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Good Question: Why Have There Been So Few Terror Attacks In U.S.?

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, America changed. Congress passed the Patriot Act. New federal agencies formed to search us at the airport and to look for terrorists at home and abroad.

But until a Monday afternoon, at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, virtually no terror attacks have hit us at home.

“We expected many attacks like this. The really remarkable story is that so many have been prevented,” said former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani on CBS This Morning.

Over 12 years, we’ve spent more than $636 billion on Homeland Security, according to one analysis. Another said that number is closer to $800 billion.

Did that money get results? Have we been lucky?

I asked a security consultant CEO if he was surprised there haven’t been more terror attacks.

“Surprised, no? Thankful might be the better word,” said Michael Rozin, CEO of Rozin Security Consultants.

Rozin is a former sergeant in the Israeli Defense Forces and he helped create Mall of America’s counter-terrorism practices.

He said there are two types of responsible parties for terror threats: organizations like al-Qaida and individual homegrown extremists.

“When you’re talking organization, the U.S. has dismantled their organizational capabilities. So that’s one of the reasons we haven’t seen a successful attack from them,” Rozin said.

But with the individual extremists, Rozin said we’ve been lucky and they’ve been stupid.

“They still try to mimic the grandiosity of 9/11. They try to think of complex, very sophisticated attacks that are really hard to execute,” Rozin said.

Our vigilance and good intelligence has thwarted at least 50 attacks since September 11, 2001. From the Shoe Bomber to an attack on Chicago’s Sears Tower, relatively few terror attacks have succeeded on U.S. soil.

“It has been a successful effort on the intelligence side, I think the U.S. has done an incredible job,” said Rozin.

There is another factor, according to Twin Cities-based security expert Bruce Schneier
writing in The Atlantic:

“Give the FBI credit for rolling up terrorist networks and interdicting terrorist funding, but we also exaggerated the threat.”

He added: “It turns out that terrorism is much harder than most people think. It’s hard to find willing terrorists, it’s hard to put a plot together, it’s hard to get materials, and it’s hard to execute a workable plan.”

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