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Seven Killed, 48 Hurt In London Terror Attacks; Comey to Testify on Thursday, Unless WH Stops Him. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired June 4, 2017 - 07:00   ET



[07:00:00] LUKA MILACIC, WITNESS, CANADIAN VISITOR: People were just literally running away as fast as they possibly could and taking direction from the police to the best of their abilities.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Always grateful to have your company. Welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Christi Paul.


Christiane Amanpour is covering the story as well live from London. We'll get to her in a just moment.

But we're getting more on the breaking news, this terror attack in the heart of London. British Prime Minister Theresa May said that Islamist extremism is responsible for the attacks and says there is, quote, too much tolerance of extremism in the U.K.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: While the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division and promotes sectarianism.


PAUL: I want to show now, some of the video, new aerial video we are getting in. These are police raids that are happening in London this morning. Remember, seven people were killed. At least 48 seriously injured last night in that deadly attack.

We want to go to Christiane, as we said, Christiane Amanpour there in London right now.

I know that you spoke with the mayor, Christiane. Is it surprising do you think to many people that he is not raising the threat level this morning?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, apparently, technically, it's not the prime minister who does that. It's the joint task force who does it and we're not sure whether it's going to happen. It hasn't happened and we don't know whether we're going to see that raised from where it is now, to critical, which is the highest.

But in any event, there's a huge and upgraded number of police and also to emergency services, including armed police on the streets. We've seen new deployments in front of important buildings and sites this morning. And as you heard, the mayor earlier today told me that there have been new raids this morning.

The police take great credit and pride in what they describe as taking out the three assailants. They believe there were only three assailants, although, obviously, they are trying to figure out whether there was a wider group of friends or a network that was trying to help. But this is what the head of the Metropolitan Police said regarding taking down those assailants within eight minutes of receiving the call last night.


CRESSIDA DICK, METROPOLITAN POLICE COMMISSIONER: It's important that we, first of all, make sure that there is no one else outstanding. We don't believe there is, but we must make absolutely certain of that. And as I've said, we have a very large investigation ongoing and we will be seeking to establish whether anyone else was working with or assisting in any way or helping to plan this attack in the way that you would examine. So, at the moment, we believe there were three attackers and we believe they are dead.


AMANPOUR: Now, this is the third major attack in Great Britain in the last three months. We had the Westminster attack in March, very similar with one driver, a van that careened into Westminster Bridge, attacking people standing on the sidewalks on Westminster Bridge and then the attackers jumped out and rushed to parliament and stabbed before he was shot dead himself.

Then, of course, two weeks ago, we had the Manchester attack. Different. This was a suicide bomber. Twenty-two people killed, dozens of people injured there, including some critically. And now, last night, this latest attack, a vehicle-borne attack with attackers then jumping out with their knives, going into markets, rather borough market with cafes and restaurants and stabbing people. Seven people dead, 48 injured, again some of those critically.

But this is what the mayor told me today about trying to thwart these attacks, then and now.


MAYOR SADIQ KHAN, LONON: And the reality is, over the last four years, because of the fantastic work of the police and the security services, as a result of the cooperation of the communities, we've thwarted a number of attacks over the last four years, but, unfortunately, in March and in April and now today, last night, we have seen terrorists be successful.

What we need to do is make sure that just like the terrorists evolving and finding new ways to harm us, to disrupt us, we have got to find and involve new ways to keep us safe. So, over the next few days, Londoners and visitors will be seeing an increased police presence, that will include increased armed officers, increased uniform officers, but also plain clothes officers as well.

The threat is severe, Christiane. That means an attack is highly likely. It has been there a while now since the Manchester attack. That means visitors to our city, Londoners should know that we are the safest global city in the world.


[07:05:06] AMANPOUR: Now, just to be clear, one of the -- one of the notable issues last night with these three attackers we're told wearing canisters. In other words, pretending to be suicide bombers. That, in fact, turned out to be a hoax. They were not obviously real explosives strapped to them.

The prime minister earlier said outside Downing Street said five plots have been thwarted since the Westminster attack in March. But already, there are calls now mounting, including from the chief of the Met Police today who said these are increasingly hard to predict and, therefore, hard to prevent and it is going to reopen a discussion of the level of our resources, and that is a very political and factual issue right here. Many in the police are concerned what the years of austerity have not cut into counterterrorist budget but into policing budgets on the beat, on the street.

