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Terror Alert in London
Aired June 29, 2007 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news out of London that occurred earlier this morning London time, about 6:00 in the morning our time. Here's what we know -- actually, sorry, no, it would have been about 9:00 at night our time.
Here's what we know at this point.
About 1:00 in the morning in London, an ambulance was called to the Tiger Tiger nightclub in the Haymarket district, not far from Piccadilly Circus, not far from the British houses of parliament, and just a stone's throw away from Buckingham Palace as well. Apparently, reports that one of the patrons at that nightclub at which it was ladies night, and the club was jammed, taken ill.
When the ambulance attendants got on the scene, they noticed a suspicious vehicle outside the club. It was a silver Mercedes.
Ambulance attendants noticed that there was smoke inside the vehicle. They also noticed that there were what appeared to be inside a number of canisters and containers.
They called Scotland Yard. They sent out the bomb squad. The bomb squad took a look at this, immediately went inside the vehicle and disarmed what they called a potential explosive device, also saying there was a significant number of gasoline containers, gas canisters and nails, which we imagine would have been used at shrapnel propelled by the explosive charge that was in inside that vehicle.
They have now taken that vehicle away for forensic examination. Peter Clarke, who is the deputy assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard, said had that device gone off, it would have caused significant injury and a significant loss of life.
One of the intriguing details here this morning is, what was the smoke inside the car? Was it the bomb about to go off? Or was it a failed detonation? Was an extreme loss of life narrowly averted this morning?
That's what we're following this morning, that's the latest on this investigation.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And it is important to note that this comes just a week before the two-year mark of the devastating 7-7-05 attacks in London that ended up taking the lives of 52 people, injuring hundreds of others. And it also comes at a time when we're seeing a changeover in the new government. Gordon Brown now in, Tony Blair now out as the prime minister. We are going to get the latest details from the scene right now. Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, is live in London with an update on what's been going on.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Kiran.
Well, elements of this -- some of the streets around -- the streets that were cordoned off last night have been opening up again. But the public is still being held back by the police.
We're at a cordoned -- the place the bomb was discovered is just down the street behind me, so you can see that the police still have this area very much cordoned off. They have reopened the Piccadilly train station close to here.
But Peter Clarke, who is the lead anti-terror investigator for the police on this now, has said that he's appealing to the public for more information, not just from the time that the bomb, the vehicle was discovered late last night, but in the hours of Thursday evening as well. He wants people who were in this area, perhaps going to the theater, perhaps going to nightclubs, perhaps going to the movie cinemas here, to tell the police if they had seen anything, seen anything suspicious happening in this particular area.
But Peter Clarke has said that the full extent of the potential for injuries that could have been caused by this bomb won't be known until the investigation, until its component parts is fully complete.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER CLARKE, DEP. ASST. COMM., SCOTLAND YARD: Scientific analysis will tell us what the damage or injury could have been caused by this device. However, even at this stage, it is obvious that if the device had detonated, there could have been significant injury or loss of life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: Now, Peter Clarke also said that there have been other times when nightclubs have been targeted by terrorists. He was alluding to an attack that was planned by an al Qaeda terrorist, Duram Barat (ph), who is now convicted, serving 40 years in jail here. Then he was planning to use limousines packed full of gas and explosives, fuel explosives.
Again, it appears similar to this situation, but Peter Clarke saying he cannot specifically say who was behind this, whether or not it was al Qaeda. But he did say that -- quite of his own volition before he was questioned by journalists -- that there have been similarly planned attacks, and these similarly planned attacks, as everyone here knows, have been planned by al Qaeda -- John.
ROBERTS: All right. Nic Robertson for us in Haymarket. Nic, thanks very much.
And we want to get some reaction from people who work in the area. These are people who we talked to as the sun came up there in the Haymarket district, people who live very close to where that device was found.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) about 9:15 and it's all cordoned off. I had come up Shaftesbury Avenue, cordoned off up there. The police tell me it will probably be closed until about 1:00 or so if I'm getting to work. Just waiting to see what happens next, really.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got here about 8:00. Everything was shut off. Just couldn't get to the office. And nobody told us anything.
And then as it started to come through the news, relatives saying, oh, there's a bomb.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Well, there you go. Surprise this morning as people wake up to the news in London that there was what was potentially, according to Scotland Yard, a massive explosive device parked outside of a very popular nightclub on a very popular night, when there would have been more than thousand people inside it. And the loss of life there could have absolutely been catastrophic.
CHETRY: Usually it's the police and the investigators like to downplay things. And even Peter Clarke, himself of Scotland Yard, saying it could have been in the hundreds if this had been successful. Thank goodness it certainly was not.
We have Christiane Amanpour, who lives in London, with us right now.
And if we could show the map once again of this area so you can explain. Some people have likened it to, if you were in New York City, the Times Square, really, of New York City.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, and they would be right.
This is the heart of tourist England, tourist London, Piccadilly Circus, the Haymarket, right close as you can see to the Thames, all of the government buildings like houses of parliament. Buckingham Palace is nearby.
And you heard that one gentleman talk about Shaftesbury Avenue being closed off. Shaftesbury Avenue is theater avenue. It's sort of like Broadway here. It's where all of the big plays are put on.
And this is a big night, Friday night, for people going out to the theater. And we'll see whether the British spirit endures and dominates and whether people continue, as long as the streets are open, to be able to go and do precisely what they would of done, despite the fact that this bomb plot appears to have been thwarted.
I think the other thing that many Britons will be looking at, and, of course, we are all wondering, was this homegrown again, two years after 7-7, the July 7th bombings of the subways and the bus, or was this somebody from the outside coming in and using Britain and a soft target as a target for another terrorist attack?
CHETRY: Because we did learn afterward, after the attack on 7-7- 2005, that it was four British Muslims who carried out the suicide attacks there. And it's important to note, of course, that there still is an ongoing manhunt right now, because there were some witnesses talking about seeing a man running from the scene.
And as we show just one more time the map, Christiane, of the area where they may be looking, I mean, if this guy presumably ran out, he was on foot, at least for some of the time.
AMANPOUR: Absolutely. And the fact is that nobody has been killed. The evidence remains.
The car didn't blow up. The person didn't die, the potential bomber. And luckily there were no victims either.
So the evidence should be there. And it's a matter of trolling through all of this evidence, which they do painstakingly, whether it's to go back through hours and days of CCTV, whether it's to fan out, as they are probably are doing in a big manhunt.
And, you know, the British, also, they have a lot of contacts, the British police, into the civilian neighborhoods. They go in there, they try to talk. They use their quite long history of counterinsurgency and counterterrorist tactics.
