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Terrorism expert worries about the future

Robert Blitzer, associate director of the Center for Counterterrorism Technology and Analysis of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) in McLean, Va., shared his thoughts on America’s preparedness against terrorism in a talk April 24 in Clayton Hall as part of the Global Agenda series on “Understanding International Terrorism Today.”

During his speech, Blitzer reflected on the past, present and future of America’s preparedness against terrorist attacks.

Lack of money was a primary factor that inhibited the FBI from working to its full capabilities, Blitzer said, noting, “Prior to Sept. 11, the support [from Capitol Hill] was just not there.”

Blitzer said the terrorist attacks of the 1990s prioritized counterterrorism efforts within the United States government. He said the bombings of United States embassies in East Africa were the events that first introduced FBI officials to Al Qaeda.

Blitzer also shared his thoughts on the Sept. 11 attacks orchestrated by Osama bin Laden, as well as the challenges that the nation faces today and in the future.

“I worry about the future all the time,” Blitzer said. “The adversaries know they can’t beat our military, so they turn to asymmetrical warfare.”

Suicide bombings, nerve gas attacks and biological warfare are all tactics of asymmetrical warfare that Blitzer said bin Laden and his followers would use if they were given the opportunity.

Blitzer spoke seriously about bin Laden’s capabilities. “When [bin Laden] talks, I always listen. If he gets the bomb, he is going to use it…. This is the level of hatred he has for the West.”

Now retired from the FBI, Blitzer dedicated more than 26 years of service to the government as an investigator and special agent. Until the end of 1998, Blitzer was chief of the Domestic Terrorism/Counterterrorism Planning Section in the FBI’s National Security Division.

The Global Agenda series concludes on May 8 with E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post columnist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Clayton Hall.

Previous lectures are now available on video and can be found online at [www.udel.edu/global].

The 2002 Global Agenda series is made possible with support of the World Affairs Council of Wilmington, as well as the University’s College of Arts and Science.

See related stories.

Article by Erin O’Leary

April 26, 2002