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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Aired July 7, 2005 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING.
We are continuing our coverage of breaking news out of London this morning, a series of explosions in Central London to tell you about. As many as nine explosions reported.
It happened during the height of rush hour there, targeting some of the busiest locations in that city. It happened just before 4:00 East Coast Time. Some of the pictures that we are getting in at this hour are really just terrible. Six separate blasts at major stations on London's Underground, a double-decker bus. We've seen pictures of utterly blown apart, described as opened up like a tin can.
And there are unconfirmed reports this morning of two more bus explosions.
Government officials say there have been -- quote -- "terrible injuries."
Welcome to AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Miles O'Brien.
Eyewitnesses speak of horrific injuries, loss of limbs, burns, bloody faces. News services are reporting right now two deaths, as many as 90 casualties, but those numbers are very early right now and are apt to go up dramatically.
This story is clearly unfolding as we speak.
Transportation in the city of London, the Metropolitan area of in excess of seven million people, three million people each and every day take the London underground. It has come to a complete grinding halt. Buses and the Underground are shut down.
Phone services are swamped, both cellular and land lines.
And it has, as we continue on here, the unmistakable earmarks of a synchronized terror attack.
S. O'BRIEN: When you consider, of course, the simultaneous nature of these explosions and the fact that they happened in different important areas of the city. I think that's no surprise that actually many people have jumped to the speculation that this time, because there is no official confirmation, that speculation is focusing on terror attacks, or potential terror attacks. Now top law-enforcement officials say because of the G8 summit that's taking place in Gleneagles, Scotland, and the security was already very much on high alert, they've cautioned against any speculation until their investigation is better under way. They are saying people should wait until more facts are known. But when you look more closely at some of the targets this morning, Algate Station, a very busy commuter station in the northern part of London. Old Street, that's a district in the financial district. And a tourist center, Russell Square, as well, in central London, no surprise there that people are thinking about and talking about a potential terrorist attack this morning in London.
M. O'BRIEN: We're seeing a schematic map of the London Underground. This is the oldest subway system in the world, and all of these attacks pretty much around the circle line. If you're familiar with the Underground, that's the central part of London, the place they call the City, and the bus attacks occurring in that same vicinity.
As a matter of fact, one of the bus attacks, the one we've been able to confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt, occurred at Russell Square. There you see some of the pictures that we've been getting in this morning, dramatic pictures as the morning rush hour becomes a terrible chaotic scene in London.
And just as we are pointing out, while it is early to speculate -- everybody is cautioning us against the speculation -- as you add the pieces and the threads together here, it seems to lead down a course which leads you to no other conclusion except that it is some sort of terror attack, a synchronized, coordinated attack.
As a matter of fact, Arab sources have been telling the BBC, based on their reporting, that it was, in fact, perhaps linked to al Qaeda. Now that's very early to say that, but it certainly has the hallmarks of the al Qaeda attack. We remember March 2004 the coordinated attacks on Madrid, morning rush hour there, 190 dead then.
S. O'BRIEN: Many similarities, I think it's fair to say. If you listen to the description of some of the eyewitnesses, they talk about pandemonium inside the subway carriages. They said that -- some of them said, they had been waiting about 20 minutes as smoke slowly filled into their carriage where people were screaming, and they became convinced literally that they were going to die. "Trapped like sardines, waiting to die" was the phrase of one of the eyewitnesses.
Let's get right to Tony Blair. He's in Gleneagles, Scotland.
TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER OF U.K.: I'm just going to make a short statement to you on the terrible events that have happened in London earlier today. And I hope you understand that at the present time we're still trying to establish what has happened. There's a limit to what information I can give you. And I'll simply try and tell you the information as best I can at the moment.
It's reasonably clear there've been a series of terrorist attacks in London. There are obviously casualties, both people that have died and people seriously injured. And our thoughts and prayers, of course, are with the victims and their families. It's my intention to leave the G8 within the next couple of hours and go down to London and get a report face to face with the police and the emergency services and the ministers that have been dealing with this, and then to return later this evening.
It is the will of all the leaders at the G8, however, that the meeting should continue in my absence, that we should continue to discuss the issues that we were going to discuss and reach the conclusions which we were going to reach.
Each of the countries around that table has some experience of the effects of terrorism. And all the leaders, as they will indicate a little bit later, share our complete resolution to defeat this terrorism.
It's particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa and the long-term problems of climate change in the environment.
Just as it is reasonably clear that this is a terrorist attack, or a series of terrorist attacks, it's also reasonably clear that it is designed and aimed to coincide with the opening of the G8.
There will be time to talk later about this.
It's important, however, that those engaged in terrorism realize that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world.
Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilized nations throughout the world.
M. O'BRIEN: A shaken British Prime Minister Tony Blair, indicating he is in just a short order will be on his way to London for a firsthand report from authorities there. As you see the pictures continuing to stream in from central London this morning. Once again, if you're just waking up, a series of explosions, a synchronized attack, as Tony Blair put it, seems to be terrorist activities. Certainly all the evidence points in that direction at this hour, with six separate explosions confirmed in the London Underground, perhaps as many as three additional explosions, all occurring a little before 9:00 a.m., crowded busy morning rush hour on double-decker London busses. The transportation system there grinding to a halt, and now an investigation begins as well as the effort to help out casualties. That's numbered as many as 90, but that's apt to go up.
S. O'BRIEN: The prime minister saying that he's going to leave the G8 summit in just a couple of hours. As you mentioned, he'll go to London, be briefed by the security forces there, and then return to the summit. He did say, though, that the other leaders are determined that they will continue on with their meeting. His message -- and as you say, shaken, I think is a fair description of the prime minister. His message to whoever is at the root of these attacks, are we are determined to defend our values and our way of life, and that determination greater than their desire to impose death, and destruction and extremism. Of course it is unclear who is behind what the prime minister has said -- does certainly appear to be reasonably clear that it is designed to be a terror attack, and designed to coincide, in his mind, with the opening of the G8 summit.
M. O'BRIEN: The prime minister called it barbaric, and he indicated that the terrorists' determination to impose death and destruction on innocent people in no way exceeds the determination of his country, and for that matter, all the leaders of the G8, their determination to not allow that to happen.
CNN's Christiane Amanpour joining us now from London.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTL. CORRESPONDENT: To coincide with the opening of the G8. As we were talking in the last hour just before he made that statement, the G8 is planned, people knew it was happening, when it was happening, as opposed to whether or not London would be getting the Olympic bid. He has tied it, in his mind, reasonably closely to the opening of the G8. And he called it barbaric, that these kinds of devastating attacks on innocent civilians would happen while leaders of the world are sitting around a table, trying to address the problems of the needy, the poor in Africa, and the -- address the problems of the climate change.
He was very careful to say that leaders around that table, his co-G8 leaders, are not going to stop their deliberations, and negotiations and discussions. He will leave for a few hours, he said, to come back and meet with the metropolitan police chief, meet with the emergency services, and ministers who have been handling this, but then he would return, and that the leaders of the United States and others would continue.
FIONNOUALA SWEENEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Beg your pardon? Go ahead.
Beg your pardon, we seemed to have just momentarily lost contact their with Christiane, who was talking about the statement that was issued in the last few minutes by Tony Blair who has made it quite clear that in his mind at least there is a linkage between the opening of the G8 summit and the timing of these terrorist attacks.
SWEENEY: Being held at a hospital in central London which has been dealing with casualties from this morning's incident.
AMANPOUR: There's something wrong in the earphones.
SWEENEY: There have been lots -- there have been lots of communication problems in and around central London. CNN is not the only network being affected by the lack of communications. If you can just understand the kind of confusion which is taking place in the city.
Two people are reported dead, 90 people wounded, and that's just what we know at the moment. Phone lines have gone down. If you're a cell user, or mobile phone user, it is impossible to make any calls in and around this city. It's impossible to receive calls in and around this city on mobile phones. Even land lines we're told now, being very seriously affected as journalists, and the networks and emergency services specifically try to grasp this situation and try to take in and absorb what has happened in the last three and a half hours and, indeed, try to cope with the devastation that has been wrought in this city.
We have heard from eyewitnesses who described being packed like sardines in trains, believing it was their moment to die.
Let's go back to Christiane, I believe, if you can hear me, Christiane, our chief international correspondent.
We were talking there about Tony Blair's statement. In fact, Downing Street had earlier indicated, but I suppose that was probably in the midst of all the confusion about what has happened, that Tony Blair would not leave the Gleneagles conference. Clearly now the situation is grave enough that it warrants his return to London, if only for a matter of hours -- Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's entirely appropriate that the prime minister of a country whose capital, he says, is reasonably clear has been attacked by terrorists would come to London and talk to all the people who are involved in trying to sort this situation out, and to help those who have been injured.
Notably he said he was coming to meet with the metropolitan police chief, to meet with the emergency service heads and those who are dealing with helping the casualties, and also the ministers who are dealing with this problem. The prime minister used the words "reasonably clear" that a series of terrorist attacks have attacked -- have struck London early this morning in the morning rush hour time.
From the police, we know there were six explosions, most of them at well-known Tube stations, Underground train stations in London. One of those a bus was attacked. You saw the pictures. The bus was fairly badly mangled, and there were casualties. We know that there are two dead confirmed so far. We know that there are about 90 casualties, or dozens.
What we don't know is how many people may be trapped. We've heard that there are emergency services still trying to see whether there are still people trapped inside the Underground train stations. One of the busses that we saw, the bus that was attacked, had its top ripped off.
And of course, this is London. This is the city more than perhaps any other modern European city that has dealt with terrorist attacks over the last several decades, throughout the height of the troubles with the IRA, the Irish Republican Army. The British paramilitary services, the police, the army, and all the emergency services are extremely well trained and familiar with this kind of attack, and they have sprung into action.
I can tell you that as far away as west London, where by the way, one train station was attacked, one of the Tube stations, Edgware Road, was in west London, and areas there are cordoned off. We saw a huge response of police cars and ambulances screeching through the streets, some roads cordoned off. We've just heard from a spokeswoman from one of the hospitals in that area, saying that they had about 40 casualties from the Edgware Road Station, and 14 of those she described as being in critical condition -- Fionnouala.
SWEENEY: Christiane, you know...
S. O'BRIEN: You've been listening to CNN's chief international correspondent giving us her sense of what is going on. Of course as she pointed out, there is lots that is not known at this hour. The police are confirming two dead.
But as Christiane mentioned, when you talk about the Underground, and many of the witnesses talked about how the trains were actually stopped between two stations, this is the oldest subway station in the world and, of course, many concerns that people could be trapped inside. The difficulties in accessing that kind of location are numerous. We're looking as well at some of the pictures of this bus, this double-decker bus, utterly mangled by clearly some kind of explosive device.
One of the eyewitnesses who was riding, she said, by reports in front of that bus, that she turned around and saw the bus, half of the bus, had flown into the area. Her estimation was something 30 people or so were on that bus. And it is unclear at this time, again, the total number of casualties. Some reports indicate that doctors are claiming somewhere in the area of 90 people may have been injured, and the reports of eyewitnesses of the range of those injuries go anywhere from smoke inhalation to severe, severe injuries.
M. O'BRIEN: And now only three-and-a-half hours into this incident, of course, and so you'll have to bear with us, because a lot of these little facts we're giving you are going to change as the story unfolds. You're seeing the story unfold with us.
After all, those pictures you were seeing just a few moments ago, Russell Square, that double-decker bus, when those explosions occurred what had started out as some initial theory that there had been a series of power surges in the underground, quickly the story changed its tone, and immediately, there was a great deal of suspicion placed on the possibility that this was a coordinated terror attack. A horrific scene all throughout the city of London.
Let's listen to some of the witnesses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was on the Piccadilly line this morning leaving from King's Cross Station. The train was very crowded. People were jammed in. We left the platform, started going underground. Approximately a few hundred feet into the Tube, there was an explosion, flash of light, everything went dark. The train ground to a halt. There was emergency lighting that came on, people started screaming, and there was what appeared to be smoke or soot everywhere, and it was all over our clothes, or our hands, and we just had no idea what was going on.
QUESTION: What happened next?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, people started screaming. People felt very uncomfortable. Everyone just spent time with each other trying to calm everyone down, and that seemed to go fairly well in our carriage. But in our carriage, you could hear people just feeling very uncomfortable, and some grabbed the hammers, trying to smash the glass and trying to open the door. And really, no one had any idea what was going on for 15 or 20 minutes. There was no word from London Underground. There was clearly no electricity to be had except for the emergency lighting. And so we basically were left to ourselves.
QUESTION: And what happened after that? You had 15 or 20 minutes, and then what happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then, well, people started going hot, people started getting uncomfortable, people started sharing water. Everyone was -- people were taking their -- taking their coats off to breathe through their coats, just trying and cut down on the amount of smoke and soot that was in the air. At which time some people started to get off the train and walking, just try to walk on the platform, and we were there for approximately another five or 10 minutes, and then London underground staff came and said -- you know, took us off the train and walked us up back an auxiliary tunnel to take us out of the station, back to King's Cross.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The police were there, saying the station had been closed and a bomb has gone off. So we just walked away from the incident basically. Nobody was allowed through the station.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty chaotic. Police running down the road was the scene I saw. But you know, it's typical of this organization, which is scary the day after we win the Olympic bid, you know, that this sort of thing happens, but yes, not great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: Hearing from eyewitnesses.
Another eyewitness description, the first man you heard, was describing what happened at Piccadilly Station and how the train was brought back -- or they made their way back to King's Cross.
Others, though, have described it as utter pandemonium as the smoke filled the carriages and that, in fact, people on those carriages felt that they were going to die. They had to wait about 20 minutes without any assistance whatsoever. Finally were able to smash windows and get out, and as they were walking out were essentially stepping over some of the more severely injured in the carriages. No emergency people, one witness was pointing out, there to help. And as you mentioned, Miles, just moments ago, there was a sense early on when word first came down, right before 4:00 in the morning East Coast Time, that there was a problem, an explosion in the London Underground, there was a sense that there was some sort of a technical failure that maybe there was electrical short or something like that, but then as word came in about bus attacks or one confirmed and maybe two others, the picture I think became a little bit clearer, and there was certainly a sense that London, in fact, had been hit with some kind of coordinated terror attack, happening really with the intention really to disrupt the city, because it took place at the heart of rush hour.
M. O'BRIEN: Three million people a day use just the London Underground, so you can only imagine at the height of the rush hour, a little before 9:00 in the morning, everybody trying to get to work, how packed those carriages, as they call them there, would have been.
The scene described by witnesses, in addition to that horrifying notion of having to literally walk over people more seriously injured, was also one of utter confusion and panic, and really, quite frankly, a lack of communication. I guess that is to be expected in these kinds of things.
But having said all that, in the wake of the Madrid bombings, there was a lot of talk about how best to respond to these sorts of situations.
Let's listen to someone who was underground when this all happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have a great recollection of it. What I do have, I've told him. So maybe he'll be generous enough...
QUESTION: But it was just a big bang essentially?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. What caused it, I have no idea. Honestly, we've heard subsequently what it probably is, but couldn't tell that immediately from being there.
QUESTION: And what have you seen down there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in the front carriage and people were severely injured there, but I've heard, and I don't know if it's right, people are even worse further back.
QUESTION: And this is inside Russell Square Station, was it, or further up...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was in the tunnel between King's Cross and Russell Square.
QUESTION: And how do you describe the reaction of people in the train? What happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very mixed. Some people were very calm. Others were very panicky. That's about all I can tell you right now.
QUESTION: Can you describe the moment that it happened? Do you have...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only that I heard a very loud bang, the lights went out and the carriage filled with smoke, and people were thrown forward.
M. O'BRIEN: Emergency lighting is all they had. Of course there was a concern as they were evacuating about the third rail and the possibility of becoming electrocuted. So you can imagine the compounding horror of that scene there this morning in London.
S. O'BRIEN: We should mention as well the financial markets are taking a hit, no surprise there, as the chaos in London is truly making its way into the British and European markets.
