In 1986, in Miami, FL, two men slaughtered two FBI agents with fully automatic weapons. In 1997, bank robbers in Hollywood, CA confronted Los Angeles police with fully automatic weapons. Attacks like these and increasing similar armed confrontations left law enforcement no choice but to enhance their weapons, ammunition and protective equipment.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
As a result of the police response to the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has ordered a review of the distribution of military equipment to local and state police, to determine three things: (1) whether the federal/military surplus programs are appropriate; (2) whether the amount of training provided for that equipment is sufficient, and (3) how well the government audits the use of the money and equipment provided to our police departments.
I strongly believe that there is a clear justification for local, state and federal police agencies in the United States to be well equipped, well trained, and be prepared for the threats of violence and terrorism that we face today and in the future.
To eliminate or diminish these types of units because of mistakes that may have been made in Ferguson may be a temporary "feel good" solution, but that will only last until the first time an extremely violent act or terrorist attack occurs and those units do not have the equipment or weapons necessary to defend themselves or protect the communities they serve.
Then they will either fail and be criticized for not doing their job, or far worse, they will die trying.
I believe President Obama’s concerns are justified and understandable, but I just hope that those responsible for the review, as well as our congressional leaders are fair, objective and think this out long and hard before they make a decision either way.
We cannot ask our local and state police to put their lives on the line, yet not give them the tools, training, resources and support they need to do the very jobs we expect of them.
According to reports, the review will be led by the President’s Domestic Policy Council, the National Security Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and relevant U.S. agencies including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury, and will also be carried out in coordination with the U.S. Congress.
Given what we saw in the immediate aftermath of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, where unarmed peaceful protesters were confronted by armored vehicles, assault weapons and, as one former military commander said, "more gear than I wore in Iraq or Afghanistan,” I under the President’s concern. I understand the questions.
Personally, I believe the initial police response, however well intended, was an over-reaction under those specific circumstances. We saw unarmed peaceful protesters, standing with their hands in the air, met by officers pointing assault weapons at them. That response only exacerbated an already difficult and painful situation.
However, when provocateurs, most of whom came from outside of Ferguson, infiltrated the peaceful protests in the nights that followed, they threw Molotov cocktails, looted and destroyed businesses and private property, and fired guns among the protesters.
The police had no option but to act, and act with force.
A crowd can, at any moment, turn from peaceful to dangerous. Law enforcement has to hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst, and never be afraid to do their job. When they do their job, their political leadership and superiors MUST support them.
History has taught me that at every turn in life, we must try to make good from a bad situation. In this case, I am sure there are many lessons to be learned from Michael Brown’s death. And we owe it to Michael Brown, his family, the community of Ferguson and really all of America to do our best as a society to learn everything we possibly can from this tragic event.
Was the show of force with war-like weapons necessary? Could it have been handled differently? Do local and state police require the weapons and equipment we saw in Ferguson?
After 35 years in law enforcement and running two of the largest law enforcement agencies in America, overseeing the rescue, recovery and investigation of the attacks of 9/11, and being extremely familiar with the threats we face in this country from ISIS and radical Islamic extremist terrorists, I offer the following historical perspective.
In the 80s and 90s, the drug cartels and violent criminals were outgunning local, state and federal law enforcement officers. Bad guys went from carrying revolvers to semi-automatic pistols to semi-automatic rifles to fully automatic assault weapons.
Then came 9/11 and the threats of radical Islamic terror, which changed the dynamics of law enforcement all across our country, including at the state, local, and even small community levels.
Let’s remember that New York City has been the target of at least 13 terror attacks over the past 12 years. Radical Islamic extremists targeted the Prudential Building in Newark, NJ, and others around the country. Two brothers planted a bomb at the Boston Marathon. A group of men planned to blow up a synagogue. I could go on and on.
In addition, in the past four years, we have witnessed mass murders on our military bases, in our colleges and elementary schools as well as shootings in our malls, either by Islamic extremists or some deranged lunatic.
Our local and state police are responsible for responding to these attacks and the increasing threats of terror and violence we face in America today.
In the most violent and extreme circumstances, there are specialized teams of highly trained men and women, some of which are referred to as Emergency Service Units (ESU), Special Weapons and Tactics Teams (SWAT), Emergency Response Teams (ERT), Hostage Rescue Teams (HRT).
When civilians need help, they call the police. When the police need help, they call ESU, ERT or SWAT.
