Colonel gives chamber terrorist advice

Published 7:24 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2016

An attack may be unlikely in Southside Virginia but the nation is at war with terrorism and we should all be vigilant, USAF Col. (Ret.) Greg Eanes told members of the Lunenburg County Chamber of Commerce.

Eanes, who is also the mayor of Crewe, spoke on homegrown terrorism during a chamber meeting at Victoria Restaurant on Thursday.

Chamber President Mel Payne said the presentation on homegrown terrorism had been requested by members.

Eanes served in Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 34 years of military service; almost all of it in intelligence.

By whatever name — be it ISIS or ISIL — “they are still bad boys,” Eanes said.

With a goal of creating a caliphate advocating Sharia law and religious intolerance in the name of God, the organization appeals to a sense victimhood identity and martyrdom and is involved in slavery, genocide and torture — including beheadings, immolations and drownings — all posted online to be seen.

Al-Qaida is also still active, he said.

Currently 40 international terror groups on the nation’s threat list; all but eight are Islamic, Eanes said.

Eanes stressed he is not talking about every follower of Islam. Indeed, he said he fought side-by-side with Muslims; and ISIS and other such terrorist groups have actually killed more Muslims than Christians.

I’m talking about radical Islam,” he said. “I’m not talking about the regular, mainstream secular Muslim.”

Eanes called the religious zealots “thugs, gangs — and no different from the 1920s mafia; and they’ll do whatever they have to do to take control.”

“They want the apocalypse, and they don’t mind dying,” he said. “We have not — since World War II fighting the Imperial Japanese — met such a fanatical enemy.”

Eanes said international terrorism involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law with the intent to intimidate or influence governmental policy.

“The only difference is that domestic terrorism occurs here,” he said.

There have been 2,608 total attacks and 226 fatal attacks in the United States between 1970 and 2011, Eanes said. Eco-terrorists were responsible for 164 of the attacks, he said.

In a mid-July Nicholas J. Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, during a hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating about 1,000 potential homegrown terrorists in 50 states; the increase in incidents is the result of ISIL/ISIS and its media campaigns; the instigators are focused on simple tactics that require minimal training;  their primary targets are military, law enforcement and symbols of U.S. authority, and their secondary targets are of a personal nature — such as the Orlando nightclub shooting that saw 49 people killed.

We face “more threats originating in more places and involving more individuals than we have at any time in the past 15 years,” Rasmussen said.

Nationally, the FBI is combating domestic terror through efforts of its various joint terrorism task forces. These task forces have grown from only 35 before the Sept. 9, 2001, terrorist attack to over 100 now, Eanes said.

They include Operation TRIPWIRE which focuses on information and intelligence-sharing operations from to help identify terrorist sleeper cells in the United State; Correctional Intelligence Initiative which assists correctional facilities in combating radicalization and recruitment of prisoners within federal, state, local, tribal and territorial prisons; Rail Liaison Agent Program which works to protect critical mass transit and freight rail infrastructure by collecting and disseminating rail-related terrorism intelligence; and Military Operations Support Team which looks at military-specific terrorism threats.

Locally, Eanes encouraged those in attendance to participate in efforts such as Neighborhood Watch, know the local law enforcement and report unusual activities.

He also encouraged participation in activities such as the volunteer rescue squad and fire department, Civil Air Patrol and Red Cross.

And he warned everyone to maintain situational awareness and get a weapon and train to use it.

“How many of these shootings (around the world) could have been stopped if they had had a second amendment” right to bear arms, Eanes said. “A good guy with a guy, if you will, is not farfetched.”