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Officials: Investigators Looking At Possibility Of Suicide Bomber; U.K. Police: 19 Killed, Around 50 Injured At Ariana Grande Concert. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 22, 2017 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:02] PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: I've heard a lot of frustrations from a lot of officials' right across the Europe that that information is just not coming in sufficient quantity and sufficiently quickly given the gravity of the threat facing Europe over the last few years. And not enough yet has been done to improve that intelligence sharing, Anderson.

One thing the United Kingdom has got going for it compared to the continental Europe right now is it's much more difficult for these extremists to purchase on the black market or in any other way AK-47s, Kalashnikovs in the U.K., much harder to get guns on the streets of Manchester, on the streets of London than on the streets of Amsterdam, on the streets of Brussels, on the streets of Paris.

And, of course, in Paris on that night back in November 2015, Anderson, that was a coordinated gun and bomb attack on a stadium on the Bataclan concert hall and on those cafes. We have only in Manchester at this time seen what appears that we have a single suicide bomber carry out an attack.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah. If you're just joining us, we're bring the latest developments from the United Kingdom where police are treating as a suspected terrorist bombing there, a possible suicide detonation, deadly explosion just outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. It happened just before 10:35 p.m. local time.

An eyewitness tells CNN the blast happened outside the Manchester Arena shortly after the concert ended. Police say 19 people have been killed, approximately 50 people have been hurt. And, again, authorities are treating it as a possible terrorist attack until they learn otherwise. We are expecting to hear from them very shortly. We've been giving a heads up where it supposed to be right at the top of the hour. It is now just two minutes past that.

I want to go first to CNN's Phil Black who has been monitoring this now for several hours from London. Phil, what's the latest you're hearing?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we're getting a must clearer picture of what happened here and I think that the interesting information that's come through more recently is the confirmation from the venue itself, the Manchester Arena. It confirmed that the blast did in fact take place outside of the venue, which confirmed an observation that I know we've made through the evening, looking at the video from within the side of the arena. It didn't show any obvious points of detonation. There was no smoke. It didn't look like a bomb had gone off in that area.

Now, the venue itself is confirming that, yes, the blast -- or the incident as it describes, it took place just outside the venue, just outside the concert -- just after the concert had finished, just as people were leaving the venue. That's what witnesses have told us as well, one blast. And according to the police as you touched on there, 19 confirmed dead as a result of this, as many as 50 or more injured. And we know that many of these were young people, teenagers, children with parents, and so forth, who'd spent the night enjoying Ariana's concert just inside, Anderson.

COOPER: Thanks Phil Black. We continue to monitor this awaiting that press conference. Andy James is on the phone. He was there with his 9-year-old brother. Andy, thanks so much for being with us. You were at the concert itself?

ANDY JAMES, CONCERTGOER IN MANCHESTER (via telephone): Yes. So we got to the concert about 7:00 p.m. And then we had a good time, everything like that. It was really good. It was his first concert that he had been to. And then about -- I think it was 10:40 and the explosion happened. And we were walking up the stairs just about to leave in the exact same direction as where the actual explosion happened.

COOPER: So you heard the explosion very clearly?

JAMES (via telephone): Oh, yeah, yeah. It must have been, you know, five feet away from where we were. And we heard the explosion happen. The boom rattled in my chest and, you know, you could feel it, you know, in the ground. And it was just horrific.

COOPER: Andy, can you tell me --

JAMES (via telephone): Yes?

COOPER: Sorry, can you tell me what direction -- you said you were that close to the explosion. You actually felt it in your chest. What direction were you walking in? And what direction do you think the explosion took place in? Because there's been some who have said it may have taken place close to a box office on a way from the train station.

JAMES (via telephone): Yes. So it was in the -- we heard from quite a few people that it was in the foyer of where, you know, near the box office is where it was actually happening. And we actually came through the entrance of where, you know, that bomb actually -- or the explosion, sorry, you know, whatever it was. We came through where that actually happened when we actually came into the concert. And it happened. It was the top left-hand side of the arena. And, you know, at the top of the stairs as well. COOPER: So, Andy, let me ask you. You said you came through that way. What sort of security -- did you pick up a ticket at the box office? And then I assume you were checked for security at some point. What sort of security did you go through after that?

[21:05:03] JAMES (via telephone): So when we were -- I had the tickets already printed off. And we were coming through the main entrance of the arena. And, you know, the security was fine. People -- you know, they were checking bags and everything like that. So it was, you know, all looked, you know, seemingly normal as what you would expect.

COOPER: And as you left, what did you see?

JAMES (via telephone): So we left to go in the opposite direction of where the explosion happened. You know, we were going there. It was a stampede of people, you know, of course trying to help people up as I was leaving. And we were just going in the opposite direction of where it was happening. You have to go up a stairwell and back through where the toilets were.

And as we got outside, you know, there was -- we just started looking around to start to see where we were and get up there and there was another boom. I don't know whether the second one was an actual explosion or -- there were balloons in the concert, you know, and they were obviously constantly going -- you know, being popped.

And I just told my little brother that this is what it was. You know, it wasn't an explosion, it was the balloons. But then, you know, he is now 9 years old. He knows what goes on in the world. And it's such a shame really.

COOPER: How is your little brother doing? I mean, I can't imagine, this is his first concert, scary for any 9-year-old to be in a crowd of 20,000 people who are panicked. How is he?

JAMES (via telephone): Yeah. Well, he is home in bed asleep now. Thank God. I was, you know, ushering him out of the arena. I had my hand on his chest. His heart was beating so fast. I thought, you know, I'm responsible for him, you know, because we was walking up to the other exit and all that was going through your head was, you know, there are going to people with gun fires, there's going to be another explosion. You know, your mind just switches into a different mode.

And I just really, really felt sorry for him thinking, you know, this is his first concert, you know, and this is happening now. I had my friends messaging me and texting me, you know, asking me if I was OK. And I didn't even know what was happening before, you know, anyone else knew.

COOPER: How difficult was it for you to get out and to get home? I mean, you had 20,000 people leaving this arena all at once, police moving in.

