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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  September 23, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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theory to rest. >> nightly news is next with brian williams. >> see you back here at 6:00, hopefully. on our broadcast tonight, the new enemy. as the u.s. unleashes a ferocious air attack against isis targets inside syria, the u.s. has also launched strikes against a mysterious new group, said to be in the final stages of plotting an attack. and high alert. in this country, what law enforcement is calling the most dangerous time since 9/11. tonight the intelligence that triggered the u.s. to act now. the hidden danger they fear is underground in neighborhoods all across the country. crumbling gas lines, and the risk of a sudden catastrophe. and brother and sister. a very personal story from a member of our own family, inspiring so many other families tonight. "nightly news" begins now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york,
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this is "nbc nightly news" with brian williams. good evening. in just the past 24 hours american pilots have been in action in the skies over syria. an air campaign launched, we were told, to hit isis militants and their command centers. but then we learned today some of the first shots fired last night were aimed at a new terrorist group, one that few americans had ever heard of called "khorasan." but u.s. officials were apparently worried enough about what they were planning to strike them as part of this first salvo. either way this escalation makes it a more complex world tonight. we have it all covered, beginning at the pentagon with the military action. jim miklaszewski is on duty there. >> reporter: 8:30 p.m. eastern time, the opening salvo was an all-american assault. 47 tomahawk cruise missiles launched from two u.s. navy ships, one in the red sea, the other in the persian gulf. the strikes were aimed at aleppo
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in northwest syria, site of a major isis training camp, but the primary target here was the khorasan, a terrorist group with strong ties to al qaeda and a potential threat to the u.s. >> the intelligence reports indicated that the khorasan group was in the final stages of plans to execute major attacks against western targets and potentially the u.s. homeland. >> reporter: 9:00 p.m., u.s. air strikes light up the night sky over raqqa. the de facto capital for isis in syria. where for the first time air force f-22 stealth fighters were used in combat. along with f-15s, 16s and b-1 bombers, the strike force took out critical isis targets, command and control headquarters, communication centers and barracks. >> last night's strikes are the beginning of a credible and sustainable persistent campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy isil. >> reporter: by then the americans were no longer alone.
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in a hastily built coalition, five arab allies, saudi arabia, qatar, bahrain, jordan and the uae have joined the u.s. in the air strikes. midnight, f/a-18s launched from the aircraft carrier "george h.w. bush" in the larger air strike package of the night. 37 aircraft, nearly half of them arab allies, in strikes isis targets near the border with iraq. by daybreak many syrians were digging out from beneath the rubble, some apparently innocent victims of the overnight air strikes. officials here point out that isis is remarkably resilient. able to withstand and adapt to just about anything the u.s. military throws at it. and they warned today that the u.s. campaign to degrade and destroy isis will take years, brian. >> jim miklaszewski starting us off at the pentagon tonight, jim, thanks. now to the questions about this new terrorist group, khorasan. as we said, most people had
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never heard of it before today. in fact, the president had never said the word publicly until today. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel is near the turkey/syria border tonight. richard, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. over the last three years of civil war, syria has become a swamp of militant groups. khorasan is just one of them. as the u.s. gets more involved of this, wades deeper into this swamp, it's going to struggle to differentiate among all these groups. it's a crowded battlefield in syria. with dozens, perhaps hundreds of extremist groups drawing members from across the world. they fight against the assad regime. and against each other. the khorasan group is just one of them. it's a splinter group of al qaeda which moved to syria to locate and recruit westerners among the thousands of foreign fighters in the country. the khorasan group is considered a threat to the u.s. because
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american intelligence officials say it wants to bring down airplanes with explosives, a traditional al qaeda objective. the group's leader is this man muhsin al fadhli, age 33, born in kuwait. he ran al qaeda's cell in iran, reportedly fought in afghanistan and chechnya and was a top aide to osama bin laden, said to be one of the few people that knew about 9/11 before the attacks. now al fadhli and his organization are under attack. so is isis. and there are many more in syria just like them. one positive development in the u.s. effort to build a coalition against isis, khorasan and all of the other extremist groups, today turkey said it would participate in this mission either providing direct military or logistics support. brian? >> richard engel on the syrian border for us tonight. richard, thanks. now, because of the u.s. actions overseas and these fears of
