Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: May 22, 2017 Guest: Ali Soufan
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, Laith, Laith Alkhouri, thank you, Sir, for your reporting on timely manner -- timely manner. We`re going to continue to cover the breaking news from Manchester, our coverage continues now on "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. We`re following two big breaking stories tonight, one at home and one abroad. Here at home, yet another blockbuster report on efforts by the President of the United States to interfere with the federal law enforcement investigation into his campaign. We`ll bring you the details in a moment.
But first, the breaking news abroad at this hour, reports of an explosion and mass casualties at a concert in Manchester England. Let`s go to NBC`s Kelly Cobiella live from London, and Kelly, what`s the latest.
KELLY COBIELLA, NBC NEWS LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the very latest is that we believe, according to NBC News, sources, multiple U.S. officials briefed on the investigation into this say that authorities in the U.K. suspect that this incident was conducted by a suicide bomber. This happened at about 10:30 local time at the Manchester Arena. This is a huge arena. There was an Ariana Grande concert on there, as you know, big draw for young fans. Would have been a full stadium, holds some 18 to 20,000 people. At the end of the concert, witnesses report hearing a loud bang. They say it sounded like an explosion and they ran for the exits. Now, what has transpired since we`ve gotten a number of emergency vehicles there. We`re starting to see pictures on social media of some of the kids coming out with injuries, some teenagers who -- I presume were teenagers with ripped jeans, bandages around their legs, adults with similar kind of injuries being helped by first responders.
Some witnesses say they saw people with cuts on their head. But really unclear how many of these people were injured by some sort of explosion or by just the rush to get out of this stadium. At this point, the Manchester police cordoned off a large area here in central -- there in central Manchester. It`s a huge city. It`s the second largest city in the U.K. and this is also very central part of Manchester, close to -- this arena sits on top of a train station so it`s a very central area, Chris. As I said, our sources are now saying that the U.K. officials suspect this was some sort of a suicide attack. We also understand from our sources that as many as 20 may have been killed and hundreds injured. But a lot of this information, Chris, as you know is still developing and we`re getting reports just minute by minute.
HAYES: Kelly, I want you to stay with us and I want to bring in -- I believe we have Pete Williams, of course, our Justice Correspondent in Washington D.C. And Pete, I don`t know if you have anything to add from your sources there in Washington, D.C.
PETE WILLIAMS, MSNBC JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there`s increasing confidence according to what the British authorities are passing along to folks in the U.S. increasing signs that this was a terrorist attack. It appears they say, based on the forensic evidence, that it was a suicide bomber with some kind of a backpack bomb. It would have to be a large amount of explosive in that backpack to have caused such a loud noise that was heard all throughout the arena inside and many people who were outside, say they heard it, too. It appears that the suicide bomber, if that`s what it was, did not actually get into the main part of the arena where the concert was held, but instead, was outside of it, near the box office near the foyer. It`s still unclear whether the suicide bomber managed to get in but the timing of the bombing, if it was a suicide bomber, someone setting it off on purpose at a specific time, if that`s the scenario, it appears to be someone who set it off as people were e leaving the arena.
The concert we`re told by many witnesses was just ending and people were starting to stream out and that`s when the explosion happened. And the authorities here have been told by British authorities that a large number of the casualties were caused by the crush of people, the stampede of people trying to get out of the arena. The witnesses say, of course, they didn`t know where the explosion happened. They couldn`t see it, many of them if, in fact, it was in this foyer area. Some reported seeing a flash and hearing the explosion. Those were apparently the people who were outside in that area where the suicide bomber was. So these are the very preliminary indications but based on what the U.S. officials have been told by the British authorities on the scene, there are forensic indications, I think is the best way to say it, of suicide bomber with a backpack bomb.
HAYES: To Pete`s point, I want to play some video we have, which is a dash cam monitor that sort of gives you a sense of the scale of the explosion that happened, take a listen.
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HAYES: You can hear that, that echo in the background. And Kelly, to Pete`s point, eyewitness reports that have been streaming in, do refer to lot of people with open wounds, blood and the like that obviously would be you know, could have -- could have happened from some kind of improvised explosive device that had some sort of nails or something like that in it.
COBIELLA: Yes, there were reports of shrapnel-like injuries, of cuts to the head, to the hand, to the legs, that sort of thing. These are all coming in from eyewitnesses. But I should also mention that in some of these videos we`re seeing on social media, you do see the inside of the arena just before people start rushing for the exits and you can see all of the balloons dropping. You can see clearly that this is at the end of the concert. The people are sort of milling about and about to leave the concert anyway. And this is the video I was referring to. So it does look like the end of the concert. People were about to head out of the arena when they heard this large blast. And there was a lot of confusion according to these eyewitnesses inside, of not sure whether the explosion happened inside, whether it happened outside, whether there was going to be more than one explosion, quite a bit of panic inside. There are also reports that people coming to pick up their loved ones you know, as I said, this would have been a concert attended by a lot of teenagers, a lot of young girls that are big fans of Ariana Grande, girls going with moms, dads coming to pick them up or vice versa. And so you would have had people outside, people inside, again, a very central and alive part of Manchester, very busy part of Manchester and 10:30 at night after a concert is getting out, Chris.
HAYES: We should also say the context here, which may or may not be germane, but so folks know what`s going on, the background, of course, is an election, there`s a political election coming up. We know in France, in (INAUDIBLE) of an election there, there was an attack, I believe claimed by ISIS on the Champs-Elysees, the timing, it seemed not coincidental to the election that`s happening there. There is -- they are gearing up for a big election in the U.K. right now.
