MADDOW: Richard, I don`t think anybody anywhere in the world has
illusions about ISIS being anything other than exactly what they are. But
we have had this spate of them taking credit, or tonight, them implicitly
being blamed for some remarkable and remarkably deadly international
If it is – if it is born out that ISIS`s claim of responsibility for
the Beirut attack this week, if it`s born out that they caused the Russian
plane crash –
ENGEL: Actually, a counterterrorism official I`m speaking to thinks
it`s more likely to be al Qaeda, but they really don`t know. ISIS is a
prime suspect because ISIS has been claiming responsibility a lot, and ISIS
has the ability to mobilize large numbers of foreign fighters. But
counterterrorism officials say it could easily be al Qaeda.
So, at this stage, I think we don`t know. But does it matter that
much? Are they that different in mentality? Are they that different in
tactic or goal? There`s a rivalry between them, but the end result if
you`re in Paris tonight is the same.
But sorry to –
MADDOW: No, that`s – it`s a perfect interjection, and it gets
exactly to what I`m going to ask you, which is that if to you put yourself
in the shoes of a policymaker – and I know you`re a reporter, not a
policymaker. But if a political decision is made in Europe, or a political
decision is made in the United States that because of recent events, that
means what is being done against al Qaeda and what is being done against
ISIS is not enough –
ENGEL: It`s not working.
MADDOW: It`s not working, there must be a more aggressive approach to
them, or at least a different approach to them – what – are there policy
options on the menu that American policymakers could choose but haven`t
yet? Are there policy options that European leaders could but haven`t
chosen yet. If they really wanted to upscale attacks and efforts to short
circuit al Qaeda and ISIS, what else could they do they`re not doing now?
ENGEL: Well, from a U.S. foreign policy perspective, and the U.S. war
against extremism, it`s actually more comforting to think that this was al
Qaeda. Because you can write it off as, this was al Qaeda trying to
reassert itself, and we all know that al Qaeda is capable of big,
If, in fact, it is ISIS, it suggests that the U.S. strategy against
ISIS, the U.S. war against ISIS, which is now centerpiece of American
foreign policy with troops in Iraq, just the recent announcement of U.S.
ground forces in very small numbers going to Syria, with U.S. advisers
helping retake the Sinjar mountain in Iraq just over the last couple of
days if – in fact, it`s ISIS, it would suggest that that entire effort is
MADDOW: Richard Engel joining us live tonight at an ungodly hour as
usual. Richard, thank you very much for your time tonight. It`s really
good to have you with us tonight.
ENGEL: My pleasure.
MADDOW: We just did get some moving in tape here from here in New
York City. This attack in Paris has reverberated around the world,
including in New York across the United States. But this video that we
just got in tonight is apparently of French exchange students who are here
in America, obviously watching the footage of this happening in their home
And they gathered tonight in New York City`s Union Square and sang the
French national anthem.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: That was from earlier this evening in New York City. French
exchange students singing the national anthem.
In terms of the latest information that we`re still getting in,
according to the “Associated Press” tonight, French police, again, are
saying that they believe all of the attackers that were involved in the
shootings and these bombings in Paris tonight, they believe that all of the
attackers are dead.
But the head of Paris police is saying now, even though they believe
all the attackers are dead, they are actively searching for possible
accomplices. Again, the estimated death toll right now is over 120 people.
I want to go now back to Paris. Joining us now is a freelance
American journalist named Seth Porges. Mr. Porges was staying in an
apartment near one of the restaurants that was shot up and he was there as
the gunfire erupted tonight.
Seth, thank you for being with us. I`m sure it`s been a very
SETH PORGES, U.S. FREELANCE JOURNALIST IN PARIS (via telephone):
That`s all right. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Can you just describe what you were doing and what you saw
and what reaction you saw from people on the ground?
PORGES: Absolutely. I`m staying in a apartment directly across from
the restaurant that was shot up in the neighborhood called La Republique.
La Republique is a night club, bustling nightlife restaurant. There are a
lot of people outside.
I walked downstairs and I think the shooting went off when I was in
the elevator on my way down. Because when I got outside, inside the gates
of the apartment building, it`s a gated building is a man with a bloody
hand, bloody arm with something wrapped around it. It`s dripping blood.
My instinct, what I thought had occurred was somebody got in a bar
fight or somebody broke a window. I walk a couple more feet and then I see
a bunch of police officers, and my first instinct is somebody got into a
bit of trouble. It looked like normal police activities. It didn`t look
like anything out of the ordinary.
And then I look closer and I see the police have their guns drawn.
And they`re hunched behind vans. It looked like an action movie or a video
game. It didn`t look real.
Then, out of nowhere comes about two dozen firefighters and they start
blocking up the roads in traffic. There are dozens and dozens of onlookers
and pedestrians. Nobody is saying anything to them or shooing them
anywhere. They`re standing on benches, taking photos.
And most people aren`t sure what`s going on. And if you walk 20 feet
from here, people were going along their business thinking oh, it`s a
little bit of police action, no big deal. Then words start to spread, you
start talking to people.
And someone says I heard five or six shots. Somebody else says I saw
a couple of bodies fall. Somebody else says it`s a machine guy. Somebody
else says the guy who has the machine gun is out there right now. Then you
realize – well, this is – this is different.
MADDOW: When that last part, that very dramatic revelation that the
gunman is still out there, did you talk to anybody, or did you talk to
anybody who actually saw the attackers? And crucially anybody who saw them
PORGES: It`s hard to say. It was chaotic. A lot of people were
saying conflicting things when I was there. Somebody said they saw either
shooting come from or go into a car. I read some reports that suggested
the shooting might have come from a car. So, maybe that person did see
that. And other people say different things.
So there`s a lot of chaos, a lot of drama, a lot of activity going on.
It`s really hard to say what people actually saw.
MADDOW: Seth, can you just tell me briefly, that block where you saw
this happen, at a typical Friday night when something like this doesn`t
happen, what`s that block like and how many people are around?
PORGES: Yes. It`s a nightclub district. It`s right at the corner
with a McDonald`s and a restaurant and a cafe. It`s about a block from a
big plaza called La Republique. And La Republique is sort of a center of
one of the larger kind of night life areas.
But it`s also an area that has political activism and diversity and
people protesting and camping out. It`s a big hub of all sorts of
activities. But it`s peaceful, and it`s a fun area for the most part.
It`s a little graffiti covered, but it`s a fun, nice, peaceful area.
