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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/16/15

Guests: Malcolm Nance, Chris Murphy

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. I am Rachel Maddow. I`m here at MSNBC headquarters in New York. NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is live tonight in Paris. Richard, I`m looking forward to doing this hour with you. Thank you for being here, my friend. RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. MADDOW: Richard and I are essentially going to be co-anchoring for most of this hour, because we basically want to combine the latest from our newsroom here in New York with Richard`s latest reporting from on the ground at the site of Friday`s terrorist attacks in Paris. So, we`re going to be talking with Richard not as a guest, but essentially as a co-anchor for most of the hour tonight. But before we do that, there is one specific thread from the investigation into the Paris attacks that I think is worth pulling here right at the outset. It`s a sort of through line of the investigation that you can see now and I think that through line tells what appears to be a very worrying story about how the people who want to launch these kind of attacks in the West are getting better at it over time. I mean that in a specific sense and I mean it over a very short period of time. In April of this year, on the 19th of April, police in Paris got a call from a man who was in distress. He called. They`re equivalent of 911 because he had a terrible gunshot wound. He was shot through the thigh. He was bleeding very heavily, bleeding everywhere. He was laying on the street in Paris when paramedics showed up and they saved his life. And aside from dealing with this gruesome injury that he got, the next order of business was figuring out what had happened to the guy, because it turned out the guy couldn`t explain exactly how he got shot. So they had to investigate the scene where they found him to try to figure out who shot this guy. It turns out, he shot himself by accident, in the leg. After getting the guy`s 911 call. They found him bleeding. He`s lying there in a pool of blood. There is a trail of blood leading from him. They follow this trail of blood from him on the sidewalk back to his vehicle, his car. And in his car they find a loaded AK-47 and a loaded pistol and a whole bunch of ammunition and three cell phones and a laptop and all sorts of notes for what looked like a planned terrorist attack on a nearby church. This idiot was apparently on his way to launch a one-man blood bath at a church in France, when he shot himself by accident on the way, called the French equivalent of 911 and just hoped police and paramedics and firefighters wouldn`t know his weapons and his terrorists stuff when they turned up to help him. The police then went to this idiot`s apartment, and they found more weapons and they found maps of his planned attack. They found lots of evidence of who else in Europe he was communicating about his plans for this attack. And they found a trail of communication that appeared to lead to someone in Syria, who had been apparently encouraging this young man to carry out this attack and telling him to hit a church, and telling him to hit that specific day, that day that he did head out with a car full of weapons and a plan, but he shot himself before he could pull any of it off. That brilliant 24-year-old was arrested. At least two more people were eventually arrested in conjunction with that plot in April. But police also named one suspect in that case who never did get arrested. He was not thought to be in Europe. He was a 27-year-old Belgium man, but he was not in Belgium. At the time of this attempted attack in April, the man was thought to be in Syria. Still, though, he was a named suspect in that attack. This 27-year-old Belgian guy thought to be in Syria named in conjunction with that idiot who shot himself on his way to go shoot up the church. April. Then in August, it was a high speed train traveling between Amsterdam and Paris. A young man, 26-years-old, got aboard that train with an assault rifle, a pistol and several hundreds rounds of ammunition and a knife. And he reportedly hid in the bathroom on the train and after the train crossed from Belgium into France, he sprung out to the main part of the car, and he started shooting. We remember that train attack acutely in this country because of three young American men who are among those that rushed the attacker at great risk to themselves, and they tackled him and they stopped the assault. Remarkably, nobody was killed in that attack. Three people were injured, not counting the assailant, himself, who got the snot beaten out of him on that train and got himself arrested after he failed to kill anyone despite both the guns and all that ammo and the knife and everything else. The assailant from the train attack was a 25-year-old Moroccan man. He`s now in custody in France. But in his case, again, French police named an additional suspect. Just like the April case, they named somebody who is not there on that train, not present for the attack, but this other named suspect was believed to be involved in it somehow. And in the high speed train attacked from August, that main suspect was the same named suspect, the same 27-year-old Belgium who had been named as a suspect