Video interview: Unnamed male: And I seen federal police all over the street. I seen helicopters in the sky, so yeah, so obviously we knew something serious was going on. You know we grew up in this area and you know not once did we ever think we're going to have terrorists living in our back yard. So now that obviously we can see it happening, of course it's scary, you know, especially bring up our own children you know around here now. It's scary.
Video interview: Unnamed female: Scary, well let's put it this way, the world is a very small place now, and thinking Australia is immune to something like this is just not an option. Complacency gets you into trouble.
Host Ed Berliner: The warning signs are there. It is as if we are once again having the future telegraphed to us. And now all we have to do is understand the ramifications, read the obvious signs, and prepare ourselves for what is in the future, and in many ways is already here. The overnight foiling of a terror plot in Australia focusing on an ISIS connected group seeking to behead a random person in public needs to send shock waves around the world, and especially to America. The killers are everywhere. And they are seeking to create as much carnage and terror as possible. Welcome to Mid-Point. Former senior policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 30 years of service in the Department of Defense, Michael Maloof. And we welcome back to Mid-Point senior analyst and investigative journalist with the Investigative Project on Terrorism, he can be read in such diverse places as The Daily Caller and Red Alert Politics, John Rossomando. Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us here today.
John Rossomando: Thank you.
Michael Maloof: Thank you.
Berliner: Mike, I'm going to start with you. The people in Australia right now they are shocked at what has happened here. Certainly the depth of it was absolutely astounding, the amount of people, as many police officers as it took. But in essence, should they really have been that surprised? Because certainly like in so many other countries, the warning signs were there.
Maloof: Well the warning signs indeed were there, and Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister, has been sort of hinting that something was brewing by becoming more vocal about ISIS, about trying to shore up defenses, about increasing intelligence surveillance, and now committing Australian troops. The thing about ISIS is that what occurred in Sydney and what they uncovered is basically an ISIS warning that's going out to all of their lone wolves and operatives in various countries. As you pointed out, the United States, possibly Canada, but certainly uncovering this in Australia is something that is shocking, but it's not surprising, because there are about I think something like 60 Australians who are members of ISIS. In fact one of their, one of the top commanders of ISIS in one of the Syrian cities is actually Australian. So Australia, whether they want to believe it or not, is in the fight.
Berliner: Here exactly is what you mentioned, Tony Abbott, here's what he said talking about specifically the terror networks operating in Australia. Here we go.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott (on video): There are, I regret to say, networks of people here in this country, who despite living here, despite enjoying the Australian way of life, they would do us harm. And it's very important that our police and security organizations be one step ahead of them. And I think this morning they were.
Berliner: John, let me give this to you now with regard to complacency, because certainly even here in America, the fact that we have been talking about ISIS or ISIL, whatever you want to call them, there are many people who say come on, it's a world away, it's the other side of the globe right now, they are regional, they are 30,000 guys hanging out in the sand right now, we don't have to worry about it. Is it not fair to say that whether it's America or Australia, we are still in many ways complacent to what this group may be able to do to us every day?
John Rossomando: Absolutely. You know we don't see people blowing themselves up in shopping malls, at least not yet. We don't see a lot of you know what's the carnage that's being visited. So it's easy for us to get complacent. But you know if you pay attention to the Islamic State social media as I do, they're constantly issuing threats to attack America. You just heard the other day New York City Police Commissioner raising warnings about chatter that there will be attack against Times Square, you have these people reaching out in social media threatening to kill American journalists in Washington, and it's easy for us to say. I mean look at the Boston bombing. It could take, it took two guys who probably spent 50 bucks to build those pressure cooker bombs. And you know it's very easy for people like that to slip through, to be able to hit us you know where we're sensitive. You have, I mean just recently you had a young lady in Colorado who was arrested, she was going off to be with her lover in Syria with ISIS, and you have threats constantly. Like I just saw one this morning saying, 'As you kill us in Yemen and Afghanistan so we will kill you.' So you know we can't be complacent. You know in order to keep these people from hitting us, we need to be vigilant.
Berliner: Alright, so with regard to that vigilance then though, is it fair to say, and I'm going to stay with you on this one John, first of all that what we are seeing here, now that we see what's happening in Australia, is a global sympathy for this group? It doesn't make a difference how you slice it. We're talking about 60 people now, 60 Australians, who likely are already fighting in Iraq and Syria right now, there is a sympathy for this group. There are people out there who are just twisted enough who want to be able to kill people, for whatever reason, and for whatever reason too we can't seem to find them all the time. It's, there are people right now who are going to say well lucky we found these folks, and imagine what else is sitting out there. Correct?
John Rossomando: Correct. We just had two American jihadis who had come through Minnesota who were killed fighting for ISIS in Syria, just in the past month or so. So and there's estimated say at least 100 or more people with American passports who can come back and slip in and engage in mayhem, that we need to be aware of. And I think the American Muslim community is starting to be aware of it, you know that you can't deny that there are people out there who want to do us harm and that you can't just pretend. I mean look at Jubhat ul Nusra, which is the Al-Qaeda franchise; there was a gentleman named Mufid Elfgeeh, who was arrested and charged yesterday with plotting to attack Americans. So it's something that's pretty widespread.
Berliner: OK, Let me get this now, because I want to make sure I get this in. Mike, this is going to be to you. Here's the president talking about the fact that as far as the intelligence community is concerned at this point, no credible threats. Listen up.
President Barack Obama (on video standing before U.S. troops): Our intelligence community, as I said last week, has not yet detected specific plots from these terrorists against America, but its leaders have repeatedly threatened America and our allies, and right now these terrorists pose a threat to the people of Iraq, the people of Syria, the broader Middle East, including out personnel, our embassies, our consulates, our facilities there. And if left unchecked, they could pose a growing threat to the United States.
Berliner: Mike, regardless of what the President says, is it your fear that we are still missing things?
Maloof: Yes, we are. Intelligence at best collects maybe about 10 percent of what's really going on in the outside world, in the real world. I think ISIS in every situation has said they were going to do something, and they carried it out, and they were successful. You got to keep in mind that ISIS, which is, which was Al-Qaeda, has for years teamed up with drug cartels, MS-13, down in Mexico and throughout Latin America. Now they're beginning to come closer together, and of course ISIS is very, very rich right now, and they can wire money anywhere or even walk across these two, the borders, the southern border that we have. And already there are drug cartels and MS-13 in 1,200 U.S. cities already. So they basically have in place proxies who are ready to move as long as the money is right.
Berliner: Would you have any doubt whatsoever that as we sit here right now there are sleeper cells, there are people working in America right now under the ISIS banner who are looking to kill people recklessly?
Maloof: I have no doubt in my mind that that is the case. And these sleepers can stay down five, 10 years and then resurrect themselves, or they can be, or a fat check can come to them, money can be sent to them. And basically ISIS doesn't even hardly have to into the United States. They can work through these proxies.
Berliner: Twenty seconds to you then, John. Are you satisfied that we're doing enough, or are we missing it?
Rossomando: No, I'm not satisfied. You know I think that as long as we keep trying to say that we're all fine, we thought that before 9/11, we thought that before the Boston bombing. I mean don't forget that the Tsarnaev brothers went right underneath the noses of the FBI, right underneath the noses of our intelligences agencies. So I'm sure that the Islamic State's agents are savvy enough to avoid communicating in ways or forums that our intelligence agencies would be able to notice.
Berliner: Indeed, we're going to have to make that the last word. Michael Maloof, John Rossomando, thank you so much for joining us, gentlemen.
Maloof: Thank you.
Rossomando: Thank you.