COBIELLA: Yes, they are. And you know, whether this is part in parcel of that, we don`t know. Whether it`s simply targeted toward, you know, a large very westernized venue, whether it`s some or the of attack geared toward, you know, a concert, people out and about, having a good time, listening to fun music. You know, we don`t know who the perpetrator is, at this point. We have these reports that this looks like the work of suicide bomber, but who is -- who was the person carrying that bomb, we don`t know yet. I should mention that the U.K. has been a severe terror threat level since August of 2014. This is something the police have been worried about practicing about. They`ve said repeatedly that they foiled a number of terrorist attacks, more than a dozen terrorist attacks over the past two years. So this is something that people in the U.K. essentially, I want to say have been braced for but to a certain extent that`s true, whether or not elections add to the risk, I`m not so sure. It`s entirely possible. But you know, I should also add that there have been some terror-related arrest in Manchester and in Birmingham. There have also been terror relate arrest London. So all of these big cities are potential areas of concern when it comes to anti-terror raids, terrorism threats, Chris.
HAYES: All right. Kelly, thank you very much. We will be checking back in with you. Malcolm Nance, I believe we have on the phone, an MSNBC Terror Analyst, Former Intelligence Official. Malcolm, what is your reaction to what we know so far?
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERROR ANALYST: Well, the British authorities appear to have worked very quickly and from what we`re hearing and reporting, this may have been a terrorist act that is not yet been confirmed but if they believe that they have the remains of a suicide bomber, that, generally, becomes very apparent, very quickly. I`ve personally been right on the scene of a suicide bombing numerous times and the suicide bomber is nothing like an injury that you would see with any other type of victim. Usually, they are no longer in one component. That being said, that news would spread rather quickly and I`m sure we`ll be getting a confirmation from British police over a period of time. But it would also lend a new dimension to the types of attacks that England has had. They haven`t had a mass casualty suicide bombing in over a decade. And it means that the raids which have just recently been carried out may have had a broader plot. It appears that the British have done some arrest in other cities, but this one, apparently, slipped through the cracks and, you know, the law enforcement in England and everywhere else, well, you know, they have to be lucky all the time and the terrorist have to be lucky just this once. And we may be seeing an example of that.
HAYES: Let me ask you this, this is something you spent a lot of time thinking about. We`ve seen attacks that have been used a wide variety of implements in various different settings. We had a man, (INAUDIBLE) officer stabbed here in the U.S. recently by someone who appears to be a WHITE supremacist, we`ve got car attacks and truck attacks. There`s a logistical threshold to put together explosives like this, am I right?
NANCE: You`re absolutely correct. That -- you know, explosive bombing attack outside of using rudimentary explosives like pipe bombs, you know, and black powder type devices. That is another dimension of terrorism. And I think we`ve -- you`ve seen, over the last year, that`s what`s being - - we`ve been watching are what we call zero value attacks. That means it cost nothing to carry out that terrorist attack, such as the one in Niece where a truck was stolen and plowed through and killed over a hundred people. The knife attacks in which you see in Palestine and in the United States where a person just goes up and uses that implement to kill someone. Same with gun attacks, as we saw in Paris in the Bataclan attack, they cost $57 per victim, that`s how cheap terrorism is. But that is actually decreased. San Bernardino was $27 and the knife attacks are $0. This appears to be, if it does turn out to be act of terrorism, a more organized type of operation where they went back to the previous paradigm of building and construction explosive devices, impacts and then using them as what we call human-guided weapons, to go in and lay down a precision attack on a very specific location. This one is much closer to the France attack that occurred in 2015 during the Paris Bataclan incidents.
HAYES: And remind us of the Stade Vista de France attack, what happened there?
NANCE: It was almost the same thing, if this turns out to be a suicide bomber attack. Two suicide bombers were dropped at Stade de France in front of a -- just across the street from the main entry of very, very large soccer stadium at the height of a -- of a fully packed crowd and the bomber could not penetrate the exterior perimeter security. In fact, he was standing in front of a small snack bar for some time trying to determine the proper time. There were two bombers. And they went into two separate entrances and they were stopped. One was stopped right at the gate the foyer just like this one and he exploded there and injured only a few people. The other bomber got spooked and detonated his pack and it killed no one except the bomber.
HAYES: Yes. we`ve just -- to recap what we do know. Our sources say there are at least 20 dead, hundreds of injured in a -- what appears to be a bombing, certainly an explosion at an arena in Manchester where Ariana Grande was playing a concert. It happened right around 10:30 local time. It was at the moment when the concert had just ended. And the reason I think this sort of back pattern is important to kind of piece together where we are and what we know is that you can see the lights have come on and people are streaming out. The report we have indicated that the explosion itself possibly happened outside of the venue or in the foyer of the venue. So not right there in the middle of it, what precipitated a mad rush of people, obviously, to get out of that venue. It was audible and visible, quite a few blocks around. So all of that put together, the timing, the fact that it happened right at the end, lights were out, and people would presumably streaming towards the exits. And also, what you say about the Stade de France attack and the fact that this security perimeter of a venue like this, you know, in any country in Europe right now is not going to be easy to penetrate.
