Interviews

Can Western societies prevent low-tech terror attacks?

Former Israeli counterterrorism operative Aaron Cohen weighs in

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," August 21, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, everybody, welcome. I’m Neil Cavuto and you’re watching the end of history right now. Technically, the moment the shadow of the moon finally leaves anything approaching the sun. And for Americans looking forward to the next time they’ll get to see something like this you’ll have to wait till April 2024, but for people in the fast moving parts of this that affected millions in some 14 states to see a total eclipse of the sun, it was historic and it was momentous. But as far as the significance of this when it all started in Oregon it did have us thinking of, well, a certain Monty Python moment when this great moment fell on, well, disappointment. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, here we are (INAUDIBLE) with this piece of (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Glass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. Oh, glass. Waiting quite superbly for the eclipse of the sun like object.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And here if I’m very much mistaken comes the eclipse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you are very much mistaken. Here it comes. (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I can see anyone (INAUDIBLE) it now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, it’s all over about shouting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sands of time must surely be drawing to a close for this clocky solar -- oh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL: All right. Well, there was no rain to worry about. For the most part if you were in the path of this thing, Mother Nature was cooperating for this thing. Jonathan Serrie, in Clemson, South Carolina where it all went down. Jonathan.

JONATHAN SERRIE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, we were worried, it was partly cloudy and at one point the clouds started obscuring the sun, people were booing bun then the cloud moved out of the way and when the brunt of the eclipse, the totality or the darkest phase of it came, we just had an absolutely beautiful view. You know, it was surreal, the sun started dimming, one student described it as if you were wearing sunglasses in the middle of a bright afternoon. It was an eerie kind of sunlight. And then for just over two and a half minutes, the sun disappeared altogether and people quietly watched. It was -- it looked like an evening concern. People taking it in and then just as you started getting used it, the sun poked out on the other side once again. But enough of my reaction, let’s listen to what other folks thought.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was pretty spectacular, like, where it suggests, I don’t know, just get that dark like in the middle of the day you could see some planets and stuff around. It was -- it was breathtaking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it was cool. I didn’t -- I expect it to get dark but not that dark so it was amazing, though.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really didn’t expect it to, like, just change over so fast and that was, like, my most favorite part.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SERRIE: Yes, and -- but it was more than just the wow factor here at Clemson University, a lot of real science doing on. They launched two weather balloons to take photos high up in the upper atmosphere, an altitude of about 100,000 feet. Not only aiming cameras at the solar eclipse but also looking downward and watching the shadow of the eclipse moving across the earth. Clemson was also one of several places along the path of the eclipse setting up a total of 68 identical telescopes and digital cameras to take photographs during totality of the sun’s corona.

So instead of just a clip lasting several minutes they can string them together and have a 90-minute video of that corona so they can study it. And researchers are hoping to get better at predicting space weather. Sun activity that is potentially hazardous to satellites, astronauts, and can disrupt power grids on earth, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right, Jonathan, thank you very much. Of course, we didn’t have any of that to go around. The last time we saw something like this and the last time it was really affecting a few northwestern states was back in 1979. Jimmy Carter was president. A lot of people interpreted what happened early that year to what would be a wild ride for the stock market and the economy and Jimmy Carter’s presidency back then. It was uncanny. On the phone with us right now is Arch Crawford. He’s an astrologist who is also editor of Crawford Perspectives and links the two events and cruelly and stupidly, I might point out, I had -- I had said Arch Crawford had passed away on the Fox Business Network and that was horrible to me, and Arch, I apologize. It’s very good to have you.

ARCH CRAWFORD, EDITOR, CRAWFORD PERSPECTIVES: Yes, thank you. We were 40 years old with the newsletter back in May of this year.

CAVUTO: Amazing, amazing. And I covered you all these years. I’d think I’d know better, so I apologize, Arch. But, you know, many look back at this sort of events and they try to peg later events to them in ‘79 and of course, the last one, people were looking at all the volatility that would later occur. You are an astrologist who looks at, you know, these type of events and corresponding events that follow. Would there be anything from this one today that you would follow?

CRAWFORD: Absolutely. I was -- well, the term is the astrologer, the astrologist, those people on the street that reads cards or something, but I was a technical analyst at Merrill Lynch. When I read about astrology people using astrology in the markets. So on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

CAVUTO: But you had some uncanny ways to relate events including in 2008, a partial eclipse certainly that signaled big changes to come. Certainly in Russia, but explain that.

CRAWFORD: Well, the Russian when they went all the way across Russia just as it did on United States today and about four days later, four or five days later, they attacked Georgia, the country, not the state.

CAVUTO: So, was there a link with those? Because 1987 comes to mind. I remember talking to you quite a bit at the time of that stock market crash year...

