WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — A former CIA official is concerned about the possibility of a terrorist attack in the United States following the deadly shooting at the Canadian Parliament building on Wednesday.
CBS News senior security contributor Mike Morell, the former deputy director of the CIA, explained to “CBS This Morning” Thursday that the U.S. is in “a very dangerous time here” due to several terror threats overseas.
“I am now more worried about a terrorist threat in the United States than I have been for a long, long time,” Morell told CBS News. “We have the self-radicalization problem ourselves. We’ve got the possibility that ISIS might send fighters here to conduct attacks. We still have al-Qaeda in Pakistan, al-Qaeda in Yemen and the Khorasan group planning attacks. And we have the fact that what Edward Snowden did has made it much more difficult for law enforcement and intelligence to track these guys, so we are at, I think, a very dangerous time here.”
Morell stated that he was worried about those radicalized in Canada easily crossing the border into the U.S.
“I’m much more concerned about the Canada border than I am the Mexican border because it’s much easier to come across the border,” Morell said. “To stop somebody who has been radicalized in Canada from coming across that border requires that you know about them, that the Canadians know about them and tell us, and that they try to cross that border illegally. There’s many, many ways to cross that border illegally, so I worry about that.”
A gunman identified as Michael Joseph Hall, who called himself Michael Abdul Zehaf-Bibeau after converting to Islam, shot and killed a soldier standing guard at the country’s National War Memorial and then stormed the Parliament building in Ottawa Wednesday. Zehaf-Bibeau was fatally shot by the ceremonial sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper called it the second terrorist attack in the country over the span of three days.
CBS News reports that Zehaf-Bibeau’s passport was recently revoked after it was found out he contacted known militants in Syria, possibly with ISIS. Hundreds of westerners have joined the terror group in Iraq and Syria.
Morell said that it’s hard for authorities to find people who have been radicalized.
“In terms of the insider threat, really the only thing you can do is monitor extremist websites and see who goes there and see what kind of conversations they have there,” Morell told “CBS This Morning.” “If those conversations start talking about violence, then the FBI can open up an investigation and take a look at that person, but that’s a lot of ifs to be able to find somebody who’s been radicalized.”
On Monday, 25-year-old Martin Couture Rouleau was shot and killed by police after they say he ran over two Canadian soldiers, killing one. Rouleau was known by authorities to having jihadist sympathies.
President Barack Obama said Wednesday that “we’re all shaken” by the shooting.
“We have to remain vigilant,” the president stated.
Morell believes that it could be a good idea to raise the terror threat following the incident.
“I think there’s value in raising an alert level because it tells people that you’re focused on the threat,” Morell said. “I think there’s value in raising security around sites that might be attacked because I think that deters people. I think all of that is positive.”
ISIS has urged supporters to carry out attacks against Western countries, including the U.S. and Canada. It is not known if the two Canadians involved in this week’s incidents had any ties to terror groups.