ROBERTS: And they've been pretty good at uncovering the back story to a lot of these plots as well.
So, as this manhunt continues in Britain -- and there is no indication, according to Scotland Yard, that any particular group or group of people, for that matter, is responsible for this -- here in the United States, certainly, it raises the concerns as to what could possibly happen here with the holiday weekend coming up on us.
Jeanne Meserve, our homeland security correspondent, is in Washington. She's been working her sources.
Jeanne, what are you hearing just in terms of the level of alert may be in major cities across the United States, the level of concern here among homeland security officials?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, of course there is concern right now. Department of Homeland Security officials say there is no credible and specific intelligence indicating that there is any threat here in the United States. An FBI official echoes that, saying there is no information about any threat here tied to the bomb in London. There has been no change in the threat level at this point in time, although one homeland official says that is something that is being discussed at this point in time.
The Homeland Security Department also says that they are viewing this very much as an isolated localized event in Great Britain at this point in time. Counterterrorism officials echo that thought, saying there are no indications that -- of any connection at this point to anything outside of Britain. But again, I emphasize they are very early on and figuring out exactly who is responsible for this. They will, of course, be following all leads.
Britain and the United States have an extraordinarily close relationship when it comes to intelligence matters. They are best partners in all of this.
There is a lot of sharing of information. You can bet that is going on right now. An FBI official says that all leads will be followed no matter where they go.
I spoke to an official with a local department, local police department. They're also very interested in what is happening in Britain.
The New York Police Department, we know, does have detectives stationed overseas. They dispatch them immediately to the scene of something like this to gather information and feed it back to the United States. And sometimes this has been an extraordinarily valuable exercise.
We know in the cases of the train bombings in Spain and London, very specific kinds of information were fed back about where the bombs were placed, where those bombs were assembled. And that sort of information was integrated into the response that was made here in the United States.
Right now, state, local and federal agencies are being urged to be vigilant. The public is being asked to be aware. But at this point in time, we don't know of any specific actions that are being taken or being advised in reaction to what's happened in Britain -- John.
ROBERTS: Jeanne, this idea -- and we see this very often when there is an incident overseas -- this idea that homeland security officials are saying that there is no credible intelligence about a threat here in the United States, how much of that is wishful thinking? Because there was no evidence of a credible threat in Britain until they found this car.
MESERVE: Well, you know, intelligence is far from a perfect art. They don't know what they don't know. That's always the case.
You can bet that they're going back now, they're taking a look at everything that they've gathered in recent times, be it signals intelligence, human intelligence, anything else they might have. They are combing through that, they are looking to see what possible connections they might find, anything that might have given a hint of what was happening in Britain, anything that might give a hint that anything might be planned for here in the United States.
But, you know, it's not just a perfect art. It's something they are struggling mightily to come to terms with. We know that a lot of additional resources have been poured into intelligence since 9/11, but they aren't where they'd like to be.
ROBERTS: Yes. Well, Jeanne, you know, the Brits are very good at this as well, and they have uncovered some terrorist plots. They -- the mantra among intelligence people and homeland security officials is, we have to get lucky every time. They only need to get lucky once.
So, despite all of the signals intelligence, despite all of the combing through of all the information that's coming in from overseas or called from here at home, it's still possible, obviously, for these people to get through. They did in England.
So how safe are we really?
MESERVE: Well, that's the great unknown. We do know that additional precautions have been taken in various areas like aviation to try and guard against something, even if intelligence doesn't pick it up. But when you're dealing with something like a car bomb, it's so incredibly difficult to get a handle on this.
To be frank, U.S. law enforcement has been surprised that something like that hasn't happened here, just the way they've been surprised there haven't been suicide bombings that have happened here. They have gone to places like Israel, they have studied what they are doing over there to try and detect these sorts of devices, what they are doing to diffuse them, how they do forensic investigations after an explosion takes place, but how do you -- how do you prevent against a car bomb?
You know cars are absolutely u ubiquitous in this country. How can you check everyone? It's absolutely impossible.
That's why intelligence is important. That's why they are striving to do a better job. But it is definitely not a perfect system, and it is very hard really to quantify how safe we are. The only indicator is that, to date, there hasn't been another attack since 9/11 -- John.
ROBERTS: And Jeanne Meserve, thanks very much.
And I remember being at the White House on September the 11th, and nobody knew what was going on. We knew that there were some planes that had gone into the World Trade Center. There was an explosion at the Pentagon, and then a rumor started running rampant through the White House that there had been a car bomb outside the State Department.
And the immediate thought was, oh, my god, car bombings have come to the United States. They hadn't on that morning, and of course we've seen other bombings, like the bombing outside of the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building, but just the idea of car bombings just seems to shake people on a different level than other things do.
AMANPOUR: And I think rightly so, because these tactics are migrating, as you've heard some of our intelligence experts say throughout the morning. Whether it was roadside explosives or car bombs that we really saw big in Iraq, moving on to Afghanistan, whether it's that kind of idea that then came into the subway systems in Europe, Spain, London, suicide bombers, all these methods of exploding and killing people are migrating and being taught and coming from one place to the other.
CHETRY: Yes. And it's something that is a daily reality that we're seeing in Iraq. I mean, we're talking about something that was thwarted today in London, yet the news breaking all over the wires that five more U.S. soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb attack. They were on patrol in Baghdad once again, and it's yet another situation where it's a coordinated ambush, using rocket-propelled grenades and these IEDs.
AMANPOUR: And one of the most interesting things that I've read recently, just this week in "The Wall Street Journal," in fact, was that there are in detail, in full Technicolor, in high resolution on Web sites in the Middle East a play by play of how these things are done, how the cat and mouse game is played, how the sophisticated bombers keep up with the counterinsurgency tactics.
We often don't see that much of it on Western media. We show perhaps a little snippet from a Web site that we call a shadowy Islamic Web site, but actually, it's out there. It's absolutely out there, and we can see how they do it, what motivates them, and the effect it has.
ROBERTS: And as we've seen from the description of the construction of this bomb by Scotland Yard officials, gas canisters presumed to be propane and not toxic gas, as we've seen employed in Iraq, a number of containers of gasoline. Nails, which are easily available, might have been triggered by a cell phone, because Paula Newton reported that cell phones were found inside the vehicle. And just a small charge to set the whole thing off.
Pretty easy to conceal not only the device as you're putting it together, but your intent as well.
AMANPOUR: And they have said before, al Qaeda, certainly, that these immoral nightclubs and these kind of soft targets are legitimate targets for them. We saw it...
ROBERTS: Even though the 9/11 bomber spent a night in Las Vegas before they attacked America.
