Tags: Exclusive Interviews | ISIS/Islamic State | MidPoint | War on Terrorism | Stewart Baker | Paris | Charlie Hebdo

Ex-DHS, NSA Official: Street Attacks the New Terrorist Model

By    |   Friday, 09 January 2015 03:08 PM

Spot attacks carried out by lone wolves or small groups on offices, storefronts and public spaces are the new model for terrorists seeking to inflict carnage and advance their goals without having to devote  years to 9/11-style planning, a former U.S. security and intelligence official told Newsmax TV on Friday.

"It's clear that after a long period of trying to attack international aviation, the Islamic terrorists … have found something that actually works for them," Stewart A. Baker, a former Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.

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Baker said the massacre at Charlie Hebdo in Paris perpetrated on Wednesday by Islamist gunmen is modeled on an even deadlier episode: the multiple, coordinated assaults in Mumbai, India, staged by Pakistani militants in 2008.

He said that "individual attacks, small-group attacks, that may or may not be well-organized and that are just designed to kill 10 or 20 people in a city center" are likely to be attempted again in some form by others elsewhere.

"We already have seen that kind of attack in the United States," he said, an apparent reference to the Boston Marathon bombings. "It doesn’t require much infrastructure, and it may not even require that you know the people who are carrying out the attacks if you’re the inspirer of it."

Combatting these ad-hoc operations means rooting out "small groups who are self-radicalized or who have tenuous ties to the organizations that are inspiring this," such as the Islamic State or al-Qaida in Yemen, said Baker, author of "Skating on Stilts: Why We Aren't Stopping Tomorrow's Terrorism".

"I’m not sure we are doing everything we can," he said.

Baker, a lawyer and former general counsel to the National Security Agency, said that while the FBI is robust in its pursuit of terror suspects, the climate for clandestine intelligence gathering has worsened since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified details on government surveillance.
 
"The FBI is very good at finding people who are in the early planning stages and compromising them in ways that make it possible to prosecute them," he said. "But I would ask some questions about whether the Snowden revelations and the enthusiasm for rediscovering our civil liberties might not have been premature."

A good first step, said Baker, would be to plug the Paris attackers' names into a telephone metadata collection system created under the Patriot Act — and "much maligned" after Snowden's disclosures —  "to see whether anybody in the United States has called them in the last six months or two years."

"Because that will be a clue that there’s somebody here who shares their inclinations," he said.

"I’m not convinced that happened," he added, "and I’m not convinced we’re using that database and some of the other databases with the same efficiency and determination that we would have prior to the Snowden revelations and the backlash against intelligence that we saw after those revelations."

Getting other governments to take terrorist threats more seriously might become easier after the Charlie Hebdo killings, he said, but the U.S. will still find itself having to "push a lot of European governments as well as Middle Eastern governments to help us."

Baker said it's not an overstatement to declare that a global war with Islamic terrorism is under way.

"Certainly, Islamic terrorists have believed they’re at war with us and with the West for 20 years," he said. "It’s just a question of whether they can get us to notice."

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Spot attacks carried out by lone wolves are the new model for terrorists, a former U.S. security and intelligence official told Newsmax TV on Friday.
Stewart Baker, Paris, Charlie Hebdo
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2015-08-09
Friday, 09 January 2015 03:08 PM
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