Guest: Asa Hutchinson, Bernard Kerik, Steve Emerson, Evan Kohlmann, Simon
Reeve, Alfred Arian
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, terrorists strike the heart of London with bombs and subway stations and on a bus, at least 37 dead, hundreds more are wounded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were screaming, pointing, and then more and more smoke came and people started saying their last prayers.
ABRAMS (voice-over): Four bombs explode within an hour during the morning rush—the worst attack in Britain since World War II.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States government is raising the threat level from code yellow or elevated to code orange, high.
ABRAMS: Here at home, orange alert for the nation's mass transit systems. We go live to London. We'll talk with top security experts and with two men who were in charge during other terror attacks, former homeland security undersecretary Asa Hutchinson and New York's police commissioner during 9/11, Bernard Kerik.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. First up on the docket tonight, this morning it happened, that terror attack so many have been fearing for so long, multiple deadly bombings in the middle of a huge city—this morning's target, London. Four explosions at the tail end of rush hour -- 38 confirmed dead so far.
The first explosion, 8:51 a.m. near the Liverpool underground station. Seven confirmed fatalities. Five minutes later, another explosion near the King's Cross subway station, 21 fatalities there so far. Twenty-one minutes after that, a third subway station attacked at Edgware Road. That explosion so big it literally blew a hole through a wall, hitting two nearby trains and killing at least seven.
Then a half hour later, an explosion on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. Witnesses say the entire back half of the bus blew into the air. Two confirmed fatalities so far there. Before we discuss who may have been behind this and the response here at home in the United States, first the sites and sounds from this morning's cowardly attacks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Associated Press now reports all subways in London have been shut down and Reuters News is reporting an explosion on a city bus in the center of the city. The earlier incident on the subway appears to have been caused by a power outage. Several emergency crews are now at the scene. Some injuries have been reported.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It's reasonably clear that there have been a series of terrorist attacks in London. There are obviously casualties, both people that have died and people seriously injured, and our thoughts and prayers, of course, are with the victims and their families.
BRIAN PADDICK, METROPOLITAN POLICE: At 8:51 this morning, there was an incident at Moorgate, around Moorgate, Liverpool Street, Moorgate East underground stations confirmed explosion 100 yards into the tunnel from Liverpool Street station.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) so we're like what the hell is going on. We went to the side of the building, we look out the window and we see black smoke billowing out of Aldgate station. So I went outside and I went to the front, and you see black smoke (INAUDIBLE) front of the station as well. People are coming out and they're covered—sorry—they're covered in grease. They're covered in grease. They're covered in soot and some people coming out are covered in blood.
PADDICK: And there are seven confirmed fatalities in that incident.
At 8:56 this morning at the King's Cross Russell Square incident.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We left the platform, started going underground. Approximately a few hundred feet into this, there was an explosion, a flash of light. Everything went dark. The train grounded to a halt. There was emergency lighting that came on. People started screaming and there was what appeared to be smoke or soot and it was everywhere and it was all over our clothes and our hands and we just had no idea what was going on.
PADDICK: Twenty-one confirmed fatalities in that particular incident. At 9:17, there was an explosion on the train coming into Edgware Road underground station, which blew a hole through a wall onto another train in an adjoining platform. In fact, it's believed that three trains were involved in that particular incident.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) came in and none of us knew what happened. It was mayhem and then the driver came out of the carriage and which was quite scary because he shined a red light (INAUDIBLE) and I just thought—well I thought I was dead. I had the vision of a fire and then he came out and said—we walked the street platform. It was just—I don't know what happened.
PADDICK: And so far, there are five fatalities in that particular incident. And then at 9:47, there was an explosion on a bus at upper Woburn Square junction at Tavistock Place.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw this bus literally just explode. There was a huge noise there and bits of glass flying everywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I saw really is the pieces of wreck, tin flying and things like that and the white smoke from the—I don't know what it was, but it was white smoke, not black, went up in big clouds and then everybody on the bus start jumping to get out.
