New York Times reporter Eric Schmitt speaks to Weber State University students and staff on Tuesday, October 27. Schmitt covers issues regarding terrorism and national security. (Emily Crooks / The Signpost)
New York Times reporter Eric Schmitt speaks to Weber State University students and staff on Tuesday, October 27. Schmitt covers issues regarding terrorism and national security. (Emily Crooks / The Signpost)

Terrorism isn’t something widely talked about at Weber State, but on Tuesday students got a chance to hear from the perspective of a New York Times journalist.

Eric Schmitt covers stories for the Times that focus on terrorism all over the globe.

He broke down threats to the United States national security during his talk. Schmitt has grouped the list of threats into five main “buckets.” First is known as the traditional group. This terror group includes the well-known terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda.

“The good news is that threats from traditional Al-Qaeda headquarters in Pakistan has greatly diminished its ability to reach out and impact the United States with the same kind of strife it had on 9/11,” Schmitt said.

The Taliban is also categorized as a traditional terror group, according to Schmitt. He believes that this group is making a comeback. As a result, President Obama has halted the withdrawal process of troops in Afghanistan.

“The president’s actions in Washington are reflective of some of the lessons the U.S. government has learned by withdrawing its forces, perhaps, too early from Iraq,” Schmitt said.

The second group of threat is the rising Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Right now this group has seized most of eastern Syria and parts of Iraq. Schmitt explains that the difference between the traditional terror groups and ISIS is that ISIS controls territory while the other groups did not.

The goal of ISIS is to create a new Islamic state, which Schmitt equates to the size of the United Kingdom as of right now. ISIS has gruesomely beheaded those who oppose them and also taken control of the country’s water. This is something, as Schmitt explains, that terrorist groups have not done in the past.

“They’ve been surprisingly resilient,” Schmitt said.

The third group that Schmitt mentions are splinter groups whom he describes as groups that don’t really have a clue of who to follow yet. The most infamous group within the last few years is the Boko Haram. In April 2014 this terror group kidnapped over 300 school girls in Nigeria. Many of these girls, as of today, are yet to be found.

State sponsored terrorism is the fourth group of terror that Schmitt describes. Schmitt’s example of this is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Forces, which was founded in the late 1970s for the purpose of protecting the Islamic state.

Schmitt also uses the United States as an example, referring to terror groups on American soil as homegrown threats. He cites the most recent one in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez killed six service members and injured two others.

“[Abdulazeez was] strictly influenced by what he had seen on the internet,” Schmitt said.

Which brings Schmitt to his fifth “bucket” of cyber terrorism. This includes people like Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information from the United States National Security Agency in 2013.

Kathleen Miles, a French major at Weber State, has her concerns about the growing terror of ISIS. She worries about the group reaching out to young people on social media sites like Twitter.

“As long as we continue to keep our eyes open and remember that this [threat] is still out there then it will be a lot easier for us to handle the situations because we are prepared,” Miles said.

As a veteran who has served one tour in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jared Wright, criminal justice major at Weber State, is very familiar with the terror threats to the United States. He believes that many people don’t understand the threat of terrorism and thinks that more students should do research about this growing threat.

 

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