- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2007


The successful disruption last week by German police of the al Qaeda plot to slaughter American military personnel at Frankfurt International Airport and at Ramstein Air Base, demonstrates once again that our allies have made enormous progress over the past 6 years in the global war on terrorism. Before September 11, Germany, like Great Britain, tolerated the growing presence of jihadist Muslims and their preachments of hate and violence.

Today, German, British and other allied intelligence and law enforcement agencies keep a sharp vigil over the militants in their midst, and when those jihadists prepare to commit acts of violence fueled by their loathing of Americans, Christians and Jews highly-trained anti-terrorism units take them down and hold them for prosecution.

On the home front, local and state police, along with multiple federal agencies and led by the FBI, are working smoothly together, smashing jihadist conspiracies inside America.

All of that inter-agency cooperation across national boundaries and among local and federal law enforcement, has combined to keep America free of terrorist attacks since that frightening day six years ago.

Meanwhile, the U.S. intelligence community (16 federal agencies), under the command of Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, is being transformed into a much more agile, interactive system, capable of rapid multi-agency collection of information and analysis, critical to providing timely warning to the president. That’s another serious improvement over the way things used to be. But there is still much to be done:

Congress needs to find the grit to put aside election-year politics to shield from irresponsible law suits the telephone companies and Internet service providers which helped the National Security Agency intercept the U.S. side of overseas-originated, suspected terrorist communications.

The president should convene a conference on controlling the borders with the objective of getting beyond political posturing to truly control who gets into this country. If we do nothing, terrorists will continue to have the option of simply walking across unguarded frontiers from Canada and Mexico.

In cooperation with our allies, the United States must sharply improve the policing of the open seas, where murderous pirates have created a functional model for terrorists: Quickly seize a freighter or tanker, repaint and rename it, and then turn it into an oceangoing megabomb which can be exploded against the docks of a port city, killing thousands and doing major economic and psychological damage at the same time.

City, state and federal officials must become increasingly aware of and take effective action against the recruitment of prison inmates in America to jihadist Islam by unmonitored prison chaplains; most of these radicalized imams receive training and support from groups which identify with Osama bin Laden, according to extensive research by Frank Cilluffo of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University. Unless the radicalization/recruitment process — underway in prisons across the country — is interrupted and permanently stopped, we can expect hundreds if not thousands of converts to jihadist Islam to penetrate society from the nation’s prisons. As for those who have already left prison as converts to jihadist Islam, and there are some, it is time for parole officers to identify those who have been radicalized and inform the FBI through the Joint Terrorism Task Forces so that their activities and their associates, and, yes, that means their religious associates, can be appropriately monitored.

Investigators must detect and request the immediate shutting down of jihadist Web sites hosted by American-owned internet service providers. The ISPs are usually ignorant of the sites’ recruiting and instructions for the mixing and placement of explosives and other directions on how kill innocent people, because the sites are not written in English. Many of those Web sites supporting al Qaeda were first exposed by MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Beef up the presence of fully equipped and well-trained police at seaports, airports and at other locations which offer terrorists soft targets or easy hits against critical infrastructure. Even at airports where there are already law enforcement officers assigned, it is critical that outside evaluators are brought in to determine the level of fitness of the system to respond to a variety of scenarios. These include a frontal assault by jihadists determined to destroy aircraft and passengers boarding them even if it costs the terrorists their lives.

Following our recommendations will require more tax dollars. But this is not the place to save money. Anyone who doubts that is welcome to visit Ground Zero in Manhattan, a lonely field in Pennsylvania or the Pentagon.

Oliver “Buck” Revell, a global security and business consultant, is a former associate executive director of the FBI. Jeff Kamen, Emmy-winning journalist, is co-author of “Final Warning: Averting Disaster in the New Age of Terrorism.”

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