August 16th, 2011
06:06 PM ET

Obama: Biggest terror fear is the lone wolf

Situation Room anchor Wolf Blitzer sat down with President Barack Obama in Iowa on Tuesday.   The Situation Room blog has more on the interview.

BLITZER: I've covered the Middle East for a long time.  I've covered terrorism for a long time.  And I have to tell you, I'm worried, that on the 10th anniversary, approaching the 10th

of 9/11, al Qaeda, or what's left of al Qaeda or their supporters, will try to do something to seek revenge for you killing bin Laden.

 How worried should we be about that?  How worried are you about that?

OBAMA:  Well, look, we are vigilant and constantly monitoring potential risks of terrorist attacks.  And I think that men and women in our intelligence agencies, as well as the FBI, have done a terrific job, and the Department of Homeland Security.

 But the risk is always there.  And obviously, on a seminal event like the 10th anniversary of 9/11, that makes us more concerned.  It means we've got heightened awareness.

 The biggest concern we have right now is not the launching of a major terrorist operation, although that risk is always there, the risk that we're especially concerned over right now is the lone wolf terrorist, somebody with a single weapon being able to carry out wide-scale massacres of the sort that we saw in Norway recently.  You know, when you've got one person who is deranged or driven by a hateful ideology, they can do a lot of damage, and it's a lot harder to trace those lone wolf operators.

 So we're spending a lot of time monitoring and gathering information.  I think that we generally have to stay vigilant.  There may be a little extra vigilance during 9/11.

 On the other hand, keep in mind the extraordinary progress we've made over the last couple years in degrading al Qaeda's capabilities.  They are a much weaker organization with much less capability than they had just two or three years ago.

 BLITZER:  So what I hear you saying is we don't have to worry about a spectacular 9/11 kind of event, more like a lone wolf could do some damage, kill a lot of people, but not a nuclear, radiological or anything like that?

 OBAMA:  No.  Look, as president of the United States, I worry about all of it.  But I think the most likely scenario that we have to guard against right now ends up being more of a lone wolf operation than a large, well-coordinated terrorist attack.  We still have to stay on top of it, though, and we're never letting our guard down.  That's part of our job.

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Filed under: Living With Terror • Obama • Terrorism
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