May 10th, 2015
03:43 PM ET

Fmr CIA Director Hayden "we're going to see more of what we saw in Texas last week"

CNN’s FAREED ZAKARIA GPS features an interview with Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA (2006-09), about the growing ISIS terror threat both at home and abroad.

HIGHLIGHTS

On an attack on U.S. soil: “"It's the law of numbers, Fareed. And you're absolutely right...we're better at integrating than almost all of our European allies. That means the pool from which people like this can be drawn is going to be proportionally smaller here in the United States than it is in most of our European allies. But the pool isn't dried up. The pool isn't zero. We are, unfortunately, going to see this.”

On counterterrorism: “Fareed, I think the tide’s coming in and we're going to see more of what we saw in Texas last week. Now the good news is it's very, very unlikely that we're going to see the kinds of attack that al Qaeda really wanted to conduct, that carefully planned, slow-moving, complex, mass-casualty attack against an iconic target. That's actually a counterterrorism success, and we ought to actually quietly celebrate that. But these low level attacks, that's what's left of them and that's where they're going to go. Fareed, in a very unusual way, you might want to characterize al Qaeda as an elitist, terrorist organization and ISIS as a populist one. And we're seeing the violence from ISIS not coming from the top down, but from the bottom up.”

FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: A Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland, Texas. The point was to be provocative. And, alas, it worked. Two gunmen, both American Muslims, stepped out of their car outside the event and opened fire with assault weapons. Both were killed. ISIS later took credit for the attack. Whether or not the claim is valid, it does raise the question: Just how much of a threat is ISIS to the American homeland?

To discuss, I'm pleased to be joined by Michael Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and former director of the National Security Agency.

Welcome back to the show, Mike.

MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Thanks very much, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: When you heard about this attack, and you learned it was two Americans, one - you know, a convert, people who didn't seem to have, in one case, much of a background with violence; in one case, there was a background. What did you make of it all?

HAYDEN: Fareed, unfortunately, sadly, it fit exactly the profile that a lot of folks like me expected - that the people very difficult to detect, inspired by the ISIS message, alone, alienated, looking for something bigger than self. That movement, this event, came together, prompted them to do what they did.

Unfortunately, Fareed, I think this is not the last time we'll see this. This is going to go on for a while and is going to be a bit of the new normal here in the United States - even in the United States.

ZAKARIA: You say even in the United States, because so far, the United States has had relatively low numbers of these kinds of alienated young youth, the kind you described - more in Europe, particularly in some of the larger countries in Europe.

Why do you say even in the United - do you think something has changed or it's just the law of numbers, at some point, you know, you're going to find a few people even here?

HAYDEN: It's the law of numbers, Fareed. And you're absolutely right and you've commented on this quite articulately, I think, in terms of our ability - we're better at integrating than almost all of our European allies. That means the pool from which people like this can be drawn is going to be proportionally smaller here in the United States than it is in most of our European allies. But the pool isn't dried up. The pool isn't zero. We are, unfortunately, going to see this.

ZAKARIA: Do you feel, when you - when you watch this play itself out, that we are in a - in a situation where things are getting worse, they're getting better? Is this just a kind of tide that is running? I think people are looking for some guidance here to understand, you know, where are we in this narrative of this - of this - of this violent radical Islam and its - and the attacks and the counter-attacks?

HAYDEN: I - Fareed, I think the tide’s coming in and we're going to see more of what we saw in Texas last week. Now the good news is it's very, very unlikely that we're going to see the kinds of attack that al Qaeda really wanted to conduct, that carefully planned, slow-moving, complex, mass-casualty attack against an iconic target. That's actually a counterterrorism success, and we ought to actually quietly celebrate that. But these low level attacks, that's what's left of them and that's where they're going to go.

Fareed, in a very unusual way, you might want to characterize al Qaeda as an elitist, terrorist organization and ISIS as a populist one. And we're seeing the violence from ISIS not coming from the top down, but from the bottom up.

ZAKARIA: So when we think about ISIS, how should we think about it? Because, as you say, it does seem to have this populist streak where it is able to inspire and allow to bubble up these kinds of - these kinds of attacks? Is that - is that ultimately its aim or is it - is it - is it really a side-order effect? It really seems focused more on the caliphate? What is it doing here?

HAYDEN: It is more focused on the near enemy, and that's another distinction with al Qaeda, who was always more focused on the far enemy. That's us.

But if you're asking me, Fareed, what is it we need to do about ISIS now, number one is, we need to try to defend ourselves against the kinds of attacks we saw in Texas last week, admitting that some of those are going to get through.

Second, we need to keep pressure on ISIS main in Iraq and Syria. And right now, Fareed, we are, at best, mowing the grass there. We aren't doing any weeding or real landscaping. So I think we need to be more robust.

And then, finally, Fareed, something suggested by one of the earlier questions, we don't - we shouldn't be bashful to talk about the core of this question. In many ways, this is about Islam, and we should have an adult conversation about one of the world's great monotheisms, recognizing we're all children of Abraham, we're all people of the book.

But this is a struggle within Islam, and until that struggle is resolved, we're going to have to do these other things to defend ourselves at home and abroad.

ZAKARIA: But do those other things involve getting involved in what is, as you say, a struggle within Islam? Should we be jumping in?

HAYDEN: I think, Fareed, we have broadly the correct strategy in Iraq. I think it's under-resourced and I think it's overly restrictive when it comes to our combat power. But in broad terms, I think the elements of the strategy are there.

I see no coherent strategy in Syria, Fareed, other than the phrase I used earlier: we're mowing the grass. And, of course, the grass grows up again.

ZAKARIA: Michael Hayden, as always, a pleasure to have you on.

HAYDEN: Thanks, Fareed.
____________________________________________________________________________________


Topics: Fareed Zakaria • Fareed Zakaria GPS • ISIS
tmpl
soundoff (No Responses)

Comments are closed.