AMANPOUR: There you go.
CHETRY: Well, no one said at all makes sense, but we're certainly trying to get to the bottom of it today. We want to let you know that Christiane's "The War Within" will re-air this Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 and 11:00 Eastern both nights. So it's all the more timely right now to discuss the growing situation with radicalized elements within Britain.
So we look forward to that, Christiane.
We also have some new pictures of the scene coming in, in London.
Internet reporter Jacki Schechner is Washington watching those come in.
And it's just a sign of our times where there are cell phone cameras and small video cameras available so that people are able to document almost in real time when things happen.
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, Kiran, this in particular, people are starting to put their photos online as they get up and head towards work and find this scene waiting for them. And in particular, we've been corresponding with Olivier Laurent (ph), who was heading into work in this area.
He said he works about 50 meters away. And this was the general scene he saw as he headed to work today.
He said none of his co-workers were able to get into work. He has uploaded some more photos just in the last few minutes.
You can see in the background here. This is the tent where they had over the car that they were investigating. And then if you take a close look at this photo, this is where inspectors and investigators start to load the car on to a truck.
Olivier (ph) has just put this photo online. This is the truck right here that is taking that car away where the explosives inside had been dismantled by authorities on the scene. He also got a photograph also of the press outside the area trying to get some photographs, along with Olivier (ph) himself.
I asked him what the mood was like amongst his friends in the area. And he said people were pretty much relieved in general. Some people had stayed to try to get into work, but most had gone home and were just staying home now and trying to watch all of this unfold on the news.
As I mention that, if you have someone in London, in the area, who has an eyewitness account and would like to send it to us here at CNN, please encourage them to do so at CNN.com/ireport. You can send your eyewitness accounts to us specifically here -- Kiran.
CHETRY: Jacki Schechner in Washington for us.
ROBERTS: All right. So we just want to recap where we are with this. About 1:00 in the morning, an ambulance was called to the Tiger Tiger nightclub in the Haymarket district of London. The ambulance attendants, while they were on the scene to treat a man who had apparently suffered some sort of head injury in a fall, noticed that there was a suspicious vehicle in front of the nightclub, a silver Mercedes which typically wouldn't raise any level of concern, being an upscale car in an upscale neighborhood. But the fact that it did sort of set off alarms of those ambulance attendants was that the car appeared to be filled with smoke.
They called in the Scotland Yard bomb squad and the metropolitan police there in London. They immediately went inside the vehicle and disarmed what they said was a potentially deadly -- or a potentially explosive device that appeared to be attached to several gas canisters.
"The Daily Mail" in London has got a photograph that we hope to get for you in just a couple of moments where they highlight a canister that appears to be on the ground behind the can -- behind the car that clearly says on the label "patio gas". So that would be propane.
ROBERTS: Probably for a barbecue. But, at any rate, there were several gas canisters inside, as well as containers of gasoline, nails, and what would appear to be a fairly significant nail bomb parked outside of this club.
It was ladies night at the club. There were some 1,500 people inside. And according to the deputy assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard, had that bomb gone off, there could have been significant loss of life and significant injury.
Again, we wonder, what was the smoke inside the car? Was it the detonation about to go off or was it a failed detonation?
CHETRY: It's also important to remember that this was discovered by accident, from what we're getting. It was the London ambulance -- a London ambulance called to the scene because apparently a man had fallen. They were worried about whether or not there was a mild head injury they were dealing with, and they are the first ones that got there and noticed this suspicious car.
ROBERTS: So, the fact this thing was discovered by happenstance, despite all of the great intelligence that British officials, MI-5, the London police deal with, leaves open the door that anybody on any given time with enough intuition and enough desire can place an explosive device just about anywhere they want, which, of course, then raises concerns for what is happening here in America.
Clark Kent Ervin is the former inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, has traveled extensively throughout the world, including London. He joins us now from our bureau in Washington. Clark, you know the lay of the land there in Washington. Was this sort of the ultimate soft target that whomever constructed this bomb and delivered it was looking at?
CLARK KENT ERVIN, FMR. INSPECTOR GENERAL, HOMELAND SECURITY: Absolutely, John.
You know, I have been saying for a long time that one of the paradoxes is we haven't done, I think, what we should do to harden hard targets, like airports and seaports, nuclear power plants, et cetera. But the harder we do harden hard targets like that, only the more appealing become soft targets like nightclubs and shopping malls and restaurants.
And as a number of people have said, you know, we've seen this, of course, with Iraq and Lebanon, all throughout the Middle East and Israel. But we've not seen it yet in this country. And it would be very, very easy to do. And even though the loss of life might not and probably would not equal or rival 9/11, the psychic impact arguably would be larger, because as you just said, everybody would think then that wherever I am, at whatever time of day, I might be the victim of a terror attack.
ROBERTS: I mean, the ultimate nightmare here in the United States is, is that somebody starts walking into shopping malls, very crowded shopping malls with suicide belts.
Christiane Amanpour, my colleague from London, is here, Clark. She'd like to join in.
AMANPOUR: Clark, good morning.
ERVIN: Good morning.
AMANPOUR: What do you think? I mean, do you see these sort of copycats coming from Iraq? As we've been sort of talking about over the last hour or so, you know, it's gone to Afghanistan, and then we have had similar devices in European centers as well, whether it be trains -- Madrid, London and elsewhere.
Do you see it all as part of one big wave?
ERVIN: Yes, absolutely. You know, I think Porter Goss, the short-lived CIA director after George Tenet, put it well when he said that Iraq is not the cause of extremism, but it's become a cause for extremists.
There is no question the 800-pound gorilla here is Iraq. The fact that the war is going as badly as it is, is only serving to further radicalize people, and there's no question but that Britain is our greatest ally. And So the United States and Great Britain are the top terror targets in the world. And the fact that Iraq is going as it is only, it seems to me, makes it more likely that there will be terror attacks here in the United States.
AMANPOUR: And so what is the strategy if you had to be in charge? What is the strategy of really trying to solidify the hearts and minds of homegrown Britons and try to separate them from these potential terrorist attacks?
ERVIN: Well, that's the $64,000 question, Christiane. Of course, we don't know who the perpetrator or perpetrators were at this point, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if the perpetrators were homegrown terrorists.
It's marginally harder to get into United States, to other countries today than it was on 9/11, and therefore it puts a premium on people, terrorists who are already in our country and other countries. And so you're right. The big issue is, how do we get to those hearts and minds?
And I think really there's a limit to what non-Muslims can do. I think it's incumbent upon the Muslim community.
