Source: BY ANDREW CUOMO on NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Thursday, September 11, 2014, 3:45 AM
Sept. 11, 2001, was a tragedy that forever changed our state and our country. We will never forget the pain of that day, the loved ones we lost, and the heroism of our first responders and so many New Yorkers.
Thankfully, over the past 13 years, through superb police work and greatly expanded counterterrorism efforts, New York has avoided another attack.
But this year we would be in denial if we did not recognize the rapid growth of extremist movements abroad — and the threat they pose here at home.
And it would be delusional not to recognize New York’s special vulnerability. As a global financial capital and a symbol of liberty, we remain a top target.
Just this week, New York’s leading intelligence officials warned that we face the most complex terrorism danger since the twin towers were destroyed.
The problem has metastasized as terrorist organizations multiply around the globe. Al Qaeda is no longer our only threat. There’s Hezbollah, second only to Al Qaeda in the number of Americans it has murdered (at least 266). There’s Hamas, whose covenant calls for the slaughter of Jews worldwide. There’s Al Shabab, the deadly African offshoot of Al Qaeda. And now there’s ISIS, whose brutal beheadings of two American journalists shocked and outraged the world.
We aren’t dealing with Stone Age militants. These postmillennial terrorists know how to exploit technology to spread their message of hate. Their sophisticated video production and social media campaigns amount to the mass marketing of terrorism online.
Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq have already recruited thousands of foreign fighters — many of whom could enter the U.S. using their own Western passports.
Security never comes from denial; security comes from recognizing reality and taking action.
We may have pulled our troops out of Iraq and be drawing them down in Afghanistan, but the war against global terrorism is far from over. It’s simply entered a new phase.
In his speech Wednesday night, President Obama outlined his strategy to destroy ISIS. This comes on the heels of successful U.S. air strikes in Somalia that killed Al Shabab’s top leader, a man who has targeted Westerners in East Africa and bragged about planning last year’s assault on a mall in Kenya.
In light of the new threats, American officials must also recommit ourselves to intelligence-sharing and coordination among federal, state and local authorities.
And we must recognize the growing unrest in the Middle East is not merely a regional problem. It’s ours, too.
I recently led a bipartisan delegation of New York leaders to Israel during the conflict with Hamas. I walked through Hamas attack tunnels that lead from Gaza into the heart of Israeli communities — sometimes directly into Israeli homes. The fact that Hamas diverted resources, which should have been used to build bomb shelters and schools, to create these tunnels reveals its true priorities.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other government officials made the point that their country’s fight is our fight, too. They’re right.
Our enemies do not distinguish between us. They are waging a war against democracies and the democratic principles of freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — principles New York has proudly embodied for centuries.
After 9/11, Republicans and Democrats united to face our common threat. Political leaders of all stripes must come together once again. To honor the memory of those we lost, we must do everything in our power to protect New York and America from those who have attacked us before and those who would attack us again.
Our best defense is to do what New Yorkers do best: stay true to who we are, continue to embrace tolerance and diversity, adapt to changing circumstances and remain resilient.