Is another terrorist attack on the U.S. inevitable?
Paul Cruickshank is a Fellow at the Center on Law and Security at New York University's School of Law. He previously worked as an investigative journalist in London, reporting on al Qaeda and its European affiliates and was part of the CNN reporting team that covered the London July 7, 2005 attacks. He collaborated closely with Peter Bergen in interviewing acquaintances of Osama bin Laden for Bergen's 2006 oral history "The Osama bin Laden I Know" and worked with CNN on a two-hour Emmy-nominated documentary "In the footsteps of bin Laden." Cruickshank has written about al Qaeda and Islamist groups for a number of publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic and Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. He has provided on-air analysis to CNN, BBC, NBC, CBS, BBC, Fox News and Al Jazeera on national security issues. Cruickshank graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in history, and has a Masters degree with Honors in International Relations from the Paul. H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University. He has also worked in the European Parliament in Brussels and at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C.
Paul Cruickshank: I think that another attack of some form in the United States will probably happen, but I think it’s very unlikely to be anything near the scale of 9/11. Al Qaeda might have more recruits now than at the time of those attacks, but it’s much more difficult for them to launch an operation in the United States. People in the United States are much more alert to the threat. The general public is much more alert to the threat. The United States has spent billions of dollars on homeland security. It’s much more difficult for Al Qaeda to push operatives into the United States. The American Muslim community has very low radicalization rates. They’re well integrated. The American dream really does have resonance with this community. Two-thirds of them earn over $50,000 a year. They vote in elections at a higher rate than the average American. They’re doing very, very well. So the real threat to the United States moving forward is probably an Al Qaeda operation which is gonna come from outside – maybe from Europe. People in Europe have visas to go into the United States. They can gain entrance very easily. The 9/11 operation was using European operatives. You saw an airline attack in . . . Sorry. You saw an airline plot in the summer of 2006 which would use British operatives who could go into the United States on a visa waiver program, get into those airplanes, use liquid explosives. So the real concern is you’re gonna get an attack coming from outside the United States; but that is more difficult to put together than it was at the time of 9/11 because of those higher alert levels running through the United States right now.
Recorded on: Jan 14 2008
The level of alertness among the American people and government makes another 9/11 unlikely, says Cruickshank.
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