Also, Tony Blair, as he mentioned not long ago, as he addressed the world really at the start of the hour, mentioning that he would be leaving the G8 Summit in Scotland, he will be heading to London to be briefed by security forces there, and then he will make his way back to the G8 summit.
He has told us as well that the leaders will continue with their meeting without him briefly.
Queen Elizabeth, however, we're told is on her way back to Buckingham Palace, where security has been beefed up there. She is leaving Gleneagles, Scotland as well.
M. O'BRIEN: You can imagine the scene in London right now, and what you don't see is also part of the problem, just the inability to communicate. We're told that cellular, mobile telephone traffic has come to a grinding halt, as well as much land line communication as people just simply try to get word home they're OK and let their loved ones know.
Once again, we're talking about six stations, and pretty much right around the circle line, which is in the center part of London, right around the city of London, Edgware Road, King's Cross, Liverpool Street, Brussels Square, Algate East and Moregate, almost all precisely at the same time or within the vicinity of the same time, explosions occurring in carriages on trains at those stations.
We know of one confirmed bus attack at the same time, which occurred at Russell Square. We were showing you those pictures a little while ago of that double-decker bus with its roof just taken right off. Obviously multiple casualties as a result of that because that had to be a crowded bus at rush hour.
Unconfirmed reports, haven't seen any pictures of additional bus attacks. So until we sort of get that one figured out, just put that off with a little bit of skepticism right now as we try to sort out of the facts in all of this. S. O'BRIEN: Security in London had already been beefed up, because, obviously, the G8 meeting in Scotland. In addition, London is a city where they have long dealt -- decades long have been dealing with the issues surrounding the IRA conflicts, and on top of that, they've put cameras in. It's a city where there are cameras all over to monitor many people's actions in all of these busy stakes. So there's a fair amount of security, and many people pointed out that already the city was already at high alert. So within all of that, to some degree, it points out that maybe it is impossible to really prevent any kind of attack like this.
Let's get right back to Christiane Amanpour. She's standing by for us in London -- Christiane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's just around the corner from Russell Square, which is where one of the busses exploded. And another minute earlier, and I dread to think what would have happened, but I was past the bus. So I heard the explosion, and turned back and looked and saw the sort of top rear end of the bus had blown off and, you know, smoke everywhere, and debris and people running. So I just joined in the sort of confusion and ran for a bit. And I saw two girls who were hyperventilating. It was a teacher and a pupil who were down in London for the day, and tried to sort of help them calm down. They were quite excitable.
And then we just stood in Russell Square. We were there for about an hour or so before the police actually cleared the square as well. So confusion reigns down there.
AMANPOUR: Did you go back to the scene? Did you see the bus? Did you see whether there were casualties? Obviously there were. But did you see how many, what was going on there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't go back to the bus. But standing in the square, we saw several people coming past that were sort of covered in soot and ash and things like that, and there were people with cuts and bruises, and you know, I asked them if they were OK, and they said they were checked out by the ambulances that were on the scene. So you know, there seemed to be some walking wounding coming away, but as for actual casualties, the police wouldn't let us get back down the road, so we couldn't see them.
AMANPOUR: And there was quite a good response. You're talking about ambulances on the scene. The emergency services were there quickly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The emergency services were there quickly, and in fact the sirens had been blaring ever since I came out of Euston Station this morning. So when I came out of Euston Station, there were people, literally thousands of people walking along Euston Road, which is quite a rare sight for that time of morning. And straightaway, you think something is wrong. You get to Euston Square Station and find that closed, and you knew something sort of pretty bad had happened. You just sort of think to yourself, well, I need to get to where I'm going, and where -- how do I do that.
AMANPOUR: And are you a regular Tube user?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fairly, yes. I'm in London probably sort of five, six times a month on average, so it's...
AMANPOUR: Were you at all -- has it ever worried you that something like this might happen?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it's always there in the back of your mind. There's been so many things that have happened in London over the years. It's always there in the back of your mind. But if it does come to the front of your mind and you think about it while you're on the Tube, you just put it out of your mind and say this can never happen to me, and that's the sort of scary (INAUDIBLE). It came pretty close to happening. My heart goes out to people that are involved, because you know, it could be any one of us that uses the Tube regularly. So it's a sad day.
AMANPOUR: Well, thank you very much. In fact, we're going to go to our reporter at one of the London hospitals, Jim Boulden.
What are you seeing at the hospital you are at there, Jim?
JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Royal London Hospital is about a half mile east of the City, where one of the explosions happened. And they've released a statement to say that they were able to get on the scene immediately. They had their mobile-response teams go to the scene and try to help the patients before they brought them here to the hospital.
Let me read you a little bit from the press release. It says, "A total of 95 casualties have been brought into the hospital so far. Many are being treated for minor injuries, such as superficial cuts. However, 10 patients are seriously ill. Seven patients are in critical condition. Some have significant orthopedic injuries requiring immediate surgery."
That's the statement. You can see here this hospital has taken some of the very serious injured from the east of London. Talking to people here, they said they had seen at least three double-decker busses pull up in the last hour full of injuries, and that would have been probably about an hour ago, and those three double-decker busses full of injuries bringing those people into the hospital. I've also heard of one man being resuscitated in the back of an ambulance, and that could be seen from the road as well.
Now they've pushed a lot of us back from the hospital because they're trying to get the ambulances through and they're trying to deal with these very serious injuries, as you can imagine.
But as I say, as of now, 95 injured casualties have been brought to this hospital, which is just east of the city of London.
M. O'BRIEN: We just heard Tony Blair. That was, by the way, our reporter Jim Boulden indicating 95 casualties. We've been reporting 90. Those numbers will change all throughout the morning as we cover the story. Tony Blair just a little while ago from Gleneagles, Scotland, indicating these attacks clearly designed to coordinate with the opening of the G8 summit.
Elaine Quijano is at Gleneagles, and she joins us with more -- Elaine.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Miles.
Well, we are being given guidance right now that apparently all of the leaders of the G8 summit are working together, perhaps to put out some sort of joint statement at some point.
Also, we would not be surprised if President Bush himself came out a little later today and himself made a statement. Of course we just heard from the British prime minister, Tony Blair.
Also, we should pass along that a White House official is also confirming what the Associated Press is reporting about the situation back in Washington D.C., and that is the transit authority there apparently stepping up security in the subways, consisting of bomb- sniffing dogs, as well as armed officers, obviously keeping an eye out for anything suspicious.
But at this particular point, obviously, President Bush has spent much of the morning here at the G8 summit with Prime Minister Tony Blair. They had a breakfast this morning, they had a working session, and then the news broke. The White House obviously very closely monitoring the situation, monitoring the developments.
Now, of course, with the announcement with the word from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, he believes this is a series of attacks, it would not be unlikely that we might hear something from President Bush later on today.
And of course we should also point out it was just yesterday, in fact, President Bush himself noting in response to questions about the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay, also responding to questions and criticisms about the Iraq war, his policy in Iraq, talking about the larger war on terrorism, the president saying that it is his solemn obligation to protect America, talking also about how this is a war, a battle of ideologies, essentially saying that he is determined, as we have heard him say so many times before, to carry out this fight against terrorism. But again, do not be surprised, Miles, if we hear from the president later today -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Elaine, U.S. Homeland Security is quoted by the Reuters News Service this morning, saying there's no indication, no intelligence, indicating there's any threat to the United States. Couple that with European leaders, the E.U., indicating that basically Europe is on a high level of alert right now. What are you hearing from the White House? What are you hearing from there about the possibility of some other concerns about other attacks elsewhere this morning?
QUIJANO: Well, certainly at this particular point, they want to be very cautious, Miles, because understanding that people are quite nervous. Obviously, there has been some criticism of the Homeland Security Department for the color-coded system that people felt was not necessarily the most effective way to warn people about what might happen, and so at this particular point, very tight lipped about specifically what they might be looking at. But again, we could get perhaps a little bit more if we hear from President Bush later on today.
The only thing the White House indicating is, again, confirming that report by Associated Press about the transit authority in the Washington D.C. area stepping up security on the Metro, on the subway there in response to what has happened in London. But other than that, Miles, we are not getting any reports at this particular point -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: And, Elaine, anytime there is a G8 summit, the security is -- well, it's hard to even describe how tight it can be.
M. O'BRIEN: Have you seen any evidence that it has increased since these attacks?
QUIJANO: It's a little bit difficult to tell, I'll be quite honest, Miles. From our perspective here, we're already within what I would describe as sort of a well-fortified area in the sense that upon approaching this area, in fact, we were sort of stopped and checked multiple times on the bus itself. Officers actually coming to check IDs and so on and so forth. But at the same time I have not seen any measurable sort of increase in the activity.
But we should also note that our standpoint right here, our vantage point, is quite a distance from where the summit itself is actually taking place. While we are here at Gleneagles, it's still a little bit off from where we are right now. And we have not seen any kind of perceptible change.
We certainly have seen, though, some officers patrolling within the Media Center itself, within the complex, a massive complex that has been set up to accommodate the journalists from all over the world here. So, security is already quite tight. But I would imagine there are probably some things perhaps behind the scenes that we are not seeing at this particular point. But right now, certainly tight security already to begin with -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Elaine Quijano at Gleneagles, Scotland. We'll obviously stay in close touch with you as the morning and the afternoon progresses -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: It's just about half past the hour.
Let's bring everybody up to speed with what's happening. We're reporting live this morning both here and also out of London where we have breaking news. A series of coordinated attacks in London that happened right at the height of rush hour about 8:50 a.m. local time there. That, of course, is just before 4:00 a.m. here in New York City.
Now, all of Europe, we are told, is on a state alert as details are slowly emerging about what exactly has happened. There are two people confirmed dead now; that information from the police there. Ninety-five injured according to the reports from one hospital just east of London. They say 10 people are seriously injured, 7 of those are in critical condition and that had to go into immediate surgery.
Seven confirmed explosions, six happening underground in the carriages there. One, a double-decker bus that was essentially ripped apart like a tin can.
The markets have been hit as well. The European and British markets taking a little bit of a nosedive.
Tony Blair spoke not long ago. He says he will indeed leave the G8 summit and return to London -- but briefly. He'll be returning back to Scotland for the continuation of the summit. Meanwhile, the summit leaders will go on without him for a day or so.
He also says that the determination of his people far outweighs the determination of any terrorists. And Tony Blair also indicating that he believes that the explosions were timed to coincide with the start of the G8. London, of course, was named just yesterday as the host city for the 2012 Olympics.
Transit authorities are stepping up security here in the U.S. as well, specifically in Washington, D.C. And we are told there is word of a rescue operation now under way in one Underground subway stop. As we've mentioned, the London Underground is one of the oldest in the world, if not the oldest. And, in fact, it's very difficult to access. Some of those trains are not in stations, but somewhere between two stations. And so, getting to people who might be trapped in the those cars is proving very, very difficult at this time.
We expect the number of injured, the number of dead to change.
M. O'BRIEN: The British home secretary, Charles Clarke, is expected to report to us live fairly soon. And we're going to bring that to you as soon as that becomes available.
Meanwhile, it was only about 30 minutes ago that a visibly shaken Tony Blair, the prime minister of Great Britain, addressed reporters at Gleneagles, Scotland, where that G8 summit is under way, indicating his desire, his intent to get back to London as quickly as possible, spend the day there, get a full report, and then return back to the G- 8, so the summit can continue on.
Let's listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLAIR: It's reasonably clear that there have been a series of terrorist attacks in London. There are obviously casualties, both people that have died and people seriously injured. And our thoughts and prayers, of course, are with the victims and their families. It's my intention to leave the G8 within the next couple of hours and go down to London and get a report face-to-face with the police and the emergency services and the ministers that have been dealing with this, and then to return later this evening.
It is the will of all of the leaders at the G8, however, that the meeting should continue in my absence, that we should continue to discuss the issues that we were going to discuss and reach the conclusions which we were going to reach.
Each of the countries around that table have some experience of the effects of terrorism. And all of the leaders, as they will indicate a little bit later, share our complete resolution to defeat this terrorism.
It's particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa, the long-term problems of climate change in the environment, just as it is reasonably clear that this is a terrorist attack or a series of terrorist attacks, it's also reasonably clear that it is designed and aimed to coincide with the opening of the G8.
There will be time to talk later about this. It's important, however, that those engaged in terrorism realize that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world. Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilized nations throughout the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: British Prime Minister Tony Blair telling reporters, and a visibly shaken Tony Blair I might add, telling reporters that he would be departing the G8 summit shortly to head to London to get a firsthand report from authorities as they continue this operation that you see here unfolding before you, tending to the wounded in the wake of this coordinated, synchronized morning rush-hour attack in the heart of London.
Six separate explosions at Tube stations, Underground stations there, and as you see, one explosion on a double-decker bus.
We had some earlier reports that there might have been two other busses that had been targeted, but we're going to back off of those for now and just tell you that we know of one bus that has exploded. Clearly, the entire top of that double-decker bus ripped off, creating untold number of casualties right now.
We have reports of two deaths, in excess of 90 injuries, as the scene continues.
And consider this as well: You've got six subway stations, Underground stations, where explosions have occurred apparently in the carriages of trains. We know of at least one rescue operation under way in one of those Underground stations. But I think it's safe to say that at each of those locations right now there's a desperate attempt right now to sort through the wreckage and try to help whoever can be helped in the midst of this tragedy -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: We are getting an update now from Scotland Yard. They now say that the number of explosions is four, three happening in the Underground and one on a bus.
And as we've mentioned, the situation is so chaotic that I think it's going to be very fluid and changing, frankly, all of these numbers to some degree before it's really well-known exactly what has happened, exactly the number of dead and injured as well.
One can imagine that with these explosions happening underground, there could be multiple reportings of the same explosion happening from two different subway stops, Underground stops.
So, right now, Scotland Yard is saying three underground explosions, one bus explosion.
We've seen a picture of that bus ripped apart essentially like a tin can. And one eyewitness, in fact, even described it from her vantage point in front of that bus and the bus in front of that bus as it flying, half of it, through the air.
You're looking at pictures that are coming to us this morning from CNNI, and these are people in front of the hospitals who have come in to get treated. We're told the injuries there range from the very minor cuts and scrapes and bruises to the very major.
Seven people had to be brought in immediately for surgery. Ten people, we're told, are in very, very serious condition.
So again, we expect the numbers really are unclear at this point because the situation is still fairly, fairly chaotic.
You hear the descriptions of the eyewitnesses.
M. O'BRIEN: You can only imagine the terror of being packed into a subway, you know, barely any room to breathe in the morning rush hour.
S. O'BRIEN: As smoke fills the car.
M. O'BRIEN: A flash, a bang, a lurching and then all of a sudden darkness and smoke. And that's what we've been hearing time and again. Couple that with the descriptions of these horrific injuries.
Let's listen to some of the witnesses.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM CHAMBERLAIN, EYEWITNESS: I actually was just moments away from the explosion of a double-decker bus here in Central London. I was actually on one of the busses when traffic came to an utter standstill. I proceeded to get off the bus, and was then alerted to the fact of reports of a power surge on one of the Tube lines had shut down all of the underground.
About 10 minutes after that, there was a loud explosion. I talked to one eyewitness, who actually saw the wreckage of the bus, where the top deck of a double-decker bus had been completely ripped off. And that there was just a smoldering wreckage and several major injuries.
I'm actually standing at that site right now. It's across from the Ambassador Hotel near the center of London right near King's Cross Station, which is the hub of, you know...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: All right, that was Will Chamberlain just a little while ago. And just to help you understand quickly why we're confused and this is a confusing thing is in many cases what happened is these explosions occurred on trains between two stations. And the initial reports were that there were explosions at two stations when, in fact, a train in between two stations had an explosion. And thus, that's why we're backing off of those numbers. Three underground explosions, one above the surface.
S. O'BRIEN: Let's go back to Will Chamberlain. He's an eyewitness. And he is talking live to CNNI. And he says fatalities, they believe or at least word is coming down, may be in the double digits.
