The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/22/17 Manchester Bombing
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: May 22, 2017
Guest: Helen Pidd, Rukmini Callimachi, Zac Haniff, Vikram Dodd
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
hour. We are going to continue with tonight`s breaking news out of
Manchester is a major cultural hub and a historic city and a beautiful city
in the northwest of England. When I lived in England for a while, I spent
a lot of time in Manchester. I`m very moved by this story tonight.
As of right now, our best information is that an explosion at a concert
arena in Manchester has killed people dozens more injured. Now, a caution
that will apply to everything this hour but especially these details I`m
about to give you now is that these are early days, we will often look back
at the initial reports were conflicting or did not bear out overtime, and
so, that caveat and that caution applies to everything we are learning in
the immediate aftermath of this incident.
But right now, given that, we`ve got that death toll of 19, and we`ve got
this as a jaw dropping suspicion as to what happened multiple U.S.
officials briefed on the investigation say that U.K. authorities suspect
that this explosion at this concert venue in Manchester England was
detonated by a suicide bomber. Now, again, we have no named sources for
that but we are told by multiple U.S. officials briefed on the
investigation that that is the supposition at this point.
London is five hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast. This explosion happened
between 10:30 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. local time. It reportedly happened just
as a big concert was wrapping up at the Manchester arena. Ariana Grande is
a 23-year-old American pop star. She`s got an enormous following both here
and abroad. Her following skews very young.
So, this was a huge arena. This is one of the largest indoor arenas in
Europe. It holds up to 21,000 people, and this venue tonight was filled
substantially with kids. In terms of her fan base, right, we`re – it`s
young teenagers. It`s 11, 12, 13-year-olds. Kids there with their
Now, people at the concert tonight said they heard what sounded like an
explosion at the end of the show as people were already starting to leave
the venue. These blurry photos that you`ve got here for self as you see
that sort of pink balloons those are part of the show. You see the lights
up full, that`s obviously a venue that is letting out.
One concert goers said that the encore had already finished. The lights
were already on when the blast occurred. So, the important part about that
in terms of what the experience of it was like for the people in that venue
is that because the life wrong, because the music had stopped, whatever
happened they were clear this was not part of the concert. This couldn`t
have been mistaken for pyrotechnics that was part of the show.
Eyewitnesses say that the whole building shook. There was a massive bang
some of the concert goers reported seeing some smoke, some others described
a strong burning smell after the blast. There have also unfortunately been
numerous eyewitness reports of people seen lying on the ground, people seen
bloodied, as you can see here cell phone video captured by eyewitnesses
show people fleeing the scene, scrambling for the exits after this took
place. This gives you some idea about the youthfulness of the crowd there.
U.S. officials are noting tonight that a number of the casualties being
reported, it`s possible they may not have occurred from the explosion
itself. They may have occurred from the rush out of the building, which
took place following the explosion.
Now, in terms of the actual location of the blast, British transport police
initially said that the blast took place in the foyer, basically outside
the where does transport police initially said that the blast took place in
the foyer, basically outside the arena. So, we had worried from initial
response and initial reports that the bomb might have been inside that
arena with those thousands of people was then reported by transit police
that it was in the foyer which would be sort of a luminal area, kind of a
like a ticket taking area. So, now, that would be at the venue but not
inside the main body of the venue where most people would be concentrated.
We`ve seen these reports evolve over the course of the evening. Right now,
Manchester arena is clarifying that that the incident took place, quote,
outside the venue in a public space. So, again this is one of those
situations in which the reporting about something very crucial to this
story has evolved even just over the course the last hour or two as we have
learned. Initial reports that it was in the venue, eyewitness reports that
suggested people experienced it as if it was within the venue now being
rebutted by the venue itself which says whatever happened here wasn`t
inside Manchester arena. It was very nearby.
Now, a dashcam video emerged earlier this evening that possibly shows the
blast. It was captured by somebody who was waiting in a nearby parking lot
for his sister and his girlfriend who had gone to the concert. He did not
go to the concert. He`s in the car waiting for them.
And this is the dashcam it was the video from the dashcam that is mounted
on his dashboard in his parked car and what you want to watch here is the
glow kind of a flash on the lower left-hand side of your screen. Watch.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: So, authorities just short time ago said they were going to
conduct a controlled explosion on what was word to be a second device. We
have reporting on that from NBC`s reporter in London just a few minutes
ago, that second – potential second device they were going to do a
controlled explosion, we have now been advised that that was a false alarm,
that whatever they just blew up or they were going to blow up, they no
longer believe that was a suspicious item.
So, again, evolving information we will try to get to as much of the bottom
of this as we can. But the headlines of course are still unbelievably
grim, 19 dead, roughly 50 injured. We have no identified casualties at
this point, but given the crowd at the event, I think it is spared to worry
about the prospect that a lot of the people who may have found themselves
caught up in this tonight may be on the young side.
But again multiple us officials briefed on the investigation are telling us
that authorities in the U.K. suspect that this incident was conducted by a
suicide bomber and that gives us hard questions to ask.
Joining us now is NBC News chief justice correspondent Pete Williams.
Pete, thank you for joining us tonight.
First of all, can you correct me if I got anything wrong there and let us
know what the latest is.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It sounds spot-on to
me. The controlled explosion turned out to be a pile of clothing we`re
told. The police say they got the call at 10:35, which is just after the
roughly minutes according to some of the witnesses after the encore
performance. So it was over the people were starting to stream out so the
apparent plot here was to wait as people came out and then as a sufficient
number of them gathered outside then to set off the bomb.
Now, the reason that they say they suspect it`s a suicide bomber is from
forensic evidence that they have found at the scene they believed the bomb
was carried in a backpack based simply on what they`ve seen at the scene
and nothing more than that. It`s a – it`s a preliminary hypothesis based
on their initial assessment at the scene.
They believe that the bomber was standing near the box office. As you had
said outside the venue this would be, as I understand it, on the other
side, we saw that map just a moment ago on the other side of the concert
hall from where the big train station is.
As you know right there in Manchester, Victoria Station basically, you can
walk out of the train station and walk right over to Manchester arena. So,
if those witness reports are true, then the bomber would have been on the
opposite side of the arena from the train station. That`s the initial
assessment in the box office area.
