Former Trump adviser Gorka discusses New York City 'act of terror'
A man in a rented pickup truck mowed down pedestrians and cyclists along a busy bike path near the World Trade Center memorial on Tuesday, killing at least eight and seriously injuring 11 in what the mayor called "a particularly cowardly act of terror."
Sinclair's Jonathan Elias sat down with a former adviser to President Donald Trump, Sebastian Gorka, to get his take on the violent incident.
Elias: I just want to get your reaction to today's attack. Are you surprised by this, or is this something we should have seen coming?
Gorka: I am not surprised by the methods that we've used because we've seen this so many times before. In this case it wasn't just a vehicular attack; he combined it with weapons. Turns out, it seems they were fake handguns. But we've seen this before numerous times. We've seen this in Israel for years, we've seen this in the U.K., we've seen this in France with more than 80 people killed in one truck attack. What I'm disturbed about is not the fact that they're using classic jihadi methods, but the response from the local authorities, the politicians and even the commissioner. We have reliable reports that the individual shouted "Allahu Akbar," "God is Great" in Arabic, and the commissioner refused to confirm what he shouted. And then secondly I think it was the mayor or maybe the governor said this was a lone wolf attack, there was no connection to any other conspiracy. This was minutes after the attack. There's no way he can know that.
Elias: What do you make of the fact that this guy is from Florida and went up to New York and rented a truck?
Gorka: Because they have said in their publications -- whether it's Al-Qaeda's publication "Aspire" or the ISIS publication -- look for the highest concentration of unarmed civilians. That's of course a place like Manhattan. And secondly this was just blocks away from the World Trade Center. This would be the third instance of an attack against the World Trade Center. Symbolism is very important to terrorists. So all of this adds up as a jihadi attack.
Elias: So where do we go from here?
Gorka: So now we're going to have the feverish work of the FBI and the NYPD Counterterrorism Division looking into this man's connections, who he was emailing, his Internet history, was he in some way connected to a radical cleric, as in Fort Hood. Then there's the question of was there someone who recruited him, was there a talent-spotter that brought him into the movement? Only time will tell how big this potential conspiracy could be.
Elias: Obviously a bike path is a soft target. There is no limit to the amount of soft targets in our country. What can we do?
Gorka: Well, first we have to take the threat seriously. This president does. No more political correctness. We didn't talk about in the White House this being a problem of unemployment, like they did in the last administration. This is about a deadly enemy that wishes to see our whole civilization destroyed. So number one seriousness to the threat. And second a realization that the front-line in this war isn't miles away in the Middle East. The front-line in this war with the jihadis is when you step out of your door in the morning. Everybody has to be aware. You have to be aware of your surroundings. And most important of all, if you can't defend yourself -- I carry a weapon, I'm licensed to do so, I'm trained to do so -- if you don't have the fortitude to do so, that's okay, but report anything suspicious. It could save lives. In San Bernardino, the neighbors of the killers saw suspicious activity more than once and they refused to report it because they didn't want to be deemed Islamophobic or racist, and as a result 14 people died. Those people could be alive today if that suspicious activity had been reported. So see something, say something, isn't just a catchy bumper sticker, we should live by it as Americans.
Elias: What was your initial reaction when you heard what happened in New York City this afternoon?
Gorka: Sad. Realization that we have to redouble our efforts as a nation. We are crushing the jihadists in [inaudible]. If you look at what we've done in just a few weeks as a nation, from Mosul to [inaudible], we are stacking the [inaudible]. But of course, that success militarily places pressure on them to bring that war back here.
Elias: Is there a way to label someone before they start renting this kind of equipment to say you fit this kind of mold and we're not going to rent to you?
Gorka: Trucking is the lifeblood of this country. I don't think that's going to protect us. But there is a very important thing we could do much more of. It's not the individual terrorist who's important at the end of the day, it's the person who provides them with the ideological food that they ingest. THere are people now on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram that are spewing jihadi ideology with tens of thousands of followers. They're the center of gravity. We need to be able to -- following First Amendment rules -- to identify them, to stop them from being the epicenter of recruitment, that would be my recommendation to the administration.
Elias: Is that even possible?
Gorka: It's been done in the U.K. If you spew this kind of violent hatred, the ideological product that calls for the death of the infidel, then you can be put in prison for that activity in some countries. We need to reassess how even social media platforms allow this to happen. We've made pedophilia material illegal; you can't post child pornography on the Internet without having the Feds on your doorstep. The same potentially should happen with jihadi ideological material.