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CNN International - Terror Attack In London; Terror Attack in Westminster; Martin McGuinness Died; Islamic State Responsible For The Attack; British Police: We're Treating It As Terrorism Until We Know Otherwise; Barret: ISIS Is Not Going To Be Crushed By Military Means Alone; Westminster Terror Attack Linked To Brussels Terror Attack. Aired 3-4 ET
Aired March 22, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN BREAKING NEWS.
[15:00:07] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN AMANPOUR HOST: Good evening, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London, where the very seed of British democracy has been shaken by terror.
The unmistakable sound of gunshots, as captured by tourists near the House of Parliament, just a few hours ago. It appears to be part of a two-pronged attack, one that's put Westminster on complete lockdown. This is what we know so far. In the past hour, we have heard that three victims, including a police officer are dead and at least 20 people are injured. An attacker drove a car along Westminster Bridge. First, mowing people down before, then crossing the bridge and crashing into the railings outside Parliament. Witnesses say a suspect then tried to run in with a knife, stabbing a police officer before being killed by police. Authorities say, a counterterrorism investigation is underway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This international coordinator has declared this a terrorist incident. And although we remain open-minded to the motive, a full counterterrorism investigation is already underway.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, where all of these happened early this afternoon, the Prime Minister, the leaders of the other main parties, all the M.P.s were in parliament because it was Prime Minister's question time and also they were doing their daily legislative business. She was then bundled out. We don't know exactly where to, but CNN's Phil Black is on the scene at Whitehall near 10 Downing Street.
PHIL BLACK, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, we are, as you say, just a short distance from Downing Street, just a short distance from parliament. We're on Whitehall, and you can see it is strangely quiet at this time of night. This is usually the main thoroughfare through the government district of London. All the main government departments are here at the time of the attack, until even now in the evening, this would normally be a bustling, thriving part of London. And so, when this attack took place, this area was filled with
government workers, journalists and so many tourists. This is the environment in which one individual the police believe is responsible for driving a car across Westminster Bridge. As you said, mowing people down there before crashing into a gate at parliament, and then using a cutting implement of some kind to attack. And we know now killed one of the police officers that was responsible for security of that iconic site, tonight.
It is come here. We know that police are continuing their search of the area. They've said they're pretty sure they believe only one person was responsible for all of this. But they don't want to say so definitively until they have conducted a very thorough search and investigation of this surrounding area where they have set up this perimeter. We're still seeing armed and unarmed police officers here. But given their posture, given their attitude, given what we're hearing from the police and their statements, for the moment, it does appear that the immediate threat has passed, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And Phil, as we know, and as you've been saying, we've been reporting for hours. The area around parliament is on lockdown, where you are, on the other side of parliament on where I am, which is where the perimeter has been established, is called Lambeth Bridge over here. The question I have for you is, is the Prime Minister back at Downing Street, and she is sharing or has she already shared a -- an emergency - what they called COBRA meeting on the situation.
BLACK: The last we've heard was that she was due to imminently chair the COBRA meeting. COBRA, it's an impressive title. It stands for Cabinet Office Briefing Room A. It is the usual forum that the Prime Minister would call together, which given any sort of significant crisis where significant representatives of all the major government departments that would play a role. We'll be able to feed into her the latest, direct information.
So, you could expect, which she will receive briefings from the Metropolitan police, from Intelligence, from all the arms of government, that would give her an understanding of what has taken place here, what they really believe their investigation is leading them. But also crucially, the degree to which they could potentially still be a threat to people here in London or elsewhere, because going forward, it will be the Prime Minister that decides precisely what precautions should be taken if police or intelligence suspect that there is the potential, still, for any other sort of attack, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Phil, thank you. And we have heard from the Home Secretary Amber Rod, who was tweeted sent out a message, obviously, in condolence to all of those who've lost their lives and sympathies to those who have been wounded, but also saying that the responsibility now of the home office is to keep this city and this country safe, and to keep all the people safe. Important to say that it is only this direct area that is on lockdown.
It is not, obviously, the whole of this city, but of course, when the police came out and gave their initial press conference, their statement outside Scotland Yard, they would not speculate as to whether this incident was over. Now, eyewitnesses were on a bus on Westminster Bridge as the attack took place. Listen to what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[15:05:12] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were only crawling along the bridge. There was bodies, literally.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It must be about 10 bodies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At least 10-12 bodies, all in just -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just lying in different places along the bridge.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being shot. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It must have been terrifying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was horrendous, absolutely horrendous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We actually just stayed on the bus then until the driver got off the -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, needed to get somewhere safe, so -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then the emergency services where there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they came, somewhat at the same time, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank goodness you were there to together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Young ladies from Mexico on the bus, as well, and they were traumatized, absolutely traumatized, only young girls.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, please stay with us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's horrendous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, you can imagine it was full out there. Westminster Bridge is iconic. The Houses of Parliament is a magnet for tourists with big band. This is where people come when they come to London. And, of course, also, not just ordinary civilians and tourists but some high-level officials. For instance, the former Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski. He was there outside the Houses of Parliament when this incident took place. This is what he told CNN earlier.