On the Friday night, there would normally be, and there were minutes
before this countless of people wandering around. And after this occurred,
it was the most amazing sight I`ve seen, because a couple feet away nobody
knows what`s going on. You see them talk to somebody on the street as they
pass by and their expression just changes, like they just found out what
And at this point, nobody is aware of any of the other attacks are
going on. All we know is somebody with a gun is in this neighborhood, and
we think it`s local, we think it`s isolated. It`s quite some time before
anybody I spoke to had any sense that this was a larger, multi-event
And the first I heard that, actually, I was calling into a TV show to
tell my experiences, and I heard on the line before they called me on that
bombs had gone off, (INAUDIBLE). And it was startling to hear that.
MADDOW: Freelance American journalist Seth Porges, who ended up being
a witness to this tonight in Paris, Seth, thank you for helping us
understand what you saw. It`s good to have you with us. Thank you.
PORGES: Thank you.
MADDOW: It is now 10:00 p.m. on the East Coast in the United States.
There`s a six-hour time difference between the East Coast of the United
States and Paris, which means that it is 4:00 a.m. in Paris.
Let me update you on what we know at this hour. This is a series of
apparently coordinated attacks that hit Paris tonight within a very short
time frame. They started at about 9:30. We know that all of them had
started, if not ended by about 10:15.
In total, the sequence of attacks tonight has an unconfirmed,
estimated death toll of approximately 120 people. We want to emphasize
that number may rise or fall as we get more information from French
These were multiple attacks using bombs and guns. There are some
reports that there may have also been grenades used. There have also been
reports of multiple suicide bombs being used in this attack as well. It
all started right around 9:30 p.m. local time in Paris.
This is a warm night in France. The French habit is to eat dinner
later than we do here anyway, so 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night, especially on
a nice night, it`s a time when a lot of people would be out. It would be a
very social hour.
The attack seemed to have started with bombs that were set off just
outside the national stadium in Paris. Among those in attendance at the
stadium tonight for an international soccer match between France and
Germany, among those in attendance was France`s president, Francois
There were explosions outside the stadium. We believe it was two or
three explosions. We believe that some of those explosions may have been
suicide bombs. It`s believed that shortly after those explosions, the
chronology is a little bit hard to suss out because the chronology is
These events seem to have happened in a pretty close sequence. But we
think now the stadium was first and then several minutes later, at about
five miles away, there were gunmen armed with automatic AK-47 rifles who
fired upon multiple restaurants and cafes in a crowded part of downtown
Now that tight time coordination happening for events that – for
attacks that happened not right next to each other, a few miles apart, that
is part of why this is being seen not just as a coordinated attack but a
fairly sophisticated coordinated attack and that may be key to figuring out
who did this.
The first attack at the stadium, second attack by gunmen on
restaurants and cafes in central Paris, and then those attacks were
followed by what is believed to be the deadliest part of this that unfolded
at a music venue in central Paris, a theatre called the Bataclan.
Several hundred people, maybe close to 1,000 people were attending a
sold-out show by an American rock band that has the ironic name, Eagles of
Death Metal. They`re a band based in California. It`s being reported that
venue, multiple attackers entered with guns. They killed some attendees at
the music venue when they entered the venue. They took many other
The “AP” is now reporting, sourcing Paris police, and this is
something that`s just broken in the last hour. Paris police
characterization of what happened inside that theater, Paris police are now
saying that as police closed in to try to free those hostages held at that
theater, the attackers who had been killing people with guns, at that point
blew themselves up with suicide belts.
So, the suicide belt detail here both at the stadium and at the music
venue, those – that aspect, that tactical aspect of the attack has not
been directly confirmed by NBC News, but we believe by the reports, we`re
receiving these other reports that that is what happened. Or at least that
that`s what French police believed what happened. They believe that`s what
That ends up being psychologically important. They may also be
strategically important in terms of how to thwart events like this in the
future. Another very important note tonight, which has not yet been
confirmed by NBC News, but the “Associated Press” tonight is citing the
head of the Paris police, saying that all of the attackers are believed to
be dead, but they are still searching – actively searching for possible
accomplices to again, these multiple attackers who took part in this multi-
prong, coordinated, apparently quite sophisticated attack in Paris.
Joining us now once again from Washington is Laura Haim. She`s the
White House correspondent for the French network Canal Plus.
And, Laura, I understand you were in touch with some people who were
actually at the music venue tonight during that siege?
LAURA HAIM, CANAL PLUS: Yes, it`s striking. It`s just been posted by
some critics. It`s the story of (INAUDIBLE) a 36 and 22-year-old and they
were going to the concert because they wanted to have fun one Friday
evening in Paris.
They described what happened, and it`s probably the first time we
heard, we`re hearing what`s happening, what happened tonight in this
Bataclan, this musical in Paris. They`re saying it was in the middle of
the concert, and the people arrived by the back entrance, and then they
began to fire. They began to fire heavily and it was making a lot of
And this couple, like other young people went to the floor, lied down
on the floor. Then falling from the sky there was some apparently debris
because all of the bullets. The people didn`t stop firing.
Then they said something quite horrible. The woman was injured in the
hand, and then she saw one of the attackers who that had a hats on his
head, that`s what she said. He was looking at a couple who was completely
petrified by fear. And then he looked at this couple and apparently he
told this couple to escape.
And then there was another woman who looked at the attacker and
according to the testimony, this woman took an object and throw the object
to the attacker. She apparently wanted to defend herself and then he
looked at her and he killed her right away.
Then after, there were a lot of confusion. There were apparently a
big explosion which another witness was telling us earlier in the evening
that one of the attacker blew himself up inside the theatre. And then this
couple was able again to lie down on the floor and to escape with a group
of 15 people. This is absolutely striking because it never happened in
The other information, the other news I want to give you, Rachel,
because we`re live, is that fact that in the restaurant, there was a
shooting earlier in the restaurant before the hostage situation. And
apparently, there were between 12 to 15 people who are killed in the
shooting in the restaurant.
MADDOW: Twelve to 15 people killed at the shooting in restaurant?
HAIM: Yes, absolutely. At least 12 people. The restaurant name was
La Belle Chip. People were having dinner at the terrace. People were
having dinner in the terrace. And it`s confirmed to me that there were
between 12 to 15 people killed in restaurant.
MADDOW: Laura, let me just confirm one other detail in terms of what
you just described from the witness reports. It sounds like from what you
described that there was some effort by people inside the theater to, at
least any way they could, fight back against those attackers.
HAIM: Yes, that`s what`s – I mean, it`s completely chilling, because
in some terrorist action, you have amazing people, ordinary people trying
to fight for their lives. The United States, you remember what happened
during 9/11 when inside the flight, some people did something, and
apparently tonight, at the Bataclan, according to this report I`m reading
from the testimony of this guy was there.
He said I saw with my eyes a woman was looking at the guy who wanted
to kill her and before she died, she took an object and she threw this
object in the face of the guy and then he killed her. But until the last,
she tried to defend her life.