NANCE: Right. And you know, it`s interesting because your collection of those facts, the little intelligence indicators there spell out a very deliberate pattern that we`ve seen ISIS, for example, try to encourage with other attacks. And Stade de France, for example, was designed to have one explosion to create a panic and the other explosion to create an opposite side panic so that it would trample people. And those attacks occurred just soon after a mass stampede have occurred in the City of Mecca that killed over a thousand people. And this is the sort of, what we call, you know, terrorist strategizing at a tactical level that they do in order to get people to effect carry out the act of terrorism for themselves. So in this circumstance, if the concert was letting out and people are coming out, that`s when you have the greatest compression of people near the gates, near the doors. If you detonate a device, it will create a natural human reaction to stampede and we may find that a lot of these injuries are responsible from that.
HAYES: Let me give an update on what our reporting now indicates, 19 confirmed dead, 50 injured in that arena incident and I should be clear here, the reporting that we have from law enforcement sources have been briefed by U.K. law enforcement is that they believe it to be a deliberate explosion and possibly a suicide bomber at this point. This is video that was taken by people that attended this concert, as Kelly said earlier, massive venue, 18,000 people in the second largest city in the U.K. Whoever did this, if indeed this bears out to be target explosion, as it appears to be, obviously done to terrify and terrorize as many people as possible, whatever possible ideological motivation. The facts that we know so far which are only tentatively established, obviously, we`re very early in the story, would seem to indicate that some thought went into how to make this as terrifying for the people in that venue as possible. And Malcolm, to your point, that obviously is something that various groups have spent a lot of time thinking about over the last decades.
NANCE: Well, you`re absolutely right. And you know, it`s horrible, but they do have efficiency managers within these terrorist cells where they do try to get their most bang for the buck, so to speak. And you know, this incident being --if it`s -- if it`s possible, if it does turn out to be act of terror and an individual suicide bomber, that may be a result of these recent raids throughout England. You know, it`s one thing to actually carry out one act of terrorism, but you get a multiplicity of terror effect if you can carry this out in multiple venues or multiple devices at the same venue. And --
HAYES: Again, I want to -- let me just say, Malcolm, I just want -- people are joining us and what we know and don`t know. We don`t know -- claimed responsibility as of yet. We have no indications of who is responsible for this. All we have from law enforcement, we have 19 confirmed dead, 50 injured, what appears to be some sort of improvise explosive device that was detonated. It appears towards the perimeter of the venue in the foyer of the Manchester Arena in which Ariana Grande was playing a concert. Again, no claim of responsibility but -- so people were just listening on it and just make sure what we know about this incident. What I -- what I would like you to talk about, Malcolm, you talked about a bunch of raids that are happening and do we have precedent in other circumstances in which raids have, essentially, precipitated cells believing they are about to be rolled up and perhaps carrying out things they have been plotting more quickly than they originally intended?
NANCE: Absolutely. We saw in the attacks in Brussels last year, just about this time last year, but, you know, after a series of hundreds of joint French and Brussel-Belgian police raids, the three suicide bombers who went to Brussels airport and then -- and then to the train station. They felt, after the arrest of one of the French planners, that they had to roll their schedule of attack forward. And this is one of the hard parts of terrorism. We do not determine how a terrorist cell attack or when they attack. Only the cell leader knows that for sure. He may have a fixed date. But there are things in which law enforcement might do which he makes what we call a go, no-go decision. And they may say, hey, we`ve got all the devices here or we only have partial devices here, let`s go now and abandon the, you know, the safe house and just effect our attack. And that`s what we saw in Brussels. And in fact, they found un -- you know, undetonated devices, devices that were impartial made. So that means that law enforcement and their effectiveness did help precipitate and attack. But you cannot predict it and you cannot do anything about it. It`s just on the basis of what the terrorist individual, or terrorist or cell leader decide at that time.
HAYES: We should also be clear on, there was -- there was what appeared to be an attack by car outside parliament, I think it was just about six weeks ago or so, in London. We should also be clear that the U.K. is a place that is familiar with attacks on civilians, particularly bombings during the troubles by IRA. They have had Al Qaeda attacks in U.K. as well, so a wide spectrum of folks that have brought that kind of terror and violence to the streets of the U.K. It`s a society that is quite resilient in the face of that, real projection of resilience, particularly, after that parliament attack not easily cowed or easily scared on the phone. Obviously -- yes, Malcolm, please.
NANCE: I`m sorry. I didn`t mean to cut (INAUDIBLE) off. He`ll be the first one to tell you, England has suffered a series of terrorist attacks. But they are -- they are so aggressive in their counter terrorism operations. I know right now there`s probably a covert committee being called at the Parliament. And they are very forward leaning on this and that`s why they`re few and far between.
HAYES: All right. Stay with us, Malcolm, on the phone. I want to bring in Ali Soufan, former FBI Supervisory Special agent. And Olive, do we have now confirmed from the Manchester Arena, which is tweeted on its own account, confirmed that the explosion happened outside the venue in a public space, which, again, to Malcolm`s earlier point about what happened at Stade de France, there`s some obvious similarities in that.