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increased terrorist activity, the department of homeland security late today issued a bulletin to local law enforcement agencies to be on heightened alert. as usual, this leaves the american people wondering how to act any differently. nonetheless, we get details on the intelligence that triggered the u.s. to act now from our justice correspondent, pete williams. >> reporter: it's a threat the u.s. has been nervously watching for weeks. a powerful explosive hidden in an electronic device carried on board a passenger plane and set off in flight. officials say recent intelligence indicated the khorasan terror group was setting off bombs in syria to test the design, moving closer to an actual attack. >> some of that plotting was getting very advanced. as we developed the information, as we understood where they were and could pinpoint them, we thought it was time to take action. >> reporter: officials stress they do not believe a specific airline, flight, time or country had been chosen. recent chatter also discussed trying to put explosives in toothpaste or clothes, but
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electronics has been the big concern. since july, passengers flying to the u.s. have had to demonstrate that their devices, most especially laptops, would power up. concern is growing, too, that isis is proving it can project its influence to other countries. police in australia last week said they stopped an isis directed plot to publicly behead people there. now an isis-inspired group claims to hold a french citizen in algeria, threatening to execute him. new york's police commissioner, william bratton, says he worries isis could inspire people here to do something equally horrific. >> those that have been involved in it for a number of years in new york city and the nypd believe that this period of time is one of the most significant dangerous periods we've seen since 9/11, 13 years ago. >> reporter: the use of social media and the internet by isis is also a huge concern. >> their ability to get new recruits is really almost unparalleled. that means they have the ability to inspire others, in the u.s.
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and europe, to take matters into their own hands. >> reporter: tonight homeland security officials say they don't plan to change airline security in response to these latest development. they say they've been adjusting to this very threat since july. brian. >> pete williams in our d.c. newsroom tonight. pete, thanks. with that as the backdrop of the world we're living in, president obama is here in new york as part of the u.n. general assembly. our senior white house correspondent, chris jansing, traveling with the president is at the u.n. tonight. chris, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. it's interesting that for all talk about isis, those first strikes were on that group we had never heard about mostly, that is khorasan. now administration officials insist that this was a military decision, not a timing to fit with diplomacy, but it did make for a very important image, a thank you meeting with the five arab countries taking part in the bombing. supporting the administration's message that this isn't the u.s. at war in a muslim country, it's the world at war against terror.
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>> i think we now have an opportunity to send a very clear message that the world is united, that all of us are committed to making sure that we degrade and ultimately destroy not only isil but also the kinds of extremist ideologies that would lead to so much bloodshed. >> reporter: now, the president has two big events here tomorrow at the united nations at a critical moment for his coalition building. and administration officials would certainly like to leave here with more commitments. brian? >> chris jansing on the east side of manhattan tonight, chris, thanks. among the world leaders here in new york, british prime minister david cameron. he came to our studios for an exclusive interview this morning. we talked about his upcoming meeting with the iranian president rouhani, the first by a british minister in 30 years. i started by asking if british war planes would join in the air strikes currently under way. >> we certainly haven't ruled it out. we're looking carefully at what
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role we can play in this coalition. we've already taken a number of steps so far. we've also armed the peshmerga. but i'm confident that we play a big part already in this coalition with our long-standing allies, the united states and there's more that we can do. >> talk to me about your talks with rouhani. it would certainly prove the adage, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. >> there's a reason why a british prime minister hasn't met an iranian president since 1979. and i will do it, not having softened in any way my views about the things that iran has done and continues to do. i'll be very clear. we think they are wrong to have this nuclear weapons program. we think they are wrong to support terrorist organizations. but the fact is, if we want to have a successful democratic pluralistic iraq and a successful democratic pluralistic syria, iran can play a constructive role in helping to bring that about. >> you talked about the isis threat. what is the isis threat to the uk? and what have you learned
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further about the isis threat to our country? >> i think the threat is very clear, that you've got here not a terrorist organization that is, as it were, leeching off another state as we had in afghanistan with al qaeda and the taliban state. here you have got isis which is a terrorist organization controlling a state. it has oil, it has money, it has territory, it has weapons. there's no doubt in my mind it has already undertaken and is planning further plots in europe including in my own country in order to kill and maim innocent people, and the same applies to the united states of america. so it is a fight you cannot opt out of. these people want to kill us. they've got us in their sights, and we have to put together in -- this coalition working with all those countries i mentioned to make sure that we ultimately destroy this evil organization.