PADDICK: There are fatalities in that incident, but at the moment, we cannot confirm the numbers. The police service received no warning about these attacks and the police service has received no claims of responsibility from any group in connection with these attacks.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (INAUDIBLE) the intention and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights, human liberty and those who kill, those who've got such evil in their heart.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were (INAUDIBLE) something like 20 to 30 minutes during which the smoke intensified, the screaming intensified, the hysteria and that's what it was—became almost—to say pandemonium.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well (INAUDIBLE) I'd say about maybe six, seven people lying on the floor. A lot of people with a lot of blood on their faces and ripped clothes. A number of people were fine. (INAUDIBLE) numbers. But when we got (INAUDIBLE) there was probably only about six, seven people (INAUDIBLE) myself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just black and we just got out, so I have no idea...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you hear after the explosion...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... screaming.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just thought—I thought it was on fire...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You could just see light outside the carriage, but...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... it felt like orange light. It felt like it was on fire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
KEN LIVINGSTONE, LORD MAYOR OF LONDON: This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It's not aimed at presidents or prime ministers. It was aimed at all (INAUDIBLE) working class (INAUDIBLE), black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew. It is just indiscriminate. Attempt at mass murder.
ABRAMS: All right. For the latest we head to London. NBC's Janet Shamlian is there. So Janet, what else can you tell us about the latest?
JANET SHAMLIAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well it's really quiet here, unusually quiet, Dan, tonight. The underground is not running. Many businesses closed early and they sent their employees home. Even some of London's famous pubs normally open at this hour are dark right now and of course tomorrow morning is not going to be a normal rush hour here with most of the underground closed.
London like all big cities is heavily dependent on its public transportation and having the subway all but out of commission is going to change things here dramatically. In addition, something people really haven't thought about, many school-aged children here use the underground to get to and from school, so this could have an impact for London's young residents as well. The evening papers are now out here and there's been a big demand, as you might expect, for information from people living here.
A lot of folks said they were just going to go straight home tonight and just watch television and see what had happened. Flags are flying at half-staff at Buckingham Palace and elsewhere, and the “Royal Mail” is warning that the attacks may impact mail delivery in central London tomorrow and then none of that accounts for the psychological impact, which we probably won't see for some time, Dan.
And of course, this is all coming on a very—after a very happy day. Yesterday, London was still celebrating this morning their some would say come-from-behind gain of the 20-12 (ph) Olympic games bid that they won and just a turnaround today in such dramatic fashion to a day of sadness.
ABRAMS: Janet Shamlian thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
Coming up, the attacks in London hit home here in the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security raises the threat level on all mass transit systems across the country. We'll talk with former homeland security undersecretary Asa Hutchinson and to New York's police commissioner during 9/11, Bernard Kerik.
And British police say there was no warning, no intelligence pointing to today's attack. So far, no legitimate claim of responsibility, but is there really any really question as to who was behind this?
Your e-mails email@example.com. Please include your name and where you're writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: In light of today's attacks in London, the United States government is raising the threat level from code yellow or elevated to code orange, high targeted only to the mass transit portion of the transportation sector.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: After at least 38 people are dead, 700 injured and four bombings in London this morning, the Department of Homeland Security has raised the threat level for mass transportation here in the U.S. to orange or high. The results visible in cities across the country—law enforcement out in full force patrolling streets and mass transit hubs, but Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says we shouldn't be alarmed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHERTOFF: Currently, the United States has no specific credible information suggesting an imminent attack here in the United States. However, we know the tactics and methods of terrorists as demonstrated by the horrific rail bombings last year in Madrid. The intent of al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations to attack in Europe and in the United States has been well documented and continues to be reflected in intelligence reporting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Last time the U.S. government increased the threat level was in August because of supposed threats to financial institutions in D.C., New York and New Jersey. But the threat level here in the U.S. was not raised after the train bombing in Madrid in March of 2004.
