The Missouri senator that sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee says the attacks on Paris, France, are evidence of what the intelligence community is the most afraid of.
Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) says the intelligence community expresses to the public, and privately to him and others on that committee, concern that there are, “more potential threats from more potential directions than any time ever before.”
“The first thought yesterday that continues to be a topic of my thought is that you don’t have to hijack a plane, you don’t have to have biochemical weapons, you don’t have to have very sophisticated equipment to kill a lot of people and terrorize a lot more people, particularly if you don’t care if you are lost in that effort yourself,” said Blunt. “The suicide bomber mentality is one of the terrifying mentalities to an open and free society like we have and like people in Paris have.”
Paris authorities say at least 128 people have been killed and that total is expected to increase. 180 people are reportedly injured, with 99 of those in critical condition. Eight terrorists were killed, seven of them in suicide bombings.
Two explosions were reported at a sports stadium where France and Germany were playing a soccer match. 112 people were reportedly killed at the Bataclan concert hall where the U.S. band “The Eagles of Death Metal” were scheduled to play. Other attacks happened at a restaurant, outside a bar, and on Avenue de la Republique.
Blunt says clearly such an attack could happen in the U.S.
“These kinds of activities are more aggressively pursued everyday than Americans would have any reason to understand because often the chance to get to the next person is being pretty careful about disclosing how you got to the person you just disrupted what they’ve been able to do,” said Blunt.
He said while such attacks are possible all over the world, Europe might be more susceptible now due to the number of people coming into it.
“Clearly almost nobody coming into Europe as a refugee is a terrorist, but it is very hard to control that new influx of people,” said Blunt, noting reports that a recently-used Syrian passport was found on the body of one of the terrorists.
Blunt describes France having been “pretty aggressive” in their fight against ISIS and the fight in Syria.
“The United States can’t ever expect anybody else to lead in that effort, but in terms of willing to be part of that effort, this is one of the areas that the president of France has really been willing to be outspoken in and lead in,” said Blunt. “His reaction yesterday was a reaction of we will respond and we will respond in a very aggressive way … that’s pretty much in line with the French discussion of what they think ought to happen as it relates to ISIS and terrorists and Syria, generally.”
The attacks came 10 months after that on the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo that killed 12 people. Blunt says France had only started to recover from that.
“Now the population [of France] is once again at a heightened level of alert and probably concern. Some of people yesterday coming out of these attack areas were saying [French President Francois] Hollande is the person responsible.”
Blunt says so far he knows about as much as anyone else about the attacks. He expects the Intelligence Committee to be briefed early in the week.
“In all likelihood the chairman and vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee have already had information from the intelligence community,” said Blunt. “One of the questions that clearly you’d want the Congress to ask, and the Senate to ask, is how does this relate to anything that’s happening here, what have we learned from this that can be applied here, and hopefully these are just ongoing lessons that the more you learn, the more you analyze one effort, successful or not, the better chance you have to prevent the next thing from happening.”