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CNN International - Police: Treating Parliament Incident As Terrorism; Police: One Attacker In U.K. Parliament Attack; MET Police: Attacker Kills Three, Wounds 20 In Parliament Attack; World Leaders React To The Attack In London. Aired 1:50-3p ET
Aired March 22, 2017 - 13:50 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:50:00] HANA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we're going to break the wave there from that press briefing at the White House to bring you the very latest in our Breaking News here in London. A lot of police activity, sirens everywhere, really the palpable feeling that there is a crisis unfolding in this part of London.
I want to bring you the latest on our Breaking News right here in London, where authorities are saying there is a terrorist investigation unfolding as a result of something that happened outside of the House of Commons. Authorities are still trying to piece together what is now being called as I mentioned there a terrorist attack. Police are still on the scene just outside Parliament. And in fact several hundred meters away there are -- we're being kept inside, hemmed in to this cordon where my other colleagues from other networks and other journalists are covering this attack on really the heart of Britain's democracy.
It appears to have been a multi-phased attack, beginning when a car plowed into pedestrians. An assailant then entered the gates of Parliament stabbing a police officer from what we understand. It is not clear if the driver though is the same person as the assailant, as the person behind the stabbing. Now, I want to show you some video, a very dramatic video that captured gunshots and chaos outside Parliament.
Oh, these are the -- am on air still? I'm on air. OK. Well, the reason --
All right, so I just want to -- basically there's helicopters overhead. OK. Bear with me while I'm trying to piece together for you what we know. But in the meantime, I just saw a classroom of little kids who were with us when I was in the House of Commons just a few hours ago watching prime minister's questions. These are little kids on a field trip obviously who'd climbed up the stairs to spend some time in the viewing gallery to see how essentially business is conducted in the House of Commons and they were just evacuated. You're seeing little kids here behind me. I don't know if were able to show our viewers that. And in front of the little kids and the school children, you'll see that the press and journalists are assembled to cover this unfolding breaking news story. There you have it, a bit of the mood, a bit of the color. The U.K. Press Association says one person has died and authorities say at least 10 were wounded. This is what we know so far. Nic Robertson is outside Parliament and joins me now with the very latest. What's going on where you are? What more can you tell us Nic?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, the investigation is really beginning to get underway Hala. The treatment of the injured and their evacuation was a priority. The cordon to allow that to happen remains in place. I'm going to step out of the way a little bit and I can talk to you through the attack because what we're focusing the camera in on here are the gates to (inaudible).
You see the police vehicles around there. You see the police in their luminous jackets. You see a crowd of people. This was the gate that the attacker armed with a knife, rushed through the gate, was tackled by a police officer. He attacked the police officer there of course at that gate. This is the main gate where people like the schoolchildren you are talking about go into the great hall and then, they can get into the rest of the building.
This is where they go and get their security screening as they go into the building there. That's where the attacker was brought to the ground. That is where he and the injured police officer were treated by paramedics.
Now, as you're looking at this picture. If you imagine to the left about 50 meters, 50 yards to the left, that's where West Westminster bridges is. Just turning around the court going to the right around the corner that you can't quite see it. That was where the attacker crashed his car into the wall. It was Westminster Bridge there where he appeared -- he appeared to have done most of the damage to people, knocking people down.
One person, one lady we've been told about, she got into the river. Somehow she has been rescued, she's being treated. She was injured but she's being treated at this time. So, he drove his vehicle into the wall, run around the corner, and then, in through that gate with the police is still located.
[13:55:58] So, this is a crime scene. The police are still treating it as such is cordoned off. And as we stand here just on the edge of the court and we can see police vehicles come and go, several police vehicles left in the last few minutes. But all indications are for the moment, Hala, this cordon is staying in place, the investigation, the detailed forensic investigation. The questioning of witnesses, this is all going to take some time.
GORANI: What do we -- first I have two questions. First, have the police said anything about whether they believe the person who ran the pedestrians and the person who stabbed the police officer is the same individual? Do we know anything about that?
ROBERTSON: The police have not talked about that or made their understanding of it clear. Eye witnesses however have talked about seeing a man run from the driver's side of that vehicle after he crashed into the wall and run around the corner and through the gate. Is that the same person who then attacked the police with a knife? That's the understanding of eyewitnesses but it's still not clear and the police are not saying.
The police said at this moment they're keeping an open mind for the investigation. That they are following a number of avenues of investigation at this time, treating it as we have said as a terror incident until other information becomes clear. So, the details of whether it was one attacker or more just isn't clear at this moment.
GORANI: All right. So, that was question one. Question two is, is the person who exited the vehicle and then we believe stabbed the police officer. Is that person -- was that person killed by authorities?
ROBERTSON: That information hasn't been made public at the moment. We do know at that scene that was where paramedics were treating both the attacker and the police officer. If the attacker is dead that hasn't been told to us precisely by the police. That's not clear.
GORANI: All right. The very latest there with our Nic Robertson, he's right outside Parliament. You might be able to see behind me there, there is a police presence. We're just a few hundred meters away here in London where this dramatic incident unfolded. The police are telling us they're treating this as a terrorist attack. That they're keeping an open mind but basically it's a full counter terrorism investigation at this point.
We understand that at least one person was killed, 10 people were injured according to the London Ambulance Service. And by the way, here's a look at the area. You see Westminster Palace where Parliament meets the car crashed into the exterior wall of the Houses of Parliament at West Westminster Bridge after striking those pedestrians. And witnesses as our Nic Robertson was telling us by the way saw a car driving erratically and then people down on the pavement.
At that point someone got out of the car, ran through a gate carrying a knife and that's where he attacked the police and they brought him down. The area currently in complete lockdown. And I hope you're able to hear me over some of these sirens, as really a very heavy police scene over here. We're also hearing overhead helicopters every once in a while.
All right, Scotland Yard is holding a news conference right now to update us. Let's listen in.