in that case from April, where the idiot shot himself in the leg before he could launch the attack on the French church. In both of those cases, the one in April in April, and the one in August onboard that train, yes, there was a perpetrator arrested, but there was also a suspect named by police but not arrested, because they don`t think he is in Europe. They think he is in Syria. And in both of those incidents, the named suspect not arrested is the same guy. This guy, 27 years old, Belgian born and raised, now believed to be in Syria. Police did not apparently he was physically present for either of those attacks. They don`t think he personally carried them out. But they believe he was linked to both of them, maybe he was sort of running both of those attacks from abroad. We know who this guy is. Whether or not you`re going to recognize his name, you know him in context, because of something that happened after the "Charlie Hebdo" attacks. It`s hard to believe the "Charlie Hebdo" attacks were this year. It seemed so long ago him they were in January. And you might remember that one of the things that was truly terrible and terrorizing about that attack was that it just went on and on and on, for several days. I mean, after the initial massacre at the "Charlie Hebdo" offices, then they killed a policeman in the streets and the next day, a random man shot who was just and injured in the street. A police woman was shot and killed in the street. And then the brothers who carried out the "Charlie Hebdo" office attack were tracked down outside of Paris when they robbed a gas station, and then they holed up in an industrial building overnight. But then even when those two brothers were killed by police, when they went down guns blazing at that industrial state in France, even then it wasn`t over, because this other man, this third man kept up the assault, taking hostages inside that kosher supermarket in Paris, shooting and killing four hostages before the police went in and shot him. And then when that was over. It was like, is it over? Would there be more? Were there going to be more follow-on attacks after it went on for three or four -- I mean, were there is still going to be more people involved in that plot? Were there other accomplices? Was that still going on? Well, it turned out in the investigation in the immediate after math they figured out some of the weapons from the "Charlie Hebdo" and supermarket attacks, some could be traced. They were traced very really quickly to Belgium, and in the wake of the "Charlie Hebdo" attack. There were police raids in France and there were police raids in Belgium, searching for anybody who might be connected to those attacks, anybody who might be about to launch a follow-on attack, and these raids, there are dozens of them. They were fairly frenetic. And they went on for days and then all of a sudden, one week after the assault on the "Charlie Hebdo" officers, one of those police raids, basically turned into a war. I mean, there were a lot of these raids, now went down slightly differently. In only one of them was it a war zone, was it a fuselage of gun fire basically out of nowhere. (BGIN VIDEOTAPE) ENGEL: This is what it sounded like today, like a war. In the normally quiet Belgium city of Verviers, a neighbor filmed a counterterrorism raid that turned into a prolonged gun battle. It began, authorities say, when the suspects in the house opened fire. ERIC VAN DER SYPT, BELGIAN FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Two of the suspects were killed, a third one has been arrested. Luckily, during this intervention, no policeman was harmed. ENGEL: Nor were any civilians. The suspects were clearly armed and dangerous. REPORTER: In Belgium, the terror threat were killed. Police are about to launch a major terrorist attack. They sifted through evidence today and arrested more suspects in a dozen raids. Police say they found four assault rifles here, explosives, police uniforms and radios. They have been listening to the man`s phone calls and say they would have been the prime target of the planned attack. (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: They, meaning police would have been the planned target. That raid, which turned into a huge gun battle, that killed two young men, who had opened fire on police, the semiautomatic assault rifles. Those two young men who were killed and the third one who was arrested were apparently a part of a cell that stockpiled not just weapons and ammunition, they`d also stockpiled police uniforms and police radios, for what was apparently going to be a fairly large scale, fairly sophisticated attack that would have targeted police in Belgium. This is the week after the "Charlie Hebdo" attacks. And in that raid, two men killed, others arrested as a part of that cell. But again, in that instance, there was one man who was named as a suspect as connected to that cell that was busted up in a hell of gunfire. He was thought to be the ring leader of that terrorist cell, and it was the same guy, the same 27-year-old Belgian man. And although he had been a part of that cell in Belgium, he was not there the night of the raid, in the gun battle, he apparently got away. We know that, because within a couple of weeks after that raid, all that gunfire in that Belgium town, within a couple of weeks, the guy who was the named suspect