Al-Qaeda is claiming responsibility for the six bombings at tube stations and on a double-decker bus that began in a series of explosions this morning at approximately 8:49 this morning in London.
There is a statement on a website linked to al-Qaeda that attributes the attack to ongoing 'zionist' British activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is further mention of Italy and Denmark, in what appears to be a threat to these nations if they continue to participate in the Afghani campaign.
Since al-Qaeda seems to keep a policy of limited attribution, their claims seem to carry weight. The organization generally does not take credit for attacks on the international scene (Iraq is a different story) unless they will substantiate them later.
I am assuming international blame will probably fall to the group, regardless of actually culpability. Expect increased security in major cities, both middle eastern and western, and in all G8 countries. There are likely already raids and arrests being carried out in Britain. Britain has a large and sophisticated anti-terrorism force, and they have likely wasted no time in following leads. A trial will eventually be in the works, and the international focus will shift back to 'global terrorism'.
The current number of casualties reported varies- BBC is quoting only two, while French media is claiming 20. The scale and effect of these attacks will be directly related to the proportion of attention they recieve, the length of their media shelf life, and most importantly, the vitality of a renewed terrorism concern. While it is unpleasant to say, 40 people dead will have far more of an impact than 4.
It seems likely, reading eyewitness accounts of attacks, that deaths will be somewhere between
Update:Confirmed 37 people dead. 700 injured, around 70 critically.
Given the timing of the attacks and the massive coordination, it seems likely that al-Qaeda was in fact, involved. While London has suffered it's share of terrorism in the past, this does not look similar to the work of the IRA. They do not seem to be suicide attacks, but rather, the work of abandoned knapsacks.
The timing should likely be attributed to the G8 summit, and not the Olympic bid, given the immediacy of response. An attack this sophisticated and coordinated would have been extremely difficult to pull off with only a 24-hour leadtime. The timing with the G8 summit can be seen as a message to the leaders of that club, the primary instigators of world change, that al-Qaeda remains a potent force to be reckoned with.
We should also expect a renewed series of arrests in counties like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. These close western allies enjoy opportunities to prove their committment to the 'war on terror'. There will likely be statements and press conferences where they will express condolences and extoll solidarity in the face of this 'threat.'