Joining me now, former undersecretary for the Department of Homeland Security Asa Hutchinson and Bernard Kerik. He was the New York Police Department commissioner during the 9/11 attacks. Gentlemen, thanks very much for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
Secretary Hutchinson, let me start with you. Take us behind the scenes, if you will. How does a decision get made about raising the threat level to orange just with regard to mass transit?
ASA HUTCHINSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY UNDERSECRETARY: Well you first look to see whether there's any specific intelligence that would indicate a threat. Secretary Chertoff indicated that was not the case, but this is precautionary, a logical response to what has happened so we can give the public confidence, enhances security, encourage people to continue to use it, but they need to see the security presence. So this is a signal to our transit authorities increase the security.
ABRAMS: Without giving away any secrets or anything that is confidential information, is the Department of Homeland Security on the phone with all the local authorities? Is there some sort of conference call? How does the Department of Homeland Security inform all of the local police departments here's what we need to do? Here's the intelligence we have, et cetera.
HUTCHINSON: Well absolutely. That's the key for homeland security is that direct communication. So they would be communicating directly to the homeland security advisors, as well as the state transit authorities, municipal transit authorities, communicating this what the intelligence is, so I'm sure today was a day full of conference calls with all the impact of people, giving them direction as to what the security level is. They have a baseline and what enhancements they should make to the transit systems.
ABRAMS: Commissioner Kerik, is there any way really to protect the subway?
BERNARD KERIK, NYPD COMMISSIONER ON 9/11: Well, I think there's a number of ways to protect it. We've implemented a number of things in the U.S. transit system to do that. Whether it's detection systems that look at air, for example, camera, surveillance. You have enhanced enforcement by the police, enhanced coverage. You have dogs that now patrol on some of the Amtrak lines and some of the other rail lines. There are many things you can do. But people have to keep in mind, you cannot prevent every incident and we saw that clearly today in London.
ABRAMS: And you can't, for example, put metal detectors in a subway, could you? As a practical matter, you see what happens at airports, just the amount of wanding, et cetera that would be required, it just seems to almost defeat the whole purpose of having a subway.
KERIK: Well, metal detectors in a subway system would create more than what you would call a bottleneck. You know, if you look at Grand Central on any given morning, around 8:30 to 8:50, around the time of the attacks this morning, you could have 100,000 people in that terminal. It's virtually impossible to put metal detectors, but that's where you have to bring in technology and you have to bring in additional police officers and there are a number of things that we have instituted over the last several years in a post-9/11 world, as I said earlier, and as the other experts will tell you, you cannot prevent every incident and vigilance and intelligence is going to be the key to the success of combating terrorism in the United States and abroad.
ABRAMS: Bring me to the mindset of the officials in New York. The moment they hear there's a bomb—there's another bomb in London, I've got to believe automatically they're going to be going into overdrive that, you know, they're not going to need the Department of Homeland Security to say, hey, this is what you need to do. That New York is going to say, we've got to be prepared.
KERIK: As Asa mentioned earlier, there are protocols for the regional homeland security people to talk to the state municipal officials throughout the country. But that instant activation when Secretary Chertoff today who raised the alert level, that's an instant notification for state and municipal governments and federal agencies to take it to the next level and since 9/11, there are plans, preparedness, things that we have done that police departments such as New York City have put into place so when that code level is raised, those plans automatically go into effect.
As you know, New York City, since 9/l1 was on orange alert, was on red alert. They've remained in extremely high alert status for the last three years, but other departments around the country, they really depend on that notification and I think they take it seriously. But when it's raised like it was today, there are things that go into effect that wouldn't be the norm on a daily basis.