The reports say that many of the injuries that were apparently from the
explosion people reported shrapnel, and we don`t know whether that`s from
just simply the bomb itself or whether unfortunately so many of these
suicide bombs follow the same plan and they put things in the bombs
designed to be shrapnel nails screws ball bearings so that would be
consistent with a bomb and what the only other thing to point out here,
Rachel, and it`s unknown what significance it has but whenever something
like this happens people check back to dates on historical dates to see if
anything else happened on this date.
So, on May 22nd, 2013, the British police had noticed pretty early on in
this, May 22nd was when that knife attack happened on a British soldier Lee
WILLIAMS: – in southeast London. That was May 22nd, 2013. Whether that
has anything to do with this or not of course no one has a clue, but it is
the kind of thing that the police talk about when something like this
MADDOW: Pete, are we clear that it was a single explosion and they believe
it was a single device. We`ve said that what they had worried might be a
second device was a pile of clothes and it`s been deemed not to have been a
threat. Are they clear that they`ve that this is over now?
WILLIAMS: Well, as far as we know, they haven`t found any other devices.
But you raise a good point because so many of the witnesses say they heard
more than one explosion. But as far as we know, there`s been only one
focus point only one point where they believe an explosive device was set
WILLIAMS: So while people have reported hearing all kinds of different
sounds we know of only one report of a place where a bomb went off.
MADDOW: NBC chief justice correspondent Pete Williams –
MADDOW: Yes, please?
WILLIAMS: Sorry, just one other thing here. You know, the question always
arises of whether anyone, anything is going to be done differently in the
U.S. because we`ve seen these things happen before. Folks at Homeland
Security tonight say they haven`t – they don`t have any plans to put out
bulletins to local law enforcement at this point and you can well
understand that. I mean, local police chiefs understand the news too they
get the television they get the radio they see it on the Internet. They
don`t really need the Department of Homeland Security to tell them what`s
And the recent trend has been only to pass these advisories along if
there`s some thought that there`s any threat in the U.S. and there`s no
indication that at this point. Now, the only place we know of where the
police have done anything differently not surprisingly is in New York.
They have such a large police force that is so attuned to the terror threat
that whenever anything like this happens anywhere in the world as strictly
a precaution with no indication that there`s a threat they deploy extra
So they`ve got extra police out tonight in times square they say they`ve
got extra police at the entrances and exits at Yankee Stadium where there`s
a game tonight. But Broadway is largely dark on Monday nights and they
know of no other concerts in town, but that`s strictly a precaution.
MADDOW: NBC`s justice correspondent, Pete Williams, Pete – thank you very
much, invaluable to have you here with us tonight. I appreciate it.
WILLIAMS: You bet.
MADDOW: Joining us now from London is NBC News chief foreign correspondent
And, Richard, I know you were in the middle of reporting on this as it
happens. What can you tell us in terms of the latest from U.K. authorities
and what may be expected here in terms of a potential responsibility for
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are waiting
to hear a statement from the British police it could happen very soon maybe
in the next minutes. As you mentioned earlier, this is a concert that
attracts a lot of young people, parents bringing their teenage or younger
children than that.
And because this concert was letting out when this explosion took place, a
lot of people got separated and they were reports initially police and
venue organizers were telling parents that if they got separated from their
children to meet up at a local hotel, at a local holiday inn to pick up on
something that people mentioned earlier. There`s one witness account
saying that among the debris, among the shrapnel, among the residue
apparently what he believed was the bomb, he saw nuts and bolts and that
would be very typical of something that a suicide bomber would stuff into a
device in order to create more shrapnel.
Still, the death toll as we have is a one bomb. U.S. official saying that
they believe it was a suicide bomb. It is being treated as a terrorist
There have been ongoing checks to see if there were secondary devices. So
far, no secondary device was found that the most suspicious package that
they did come across was this package of abandoned clothing. But at this
stage it is being treated as an event that is over but they`re not entire
entirely sure of that because as this is right in the heart of Manchester a
21,000 capacity arena.
Ariana Grande was on a European tour. She was on her way to London next
and it`s right in the heart of Manchester. There`s this train station
nearby. There`s a lot of potential secondary targets the train disruption
in the area as been has been reported.
So, this is – this is some great concern there`s nothing anyone else in
this country is talking about right now.
MADDOW: Richard, in terms of your experience with these matters having
reported on them all over the world. Is it surprising to you to hear that
they are suspecting a suicide bomber. Again, we don`t have confirming
information about that but we`re hearing that sort of the working
hypothesis rather than a backpack bomb being left under a bench or
something they are saying this might have been a person wearing a suicide
Does that surprise you at all for England?
ENGEL: Well, it would have surprised me frankly a few years ago. You
would have thought that the kind of attacker you would find in a place like
the U.K. or in a place like western Europe would be the kind of attacker
who`s inspired by an extremist cause but doesn`t want to necessarily give
up his or her life for it.
But it`s no longer the case. Now, you`re talking about people and if this
is in fact terrorism and the U.K. police are treating it as if it were
terrorism until proven else way – until proven otherwise, that`s not –
it`s not the case anymore that you have people who are just inspired enough
to build a bomb and leave it by the roadside, like you saw happened in
Chelsea in Manhattan not that long ago. Instead, you were finding people
who are incredibly motivated willing to give up their own lives and willing
to die for – but for their extremist cause.
So, no, it would have surprised me two years ago three years ago five years
ago, not anymore.
MADDOW: Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent – Richard,
thank you tonight. Appreciate it.
I want to bring into the conversation now, Juan Zarate. He`s an NBC News
senior national security analyst.
Mr. Zarate, thank you for joining us particularly on short notice as we`re
just following this breaking news tonight. I really appreciate you being
JUAN ZARATE, NBC NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Thank you, Rachel.
I appreciate being on.
MADDOW: So, I wonder if you could talk to us about what U.S. officials –
how much they`ll know about what`s happening in the U.K. This is obviously
happening in one of our greatest allies, if not our greatest ally in the
world. They have an incredibly capable both police force and intelligence
service, and they work very closely with U.S. officials. You served as
deputy national security adviser.
Can you walk us what`s going through right now on the on the U.S. side of
ZARATE: Absolutely, Rachel. I think you`ve laid the groundwork for this.