JAMES (via telephone): So when we were leaving, everyone was just, you know, going into one direction. So, it was just -- I was keeping hold of him to make sure he was, you know, right behind me. And as soon as we got outside, I just bolted in the other direction and just -- because I know the city center. I work in the city center, so I know it like the back of my hand.

And, you know, I just went down by a couple more shops because we were going to get the tram home, but the tram goes through the arena of where it was happening. So, you know, there was just no chance of that. So I called up a friend and he came and picked us up.

COOPER: Yeah. Well, Andy, I'm so glad you and your brother are OK. And I'm glad you're such a good big, big brother that day that he had you there by his side. Thank you so much, Andy.

JAMES (via telephone): Thank you.

COOPER: A short time ago, authorities carried out a controlled explosion. They detonated a suspicious item in an open area right in Cathedral Gardens, which is not far from the arena. We understand from law enforcement it turned out to be old clothing, nothing dangerous.

Again, we hope to hear from police shortly. We were told that there's supposed to be a press conference any moment. We'll obviously bring that to you as it happens. With us this hour monitoring developments and developments are moving quickly. I mean, we began about an hour and 10 minutes ago, not really having a clear understanding of what if anything had happened, whether it was just some sort of, you know, something went wrong in the concert, some sort of device and that people panicked.

Now, according to the reporting of Pamela Brown and Shimon Prokupecz from CNN with -- from three different sources, two U.S. sources, one western who had been briefed on the matter that they believe now they're looking at the possibility of a suicide bomber. A number of the eyewitness reports.

And, again, we have to be cautious about any kind of eyewitness report. But, a number of eyewitnesses have talked about the explosion seeming to come from somewhere around a box office area which is also accessed to an above ground train station, I believe it was Victoria Station, that's connected to this arena.

The arena itself has tweeted out that the explosion took place outside the arena. They obviously wanted to point out that their security procedures were in place. You just heard from Andy James, a concertgoer who brought his brother, his 9-year-old brother do his first concert, that they went through security. Bags were checked as one would anticipate, not only the big concert latest in U.S., but certainly in Great Britain, which is, you know, history of terrorism.

I want to check in with our -- with CNN Shimon Prokupecz who has been working his sources bringing us up to date. Shimon, if you could just -- anything new you have learned? And if you could just bring us up to date on what all of your reporting so far.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN PRODUCER: That's right, Anderson. So what we've learned through the last hour or so is that U.S. officials who have been briefed on the investigation -- two U.S. officials, both to Pamela, Evan Perez -- Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, and I, saying that the likely cause of this explosion was a suicide bomber.

[21:10:19] Officials believe that the person who was wearing this -- whatever it may be, we don't know if it's a suicide vest or some other device that was used, did this as people were leaving the concert and caused some of the injuries. People were running and it's believed that some of them who were running were injured. It appears now that some of the people may have been injured by the blast.

The U.S. officials who've been briefed on this say they don't believe right now that anyone else was involved. That was likely just one bomber. But they're obviously still, you know, continuing their investigation. They're still trying to figure out if this person was attached to anyone. Was this a cell? Who may have helped make the components of this bomb? Who may have helped bring this person to the scene? They believe it is a male who was the bomber. So still a lot to work through.

And really right now, you know, U.S. officials are being briefed. All are just telling us that it's all very preliminary, even though this happened, you know, like over three hours ago, but this is still preliminary. They're still trying to gather information.

You know, folks at the State Department and other intelligence agencies throughout the U.S. are being briefed, are being updated continuously. We don't know anything about the victims, if there are any U.S. victims. So we're just sort of still working through it, still trying to keep things updated and trying to find out more information right now.

COOPER: You know, we're obviously -- also trying to find out information about the status of the 50 or so people who have been injured, wounded. Certainly our thoughts and our prayers are with them and their families and obviously when it's appropriate and we get the information, we'll update you to give you a sense of what sort of injuries they have received and how most of them are doing.

I'm joined by CNN's Paul Cruickshank and Phil Mudd. Phil, you know, we talked about what law enforcement is doing just in terms of intelligence -- the intelligence community at this point. What are they focused on?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: The first piece we don't have which is whether they got a piece of identification, not just a name, but you're looking around to see if there's a backpack. Did somebody leave their I.D. card in there? Do you have a cell phone, which will give you a number we found like in the Chelsea bombing here in the United States? A cell phone didn't detonate. Brilliant piece of intelligence, but there's a lot you can do without that.

With this density of activity in a place like Manchester, police and intelligence guys are looking at social media. They've already got people in my world what called covered people, covered on e-mail, people covered on phones. And they should have a pretty good informant network. So you're going out. They're looking --

COOPER: But there's a history of extremism.

MUDD: A lot of extremist activity in Manchester. So you got to go out and look at the wires where we call the wire social media, but also e-mail phone to see if people are saying, "Jimmy is gone. John is gone. Did you see what's on T.V.? Somebody was talking about that last night."

Even if you don't know there is a conspiracy, the concern you have is not only was there a support network, but with somebody else involved in the operational network who is watching this saying, "The noose is going to tighten around me, I've got to go with my own operation now because otherwise the cops are going to get me tomorrow." That's why you're rushing out.

COOPER: You also have -- I mean, U.S. law enforcement, U.S. intelligence agencies not just on at the alert to understand what happened here, but also to see if there's any blow back for in the United States.

I mean, even NYPD famously, you know, they keep very close track of any terrorist incident around the world. They often try to have officers go over and learn from local law enforcement to understand are there some new methods that Jihadis or extremists are using? Is there a new way they're communicating? Is there a new way that they're trying to come up to cause mayhem?

MUDD: There's a lot they'll be doing right now. The first is as soon as they get a phone numbers -- I mean, that the question is, did that person ever call the United States? You're going to go out at least two hops. That is not only did they call somebody who called in the United States himself? You're going to -- there's a huge volume of data that you're looking through.

Secondarily, you're looking at broader intelligence subjects. Are people elsewhere, the U.S. is interested in Europe or potentially in a place like Syria or Iraq, talking about this? For example, I'd be curious to know or ISIS guys saying, "Are you looking at CNN? We never heard of this?" Interesting clue, even the negatives in this case are a clue.