who wasn`t found that night, the guy the supposed ring leader of that cell, he turns up in the ISIS magazine. Al Qaeda has a magazine, ISIS has a magazine. He turned up February of this year doing an interview with is about being an ISIS fighter, what it was like to run a terror cell in Belgium and how much he wanted to hit Europe and how jealous he was of his Belgian terror cell compatriots who died in gun battle in Verviers in Belgium a week after the "Charlie Hebdo" attack. All the same guy -- the alleged ring leader of the Belgian terrorist cell that planned a follow-on attack in Belgium a week after the "Charlie Hebdo" attack, he`s the guy who apparently escaped the hail of gunfire, police raid in January. Then, in February, he turns up talking about it all in the ISIS magazine. Then, in April, the same guy is also a named suspect as the brains behind the operation of the world`s stupidest terrorists who called 911 on himself after shooting himself accidentally before he ever made it to the church he wanted to attack in Paris. That was in April. And in August, the same guy is also the same suspect in the guns and knives high speed train attack that was thwarted by those three brave American heroes. January, February, April, August. And now in November, French police told "The Associated Press" in the "New York Times," that that same guy, same guy is believed to be the mastermind of Friday nights terrorist attacks in Paris that have claimed at last count 129 lives -- one guy linked to all of those incidents, all in the space of less than a year. If that bears out, if that proves to be true, would that be a good sign or a bad sign that the person who directed this cell of attackers in Paris was someone who is that much on the radar of the Western intelligence agencies? Is that good because western intelligence agencies apparently have their finger on the pulse and they know who the important bad guys are? Or is that terrible news because even somebody that high profile is still this operational? Somebody whose picture I can show you in part, because I got it in a magazine, somebody I can show you video of, ISIS uses him in propaganda videos talking about how excited he is to be dragging bodies around on ropes behind in his vehicle, which I could show you, but I will not. There is a lot of really pressing questions right now. Why`s the bomb-making factory that made all those suicide vests? Who is the bomb maker? Is there an eighth attacker or even multiple accomplices on the large or on the run? Will these raids across France and Belgium and other countries find any outstanding attackers or accomplices? Will they produce any new evidence about this attack and who pulled it off and how? How nuts is politics going to go now in France, specifically, in Europe and here. And we`re going to get to all of those questions tonight. But, on this specific point, if these reports are true about the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks, then these guys are getting better at this, because Abdul Hamid Abaaoud has been pinging very brightly on law enforcement and intelligence agencies radar all year long. This 27-year- old Belgium guy turns up a lot in the news and in police reports as a named suspect and in terrorist propaganda. All year long, he`s been pinging like a sunrise on the radar. All year long, while he has not been caught, and while his stupid and failed plots from earlier in the year graduated and escalated to the successful complicated, assault that unleashed a river of blood and pain in Paris on Friday night. Same guy all those attacks. And I get the difficulty of finding and stopping anonymous nobodies who align themselves with extremism. It is harder to get, the inability to find and fix and finish someone who makes himself this visible, this connected, this famous, this known -- that I do not get. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, tonight, I`m going to be basically co-anchoring for the rest of the hour with NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel who`s in Paris. Richard, it`s really good to have you here tonight. I understand that you have been reporting in detail tonight on who the attackers are and what we know about them. ENGEL: Rachel, you were talking about mastermind of this attack, and this is somebody who`s obviously well-known, goes back to Belgium, Abu Omar al Bajiki (ph). But the muscle used in this attack. The people that did the killing were homegrown. Today we followed in their footsteps. And that led us to Chartres. It`s a quiet town about 50 kilometers outside of Paris. That is where one of the key suspects, Omar Ismail Mostefai, that`s where he spent several years. And the mayor of the town told us that Mostefai who`s been identified by authorities as one of the rock concert murderers has been associated with Islamic radical at a nearby mosque. And the mayor also told us that Mostefai was radicalized slowly, that he then suddenly left town in 2012. When we went to the mosque, this place where he supposedly met people who brought him down this path of radicalization, the director of the mosque told us he didn`t know anything about Mostefai. But despite that, Mostefai was quite well-known in town. He wasn`t hiding. He had a criminal record and he was not always this devout Muslim. You see him here in this YouTube rap video. Investigators who had