Video: Who's responsible for bombings?

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updated 7/8/2005 3:54:43 PM ET 2005-07-08T19:54:43

After a group called "The Secret Group of al-Qaida's Jihad in Europe" claimed responsibility for yesterday's terror attack in London, it's been unclear exactly whom that group represents and whether they are credible.

While a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said the posting is potentially very credible, Terrorism Analyst Evan Kohlmann disagrees.

Kohlmann joined MSNBC's Natalie Allen on Friday morning to discuss the claim and share his ideas on who may be responsible for the terror attacks in London.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the link below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

Natalie Allen: I know that in your research you've went underground and you've come face to face with terror suspects.  We'll talk about that in just a moment.  But first, I want to ask you about this claim of responsibility.  You've studied this website.  Do you find the claim credible?

Evan Kohlmann:  I'm not exactly sure which U.S. counterterrorism official said this is potentially credible but it's not at all.  In fact this message was even dismissed by supporters of al-Qaida immediately deleted off of the Web forum that it was posted on yesterday morning. Only within minutes really of it having been posted originally.

Why was it taken offline?  Because the Jihad sympathizers that run that message board determined that it was a hoax, it was illegitimate.  Many such messages like that get posted on a regular basis especially since last summer when we saw a flurry of such threats potentially targeting Denmark, Britain and Italy.  The same three countries that were targeted in this communiqué.  None of these communiqués were legitimate.  All of them were hoaxes.  The same languages were used in the communiqué.  The same targets. It seems this is a hoax as well.  It's impossible to be certain but this did not come from a legitimate source of information about terrorist groups like saying the videos and communiqués we see from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Allen:  We know there are similarities between the Madrid bombing and the London bombings.  They don't believe right now it was a suicide bombing.  We know that Madrid was detonated by cell phones.  They believe that timers were used yesterday so that's different.  But do you have any idea who could be behind this yesterday? 

Kohlmann:  There apparently may already be a link to Madrid. Right now, British investigators are looking to find a Moroccan former Commander of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant group who lived in London.  What's interesting is that back before the Madrid bombings some of the central bombers involved in the Madrid conspiracy, Jamal Zougam. traveled to London to meet with this guy.  The same Moroccan individual that British authorities are now searching for.

So the thought is that perhaps this that perhaps Lieutenant in Spain was going to be his big commander in London looking for help and assistance and now that big commander is being sought in connection with the London attack.

Potentially, the problem is, is that this commander is still on the loose.  There are still other terrorist cells.  Moroccan Islamic Combatant cells that are loyal to him and are active.  There's potential for a second or third terrorist attack in this part of the world.  And we're hoping that these individuals are detained or stopped before that happens.

Allen: The question is, were the terrorists from London, from Great Britain, we all know that Great Britain has rounded up many terror suspects because as I mentioned at the beginning of this interview, you Evan went underground and tried to pretend like you wanted to be recruited by these terrorists, and you said tit was quite terrifying when you did that.

Kohlmann:  Well, I'm not really easily scared by this kind of thing but some of the things I heard being propagated in London were pretty frightening.

I went to underground meetings where 14 and 15-year old kids were told, 'Kill the women and children, support Osama bin Laden, and show them no mercy.'  These kids were being instructed in terrorism in the heart of London.  Frankly speaking I was told exactly that.  I was told by Omar Bakri Muhammad, the leader of one of the radical movements in the United Kingdom, Al-Muhajiroun,  that the moment British authorities start arresting our leaders, that's when bomb s will start going off and sure enough right now for one of the men I was able to sit down to speak with- Abu Hamza al-Masri, a major al-Qaida recruiter in London, someone that's been connected to everything from Zacharias Moussaoui to Richard Reed, Mr. Shoe bomber.

There's a group of people like this and it's actually unfortunate, because this same Moroccan they are looking for in London, Mohamed Guerbouzi, his presence has been known for quite a bit of time and unfortunately British authorities simply couldn't do anything about it because they couldn't extradite him to Morocco and they couldn't get enough evidence to arrest him on a British warrant.

So even though they knew this individual was a Moroccan Islam Combatant group commander and knew he was living in the heart of London, he has been able to exist there with no consequences for years now. Only now are we looking for him in the consequence of this latest attack.

Allen:  Do you think they're going to find who's behind this yesterday?

Kohlmann:  I hope so, but indeed if it was the same network that was responsible for Madrid then there is reason to believe they will.  There's a great deal known about this network from the investigation by Spanish police and intelligence. ... If this is the same network, then it should be relatively easy to parse them and figure out who's who.

If it's somebody else -- and potentially maybe not even an al-Qaida sub group -- then it could take longer.  The real question is how much physical evidence the Brits were able to collect. Particularly, any of these timers that were supposedly picked up or any unexploded ordinates or explosives that were used.  That's how the Spanish were able to track back their perpetrators back in 3/11-- the unexploded ordinates.

So hopefully, the same kids of breaks will happen here in this case. 

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