MARK ROWLEY, LONDON METROPOLITAN POLICE: -- and I'm also acting deputy commissioner. I want to make a statement about this afternoon's events, and I'm going to try and cover three main areas. What we know about the incidents, the ongoing operation, and what London could expect over the coming days.
As you know, we declared this as a terrorist incident and the (inaudible) in command are carrying out to full scale investigation to the events today. The attack started when a car was driven over West Westminster Bridge hitting and injuring a numbers of members of the public also including three police officers on their way back from a commendation ceremony. The car then crashed near to Parliament and at least one man armed with a knife continue the attack and try to enter Parliament.
Sadly I can confirm that now four people have died. That includes the police officer who was protecting Parliament and one man we believe to be the attacker, he was shot by a police officer. The officer's family has been made aware. At least 20 people have been injured.
As part of long established and well rehearsed plans, Parliament has been locked down and the men (inaudible) with our plans for a marauding terrorist attack. That response included uniformed and specialist fire arms officers. We now of course have an ongoing operation on what we currently believe there was only one attacker.
I am sure the public will understand this, taking every precaution in locking down and searching the area as thoroughly and exhaustedly as possible. And I know that the officials working within Parliament and public in the area completely understand the need to do this. And I thank them for their patience and their support.
[14:00:48] This investigation has the full weight and expertise of counter terrorism in command behind this. And if there are people who saw the events unfold today that haven't yet spoken to us, I would urge them to get in touch. The crime today will remain in place in the affected areas in Westminster. And (inaudible) so we carry out in a painstaking investigation to recovery all the possible evidence.
Looking forward throughout the rest of the day, including when people commuting home and indeed over the days that follow, the people of London will see extra police officers armed and unarmed on our streets. This includes our officers working longer hours and extra shifts alongside our colleagues in British transport police in the city of London.
And of course as you're aware, we can call on the support of the military should we need to at a future point. We are also in the process of opening of our custody bureau to help those people who are worried about friends and family who may have been caught up in the attack. Furthermore, we're reaching out to communities and community leaders across London to reassure them. Our strength as a city depends on our ability to stand together at such terrible times.
If anyone sees anything suspicious or anything that causes concern, please do contact us, don't hesitate. My thoughts are with all those who've been affected by today's attack. And as a service we've lost one of our own as he acted to protect the public and his colleagues.
This is the day we plan for but we hoped will never happen. Sadly it's now a reality. We will continue all we can to protect the people of London. I'll take a couple of questions.
We'll, we'll look for that and, and look at that later on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, are there other arrest have been made, operations has (inaudible)?
ROWLEY: There's a massive operation ongoing. I'm not going to discuss the operation sensitivities and that for reasons I'm sure you'll understand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The officer that was attacked, was he one of the armed officers that protect Parliament?
ROWLEY: One of the armed officers protecting Parliament. Yes.
ROWLEY: So, as you'll understand the situation, when you've had such an awful incident take place in Westminster Bridge the reports, are we confused. We made varying accounts. And we're still working a way through that. And we're satisfied at this state. It looks like there was only one attacker. But it's foolish to be overconfident so early on.
So, as I've said, for precautionary basis we're locking down the area and doing all necessary searches. So we can be complete confident everyone is safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beyond the police --
ROWLEY: So, what we're saying to the public is, please be vigilant. No reason to be alarmed vigilant on your way home (inaudible) only concerns. And you will see more police officers armed and unarmed that's on the streets of London. Sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As well as the police officer and the suspected assailant that have died. The other three people that die, did they die on Westminster Bridge or did they die in the Parliament around?
ROWLEY: That's we're understanding at the moment. That's what we understand with this incident, casualty numbers and details can be a bit confused. But I believe they died on the bridge. One more question, gentlemen behind.
ROWLEY: So clearly our investigation is now going forward. And I'm not going to give you any details on that for obvious reasons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us more about the officer who died?
ROWLEY: We've got an awful situation. Officers been killed, people sat down with his family, it'd be wrong to get details now. Thank you. Thank you all very much.
GORANI: All right. You were just listening there to the acting deputy commissioner of Scotland Yard Mark Rowley updating the press. Telling journalists gathered there that four people were killed as a result of this attack outside of Parliament. This includes the attacker. So, three people killed by the presumed assailant including a police officer and two pedestrians.
It is still a crime scene, still very much cordoned off as you can possibly hear, sirens still going of. A very intense and dramatic scene unfolding in this part of London. And you're seeing -- by the way the press has gathered here, we've been hemmed in. This road is being used by authorities, emergency services, the police as well.
Our Phil Black is not far from Parliament. He's been following this story as well for us. This breaking news of an attack that beyond killing three people, four if you count the attacker. Also injured dozens several with really devastating injuries we understand according to the reports. Phil, what more can you tell us?
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think the clear headline there, Hala, as you've been saying is that we now have the greater sense of the human cost of what happened here today. Four including the attacker before also including one of the armed police officers whose job it is to stand there and protect that parliamentary building. That's what he was doing today at the time of this attack.
[14:05:03] And so, yes you're right, four killed, around 20 injured we understand from the updates from police. What you heard them say there as well was that they're pretty confident that it was only one person involved. But they're not taking any chances and so that's why they're continuing to lockdown and search the surrounding area.
And the result of that is what you see behind me here which is Whitehall, the main thoroughfare of the government districts of London. Essentially dead, totally quiet, it's quite an eerie sight because of course you never see it like this during the working week. This is normally a hive of activity especially at this time of day where all the government workers, the tourists, the journalists who come down here every day would be making their way home in huge numbers. And indeed they were in this area in huge numbers earlier this afternoon at the time that this attack took place.
What we saw when we arrived on the scene shortly after was essentially two different operations. One, the police and emergency services, the ambulances moving in at speed while at the same time other officers were trying to clear the huge crowds from the area. Because at that point, it had only recently happened and there was in risk at there. It couldn't be certain that there wasn't further risk. That there wasn't potentially more than one attacker involved. But we heard from the police there is that they're pretty sure that there is only one person.