So you're blowing out from the location that the event took place, getting the information there, to the question about immediately tactically whether there's a support network and then going back saying, "Is there a bigger group of people who are behind this the cell?" It might be behind the cell in a place like New York or Chicago.

COOPER: Paul Cruickshank, how active is a group like ISIS skill in terms of their use of the internet, in terms of Twitter, to try to encourage people around the world to attack in place? You know, in the Garland terror attack in Garland, Texas, which was the first attack on U.S. soil claimed by ISIS.

[21:15:04] You had ISIS recruiters, one in Raqqa, one in Somalia, who were encouraging the attackers and in frequent contact with the attackers. Is that network still -- and a number of them have been targeted and killed in drone strikes. Is that network still very much in play?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, there's no doubt it's been degraded to some degree. But, yes, it's still in play and it's still active in and around Raqqa, in Syria. The ISIS headquarters town, which is the headquarters as well of that external operations effort, they are in touch with a variety of extremists in the west, in Europe, in the United States to try to get them to carry out terrorist attacks in ISIS' name.

And we have seen online direction over these encrypted apps in half of all the terrorist plots that we have seen in Europe since 2014. So, a very big part of this terror threat coming from ISIS using encryption online to communicate with sympathizers back in the west.

And it's very, very difficult to intercept any of that, if not impossible in real time, Anderson, if you don't know who your target is, you don't have a suspect and so European security agencies have been flying blinds. U.S. security agencies have been flying blind despite the huge amount of money spent on GCHQ here in the U.K., spent on the NSA in the United States.

Look, in the case of the Brussels attack, they're actually able to record audiotapes and then it appears send those audiotapes, audio briefings over the internet using the encrypted apps to ISIS handlers in Syria and Iraq giving them detailed feedback about their planning, even able to get precise bomb making guidance from ISIS handlers in Syria.

There's an umbilical cord right now through using encrypted apps when it comes to this terrorism attacks and plots in the western as you noted --


CRUICKSHANK: -- and that reported on -- that was seen in Garland, Texas as well.

COOPER: Yeah. Paul, we'll come back to you. We are about now four or plus hours from the detonation of this device. Law enforcement looking at this as a possible suicide attack.

On the phone now is Joe Mcelhone who was at the concert. Joe, thanks for talking with us. Just tell me what you saw and heard.

JOE MCELHONE, WITNESS IN MANCHESTER (via telephone): So about two or maybe three minutes after the concert finished and Ariana left the stage and people started to leave the seats to leave the arena and then there was a really loud explosion, a really loud sound that turned out to be the explosion. Lots of people came running back in to get away from us.

And then from then on, it was just a mad rush to try and get out off the arena. So by the time we got out, about five minutes getting down the staircase and got outside, then the emergency services had begun to arrive -- were starting to arrive by then.

COOPER: And you said some people actually after the explosion who had left actually ran back into the arena?

MCELHONE (via telephone): They left the seating area to get to the outer foyers. And then they ran back into the seating area.

COOPER: So everything -- from everything we have heard from a number of different eyewitnesses, it seems like -- and, again, you know, this may not be accurate, but a number of eyewitnesses have said it seemed like the explosion with someone near a box office in an area that's accessed by above ground train station. Is that an area you were anywhere near as you left or did you exit a different way?

MCELHONE (via telephone): I am at the concert that way, but I exited at a different way. I was on the other side of the arena, so I didn't actually see the explosion.

COOPER: And just in terms of security when you entered -- I talked to one person just a short time ago who said their bags were checked. Did you go through metal detectors?

MCELHONE (via telephone): I'm not sure about metal detectors, but my friend had a bag with her and that was definitely been checked.

COOPER: And just in terms of -- when you left, you saw -- you said law enforcement there. How difficult was it just to get out of the area?

MCELHONE (via telephone): We -- I think were a few of the first people to get out of the arena possibly. So we crossed the road and just walked into the (inaudible) to try and get as far away as possible.

COOPER: And I understood you said that social media helped you get out.

MCELHONE (via telephone): Yeah. I was trying to get back to Liverpool, which is a city about 40 minutes away. People on social media were helping us to find transport to get back.

[21:20:02] COOPER: Wow. Joe, I'm glad you're OK and got out safely and were able to get home. Thank you very much.

MCELHONE (via telephone): Thank you.

COOPER: We have reporting right now from Pamela Brown and Evan Perez, a western law enforcement official telling CNN that a man at the scene in Manchester has been identified as the probable suicide bomber.

A U.S. official said suicide bombing is now considered to be the likely reason for the blast. So that is a major step based from what we have heard now from Pamela Brown and Evan Perez. And I just want to repeat that. A western law enforcement official telling CNN that a man at the scene in Manchester has been identified as the probable suicide bomber. The U.S. official said suicide bombing is now considered to be the likely reason for the blast.

Steve Hall, you've been monitoring this as well. You know, it starts to move quickly from here. It seems like they have some sort of identification very possibly from -- at the very least. They may even have video now at this point of the individual.

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONA SECURITY ANALYST: Yeah. This is where Paul was saying a very interesting thing just a few minutes ago. This is where the cooperation, not only among the internal law enforcement and intelligence services inside the U.K., but also importantly their connectivity to intelligence and law enforcement services across Europe and indeed across the world become critically important because you can triage and try to figure out what's going on, you know, at -- you know, right there on the scene at the moment.

And I would defer to folks like Phil who's probably have a lot more experience in this, dealing with this sort of situations right up and close. But there's going to be, you know, hours, days and weeks ahead where the sharing of intelligence and the sharing of this information to understand not only what happened here, but with the specific goal of trying to make sure that it doesn't happen again in the future. Or if there's a plan afoot, at least you'll know what to look for.

The other thing that Paul said that was fascinating which is absolutely true is the increased usage of these point to point encryption systems that are commercially available. Anybody can download them from the app store of your choice, which really give terrorists and others who are trying to hide from the intercept capabilities of nation state like GCHQ on a British and NSA.

It's really pretty good protection and has thwarted, you know, the attempts of intelligence and law enforcement to predict when the next attack is going to be. So that's a real growing problem.