We're going now to Downing Street where Clarissa Ward is standing by, because the prime minister also said that this is Islamic extremism and the ideology needs to be wiped out -- Clarissa.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Christiane. I mean, she's certainly was not mincing any words. She said quite clearly, as you had, this is Islamist extremist ideology. She said that Britain has been too tolerant of this ideology for too long, also indicating that she would do a kind of reboot, if you will, of Britain's current counterterrorism practices, although not clear how or in which those counterterrorism practices may be changed, and in which way any changes could potentially prevent future attacks like the one we saw last night from happening.

She also had bad word to lash out for the social media companies and the involvement of tech companies, because, of course, they, in a sense, are unwittingly, perhaps, providing a platform for the spread of the ideology and for networking to happen for individuals who may share this ideology to connect to each other. But she was very clear about the need to tackle the ideology. We've heard this rhetoric from politicians again and again. Obviously, much easier said than done. But take a listen to what she had.


MAY: We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet, that is precisely what the Internet and the big companies that provide Internet-based services provide. We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace, to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorism planning.


WARD: Now, of course, this attack happens just days before Britons head to the polls in an election to determine who will be the next prime minister. Theresa May said that she would suspend campaigning today. The opposition labor party leader, Jeremy Corbin, said the same thing but she also said the campaigning would break in tomorrow again, that the election will go on as anticipated on Thursday.

And there is definitely a sense here, Christiane, and I'm sure you're feeling it as well, that people do want normal life to continue, people do not want to feel that they are cowed by these types of terrorist attacks. And there is I think even a grim realization that there are probably going to be more attacks like this because they are so very difficult to prevent -- Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Indeed. And if there's one thing elections are about, it's about keeping people safe. And this debate over the level of resources and the actual policing on the streets, again, not the counterterrorism budget but the actual front line interface between communities and security, that seems to be said to get even more pointed in the days and weeks to come. Now, this is the third attack, as we say, in Great Britain over the last three months.

We are going now to Isa Soares at the borough market. That is where the attackers went into cafes, pubs, restaurants, slashing people indiscriminately after they had rammed into people with the white van on London Bridge. They then left out and went down toward where Isa is standing by right now.

And you were in contact with somebody, Isa, right, as this attack was going on there?

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I was, indeed, Christiane. This area here, borough market, very popular, lots of restaurants, lots of lovely food stores as well. On a beautiful Saturday evening when the weather was so well here in London, it was very, very busy.

One of -- a friend of mine, a friend of mine was in contact with me. He was in a restaurant when they arrived with a knife and he had to hide with his fiancee and two friends. One of them was a lady who was heavily pregnant.

They hid in the bathroom for an hour, Christiane, and he was constantly calling me and asking me to call the police which I did and within an hour, he was able to leave and went to hospital and they are safe. The pregnant lady is doing well too.

And where I am at the moment, this is the high street.

[07:10:00] The cordon is still in place, Christiane. But what we had seen, if we can just get the camera just slightly to the left as possible, there are a group of people who had been as of yesterday told to leave their hotels because of what had happened. That cordon is still in place but we have seen police taking people one at a time, basically in small groups, I should say, back to the hotel to collect their belongings.

And, Luka, you are visiting. I believe you're visiting from Canada. Tell us what you saw.

LUKA MILACIC, WITNESS, CANADIAN VISITOR: Well, you know, I was at the market actually just ten minutes before everything happened. I came back upstairs with my (INAUDIBLE). And we heard, we didn't see but we heard gunshots and crashes and everything. So we kind of stuck our head out of the window. We were three floors up right across the street and that is when you saw people running out of the establishments kind of in no order, kind of just frantically everywhere.

And, obviously, the biggest thing you saw was fear and confusion, you know, and that took place for about five to ten minutes and then, you know, once the police were able to kind of get in, they were able to take control of the situation and kind of at least, you know, direct traffic. I guess that is when they kind of saw our heads peeping out and told us just to leave everything we have and get down here as quickly as possible and run as far away as we can.

SOARES: I assume you were staying in the hotel just off the main street here. How soon from what you saw what was happening on the street to when you were told to leave?

MILACIC: As soon as, I mean, as soon as the police arrived and we had our heads out, they kind of saw us. We had an Airbnb. So, we were up -- yes, and then they saw us out the window. So, as soon as they came and within a few minutes, they were able to spot us because they did a great job of kind of searching through the buildings and they just told us to get down and run away and we were in position to doubt them.

