ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC: What is the reaction from the U.S. State Department about the reporting from the Associated Press that al Qaeda in Yemen may have been directing this attack?
MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, Alex, there are a lot of unknown questions here that we are still trying to pull every single thread. The intelligence community is work working with the French to see who they may be linked to. But if it turns out that they have links to Anwar al-Awlaki or AQAP I think it just underscores for people what a threat he was not just to the U.S. but to our partners in Europe and how important it was for us to take him off the battlefield, again, not just for us but for our partners. He was a very serious threat and if, I stress if, this turns out to be true I think it just reminds people of that.
WAGNER: Well, I mean in all fairness, as Evan Kohlmann pointed out, Marie, Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a drone strike in 2011, we are sitting here in the year 2015. Clearly neutralizing a threat four years ago, the threat has not been neutralized in fact because we are here almost half a decade later and carnage ensues.
When this happened immediately, the word out of the White House focused on the Islamic State. We didn't hear a lot about al Qaeda, al Qaeda generally or AQAP. What assurances can you give to the American public that we are as targeted in our mission on AQAP as we are publicly at least with IS?
HARF: Well, a couple points. First, I think, again, there are a lot of unknowns here. We're certainly not jumping to conclusions. The intelligence community is looking exactly at who they might have been involved with, who they may have been inspired by. They are not mutually exclusive. They might have been inspired by both AQAP and the Islamic State.
But we have been very focused on AQAP. If you look at our counterterrorism operations over many years since President Obama took office, really re-focusing there, having some success. We've talked about it a lot on your network in really going after this group that has tried with the Christmas Day bombing, with the cargo plot bombing, two attacks to the United States homeland.