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London Terror; Up a Notch

Aired July 8, 2005 - 05:30   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning again, everyone, and welcome to the second half-hour of DAYBREAK.
Coming up in the next 30 minutes, how the London attacks prompted U.S. officials to increase security on our trains, buses and planes. And the world grieves with London.

Here's more now on our other top stories.

Scared, but carrying on, a day after four deadly bombings, London commuters venture back onto buses and subways on a limited basis this morning. British authorities still put the casualty toll at 37 people killed and 700 injured, but say the number of dead could climb.

G-8 leaders will wrap up a three-day summit in Scotland today. Despite the London bombing, the world leaders are expected to issue a joint statement approving a major aid package to Africa.

A grim anniversary, thousands of Muslims in Bosnia march today to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica Massacre. Serb troops killed 8,000 Muslim men and boys. It was Europe's worst slaughter of civilians since World War II.

And Dennis, the Menace, category four.


WHITFIELD: Hard to believe -- Chad.

MYERS: It's worse than the menace now, I think.


WHITFIELD: Kind of cool. All right, thanks so much -- Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

WHITFIELD: Investigators are still collecting clues this morning from the terror attack wreckage in London. As many as 700 people were injured in the blast, and many are still in the hospitals throughout the city.

St. Mary's Hospital is where Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived earlier to visit some of the victims.

CNN's John Vause is there as well -- John.


In the last few moments here at St. Mary's Hospital, there's been a significant increase in police activity. A number of police vans arriving filled with uniform officers. There's been sirens going up and down the street. In fact, the prince's driver and his personal security guard have actually gone inside their vehicle. And the car, we believe, is started up.

Now we're not too sure exactly what's going on, but the prince and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, have been here about 30 minutes. They're meeting with some of the patients, some of the victims of yesterday's bombing. In all, about 38 people were brought to this hospital. Fourteen of those have been discharged. Seven of those who are still here described in a critical condition. The other 14 are described to be serious.

As I said, they've been here for about half an hour. We're expecting them to be here for another 20 minutes or so. It's described as a short visit. The aides of the prince say that he is acutely aware that this is a working hospital and he doesn't want to get in the way. But he does want to show his support to the victims of yesterday's bombing and also to show his appreciation to the doctors and nurses at this hospital here.

But right now, Fredricka, there certainly has been a lot of activity regarding police officers and certainly a lot of activity at the rear of the hospital as well -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And, John, our Richard Quest reported just moments ago, too, that Queen Elizabeth II might be visiting a hospital as well. Do you have any idea whether it will be that hospital?

VAUSE: Well it won't be this hospital, because Prince Charles has been here. It's all likely to be another hospital in London. We are -- we'll obviously get an operational indication of what she will be doing later on today. They usually give an indication about an hour before some kind of visit. But for security reasons, you can never actually give out the location.


VAUSE: It's much like when U.S. officials travel overseas, you can never give out the timetable, primarily because of security reasons, even more so now 24 hours after the bombing on the Underground -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Yes, understandable. And, John, there are an awful lot of people behind you clearly there to see the prince and the duchess. But the same time, are there a lot of relatives, loved ones of the many injured who are able to visit with them as well?

VAUSE: Yes, inside this hospital there's 24 patients still here. But what we've seen, you probably can't see it, but there is a bridge up here with a lot of people who have been standing around. They were there when the prince arrived.

WHITFIELD: Yes, we can see it.

VAUSE: They are obviously waiting for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall to come out of the hospital and to catch a glimpse of Prince Charles as he leaves any moment now, probably in the next 10 or 20 minutes, Fredricka. But there are, of course, relatives inside the hospital who the prince will be meeting with as well -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Sure. OK. John Vause, thank you so much, from St. Mary's Hospital there in London.

We open up the "DAYBREAK Data File" for more "Did You Know?" facts on the London Underground. It opened in 1863, and now more than three million passengers ride it each day. The Tube stops at 274 stations around the London Metro area.

The terror alert level in this country is up a notch to code orange or high. For example, security precautions were stepped up for mass transit in Philadelphia. There were two reports of suspicious packages that turned out to be false.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do. You always have to be on your guard, you know. You never know what could happen wherever you are, but as long as you keep your eye out. I think it's important that people do keep their eye out. And then if they find something suspicious, to let people know or that you just don't know. Wherever you are it could happen. I didn't expect it in London.


WHITFIELD: And, again, the terror alert increase only affects mass transit here in this country.

Well Homeland Security correspondent Jeanne Meserve now with more on the mass transit precautions.