MADDOW: Laura Haim from Canal Plus, who`s joining us from Washington,
Laura, thank you very much. That`s very helpful and moving, actually, to
hear that witness report. I appreciate it.
I should mention – I think that we – let me ask the control room. I
think we`ve got a visual from the inside of the Bataclan, obviously not
tonight and not during the siege, but just to give you after sense of what
this theater looks like when it`s used as a live music venue. This is a
central Parisian music venue. It`s the Bataclan concert hall.
We think the capacity is over 1,000. Capacity is maybe 1,500 people.
We`re told it`s a sold-out show tonight by this California band, this
This is not tonight. This has nothing to do with tonight`s events in
Paris, but this is what a sold-out show looks like inside the Bataclan
theatre. If you`re trying to get a sense of what kind of target this was,
and what kind of a field of carnage this was, that`s what it looks like
when people are there to see music. And we do not have a confirmed death
toll from this venue tonight.
The unofficial and unconfirmed death toll is that we expect the body
count from that venue to be in excess of 100 people with over 120 people
killed in total in these attacks in the various forms that took place
Joining us now on set is my colleague Brian Williams who`s been
helming this coverage for so much of the day today.
Brian, as you`ve been able to step away from it for a few minutes, do
you feel like you have a top-line understanding of how important this is
and what`s happened here?
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Well, I just spoke to a friend of mine
who has a few years on me, and said – he`s a lover of history. He said
maybe this is our World War. Those of us who are kids, not anymore, but
children of the World War II generation, the world doesn`t feel safe now.
And that was his thought, that maybe this is it, maybe this is the way it`s
going to be.
MADDOW: The new great wars are not between great powers.
WILLIAMS: Yes, the world is at war – at least united against – the
free world is united against a common enemy. But this was his theory. It
certainly feels less safe tonight.
MADDOW: When you look at, I mean, obviously, you made this point well
earlier this evening as we were first getting reports of the real scale of
this. You pointed out no terrorist attack is like any other terrorist
That said, if you`re talking scale, the thing this brings to mind is
something like Mumbai. It is something like the Westgate shopping center,
Nairobi attack. Part of the reason that those attacks come to mind in not
just because of the large death poll, but because it was multiple
attackers, coordinated attack. And it went on for a while and we did not
know when it was going to end and that was part of the terror.
Looking back at those kinds of attacks, did they change us? Did they
change just those countries in which they happened? Did they change our
feelings about whether or not this was a worldwide war?
WILLIAMS: Great question. And I supposed we mature and we get a
little more haggard with each one. This is really interesting. Cambodian
restaurant in Paris, a global soccer match in Paris, an American concert
venue at which you would expect a high probability of American music fans,
visiting students, expats – this is really interesting, striking with
impunity, at will, with – as I`ve been saying all night, some pretty
common armaments, and some pretty common methods, armed with that we don`t
mind dying for the cause, which makes a hostage situation very tough. Very
tough to crack down on when there`s no will to live on the part of your
MADDOW: It does – you know, I think Richard Engel raised a very good
point earlier though, which is that there`s something about this type of
attack which not only involves advanced planning and coordination. It
involves a certain type of person. You can`t just bring your average
disgruntled, angry or upset person into a plot like this and expect them to
perform in a way these terrorists did.
We just got a new eyewitness account from the Bataclan, which I will
read, I think because in part, but it goes to this point.
This is a new eyewitness report. The show is about 30 minutes in when
we heard shots and saw two persons with machine guns firing into the crowd.
We all dived to the ground, panic, screaming. The firing continued.
On the right, a door opened and we all rushed into it. We were stuck
in the stairwell for about five or 10 minutes. Someone had managed to open
an access to a roof. We waited for a bit and a man whose apartment had
access to the roof, he opened the window and let us in. We waited there
for it to be over. We heard explosions, gunfire, screams.
I only saw two, I believe it`s two attackers, dressed like civilians,
no masks. I didn`t masks. I saw people on the floor and terrorists fire
into people as they were on the floor. New eyewitness report that NBC News
has just received in terms of what happened there.
These may not be combat veteran attackers who carried this out, but
these are people who have clearly had military-style training about how to
persist in the face of mass panic that they`re causing, and how to keep it
going once they`ve started to cause this kind of mayhem.
MADDOW: That takes work, that takes training, that takes
coordination, doesn`t it?
WILLIAMS: Yes, it does. You and I tend to do our on-air talking
after a terrible tragedy, and more often than not, a terrible gun-related
tragedy. And this does show coordination, it also proves all over again,
it`s very difficult, if not impossible to stop a motivated attacker. Or in
this case, a coordinated small band of motivated attackers. We`ve learned
that all over again tonight. And that`s why our world feels a little less
MADDOW: I want to take a look right now at some of the front pages
from some French papers again right now. It`s after 4:00 a.m. Paris time.
My high school French won`t help me here.
WILLIAMS: Yes, I can`t help you.
MADDOW: On the left, “Aujourd`hui” is the title of that paper. And
the headline translates roughly to terrorist massacre in the heart of
Paris. Obviously, “Liberacion”, the second there, carnage in Paris. And
“Le Figaro”, the headline there is, war in the heart of Paris.
Those will be French newspapers, front pages tomorrow.
I want to bring now into the discussion, Gregory Viscusi. He`s a
reporter for Bloomberg News who`s in Paris tonight.
Gregory, thanks very much for joining us tonight. I appreciate you
being with us.
GREGORY VISCUSI, BLOOMBERG NEWS: You`re welcome.
MADDOW: Over the course of this evening, the one of the things that
has felt like a terrible loose end is the question of whether or not this
is over. Police say they believe all attackers are dead, but they are
still looking for accomplices in the very early morning hours now of
Saturday morning in Paris.
Does it feel like a major police operation is still under way?
VISCUSI: Well, there`s certainly police around the street, but there
was sort of a dropping of intensity at some point. I was near the Bataclan
for several hours tonight after the assault. Couldn`t get very close to it
because the police have cordoned off the entire area. But at the very
beginning it was extremely tense, police were very jumpy. I had never seen
that many police and soldiers on the streets. There were constant run of
ambulances going in and out of the zone, sirens screeching.
There really was – it was extraordinary dramatic scene. You had
never seen anything like it in Paris. Even during the “Charlie Hebdo”
attacks. Then 2:00 in the morn, I just got home, and after bicycling
across Paris. The police do seem to be a lit less on edge.
They began to let us into some of the – they opened up some streets
towards the end around the Bataclan. So, I do get the impression that they
think all the attackers died in the attacks.
