Uptick in Domestic Terror?
by Steven Emerson
Interview on CNBC
September 25, 2009
Multimedia for this item
LARRY KUDLOW: Let's bring in Steve Emerson, the Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Hello Steve.
I want to pick up right where Jonathan Dienst left off – the possibility that there are a number of people in New York City – in Queens – that were accomplices to this attempted bomb attack that apparently was foiled.
Steve Emerson, do you know anything about that, and what does this mean? Is this a new chapter in the whole terror war here at home?
STEVEN EMERSON: Well, Larry, yesterday was an unprecedented day – not just [Najibullah] Zazi was indicted, but several other people were indicted. There were five Islamic jihad plots that were stopped and announced – complaints announced and indictments issued yesterday in an unprecedented day of U.S. law enforcement acting against these jihadists. Now, as far as the Zazi plot, as Jonathan Dienst correctly pointed out, this was the most serious plot because he was trying to get the same type of chemicals used to produce the bombs that blew up [in] the two bombings in London in July 2005.
The question is: how many others are involved? The court papers suggest at least several others. I know from my own sources in law enforcement that they have identified by name and know exactly who they are – at least three or four of them – but they think there are others involved as well.
They had wiretaps going back to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Europe, and showing that others involved in the international conspiracy.
KUDLOW: Well, Steve…they're waiting. Now here's the deal: are the Homeland Security, and police, and FBI authorities – are they tracking? You say they know who these guys are; they have been wiretapped, I'm going to assume they are computer-tapped, I'm going to assume they were foreign intelligence supervisory surveillance – that we had an eye on them. Are we waiting – are our guys waiting to see what these individuals do next before we dragnet them into custody?
EMERSON: I think they're waiting – I think you're precisely right. They are waiting to see what will they do – whether they will lead them to, maybe, the actual person who was the director of this plot – if there was a director (if it was not self-initiated by Zazi), and whether, in fact, there are others in Aurora, Colorado, in Denver, Colorado, in Queens, New York.
I interviewed a leader of a moderate mosque in Queens who had been ousted by an accomplice of Zazi, and the accomplice apparently was a supporter of the Taliban. So there are a lot of supporters of the Taliban in Queens – in certain parts of Queens – that may have been in – may have known about this, or were willing to assist Zazi in his plot. Because he came to Queens to purchase also hydrochloric acid that was to be part of the formula to be used to blow up the – whatever he was going to blow up – suspected to be trains, or [specifically] commuter PATH trains.
KUDLOW: Alright, well let me just ask you now, you mentioned before there is an unprecedented volume of activity. The FBI arrested a Jordanian who was involved in a potential bombing in Dallas and Chicago; we're talking about the Illinois man who was charged in the plot to bomb federal offices; the terror suspect from North Carolina, who apparently was aiming or taking pictures or surveilling the Marine base at Quantico; there is even talk about this guy who was taking pictures of the Philadelphia subway, and he just sort of vanished into thin air.
Now, why this stepped up action? These are, in effect, legal cases – we knew about that. Why the stpped up action now?
EMERSON: First of all, some of these cases go back years in terms of prosecuting them; it took a while to develop the evidence, so that, as they unfolded, the prosecutors were watching, were collecting the evidence and …
KUDLOW: But all in the same week, as we got this Al Qaeda bomber? It just seems like an incredible coincidence, Steve.
EMERSON: Well it shows you Larry: there is a rise of this global Islamic terrorism. There is no doubt about it. And the President, I think, was misplaced in his Cairo speech and going back and up until this point where he has not been willing to confront, or even use the term "radical Islam." And I think, unfortunately, without the willingness to confront the jihadists and claim – and say that what jihad really means – a violent holy war – he is only emboldening or giving at least a yellow light to those jihadists who think they can get away with murder.
KUDLOW: Alright. With respect to Zazi particularly, we know this guy is linked to Al Qaeda. Is Al Qaeda testing President Obama in his first year?
EMERSON: That's probably the case. No one really knows whether it was Zazi who initiated this, or whether Zazi was directed by Al Qaeda. We know that he went to a camp in Peshawar to get training in how to make a bomb and was in contact with Al Qaeda, but no one knows whether he was the person who initiated it or not. But, nevertheless, I think you're right in saying that this is a test case by Al Qaeda, and seeing how President Obama will react.
KUDLOW: And the people out there resting, you know, worrisome – or resting easy; I think everyone has got to be worried about this. Look, with respect to the possibility that this Al Qaeda, Zazi ring is out in New York, or Queens, or still left outside of Denver or wherever – Steve Emerson, with your contacts, are there other bomb makers going on? No one has been able to answer that question; we got Zazi – he was trying to make a bomb, he couldn't do it, he's dialing up Al Qaeda in Pakistan, he couldn't put it together. Alright, good, God's grace helped us on this, plus our Homeland Security authorities. Are there other bomb makers in this Al Qaeda ring?
EMERSON: There are definitely other bomb makers in the United States today that may have been directed, trained, or influenced by Al Qaeda, or inspired by Al Qaeda. There is no doubt about it. And there are other plots, Larry, that have not been announced that are still in the process of being investigated, but will make news when they are announced because indictments will be issued in the next several months.
KUDLOW: Alright, Steve Emerson, no one knows the terror story better. It's good to see you again. Thank you for helping us out tonight.
Reader comments on this item
Submitted by John, Sep 28, 2009 12:11
Steven Emerson and IPT have been ahead of this matter since his PBS special in 1994. Almost prophetically he identified the threat and major names who are still in the news. All the honor to Steven for his work and his stand for the truth.
Ahead of the LOOP!
Submitted by Barbara s. Dobbin, Sep 27, 2009 13:24
Once again, Steve, you and your colleagues have provided much needed info to the government. Unfortunately, with-in this administration, there are those who are reluctant to follow-up on leads that can save American lives. Keep up your great work!