When these units respond, they have to be prepared for anything and everything - a deranged gunmen with assault weapons, a suicidal bomber, IEDs, a suspect wanted for murder, a hostage taker or barricaded suspect, or an emotionally disturbed person who wants to jump off of a building or bridge and is willing to take the life of anyone who attempts to stop them.
This is what these specialized units do day in, day out. Their primary mission: SAVING LIVES.
You would have to be either naïve or in complete denial not to admit that these teams are extremely important and play a vital role in securing and responding to threats of violence or terrorism in our cities and communities.
We should have a national debate on the response to Ferguson’s demonstrations, and rightfully so. We can look at who receives equipment from the federal government or military, what equipment is necessary, and most importantly – more than anything else, whether the units receiving this equipment are not only adequately trained, but funded for training long term.
Local and state government leaders are quick to create these units to keep their communities safe, but then fail, and at times outright refuse, to fund them for the necessary training which is quite often more important than the equipment itself.
You can have the best equipment in the world, but if you do not know how to use it, or consistently train with it, or conduct mock drills and table top exercises as a cohesive team, then you are putting the men and women in those units, as well as the citizens in the communities they serve, in danger.
If we are going to look at these types of issues, I think we should also begin to look at many of our regulatory agencies.
In the past year or so, I have read about U.S. Health & Human Services raiding doctors' offices for fraud with heavily armed police, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency raiding a guitar company with a SWAT team, and U.S. Department of Education booming down a family's door in a morning raid in search of someone who failed to pay off his student loan.
If these reports are true, why do these and other federal regulatory agencies require that sort of firepower, when the U.S. Justice Department – FBI, DEA and Marshal's Service – has some of the best trained and most qualified non-military special weapons and operations teams in the world?
If a regulatory agency requires that sort of firepower, why not leave it to the real professionals, those who do it for a living?
There is a lot on the line for our country and all Americans as it relates to this issue. We need real debate, not knee-jerk reactions. Weapons of war on America’s streets are not needed every day, in every circumstance. However, we must be prudent in our preparations for the worst possible scenarios while at the same time protecting our citizens, our communities, and our freedoms.
Just in the past few days, we have heard one threat after another from the newly-formed Islamic extremist army called ISIS. This barbaric and savage army claims to be in the United States, has threatened imminent attacks, and even boasted that they intend to raise their flag above the White House. We must be ready should their threats become reality.
There are no easy answers in a world where a man in black garb and a hood covering all but his eyes and mouth beheads an American and posts the video on the Internet for the entire world to see.
Yes, there is a lot for us to learn from what happened to Michael Brown. And there is a lot for us to learn from what happened to James Foley.
May the circumstances of their deaths cause all Americans, especially our government leaders, to pause and dig deep for answers about how we arm and prepare our communities in the face of such realities.
Let this be Michael Brown and James Foley’s legacies. Their deaths can cause us to be better prepared and to help save lives. We must make that so.
May they both rest in peace.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
In late December, an Islamic military group in Dagestan claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings that killed more than 30 people and injured dozens more.
The same group then threatened to strike the Olympic Games in Sochi, which is about 300 miles west of Dagestan.
Russian authorities are now feverishly searching for at least three possible female suicide bombers, one of which is a 22-year-old widow of a radical Islamist who was killed recently by Russian security forces.
According to various intelligence reports, these female suicide bombers, who have been dubbed “black widows,” are also responsible for a number of previous attacks throughout the country.
As part of a massive pre-emptive security operation, photos of two women in veils and Muslim headdress have been distributed to the media, various hotels, other tourist sites in Sochi, the resort town and host city of the Olympics, in hopes that these women can be located before they strike.
The critical question now becomes: Can the Russians guarantee the safety and security of their international guests and their own people from these and other potential terrorist threats?
Right now, no one knows the answer. What we do know is that these women are like chameleons. They will blend in to the local population, plan their dastardly deeds, and strike when it is least expected.
The Russians know who they are and why they are a perceived threat, but for how long have they known? When did they acquire this intelligence? Why weren’t these women monitored from the outset of their husbands' demise? How many more are there? Is there now a program in place to monitor and account for them?
It is all about knowing the threats that exist, gathering the intelligence, and pro-actively responding to actionable intelligence when possible.
It seems like the Russian government has let these women slip through the cracks of their security and intelligence services, at least for the time being, a lesson that every country battling radical Islam can learn from.
In a post-9/11 world, there is nothing more important than a capable intelligence system that allows local, state and the federal authorities to not only communicate but share critical intelligence that allows them to protect their citizens. We here in the United States have made tremendous strides in many ways, but we have still had our failures.
