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Kelly McCann: Intelligence key to stopping terror

Kelly McCann
Kelly McCann

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Kelly McCann

(CNN) -- Three major postwar bombings have occurred in Iraq -- at the Jordanian embassy, the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad and now Friday's blast at a revered Shiite mosque in Najaf -- which killed 126 people.

CNN security analyst Kelly McCann joined CNN anchor Heidi Collins on Saturday from Washington and talked about the weapons used in Najaf and the security situation in Iraq.

COLLINS: Why was this bomb [exploded in the Najaf attack] different than what we have seen in the past here?

MCCANN: There are still some things that are not clear. For instance, they said that when the Ayatollah [Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim] was walking toward his car with his -- I believe it was his nephew, some vehicles exploded beside him. They're not sure whether it was, in fact, part of his vehicle's entourage or not.

But the initiation of the device is in question. There are some that have said that this particular device was initiated when an ignition was turned on. That goes to a little bit higher level of sophistication than what we've seen in Baghdad -- typically military munitions that have been reworked in order to become an improvised explosive device use pretty standard initiation kind of military devices.

This is different. Similarly, the U.N. bombing was different in the scope and size of the bombing, and the tactic used to deliver the device.

The next weeks will tell, Heidi. If this proliferates, and if it continues in other places in Iraq, then that will be telling.

COLLINS: Too early to say this might be a trend.

MCCANN: It is too early to say. Of real concern here is that this is -- it appears, anyway, Shi'a-on-Shi'a violence. That's significantly different than what we've seen in the past directed towards the U.S.

This particular cleric, of course, had been promoting the fact that there should be a state government separate from a religious kind of entity, and I think that he fell in disfavor. But still, I think it is too early to say that it's a trend, one that we probably don't want to see.

COLLINS: Any way that the coalition forces could combat these type of attacks?

MCCANN: It's very difficult to put your finger on the magic solution. But there is one overarching kind of solution here, and that's intelligence -- better intelligence.

Right now, there are so many players in Iraq, Heidi, there are so many people from outside that are coming in, there are so many religious different kind of factions, there are so many different interests, there are criminal groups, it's very, very difficult to get [high]-quality intelligence.

And that really is what's going to safeguard people. Already people are -- the U.S. troops and other people that are there, contractors, etc., are employing good individual protective measures. There's good force protection programs going on. But in fact, remember, the purpose of these kinds of bombings is to make look ineffectual any security measures that the occupying force would institute.

So it's difficult, but the right answer is intelligence.

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