CHIEF GENE WILSON, MARTA POLICE: We've also put all of our dogs out and our SWAT team.

MESERVE: In Los Angeles.

CHIEF WILLIAM BRATTON, LOS ANGELES POLICE: We are in the city of Los Angeles on a modified tactical alert.

MESERVE: In Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our Marine unit is patrolling the river with an eye toward all bridges, especially where CTA trains cross.

MESERVE: And of course, in New York. All across the nation transit agencies and cities took precautions, even before the threat level was raised. It was moved up to orange for mass transit only. This is the first time the alert has been raised without specific intelligence indicating a threat.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Currently, the United States has no specific, credible information suggesting an imminent attack here in the United States.

MESERVE: Every mass transit system is a maze of entrances and exits, hard to secure, easy to case. In some ways, a perfect terrorist targets.

RICHARD FALKENRATH, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: They are very easy to get onto and off of, by design, and they have very dense populations of civilians at very predictable hours.

MESERVE: The Department of Homeland Security says cameras, sensors, drills, improved communications have all made mass transit safer. But critics say it isn't safe enough. Why? Americans take public transportation 32 million times a day. Mass transit carries 16 times more passengers than airlines, but it has gotten a fraction of the security money.

WILLIAM MILLAR, AMERICAN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION ASSOCIATION: About $250 million has been made available for public transit since 9/11 by the federal government, $18 billion has been made available for the airline system.

MESERVE: Despite the horror of the London attacks, public officials here in the United States Thursday urged citizens to be vigilant, but keep riding.

MAYOR ANTHONY WILLIAMS, WASHINGTON, D.C.: To send a message that our city is open and safe, live your lives.

GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: The best security in the world is there to protect you and it will be there night and day so long as it is necessary.

MESERVE: And some passengers appeared resigned to commuting at orange.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And if something happens, then I'll try to crawl my way out, I guess. What can we do?

MESERVE (on camera): It is unclear how long mass transit will stay at orange. Officials say it depends on the intelligence and where the investigation in London leads them.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: And there is an outpouring of sympathy and support around the world for the victims of the London bombings. In Washington, everyday citizens left flowers and messages at the British Embassy. Some of the messages read we stand with you and today we are all British.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also signed a condolence book at the embassy.


DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: They are people who are innocent, that are vulnerable and they are, in effect, the people next door. And that says how cruel and brutal the acts of violence are.


WHITFIELD: In Australia, flags flew at half-staff atop the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who was a close ally of Britain and the U.S. in the war on terror, condemned yesterday's bombings.


JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: This brutal, indiscriminate, unforgivable attack on innocent people going about their daily lives is a mark of the depraved character of the people who carried it out. Though I say on behalf of all Australians how deeply shocked and horrified I am, and we all are, at this attack and how much we feel for our British friends.


WHITFIELD: And in Spain, candles were lit at the British Embassy there as a show of solidarity with the British. Spanish citizens had a similar painful experience last year. Attacks on commuter trains in Madrid killed more than 190 people.

Well still to come on DAYBREAK, we'll tell you if Lance Armstrong is still wearing that yellow jersey.

But first, here's a look at what else is making news this Friday morning.


WHITFIELD: Your news, money, weather and sports. It is now 44 minutes after the hour. And here is what's all new this morning.

Morning traffic in London is higher or, rather, lighter than usual as wary commuters venture onto the city's buses and trains. Much of the London Underground is running again, but people are being urged to stay away from the city's center.

Shocked and somber world leaders are wrapping up their G-8 Summit today by announcing a major aid package for Africa. They'll issue a pledge to double assistance to reduce poverty and fight disease in the world's poorest continent. In money, Alcoa posted its best quarterly profit in company history. The world's largest aluminum producer said its record- setting profits are due, in part, to strong demands from aerospace and construction markets.

In culture, rockers Daryl Hall and John Oates have had to call off upcoming shows after Hall was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. The duo expects to be back on the road next month.

And in sports, Lance Armstrong is still hanging on to a commanding lead as the Tour De France heads into the seventh stage. The six-time champion was fortunate to miss this big pileup that knocked many riders off the stage.

Let's check in with Chad, again, where the hurricane is all the talk.

MYERS: Yes, you could see the road there was wet. They all got slippery and they all went slip sliding away off there to the left.


WHITFIELD: All right, it is frightening. Thank you so much -- Chad.

MYERS: You bet.