Could the Boston Marathon bombing have been prevented? Many believe so. Were mistakes made? What were they? Who knew what and when?
That is probably what the Russians are asking themselves today, as they must sit on pins and needles until they find these terrorists or the games come to an end without death and destruction.
As we stand on the sidelines praying for the safety and security for all those who will be attending the games, including our own Olympians, we can learn from these events.
Proactive and pre-emptive intelligence gathering and following up on actionable intelligence will lead to the success of combatting terrorism, both now and in the future.
You cannot fight an enemy that you cannot see. You cannot stop an attack that you do not know is going to happen. And, no matter how quick you think you can respond, you are never going to be quick enough to stop the bloodshed and death once a terrorist detonates an explosive device with the intent of causing mass casualties.
Intelligence is the answer.
The faster those fighting this war against terror learn that, the safer we are all going to be.
-BERNARD B. KERIK
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Thank God for street vendors, the cop on the beat and an airline passenger that was willing to pounce on a would-be suicidal bomber with his underwear on fire, or we'd be in serious trouble right now. And just to be clear... The system did not work!
Could our national security credibility or economic stability survive such attacks if they were carried out? Sure, we would bounce back just as we did after 9/11, but had an airliner been blown out of the sky, and a bomb detonated in Time Square, we would have suffered a major hit in both areas.
We have got to give credit to the men and woman in our local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and we also have to be quite thankful that the recent terrorists were without question, incompetent.
For the critics that attacked the FBI for losing the Time Square bomber during a surveillance, let’s just say it's not as easy as it looks. The objective behind a surveillance is to follow the target without being spotted, and often there are things that could happen outside of your control, that will cause you to lose the target. I've done more surveillances than any of the present day leadership that I have heard speak on the topic, and can honestly say that losing a suspect, although regrettable, is completely understandable.
However, what is also regrettable and yet not understandable, is why it has been nearly nine years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and we still do not have the technology in place to assist in these investigations or to prevent attacks from happening; Why aren’t there legislation, laws and standards in place that outlines how terror suspects will be arrested, detained and prosecuted; and an intelligence system that works? And should I even address immigration?
Isn't anyone else as concerned as I am, that we are still debating if you should or should not Mirandize a terror suspect? Or, that had it not been for a U.S. Customs or Border Control Agent physically reviewing a flight manifest, a wanted terrorist would have escaped this country? Why doesn't Time Square have the cameras it needs and intelligent video solutions in place that would have alerted on a vehicle placed somewhere it should not have been, or because it's emergency flashers on?
I've been talking about the failures in our immigration system for years. You mean to tell me that we have not yet figured out how to flag or alert on someone like the Time Square bomber who according to reports has traveled to Pakistan eight times over the past few years. If you want to become a United States citizen, wouldn't you want your family living here as well? I would think so. How was this guy naturalized and why? There are so many loopholes in the system that it's pathetic. Here are just a few examples: http://thepillarofstrength.com/?p=236
Much of the political infighting over these issues and others are preventing us from doing what has to be done to secure this country and unfortunately, there will come a time when the street vendor and Good Samaritan aren't around.
Today, 16 months into the president’s term, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has no administrator and that is the doing of our legislators, and no one else.
Erroll Southers, a 30 year law enforcement professional who worked and won respect for his work with the FBI, Santa Monica police, L.A. airport police and in academia was nominated for the job and slaughtered because of a mistake he made 22 years ago. Since that mistake, which he admitted to, he went on to become a highly qualified and respected law enforcement executive with close to an impeccable background that should have gained him the position he was nominated for, and yet it did not.
That man should have gotten the job and he didn't because of nothing more than partisan politics and that is wrong.
It was and is our loss.
Our system and our leadership is failing. With everyday that goes by, our enemy is learning and preparing for their next attack.
We need to act, before it is to late.
***Please click here: http://newsmax.com/Ruddy/times-square-al-qaida/2010/05/05/id/357998 and see what Al-Qaeda has learned by this most recent event.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen has been arrested for parking the bomb-laden SUV in Times Square, which could have killed hundreds if not thousands of people. Kudos to the members of the NYPD and Joint Terrorist Task Force.
Luckily for us, his concoction of explosives failed to detonate and a local street vendor notified a mounted police officer that initiated what appears to be by all accounts a textbook response.
Today, there are more than 100 definitions of terrorism, and they differ even within the United States government. However, at a bare minimum and according to the FBI, terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.