been looking at this very closely over the last several days, obviously, know a great deal more about Mostefai, more than the other attackers, in fact. In 2007, Mostefai started spending more time with Islamic radicals, then in 2013 NBC News learned he traveled to Turkey but he never legally left Turkey, which strongly suggests he slipped then into Syria and then somehow managed to get back into France to carry out this attack. As for the others connected to Friday`s attack, there is Sami Amimour, who`s believed to be another of the alleged rock concert shooters. He has been wanted for terrorism since 2013. Bilal Hafdi, a 20-year-old French national who lived in Belgium. Ibrahim Abdeslam, 31 years old. He exploded his suicide vest outside a cafe and he is connected to the man who may be the most wanted man in Europe tonight, his brother Salah. He is the one everyone is looking for. He rented a car the killers used to drive into Paris and he drove back to Belgium. But he was stopped at the border by French police. They checked him. Police looked at him but they let him go. He moved on into Belgium and disappeared. He is -- a big manhunt is under way for the man what happens you are looking at right now. Police are hunting for Salah. But they told people not to approach him, describing him as dangerous. Another bomber, another of the attackers, Mohammed, was questioned, released. He was the brother of that man. He was questioned by authorities but then they decided after raiding his home, he was -- not material collected and he was let go and he gave a brief statement to the press. And while all of this information is coming in, one of the things that is causing most concern here in Paris tonight and that is also creating a lot of political turmoil in the United States, is that we now know that at least one of the attackers did, in fact, hide among the refugees who are still flooding into Europe by the thousands every day. It is believed someone carrying a passport with the name Ahmed al-Mohammed entered through the Greek island of Leros in early October, and he after that came here -- Rachel. MADDOW: Richard, on that last point, do we know that passport was a genuine passport? Do we know that this guy is Syrian? I understand they used his fingerprints to track him as a person through that transit point of Greece. But do we have confidence that he is a Syrian and that is his passport? ENGEL: It`s really important to drill down on this, because this has become such an explosive issue in this country and around the world. MADDOW: Yes. ENGEL: Are the Syrians, are the terrorists using the migrant trail, are they going to destroy the world under the name of humanitarian relief? What we do know, however, is that a fingerprint found here, a fingerprint found from an attacker was the same fingerprint that Greek authorities registered on the migrant trail, and it was the fingerprint that we assume is associated with this passport. So, even without the passport, we know from the fingerprint that the person was in Greece and the person was here. And it is assumed he used that passport. So, we don`t know if he`s Syrian. We assume the passport is fake because the number the sequence of the numbers has been described as inconsistent with real passports. But, unfortunately, yes, because of that fingerprint match on the attacker and the fingerprint match registered in Greece, one of these militants, at least, did hide among the migrant trail. And that has very serious consequences, serious repercussions. MADDOW: We`re going to be talking about -- yes, we`re going to be talking about those consequences, those political consequences in Europe, those political consequences in the United States ahead, right after this. Richard, stay with us. Our coverage continues. We`ll be right back. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: They are, in fact, psychopathic monsters. There is nothing, nothing civilized among them. This is not one civilization pitted against another. This is a battle between civilization, itself, and barbarism between civilization and medieval and modern fascism both at the same time. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Over the weekend, conservative politicians were trying to outdo each other in saying the U.S. should not allow Syrian refugees into this country. This may turn out to be a dubious prize. But tonight, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas appears to be winning that race. Senator Cruz now says he will introduce a bill to the U.S. Senate that would not just ban Syrian refugees from coming to the United States, he would specifically ban Syrian Muslim refugees from coming to the United States. Presumably, Ted Cruz has invented a magic litmus paper that derives a person`s religion on their forehead with it. Ted Cruz is not known for passing tons of legislation. Lately, he seems for more interested in trying to get himself elected president. But he is doing his best to catch this new anti-immigrant, anti-Syrian, anti- Muslim wave on the right. Hold that thought. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Welcome back as we continue our coverage of the Paris terror attacks. I`m Rachel Maddow in New York. NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is in Paris. Here`s the question for next discussion, is there a bomb-making factory that is still in operation somewhere within driving distance of Paris? All seven of the terrorists who attacked Paris on Friday were wearing suicide vests, which makes Friday the first suicide bombings in France`s history, it makes it one of the largest coordinated suicide bombings everywhere ever. According to the Paris prosecutor, all the vests were basically the same. They had batteries. They had push button detonators. For ready made shrapnel, they were laced with bolts that could turn into deadly projectiles upon detonation. As for the explosive, they apparently used triacetone triperoxide, which usually gets called TATP. TATP is made with essentially odd combinations of odd concentrations of regular household products. And it`s a known killer. TATP has been used in fatal terrorist attacks before, including the 777 London transit bombings in 2005 which killed 52 people. But while TATP isn`t the most difficult explosive to get your hands on, you do have to know what you`re doing. It is easy to blow yourself up accidentally while making TATP. As a compound, TATP is volatile, too much heat, or friction or an election shock can use an accidental detonation. But the other thing that can go wrong with TATP is that it can be a dud. Just two weeks after the 7/7 bombings in London, several TATP bombs placed on London buses failed to detonate. The shoe bomber, Richard Reid, in 2001 and the so-called underwear bomber in 2009 both tried and failed to bring down airliners with TATP bombs. They did what they were supposed to do. But the bombs didn`t work. So, it`s not easy to make a bomb out of this stuff. And it is very easy for something to go wrong. And knowing that -- well, in Paris on Friday, the attackers had seven vests all seemed to have worked as they were supposed to. One of the terrorist attackers did not detonate his vest. But as far as we know, that`s because he was shot and killed before he could do so. We know of no one being accidentally blown up in the lead up to Friday`s events because of the way they built the vests or handle the explosive. And again, as far as we can tell, none of them were duds. Seven suicide vests identical and they worked. So doesn`t this mean that there is an active quality bomb-making factory somewhere with access to Belgium and France? How do you find something like that if you know it exists? And is that a development that law enforcement intelligence agencies did not expect? Richard Engel live tonight in Paris. Here live with us in New York is Malcolm Nance, executive director of the Terror Asymmetrics Project and a former U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence officer. I literally keep his book, the terrorist recognition handbook next to my desk at work. Mr. Nance`s forthcoming book is called "Defeating ISIS." Malcolm, thanks very much for being here tonight. I appreciate it. MALCOLM NANCE, TERROR ASYMMETRICS PROJECT: Always my pleasure. MADDOW: You know these things, and I do not. Did what I explain there about TATP bomb-making, did that seem right to you basically? NANCE: Yes, it was absolutely correct. It was almost textbook. I`m sorry that you put it out textbook like that. MADDOW: Well, it`s not impossible to make. If you can make seven suicide vests with it and they all work and you don`t get blown up in the process, it does mean you`re good at it, right? NANCE: Yes, it`s utterly amazing. As a matter of fact, the very instant that I heard the general counsel in Paris described this actual components of this vest, immediately, my mind went back to a vest that I had seen that was built in Iraq in 2004. These vests are not easy to manufacture. If you have ready-made plastic explosives, yes, then they`re very easy to manufacture. But if you have to create batches of your own homemade explosive, as you said, they`re highly volatile. They can explode in an instant. So, somebody had to create it. Someone who`s very skilled at this actually went out and tested it, maybe blew up a tree stump or took it out a field, blew up a can and managed to create such consistency and use such high quality detonators that they worked precisely as planned. MADDOW: Richard, do you want to jump in here? ENGEL: I do. Although, I`m not sure if I`m qualified, I don`t carry his book with me all the time. But if he will ask -- if you can answer one question -- how long would it take to organize an attack like this? To get those vests ready, to get the weapons, to stage it? Because there is some, it`s a question of timing here. Are we talking weeks, months? NANCE: This is a matter of months. Now, it depends on the group`s priorities. If the group wants to dedicate a lot of resources, they wanted to dedicate a lot of manpower, they want to shake up their logistics trained, they can do that. Every time you do that, you push the network, what you find is you actually tip yourself off to intelligence. And you don`t want to tip yourself off to intelligence. So, what you do a slow, methodical systematic approach to where you bring in your logistics training, you have your bomb maker, your bomb master as we call them come in. He will work separately. And he will marry up with the team leader and then the individual team members instruct him how to wear the vests. Use the vests and then they will practice over time a series of dry runs, do their intelligence collection and watch out for counterintelligence. If all goes