Manhattan attacker was likely radicalized inside US – retired army general
The New York Police Department has been treating an incident in lower Manhattan, during which a rental truck mowed down cyclists and pedestrians, killing eight and injuring a dozen, as one carried out by a lone attacker. The 29-year-old suspect, reportedly a native of the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan who came to the US in 2010, was shot and injured by police and is in custody.
Paul Vallely told RT he disagrees with the term “lone wolf” used to describe attacks when perpetrators appear to have no direct accomplices, arguing that the man, identified as Sayfullo Saipov by several sources, was apparently influenced by the ideology of violent Islamic extremism, which is at war with Western civilization.
“These are not lone wolves, they are part of being a jihad, being a warrior for Islam... The tactics they use is terrorism.
“We have to realize that this is active jihad. This is a war against the West, this is the war against the United States... This is the caliphate trying to expand, to be more powerful,” Vallely said.
It’s not necessary for the attacker to have been to a war zone to be indoctrinated, as they can be as easily radicalized on home turf, he added.
“We have noticed almost, I think, ten training sites in the US right now and I’m certain they are all over Europe as well,” Vallely said.
The Manhattan attacker might have been radicalized in Tampa, Florida, where he lived for almost a decade, he said, and the local mosque could be the culprit.
“We know that’s a very active mosque down there that recruits and should be closed down at the earliest opportunity,” the retired general said.
While it's hard to prevent an attack carried out with no weapon other than a rental car, Vallely still believes the special services could have done a better job – as they do in Russia.
“Well, I just think like you have done in Russia. Russia has done a very good job. Europe has done a poor job but they're getting better. Our intelligence is getting better on the identification of these individuals and where they come from and where they were recruited at.”
Part of the problem, the general said, lies with the many peaceful Muslims, who harbor no ill intentions but are reluctant to alert police on suspicious activities in their community. He went on say that the portion of those who hold radical beliefs could also be quite sizeable.
“The Muslim people that are peace-loving, they've got to engage, and if they see any activity that looks like jihad, or there's going to be an attack, they've got to come to the authorities, too.”
“Almost everything has been done wrong after 9/11”
By unleashing a war on terror that involved invading countries on false pretexts, the US stepped on a path that has led to it being engaged in a perpetual war with vibrant Islamic extremism, Coleen Rowley, a former FBI agent and whistleblower, told RT.
“Police are quite desperate now in trying to assure the public that they can keep them safe, but the truth is unless they really examine some of the root causes for this, which go back now decades, there's not going to be any change, we are just going to see one incident after the other, and the police authorities are going to be rather helpless in the face of it.”
Rowley called the US decision to launch a war on Iraq in 2003 one of the major policy mistakes, saying that she had written a memo to George W. Bush three weeks before the invasion, warning him that the operation would increase the level of terrorism and not otherwise.
“George W. Bush promised that he ‘would fight them over there so we would not have to fight them here,’ Rowley said, noting that the outcome was just the opposite.
“Almost everything has been done wrong after 9/11,” she said.
Very often the US military engagements contribute to the spread of terrorism as they aimed against the countries battling it.
“Some of those countries, for instance, Iraq, obviously, Syria, Libya was another one, some of those countries had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda, ISIS-type Islamic extremism. Some of these countries that the US had chosen to target were actually the countries that were a buffer between Al-Qaeda terrorism and were enemies of it,” Rowley said.
“So you see almost everything being done wrong after 9/11, and we get to this really sad state 16 years later. Perpetual war.”