It's this clash that we have between open societies. How much are you going to monitor your citizens? How much you're going to be big brother in trying to figure out what's going on in citizens' communications, their movements, whether they're subject to search." The search is right on the streets.

All of which provides you better protection against terrorist attacks, but also which encroach to a certain extent on the liberties that, you know, those of us who live in democratic societies enjoy which is precisely one of the things that I think terrorists are hoping to increase the tension there. So it's -- as this continues, it will be interesting to see how all those are threats play out.

COOPER: Yeah. And just moments ago, British Prime Minister Theresa May put out a statement and it says impart, "We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack. All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected."

And we have been told that there would be a press conference about 20 minutes ago. So we are waiting -- obviously, police are incredibly busy right now. It's understandable that this would be pushed back. But we obviously want to bring that to you live from Manchester police as soon as they hold that press conference.

I'm continued to be joined by Steve Hall, Paul Cruickshank, our terrorism expert, Tom Fuentes, formerly with the FBI, and Phil Mudd as well.

Tom, I mean, you're just joining us now. It does seem like kind of the pieces are now becoming clearer and clearer.

TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, I think they're becoming a little more clear, Anderson. But, it's still very, very early in this. And, you know, a big factor -- and I heard Phil mentioned it earlier, will be the type of bomb. How it was made? What bomb making school, basically, the person followed? What kind of explosive material, the forensics that will be done at the scene to get the explosive powder or residue back to the laboratory and determine what's the exact chemical composition of that. That will help identify possible bomb makers.

COOPER: This is a dumb question. But, why would a bomb maker have such a distinctive signature that they could be identifiable overtime?

FUENTES: Well, because when you're learning how to make a bomb, it's not like learning to be a French chef. If you make a bomb and at the end of the day have all 10 fingers, you stay with that recipe. And that creates the signature. And this is true for bomb making schools and for the chemicals that are involved.

So you see the bombs that have come out of Yemen typically PETN and they're made in a certain way and, you know, but the wiring is done a certain way, the type of materials used to construct it. And then you see other schools that keep -- using different chemicals or different packaging, let's say, or different shrapnel with the bomb. So, it's usually pretty distinctive or off the internet recipes as well. We've had that.

[21:25:07] We've have individuals make bombs all by themselves, big case in Canada in 2006, the Toronto 18. That individual made the first bomb by himself and detonated it. Videoed it so he could use that as a recruiting tool. And then he used bigger and bigger amounts of the explosive testing it out in the wooded area outside of Toronto. And then at the end, when he was getting ready to make an enormous bomb that would have been three times the size of the bomb used in Oklahoma City, that's when the police thwarted the case.

COOPER: And, Phil, we -- again, we should point out, we don't know what kind of device, based on reporting from Evan Perez, Pamela Brown. They believe it's likely a suicide bomber. But, again, we don't know if that means a suicide vest, some sort of device on the person. We saw the Tsarnaev brothers using pressure cooker bombs. But it's a -- as of now, we only know -- we have not heard from law enforcement directly, but of one individual so far.

MUDD: That's right. When I saw that report, I'm presuming we don't know the name yet, that they actually found the physical suicide bomber. That alone, though, is a significant step forward. You're talking about fingerprints, you're talking about facial recognition, presumably they found -- if it's a backpack bomb, they found whether there's any information on that, including an I.D. card. So I'd expect overnight we transition to stage two. Stage one is chaos.

Stage two is identification of that pinpoint bit piece of intelligence, name, fingerprint. Then you explode into saying, "When I got that name, go to the phone company, go to e-mail -- the internet service provider, go to every family, friend." Your interviews are going to start happening when you find what apartments he's lived in. So by the time we come back in this in the morning, that information volume is sort of exploded exponentially.

COOPER: And, I mean, I don't want to get into too much detail. But, there's enough evidence at a scene like this that they could get a fingerprint, that they can get some sort of identification based on physical evidence, not just from CCTV camera image.

MUDD: Depending on how the device exploded. I expect that if he's got half his body still there, they're taking a picture of his face going around to people in Manchester who are part of extremist circles or to informants saying, "Do you ever seen this guy?" Somebody is going to say, "My friend is missing and be able to identify him." I'd expect the name by the morning.

COOPER: Tom. Do you agree with that?

FUENTES: Yeah, I would agree with that. And also, you know, not to be too gruesome, but body parts do survive with these bombings. Even if a person is wearing the bomb, you know, pieces, whole fingers, whole hands can be recovered and could be fingerprinted, not to mention DNA. We don't know if this person possibly was a refugee and may have gone through some type of identification process.

COOPER: Or if they have a prior record of some --

FUENTES: Or prior record.

COOPER: I mean, what we have found time and time again that Paul, you and I have talked about this repeatedly, particularly in the wake of Paris and Belgium, many of these people who weren't even born in a countries, whether they're born in France or born in Belgium, were really petty criminals and kind of losers in life who, you know, took this on for one reason or another.

CRUICKSHANK: That's right. Many of those involved in ISIS plots in Europe. ISIS-inspired plots in Europe from this sort of gangster jihad background, people who have become Islamized after they were radical, after they were part of gangs.

People with a certain skill set in terms of operating clandestinely in terms of evading attention from police, able to put together armed robberies or other types of criminality. People with access to weapons, explosives potentially, from criminal contacts and the fact that so many people with this background have joined ISIS, so many people with this background have acted on behalf of ISIS has really given the terrorists group more fire power when it comes to its campaign of terrorism against Europe, against the west, Anderson. COOPER: And, again, we are expecting some kind of on camera briefing from authorities in Manchester. Our preliminary word is we will hear from Ian Hopkins. He's the chief constable of Greater Manchester, the British equivalent of an American police chief or commissioner.

A moment ago I spoke with a man named Sam Ward who lives by the arena. And he gave us as good a picture of any of what happened and what he was witnessing at that moment. Let's listen.


COOPER: Sam, can you just explain what you heard and if you saw anything?

SAM WARD, WITNESS IN MANCHESTER (via telephone): Yes. So we heard an extremely loud bang. It was really sharp, really sort of nothing like I've ever heard in the city center before. And so just as you was talking, then we just heard seven ambulances exit the Manchester central fire station all with blue lights and sirens flashing and really rush down to the arena. I'm not so sure what just happened, but there's a large amount of ambulance that just left the venue then.