SOARES: And I know because I was speaking, I believe your father who was basically saying to me that you tried to get a house here, another hotel but you couldn't do that. So, you were welcomed by a local?

MILACIC: Yes. That's right. That's our manager. But, yes, basically, no hotel were taking us in. And they didn't really give us anywhere to go. And, of course, we are not from here so wandering in circles the better part of four hours until thankfully, you know, we had a bit of a falling over Facebook.

So, you know, over the Facebook free, you know, random strangers, I think, Ryan, like they basically reached out to us and kind of saying they have a flat for us to stay. It was no time in the night, it was like 2:00, 3:00 a.m. And then they gave us a bed, you know, a roof to stay under, which is amazing because for the better part of four hours, we were pretty much just walking around.

SOARES: And, Luka, I know have you been able to collect your belongings? When are you going back to Canada?

MILACIC: Well, we're going back to Canada today was the plan. We were supposed to go back to Canada today, but we have not been able to retrieve our belongings as of yet. Again, the police are working on it. They've been great so far. Hopefully, we're just getting anything we can to get to Canada, ensure that we'd be able to get back to Canada, it would be great, and then, hopefully, from there, you know, we can take it from there.

SOARES: Luka, thank you very much. Good to hear you are safe.

And, Christiane, we've been hearing these sorts of stories, really praising the police for their bravery, but also about how fast they were here on the scene. We've also something we heard as well from Sadiq Khan and others paying tribute to the police as well as to the -- as well as to really the ambulances and to the hospitals here in the U.K.

AMANPOUR: Isa, thanks. And, indeed, in the immediate aftermath of the attack, you can see the emergency services and the police leap into action. Today, we heard from the Metropolitan Police commissioner that because of these recent attacks, because of the heightened threat, they have been training and practicing for a long time to leap into action in exactly this way and, hence, they are pointing out the rapid reaction time that took place overnight.

That doesn't mean to say there weren't victims. We know this comes two weeks after the attack in Manchester. That was a suicide bombing attack at a concert by Ariana Grande in the lobby area as people were leaving, young people and their mothers, mostly young girls and their mothers. And yet, today, Ariana Grande, in a few hours, along with Coldplay and others will hold another concert there in Manchester.

Phil Black is there to tell us all about it -- Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, the emotions that people have been feeling here two weeks, the hurt, the anger, the trauma. The people of Manchester know that in London today, people are feeling these same things. That tremendous empathy, though, is that little comfort. Instead, I think the people here have a sense that their emotions, the ones they have been processing two weeks now, have simply been strip-rolled once again.

That's the emotional context that this concert will be taking place in tonight. The organizers say it will go ahead. It will continue and, in their words, with greater purpose.

They said they feel a sense of responsibility to all of those affected, the injured, the lost, both in Manchester and London as well. The artists Ariana Grande and all those other big international stars Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Coldplay, as you mentioned, they will be trying to convey a message that fear and hate, they cannot win.

[07:15:10] It is, of course, a huge logistical exercise as well because 50,000 people will be attending this concert within the Old Trafford cricket ground, that huge security will be in place to ensure the safety of those people and, of course, the continuing safety of the city as well -- Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Phil, thank you.

And just to highlight. The prime minister today said that there needs to be conversations within communities, some may be embarrassing, difficult conversations about why this is going on. But the truth of the matter is in Manchester, two weeks ago, we were told that the suicide bomber was on the radar. The Muslim community had highlighted him, had talked two, three years ago to police about him. And, yet, he wasn't stopped and he was allowed to continue.

Again, there is going to be an increased level of demand by the police authorities for more police on the beat. And that will have to reverse the kind of austerity cuts, they say that Theresa May and home secretary had to implement during the last government.

We're going to have a lot more on all these developments. We're going to take a short break first.


[07:20:20] PAUL: Twenty minutes past the hour right now and some updates for you on the breaking news we've been watching. British Prime Minister Theresa May vows to clamp down on extremism after the latest terror attack in London overnight. May says there's just been too much tolerance of extremism in the U.K., quote.

BLACKWELL: Well, the death toll from the London attacks has risen to seven. Forty-eight people were injured, some critically. A police shot and killed the three suspects within minutes of the attack.

And London's mayor says police carried out raids on properties in the city this morning. You're seeing some aerial video here. Authorities do not believe there are any additional elements after the attack, so the threat level has not been increased.