There's no question, as you said, that the vast majority of Muslims in Great Britain, the vast majority of Muslims in the United States, the vast majority of Muslims in the world condemn this kind of attack. And they know that it's inimical to Islam. But they need to have a bigger voice. They need to be empowered to speak up, because only they, it seems to me, can dissuade their radical brethren from this kind of murderous course.
ROBERTS: Clark, you know the Department of Homeland Security inside and out. Jeanne Meserve, our homeland security correspondent, said a little while ago that she has been reassured by department officials that there is "no credible intelligence" about a threat here in the United States. But as today's potential bomb right in the heart of London would seem to illustrate, there is no way to be absolutely safe.
ERVIN: That's exactly right, John. As you just pointed out in your exchange with Jeanne, that is what the Department of Homeland Security tends to say in situations like this. And I think all they mean by that is, there is no reason to believe that this particular plot was intended to be followed up by a similar attack in the United States.
That's probably right. But that does not mean that the United States is out of the woods.
As I say, the fact that we haven't had a terror attack since 9/11 suggests to me that we're overdue for one. It would be very easy to have a car bomb in this country.
I think one of the things this underscores is the importance -- a number of people have said this -- of these surveillance cameras. You know, civil libertarians in this country have been very much opposed to this, but I think there is no question but that they have proved their worth time and again in Great Britain, and I hope that this will be looked at much more closely in the United States going forward.
CHETRY: Clark, you know the other interesting thing is that there still is a manhunt going on. We talk about these closed circuit TV cameras. Are they in real time as well? Meaning, are they monitored and looked at right now by any and every law enforcement pair of eyes available to see if they are able to track where this person went?
ERVIN: In Britain, you mean?
ERVIN: Yes, that's right. They are -- they can do that in real time. That's one of the huge advantages.
London is blanketed by these surveillance cameras. It's the most heavily blanketed city in the world in this regard. And we have only episodic coverage here in the United States, and the coverage that we have, as I say, is very controversial.
Another point to underscore is something that Jacki talked about. You know, one of the good things about the world that we live in is that everybody is empowered with mobile devices. These cell phone cameras.
ERVIN: And the internet, that's a huge tool that can be used by law enforcement to aid in these count of counterterrorism investigations. As you pointed out, Kiran, this was called to the attention of authorities by alert ambulance drivers.
It just goes to show that every single person can and must play a counterterrorism role, because our counterterrorism authorities can't be right 100 percent of the time. And we have to be right 100 percent of the time if we are to guard against terror attacks.
ROBERTS: Well, what we see, Clark, with these -- with these terrorists now is a remarkable ability to be able to adapt. And one of those indications would seem to be the fact that they used this silver Mercedes, a car that would be quite at home in the Haymarket district, a car that would probably blend in if it weren't for the fact that the ambulance drivers were quite attentive, quite alert, and saw the smoke inside of this car.
Would there have been any reason -- again, you know this area of London -- would there have been any reason to suspect that this vehicle didn't belong where it was?
ERVIN: None whatsoever, John. I do know this area well. I lived in Britain for a couple of years in the '80s, in Oxford, which is about an hour, hour and a half away from London. I was in the Piccadilly Circus area all the time.
It is to Great Britain, it is to London, what, say, Times Square is to New York City. It's an iconic cultural center in Great Britain. And I think there is probably a reason why the bomb was placed where it is.
You know, another thing that occurs to me is that, you know, we tend to forget that it's not as if this kind of thing has not been at least contemplated here in the United States. I recall a plot, I think it took place in 2004, that was uncovered, whereby limousines, black limousines have been filled with explosives and driven into major Wall Street firms in the United States.
So, terrorists have thought about doing this in the United States, and it would be very easy to do in this United States. And now that it's happened in Great Britain, I think the likelihood of it happening in the United States will be increased.
ROBERTS: And of course, Clark, we all look back at 1995, the Oklahoma City bombing, and all it took was fertilizer, a rental truck, and a couple of guys with the will to do it.
Clark Kent Ervin, thanks. If you can hang with us in our Washington bureau, we'll get back to you.
CHETRY: You know, he talked about the Wall Street plot. And you referred to the Oklahoma City bombing. And we have seen changes. It's interesting to see how our society evolves and where else we may evolve right now. You cannot park anywhere near a federal building.
ROBERTS: Sure. And you couldn't park a big Ryder truck in front of this nightclub, but you certainly could park a Mercedes.
AMANPOUR: And Clark has said, it's not just chance that's prevented this. It is because everybody is vigilant, and the people they called at that particular time were the ambulance drivers, and they are trained to look out for anything suspicious. And they did it.
CHETRY: Not only that -- and we saw the picture -- well, we've been talking about the picture from one of the papers in London that seems to have gotten a shot of what looks like just a gallon -- I mean, a big jug of propane saying "patio gas'. Would there be alert people in everyday life like we do see here in the United States who would say, hold on a minute, this seems strange? Somebody is trying to buy 10 or 15 of these propane containers at a time from their store.
AMANPOUR: I'm sure if it was something like 10 or 15 -- we don't know how many canisters there were. And again, those -- I think that's where it does get a little bit difficult. I mean, to buy propane gas, well, it's summer, it could be barbecue season.
ROBERTS: You know, here in the United States, wholesalers are on the lookout for large quantities of ammonium nitrate fertilizer going places. There was a recent episode just resolved late yesterday on Staten Island, a fellow who was ordering it and then apparently reselling it. But the fellow in Ohio was the distributor caught on to this and said, wait a minute, why is this person in an urban area buying quantities of fertilizer?
AMANPOUR: It really does take a lot of vigilance.
We're looking on the air the picture also of 10 Downing Street. There is something to the fact, there must be, that this happened on this day.
It's been seven weeks that people have known when this transfer of power between Blair and Brown was going to take place. And it seems -- it seems an incredible coincidence that this happens to test a new prime minister. Whether it was intentional or not, it really sends a signal to the people of Britain this has happened on this day, and let's see how our new government reacts.
ROBERTS: But could this be just a signal to the Brown government? Because they called this a potentially explosive device.
Could it have been that somebody loaded up a car full of these potentially explosive materials, set off a small little charge inside, or some little flame inside to cause smoke to say, we can do this any time we want, we chose not to on this occasion?
AMANPOUR: I would hate to go down that road.
ROBERTS: And that's really conspiratorial, but...
AMANPOUR: Yes. But the thing is, Scotland Yard, Peter Clarke, said, you know, they disabled something.
AMANPOUR: They manually disabled something. So something was there.
CHETRY: The reason we're showing you the picture of 10 Downing Street right now is that we are expecting a statement any minute to come from the U.K. home security, Jacqui Smith. In fact, the first female home secretary.