The ties between the U.S. and U.K. are incredibly tight. Information
sharing is deep, it`s constant and it`s very open.
And so, U.S. officials will be not only trying to learn what`s happening on
the ground but trying to look through no doubt other clues or threat
information that they may have had in the run-up to this attack, certainly
trying to support British authorities in whatever they`re trying to pursue,
but also trying to get a feedback loop, trying to get as much information
back so that U.S. authorities can check their databases can check their
threat threads and can be as supportive as possible.
What counterterrorism officials do in a situation like this, I was in the
White House on 7/7 back in 2005, you`re obviously trying to be as
supportive as possible to British authorities but you`re also trying to see
if there are other threat threads that may be emerging that give you a
sense as to whether or not this is part of a grander plot, whether or not
new information gives you clues as to what happened, and certainly any
information that can be fed back to the British to try to prevent further
attacks. And the British are not only going to be doing the forensics
around what happened here, they`re also going to be looking for any clues
to see if there`s further suspicious activity and maybe even support
networks that they will need to arrest and disrupt.
And so, at this point, the U.S. authorities are trying to do everything
possible to be supportive through the FBI, through the CIA, to the
Department of Homeland Security, through the State Department. But at this
point, there`s a lot of fog of war and U.S. authorities are likely trying
to figure out just as much as the British authorities are as to what
MADDOW: Juan, a couple of times you use the phrase threat threads that the
U.S. officials will be going through their threat threads to see if they
can not only figure out what might have happened here, but figure out
whether it might be connected to something else if this is God forbid part
of some larger plot, where we`re about to see something else happen in its
aftermath. What does that mean exactly, threat threads?
ZARATE: Rachel, every day the U.S. government to the National
Counterterrorism Center and the interagency body, that the intelligence
community the law-enforcement community, the State Department is looking at
a matrix in essence of serious threats, some are more serious than others,
some deserve more attention than others. But you start and stop every day
by looking at those threats and understanding what`s happening to deal with
those threats, to understand whether or not they`re real, to understand how
information is being developed around those threats, and ultimately to
disrupt those that turn out to be serious and intangible threats.
And so, what I was suggesting with threat threads is that you have these
threats that you`re monitoring all the time, and there may be some that in
light of an attack like this look to be more serious, certainly look to be
more relevant than before the attack. And so, that may be what
counterterrorism officials are doing as we speak to make sure that we
haven`t missed something, that there isn`t some bit of information that
might prove relevant to British authorities as they try to deal with the
aftermath of this attack.
MADDOW: I can imagine obviously just approaching this from a layman`s
perspective, I can imagine as you`re describing that now in retrospect any
chatter or any potential hint of something problematic that might have
mentioned you know pop concert, but it might have been specific to
Manchester or that might have been an otherwise specific to what happened
here, looking for – looking for anything that might link to this that you
might not have seen before this happened, may become of new relevance now,
now that – now that we`ve seen what happened tonight in Manchester.
Actually, one other one other part of this that was mentioned by Pete
Williams at the top of the hour, he said and I had not thought to look for
this, and I`m very glad that he brought this to us, looking at potential
anniversaries. Unfortunately, one of the things that we have learned with
our international experience of terrorist attacks over the last 15 years is
that they are more frequently than you`d think tied to anniversaries and it
may or may not be a coincidence, but May 22nd, 2013, was that horrific
attack on the streets of London where a British soldier named Lee Rigby was
attacked for no reason at all, attacked beheaded in the street by two men
who then ranted two cameras and passers-by until they were arrested, saying
that they killed him for their own political views, for their radical
Is it – does that – do you think that that`s the sort of thing that`s
relevant as an investigatory thread to poll or something like that likely
to be a coincidence until proven otherwise?
ZARATE: Rachel, it`s a great question. I tend to believe that it tends to
be a coincidence until proven otherwise I think terrorist operatives tend
to take advantage of the opportunity that they have before them, they`ll
move and perpetrate the attack when the opportunity is there, and when they
think they can succeed.
That said, you`re absolutely right. These are individuals often, if we`re
talking about ISIS or al Qaeda or some radicalized individual part of a
group or movement who look to the symbolism and the psychological impact of
their attack, and it doesn`t go unnoticed that there are these
And you`re absolutely right, the Lee Rigby case was a horrific event, part
of – part of which was caught on video and that`s what made it so
horrific. But it was a harbinger of these kinds of attacks. They use a
car and they use knives. They attacked a soldier on the streets and in
some ways all, it was a harbinger of these kinds of singular attacks that
you`ve begun to see in Europe over the last few years.
And so, Pete is absolutely right. Pete`s one of the great reporters and
correspondents in the space. So, he`s right to raise that issue I would
just wait to see what we find in terms of who this actually was, whether or
not he was tied to a known network and whether or not, there was some sort
of inspiration from that 2013 attack. But I wouldn`t jump to conclusions
at this point.
MADDOW: Juan Zarate, NBC News senior national security analyst, former
deputy national security adviser – really, really good to have you with us
here tonight, sir. Thank you for being here.
ZARATE: Thank you, Rachel. I appreciate it.
MADDOW: I want to tell you that we`ve got one new piece of video from the
scene in Manchester. It`s short. It`s only about 12 seconds. I`m advised
that it is not in its own right graphic in the sense that it is not bloody,
but it does show people in distress trying to get out of this venue upon
this explosion happening. This is about 12 seconds of video. We`ve just
got this in.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: See the young people in the crowd, you can hear it from the tone
of the young women from the girls who are shouting here, you see people
jumping to try to essentially get around the queue of people the line of
people getting for those exits to try to get out as fast as possible. It
gives you some sense palpably of the panic in that room, again, mindful of
the prospect here that we`ve got a deaf poll of 19 tonight. We do not know
if those deaths were caused, all of them, by the explosion. It is possible
and looking at some of this tape it seems very possible that some of the
deaths, some of the injuries may have been caused by the panic and the rush
of people to get out of this venue. We don`t yet know that either way.
But obviously a lot of parents there with their kids, a lot of kids there
on their own, with worried parents now trying to find them. Again, it`s
about five hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast, in terms of the time
difference now in London. So, it`s after 2:00 a.m. in London now. Sorry,
in Manchester. And people trying to find each other is going to be a big
part of now until the dawn hours in England.