CRAWFORD: In 1987, we had a -- we had planetary alignment that was the most powerful in at least 800 years that I checked. I predicted that would be the top day and it was the high close of the year and then it started crashing. And it went down, down, down into the solar eclipse on the fall equinox. It turned -- it scared the heck out of the traders that morning. Turned around and had the biggest up day in history in points, not in percentages. It rallied for the two few weeks. And at the lunar eclipse, had the biggest down day in history up to that date. And that started the slide into the crash.

CAVUTO: Do you ever think, Arch that a lot of your -- I remember whether your research and at the time when we would interview you and you were getting a good deal of press. That a lot of people said, well, it’s just coincidental, some of the stuff, Arch is pointing to you. He is a very good investment strategist and market watcher. And he does the astrology thing as sort of a shtick. What do you say?

CRAWFORD: Well, I found that the astrology thing gives me a lot greater accuracy and as a result, I’ve been number one in the stock market for a number of years. And in the bond market, a year or two and then the gold market a year or two.

CAVUTO: So do you see anything going on now, Arch that warrants attention not necessarily eclipses but interstellar events that warrant attention or could signal something for the market or the economy?

CRAWFORD: Well, I believe the technicals would confirm -- it doesn’t say whether if this would be a short-term bottom or a short-term top, but I believe that we have some more downsides confirmed by the technicals, particularly the number of new lows that popped up suddenly on the New York Stock Exchange.

CAVUTO: So what does that mean?

CRAWFORD: I believe that will be -- that we had passed a short-term high and we will go down for maybe, I don’t know, maybe into October at the latest. And then...

CAVUTO: So October would be the anniversary of -- the 30th anniversary of the big crash, right?

CRAWFORD: That’s right. And then I have a very strong rally from wherever it bottoms in late September or October into early December at least, a very strong rally. And the long-term top, which would be there in December or January.

CAVUTO: We’ll watch closely, my friend. Again, I so apologize, Arch. It was my bad and I’m responsible for it. I’m glad to know you’re alive and well. How is that? Thank you very, very much.

CRAWFORD: Delighted to be here. Thank you.

CAVUTO: All right, Arch Crawford. And again, you could say what you will and he’s on an uncanny market forecasting ability. Some dismiss the astrology thing that he ties it to, but the fact of the matter he’s had an impeccable record tying it to all of that stuff. We just -- we chatted little bit about that. Meanwhile, something we’re chatting that is more a real near real concern for those of you that don’t believe in this sort of thing. The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin making a big push for tax cuts today.

A very real issue for the markets because if they don’t get them, the feeling seems to be -- hell could be a fiery reaction here. Steve Forbes is the Chairman Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media joining us right now. Steve, astrology notwithstanding, we’re told that this would cause a cataclysmic reaction if the markets find out that these tax cuts are delayed and denied. What do you think?

STEVE FORBES, CHAIRMAN AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, FORBES MEDIA: I think it would have a real hit. I think people still think a tax cut’s going to get through which...

CAVUTO: Do you? Do you personally?

FORBES: Yes, I think the -- I think the tax cut will get through the House of Representatives next month or October. The question is, will it get through the senate? Remember, the house ultimately did pass a healthcare bill, but it died in the senate and the senate gets something through, meaningful through.

CAVUTO: Now, even if it gets something through, the feeling seems to be and certainly had to read between the lines of Mnuchin and McConnell speaking both in Kentucky today that they want this paid for. I got that - - the distinct sense certainly for Mitch McConnell. Obviously, something that you pay for up front is by definition is not going to be as big. So are we seeing the telegraphing of tax cuts that won’t be that big?

FORBES: Well, talking about Kentucky, this would be the difference between 120 proof bourbon and a weak cup of tea. The American economy -- the American economy needs a real positive jolt and worship these crazy predictions from the congressional budget office talking about astrology. You will learn more from your astrologists than you will from looking at congressional budget office projections on tax revenue and spending. So, they should -- they should just ignore that, do what’s right for the economy, go for a big tax cut, know that in a couple of years you can come back to the issue of more and more tax reform but get something big now and not get caught up in these crazy self-inflicted restraints.

CAVUTO: And you mentioned the battle between the senate and the house on this, where the senate is much more predisposed to being moderate by nature, tentative by nature, maybe cautious by nature. Some people might welcome that. You do not, right?

FORBES: No. Well, the senate being cautious is another Washington word for doing next to nothing. We saw what happened on healthcare. And, you know, they call themselves the deliberative body but they have to actually produce something, not act like fake senators but senators with kind of the big things and all of them they get big things done. And so McConnell, Senator McConnell says, he wants to be judged by their final results this year. Fine.