well according to plan, they make their mission. ENGEL: And what about mental preparation? I -- as Rachel mentioned, I can`t remember the last time you had seven people go in with vests on, prepared to blow themselves up. Nobody backed out. Nobody chickened out. What kind of psychological preparation do you need for that kind of attack? NANCE: Well, for this group, you don`t need any psychological preparation. The fact that are you are involved in ISIS or an al Qaeda- backed group tells me that you are already indoctrinated into the ideology of death -- a martyrdom death in suicide attacks. In ISIS, almost exclusively now, in ground combat in Iraq and Syria, they all wear suicide vests. This is -- this is a badge of honor amongst them. Those who don`t die in those attacks are derided. So, we`ve seen this before. You have seen it in London. You saw it in the Madrid subway bombings. You saw it on 9/11, 19 men committed and happy to die. But they`re happy to die because that ideology is such a twisted corruption they believe they`re going to heaven, when, in fact, every tenet in Islam says they are going somewhere else. MADDOW: Malcolm, what we know about these -- the technical aspects of what they did, what the bomb masters say put together here, is there anyway that that is a good forensic lead. I mean, are these generic enough that knowing what we know about these vests doesn`t necessarily tell us where they came from? Or can this be a good forensic start to finding them? NANCE: Oh, it`s going to be a brilliant forensic start to finding them. This isn`t like you see in the movies. There is a twisted wire, it`s yellow, the bomb guy always does it that way. No, they`re going to take that bomb apart. They`re actually to recreate the bomb. The FBI does this with great regularity. They will rebuild that to the exact formula. They analyze it right down to the level of consistency as it exists at the time of the attack. Then they will cross reference that with every piece of material that has ever been taken from any terrorist safe house anywhere. We are very, very good at that. And this is going to either bring us to the bomb master or it`s going to bring us to the training camp where this was found. You know, every time there is a suicide attack anywhere in the world, in Iraq, Afghanistan, against our allies. We analyze those bombs. We have an entire counter IED directorate whose sole function it is, is to analyze these attacks. We will isolate this down to the training facility so we can properly bomb it ourselves. MADDOW: Malcolm Nance, executive director of the Terror Assymetrics Project, thank you so much for joining us tonight. When -- if and when they find this bomb-making factory, we know it has to be within driving distance of at least Brussels if not Paris, we will be calling you back to explain to us what they have found means. Malcolm, thank you. NANCE: My pleasure. MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more tonight from here in New York and in Paris. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is a fingerprint record. This is not the finger record of somebody who`s been arrested and booked. This is an immigration fingerprint record. These are, in fact, the fingerprints of a 25-year-old man who transited through Greece last month, through an island off of Greece. And then those exact fingerprints this past weekend turned up here. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: At the State de France, French soccer stadium that was bombed during Friday`s terrorist attack in Paris, French officials found the body of one of the suicide attackers outside the stadium after he had blown himself up with a suicide vest. They found parts of him, also found a passport identifying the man as having come from Syria from the parts of his body that they found, they took his fingerprints. They found they matched the prints taken from a migrant who transited through Greece last month as Richard Engel is reporting earlier this hour. But that development, that one of the Paris attackers had entered Europe as a migrant that today has essentially consumed all the political oxygen here in the United States in terms of what we should respond to the country to what happened in Paris. Today, 19 U.S. governors and counting came out to say that their states will not accept any refugees fleeing with civil war in Syria. They say because of what happened in Paris, their doors are now closed to any refugees. It`s not clear they have the legal authority to do that. But they`re doing it anyway. You notice all the states highlighted here are in red, that`s because it was uniformly Republican governors who came out today to shut the door on refugees. The exception there is Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire who said the federal government should stop letting Syrian refugees in. She had her own spin on the matter. The U.S. government has only agreed to take in a total of 10,000 Syrian refugees. That is a fraction of the millions who are leaving that country and is a significantly smaller proportion than many of our closest allies, including those in Western Europe. But even with that, all of these states have said, no, no, you are not coming here. Richard Engel live tonight in Paris. You covered the refugee tide closer than anybody. How do you understand this? I mean, in terms of what`s going on