Now, the London attacks started with a vehicle ramming into pedestrians on London Bridge. And this use of a vehicle in terror attack is becoming really a new mode of attack for self-radicalized terrorists.

Is this the most popular now a weapon that is being used?

PAUL: Yes. CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen and CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank with us.

Let's talk about that and also talk about something else we have not mentioned today just yet, Ramadan, the timing of this. ISIS has called on followers to attack where they can with what they have at hand. So, Paul, do you believe that we will see more of these attacks

through June 24th now that we are in the holy month of Ramadan?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, that is certainly the concern and ISIS indeed have called for this surge of attacks during Ramadan and did that last year as well. We saw the Orlando shootings during that period, also a terrorist attack in France. They have done the same this time. They are telling their followers around the world that they will be rewarded ten times more in paradise if they carry out these attacks during this period.

Obviously, extra concern because it is an election coming up here in the U.K. and in Paris, there was an attack on the police just before the first round of the presidential election in April. And, of course, there's a very big kind of underlying threat here in the U.K. with 3,000 individuals that they think are potentially dangerous who have Islamist extremism ideology and further 20,000 who they have monitored previously who are residual threat, Christi.

BLACKWELL: So, Peter, let me ask you about what we heard from the prime minister this morning. She highlighted four things that need to change and one of them she talked about government is working together to regulate cyberspace, to reduce the safe spaces for these extremists.

What will that look like and the potential for that happening? One of the former chief supervisors of the police there saying that specifically, Twitter and Facebook need to take some control.

PETER BERGEN: Well, I mean, that is a lot years said than done, and I'm not even sure it's a good idea. I mean, let's start with the First Amendment in this country in the United States, doing what the prime minister is suggesting, I think, would be now impossible. In fact, Twitter has been pretty aggressive taking down hundreds of thousands of pro-ISIS accounts. Likewise, Facebook, you know, has a whole division within the company which is basically trying to monitor these kind of, you know, ISIS messages and taking them down where appropriate.

But where it gets difficult, Victor, is take Anwar al-Awlaki, an American cleric who has inspired a number of attacks in both the United States and elsewhere around the English-speaking world. Some of the speeches he has made are pretty anodyne. At what point do you take down all of his speeches or do you take down the speeches that seemed more militant.

And, you know, with child pornography for instance, it's pretty clear what a child pornographic image is and that is a relatively easy thing for Facebook or Twitter or other social media companies to take down. But with terrorism, it gets a lot fuzzy. The line what is protected free speech and something that is really simply a violent image is a lot more fuzzy.

So, you know, it sounds good what Theresa May said but in practice, I think, A, the social media companies are pretty aware of this and are doing something about it. B, it would be very hard to enforce in countries like the United States. And, C, one final point here is that ISIS is not using social media companies based in the United States. It's predominantly using something called Telegram as its social media platform which is often encrypted and that's based in Germany.

So, you also have the problem about which jurisdiction the social media companies are in because Britain can't, you know, demand that a Germany-based social media company follow a particular set of laws, nor did it, in fact, do much -- obviously, it can control what message in the United Kingdom.

[07:25:12] BLACKWELL: Yes.

BERGEN: But, you know, it's hard for a British government to order Twitter or Facebook to take certain actions that actually would contravene the First Amendment in the United States where these companies are, after all, based.

PAUL: Very good point. Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, we appreciate your insight. Thank you, gentlemen, for being here.

We'll be right back.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. We are here outside London Bridge, obviously, as close as we can get to what happened last night.

World leader are weighing in, condemn being the terrorist attack and sending support and condolence to the victims and the British government, all the way from Russia to Australia, from Canada, across the Commonwealth, all the way across Europe.

[07:30:05] The French president says four French citizens were injured, one of those seriously.

And in the last few moments, we have heard also that Pope Francis has offered prayers and condemnation of what happened here during his weekly prayer at St. Peters square.

Now, I'm joined by Dean Andrew Nunn. He's the head of the Southwark Cathedral, which is the cathedral which happens to be here and inside the police cordon right now.


AMANPOUR: You were outside talking to people when this was going on?