ALI SOUFAN, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Yes. Obviously, I agree with everything that Malcolm, you know, talks about. This is not the first time we see these kind of attacks in Europe, especially, in the United Kingdom. We remember 7/7, that targeted mostly the transportation -- public transportation in London. But, also, in the last decade or so, the British Police was able to disrupt the major terror plot in Manchester. Manchester has been a hub for some cells every now and then, they appear to call the big disruption that we did with the British government at the time and the Manchester P.D.that resulted in the Manchester manual. The very famous Manchester Manual about how Al Qaeda operate and how they counter interrogation and how they conduct terrorist attacks that was found, again, in Manchester based on its name. I work in Manchester with the Manchester P.D. I work with Manchester -- in Manchester also with the group from Scotland Yard and the counter terrorism branch who came all the way from London to that specific operation. They are some of the most professional people you`ll ever meet. I can`t imagine now that the counter terrorism branch, the anti-terrorism branch on my side, Scotland Yard, the Manchester Police are all working together to figure out exactly what happened. It seems that they are dealing with this threat as terrorist attack and from the pictures that we`ve seen it is obvious that the attack did not happen inside the arena, it happened outside, as you mentioned earlier, Chris. And as Malcolm said, if you go to these events, if you`re up even in the United States you have a lot of security that kind of prevent people from going inside. And I think, you know, these measures help but as saying goes in the terrorism business, we have to be successful 100 percent of the time. They have to be successful only once being the terrorist -- being the terrorist and the bad guy. I think -- I think at this stage, it seems to me, at least, the obviously it`s a terrorist attack and I think we just wait and see whose behind it, either as the result of the investigation, the individual who was probably involved in carrying out that attack or claims of responsibility for, you know, the visual suspects out there.
HAYES: Yes, I want to just reaffirm what we do and don`t know that we have law enforcement civil sources who tell us that they suspect that it`s a suicide bomb that was detonated, the Manchester Arena has used its official twitter account. We can confirm there was an incident as people are leaving the Ariana Grande show last night. Last night of course, because it`s the next day in England at this point. The incident took place outside the venue in a public space, our thoughts and prayers for the victims. Please follow @gmpolice on twitter for all further updates. So it appears to be an intentional attack. Initially there was some thought about whether this was some sort of technical explosion. That was actually a device that have been placed there, it appears to be an attack of some sort. However, who was responsible, we don`t know, their particular ideological motivation, we do not know. Although obviously, there are going to be speculation about that to follow. I also want to just make the point, which is that these images, which are terrifying, have been produced by people that are intent on terrifying the population. And keep that in mind as you watch all of this unfold. And Ali, to Malcolm`s point, he says that it`s suicide attack, if it is, in fact, is something that law enforcement and counter terrorism officials are generally able to get to the bottom of fairly quickly.
SOUFAN: Yes. I mean, you have a lot of CCTV cameras over there around the arena and inside the arena. I think you`ll have some, you know, indications about how many people were involved in this attack. There`s more than one, possibly identify what we know off or at least has been reported suicide bomber, you know, was is that person operating independently, alone, or did he or she have more people with them. I think there will be a lot of intelligence that probably the law enforcement on the ground already have it. And based often the identity of that individual, they will start connecting the dots. Did he travel to conflict zone areas, did he go to -- you know, to join the terrorist organization outside the U.K. Where did he travel? Which are? If you remember with the terrorist attack, there was early indication that one of the attackers at the Charlie Hebdo for example has been to Yemen and joined Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In the terrorist attack or attacks there were few indications that some of those were involved have been to Syria and joined ISIS over the conflict zone and they were considered (INAUDIBLE) who came back with a mission to create havoc and terrorism inside, you know, France. So I think the law enforcement, the intelligence, the British are the best of the best. And I`m sure that they`re having now relationships and cooperation with the different law enforcement and intelligent sources from around Europe and even the United States. I think a lot of intelligence sharing is going on now and knowing how efficient and how professional both intelligent services and law enforcement services in the U.K., I am sure they are putting the pieces together as fast as they can.
HAYES: Ali, have -- it seems to me that there has been tremendous progress in many ways in terms of security. The fact that we have seen this kind of -- this sort of change of tactics, the Nice truck attack, particularly, using vehicles in that way, this which happens outside the venue. There is this kind of adjustments by security services to secure public spaces and make them safe and then just sort of degree to which there is only so much that can be done in that respect.
SOUFAN: Yes, absolutely. And this is something that we`ve seen throughout, you know, I personally seen throughout my work in counterterrorism, first, you know, Al Qaeda attacked the twin -- you know, conducted the twin bombings in East Africa in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. So when we start securing embassies around the world, they attack ship. When we start securing ships with the USS Crew In Yemen, they you know, use the aviation sector and they use the planes to conduct 9/11. And when we start securing the aviation sector, they attacked, you know, buses and subways in London and in Madrid.
So they shift their strategy, then you take in order to go around the security measures that`s being put in place to make us secure. They have to be successful, you know, sorry -- we have to be successful all the time, they just want to be successful once. And you have a lot of groups out there and a lot of, you know, radicals, regardless to which organization they believe they join. Now, those guys have the motivation to attack. They definitely have the intention to attack.
Sometimes they don`t have the capability. A lot of times our law enforcement and intelligent services deprives them from capability. But everyone, every now and then they are able to do, you know, a Paris or a Brussels or now a Manchester.
HAYES: Ali, I`m going to ask you to hang on with us as well. It`s Malcolm who is there. I want to just recap what we do and we don`t know, just to be very clear about this at this moment. So, we do know, according to UK police, 19 confirmed dead, 50 injured at that Ariana Grande concert. An explosion went off at the end of that concert as the lights were turned in Manchester, second largest city in the UK and a large massive arena, 18,000 people something like that capacity in that arena.
