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Were latest London attacks a copycat job?

MSNBC analysts Francona and Jacobs hash over the latest information about the London attacks.
/ Source: msnbc.com

Two weeks to the day after the July 7 bombings that killed 50 people in London, Thursday's attack, which appeared to be botched, leaves investigators with many questions.

MSNBC analysts Colonels Jack Jacobs and Rick Francona joined MSNBC-TV's Alex Witt to discuss the possibility that the latest attack was staged by a copycat. 

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

Alex Witt: We're here to talk more about this with two of our military analysts who both know a great deal about Islamic extremism as well as the city of London for that matter, Retired Army Colonel Jack Jacobs and Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, Colonels, we're glad you're here to speak about today's attack. I'll begin with you Colonel Jacobs, your take initially, what's your reaction to it all.

Colonel Jack Jacobs: Well its really inept isn't it, I mean detonators exploded, but the bombs, assuming that they were bombs, didn't go. And this would indicate that these people have little idea what they were doing. It's not that difficult; given the proper equipment to make a bomb, just get some explosive material, put in an electric or non-electric blasting cap, which actually explodes the explosive material, and if you're smart, you'll wrap it all in detonation cord to ensure that it all blows up.

So either the guy who put these together -- and its probably one person, I don't believe in coincidences because they couldn't all have been duds -- didn't know what he was doing. So the likelihood is that they didn't know what they were doing and they had bad equipment.

Witt: So essentially what you're saying is that they are essentially B-grade terrorists. Would you go as far as to say that they are copycat terrorists Colonel Francona?

Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona: Well I don't know if I'd use copycat, they definitely aren't the same people who carried out the same attacks two weeks ago. The people who carried out the attacks two weeks ago are very professional in how they did it. The targets were well selected, they got three out of four, the fourth target really was a secondary target, those bombs were put together correctly, they worked.

Witt: Now do you find it interesting that we have the exact same situation, three subways and one bus, doesn't that denote some kind of similar planning?

Francona: I think the planning was meant to do that, I think it was to show that we could hit the same targets yet again, they were ineffective in doing that, but certainly the message was planned to be sent. But I don't think it was the same cell, or they would have been effective in doing it.

Jacobs: Well the thing to remember though is that two weeks ago, the bus target was a secondary target, these bombs were all supposed to be on the Tube, and the only reason that the bomber went on the bus was because the Northern line, the one that he was supposed to be on, was shut down for repairs.

Witt: Well that was two weeks ago, in this situation today, did someone go out today and deliberately go out there and hit a bus?

Francona: Yes, it seems that they chose these targets to mimic the attacks two weeks ago.

Witt: One thing they didn't mimic was the time of day, we have lunch hour versus a rush hour, what do you make of that difference?

Francona: Well, you're going to kill a lot of people in either case, morning rush hour or noon lunch hour, this could be an attempt to say that we could hit you at anytime of the day, if that was the message they were trying to send. The fact that it didn't work, I think we're very lucky. One other difference that I think is coming out, but if you saw the press conference they were reluctant to say so, although they have two of these people in custody, I'm not sure that these were suicide bombings today. It looks like some of these were thrown, there was one report that when one of the detonators went off, the person that was wearing the rucksack looked surprised, like it wasn't supposed to go off.

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