NUNN: Well, when I heard the news break I left my house, which is just along here and headed to the cathedral to see whether there's anything I could do. When I got close by, of course, I was turned back by the police and ended up being asked to walk along this street here. Now, further down on Suffolk Street, there were people being cared for by the emergency services and their friend on the pavement. And there was the sense of complete shock and fear, I suppose, at that moment, confusion, although it was calm in the sense of the police are doing a fantastic job.

AMANPOUR: I think everybody has said that. The Reaction from all of the services was better than anybody can remember.

NUNN: It was absolutely amazing. I mean, I live on the river and the river police were out there asking people to move, to run, to get out of the area while the incident was still ongoing.

AMANPOUR: Yes, and we forget that boats were out on the river in case people had been tossed into the river by being rammed by that van.

NUNN: Well, as with Westminster. Yes, yes.

AMANPOUR: Exactly. And you've been talking again to people outside. Again, let's just be clear. Southwark Cathedral is inside the cordon and you haven't had any Sunday services today?

NUNN: No. For those who don't know London, the cathedral is right in the heart of the market and almost physically attached to London Bridge. So, this all happened within the sort of environment around the cathedral within our parish. So, we simply can't open up the cathedral as we would naturally want to.

AMANPOUR: And what does this say to you in terms of being a priest, having to minister not just to your own community but the fabric of society here? Also sorts of different religions. You just heard the prime minister maybe saying that this is radical extreme terrorism, the ideology has to be rooted out and difficult and maybe embarrassing conversations have to take place within communities. How do you respond to that?

NUNN: Well, it's really difficult to know how to respond to be perfectly honest, because at a distance, it's always easier to make kind of comments, when it's happening in your indoors. Of course, it feels quite different. But we need to sort of retain a sense of hope and within the community as strength, I think, wherever you get that from, whether it'd be through your faith or from your community spirit, and try to encourage people to sort of remain with that.

And I think with regard to the Muslim community, I think we have to stand very strongly alongside them. This isn't in the name of God. This isn't what the Muslim of faith asked people to do. This is a complete aberration.

This is evil and we need to address the reasons why some people get it into their heads that this is the way to be a good Muslim.

AMANPOUR: We heard from a former Met Police officers and deputy commissioners today that they believe some of the latest attacks are petty criminals who already went to jail, who were radicalized or extremized in prison, and then use this as an excuse to continue their criminal behavior. What does that say to you?

I mean, you've just told me that you presided over the funeral of the heroic policeman who tried to stop the attack on Westminster and was killed himself. Indeed. So, that was in March. NUNN: And that was I was preaching on that occasion. This whole area

was brought to a standstill when the procession came from Westminster. Last night, it was brought to a standstill again by another terrorist attack. I mean, that is really difficult to be able to understand and to articulate how we feel about that and not to blame the whole of the Muslim community. That is very worse thing that we can possibly do.

AMANPOUR: Do you worry that the more this goes on, the less patience communities will have, the less, you know, ability to say, you know, no, it's not in God's name and we can't allow them to wreak their havoc and rip us apart? I mean, the Met chief said despite your fears and frustrations, do not take matters into your own hands. Don't go into your communities. I mean, she was basically saying, hold on, don't take law and order and vigilantism into your own hands.

NUNN: I think one of the issues that we face nowadays is social media is in a sense uncontrollable because we're all -- each of us is a broadcaster in our own rights, and our views get credibility by being passed on and on and on. So, I think that is the real challenge to know how you address the response and get the response to be right. Nothing churches, mosques, other community places have a part to play in that, in trying to help a community, to understand what's going on in its midst.

[07:35:03] AMANPOUR: It's a big work and big job ahead.

NUNN: Huge.

AMANPOUR: Dean Nunn, thank you so much indeed for joining us.

NUNN: Thank you so much.

AMANPOUR: The dean of Southwark Cathedral, one of the major cathedrals here in London, as I said, inside the cordon, right close up to where that attack took place last night.

We're going to take a break and we'll be back after that.


PAUL: We are getting new dashcam video that you're seeing right here. This is in the moments after that white van raced down London Bridge. This is a car on London Bridge right now and plowed through a crowd there.

BLACKWELL: Now, look to the left of your screen.

PAUL: Uh-huh, you can see people there. And then in just a moment, on the right-hand side of your screen, you're going to see some people, they will be running. Obviously, traffic was very, very slow. I think probably a lot of confusion at that moment. People wondering what just happened and here the car is going to stop and we're going to have some more video for you here in just a minute.