I want to bring in out of this conversation, Malcolm Nance. He`s an MSNBC
terrorism analyst and a great help – a great help to us on nights like
Malcolm, thank you for being with us tonight. I really appreciate your
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: You know, I`m glad that I can help
MADDOW: So, Malcolm, we obviously know what we know about this, which is
not much, and I always expect in the immediate aftermath of these things
that what we think we know will change. But we know enough to know that
this is terrible.
We`ve got the death toll of 19. We`ve got dozens reported injured. We
know that the venue was filled with a lot of, you know, 11, 12, 13, 14 year
old girls and families and young people and they`ll be all sorts of people
there, but that was basically the target audience for an Ariana Grande
show. We`re also told that the working hypothesis is suicide bomber.
Can you tell us what we should be looking at in terms of trying to nail
down what really happened here and if there`s other attacks like this, that
this remind you of?
NANCE: Well, it certainly does remind me of other attacks, if in fact it
turns out to be a suicide bomber at a large venue. The most notable, of
course, is the Stade de France attack during the Bataclan incident in
France, where two suicide bombers attacked the stadium of France during a
major game in which even the French president was present at that time.
One suicide bomber went up to a security checkpoint and his job was to get
the crowd to stampede, to get them to move to another exit that was closer
to the north side of the stadium, near a giant Home Depot type store where
the second bomber was waiting, and then that would create a cross stampede,
but it didn`t happen. The first bomber blew up and everyone in the stadium
remained calm. They went down onto the pitch and the second bomber
panicked and blew himself up.
Now, it is first things first. It is very, very clear when there is an
actual suicide bombing and I don`t think this has been mentioned. It`s a
little graphic but I`ve been around numerous suicide bombings. I`ve
survived three personally and I can tell you there is one thing that we
look for in a post incident attack of this type, if it is an explosive
bombing, using a human guided weapon, which is what we call suicide
We look for the bomber and what remains of the bomber, and you can always
tell that is very different injuries from all of the immediate victims,
because the bomber tends to separate into multiple pieces and usually the
torso, head, arms go in four different directions based on whether he was
carrying a belt or whether he`s carrying a backpack, and that is what we
call the data. That is the point of origin of the bombing and from that
point we can pretty much figure out based on the blast injuries, the
victimology, whether this was a suicide bombing or not.
And unfortunately, British police obviously found that the casualty with
the most extensive injuries was probably a suicide bomber based on the
blast effect of moving those body parts of various different directions.
MADDOW: Malcolm, I know you`ve written extensively and you`ve had
extensive experience professionally in in fighting against al-Qaeda, in
fighting against ISIS. If this is a suicide bombing, if this is a suicide
bomber using a backpack in a public area adjacent to this venue tonight,
which is the best of data that we`ve got right now, is any of that a
hallmark of anything? Is that a generic enough M.O that it doesn`t tell
you much about what might have been either the group that directed or
inspired this or the type of ideology that might have been motivated, the
bomber? Or is that just – is that just a generic attack plan?
Well, I`m not sure if we shit should to embrace the phrase generic.
Unfortunately, it is. It`s becoming almost the universal methodology. But
this particular attack, let`s look at it in and of itself.
In England, which is the geographic location of the attack, we can almost
put our fingers on every attack that has been carried out with an explosive
device that was a suicide bombing in England. This one and then you pretty
much have to jump all the way back to the 7/7 bombings, back in 2000 –
NANCE: Excuse me, 2005, I`m sorry. I`m almost confused it with the Madrid
bombings which occurred almost at the same time. These attacks are few and
far between, and we`ve seen in between there, we`ve seen the – you know,
the – we see knife attacks. We have seen vehicle attacks. We have seen
many bombing plot that were disrupted by Britain`s premiere special
operations organization over there and they`re MI5 intelligence group.
But the very fact that this bomber chose an explosive device or this
terrorist chose an explosive device if it is confirmed to be that, that
tells me that we have a level of dedication, commitment, logistics, weapons
training, that is very different from all of the previous attacks. And in
Europe, you can almost expect that because we`ve seen those attacks come
across and we also know that European terrorist members of ISIS and al-
Qaeda have cross pollinated with British terrorists who were suspected of
being part of those organizations.
But this one actually occurred and which means that everything came into
play, bringing together a terrorist cell it could have been a one-man cell,
could have been a five men so we don`t know, putting a bomber to an actual
working device which means you have to have a measure of expertise and
based on the number of victims, even if it`s a crowded a dense area like
that, if the bomb is weak, you`re going to have a lot of injuries. You`re
not going to have a lot of deaths. You usually have one or two deaths. If
the bomb is very strong and professionally done, that`s where you get
casualties like this, where you have a lot of immediate victims around the
MADDOW: Malcolm Nance, MSNBC terrorism analysts – Malcolm, I really
appreciate you being with us tonight. Thank you for helping us out.
NANCE: Yes, yes, indeed.
MADDOW: Let me tell you we`ve got a statement from Teresa May, the British
prime minister. She says her thoughts are with the victims and families
after what is being treated by police as a, quote, appalling terrorist
attack. That`s the only statement that we`ve had thus far from the prime
minister`s office. But, obviously, like you said – these are early days
and we are starting, we are – we are still trying to figure out exactly
what has happened here right now. We`re told that the death toll is 19,
that dozens probably 50 people are injured. But I`m happy to be – I`m
happy to say that we can go now to Manchester itself.
Joining us now by phone is Helen Pidd. She`s a “Guardian” reporter for
“Guardian” newspaper and she`s on the ground in Manchester tonight.
Miss Pidd, thank you very much for joining us. I appreciate your time.
HELEN PIDD, GUARDIAN REPORTER (via telephone): It`s OK.
MADDOW: Can you tell us if we know anything further about the basics of
this attack? The assumptions that we`re working from here – are a single
explosion possibly a suicide bomber, with an explosive device in a
backpack. We`re told 19 dead. Beyond that, we don`t know much about what
we should be reporting.
PIDD: Yes, and I have to say, I don`t want to add to any further
speculation. There`s a lot of unsubstantiated rumor flying around, so I
don`t I can`t tell you anything more about what exactly happened.