She was part of the group that met the new prime minister, Gordon Brown, as well as chancellor, the foreign secretary. And they had their first meeting as part of this new team just yesterday -- Christiane.
AMANPOUR: That's right. And the previous home secretary was John Reid, who I think anybody who comes in touch with John Reid, or face to face, he is a bulldog of a fierce man. And he really was no holds barred, in doing everything to do what they could to maintain security and to go off to perpetrators. Some of it very unpopular, you know, about incarceration for a certain number of days, and that could be renewed without trial, et cetera. And he, though, really felt that these kind of dramatic and Draconian measures, even though it eats away at civil liberties, when necessary. And it upset quite a lot of people in Britain.
It's going to be very interesting to see what this certainly different face, Jacqui Smith, is going to have to do and now be tested in this way.
CHETRY: What is the role --
AMANPOUR: In her very first day.
CHETRY: What is the role of home secretary compared to -- ?
AMANPOUR: It's like what you would call maybe, the interior ministry, in charge of all the FBI, all the security.
CHETRY: Homeland Security?
AMANPOUR: Well, homeland security is new. This is the law enforcement --
ROBERTS: It's like the attorney general here?
AMANPOUR: Yeah, maybe.
ROBERTS: Or a similar sort of way? You take care of everything that happens at home?
AMANPOUR: Yes, but all of the stuff, immigration, legal, criminal.
ROBERTS: We'll be hearing from Jacqui Smith in just a few minutes, by the way, as we're crossing the half hour here. It's 8:31 now, in the Eastern Time Zone.
Just want to get you back up to speed on where we are with this investigation, in case you're just joining us, it was 1 o'clock in the morning, there was a call from the Tiger Tiger Nightclub, right in the heart of the Haymarket District. It was ladies' night there. Somewhere between 1500 and 1700 people inside this nightclub and someone fallen down and bumped their head, they called the ambulance to come and attend to that person.
While there, the ambulance attendants outside spotted a suspicious vehicle, a silver Mercedes, that had smoke inside it. They called the London police. Scotland Yard sent over the bomb squad, they took a look inside. They found several gas canisters. According to photographs we've seen from "The Daily Mail". Patio gas, which would put that at propane, as well as several containers of just regular gasoline, and nails as well, that sensibly would have been used as shrapnel in any explosive device.
The bomb squad went in, they immediately disabled this device. The deputy assistant commissioner for Scotland Yard, Peter Clark, said had that device gone off, it would have caused significant, significant loss of life.
Our Paula Newton is in the Haymarket district this morning' she reported a while ago there were cell phones found inside the vehicle. Is that an indication this would have been possibly a remotely detonated device, as oppose to do a suicide vehicle we have seen employed with such frequency in Iraq?
Not clear at this point, but Paula, do you have anything more on that front for us? PAULA NEWTON, CNN INT'L. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: For sure, the line of inquiry, you know, Jacqui Smith -- who we're about to hear from now -- the home secretary chair, that called a meeting of cabinet, to brief them.
One of the things CNN has learned, that they were briefed about were these mobile phones. The problem here is, John, they are unable to pinpoint whether or not these mobile phones were there haphazardly, or whether they would be used as a timer, whether they would actually be used as a detonation device. We have seen different forms of that used in Iraq.
And I can tell from you the forensic people on the ground here, who have actually been to Iraq -- some of the people there work for military intelligence here, in the military defense department. Because they cross so many different schemes of work, they are looking at something they've seen before in Iraq and that is what has been so chilling for them.
Right now looking at those mobile phones wondering exactly what was set to happen. I can tell you, John, it's not all adding up right now. They're not sure why the vehicle was parked there, if that nightclub was the target, or if it was meant to detonate at another time, at another place. That is really what is puzzling them right now.
I heard you speaking earlier just about the CCTV footage. As I've mentioned before I've had security basically chase me around this block to see how well security works. When they would of parked that car, they would have the exact moment when that car was parked, not just from one angle but from several. That will give them some very good clues.
The problem of having been in that control center, I can tell you, there is a lot going on at once. When the operator has the camera he or she can zoom in to a point of interest. What is good is the incident that happened with the ambulance means that the operator would have been fully zoomed in on the area as the ambulance arrived and would have had their eye on the vehicle. The problem is now they have to rewind through hours of tape to see when that vehicle arrived, and who got out of it.
It is going to be very difficult to piece together and right now you can see the level of anxiety that Jacqui Smith is going to talk about, it's going to be about the manhunt. But exactly how that vehicle got there, who was in it, and when and how they fled -- John.
ROBERTS: In terms of that manhunt, Paula, do we know, do we have any idea if police have any leads at this point? If it's taking them in a certain direction? Is there any area of London or as we saw, with the 7/7 bombers in 2005, in an area outside of London?
NEWTON: We've come a long ways since 7/7, John, and that is the good thing.
I can tell you that security people that I've spoken to over the last several months say they have hundreds of plots under surveillance. The will continually bring in all those teams, say, who do you know? What do you know? We have seen a similar plot to this, as you've been discussing. It was the gas canisters/limousine plot. Darrin Barot (ph), who is a man who has already been convicted, and in prison now for a life sentence, because of that plot.
This looks eerily similar to that. They will be looking through all the surveillance that they gathered from that operation, and going through a lot of their connections, keeping in mind these surveillance operations take an incredible amount of manpower. It is going to be difficult at this point to coordinate that information.
And that is one of the main problems that Scotland Yard has had here for months and months, coordinating all that information, and pinpointing it. They will have been very upset that they didn't catch this in time and it happened to be a very vigilant ambulance attendant that called them, seeing that smoke.
At the same time, they've got a wealth -- an absolutely gold mine of forensic evidence that they can search now between the car and the CCTV footage. We've seen that all that forensic evidence, John, leads not just hopefully to some kind of a break in this case, but usually has tentacles and leads to a lot of other plots cases, perhaps ongoing here in London.
As we said many times this morning at least two dozen serious threats going on at London at any given time. That's not speculation. That's what the security authorities tell us for sure here right now -- John.
AMANPOUR: Paula, it's Christiane along with John and Kiran, here.
We were talking on the day that Gordon Brown took over -- we were talking on air about the challenges in this regard that he faced. You were mentioning those dozens of security plots that they are monitoring. Give us a little bit more detail on what they're monitoring -- and how, the question we've been asking all morning -- how do they isolate these so-called home-grown terrorist cells from the greater community?
NEWTON: The problem they've had is that they've tried to spread out what are a lot of key informants throughout these communities. These are very, very sensitive issues that deal with very, very sensitive surveillance. And these people are informants and go back to the one source of information.
