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Special Report

All-Star Panel: Canada terror plot sparks new fears about security

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 22, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MALIZIA, ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE: Conspiring to carry out an Al Qaeda-supported attack against a via passenger train, had this plot been carried out, it would have resulted in innocent people being killed or seriously injured. The individuals were receiving support from Al Qaeda elements located in Iran.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: That press conference this afternoon and that last line really raised some eyebrows. They said it was not state sponsored as far as they knew. Canadian officials announcing they arrested two men, a major terrorist plot, but said the public was not in danger. Back with the panel. Julie?

JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, in some ways this is how the system is supposed to work.  There was a plot. Authorities found the plot and they thwarted it, and they have these men in custody. I think it's important to note that obviously this comes at a time when a lot of people are on edge given the events of last week. The Justice Department has told us that there doesn't appear to be any connection between what we have understood to have been happening in Canada and the Boston plot. But, obviously in general, this raises the specter of terrorism. And that puts a lot of Americans on edge.

BAIER: Sure, the consciousness in people's minds.

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: It is sort of like how celebrities die in threes. It's strange how we have these two terror plots next to each other along with the ricin one -- same thing on 9/11. Remember there was the anthrax attacks and the terrorist attacks and they had nothing to do with each other but they came at the same time. That's odd. In terms of the Iran part, at least the old fashioned Bush doctrine said that if you are a state that tolerates terrorists on your own soil, then you are in a sense sponsoring terrorism. 

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You're harboring them.

GOLDBERG: You're harboring them. That's why we went to war with Afghanistan. They were harboring Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. It certainly seems worth looking into.

BAIER: Brit?

HUME: It will be interesting to see what the president and his administration will have to say about this, in terms of our policy toward Iran. We say from time to time this is a state sponsor of terrorism. Now comes a plot hatched, apparently, in Iran.

So what is the president's attitude toward this going to be? Well, we're trying to stop them from getting weapons of mass destruction. But it appears that from that country terrorism is being exported, whether by the inspiration or the direction of the government apparently we don't know. But there it is. That's where it's coming from. A lot of people suspected this for a long time about Iran. Now we have the Iran-Al Qaeda connection laid out for us in the prosecuting documents from the Mounties.

BAIER: Now Juan, we don't know about the ties on the Boston case obviously with Islamic extremism. We know it was on their web sites. We know what they were espousing but we don't know the specific ties as they look into Tamerlan's travel overseas -- the older brother. But these Canadian officials are saying it's clear tied to Al Qaeda. What about the whole tie of Al Qaeda is diminishing, the threat is diminishing, we have got them on the run? Are we starting to see a different thing develop that perhaps is much different than what we heard from the administration?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: No. I think that there is a new type of Al Qaeda connection. There is something that we have to understand that has evolved or in some sense mutated, which is it is not a hierarchical direction, and it may be in the case of the Canadians given what we just heard from the Mounty that in fact there was a hierarchical order, training, and these people were sent to commit this act.

BAIER: Which indicates order and giving direction?

WILLIAMS: That's what I'm saying. But I think in general the bigger threat at the moment is not, because I think the administration -- the United States has disseminated Al Qaeda as we knew them on 9/11. The bigger threat now is that you get groups that are splinter groups or people that are online and reading these radical Islamic and Al Qaeda oriented magazines about how to commit terror how to build pressure cooker bombs, and that these people then, acting as so-called lone wolves or in groups of two like we suspect of these people in Boston, commit a terrorist act.

Now, you say is that Al Qaeda linked? Now it's kind of amorphous. Well, yes, they are following Al Qaeda's inspiration. But it is different than saying that they are Al Qaeda.

BAIER: I think there are a lot more connections that we would like to know about with Al Qaeda and these splinter groups, perhaps from those documents we have yet to see from the bin Laden compound.

PACE: And I think this is one of those situations that is tricky for the administration as they try to message it, because on the one hand they do have an interest -- a political interest in saying that Al Qaeda has been defeated and disseminated in Afghanistan where we have been engaged in this long war.  At the same time we have seen not only with this plot in Canada but also incidents in Northern Africa over the past couple of months that there are groups that if they aren't direct offshoots of the Al Qaeda we knew in Afghanistan are at least inspired by them. And that's a tough thing to say we've both defeated them but also have concerns about groups that were inspired by them.

BAIER: Panel, thank you. That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for moving forward in Boston. 

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