ABRAMS: Secretary Hutchinson, I want to you listen to this piece of sound from Michael Chertoff and then I'm going to ask you a question about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHERTOFF: I'm not aware of any specific intelligence that suggests that this was going to take place. Again, obviously for years now, we've lived in an environment in which we've had general intelligence reporting about the intent of terrorists to carry out acts, both against us in the United States and against our allies and it's been that mindfulness that has led us to, again, keep an elevated sense of preparedness as we go forward on a day-to-day basis. But we're going to continue to review and see what intelligence is out there as we go forward in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: So the threat level not raised after the Madrid bombing, even though there was in that case, as now, no direct intelligence anything would happen. Any sense, Secretary Hutchinson, as to why the threat level was raised this time and not right after Madrid?
HUTCHINSON: Well, there may be some information that Secretary Chertoff and his team is privy too. But I think clearly he says that there's not any specific intelligence. It would be shared if there was. You would know about it if there was.
The fact that we're encouraging people to travel indicates that there might be chatter out there in general continued threat, but nothing specific and that's the pattern, that you don't raise the threat level broadly. You have to act on specific intelligence. You want to give people something specific to do. So I think it's a good response. We did increase the security after the Madrid attack, put in some security measures, but as you indicated, we did not raise the threat level.
ABRAMS: Commissioner Kerik, today New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly said teams were being dispatched to London to supplement teams that were already there. Is that unprecedented?
KERIK: Not really. Not post-9/11. Prior to that, it probably would have been. Now it's a different story. The New York City Police Department has New York City detectives assigned to Interpol, assigned to a variety of countries around the world that are working in conjunction with authorities from other nations. Intelligence gathering, as I mentioned earlier, and now it's dissemination, that is sort of going to be the success to combating this element in the future.
And I think Commissioner Kelly is right in getting those people over there, and get them over there, learn what they can learn, feed that back to us here in the United States and use it to benefit the United States, to benefit New York City and the enforcement efforts going forward.
ABRAMS: Finally Secretary Hutchinson, do you think it's fair to say that raising the terror threat level to orange is not just saying we think there's a greater chance of getting hit by a terror attack, but it's also to say to the people who are riding mass transit, we're out there. We're here; we know there are concerns about what happened in London. We just want to be able to reassure you that we're going to do everything we can.
HUTCHINSON: Well I think it's both of those, but I think it is also the fact that you have not just encouragement to the people, seeing the law enforcement presence, but also it is a deterrent effect in the event that there was any terrorists that planned anything, the increased law enforcement presence from historic instances have deterred conduct. And so it's protective, but it's also reassuring and it's logical.
Whenever you see this kind of effort overseas, you have to be able to take appropriate action, specific action here to guard against that. And I would agree with Commissioner Kerik that it's very, very important that we build that intelligence capability because that's the best protection against this type of attack.
ABRAMS: Secretary Asa Hutchinson thanks so much for coming on the program. We appreciate it.
HUTCHINSON: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Bernard Kerik is going to stay with us.
The explosions in London seem to have the stamp of an al Qaeda plot, but still no credible claims of responsibility. Where are investigators looking first to figure out who did this? And we check in on the reaction to the attacks in the Arab world.
ABRAMS: Coming up, so who is responsible for today's attacks in London? First the headlines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PADDICK: We are treating this as a terrorist incident. We are keeping an open mind as to who the perpetrators might be. We have no—received no claim in terms of who is responsible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Well a claim of responsibility was made for today's terror atrocity in London. A group claiming to be some European al Qaeda organization posted an Internet message with sort of bloodthirsty threats we've come to expect from jihadi terrorists gloating that it's time to take revenge against the British Zionist crusader government in retaliation for the massacres Britain is committing in Iraq and Afghanistan. The heroic mujahideen have carried out a blessed raid in London. Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern and western quarters.
Well, seems that two things we know, Britain is burning more with anger than fear and panic and that message appears to have been a hoax. So who's responsible? The use of coordinated time bombing attacks seems to be an al Qaeda calling card. But does that mean the organization with Osama bin Laden at the helm somehow pulled the trigger on a sleeper cell hiding in London and sent them out to commit mass murder?