Let's listen to what he's saying.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
AMANPOUR: These six explosions would claim more than the two lives that have been confirmed so far. But this is very depressing news to hear that there are double-digit fatalities, according to what you're hearing from the emergency services down under one station alone.
CHAMBERLAIN: Yes. The scene and the feeling here is quite subdued at the moment. There are several ambulances, fire trucks, police officers, but lights are turned off, sirens are off. The movement of most personnel has slowed down quite dramatically from what I saw earlier. It's much more of a gloomy operation to take care of the situation, rather than a hurried operation to save survivors.
AMANPOUR: So, they're saying it's no longer rescue, but it's recovery.
AMANPOUR: Down in the location that you're at.
CHAMBERLAIN: Yes. I'm at King's Cross right now. There are still actually trains that have been left running out and about with people having evacuated, but those are all trying to be -- trains are being turned off. Lights on the ambulances and sirens are being turned off as well. And the mood is much more of a somber one.
AMANPOUR: William, thank you very much indeed.
Let me continue my conversation with Dr. Brighton (ph) for a second. We're hearing now from our correspondent down at King's Cross that he's been told that all of the surviving casualties have been evacuated from that particular station. But according to what emergency services are telling him, there may be in the double-digits fatalities down at one station alone. Should we prepare -- we be prepared for more of that kind of bad news?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's shocking and it's tragic. But I think we should be prepared for a much higher casualty count. The last figure I heard was two, and at the time thought that's very low indeed for the number of explosions that have been reported.
AMANPOUR: What can a city like London do to prevent this kind of thing happening? Is it inevitable?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very difficult, in all honesty, to have a absolute copper-bottomed plan to stop it happening in advance. What we can do -- and I know there's an enormous amount of work that's been done -- is to prepare to respond quickly and effectively. And as I was saying earlier, I mean, that's something -- there's a lot of work that has been done since 2001.
AMANPOUR: But what? What has been done? London, let's face it, was not a stranger to terrorism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.
AMANPOUR: Throughout the IRA troubles, through the height of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.
AMANPOUR: And potentially other issues. But I mean, it's not a stranger to this. How much more have they leapt into gear or have they had to leap into gear?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a very distinct difference between the kind of attacks that the IRA were mounting and the kind of things that al Qaeda do. The preparation that's taken place has taken that into account. What they were really looking at is the possibility of much wider-scale disruptive incidents than the IRA, who traditionally would attack when maybe there weren't that many people around, would give a warning in advance quite often, and would do it in places where enormous numbers of casualties would be quite unlikely.
So, it's a different scale, I think, is the main difference. And that has been taken into account in the planning that's taken place.
M. O'BRIEN: Now approaching four hours since this attack on the London transportation system at the height of their rush hour this morning, a little before 9:00 local time. It's now approaching 1:00 p.m. local time there. We're told now it is a coordinated, synchronized attack, involving four separate explosions, three of them underground in the London subway system as they call it there, the Underground or the Tube, one of them above the surface at Tavistock Square, where a double-decker bus was targeted.
We are told that the fatality numbers are probably going to go well into the double digits, perhaps higher. At least 90 casualties.
And all signs point to terror at this point, if not at least al Qaeda, at least the hallmarks of an al Qaeda attack in the sense that it has that synchronized effect.
Rescue and recovery operations, perhaps more of an emphasis right now on recovery, sadly, are going on right as we speak in the center of London at the locations of these three underground explosions.
And the question will be, as time goes on here, who is responsible? And there will be all kinds of discussion about it. But clearly, what we see here are the hallmarks of Islamic extremism -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: And, in fact, Miles, let's get to that question.
John Cutter is the president of Beau Dietl and Associates, and he joins us in our studio this morning. Formerly, though, he was the chief of operations for all counter-terrorism initiatives for the New York City Police Department.
Thanks for talking with us this morning. Miles posed the question: Who is responsible? With what we know, which I grant you is limited at this point, a coordinated attack, civilians, rush hour, who do you think is responsible?
JOHN CUTTER, FMR. NYPD COUNTER-TERROR COORDINATOR: I think it's too early to tell right at this point. I think the first four or five hours of any type of incident like this, it's difficult for anybody to know who is responsible. It has the earmarks of Islamic extremism to it, but it's the type of thing that obviously it was coordinated. It was well-planned. There's going to be speculation that, is this related to London getting the Olympics? Is this related to the G8? Is this strictly related to the fact that it's London, really a sister city to New York? And it's one of the places that Islamic extremists have long targeted as a place to commit a terrorist event.
S. O'BRIEN: When you say it's coordinated and well-planned, and yet you see death and destruction, and you see even more so probably chaos, do you think that at the end of the day that's the goal? You disrupt rush hour, you're trying to kill civilians, but you're also really trying to throw the city into chaos?
CUTTER: Well, I think what it boils down to is it comes right from the word "terrorism." They're looking to create terror. They know they're not going to kill a whole society. They're looking to create terror within a society and cause people to stop their normal functions. The best way to deal with that is for people to go about their day-to-day operations, just like they would normally, and let these people know you're not going to stop the spirit of the good people.
S. O'BRIEN: We heard that as well after 9/11. And I have to tell you for people who take the subway, it's kind of easy to say and sort of hard to do, because you think of London as a city that's dealt with terror before with the IRA. You think of London as a city that has four million cameras around Britain as a whole. You think about increased security because of the G8 anyway. And you say, well, clearly, it's really difficult, virtually impossible to protect subway trains, virtually impossible to protect any kind of bus.
CUTTER: Well, it's -- nothing is virtually impossible to do. It's difficult to could do. Impossible to probably stop eventually. However, there are ways to stall it. And that's where the public comes in. You know, the police departments and law enforcement can only do so much. From there, the public has to take an effect.
I mean, just like here in New York City, I'm sure they have a hotline over there in London. OK. But what happens is after an event, the first month after an event, you get a thousand calls. Then the second month you get 500 calls. And it wanes. And time goes by, and people start to feel like, it happened a long time ago. 9/11 is not that long ago.
This should be a reminder to everybody that these people are still out there, looking to create terror, looking to disturb the societies that are out there, that are doing legitimate business. And the people have to be aware of that, and they have to be looking for that when they're out there on the street. Everyone has to be the eyes and the ears for the whole country, whether it's London, whether it's New York City, whether it's Omaha, Nebraska. It doesn't matter. Everybody has to be aware and looking for this, because it will come to your neighborhood.
S. O'BRIEN: Let's run through some of the response by the U.S. across the country. In Chicago we're told the Chicago Police say they're evaluating their security measures and are going to make some decisions about what changes they will make.
In New York, we're told that MTA employees -- that's our transit system -- have been instructed to be extra vigilant, and they're checking the trains before they leave the terminals.
D.C., bomb-sniffing dogs and armed police officers are patrolling the subways and the busses, and also passengers are being urged to report, as you mentioned, any kind of suspicious activity.
We're told, though, there are reports that there are no immediate plans to raise the U.S. terror alert from the current level. And why would that be? I would think all of this would raise the alert.
CUTTER: Well, you have to have a reason to raise the alert. You know, there has been criticism in the past when the alert has been raised, and people said, oh, well, they raised it for nothing. And the bottom line is that's why we have an intelligence unit within the federal government that's out there uncovering what people are doing. And they are not able to tell the general public this is what's going on. They're looking at what's going on through the intelligence traffic, and they're looking at this incident, and they're seeing is there any correlation between the United States and what happened in London right now. And, obviously, they're not seeing it. So, if they're not seeing it, they're not going to raise that alert.
Or they may be in the process of doing something elsewhere, they're looking to round up some people, if there is any hint that there might be something going on here. So, they wouldn't raise the alert.
I think at this point, you know, they're really in tune to what's going on out there. I know in New York City, I'm sure the police department is extra vigilant. I mean, they're constantly on alert as it is. They do a tremendous amount of proactive activities to stop events like this from occurring. And I'm sure today they're extra vigilant.
S. O'BRIEN: We heard from Tony Blair that he will be coming back to London to get briefed essentially and then go back to the G8 summit. And he clearly believes that this attack or these attacks are linked to the start of the G8 summit. Others have said, as you mentioned, well, gee, London just got the Olympics yesterday, and maybe there's some kind of coordination there.
It must take a long time to plan these kinds of attacks, I mean, one has to imagine. So, do you think it's the G8, or do you think it's the Olympics, or in essence does it not matter?
CUTTER: One, it doesn't matter. But, two, if I had to pick one I would have to pick the G8. I mean, no one could guess that London was absolutely getting the Olympics. I mean, for the longest time everybody was saying Paris, Paris, Paris. There was a push on for New York.
Now, these terrorist groups that are out there, some of them, they would love nothing more than to hit cities simultaneously to show their power. OK. They have been weakened by the worldwide fight against terrorism. So, they want to do things to show their power.
Hitting only one city like this doesn't exactly show them to be this ultimate power. It shows them to be, OK, we're hitting now in one place that we're able to do an attack. If this was related to the Olympics you would have thought you would have seen, you have Moscow, you have Paris, you have Madrid, you have New York, you have five cities in total. Now, if they were planning this for the Olympics, to say, all right, whoever wins let's get them, well, you would think you would have seen more than one attack.
So, without seeing that, I think what you're looking at is either something related to the G8 or something that just hasn't come out yet. It's very early into the investigation. You may find out it has something to do with some other foreign policy or something. It could have to do with Iraq, you know, trying to drive them out of Iraq.
S. O'BRIEN: No claims yet.
S. O'BRIEN: And so, would you expect that if it is Islamic extremists -- and you got the sense of that, frankly, from Tony Blair when he had a statement saying that Londoners and Brits generally, and really the world, I think, can overcome any of these attacks by terrorists and their extremist views. Do you think that if it is al Qaeda that there will be a claim? I mean, is that sort of like the point of their methodology?
CUTTER: Well, there may not be a public claim. There will be more of a private claim within their own network to say look at what we were able to accomplish. I mean, they made public claims, you know, after 9/11, and look at what happened. I mean, went into Afghanistan, went into Iraq. I mean, they don't want to have the same type of repercussions happen to them again. They need to get strong. They're not strong right now.
S. O'BRIEN: But you get strong by claiming that you've been able to pull off an attack on a national scale.
CUTTER: Yes. But then when the military power of places like England and the United States come against you, it weakens you very quickly.
S. O'BRIEN: All right. Well, we're going to keep you around all morning so we can continue to discuss this. Obviously information is coming to us in drips and drabs from the scene. And so, we will stick around and continue to get analysis from you. Appreciate that -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: All right. And if you're just tuning in, just to refresh your memory if you've been with us for a while, we apologize for what seems like the repetitive nature of this. But we want to make sure everybody is up to speed on what's going on in London.
You're seeing pictures now from the center of London, and these pictures, I believe, are live pictures right now, maybe not. These are taped pictures from just a little while ago.
And what you're seeing is a rescue and recovery situation, one of many under way right now. Three underground locations. The subway system there hit by coordinated attack of explosions just before 9:00 in the morning. One London double-decker bus attacked at precisely the same time. And all kinds of conclusions are being reached this morning about terror, and some suggestion that it could be linked to Islamic extremism.
Let's go now to London and the British home secretary, who is in the House of Commons addressing this situation, Charles Clarke.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
CHARLES CLARK, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: Our first responsibility is to protect and support the public at this time. The Metropolitan Police are in operational command, using well-established and tested procedures. The Health Services are providing first-class care and support.
On transport, the Underground is closed and will remain so for some time, but certainly closed today. There have been -- there are no buses in central London. Transport for London will decide when to resume services later today. Over-ground services are subject to substantial delays. Most stations are open, but some are closed. Network Rail will try and reopen as soon as they can. Airports are operating normally.
People are strongly advised not to travel into Central London as the emergency services must be allowed to do their work in the most effective way that they can.
Mr. Speaker, the cabinet was informed this morning, and since then I've chaired several meetings to ensure that the whole government commitment is properly coordinated and only necessary support is provided.
The prime minister is returning to London from Gleneagles to hold a meeting later today. I will continue to keep the House fully informed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am grateful to the home secretary for coming to the House promptly this afternoon. We understand only too well the...
M. O'BRIEN: All right. And just to tell you, as these numbers continue to come in, we're being told now that there are 10 dead just at one of the stations, the King's Cross explosion. King's Cross being one of the busier stations. I think three or four or even five Tube lines all converge at that one spot there. And perhaps as many as 160 wounded. Once again, those numbers will continue to change all throughout the day as this chaotic scene sort of sorts itself out.
As we just heard, the first four or five hours after an event like this, as we, you know, struggle to come up with the facts of the matter, can lead you down some dead ends, to say the least.
S. O'BRIEN: Yes. We were hearing from CNN writer William Chamberlain, who's been interviewed several times now, who was an eyewitness in addition to working for CNN, says that the rescue operation that was taking place at King's Cross has successfully evacuated all survivors. But that many of the dead have been, in fact, left below ground at King's Cross. Particularly that station, because of the size of that, is particularly difficult to access in the London Underground, which overall can be tough to get to.
We're getting word out of Madrid this morning the Spanish government is -- quote -- "Condemning in the strongest terms the savage attacks in London today." That's coming from the prime minister there. Of course you'll recall that last year 191 people were killed, more than 1,500 others were wounded, when 10 bombs exploded on four morning rush-hour commuter trains. And authorities in Madrid blame those attacks on Islamic terrorists. More than 100 suspects have since been rounded up and charged. And that was, back then last year, the first major attack against a European public transportation system. So, this is some of the new information we're getting here to CNN.
M. O'BRIEN: We heard earlier that really all of Europe is on a higher state of alert right now. That seems like a logical response to this. What's happening a little closer to our back yards here, senior administration officials are saying all the relevant agencies are clearly notified, plugged in and are now paying close attention to all of this.
D.C. Homeland Security, New York City transit, transit systems all throughout the United States are ramping up their screening at subways as a precaution. But we should underscore there is absolutely no reason to believe that there is any additional targets at this point. But that's certainly a prudent response to what we're seeing right now in London as they try to recover.
This is a city this morning that is in shock, at a standstill, about 24 hours after they gathered in Trafalgar Square, positively euphoric over having landed the 2012 Olympic Games. And we have reports from the Olympic Committee this morning, a very quick report, saying they have complete confidence in the city of London as the host of the 2012 Olympics.
S. O'BRIEN: And, in fact, now it is the top of the hour, so let's reset the scene for those of you who are just joining us this morning. Breaking news out of London that we have been following all morning. A series of coordinated attacks to tell you about. The numbers, though, changed earlier. We were reporting more, because, of course, this is happening in the London underground, so some of those single attacks were being reported more than once. Three attacks underground now, we're told by Scotland Yard. One happening on a bus ripped open practically like a tin can.
It happened just before 4:00 in the morning here in New York, 8:50 a.m. in London, which, of course, is obviously the heart of rush hour.
Early word was that two people were confirmed dead. That came from the police. It is expected, though, that there will be a big increase in those numbers because we're getting reports from eyewitnesses that, in fact, many of those who survived the attacks have been evacuated, but there are many people -- maybe in the double digits -- who are dead, who are still left underground.
Markets hit, as well, European and British markets. Prime Minister Tony Blair said that he believed the attacks indicated -- that he believed these attacks were timed to coincide with the start of the G8.
Transit authorities everywhere, obviously, are stepping up security, across the globe. We've heard that the transit system in London obviously shut down. But here in the U.S., as well, Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., not only extra vigilance being asked of those who work for the transit authorities and also ride the transit authority, but also, in some cases, bomb sniffing dogs and more security, more armed security forces out there, as well.
That's the latest information to bring you up to speed with what is happening out of London.
We should also re-emphasize that communication is very, very difficult. Cell phone service is down in many cases. Land lines are also down. And so some of the information is coming to us a little bit spotty.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes, and that -- we do not mean to imply that the terrorists targeted those systems. It's just simply frantic calls between loved ones trying to...