[21:30:03] I'm probably looking at a roadblock. There's at least another 25 ambulances position on the pavement just almost literally sat there waiting this five or six fire engines that I can see all with the crews stood by as they're waiting to be given the nod again to just go. A very, very, very large police presence all from tactical agent (ph) units (inaudible) and response just the general police. I don't know if you can hear the sirens, but --


WARD (via telephone): -- it's about -- it's kicking off again where (ph) they suspected. They seem to be coming in waves all the convoys. None of the vehicles seem to be moving on their own. They all seem to be five or six deep at any one time. The firemen are actually running into the fire station now. I'm not to sure what's happening there. Yeah, it's just absolutely mental at the moment.

COOPER: So, Sam, about how far away from this arena do you live or are you?

WARD (via telephone): I'm 200 meters from the arena. And about 100 meters away from the city center fire station, which is a very large city center fire station. They've got two (inaudible) which is now currently being occupied from everything from Salvation Army vehicles all the way through to the ambulances and the rapid response vehicles as well.

COOPER: And, Sam, have most of the people who were in the arena -- I mean, we were told some 20,000 people were there. Are they gone from the area now?

WARD (via telephone): Yeah. The area is still. It's very quiet. It's very quiet through the city center. And initially after the first wave of sirens and the initial evacuation, it was filled with cars. The roads were actually bedlam, people just going through red lights. It was very much families.

There were kids, moms and dads. They were all doing everything, of course, to get out of the city center and it looks like the emergency services did a really good job of managing that traffic because it was only so a bedlam for about five minutes and now the roads are extremely still.

I'm not too sure whether you can hear it, but we've got two helicopters above us, both hovering extremely low. You can almost feel the force from the blades coming from that.

COOPER: Sam, I appreciate you talking to us and I appreciate your clear head in all of this in describing what you were seeing right now. Sam Ward, thank you so much.


COOPER: That is some of new video you're seeing, that we are seeing also for first time, obviously, people being arriving at hospitals. 19 people dead according to authorities at this point. Although, frankly, with this statement or press conference we are expecting and then waiting at some point, we may get an update on that number.

19 killed that so far confirmed by policemen, 50 or so injured. Again, the full extent of their injury, we are likely to hear more about when police actually do give that press conference, but here you see some people arriving in the hospital.

I do just want to give you just -- by the way Sam -- when we were talking to Sam Ward, that was probably about 30 or 40 minutes ago. About two minutes later, after we stopped talking to him, we got word that police had found a device -- found a package that they thought were suspicious. And they were going to have a controlled detonation.

So what we think when Sam was saying he look -- he sees things, look like thing -- something else is kicking off more, people were running into at the local fire station, we believe what he was actually witnessing was the run up to that controlled detonation.

So, it's not that there was a second attack in anyway. But that's what we believe he was witnessing thought at the time. We weren't sure and nor was he sure why there was suddenly an increase of activity. But we believe that's what it was.

But I just want to give you kind of a rundown of what we know, what we don't know and a general kind of flow of event. We understand that this device believed to be a suicide attack, a suicide device. You just heard the reporting that law enforcement believes they have identified the suicide attacker.

We believe the device was exploded around 10:35 p.m., that according to Manchester Police as of two hours ago. They may update it with a more exact time. It's not clear exactly where the device was detonated. We expect to hear more on that shortly, but from a number of eyewitnesses, people have talked about an area around a box office area that is part -- basically, there's a train station, above grand train station, Victoria Station that's attached to this arena. And then it's about a two minute walk, I understand from the train, to the box office area. And then one would go through security. They had bag checks at this concert.

We believe the explosion took place somewhere what's been described as a foyer around the box office area. Again, that's just based on a number of eyewitnesses. And as you all know, those can be unreliable. A number of people talked about coming through that area when they entered the venue, but when they left they did not go through that area because that is where they believe the device exploded.

[21:35:11] At 10:35 or so, the concert had just ended according to a number of eyewitnesses. The lights had gone up. People had started to leave when the explosion itself took place. People inside the arena, and you see the arena there, heard the explosion. We're not clear of what it was.

You can see a lot of pink things. Those are actually balloons that were part of the concert, kind of as -- you know in concerts, they're throwing that into the crowds. Some people believed perhaps it was just a bunch of balloons popping. Others who were nearer by said they could actually feel the detonation in their chest. They could feel it in the ground and obviously heard the sound.

Some people who had been leaving the venue came back in and then according to a number of eyewitnesses who we have talked to over the last two hours, people just began to leave in the other direction. There was obviously a lot of concern as 20,000 people are trying to get out as quickly as possible from the arena.

We talked to one man, Andy James, who was there with his 9-year-old brother. It was his little brother's first concert. Andy talks about walking out with his brother. His hand was on his brother's heart and he could feel his little brother's heart kind of beating out of his chest. They, of course, thankfully got out safely.

It's not clear exactly what sort of device was used. We do not yet know the identity of the person that the law enforcement seems to have located or identified who may have carried this attack out.

Social media, a number of eyewitnesses' credit the social media with helping them get home. People online helping other people. One person was saying they need to get to Liverpool. People online helped find them a ride. People were sharing rides. There are reports of local taxis turning off their meters and giving people rides just to get out of the area as quickly. Obviously, it is very much a crime scene right now that still being investigated. And we expect to hear from police hopefully very shortly for more information.

We've been monitoring events with our Phil Black, our Steve Hall, Paul Cruickshank, Tom Fuentes and Phil Mudd as well. That's basically -- I think I covered pretty much everything I can remember from the last two hours. But there's still -- it's important also to point out all the things we don't know. I mean, -- and that's-- I mean, I assumed investigators do that as well. They work on what they can confirm and then they don't make any suppositions what they don't know. MUDD: That's right. In this case, you got to take a step back and go through almost a checklist. People are running around chasing all kinds of data. I used to have a checklist of six or eight items. Where did the money come from, the explosives, the radicalization, the travel? Obviously, are there conspirators involved in this effort? Is there a central cell in a place like Raqqa that was involved?