Simon Reeve is a journalist and author whose books include “The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the Future of Terrorism”. Steve Emerson, terrorism analyst, frequent guest on this program and author of “American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us” and Evan Kohlmann is an NBC News terrorism analyst and a consultant whose briefed the FBI, National Security Council, and Department of Homeland Security, et cetera on terrorism issues. Gentlemen, thanks for coming on the program.
All right. Steve, first to you. Does this seem to be clearly either al Qaeda or an al Qaeda offshoot?
STEVE EMERSON, TERRORISM EXPERT: Well I don't know that we can even be that clear about it, Dan. I think—the first thing I would say is al Qaeda is a state of mind. It's an ideology and the fact of the matter is these types of operations like the ones we've seen in Spain or the assassination of Van Gogh in the Netherlands last year, are carried out by groups of jihadists who basically get together, form a group for the particular purpose of carrying out one operation, may have had links to al Qaeda in the past through one or two degrees of separation or because they were graduates of the Afghan jihad, but in fact cannot be considered to be al Qaeda subsidiaries. These are all basically new organizations that believe in one common ideology, jihad and they carry it out without any regard to any border.
ABRAMS: Evan, but the chance is that this is an IRA attack are pretty small, right? I mean bottom line...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ABRAMS: ... is it seems to be jihadist.
EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, if you look at the
attack itself, it falls into a line of similar campaigns we've seen done by
North African extremist groups in Europe. Back in 1995, we had the Paris
Metro bombings when the Algerian armed Islamic group (INAUDIBLE) at the
Paris Metro and caused havoc for several weeks in France. Of course, more
recently you've had the Spanish metro bombings where again you had a
Moroccan extremist group, a North African extremist group that was
responsible and now already, already in London today, you have talk of an -
· of—excuse me—an Moroccan Islamic combatant group commander, someone who may be linked to Madrid who's now being sought for more information about today's attack. So we don't really know for sure, but certainly all the signs are pointing in that direction.
ABRAMS: Simon, how big a problem are Islamic radicals in London?
SIMON REEVE, AUTHOR, “THE NEW JACKALS”: I don't think they're a huge problem. Of course like in any country, you've got people who are opposed to the government and in this case, we've obviously got people who are violently opposed to the entire country. They're launching themselves not just against the government, but against the people of the country. But they're a very tiny minority amongst a population, (INAUDIBLE) population of seven million.
REEVE: But at the same time, of course, we do have to say that we're not certain, we're not certain yet who's responsible for this.
ABRAMS: Right. But Steve, I'm not suggesting that London is a bad place dominated by Islamic radicals, but talking about sort of where they thrive, et cetera. How does London compare to other major cities in the western world?
EMERSON: Dan, if you won't say it, I will. I think that it's disproportionately home to probably one of the largest concentrations of Islamic radicals in Europe outside of the Middle East. For years, it has been home to various radical Islamic leaders, cells, groups, mosques. The head of the Finsbury Mosque, Abu Hamza al-Masri, who has called for violent holy war jihad. He's even been indicted in the United States. He was the head of the mosque that spawned Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. He is, unfortunately not unique within London and he's certainly not in the majority but go into any Islamic book store in London and you will find radical Islamic propaganda calling for attacking the crusaders, the Zionists, the Jews, and Americans and Brits alike.
ABRAMS: Evan, should we be concerned that a month ago, Britain's MI5 intelligence lowered the country's security level, saying chatter about possible attacks had dropped to its lowest levels since before 9/11.
KOHLMANN: Well look, I mean Scotland Yard does do an excellent job. We shouldn't second-guess them on that. They really do a great job with intelligence. They do a good job in tracking these guys. Now, sometimes enforcing the law, this is where the problems really come in, in terms of enforcing it in a court, and I would take exception to what Simon said.