S. O'BRIEN: Are crashing the systems.
M. O'BRIEN: ... get a hold of each other and it's just crashing the system right now.
There is one other story a little closer to us here in the United States that we are following, although we've been focused, of course, obviously, on London. But we just got in from Chad Myers that Hurricane Dennis has now been upgraded to a category II storm. It's apparently wobbling where it is right now. The may change its course somewhat, it may cause a little bit more concern for the Gulf Coast there in Florida.
We're going to get Chad Myers in the loop here in just a little while.
But we're going to continue with our focus on London right now.
And we're joined by Clark Kent Ervin, who is a CNN terrorism and security analyst. Clark, good to have you with us this morning.
What's your initial take on this?
It seems like it has all the hallmarks of, well, it's al Qaeda's style, anyhow.
CLARK KENT ERVIN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: That's exactly right, Miles. The fact that these were coordinated attacks obviously took a lot of planning. It's certainly conceivable that this is linked to the announcement yesterday regarding the Olympics, but there's no way for people to have known in advance that London would get the Olympics. It's much more likely that this is tied to the G8.
All eyes would be on the United Kingdom today because it's the start of the G8. The most powerful leaders in the world, including the president of the United States, are there. And of course Great Britain, under the leadership of Tony Blair, has been America's staunchest ally, both in Iraq and in the war on terror.
M. O'BRIEN: So if you were a terrorist, that's a pretty good reason, if you will, to target London. London is an -- when you put it that way, it's an obvious target, put it that way.
ERVIN: That's right. That's right. And, of course, also, it's one of the major cities in the world. So at least three reasons why London and why now.
M. O'BRIEN: Do you -- I know it's awfully early and I don't want you to speculate too much, and if you want to take a pass, go ahead. But who would be on the short list of those considered responsible for this?
ERVIN: Well, of course, as you know, the United Kingdom has had a problem with the IRA for a long time. I think it's highly unlikely, though, that this is an IRA attack. It seems much more likely that it's al Qaeda, for the reasons that I just said.
Further, I understand that there is an unconfirmed report that there is -- has been a posting on an al Qaeda-affiliated Web site where an al Qaeda affiliate has taken responsibility for this. It's unconfirmed, but it wouldn't surprise me if later today we do hear a claim of responsibility that can be confirmed.
M. O'BRIEN: And you know, of course, the intelligence agencies of the world are constantly dialed into what they call the chatter on this sort of thing.
Have you heard anything about, you know, an increase in discussion, if not specific discussion, about al Qaeda-style attacks?
ERVIN: No, actually I haven't. And that's interesting. In fact, it seems to me that this summer has been shaping up here in our country to be very reminiscent of the summer of '01 -- shark attacks, concerns about missing persons. There have been a lot of reports, actually, the threat level generally in the United States and abroad has been decreasing. So I've been concerned about creeping complacency on the part of our people here in this country.
You know, we had a scare just in May where a plane came very, very close to the Capitol and the president of the United States wasn't even told about it until after it was over.
So this can have a salutary effect in this country. Of course, our heart goes out to the victims. But it could sensitize us again to the fact that we remain under serious threat in this country. And we've done relatively little, by the way, with regard to mass transit in this country.
M. O'BRIEN: Perhaps we do need the reminder.
A final thought here.
March 11, 2004 -- 191 people killed in Madrid, a morning rush hour attack, 10 bombs on four trains.
Did transit systems the world over, in your estimation, properly respond to what seemed to be an obvious target here?
ERVIN: Well, there was a pattern that is always repeated, and that is to say some measures were put in place in this country immediately after the attacks in Madrid. But relatively little has been done since. There were sensors installed. There were some checks of identification. Some cameras were installed, as well. But those were pilot measures that I think have largely been dropped since. And we need to redouble our efforts now after this second wake up call to do more in the mass transit area since we are very vulnerable with regard to that sector.
M. O'BRIEN: But the problem though, is, you know, as anybody who has ridden a subway or gotten on a bus, you can't have the kind of security you have to get on an airplane.
M. O'BRIEN: Otherwise you're -- it becomes useless.
ERVIN: That's exactly right.
On the other hand, it seems to me that we can do certain things -- spot checks, increased use of cameras, increased use of sensors, not just after an attack, but on an ongoing basis, because we need to be prepared for every contingency and there's no question but that considering the number of people who use such systems, it's a very, very ripe target for terrorists who want to sow the kind of terror and destruction and chaos that's happened today in London.
M. O'BRIEN: Clark Kent Ervin. We'll get back with you a little bit later. Thank you.
ERVIN: Thank you.
M. O'BRIEN: Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Let's get back to our terror analyst.
You were talking earlier about how you protect against this. And we just heard from Clark Kent Ervin, as well, saying cameras. And, you know, you look at a city like London, which has long, in many ways, led the way in being vigilant and being prepared. Cameras clearly don't work. Putting cameras in our transit system here in New York, and you, of course, are very familiar with the New York transit system, having worked with the police department on their terror preparations.
So what do you do specifically?
CUTTER: Well, I think a lot of what Clark said is accurate. You need to do these preventive measures. But you also need to make them public so that people are aware of them, and not only the honest people, but the people that are out there looking to create terrorism. And not publicize where everything is, but that these measures are out there -- the spot checks that he spoke about, that's something...
S. O'BRIEN: I'm going to interrupt you there, because it looks like Tony Blair is making a statement. Let's listen in.
BLAIR: We condemn utterly these barbaric attacks. We send our profound condolences to the victims and their families.
All of our countries have suffered from the impact of terrorism. Those responsible have no respect for human life. We are united in our resolve to confront and defeat this terrorism that is not an attack on one nation, but on all nations and on civilized people everywhere.
We will not allow violence to change our societies or our values, nor will we allow it to stop the work of this summit. We will continue our deliberations in the interests of a better world.
Here at this summit, the world's leaders are striving to combat world poverty and save and improve human life. The perpetrators of today's attacks are intent on destroying human life.
The terrorists will not succeed. Today's bombings will not weaken in any way our resolve to uphold the most deeply held principles of our societies and to defeat those who would impose their fanaticism and extremism on all of us.
We shall prevail and they shall not.
S. O'BRIEN: You're listening to Tony Blair, the prime minister, making some comments. And he is surrounded by the other world leaders. They are in Scotland attending the G8 summit. And Tony Blair has said that he will be departing shortly, coming back to London to get a briefing from security forces before he comes back to the summit.
They are obviously tackling some big issues, including poverty in Africa. And they are also dealing with global warming. And the leaders of the G8, according to Tony Blair, want to continue, unanimously, he said, decided to continue with their discussions while he departs for an update out of London.
We -- interesting to hear him condemn the violence and also say that this is an attack not on London, but really on all cities and all nations, and that they are united, the world leaders are united in their efforts to work against terrorists.
Christiane Amanpour is live for us. She's in London this morning. She's reporting for CNNI. Let's break in and listen to what she's saying.
AMANPOUR: ... can't allow those bent on destruction and the killing of innocent civilians, the destruction of a way of life, would not allow them to win.
And he also again reiterated that this was a barbaric act to coincide with a moment when the leaders of the world were trying to discuss alleviating and helping human life, most notably those in Africa. As you know, that is the top of the G8 summit, the -- ending the poverty in Africa.
Again, reiterating that the civilized world, as he said, would prevail. The same kind of language that we heard from him, we heard from President Bush and we heard from other world leaders in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
We're going to try again to reestablish contact with Mark Blandford (ph) Fire Brigade. If you can hear me, sir?
Sir, can you tell me -- yes, can you tell me exactly what part you are responsible for, what casualties that you have seen and how you're conducting operations in the current Underground stations that have been affected?
MARK BLANDFORD, FIRE BRIGADE: At the moment, there's a number of different things happening at different Underground stations. Obviously, each situation is slightly different. We are now in the position of making sure that the sort of, the final people are evacuated from the station, anybody who might still be trapped in there. And then obviously we will be working with the police to stabilize the sites and allow them to start carrying out their investigations.
AMANPOUR: Are you involved in trying to get those, either fatalities or others, out of the Underground stations?
BLANDFORD: Currently, any live casualties who are in the Underground stations will be being worked on to try and get them out of the station. Anybody who has, unfortunately, been killed in the incident will be left in situ until the investigations begin. And then as soon as possible those will be removed.
AMANPOUR: Can you tell me what your information on the number of fatalities is? We've heard one emergency service spokesman talk about fatalities in the double digits at the King's Cross explosion.
BLANDFORD: At the moment, I can't give you any figures on casualties, either injuries or fatalities. Those are being dealt with by the Metropolitan Police Service and they will provide a statement in due course, when they have confirmed figures.
AMANPOUR: And are you -- do you have enough -- enough vehicles, enough personnel to deal with this?
BLANDFORD: London Fire Service, and, indeed, the other emergency services, are well equipped to deal with this incident in London. The multiple nature of the incident gives -- means that our resources were stretched for a while. But in actual fact, we did provide fire cover and safety cover for the whole of London throughout the incidents and we will continue to do so.
This is -- the response that we gave was part of a well- coordinated plan and we will be obviously continuing with that plan.
AMANPOUR: So your plan that, you know, that obviously you'd been preparing, as we've heard, since 9/11, all the emergency services have been preparing for this kind of thing, you believe it's gone into effect as you planned?
BLANDFORD: The information that we've gotten now is that everything went to plan. The, obviously the number of incidents could never be entirely predicted, the number -- the locations of those incidents could never be entirely predicted. But the plan to actually deal with those incidents, the plan to actually coordinate the responsibilities at this point went entirely as we expected it to.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Bloomfield, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us there with the London Fire Brigade.
And just to reiterate, several hospitals, obviously, around London, many of them in and around the area are treating the casualties, treating those in critical condition, as well as what they call the walking wounded. Many of the walking wounded -- we're getting statements across the wire services -- are being discharged, but there are significant numbers of people who have been admitted in what the hospitals are calling critical condition and some of which, as we've heard, some of who, as we've heard, have required immediate surgery.
Let us listen a little bit more now to some of the eyewitnesses as they came out in the aftermath of the explosions.
ANGELO POWER, ATTORNEY AND EYEWITNESS: The smoke immediately billowed into the carriage. It filled it. People started to scream because there was a burning smell and everyone, to just cut a long story short, thought they were going to die. People started saying prayers, praying to God, panicking, breaking the carriage windows with their bare hands, anything to get oxygen into the carriage because the more people tried, the more distressed they became -- women passing out, people started getting very agitated.
There was no communication from any drivers. Everyone was in pitch black. Then the emergency lights came on and more and more smoke started coming into the carriage, and we were there for something like 20 to 30 minutes, during which the smoke intensified. The screaming intensified. The hysteria -- and that's what it was -- became almost -- to say pandemonium.
And then eventually somebody said look, someone at the back of the carriage, because I was on the second to the back carriage, had managed to force the door open. But they wouldn't get out, because they thought they were going to be electrocuted by the live train lines.
Then smoke was coming down the tunnel, so nobody would go out that exit. No one would go out of the other exit because, as I understand it, there was a bomb in the middle of the carriage. And so we were all trapped like sardines waiting to die. And I obviously thought my time was up. But -- as did everyone else.
And finally, after about 30 minutes or so, people had started to leave the carriage, and, to their credit, in a very controlled manner. But as I exited, I saw people's belongings scattered all over the place. People were physically injured. The carriage's windows were all smashed. There were no emergency people on hand to escort anyone off the train, save for two officers who had arrived 30 minutes or so.
But the question I ask is why was the train allowed to proceed from Manor House when they knew, or must have known, that these things were going on?
And the -- it's just almost negligent. QUESTION: And what did you see of the medical operation that's unfolding down there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was none at first, because everyone said it was a technical failure, and it wasn't, you know? There was just mass communication failure. And given what's passed before in Madrid, I'm really at a loss to say why this was.
It was clear from people who were exiting what had happened. There were emergency services there. But I think, in all hindsight, which is always a great factor, that things could have been done a lot better, perhaps. But I can't say really any more than that except, you know, I'm -- I should probably retire. I'm shocked myself.
QUESTION: Yes, sure. I can see that your skin has been discolored by the blackness of the smoke and your lips, in some respects, are...
M. O'BRIEN: We have been listening to eyewitness accounts all morning, horrifying eyewitness accounts of people who were just innocent people on their way to work who suddenly became victims in one way or another of this terror attack in the heart of London. And as this has been going on, as we've been watching this scene unfold, about 500 miles away in Gleneagles, Scotland, the G8 summit has been underway.
We've heard twice now from Tony Blair -- once alone; the second time flanked by all of the other world leaders, telling those world leaders and all of us, for that matter, that in some respects it is an attack against all of them and vowing that the terrorists will not succeed.
Tony Blair will be making his way back to London. As a matter of fact, he is leaving right now. These are live pictures.
We might be hearing from other world leaders, including President Bush, a little later in the day.
Elaine Quijano is there -- Elaine.
QUIJANO: And we are learning more details now about how White House officials were informed and how they disseminated the information about the explosions to various government agencies.
We are told by White House officials that approximately 20 minutes after the first explosion in London, that the deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin, called to inform the chief of staff, Andrew Card. It was then Andrew Card, along with the president's national security adviser, Steve Hadley, who briefed the president. And we're told they continue to brief him now.
And we also understand that White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card called the homeland security adviser of the president -- that is Fran Townsend -- as well as the director of national intelligence, John Negroponte.
Now, we also understand that there was an attempt made to contact the Homeland Security secretary, Michael Chertoff. He was unable, Secretary Card was unable to do so. Instead, reached the deputy Homeland Security secretary, Michael Jackson.
Now, here at the G8 summit, we understand that meetings were temporarily suspended in order that leaders could receive briefings, including, of course, Prime Minister Blair, as well as President Bush. We understand that the president went to his suite and convened by video conference a meeting with his security advisers, in essence, we are told, to ensure that all precautions were being taken.
The president, we understand, returned to the meetings going on. We're also told that, through the president's spokesman, Scott McClellan, that of course the president says his thoughts and prayers go out to all of the families. There are no plans right now, we understand, for the president to leave the summit early. The U.S., of course, is offering any assistance it can to the British government.
Also, we should mention that the White House chief of staff has also been in touch with Vice President Cheney. Of course, the Situation Room in the White House the means by which they are funneling all of the information and getting that information to the various agencies -- back to you.
M. O'BRIEN: Elaine Quijano in Gleneagles.
Live pictures on the right hand portion of your screen, as Tony Blair and his entourage make their way to a helicopter and ultimately on their way back to the heart of London to get a personal briefing on the situation there.
And we will stay with that picture.
And I should point out to you, for those of you concerned about what is going on here interest United States, first of all, no indications, threats, intelligence to tell you about that would indicate the threat or the focus is anything beyond what we've seen thus far in London. And according to CNN's John King in Washington, no plan to raise the national threat level. But that's one of the issue that is being assessed and re-assessed through a series of meetings underway and throughout the day. That's a quote from a senior official inside the administration.
Tony Blair making his way to London.
And, once again, 24 hours ago, the nation celebrated. Now he's going to back to participate, to learn of this tragedy.
You see the scene just about 15 minutes ago. Tony Blair's second address to the world, really, this time flanked by all the other G8 leaders. Obviously a point being made there, as he said that all countries have suffered from this terrorism and that all nations and civilizations and people everywhere are the target of all of this.
As he put it, there is irony that they are meeting there in Scotland to try to come up with ways to save and improve human life. And when an attack like this, when people intent on destroying human life carrying out such an act in the city of London, the capital of Great Britain, and probably -- yes, I think it's fairly safe to say, no coincidence that we see this summit underway in Scotland and this attack occurs in the city of London.
We heard earlier, as well, from a member of the Fire Brigade, as they call the fire department there in London, speaking to Christiane Amanpour, who's on the scene there, offering up kind of a grim picture of what has evolved from a rescue operation to a forensic recovery and investigative operation. In essence, people who have died in this attack being left in place to make way for investigators to try to determine precisely what happened.
