Following the chaotic withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan in August, the Taliban's ability to target the Western world remains a legitimate fear to many, as the country could once again become a haven for al-Qaeda. American Family News spoke to Raymond Orzel, a financial investigator who focuses on international terrorist groups. He previously served as the inaugural director and executive co-chair of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Orzel contends the United States is still vulnerable to an attack as the country moves into 2022 – and there are a few reasons for his concern. Since 9/11, he says, one of the most obvious reasons to be concerned is the level of "stove-piping" – i.e., the failure to appropriately share intelligence across agencies – that continues to limit effective communication.
"There exists a wall between law enforcement and the intelligence agencies, and it seems like [these organizations] are adamant about having that wall in place," he determines.
The terror finance investigator says it was "amply stated" in the 9/11 Commission Report that "stove-piping" is what led to the agencies' failure to communicate openly about the intelligence each was gathering.
"The cooperation just wasn't there, and that was a big problem," he explains.
He also suspects "ongoing turf wars" between law enforcement and intelligence agencies – which can limit the capabilities of each agency to combat terrorism. The result is a "lack of sharing of information" and a "lack of candor," he warns.
"The FBI was just as much to blame for 9/11 as was the CIA," Orzel contends, adding that he fears not much has changed over the last two decades in the ability of the two agencies to work together effectively. "I'm not sure how this will ever be overcome," he laments.
"It's been true for a long time: everyone is so busy fighting themselves and shooting themselves in the foot that it's a miracle that any of them can ever actually have any successful investigations," he argues. "With so much energy spent on interagency turf wars, it can have an effect on the success of an investigation or the ability of investigators to actually work a case."
Orzel suggests that the media also has a role in shedding light on the nation's counterterrorism efforts. "It's a big issue when the media refuses to report on a Saudi national, a Yemini national, or an Iranian coming across the southern border, as any number of these could be a threat to the country," he argues.
According to Orzel, "there's simply not a shared willingness to report on the threats coming across the border, especially when these people turn out to be on the terrorist watch list."
Transparency, he says, is part of the solution to effectively fight terrorism.
"Law enforcement and intelligence agencies must start sharing information and working together more effectively," he explains – adding that it is also important for media to share the facts.
"Cooperation between all agencies of the public and private sector is the best way to prevent another 9/11 from happening," he concludes.