RADOSLAW SIKORSKI, FORMER POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER: I was in a taxi driving from Westminster Square to the South Bank in London. And I heard, rather than saw, what I took to be a collision, like a car hitting a sheet of metal. And when I looked again, I saw people down on the streets, on the tarmac (INAUDIBLE) people rushing to help them. I saw in all five people down, they're down by a car, including one person bleeding heavily from the head and another person lying down unconscious.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM ANCHOR: And what was your reaction, Minister?
SIKORSKI: It happened so quickly that you don't even have time to get frightened. I've been in a war situation before, which is why I - as my journalistic reaction, I started recording and a taxi driver immediately called the emergency services. And we saw that the area with sirens within, literally a couple of minutes.
BLITZER: Did you see actual individuals on the ground who had been injured?
SIKORSKI: Yes, I saw five people, five people, I think I saw.
BLITZER: And ambulances had already arrived, because we know there are a lot of ambulances on the scene right now.
SIKORSKI: (INAUDIBLE) they hadn't by then because either this is - I saw them shaken after impact. But there's also a hospital right there, by Westminster Bridge. So, if from that point of view, help should be on the way very quickly. But, this is clearly a very serious incident.
BLITZER And your conclusion was these individuals, these five people you saw lying on the ground, on that bridge had been hit by this vehicle, is that right?
SIKORSKI: I didn't see it but it was -- I assumed. There was - there were two people on the tarmac and at least two people, sort of, by the side, by the balustrade of the bridge itself. So it looked like the car was - I'm now assuming, I'm now speculating, that the car was swerving between the pavement and the wall.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
AMANPOUR: So that was the Former Polish Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, rather, Radek Sikorski himself, a former journalist, debriefing with our Wolf Blitzer shortly after the incident occurred, one of the first eyewitnesses. Since then, we know a little bit more. Police say at least 20 casualties, at least three victims, including a police officer, plus, the assailant is dead, is what we know so far.
Richard Barrett is director of the Global Strategy Network and he was formally the director of global counterterrorism operations for the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6. He has also worked for MI5 as a diplomat. Are you MI6 or MI5? What should I get right?
RICHARD BARRETT, RETIRED MI6 OFFICIAL: I'm retired.
AMANPOUR: You're retired, OK. Come and tell us what's going on, Richard, because, you know, we have been talking about this. The police have not been able to tell us motive, they've not been able to tell us anything about the assailant, the one, at least, that they know about. And yet, we had been warned for many, many months to prepare for something like this.
[15:09:55] BARRETT: Yes, indeed. And we've also have been told that over the last four years, the Security Service Police have foiled 13 attacks, that's quite a lot. So, I mean, I guess, they were thinking that one must get through in the end, anyway, you know, that's - you can't run too long like that.
AMANPOUR: Put it on context. Britain has fortunately avoided mass terror attacks since 2005, the 7th of July, when 56 people were killed on a really sophisticated suicide bombing campaign on our underground and bus service. This isn't that, is it? What - how would you as a counterterrorism official describe what happened today?
BARRETT: This seemed to be a very modern form of terrorism, doesn't it? We can think back, of course, almost immediately to the Ohio State attack there. You remember a guy with a car was mowing people down; back to Berlin before that at Christmas time and then, the previous July at Nice, of course, and the Bastille there. So, this use of an everyday object and indeed, this man seemed to have used a kitchen knife, as well as a car, so very much everyday objects, in everyday situations against everyday people.
AMANPOUR: The context to your mind is what? Is it ISIS being squeezed in Raqqa and Mosul? Is it a step up because we heard just yesterday about, apparently, some kind of actionable intelligence that cause both Britain and the United States to ban laptops and tablets on certain routes and from certain countries on certain planes. Knowing what you know about chatter and context, where would you place this?
BARRETT: Yes, I think the threat is very real over a wide area, you know, not just here, not just in Turkey, there have been attacks recently, not just in the United States where they fear, that's really, all over the world, over a very wide area indeed. Well, that's not to say that attacks will happen but certainly, I think, that a lot of people who are planning them and I think that, you know, you can see the lights on in Tim's house, the head of the MI5, over the road there. I'm sure they'll be working very hard to determine whether this guy is part of a group.
