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London Terror Bombings

Aired July 7, 2005 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Soledad, Miles, thanks very much.
We're following these dramatic developments. Survivors of the explosions in London say it happened in a haze of smoke and soot and carnage.

This is the scene in the British capital, 12 hours later. 9:00 p.m. local time, exactly right now. A scarred city. A stark remainder to the world that terrorists remain ready to strike.


ANNOUNCER: Panic in the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were all trapped like sardines waiting to die.

ANNOUNCER: Terror underground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard a very loud bang. The lights went out. And the carriage filled with smoke.

ANNOUNCER: Is America next? Mass transit goes to code orange.

A bloody message for the G-8 leaders. Who's behind the blasts? A CNN special report "London Terror."


BLITZER: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. It was time for rush hour, a series of blasts ripping through London, turning commuters into casualties. At least 37 people are dead, 700 wounded after the explosions on three subway trains and a double-decker bus. A previously unknown group billing itself as an al Qaeda branch in Europe claimed responsibility for the explosions on its Web site. But there's no confirmation of that.

British authorities say they're treating the four attacks over the course of about an hour as coordinated acts of terror. Major cities in Europe and around the world are now on alert.

Here in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security has raised the threat level for mass transit systems to high. That would be code orange.

The blast tore through a swathe of London, the first at 8:51: a.m. on a train heading out from the Aldgate Station. Just five minutes later, a train that had just left Kings Cross station was hit. At 9:17 a.m., the third blast, this train was pulling out of the Edgware station. A half hour later, the final attack in the area Tavistock Square on one of London's famous red double-decker buses.

We have correspondents and cameras at the explosion sites and throughout the city, including Paula Hancocks and Richard Quest. Elaine Quijano is over at the G-8 summit in Scotland where President Bush and other world leaders condemned the attacks on London.

Let's first go to Paula Hancocks at the King's Cross underground station. Paula, set the scene. Tell us what it's like now and what happened earlier.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it is a completely different part of the city than it usually would be at this time of the evening. This is usually one of the busiest intersections in London, it's also Kings Cross, one of the busiest train stations.

It has six underground train lines going through this particular train station. It also has lines going to all parts of the country. So, many people coming in and out of the city of a morning and an evening would have to go through Kings Cross. Extremely busy at the moment.

Most of the area is closed off. There's still a few police around. A couple of fire engines, as well. But it is a very different situation from what you would usually expect to see. There are still some people walking around as well, trying to figure out how they are going to get home.

The Piccadilly Line, it is called, which is the underground line that the train with that explosion that killed 21 fatalities is underneath us at the moment. It's one of the deepest underground train lines in London. So it was also one of the most difficult to actually retrieve casualties from.

London Underground says that it took the longest to clear the tracks underneath us here. And this isn't the first time that tragedy has struck this particular station. In 1987, Kings Cross station, there was a fire that started underneath an escalator killing 27 people. But London Underground say that this 18 years later is the worst situation they have had, the worst tragedy on the underground and the train system -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Any indication when the train system in London is going to get back to some semblance of normality?

HANCOCKS: Semblance of normality, I'm not entirely sure. I don't think anybody knows that at the moment. I am hearing that three of the platforms within Kings Cross station have been opened. Those are the overland stations.

The underground station itself, we're expecting it could be up to some days, it could be some weeks. No one really knows, because it is so far underground and because, of course, there will be the wreckage of that train under there.

Plus, also it's a crime scene at the moment. Forensics are in there trying to find out any sort of explanation for what happened. They're trying to find if there are explosives down there. And exactly what did happen -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Paula Hancocks is on the scene for us at one of the devastated areas. Paula, thank you very much.

Hundreds of people, 700 at least, were injured, many of them remain in hospital. Here's what some of the reaction was earlier today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were trying to tell people to calm down, which they eventually did. And most people sat down and sat on the floor, sat in the seats. And then we could hear the screaming coming from the carriage just in front of us, who took the full blast. And there was people trapped, twisted. There was bits of the carriage missing. Seats missing. And people covered in blood and no help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No idea. The train hit something. Just because we were still in one piece. There was no fire. All the windows had blown in, and some of the metal was bent inside the carriage. I thought it was a pretty hard impact, but no idea at the time that it was -- could have been a terrorist attack.


BLITZER: Two of the survivors and other passenger were on that double-decker bus that was nearly ripped apart today says he looked behind him and the seats were gone. Bodies, though, were everywhere. Let's bring in our Richard Quest. He's also in London following the story. Richard, what's the latest from your vantage point?


Now, where I am standing at the moment, it's if you like a collection of three major stations, Wolf. We have Liverpool Street, Aldgate, and Aldgate East, which is what you can see just behind me. In this area, seven people died at least in the first explosion of this particular sequence of events.

What's interesting about this particular area, of course, it is the heart of the financial district. Many of the commuters that Paula Hancocks was talking about that would have started or would have arrived in the capital at Kings Cross or Liverpool Street would then have had to take other subways, getting off here and moving into London's equivalent of Wall Street.