They're continuing their checks, their searches, really doing a very thorough investigation on this lockdown area surrounding the attack just to be sure that there is no ongoing risk to the public or anyone else Hala.
GORANI: Yes. So we do know the attacker is dead. We know that three people were killed. The attacker dead as the police mentioned. Do we know anything about this presumed assailant? Did the police update us on that?
BLACK: They don't know. So we don't know still what the motive was behind all of this. But you've heard the police say a couple times now that they are treating this is a terror investigation until they have any reason to treat it as something else. It is in their view -- I guess the logical response -- you heard the police, they're talking about how they trained for this sort of event, this sort of attack. They hoped that it would never happen but today it has become a reality. I guess what was always understood to be a very likely target, the very iconic Parliamentary building, Hala.
GORANI: All right, Phil Black outside Whitehall. Thanks very much. We've been hearing witness accounts of the chaos. Two women who were near Westminster Bridge described what they heard and the carnage they saw, people heard, and bodies as well everywhere. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We run crawling along the bridge. There was bodies literally.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It must be about 10, 10 bodies. They're all in shock.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At least 10 or 12 bodies all in different places.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just lying in different places along the bridge.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're shocked. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They must've been terrified?
UNDIFENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was horrendous, absolutely horrendous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you stop over there (inaudible)?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just stayed in the bus then until the driver get off the, off the bridge and let us out then.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. We needed to get somewhere safe, so.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then, the emergency services were there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. They came all at the same time. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank goodness you were there together you must have just --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it's terrible.
UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: There was three ladies on from Mexico.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was three young ladies from Mexico on the bus as well. And they were traumatized, absolutely traumatized, only young girls.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, please tell us what you (inaudible)?
UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: It's horrendous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right, London Metropolitan Police as we mentioned they are treating this incident as a terrorist attack. I am joined now by Dal Babu, former chief superintendent for London's Metropolitan Police. Thanks very much for joining us here.
As you're here, we're not far from where this all unfolded. What were your thoughts when you heard what happened? And also we're getting updates now from the police that they're treating this as a terrorist attack.
DAL BABU, FORMER CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT LONDON METROPILITAN POLICE: Yes. I mean, the first thing is my condolences to the individuals who have lost their lives.
BABU: It's very, very sad. The police officer, you go to work to keep London safe and unfortunately it sound like one of the officers have lost their lives so it's very, very sad. I used to run a team at the House of Commons many years ago, a very, very different kind of security system setup.
GORANI: Talk to us about that because we were there. I was there coincidentally today just sitting in on Prime Minister's questions.
GORANI: Talk to us about the security fort in there.
BABU: Well, when I was there you'd have a handful of police officers, nobody was armed. Things were -- that the terrorist threat was much, much lower. I think now, if you look at individuals, you got lot of officers inside, you've got airport type security. You define it. You know, you need to go empty your pockets and everything.
GORANI: Yes. We need to go through x-ray machines, the whole thing, yes.
BABU: Absolutely. And it looks like from what I can gather the attacker was driving along Westminster Bridge. They came to first gate along Parliament and I think at that point you are normally only allowed in if you got security pass or if you're a vehicle driven by an M.P. or a taxi.
GORANI: That's right.
BABU: And I think what then appears to happen is that the attacker then at that point jumped out and attack the police officer.
BABU: So we're -- it is unclear at the moment about how many individuals were involved or this person was acting alone.
GORANI: I believe the police are saying they believe only one individual involved.
BABU: Right. Yes. But and I think --
[14:09:58] GORANI: So the possible scenario I was going to say is driving down Westminster Bridge, killing and maiming and injuring many people. And then driving to that main gate, that vehicular entrance, exiting the car from what we're understanding right now, pulling out a knife, stabbing a police officer and then getting shot.
BABU: Yes. And essentially what you've got is they haven't actually entered the building.
BABU: You know, the perimeter of the building. And because you've got officers there with guns, they've been able to neutralize the individual at that point. So I think in some ways the security operation, the Metropolitan Police do it very, very well that they try and exercise a few days ago on the River Thames. But they -- there's a heightened sense of security. Because you look at what happened at all the airport very recently wherein this attacker attempted to grab a weapon of a police officer. And then you've got the anniversaries of the attacks in Belgium.
So there would have been heightened level of attack. And Mark Rowley the assistant commissioner who said -- actually deputy commissioner, is a very, very experienced, very, very, able individual, and as you listening to this report, he talked about the need for reassurance for people to stay calm. And I think that's a really, really important message, you know, because it does appear that the police have identified the individual. And at this point they are feeling confident that they've got the individual.
GORANI: What do you make of the fact that very soon after the attack, they said they're treating this as a terrorist incident? Or there it's become a full counter terror investigation? It was very quick, a matter of minutes almost.
BABU: Yes. I think they would have assessed the situation. They would have had a lot more information than you and I have got this moment.
GORANI: But what kind of information would lead them to that?
BABU: Well, they would -- they may have information on the actual attacker. They would have certainly seen the scenario. There may be something that the attacker said. They may have something like being posted on the net. You know, some maybe phoned up and said this is what we're going to be doing for the contact (inaudible). ISIS is in retreat for the moment time, Daesh is in retreat. It got
Raqqa, it got Mosul and it actually a smaller and smaller base. So they are now looking at these dramatic attempts to cause harm in other areas. And that's what they're telling people on the internet. That's what they're telling people to go into.
BABU: So, I think the police would have made that assessment. And they would have done it with some considerable amounts of information and thought before they made their announcement.
GORANI: But I mean, how do you protect ordinary people, innocent people in this case? Tourists, there were kids on a school trip today that we saw inside the Commons. They were just being evacuated, wearing little vests there to identify them.
BABU: Yes. Yes.
GORANI: I mean it's just so sad. But how do you -- you can't just blockade your entire city can you? You can't put everything behind glass walls.
BABU: Absolutely, if you look down there you'll see that this is a main thoroughfare. You know, people -- when I used to work at the House of Commons I used to commute along here. You know, this is right to adjacent to the House of Commons and the House of Lords. So, it gives you a real sense of how important democracies for the people.
