View Full Version : Americans need to understand that al Qaeda doesn't represent Muslims as a whole

06-04-06, 16:01
Tom Ridge was the Guest Speaker this year at Las Vegas ISC West trade show on April 5th for security and surveillance. Following are his comments regarding Homeland Security.


Ridge Says United States Will Overcome Terrorist Threat

The United States will overcome the terrorist threat, but not quickly, said former Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge said during his keynote address Wednesday morning at ISC West.

"Most Americans before 9/11 had little or no knowledge of al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden," Ridge said. "Looking at the world for a sovereign threat to our safety, none existed. We saw terrorist attacks before 9/11, but they were out there and not in the United States. We thought we were fairly immune. But we're not. You don't have to be a sovereign state to cause a large amount of financial and other catastrophes."

Americans need to understand that al Qaeda doesn't represent Muslims as a whole, Ridge said.

"Most Americans don't realize that the Muslim world is one-fourth of human kind," Ridge said. "Within this group, there has been a small zealous group that has a radical interpretation of the religion. Those who don't hold there are considered to be infidels. They believe if we need to eliminate you to advance their cause, that's OK. It's hard for us in a Judeo-Christian world to really understand that they can kill non-combatants."

The United States can't totally eliminate the terrorism threat in the near term, Ridge said.

"First, you manage the risk -- you can't eliminate it," he said. "Millions of cars, shipping containers and people enter the country. We calculated at DHS is that we had to be right in excess of a billion times a year. The terrorists only have to be right once. What has to be done is risk management and looking at something that would cause the most catastrophic damage."

The security industry is part of the response to threats in today's society, and technologies like biometrics will help to protect privacy instead of invading it, Ridge said.

"Most Americans shouldn't worry about normal security and safety -- they should let professionals do that," he said. "We want to integrate the country. The value proposition that security industry adds to the 9/11 world is much more than before."

And while it may take a few generations, the war against terrorism will end, Ridge said.

"We will overcome this threat and prevail because America is unique place," he said. "People in the security sector will come up with technology that will do that. Americans don't live in fear. We didn't live in fear under a nuclear umbrella for 30 years. We're preparing ourselves a lot better today. America is also just not a place, but an idea with the liberties and freedoms that we cherish."