There are, though, Christiane, I can tell you, very sophisticated surveillance devices. GPS trackers on cars, homes that are bugged, businesses that are bugged, and that is on top of the actual eyes and ears of police officers doing their undercover work on the ground.
As I said, they have come a long way in two years, Christiane. And the reason is that if we take you back to the cabinet table, Jacqui Smith is going to be coming out in a few minutes to talk to us.
Remember that two years ago -- almost two years ago -- Gordon Brown was in that cabinet meeting and the look of shock and dismay, we've been told by people in that room was unbelievable. No one could believe that a bomb had gone off in the transit system in London. There is no look of shock around that table anymore. They've been briefed this is definitely a possibility.
What has been chilling for everyone here, Christiane, is to hear the two words -- car bomb. We've always thought that the transit system might be a target. Certainly we've heard of targets at Heathrow Airport, but to actually pull together a car bomb, certainly we've heard of this in conceptual terms, as plans on computers. But to actually see one here, that was here behind me, just a few hours, it has rattled many, many people here in the city.
You can't say though that it's rattled anybody who has been there at the cabinet table. I can tell you they've heard firsthand about the kind of surveillance that's been going on, and the fact this was a very real possibility and has been for months, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Paula, there have been a different modified form of car bomb during the IRA, back in the '70s and '80s, notably near Harrods (ph). But as we wait for Jacqui Smith to come out and brief the press, you were talking about what Gordon Brown has to deal with and some of these cells.
Also the British police have to be very careful, don't they, because they've gotten into a huge amount of trouble from going after wrong targets; and having to apologize for going very heavy-handed into certain Muslim communities and neighborhoods, and actually rounding up the wrong people. So it's a very difficult job for them, isn't it?
NEWTON: It is incredibly difficult. And that is the problem because they need the Muslim community, the vast majority of which are just as dismayed as anyone about all of this. They need them on their side. I can tell you, Christiane, when I'm neighborhoods here in London, the Muslim neighborhoods, whether I'm in Birmingham, whether in Leeds, everyone comes up to me and says, Paula, I'm not going to tell the police anything, and they never do. They distrust the authorities, the distrust the government. And that is a key problem.
The government has been trying to work on that, but as you say, Christiane, they've gotten it wrong. There was an incident here at Forest Gate, which is just outside of London where they had to apologize because they got to an incident with two men who they thought were terror suspects. It turned out to be false. One of them was shot. It left a huge impression on the Muslim community.
They feel they are unnecessarily discriminated against. And that they become suspects, really, with any lack -- with incredible lack of evidence.
As I say, Christiane, the Muslim community is the best asset here of the authorities and the problem is they've been really unable, to this point, to really get them to help the authorities or the government again because the incredible amount of distrust. That's why we heard Peter Clarke, earlier today, saying in his press conference, it's appealing to people to call in.
He continually stresses that it is confidential and they have nothing to fear. The problem is Peter Clarke has told me that in investigations prior, that, look, that just wasn't a case. He knew people had information. He continually encouraged them to call about other plots. Even information linking the 7/7 and he just couldn't get the information he needed.
CHETRY: All right, Paula Hancocks, thank you so much.
As we've seen the door opening there at 10 Downing Street, we're expecting any moment to it hear from Jacqui Smith, British home secretary, to get an update on any news in terms of what they've learned about this investigation, this foiled car bomb plot apparently in London, Piccadilly Circus.
There she is. We see her walking out right now getting ready to step up to the microphone. British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith just on the job for a day or two. Let's listen.
(BEGIN LIVE FEED)
JACQUI SMITH, HOME SECRETARY, BRITIAN: We can at this time -- what's clear is that a potentially, viable explosive device was discovered in the early hours of this morning, that had it detonated, could of caused considerable loss of life.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the explosives experts, who because of their bravery, were able to make it safe. I've chaired a meeting of COBRA (ph) this morning. I've been able to update my cabinet colleagues. I've just come from a private meeting with the prime minister, and with the new home office minister for security, Admiral Sir Allen West.
The metropolitan police counter-terrorism command has launched an investigation. It's important that we allow them to get on with that investigation without undue speculation.
As the government, the police, the security services have made clear and as the prime minister reiterated this morning, at cabinet, we are currently facing the most serious and sustained threat to our security from international terrorism. This latest incident reinforces the need for the public to remain vigilant, and alert to the threat that we face at all times.
I would particularly encourage all members of the public to report to the police anything suspicious. While we can minimize the risks, we can never completely eliminate them. But is as the prime minister has made clear, the government, the police, and the security services are doing everything possible to protect the public.
I'm now returning to the home office to continue with meetings and further briefings.
(END LIVE FEED)
CHETRY: Well, quite a short statement. In fact, we heard the reporters there outside of 10 Downing, shouting questions and Jacqui Smith, the new home secretary, did not answer them, saying she is returning to meetings.
But Christiane, both of ears perked up when we heard her say the cabinet is currently facing the most serious and sustained threat of international terrorism.
AMANPOUR: She did. She said the prime minister reiterated that that is what Britain faces and using the word "international", which I think is interesting right now. Although, many will say that whether it's home-grown or not, it's inspired by the international brotherhood of Al Qaedaism, which has grown so exponentially since 9/11.
She also said -- and we've been talking about this with John as well -- she described it a potentially viable explosive device. Which it's just going to be interesting to know just the state of play of that device. What was it? Was it really a bomb just rigged to go? Was it there with a few more touches that could of gone? But anyway, she did say that had it detonated, it would have caused a considerable loss of life.
CHETRY: We are parsing those words and trying to figure out perhaps a meaning in them, because she also did say, once again, say we owe a debt of gratitude to those officers who were able to dismantle, and we heard that as well from Scotland Yard when Peter Clarke spoke, that we owe them a debt of gratitude that they were able to dismantle this successfully, so that the evidence that is going to be so vital in figuring out who was behind it, could be preserved.
ROBERTS: We want to go back to London, again, we've got some more reaction from folks on the ground there. We talk about this idea, that Paula Newton was saying that car bombs, a return of car bombs to the London area certainly reminds people of the troubled times, during the troubles in Northern Ireland, and have those times come back again. Let's have a listen to how people in London are reacting this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think we just have to ignore it and continue with our lives. I mean, we're far more likely to be run over by a car than anything else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does affect me because I've been working in London for a while now. But you got two choices. You let it beat you, or you deal with it, and at the moment, we just got to deal with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: There you have the famous British stoicism that we saw in evidence -- I was in London after the bombings of a couple of years ago. Christiane Amanpour, that's what you felt, was this idea of we're not going to let them get us down, we will continue on with our lives. You can't stop us.