But what they can do with this tax cut, Neil, is also, key, make it retroactive to say June 1st driven January 1 of this year. That will do two things. One, it will give a positive jolt to the economy and/or it will mean the American people have big tax refunds next April. Good for the economy, good for the republicans. I hope they can connect the dots.

CAVUTO: And usually people spend money before they have it, so there could be that (INAUDIBLE) indicators. Steve Forbes, always good seeing you.

FORBES: Good to see you, Neil. Thank you.

CAVUTO: All right. In the middle of this, something that has a lot to do with this very argument. The president addressing the nation tonight. Not on tax cut policy but on our policy in Afghanistan by extension, North Korea, our agenda going forward. A lot of people are calling this is his moment to reestablish gravitas and that could affect everything, which is why on Fox Business tonight we are all over it beginning with a sort of a preflight report at 8:00 pm then the address at 9:00 pm. The only place you can gauge world market reaction as well as their own futures as and after the president is speaking whether it registers, not only when it comes to matters of national security but maybe market security. Much more after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right. A very big speech on the point of the president. Think about the last time he’s addressed the American people in a venue, anything approaching this was his address to a joint session, the congress back in January. What’s at stake for this big speech tonight? Presumably on our policy in Afghanistan going forward among other things. Let’s get the read right now from John Roberts following it all very, very closely. What can we expect, John?

JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Neil, good afternoon to you. We’re at Fort Meyer where the president will speak 9 o’clock tonight. He has made a decision underway forward, a new strategy in Afghanistan. He did that after meeting with his whole national security council on Camp David on Friday. And our understanding is that the president will allow the military to increase the number of U.S. forces there. General John Nicholson who is the commander of troops in Afghanistan wants some 4,000 additional troops.

General Mattis, the secretary of defense, and H.R. McMaster, the national security advisor agreed. So if the president listens to his generals as he says he would during the election campaign and he follows the consensus, more U.S. forces will headed to Afghanistan. He basically was given three choices. One was if you stay in Afghanistan, you increase the number of troops, you pull out of Afghanistan and just leave a vacuum or you replace U.S. forces with private contractors. He didn’t like the last option, neither did the military in terms of turning it over to private contractors and according to Newt Gingrich, pulling out is not an option. Listen to what he said earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, R-FMR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We are in a long-term struggle with terrorism, with Islamic supremacist. We know that the last time we allowed Afghanistan to be an empty space, it was filled with the Taliban and by Al-Qaeda and the planning for 9/11 was done in Afghanistan. We know if we pull out and the government collapses, you’re going to have some combination of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban running the country again. And that’s a long-term very real threat to the United States and Europe and all of our allies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: And Neil, we’re told that this is going to be a comprehensive South Asia strategy, so it will also address the problem of Pakistan, allowing bad operators like the (INAUDIBLE) network to have territory there and it will also take aim at the Kabul government to get rid of corruption. The president at his last big meaning on the National Security Council back in July was not happy with any of the options, couldn’t find anything to sign off on, but he has now and will learn what he signed off on tonight, 9 o’clock here at Fort Meyer in Arlington.

CAVUTO: All right, John, thank you very much, my friend. All right, this is about a lot more than Afghanistan. This is about a lot more than what we’re doing going to do in North Korea or in Asia, and this is about a lot more than foreign policy. Pollster Frank Luntz says this is an opportunity for the president to reestablish the offensive or that precious gravitas as they call it. What do you think, Frank? What’s at stake tonight?

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: It’s significant. The last 10 days for the president has not gone well, no matter what he has tweeted. That you have republicans in the house and senate and others across the country that where legitimately wondering whether he has lost the message, whether he’s lost the narrative. And this is a chance for him to do what presidents are meant to do, which is to lead. He is after all the commander-in-chief and I, actually as a strategist think that where he is doing this speech, being surrounded by military personnel, is quite smart.

Donald Trump is at his best when he is with those that appreciate him, who like where he stands, and like the direction of the country. And he is also at his best when he is assertive in terms of policy, not politics. And so I’ll be listening to the language that he uses and the presentation that he makes, but this comes at the right time, he needed this speech.

CAVUTO: And normally, we get wider latitude to the presidents on foreign policy grounds even briefly for Jimmy Carter that failed Iranian hostage rescue mission. It might have been short logged in that case, but there was a pop in the president’s popularity than President Carter’s popularity and a sort of a rally around the flag, rally around the guy who occupies the White House. So how important is it that he hits all the right notes tonight?