Once again, the numbers we've been giving you have been confusing. That happens in these cases. Double-digit deaths. At least 160 injured. But those numbers probably, in the final analysis, will be way off the mark.
S. O'BRIEN: As we look at the pictures of the British prime minister, Tony Blair, as he gets ready to leave the G8 summit, to head to London for security briefings before he returns to continue with the summit, we're going to continue our discussion with Bill Daly. He's been a guest on our show numerous times. He's a former FBI investigator with the Foreign Counter-Intelligence Unit, and he's a managing director of Kroll & Associates now.
Nice to see you again.
BILL DALY, FORMER FBI INVESTIGATOR: Good to see you, Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Thanks for talking with us. Immediately, a couple of questions come to my mind, which is obviously who did it? What fingerprints do you think are on this?
DALY: Well, certainly, Soledad, at this point, just based on the information we have -- the number of sites, coordinated attack, it's something that took a while to plan. So I would certainly rule out people who are just doing it as a knee-jerk reaction to the announcement of the Olympics, or were trying to coincide it with that.
Certainly the G8 summit being a year in the planning stages, being announced, certainly could have been the nexus for this, have been a reason to draw attention to London, to what's going on there.
As far as the investigation is concerned, is that it will take a while now for the investigators to dig down after they've gone through the triage of removing the people who are injured. As was mentioned, they'll leave the -- some of the victims in place because they may, in fact, hold some of the critical keys to investigating these explosions, finding out what type of explosives, were they remotely detonated? Was there an indication that someone may have been a suicide bomber?
It could be any or all of the above, but it certainly points, to me, to a group that has some level of sophistication. They've had to get explosives into the country. They've had to package them. I would suggest they also had to go through some type of training exercises, some run-throughs, dry runs, to see if they can actually bring these things down or bring packages down without being identified.
So this investigation, Soledad, will take a while, but I believe that with help from ourselves, as well as other countries, it will come to, I think, a quick understanding as to some of the people who were complicit.
S. O'BRIEN: As we watch pictures of the chopper that is carrying the British prime minister back to London from the G8 summit, we'll continue our discussion.
We are awaiting word from President Bush, as well, his comments about the terrorist attacks in London.
Here in the U.S., though, the threat level has not been raised out of Washington, D.C., although officials are quick to note that there are ongoing discussions about raising it. That seems a little bit surprising to me.
Why would that be the case?
DALY: Well, Soledad, if we go back to the principles of what this threat level is meant to be, it's meant to be -- to indicate threats against the United States. And at this point there's nothing to suggest that we have any threats against U.S. targets, U.S. interests here.
Once that becomes evident, once they believe that we may be at a level we need to be cognizant of, they would raise that level.
But certainly we can see, whether here in New York or other major metropolitan centers, Chicago and likewise, Washington, they'll be looking at transit systems, they'll be taking a closer review as to what they can be doing currently. Can they be doing more visible searches, undercover police, having people more cognizant of activities around them. Certainly here in New York we have a program, if you see something, say something. That type of program out there in other cities, I'm sure, has been launched and certainly will be amplified today.
S. O'BRIEN: When you look to the attacks in Madrid, the first attacks on a European public transportation system, 1,500 people injured, 190 killed, do you think that terrorists look to that almost as a guide about how, frankly, successful they can be in soft target attack? Because it is -- it seems impossible to protect a massive transit system that's already crowded and a little bit chaotic with just commuters.
DALY: Well, Soledad, in the business of intelligence, also, security, we've seen whereas targets become much more tightened around government buildings, around commercial buildings...
S. O'BRIEN: Let me interrupt you just there...
S. O'BRIEN: ... just to point out to folks, you're looking at a live picture of the prime minister, Tony Blair. He is now making his way out of Gleneagles in Scotland, where the G8 is meeting, and he is going to London to have a security briefing with law enforcement officials, Scotland Yard, and many others, as well.
We continue our discussions here, though, in New York City.
And we are also covering the story with the coordination of CNN International and our colleagues there, as well.
We continue with Bill Daly, an FBI investigator. Forgive me for the interruption.
DALY: No problem, Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: I just wanted to note what we were looking at.
You were talking about Madrid and some of the lessons learned sort of by terrorists.
DALY: Yes, the lesson learned here is that we're exposed in public places. It's not just Madrid, but there have also been explosions in Paris, in Moscow and even, a decade or so back, in Japan, where a chemical was released, where sarin gas was released.
So terrorists have seen this as being somewhat of a road map to say these are softer targets. Commercial buildings have tightened things up. The buildings are tighter. So where can we hit at the heart and soul and the psyche of a population? It's where they go to and from work, where they go shopping, where they go about their day's activities.
S. O'BRIEN: Where you feel most safe.
DALY: That's right.
S. O'BRIEN: Bill Daly, we're going to ask you to stick around with us this morning...
DALY: Thanks, Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: ... as we continue to get information out of London and really continue to update everyone on what's happening here in the United States, as well, in reaction to the serious of explosions in the London Underground, as well.
Let's get back to Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: We've been hearing from world leaders all this morning. Pope Benedict XVI deploring this attack. We expect to hear from President Bush very shortly. And, of course, the moment that previously-taped statement is rolled, we will share it with you.
In the meantime, we've also been hearing just compelling and gut wrenching stories from witnesses who watched this attack unfold a little before nine in the morning, just simply trying to make their way to work in the city of London. Abigail Miller one of them.
She joins us now.
Abigail, I understand you were near the scene of that bus explosion at Tavistock Square?
ABIGAIL MILLER, SAW BUS EXPLOSION: Yes. I was on my way to work.
M. O'BRIEN: Tell me what you saw.
MILLER: Well, there were just loads of people being redirected down over because most of the roads had been blocked off. And I had crossed the road and was walking. And the bus just exploded. A loud, huge noise; people screaming and running; shrapnel flying everywhere.
M. O'BRIEN: So when you say the roads had been blocked off, the explosions underground had already occurred? There had already been the response and then this occurred? Is that accurate to say?
MILLER: To be honest, I don't know. I'm not sure if any explosions had happened or there were just warnings of the fact. There had been police cars everywhere and just no buses, no -- you know, people were just everywhere. So I just headed by foot to where -- I didn't know what had happened.
M. O'BRIEN: Abigail Miller, we're interested to hear the rest of your story, but we are going to go now -- we had said it was on tape. It's obviously a live picture from Gleneagles, Scotland, the president of the United States will be addressing the world in the wake of this attack.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I spent some time recently with the prime minister, Tony Blair; had the opportunity to express our heartfelt condolences to the people of London, people who lost lives.
I appreciate Prime Minister Blair's steadfast determination and restraint.
He's on his way now to London here from the G8 to speak directly to the people of London, to carry a message of solidarity with him.
This morning I've been in contact with our Homeland Security folks and I instructed them to be in touch with local and state officials about the facts of what took place here and in London and to be extra vigilant as our folks start heading to work.
The contrast between what we've seen on the TV screens here, what's taken place in London, what's taken place here is incredibly vivid to me.
On the one hand, we got people here who are working to alleviate poverty and to help rid the world of the pandemic of AIDS and that are working on ways to have a clean environment. And on the other hand, you've got people killing innocent people. And the contrast couldn't be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and those who kill, those who've got such evil in their heart that they will take the lives of innocent folks.
The war on terror goes on. I was most impressed by the resolve of all the leaders in the room. Their resolve is as strong as my resolve. And that is, we will not yield to these people, will not yield to the terrorists.
We will find them. We will bring them to justice. And at the same time, we will spread an ideology of hope and compassion that will overwhelm their ideology of hate.
Thank you very much.
M. O'BRIEN: The president of the United States in the middle of the G8 Summit. The G8 summit probably no coincidence to the attack we just saw about four-and-a-half hours ago in the city of London. That's summit occurring in Gleneagles, Scotland. He returns to the meetings. The meetings will go on. As he points out, tremendous contrast between the topic and the tone of those discussions and what we've just witnessed unfold in the heart of London.
He said he was in touch with U.S. Homeland Security. Federal, state officials being notified, a greater state of vigilance, but once again, no concrete indications that this attack has any other focus besides what we've seen thus far. What we've seen thus far has been horrifying enough.
S. O'BRIEN: The president says the war on terror goes on, and said he was impressed by the resolve of the world leaders with whom he stood, and also their resolve matches his own.
Let's get to CNN International and Nic Robertson and Christiane Amanpour this morning.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ... a claim by one group on one Web site, and we have to stress at this time it cannot be verified that this claim is real. This is a Web site that we haven't heard of before. The group who call themselves the Secret Group of al Qaeda's Jihad in Europe, is not a group that we've heard of before, so it's impossible to verify this claim. But they say that - quote -- "Dear heroic fighters of the Arab nation, it is time for revenge against the crusader and Zionist British government in response to the massacres carried out by Great Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan."
That is their statement. They also indicate this has been something that's been in -- gone through a long phase of planning by what they call their Mujaheddin.
But this is the first claim. It comes very quickly. Again, it's come on a Web site that we haven't seen before. It is by a group, the Secret Group of al Qaeda's Jihad in Europe, a group we haven't heard of before as well. So this perhaps the first of what may be other claims, but this the first being posted on a Web site in Arabic, Christiane. AMANPOUR: Nic, in the past, for instance, those who committed the crimes in Madrid a year ago, in the past, they have claimed responsibility and it has sort of pointed towards these groups. I mean, what is the track record when these groups claim responsibility?
ROBERTSON: There does seem to be over time evidence that comes to support those claims. Madrid would be one of those situations. And certainly terrorism experts that we've been able to talk with so far today have said that the characteristics of this particular attacks today, the characteristics because of their apparent complexity in the timing, and the number of attacks would tend to indicate a group that has -- that is using al Qaeda's philosophy and style of attack, of using multiple attacks in quite a small area, in a relatively short space of time. So they would -- they're saying that this does have some of the hallmarks of al Qaeda, or al Qaeda-related group.
So often when there are these initial claims, evidence does seem to emerge and certainly that was the case in Spain, the multiple bombings in March, on March 11, again, that first claim was supported by evidence that followed up. But again, this group is not a group that we've heard of before.
Some of the other things that terrorism experts are pointing out, they're saying that this particular -- these particular attacks, although three of them were underground, they made an attack above ground on a bus, therefore, making sure that there was no way, the analysts say, there was no way that perhaps these attacks could be written off by mechanical malfunctions underground. They say that the terrorists that committed these acts were trying to demonstrate above ground and leave very visible immediate evidence of their attacks.
So the indications we're receiving from analysts who study these type of actions, they say that it has the hallmarks of al Qaeda. They also say -- and these are people that have been in touch with British intelligence officials, that have been in touch with British security experts over many years -- say that for the British police, it has been a case of when this type of attack might happen, not if. They say the British intelligence authorities have been very, very aware that terrorist organizations have had a very, very high level of intent, meaning a high level of threat, against London at this time -- Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Just to reiterate some of what of our analysts have been saying, you know, London, of course, is known as the capital that has dealt with terrorism over the decades, most notably because of the IRA, the Irish Republican Army, during the height of the troubles. But the analysts have told us the scale of what has happened today dwarves what has happened under the years of IRA violence, because for the most part, they took place in -- at times when people were not in maximum concentrations. Most of those attacks were prewarned with telephone warnings to keep civilians away, that their intent was lot more political than to kill innocent civilians, whereas this, analysts say, was directed at civilians in the most vulnerable of locations, which is the trap of an underground station.
Can I just say, in terms of what you've been following over the years, has there ever been an incident that al Qaeda or any group we may even not have heard of before, an al Qaeda-affiliated group, claimed responsibility and it turned out not to be or that, in fact, it was proved it was something else?
ROBERTSON: There are certainly indications that many of the attacks claimed in Iraq under the banner of al Qaeda and Abu Musab Zarqawi may, indeed, not have been perpetrated by him, or that they weren't directly involved in the attacks. They film them, and therefore they claim responsibility. So there are indications.
But in terms of an isolated attack in a world capital, it would seem that judging by the track record of al Qaeda, al Qaeda-related groups before, that there may prove to be truth in it in this claim. But it is still, the experts are saying, far too early.
Some of the other things they're pointing out here. They're saying that these attacks, as you rightly say, the IRA in their prior attacks in Great Britain tended to target either military-related, politically-related, financial institutions. Al Qaeda's targets typically have been targets that create maximum terror, designed to cause maximum civilian loss of life. And that certainly fits the characteristics of today's attacks.
But the terrorism experts also saying that the attacks today have chosen relatively soft underground targets, if you will. Stations, as with the Tube station in London that doesn't have high security. But there are other stations that might have had more symbolic or high value attraction for an al Qaeda-related group, but those are stations that necessarily have a higher level of security. Westminster Tube station, right by the houses of Parliament, would have been a spectacular, if you will, the terrorism analysts say, for al Qaeda to hit. It would have been right under the noses, they say, of the British government. They've chosen slightly softer targets.
But again, by targeting trains in a tunnel, these terrorism experts say that they're trying to maximize casualties. And they point to other issues that -- detonating a bomb in a tunnel, perhaps precludes the use of remote detonation by cellular telephones because they don't work in that underground system. So again, it indicates a level of pre-planning, they say, that indicates that a group as sophisticated as al Qaeda has become in its tactics, could very well be behind this, indeed, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Nic, thank you. And just to talk a little bit about the atmosphere...
S. O'BRIEN: We've been listening to Nic Robertson on CNN International talking about a claim of responsibility now, a claim, he emphasizes, of one group on one Web site. Both the group and Web site had not heretofore been heard of. It's called the Secret Group of al Qaeda Jihad in Europe. And he says --- and we reiterate, it is impossible to verify the claim at this point -- the statement, though, on this Web site indicated Afghanistan and Iraq, the reasons behind the attack, and that apparently the attack had been planned for a while. But again, we should reiterate, not confirmed. The Web site not seen before, the group not heard of before. Many experts, though, have pointed out that this attack does have all the hallmarks of an attack by al Qaeda -- Miles?
M. O'BRIEN: All right. We were -- before we cut away to the president of the United States, as he spoke to the world and we heard from Nic Robertson, we were speaking with Abigail Milner, who was in -- I guess it was between Russell Square and Tavistock Square when the double-decker bus that you see on the screen there was struck by the bomb. Literally ripped the top deck off.
And Abigail, I was just about to ask you how close you were to this explosion when it occurred?
MILNER: I must have been about 15, 20 meters away.
M. O'BRIEN: That's awfully close.
MILNER: It is. As soon as it happened, I just turned, because I imagined shrapnel everywhere and just ran and pulled my jacket over me. And I was fortunate enough not to be hit by anything. My ears are a bit sore, though.
M. O'BRIEN: I can imagine it was a tremendous blast to your eardrums. Tell me what you did afterward, what you saw after the explosion occurred?
MILNER: I think I just was so shocked. There was just people running everywhere. I ran into the nearest hotel and -- just to get away, and so I ran in there. And everyone was kind of coming to see what happened. People were running out with blankets. You know, medical staff were trying to get to people. Everyone in the hotel that I was in was trying to help any spare medical supplies, blankets. I think I was in too much shock, really, to do anything. It was just -- it was horrific to see it happening. And I just knew there were loads of people around because I had been walking with them. And as I said before, they'd been redirected to go up this road, and so there were more people than usual. And I just didn't really -- I didn't really want to see what had happened.
M. O'BRIEN: So you really didn't -- you didn't see the casualties, but you saw -- the general scene afterwards, would you describe it as panic?
MILNER: Yes. I think it's just -- just the fact -- I mean, I don't -- the fact that nobody expected it and everyone just -- yes. Just screaming, running. There were people lying on the side of the road, some people had cuts. And once -- once the paramedics had got in and they were just trying to work on whoever they could, and there were police kind of coming around. And they wanted to check all the rest of the buildings for bombs. And just -- there was just panic, yes.
M. O'BRIEN: I'm curious, making your way to work this morning, I imagine the threat of terror and the thought that you might be anywhere close to being a target of terror was probably not on your mind?
