Anti-Terrorism Vigilance Urged During New Year's Celebration

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - With the approach of the biggest New Year's Eve bash ever, the White House is issuing warnings about possible terrorist activity in the US associated with the new millennium.

"As we head towards the New Year, the millennium, the end of Ramadan, this is a period of heightened risk of terrorist actions involving Americans," said White House National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. "Americans should be vigilant as they go about their plans" for the upcoming holidays, he added.

Ramadan is the Muslim holy season. Berger gave his comments on CBS's Face The Nation, Sunday, following the recent arrest of an Algerian man apprehended as he was allegedly smuggling explosives and bomb-making items across the Canadian border into Washington state.

The FBI is reportedly trying to determine if there is a link between the alleged smuggler, Ahmed Ressam, 32, and Osama bin Laden who allegedly ordered the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania last year.

One defense expert told that Ressam's arrest was especially troubling because he is probably just the tip of the terrorist iceberg, representing many more subversives who are not caught by authorities.

"This is quantum expansion," said Major F. Andy Messing, Jr. of the National Defense Council Foundation. "For every one guy that we snagged, we probably didn't snag twenty. There's a lot of cranky and crabby people running around out there, and they come from all corners of the planet."

Messing said that many counter-terrorism organizations like the FBI are working hard to prevent terrorism in the U.S. with limited resources. "Most of these guys are understaffed. And for the job that they are doing, are underfunded," said Messing.

With the end of the Cold War, one defense policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank, says that U.S foreign policy needs to be less intrusive in other nations' internal affairs, or America will see more terrorist activity on U.S soil.

"Most of these disagreeable groups wouldn't bother the U.S. if we didn't bother them and intervene in their region," Ivan Eland told "I think that one of the reasons that we get 40 percent of the world's terrorism is because we're the only power that intervenes outside of [our] region."

The best way to fight terrorism in the U.S. is on the diplomatic end, said Eland.

"Basically, in the post-Cold War world the strategic environment has shifted," he said, adding that now the U.S. must worry about terrorists whose main goal is revenge and fear.

A counter terrorism consultant told that the best defense against terrorism in public places is to be constantly on the lookout for suspicious activity.

"The average citizen can be aware of their surroundings, look for unusual items that may be freestanding - unmarked boxes in a place where they are not supposed to be, cars that may be parked inappropriately," said SWT Prevention Services director Ken Stonebreaker.

"The people that are going to make the difference here is going to be the individual citizen that's got his eyes open," said Stonebreaker.