Terror Expert Warns Nevada, Suggests Security Fundraising
After suggesting that Las Vegas contains the types of entertainment targets considered iconic by terrorists, a retired U.S. general who oversaw military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan told the Nevada Homeland Security Commission on Wednesday that the state must find a way to pay for security resources themselves if federal Homeland security funding is cut to states, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Retired Gen. John Abizaid, a Gardnerville, Nev., resident who was head of the U.S. Central Command from 2003 to 2007, said al-Qaida involvement in a 2002 nightclub bombing that killed more than 200 people in Bali shows that the terrorist group believes strikes on targets symbolic of pleasure can have a particularly paralyzing effect on a country.
“Whether the feds give the money or not, it’s a task we have to take on,” Abizaid said in urging Nevada’s commission to find a way to continue to fund the “right architecture” of information, intelligence and people to combat possible terrorist efforts in the state.
Before his presentation, Abizaid heard discussion at the meeting that indicated it was likely that not as much federal money would be appropriated in the future to states for Homeland security.
“It [terrorism] can happen here,” said Abizaid, who warned in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal that security efforts cannot be lessened when intelligence has shown that terrorist groups are searching for ways to further strike the United States.
How the financially strapped state of Nevada could make up a Homeland security funding shortfall that could run into millions of dollars is unknown.
“We just couldn’t do it at this point,” said Dr. Dale Carrison, chairman of the Nevada Homeland Security Commission after the meeting. “We couldn’t even do a matching program.”
Abizaid, who retired last year as a four-star general, is now a visiting professor of counterterrorism at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where he graduated in 1973.
Even if the next president chooses to drastically cut back on military involvement in Iraq, that doesn’t mean the United States won’t be deeply involved in the Middle East, Abizaid said, according to the newspaper.