The Manhattan attacker might have been radicalized in Tampa, Florida, where he lived for almost a decade, he said, and the local mosque could be the culprit.
“We know that’s a very active mosque down there that recruits and should be closed down at the earliest opportunity,” retired US Army General Paul Vallely told RT.
While it’s hard to prevent an attack carried out with no weapon other than a rental car, Vallely still believes the special services could have done a better job – as they do in Russia.
“Well, I just think like you have done in Russia. Russia has done a very good job. Europe has done a poor job but they’re getting better. Our intelligence is getting better on the identification of these individuals and where they come from and where they were recruited at.”
Part of the problem, the general said, lies with the many peaceful Muslims, who harbor no ill intentions but are reluctant to alert police on suspicious activities in their community. He went on say that the portion of those who hold radical beliefs could also be quite sizeable.
“The Muslim people that are peace-loving, they’ve got to engage, and if they see any activity that looks like jihad, or there’s going to be an attack, they’ve got to come to the authorities, too.”
The New York Police Department has been treating an incident in lower Manhattan, during which a rental truck mowed down cyclists and pedestrians, killing eight and injuring a dozen, as one carried out by a lone attacker. The 29-year-old suspect, reportedly a native of the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan who came to the US in 2010, was shot and injured by police and is in custody.
Paul Vallely told RT he disagrees with the term “lone wolf” used to describe attacks when perpetrators appear to have no direct accomplices, arguing that the man, identified as Sayfullo Saipov by several sources, was apparently influenced by the ideology of violent Islamic extremism, which is at war with Western civilization.
“These are not lone wolves, they are part of being a jihad, being a warrior for Islam… The tactics they use is terrorism.
“We have to realize that this is active jihad. This is a war against the West, this is the war against the United States… This is the caliphate trying to expand, to be more powerful,” Vallely said.
It’s not necessary for the attacker to have been to a war zone to be indoctrinated, as they can be as easily radicalized on home turf, he added.
“We have noticed almost, I think, ten training sites in the US right now and I’m certain they are all over Europe as well,” Vallely said.