Centracchio: Homegrown attackers are hardest to track

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) –Rhode Island’s former Homeland Security chief says ordinary citizens are the key in fighting homegrown terror attacks.

Eyewitness News Analyst Lt. Gen (Ret.) Reginald Centracchio spoke about the implications of Saturday’s three separate attacks in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota.

“We’re looking at a migration from what is normally referred to as organized terrorism,” Centracchio said. All three attacks took place at so-called “soft targets,” or ordinary places where a lot of people may be gathered.

New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo said officials don’t believe the bombing in Chelsea is connected to an international terrorist group. According to Centracchio, homegrown attacks by individuals are tougher for intelligence officials to stop.

“It’s almost impossible to detect that something like this is going to happen until it happens,” he said.

If the attacker doesn’t share his plans with a larger group, it can be increasingly difficult, Centracchio said. Many of these attackers are inspired by overseas terrorist groups like ISIS, but have never communicated with them.

The solution, he said, is for ordinary citizens to report anything abnormal to law enforcement.

“The ingredient that is always missing in those plans is the ability for the people to actually participate and help the authorities identify a possible scenario,” Centracchio advised. “If you don’t do that, you become part of the problem. And unfortunately, you may become a victim.”

In an email to Eyewitness News, Rhode Island State Police Col. Steven O’Donnell said of the latest attacks: “We take all violent events both nationally and internationally seriously, and prioritize and adjust our security protocols as needed based on the threat.”

Eyewitness News Analyst, Lt. Gen. Reginald Centracchio (ret.) served as Adjutant General of Rhode Island and Commanding General of the Rhode Island National Guard from 1995 until his retirement in 2005. During his tenure, he served as Director of the Rhode Island Emergency Managment Agency and as Rhode Island Homeland Security Advisor – becoming the first Adjutant General to hold all three positions simultaneously.

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