From the outset of this event, there were still members of our government at various levels debating or showing reluctance to classify this as a terrorist act, and based on the contents of the vehicle, where it was placed and the damage that could have been done, I find that hard to believe.
After the arrest of Najibullah Zazi last year, the man who planned the attack of the New York City subway system, I wrote a column outlining just some of the loopholes in our immigration laws that could allow our enemies to infiltrate our borders legally. http://thepillarofstrength.com/?p=236. Given that Shahzad was naturalized just last year, and that his wife is living in Pakistan, it is evidently clear that the system is flawed and needs repaired.
Vigilance and intelligence is a must if we are going to be victorious over this enemy, but we need to address the immigration loopholes that presently exist.
The investigative abilities of the United States government at the local, state and federal levels are the best in the world, and our response protocols are getting better everyday as well. It is the leadership and our legislators that must catch up.
We still have leaders that are in denial or attempting to be politically correct when responding to events like this, and there are very few legislators, that truly understand the threats we face and are full steam ahead in creating new laws or amending old ones to keep us safe.
The frequency of the attacks against us are increasing and it is only a matter of time before a good Samaritan, like the Manhattan vendor is no where to be found.
We really really need to wake up.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
NEW YORK (WPIX) - In his first interview since his February 18th sentencing, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik spoke exclusively with PIX 11 News for a candid one-on-one interview with WPIX reporter Monica Morales. Click on the headline above for Part 1 of that interview, and click here for Part 2 http://www.wpix.com/videobeta/?watchId=7c2a941b-76ec-4be0-9bbe-2ace7d882fc6
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Recently, the State Department issued a report that incidents of international terrorism have increased by more than 25 per cent over the last year, indicating that the most substantial increases in terrorism were in Iraq, Within days after that report, the government of Saudi Arabia, announced the arrests of 172 Islamic radical fundamentalists who plotted to use air attacks to bomb Saudi Arabia's oil fields and storm their prisons to free inmates.
One week later, 222 members of the United States Congress passed legislation requiring a timetable on troop withdrawal from Iraq with restrictions on war funding. Such legislation will severely impact General David Petraeus' ability to carry out his mandate, a mandate that Congress themselves approved.
What does Saudi Arabia have to do with Iraq? What does one have to do with the other? In my opinion, it is a chilling demonstration that, nearly six years after 9/11, there are members of Congress that still do not understand what this war is about and who the enemy truly is. In an extreme turnaround, perhaps Congress should now watch and listen to the Saudis, who, in the past, we were fast to criticize, but who have come to the realization that this is just as much their war as it is ours, just as it is any country’s war that wants to live in a terror free world.
According to the Saudi Interior Ministry, the attacks in Saudi Arabia were to be carried out against government buildings, public figures, oil facilities and military targets, including some outside of the Kingdom. The extremists had the personnel, the money and the weaponry with some of the assaults planned by way of suicide missions. Does this sound familiar? These are the exact same targets that are the focus of extremists today in Iraq and Afghanistan. Oddly enough, they could fit the description of the actual targets in the United States, carried out by 19 members of Al-Qaeda, in a plan designed by Osama Bin Laden, on the morning of September 11, 2001.
It was Al-Qaeda on 9/11, and it is Al-Qaeda on Afghanistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia today. To validate that it is, in fact, the same enemy and the same fight, all we need to do is review the most recent tape released by Al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s chief deputy, wherein he speaks about Al-Qaeda’s fight against the west, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Algeria, Somalia and, yes, Saudi Arabia.
He then goes on to mock the recent Congressional bill setting forth a withdrawal timetable for U.S. troops, and, in doing so, sends a message to his followers worldwide that the United States has neither the patience nor the courage to fight this enemy. In his words, Al Qaeda fighters in Iraq were "nearing closer to victory over their enemy, despite this sectarian fighting" that has convulsed the country.
With grave concern, I must ask... What is it going to take for our congressional leaders to face the fact that we must remain in this war through fruition, if we are going to win it. At this particular juncture, it would behoove Congress to spend less time opposing and criticizing President Bush, Vice President Cheney and this administration, and come to the realization as a nation, it would be detrimental to lose this battle in Iraq.
It is imperative to understand that Iraq or Afghanistan are merely battlegrounds in a war with this new found enemy. Congress should reflect on 9/11 and Ground Zero, the first battleground in the war, and admit that our inactions and failures in the past to pursue this enemy led to our vulnerabilities on that day.
