Ex-NY Homeland Security Adviser On Staying Safe After Paris

In the days after the horrific attacks in Paris that killed 129 people and injured 352 others, threats to commit similar acts of violence in the U.S. and now Germany have many on edge. But former New York State homeland security adviser Michael Balboni says the coordinated strike seen in France is not the only kind of attack ISIS may cause.

“The first is the kind you saw in Paris where there was a dedicated, organized, resourced cell operating in a — not in a target area but just outside — but utilizing folks with knowledge inside,” Balboni told MetroFocus Host Rafael Pi Roman.

Officials here are prepared to address this sort of threat, but a second type is more difficult to confront, he said. The terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, known as ISIS, has been encouraging jihadists who can’t travel to Syria to kill wherever they’re located.

“But the other is home grown, the lone wolf, the Boston Marathon bombing, the ‘Draw the Prophet’ shooting where two guys basically saw it, got off the couch and decided they were going to get involved,” he said. “So that second attack is really what ISIS has been trying to stir up in Western countries, particularly the United States, through their very sophisticated web presses and recruitment.”

Balboni pointed to a list of “soft targets” that typically have more relaxed security measures.

“The thing about security, it’s not a destination, it’s a journey. It needs to be refreshed. And so you begin to see gaps,” he said. “And some of the gaps that I see right now is we spend billions of dollars every year on airline security, yet very very little for shopping malls, movie theaters, arenas — there is a lot of stuff out there.”

Today, a soccer match at Germany’s Hannover Stadium was canceled and fans evacuated after authorities uncovered “a concrete security threat” that included plans for explosions, BBC News reported.

Balboni said measures to address these gaps include intelligence sharing and encouraging retailers to hire private security, among other things, but that’s still not a catch-all.

“One of the things that is very disturbing about what happened in France is that after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, the nation of France undertook some of the most significant and severe surveillance laws, and what I mean by severe is no warrant needed to do real-time monitoring of your emails, and now they’ve suspended any requirements before they do a search,” he said, referencing measures granted to police under France’s state of emergency. “That’s something we wouldn’t tolerate here in the United States, but nonetheless, even with that, (the attackers) were able to amass this amount of weapons and conduct this.”

But, Balboni says, New York City has “the best police force in the world.”

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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