BABU: So, they've (inaudible) a target where they know that they got access. And there would be lots of tourists, that is certain. The Big Ben is one of the biggest tourist attractions in this great city. And I think they would have each know no coincidence that they've gone along Westminster Bridge past Big Ben and then, gone into -- attempted to go into the House of Commons.
BABU: And the answer to your question, it's extremely difficult.
BABU: It's extremely difficult. But what you can do is make sure, if you've got any concerns that you alert the police. We've got the best police service in the world here, the Metropolitan Police. They have gotten very good connections with the community and it's important that we share information. So, when we have concerns about individual we have we're able to deal with that.
GORANI: All right. Well, I mean, in some cases obviously some of them slip through that. We don't know the motive though. We don't know the I.D. of the attacker in this case. But as you mentioned the M.O. sounds very familiar.
BABU: Yes. I mean if you look at the anniversary for the Belgium attack.
BABU: If you look at what happened --
GORANI: And its PMQs today which is Prime Minister's Questions. So its --
BABU: Yes. Absolutely.
GORANI: -- busier.
BABU: So, yes. Theresa May, would have been in the House of Commons.
BABU: She and her Danish treaties 400 meters away from the site. Buckingham Palace where the queens and the queen is in, is less than a mile away from here. So it's an iconic site and they have gone through an iconic location.
GORANI: Dal Babu, former chief superintendent, thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate your time there. Your context and analysis as well that you've provided us. Members of Parliament in lockdown have been tweeting from inside Westminster Palace. Anne Soubry wrote, "Armed officers ordered myself and Security Minister into lobby at gunpoint. Terrifying."
We also had others as well tweeting this. "Walking through Commons' cloisters to vote, heard four gunshots. Police had M.P.s hit ground and crawl to cover". Another tweet as well that was sent out from inside Parliament. Toby Perkins wrote that he's inside the chamber and says that his Westminster staff member is also safe. We had Will Quince tweeting that he was on route to vote when told to run. He says, he and his team are OK. M.P.Diana Johnson tweeted, "In Commons chamber which is in lockdown. Very worrying reports of serious incident in Parliament. Thoughts with the very brave police officers".
[14:15:58] There is also an M.P. Kevin Brennan, I spoke to just a short time ago telling me they're still in lockdown that was, just to tell you exactly when that happen, that was a little after 5:00. So, perhaps some of them were let out. We saw these little children on a school trip whose paths we cross a little bit earlier as well being allowed out. Poor little kids, probably very frightened and wondering exactly what is going on in this crazy world of ours.
London Metropolitan Police are treating the incident as a terror attack. Let's take a look at what that means in terms of the investigation. Our Terrorism Analyst Paul Cruickshank joins us live from New York. So, Paul, I was asking Dal Babu, the former chief superintendent. What do you make up the fact that police very quickly said, we're treating this as a terror attack.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think that's going to deal with what happened. This was a multi-phase event it seems just by one individual. A multi-phase attack involving a vehicle ramming and then a stabbing that is a likely attempt to terrorize the public. It's certainly out of ISIS' play book. Similar to other ISIS link and ISIS-inspired attacks that we've seen in Europe and elsewhere over the last year or so. Notably in Nice where 86 people were killed and in Berlin more recently when 12 people were killed by a truck attack.
Now, in this case it seems to be as you see on the screen right now, some kind of SUV involved a car rather may a truck. And that may be one of the reasons why fewer people appear fortunate to have been that's killed in this incident than in say the Berlin attack or the Nice attack. But this incident is very similar to one in a higher state here in the United States in November where an ISIS-inspired radical rammed a car into people and then got out with a knife and was moving toward stabbing people before he was shot dead by police.
So, a lot of the things which are similar to some of these ISIS-linked and ISIS-inspired attacks that we've seen in the West in recent times, Hala. But I got say this comes at a time when British counter terrorism officials have been saying that the threats to the country is larger than any time in the modern history of Britain. And that is because so many British residents, extremists have gone over to fights with other groups like ISIS in Syria and Iraq, more than 850. They believe that more than 400 have come back. And then, there are thousands of people in the United Kingdom who have become sympathizers to ISIS, who have been electrified by their message. And who are listening to ISIS calls for them to now stay home and to launch attack.
But we don't yet have words from British authorities about the motive, whether this was an act of Islamist terrorism or there might have been some completely different motive. But certainly many of the hallmarks of this Jihadi terrorism wave in Europe, Hala.
GORANI: And this is that what is leading so many people to essentially assume at this point that it could be ISIS-inspired, ISIS- directed that we don't know. That's always the question after an attack like this. But if it is indeed somehow linked to ISIS, the terrorist group usually likes to take credit pretty quickly for something like this, right?
CRUICKSHANK: Oh, that's right. And they tell sympathizers in the West people they're in touch with. The most important thing you can do apart from launching an attack and kill as many people as possible is to claim responsibility on our behalf either by posting a video or uploading a video to them or doing something like a pledge to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on social media. So, I -- if this -- there is an ISIS link here in terms of inspirational direction. I fully expect there to be some kind of claim of responsibility, the social media posting something like that come out in the hours ahead, Hala.
One thing I want to say here though is with this question of ISIS- inspired terrorism in Europe people who are just sympathizers and have no connection directly to the terrorist group. We've actually seen very few of those kind of applause in Europe in this wave of terrorism over the last two years. Also there only been six plots out of a total of 42 which I have that description.
Many more plots have either -- I mean, directly linked to the ISIS external operations outfit in Raqqa. Or even more plots than that have been linked to people connecting with ISIS over the Internet, over these encrypted apps, and getting guidance, and encouragement, and instructions from people from their home countries often who are telling them what to do. So, that's a notable shift in the territory around in Europe.
[14:20:03] GORANI: Right, and it is extremely scary. Paul Cruickshank, thanks very much. Scary, why, because I mean, if indeed this unfolded and the attacker mowed people down, driving a car and then stabbed a police officer, well you know, people have cars, most people have cars. Most -- everyone has a knife. This isn't something special.
