Newsmax chief Washington correspondent Ronald Kessler said Wednesday on CNN the FBI’s core focus when confronting possible terrorist threats connected with the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and beyond has somewhat shifted to attacks from a “lone wolf” as opposed to a more organized operation.
However, Kessler stressed that documents seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound indicate the killed al-Qaida leader wanted to make the anniversary memorable and terror-group threats cannot be ignored.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Kessler, whose latest book “The Secrets of the FBI” has just been published, about the FBI’s spotlight on a lone-wolf threat.
“That’s the major theory — and it’s absolutely true that the FBI has a lot of tricks up its sleeve now, since 9/11,” Kessler said. “One is that it’s become very prevention-oriented and emphasizes getting clues and leads to the next plot as opposed to putting someone in jail right away.
“It also has trip wires in place — what they call trip wires — where, for example, a chemical company will report to the FBI if there’s any suspicious purchase of chemicals that can be used for explosives,” he said. “That was what led to the roll up of the alleged terrorist, who wanted to blow up George W. Bush’s home in Dallas.
“Another is that they now check out every lead — no matter how crazy it may sound — and they investigate to the point where they want to prove that it could not be true. And that’s quite different from before, where they would just say: ‘Well, there’s just no basis for this.’” Kessler continued. “For example, if a swimming pool company is buying chemicals, now they will investigate the swimming pool company to actually establish that it really is in that business — and that’s quite a change from before.”
Kessler noted the agents will be on heightened alert on 9/11 and when he interviewed Robert Mueller for his book, the FBI director said what “keeps them up at night is the possibility of a [weapons of mass destruction] attack or even an attack on airplanes.”
“Well, first of all, no agent will be given leave — so almost all or, in fact, all of the roughly 14,000 FBI agents will be on duty,” he said. “And in the material that they seized in the compound of bin Laden, they found that he did have an interest in doing something on the 10th anniversary.
“There has been no specific threat — but you know, with lone wolfs, with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, with al-Qaida still being in existence, even though it’s degraded — there are so many opportunities for an attack, Kessler said. “And it really doesn’t take that much to pull off a WMD attack.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is a New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. His latest, “The Secrets of the FBI,” has just been published.
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