WHITFIELD: On an Islamic Web site, the Group of al Qaeda of Jihad Organization in Europe laid claim to the London attacks. The coordinated attacks ripped through three London Underground stations. Another blew the roof off one of those familiar red double-decker buses. The toll so far is 37 people killed, 700 wounded. But officials say the number of the deaths could go up.

This is DAYBREAK for Friday, and we'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: A claim of responsibility for those terror attacks in London by a group calling itself the Group of al Qaeda of Jihad Organization in Europe. What truth is there to this?

Dan Plesch is a security and terrorism expert. He joins us now from King's Cross, between that station and Russell Square where at least 21 people were killed yesterday, the greatest death toll of any of the stations there.

Good morning to you and what do you know about this organization claiming responsibility on a Web site?

DAN PLESCH, SECURITY, TERRORISM EXPERT: Well the same people claimed responsibility for Madrid and the pattern of attacks on public transport systems is the same as took place in Madrid, and indeed in Moscow. But, frankly, these people have utterly failed. Londoners have responded with enormous calmness or no panic at all to these cowardly attacks on freedom. WHITFIELD: And you say that because it is trying to resume some normalcy. We see the double-decker bus moving behind you. People are...

PLESCH: I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, it wasn't a question of trying to resume normalcy. I was evacuated myself from one of the Tube stations. And people evacuated the stations with great calmness and as far as possible are carrying on business as usual. And even the metros and the Tube system, the Underground system was up and running within 24 hours.

WHITFIELD: All right, very good. Well let me ask you about any possible direct connection between this group claiming responsibility and Osama bin Laden, or perhaps even the al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, any connection?

PLESCH: Quite possibly, but I think people are utterly mistaken to think of a managerial structure. You might think about the supporters of a football team. You don't have to be told by the football club to join the supporters, you just go out and get a jersey and yell and scream for your team.

In much the same way, people rally to this deeply misguided cause without having to be told what to do. And if we look at people like Walker and Richard Reid, these people are as likely to come from, one might say, a long-term Western background, as from anything that we might want to caricature as Middle Eastern.

WHITFIELD: And Richard Reid being the shoe bomber, one who was also...

PLESCH: That's right.

WHITFIELD: ... living in Great Britain there. Londoners really try to pride themselves on that city being a very international city. Is there any way of knowing just what the numbers of extremism or those who are training with terrorist groups might be in London?

PLESCH: No, I think probably very small. I think, in general, there is a deep dissatisfaction with the foreign policy of the government. And many people feel that, for example, the attack on Iraq played directly into bin Laden's hands and has acted as a spur to terrorism worldwide.

But in terms of people in London, you know London is not a city of ghettos. As the mayor says, people of all descriptions and my own neighborhood live side by side regardless of their race, creed or ethnic origin. And that is something that London and British people pride themselves on. And this is why people from all over the world want to come to London.

WHITFIELD: Dan Plesch, thank you so much for joining us. And, once again, as you underscored, for carrying on as business as usual.

PLESCH: Thank you -- Fredricka. WHITFIELD: Well expressions of sympathy are pouring into London from around the globe. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited the British Embassy in Washington to sign a condolence book. She wrote -- quote -- "they will not have died in vain."

You may recall the somber sound of the "Star Spangled Banner" being played at Buckingham Palace in the days after the attacks on America in 2001. Thursday, on the steps of the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Military Band expressed a return display of sympathy, performing "God Save the Queen."

DAYBREAK will be right back.


WHITFIELD: Our top stories now.

Shaken but not beaten, some Londoners are back on the subways and buses this morning one day after the city's bloodiest attack since World War II. At least 37 people were killed and 700 injured in the terrorist bombings on three trains and a double-decker bus.

Leaders at the G-8 Summit in Scotland will try to put the horror of the London attacks behind them today. They resumed talks about an hour ago, and they're expected to wrap up with statements on aid for Africa and global warming.

The big threat right now in the U.S. is Hurricane Dennis. Florida's governor has ordered evacuations in the lower Keys. Dennis is now a category four hurricane. At 135 miles an hour, Hurricane Dennis could force NASA to return Space Shuttle Discovery to its hangar. That could delay next Wednesday's scheduled launch. Shuttle managers say they'll decide by noon today.

And with that, Chad, what's the travel forecast looking like?

MYERS: Takes a long time to move that shuttle, get everything out, got to move it. It moves like three miles per hour and it takes many hours to move that thing.


WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Chad.

And I'm Fredricka Whitfield in for Carol Costello this morning.

Up next, a special early edition of "AMERICAN MORNING."

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, I'm Soledad O'Brien.


Welcome to a special edition of "AMERICAN MORNING."


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