I believe that Steve is right. That London—there's a reason that London is known as Londonistan. That's the name it's become known as. It's because it's a home, it's a haven to al Qaeda and al Qaeda affiliates and their leaders. So I mean just last month there was a demonstration in central London where you had representatives of the Egyptian Islamic jihad movement, Saudi al Qaeda outside of the Saudi embassy, loudly proclaiming their support for Osama bin Laden. This is a major problem and unfortunately, MI5 and the other British intelligence and law enforcement agencies as aggressively as they tackle the problem, they can never be aggressive enough, unfortunately.
ABRAMS: Simon, do you want to respond?
REEVE: Yes. No, I agree in many ways with both of the other speakers. What I think I was trying to say was I think before 9/11 that people didn't really see Islamic radicals who were present in London as being a threat to London and to the British (INAUDIBLE). They were certainly here in large numbers and certainly if you want to—many people say London is the capital of the Middle East because there's so many Islamic groups. There's so many Egyptian or Algerian opposition groups and so on here.
What's changed really is in the last few years I think that the aims of many of these groups have become more globalized. Instead of just being focused on attacking the government of Algeria or the government of Egypt, they've turned against the wider western community because they see that as being—as helping to keep their own governments in power.
Certainly, I'm listening to Steve and I agree with much of what he was saying. And of course Steven has also highlighted the fact there's been a number of meetings and conferences even in the United States where lots of Islamic radicals have got together. They're no strangers to the United States and they're no strangers to the U.K.
ABRAMS: Yes and Steve, I have to say, I don't really buy (INAUDIBLE) one counter terrorism official—quote—unquote—cited as saying well you know we have information that might suggest this happened in London because they couldn't get into the United States, et cetera. I don't know that—it seems to me that these are the kinds of attacks, assuming it is al Qaeda or an al Qaeda-related group it's planned a long time in advance, right?
EMERSON: Something like this, Dan, with four simultaneous relatively
· simultaneous explosions with timers, with very neatly packaged bombs that were made in a very expertly-made fashion clearly require at least nine months, a year, a year and a half. The Spanish bombings took a year and a half to plan and execute, so this is not just an off-the-wall sell that walks in and says, we can't get in the U.S...
EMERSON: We'll do it here in London.
ABRAMS: Right. And finally Evan, you know look, as a legal justice matter, it's very important that we catch the people responsible. In terms of the big picture, the war on terror, the danger of Islamic fundamentalists to the west—is it going to make or break the cause whether these people are caught?
KOHLMANN: Unfortunately, I don't think it does. I think it only matters that they were successful in carrying out the act itself. We have to imagine that these people that are responsible for acts of terrorism like this, they really are like human cruise missiles. They're willing to sacrifice their lives in order to achieve their goals.
KOHLMANN: If they can carry out a bombing like this, it really doesn't matter to them whether they survive or not.
KOHLMANN: I mean look at World Trade Center bombers, look at the folks that were responsible for the '93 World Trade Center bombing. They sit in American prisons now and communicate with terror cells in Spain and elsewhere around the world. They're considered almost like godfathers of terrorism and it's the kind of reputation that they really love. They love that they get this mantle...
ABRAMS: Yes. Well...
KOHLMANN: ... and unfortunately, it's going to continue.
ABRAMS: Yes and I think they'd probably rather stick around and try and do it again, so as a result, we're—coming up, we're going to talk about the fact that investigators are headings to London, to England, to help in the search, in the investigation and the question is going to be, are they going to be able to find these guys. What evidence did they leave behind. Coming up.
ABRAMS: Coming up, British authorities piecing together clues from this morning's terror attacks in London. Exactly what are they looking for? Coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were trapped like sardines waiting to die and I honestly thought my time was up, but as did everyone else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Officials investigating today's bombings and the London's subway and bus systems are hoping the masterminds of the attack made mistakes, leaving clues that could help piece the operation together. They've reportedly recovered timing devices already. Some reporting that unexploded devices are recovered. It's still unclear as to whether that's the case.
