Pete Hoekstra highlights IPT's 2016 terrorism trends study, which, sadly, predicted the terrorist activity we are now seeing in Europe. He explains why the U.K. may have raised and then lowered the terror threat level shortly before the latest London attacks. It took decades to create an environment where three terror attacks (including Manchester) could happen in such quick succession. The U.S. is not in the same position as the U.K., nor is it immune.
Trace Gallagher: Let's bring in former Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra. He chaired the House Intelligence Committee from 2004 to 2007. And Congressman, you kind of look at this, and you talk about the third attack in three months, two attacks in two weeks in the U.K. What do you make of what's going on over there?
Pete Hoekstra: Well you know I continue to work now for an organization called the Investigative Project on Terrorism. We completed a study about 18 months ago that has been tracing the upswing in terrorist activity, that in 2001 roughly 3,000 people per year were losing their lives as a result of radical Islamic terrorism. By 2015 that number had grown to 30,000 people per year. And we predicted, sadly, that this increase in victims from radical Islamic terrorism, that the activity would move from the Middle East in Northern Africa, spread down into Asia, the Philippines, Indonesia, but the other target that was ripe for an increase in radical Islamic terrorism was Europe, and that's what we're seeing today.
Gallagher: You know it's interesting, Congressman, because we talked about lowering the threat level, and when they raised it after the Manchester bombing to Critical, and then five or six days later they lowered it to Severe, I mean when they raised it to Critical, there was some intelligence saying there might be another attack, and then they lowered it. What does that tell you about the U.K. intelligence? They're pretty good at this. Why would they lower it so soon, in your estimation?
Hoekstra: Well, I think number one, even when you're at a Severe level, it means that your local law enforcement, your national law enforcement, your intelligence community they are recognizing the threat is very, very significant. What they didn't have is they didn't have specific intelligence that said – hey, there is going to be an attack or there is an increase likelihood of attack in the next seven to 10 days. They recognized the threat is severe, but they've lowered it from Critical because they didn't have the information that says there is an attack imminent. And you're absolutely right. They're very, very good in the U.K.
Gallagher: Yeah, Congressman, if you could stand by for us, we'd appreciate it. We've got more questions for you on the other side of the break, but we just want to update our viewers. If you're just joining us, we're talking about police in London have now confirmed these are terror attacks, twin terror attacks, one of them on the London Bridge, one of them just off the London Bridge in an area called Borough Market. This is an area with dozens of bars and restaurants, that were packed tonight. We are still waiting for confirmation on the exact number of casualties, the injuries, the severity of the injuries, and the death toll. Continuing coverage on the second terror attack in two weeks in the U.K. coming up next.
Gallagher: Let's bring back in former Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra, he was with the House, he chaired the House Intelligence Committee from 2004 to 2007. And Congressman, you know we were talking before the break, and it's interesting, people are always trying to puzzle these things together. And we mentioned that it is Ramadan right now. And we talk about the elections in the U.K. being next Thursday. And then you have this benefit concert being held for the victims of the Manchester attack tomorrow night. A lot of people put a lot of relevance in these types of significant events that surround terror incidents. Are we putting too much weight into that, is there something to be said for this?
Hoekstra: Oh no, I think there's something to be said for that, Trace, but I think more importantly, you know in the U.K., parts of Europe, and even in the United States, the environment for these kinds of attacks has been created. It took decades to create this kind of an environment where you would be able to have three attacks in the U.K. since March. You know you've got a core group of sympathizers, individuals and organizations that are sympathetic to the theology of radical jihadists. This is, they provide a safe-haven for this kind of ideology. And then you have the actual individuals that are planning these violent attacks. It takes a long time, but you know it means when you get to the you know all of these points coming together – Ramadan, the benefit concert, an election, they're actually positioned and poised that they can act.
Gallagher: And I wonder, Congressman, because you know you hear about these events coming and this benefit concert tomorrow, and other celebrities, we had Ariana Grande who was the entertainer at the concert two weeks ago, that were hit by that bomb, and she was doing some hospital visits today of the people. What are the odds, they've arrested 17 people now from the Manchester attack, what are the odds there is a nexus between Manchester and London?
Hoekstra: 100 percent. OK? And the nexus is not necessarily that there's an organization, that there's a central theme or a central individual or group that's saying – hey, you attack in Manchester you know last week, now you hit London this week, and be prepared to do something else – it's not centrally directed. These are different kinds of networks you know where yeah, there's a posting that goes up that says attack during Ramadan, and people in the U.K. respond to that, but it's not a direct order – attack tomorrow.
Gallagher: Yeah, and Congressman, I've got very little time here, but you know you have these attacks, you have one in Paris, right, you have the Charlie Hebdo attacks, then you have the multiple Paris attacks, and then you have attacks after the Charlie Hebdo in San Bernardino, and then you have Paris, and then you have Orlando – are you worried about this country?
Hoekstra: Oh, absolutely. We've got sympathizers here in the United States. We've got organizations and individuals that are poised and ready and willing to attack, attack violently. Of course America has to worry. We're not in the same situation as the U.K. and Europe, but we're not immune.
Gallagher: Yeah. Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra, thank you, sir.
Hoekstra: Thank you. Thank you.