National Security

Former 9/11 Commission leaders warn terrorists could strike again

The former leaders of the 9/11 Commission, established after the 2001 terrorist attacks, warned that terrorists could strike again.

Former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean (R) served as the chairman of the 9/11 Commission when it was first established in 2001 and former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D) acted as the vice chairman.

The pair wrote an opinion piece for USA Today on Tuesday - the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks - to warn of the increased risk of terrorism.

"We cannot wait for terrorists to strike again," Kean and Hamilton wrote. "We must act now or suffer later. Time is not our friend."

The U.S. needs to do more to prevent the growth of Islamist terrorism, the pair wrote.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, there were 10,900 terrorist attacks worldwide in 2017, according to data released last month from the University of Maryland's National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

That is more than five times the number of terrorist attacks in 2001.

Extremists groups, such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have claimed territory in 10 countries and are continually recruiting new members, the pair wrote.

"They have drawn us into an expanding fight against terrorism, at a cost [of] $5.6 trillion since 9/11, with no end in sight," Kean and Hamilton wrote.

The former commissioners called for a "preventative strategy" to assist "fragile" countries at risk of fostering terrorism.

"Rather than attempt further nation-building, the United States should support national and local partners in these volatile regions who take the initiative to bolster resilience in their societies," they wrote."

It may be "tempting" to think that terrorism is on the decline since ISIS has continued to lose territory for three years in a row, the pair wrote.

"But that would be a grave mistake. Violent extremists are regrouping and will strike again," Kean and Hamilton wrote.

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