With last year's deadly bombings in Madrid, Spain, police were able to recover a bomb that failed to detonate, a cell phone that apparently was supposed to set off the bomb not properly connected set to 7:40 p.m., not a.m., so when it rang 12 hours after the bombing, people were led right to a key piece of evidence. They used the cell phone and other information to find the owner of a cell phone store who's now considered a lead suspect in the case.
Spanish officials have since arrested and charged more than 100 suspects, 25 of them remain behind bars. They're expected to face trial by the end of the year. Let me go back to the former New York City Police Department commissioner during 9/11, Bernard Kerik.
Commissioner Kerik, how important would a timing device be in helping to find the people who perpetrated this crime?
KERIK: Dan, any piece of physical evidence is going to be extremely important because it could lead to another piece of evidence, which ultimately leads back to a suspect. The timing devices can be bought in hardware stores. They can bought—some of the timers—some of the admission switches to close your garage door, for example, cellular phones, these things are items that can be purchased and they can be tracked.
So if they come up with a cell phone, with an ignition switch, with a timer, these are things that they can probably track and if so, there's a real good possibility it's going to lead to someone. If it leads to one person, in all probability, they'll get the rest. All they need is that first person. Once that first person is captured, they look at their phones, they look at their associations. They look at their—everything under the sun. It will lead to others and that's what happened in Madrid.
ABRAMS: Simon, in most of these terrorism cases, is it the physical evidence that leads to the terrorists or is it talking to people and someone tattles on someone else?
REEVE: Well, it's like any crime, I suppose. It can be any one of those things. If we look at the aftermath of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the FBI joint terrorist taskforce that was investigating that had a very lucky break when one of the terrorists involved in that actually went back to the high rental company from which they got the van that they used to carry the bombing to the World Trade Center, and the guy tried to get back a refund on the vehicle.
REEVE: So the FBI were just able to lift him off the street and obviously investigate him and then began a massive investigation into everybody he knew, almost seem like a very similar thing going on here. These guys who launch these attacks they're not geniuses, they make mistakes, they leave a fingerprint or somebody sees them doing something and calls in a tip to the police hotline, and they're caught. And I have no doubt that as we're speaking now the Metropolitan Police in London, Scotland Yard are launching probably their biggest ever criminal investigation and they—I have no doubt they will find who's responsible. It may take a few days, it might take weeks, it might take months, but they'll get them.
ABRAMS: All right. Steve, I want you to listen to this piece of sound. This is from the deputy assistant police commissioner there in London and it relates to whether these are suicide bombers or not and I want to ask you whether that matters in terms of helping to find who did it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PADDICK: At the moment, we don't know whether or not this was suicide bombers or whether this was simply packages left on the bus and in the underground stations. It's too early to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Steve, obviously, if it's a suicide bomber, you're not going to actually find the person responsible, but in terms of figuring out who was the mastermind behind it, is it more likely that you're going to figure that out with a suicide bomber or not a suicide bomber.
EMERSON: With suicide bombers, it's probably more likely that you'll figure out who carried out the operation and who ultimately was the mastermind because there are bodies and there are people that actually were responsible and there will probably be families that are either rejoicing or perhaps not, but certainly ones that are going to be glorified because their children went to, you know, were graduates of the martyr's system. So in fact, it would be—quote—“in a very sense of irony” easier if they were suicide bombers, but I understand now from the forensic details, Dan, that were given out by the Scotland Yard to their counterparts in the United States they have almost concluded certainly that they were not suicide bombers, with the exception of the bus bombing and at that point, the body that they found that was so mangled that they thought was a suicide bomber, they now believe was a passenger.
ABRAMS: Yes. You know I have to tell you I'm always impressed about the fact that they really do seem to get to the bottom of so many of these cases, be it luck, be it mistakes, be it good police work, it just seems to happen and so I'm counting on that happening again.
Bernard Kerik, Simon Reeve, Evan Kohlmann, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
Coming up, how the Arab press is covering the bombings. Our translator has been watching and monitoring the coverage all day. Are they condemning the bombings? He'll join us.