At the end of that concert, there was explosions. The Manchester arena itself has said that it happened at a public space outside the venue. We have reporting indicating from law enforcement sources that they suspect it was a suicide bomber that caused that.
We should note that there were thousands in that venue who appear to have been able to get out safely. People are sorting themselves out in terms of finding their loved ones, but we do have 19 confirmed dead and 50 injured. We have no claim of responsibility from any group. We have no indication as to the perpetrator. But we do appear to know that it was perpetrated. This was not an accident that happened.
I want to bring in Ken -- NBC`s Ken Delaney.
And what are U.S. officials talking about now?
KEN DELANEY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, as you just said, 19 confirmed dead, it may go higher. They are understanding that the explosion happened outside the arena.
You know, this is just the worst nightmare in terms of a terrorist attack that has been expected and has not occurred as often as might have happened with the ISIS threat in Europe. You know, you`ve got a soft target here and almost indefensible target. They are -- we`re asking the question as there been chatter leading up to this? We`re not getting an answer to that yet, Chris.
Yeah, and Malcolm, are you still there?
NANCE: Yes, I am.
HAYES: Malcolm Nance who is also on the line, had made the point. And Kelly I think had made this point, that there had been a number of raids recently, both in Birmingham and Manchester in the UK, which were counterterrorism raids, just over the last several weeks. Is that right?
NANCE: Yes. That`s absolutely right.
The British have been carrying out some their routine crackdowns (ph). And, you know,they`re almost -- it`s so routine that you don`t see them in the media. But as we said earlier, British intelligence, and you know, SO- 16, their special operations forces, they are very good at finding out some of these plots and sympathetic members and rolling them up with virtually - - you know, when you see them in the media locally, but virtually without much international new publicity.
And this may have precipitated, you know, the bomber in an alternate location to just quickly go ahead and carry out his attack if it is a terrorist attack.
DELANEY: The only thing I can report to, Chris, is that President Trump has been briefed on this attack. When it first was emerging I reached Senior White House official in Jerusalem who hadn`t heard of it, but we just learned within the last 15 minutes he has been briefed.
HAYES: I imagine we will probably see some sort of public statement. The president at this hour I believe is still in Israel. Is that right?
DELANEY: I believe that`s the case.
HAYES: And they are going to be departing I think fairly soon to Italy.
Again, we do not know a whole lot at this moment. And these situations, it`s easy for rumors to fly and to get out ahead of what the facts are. We do not know who perpetrated this. We do know there`s a lot of traumatized people in Manchester right now who lived through something pretty awful. Eyewitness reports are pretty tough to read, accounts of blood and open wounds and the panic of crowds. Again, this is done specifically to elicit that response.
DELANEY: Chris, one thing that U.S. officials are telling my investigative unit colleague is that they don`t know whether the deaths and injuries were caused primarily by the explosion or by a trampling incident afterwards as people fled the scene.
HAYES: That`s important.
Yeah, and the timing -- I mean, you can see the crowds there in this video, the timing is such that you had thousands of people exiting the venue at just about the moment that that explosion appears to have gone off. And Malcolm your point is that this is something that, you know, a lot of thought has been in various venues and put into the ways to maximize casualties in these kind of crowd events.
NANCE: Yes. A lot of analysis goes in. And I`ve actually seen captured documents where they look for, what we call, the traffic flow of the victim pool and they will want to get people to, you know, they want to detonate a device in a highly crowded location and that will cause a stampede effect and that will create additional injuries.
And like I said, a good example of that was in a non-terrorist related incident in the Muslim city of -- holy city of Mecca, they lost over a thousand people, not because of any critical incident, but because of religious fervor. People just wanted to get to where they had to get and it created mass stampedes that killed over a thousand people.
When a terrorist targets here, or a terrorist planner gets this into his mind, it becomes a very, you know, efficient way of multiplying whatever your combat effect is on to the -- on to your victim audience.
And so by getting to a venue that`s very crowded, putting people into a concentrated area and then getting your bomber or your weapon system in place and then detonating it at the right time, you will kill people within the immediate blast radius. You`ll kill and injure people. But more importantly, the key component of terror is terror, right, which is to get you to keep moving and to cause a secondary effect of stampede, which can kill and injure other people.
HAYES: All right, joining me now, NBC News senior national security analyst Juan Zarate, former deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism under George W. Bush. And Juan, what do you make of this?
JUAN ZARATE, NBC NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL SECUIRTY ANALYST: Well, unfortunately, I think we`re seeing another tragedy, not just in the UK, but in Europe, that represents the manifestation of the concerns that counterterrorism officials have had, which is there`s a volume of radicalized individuals who are willing to perpetrate these kind of attacks. You`ve seen -- as you mentioned -- arrest recently in the UK as recently as May 17, of four individuals in London who were plotting attacks, other arrests at the end of April.
And you`ve had a continuous string of potential threats in the UK. This seems to be, again, we don`t know enough yet, but it seems to be the manifestation of terrorist attack of the type that these individuals are now trying to perpetrate, trying to attack soft targets, trying to get into venues like a concert and certainly trying to cause as much psychological as well as human damage as possible.
And at the end of the day, we`re probably going to see that the perpetrators, you know, were known to authorities or may have been on the radar at some point, or at least fell into the category of individuals that they were worried about potentially having returned from Iraq and Syria or inspire from the Islamic State. And I think that`s the worst case scenario here, but unfortunately we`re seeing another tragedy in Europe and the UK has had to deal with this and they`re trying to deal with it preventatively.
