In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack outside the Kabul airport, to say nothing of the Taliban’s rapid reconquest of Afghanistan, concerns are growing about the increased risk of radical Islamist terror attacks against Americans at home in the United States.
While much of that concern has been focused on potential terrorists crossing the southern border or arriving as refugees, a retired U.S. Army general said the greatest threat is likely posed by radicalized jihadists already living in America, Fox News reported.
That was the view expressed by Retired Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, formerly the commander of Ft. Bliss in Texas and commander of troops who fought against the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
They’re already here
Gen. Pittard’s remarks came in an interview with Border Report in response to the concerns being expressed by some elected Republicans about the increased risk of terror attacks on the U.S. homeland in the aftermath of the fatal bombing attack outside the Kabul airport that killed at least a dozen U.S. service members and wounded several more.
“Suicide bombs in Kabul today — suicide bombs in the US tomorrow. Biden must IMMEDIATELY secure our southern border before it’s too late!” warned Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) in a tweet Thursday.
While terrorists and border security certainly is an area of concern, according to Pittard, “The idea that they would cross the border, they don’t have to; they can radicalize people already in our country — which they have shown that they can do and well.”
“Yes, (we’re) always concerned with our border not being secure,” the general added, “but I think it’s a bigger problem radicalizing people already in our country.”
The refugee problem
Another area of concern to some is the thousands of Afghan refugees being transported to America by the Biden administration with questionable levels of vetting prior to their arrival, an issue that some Republicans, such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), have called attention to, in his case via Twitter as well as numerous media interviews.
Yet, Gen. Pittard downplayed those concerns by noting that military bases like Ft. Bliss, which he used to command and which is set to receive thousands of refugees, had “plenty of space” to house and seclude those refugees from others “until you do the proper checks” to verify they posed no threat of terrorism.
He also argued that, given the fact that the bases the refugees would be housed at were quite some distance from major population centers, “the harm to surrounding civilian population is minimal.”
The unknown ahead
The general’s remarks were, oddly enough, both comforting and concerning at the same time with respect to the potential for terrorist attacks in the United States.
On the one hand, his confidence in the capability of the base he formerly commanded to safely house and vet Afghan refugees to weed out potential terror threats is a bit comforting. That said, his own stated concerns about the ability of foreign terrorists to radicalize would-be jihadists already in America, paired with his downplaying of the very real issue of border security, is more than a little bit worrisome.