ALEX WITT: A new report says Al-Qaeda's become even more dangerous, and it warns some of Osama bin Laden's operatives may already be right here in the U.S. And Administration officials predict that the terrorist organization will step up efforts to get agents inside this country in the coming year.
Steve Emerson is a terrorism expert. His new book is Jihad Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the U.S. Good morning to you, Steve.
STEVEN EMERSON: Good morning, Alex.
WITT: Want to get your take on this new report, Steve, because it suggests Al-Qaeda will step up efforts to attack here, but I know that you and I have had talks about this before. So what's new?
EMERSON: Well, you know, I was just reading the entire report – I think it's 68 pages – I must tell you, I was a little bit under whelmed by it. There is a lot of gobbledygook in it – a lot of bureaucratise – and the generic statements and warnings that Al-Qaeda is trying to infiltrate the United States without specifically providing any hard-core intelligence about that. Now, of course, you wouldn't see that in an open source intelligence document, but frankly, the real threat comes from Al-Qaeda-inspired groups in the United States – the likes of which the FBI has had a good handle on in the past but can't continue to battle 1000%, as they have been.
WITT: So what should the U.S. do to try and hinder the spread of radical Islam and that philosophy here in the U.S? What can it do?
EMERSON: Well, you've asked a great question, Alex, because the question can be applied overseas as well. I mean, I don't think there's one silver bullet. My own belief is that radical Islam and its philosophy has to be ostracized and de-legitimized. And the way that is done is very similar to the way that we did that against fascism, and communism, and Nazism – it's discredited.
And we don't accept – and we shouldn't accept – as legitimate those purveyors of radical Islam that cloak themselves under false monikers such as being moderate, or civil rights, or humanitarian. That's why we shut down more than a dozen civil rights charities that were really fronting as terrorist organizations. It requires a much greater effort by the FBI, DHS, Treasury, Department of Justice to discern the true agenda of many of these groups operating in the United States.
WITT: So, Steve, with the White House ratcheting up the rhetoric here, why is that we have yet to be hit hard-core style like 9/11 in the years since?
EMERSON: You've been batting two really great questions here.
No one really knows, Alex. A variety of factors: one, the FBI has been doing a great job of infiltrating groups; two, it has been much more difficult for the Al-Qaeda-style groups to get into the United States; three, Al-Qaeda is waiting to do a big operation superseding that of 9/11; and four, even suicide bombers, they require suicide bomb factories – you need a reconnaissance person, a funder, a trainer, an engineer – they don't have those type of factories yet in the U.S.
WITT: Ok, good questions, even better answers from you Steve Emerson.
Thank you so much, Steve.
EMERSON: You're welcome.