Nothing distracts like fear. And today, former DHS chief Elaine Duke invoked one of the most traumatic episodes in US history to remind complacent Americans that Al Qaeda and ISIS are still out there, plotting deadly terror attacks meant to kill as many American civilians as possible.
With the Islamic State in retreat following the surrender of its de facto capital to US-backed Arab and Kurdish fighters, Duke told reporters that remnants of the group have partnered with a resurgent Al Qaeda to plot a devastating terror attack on the scale of a 9/11 - thus generating a headline seemingly tailor made to make pulses quicken.
“The terrorist organizations, be it ISIS or Al-Qaeda or others, want to have the big explosion like they did on 9/11. They want to take down aircraft, the intelligence is clear on that,” the acting US secretary of homeland security said during a visit to the UK, as cited by British media.
“The threat is still severe,” she stated on Wednesday in London following her meeting with UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd, according to Russia Today.
Duke warned that groups have carried out several relatively small-scale terror attacks (think the attacks that have rocked the UK, France and Belgium over the past year), which suggests the groups could be moving on to more ambitious targets. In the UK alone, the attacks have killed nearly 40 people.
One strategy Duke fears is a 9/11 style plane hijacking, something terrorists have not given up on despite the advances in airport security since 9/11.
“Creating terror is their goal. A bladed weapon attack causes terror and continues to disrupt the world, but that does not mean they have given up on a major aviation plot,” she said.
During her meeting with Judd, Duke parroted the UK conservatives’ push to remove terrorist content from the internet - content that has been effective at recruiting home-grown jihadists in the UK’s Muslim population.
The attacks famously prompted British Prime Minister Theresa May to ask “allied democratic governments” to “regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorism planning.”
Duke said that while tech firms have been cooperative, there’s still much progress to be done.
“We will continue to push as far as we can go. I think that we have the cooperation of those companies and we just need to work on that,” she said. Social media firms joining a meeting of G7 interior ministers to discuss the issue this week “is a positive sign,” she said.
“There has been a shift and for us somewhat with the Charlottesville incident,” said Duke, adding that tech companies are under “social pressures” and have “to balance between keeping their user agreements and giving law enforcement what they need.”
Terror attacks have become a regular occurrence in the UK since the rise of ISIS. A bombing in the Manchester Arena last May killed 23 people and injured more than 100 others, making it the deadliest attack of its kind in the UK since 2005. The latest terrorist attack occurred on Sept. 15 at Parsons Green tube station, where a partially-exploded bomb injured 30 commuters.
Just one day before the US security chief’s warnings, Andrew Parker, director general MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, said that Britain was under unprecedented threat from Islamist terrorists.
* * *
Scared enough yet? Don't worry, we'll just take away a little more 'freedom' to ensure your 'security'... and remember - it's for your own good!