ABRAMS: Continuing with our special coverage of the terror attacks in London, the question now, what's the reaction in Arab media, particularly maybe the Pan Arab news station, Al-Jazeera. What about those Web sites where Islamic terrorists boast about murder?
I'm joined by MSNBC translator Alfred Arian and again by terrorism expert Steve Emerson.
All right, Alfred, so what are you seeing?
ALFRED ARIAN, MSNBC TRANSLATOR: Well Al-Jazeera, LRB and old Arab state run TV (ph) had carried out the story and they've been talking about it. Not only because that it's a big attack, but because also that a lot of the Muslims and Arab population lives in Great Britain. Plus if you look at the reaction of some of the Arab people like for example, Al-Jazeera has interviewed a man that they call an Islamic researcher. His name is Mohammed Imara. Mohammed Imara is saying he condemned the attack. He condemned the attack on civilians but advice on Al-Jazeera that all the Arabs and jihadists and mujahideen to go to Iraq to slaughter the Americans and the British. See it's like two parts. Yes, we condemn the attack, but I advise the mujahideen to go to Iraq to kill the Americans and the British.
ABRAMS: Yes. Steve, this is exactly what we expect to see, right, from these jihadists? They always say—not all of them. Some of them won't even condemn it, but they say we condemn it but and then they get to the real point.
EMERSON: Yes, these the savvy jihadists. They know that it doesn't do them well to carry out attacks in New York or in London, but they can just as easily recruit and espouse others to carry out jihad in Afghanistan or in Iraq. In fact, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, I understand today issued a statement condemning the attack and yet on his Web site, he openly espouses and promotes fatwahs, religious decrees, calling for attacking and carrying out suicide bombings against Jews and Americans. Not Zionists only...
EMERSON: ... but Jews and Americans. Not just occupiers, and he was honored, by the way, more than three times by the mayor of London in the last two years.
ABRAMS: Alfred, is the impression you're getting from watching these Arab networks that at least some of them are trying to link this attack to Iraq and Afghanistan and basically, at least some of the people on these networks suggesting, oh, well, you know it was coming because of Iraq and Afghanistan.
ARIAN: Of course, this is always the case. The terrorists has always accused—even if you look at the terrorist Web site. Oh, this is what happened. British get—London got what it deserved because Tony Blair launched an attack on Afghanistan and Iraq. And even there is a good question today. He's saying, like the editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem, the Arab version in London saying today on Al-Jazeera, well they spent $250 billion on war and terror and look, it's useless. They still can attack and they're still strong and they reorganized their group and they still can do harm to other countries. So, now the question remains for the Arab world does Muslims and Islam will be impacted in effect by this attacks as much as it happened by September 11 or not.
ABRAMS: Steve, they're always looking for an excuse, aren't they? Bottom line is if there hadn't been the war in Iraq, if there hadn't been a war in Afghanistan, that wouldn't have changed anything, right?
EMERSON: In fact, it didn't change anything, Dan, because 9/11 happened without there being a war in Iraq and without there being a war in Afghanistan. And all these other excuses that are piled on as sort of legitimizing their jihadist battles retroactively. The reality is that they don't need an excuse, Dan. And you pointed this out numerous times and very courageously, I must point out, that the jihadists have a determined battle that is not linked to any linear dispute. That basically it is a total holy war. It's a conflict with the West. And unfortunately, there are too many radical Islamic clerics in the world that occupy mainstream positions...
ABRAMS: All right.
EMERSON: ... that refuse to condemn it.
ABRAMS: Yes, you make excuses—they make excuses. All right, Alfred and Steve Emerson, thanks a lot.
We'll be right back.
ABRAMS: That does it for us tonight. Special coverage though continues here on MSNBC and the terror attacks in London. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews will continue that. Have a good night. Stay safe. Stay alert. Stay vigilant. I will see you next week.
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