So as the day -- as the morning rush hour was at its peak, Wolf, it is hardly surprising that there was an element of panic, an element of chaos. And those who were here say that the scene was absolutely diabolical. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bus pulled up just shy of the stop. And let a number of people off. And they closed the doors and went on. And I followed the bus, thinking I could catch up with it as it went slowly down the street thinking I could get on it. And I was about sort of 25, 30 meters away from it when it just completely blew up. And into thousands of pieces that looked to me as though there was no bus left at all.


QUEST: Now, that, of course, is a reference to the bus that blew up Tavistock Square. What was interesting there is, throughout the course of the day, Wolf, we had been led -- or the course of the morning I should say -- we had been led to believe that this had been a power surge on the London Underground. One where one station had rippled to the next and the next and there's all these explosions we were hearing reports of might have been as a result of that.

Then we get the explosion on the bus in Tavistock Square. And suddenly, there is only one explanation. This is terrorist activity. It is the sort of activity, Wolf, that frankly, the authorities had always said it's not a case of if, it's a case of when. Well, that happened this morning in the British capital.

BLITZER: Is there any preliminary indication, Richard, what kind of explosion occurred on that bus? Was it an explosive device? A suicide bomber? Any word from local authorities on what caused that supposed bomb to go off?

QUEST: Not that I'm aware of. You have to forgive me, Wolf. We've been sort of stuck here in a fairly closed cordon of the police in this part of London.

You know, one can look at a few circumstances. Just take a look at the picture of that bus. Now, the first look shows the top deck, the upper deck, to be absolutely destroyed. And to be -- to have been blown out. Well, you know, those buses are made of metal, but it's not very thick metal so it's not surprising.

What we will be looking at, and what the authorities will be talking about, and what we will be keen to hear in the days ahead is the strength of the explosions underground. What explosives were used? What was the mechanism for detonating them? Was it cell phone? Was it timed? Was it radio transmitter?

I can tell you one thing, Wolf, when those -- in the immediate hours after the blast, you couldn't use your cell phone in London. And that's not just because the network was swamped, it was because we believe -- although can't confirm -- the police and the authorities switched them off, fearing of course, that they could be used by terrorists, that they could be used for further explosions.

So this has been a morning of day of drama which still leaves many questions unanswered. BLITZER: All right, Richard Quest on the scene for us in London. Richard, thank you very much.

We're just getting this word in from the State Department, confirmation that at least two of those injured, injured were, in fact, Americans. No names, no home towns released yet. But confirmation that two of the more than 700 people injured in these simultaneous attacks, nearly simultaneous attacks in London are in fact Americans. We'll try to get more information on that, as well.

Terror struck London while the British prime minister Tony Blair, President Bush and other world leaders were attending the G-8 summit in Scotland. CNN's Elaine Quijano is at the summit site in Gleneagle. She's joining us now live with reaction from there -- Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Wolf. And in fact, in just the last few moments we have learned that British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who had left to return to London to meet with ministers has in fact now come back here to Gleneagle to continue on with the G-8 summit.

We understand that just moments ago, his helicopter, we heard it overhead, landing here. The prime minister now returning. In his place, we should note that British foreign secretary Jack Straw was continuing on with the G-8 meetings.

But throughout the day, world leaders have continued on with their work. Also, though, issuing strong statements condemning the attacks, each of those statements quite forceful and resolute.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 have got such evil in their heart that they will take the lives of innocent folks. This is -- the war on terror goes on.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is terrorism that the people that will have committed this terrible act express their values. And it's right at this moment that we demonstrate ours.

PRES. JACQUES CHIRAC, FRANCE (through translator): This is an act of terrorism which once again, inspires us with horror. It is a totally inhumane act.

PRES. VICENTE FOX, MEXICO: We not only regret but we condemn, severely condemn this event. And no doubt that they brought cohesiveness to the 13 nations that we were together this morning.


QUIJANO: And a U.S. official pointing out a sign of that cohesiveness also illustrated in the symbolism of all of these world leaders standing together when the joint statement was issued earlier today. Also, standing behind, both literally and figuratively, behind British Prime Minister Tony Blair as he issued his statement.

The message here quite clear, that despite whatever differences may have existed in the past between all of these leaders that they now stand united together to confront this terrorist activity.

Now, as for President Bush, we understand that he will remain here. No word on changes to his schedule. The White House saying he is still scheduled to leave tomorrow. And as we mentioned, Wolf, off the top, Tony Blair now back here at Gleneagles. And the flags tonight behind me at half staff -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Elaine, is there a widespread assumption there among officials at the G-8 summit in Scotland that these four simultaneous -- nearly simultaneous attacks were coincided -- were launched to coincide with the start of the G-8 summit?

