General predicts mass destruction
Terrorists seeking to outdo 9/11, conference told
Saturday, March 27, 2004
The next terrorist attack will be bigger than 9/11, predicts the deputy commander of the U.S. Northern Command.
"It's gonna come. It's gonna come. It's not a question of if, it's a question of when," said Lt.-Gen. Edward Anderson.
"I think that, when they look at the United States and Canada, they're not looking at doing little, small things," Anderson told the Calgary Herald editorial board Friday. "I think they want to do a big one.
"They want to do one bigger than 9/11. And so how do they do that? In my opinion, weapons of mass destruction -- a chem or bio attack of some sort."
The global war launched against terrorism on the heels of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington has had a positive effect in that it has put terrorists on guard, he said.
"It has disrupted their command and control. And it has put them a little bit on the defensive in terms of where they operate out of and where they move around and what they do," said Anderson, here to participate in a conference on homeland security and reserves hosted by the University of Calgary's Centre for Military and Strategic Studies.
But, he said, terrorists are patient and more has to be done to thwart their plans.
"They are known . . . that they've always wanted to have a weapon of mass destruction and that they have had efforts underway in some of their training camps to develop those kinds of capabilities. I don't think that's changed," said Anderson.
A 50-member Bi-National Planning Group is looking at ways to counteract the threat.
"It is looking at whether Norad (the North American Aerospace Defence Command) should be expanded to include maritime and land defence or a NATO for North America," Anderson said at the conference.
"Should we take Norad and adapt some sort of a NATO-like organization? In other words, more than just bi-national if we're going to talk continental security," he said.
Anderson praised the Canada-U.S. relationship throughout the 46-year history of Norad, but noted it is only focused on aerospace defence.
The planning group and NORTHCOM share a facility with Norad -- a joint U.S. and Canadian effort to police and defend North American skies -- in Colorado.
NORTHCOM was established in 2002 to command the Department of Defence homeland defence efforts to deter and defeat threats aimed at the U.S. and co-ordinate military aid and response to civil authorities.
"NORTHCOM was formed because there was no command to address the defence of the nation in the context of the domains of air, land and maritime and then provide support to civil authorities," said Anderson.
"The threat to both our homelands is real. There should be no doubt in anybody's mind that there is an intent to attack free democracy."
He noted coastlines are particularly vulnerable. "Maritime domain awareness is an area we feel need to be strengthened . . . one of the specific tasks of the bi-national planning group is maritime domain awareness."
Anderson said terrorist forces would be hesitant to launch small-scale attacks because that would heighten awareness and prevent them from fulfilling their ultimate dream.
"I think that if they were to undertake some sort of a smaller activity in one of our two countries, then what that does is it really heightens our awareness, procedures and processes get put into place, which could jeopardize what they're really trying to achieve -- which is the big one.
"So whether it's done on the anniversary of 9/11, or whether it's done on Christmas, or whether it's done whenever, here -- Canada and the United States -- I don't think that is important to them. They just want to make sure that it's successful."
© The Calgary Herald 2004
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