Update on Reactions to the Attacks
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
A Scotland Yard official said they are working to find the people or groups responsible for this act of terrorism, and warn that the public should stay on alert until more is known.
Unidentified Man: The public need to remain vigilant. This is an extremely challenging time for London. We don't know if this is over yet. We've got to remain vigilant. The public have got to help the police and report anything that they see as suspicious to make sure we can deal with everything straight away. But we've got every resource out there at the moment and we're doing our very best to keep London safe.
MONTAGNE: That from Scotland Yard.
We are joined now by intelligence correspondent Mary Louise Kelly.
And, Mary Louise, these attacks seem to be focused on the financial district of London. Does that tell us something?
MARY LOUISE KELLY reporting:
I think it is another indication among several that we now have that these attacks were perhaps carried out by al-Qaeda or some sort of group aligned with al-Qaeda. We have the nature of the attacks, these coordinated, near-simultaneous bombings. We have statement of responsibility, we cannot be authenticated but which certainly conforms to the pattern of the way al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility in past. And, as you mentioned, yes, these attacks do appear to have focused on the financial district, which would be in line with al-Qaeda priorities in past. They have been fairly reliable about targeting financial targets. In a videotape some months ago, Osama bin Laden--I beg your pardon--in an audiotape, Osama bin Laden mentioned that his specific interest in disrupting financial markets, global financial markets. So if this was an attack carried out in the city of London in the financial district and if, in fact, the timing is no coincidence--this is at the same time that leader of the G8 are meeting for a summit in Britain--then that would, as I say, seem to be an indication that certainly all signs point to this being characteristic and typical of an al-Qaeda attack.
MONTAGNE: What do you know about the group that has claimed responsibility for these attacks. Again, not confirmed in any way. It calls itself the Secret Organization of al-Qaeda in Europe.
KELLY: I've talked to a couple of intelligence officials this morning, run the name of this group past them, and they have never heard of it. These are people who follow al-Qaeda very closely, so this is a very secret organization indeed. Again, this would conform to what we have seen from past al-Qaeda attacks. A new name seems to emerge with every new attack as a way of distinguishing it, so it is entirely possible that this is linked to al-Qaeda or some sort of group that is inspired by, perhaps very loosely affiliated with al-Qaeda. We don't know anything about this yet and the Web site on which this statement was made has since been taken offline.
MONTAGNE: You know, we've been hearing this morning that it's, of course, impossible to protect every single vehicle, every single location. Does the fact that a series of bombings occurred in London's transportation system say something about the level of security, the level of preparedness in London?
KELLY: I think it says--I think it says exactly that you can never prevent every single explosive device being carried onto--being carried onto public transit. London, of any city in the world, was well equipped, had excellent security measures in place, was geared up specifically with extra security measures because of the G8 Summit and has a long track record of successfully dealing with terrorist attacks from the Irish Republican Army. So I think what this says is sadly this could happen anywhere.
MONTAGNE: Mary Louise, thanks for joining us.
KELLY: You're welcome.
MONTAGNE: NPR intelligence correspondent Mary Louise Kelly.
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