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ISIS Claims Responsibility For London Terror Attack; Police: "Significant Progress" In Identifying Attackers; At Least 36 People Hospitalized, 21 In Critical Condition; Trump Under Fire For Response To London Terror Attack. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 5, 2017 - 05:00   ET



CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- large police presence and yesterday the police were saying they did not believe there was any larger network involved with this attack. Today they seemed to be dialing that language back a little bit, saying that they are still investigating whether or not there is a larger network.

Eleven people have been arrested so far, and we do not yet know, or I should say, the police have not yet given out publicly the identity of those three attackers. Take a look.


WARD (voice-over): British authorities are scrambling to determine if the three attackers are connected to a foreign terror network. London's Metropolitan Police carrying out a number of raids and arrests as ISIS claims responsibility for Saturday's attack. Although no evidence currently exists to back up the claim.

Neighbors at this raided apartment complex stunned after recognizing one of the dead attackers who they describe as a quiet family man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The man I know is -- he was a wonderful guy.

WARD: One woman, however, did have concerns, which she claimed she brought to police.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden, we saw this individual speaking to the kids for the last three afternoon and speaking to them about Islam and showed them how to pray.

WARD: Locals showing CNN the mosque they believe one of the attackers attended, though authorities have not confirmed his identity. London police say the three attackers began their killing spree using a rented white van that sped across London Bridge around 10:00 p.m. Saturday night, plowing into pedestrians.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: It knocked over several people came within about 20 yards of where I was. It knocked somebody nearly 20 feet in the air.

WARD: Emergency vehicles rushed to the scene as police responded to more violence at borough market, where the attackers had driven. Before getting out of the van, wielding knives, and randomly attacking people inside restaurants and cafes.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: There were these three men standing there, one of which had a machete, and this one girl was saying, they're stabbing everyone, they're stabbing people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He only stepped outside the pub for a second and a man run up to him, said "This is for my family, for Islam," looked him straight in the face and stabbed him.

WARD: These patrons hunkering down, fearing for their lives as others fled the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were just literally running away as fast as they possibly could.

WARD: Minutes after the first calls for help, London police say eight officers shot 50 rounds, taking down all three attackers. One bystander was shot in a hail of bullets.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: There is, to be frank, far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.

WARD: Britain's prime minister condemning the three recent terror attacks, vowing a sweeping review of the country's anti-terror laws.

MAY: Enough is enough.


WARD: A lot of people here are hailing the heroism of the British police, not just because some of them were injured trying to take out the attackers, but because, Alisyn, it took them just eight minutes from the time that the attack began to the time that the three attackers were shot dead in that hail of bullets.

Part of the reason that they chose to kill the men with bullets so quickly is because they were wearing fake suicide vests. Of course, at the time, they didn't know they were fake. They wanted to prevent a much larger casualty -- Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Clarissa, thank you very much for all of the latest. So, London police say they are making significant progress in identifying the three attackers and are trying to determine if they received any help. Police are questioning several people in custody after a series of new raids.

CNN's Alex Marquardt, who just joined CNN -- we're sorry that it's under these circumstances, Alex, but it is great to have you. So you are in the London suburb of barking with more. What's the latest from where you are?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Alisyn. That's right, two new raids overnight here in this East London neighborhood of Barking and elsewhere nearby. Eleven people are now in custody, seven of whom are women. One person had been arrested and released without charges. No word yet on how they are connected with those three attackers.

Earlier this morning, the Metropolitan Police here in London putting out a statement saying that a huge amount of forensic material has been seized in raids in the past two days and the police are now trying to determine if the three attackers were working with others.

So, now a fuller picture of this attack is emerging, but the police still calling on the public to come forward with any information they may have. The bigger question going forward is how to prevent these kinds of attacks, these very basic attacks with knives and cars that are so easy to carry out but so hard to prevent -- Alisyn, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Alex. It's good to have you here. Let us know what developments you'll find on the ground. We'll check back with you in a little bit.

[05:05:01]Let's discuss what we do know at this point with our panel. Clarissa Ward is back with us. We're also joined by CNN terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank, and CNN law enforcement analyst, James Gagliano. It's good to have you with us.

So when we are looking at the forensics of what they know about the situation and how this went down, what direction does the investigation need to be headed in right now?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Sure, Chris. I can tell you the five I's, which is the United States, the U.K., New Zealand, Canada and Australia are sharing intel right now. Any of the forensic evidence that was harvested at the scene, and obviously all the human intelligence, talking to the witnesses who were there on scene, is all going to put together a puzzle.

