Analyzing Britain's Security Response, Motivations for the Attacks
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And again, just to sum up what we know. There have been a series of explosions on the public transport system in London. Russell Smith was one of the officials in a press conference today at Scotland Yard. We're going to hear from him just now.
Mr. RUSSELL SMITH: So four devices, we believe involved, in today's incidents. The police service received no warning about these attacks, and the police service has received no claims of responsibility from any group in connection with these attacks. This clearly was a callous attack on purely innocent members of the public, deliberately designed to kill and injure innocent members of the public.
MONTAGNE: That from a press conference at Scotland Yard earlier. Anthony Glees joins me now. He is director of Brunel University's Center for Intelligence and Security Studies in London. Welcome.
Mr. ANTHONY GLEES (Director, Brunel University's Center for Intelligence and Security Studies): Hi.
MONTAGNE: What is your response to the statement by Scotland Yard?
Mr. GLEES: Well, it's as good as far as it goes on what is a terrible, terrible day for London. This was an awful attack on completely defenseless people. It wasn't an attack on the G8 leaders in the highly fortified Gleneagles Hotel, but an attack on a very soft target. And many people in London will feel that the police and security services, in a deeper sense, let them down.
MONTAGNE: Well, what do you make of the timing of these attacks? As you say, it wasn't aimed at the G8 leaders gathered up at Gleneagles in Scotland, but was--do you think that it was connected? It would seem to be so.
Mr. GLEES: I would say that there was probably a plan to try and do something against the ordinary people of the United Kingdom in some form. But I suspect that the terrorists--and don't let's forget Tony Blair, the prime minister, has said, you know, we are reasonably certain that these people were terrorists. It wasn't any other sort of attack. That these terrorists were heartened by yesterday's successful news that London had won the 2012 Olympic bid. You know, our TV, our media, are full of jubilant Londoners' faces absolutely delighted that, you know, something great was going to happen; a real seminal event for the new millennium if you will. And then today this. So I think the appalling criminals who conducted these outrages may have thought they would try to, as we say in English, put one over the people of London. They had their great day yesterday. Today they would learn of the power of al-Qaeda. We presume that that's who is responsible.
MONTAGNE: There has, indeed, been a claim of responsibility made on a Web site, and it's so far unconfirmed, of an al-Qaeda-connected or related group. What do you know about this group or any connection whatsoever to al-Qaeda?
Mr. GLEES: Well, what we know is that increasingly we're having to deal with what we term franchises. These are groups of people who have no formal connection as far as we can tell to any central base. And al-Qaeda is often believed to be another word in Arabic, of course, for `the base.' These are people operating as loose cells, but tightly locked into the same jihadist message that al-Qaeda propounds. And what these franchises do is operate very secretly and, wherever possible, see and assess the opportunities for waging an attack on ordinary people.
Mr. GLEES: The very fact that this is...
Mr. GLEES: ...coordinated in this particular way, the very fact that it was calibrated so well suggests the following of an al-Qaeda pattern. I...
MONTAGNE: Thank you very much. Anthony Glees is director of Brunel University's Center for Intelligence and Security Studies in London.
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