in this discussion in the U.S., compared with all these countries that are already taking in way more refugees than the U.S. is anyway. ENGEL: Rachel, you mentioned that the U.S. government has agreed to take in a total of 10,000 Syrian refugees. That`s only a tiny fraction of what many other countries around the world are taking. But there is also a huge difference between how the refugees are being processed in Europe and compared to the United States. When we were in Greece just last week, watching thousands and thousands of Syrian and other refugees come ashore, most of those refugees were arriving in Europe were effectively going unscreened. They were just arriving in those rubber rafts, crashing on the shores and climbing into dry land. The ones who are going to the United States, the refugees who are going to be accepted, they will go through a much more elaborate screening process. They will be filtered. There is an inter-agency review that involves security checks from the Department of Homeland Security. They`re screened by the National Counterterrorism Center as well as the FBI terrorist screening center. Their names are cross-checked with a massive database that`s maintained by the U.S. intelligence community and the Department of Defense. The process that have to handle these refugees in the United States is completely different from the disorganized chaotic and completely organic process that is happening in Greece where feel are just showing up, climbing on to shore and trying to get to safety. MADDOW: So, Richard, with this political storm now in the United States, the allegation is being made that the screening process that Syrian refugees have to go through in order to get into this country, it isn`t reassuring that there is no screening process on earth that would be tight enough that would justify letting people in, that`s the sort of arguments that you are hearing from Republican presidential candidates and these governors today. What`s your take on how good the screening process is, for those who need to get into the U.S., it sounds rigorous to the point of being exclusive? ENGEL: I have spoken to counterterrorism officials here and they think it is very unlikely that a known militant would be able to get into the screening process, would land in an American airport, would come in through a on a cruise ship. They think more likely if ISIS is going to reach out and touch someone in the United States, it would be someone who self-recruited, recruited online or perhaps a militant who came across the land border with Canada. It`s a very long border, very hard to control. They think those are more likely scenarios than the 10,000 refugees screened and rescreened and rescreened and coming through a formal process. MADDOW: Exactly. Fascinating. Thank you, Richard. I should note that on the other side of those Republican governors who slammed the door on Syrian refugees today, at least six Democratic governors came out to say that refugees for the violence in Syria are welcome if their state. So, that`s six against 19. That`s the totally symbolic politics on this matter today in the United States. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Republican presidential candidates spent the day proposing varieties of American ground war in Syria as the appropriate U.S. response to ISIS attacking Paris. The leading lights of the Democratic Party in foreign policy are proposing something quite different from that. But that`s ahead -- a truly useful partisan divide for once. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MODERATOR: Seventy-two percent of Americans think it`s going badly. Won`t the legacy of this administration, which you are a part of, won`t that legacy be that it underestimated the threat from is? HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, John, I think that we have to look at ISIS as the leading threat of an international terror network. It cannot be contained. It must be defeated. But it cannot be an American fight. And I think what the president has consistently said, which I agree with, is that we will support those who take the fight to ISIS. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: ISIS and foreign policy pushed to the forefront of Saturday`s Democratic debate in Iowa. NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is in Paris. And joining us now from D.C. is Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. He`s a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, really appreciate you being with us tonight. You get both me tonight and Richard Engel in Paris. Richard? ENGEL: Well, Senator, let me just come out and ask you very directly. There has just been a horrific attack where I am in Paris. What should the United States do? SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, I think there are two paths forward for the United States. One is to enlist our partners in Europe who now may as a consequence of this attack take the ISIS threat more seriously in a sustained, now multilateral, effort to keep is on its heels militarily. Now, primarily means U.S. air assets now possibly along with greater assets from Europe attacking ISIS from the air while we seek to stand up units on the ground that can as we did last week in Sinjar, start to push back this feeling of inevitability that surrounded this supposed caliphate. Remember, the