MADDOW: Gregory, as the – I know you were near the Bataclan theater
and you were held back from any proximity by the police line there. I have
to ask, in terms of response, obviously there`s just incredible drama and
anxiety around the prospect of people in an ongoing way being held and hurt
and killed by attackers who still have them. There were unconfirmed
reports of people posting things on Facebook and tweeting from inside that
siege saying “come rescue us.”
Did it appear that police and security services on the scene at the
Bataclan theater, had a plan, were able to constantly clear the perimeter,
knew what they were doing, moved forward in a way that seemed coordinated
VISCUSI: Again, I can`t say – I was never near the Bataclan. We
were kept several hundred meters away. There was a huge number of people
in place and huge number of special forces in place.
I saw several SWAT teams moving out of the area afterwards. So,
assuming they were able to get people on to the scene very quickly. I
think they probably felt that they had to go in as quickly as they could,
given these guys had explosives on them. There didn`t seem to be any
attempt to negotiate or anything.
The point seems to have been to kill as many people as possible from
the beginning. So I think that`s why the police rushed in. But I could
not say that I was seeing in any way the operation and make a judgment on
MADDOW: Gregory, can you just described – I`ve been talking about it
being a fairly warm night in Paris and I made an allusion to the fight that
the Parisian temperament, something like Americans would think of as late
eaters, that being out at 9:30 at night on a Friday night, that`s really
the time you would be out having dinner.
VISCUSI: Absolutely, that`s early.
MADDOW: That`s early for French dinner?
VISCUSI: What did strike me as I rode my bicycle across town. I did
cross a bunch of Paris to get to the Bataclan area. This was about 11:00
at night. I was going to areas around the Latin quarters and the Bastille
area, which normally would be absolutely backed with people pouring in and
out of bars. It was quite quiet. I mean, that part of the town,
definitely when people heard the news, I think they heeded the warnings to
go, because it was really eerily quiet.
When I got to around the Bataclan, this was more active. There were
various onlookers and curiosity seekers and a lot of journalists,
obviously, trying to get into the area. I did see some amazing scenes. At
one point, I managed to get a little bit into the perimeter and there was a
bar that the police suddenly went to and opened up the gates on.
And it`s clear that what happened was the people inside the bar had
been told to stay inside and they actually put the grills down so they
couldn`t get down. And the police finally let them go at certain points.
There was a mad rush of people who were trapped in the bar for several
And then a gruesome scene of another bar that had been turned into a
makeshift emergency station. I saw that later, much later in the evening
when the police took down some of the police lines and let us get in a
little bit closer. It was quite gruesome. They were cleaning it up, but
there were still splotches of blood on the floor. Saw some abandoned
bloody shoes, discarded surgical gloves with the blood on them. You could
tell that an hour earlier, it had been a complete war zone.
MADDOW: Gregory Viscusi, reporter for Bloomberg News – Gregory,
thanks for being with us tonight. It`s good to have you with us.
I should update some news that we had earlier. We had an unconfirmed
report where an NBC producer in Paris had been told that there was a
possibility that one of the band members from Eagles of Death Metal had
possibly been killed in this assault. Now the manager for the band is
making it clear that is not true. No band members from the California band
Eagles of Death Metal was killed in tonight`s assault. That`s according to
the manager from the band.
Obviously we`ve had some social media communication from people close
to the band, from band members saying that they`re trying to make sure that
their crew and everybody they know and traveling through is safe.
Obviously, they`ve been through an incredible trauma. But the good news is
that none of the band members themselves were killed.
Brian, in terms of what Gregory Viscusi was just talking about there,
in terms of the official response and the capacity for a response, one of
the things that I think is hard to get a sense of until it happens is how
well big population centers can handle multiple sources of trauma. A lot
of people injured, a lot of people killed. Different places where
traumatic things are happening.
Is that the sort of thing that you think we`re getting any better at?
Or is there any way we can sort of have metrics about as lay people, news
people before these incidents happen.
WILLIAMS: Oh, boy, the grisly business of planning for the worst.
You know, every first responder in every American city just knows
instinctively where the nearest level one trauma center is. And what would
you do if a plane chose your town, God forbid, to crash. If the chemical
plant on the outskirts of your city blew up.
Everyone – every first responder drills for that like waking up in
the morning. This kind of thing on your own soil, imagine being a first
responder in Paris or one of the 1,500 soldiers brought in from a kind of
bucolic setting where you have a small outpost outside of Paris, you`re
with the French army thinking you`re going to have a peacetime deployment -
And I keep thinking, American kids visiting Paris, college kids on a
trip. They`re in the middle of a semester overseas. They hear this band
is playing. It kills me.
MADDOW: Yes. And the – we`re hearing from Laura Heim from Canal
Plus earlier, that she kept stress, these are kids, these are kids, these
are kids, talking about – I mean, the band is called the Eagles of Death
Metal. This is not 50-year-olds going to see a band like this. They`re
going to attract a young crowd.
It`s – I don`t know if it`s technically an all-ages venue, but
they`re going to attract a young crowd. When we start to get the list of
victims from that venue, one of the things that`s going to be both
consequential and heartbreaking is going to be that we`re going to see
people from all over, including people from a number of different countries
who are going to have been in that venue and we`re going to see a lot of
WILLIAMS: Yes. Perhaps we can grab a clip of the recent episode of
“Comedy Bang Bang”, the band just appeared on that show along with Colin
MADDOW: Oh, wow.
WILLIAMS: Especially if confirmed if they`re all OK, that would be
great to see.
MADDOW: Today`s violence in Paris comes one day after another major
city experienced its worst terror attack in years. Two suicide bombers
blew themselves during rush hour in Beirut, Lebanon yesterday, killing at
least 40 people, wounding hundreds of people. The group ISIS claimed
responsibility for the Beirut bombing, saying they were targeting Shiite
Muslims and the militant Shiite group Hezbollah, which sent thousands of
fighters to back the Syrian government in the civil war next door to
Last week, ISIS claimed responsibility, of course, for downing a
Russian jet over Egypt`s Sinai Peninsula, and that crash, all 224 people
onboard that plane were killed. We do not know what actually happened in
that crash. Officials still aren`t 100 percent certain the plane was
brought down by terrorists at all. And they`re skeptical that ISIS has the
capability to bring down a plane, even if some other terrorist group does.
But ISIS claimed it targeted the Russian jet in retaliation for
Russia`s involvement in Syria, just as they claimed to have targeted
Hezbollah and Shiite civilians in Beirut for Hezbollah`s involvement in
France, of course, launched airstrikes against ISIS in Syria in
September. But those are all dots. And to connect them in advance of us
having reason to connect them is to get ahead of ourselves.
To be clear tonight, there has been no claim of responsibility for
tonight`s attacks in Paris. We do not know who the perpetrators are, let
alone their motives or what they claim to have been their motives when we
find out who they are. As far as anybody can tell, there`s no warning to
give anybody a chance to get out of the way before these very soft civilian
targets were attacked to such terrible effect tonight in Paris.