MILNER: No, not at all. I couldn't -- now that it's happened, I just -- I could never have imagined really being in this situation. And I think -- just shock really. I never -- I can't even describe what it looked like, what it sounded like. Just scary.
M. O'BRIEN: And your reaction to those who would perpetrate something like this would be what?
MILNER: Why? I don't understand why they would do that. There's so many people in this world that are trying to better things and why would they do that? I just -- I don't understand.
M. O'BRIEN: Does it make you angry?
MILNER: It does. It does, yes. I just think to take a life like that -- I mean, there's people that die every day, you know, with no food or -- and that sort of thing, but to selfishly take lives of good people, destroy things like that, you know, for the sake of their, you know, selfishness, I would imagine, it's just shocking.
M. O'BRIEN: Earlier we heard from a witness who was in one of the underground explosions or near to it and I was very surprised to hear what he said. They said -- and the reporter asked pretty much the same question I just asked you. And he said I pity them, I pity the terrorists. Would you pity them?
MILNER: Yes. Well, I suppose pity being going to such extreme measures to bring their point across. I suppose they're cowards, targeting innocent people. I don't really know what to feel at the moment. And I just thank God that I'm fine and I'm just praying for everyone that was hurt and just pray that they don't cause more destruction.
M. O'BRIEN: I suppose all throughout London, people such as yourself right now are trying to account for friends and family members. Have you been able to do that?
MILNER: I have, yes. My family's in South Africa and so the networks have been, as you can imagine, just, you know, non- accessible. But I have managed to get a hold of my family and let people know. And as far as I know, everyone that I know is fine in London.
M. O'BRIEN: Abigail Milner, thank you for your time, and best to you.
MILNER: Thank you.
M. O'BRIEN: Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Another eyewitness talking about the horrific scene that she and others have seen this morning. We are talking about the series of coordinated attacks in London that happened as rush hour, the height of rush hour, 8:50 in the morning London time, a little before 4:00 in the morning East Coast time. You can see there some of the wreckage of a bus. Four attacks, we're told now by Scotland Yard. Three happened in underground stations and happened actually in the tunnels underground. One on that bus. The bus, as some eyewitnesses described it, torn apart like a tin can.
All Europe now, we're told by the -- some of the leaders in Italy -- Europe on a state of alert as details and also more information is emerging. The terror threat level here in the U.S., though, remains unchanged. That could change. The president, though, advising vigilance on everyone's part.
The numbers of confirmed dead, that is certain to change, because those numbers are extremely low as confirmed by the police. But eyewitnesses have talked about the numbers of dead that remain underground and will remain underground until the investigation can get under way because, of course, they are to a large degree part of that investigation now.
160 was the last number we heard reported about the injured. One London hospital said that of the people they had, 10 were seriously injured, seven critical and had, in fact, been whisked right into surgery.
The markets hit as well, European and British markets. There were -- there was word from Tony Blair when he first addressed the world that he felt this attack was timed to coordinate with the start of the G8. But we heard from Nic Robertson just a few minutes ago that one claim of responsibility from one Web site of the Secret Group of al Qaeda Jihad in Europe, which he emphasized is impossible to verify at this point, and also is a Web site that he hasn't heard of before and a group he had not heard of before, they are claiming responsibility and indicating in their statement, in fact, that it's the military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq as the reason for the attack, and that the attack, in fact, had been planned for a while.
Tony Blair also talked about the solidarity, as he stood with members of the G8. President Bush was there on his left, camera left, and to the right, the French President Jacques Chirac, all of them standing with zero emotion on their faces as Tony Blair told the world there is determination and, in fact, they will fight against the terror. They stand in solidarity.
And just a few minutes after that, we heard from President Bush. He remains in Scotland as the G8 summit goes on. Tony Blair is heading back to London for a security briefing. President Bush extended the nation's condolences to the people of Britain and talked about the determination and strength, also advised Americans to be extra cautious, as we all head to work today. His message also a message of solidarity. He says he's been meeting with the officials, including Homeland Security, to find out what exactly is happening here in the U.S., and he also said that the intentions of those at the summit are in direct contrast to the intentions of those who would pull off a terror attack against innocent citizens as they make their way to work. We've heard from some of our security analysts as well about the soft targets.
You will recall just a year ago in Madrid 190 people killed, 1,500 others were injured on the first European transportation terror attack there, and it's a soft target, and as our security analysts tell us, an emotional target, too. That is the kind of target that really strikes fear in the hearts of people that they are not even safe as they make their way into the office every day.
It is a chaotic scene still there this morning as they try to remove some of these bodies, which they cannot do until the investigation makes further progress.
So still no confirmed numbers to report on the dead and injured, and still no confirmed group to blame, or really taking responsibility for the attacks out of London this morning.
Let's get back to Bill Daly. He's senior vice president of Control Risk Group, and formerly, though, was an FBI investigator in foreign counter-intelligence. We've been talking about what this has -- the hallmarks are.
When you hear about this group which no one seems to have heard of, Secret Group of al Qaeda Jihad in Europe, do you know anything? Have you ever heard of them, know anything about them?
DALY: I haven't heard of them, and it's not that uncommon that right after attacks that different groups will take claim. It doesn't mean that this certainly is the group. Some of the things they're saying certainly sound as though they could be influenced by al Qaeda and some of their belief systems.
S. O'BRIEN: Does your gut tell you this is fake? Or does your gut tell you this could be real?
DALY: I'll hold off and say that it could be -- it's questionable at this point. I think that we -- sometimes groups don't take claim for days weeks, if at all credit, if you want to call it credit, for horrendous acts like this.
But it's very interesting, Soledad, is that we look at London, look at England. They've had a very sophisticated anti-terror campaign.
S. O'BRIEN: Because of the IRA.
DALY: Because of the IRA.
S. O'BRIEN: And they've had soft targets hit before. They've had department stores hit as part of the IRA campaign. So between MI5, Metropolitan Police, they're very on top of it. I mean, we certainly liken ourselves here in major metropolitan cities in New York of having a similar type of campaign.
DALY: We've learned a lot from folks in Europe and in London about how to go about our own fight on terror. But you know, when we look at transportation systems, Soledad, even when we look at what happened in Israel and has happened up until recent times, is that with all the security they've had in place and armed people on corners, is that they still have attacks on busses. When you're operating in a free society, when people have movement, when people are carrying packages to and fro, there is just no one way to be able to lock that down.
S. O'BRIEN: Two things strike me, though, when a terrorist attacks the transit system, one, that you really sort of get at people's hearts and minds because it's not a federal building, it's a sense of you're just on your bus on your way to work, why would you possibly be the focus of an attack -- so emotionally. And then also just ease. You cannot possibly check everyone's briefcase, backpack, especially at the height of rush hour.
DALY: Absolutely not. And for myself too, just traveling here this morning, taking mass transit, going under tunnels in New York, certainly took a deep breath as I was on some of those moments.
But what I can tell you is that we are looking at certain devices, Homeland Security and all the technologies that are starting to emerge which may help to identify people who carry devices and may be able to sniff them out from a distance, but that's far down the pike. But as of this moment, we don't have those.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, former FBI investigator Bill Daly talking with us this morning. We're going to ask you to stick around, if we may -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: The president of the United States speaking from Gleneagles, Scotland, just a little while ago said the perpetrators of today's attacks are intent on destroying human life. The terrorists will not succeed.
And then as we just mentioned, this group, heretofore unknown, Secret Organization Group of al Qaeda of Jihad and Europe, from a Web site that our people who are familiar with such things aren't -- don't know much about, so take that for what it is, saying that Arabism could rejoice for it is time to take revenge from the British Zionist crusader government for retaliation for the massacres British is making in Afghan and Iraq.
Talk about two stark statements juxtaposed there.
We have resources all over the world quite literally on this story. CNN's Christiane Amanpour in London leading our efforts there, the resources of CNN International. Our coverage will continue all throughout the day. We're going to take a brief break. We'll be back with more in just a moment.
M. O'BRIEN: Here's the scene in London this morning. It's been now five hours since this attack occurred, a coordinated series of explosions right in the heart of the busy rush hour in the heart of London. What you're seeing there is just one of those explosions. Four separate explosions to be accounted for, this one ripping off the top of a double-decker bus. Three others underground in a system they call the Tube there. We have reports of at least 160 wounded, at least 13 bodies at the King's Cross station, just one of the locations of those underground explosions, but those numbers are apt change dramatically all throughout the course of the morning.
We've been hearing from world leaders all morning, deploring the attacks. Among them, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is winging his way to London right now, coming from the G8 Summit in Gleneagles Scotland. The president of the United States saying the perpetrators of today's attacks intent on destroying human life. The terrorists will not, in fact, succeed.
Already there has been a claim of responsibility by a group which is shadowy at best, really unknown up until this moment.
CNN's Nic Robertson spends a lot of time focusing on these groups and their Web sites and their claims of responsibility.
Nic, what can you tell us?
ROBERTSON: Well, Miles, the group calls themselves the Secret Group of al Qaeda's Jihad in Europe. This isn't a group we've heard from before. They've posted their claim on a Web site called al Qalah.
This Web site is used by radical Islamists for posting such claims. However, anyone can post a claim on it. So there is no way to verify this particular claim, or even if this particular group, the Secret Group of al Qaeda's Jihad in Europe, no way of knowing even if that group is a real group or exists.
This is the first claim. Already it is being cut and pasted on other radical Islamist Web sites. And such was the traffic on the al Qalah Web site, not everyone trying to get that Web site could read it.
The message is very clearly aimed at the British government. It says that this is revenge against the crusader -- crusader, Great Britain, for the massacres it claims it perpetrated in Iraq and Afghanistan by the group. And it also indicates that what it calls its Mujaheddin, its fighters, have been in preparation for this attack for some time.
Terrorism analysts I've talked with today have said that this attack does bear the hallmarks of an al Qaeda or al Qaeda-related group. However, they stress that it is far too soon to say with any degree of certainty exactly who could be responsible, what the motives were. But this, on the al Qalah Web site, by this previously unknown and unheard of group, al Qaeda's Secret Group for Jihad in Europe, this the first claim of responsibility -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Well, Nic, it certainly has the rhetoric, the language, the syntax, the vocabulary of some of these previous claims of responsibility. So at this juncture, we take it with a grain of salt, but we don't have reason to doubt it either.
ROBERTSON: And as we have seen with other claims, thinking of Madrid, the multiple bombing attacks on the transport network there in March last year that -- that particular attack was followed by just such a claim which later proved to be correct to have a credible basis. So analysts are this time saying, again, the same thing, that it may very well prove, as you say, to have more than a grain of truth in it, this particular claim -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Well, let's assume for a moment that this group is, in fact, responsible, and the term "al Qaeda" in the midst of that long name of this group, what are we to infer by that? I think a lot of people, when they hear "al Qaeda," they presume that somewhere along the line Osama bin Laden has issued an order.
Probably not so, right?
ROBERTSON: Not necessarily the case at all. The Osama bin Laden ideology of attacking Western targets is something that has been of great cause for concern for both intelligence and security personnel in London.
For them, we're told, again, by intelligence experts who speak with -- on very regular occasions, that this -- that the British intelligence, British security services, have been saying this is not a case of when this attack, this type of attack will occur -- not a case of if it will occur, but when it will occur. And indeed, that does appear to be what's happened.
They have said -- the British intelligence services have known and been speaking both publicly and privately that they believe this type of threat has been very, very real, and very, very credible.
For instance, they say that of people that they've been tracking within Great Britain, at least 50 people that they would suspect could be -- could fall under the al Qaeda-type umbrella, 50 people have essentially gone missing, have left the country, whereabouts unknown. It's not an indication, they say -- this is not an indication that they could have been involved in this particular attack, but it gives you an indication of how closely the British intelligence services are tracking al Qaeda and al Qaeda-related groups.
But the ideology behind the -- behind this type of attack, and, again, in a statement, that it's been under planning for some time. The claim of responsibility indicating that it had been planned for some time, indicative of al Qaeda, but not necessarily indicative that the order might have come from Osama bin Laden.
So this group using the basics of the Osama bin Laden ideology and not his command, may have been planning and perpetrated this without -- without his even knowledge, Miles, that it -- that it was going to happen.
M. O'BRIEN: Nic, a couple of points here. I noticed in this statement, when you read its entirety, it's pretty common for them to reference the martyrdom of people that are involved in suicide attacks. I don't see a reference to that.
Can we infer anything by that? Is it possible these were not suicide attacks?
ROBERTSON: Miles, it would be -- there would be a great deal of speculation at this time to try and read more into the details of the attacks, purely and simply because the security services in Great Britain haven't released any data as to what happened. But if one looks at what's happened -- and this is what our terrorism experts say -- three attacks underground, one above ground.
They say that the attack above ground is so that there is visible evidence, so that people can see, they can strike terror into people, that you can see the wreckage of the blown-apart bus. That people know there is no doubt that this was an attack, not a malfunction of the Underground system deep underground, that this was an attack.
When one thinks about the attacks in Madrid, that were in some part explosives in backpacks triggered by mobile phones, one can look at the Underground network in London -- and I know from experience that the cellular telephone network does not work in the Underground network in London. So that does raise the question of how were these devices triggered? Were they triggered by timers? Or could individuals have been involved? Again, this is all speculation, Miles.
But listening to what one reporter on the scene quoted from an eyewitness who was at the site of one of those underground explosions, the eyewitness said that one of the bombs detonated as two Underground trains passed each other. Now, that would be very fortuitous for the terrorists if that was -- if the explosives were detonated at that particular time by a timer. But, again, it's all speculation at this time exactly what triggered the devices.
But reasonable it may be to say at this time that it is unlikely that the mobile phone network that has so often been associated recently with the triggering mechanism, part of the detonation system for explosives, would have been used in the Underground trains -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes. And just to button up that point, if there is a city in the world where people are attuned to the dangers of unattended packages, it would be London, after all the years of dealing with the IRA and the troubles.
Final thought here, Nic. Have you have heard from your sources either today, or have you been hearing prior, of any sort of that so- called chatter that seemed to indicate increased activity on the part of al Qaeda-affiliated organizations?
ROBERTSON: We haven't had indications of this raised level of chatter, but at a recent conference in London that drew terrorism experts from all over the world, and principally from Great Britain, private discussions there focused on the very, very real threat of just such an attack. And that was from one of our sources who was there, was part of these conversations. A very, very real threat, credible threat, of a potential attack threat by -- by person or persons unknown -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: All right, Nic Robertson. We'll leave it at that. Thank you very much for the insights -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: This news out of Washington, D.C. this morning. Relevant security agencies in D.C. are making sure that there's additional caution and precautions taken, not only in Washington, D.C., but also in New York City and other major cities across the U.S. But they stress that there is no intelligence or any chatter or activity that would suggest any threat here to the U.S. Therefore, the threat level here in the U.S. has not been raised.
A very somber President Bush, who is in Gleneagles, Scotland, spoke to the world just a very short while ago, expressing sadness and concern for those who have been through these terror attacks in London this morning. He also talked a little bit about the resolve -- not only the resolve of the United States, but the resolve of all of the nations, especially those represented at the G8 summit in Scotland.
Let's listen to a little bit of what the President had to say just a little while ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The contrast between what we've seen on the TV screens here, what's taken place in London, what's taking place here, is incredibly vivid to me.
On the one hand, we've got people here who are working to alleviate poverty, to help rid the world of the pandemic of AIDS, they're working on ways to have a clean environment. And on the other hand, you've got people killing innocent people. And the contrast couldn't be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and those who kill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: The president offering his condolences, and the condolences of the nation, talking about determination and strength in the face of terror, and also sent a message of solidarity as well.
Although the terror threat's not being raised here in the U.S., the president did say that he hopes folks will be extra vigilant as they make their way into work here in the United States.
Kelly Wallace is in our New York bureau, and she's taking a look at some of the other stories that are making headlines domestically.
