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London Incidents: Powerful Message

The latest incidents in London's mass transit system represent a new tactic in terrorists' tool kits, and may be a means for the terrorists to announce they won't be stopped, according to one terrorism expert.

"This would be the first time we've seen follow-up attacks following any major attack, anyplace in the world," Neil Livingstone told The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. "There were no follow-up attacks after 9-11. There were no follow-up attacks after the Madrid attacks.

"And this would show a much greater level of sophistication, that they've been able to take advantage of the terror and panic they caused 10 days ago by now revisiting that. Even though there are no reports of casualties at this time, London is on edge, and they have terrified the city and brought it to a standstill once again."

Livingstone says the possible implications of the new incidents don't bode well: "This sends a very powerful message, and what they're saying is, 'No matter how great your network of informants and cameras and so on, you still can't stop us. You can arrest us. We can have people that are killed in these attacks, but we have other people that are willing to carry out further attacks. And so we're going to be there, and we're going to be there for a long time.' "

He added, "We know that these people are probably out there, still, and they may be able to carry out further attacks."

Livingstone all but dismissed the possibility that the latest incidents were the work of a "copycat."

"There's always a possibility that it's a copycat incident," he observed. "We've had that before, but … usually a copycat would have just one incident following this. And in this case, we've got multiple incidents, and I would have to believe that this is another, probably related, al Qaeda or similar cell."

The similarities to the original attacks are also of concern, Livingstone points out. As he spoke, it appeared three subway stations and a bus were involved in the fresh incidents, matching the types of attacks the first time around. This time, no casualties were reported in the early going.

"It's a complete mirror of the previous attacks," Livingstone notes, "and … it would seem that either that they don't have a lot of explosives this time, or they didn't have the bomb-making capabilities that they had last time. I don't think that you necessarily are going to carry out such attacks and not try to kill or injure people. So it would appear that the British are very lucky today, for whatever reason at this point, that the bombs are certainly much less powerful than they were 10 days ago."

He reiterated the sentiments of many fellow experts that there's "really not much you can do to protect mass transit light-rail systems. There are just too many people that get on too many stops, too many people getting off and so on. …And, really, the best tool you have in preventing these kinds of attacks is, are the other riders themselves. Do they see something suspicious? Did someone leave a parcel or a backpack underneath a seat and get off the train?

"It's very, very difficult. And so no matter how much you ratchet up security, as long as you let people take briefcases and backpacks and purses and so on, on the buses and subway trains, you're only going to have a limited ability to prevent something like this from happening."