And I`m standing right now outside Manchester royal infirmary, which has an
accident and emergency department dedicated to children and I`m the
researchers pulled up now. It`s what time is it it`s half past two in the
morning her. So, it`s a good four hours after the incident and we`re still
getting ambulances arriving.
So, staffers say that those children who are among the injured and as you
said, before we know that there`s at least people injured and was the death
toll but very much to police and gave us the last update an hour or so ago.
MADDOW: And, Helen, while you have been there at the Manchester royal
infirmary, you`ve been seeing a steady stream of ambulances arriving with
PIDD: Yes, and you learn people obviously coming to try and find their
loved ones and in other cases going to visit people who have been kept in
overnight. I just spoke to a year old girl who is at the concert with her
best friends and their granddad, while her granddad year old man, he`d been
the kind of chaperone against the concert. He wasn`t interested in
listening to the music so he was just waiting by the merchandise fans which
is kind of in a tunnel almost underneath the tiered seating, and by one of
the exits and he assumed he was near where the blast happened.
And I heard a massive shudder, and he only realized he`d been hit when he
realized his face was bleeding and one of his arteries in his cheek had
been severed, and so, they`d just gone to visit him said he was in shock,
and there`s lots of people coming by they`re just understandably to shocks
and not wanting to speak to journalists which I can after understand.
MADDOW: Helen, from that description that you just gave us which is
harrowing I should say, does that tell you anything – being familiar with
that area and with that venue, does that seem to jive with what police have
described or at least the venue has described as their belief that the
explosive device was actually not inside the venue, that it may have been
in public space, outside in adjacent? Does that make sense?
PIDD: Yes, I think so more ambulances are about to go past, so you`re
going to hear some sirens but like that`s what I`m saying and, yes, it does
seem to have been staged right and hold on desolation I`m going to soak up
PIDD: I`m doing going to the children casualty ward, and, yes, it just
seems so if you`re standing on the stage it was staged right everybody
agrees on that, and that it seems to have been perhaps underneath the
seats, as I said in the kind of connecting tunnel that gets you out into
the station because this mystery no it`s not kind of a standalone arena.
It`s attached to one of Manchester`s name railway stations and that`s how
you exit, you kind of exit in anyone in McDonald`s and then you`re in the
station. So, it seems to have been them towards the exit where this
And I`ve spoken to quite a few transfers very young very young very shocked
people sort of wandering around the city center earlier and Ariana Grande
had only just – the concert just finished. She done her encore, she went
off stage and then bang, big explosion, and suddenly, a lot of smoke and a
lot of terrified, terrified young people.
MADDOW: Helen, I`ll ask you just one last question: have there been –
have there been more recent concerns, more concerns recently than usual in
terms of potential terrorist activities have there been police actions or
raids. Has there been and any sort of uptick of cannon concern in the
northwest of England or in Manchester specifically in recent weeks and
So, now I know an ambulance just arrived to the children`s hospital, and
no, not really, not specifically in Manchester. I mean, I`m sure you look
all over in America aware of the Westminster terror attack a couple of
months ago, and there were some raids in the north of England, but I don`t
think they actually found any crucial information. So, no, there hasn`t
area expose in this day and age, we`re all at you live in a major city
unfortunately and you`re – it was always a question of when really.
But I mean, you know, an Ariana Grande concert.
PIDD: It`s very – sorry, more ambulances arriving.
MADDOW: Helen Pidd, “Guardian” newspaper reporter who is on the ground in
Manchester tonight, again right outside the Manchester Royal Infirmary,
which has a children`s unit, and Helen is standing there as the ambulances
continue to stream in to the infirmary. Helen, thank you very much for
your reporting tonight. I`m really grateful that you`re able to be with
us. Thank you.
PIDD: That`s fine.
MADDOW: A little bit of new reporting from NBC News right now. Multiple
senior U.S. law enforcement officials briefed by authorities in the U.K.
now tell NBC News that the forensic evidence at the scene, including a body
found at the blast site, indicates that this was a suicide attack brief
aside on that we`re just speaking with Malcolm Nance about that earlier,
somebody who has in his work in the military and intelligence has been
physically on-scene at more than one suicide bombing.
One of the things he was describing to us which we have heard from other
people as well, is that when there is a suicide bomber more often than not,
the forensic detailing of the scene will also include telltale damage to
one body, the bomber`s body that is very different than the type of carnage
he`s able to inflict on others, and it`s just a graphic consequence of the
physics of wearing a bomb. But we`re told that forensic evidence at the
scene, including a body found at the blast site indicates that this was a
suicide attack. In addition, a senior U.S. law enforcement official
briefed on the British investigation says they believe they have
tentatively identified the bomber.
Now, that said, law enforcement officials are not providing any additional
information on the identity of the bomber, but again, this is U.S.
officials telling NBC News this who have been briefed by U.K. authorities.
The indications are that they may have of an identification for this
alleged suicide bomber, but that`s as far as we can go right now.
I want to bring into the conversation now, Rukmini Callimachi, who`s “New
York Times” correspondent who focuses on al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Rukmini, thank you for coming in.
RUKMINI CALLIMACHI, NEW YORK TIMES: My pleasure.
MADDOW: It is obviously early for us to be getting correct details of
this. Let alone any understanding of who might have caused this. Is there
anything that you`re able to see or report on, in sort of terrorists or
goals online in terms of claiming responsibility?
CALLIMACHI: Well, the obvious question is, is this Islamic State or is
this al Qaeda? Neither group at this point have claimed this attack and
what we know from past attacks is that it takes them several hours,
sometimes up to a day to claim them.
If the reporting was correct and indeed this was a suicide bomber, and he
is now dead and he happens to be from one of these two groups, we will
expect a claim of responsibility we`ve seen in the past. That when the
attacker is still at large, ISIS will not claim it and the speculation
around that is that they don`t want to complicate that person`s
But if the reporting is correct and this person is now dead, then that
clears the path for that.
One question that I have is what is the type of explosives that was used?
Al Qaeda used a variety of explosives in the types of attacks that they`ve
done in Europe. ISIS by contrast has been – has been rather predictable.