AMANPOUR: And it is profound that. It is actually quite a difference between the reaction here after 9/11 and the reaction there after 7/7. The scale and the scope over in England was much more smaller than 9/11, but because the British have been a nation that has either been at war, or has had war imposed on it, for so many generations -- in the modern era even -- people have that reaction. We're not going to let it get us down, we have to get on with it.
CHETRY: It was interesting in the days after the 9/11 as well, the way that New Yorkers did come together. This is a city of many strangers, packed together, and in the days and hours after that attack, there such a sense of community. And we're going to do whatever it takes to help. The stranger is now my friend, because of what happened. We see that in big cities like London, as well, when those types of attacks take place.
ROBERTS: We want to put up a satellite shot, that we have here, Christiane, of the area. And get you to walk us through it, as a person who lives in London. What are we looking at here?
AMANPOUR: All right. You're looking at Haymarket House. This is right in the center of what I would call the greater Piccadilly area. There at the top right, is where I'm looking, and you see the Piccadilly Circus. It has that incredible sort of -- it's not a circus. It's a round platform with a statue of Eros, there. It is the center of tourism London. Some have suggested it's what Times Square is to New York.
It is, obviously -- much smaller -- but this is where lots of Londoners flock for a good night out, for a night out, not just in restaurants and in nightclubs, but also at the theater, at cinemas, and all sorts of things that go on right in that small area there.
ROBERTS: And the way that these buildings are built on top of each other there, it's a very congested area, in terms of construction; a car bomb in the center of all that would cause a remarkable amount of damage.
AMANPOUR: Yes, I think it would. Again, to put it into perspective, it is nowhere near the scale of buildings in Times Square. It is nowhere near the height, for instance, nowhere near the sort of concrete jungle that New York is. It's much, much lower. Although there are tons and tons of little streets. New York is on a grid. London is not. Little streets, back alleys, all sorts of places where you can go and park a car or do any number of things.
But suffice to say it is not just a real area of gathering and tourism, it is also a very symbolic area. If that place had been in any way damaged in the way they're saying it could have been and if a loss of life there I think it would have had a big impact on the psychology and whether people would still go down there, and do the sort of recreational activities it is really known for. CHETRY: The closed circuit TV cameras, by the way, are going to be huge. They're talking about how they're going over this massive amounts of material. It's hard to imagine the massive undertaking as they try to look at these.
AMANPOUR: It is massive. I mean, let's face it, we have the closed circuit TVs and they operate in real time -- but it's not just, oh, I want that picture there. You have to go through hours and hours and hours of collating these images and looking at them.
I remember, on a completely different level, during the war in the Balkans there were drones and there were satellite pictures that were taken of some these massacres. We said how come people didn't know that was going on then? The fact of the matter is sometimes you're not looking at it in real-time. You have the pictures. They're being fed back to the headquarters, but you're not necessarily looking at it if you don't expect something to be happening. It's only after the fact that you go back, and you troll through this incredible number of hours of videotape or satellite imagery.
CHETRY: Christiane, hang tight. We're check in right now with Ali Velshi.
Any reaction so far from the markets? We have ours, here in the U.S. opening within the hour.
ALI VELSHI, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: In fact, Kiran, markets and investors like disrupted plots, whether they're foiled or they're failed. Right now we're looking at a lower open on the Dow, but that's got nothing to do with this. That's about economic reports.
Futures on the Nasdaq and the S&P look good. London is still open right now, for trading. It's off a little bit, but it's been off a little bit all day. Other European markets are actually improving. Because the bottom line is even at the worse of it, 9/11, in one month, the Dow had recovered everything it lost. So markets like the fact that this didn't happen.
Even when we have seen terrorist attacks markets respond very quickly. And 9/11 was a lesson that no matter how disruptive an attack can possibly be, world financial markets are so strong that they managed to come back.
Right now, we're not seeing a reaction on the market to this at all. There was a little bit of a blip, but it looks like -- while there may be a slightly lower open on the Dow -- it's not related to this, Kiran.
CHETRY: Ali Velshi, giving us a look ahead at the market opening here in the U.S.
As Ali was speaking, we're looking at live aerials over London. And you can get a sense of what you were talking about, Christiane. The small, narrow streets and all of the looking nooks and crannies, if you will, in that area, as a manhunt continues this morning for this purported person who ran from the scene. ROBERTS: Let's go back to No. 10 Downing Street now. Our CNN Correspondent Robin Oakley is there.
Robin, we heard from Jacqui Smith, the new Home secretary, just a few minutes ago. How do you interpret her statement that this is "a most serious and sustained threat of international terrorism" against Britain?
ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN LONDON BUREAU CHIEF: It was very much a statement designed to keep the British public on their mettle and vigilance, just as the prime minister had said earlier.
What was perhaps interesting was she didn't echo the Prime Minister Gordon Brown's words, when he said -- talked of particular vigilance over the next few days, which appeared to many people to indicate the worry of the authorities that this might not be just a single isolated incident, but part of a planned multi-target attack of some kind.
But it was essentially a holding statement, saying let the police get on with the job, the investigations that must now follow. What is interesting is I think there's a great pulling together, once again, of the British political parties over this, because Jacqui Smith, the new Home secretary, it turns out she telephoned, this morning, her opposite numbers in the opposition conservative, and liberal democrat parties, to give them a full briefing, as well as the briefing which she gave to the full cabinet after she had chaired the COBRA meeting of security chiefs, and so on today.
And David Cameron, the leader of the conservative opposition here in Britain, has signaled this morning his willingness to cooperate with the government in any efforts to counter terrorism, John.
ROBERTS: But this idea that she said "international terrorism". Is that just as Christiane was saying, Robin, to you, this idea of terrorism is ubiquitous these days, everything is linked to everything else somewhere in the world, or do they believe that this is an international plot, and not essentially a home-grown plot?
OAKLEY: I don't think one could necessarily read that into it as far as this particular incident is concerned. It's much too early a stage for them to be sure of anything like that. We heard from the police briefing earlier that really any questions of that kind are speculation.
But from a political point of view, they tend to like ministers to say, look, this is all part of an international phenomenon, because politically, the Labor government has been under attack for its involvement in the Iraq war and the belief of many in the British public that that has made them -- has put them in greater danger. And that is more likelihood of terrorist activity in Britain than there is in many other places in the world.
So they like ministers, where they can, to emphasize the international nature of modern terrorism. Ad I think I wouldn't read anything much more than that into Jacqui Smith's choice of phrases there, John.
ROBERTS: All right, Robin Oakley outside of No. 10 Downing Street. Robin, thanks for that.