[07:40:00] There it is. You see the people on the right-hand side of your screen. They are running. Some others walking, just almost as though --

BLACKWELL: They're in shock.

PAUL: -- they are in a daze. They don't know what to make of what just happened and what they just saw. So, again, just wanted to share some of that video with you that we are just now getting in.

BLACKWELL: We'll show more throughout the morning.

President Trump being kept up-to-date on the developments in London. He was quick to offer his support to the U.K. after the attack as well.

PAUL: Yes, the president also renewed his call for the travel ban, saying the U.S. needs the extra level of security.

Now, he is tweeting this morning. First of all, he tweeted: We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don't get smart, it will only get worse.

And now this, he says: At least seven dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and mayor of London says there is no reason to be alarmed.

CNN Pentagon reporter Ryan Browne is live in Washington.

Ryan, we need to clarify something, though. That was not a full statement. The mayor of London said there is no reason to be alarmed by the extra presence of police who were on the street trying to keep people safe.

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: That's right. The Mayor Sadiq Khan speaking to our CNN in that interview and it seems to be what President Trump was referring to. Again, tweeting very aggressively this morning. Multiple tweets about the attack. Expression of solidarity but again addressing this travel restrictions, he called a travel ban the administration went away from. That will be going in front of the Supreme Court and as recently was passed to the Supreme Court to kind of ask to reinstate that ban as the court determines constitutionality.

So, again, not referring to the London attacks specifically but in a series of tweets, advocating for this travel ban to come back into play saying we need to get, quote/unquote, smart in the fight against terrorism.

This all comes as President Trump is going to have a very busy week. Thursday, we expect to hear from the former FBI director who Trump fired, James Comey, who will be testifying in front of the Senate about series of investigations pertaining to Russia and the election, something that -- there will be a public and private hearing is our understanding right now. But, again, President Trump has the option of exercising executive privilege in this case which could prevent that public testimony.

As of Friday, White House officials were saying that President Trump had not yet decided whether or not he was going to exercise executive privilege.

We heard from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor, saying that he was still weighing those options. And again, that hearing expected on Thursday. So, again, a very busy week for the president who is now pushing to have this travel ban kind of brought through and kind of activated, in addition to waiting for this hearing and now, commenting on the mayor of London's response to the recent London terror attack.

BLACKWELL: But it's important to point out here that what Mayor Khan was talking about when he said there is no reason to be alarmed, what he was referring to was there's no reason to be alarmed by the increased police presence that people will see in the next coming days, potentially weeks, as this investigation continues. It seems that either intentionally or maybe not intentionally, the president misconstrued what Mayor Sadiq Khan was specifically talking about in that interview. We just want to be clear about that.

PAUL: Yes. Ryan Browne, thank you so much.

And do stay with CNN. We have the latest on what is happening in those London attacks. New interviews with people all morning long. You don't want to miss our special live coverage that's coming up this week as well as we look ahead. As Ryan said, former FBI Director James Comey testifying before the instant this Thursday. It starts at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

And still to come, the U.K. vowing to ramp up the fight against terror after the British prime minister blames the London attacks on Islamist extremism. We are talking to a former extremist, he's going to explain to us understand why he became radicalized and how he got out.


[07:48:10] PAUL: Well, the U.K. under siege essentially after two terror attacks took place just in the past two weeks. And British Prime Minister Theresa May is blaming the attacks on Islamist extremism.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: While the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single, evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division and promotes sectarianism.


BLACKWELL: Joining us to discuss, former counterterrorism operative, Mubin Shaikh.

Mubin, thanks for being with us this morning.

And one of the things that Prime Minister May talked about was that we are now in an era not of only people being radicalized directly by groups like ISIS or being radicalized online, but this is potentially a copycat era, where they are copying what they saw in Nice, in Berlin during a Christmas market.

What do you make of what you've heard from the prime minister and what you've seen over the last 12 to 13 hours?

MUBIN SHAIKH, FORMER EXTREMIST: Yes. I haven't slept in all of those hours. First of all, I want to give a shout-out to the London police who shot three attackers dead within eight minutes of the first emergency call. That was outstanding.

Secondly, you know, Ms. May is absolutely correct. You know, you're dealing with an ideology, you know, that whether copycat or just lone attacks, as we call them, this is the modus operandi of these groups. They said, I mean, Mohammed al-Adnani, the deceased ISIS spokesperson, said in 2014 -- stab them, drive them over with your vehicles. So, this is their modus operandi, whether it's copycat or otherwise.