So, stepping down that instead of just saying what's come across to transom today? What's the guy's name? You're stepping through saying, "We know nothing about money, nothing about radicalization, nothing about travel, nothing about co-conspirators." So despite all the data that you laid out, I'm looking at this as a practitioner saying, "We got about 5 percent story so far at best."

COOPER: But if you identify the person, I mean, that seems to be the biggest break of all and then you can start to move backwards, you know.

MUDD: That's correct. In the initial circle that you're looking at, that as soon as you've got his name you can start checking off the box by looking at things like his bank account, his communications about whether somebody is wiring money in. You're obviously looking at those first line communications saying, "Who did he speak within the past 48 hours?" But you still have a second circle that could take weeks or months.

Let's say -- and I don't think this will happen in this case, but let's say there's an international dimension. Starting to go back to determine who is at the core of that in a place like Syria so that you can get enough information for special forces to conduct a raid in six months. That's tough Intel business. And that's the back end when you get an international conspiracy.

COOPER: What is interesting, Tom, I mean, a number of these online recruiters who are most well-known, and I'm not in depth (ph) enough to even remember their names, but there was a guy in Raqqa who is in touch with one of the Garland attackers who tried to struck in Garland, Texas and got killed in that attack.

He was targeted in a drone strike, killed in a drone strike. He was part of this group. I think they called them the legion that those guy -- at George Washington University who monitors a lot of their internet communication.

There was a guy in Somalia who I think still out there, an American- Somalia, who also was a big online recruiter. To me it's very interesting that they have -- that there's a whole unit in ISIS which is geared toward the encouragement of people overseas to stay in place and try to attack however they can.

FUENTES: Well, typically, what they do as in Garland is that they recruit. And as soon as someone shows an interest, then they will refer them to one of the dark apps that can't be traced and then they could communicate secretly. So, that's one of the big problems with this. I should add that the FBI has a huge office in London and they will be providing assistance. And then, you know, going through to more than 80 offices around the world that the FBI has, plus domestically here, so look at their databases. Is there any information out there? Were there any phone calls intercepted? Were there any warnings or threats made, you know, by a group or by an individual or even by this person once they identify him?

[21:40:07] If they can identify his communication devices and get a hold of them, that the phone survive like we had in San Bernardino, the subject's phone. Did the laptop that he may own and have at home, you know, where does he live? Can they get their hands on that?

And, you know, it seems to me that they identified this person fairly quickly. So that means this could be somebody that they were looking at already and just couldn't have enough personnel to keep tabs on him. Or someone else might have called the police and said, "Hey, this guy put out a manifesto or something earlier today that he was going to do something spectacular at this arena." So -- but normally, you wouldn't identify an individual that committed suicide with a bomb. It's usually going to be pretty tough to identify that soon.

COOPER: But, Tom, I mean, that's one of the difficult things for law enforcement, whether it's the FBI here in the United States or, you know, MI5 in Britain, or MI6, the Foreign Intelligence Service of Britain is they can have a suspect not relating to this attack. But just in general, they can have somebody who they believe is interested in extremism. They can have, you know, a lot of suspicious things this person has done. They can follow somebody for years, but at a certain point, if that person hasn't acted, you can't stop somebody like that. I mean, you can only devote resources to somebody for so long, you know.

FUENTES: Well, that's true. And I remember years ago when I was still in the FBI meeting with the head of MI5 who said we probably have 1,000 really good suspects, a couple hundred top tier suspects that we should be watching. We can only do about 50 at a time.

So they have to guess, use their best intelligence and their best intuition and make an educated guess of who they'll watching, then who they won't. We've seen that in this country.

No service anywhere in the world has the resources to put 24/7 coverage on these individuals for any extended period of time. And I ran a special operation squad for two years in the FBI. Full court press on one individual will take about 30 people.

COOPER: Wow, really, 30?

FUENTES: 30 agents to do 24/7, seven days a week, use aircraft, do the full coverage, which we did on organized crime figures, terrorism cases in those days. It's very, very difficult. No agency has those kinds of resources.

COOPER: And in order to devote those kinds of resources, you have to be -- I mean, you have to have a lot on that person to really believe that they may go out.

FUENTES: Oh, absolutely. Yes, you do.

MUDD: You'll notice that the FBI doesn't talk about how many people they have under that kind of surveillance in the United States. That's because the number is so low. It's not only 30 people on the ground.

Remember, if they're communicating in a foreign language, you need translators. You need analyst to do the data analysis and go back even further. You need lawyers to go to a judge to say, "I want coverage on this person." You start multiplying that out against let's say only 10 subjects. You are already in the hundreds of people. And the bureau has 35,000 covering everything from white collar crime, to gangs, to terrorism.

There are very few people you can put on that kind of coverage. And remember too, they're looking for that coverage and they'll make it. You can't do that.

COOPER: You know, I mean, I have seen -- followed on cases in the United States where the FBI would run an informant on somebody for years in order to try to gather information about that person. And the FBI would come under criticism for the amount of money they paid the informant. In one case it was like $130,000 every 6 years.

Based on what you're saying, that's actually not expensive given if the alternative is running 30 agents on somebody for that length of time. I mean, that's not --

FUENTES: And then you hear the criticism of the FBI that, "Well, this person was on the FBI'S radar six years ago. And why isn't he still? Why aren't they still watching this guy?" Well, that's a good example. You know, you just can't. You can only narrow it down to the top ones you think and hope you're right.

COOPER: Paul Cruickshank, at this point, you know, given to what we know based on CNN'S reporting, based on what we heard from Pamela Brown, and Shimon Prokupecz, and Evan Perez, where do you see this -- the focus of this investigation?

I mean, if they have learned the -- if they have identified the attacker, I don't know if that means they have actually identified the person by name or just found enough to begin to get close to identifying this person by name, where does it go from here?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, Anderson, as we've been discussing, they'll be reviewing all the CCTV trying to figure out that this individual's route where they came from. They'll be doing all the forensics, the DNA analysis, the fingerprint analysis to see if they got some kind of match. If this individual is on some kind of database, somebody who may have had a criminal record as we've been discussing. So many of those that have got involved in ISIS terrorism in recent years have had criminal records, so trying to figure out who this individual is and who they are connected to. At this hour, there's not been any claim of responsibility. It has to be said from any terrorist group, Al-Qaeda or ISIS, or any other group. It should be noted that in just the past few days, Al-Qaeda through Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama bin Laden, have called for attacks in the west.