You don't need special ingredients, you don't need, you know, assault rifles. You can just do it if you have the intent of doing it. This is what sauced sort of this feeling of panic and terror among some people. They said could be anyone. It could be anyone because everyone has access to these things, these tools that can be so easily turn into weapons.
Eyewitness Ismail Hassan says the attacker was driving behind him on Westminster Bridge, he didn't get a look at him. He said, he did however see some of the victims who were badly taken by surprise. Listen to Ismail Hassan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISMAIL HASSAN, EYEWITNESS: Well, I was just walking as a normal, under the first gate even, the second people in the third time he was doing it. No one realizes it. He has done in and out, zigzag.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
HASSAN: And it was quick, and it's less than 10 second in between But they all continue to drive all the way down, down of the bottom of the bridge because it is a two lane so that there is a bus on the left hand side --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
HASSAN: -- so he just continued between the bus and the basement. And there was all the 100 people on the basement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
HASSAN: Just like we're standing here now --
UNIDENTIFIED FEFMALE: Yes.
HASSAN: -- that car drive it to us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
HASSAN: And then anything can happen. I don't know if there are people under the river, I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
HASSAN: And the car was even slow moving. I don't know if it was the car hit other people or why did run away from the start. They don't know what happened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right, Paul Cruickshank joins us again. He is with us from a New York in fact. So Paul, I mean, you mentioned the M.O. and this is what's leading so many people, you know, in pointing fingers at ISIS-inspired or directed. Because this is reminiscent, it reminds us of some of the attacks we saw. Nice as well where a vehicle was used and then the knife also was very similar to what an attacker used in terms of weapons at Orly Airport against a female police officer there Paul.
CRUICKSHANK: Absolutely right. Right out of the ISIS played book and one of the reasons that ISIS are encouraging sympathizers, people they've reached out to in the west to do this is because it's quite difficult in a place for example like Europe get hold of firearms. More difficult in Europe of course than the United States but even much more difficult in the United Kingdom than in continental Europe for potential terrorist to get hold of guns, Kalashnikovs. Those kinds of weapons that we saw used in the Paris attacks. And so that the terrorist threat in the U.K. is really from alternative means of weapons. And in this day and age, cars and trucks are a vehicle of choice in these ISIS-related, Islamist terror related attacks because it's so easy to get hold of a vehicle and to drive it into pedestrians.
I can tell you that in London and the U.K. there are been measures to put up security barriers, security ball outs in sudden areas, pedestrianized zones to prevent this kind of thing happening. But you can't put this sort of barriers everywhere. There are obviously almost an unlimited number of payments in sidewalks in any modern western capital and so the people who have this ideology and wants to move forward with attacks really have unlimited targets of opportunity. And so this is a great concern to officials that not only in Europe but also here in the United States that vehicles are really the new weapon of choice for Jihadi terrorist.
GORANI: Right. And I was in Nice just a few weeks ago. There, you saw big potted plants. I mean, obviously we all knew why they were there on the Promenade des Anglais. Nice is where in last July an attacker driving a lorry, a truck, killed dozens and dozens of people. We know they were placed there to protect pedestrians, you know, in case someone tries to do the same thing.
The same thing happened in Berlin in December, but London is a completely -- I mean, we're talking about a situation here where you have one of the biggest cities, one of the busiest cities, one of the most visited cities by tourists Paul. I mean, where do you begin, is it a question of surveillance that you try to identify the attack before it happens or is it, you know, protecting physically putting up barriers around very sensitive landmarks and buildings like parliament?
[14:25:03] CRUICKSHANK: Well, the British authorities have thwarted a number of plots in the last several years since 2013, 13 plots are thwarted in the U.K. Some of them of similar kind of ambition to the Paris and Brussels attacks. So they're doing everything they can to arrest people before they can carry out attacks, but that's a very, very hard task indeed when some of these radicals, or many of them are now communicating using encryption apps with each other. All with terrorist groups like ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
While those conversations are happening, it's almost impossible or in fact impossible for western security agencies to intercept them and so that is a real blind spot when it comes to the terrorism threats these days Hala. And, you know, at just about anybody can use their own car or rent a caro, hijack a caro truck like we saw in the Berlin attack and then move forward with a terrorist attack. So frankly does really very little unless there are some clues which come in before an attack is about to be launched to stop this kind of thing from taking place.
And the worry right now, Hala, is that ISIS is pressing the accelerator when it comes to them encouraging, directing attacks in the United Kingdom. Until today perhaps if this was indeed related to ISIS in any way, the group had not managed to get any sort of significant attack through in the United Kingdom. An intelligence -- a long standing intelligence suggest that ISIS wants to hit every single western country that is involved in air strikes against it in Syria and Iraq. Not being able to do that in the U.K., not been able to do that in the Netherlands, not to be -- not able to do that in a number of other countries. But on the one-year anniversary of the Brussels attack, the question will be, did they in some way shape or form have a link to the attack today?
GORANI: Right. And it's not lost on many people who've basically covered the Brussels attack, March 22nd of last year that this is the first year anniversary of these attacks -- that these attacks that killed so many. Also, at Prime Minister's Questions, in other words, it was very busy. At Westminster, the prime minister was inside the building, she was led out of the building and essentially rushed out away from the scene as quickly as possible in a silver Jaguar. We understand but M.P.s were on lockdown. Members of Parliament were on lockdown for several hours. We understand some of them are still inside the House of Parliament.