Kelly, good morning.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. And a lot of the news this morning, Soledad, what other cities in the United States might be doing in the wake of the London blast.
We do know that an interagency federal team is expected to be meeting at this hour to discuss what extra security steps should be taken on subway systems and other mass transportation systems in major cities, such as New York, Washington, and other cities around the country.
Looking around the country so far, taking a look at Washington, we understand that MetroTransit Police have deployed special response teams armed with machine guns and bomb-sniffing dogs along the mass transportation system in the District of Columbia. They also say that they have closed some restrooms at the Metro rail stations for security precautions. And they are asking people to be on the lookout for any suspicious packages.
In New York City, we can tell you they are also taking a good look at security. There was actually a safety drill earlier this morning in New York City. You had officers going into subway stations. They say that they were doing this not in response to any threat, but for security precautions. A spokesman with the New York City Transit telling CNN that employees have been instructed to be extra vigilant, and employees are checking the trains before they leave the terminals.
Also, looking out on the West Coast, in Los Angeles we understand there officials have activated a special command center, and that they will be holding a news conference at about 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time to discuss what they are doing.
So all across the country, Soledad, cities in the United States taking a good look at what happened, evaluating their own security and discussing what steps they need to be taking.
And also, one other thing I want to mention. Amtrak, we are being told, has raised the security threat level. Heightened security, we're told, according to a news release, in place because of the London bombings. And what that means is you will see more resources in the security procedures on Amtrak. And also, again, an alert to passengers on Amtrak, passengers going to work throughout the country today, to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, Kelly. It is certainly a little bit unnerving when the president makes a statement advising all of people who will be commuting into the office today to be extra vigilant, as we all head in.
Kelly Wallace with an update of what's happening around the U.S. today -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Almost the moment that the bombs were set off in London, the London exchange, the FTSE, began its -- a bit of a tailspin. U.S. futures are down, setting the stage for what is apt to be a rather grim day on Wall Street.
Andy Serwer is here with that -- Andy.
(STOCK MARKET REPORT)
S. O'BRIEN: We should take a look at, really, what some of the eyewitnesses had been saying, because I think some of the words have just been heartbreaking, to a large degree.
One eyewitness describing utter pandemonium. These are people who were trapped in the tunnels in the Underground, in the Tube. And essentially, they were, in many cases, bodies strewn around them. Bodies that they would eventually have to walk over to get out of the carriages that they were trapped in. Once they were able to break through the doors on either side, they were then stuck with the problem of, do you venture out and risk electrocution on these subway rails? Many of the people who said that they felt like they had been waiting for 20 or 30 minutes, as smoke and soot filled in to the carriage, said the people were screaming, and they felt that they were trapped like sardines and essentially felt like they were waiting to die.
Also, several eyewitnesses said they felt that there was no emergency personnel and no sense of a direction of what they should do, or that anyone was coming to get them. And you'll recall when we first heard word, or this first word crossed the wires about explosions, there was a sense that maybe it was an electrical problem.
The initial word, just before 4:00 this morning here in New York, was that there was some kind of technical problem that had call caused an explosion, and that might explain the numerous hits along the subway line. Next was word that a bus had been targeted as well, and I think it became pretty clear thereafter that these were actual explosive devices that had been placed upon these trains.
No one at this point has been confirmed as taking responsibility, although there is a group that has a Web site that says they are taking responsibility. Not confirmed at this time. A group that no one's heard of, a Web site that no one's ever heard of either.
Let's get right back to Elaine Quijano. She is in Scotland, where the G8 is meeting.
Elaine, we heard from not long ago a very somber President Bush, who talked not only about condolences of the nation, but also about resolve.
QUIJANO: Absolutely, Soledad. And as we have heard President Bush say so many times before, really setting an unyielding tone. In fact, the language he used, saying that he will not yield to the terrorists. He said, "We will find them. We will bring them to justice. At the same time, we'll spread an ideology of hope and compassion that will overwhelm their ideology of hate."
Now, certainly those are the same kinds of words, the same language that President Bush has used time and time again. And what is most interesting to note is that included of course within that group of G8 leaders, the G8 summit here in Scotland, of course people who have not necessarily seen eye to eye, European allies who have not always agreed with President Bush's approach in what the president has said is necessary action in the war on terror, i.e., Iraq, but President Bush saying quite clearly today that he was impressed by the resolve that he felt in that room today.
Now, we're also learning, Soledad, a little bit of background now on how this all unfolded from the White House's perspective here in Scotland.
We understand that the president, first of all, continues to be apprised by not only his chief of staff, Andrew Card, but his national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, as well. We understand that initially it was the deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin, who first notified Andy Card. Andy Card, again, then notifying the president.
But from there, we understand that calls were made to notify the various government agencies back at home in the United States. Those agencies including Homeland Security, of course. Also putting out a call to the director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, as well as the White House Military Office.
Now, President Bush himself said that he has been in touch with Homeland Security officials about precautions, making sure that precautions are being taken. No reports of any specific intelligence at this particular point, but we understand that the G8 meeting that was going on at the time was actually temporarily postponed in order that the leaders who were taking part in the meeting could be briefed -- the leaders, of course, including Prime Minister Blair, as well as President Bush. And it was at that time that the president returned to an area near his suite here in Gleneagles, Scotland, and convened by secure video conference a meeting with his national security, as well as Homeland Security advisers to be kept up to date on what was happening, and, as I said, ensuring that precautions were being taken.
The president then returned to the meetings. But the White House keeping, obviously, a very close eye on events in London, and also back in the United States as well.
One more thing, Soledad, we should mention. The word from the White House is that there are no plans for the president to leave the G8 summit early -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: You know, Elaine, you mentioned that the leaders of the G8 have often not seen eye to eye on many, many issues. But I thought it was interesting that not only President Bush, but also the prime minister, Tony Blair, really emphasized in this instance solidarity -- not only with their words.
They literally said that experience with terrorism among these -- among all of these nations at the G8 was something that sort of bound them together. But also, you could clearly see in their actions as they stood together as a group, with President Bush to the camera left of the prime minister, and Jacques Chirac, the French president, the camera right of the prime minister, standing together, deadly serious, frankly. This after a day of their sort of friendly back and forth and rivalry over the Olympic bid.
It is, Elaine, one would imagine, an issue where these leaders will be united.
QUIJANO: Absolutely. And what we have seen, as you point out, has certainly indicated that.
Of course, we're in the immediate moments now after these events have unfolded in London, and that really appears to be the goal, is to send a message directly to those responsible for these acts that in fact, these leaders who Tony Blair said felt were perhaps this was timed to coincide with the G8 summit, that these leaders will not be shaken in their resolve. And again, you heard President Bush use that very same language, very determined language, in laying out what his position and the sentiment of others in the room there, what their positions were as well.
This is a president that we should also note, in the war on terrorism, although his larger approval ratings may have not always hovered as high, for the most part, his approval ratings in the war on terrorism when it comes to how he has handled the war on terrorism in the United States, remain quite high. This is an issue that he very much is a strong leader on, Americans feel.
And at the same time, though, as you point out, the European leaders wanting to stand shoulder to shoulder in the aftermath of this and present a very united front as they move forward and try to determine what happened. But President Bush remaining very firm, as we have heard him say so many times before, that whoever is responsible will be brought to justice -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: And remaining in Scotland as the G8 meetings continue on. Elaine Quijano is there and she is reporting for us. Elaine, thanks a lot -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: You know, a couple of thoughts here about the -- sort of the whole psychology of this thing. We were talking earlier about the initial reports that it was power surges. And, you know, in the post-9/11 world, I think we all sort of hope against hope each time these things occur that that's what it is, almost like a state of denial. And then, of course, the explosion occurs on the bus and things start unraveling.
The other thing that was interesting to me, listening to Clark Kent Ervin talking about parallels to the summer of 2001. We were focused on shark attacks and missing people in that time, but we are in this time. Well, if there's any sort of slumber that we were in because of that, that slumber no longer exists this morning in the wake of this attack in London.
S. O'BRIEN: And certainly you hesitate to go and be -- to first say that it's been a terror attack, because, of course, officials who are knee deep in their investigation don't know that it's a terror attack and they will not confirm that. Really our first sense of it was from Tony Blair, who came out at 7:00 Eastern Time and said it seemed reasonably clear that that was what was happening.
M. O'BRIEN: There's little doubt of it left now as we continue our coverage of this. Four simultaneous explosions, morning rush hour in London.
We have resources literally all over the world working on this story. We're led by CNN's Christiane Amanpour in London. CNN's Nic Robertson has been working very hard on his sources as well, trying to track down the sources and the causes and the people responsible for all of this.
In addition to all that, we're watching a hurricane for you which is making its way toward Cuba now, pretty much over Jamaica. This is Dennis. It's now a category II. We're focusing on that as well in just a little bit.
Stay with us.
M. O'BRIEN: It is now a little after 2:00 in the afternoon in the city of London, a city that is crippled, shocked and horrified by what occurred during the morning rush hour this morning. Four separate yet simultaneous explosions striking the transit system there underground, as well as above the surface.
CNN's Christiane Amanpour is in London leading our coverage there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, at the moment, remaining quite tight- lipped about who could have been behind these attacks.
AMANPOUR: Monica (ph), thank you.
And as we have been saying quite regularly now, we are waiting, within the next hour or so, an official casualty figure from the Metropolitan Police. They tell us that they will -- when they're ready and when they have all the figures, tell us the number of people who have been killed by this, what appears to be, a series of terrorist attacks.
We've heard from the prime minister, from President Bush. We've heard from the British home secretary in Parliament, Charles Clark. Home secretary is like an interior minister, whose responsibility is internal security as well as other responsibilities. And now we're going to listen to an earlier statement from Michael Howard, who is the outgoing leader of the British Conservative Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good afternoon to you, Mr. Howard. Where were you when these events unfolded this morning?
MICHAEL HOWARD, LEADER, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE PARTY: I was in my office in the House of Commons.
It's a dreadful day for London and for our country. I obviously want to express my deep sympathy with the families and friends of those who have lost their lives and with those who have been injured. And my thanks and admiration for the emergency services who are doing such heroic work as we speak.
I entirely support what the prime minister has said. We must be determined in our efforts to protect our freedom and our way of life, and we must be absolutely united as one as a nation in our determination to defeat terrorism and to deal with those who are responsible for the evil acts in London today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Indeed, and no doubt in your mind that this is in reaction to the G8 summit currently being held? HOWARD: Well it appears to be so. But the terrorists will not get their way. They won't disrupt the G8 summit, and they won't destroy our way of life, because we will defeat them.
Our determination, as the prime minister said, is greater than theirs. And Londoners who have lived through dark days before, who have lived through bombings before, Londoners have a spirit which is strong and which is resolute, and these evil people will not have their way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: That was Christiane Amanpour talking to the British Conservative leader, Michael Howard, talking about the resolute nature of the people of Great Britain. And no one would doubt that, given the fact that it was in the very Underground that people endured World War II and the bombing of London. And the Brits do pride themselves on their stiff upper lip, but what we have seen this morning, underneath and on the streets of London, would test the resolve of anybody.
And in the wake of all of this, we are left with a lot of questions. But as we march down the road here and learn more about this, what we see laid before us appears to be all the hallmarks of a terror attack, synchronized terror attack, al Qaeda-style, if you will, terror attack, meant to send a message, perhaps, as the G8 summit goes on in Gleneagles, Scotland -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: The Metropolitan Police, we just heard from Christiane, will, they are hopeful, in the next hour or so be able to come forward with a number of confirmed dead. And I think that the fact that five-and-a-half hours after this attack there is still no number kind of underscores just how chaotic and how confusing the situation still remains. There are reports that there are bodies that are left in the tunnels of the underground, in situ, they've been calling them, or on the spot, because, of course, the investigation still needs to progress as well. This, of course, is the big story that we are covering with our colleagues at CNN International this morning.
There's also another story here, a little more domestically, if you will. Chad Myers in our Weather Center looking at two storms that we've been talking about really for the past couple of days. Chad, good morning to you. Give us an update on both of these storms?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Cindy really dissipating as we speak, making some rain showers for Piedmont in North Carolina. Still a little bit of spin with this storm. They're having a couple of tornado warnings this morning, but really it's in the dying stages.
Dennis, on the other hand, behind me, not on the dying stages. Right now, up to category II -- 105 miles per hour now. Only another five miles per hours to go and it's a category III. I'm going to show you something that happened in the overnight hours that's very interesting. There was a wobble to the storm. It actually turned right for just a moment. Now it appears maybe it's turning back to the left again. But this wobble, think of it -- if you're driving down the road, and you're one degree off on the steering wheel. Well, for the first half a mile, it's not so big. You're only on the shoulder. But five miles down the road, you're completely off the road. That could make our forecast here, the computer models, completely off the road, as it turns to the right.
We'll have to keep watching this. It's a very large storm, from north of Haiti, almost down to Central America, and as it slides on up toward the north and northwest today, continues to travel, and maybe right over Havana. Guantanamo Bay now, you're in play with this. As the storm turned to the right, you could see winds to 100 miles per hour. And that III right there, category III hurricane, even though it's a II right now, it will be a III as it makes landfall sometime during the day on Sunday.
Notice Florida, you are still not out of the cone. And maybe you're back even farther in the cone now, now that that storm has traveled to the right just a little bit. It's a category II and only has five more miles to go to get to be a category III.
S. O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question, Chad. Outside of the number of miles per hour that the wind's going, what are the other differences between a category II and a category III? I mean, I know IV's the worst, right? But what does III specifically mean?
MYERS: III goes from 111 to 130 -- 130 miles per hour. That will knock down more significant structures. A category II here will do damage to mobile homes and really poorly constructed homes. Now, if you get back into a category III and category IV, that's considered a major hurricane -- I and II, still only a minor blow. Category III, a major hurricane. And this is still forecast. Some of the computer models, the one in particular called the shift's model (ph), gets it to 129 miles per hour. That's only one mile from being a IV.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, Chad, you're going to continue to monitor that storm for us and then track a little of Cindy, as well. Thanks, Chad. We'll check in with you again this morning.
Let's get right back to our top story, our international story this morning -- the series of coordinated terror attacks, it appears, in London this morning. Miles, let's get right back to you.
M. O'BRIEN: Well, you know -- and I caution our viewers, because we're getting all kinds of numbers here, but, you know, it's our duty to just kind of pass this along. Right now, the Associated Press is reporting as many as 334 people wounded, including 120 treated and released. 150 others, seriously injured. There is a report which comes to us via U.S. law enforcement, that has been in contact with counterparts in London, that 40 have been killed. 40 people killed in the wake of this.
And as we have been saying, you can only imagine the horrific scene underground there as those people who have been killed are in this wreckage of these three blasts underground as what was a rescue operation becomes a recovery and a forensic investigation. Richard Falkenrath is our CNN security analyst. He's been watching things unfold for us from his perch in Washington.
Richard, what's your initial take on this? We've been walking down the road of saying this looks an awful lot like al Qaeda. Can you say anything more or add anything more than that?
RICHARD FALKENRATH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it does look an awful lot like a jihadist group. Maybe not al Qaeda per se, but someone who shares their ideology and has learned from their method of operating. There are some other possibilities. It could be a faction of the IRA. It's a little unlikely, given what we know. They've typically targeted symbolic targets rather than civilian targets. It could also be a group trying to protest the G8. But I think most likely, it is al Qaeda or affiliate organization.
M. O'BRIEN: Well -- and also, if you go back to the IRA, typically the IRA it's customary, if you will, for them to issue some kind of warning in advance of this. And I don't think that that occurred. At least we haven't heard about that just yet. This group, which Nic Robertson initially reported about, the organization group of Islamic Jihad. I don't know that I got that entirely correct. Have you heard about it at all?
FALKENRATH: No, we haven't heard about it. It's fairly common for these jihadist Web sites to pop up right after an attack and claim credit for it. So I'm pretty skeptical about that, whoever posted that on that Web site personally having foreknowledge of the attack. The perpetrators right now are probably at large in London, and either planning another attack or going into hiding and trying to leave the country.
