Al Qaeda Links to Spain Train Terror

This is a partial transcript of "Special Report with Brit Hume", March 11, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "Special Report With Brit Hume" weeknights at 6 p.m. ET

BRIT HUME, HOST: For more on the terrorist bombings in Madrid and who might be behind them, we're joined now by Neil Livingston, terrorism export and CEO of Global Options Incorporated, a firm that specializes in risk and crisis management. He joins us from New York.

Mr. Livingston, first of all, in addition to what we've heard from David Chater of Sky News about the materials found in a car there, Koranic verses and so on, what other indications are there that Al Qaeda and not just the local group ETA might be responsible here?

NEIL LIVINGSTON, CEO, GLOBAL OPTIONS INC.: Well, Brit, the Basque ETA normally targeted policemen, Guardia members, politicians there. They did some indiscriminate attacks but they were much smaller in magnitude. And this attack could only hurt them in terms of the Spanish public.

This looks more like the 9-11 attacks using trains instead of planes. These are very well coordinated attacks, multiple bombs, 13 in total number against a variety of targets. And you have to remember that Spain has been a willing member of the coalition, not only against terrorism, but in Iraq as well. So that might have put them in the cross hairs.

HUME: And there was also, of course, I guess a report given to a Arabic newspaper in London, claiming responsibility by al Qaeda or al Qaeda-related organizations.

LIVINGSTON: I would be more cautious about that. The claim was made by the al Masri Brigade; they've engaged in false claims before. That doesn't mean we don't suspect al Qaeda in this case. But al Qaeda rarely takes direct responsibility for their actions.

So I think what we're going to see is probably a variety of evidence, including the detonators in this stolen van and so on, that are going to lead to most likely to a Middle Eastern source as opposed to the ETA. And I would take that claim, well, cautiously right now.

HUME: Mr. Livingston, from what you're telling me then it's really an issue of style, is it? Modus operandi rather than anything else.

LIVINGSTON: This is really modus operandi right now. And the fact that there is a large Muslim population in Spain, Al Qaeda has been on the ropes for some time now, for at least the past 18 months. They haven't been able to carry out a major attack outside the Muslim world.

Seventy percent of their top leadership has been killed or injured. They're having trouble recruiting. They're having trouble raising money. They needed to show that they could carry out a big attack some place outside the Muslim world. And we expected this attack for sometime.

HUME: Now, what about the denial. Now, it seems very clear that the Spanish government wants people to believe this is the local group EPA. That these are Basque separatists from the northern part of the country, I guess, who have mounted, as you pointed out, scatter and somewhat different type of terrorist attacks.

Why would the government be so eager? I think I may know the answer, but I would rather hear yours. Why would the government be so eager to insist that this was not Al Qaeda or some other such terrorist group?

LIVINGSTON: Well, I think it's politics right now. First of all, they've been engaged in a war against ETA for decades. And sometimes they have -- you know, generally they have strong public support, but they need it in the Basque region. This could tip the balance if it were ETA. Or they could use this to their advantage.

On the other hand, Aznar has been criticized very, very regularly at home for his support of the United States. He's been portrayed as an American poodle, an American lackey. And you know, the war in Iraq is very unpopular there. So this could create domestic problems for him at home, if indeed by Spain's support of the United States, it turns out that it put them in the cross hairs.

HUME: We have got about 15 seconds left. Very quickly, what does this tell you about what this country may need to do in terms of its trains?

LIVINGSTON: Well look it, I take the metro liner between Washington and New York on a regular basis. Our trains here are very unprotected. we've done a great job at the airports. But we have a lot of other vulnerabilities in the United States. Not just trains. Our buses, but our whole transportation system with the exception of airports right now.

HUME: All right. Neil Livingston, always good to have you. Thanks very much.

LIVINGSTON: Thanks, Brit.

Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2004 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2004 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, Inc.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.