But here we`ve seen an attack unfold right before our eyes.
HAYES: Yeah, I should note, again, we do not have any definitive information one way or another about who is responsible for this. Obviously, people are going to put puzzle pieces together because of attacks that have happened in Europe recently. We don`t have reporting information at this moment about who did this, who they are, what their motivation was, or claim of responsibility or anything like that.
It`s also true, Juan, isn`t it, that -- I mean, Europe has had a lot -- has had to deal with this quite persistently, particularly over the last few years, and you know, at other periods in its history in the 1970s from other groups and has had some sustained counterterrorism successes actually when you look at the number of plots and logistical disruptions that they`ve been able to stymie and stop over the last several years.
ZARATE: You`re absolutely right.
I think disruptions tend not to get as much attention as they should. They`re often dismissed as over reaction by the police or, you know, the fact that they don`t come to fruition doesn`t get the headlines, obviously, that actual attacks do.
So you`re right that the British security services, the MI-5, which is the internal service, MI-6 have done more and more in recent years to try to be preventative to make arrest where they can and as we`ve seen in the last month-and-a-half, they`ve been quite aggressive in that regard, especially in the wake of the Parliament attack.
But, you know, the terrorist only have to be right once. And they can pick soft targets in an open society and that gives them an advantage. And they also have seen -- assuming this is a terrorist, and I think that`s the assumption that the Manchester Police and MI-5 are making at this point, I think these individuals take some degree of learning, if not direction, from terrorist organizations.
They have seen what the Bataclan attack in Paris looks like and the kind of carnage that that causes and the psychological aftermath. And so these are individuals that learn from each other. We, again, you`re right, we don`t know enough to proclaim that this is ISIS or al Qaeda or some other organized group, but we do know that these are individuals, be they loan wolf or directed who learn from these other attacks and who certainly try to cause as much damage as possible if they`re going to kill fellow citizens.
HAYES: Yeah, and to Juan`s point, I mean, Ken, we have seen, obviously to Juan`s point about an open society, groups of people, publics, thousands gathered at different places across the continent Europe and United States at any given moment, it is part of what an open society does and we saw in England, particularly in the wake of the last attack, which was that car on the bridge connecting to parliament, a real kind of sense of resoluteness that you are not going to alter anything about the functions of daily life in the face of this and something that actually Brits, particularly, have dealt with, been resilient about over the course of numerous decades.
DELANEY: Absolutely. I covered the 7/7 bombings in London and the Brits were back on the Tube regardless of bombing the Tube by the end of the day. They were commuting home from work on the Tube. It was remarkable. They were not going to be terrorized.
But I think your earlier point was also very well taken, which is that, you know, around the time of Brussels and Paris, we found out there was a network of ISIS terrorists living in neighborhoods in Molenbeek and Paris, and they knew each other. It was a cell. And they had attacked twice. And a lot of people thought there were going to be other attacks. And Europeans have done a pretty good job of cleaning it up.
But they have a huge radicalization problem, much bigger than what we experience in the United States, with disinfected communities. And there`s a steady stream of propaganda. It had been diminished, but the ISIS propaganda is still affecting lives and influencing people. And, again, as you rightly point out, we don`t know that this is ISIS, we don`t know what this was. That`s what it turns out to be. That`s a factor.
HAYES: All right. I want to go to NBC`s Kelly Cobella who is live from London for the latest. What do we know at this hour, Kelly?
COBELLA: Well, just in the past nine minutes or so, greater Manchester police put out a tweet saying that they`re about to carry out a controlled explosion in the area and just sort of advising people in that area not to be concerned. There have been reports in local media, unconfirmed by NBC News, that a second device was found in and around the arena that may be what`s happening here. But again we have to caution about this because as people were leaving there could have been quite -- there was quite a bit of chaos, that much we know. There could have been something left behind. But clearly something of concern to greater Manchester police, so they`re carrying out a controlled explosion now in the area.
This part of of central Manchester has been cordoned off now. Police warned people to stay away. It`s still very much an active scene. All of this kicking off at about 10:30 local time tonight, so a good two hours ago, now. The first reports coming in through social media of reports of an explosion at the end of the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester arena, an the arena that holds some 18,000 to 20,000 people.
This is a huge venue. It would have been filled with lots of teenagers, families. Ariana Grande has a large, young fan base.
So reports of this explosion. People rushed for the exits. There were eyewitness accounts of people saying that they saw people with cuts, people bleeding from the head, people with bloody arms and such, one young woman said that she heard the loud explosion, ran out the exit and saw blood outside the arena. We have since learned from Manchester arena, they`re putting out a statement saying that this explosion happened outside of the venue in a public space.
The reports from Manchester police, now, are that at least 19 people have been killed in this. It`s not clear how many of those people were killed by the explosion or, perhaps, by the rush or the crush to get out of that arena. Some 50 or so are reported injured, again, by greater Manchester PD.
They`re also telling us at this point that they are treating this as a terrorist incident until or unless they learn otherwise. And we`re learning from our sources, from various multiple U.S. officials that UK k is treating this as potentially the work of a suicide bomber.
So, that`s where we stand at this point. Emergency services still trying to deal with lots of casualties in the area. They`re also, you know, it`s a very chaotic moment. There were families of potentially separated, friends separated, all sorts of stories starting to come out now of people who witnessed this, survived it.