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>> have you identified the isis executioner in the video? >> we have done a lot of work and we're very close to that, and we've got to make sure that these people find justice, whether it is justice meted out in the deserts of syria or justice at home. >> part of our exclusive conversation with british prime minister david cameron. earlier today here in new york. in washington, the white house has made its first change in perimeter security in decades because of the fence jumper last friday who made it across the front lawn and into the front door of the white house before being subdued. there is a new crowd barricade outside the existing white house fence on the sidewalk to create a new buffer area for tourists. still ahead for us tonight, what lies beneath under cities and towns all across the country. aging and crumbling gas lines posing a growing risk to homeowners. and later the thrill of victory and the agony of the post game celebration.
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we are back with a combined "usa today"/nbc news investigation about a growing concern in this country, the aging network of underground pipes that carry natural gas to so many homes. the trouble is many of them were put in the ground a hundred years ago or more and now at the rate of several times a week they begin to leak, sometimes with tragic results. over the past ten years at least 135 people have died in gas line explosions in this country. we get our report tonight from nbc's tom costello.
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>> reporter: it took but an instant for a neighborhood in san bruno, california, to go up in flames. 8 people killed, 30 homes destroyed four years ago when a 50-year-old leaking underground natural gas line suddenly exploded. for this woman the loss was unimaginable. her teenaged son, husband and mother-in-law all died when her house was leveled. >> you know, we had a bright future ahead of us, and now in a second it was taken away from us. it was horrible. >> reporter: a disaster that's been repeated across the country. in new york city last march eight dead. in brentwood, long island, a toddler killed, 17 injured. in allentown, p.a., five dead. now a "usa today"/nbc news investigation has found that every other day in america a gas leak damages property, injures, or kills someone. half the time construction crews cut the line.
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one big problem, 88,000 miles of cast irish and steel piping underground, much of it 100 years or older. >> those older gas pipes, particularly the cast iron, are more prone to crack and leak gas. >> reporter: the northeast and midwest have the most, snaking beneath big cities like boston, detroit, philadelphia and new york. here in washington, d.c., buried beneath my feet, 418 miles of cast iron piping. but digging up city streets and replacing those lines isn't cheap. $2 million to $3 million per mile. >> if you live in one of those older east coast cities that have hundreds of miles of cast iron pipe, that's just a failure waiting to happen. >> reporter: while federal regulators are pushing utilities to replace old lines with pvc piping, that could take up to 50 years. the industry insists most lines are safe if they're monitored and maintained. >> there's always an effort to make sure that the highest risk pipe is taken care of when it needs to be taken care of. >> reporter: but with each passing day the risk from corroding and leaking gas lines only grows. tom costello, nbc news, washington.
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again, we conducted our reporting with "usa today." if you're curious about problems near you, there's more on their website tonight. a full report appearing in "usa today" tomorrow morning. we're back in a moment with a big milestone for the boss.
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if you've ever seen a pier fire, you know they can be nasty. this fire in the port of l.a. was blamed on a welding torch. the wood and pilings date back to 1940s los angeles. they were coated in creosote. 150 firefighters responded. the noxious smoke led to the closing of a nearby school. residents in the san pedro area were told to close their windows and turn off their air conditioning to avoid inhaling those fumes. the streets of new york are clogged with diplomats great and small and motorcades from the presidents on down as they are during u.n. week here every year. and the city of new york is using the occasion to remind
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scofflaw nations how much they owe in unpaid parking tickets on diplomatic vehicles. it's a lot. $16 million in all. the largest offender is egypt with just under $2 million in unpaid fines. two more numbers to note in this next story. 65 and 4. bruce springsteen turned 65 today. while that's hard enough to believe, he can take solace in the next number. in a new poll by monmouth university and the asbury park press, just 4% of new jersey adults have an unfavorable opinion of their favorite son. 4% translates to just about nothing in the polling business. that's basically the margin of error. any member of congress would give anything for a 4% unfavorable number. say nothing of ordinary tramps like us. a lesson in endurance from arlington, texas, last night. guilder rodriguez, a career minor leaguer, scored his first big league hit, first rbi.