They have three dead attackers and they have a number of folks they have rounded up of which they are assumedly talking to right now. The pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together. ISIS has claimed responsibility. We can't verify that just yet, but this fits their template perfectly.

CAMEROTA: So Paul, Theresa May, prime minister, has said enough is enough about this and that things need to change. What does she mean? What can Britain do differently after this being the third attack in as many months?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it must be pointed out, she's been in charge of British counterterrorism since 2010, so very striking comments with that in mind, but it's not that clear how much really can change. They've done a lot of legislation, brought in a lot of measures.

They have very good funding for security services, very good cooperation between MI-5 and the British police, so not that clear what more they could do. One thing I think perhaps they could do more of is to think of imaginative ways to empower the Muslim community to take on this ideology. I don't think enough is being done in that regard right now. There are a lot of Muslim community groups out there right now doing extraordinary work at the grassroots to take on this ideology, and many of them don't feel they're getting enough support from the government.

So, more perhaps needs to be done there. But this is a threat that they're going to be facing for really a generation now in the U.K., across Europe. About 900 people from the U.K. have traveled to Syria and Iraq, joined groups like ISIS. They're starting to come back.

And in this country, there are 23,000 individuals on the radar screen of British counterterrorism services seen as a potential threat, 3,000 actively being looked at right now.

CUOMO: And Clarissa, let's bring you into this. You know, to build on Paul's point, we just heard from the head of police there in London, and he pointed to the homegrown nature of this. So, you seem to have some bad factors here in terms of how to make quick change.

If it's homegrown, if they're finding out that they may have had a broader network involved here with all of the forensic evidence and all of the multiple arrests, and its low-tech carry-out, tactical advantage they used here, that's a tough combination of factors.

WARD: It is a tough combination of factors, but I would say, I would sort of agree with the police chief, if you will, that from what we've seen, it does appear to be a little more improvised as far as attacks go, given that they did not have any guns, for example, that they did not have explosives, that they were using weapons such as knives or a vehicle, given also that they wore fake explosive vests.

I have never seen an attack like that before, where they have actually contrived fake explosive vests. Obviously, the purpose of that was to make sure they got shot by police, there was no situation by which they would potentially be arrested.

But I would also say, to underscore Paul's point, that the U.K. has had a history or problem with homegrown extremist elements. I mean, for a long time, there was a group here which was led by a hate preacher called Anjem Choudary (ph), who British authorities were pulling their hair out for years and years not knowing what to do with this man who was blatantly preaching the ideology and skirting his way within the realms of the law.

Eventually, they did put him in prison, sentenced to more than five years, but a lot of his followers are still out on the ground, still free. One of them was involved in the killing of Lee Rigby, the British soldier who was butchered in the streets of London, the south of London some years ago.

So, this is a problem that the U.K. has been grappling with for quite some time. And Theresa May can talk tough all she wants, but as Paul said, making these changes are not that easy. The answers are not immediately available. CAMEROTA: James, there's some reporting that police know the identity of the attackers, but they're not releasing it to the media or to the public. Why wouldn't they?

GAGLIANO: I imagine part of that goes to continuing the investigation. Maybe they have leads on some other folks, some people that are persons of interest. They want to prevent them from possibly fleeing the country before they can get their hands on them.

[05:10:08]If we look at this from the perspective of the weaponization of a vehicle, the average car is 4,000 pounds, right, so, 2 tons and machetes. They don't need to buy a weapon to do this. And in Britain, where they have draconian gun control laws, this is the age of ISIS.

This is where our dealing with terror is going to have to go. It's the new normal, the understanding that people can take household items, get radicalized online, and cause death and destruction. We're lucky, because to date, only seven people killed.

Look what happened in Nice, France, in the same type of situation, 86 killed with one man in a dump truck. So, we are very lucky here. I'm worried about the 21 in critical condition, but we dodged a big bullet with three attackers and that low casualty count.

CUOMO: So, what do you make of the idea that they do seem to be developing an understanding that they had a broader network here? ISIS claiming responsibility, but the authorities say they believe this was inspired, as opposed to planned. What does that tell you about the environment of risk that they're dealing with here within their own population?

GAGLIANO: Chris, ten weeks in the U.K., three attacks, none of them connected. There were no -- there's no connectivity between the cells. What it tells me is that ISIS is moving forward with this type of plan.