But, again, you know if this is the case, if this does turn out to be a terrorist incident, which it looks as though that`s the path they`re going down, this will be the deadliest terrorist in this country in over 10 years, Chris.
HAYES: All right, Kelly, thank you so much.
I want to bring in law enforcement analyst Jim Cavanaugh who worked on explosives for a long time, and it appears we do have explosives.
And I guess the question is, is from what we know and the sort of level of mayhem this caused, what we could conclude about how difficult something like this would be to put together.
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, there`s a degree of difficulty, Chris. But, of course, bombers like this are schooled. They can be schooled on the internet or trained by someone.
In a suicide bomb, in a backpack, you know, the common activity is to make it an anti-personnel bomb, full of nails. You know, when I was an agent in charge of Birmingham division, we had Eric Rudolph bomb the Birmingham clinic, a nail bomb, directional, improvised Claymore mine really, fragged the police, killed a police officer.
I`ve seen, you know, fragmentation bombs, ball bearings, nuts and bolts and all kind of devices. When you are putting a bomb in a backpack to go in a crowd, you`re probably going to fill it with fragmentation. You`re going to have some explosive filler in there. And think the discussion you had with Malcolm and Ali earlier was spot on.
You know, the first thing that hit me on this bombing was the timing, the targeting. You know, why at the end of the concert? It speaks very loudly to he probably could not get in.
And, you know, that brought to mind, of course, the soccer stadium, as you discussed with Malcolm in Paris where the two bombers could not get in, but also brought to mind to me, the Belgian airport attack, which was before security where they wheeled the bomb in, but also the Ataturk Airport. the bomb and suicide belt attack, brought that to mind where it was before security.
And, you know, that happens a lot right before security, you can`t get in. So there`s always a perimeter.
Right now Kelly`s report they`re sweeping for secondaries. This is standard procedure. We built in a bomb investigation and procedure in the last 40 years. Sweep for secondaries.
You remember the recent case just within the last year in St. Peterburg, Russia metro, and a suicide bomber first dropped the bomb at another station and then bloom himself up at another station.
So bombers don`t have to have only one bomb, they can leave a bomb and kill themselves with a bomb. But in the Russia patrons. Everybody is dropping their bags. So the bomb squad has a challenge to, you know, open bags that can`t be determined immediately that somebody owns.
HAYES: Jim, generally -- Jim, I mean, obviously this would be different in the U.S. I think than in the UK. But the difficulty of acquiring explosive material from which to fashion something like this.
CAVANAUGH: Yeah, Chris, great question.
I spent a month in Scotland Yard working with all those guys years ago, the bomb squads. And we worked specifically on bomb and gun matters affecting in the UK, some of it was terrorism, some of it was criminal. It can be fashioned now, especially in terrorist circles they can concoct, you know, all kind of chemical mixtures from PETN to HMTD. They can make all of these chemical mixtures from available materials they can acquire legally.
So a bomber is a guy who wants to spend a lot of time and effort making the device. This could very well be an improvised mixture in an improvised device. And so you have multiple things here -- you have a mixture made, probably. I mean, it could be military explosives, it could be commercial explosives, that`s going to be a lot harder to get.
But you can mix it up like bathtub gin. He can improvise the bomb. And usually the suicide bomber -- you know, he has a switch in his hand, the wire down his sleeve. You know, he just detonated. It`s command detonation. He doesn`t need to be far away.
Traditionally bombers, you know, could be far away, be a long way away, be across the country and dial a cellphone detonator.
But the suicide bomber, you know, he`s got to press the bomb. But besides the effort of doing all of that, Chris, we can`t miss the fact fact he has to be inculcated to kill himself and to do this mass murder. And that is an important factor, as well.
HAYES: Ken, one of the things that we`ve seen, of course, and one of the things that is sort of a natural aid on the side of those in counterterrorism, is that it`s not easy, actually, to find people that are who are willing to do that. It`s not easy to find recruits that are willing to kill themselves. And it is part of the advantage in some ways counterterrorism units have which is that suicide bombings are harder to stop, but also harder to recruit for.
DELANEY: That is exactly right, Chris. And that`s what makes this so disturbing. Because it`s one thing to pick up a rifle and shoot at a shopping mall, the ultimate soft target, but making a bomb requires a level of conspiracy, requires communication, presumably, requires some technical expertise and leaving aside the issue if this is a suicide bomber, recruits through recruitment.
So, these are things that counterterrorism authorities are trying to penetrate. And it will be interesting as this unravels, the extent to which encryption plays a role here. We`ve been hearing from intelligence officials that they are finding it harder to penetrate plots, because terrorists are using encryption and they`re blocking their communications. That`s been a problem, it`s been a problem here. They call it the going Garp (ph) problem.
So, it`ll be interesting. Obviously, we have no facts right now, but I just wanted to tell you, too, I`m getting an email from Evan Coleman, our NBC News terrorism analyst who says that ISIS, one of ISIS`s propaganda magazines on May 4 called for attacks on a series of targets in western countries, including concert halls.
Obviously, it`s something they`ve done before.
HAYES: Yeah, we should note that basically the ISIS propaganda networks are an endless stream of calling for attacks in a whole variety of venues. So, I just want to be clear about that, that any given moment that those are asking for that.
