Citing the recent attacks in New York City and New Jersey, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York William J. Hochul, Jr. emphasized the importance of vigilance in fighting terrorism during his Daemen College Distinguished Leaders Lecture on Sept. 20.
“As we saw unfold last weekend, threats to the United States are evolving and we must be vigilant in our efforts to defeat terrorism,” said Hochul. “The joint terrorism task force model has been key to fighting these rather formidable adversaries.”
Addressing a capacity crowd in the college’s Alumni Lounge, Hochul spoke about the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., calling it “a day that changed everything in how we view and combat terrorism.”
Hochul’s perspective on terrorism is drawn from extensive experience as chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Anti-Terrorism Unit following the 9/11 attacks, and as lead prosecutor in several high-profile international terrorism cases, including the Lackawanna Six.
“At a time when many thought terrorism would not manifest itself in Western New York, we were dealing with the Lackawanna Six, a significant case because it was the first known instance of Americans training with al Qaeda,” he said. “Equally important about this case is that each of the men prosecuted provided critical information that was useful in our fight against terrorism.”
As Hochul noted, there has been a noticeable shift in the approach used by terrorists to less sophisticated, more quickly implemented attacks, like the one carried out this summer in Nice, France. Referring to it as the “flash and bang approach, these are simple but brutal attacks done with minimal resources, training and planning, which is much different than what occurred on 9/11,” he said.
Hochul pointed out that preventing attacks before they happen is one of the biggest challenges faced by law enforcement.
“American citizens can play a role in keeping our country safe from terrorism and other threats,” he said. “Community members who share tips when they notice suspicious activity can be great assets to law enforcement as we continue to combat terrorism.”