QUIJANO: Well, certainly that's what we heard from British Prime Minister Tony Blair. And the indications just in terms of the symbolism, the fact that these very leaders were very resolute. One U.S. official describing sort of the atmosphere after this news broke, saying that these leaders came together with what appeared to be a renewed sense of determination, a renewed sense of purpose. Their clear intent was to send a message both with their words and the symbolism of standing together, that they will not be deterred and their work will not be derailed -- Wolf.

BLITZER: CNN's Elaine Quijano reporting for us from the G-8 summit in Scotland.

Here in the United States, the Bush administration decided not to raise the overall terror threat level, but a higher alert and heightened security measures are now in place at mass transit stations across the country. On our "Security Watch" here in the United States, our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve. Kathleen Koch is also here in Washington. Mary Snow is in New York. Jeanne, let's start with you on how the Department of Homeland Security and other authorities have responded to this London attack.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Department of Homeland Security has raised the threat level from yellow -- or elevated -- to orange -- or high -- but only for the mass transit portion of the transportation sector meaning subways, metropolitan bus systems, regional and inner city passenger rail.


MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Currently, the United States has no, sir specific credible information suggesting an imminent attack here in the United States. However, we know the tactics and methods of terrorists as demonstrated by the horrific rail bombings last year in Madrid.


MESERVE: Chertoff is referring to al Qaeda's pattern of conducting attacks simultaneously. For -- by the time the formal threat level announcement was made, many transit systems had already increased security, adding police -- many of them heavily armed -- canine explosive detection teams and surveillance and urging passengers to increase vigilance.

Secretary Chertoff said today that the baseline for rail security has improved since 9/11, and particularly since the Madrid train bombings, but according to the American Public Transportation Association, since 9/11, the U.S. has spent $250 million on transit security compared with $18 billion for aviation security.

The fact is, rail can never be secure the way aviation is, because it is built to be quickly accessible to large numbers of people. But there are calls this afternoon for more attention and more money in light of the terror and horror in London today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: How unusual, Jeanne, is it to raise the threat level for one sector, the mass transit sector in this particular case, as opposed to across the board, going from yellow to orange, which we're all pretty familiar with since 9/11.

MESERVE: When the previous secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, set up this threat alert system, he always said that he hoped it could be used in exact this fashion. And it was once before, and that was when they raised the alert in the financial sector in New York, New Jersey and in Washington D.C.. So this is not the first time it's happened.

What is a little bit unusual is that usually it is raised in response to very specific pieces of intelligence. That time -- this time we have the secretary saying we don't have that intelligence about U.S. train systems. This is being raised in response to a perceived risk.

BLITZER: All right. Jeanne Meserve watching the story for us. Thanks, Jeanne, very much.

For a look at efforts to protect train passengers here in the nation's capital, let's turn to CNN's Kathleen Koch. She's standing by over at Washington's Union Station. Normally a very, very busy place around now. What is happening there, Kathleen?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it is still a very busy place, but you must admit it has been a very nervous day for riders on both the buses and rails here in the nation's capital.

Security was tightened immediately when these attacks were traced to terrorists. Metro transit police wearing bullet-proof vests and carrying machine guns began popping up both in and outside of subway stations. Special S.W.A.T. teams began sweeping through individual stations, checking closets, looking at utility rooms, examining trash cans, even boarding individual trains to look for suspicious packages, suspicious individuals.

Bomb-sniffing dogs swept through, also searching for explosives. Throughout the city, a network of special cameras has been activated. Also, the metropolitan police department's own emergency command center has been set up and is functioning, as well.

Now, the people of this city that we have talked to throughout the day have been very matter of fact about this, not overly nervous. Actually reassured by some of these additional steps. Most of them saying that well, the additional risk and the additional security, it's just both of them a price of living and working in the nation's capital, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Kathleen Koch just outside Union Station for us here in the nation's capital. Kathleen, thank you.

New Yorkers, of course, are no strangers to the shock of terror attacks. Our Mary Snow has been talking with people on Wall Street today. She's standing by now live near the New York Stock Exchange with more -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, and here in the financial district, it is rush hour. New York City Police Department saying that it will have twice the deployment on trains during rush hour than normal.

We are a few blocks away from ground zero. And clearly nerves were rattled, although the New York City Police Department says that subway ridership was normal today. But with memories of 9/11 in people's minds, many said that they have come to accept the potential threat of terrorism as a part of everyday life. They say sometimes those fears subside but today, they were wrapped up.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once we first started working down here again, it kind of was on your mind everywhere you go, you got to be a little careful around here. Sort of died down a little bit. But any little thing that happens, your mind sparks up right again. So today, I think everyone was pretty vigilant.


SNOW: And here in downtown Manhattan, this is one of the most secured places in New York, right around the New York Stock Exchange. That beefed-up security was already put up a notch today. New York City Police Department has put extra officers on trains, buses and ferries throughout the city. And the mayor is asking New Yorkers to be extra vigilant.