Joining us now is my friend Steve Clemons, who`s the Washington editor
at large for “The Atlantic”. He covers national security and he is
notorious for having excellent sources in governments around the world,
particularly on national security and diplomatic matters.
Steve, in terms of what you understand tonight, given the level of
sophistication in these attacks, is there surprise internationally that
there was – seems to have been no sign ahead of time. There was no sign -
- no chatter, nothing that intelligence officials picked up on ahead of
time before this happened?
STEVE CLEMONS, THE ATLANTIC: I think there has to be. I think after
the “Charlie Hebdo” attacks, after the attacks we saw on the train, and the
other incident in which you had some over attempted coordinated attacks,
France`s ministry of defense amped up its deployments. It set up training
and coordination programs with the police, more tightly coordinated with
intelligence. It ramped up what it could do domestically inside France
without scaring the public, but bringing a greater degree of
sophistication, coordination and really muscle to something like this.
And I talked with the minister of defense here in Washington, the
minister of defense from France in Washington on two occasions over the
last year and a half about these incidents and about his concerns about
growing terrorism throughout the Middle East, North Africa region, and how
that would wash up into Europe. So, I think this is a huge shock to
everyone, not only just French authorities but every Western capital has to
reconsider its strategic security paradigm now because of what we saw
tonight. This shouldn`t have been be able to happen.
MADDOW: This is a low-tech attack, but it was a well run attack as
far as we can tell.
CLEMONS: Well, people say low tech and sometimes – you know, I don`t
quite get that, with all due respect to some of the folks have been raising
that. When you bring in the level of sophistication, simultaneous sites, a
timing, a commitment, clearly the coordination. It`s not just a weaponry
CLEMONS: It`s the confidence, it`s the methodology, it`s the frame
work. To call it a low-tech attack – I mean, sometimes remember, 9/11 was
largely handled with box cutters.
CLEMONS: That was not an unsophisticated attack. That was one of the
most complex sets of planning that we have seen. So, we need to be careful
with that designation.
MADDOW: It`s exactly what I mean, in the sense that there isn`t
anything that`s needed in order to do anything like this in terms of
specialty equipment, right?
MADDOW: And this isn`t something like – it doesn`t appear to have
been largely – it does knot appear at this point to have been a truck full
of fertilizer even, looking back to the Murrah building.
MADDOW: It does appear to have been people who were trained, well-
organized, well-coordinated among themselves and had some level of both
confidence and combat style discipline in terms of how they carried this
out. They held that theatre with a lot of people in it for a very, very
long time. There has to have been some intensive training for a group of
people to do this, whether or not they were French born, whether or not
they were recently disgruntled or long standing.
This is something that took training and work in some coordinated
CLEMONS: Well, there are two things that are going to happen at this
point, one very worrisome and one hopeful. The worrisome one is that
others around the world that want to create these kinds of tragedies are
going to try and mimic the playbook of what they saw happen and unfold
tonight, looking at what some people were able to do to bring the world`s
attention and a great city to a standstill as they have to create mass
slaughter and just try to take lessons of that.
We`ve seen that in our own way in domestic scenes in the United States
with some of gun violence, just copycat stuff. But the level at which
sophisticated assaults like this go up the chain, that becomes a real
problem before it metastasizing around the world. What we`ll see French
authorities do is dig into who these people are, their relationships, do
forensics on how they met, communicated, and we will also see that come up
so that law enforcement authorities and security authorities around the
world can attempt to use new methodology to keep that sort of thing from
Those two impulses are going to happen at the same time roughly.
Copycats and states trying to figure out how to disrupt this action from
MADDOW: Steve Clemons, Washington editor at large for “The Atlantic”
– Steve, thank you very much for being with us tonight. I appreciate it.
CLEMONS: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I want to bring in now Nicky Wolff. Nicky Wolff joins us by
phone. He`s a reporter for “The Guardian”. He`s in Paris tonight.
Mr. Wolff, as far as I understand it, you`ve been able to interview
some people who were at the nightclub tonight during the siege. Thanks
very much for joining us.
NICKY WOLFF, REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN (via telephone): Hi. I`m
actually in New York, but I`m been speaking to people at the stadium in
coverage for the nightclub. Yes, I`ve been dealing with eyewitness
MADDOW: What can you tell us in terms of what eyewitnesses are saying
about the nightclub, what happened inside there and how it came to an end?
WOLFF: I mean, obviously it`s utter chaos. We`ve been speaking to
people who we`ve been saying things like carnage, it looks like a
battlefield, and just as horrifying as is possible to imagine. It came to
an end for different people at different times. People were fleeing.
People who were saying things like I saw my final hour unfold before me.
But this is a rock concert. People were having a good time. People
started firing. People didn`t know what was going on at best. People
thought it was part of the show.
And then, everyone was running. Everyone is fleeing. There was a
crush of people. it just sounds like the definition of horror.
MADDOW: Are you hearing any consistent reporting from witnesses about
how many attackers there were inside the theater?
WOLFF: Witnesses, no, we`ve got the police saying there were four,
three of whom they say killed themselves using suicide belts. Eyewitnesses
say that it was so chaotic, it was almost impossible to tell how many
people there were, all that was going on.
MADDOW: One of the things that we`ve been able to hear in terms of
the other eyewitness reports that we`ve been able to gather is that some
people were able to get out, that some exit doors were available, that
there may have been roof access and a nearby apartment. That people used
as a sort of escape route.
Have you heard anything or been able to document anything in terms of
how people got out? And what those circumstances were?
WOLFF: Yes. We spoke to a woman of her 20s, who was drinking at a
bar next door to the Bataclan. And at some point, people in a panic
started coming in, looking for shelter. Everyone was screaming.
There were people she said having panic attacks. The bar itself was
locked down. It became a place where people fled for shelter.
It`s sounds like absolutely the most horrific kind of carnage. It`s
very difficult on the ground, I think, for people to get a sense of the
scale of what`s going on around them. You get this eyewitness account that
gives you a little glimpse of what one person was seeing, but the overall
picture that`s getting painted is absolute carnage.
MADDOW: Nicky, one last question for you. One of the things that`s
been hard for us to put together in a pinpoint sort of way, but we know the
basics, is the chronology of this attack. Obviously, there were multiple
attackers in different places, launching attacks in very close – in a very
short amount of time.
And as far as we can tell, we think that the stadium bombs, the bombs
outside, the stadium and the Parisian suburbs were probably first.
Probably followed by the attacks on the restaurants and cafes in central
Paris and that was probably followed by the takeover at the theater. Do
you have any sense about that chronology, about whether that chronology
that is laid out is accurate? And do we know how long from the start of the
attack it took until the attackers were dead?