During the age of Carlos the Jackal in the '70s, the actual plotter was part of the attack. Nowadays, with the inspiration coming, as you pointed out, online, ISIS has a centralized intent that they put out, and then it's executed at a decentralized level, some disaffected, disenfranchised kid sitting in his basement that gets angry after watching some videos or listening to a fiery speech.

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much for all the information. Obviously, we will check back with you throughout the program.

Now this, at least 36 people are being treated at London hospitals at this hour. We are told 21 victims, as James just said, are still in critical condition. CNN's Erin McLaughlin is live at Kings College Hospital in London with more. What is the latest there, Erin?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, some 14 patients are being treated here at Kings College Hospital. At least seven people killed in the attack, including Canadian Chrissy Archibald. She had traveled to Europe to be with her fiance from Canada. She was on the London Bridge that tragic night with her fiance when the terrorists' van struck her, killing her.

Her family releasing a statement, saying that she's beautiful and loving. She would have no understanding, the statement says, of the callus cruelty which claimed her life. And we're also hearing the incredible story of journalist, Geoff Ho. He was at a pub in borough market when the attackers arrived.

He intervened to try and help the bouncer and was stabbed in the neck. Social media footage shows him walking away from the scene bleeding. We now understand from the paper that he works for that he is going to be OK. They're crediting him as a hero.

And we're also hearing of another incredible, heroic act, a British transport police officer intervened armed with nothing more than a baton. We understand that he is in serious condition -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Erin. We saw lots of acts of valor and resilience of those who were involved directly as victims in the attack and the community at large. It's been written, civilization is not going to be driven out of Britain by three or 300 killers, but there also is controversy in their response, specifically directed at America and its president.

President Trump tweeting, drawing fire, critics saying he used the tragedy to stoke fear and promote his political agenda that is anti- Muslim. We'll discuss what he said and its impact next.



CUOMO: President Trump denouncing the London attack calling it horrific, offering unwavering support to the U.K., but that's not all he said. There were controversial tweets, including one that accused the mayor of London of being soft on terror.

CNN's Joe Johns live in Washington with more. This was about the content and also the timing, right, Joe? Right on the heels of the tragedy, he seemed to be using this in a way that was offensive to some.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Content as well as context, Chris. The president's first public comments after the London attacks striking a somber tone in the tradition of other statements we've seen from previous commanders-in-chief in the aftermath of terrorist attacks, though Mr. Trump included a bold promise to keep this kind of bloodshed, which has already surfaced here, from coming to the U.S. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We renew our resolve stronger than ever before to protect the United States and its allies from a vial enemy that has waged war on innocent life, and it's gone on too long. This bloodshed must end. This bloodshed will end.


JOHNS: But earlier this weekend on Twitter in his reactions to the London attack, the president attracted criticism for interjecting himself in ways not seen as helpful under the circumstances. He seemed to use the attacks as an opportunity to promote his travel ban, which has been stalled in the U.S. courts.

He tweeted, "We need to be smart, vigilant, and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the travel ban as an extra level of security." And in another tweet, the president also seemingly mischaracterized, or at least took out of context, a statement by London's mayor.

[05:20:01]The president tweeted "At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and mayor of London says there's no reason to be alarmed!" Well, the mayor of London did say there was no reason to be alarmed, telling London residents not to be alarmed about the increased police presence in the city. The mayor's spokesman said he was too busy to respond to what he called Mr. Trump's ill-informed tweet -- Chris and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Joe, thank you very much. Let's discuss all of this with our panel, Clarissa Ward is still with us along with CNN political analysts, David Drucker and David Sanger.

David Sanger, I'll start with you. So once again, we see a difference in tone between the president's immediate tweets and then what he said last night at the event where it was sort of more tempered. What do we think is going on with President Trump?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, the first tweet was fine, standing with America's allies. The next ones were about the ban, his own agenda here, something that's in the courts. And you may recall, Alisyn, that we were all told in the White House press room just a few months ago, it's not a ban.

It's not a ban. And of course, he uses that word in the tweet. This is why the lawyers want to make sure they get to review the tweets first. But then the line about the mayor of London was particularly interesting because it's been a long-running feud between the president and the mayor about --

CAMEROTA: About this ban.