BLITZER: Once the initial shock wore off, the U.S. financial markets had a largely muted response to the London attacks. Unofficially, the Dow Jones -- the Dow Industrials climbed about 30 points on the day, after an early stumble of almost 100 points in the first few hours of trading.

The Nasdaq Composite also closed slightly higher. Analysts said reports of a drop in oil prices helped stabilize the markets following word of this morning's attacks in London.

Much more to come in our special two-hour report: London terror. Up next: Is this the work of al Qaeda? Our terror experts will consider who may be to blame.

And we'll also look at a live picture of London. It's 9:21 p.m. local time in London. You're looking live at London and we'll be right back.


BLITZER: It's almost approaching 9:30 local time in London. You're looking at these live pictures. A horrific day in the British capital today. A day that saw at least 37 people confirmed dead, 700 injured or wounded in a force on nearly simultaneous attacks on the London mass transit system.

Joining us now from London on the phone is Lisa Levine. She's an American, a nurse who happened to be caught up in what happened this morning in London. Lisa, where exactly were you at the time of these explosions?

LISA LEVINE, U.S. NURSE IN LONDON: I was on the Circle Line train in between Paddington and Edgware Road.

BLITZER: Tell us, Lisa, what you saw.

LEVINE: Well, we were sitting on our train heading towards Edgware Road and all of a sudden, from right behind me, I heard the explosion. And we just heard people screaming and smoke filling our train and the train behind us.

And we couldn't really -- we couldn't get the doors of the train open, but we were able to pry them open enough to see that there were people in the car right next to us that were OK.

And a few minutes later, somebody from the train -- the car in front of us came and asked if there was any medical personnel on board. So, I immediately went to the next car and we tried to get the doors open on that car to get across to the train where the explosion took place.

BLITZER: Were there casualties there? Were there people injured that you dealt with?

LEVINE: Yes, there were. There were several people that were already dead and there was nothing that we could do. There were several that were injured and broken legs and lacerations and some severe wounds.

But the people that were alive were alive and they were going to stay that way. But there were about six or seven people that were clearly -- we could do nothing for them.

BLITZER: And the series of the injuries, the ones that you dealt with, can you describe, beyond lacerations, the nature of the injuries? LEVINE: There was -- there were a few broken bones. We saw some compound fractures: Legs, knees, feet; some serious wounds to the legs. It didn't appear to be anything, you know, terribly major. We -- you know, we tied it off and made sure that nobody was bleeding profusely. And everybody who was awake, we kept them awake and alert and -- until the paramedics got there.

BLITZER: How long did that take for those paramedics to get there?

LEVINE: You know, it seemed like forever. I would hazard a guess of 20 minutes, maybe longer. But it was -- it's really hard to tell, because time just stands still when you're going through that.

BLITZER: Did you stay there with the injured, with the wounded until the paramedics got there and...


BLITZER: And then what did you do, after these people got there?

LEVINE: Once I knew the paramedics were there and everybody was, you know, accounted for and there was enough hands, I got out of their way so that they would be able to attend to those people.

BLITZER: Did you get the sense, Lisa, that was -- there were enough medical personnel on the scene to deal with what, 700 people who were injured?

LEVINE: Well, the people that were injured and could walk had already evacuated the train. So, they were in a holding area outside the train station and there were paramedics there taking care of those people. The six or seven people that were on the train that couldn't get out, there was -- I think it was basically a one-to-one by the time the paramedics got there. There was one paramedic for each injured person.

BLITZER: Lisa, had you ever experienced anything like this before today?

LEVINE: Never.

BLITZER: Is this what you've been trained to deal with? Clearly you're a nurse. How long have you been a nurse?

LEVINE: I've been a nurse for 16 years, but I've not been practicing for the last nine or so. I've been in the information technology part of the clinical systems for the past nine years.

BLITZER: What was the first thing that went through your mind when you heard this explosion?

LEVINE: 9/11.

BLITZER: Immediately?


BLITZER: And then what happened?

LEVINE: Well, we didn't know exactly what happened. I mean, in my gut, I felt like it was a bomb that had gone off, but then somebody said, well, you know, it could have been that the engine on the train had a problem or that the two trains had collided.

A lot of speculation and you know, of course, no -- nobody could really tell. But when I got over to the other train, when I jumped from our train over to the other train, it was evident.

BLITZER: I'm sure there were grateful people to you, Lisa, for getting involved personally in what can only be described as a horrible, horrible attack in London, Lisa Levine. Where are you from in the United States, Lisa?

LEVINE: From Florida.

BLITZER: From Florida. All right. Well, have a safe journey. Are you going to stay in London or are you going to head back to the United States?

LEVINE: Well, that's up for debate.

BLITZER: Well, I'm sure it's going to be a difficult decision and as long as you're safe and your family is safe, we'll be with you in spirit. Appreciate your joining us for a few moments, Lisa.