AMANPOUR: So, MI5 is across the road, MI6 is just across the river and behind us is parliament. And as I said, we are at this, sort of, outside perimeter where they've locked down that area. We can see police fans. We've obviously seen all the activity all throughout the day. What next? What happens now? What is typically the way you secure, the way you figure out whether anybody else was involved, whether this is part of a bigger thing? What does your instinct tell you also, about whether it is part of a bigger attack?
BARRETT: Well, I think - I think, London, in particular, in the UK generally, are very well-protected. I think that we don't really want too much more security, really we want more intelligence before these attacks occur. But it has a parliament of public area. You know, we pride ourselves on the access of the public through our elected politicians and so on. And we do not want any more walls and (INAUDIBLE) and polices preventing that, so there has to be this balanced struck. And I think it's a very, very difficult balance, which I'm sure the Prime Minister will be discussing with the cabinet tonight.
AMANPOUR: And we don't know details about the assailant. There have been some pictures posted online, but I guess, everybody is going to want to know what the motive was, who the person is.
BARRETT: I would be very surprised if the assailant was not already known to the police. This is also been a pattern that almost all attackers have been known to the police forces whether in the criminal context or in a radical context, as I believe this man may be.
AMANPOUR: Richard Barrett, thank you very much, indeed. We'll come back to you later in the program. Thank you. And we will be back with more of our coverage after a break of today's deadly attack, here in London.
[15:15:24] AMANPOUR: Welcome back. Now, in the immediate aftermath of this attack, Britain got lots of messages of solidarity and support from countries like Germany, like France, like many of the others which have faced the same kind of terror over the last several years. And of course, Belgium, it was exactly one year ago, today that ISIS used its operatives to launch attacks in Belgium, at the airport and the train station, taking at least 30 lives.
Now, let us take a closer look at where Wednesday's attack here in London happened precisely. Witnesses say, a car ran over a number of people on Westminster Bridge, near parliament and then it crashed into a railing outside of parliament gate. An assailant, then, entered the parliament gate, where he stabbed a police officer.
The assailant was then shot by a police social security there. London's Mayor, Sadiq Khan has released a statement in response to the attack, saying, "There has been a serious incident near to Parliament Square this afternoon, which is being treated as a terrorist attack until the police know, otherwise. I have spoken to the acting Commissioner, to the Metropolitan police service is dealing with the incident and an urgent investigation is underway. My thoughts are with those affected and their families. I would like to express my thanks to the police and emergency services who worked so hard to keep us safe and showed tremendous bravery in exceptionally difficult circumstances."
For the latest information he added, please visit news.net.police.uk. Well, as Westminster was put on lockdown inside members of Parliament were told to remain in their offices or in chambers as the House of Commons was suspended, while Prime Minister Theresa May was rushed out of Parliament and immediately secured.
The leader of the House of Commons, David (INAUDIBLE) briefed the House and made a motion to adjourn parliament early. The plan was then carried out to evacuate lawmakers from the Palace of Westminster in groups of 20. Nadhim Zahawi is a conservative member of parliament, who was in the Commons as the attack unfolds us, and he joins me now on the phone. My first question to you, Mister Zahawi is are you still inside there and are you still on lockdown?
NADHIM ZAHAWI, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE PARTY POLITICIAN (via telephone): We have literally just been allowed out, Christiane, literally, this second, the doors have been opened and parliamentaries can leave the estate. So we've been locked down since 2:30 p.m., just the past - well, I guess, four and a half hours in a lockdown. We were all voting, including the Prime Minister, through the lobby when the incident took place. He was ought to be rushed out, we were then locked in the chamber for our safety.
Of course tonight, our thoughts and prayers for the victims, especially our brave police officer who gave up his life protecting us here, and some of my bravest friends, including the Minister (INAUDIBLE) to try to help the police officer by offering mouth-to- mouth resuscitation, which sadly, did not work, and all the other victims who are clearly in hospitals in London, tonight. It's a - it's a terrible day, but those evildoers will never defeat us. The parliament will be sitting tomorrow morning.
AMANPOUR: Mister Zahawi, those are fighting words but you described a real picture of a war zone right there, in parliament. I mean, a Minister delivering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a police officer. Sadly, it did not work. How afraid, or rather, how unclear was the situation? Did you believe that something more might unfold that there was another phase in the attack that could have come through the doors?
ZAHAWI: Well, there was - there was a few minutes when there was some reports, that there may be a second assailant that the police were looking for. We were very well protected in here with special police officers. They were, you know, trained for this -- you know, for this incident. We always wished it never would happened but, of course, as our Prime Minister said, and secretary, you know, we have to get lucky every single time, a lone wolf or a group of people doing this. We only get -- need to get lucky once.