WOLFF: Certainly, that`s the order of things seemed to happen in
terms of how information was coming through, first of all in social media,
second of all from the police. It seems to have taken roughly the length
of this football match, which is part of what`s chilling about it. The
bombs went off about 20 minutes into this football match. And then the
match continued playing. Francois Hollande was evacuated about ten minutes
after the detonation.
It seems like the shootings and the hostages at the concert happened a
little while after that. But by the time we were talking to people coming
out of the football match, by the time they were getting out, things were
beginning to be – we were into the phase of the hostage situation at the
concert. And that was – that seems to have been the end game phase of
MADDOW: Nicky Wolff, reporter with “The Guardian”, thank you very
much for joining us, Mr. Wolff. I appreciate it.
WOLFF: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: “The Guardian” newspaper where Mr. Wolff works has just
published from the Paris prosecutor, which is not a job that we have an
exact equivalent of here in the American judicial system. It`s sort of a
different and bigger job in the French justice system.
But the Paris prosecutor has given reporters an update on the numbers
of people killed in these attacks tonight, and specifically where people
were killed. This is something that we haven`t had this much of a
breakdown before tonight. So this is new.
According to the Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, he says that six
locations were targeted. At the Stade de France, the big modern football
stadium where that soccer match was happening tonight, he said – he
believes that possible three people were killed. Some were killed
according to the prosecutor, possibly three.
It`s not clear whether or not that is – that number from the
prosecutor is including any attackers who may have tied there, either with
suicide belts or vests or by some other means.
At the Rue de Charonne, which is one of those Central Paris locations
where we believe that there were multiple gunmen using AK-47 style rifles,
at the Rue de Charonne, 18 people are believed to have died there. At
Boulevard Voltaire, one person is believed to have died there. At Rue dela
Fontaine le Roi, five people are believed to have died there, at Rue
Alibert, 14 people are believed to have died there. And the prosecutor
went out of his way to say, at Rue Alibert, in addition to the 14 dead,
many people were seriously injured at that location.
Again, this is from the Paris prosecutor Francois Molins. He said the
death toll was very high. Taking to account the numbers killed at the
Bataclan concert venue, he believes the overall death toll to be as high as
He also echoed remarks that we`ve heard from French police sources
earlier this evening that according to French law enforcement, they believe
that all the attackers involved tonight in these coordinated attacks, they
believe all the attackers are dead. They`ve put the number of attacks at
five. But the French police have gone out of their way to say they are
still actively searching for any accomplices, even if all of these
attackers who directly participated in these events tonight having killed.
Joining us now from Paris is Oscar Lopez, who`s a reporter for
Mr. Lopez, thank you for joining us tonight.
OSCAR LOPEZ, NEWSWEEK (via telephone): My pleasure. Thank you for
MADDOW: Where were you this evening when the attacks happened and
what have you been .able to report? Who have you been able to talk with
LOPEZ: So I was at a concert and it had just finished. And I checked
my phone and I saw it on Twitter. I ran down to the area around Rue
Alibert, and it was just chaotic, incredible tension. The police were very
tense, screaming at people, trying to get everything on lock down. People
were inside restaurants with the lights shut off.
Not long afterwards, I spoke to a young boy who was 16 and lived in
the area. And he was on his way home and described bodies lying on the
ground and covered in sheets. He saw at least five. He saw two people
receiving emergency assistance. And he also told me that he actually had
been not far from the “Charlie Hebdo” attacks. And he just couldn`t
believe why this kind of thing occurred. It`s shocking.
MADDOW: Oscar, in terms of – it`s very late now in Paris. Nearly
5:00 a.m. I imagine the city is much quieter now, but presumably there`s
still active police presence you can see?
LOPEZ: Yes. There`s definitely police. As I said there, the tension
has gone down. After that original reporting, I went over to the hostage
situation and was there for a few hours. Again, it was incredibly tense.
There were hostages being escorted. I did see some that were bloodied.
People were very shocked. Just incredibly difficult for them.
But after at about 2:00 a.m., it felt like the air kind of lifted for
a moment and things were finally calmer, still tense, a lot of silence, a
lot of ambulance around. But once it got to about 1:00 or 2:00 p.m., they
seemed to calm down.
MADDOW: Oscar Lopez, reporter for “Newsweek” in Paris tonight.
Oscar, thank you very much for being with us. It`s good to have you with
LOPEZ: My pleasure. Thank you.
MADDOW: Again, we do not want to direct draw direct comparisons, and
in some ways you don`t even want analogies. But in terms of trying to
understand what else this might be like, trying to extrapolate from
previous experiences in terms of who might have done this, who might have
been capable of doing it and how it might change us that Paris has just
gone through this, the analogy for me that keeps coming to mind is Mumbai.
I mean, in terms of large scale, coordinated, multi-location attacks
in a major city, one of the precedents here is 2008 terror attacks in
Mumbai in India. Those took places in this month in 2008. It was November
2008. So, seven years ago this month.
Terrorists launched a coordinated, multipronged attack in Mumbai, that
like this situation in Paris. It involved multiple locations, not just
bombings, but hostage-takings and ultimately led to hundreds of civilian
casualties. That assault in Mumbai included essentially simultaneous
attacks on the city`s main train stations, two five-star hotels and a
crowded cafe and a major Jewish center in the city.
The attack in Mumbai went on for days as the attackers held dozens of
hostages inside those two five star hotels. It wasn`t until military
commandos stormed the hotels that the assault finally ended.
By the end, it was 164 people killed. Hundreds more people injured.
That was a coordinated attack on Mumbai that was pulled off by ten
And we talk about what kinds of groups might be capable of doing this
sort of thing, al Qaeda has been on everybody`s lips today. ISIS has also
been widely discussed today. The Mumbai attacks was launched by a terror
group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which operates mostly out of Pakistan. It was
apparently planned four months ahead of time in Pakistan before that attack
was ultimately carried out.
Brian Williams is here with me on set. Brian, thinking about Lashkar-
e-Taiba, thinking about al-Shabaab, which carried out the Westgate shopping
center attack which took several days in Nairobi, Kenya, thinking about the
groups that can do this kind of thing, are we getting ahead of ourselves by
talking about what we think the characteristics of those groups have to be
in order to pull off something like this?
WILLIAMS: Well, that`s a great question. How small do they have to
be to be effective? Do they have to have a large, sprawling organization?
Clearly, it will turn out that whoever this was, was helped by keeping the
All this talk about there was no chatter, there was no intel in
advance, no heightened security, that`s because someone made very sure that
didn`t happen. And every attack to your point earlier has something unique
about it. They take presently known history and perversely kind of add to
As we said earlier tonight, Mumbai was important for the way cities
look at it because they used fire. They used fire. You know, they hit the
oldest art form as a method of terror.
