Did Weak Leadership Put NYC at Risk?

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Aftermath of the truck attack which killed eight in Manhattan on Tuesday October 31, 2017
Aftermath of the truck attack which killed eight in Manhattan on Tuesday October 31, 2017 (Photo: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes was interviewed by RT shortly after Sayfullo Saipov’s October 31 vehicular terror attack in lower Manhattan that left 8 people dead, before details about the perpetrator had been reported.  

What is your initial response to a likely Islamic-related terrorist attack in such a big city, such a popular tourist destination, and what one would have expected to be such a well-protected area?

Initially, the jihadi attackers went for targets like buildings and airplanes – difficult targets, took them a great deal of planning, money, communications, and the like.

These days, they go for much simpler targets, like people on the street, renting a truck or a car, using a kitchen knife. And really in the end there’s no way of stopping these, except by being very careful about who one lets into the country. In all likelihood … Someone who arrived in the United States, who was not fully vetted, and who is now attacking, because we’ve seen this happening so many times before.

Does that say that the authorities cannot stop these attacks, no matter what they do they’re actually vulnerable. Ultimately, they can’t do anything.

Of course. How can they stop a kitchen knife, or a truck being rented? How can they stop that? The only way they can do it is by being careful as to who comes into the country. And once they’re in the country, by taking measures to watch and curtail the activities of potential jihadis.

This is about jihad. This is about warfare on behalf of Islam. What was striking about the messages we heard from the mayor and the governor is they don’t talk about that. They talk about “cowardice,” they talk about “terrorism.” But they’re not talking about the real issue, which is Islamism, a violent, radical form of Islam – that is the key, and that is what the authorities need to address. And they’re not doing it.

Just how extensive are the security arrangements in New York, and is there any way they can actually be increased? Also, what effect will this have on other cities around the country?

Interesting question, because the New York Police Department, the NYPD, in the aftermath of 9/11, was probably the most active, most energetic and creative police department in the Western world in terms of looking for trouble, going into mosques, sending out agents to engage Islamists in discussion.

But eventually, after about 10 years, the judges closed this down, the politicians rejected it. So now the citizens of New York City are more vulnerable than they were before.

It is probable – let me not say that – it is possible that this individual, this Islamist who engaged in this activity, was able to do so because of the very weak leadership of the current mayor Bill de Blasio, who undid even more the kind of activity that the NYPD was engaged in earlier.

It is very painful to see that had NYPD continued in its prior ways, this would have been stopped.

This article appeared originally on Middle East Forum.


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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org