The mayor of London has issued a statement responding to the Westminster attack that is placed his city on such high alert. Sadiq Khan, said in a statement, "I would like to express my thanks to the police and emergency services work so hard to keep us safe and show tremendous bravery in exceptionally difficult circumstances." And for the latest information by the way visit met.police.uk -- I should say news.met.police.uk. And reaction is coming in from world leaders as well.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, "My thoughts are with everyone in and around Westminster caught up in this dreadful incident and with the brave emergency services." The former French President Nicolas Sarkozy weighed in, "It is the heart of democracy that is being attacked. My support and my heartfelt thoughts to our British friends." The White House says U.S. President Trump spoke with the Prime Minister here Theresa May. Earlier President Trump was asked about the attack, and this is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, we're just getting an update on London. Anyway something (inaudible) happening with London so just happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HALA: All right. Well, Kevin Schofield as a journalist who was in the House of Commons press gallery at the time of the attack. A short time ago he described what he saw and heard. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KEVIN SCHOFIELD, EYEWITNESS: We had a (inaudible) stating a car crash so we look through the window and the next thing we thought there been in the bus crash because we can see some buses but then ahead a lot of shouting, a lot of people running around, a quite lot commotion. And then I look down to my left and I saw a man (inaudible) through a security gate. He went straight for a police officer, wrestled him to the ground, then another police officer approached and the attacker go up and walk towards (inaudible) carrying a weapon. I wasn't sure if that was a gun or a knife. I think it was a knife. And then less within a couple of seconds that we heard gun fire. Few rounds of gun fire and that's (inaudible) people panic. I assumed that was the armed police who patrolled Parliament at all hours of day and night those and taken out the attacker.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
[14:30:00] GORANI: Max Foster has been monitoring development for us at New Scotland Yard. And Max, we heard from the Acting Deputy Commissioner Mark Rowley a short time ago updating us on the death toll and also on the department's belief that this -- that there may have been just one assailant which would be a relief that they're not looking for anyone else.
MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and very extraordinary really when you think about it Hala. You see, you got the bridge there, you can still see all buses lined up there, it continue being lockdown. More than 20 people injured along that stretch we think, or -- and coming along the bridge towards the Houses of Parliament, crushing into the railings, somehow getting into the Houses of Parliament. And causing all that destruction inside one of the most secured buildings in the world in theory. I've been to briefings at Scotland Yard and they knew that that was a target so that had maximum-security.
And, you know, just down the road here, we have Scotland Yard as well, going pass the barrier here. This as close as you can get to the incident really. All the world needs are gathered here. New Scotland Yard, a new building, a master of -- or this is been -- so they coordinated from, and for three people to have died, it was quite a surprise when that news came through of the press briefing because with all the money (inaudible) and more than 20 injured is absolutely shocking. And to spare a thought as well, Hala, for the people though suck up there on the London eye, as if that happened. The London Eye had to be stopped and they were locked in for hours looking down, wondering what on earth is going on.
But they have their phones so we get some information but a very little information getting through to them. And then, you know, in the last sort of half hour have those last people that were on the London Eye have been allowed off. So we're really at the heart of here and we're sitting in a lockdown, there is the police barrier, these investigations going to go and on.
GORANI: All right, we're seeing some people gradually being led out here behind me from Parliament where they were on lockdown for many, many hours. And you're saying the people on the London Eye, I mean, I can't imagine for many hours being stuck up there. But talk to us a little bit about what police are saying about the M.O., about what they believe happened that led to the death of three innocent people. And also the attacker shot dead as well, we believe.
FOSTER: Well, yes, it's interesting because at one point people are assuming there must been two attackers, who have driven the car and got inside as well. And there was talk about an attacker being treated in the ground then the instant was continuing to unfold. So I think quite now what was going on (inaudible) with the time. But the car literally actually coming along the bridge there moving people down and crashing into the barrier. And the attacker to the (inaudible) the idea that he got through the gate, so they got through the gates is just extraordinary to the people who work here.
It was quite a shocking incident because the police didn't really know what's going on, because the journalists here seem to notice what was going on before the police. So there's a lot of questions being asked right now but how this very secure area could have been breached in such a way? What the motive is, they're still investigating that. It's not clear but we've heard lots of pundits of course, suggesting that there are sort of, similarities to other ISIS-related attacks and that's a big investigation here.
But they certainly got the resources here. I've been involved in those sorts of briefings where they've been talking about having been coordinating with the French authorities for example, since those French attacks. Coordinating very well with the European Intelligence Agencies so we assumed they're speaking to them. But it may just have been someone acting on their own. In which case, the investigation could be over more quickly than many of the people here. You know, timing towards at the moment because the moment they're looking at is a major incident. GORANI: Absolutely. Max Foster, thanks very much. Reporting on our Breaking News. And by the way, the Houses of Parliament we're hearing from the Houses of the -- House of Commons and House of Lords, they have confirmed that both houses will sit tomorrow at their normal times. They're not letting this get in the way of business in Parliament. This is posted on their official Twitter accounts. The House of Commons and the House of Lords will sit tomorrow on Thursday at their normal times.
I want to bring in Kimberly Dozier, our CNN Security Analyst, he joins us via Skype from Brussels. And Kimberly of course it's lost on very few people that this is happening on the first anniversary of the Belgium, the Brussels attacks on March 22nd, though we have no confirmation of the identity or the motive of the attacker. The M.O. is very similar to ISIS-inspired attacks we've seen before.
[14:35:03] KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Yes Hala. As I arrived here this morning it was just as everyone at the airport observed a moment of silence, at 7:58 a.m. Local Time which is when attackers a year ago exploded suicide bombs there, before another attacker went and hit one of the Metro stations killing more than 30 people. So as you can imagine here in town there was a bit of fear of a repeat attack. There was what I saw as a heightened level of security. This comes as U.S. counter terrorism officials have been warning of a possible spike of attacks across Europe in 2017.
The House Homeland Security Committee had released a report just in February saying what we're seeing is because of the pressure being put on the so-called Islamic State which is not been linked yet to this attack but they've said because of that you may see arising ISIS- inspired or ISIS-directed attacks in Europe.
GORANI: Yes, and -- but we will know very quickly based on past experience. Sadly, all these either ISIS-inspired or ISIS-directed attacks, we will know very quickly because this group likes to take credit pretty quickly, Kim.