[07:50:03] PAUL: So, Mubin, what makes your voice so unique here is that you were at one time an extremist and then you chose to leave. Knowing what you know, what is the best route to try to alleviate, to try to fight the terrorism that we're seeing, that is so hard to detect, because there are so many lone wolves?

SHAIKH: Yes, look, you know, London, sustained, I mean, the U.K. sustained three decades of IRA bombings. It didn't bring London down, and London hasn't fallen and it isn't going to fall.

Number two, you know, the -- you're right. I mean, I used to hold the views some of these guys hold today and it is a deviant interpretation of Islam. While, you know, normal Muslims are fasting and praying and giving charity, these malevolent, you know, devils, they plan attacks like this.

So, you know, the city, the country has to stay united. You know, one team, one fight. You know, we can't do the work of terrorists for them. When they do this, they want people to create divisions, to make this about, you know, all about Islam, and this is why I'm happy to hear, you know, police and politicians sticking to that message, you know, to be united.

And then there's also the business of counterterrorism that that needs to be done. You know, prosecuting and pursuing them, you know, going to communities, recruiting people from the communities. And I can assure you, there are a lot more Muslims today that are calling that terrorist hotline number because I can guarantee you, you know, we're fed up just the same.

PAUL: But, Mubin, help us understand, you're calling it a deviant interpretation. At one point, you were worshipping this. What changed? What made you leave?

SHAIKH: Studying the religion properly, reading the context of verses, understanding, you know, which verses remain in the seventh century and which verses, you know, live today. The problem is these guys, they take verses, they cherry-pick them, they make up reasons, even sometimes there are even no scriptural references, but they decide -- no, we're just going to kill anyone and everyone, including Muslims.

So, what changed for me was studying the religion properly and understanding that this is actually a deviant, criminal form of Islam that needs to be rooted down and hunted down.

BLACKWELL: You talked about the work of counterterrorism that needs to be done, and one of the things that the prime minister mentioned was working with allied governments to eliminate what she calls the safe space for Islamist extremism, and doing that through cyberspace. We've heard authorities talk about cracking down or getting Twitter and Facebook to crack down.

What's -- how realistic is that, from your counter-terror expertise, and what would be the value?

SHAIKH: You know, I was online back in 2012, even 2013, when ISIS first came into Syria. We were tracking ISIS foreign fighters for three years straight almost every day online engaging with them. There's -- it's a two-sided coin. You know, if you block accounts, then you lose the ability to track them. You don't know who they're connecting with. You don't know what they're saying and who they're saying it with.

If people want to keep believing that, you know, Telegram is still encrypted or other services are still encrypted, let's let them keep thinking that and we'll keep monitoring and intercepting their communications.

But in some cases, look, encryption is real. Private companies hold this information, and should be giving it to law enforcement and government when they need. Right now, there seems to be a disconnect between, you know, private corporations, whether Twitter or Facebook, who can do a lot more but are unfortunately more concerned with their bottom line than public safety. That's the reality.

BLACKWELL: It would also be the question of the First Amendment that has to be dealt with, at least here in the United States.

Mubin Shaikh, thank you so much for your very unique perspective and being a part of the conversation this morning.

PAUL: We appreciate it.

SHAIKH: Thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you.

We'll be right back.


[07:58:41] AMANPOUR: So, here we are near London Bridge. You can see the overhead as police are still out and we keep hearing the sirens. They are still securing this area, although the Met Police chief say they believe the three assailants are dead, shot within eight minutes of the first response call last night.

We heard from the Prime Minister Theresa May, who said these were not connected plots. Last night, Manchester two weeks ago and Westminster three months ago, but they were connected by an evil ideology that she attributed to extremist Islam.

And we have also heard from the mayor of London who has told the people here in the U.K. and especially in this city not to be alarmed by the heavy police presence that has been upped in the wake of these attacks, to keep people safe. That is the latest from here.

Going back to you, Christy and vvictor.

PAUL: Christiane, thank you so much. Such great perspectives all morning long there from you and from your team there in London. We appreciate it.

And do stay with CNN for the latest developments on the terror attack in London. We are there and also dipping into some politics, of course.

BLACKWELL: Indeed, a big week for the president, the president this morning on Twitter talking about this incident and we'll continue this conversation throughout this morning.

Let's toss it now to "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King.