Tags: Homeland Security | War on Terrorism | Tom Ridge | homeland | security | ISIS | al Qaida

Ridge: Terror Threat 'More Complicated and Serious' Than After 9-11

By    |   Sunday, 10 May 2015 12:55 PM

The United States is in "much more serious circumstances" now than it was just after the 9/11 attacks when it comes to the threat of terrorism, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Sunday.

Al Qaida is a "global scourge," Ridge, who was the nation's first Homeland Security leader just after the 2001 attacks, told CNN's "State of the Union" program. There is also the "ascendency" of the Islamic State to be concerned about.

Further, "lone wolves" have acted in Belgium, France, Canada, and the United States, "so the nature of the threats are far more complicated and serious today than on Sept. 12, 2001."

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Former Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, who chaired the House Intelligence Committee and is now a CNN National Security Commentator, agreed that the threat has widened through new and old Al Qaida affiliates, "and they are all new threat factors we have to put in the matrix."

ISIS is also spreading, said Rogers, and has control of "all of eastern Syria, a good chunk of Iraq, and [has] little disruption to their operations."

"They have the global reach with social media that we never saw before, including 2001, that is having an impact, and what you saw happen in the United States, that is exactly the plan that they had for terrorists activities in western countries," Rogers commented.

However, he does not think the United States needs to put "boots on the ground" quite yet, but the longer the problems go on, "the higher the risk the United States will have to interfere, unless you are willing to accept what happened in Texas," where two armed gunmen attempted to attack a cartoon contest where images of the Prophet Muhammad were being displayed.

"At what point does this boil to the point where we decide we are going to have to be serious about stopping the fact that the people who are getting self recruited in the United States believe that ISIL is winning in the Middle East," said Rogers. "That's the message they are receiving on social media."

One of the gunmen in Texas, Elton Simpson, had already been on the FBI's radar, and Ridge noted that Simpson had been given probation by a judge "in spite of perjuring and lying... at what point in a democracy do we say we are so fearful and you are so suspect and we are concerned but we don't have the ability to take you off the street?"

However, Ridge pointed out that the FBI doesn't have the resources needed to deal with the complication of the threat, and there remains "institutional reluctance" when it comes to cooperation between law enforcement agencies, despite the problems in the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The burden on the FBI is too enormous and great," said Ridge. "They can't do it by themselves. Hopefully under [new director] Jim Comey, they will begin to share more information and call upon the locals to do leg work and keep their eyes on some of the folks."

Rogers commented that it is impossible to keep the nation safe 100 percent of the time.

"If you treat it as a law enforcement issue that we are going to deal with, we are going to lose and lose badly," said Ridge. "If we treat it as going after a group that declared war against the United States in a way that doesn't put troops on the ground, I think we will have a much more successful effort at stopping violence here at home."

But he does think the FBI is doing the best it can, but the recent appeals court decision on the NSA's collection of telephone metadata will make their job more difficult.

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The United States is in much more serious circumstances now than it was just after the 9/11 attacks when it comes to the threat of terrorism, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Sunday. Al Qaida is a global scourge, Ridge, who was the nation's first...
Tom Ridge, homeland, security, ISIS, al Qaida, threat, greater
Sunday, 10 May 2015 12:55 PM
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