Professional intelligence and citizen vigilance are critical to stopping terrorism, but won't prevent every lone-wolf attack like those last week against soldiers in Canada and police officers in New York, says security consultant Bernard Kerik.
Some people intent on sending an ideological message by doing harm are "going to slip through the cracks," former New York City Police Commissioner Kerik told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV
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Surveying all three attacks, by men who embraced a violent strain of Islam or became otherwise radicalized, Kerik said, "Keep in mind, every one of these people, in one way or another, had some sort of problem that somebody was aware of.
"And whether that gets reported [to authorities] or not is extremely important," said Kerik.
The media portraits that have emerged of Martin Couture-Rouleau in Quebec, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau in Ottawa and Zale Thompson in New York describe varying degrees of personal disillusionment or downward spiraling that culminated in violence.
Couture-Rouleau ran down two soldiers with a car last Monday in Quebec. Zehaf-Bibeau shot a soldier and then opened fire inside Canada's parliament building in Ottowa on Wednesday.
Thompson, a U.S. Navy veteran, struck two officers with an ax on Thursday.
All three attackers were themselves shot dead by authorities, but they collectively killed two soldiers, injured a third soldier, and wounded two police officers.
Although jihadist rants on Thompson's Facebook page were widely circulated after the ax attack, Kerik said that intelligence professionals trained to spot potential terrorists do a "pretty good job" of monitoring social media for people who may be drifting toward violence.
"But the problem is, you're not going to be 100 percent," he said. "Something is going to slip through the cracks. And when it does, you can only hope that we catch it right before it happens, or the damage and devastation isn't too big."
"These bigger plots to take more people and money and funding and all that stuff — we've done a tremendous job at snuffing those out before they happen," said Kerik.
It's the isolated incidents that are going to be "problematic," he said, "especially because you have ISIS and all these other radical Islamic groups using social media to call for the attacks."
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Kerik said the violence in Canada and in New York happened almost on cue — shortly after the Islamic State, the violent Sunni movement in Iraq and Syria also known as ISIS or ISIL, urged believers to kill ISIS's enemies in the West.
"They've called for attacks on the press and media, on government, law enforcement and our military," he said, "and within a week or two after we heard those calls … we had the attack in Canada, another attack in Canada, the attack on the cops in New York City.
"And I can assure you this isn't the first," said Kerik. "We're going to see many more to come."
Kerik also discussed last week's school shooting in Washington State. Although it was not believed to have been a terrorist incident, Kerik said that one of his "greatest fears" is Islamist radicals targeting schools.
"I would have no objection to having armed guards at the schools, in a position to be a first responder in the event that we have a problem," he said.
He said, for example, that if Bibeau had chosen a target in Ottawa besides parliament — a place such as a school or a hospital where he might have been less likely to encounter armed security — "it could have been a massacre, and that's my fear. That's what I'm always afraid of."
Kerik was less alarmed by the appearance of Ebola in the United States, arguing that cities such as New York have the resources to limit the disease's spread, and that educating the public about how the disease is, and is not, transmitted, can limit panic.
He said he had "no objection" to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie having ordered quarantines for medical aid workers returning from Ebola-affected countries in west Africa.
For both governors, he said, "this is one of those situations where you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't."
He also said authorities here should treat returning medical workers "with integrity and humanity."
"These people are sort of doing God's work," said Kerik. "They have to be taken care of, but we also have to look out for the general public."
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