AMANPOUR: Mister Zahawi, can you --
ZAHAWI: We are so very safe. We are so very safe in here.
[15:19:54] AMANPOUR: Can you described to me how this person could've got through, I mean, we know - can you tell me exactly which gate, it was -- is that the public gate, because I've been through many times, and I can see there are armed police, there's x-rays, there's body scanners. I mean, there's a very heavy security package in Parliament.
ZAHAWI: My understanding is, he came over Westminster Bridge, obviously, hitting a number of innocent people walking along the pavement. He has then, in fact, he drove over the cycle lane and hit the side railings of the building, the railings that face Westminster (INAUDIBLE) Station. So, on the side of the building or one of the front gates of the building. And then he climbed over the railings and stabbed and attacked the police officer. He was then shot and we now learned he was killed.
And of course, in the whole incident, clearly, there are at least 20 people who have been injured with four confirmed dead already, including the attack of the terrorist himself, and of course, the police officer who gave up his life.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. Do you know anything that you can report about the identity of the assailant, the motive of the attack? Have you been told anything that you can tell us about that?
ZAHAWI: We've been informed that it's been treated as a terrorist incident. We have no information about the identity of the attacker yet. I'm sure that will be forthcoming in, you know, just hours and days, but it is being treated as a terrorist incident. The other officers were swept by officers of SO19 and the special officers that, you know, actually are trained for this particular type of incident, but beyond that, we don't know. But as I said to you, you know, people attack our most sacred symbol of our democracy. And we will never be treated. We will be back here tomorrow and parliament will sit again.
AMANPOUR: And just before I let you go, can you tell me whether the precise actionable intelligence that the government got, that caused these laptop, tablet, you know, airline a directive to be issued yesterday?
ZAHAWI: I don't know other than the information that I have believed is that it's related to some of the incidents including the flight from (INAUDIBLE) was -- but it was something that I learned possibly, you know, some information that clearly, laptop can be used as explosive devices and I think it's right that we take these precautions.
AMANPOUR: Conservative M.P. Nadhim Zahawi, thank you so much for talking to us, as you are now for the first time, in over four and a half hours being let out of parliament. And we will be back with more coverage of the full counterterrorism investigation of today's deadly attack at the parliament.
[15:25:30] AMANPOUR: Welcome back. And you've just seen the beautiful and iconic pictures of Big Ben and Parliament lit up. Despite the attack there now, nearly five hours ago, you just heard a British M.P. who's only just been released from hours of lockdown, say, that they will not be cowered and the Parliament will reconvene tomorrow morning. The British police haven't revealed much about the attacker or his motives but they have made it clear that this is being investigated as a terrorist attack.
Michael Chertoff dealt with similar terror threats when he served as the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. And he joins me now on the phone from Las Vegas. Mr. Chertoff, welcome. Thank you for joining me. Let me just get your gut reaction and where you see this fitting into the, you know, global pattern of terror.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY (via telephone): Well, first, let me extend my condolences to the families of those who were lost in this attack. Unfortunately, this is very reminiscent to other things we've seen. It's reminiscent to Nice, it's reminiscent of so many attacks we saw in Belgium, even San Bernardino, in the sense that you have a single individual, maybe a couple of individuals carrying out an attack.
And the critical question is, was this actually directed by an overseas terrorist group? Or was it inspired by one with the idea that someone would simply get behind the wheel of a car or pick up a knife and randomly kill passersby.
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, seeing what it is and seeing how it's unfolded, and yes, it's been treated as a counterterrorism investigation right now, but by and large, the police have tended to, sort of, imply that this attack is over. Do you think that suggest to you a -- I don't know, Charlie Hebdo kind of attack or even a Bataclan where there were multiple bombs detonated and armed, you know, automatic weapons fired off, or do you think this is - this lone wolf, low-tech high-impact?
CHERTOFF: I mean, I was - and again recognizing the investigation is on-going. This is a little bit more like the Nice attack and least in appearance. It's not that you can technically adapt, no one's using explosives or even firearms. Yes, somebody who simply gets by in order to deal and then used a knife. Now, and there could be something afterwards, but I understand why the initial, kind of, first cut at this is it's probably more a single individual or maybe two, without regular sophisticated planning or capability.
AMANPOUR: Of course, all people want to know how does one protect against this kind of thing? Obviously, the British are amongst the world leaders in counterterrorism and in dealing with this and we know that there's so much surveillance here. There's so much CCTV and they've asked the public to give them any kind of video or imagery, if they should happen to come across or happened to have captured any themselves, but how does a nation protect against this kind of thing or is it just a fact of life now?