LEVINE: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Lisa Levine is a nurse who got into action, unexpected action, just on a tourist -- as a tourist visiting the British capital.

Let's recap what we know right now: The British prime minister, Tony Blair, warning his nation will not be terrorized, but in London at this hour is, fear hanging on after four attacks on morning rush hour commuters. People streamed across Waterloo Bridge with the mass transit system paralyzed by the blasts that tore through three subway trains and a double-decker bus.

British authorities are hoping to restore at least some train service tomorrow.

At least 37 people were killed in the explosions and about 700 people wounded. Previously unknown group claiming a link to al Qaeda took responsibility for the attacks on a Web site. There's no official confirmation of that though. And London police say they're keeping an open mind about who may be to blame.

Here in the United States, the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld just spoke to reporters outside the British embassy here in Washington. Here's part of what Rumsfeld had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: If they win, if extremists win, if we decide that we want to hide or withdraw or change how we live our lives. We simply must not do that. Thank you.


BLITZER: Donald Rumsfeld at the British embassy here in Washington on Massachusetts Avenue. Just who was behind today's terror attacks in London? Was it, in fact, al Qaeda?

In a moment, we'll get insight from Peter Bergen, our national security adviser John McLaughlin the former deputy director at the CIA. They're here in Washington.

First, though, let's go to our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson. He's in London with more on al Qaeda and claims of responsibility from around the world. What exactly do we know specifically, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, there was a claim of responsibility within the first couple of hours posted on a Web site used by radical Islamist groups. There's no way of knowing exactly who's posting what on this site, and absolutely no way of verifying the claim.

But the claim comes from a group that calls themselves "The Secret Group of al Qaeda's Jihad in Europe." They say that this was a revenge attack against the British for massacres they say in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

They say they warned the British government many times. The British police say there was no warning. And the British police say that they have received no claim of responsibility so far.

But is this group a group we've heard of before, not really. The only association we can find with them in the past is a statement carried by a Portuguese newspaper shortly after the Madrid train bombings in March, 2004, that -- in that newspaper, there was a statement from a radical Islamic cleric based in North London, the leader of a group called al Muharin. He said in that statement that an attack in Britain was imminent. He said that al Qaeda in Europe was on the verge of precipitating a large attack in Britain. Now, did they carry out that attack? There is absolute no way of knowing and no way of verifying it.

But another very important way to analyze this Web posting and analyze its veracity is what other comments have been added to this on the sort of jihadi Web sites, on the jihadi bulletin boards that exist on the Internet? The answer is very, very little.

The analysts that study this say pretty much, this statement has been largely dropped by those jihadists around the world, indicating that they don't put a lot of faith in this particular claim.

But Wolf, at this time, very, very difficult to verify either way. Is this an al Qaeda attack? The analysts say certainly it has the hallmarks. Is it this group in al Qaeda in Europe? We just don't know at this time, Wolf.

BLITZER: Normally, when there are these kinds of terror attacks, Peter Bergen, whether in Madrid and elsewhere, does al Qaeda come out right away and claim responsibility? Don't they normally wait a few days or even weeks before they claim responsibility?

I'm trying to get Nic Robertson to respond to that. Nic, are you still there?

ROBERTSON: Absolutely, Wolf. We have certainly seen indications in the past, Madrid would be one example where there were claims fairly quickly by al Qaeda related groups, Moroccans in that particular case, that went on to prove to have some substance.

But if one looks at al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, plenty of claims of plenty of attacks being his responsibility. There's certainly a lot of people even in Iraq, a lot of insurgent groups that would dispute that Zarqawi is responsible for all these attacks he claims. So again, it's not -- it's just not possible to say they claim it, therefore it is theirs.

But on the track record of large attacks in capitals around the world, there does seem to be some evidence that if an al Qaeda-related group claims it, then there is likely al Qaeda fingerprints on it.

Again, too soon to say, too soon to speculate. But again the indications al Qaeda-related, multiple attack. A lot of planning in a small area, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Nic Robertson reporting for us. Thanks, Nic, very much.

Let's bring in two of our analysts, Peter Bergen is our CNN terrorism analyst, John Mclaughlin is the former deputy director of the CIA, our international security adviser.

Peter, let me ask you first, what is your gut tell you? Clearly we don't know for sure who was responsible, but does this have the hallmarks, the fingerprints of al Qaeda?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I want to preface my statements by saying you remember the Oklahoma City attack, there was some speculation it was Arab terrorists, it turned out to be domestic, Timothy McVeigh. So, we have to be careful.

However, there are several factors that lead us in the direction of jihadists terrorists. It's -- you know, Britain is a close ally of the United States. They have a large number of troops in Iraq. It's a symbolic attack in the sense it was an attack during the G-8 summit.

