Candidates Must Address “Low Tech” Terrorism, Corri Zoli Tells Newsday

Terror, civil unrest rise as presidential debate topics

(Newsday | Sept. 25, 2016) The arrest of a suspected terrorist accused of orchestrating two bombings in New York and New Jersey. An Islamic State-inspired stabbing spree at a Minnesota shopping mall. Days of violent protests on the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina, following an officer-involved fatal shooting.

“This is what is now becoming our new normal, and the candidates are going to have to address this.”

In the week leading up to Monday night’s first presidential debate at Hofstra University, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have been confronted with a string of domestic crises that political analysts say will undoubtedly emerge as issues discussed in the 90-minute faceoff.

Responding to the latest acts of violence at the debate, which is expected to draw a record 100 million viewers, will be “the first and best opportunity” for the candidates to win over disenchanted voters with a commanding performance, said Michael Dawidziak, a Bohemia-based Republican strategist who worked on the presidential campaigns of George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole and Steve Forbes …

… Corri Zoli, director of research for the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University, said that while both candidates have spoken out forcefully against the Islamic State in the wake of recent attacks, both “have been pretty weak” in detailing how they would respond to the ever-changing face of terrorism, which has gone from the al-Qaida model of planning large-scale attacks to the Islamic State approach of smaller-scale ones.

“There are all these players whose tactics are changing,” Zoli said. “What they seem to be doing … is not going after the big targets like airports or large iconic buildings, but going after small-scale soft targets … using opportunistic low-tech strategies … this is what is now becoming our new normal, and the candidates are going to have to address this. It’s no longer just thinking about these big, well-developed terrorist cells that takes months to plan an event” …

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