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he played in the minors for 13 years. he's played for teams in helena, beloit, huntsville, round rock. and his achievement on the field last night were enough to earn him a gatorade shower. a tough day for the mighty mites peewee football team in new york. following their victory with their cheerleaders cheering them on, the vinyl banner that the 6 and 7-year-olds were supposed to crash through just proved too much for the squad. it caused a pile-up of mighty mites, 12 players caught up in the wreckage in all. when we come back, a sister story. a member of our family sharing his sister's courageous fight. and her inspiring life story.
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our final story tonight is about a pair of best friends, a brother and sister. in fact, the brother happens to work with us. his sister happens to be waging a battle against a cruel disorder that is robbing her of her sight and her hearing. but it's the way she is waging this battle that makes her story an inspiration, as we hear from her brother, nbc news national correspondent, peter alexander. >> don't stop, rebecca. let's go. >> reporter: this is my sister rebecca. she's 35 and the most impressive
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person i know. faster! looking at her, you'd have no idea she has a disability. can you see my hands right here? >> yeah. >> reporter: can you see my hands right here? >> no. >> reporter: when she was only 13, rebecca was diagnosed with a rare and devastating genetic disorder called usher syndrome type iii. it finally hit you in college i'm going to lose my vision and my hearing, go blind and deaf. what does learning that feel like? >> i felt like as soon as i got that diagnosis, well, i need to do everything i can to make up for my loss. it was like my way of fighting back. >> reporter: rebecca is fearless. a tornado of energy. she's now an extreme athlete leaving the rest of us in her dust. >> pick up your speed. >> reporter: rebecca tells her extraordinary story in a new memoir called "not fade away." with her hearing almost gone, last year she receive a cochlear implant, a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound. >> your outfit is so much cuter than mine. >> reporter: only rebecca passes
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the time before major surgery like this. i came to see her a day earlier. as i come to terms with this even as a brother, this is the last time i'll ever look at you without a device on you. you know what i mean? >> yeah. >> reporter: which for me is hard, too. >> yeah. >> reporter: does that worry you in the way people will view you? i'm sorry i'm crying. i love you so much. >> no, that's okay. i think when you're the person going through this, it's nice to know that the people around you do care and they do think about this stuff and that they do have an emotional response to it. >> reporter: a year and a half later rebecca hears much better, but her vision is limited to this, like she's looking through a straw, and that window is closing. still, my sister remains upbeat and undeterred. >> one of the things that i'm doing, you know, next summer that i wanted to do since i was 10 is climb mt. kilimanjaro. >> reporter: a view few ever see, and there's no doubt she'll do it. peter alexander, nbc news, new york. inspirational note to end on for this tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we, of course, hope to see you
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right back here tomorrow evening. goodnight. biggest surge in job openings. new at 6:00, help wanted but there's a problem. santa clara county now has 600 openings that's the highest vacancy rate in ten years. why is it so high and what's preventsing the county from
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filling these jobs? >> reporter: it's happening because more people are retiring at the same time that more new jobs are being created. here at the sheriff's department there's 200 openings and santa clara county are looking at an 11% vacancy rate. that's more than double what it was five years ago and the biggest need is for sheriff's deputies and nurses. everybody a a hiring freeze three years ago, santa clara county is changing its tune. >> we have approximately 600 vacancies right now. >> reporter: the most job vacancies in ten years. the reason? the board of supervisors recently approved 380 new positions and last year 608 employees retired. most of the job openings are here at valley medical center. >> 600

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