[21:45:06] Hamza bin Laden is somebody who is being promoted through the ranks who may even take over the entire Al-Qaeda organization one day. So, they're not just looking at groups like ISIS. They're also looking at Al-Qaeda head, but quite possible that this could also just be one individual who managed to put this device together.

Obviously, the most sophisticated the device is, the more powerful the device is, then the more likely it is that the individual in question would have had some kinds of terrorist training overseas, instruction in how to do this.

It's quite tricky to make bombs from the kind of chemicals that you can go and buy commercially on the streets of the United States and the United Kingdom, so it definitely helps if you've had some kind of practice, some kind of training.

But I got to say as well that ISIS had putting out more and more instructions out over the internet about how to make bombs. We've seen that from Al-Qaeda and Yemen too who provided a detailed bomb making instructions for the devices that were involved in the Boston bombings, but also the San Bernardino devices that that attacker -- those attackers in that attack left behind to try to target emergency services.

But this is an investigation in which will be pursued at a furious rate now in the hours ahead. I think we can expect that the prime minister to convene the cobra emergency cabinet, which comes together at times like this when there has been a major terrorist attack on U.K. soil. And that's what we are talking about here, a mass casualty terrorist attack, the first of that type since the London bombing all the way back in 2005.

COOPER: Yeah. And, Paul, again, we've been saying this for about an hour, but we continue to get a heads up that we expect a press conference any moment now. We obviously are going to bring that to you.

We've talked about this a little bit but, I mean, the clock is ticking on this. Obviously, there are long-term issues to learn about this. But most immediately, they need to find out, are there other people involved in this? Are there other people out there? Is there a cell right now in Manchester, England?

CRUICKSHANK: That's right. And the concern is that there could be follow on attacks if there is a wider cell behind this, if there are a group of ISIS operatives say who have come back from Syria that have been dispatched to the United Kingdom to carry out a terrorist attack.

We saw with the Paris, Brussels cell, they managed to launch attacks the same cell in two cities There are some signs they were also trying to plot an attack at Amsterdam Airport as well. And so, if you have a group of, let say, five or six or even a dozen individuals which was the number involved in the Paris and Brussels cell, they have the capacity to attack again. And so, they're very worried as we move through towards the morning that there could be more people out there.

And another thing that ISIS have been trying to pull off and there are some intelligence on this, is to launch attacks near simultaneously in various parts of a country, various parts of the European continent, all at the same time.


CRUICKSHANK: They want to get attacks through which are very spectacular, which are going to get a lot of media attention to change the subject line to the fact that losing a lot of territory in Syria and Iraq.

COOPER: Yeah. Michael Weiss is joining us. He is the senior editor of "The Daily Beast," author of the great book, "ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror." Michael, you've been following this.

You just tweeted out, "Whoever is responsible, the primary target was women and children. Keep that fact closely tethered throughout the night." I mean these are young kids, many young kids at this Ariana Grande concert. It's a sickening thought that somebody is laying and wait for them to leave this arena in order to detonate this device.

You've also have pointed out -- I've been reading your tweets online tonight. I mean, Manchester, there is a history here of radical Islamist extremism for quite some while. There was actually one of the largest Al-Qaeda plots was hatchet at Manchester, wasn't it?

MICHAEL WEISS, CO-AUTHOR, "ISIS: INSIDE THE ARMY TERROR": That's right. My colleague, Robinson Cox (ph), at the Heritage Foundation pointed out that this was one of the largest attacks that unfortunately was aborted, you know, or interrupted by the British security services.

Abid Nazir (ph), a Pakistani national, who was actually extradited to the United States by the U.K. and on his -- in his trial in Brooklyn when he was cross examining the British cop who had essentially raided his home and found all these devices and information and material suggesting he was planning this attack on one of the most crowded market place, this Manchester said, "Oh, it's great to here that (inaudible) accent."

[21:50:06] So just another grim reminder that a lot of these attacks on the continent in the U.K. come from native sons who are born there and who are afforded every opportunity. Their parents might have emigrated, but they grew up essentially as Brits, as Frenchmen, as Germans. And I wouldn't be surprised to find out if this was either native monk or somebody who had spent his entire life in the U.K.

And to your point, yes, this is a concert. You know, these are -- the cliche is they're soft targets. I don't know if there's anything particularly soft about the carnage that's being perpetrated, but, you know, here you have a band that caters to a certain demographic, young teenage girls. So, this will have been show.

If this was -- and, again, I want to sort of issue the caveat so we don't know exactly what's happened, yet I don't want to get ahead of my skis on this. But, if this was an act of Islamist, or Al-Qaeda, or ISIS perpetrated or executed terrorism, they will have plan to kill as many women and children as possible.

And what they'll do to justify it is they'll say, "You, the crusader, conspiracy that's ranged against the Sunni (inaudible), you're killing our daughters and our women and our children in Syria and Iraq." That's their moral equivalence. That's the argument they trotted out when they emulated a Jordanian pilot in a cage several years ago. That's the argument they always trotted. It's always about, you know, eye for an eye justice.

But there's nothing just or defensible about this. This was an act of mass murder in an industrialized -- one of the civilized country. I mean, U.K. for me is a second home. I live there two and half years. I got married there. I have family that came from there. It hits me very personally when I see this happen.

And as Paul points out, yes, the attack in Westminster several weeks, four ISIS that will have been sort of busted flush, it didn't kill as many people as they would you have like. This when the death toll is 20 people and probably going to escalate if this was indeed some kind of shrapnel laden explosive device or nail bomb, this is the kind of attack they're looking to perpetrate.

COOPER: On the phone is Amy Scarisbrick. And, again, we are awaiting this press conference. Amy is a broadcaster at the local radio station. She is on the CNB. What's happening on the scene right now?