They`ve used something called TATP, which stands for triacetone
triperoxide. It`s a peroxide based explosive and investigators should know
quite quickly just by testing the residue of the material that is left at
the scene, whether this is a peroxide based explosive.
If that is the case, in my – in my mind, it raises the probability that it
is ISIS because in so many attacks, this is the type of a signature that
they have left including at the Paris attacks, including the Verviers
attack, including the Brussels airport bombing.
MADDOW: Now, let me let me make sure I understand what you mean there.
You`re saying that ISIS basically always uses TATP –
CALLIMACHI: In Europe.
MADDOW: In Europe?
CALLIMACHI: In Europe.
MADDOW: Is it also true that other groups other than ISIS don`t use that?
CALLIMACHI: Al Qaeda has used TATP, but they`re much more varied. They`ve
used something called PETN. They`ve used HMPD. These acronyms don`t mean
much to our viewers, but what it would suggest is different compounds and
different ways of making them.
ISIS seems to have a protocol for this because we`ve seen TATP used over
and over again in attacks in Western Europe, and there`s a good reason for
that, which is that triacetone triperoxide is made from acetone and
MADDOW: Very easily obtainable, right.
CALLIMACHI: Both are easily obtainable. Home depot and the barber shop.
MADDOW: After the TATP attacks that we have seen previously in Europe, has
there been any efforts by law enforcement authorities or intelligence
authorities their to try to prevent people or at least alert whenever
people buy those things in sufficient quantities to –
CALLIMACHI: That`s the problem. You don`t need enormous quantities of
them and these are things that acetone is used in solvents that we used to
clean our homes. Peroxide, you`ve heard the term peroxide blonde. You
know, these are things that are used in hair care products. And that`s why
this exclusive which is not as powerful as the explosive that they use in
Iraq, for example, but that is why is ideal for use in Europe because it
doesn`t set off the tripwires that other types of explosives would.
MADDOW: Rukmini, are we seeing anything – are you using anything in terms
of cheering, congratulations?
CALLIMACHI: Yes, enormous celebration on ISIS channels on, disgusting, you
know, to watch. They`ve created a hashtag Manchester, which is both in
English and in Arabic. They`re reposting all of the past threats and
posters that they`ve made a targeting England.
When the Paris attack happened, there was a video that was released by the
attackers that showed them in Iraq and Syria, presumably carrying out
beheadings and other atrocities and at the very end, the next target that
they announced was the United Kingdom. That was in November of 2015, and,
of course, nothing happened after that. That that is the puzzling thing
about ISIS in the United Kingdom.
A very large number of fighters are from the U.K. Jihadi John, the jailer
and the executioner of the American hostages was British, but we have seen
far less attacks in Britain than we`ve seen, for example, in Belgium and
France, even though the numbers of fighters are roughly similar.
MADDOW: It was noted earlier in the show and actually I should tell you
that we are we are expecting a news conference from Manchester police any
moment. So, we`ll cut to that as soon as that happens.
It was noted earlier in the show, Pete Williams mentioned right at the top
of this hour that there is an anniversary here in terms of British –
MADDOW: – attacks, that the Lee Rigby attack, this horrific, unbelievably
graphic attack on a British soldier who was beheaded in the middle of a
street on camera by attackers who did not try to get away.
MADDOW: That was May 22nd, 2013.
Does that – I mean obviously we don`t know if that significant. It might
be a coincidence. Does that strike you is a relevant factor to look at
here in terms of ascertaining what happened?
CALLIMACHI: That`s the universal way in terms of in terms of the terror
group that we know if ISIS at least. In 2013, ISIS had not yet declared of
caliphate, for example. At that point, al-Qaeda was really the big dog on
the scene. So, at this point, counterterrorism officials that I speak to
believe that ISIS has a greater capability for carrying out these types of
attacks than al-Qaeda, though we might be surprised.
We saw “Charlie Hebdo” was, of course, al Qaeda.
MADDOW: How much does ISIS`s situation abroad in its self-proclaimed
caliphate in in Iraq and Syria, how much does it affect or in what
direction does it affect its ability to project force in Europe, outside of
– far outside its bounds of any territory that it controls? Is there a
relationship at all?
CALLIMACHI: The expected – the narrative that we`ve heard out of
Washington and other capitals in Europe is that as ISIS`s caliphate is
shrinking and as they come under pressure in their territory in Iraq and
Syria, that they`re going to wash out. Now, that sounds like it makes
sense unfortunately the data doesn`t back it up because the very first
attempt at attacks in Europe were by fighters who left Iraq and Syria in
December of 2013, long before airstrikes began almost a year later.
There have been so many foiled attacks before then and in the very
declaration of the caliphate, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani who has been the
spokesman of ISIS, in that very declaration spoke about targeting the West.
So, in my opinion, these two objectives holding ground, governing a
territory and hitting the West are twin goals of the Islamic State and I
don`t believe that there`s a relationship between the pressure they`re
facing now and attempt to strike out.
MADDOW: Rukmini Callimachi, “New York Times” correspondent focuses on al
Qaeda and ISIS – again no claims of responsibility here. Police are
treating this as a terrorist incident. The working hypothesis is that this
was a suicide bomber outside this concert in Manchester. No claims of
responsibility yet, but lots of celebrating as you said online and in the
types of chat rooms where those things would happen.
Rukmini Callimachi, thank you. Appreciate you being here. Tahnk you.
CALLIMACHI: Thank you.
MADDOW: I want to bring out to the conversation, NBC News law enforcement
expert Jim Cavanaugh, who has among his many years of experience in law
enforcement a lot of time working with explosives and working with
extremists at the ATF. Jim, thanks very much for being with us tonight. I
JIM CAVANAUGH, NBC NEWS LAW ENFORCEMENT EXPERT: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: What are the other types of attacks what are the other attacks
that are sort of in this category that you put in this same column in terms
of the M.O. that we saw here with this attack tonight in Manchester. Is
this like anything else?
CAVANAUGH: Well, you know, there are a lot of suicides by bomb. You know,
I`ve worked a number of those. I remember one a few years ago where a man
blew himself up in a Land Rover outside the Opryland Hotel in Nashville,
which is the second-largest hotel in America, and everybody thought it was
terrorism but it was in fact suicide by bomb.