DOZIER: Well, the strange thing here is that so far, according to places like the SITE Intelligence Group ISIS hasn't claimed responsibility for this. So the question is, was this simply ISIS- inspired and we'll only know that when Scotland Yard examines who the attackers were, examines their cell phones, examines their communications. But just to stress again, when counter terrorism officials look at the history of the past couple of years of what has been happening in terms of ISIS movement to this area, they estimate that there were 400 to 600 attackers trained to carry out violence across Europe. And so that has led to an increase in intelligence cooperation between Britain and Europe and also between Britain and the United States. But again, we come back to this kind of, you know, you use a car, you use a knife, as we've seen in --
DOZIER: -- in attacks both in Britain and in Europe before. It's simple, it's hard to detect. GORANI: Yes. And everyday items you can turn into weapons, you now, of mass murder as it appears to have happened in this case. And what I find interesting Kimberly, is that police very quickly, about an hour after this attack said this was a full counter terror investigation. So they called it that very quickly. What do you make of that?
DOZIER: Well, that suggest that maybe the people who attacked were known to authorities and possibly were people they were watching and making a huge leak with that guess --
DOZIER: -- but the fact that they assumed it so quickly, and that they were on their second highest state of alert indicating that they knew something was being fomented out there and when you look at the fact that they've already in the past couple of years stopped 10 attacks in the planning inside Britain, they knew something was coming and were afraid that something would get through.
GORANI: Right. And we're going to be waiting of course for the results of the investigation. But as Kimberly was mentioning there the modus operandi sounds very, very familiar. But what can -- I mean, I guess the question and many people ask because every time sadly, there's been an attack like this in Europe, now in the U.K. if indeed it is one of the ISIS-inspired or ISIS-directed attacks similar to those we saw in Belgium and France. What can authorities do to try to prevent them from happening?
DOXIER: Well, that's what they'll tell you from the UST Europe, that this kind of attack is very hard to stop. That's why Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have put out manuals directing their followers not to travel towards them anymore but to stay where they are and use simple methods like a car or a truck as what they used in Nice or Ohio State, or a knife. Choose your targets according to areas of high population, high tourism, maximum impact for minimum effort.
We also know that they've been using encrypted apps for communication, both Al-Qaeda and ISIS. So it also could be very difficult to detect whether the individuals in this case were in contact with anyone. In case of Nice, it took a long time for authorities to establish that there may have been some communication with ISIS which is the whole point -- you -- at least have the fear out there. It doesn't matter in terms of the terror that it is spreading whether or not you it was specifically ordered by ISIS. We're already saying their name and we're already pointing fingers in that direction.
GORANI: Kimberly Dozier, thanks very much. She's joining us live from Brussels with more on our Breaking News. What appears to be a car attack followed by a stabbing here in the center of London, the heart of British Democracy, the House of Commons. We'll have a lot more on our Breaking News after quick break on CNN. Do stay with us, we'll have all the latest for you after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:42:50] GORANI: You're watching CNN's Breaking News coverage from London where police have confirmed a terror investigation is now underway. Here is what we know, London police confirmed three people had been killed, 20 others injured, some of them very, very seriously. One of those killed was a police officer who confronted the attacker at Parliament, and by the way, the police say the attacker was killed as well.
Now, all of this started Wednesday afternoon, London Time, a car rammed the people on Westminster Bridge. Then a man crashed the car into the fence of Parliament before entering the grounds. Now, no one has claimed responsibility for this attack. However, police are saying and confirming, and they did this very quickly which is important to note, that a full terror investigation is under way.
Now, we've had been getting some dramatic images out of London from witnesses. Everybody pretty much carries a phone, film to took pictures like the ones were about to show you. It is video showing people fleeing Parliament, terrifying moments from all of them, you know, for all of them, and listen, you'll also here what sounds like gun fire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my God.
GORANI: All right, apologies for that. We don't have that particular piece of video for you there. But what you saw was the aftermath of what is believed happened at the very end of this rampage where someone driving a car rammed into people, killed two people on the bridge. We understand that potentially the same person, though we are not a 100 percent sure but potentially the same person got out of the car, stabbed a police officer. Sadly, that police officer was killed as well. And then that the attacker was killed. So three people killed, the attacker dead as well. Are we going to Paul Cruickshank or Phil Black?
All right we're going to Phil Black, he's not far from Parliament, and he joins me now with more. Where are you, what can you tell us, Phil?
[14:44:57] BLACK: Yes, so Hala, we're on Whitehall which is you know is the main artery running through these government districts of London and it is -- it really strangely quiet here on this evening at a time when so many government workers would normally be heading home from the many government department buildings surround here. To give you another view as to sense, we're about two minutes walk from the Parliament Square, the building itself, Big Ben, and of course Westminster Bridge where all of this is taking place. It's really just a short distance behind me here.
What we're seeing unfold here this afternoon initially very quickly after this attack was a police operation to clear the huge number of people away from here. Because of course every single day this is a bustling thriving area with workers, journalists, and of course so many tourists. That's the environment within which this attack took place. Westminster Bridge itself where we understand this car drove through, plowing through people on the pedestrian area of that bridge. That's such a popular area with tourists as well because that is where they go to get one of the best possible angles to take photos of the famous Parliamentary building as well.
Tonight, things here are pretty quiet and calm. Police are maintaining their perimeter at this distance. What we've heard from the police is that they're pretty short that it was only one person involved in this attack. But they're not going to say that definitively until they have followed up on their investigation and conducted a very thorough search of this surrounding area. But for the moment, from the comments that we're hearing from the police and the posture of the police officers that we're witnessing here as well, both armed and unarmed as they police this perimeter, they seem relatively calm. And so, I think the feeling here is that the immediate threat has certainly passed Hala.
GORANI: Right. And we have heard directly from the Twitter account of Parliament, and both houses, Phil Black, the House of Commons and the House of Lords will sit tomorrow on time, so we know that will -- that business as usual. They hope at least business as usual will resume in Parliament tomorrow. But for now that where you are and other spots where we are as well, it's pretty much cordoned off. I mean, it's almost impossible for just ordinary people to walk in and out, right? Describe your surroundings.