Ali, you talked a little bit -- is Ali Soufan still there? We talked a little bit about coordination between various counterterrorism agencies and officials across the U.S. and UK. That is probably one of the strongest partnerships that exist.
SOUFAN: Yeah, absolutely. They have been our partners from the beginning on this war on terror. We have amazing relationships between the FBI and between MI5 and Scotland Yard and SO-16 that focuses mainly on terrorism inside the United Kingdom.
Also, the CIA have exceptional relationships with MI6. NYPD, for example, have representatives, as we know, in London to coordinate the strategy and information with the United Kingdom. And our law enforcement over there.
So we have exceptional relationship, and I`m sure at this point a lot of the informations -- are a lot of the information needed for them if we have it, it`s being shared immediately. And I believe that there will be a high level of coordination between our law enforcement and intelligence services. We`ve been through this with them before.
We work together to successfully disrupt the plots in the United Kingdom, but also they helped us to disrupt a plot here inside the United States.
We work together in countering terrorism around the world. They are one of our best partners, and the relationship between the UK and the U.S. and the law enforcement and the intelligence side is very deep.
HAYES: Juan, one of the questions that people have asked is about the ways in which ISIS -- and again we do not know right now who is responsible for this. We do know that attacks similar to this have been carried out by ISIS in Europe in the past right now. We have no claims of responsibility and no idea who actually did this. We want to be clear about that.
Distinct from that, however, there has been questions how ISIS will respond to essentially battlefield defeats, if the pressure on their territorial hold in Iraq and Syria is accelerated if that will lead to increased attacks in Europe. I wonder you`re thinking about that.
ZARATE: Well, it`s a great question and something that counterterrorism officials in the west have worried about that as their territory shrinks, as their leadership moves, as their fighters disperse that they will be more inclined to attack in the west, move into places like western Europe. You also have the fact that ISIS has begun to tell its followers no longer to travel or attempt to travel to Iraq and Syria to attack in place using a variety of means, simple means if that`s all that`s available.
And so you`re absolutely right. The counterterrorism officials have been worried that as you squeeze one part of the balloon, the territory that they control, the other part of the balloon begins to expand and you begin to see more of an attempt by ISIS to effect and to attack in the west.
One thing that`s important to keep in mind in western Europe, which is a disadvantage to British authorities and western European authorities, is the fact you really have three pools from which these kinds of attacks can come from if, in fact, this was a terrorist attack. One is those that are directed by ISIS, people that have gone to Raqqa, gone to Iraq and are sent back and directed to attack.
We`ve seen that in France, Belgium, Germany, et cetera. So, there`s that pool.
You have the pool who are newly radicalized, simply individuals who live in the country inspired by the message of ISIS or al Qaeda and decide to learn online or perhaps get some help from people in country, but really haven`t traveled and aren`t directly foot soldiers of ISIS, but carry the banner and flag. So that`s a problem.
The other problem -- and we`ve seen this in France, for example, is the long lineage of radicalized networks that can either be al Qaeda networks, ISIS networks or other jihadi networks. It almost doesn`t matter. Those, then, provide a platform, an infrastructure and the ability to support any sort of attack. And they can then support a radicalized individual who has come back from fighting with ISIS or al Qaeda, or simply support a radicalized individual.
And this is difficult work, counterterrorism work, and the Brits have done a very good job in recent years in part with U.S. help, but largely due to their own efforts to try to prevent these attacks.
Unfortunately, we may be witnessing something that made it through those security protocols and efforts.
HAYES: And I just want to note obviously that if indeed it was a suicide bomb it`s definitionally terrorism, no matter what the sort of ideological component ends up being or what group or network.
If you blow up a bunch of people at a concert you are at some level elementally and definitionally engaged in terrorism full stop regardless of what we learn about the specific ideological motivations of the people that may have carried this out.
ZARATE: Absolutely right.
DELANEY: Law enforcement and intelligence officials are telling NBC News that this is being treated at terrorism, the only question is who did it, not whether it`s terrorism. And Juan will correct me if I`m wrong, but in terms of the three group that he was just talking about, the UK intelligence services have a better handle on who travels across their borders than perhaps continental European services do.
The things that we saw in Brussels and Paris with people going to Syria and then coming across, that`s a harder thing for ISIS to pull off in Britain.
And so it`s more likely that we`re talking about a problem of home-grown terrorism.
HAYES: Right. And we should be clear that numerous violent attacks that have happened in Europe have been French citizens, British citizens, and in fact, there was one example in Germany of essentially a framing of ISIS on an attack attack on a soccer bus by a right-wing neo-Nazi. This has also happened in Europe in the last several months.
So, we should just be careful about attribution at this point, although obviously there`s certain patterns that is very hard to ignore.
I want to just reset as we near the bottom of the hour here. There are 19 confirmed dead according to our sources, 50 injured at an Ariana Grande concert that was happening in Manchester Arena, about 20,000 people capacity, thousands and thousands of people in there. The light had come on at the end of that concert. Folks were headed out of the concert venue when there was an explosion that happened outside of the building itself, we are told, suggesting that individual that exploded that device did so before being able to penetrate any kind of security perimeter. There`s obviously a lot of panic after that. We have eyewitness accounts of blood and injuries.
Again, 19 dead. We have no claim of responsibility. We don`t know who did this. It is being treated as a terrorist incident as of now. That is the latest here as we approach 9:00.
And of course, Rachel Maddow, my colleague, will pick up our coverage right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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