SANGER: -- about the ban, about what techniques he used. The mayor himself is the first Muslim mayor of a major western city. And in this case, I think that the president was calling for the ban to get reinstituted before we even understand how it is that the attackers here got into Britain or whether or not they were born there, as in some past cases they have been.

CUOMO: All you have to do is follow the tweets, OK? The first one, David, was an unverified tweet from "The Drudge Report" saying that 20 had been mowed down, all right?

CAMEROTA: He retweeted. CUOMO: That wasn't true. Whatever, when you retweet it, you own it. I know a lot of people say retweet doesn't equal endorsement.

CAMEROTA: That's not my problem.

CUOMO: So he puts "The Drudge Report" out there, it's unverified. That's first thing he says. He then says we need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the travel ban as an extra level of safety."

There not only do you have the problems about whether or not this is a Muslim ban and the legality of it, but the sensitivity he is still not expressing the condolences which would be the presidential move. He then does that next.

He says "We're with you. God bless," all caps, showing extra intention. He then goes right back to the political attack -- "stop being politically correct," he says. This is in the moment of crisis. They're still trying to figure out what's going on in London at the time.

"Get down to business of security for our people. If we don't get smart, it will only get worse." This did not happen here. It happened in London. Then next, "Seven dead, 48 wounded, and the mayor of London says there is no reason to be alarmed."

There is no question, he got the mayor's tweet wrong in terms of his intention. He was talking about, hey, there are going to be a lot of cops around now, but we actually reduced the terror threat. Don't freak out.

That's not how the president took it, and you could argue he took it to his own political advantage. "Did you notice we're not having a gun debate right now? That's because he used knives and a truck." What is missing here, and what does it mean in terms of the political landscape in the U.S.?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So, the president, we keep talking about whether or not he'll ever be presidential, but I don't think at this point we should bother with that because I think the president's always going to be who he is.

But what we can see over time is that I don't think that he has ever transitioned from being a brand manager, a manager of the Trump brand, to the leader of the United States and thinking of what he says in those terms, such that everything he says -- and there was actually a great thing on Twitter.

Believe it or not, it was some thought that turned all of his tweets into official White House-looking statements. I don't think that the White House or he has ever thought of the things that he says in terms of how it reflects on the U.S. and not just him.

And I think that is a large part of why we focus on the tweets and why the rest of the world focused on the tweets, is because they are, in effect, presidential policy. And so, it's not so much about his tone, but the manner in which he goes about this sort of communicating, which is no different than the very early and middle stages of the Republican presidential primary in which it was all about him cultivating this brand of defiance.

And it's true that on the right, a lot of voters appreciate his forceful bluntness because they felt like President Obama sort of accepted the terrorist attacks as commonplace and we're just going to have to deal with them.

[05:25:01]But I think the president has to strike a balance between defiance and actually leading the world, if he is going to be received as a leader. And don't forget, we're still waiting for his ISIS plan and at a time like this --

CAMEROTA: To immediately eradicate them and destroy them.

DRUCKER: -- would be very helpful to show strength and resolve, and that's the difference between that and stoking fear.

CAMEROTA: Clarissa, let's talk about the feud with the London mayor. After these tweets, where President Trump took the London mayor out of context, the London mayor was then asked for a response, which I will read.

"The mayor is busy working with the police, emergency services, and the government to coordinate the response to this horrific and cowardly terrorist attack. He has more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump's ill-informed tweet."

So, the various continuing tension between these two, which obviously, this is not that helpful for foreign relations.

WARD: I mean, I think everyone here just saw these tweets, Alisyn, and they were just like this beggar's belief, because whatever the intention behind the tweets or whatever the misunderstanding, the reality is the relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States of America is one of the most important relationships that the U.S. has and of course, that the U.K. has as well.

Why in the immediate aftermath of a horrifying terror attack where seven people lost their lives, where a city is feeling the trauma that comes with experiencing that kind of an attack, why would you deliberately, provocatively and publicly belittle the mayor of that city?

I think the British people have a really hard time getting their head around it because there is a nastiness to it. There is also the perception by many that there's some kind of Islamophobia at play here. Why would you single out Sadiq Khan, who is, of course, the first Muslim mayor in London? So, a lot of Londoners very upset about this.

CAMEROTA: All right, panel, thank you very much for all of that. Meanwhile, there's a powerful show of unity and defiance. Watch this.

(VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: That's pop star Ariana Grande returning to Manchester two weeks after the deadly bombing at her concert. We'll show you the emotional tribute, next.