The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/22/17 – Manchester Bombing

Guests: Helen Pidd, Rukmini Callimachi, Zac Haniff, Vikram Dodd

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, England.

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 parents.

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 Rigby --

MADDOW: Oh.

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 happens.

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 off.

MADDOW: OK.

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 --

WILLIAMS: Rachel?

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 publicly known.

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 police.

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 Richard Engel.

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 this.

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 incident here.

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 bomb.

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 here.

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 this?

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 exactly happened.

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 Islamic views.

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 anniversaries.

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 this.

Malcolm, thank you for being with us tonight. I really appreciate your time.

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: You know, I`m glad that I can help out.

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 bombers.

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 --

MADDOW: Five.

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 suicide bomber.

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 patients?

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 another.

(SIREN WAILING)

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 happened.

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 months?

PIDD: (INAUDIBLE)

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.

MADDOW: Yes.

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 investigation.

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 peroxide.

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 --

CALLIMACHI: Yes.

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.

CALLIMACHI: Yes.

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 appreciate it.

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 proximity.

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 time.

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 the venue.

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 potential plot?

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 phones.

MADDOW: Wow.

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 appreciate it.

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 died.

My colleague Brian Williams picks up our coverage now.

Good evening, Brian.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END