amount of territory that ISIS holds decreased by about 25 percent since last summer. But the second thing we need to do is to avoid making mistakes that would actually swell the ranks of those that are signing up to fight the West, signing up to join ISIS. And that`s why shutting down our borders and essentially creating this impression of a war of civilizations or putting U.S. troops on the ground as targets for ISIS would, in fact, just feed this narrative of a caliphate expanding to fight the West. So, it`s continuing to put pressure on is, primarily through air asset, and it`s avoiding trying to create recruitment for the folks are trying to sign people up against us. MADDOW: Senator, when you talk about the -- ENGEL: It sounds like -- MADDOW: Go ahead, Richard. I`m sorry. ENGEL: Go ahead, Rachel. Go ahead. MADDOW: We`ll sort this out with a coin toss later. Senator, let me say when you mention the amount of territory under ISIS control shrinking in recent months, is that something that you attribute to the U.S.-led air campaign? I mean, a lot of people 7,000 airstrikes and they think, well, what has that gotten us. As best as we can tell, ISIS is just expanding their international aspirations and their propaganda game and their recruiting. Do you feel like the airstrikes have actually done some good? MURPHY: So, I think the airstrikes have kept them on their heels. I think what has helped particularly inside Iraq is that the Iraqi military and Kurdish Peshmerga are picking up capacity. So, that has led to some progress internally. But again, it`s important that this impression that the caliphate is just inexorably expanding is ended and I think we are making progress along those -- along that road. My fear is that we are going to take steps over the course of the next several weeks or months that is simply going to feed into the storyline that will allow them to build their ranks internally in the region and externally. If you certainly listen to a lot of Republican candidates and Republicans in Congress, it would lead you to believe that that`s the road that we`re headed now. ENGEL: Senator, I was struck by one thing, by the president`s tone when he addressed that conference in Ankara today. He seemed testy. He seemed like he was trying to fight off a war that maybe he feels is being imposed upon him, being forced upon him. Is that the way you saw it? MURPHY: Well, I think there`s this sense of American hubris that still remains from the Iraq war. This idea that the American military can solve the problem of ISIS. Now, what the American military can do is keep ISIS on its heels. But ultimately, as Secretary Clinton said in the debate this weekend, this is a decision that has to be made by Sunni and Shia on the ground in the region as to whether they are going to reconcile. We can`t end ISIS in Iraq so long as the Iraqi military is 95 percent Shia, so long as those in Ramadi are uncomfortable living under a Shia regime because they don`t think that their rights are going to be respected. So, I think the president is rightly frustrated at people who believe that America and America alone can effectively solve this problem. And we let our partners off the hook in the region when we create that impression. So, there is an American component. There is a military component. But ultimately, ISIS has grown in the region, not because of a military vacuum but because of a political vacuum, because of the marginalization of Sunnis, because of the actions of Bashar al-Assad and the states have to play a role here but it is limited. I think the president rightly is frustrated that a lot of people who just crow about the lack of American leadership don`t actually present any credible alternatives to what he`s doing. Republicans actually haven`t put on the table any real substantive comprehensive alternative because in the end, they really don`t have one. Ultimately, this is a decision that has to be made by the populations on the ground as to whether they are going to reject this radical version of Islam. MADDOW: Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, thank you very much for your time, sir. It`s good to have you here. MURPHY: Thanks. MADDOW: Senator Murphy one of the leading lights in Democratic foreign policy now and for the foreseeable future. I`ll be right back with Richard Engel in Paris. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Richard Engel, we are hours away from dawn in Paris. What do you expect in the day ahead in terms of the investigation and reaction to these attacks? ENGEL: Well, I think the investigation is on going. There`s going to be more raids. But already here in France, there is a sense of what happened. The French president described it as an attack that was thought up in Syria. It was organized in Belgium. It was executed here in France. And this horrific combination of extremists who are homegrown, reaching out across into a war zone and getting combat training there, that is a terrible combination. I don`t think we`ve seen the last of it. MADDOW: Richard Engel, it`s been a privilege to join with you tonight. Thank you for being here for this hour. It`s been great to have you here, my friend. ENGEL: Thank you for having me. MADDOW: Thank you. Our ongoing coverage of the attacks in Paris continues now with Lawrence O`Donnell. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END