AMY SCARISBRICK, RADIO BROADCASTER (via telephone): Well, I'm at the back of the Manchester Arena, which is a huge arena here in the U.K. It's all cordoned off. About 3-mile cordon has been set up and it's by a shopping center and there's around about 70, 80 police cars here. The blue and red lights from the police car are lighting up the night sky. Above me, a helicopter circling around the arena. It's been up there for three, three and half hours now.

And as I see, victims are still being ferried away from the scene. A police officer here told me that he's to divert ambulances through the city because they're not from this local area. They've come from all over the U.K. to try and help with this massive effort. And they don't know where they're going, so they're going backwards and forwards sirens just ringing through the night sky.

COOPER: Most of the -- I mean, I assumed now given that this is -- we're now four-plus hours since this incident, everybody who was injured, wounded at the scene, they've already been taken to hospitals, yes?

SCARISBRICK (via telephone): Yes. Most people have been taken to hospital, a few still loitering about here just in shock. I've seen so many families, so many little girls wearing baby pink Ariana Grande t-shirts, girls as young as 7 or 8, crying arise at (ph), holding hands just saying to their moms and dads, "Please get me as far away from here as possible."

And there was a dramatic scene here less than an hour ago. There was a controlled explosion by a hotel that I'm standing by now. Police found an item of clothing. It wasn't a suspicious item. Police officers pushed me back dramatic like and a bang, a huge bang, which just ripped through the night sky. The ground shook. It was that loud. And so many girls and women were screaming because it was just absolutely terrifying.

COOPER: And many -- I understand many people when they left the venue they went to local hotels, even if they can't stay there, they just went to go someplace away that was safe and inside.

SCARISBRICK: Yeah, absolutely. I'm standing opposite one of those hotels right now. People who are, again, cups of tea, cups of coffee, phone chargers for people so they can check in on Facebook to say that they're safe. They haven't got rooms, as you say. They're just in the lobbies hanging around not too sure what to do.

I mean, as I look across the road now into the glass windows of this one hotel, there's a man that crying his eyes out, rubbing his eyes just in shocked, not too sure what to do. And the streets around Manchester have just become a ghost town. They've fallen silent.

COOPER: I understand -- we talked to one person who was trying to get to Liverpool, went on social media. And that people are trying to help each other kind of get ride that even local taxis had turned off meters to give rides to people.

[21:55:02] SCARISBRICK: Yes. Because the cordon is so big, it's quite hard to get in and out of the city at the moment. So, yes, taxi drivers are picking people up and hotels, as you said, they're picking up children. They're picking up families. They're just trying to get people safe because after that controlled explosion, as I mentioned earlier, it doesn't feel safe around here yet. So people are just trying to get as far away from here as possible.

COOPER: Amy, I appreciate your reporting for us tonight. Thank you very much. Be careful out there.

Here back obviously monitoring events with Paul Cruickshank, with Michael Weiss, Tom Fuentes, Phil Mudd as well.

Paul, in terms of the resources that the British have compared to what we have seen in France, and the problems we've seen in France, the problems we've seen in Belgium, it seems like the British intelligence forces and also law enforcement have a better handle on things than we have seen in some other countries in Europe.

CRUICKSHANK: Yeah. Anderson, I think there's some consensus that the Brits are best in class when it comes to dealing with these sorts of counterterrorism issues. They've been dealing with it really all the way back to the IRA threat either from the 1970s onwards. That meant they had to get very smart, very quickly when it came to dealing with terrorism threats.

They developed some load of expertise. They made sure that their domestic security services and their police services worked hand and glove, that they had staff working in each other's buildings, that they were sharing intelligence in real time. And this has really resulted in the U.K. thwarting plot after plot since 9/11.

There really have not been a large number of plots that have got through. The once that have, the London bombings, of course, back in 2005, and more recently, that attack on Westminster Bridge, which resulted in four people including a policeman being killed. But they've had a remarkably high success rate.

The problem is that is as big as it has ever been when it comes to Islamist terrorism. The system really is blinking red. The officials have been warning about this for some time here in the United Kingdom.

There have been 900 or so British residents who have gone off and fought in Syria and Iraq, joined groups like ISIS. Hundreds have come back and there are thousands of individuals in the United Kingdom who hold Islamist extremist views who are supportive of ISIS who will be cheering, if you can believe, this violence, this carnage, this unspeakable terror tonight in Manchester.

COOPER: Yeah, you know, just -- Phil, in just in terms of the level of sophistication of this attack, you know, the most recent attack we saw in London was as Paul mentioned the man who drove the car along Westminster Bridge and then got out and stabbed people, relatively low level sophisticated attack. I mean, they just needed a car and a knife. Basically, it's kind of another step and that you need to manufacture some sort of device.

MUDD: It is. Somebody had to learn how to manufactures. You can't do that over night. But the first question I look at in terms of sophistication is whether this is more than one person. As soon as you get more than one person, you've not only got planning, you've got increased likelihood that they've reached overseas, they've traveled together, they spoken with other people about the conspiracy.

When you've got one person, intelligence lives off mistakes. You got to talk to the wrong person, e-mail the wrong person. When you got one person, the likelihood that that individual is going to make a mistake, they're not talking to anybody else, obviously, lowers in the likelihood you can catch them also lowers.

COOPER: But if it's more than one person, it's probably more than two people because to go and recruit someone -- to make a vest, to recruit somebody if it's not the same person, it's -- I would assume it would require more than one person to go out and find somebody. You've got to (inaudible) surround, I would think.

MUDD: That's right. And that's one reason that you get more potential threat from larger conspiracies, but more opportunity from people like me. They go out searching for a greater capability, who can train us, who can provide the explosives. They talk to radicalizers. So, there's opportunity and cost with bigger conspiracies.

COOPER: Yeah. There's still obviously a lot to be learned. We know this device was detonated around 10:35 p.m., local time. It is now, let's see, it's 10:00 here, so it's 2:00 a.m. or -- no, excuse me, 3:00 a.m. right now, in -- almost 3:00 a.m. in Manchester. We anticipate a press conference from police at some point. We've been waiting for it at some point, but we are told it is going to take place.

Our CNN coverage continues throughout the night obviously. I want to turn things over right now to Don Lemon.

DOM LEMON, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you so much.