There is a large pool of like-minded militants in London. Just last year, a group of people were arrested with half a ton of ammonium nitrate in London near Heathrow Airport. They were storing it. Ammonium nitrate was used in Oklahoma City. It was used in the Bali blast. It's not the sort of thing that you store in your locker to do gardening with, half a ton of it. So you've got previous arrests in London indicating a strong support structure. You've got the right people there. I mean -- the universe of possible suspects is pretty small. The IRA has never engaged in this kind of activity. Could it be anti-globalization forces who are trying to protect the G-8 summit? I don't think so, because that would so alienate their supporters. I think you have to go back to some jihadist groups.

BLITZER: What do you think, John McLaughlin? You've been in the inside. You were inside the CIA for decades. Now you're on the outside looking at this kind of event. What goes through your mind?

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, with all the qualifiers Peter mentioned that we don't know at this point, it certainly does have the hallmarks of an al Qaeda operation.

In addition to all the things that Peter said, if you were to compare this to the operations that were carry out in places like Madrid, Istanbul, Casablanca and Bali, very similar. In other words, indiscriminate bombing of large numbers of civilians in multiple locations. So it has that hallmark, as well.

Also, it's not insignificant that London is one of the world's financial capitals. And it's quite clear that al Qaeda seeks to harm us financially. They know that that's something that matters greatly in the west.

BLITZER: The near simultaneity, the four attacks, there were four attacks on 9/11 here in the United States, four attacks in London, pretty well coordinated.


BLITZER: Does that say to you, yes, this is al Qaeda?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it says that there is a group that has the capability to do that. And al Qaeda would be the No. 1 suspect at this point I think, based on everything we know.

BLITZER: Without any official word or anything like that.

MCLAUGHLIN: Without any forensic evidence that takes us to that, a document, a captive, a hard drive, something like that, a backpack with some information in it. Those are the things the police will be looking for there.

BLITZER: Police will be looking. FBI will presumably be involved, as well.

James Kallstrom is joining us from New York right now, a former high official in the FBI, now an adviser on counter-terrorism to the New York state governor George Pataki.

How do you go about determining responsibility for these four attacks, James? JAMES KALLSTROM, NEW YORK STATE COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: Well, I'd agree with the two gentlemen that spoke earlier. It sure likes it's part of this movement, Wolf. And it has all the signs of that. So you know, I think it's less important at this point.

I think it's hopefully a wakeup call to Europe and those in the United States that think this war has been over for some time. It clearly isn't. We need to do more things, more logical, reasonable things to protect the country. To put monies and resources and good thinking towards prevention first and to stop the pork barrel spending of the prior few years of Homeland Security money. We need to get a little bit more serious at every level I think about this menace that's continuing.

BLITZER: Well, what else needs to be done specifically about mass transit? And let's talk about New York City specifically, James Kallstrom? What needs to be done that isn't being done already?

KALLSTROM: Well, if you were here today, you would see a lot more resources on the trains, Wolf. And how long can that continue with the city and the state, you know, paying that bill.

So, I think we need more support from the federal government in a place like New York City and Washington D.C. and other plays.

So we need a better balancing of the financial responsibility to bring these levels up to the degree they are. We need more education and help from the citizens riding on mass transit. And there's a very aggressive program here in the city by the NYPD and others to make people understand and educate them on the fact that they need to be effective eyes and ears.

We need to do a better job with our state and local police, 700,000 strong across the United States to be trip wires, to be people that would see the indications and warnings of terrorist activity, terrorist surveillance. And have a way of communicating that efficiently and effectively with the FBI and the national command authorities in Washington.

These things are all being worked on. I'd like to see a little more statesmanship in Washington; a little less politics; people getting together around some of these logical, reasonable things to do; better control of our borders; better control of fictitious I.D., which can be made and bought anywhere, on any street corner. This is a serious, serious life or death issue we're dealing with, so we need to do everything humanly possible.

BLITZER: The best kind of prevention of these kinds of attacks, John Mclaughlin, all the experts say, is penetrating these terror cells -- if in fact, this was al Qaeda Jihadist kind of cell -- getting inside information to prevent the attacks before they occur. But this is extremely difficult work, especially, as we know, for the CIA.

MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. The striking thing about this case, Wolf, is if you were to look at countries in the world where there have been successes against terrorism in the last year, the U.K. would be somewhere near the top of the list. Peter mentioned one group that was taken down, with surprising amounts of explosives. The British succeed.

And you'll recall the Al-Hindi network that was taken down a year ago, in August of last year. That was a group that was planning attacks throughout the U.K. So, they did penetrate those movements, they did take those down, but this is a case where you can bet 800 or 900 and still fail.

The other two things -- the other things about those cases that I think we need to just keep in the backs of our minds here without being overly alarmist, is that in those two cases in the U.K., there was a connection to the North American continent. In the case of the Al-Hindi network taken down in U.K., these were the people who sponsored the casings of our financial institutions in New York and Washington and New Jersey.