CHERTOFF: I think there is no absolute protection against this kind of attack. Often it's somebody who's not communicated with other people or if they are, it's in a very, very occasional sense. And the idea that you're going to be able to detect everybody out there, either because of a radical inspiration or a mental defect, decides they want to commit an act of violence. I think that's not realistic, which is critically important in what you saw here, was the effectiveness of the response.
In a case like this, you can't stop it but you can shut it down quickly. And it looks to me here is just the British police were able to react quickly and prevent the situation from becoming even worse than it was, and that's really the model for this kind of attack in the future. AMANPOUR: Mr. Chertoff, I have to ask you because the whole world is watching on what's happening in the United States with these bans from Muslim nations. And of those, we've just seen the ramped up ban on laptops and iPads and things. Does that help prevent this kind of attack?
[15:29:50] CHERTOFF: Well, the laptop issue has to do with the persistent effort on the part of terrorists to get explosives on aircraft and that's something that's been going on for over 10 years and unfortunately the bomb makers have gone better and better. And your viewers will remember that last year, a Somalia plane had an explosion on board and it looks to be a laptop that was the source of that explosion. So, that really has to do with the kind of capability.
I don't think that a Muslim-ban (INAUDIBLE) in the sentence counterproductive. On the other hand, it's always a fair thing if looked carefully at people travelling from certain countries because we do know they're foreign fighters who have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq, and some of those are coming back to carry out attacks in their home countries. And that's part of what we saw, frankly, in France.
So, I mean, again, it used judiciously without trying to brand a whole group of people in generally. I do think you have to be aware of some of the markers of terrorism.
AMANPOUR: Michael Chertoff, former Homeland Security Secretary, thank you so much indeed for joining us from Las Vegas.
AMANPOUR: So, when we return, our continuing coverage of today's terror attack at Britain's parliament will continue.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN BREAKING NEWS.
AMANPOUR: You're watching CNN's BREAKING NEWS coverage from London where a terror investigation is officially underway. Police say three people had been killed, including a police officer and at least 20 are wounded after attack near Parliament. Police say a car mow downed pedestrians on Westminster Bridge. Moments later, it crashed outside parliament and the suspect entered the grounds. Police say the assailants stabbed a police officer before shots were fired and the attacker was killed. No one has claimed responsibility and police will not speculate as to the identity or to the motive of the attacker. One eyewitness described how the scene erupted into chaos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is walking up to the station. And there was a loud bang and the guy -- someone crashed a car, and so I took some pedestrians out, and they were just lying there and then the whole crowd just surged around the corner just by the gates, just obviously is Big Ben, and a guy came past my right shoulder with a big knife. I just saw it plunging into the policeman. I just never seen anything like that. I just can't believe what I just saw.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, let's bring in our International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson, who is overlooking the scene of the crime as we speak. Nic, what have you glean from where you are?
[15:34:55] NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, police, Christiane, we've seen the police bring out sniffer dogs within the area that's (INAUDIBLE) so even the areas several hundred meters away from the crime scene is part of the investigation. Not clear what those sniffer dogs are being poured out to look for. Normally, the dogs -- and we've see - we see these dogs around here often, the police using them to look for explosives, but those dogs are being deployed in this facility, in this area. The area right behind me, you can't see it now, it's a little too dark. But earlier on, we could get a clear -- we could get a clear look at it. It's the gate that the attacker ran through after getting out of his vehicle, where he stabbed the police officer, where he was shot down, and where he and the police officer were treated to try to -- to try to keep them alive. That area, until really the last half an hour to an hour or so, has been a scene, an area of intense activity.
A number of police vehicles parked around there because there are number of police officers, and a lot of activity. That activity in that particular location, for now, appears to have subsided. But there are still a lot of police vehicles here, still a lot of activity in the area. It is, of course, as we know, a crime scene, the police in their press conference a little earlier, talked about the meticulous details with which they would need to go through this crime scene, one can imagine that with first light tomorrow, they can begin that again in earnest. But it does - it certainly seem for the moment that this area is not going to -- is not going to be open to the public for some time, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Nic, it was incredible, perhaps, not open to the public for some time, but I just spoke to a member of parliament, who is only just been let out, and they are absolutely adamant that they need to reconvene parliament as soon as possible. He said tomorrow. This is the fighting spirit and the fighting words of people who simply refuse to be cowered by this kind of attack. Nic, we've covered a lot of what's going on with ISIS and Al-Qaeda. We've been overseas. We've seen it in Europe. This is -- this is, sort of, one more in the increasingly low-tech, but as I describe it, the high impact attacks that are taking place on western soil.
