Former NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly, author of the book Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City – which has become the basis for a six-part series on SiriusXM channel 124, debuting Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. Eastern – joined Breitbart News Daily to talk about the Nice, France, terror attack.
Kelly explained how his department was able to thwart more than a dozen serious terrorist plots during his tenure: “We put a plan in place to supplement what the federal government was doing. We knew that we couldn’t rely totally on the federal government to protect New York. We’d had two major terrorist attacks, one in 1993, and, of course, the horrific events of 2001.”
“So we embarked on an ambitious effort to bring in expertise, intelligence expertise to help the department gather information,” he continued. “We actually ultimately devoted about 1,200 police officers to our counterterrorism efforts. We assigned New York City police officers to 11 cities overseas.“
“It worked. We had 16 plots against the city on our watch. Some of them were defeated as a result of good work on the part of the FBI, on the part of the NYPD, and sheer luck, quite frankly,” he recalled. “There were a couple of them that we didn’t know anything about. But it all seemed to work, and we didn’t violate anybody’s rights horribly.”
Kelly explained how a key element of his strategy was developing an information network that would alert law enforcement to incipient terrorist plots.
“New York is arguably the most diverse city in the world, and what we wanted to know, with granularity, is where were people living? You know, it can be very tribal. We were interested in even dialects. There’s lots of different dialects of Arabic, for instance,” he said. “So we created a demographics unit to go into the neighborhoods – it wasn’t secret; it wasn’t undercover – to find out, in fact, who’s living in New York.”
“We had information that people were coming from the Middle East to do some bad things, and we wanted to know if, in fact, we got information like that, where would they go, what neighborhood would they go to?” Kelly said.
“By the way, we knew where the – you might say the Eastern European communities – were, with the Tsarnaev brothers, where they would have gone, if, in fact, they made it to New York.” He went on to state, “If you recall, this is the Boston bombers I’m talking about. They hijacked a car, and they told the driver that they were going to New York, and the driver escaped,” adding, “And, of course, we were criticized for this!”
Sirius XM host Stephen K. Bannon argued it would be more accurate to say Kelly and the NYPD were “vilified” and “demonized” for their supposedly outrageous exercise in racial profiling.
“It was unfair, it was unjust, but that’s life in the big city,” Kelly sighed, in true New Yorker style. He added:
I was asked by The Wall Street Journal, as a result of these 50 articles, what has changed, what would you change? I said, “Nothing.” We didn’t change anything because what we were doing, we knew was lawful and was the right thing to do. We had a cadre of first-rate attorneys that vetted what we did. So it was just typical life in New York. There’s a lot of forces here that don’t like police to begin with, and certainly didn’t like some of the proactive measures that we took.
Bannon compared the Nice attack on a Bastille Day celebration to jihadis carrying out a massacre at a Fourth of July parade in the United States – a comparable holiday tradition that would assemble a large number of soft targets for terrorists to strike, in a setting very difficult for law enforcement to secure completely.
Kelly said the watchword for law enforcement, in America and abroad, is “resolve.”
“We have to stick with it. Unfortunately, I think we’re gonna see this for quite a while to come. There’s no easy answers. As we squeeze them in the Middle East, they’re inspirational reach seems to get longer, or stronger,” he observed of ISIS and other terrorist organizations. “We need to gather intelligence, as best we can, and I don’t think we should be hamstrung in that effort.”
“It’s going to be difficult,” he warned. “Look at what happened in Nice. That was one individual willing to give up his life, and, of course, there seems to be an inexhaustible supply of those types of people that created such carnage. So it’s not easy, and we have to continue to fight.”
Bannon asked Kelly about the notion of treating adherence to sharia law and jihadi principles as a form of sedition, as expressed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s suggestion that Muslims in the United States should be deported if they declare loyalty to the Islamic legal code.
“What would you say today to what Newt Gingrich said, specifically about sharia law, and Islamic centers that are preaching this hate and sedition against a constitutional republic, every day?” Bannon asked.
“Well, I think we should have that information,” Kelly replied. “We followed leads wherever they took us, and there was certainly no sanctuary. If it took us to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we’d go in there. If it took us to a mosque, we’d go there. But there is a lot of skittishness in government these days about doing that.”
There is an awful lot of hatred being spewed in some of these locations, and Wahhabism is at the core of so much of this – and yet, no real pressure put on Saudi Arabia, which is really the disseminator of so much of this information, to change their ways. They continue to breed hatred against us, and don’t really pay a penalty.
Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.