And so, from that day forward, the FDNY at their fire academy, and
continuing education as they educate firefighters in the city of New York,
warned when you come upon a fire that seems like it`s well-planned out, if
it involves a hotel, members of the public, you could be in the midst of a
MADDOW: Yes. And that could be trying to lure a large number of
uniformed personnel there. That could – yes.
MADDOW: Joining us now is Malcolm Nance, he`s the executive director
of the Terror Asymmetrics Project.
Mr. Nance, Malcolm, it`s really nice to see you again. Thank you for
being with us.
MALCOLM NANCE, TERROR ASSYMETRICS PROJECT: Good to see you.
MADDOW: What should we look at in terms of the character of these
attacks, the way they were carried out and what we know about the attackers
in terms of trying to make logical guesses about who did it?
NANCE: Well, Brian made good points there about how historically,
many of these groups do mimic attacks of other groups. However, in this
specific attack, there are some dynamics in this that do give us
indications of groups which could be responsible.
We saw the “Charlie Hebdo” attack earlier this year that three
attackers turned out to be radicalized members of al Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula. You made a very good point. It was only ten months ago that we
had the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
The attack of this level of sophistication, even though it only
appeared to have involved six attackers is going to take a lot of
preplanning. These people were obviously professionalized what we call
class two terrorists. These are lifelong terrorist professionals.
No one can go into a venue and just gun do 150 people while doing
almost near perfect reloading drills. It`s such a tense situation, without
having combat experience under their belt. Combat experience where they
have what we call just by jihad, which is the pleasure, the blood lust of
So, for whoever carried out this attack, they operated as a group,
they planned as group. They did carry this out in the way that the Mumbai
attacks were carried, in what we call a running and gunning attack. It was
initiated by suicide bombers at the stadium and you can almost see the path
of aggression move on to the second team, which was going to go and move
throughout the city and carry out these gun attacks. And then on to the
third team which was going to carry what we call the suicide hostage
And although it looks very similar to the Lashkar-e-Taiba attack in
Mumbai, in fact, this is also going to be considered more of a mimic of the
“Charlie Hebdo” attack, but with the added hostage – suicide hostage
barricade situation, which is more akin to what we see in other parts in
the Middle East in sub-Saharan Africa.
I don`t know who in particular did this attack, but a lot of the
indications of the professionalism and the methodology is going to come
down to one of the two global jihadi groups in this group that does this as
a living. And that`s Al Qaeda in Iraq – I`m sorry, not al Qaeda in Iraq,
but al Qaeda or one of its affiliates, or al Qaeda`s newest iteration,
which is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
All we can do at this point is learn from what`s going on for this
particular situation and be prepared to understand that they don`t have to
have any pre-intelligence indicators that are going to give you a tipoff.
They don`t have to have the chatter that you would usually expect when
you`re talking about a six-man team. But they did have a logistics side
that has not been found.
There is a bomb factory that produced these suicide belts that`s going
to have to be found. They`re going to have to have links of external
organizations or people outside of France to get fully automatic weapons
and explosions into downtown Paris. These are things that the French
police are going to be working internationally with, just about every
organization in the world to identify who these attackers are. And then
bring the justice to them.
MADDOW: Malcolm, on that point about the logistics, and forgive my
ignorance, but I know you know, when we`re talking about suicide bombs, and
there may be multiple suicide bombs here, we`ve got reports now that
multiple attackers inside that theater committed – used suicide bombs at
the end of that siege. There may have been other suicide bombs outside
that stadium when those explosions went off.
Is there open source information about how to effectively build real
working effective suicide belts and suicide vests that we could expect
amateurs to make them and have them work? Do you need special stuff that`s
hard to find? Are the instructions hard to come by?
NANCE: The instructions aren`t hard to come by. What`s hard to come
by is the experience of not blowing yourself up in your own homemade bomb
NANCE: And this is why – you know, you can create plastic explosives
using homemade, you know, common items that are found in, you know, old
army field manuals. It`s just a question of doing it in such a way that
you don`t kill yourself.
The bomb vest itself is merely just a delivery system. This is what
we call a suicide human-born weapon system, or suicide pedestrian born
improvised explosive device. It`s the explosive force that does all the
killing. And bringing it there via human-guided weapon system, as we like
to call them, is just one factor of delivery.
Now, I did note at the bombing at the La Stade de France, the death
toll was much lower, and that`s principally because they couldn`t gain
access to the main part of the stadium. And they know what they call
detonate at the gate, which is very common. The U.S. military suffered
many, many attacks like this in Iraq. But that`s what gates and security
systems are built for.
But this is not an amateurs attack. This is a professional`s game.
There were other terrorists who were captured earlier in the week I believe
for who were playing an attack in Italy, who were associated with an imam
who`s in jail in Norway. So, the international natures of these types of
operations really comes down to the motivation of terrorists and having
them on site and having the will and the skill to kill.
MADDOW: Malcolm, one last question for you, are we over-reliant on
signal intelligence? I was just thinking about what Brian noted about how
there was part of what we should see is the sophistication of this attack,
is them knowing not to be chatting electronically about their plans in such
a way that they were suss out ahead of time, as anybody saw any warning.
Are we – do people who want to carry out these kinds of attacks know
that we are that we that security services are listening in such a way that
people are now essentially end running around efforts to stop these sorts
of things simply by staying off of smartphones and staying off of the web
when they`re doing their organizing? Have we given sort of too much of a
signal of how they are combated?
NANCE: I think too much has been made of the phrase “chatter” and
associating that with signals intelligence. You know, I worked with the
National Security Agency for a few years and most of what we see as
intelligence chatter is not actually, you know, terrorist 1, this is
terrorist 2. They don`t talk to each other that way.
What you see is you – that`s called indications, you know, pre-
incident indicators where you see little things that come down, like you
have an arm supplier who have just received a shipment of AK-47s and you
captured all but five of them. Well, your next question is, where are
those five? Well, that`s an indicator. You see that aside and you watch
You might a telephone communications intelligence which indicates that
something may be going on. You may have somebody else who`s running a safe
house. But in most of these jihadi organizations, which are al Qaeda, the
same that you had with al-Shabaab and what you have with ISIS, they are all
based on the professionalism of al Qaeda as they built it since 1998.
These organizations, when they go to actual operations mode, they
don`t use cellphones. They don`t communicate with other people. They cut
themselves off and then they operate as a little, you know, Mafioso
organization with Omerta. They all know each other. If you capture one,
you`re going to get them all. But they don`t do that. They all intend to
die in the attack.