ROBERTSON: And high impact, not just because of the number of casualties, but the pure location itself gives it high visibility, which as we both know, for terrorist means high impact because they want this to get publicity. They could not have chosen a more public location, a location that could -- that could guarantee them near instantaneous coverage, near instantaneous exposure to everything that they want to achieve to get their message out. It was interesting listening to Rex Tillerson today, addressing all those foreign ministers gathered in Washington, described how the number of foreign fighters traveling to Iraq and Syria has dropped now by 90 percent, a hugely significant number. But what does that mean?
It means that some of those fighters are leaving the area and coming back to their home countries. That's been a concern for security forces. It means it's much harder for one of the jihadists to be able to get into Iraq and Syria, and the message from ISIS has been "Don't worry about coming here to help in the fight in Iraq and Syria. We want you to attack at home with -- as you were saying, those low-tech type of attacks, they -- if you can -- if you can shoot them, shoot them. If you can't shoot them, stab them with a knife. If you can't stab them with a knife, then run them down with their vehicle, as we saw in Berlin recently, as we saw last summer in Nice as well. This, as you say, is absolutely high-impact terrorism with almost the minimum amount of input. So far, the police are talking about one attacker. I'm not ruling out potentially more, but yes, high impact, low input.
AMANPOUR: Nic, thank you so much.
Now, Richard Barrett, the director of the global strategy network and formerly the director of global counterterrorism for the British Secret Intelligence Service is still with us. And I want to follow on on what we were just talking about with Nic, that the location was clearly -- I mean, it seems to have been very deliberately picked, not just the heart of British democracy and frankly, western democracies, it's called "the mother of parliaments", but this is where all the tourist come. This is where people come to this place.
BARRETT: Well, yes, you referred to that in your broadcasts as an iconic setting, and indeed, it is. And the subject of paintings and photographs, and tourist memories, and even for the many, many people around the world that have never been to London, you know, they recognize Big Ben and the House of Parliament. So, an attack in a place like that absolutely guarantees world-wide coverage. You know, because of the visual is good.
AMANPOUR: It's not the first time, is it? I mean, way back when during the IRA, when that was really at its height, there was an attack.
[15:40:01] BARRETT: There was indeed, yes. And one of our RMP is indeed was killed as a result of that attack.
AMANPOUR: Very close associated prior of Margaret Thatcher.
BARRETT: Very close friend of our Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, absolutely. And he was attacked and killed by a bomb attached to his car which detonated he left the car park.
AMANPOUR: So, to just speak to that because that was sophisticated. That was a bomb attached to his car, and it detonated and killed him and creates a lot of damage. This was not that, this is a whole new phase of terrorism.
BARRETT: But arguably, you could say the impact is greater with this attack than it was with any. The only rule aware of the IRA threats and the - when another person is killed, tragic as it was, it wasn't particularly unexpected. Here we have an attack, now you know, in the foreground of publicity in the middle day, in a place where everybody is familiar with, somehow seems more horrific.
AMANPOUR: And actually, it's really important that we discuss this at the time. Martin McGinnis died yesterday, Martin McGuinness was an IRA Commander who to turn the corner and became a statesman for peace. And it shows, Britain has been free of these kinds of attacks of the IRA, and yet, that's not on the horizon, is it? Some kind of peace, some kind of end to these endless wars in the Middle East. It has such blowback.
BARRETT: Well indeed, yes. I mean, that's a very good point to me. The IRA of - it was a very political movement and they had an objective switch to circumstance could be met. And so, there was a room for negotiations; very hard to see when negotiation could stop even with an absolutist type of organization like Islamic State. If Islamic State were - was responsible for this attack.
AMANPOUR: And even if it wasn't responsible and it, and it was just inspiring, you know, whatever individual did this. If indeed it does become something like that, if it is indeed a real terrorist attack because we don't really know yet, they're calling it a counterterrorist investigation. But the police were very careful to say, "we're treating it as terrorism until we know otherwise."
BARRETT: Well, that is right. And I mean, certainly, it fits a path of terrorism, doesn't it? So, I think that's an assumption I'm making based on good information.
AMANPOUR: But again, it's so hard to figure out how people like your former colleagues in MI-5, or in MI-6, or the military, or the Home Secretary, and colleagues, and partners, and counterparts all over Western Europe. How do you deal with this threat? There is no negotiation. There has as yet been - well, you tell me. But no - I mean, there's a lot of criticism as to the fairly, so far, weak effort to crush ISIS.