I think what we have to remember here and that is not uncommon. I mean,
people do kill themselves with bombs. There was there was a guy outside of
a Oklahoma stadium back in 2005 that looked like might have been a suicide
with a bomb outside a stadium full of people. So, it does happen.
But here, what you can understand is, Rachel, is like you`re talking with
“New York Times” reporter. This is more a homicide suicides the bombers
waiting for the crowd.
The interesting point I think of course the timing in the targeting, I
don`t think he penetrated this security from what we know from what you
discussed and Pete`s reported, he was likely right outside the venue and he
had to wait. I`d be surprised if he walked up and instantly detonated
device. More likely, he had a wait a while. How long that is it`ll be
interesting to find out.
Is it five minutes? Is it ten minutes? Was he loitering and lingering
outside of the box office quite a while? The reason that`s important it
could detect a future attack.
This is similar to the Paris attack where the two bombers are outside of
the venue and other attacks where the bombers were just before security,
the Belgian airport, the Ataturk Airport in with bomb, suicide belts,
(INAUDIBLE) had guns as well, but there before security with their bombs.
So, this guy here might have loitered there while and if so, you know,
security might have picked him up a bomb sniffing dog – if you`ve got a
backpack full of explosives, Rachel, TATP as you were discussing, HMTD
anything a commercial or military grade, a bomb dog a smell you what cross
the parking lot. If you`ve got that thing full of explosives he`s going to
he`s going to learn on you right away and that backpack is going to be
heavy because it`s loaded with nails or nuts and bolts a ball bearing it`s
a very heavy.
And I venture to say that a lot of these casualties and fatalities are
going to be in direct proximity to the bomber if he detonated that device
usually by a simple mechanism with his finger, right in the crowd, there`s
going to be a lot of vicious wounds and fatality wounds right there. There
could be others killed by the stampede as you discussed, but a nail bomb,
shrapnel bomb, is an anti-personnel bomb designed to kill people in
MADDOW: Jim, I`m asking you to hold just one second, we`re going to come
back to you in a second, Jim. But we`ve got an eyewitness on the phone
right now I want to bring into the conversation live.
Joining us now by phone from Manchester, England, is Zac Haniff. He was an
eyewitness to the explosion at the concert.
Mr. Haniff, thank you very much for calling us tonight. We appreciate your
ZAC HANIFF, EYEWITNESS (via telephone): Hi. Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Can you tell us just where you were and what you saw?
HANIFF: So I was at the Ariana a concert. We were sat on the upper tier
on the right side of the stage, me and my friend. It was straight after
she finished performing her last song which is the leading single
“Dangerous Woman”, she left the stage the lights came up industry second
after we had this huge bang. I thought it sounded like a gunshot.
Obviously, in the moment, you just don`t think that these things are going
to happen to you, so you just assume. You don`t really assume much. So,
we didn`t really assume anything.
Everyone decided of walking (INAUDIBLE) and then certainly because we could
see the whole arena, we saw everyone on the bottom floor screaming, running
like shouting trying to get out the way as quickly as possible, and we
didn`t know what to do. As soon as we got out of the arena into the lobby
of where the arena exits were, there was people crowding around, people
screaming, frantically crying like trying to escape.
It was of like people with blood down them and people have been seriously
injured there was like security everywhere and as soon as we go outside,
those police cars like riot van ambulances everything was just going crazy
like forensic. And still at this point, we didn`t really know what even
happened, until we had people saying the words bomb and explosion. That`s
when everyone really got shaken up.
MADDOW: Zach, can I ask you? As you were leaving – I mean that`s a very
– you`re painting a picture that I can – that`s very, very clear. But as
you were leaving, getting out from your seats and then out of the venue and
then out onto the streets. Was it safe in terms of the way the people were
leaving or was there a real crush of people? We`re trying to figure out if
some people might have been hurt in kind of a stampede for the exits.
HANIFF: Yes, honestly, like there were people with like blood on them, but
it wasn`t like they had been shot or anything or anything seriously
wounded. It was just like scratches and marks and I think because everyone
was so frantic, they would have been pushed. They would have shoved. Like
I know that I had on the news earlier there was a there was a lady in a
wheelchair who couldn`t even get out and she had been greatly injured
because obviously she was only the wheelchair, she couldn`t move like
everyone else out of the arena.
So, I reckon, a lot of the injuries came from that, but then also in a
state where you hear the word bomb and explosive, you can try and calm
people down which is you want in terms of like trying to get everyone out
safely, but people will spring, the people will like trumped. Like they
will just try like human instincts get out and that`s where a lot of the
injuries from I think.
MADDOW: Zac, in terms of the response from police and emergency services,
you said that there was a big presence in the streets instantly, as soon as
you got out of the venue. Do you feel like they handled the situation in
an orderly and an appropriate way? Do you feel like that the police
response was appropriate?
HANIFF: Yes, I`m not even from Manchester myself. I`m from a place called
Leicester which is like a two-hour drive away, but I`ve never seen you know
like public services act the way they did, like it was it was incredible to
see how quickly they got to us, like there were so many ambulances, so many
police cars as you`re walking away from the arena. People were like
guarding up all the streets making sure it was emergency vehicles only.
It was – it was amazing how quickly they got to it. Obviously, you can`t
control everyone, when there`s thousands of people trying to escape,
especially when we don`t even know what`s happening. There`s no way you
can control everyone but it was – it was active straight on like, it was
pretty amazing how quickly they got the scene.
MADDOW: Yes, Zac Haniff.
HANIFF: Obviously people were still injured.
MADDOW: Zac Haniff, who was at the concert tonight, was an witness to what
happened. Zac, I`m sorry that you went through this tonight, and I`m
really grateful that you took the time to talk to us about it. Thank you.
HANIFF: OK, thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
HANIFF: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: You see in the lower right corner of your screen there, you`re
starting to see people sort of wander into that frame. The reason we`ve
got that live or a reason we had – there were go – the reason we`ve got
that image up there and we`re keeping a live camera on that is because that
is where we are expecting the British police, the Manchester police which
is the big police department. Manchester is a good-sized city in the north
of England. We`re expecting a briefing from them any minute.