M. O'BRIEN: All right. And just to set the record, it's the Secret Organization of al Qaeda of Jihad in Europe, submitted for what it's worth there. Now, what you're implying there is this may not have been a suicide attack? Or at least there were accomplices who survived. What do you suppose the authorities there are doing about that right now?
FALKENRATH: Well, they're certainly interviewing the people who can be interviewed who saw the bombs. They're looking at the closed circuit TV tape from the subway and the access points of the subway. And they're going to be doing forensic analysis of the actual explosion site. I personally doubt it was a suicide bomb. I think it most likely was a timed device. You can't use a cell phone in the Tube the way you could in Madrid. So I think they probably had a simple Timex watch or something that they associated with the bombs and set them off simultaneously.
M. O'BRIEN: So what that leads you to believe, then, though, is that there were unattended packages? Of course, you're on a crowded subway. Suspect gets on, sits down, it's jammed, puts something under his seat, gets off at the next station. I guess it could be done.
FALKENRATH: It could be done. You know, the London Tube is pretty serious about unattended packages, but it absolutely could be done, if you're talking about a backpack-sized explosive. The other thing they're worried about, I'm sure, are secondary devices. And that's one of the things that slows down the investigation and the extraction of casualties. It's common in terrorist attacks for there to be a primary explosion and then secondary explosions that try to target the emergency response personnel. So I know that the responders in London are aware of that possibility and take it pretty seriously.
M. O'BRIEN: Well, there is a report this morning that they found at least one unexploded device, which raises the possibility that in some ways this attack could have been more widespread. And they're going to try to destroy it soon. So what we've seen is, perhaps, it could have been worse?
FALKENRATH: It absolutely could have been worse. The Tube is a very dangerous environment. You're very deep underground. There have been terrible fires in the Tube in the past. The emergency personnel there take it very seriously and they're very, very professional, but it is a tough environment to save lives in the middle of some kind of disaster.
M. O'BRIEN: We're talking about tunnels that were initially dug in the 1850s, a system that opened in 1863, the world's first subway. So I imagine, certainly at that time, there weren't thoughts about this kind of situation. So I imagine it makes it very difficult for the rescue teams to do what they need to do?
FALKENRATH: It does. And the unexploded ordinance or unexploded bomb, I wouldn't be at all be surprised if they find more of them. In Madrid, there were I think 13 bombs that went off and about six that didn't go off. So there may well be more throughout that didn't go off or haven't gone off yet.
M. O'BRIEN: So, but the ominous thought here is that you have people who planned this, executed it, who are alive and well, watching this CNN broadcast right now, potentially?
FALKENRATH: I think it's quite likely. And the security services in London are going to be pursuing every possible lead to find those people. They had a number of groups and individuals under surveillance. They've had some major takedowns and some plots that they've thwarted. London has been a very active area for counterterrorism operations in the past five years. And so the security services will be upset they let this one slip through, but they're going to turn over every stone, I'm sure, to find out who did it and take them down before they can strike again.
M. O'BRIEN: Richard, you've worked these problems from the inside. We have a statement that was just handed to me from Michael Chertoff, secretary of Homeland Security. And he talks about, of course, sympathy and condolences to those who are victims of this attack. But then he says, we do not have specific intelligence indicating this type of attack is planned in the United States, but we are constantly evaluating both intelligence and our protective measures and will take whatever actions are necessary.
What are the necessary actions right now, you think? FALKENRATH: Well, certainly there will be heightened security at transit systems throughout the country. The security at these transit systems is not a federal responsibility. It's a state and local responsibility or it's the transit police responsibility in each local area. So the Department of Homeland Security will be communicating with those agencies to try to ensure that they're at heightened level of vigilance, but it's probably unnecessary. They're all watching the news, too. I think they'll be taking the same reaction that would be done even if the federal government hadn't been having big meetings right now. So there will heightened vigilance at U.S. transit systems today, in part to make sure there are no attacks here in the U.S. and in part to reassure the traveling public that the government is on top of it.
M. O'BRIEN: Is the government really on top of it, though? Do you think?
FALKENRATH: Well, it's a good question. After Madrid, a year and a half ago, we did a pretty careful study -- I was still in government at the time -- of our rail security and transit security systems. And frankly, we spend an awful lot of money on air security, about $6 billion, screening passengers at airports, and a tiny fraction of that, about $50 million, on transit-security systems.
So the federal government's presence in surface transportation systems security is really very modest, and I think people will be asking again today whether that should be expanded.
M. O'BRIEN: Well, they call it the Transportation Security Agency, but it's really a misnomer, isn't it?
FALKENRATH: It's really an aviation security agency, and that's a function of where the Congress set the deadlines and imposed very specific mandates. There were no statutory mandates for the federal government's intervention in surface transportation, only in air transportation.
M. O'BRIEN: Richard Falkenrath, stay close. We'll be back in touch with you as the day progresses.
FALKENRATH: Thanks, Miles.
S. O'BRIEN: An update of sorts if we can get to it, 45 people dead. That report coming from ITN this morning. It is expected, though, that all the numbers you're going to hear of the dead and injured are quite fluid, because as we have heard from the scene, there are some bodies that remain in the tunnels where there is access to them, but it is now a crime scene, and so as the investigation progresses, they will then be able to move those bodies.
So the number we're getting from ITN, 45 people dead. That number, one would imagine, will change.
The question, of course, today and now, and as of this morning, who did it? Nic Robertson has been tracking and dealing with many of these groups, and he's in Atlanta this morning. Nic, there's a group that's taking responsibility, but it's a group that no one's ever heard of?
ROBERTSON: That's right. They're calling themselves the Secret Group of al Qaeda Jihad in Europe. Their claim was posted on a Web site used by radical Islamist groups. However, anyone can post anything to that particular Web site. So the very fact that the Web site's been used before for such types of claims is not an indication that this claim or this group is very viable.
Indeed, at this stage, we haven't been able to take this verification any further. But what this group claims on this statement, they claim they have perpetrated this attack in London against the British government, who they accuse of being crusaders. They say that this is revenge for the massacres they claim that the British government is responsible for in Iraq and Afghanistan. They praise what they call their Mujaheddin fighters. They indicate that this operation has been in planning for some time.
But again, this group, we have not heard of them before. The Secret Group of al Qaeda Jihad in Europe has not been heard of before. This Web site has been used by such claims, but not an indication that there is any truth or verification behind this particular claim.
Terrorism experts we have talked to so far today say there are certainly indications that this particular attack bears the hallmarks of al Qaeda and al Qaeda-related groups attacks in the past, in that it appears to have taken a good degree of planning, it appears to have taken a good and intense degree of preparation, and that it was carried out in a coordinated way at a number of different explosions over a relatively short period of time in a relatively small area.
So the hallmarks, experts are telling us, the hallmarks of this attack bear the symptoms of al Qaeda. This group claims to be an al Qaeda, or al Qaeda-related group. But again, no verification this particular claim at this time -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Nic, after the question, who, of course the question is how? And when you hear some of the details, especially, I guess, the descriptions by eyewitnesses, are investigators even at this early hour able to piece together what may have happened? I mean, is it a series of suicide bombers onboard the trains or onboard a bus? Is it something that's remotely detonated somehow that would cause multiple explosions? Any information from investigators on that yet?
ROBERTSON: We're not hearing anything officially from any of the investigators. The only indication that we've had so far was an unofficial report at a very early stage by the fire services in London, and this was a conversation that they had with an emergency- responder group that deals with chemical, biological and radioactive incidents as part ever the emergency planning for London. The fire service in London saying there was no radiological element associated with this particular attack.
Further than that, we have not heard from the security services that are sifting through the wreckage. We do know that the sites have now been termed from rescue sites into crime scenes that are being investigated.
The very fact, however, that some of these attacks, three of them, occurred -- bombs apparently detonated on Underground trains in London, is an indication that perhaps unlike the attack in Madrid and other bombs that are used by al Qaeda and al Qaeda-related groups, it seems unlikely that these bombs on the Underground system in London and the Tube system would have been detonated by -- remotely by cellular mobile telephone, the reason being that cellular telephone network does not work on the Underground system on the Tube system in London. So this indicates that perhaps the bomb was triggered by timers. Perhaps it indicates that they were, indeed, detonated by suicide bombers.
But, again, this is all speculation. There is no information to give any basis of truth for these insights at this time by the investigation team in London.
However, one detail that emerged from a reporter on the scene who spoke to somebody who survived one of the blasts. They said, the eyewitness said, that one of the blasts occurred when two of these Tube trains, two of the underground trains, passed each other. Now, that would indicate that as far as the attackers were concerned, if that was done through a timing device on the explosives, for them, that would have been very lucky timing. It may also be an indication that, again, this is just speculation -- again, it may be an indication that this particular bomb was perhaps detonated by a suicide bomber who could see the other train coming and realize he could potentially, he or she, could potentially cause maximum death and injury at that time -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: I want to ask you about a development potentially in another story, Nic, before I let you go. And you've been talking about this group taking responsibility on the Web, unconfirmed at this point. We're also getting information, this coming from the Associated Press this morning, saying that there is a Web posting that apparently al Qaeda is claiming that it has killed Egypt's top envoy in Iraq.
You'll recall, of course, Ihab Al-Sharif disappeared on Saturday night after he left his house, and he was driving all by himself to buy a newspaper. His vehicle found the next day, and there was a statement online that was attributed to al Qaeda, asserting responsibility for the kidnapping. What can you tell us about this, Nic? It's not related, but, of course, if indeed al Qaeda is the group behind the bombings, it is tangentially related?
ROBERTSON: Absolutely. If this claim is indeed, correct -- and again, this particular claim we don't have any way of verifying at this time -- but it would be unlike al Qaeda in Iraq, that is headed by Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, it would be unlike that group to make such a statement and then not back it up with some videographic or other evidence later.
So although we cannot verify it, again, perhaps there is some grain of truth in it, and certainly it indicates over the weekend that groups, insurgent groups, terror groups operating inside Iraq, chose to increase their number of attacks against diplomats, attacking a Pakistani diplomat who suddenly left the country, targeting a Bahrainian diplomat who was injured in his arm. He was attacked while driving in Baghdad as well.
So it does seem to indicate an increasing effort by insurgents in Iraq to target diplomats. This may be one step further -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, Nic Robertson. Nic, we'll check back with you in just a little bit -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: We have reporters all over the place on this story, including some of our friends at ITN, the Independent Television Network, in Great Britain.
Dan Rivers is one of the correspondents for ITN. He joins us in front of Scotland Yard, where obviously an active investigation is being spearheaded at this point.
Dan, what are they telling you there at this juncture? Obviously they've got their hands full?
DAN RIVERS, ITN CORRESPONDENT: They're very busy. They have confirmed we are now looking at four explosions, three on the Underground, on the metro system, if you like, and one on a bus. They haven't given us any more information about the number of fatalities, although when we asked the press officer here, and is it in double figures? He simply pointed up, and said, yes, and it's going up. So I think we can safely say it's well into double figures. There are some reports that are circulating that it's up to 45. I can't confirm that, but certainly a number of fatalities, a significant number of fatalities, and a significant number of injured people, both on the Tube and on the bus.
We know there is an ongoing rescue operation to try and get people out of the Tube system, people trapped in the Tube. I haven't got much more information about that.
But certainly, they are dealing with this as a terrorist attack. The head of the Metropolitan Police, Ian Blair, has described this as a coordinated attack, and there is due to be a police press conference at 3:00 our time, in about half an hour or so, and we're hoping to get much more specific information.
I've asked them if they've carried out raids or made any arrests? They said, no, not yet. But, obviously, they're working as hard as they were to find out who perpetrated this terrible, awful set of terrorist attacks on London this morning.
M. O'BRIEN: Dan, all in the category of speculation, but we've been talking to some experts who tend to think this might very well not have been a suicide attack, and that there are suspects out there to be apprehended. What are you hearing there?
RIVERS: There was a rumor circulating that the police had shot dead a suicide bomber. The press officer I talked to emphatically said, no, that is not the case, they have not shot dead anyone. He could not confirm whether the attack on the bus was a suicide bombing. That was another rumor. Basically, he's sort of saying, you have 3:00 our time to find out a little bit more. They're very, very busy here, as you can imagine.
I've just driven right through the middle of town. And there are large parts of London which are cordoned off. There is a cordon around Buckingham Palace, the home of the queen and the royal family. There is a cordon around the U.S. Embassy. And there are various streets that are shut. There are lots and lots of uniformed officers around. I came right into London from the motorway system, the highway system. The main motorway coming in, there are big electronic signs saying "London Closed. Avoid Area." There are police on bridges. There are patrol cars on roundabouts. So it's quite an eerie feeling, driving into the capital this morning.
M. O'BRIEN: "London Closed". Did you ever think you'd see a sign like that?
RIVERS: We always feared that we were going to see a sign saying that, and we always feared that we were going to hear of some terrible set of attacks. The police have been warning repeatedly over the last couple of years that it's not a question of if, it's when. I was talking to the head of the anti-terrorist police a couple weeks ago at a reception, and he said they are still very concerned about the intelligence they're getting from the security service here that an attack is imminent, and that threat has not gone away. He was clearly right.
M. O'BRIEN: So there have been increased concern of late? Or is that just a general level of concern that had been there for some time?
RIVERS: Yes, no. There was no new intelligence, but I think there was this underlying, you know, warning, terror warning, of severe general -- they have a sort of category system -- that had not increased in the last few days. But it had been in place for a number of weeks and months, but that had not increased. The next step up would have been severe specific, I think. That was not the case. There was no new intelligence as that quite clearly (INAUDIBLE), there was no warning, there was no indication that this attack was going to come. Clearly, the timing, though, seems very significant at the opening of the G8 conference in Scotland and just one day after London won its bid to host the Olympics in 2012.
M. O'BRIEN: And just to help people here in the United States fully understand the back story on all this. The people in the building behind you, Scotland Yard, have been tracking for many years now a pretty vocal cadre of Islamic -- Islamist extreme behavior. And London, in many respects, has been a magnet for this sort of activity. Has it not?
RIVERS: Absolutely. There have been a number of high-profile trials of domestic terror groups that have sprung up out here. There was one recently that actually ended with a lot of the men being acquitted, but one of them was convicted where they were accused of trying to use some sort of poison ricin -- poison on the Underground, perhaps. That plot was foiled. There were a number of other plots which we know have been foiled and there are a number of cases that are pending through the court system that we're unable to report at the moment.
But, I think that has led to a lot of cynicism in a way, because a lot of these cases are overlapping and it's difficult to report them and there are restrictions imposed. And what we can say about them, something that, for you guys over in the States would be a very alien concept -- we're not able to report on all of the trials here because of the reporting and the restrictions imposed. That's led to a lot of people thinking, well, hang on, nothing going's on. They keep on saying there are all these terrorist groups out there, but we never see arrests. Actually, there has been a lot of activity behind closed doors and a lot of cases pending in the court system. And everyone I talk to in this building says, you know, they are incredibly busy.
And what's worrying is that all of these groups that they're dealing with tend to be home-grown. They tend to be British citizens from the agent's community, but British citizens who've lived here all their lives, whose parents have lived here all their lives, who have tended towards this extremism for one reason or another and a lot of it is connected with the war in Iraq. That's the feeling that I get from the briefings I've got here.
M. O'BRIEN: It makes it a very difficult investigative problem, I'm sure. Dan Rivers, who is a correspondent with ITN at Scotland Yard. About six minutes from now, Dan is telling us, we're going to have a press conference from police there and we're going to do everything we can to bring that in to you live -- Soledad?
S. O'BRIEN: Well, we obviously continue to follow this story using all the resources of CNN worldwide, specifically our colleagues at CNN International and Christiane Amanpour.
We are also following Hurricane Dennis and its progress. It is a category II storm. It is on the verge, though, of becoming a category III storm. Winds there over 111 miles an hour. We will update you on both of these stories right after this short break. Stay with us.
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