BARRETT: Yes. But ISIS is not going to be crushed by military means alone, quite clearly. There's an idea there which is inspiring people all over the world to go and join or support without joining ISIS in Syria. And we have to take account of that, I think we have to learn why people want to support ISIS, you know. And that I'm sure as of very many wide-range of motivations for people to do that. But there must be some core-ish which are driving this ideology unless we deal with those core issues; all the killings, and everything else that we can manage, you know, from the air or from the ground; we're not going to solve the problem.
AMANPOUR: And let's just go back to parliament where people, members of parliament could have been killed there if he'd got through. And we have to remember Jo Cox, the young parliamentarian who was killed about a year or so ago now, just before the Brexit referendum.
BARRETT: Yes, indeed. In June of last year. Jo Cox was killed, and of course, that was, by what we might call the right-wing extremist. And we don't yet know who's say, quite accurately, that who was responsible for this attack. But it does show that M.P.s are becoming a target here, and I'm sure that the Houses of Parliament will want to admit to that and think what they can do about it.
AMANPOUR: Do you think it might be cordoned off to traffic, that area?
BARRETT: Well, no, I don't think so. And I think M.P.s, you know, so they go about their business, they go to their constituencies, they held searches over there; the people who've elected them, and even the people who hadn't elected them, but, you know, anyone they represent. And they, they need to carry on to do that. And I think that, as you said, there's a spirit of resistance over zillions of carrying in all that, which I think will - we will see even more pronounced in the coming days.
AMANPOUR: Richard Barrett, thank you very much indeed.
BARRETT: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, as we've said, the attack happened in such a public place and so many people captured images that tell the harrowing story. We'll have those, and the very latest on what police were investigating as a terror attack in the heart of London here after the short break. So, stay with us.
[15:46:38] AMANPOUR: Welcome back! World leaders have been sending their condolences to those affected by the attack here in London. The German Embassy expressed Chancellor Angela Merkel's grief saying, "Deeply shocked by attacks on police and members of the public in London. My thoughts are with the injured, and our solidarity goes out to the UK." The French Embassy carried this statement from President Francois Hollande: "expressing solidarity with the British people." The British Prime Minister Theresa May has also spoken to the U.S. President Donald Trump and his Press Secretary Sean Spicer had this statement in the past hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He obviously condemn today's attack in Westminster which the United Kingdom is treating as an act of terrorism. And we applaud the quick response that the British Police and their first responders made to the situation. The victims in this are in our thoughts and our prayers. The city of London and her Majesty's government have the full support of the U.S. government in responding to the attack and bringing those to justice who are responsible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And we were told earlier that her Majesty was in residence - is in residence of Buckingham Palace. And as soon as this incident became clear, there was extra security and the gates were closed, and she is said to be safe there. Now, Peter Neumann is one of Europe's leading experts on terrorism, and he's Director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence. He joins me live from Brussels. Peter Neumann, thank you very much for being with me, and we can't, you know, avoid saying that this is the exactly one year to the day since those terrible terror attack in Brussels. What sort of linkage, if any, do you see between the two?
PETER NEUMANN, INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF RADICALIZATION AND POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTOR: Well, we don't know if there was any linkage in the attacker's mind, that's too early to tell. But of course, if it turns out, and I think it is likely that this will be a Jihadist attack, then, of course, it is one of a series of attacks that have happened in Europe over the past two or three years. It started in fact in Brussels in 2014, long before the attack last year, it was an attack on the Jewish Museum and that started a series of attack that continued in Berlin, and Paris, and Paris again in Nice, and of course now in London. So, this is more than a single incident, this is part of, part of a series.
AMANPOUR: Yes. It's important the way you've it out and shown the progressive movement of these attacks over the last three years. But Britain did escape this kind of attack. In fact, it is the first, you know, mass casualty event here since 2005, when there were the famous 77 coordinated suicide bombings on the underground and on the buses. This, this country, though, tell us what you know about the intelligence because we were being told on a regular basis that it could happen at any time.
[15:49:56] NEUMANN: Well, I think there are two factors, Christiane, that are important here. Number one factor is that especially of the past five years, there has been a lot more radicalization going on in countries like France and Belgium. Whereas Britain used to be the most problematic country in the early 2000s, it no longer is. So, not that many people actually comparatively speaking, went to Syria to join ISIS from Britain as compared to other European countries.
The second point is that after 2005, the British authorities, the security agencies have really built up a superb capability on average. One major attack in Britain has been prevented since. And if you ask anyone in continental Europe, people working for intelligence. What country they admire the most in terms of their counterterror capability, no one will hesitate to say it is Britain. So they've really built up a good capability in Britain.