CHETRY: We have our own Jason Carroll at the Port of Newark. We had him there this morning; he was going to be talking about imports from China. Of course, a lot of new news coming in about the questioning of safety of products coming from China.
But he has been making some calls to police sources in the state to see how they are responding to what is happening today in London.
Anyone revealing anything about what they may be looking out for today, Jason?
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not at this point, Kiran, but we can tell you that we do have those calls out and both New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well as the Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Both are planning to have press conferences later today, or perhaps will give us some information about what, if anything, they plan to do here in New York, as a result of what has happened over in London.
I can tell you that the threat level here is at orange. It is at high. It has been that way ever since post-9/11. It's expected to stay that way, even though what has happened in London. We can also tell you, though, the question really is what, if anything, that they will be doing at so many of the sensitive sites that you have in the New York City area, like the ports here in Newark, the like the very extensive subway system we have, many historic sites, we also have places like Times Square.
And Kiran, as you know, in traveling throughout the city, oftentimes you'll see what Mayor Bloomberg has been saying all along. If you see something, say something. Those signs that they have. What he's been asking is, for the people here in New York City to be vigilant about their day-to-day life, about if you see something, say something, that campaign that has been throughout the city.
So what we're expecting a little later this afternoon, when we hear from Kelly, when we hear from Bloomberg is for them basically to echo what they've been saying all along: Is to be vigilant. If you see something, say something -- Kiran.
CHETRY: Very true. We've seen it help in many, many instances of thwarted terror attacks. Jason Carroll, thank you.
ROBERTS: Our CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen has joined us now from our studios in Washington.
Peter, what is your instant read on what we're seeing here today, in terms of the placement of the bomb, construction of the bomb? Any potential links to Iraq, Iran, Al Qaeda, Pakistan?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: One way to look at that, John, is the outgoing head of MI-5 Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller gave an unusual public speech in November in which she talked about 30 plots that she was aware of, many of which link back to Al Qaeda and Pakistan.
We've seen a number of plots come out of Britain that do have Al Qaeda links. The so-called show bomber, Richard Reid in 2001, who tried to bring down an American airliner flight. The 2005 July 7th bombing; two of those suicide bombers trained in Al Qaeda training camp. Last summer, John, you may recall attempt to bring down as many as 10 American airliners with liquid explosives. The head of the Defense intelligence agency publicly testified in January that that was linked back to Al Qaeda in Pakistan.
So there is, you were talking with Mr. Oakley about this international terrorism question. There certainly has been a good record unfortunately of that in Britain. What that -- you know, if this particular incident, who knows. But certainly Peter Clarke, the head of the (INAUDIBLE), who is in charge of counter terrorism, will be looking for those links very quickly, I think.
ROBERTS: Yes, I was thinking based on all of that, where is the investigation going now? What is Scotland Yard? What is MI-5, which we should point out is the domestic side of British national security. MI-6 covers international. MI-6 is comparable to the CIA, MI-5, like the FBI. Where are those investigations headed now?
BERGEN: There is an analogous plot, which actually there was a trial, which wrapped up in Britain relatively recently. A group of people in the London area who had acquired 1,300 pounds of fertilizer; they were arrested in 2004; a very long investigation, a very long trial. But at the end of the trial it was determined that several of the people involved were trained in Pakistan, had met with members of Al Qaeda.
So one thing that people will be looking at, is once they determine who is actually involved in the plot, is have they recently been to Pakistan? Have they spent long time there? Who are their associates? These kinds of things.
ROBERTS: All right, Peter. Let's go back quickly, if we could. You said the Pakistani links to the 7/7 2005 bombings -- what were those links?
BERGEN: Well, the two main plotters, Mohammed Sedik Kahn (ph), and his colleague, Tanguia (ph), both had traveled to Pakistan at least once. Mohammed Sedik Khan (ph), the main leader had traveled two or three times. They met with a relatively senior member of Al Qaeda; and they made suicide videotapes with Al Qaeda's video production arm, which is known as Asahab (ph). And it was slightly badly interpreted initially, as the plot was seen as sort of completely home-grown, but as more details came out, it became clear it was an Al Qaeda-directed operation.
ROBERTS: And as we see that the web just seems to get wider and wider and wider as time goes on.
Peter Bergen, in our studios in Washington. Thanks, Peter. Stick around, because certainly we'll be getting back to you.
CHETRY: And it was certainly good fortune for us here on AMERICAN MORNING today to have Christiane Amanpour, who has covered this extensively around the world -- join us. Incidentally, you just happened to be here, so it's great to talk to you about that.
One of the things that Peter just brought up, that we were talking about as well is a year after the 7/7/05 bombings, there was a suicide goodbye videotaped and it was released by Al Qaeda.
AMANPOUR: Incredibly sophisticated media operations they have. They know how to do it when it most matters. They didn't distribute it as it happened. They waited a full year to confirm, in case there were any doubts, that actually these London bombers were Al Qaeda-linked. And this came out, as you say, the year after, to the day of the 7/7 bombing.
CHETRY: We want to let people know that Christiane did extensive reporting about the small number of radicals from within Britain that have become more radicalized. She did a special called "The War Within" and we will be re-airing this Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 and 11:00 Eastern on both nights as part of our Special Investigations Unit.
The big question, how to de-radicalize this group, but within the community.
AMANPOUR: That's correct.
CHETRY: As opposed from the outside.
AMANPOUR: That's correct. It's very difficult to impose from the outside, especially in these kinds of communities, that it's about how members of the Muslim community in Britain are sufficiently worried that they want to be able to try to de-radicalize some of those --
ROBERTS: Very quickly, before we go here. What happens in the next 24 hours, in London?
AMANPOUR: Well, we're going to hear more, hopefully, on precisely the nature of this bomb. And perhaps, some evidence from the CCTV camera. To see who this person was, who ran away, or drove the car up. And to try to pinpoint that.
CHETRY: Might not see a claim of responsibility if it's a failed plot. They were not able to carry out what they wanted to do.
AMANPOUR: Yes, I mean, even after 7/7 there wasn't a claim of responsibility. That took a full year.
CHETRY: Before they got true confirmation.
ROBERTS: We do tend to hear a lot of information in the first 24 to 48 hours of these things.
ROBERTS: Christiane its great to see you. Thanks so much for being here.
AMANPOUR: Good to be with you.
CHETRY: Of course, CNN will continue to cover the breaking news throughout the morning. We want to thank you for being with us today on AMERICAN MORNING. Hope to see you back here on Monday.
ROBERTS: Meantime, CNN NEWSROOM, with Tony Harris and Heidi Collins, coming your way right now.
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