In the case of the group that Peter mentioned -- different group -- there was a connection to a Canadian-Pakistani individual who was helping them procure parts for explosives. So, without being alarmist, we need to keep in our the backs of our minds the possibility that a group that succeeded may also have some kind of connection yet to be discovered inside the United States.

BLITZER: And you've reported, Peter -- because you've done a lot of work on this over the years. There could be freelancers, who are sympathetic to the goals of al Qaeda, who are operating basically on their own without any direct central control from Osama bin Laden or anyone else who may be hiding out in Afghanistan or Pakistan or someplace else.

BERGEN: Indeed, indeed. And I want to pick up on something that Mr. Mclaughlin said. You know, British citizens have killed Danny Powell, the journalist in Pakistan. He was killed by a British citizen, Omar Sheik. British citizens have tried to bring down American airliners, Richard Reed, you remember was a -- the so-called shoe bomber was a British citizen.

So, the fact these things are happening in London obviously is terrible and tragic, but we shouldn't in the United States say, hey, it's just an English problem, because people can come to this country relatively easy if they're European citizens.

They -- there's a thing called the Visa Waiver Program, which allows you to get in without an interview with embassy official. I'm not suggesting we should change it. I think we have to be very careful of the idea that somehow these things are all happening in Europe, because these people can come here. They obviously have the motivation and the ability to mount fairly major terrorist attacks.

BLITZER: And the bottom line: If it can happen in London, it can certainly happen here in the United States.

BERGEN: Indeed.

BLITZER: All right. Peter Bergen, John Mclaughlin. You want to add one word?

MCLAUGHLIN: One of the things we'll be watching very carefully as this unfolds, is whether any of these people -- this has been remarked on throughout the day -- were walk-on suicide bombers.

Now, of course, suicide bombers have been employed by al Qaeda most notably in 9/11, but we haven't seen them, in western capitals, use the kind of suicide bomber that we've seen in Iraq or elsewhere. That would be a step up in their tactics and something we'd have to worry about here.

BLITZER: All right. John Mclaughlin, Peter Bergen, James Kallstrom in New York; three experts on this subject. Unfortunately, we have to talk about it today. Appreciate it very much.

And much more of our coverage of the London terror attacks -- that's coming up.

The pictures as it unfolded from this morning and the survivors speaking out in their own words.

Much more coverage. You're looking live at London.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Today's attacks happened at the height of rush hour on one of the oldest and busiest transit systems in the world. Here now, a look at the morning's events moment by moment.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're watching live pictures from Kings Cross station on the subway line in London.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At 8:51 this morning, there was an incident at Moorgate -- around Moorgate-Liverpool Street, Moorgate East underground stations.

At 8:56 this morning, at the Kings Cross-Russell Square incident, at 9:17, there was an explosion on a train coming in Edgware Road underground station and at then at 9:47, there was an explosion on a bus at Upper Woburn Square, junction with Tavistock Place.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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, a flash of light. Everything went dark. The train ground to a hault. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was about 25, 30 meters away from it when it just completely blew up and into thousands of pieces that looked to be as though there was no bus left at all.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We'll 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.

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 in London and to be extra vigilant.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The United States government is raising the threat level from code yellow or elevated, to code orange, high. Targeted only to the mass transit portion of the transportation sector, I want to emphasize that.

KEN LIVINGSTONE, MAYOR, LONDON: This city of London is the greatest in the world because everybody lives side-by-side in harmony. And Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in solidarity around those who have been injured, those who have been bereaved.


BLITZER: And we'll have more of our coverage of the London terror attacks. That's coming up, including a live report on the whereabouts of Americans in London.

Plus, experts agree it could happen right here in the United States. What can be done to make a successful attack less likely? Our coverage continues right after this.


BLITZER: Still no independent confirmation of the people responsible, but today's bombings in London remind us all that the war on terror is far from over.

Joining us now CNN security analyst Richard Falkenrath and security and terrorism expert Kelly McCann.

Kelly, what can be done to prevent the attacks against these so- called soft targets? Because if there are terrorists willing to die and kill themselves in these kinds of explosions, is there anything that you can do realistically in this country to reduce the chances of harm?

KELLY MCCANN, CNN TERRORISM EXPERT: Well, the first thing is for people to realize, the more draconian the measures, the more effective they'll be. But also the more resistive people will be of them. So a lot of times, people want a zero tolerance, but then they're unwilling to go to that level that we require.

It's the cumulative effort of counter measures that will really have the effect. It's the effect of the intelligence agencies working to get inside these cells, listening to communications. It's the effect of citizens seeing things and reporting them and it's the effects of our law enforcers actually taking action when they get word.

BLITZER: We've been seeing, Richard, these kinds of attacks on a nearly daily basis in Baghdad and other cities in Iraq. Was it ever realistic to assume they weren't going to happen in major cities, whether in Europe like London or even here in the United States?