Today, it doesn't look like that but on the whole, Britain has been very successful.
AMANPOUR: And let's not forget, you alluded to it but we're being told by police that in the last 10 years, they thwarted between 10 and 13 attack so that's pretty significant. But let's now put it into context of what you expect to be the pattern going forward begin because these attacks have -- I don't know, it seems that they've gone from bombing and suicide attacks and multipronged coordinated attacks to the more, you know, vehicle, or the knife or the kind of thing that it's just so hard to defend and to -- and to protect and to prevent against. NEUMANN: And I think that's really important because people always expect terrorist attacks get more complex, but what we've actually seen over the past five or six years is that they've become simpler and what ISIS has done is arguably it has adjusted the set of requirements for a terrorist attack to those supposed intelligence of the attackers. So it is no longer telling its supporters to do very complicated things, or to do bombs.
It is telling its supporters to grab a car and drive it into a crowd, or to grab a knife and to kill some people randomly. That's what we are faced with now and I think it is very clever from ISIS's point of view because they understand that you can create as much terror with a single beheading. As you can by killing lots of people. They understand that terror is about terrorizing people and to create the sensation of terror. You do not necessarily need to kill hundreds of people. It is enough in some cases to kill one person in a particularly brutal way and to foment for example.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And Peter, before I let you go, you had been setting ISIS from the beginning. What is your assessment of their capability today as they squashed on Mosel or rather squeeze in Mosel and as they're about to be -- we hear routed from Raqqa eventually, that's the intention anyway. What is their capability to react and lash out abroad?
NEUMANN: I think they are certainly trying to inspire people to do stuff in Europe. They've been very explicit in saying, don't come here anymore, do something where you are. And I think that in the short term, the decline of ISIS, the decline of the so-called caliphate and stand Iraq may actually have the counterintuitive consequence of making the terrorist threat in Europe rose. In the medium to long term, of course, it is a good thing that we're fighting against ISIS and stand Iraq because the so-called caliphate has been the operational basis for ISIS. It's also been a utopia that it has inspired a lot of people, so it's important to destroy it. But in the short term, the consequence may indeed be to increase the terrorist threat.
AMANPOUR: Peter Neumann, radicalization expert. Thank you so much for joining us there from Brussels today. And we've been hearing the police sirens. This is still an active investigative area. This is the perimeter of where no further vehicles can go towards parliament, which is behind me and you've been seeing these pictures of Parliament bathed in live, you've seen the pictures of the London Eye, the river. All of these beautiful images that really symbolized the heart of London and the tourist destinations. They are still lit, they are still standing. They had been closed because of this all that this incident today, but we are told that parliamentarians anyway want to reconvene.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back. That is the Houses of Parliament and they have finally opened the doors and allow those M.P.'s to come out. Joining me right now is Fiona Mactaggart, a labor M.P. for the City of Slough, not too far from London. Tell me if you can what it was like to be on lockdown for all these hours? How frightening was it?
FIONA MACTAGGART, BRITISH LABOR PARTY POLITICIAN: I don't think the lockdown on this was frightening. I think what was frightening is that I and a number of M.P.s who work in the offices where I work were going to vote in the chamber and we were about to walk between the modern bits of the Palace of Westminster where our offices are to the old old-fashioned bits underneath Big Ben. The division bell was ringing. We have eight minutes to get there to vote and colleagues was suddenly running towards me and shouting, turn around, turn around, get back, get back, and it was because they had seen the shots being fired in the area between the two buildings and, you know, I reversed and went back up to my office and lock myself or and my stuff in.
We were then moved on to that building into another building where there were, you know, hundreds of researches, some M.P.s, a lot of M.P.s were in the chamber. Just some of -- are locked down, not able to live.
AMANOUR: Did you know what had happen? Did anybody give you any information?
MACTAGGART: Not to solve with, no. But I eventually ended up in another M.P.s office and there was a television feed, so, actually, those of us who've been locked in there probably know less than the people who've been watching your program.
AMANPOUR: Were you afraid that they would storm Parliament? Did you know when the incident was over, did you --
MACTAGGART: It was very clear to me this is a lone wolf kind of incident. And we don't know the details of it, but those are the things that's the hardest for the security services to identify. You know, when someone isn't part of the team, there isn't that internet chats and all those things which mean that they can get caught before the try and kill someone.
AMANOUR: On that note, Fiona Mactaggart, M.P. for Slough. Thank you so much indeed for joining us tonight.
MACTAGGART: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Just out of Parliament after all those hours of lockdown and that is it for this special program tonight. Thank you for watching and goodbye from us for London but the news continues.