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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Analysis of Terrorism in Iraq

Aired August 19, 2003 - 13:14   ET

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

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's turn now to CNN's Mike Brooks. He's a former federal agent; now a CNN expert on security issues. He was there in the immediate aftermath of the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1996, which killed 19 U.S. airmen.
Mike, good to have you with us.

MIKE BROOKS, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Good to be with you, Miles.

O'BRIEN: First of all, let's talk about what's going on, on the ground there, right now. What agencies would be there? What are they doing to try to piece together a case, as it were?

BROOKS: Well, right now, in a war zone like this, it's really kind of hard to determine exactly what agencies are there on the ground, besides United Nations personnel and U.S. military. But the most pressing issue right now is search and rescue. We know there are still people trapped inside the building. The truck got very close to the building. That's why you see the collapsing. So, there could be people in void space. So, there could still be more victims underneath the rubble.

Now, the second thing is: Who is going to investigate this? I just spoke with an FBI source just a short time ago, and they are waiting for the word as to whether they will be responding to the scene there, to investigate and to work this terrorist bombing or not. The FBI evidentiary response teams are very capable. They have the equipment to work these scenes, to find out exactly what kind of explosive, what kind of delivery device it was, and exactly what kind of improvised explosive device was inside that truck.

But I see a lot of similarities, Miles, in this truck bombing here at the United Nations to, No. 1, Khobar Towers back in 1996, when a truck -- it was a truck that was used to clean out port-a-johns, it was stuffed, packed with explosive, driven very close to the U.S. Air Force building there and detonated.

Also in 1998 at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, I was one of the team leaders there with the FBI's evidentiary response team, where they tried to drive a small Toyota Dyna truck packed with approximately 2,000 pounds of TNT. They wanted to try to drive this underneath of the embassy and have the embassy implode on itself. But the security officials there did an excellent job of keeping them outside of the fence, but still very close to the building in an urban like that -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: In those cases, those embassy bombing and the situation at the Khobar Towers, it did not come in the context of an ongoing guerrilla war, which is probably the best way to describe what's going on in Baghdad and in Iraq right now. How does that change the investigation? Is it more likely this will be left in the hands of the military?

BROOKS: Well, there's a possibility that it could be left in the hands of the military. But the FBI and the DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, will get together and compare notes on other bombings to see if any of these devices -- if they start to look for these kind of pieces of evidence, if they are similar to any other bombings they've had in Iraq or any place else in the Middle East. We can look just recently to the bombing of the Jordanian embassy. They'll look at the evidence that was gathered there, compare that to this bombing, and see if there are any similarities at all -- and also other bombings over the years -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: And I know it's very difficult for you to speculate on this one. But certainly the suicide vehicle bombing is just a hallmark of al Qaeda. Of course, it could be a copycat effort, right?

BROOKS: It could be a copycat. It could be the Shia in the area. But it is -- we look back at -- there was a suicide bombing at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi in 1988 that we know was linked with al Qaeda. And we've seen other bombings similar to that with al Qaeda in Bali, and this also possibly could be the work of that.

But, again, it's all speculation right now. Hopefully, we'll find out who is responsible for this in very short time -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: CNN's Mike Brooks, thanks for your insights. Appreciate it.

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