You see the local time there. Nearly 3:00 a.m. in Manchester. Again, this
happened, the bomb – what we believe was a bomb happened at roughly 3:35
p.m. local time. So, this is a briefing that we`re expecting to be live
from Manchester PD and we`ll go to that as soon as it starts.
So, I want to bring into the conversation now, Vikram Dodd. He`s the crime
and terrorism reporter for “The Guardian” newspaper.
Mr. Dodd, thank you very much for being with us.
VIKRAM DODD, THE GUARDIAN (via telephone): Hello.
MADDOW: We have very little reporting tonight in terms of what has
happened and what we believe has happened. We`ve got a death toll of 19.
We`re told that the injuries are in the dozens, possibly 50 people injured,
and we`re told that essentially the working hypothesis of investigators on
the scene is that this was a suicide bomber who may have had the bomb in a
backpack, and that`s the bomb seems to have gone off immediately outside
I just wanted to check to see if those facts comport with what you`ve been
able to report this for and if you can add anything to that.
DODD: Yes, I think you`re absolutely right then the initial fear is fear
you and if you can add anything to that I think the suicide both of us
being stranded ruins your theory, as they`ll be looking at a lot of others,
such as, was there (INAUDIBLE) work? Why did the bomb caused so much
carnage, so much loss of life? What is the construction of the bombs and
they run that against other bomb designs to give you any clue about who
might have made it, what kind of group might be behind it?
And a bigger issue which will be relevant here, relevant to you over there
and frankly everywhere that have any concern about terrorism, is what does
this tell us about how you protect public buildings and big spaces. This
is as thousands and thousands of people (INAUDIBLE) the Irish cause, the
sort of jihadist cause, and we`ve gone through review after review about
how do we keep people safe, especially in big crowded spaces, that this is
going to be a merchant and running around the world about what happened and
how do we minimize the chances of it happening again.
MADDOW: We`re told and our sourcing here is elaborate but specific. We`re
told by a senior U.S. law enforcement official who was briefed on the
British investigation by British officials, and from that sourcing, we have
the reporting that they believe they have at least tentatively identified
the bomber again. They believe that it`s a suicide bomber. They found a
body that they believe was the bombers body and they believe they may have
a tentative identification of who it is.
From what you know of the way you can approach these things and the type of
investigation or the contours of an investigation like this, will it help
them substantially to get an identification and should we expect that
identification to be publicly released?
DODD: This jurisdiction, the various jurisdiction work slower next open
than one you`ll use to in the United States. So, for instance, I was
watching some U.K. media coverage, you know, saying loud the Americans of
running ahead in terms of details and casualties, and the suicide bomber
nine and it`s not impossibly you`ll hear from leaks from some clear
intelligence officials first, rather than us.
The identification is key as they run the electronics on that person,
personal check. Is he known? I`m assuming to see, are they known in the
database? There are thousands and thousands of people subject of interest
to MI5, which is the U.K. domestic security service, and to please
counterterrorism officials will run that name almost certainly we stop
there, highly unlikely they won`t have it somewhere at some stage and then
ask them since the modern age of terrorism began, and then they`ll run
associates the electronics, social media linkages, even Syria, assuming
this is Islamist, and that will be you know, that`s maybe a crucial part
will be the IP.
But then there`s got to be other things they need to get bringing play,
which is also another thing a picture of the analysis of this, which is
given what happened in the Westminster attack on March the 22nd, given that
we`ve had about two weeks after that, two plots they think may have been
pretty significant, which they disrupted that`s what they believe obviously
these people are considered innocent at this – at this stage, is that some
big uptick here in terms of the threat, that the U.K. faces in the uptick
that the West faces basis generally.
United Kingdom has been a trivial general, which means of the tacky life
date for a tune of eight years now, when they haven`t got a lot further to
go in terms of preparing maps. But I will be meeting in the morning of the
emergency committee (INAUDIBLE) going on now about were the threat level
needs to go up.
MADDOW: Vikram Dodd, the crime and terrorism reporter at “The Guardian”
newspaper in Britain – Mr. Dodd, thank you for joining us to help us with
this tonight. I really appreciate your time.
Here with me on set is Rukmini Callimachi, who`s a “New York Times”
correspondent, who works on al-Qaeda and ISIS as her beat.
What Vikram was just saying there about the ID of this possible suspect, if
they found – if they believe the suicide bomber, if they believe they`ve
got his body, if they believe they got an ID – how do you find – how do
you how good a first step is a name in terms of tying this to any larger
CALLIMACHI: A bigger first step is a name and that person`s electronics.
So, if this person was working with al-Qaeda or ISIS, there`s going to be
an electronic chain. Usually for ISIS, it`s on telegram, which is a
messaging app that people have on their phones, which has an encrypted
feature. Same with al-Qaeda, they have they have chat rooms.
And for the very first thing that I think officials will be doing is going
through that person`s communication channels on their phone, on their
burner phone, on their computer, on their iPad, and trying to see if
there`s a history. Now, what`s happened as far as ISIS attackers recently
and again we don`t know that the devices that has not been claimed by any
group, but they`ve become increasingly good at using burner phones and at
erasing of their history. So, for example, in San Bernardino, even though
ISIS claimed that attack to the state I don`t believe that that officials
have been able to recover the electronics that that person, that that
couple used in the lead-up to that attack. So, that key link is missing.
We saw for instance during a Paris attacks that they were using burner
phones Abdelhamid Abaaoud who was the leader of that attack who died a
couple of days later, his body was found next to a stack of unopened burner
CALLIMACHI: And so, that`s the trick. Depending on their sophistication,
they would have taken steps to erase the history or else to use throwaway
phones in order to hide their tracks.
MADDOW: Yes. As cognizant of how important that can be as forensics.
CALLIMACHI: Yes, yes.
MADDOW: Rukmini Callimachi, thank you for being with us tonight. I
Our MSNBC coverage continues now. We`ll be covering the latest from
Manchester, England all night. I`ll remind you that we are awaiting any
minute now, live briefing from the Manchester Police Department which, of
course, is the lead agency on this tonight as we start to get more and more
scraps of intelligence and information about what may have happened here.
But again the terrible bottom line here is that we believe people have
My colleague Brian Williams picks up our coverage now.
Good evening, Brian.
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