Yes, a Paris-Style Attack Could Happen in US
Former NYPD official warns against false sense of security
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2015 12:33 PM CST
Pictures of victims, flowers, and candles are set in front of Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

(Newser) – Could terrorists pull off an attack in the US along the lines of what happened in Paris? The answer is an unequivocal yes, writes a former director of intelligence analysis for the NYPD in the Wall Street Journal. While it's true that the US "has—in absolute numbers and per capita—significantly fewer members of its Muslim population who are alienated from American society" and inspired by ISIS, "they do exist," writes Mitchell Silber. In fact, had it not been for quick police action, an attempted attack by two such Americans earlier this year in Texas might have been a bloodbath. Assault rifles are relatively easy to come by, as is the hydrogen peroxide needed for suicide bombs. The technical know-how to put such bombs together is available online or, for the more ambitious, at an overseas training camp.

If the latter sounds like a stretch, consider that the FBI estimates 40 Americans "have returned from the jihadist battlefields of Syria since that civil war began," writes Silber. On top of all that, the job of security officials has become more difficult with the advent of encryption services such as "Telegraph," he writes. US intelligence officials may not be as swamped with imminent threats as their European counterparts, but remember that Tamerlan Tsarnaev manged to escape serious scrutiny, despite warning signs, until the Boston Marathon bombings. "What happened in Paris can happen here," writes Silber, concluding that all the "necessary ingredients" that existed in France also exist here. "A false sense of security will be deadly." Click for his full column.