RICHARD FALKENRATH, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: No, everyone's assumed there's going to be another attack in a major western city. And, in fact, London has been on high alert, privately -- they can't have the same sort of alerting system as we do -- for a very long time. It's a very active area for jihadists, terrorists and their sympathizers and a very active area for counter-terrorism operations. And one got through the net this time. And I'm sure...

BLITZER: More than one, there were four.

FALKENRATH: Well, yeah. One plot with four simultaneous attacks and maybe other unexploded bombs we haven't heard about yet. I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case.

The British security services are very, very good. They're up on all kinds of people in and around London. And I'm sure they're going through everything they have to find out who they were and why they missed them.

BLITZER: Is there any indication that you've seen -- and I'll ask you this question Kelly, as well -- given the press reports, the public information that we're getting, what kind of bombings these were?

FALKENRATH: No, we haven't seen any information from the investigation. They're holding it very tightly. And frankly, I take my hat off to them for keeping the investigation pretty tight held at this stage. We can make some guesses on what we know.

It looks to me like this was a timed device set off in several different areas. We know that because it was underground, it couldn't have been detonated with a cell phone system like they used in Madrid. There was underground bombs and above ground. So, it was a relatively complex operation. The bombs were not huge. I mean, the casualty figures here are bad, but they could have been a lot worse.

BLITZER: A lot of people are asking us right now, Kelly, all over the United States, should we go on trains, subways? Is it dangerous to go right now? Should we just stay above ground? What advice do you have for these people who are concerned?

MCCANN: You have to live your life. I mean, it would be a terrible to live suddenly vicariously somehow and let this beat you. To go back to the indicators and what we might think that bomb is. Remember, that in a lot of bombings in Israel, the size of a bus bomb could be anywhere between 10-20 pounds. So, that's easily concealable and disguiseable in a knap sack. The bombs that went off underneath the ground did do quite a bit of damage to reinforced concrete. So, it had to be sizable or a volatile compound.

But the truth is, Wolf, it is truly a force multiplier that every person continues to live their life the way they should and reports oddities to the police. A lot of times people don't do that because they feel self-conscious. They are part of the solution.

BLITZER: And if you were still working in the White House in the situation room, Richard, right now, would you be doing?

FALKENRATH: Well, we'd be going over all the things we didn't do after Madrid. We had this drill once before a year ago in March where we had a bombing in a European capital of a mass transit system, we looked at our response measures at that time, found them to be wanting in many respects, but also without very many really good options what to do about it. And as a result, not much was done.

I think they're going to be doing that all over again now to say, gee, did we try every possible option to secure our transit systems which are a glaring vulnerability.

BLITZER: All right. Richard Falkenrath, Kelly McCann, we'll be checking back with both of you. Thanks very much.

In light of today's deadly terror attacks on London's transit system, some are wondering what political impact it will have on President Bush's war on terror and the overall war in Iraq. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider is joining us with more on that -- Bill.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ADVISER (voice-over): Last week when President Bush addressed the nation about Iraq, he framed that conflict in larger terms.

BUSH: The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror.

SCHNEIDER: He gave specific examples.

BUSH: They have continued to kill. In Madrid, Istanbul, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Bali and elsewhere.

SCHNEIDER: Now, there's one more: London.

BUSH: The war on terror goes on.

SCHNEIDER: President Bush tried to bolster support for his Iraq policy by linking it to the war on terror.

BUSH: Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate.

SCHNEIDER: Critics were quick to respond. SEN. JOHN ROCKEFELLER, (D-WV) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The president is right that al Qaeda now views Iraq as the central place to battle Americans. That's because he provided them with the target.

SCHNEIDER: President Bush gave the speech because confidence in his Iraq policy has been declining. The problems in Iraq have driven down the American public's confidence in the war on terror. The percentage who believe the U.S. and its allies are winning the war on terror started going down in 2003 as soon as the major fighting ended. Confidence rose after the capture of Saddam Hussein at the end of 2003.

But as the insurgency in Iraq has continued, optimism about the war on terror has once again declined. Only 36 percent now believe the U.S. and its allies are winning the war against terrorism.

Now, a grouping calling itself the al Qaeda Organization in Europe has posted a statement saying "in response to the massacres committed by Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Mujahideen have launched an attack in London."

The tragedy in London is likely to intensify the west's resolve.

BUSH: I was most impressed by the resolve of all the leaders in the room. Their resolve is as strong as my resolve.


SCHNEIDER: But it's also likely to intensify the debate over the war in Iraq and whether or not it has made the world safer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Bill Schneider reporting for us. Bill, thank you very much.

Police say they were shocked but not surprised. Terror bombings in London leaving dozens dead, hundreds more wounded. Our special coverage continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: "London Terror," a CNN special report. Multiple bombings in the British capital, the deadliest attack there since the Second World War.

Target? Mass transit. Mass casualties on British trains and a bus. America goes on alert.

Who's responsible? Has al Qaeda opened a new front? We'll hear from top intelligence experts. Our CNN special report "London Terror" continues.



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