So, you aren`t going to get the kind of intelligence indicators that
you might think you`re going to get and as a matter of fact, that absence
of communications intelligence, that absence of any indicator, if you have
a series of indicators leading up to that tells you that they`ve gone into
actual operations in what we call at the point of failure.
MADDOW: Fascinating. Malcolm Nance, executive director of the Terror
Asymmetrics Project and somebody who has been an expert in this field for a
very long time – Malcolm, thank you very much for your time tonight. I
NANCE: It`s my pleasure.
MADDOW: Joining us now on the phone is Erin Allweiss. Erin Allweiss
is an American. She`s from New York City and she is in Paris tonight.
As I understand it, Ms. Allweiss was at a restaurant two doors down
from one of the restaurants that was attacked tonight when the attack
Ms. Allweiss, thank you very much for being with us. I appreciate
your time tonight.
ERIN ALLWEISS, WITNESS (voice-over): Yes, thanks for having me,
MADDOW: Where were you and what did you see?
ALLWEISS: So, I was in the 11th arrondissement, and we had just
started dinner. There were a handful of us, 20 of us having dinner. A lot
of us are here for UNESCO event and (INAUDIBLE) happenings. And we just
did and suddenly there was a commotion on the streets and we saw people go
running by and the woman who owns the restaurant begun to scream and shut
And it was clear, and we started to hear gunshot that there was
something going on, which is atypical for this area of Paris, and then we
heard very loud gunfire. It was clear that it was either some sort of AK-
47 or heavy machinery and all of us got under the table really terrified
that someone was about to come to our restaurant.
And when the shooting stopped, very handful of photographers at one
point next door and they documented what had happened, which is about four
to 10 people were killed. It was hard to tell from some of the photos, but
that`s what happened and we discovered that it wasn`t really an incident.
I think it was probably the first based on what we`re seeing on Twitter,
but yes, it`s not an isolated incident.
MADDOW: When you see that you heard very loud gunfire, can I ask you
to be really specific about that? One of the things we`re trying to figure
out is the kind of weapons they had, and obviously how many of them there
were. Did it sound like automatic fire? Did it sound like machine gunfire
or was it – is it the sort of thing that you might imagine the person was
having to pull the trigger each in order to make each bullet fly?
ALLWEISS: It sounded like very rapid machine gunfire, and it was
incredibly close where, again, it sounds like people were coming in and
they were trying to shut the doors. We can`t tell if they were trying to
get in and we were right next to the door.
With the kind of gun, I was told that it was Kalashnikov, I don`t know
the sound of gunfire. I can`t distinguish it. But again, it was really
rapid and then it sounded like a lot of it.
MADDOW: Could you tell us if it was one gun or two?
ALLWEISS: Again, I can`t say because if someone had a machine gun and
if they were able to fire many rounds, and they could probably get away
with it, but there was a woman who came into the restaurant in tears. She
had been shot at, too, in the car. I don`t know how many people she saw
but she said that she was in the car, and driving as they shot at her. And
I think it was more than one person.
MADDOW: Erin, thank you for telling us what happened and you went
through real trauma. And I hope you`re OK, I`m glad you`re OK enough to
talk to us and take care of yourself. Thank you.
ALLWEISS: Yes, thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
Joining us again now from Washington is Laura Haim. Laura is the
White House correspondent for the French network Canal Plus. She`s been
giving us just indispensable reporting on this story, from Washington, in
part with thanks to her contacts with her colleagues at home in France.
Laura, I understand you do have some new reporting to add?
HAIM: Yes. I have two reports to held you, Rachel.
First, according to our sources, the 24-hour news channel of Canal
Plus, we learn a few minutes ago that eight terrorists have killed. And
among those eight terrorists killed, seven of them are suicide bombers,
four of them were killed inside the theatre. Three detonated themselves
outside the stadium and one was shot apparently in the street near a
restaurant in the 11th arrondissement. So, eight terrorists were killed.
The other information is the number of injured people. You have more
than 110 people who are dead, but you have also more than 200 people who
have been injured. Among those 200 people injured, 80 are in very serious
conditions. So, it`s a dramatic story, of course. And it`s one of the
worst attacks against a western democracy.
MADDOW: Let me just ask you to reiterate and just clarify, just so I
totally understand. The number of – what your sources are telling you,
what`s reported by your home newsroom is that there have been eight
terrorists killed, seven of whom were killed as suicide attackers, four
killed as suicide attackers at the theatre, three killed as suicide
attackers outside the stadium and then one person who was shot to death.
HAIM: Yes. We don`t know exactly inside the theatre how many were
suicide bombers. I just want to emphasize that. I just – and we don`t
know under which condition they died.
According to our sources, eight terrorists were killed. Among those
eight terrorists, seven were suicide bombers. It`s the first time that
suicide bombers are attacking France.
MADDOW: Can you also reiterate the injury numbers that you just
HAIM: Yes, that`s coming from multiple sources from the hospital and
from police people. Two hundred people were injured, 80 seriously. When
I`m saying 80 seriously, I mean, they lost an arm, lost an leg. They`re in
very serious condition.
So, 200 people injured, 80 seriously.
MADDOW: Laura Haim from Canal Plus – thank you very, very much,
Laura. I really appreciate it.
Brian Williams again here in studio – again, we still only have
estimates. But what we have are almost unbelievably high numbers. The
estimate for the death toll is 120. We believe 100 of those may have died
at the theater. Now, Laura telling us the injured estimates is 200 people
injured, eight very serious injuries. This makes this, if these numbers
hold up, one of the biggest terrorist attacks in the modern era anywhere in
WILLIAMS: Yes, and the most mass loss of life in Paris since the
Second World War, which is going to keep coming up because Europe is
changing. As someone said tonight, if a discussion of Europe does not
figure somewhere in our upcoming domestic presidential election, maybe we
all have failed.
MADDOW: And with all of the aggressive counterterrorism measures that
not only our own government, but that all Western governments are now
enacting, if there was, in fact, a cell of eight activated terrorists who
were in operational mode, seven of whom were about to kill themselves with
suicide – as suicide bombers which, of course, includes the technology to
build those bombs and be safe with them until you wanted to die with them,
if that happened under the noses of Parisian police or wherever they came
from, that is going to be something that`s going to be hard to come –
WILLIAMS: Think about this. Nothing happens by accident. They
probably went to shows at the arena. They probably had dinner with the
Cambodian place. They cased all of these places. They knew there was
minimal to lax security in front of the theater. It was targeted tonight.
MADDOW: Brian Williams, it`s been a real privilege to work on the
story with you tonight. Thank you.
We`re going to be going to my colleague Chris Hayes live from here in
New York as our MSNBC coverage of the terrorist attacks in Paris continues
through the evening tonight – Chris.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>