They should look at those responsible then and those leading Al-Qaeda’s fight against the west today. Furthermore, they should put all their political agendas aside, have the courage to admit the truth, and conclude that the war against terrorism will not end by withdrawing from Iraq. The most integral key to this conclusion, is to remember that we are engaged in a war, not a police action, not an isolated battle or a diplomatic challenge. The goal of this or any war is to win. If we fail in this war, thousands of Americans, perhaps millions, could one day be victims of an attack that could tragically surpass the attacks of 9/11.
The time is ripe for Congress to wake up!
Sunday, January 7, 2007
Two vehicles loaded with fuel, propane tanks and nails, much like the vehicle-born IEDs in Iraq today, are found in London’s Piccadilly Circus, our equivalent to Times Square. Then two Islamic radicals slam a car loaded with the same into the Glasgow Airport in Scotland, while the US Department of Homeland Security is reporting that the Al-Qaeda chatter indicates their desire to commit an act of terror against the west that is a “spectacular event”, much like the September 11th attacks. The investigation in the UK has moved quickly and has resulted so far in eight arrests, most of who appear to be Muslim medical doctors.
In the last several days, the press and media, but more so the general public appears to be shocked by the recent events and the “spectacular” chatter. Many political leaders have expressed shock that most of the participants arrested in the UK terror plot were educated doctors.
What I don’t understand and what concerns me is, why the shock and disbelief?
The fact that the alleged participants in the UK plot are educated men shouldn’t surprise anyone at all. Don’t forget…Osama bin Laden was highly educated with an engineering degree, as is Ayman al Zawahiri his chief deputy in Al-Qaeda who studied behavior, psychology, and pharmacology at Cairo University graduating in 1974 and earning a Masters degree in surgery in 1978. Mohamed Atta and the other 18 men that banded together for the attacks on 9/11 were all studious, educated and well traveled, much like the suspects recently arrested and being detained by the British authorities.
Six years after 9/11, and after many attacks against the west and the many attempts that have been prevented since that day, we still have people in this country, including many political leaders, who refuse to acknowledge the continuing threat that we face from radical Islamists. Where have these people been?
Perhaps they missed Osama bin Laden’s threats prior to 9/11 or even his statements in its immediate aftermath. But surely they’ve heard at least one of Zawahiri’s twenty or so messages over the past five years, or Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s in Iraq before he was killed by the coalition, or Adam Yehiye Gadahn who recently threatened an attack that would make us forget all about 9/11.
So, is it that we are not listening or is it that we just don’t get it? My fear is the latter… and here’s why. Spectacular these days, do not mean jumbo jets flying into skyscrapers or oil refineries or the White House. It no longer has to be a nuclear device or dirty bomb. The FBI, the U. S. Department of Justice and Homeland Security have foiled some major events in the past five years and are getting better everyday. But what if one of these groups took another approach as they attempted to do in the UK? Coordinated attacks designed to create carnage and mayhem, but done so in four or five different cities around the country, like New York, Los Angles, Orlando, Chicago and maybe Miami. In a tourist site or God forbid a school like they’ve done in Beslan? Maybe they kill fifty to three hundred innocents’… men, women and children. Would that be spectacular? More than you can imagine. The economic impact on tourism, the airline industry, the stock market and every other financial indicator in this country would mirror, if not surpass, the impact of the attacks of September 11.
We as a people need to wake up and realize that we are truly at war with an enemy that is on the attack. It’s not a poverty stricken enemy as some would have you believe and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they could be living amongst us already as we’ve just witnessed at Fort Dix, New Jersey and in the United Kingdom.
Muslims are not our enemy… radical Islamic fundamentalists are. If we don’t understand it, then learn more about it. The western world needs to help promote the real Muslim clerics that teach true Islam and hold those clerics accountable that promote jihad and the killing of innocent people, Muslims, Christians and Jews alike.
We are at war with an enemy that wants us dead because our religious, economic or moral beliefs differ from theirs and they want to martyr or kill themselves in this battle to prove their point. They have no rules, laws, guidelines or Geneva Convention, making everything including children fair game. If our will to fight this enemy is the problem, then our political leaders need to stop fighting each other long enough to fix it. If they do not and they’re more concerned about their political positions than they are fighting this war, then show them the door.
Beirut, 9/11, the USS Cole, our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Amman, Madrid, London, Glasgow, Ft. Dix, JFK and even Saudi Arabia. There is a war against us. When exactly are we going to get it?