FOSTER: Yes, absolutely. So I'm sitting right next to a police tape. Just a short distance from me here, there are armed and unarmed police officers. Some people who are trying to get home, they normally walked home this way, have been stopped to the tape and told they can't proceed any further.
Down the road there that's where you'll find Parliament Square, the actual location of the attack. That's where there's an ongoing forensic investigation, no doubt that to gather all possible evidence. So my sense is that this is still somehow as from being reopened and returning to its normal state but presumably, come tomorrow morning, mid morning when Parliament would perhaps normally begin to sit. It is very likely, I think that this road, the buildings around us, and particularly that area around government should be functioning as well because as you say, both houses of the Parliament will be sitting again tomorrow. Business as usual, and I guess something as act of defiance against the violence that was perpetrated here today, Hala.
GORANI: Right. They're basically saying they're not going let this get in the way of, you know, exercising of doing their jobs, of having this what is really the beating heart of British Democracy to get back to doing what it does on a daily basis. And I get some relief as well that police have said, they believe only one person was involved. So they're not -- we don't believe looking for anyone else, right?
BLACK: That's right. So they say they think thorough, they're being cautious, but their belief is that there was only one person involved in this. No doubt the investigation will extend to see who could have played the role in the planning of the support forward actually took place. But in terms of the attacker on the ground and whether or not he had a sort of immediate support, now the belief is there was only one person involved in the violence in the taking the lives here today.
That said, the police have said they want to be sure before they say that in a definitive sense. They're continuing to conduct this search and their investigation in the surrounding area just to be sure.
GORANI: Phil Black, thanks very much. And not too far from where we are, here very close to Parliament Square, thanks for that. CNN Terrorism Analyst Paul Cruickshank joins us now live from New York. And Paul, Parliament itself -- I mean, basically this is the symbol of Britain, isn't it? I mean, you have Parliament, you have Big Ben, you have Buckingham Palace, its all on those things you see on a postcard. I mean, attacking that target in particular is obviously, you know, that the symbolic sort of aspect behind it is what somebody who wants to make a big splash would do.
CRUICKSHANK: Very, very symbolic indeed Hala, and guaranteed to get global news headlines for any terrorist group, any terrorist cause, that the perpetrator was linked to the British Parliament was also the body that approves U.K. as strikes against ISIS in the Middle East, in Iraq. And so, if there is a connection back to the terrorist group or another terrorist group in some kind of a way, that may explain why this target was chosen.
But we're few hours in now and we don't have any official claim responsibility from any established terrorist outfit. We're not aware yet of anything on social media link to this pompous strata. ISIS have often called for these attackers to pledge allegiance over Facebook, over Twitter, uploaded video to them back in Raqqa so that they can take ownership of these kinds of attacks.
Now, sometimes it's taken a while for them to get all those messages out, but the fact that the attacker is dead, there appears to be one attacker here, means I think that if there is an ISIS connection in relatively short order, I think we can expect them to put out a claim, Hala. So we're all monitoring that. But no claims as of yet.
GORANI: All right. What kind of -- describe to us at this stage what authorities -- what type of investigation would be taking place right now? They're calling it -- and they called it very quickly after the incident, a counter-terror investigation underway.
CRUICKSHANK: They are using all the resources of British Police Intelligence Services. This is being led by Counter Terrorism Command which is within the metropolitan police known as SO15. That unit is one of the world's best when it comes to this kind of counterterrorism investigations.
They have a lot of experience telling back all the way to the period of Irish terrorism, obviously off to 9/11, focusing much more on the Islamist terrorist threat especially then after the July 2005 London bombings as well. The police in the U.K. are very joined up with the intelligence service, domestically, MI5. They work together. They share office space. And so, they'll be announcing a coordinated response to try and figure
out who did this, who they were connected to and who might have been giving orders if indeed that well orders are coming in some way, shape or form from a terrorist group overseas.
And in the last couple of years with this wave of ISIS terrorism in Europe, we've seen 38 ISIS related plots. Now in half of all those plots, 19 plots, there have been instructions provided by ISIS operatives in Syria and Iraq online through these encrypted apps to sympathizers in Europe. So this is not just an ISIS inspired but are in fact --
CRUICKSHANK: -- not brilliant -- that there haven't been a lot of this kind of plots, just six plots where there's just been million inspiration ISIS are the ones that are really pushing this message either by training people and sending them back, or by reaching out virtually and remote controlling people, if you will, to launch this kind of terrorism attacks.
GORANI: Bear with me one moment, I'm just going to wait for these police vehicles to pass because their sirens are quite loud. Paul, what I find interesting is if indeed this person acted alone, we saw the Orly Airport, we saw other instances of attacks inspired or directed by ISIS where individuals are acting alone, the Nice truck driver for instance as well. We saw others where networks were involved. But how different lead do authorities tackle an investigation where it's just one individual, must be a lot harder, right?
CRUICKSHANK: It's a lot harder if there's just one individual because they might not have been communicating with a lot of people. But the more worrying scenarios are where there are networks involved because the worries that other people in the network are going to move forward with attacks or can help other people move forward with attacks.
Now with that Berlin attack in December just before Christmas, it turned out that Anis Amri, the Tunisian extremist who carried that out, wasn't just alone. He wasn't just acting alone. He was part of a ISIS network in Germany and he was communicating with ISIS in Libya in the period before the attacks. And so, it gives you a sense of all the connections now that we are seeing in these plots back to ISIS in the Middle East. This is not lone-wolf terrorism anymore.
GORANI: Paul Cruickshank, thanks very much, joining us from New York.
[15::0000] We'll have a lot more on this incident here in London. Police are calling it a terrorist attack. There are saying that there's a full counter-terror investigation, a car ramming pedestrians, killing three people. The attacker as well is dead. Major incident still a very heavy police presence around Parliament.
Our breaking news coverage continues after the break with Christiane Amanpour. Do stay with CNN, we'll be right back.