LUNTZ: Well, we know what happened with Barack Obama when he reached out to the American people and talked about drawing the line with Syria and then doing nothing. And in fact, Obama’s evaluation of foreign policy was particularly weak for his presidency. So this is Donald Trump’s opportunity to draw a contrast with his predecessor. And we also know that Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush, even Bill Clinton had very strong foreign policy, a very strong national security records which helped their overall favorability, so this is something that other presidents have done before, but the key here is not really what happens this evening.

It’s the follow through over the coming weeks and months. Does he stay on message? Does he continue to talk about the essential nature of American national security? This is not in the administration that says the same thing day after day after day. It tends to veer off in other directions. Neil, the key for them is consistency, repetition, and quite frankly, accountability.

CAVUTO: How do you think he is going to do?

LUNTZ: I don’t know. I don’t know because -- you know what? My expectations that he will deliver a very powerful speech. Having watched him speak before congress and having watched him at times like this. When the pressure is on is when Donald Trump is at his best, but I have to emphasize accurately that what will he say tomorrow, what will he tweet tomorrow and then the days that follow. One speech does not a presidency make.

CAVUTO: All right, my friend. Thank you very much. Frank Luntz...

LUNTZ: Thank you.

CAVUTO: ...on the big speech, on the big night for the President of the United States. In the meantime, the good news is Spanish police killed a suspected van driver in Barcelona, in that terror attack. The bad news is that they know of other such plans that were in the making. And could still be in the making.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right. Spanish police are finally confirming that the van driver of that Barcelona attack, well he is dead, he’s been killed, but former Israeli Counterterrorism Operative, Aaron Cohen, still worry that this process where they use vehicles to do untold damage and killing in violence has not abated. Aaron, very good to have you, thank you. Do you get a sense right now that this will be the way ISIS targets folks? It’s crude but clearly effective and then the logical question becomes how do western governments societies deal with it?

AARON COHEN, FMR ISRAELI COUNTERTERRORISM OPERATIVE: Neil, it’s good to see you, great having you back, it’s been awhile. I think that the low tech nature of what we just saw here in Barcelona, which is similar to what we saw in France, this taking a vehicle, getting your hands on whatever you can, is going to become the signature. And the reason why is because it’s low tech. It’s easy to put together. You don’t need to do a lot of planning which means that threat assessments need to be done across the country.

Europe’s a little slower, they move slower. Barcelona and I’ve been out there a number of times, Las Ramblas. The whole nature of Spain it’s a -- it’s a slower-moving groove. The bollards need to be in place. And there needs to be patrol armed police officers on both ends of that Las Ramblas, but everyone of those Las Ramblas needs to be looked at across Europe as well as here in the states to be able to prevent this low-terror attacks. I think the low-terror is more prevalent in Europe and I think the reason why is because it’s just easier to carry out an act of terror than let’s say trying to get AK-47s and explosives.

The other place where I come out with this particular type of terror is that I think that this is going to continue to manifest and the reason why is because of the -- I just think the immigration policies in Europe have allowed a massive influx of ISIS sympathizers into that country and I think it’s almost too light. Countries like Germany and now in Spain. As far as being able to deal with this, I have a very hard line opinion on how to deal with this, but I’ll tell you from experience, Neil, I feel that if a - - if a 20 something-year-old would-be Jihadi’s sympathizer decides to take a vehicle and smash into a crowd of people.

I believe that the only way to get back at this type of psychological threat is to use psychology in its reverse which is to export or ship back the parents and family members of that particular terrorist back to their parent country because it seems that the only thing they do care about is their family. They hate this country. They hate the country they live in. You’ve got to get the family members out of the country and let them know that those family members and the people close to them will be immediately sent back to their parent countries.

CAVUTO: But you do have to wonder too when this is prominently featured, this means of attack using vehicles, trucks, cars, et cetera, to kill people is featured in this inspire magazine, I guess, the ISIS, you know, magazine, there’s no mystery or secret to what they’re trying to do or who they’re trying to enlist. So how do we stop the enlistment part? That seems to be a big part of that.

COHEN: That’s a good question. I think there needs to be more emphasis spent on the -- on the -- on bolstering the cyber security that’s affecting the propaganda that the whole entire world can access. And if you look at the profile of the would be terrorist -- vehicular terrorist that we saw here -- you know, again, this guy didn’t blow himself up, he didn’t immediately go after the, you know, police officers with AK but just a lot more low tech. I think there was a little more time spent on the planning as far as (INAUDIBLE) how to get a safe house together and how to lay low for a couple of more days, but I think that killing that propaganda by bolstering anti-SIS cyber security means will ultimately affect the amount of people that are affected and want to collaborate with ISIS.

And the tricky part is all the laws that are connected into that web of, well, you know, free speech and letting people say what they want, but anyone who posts a tweet that’s ISIS sympathist, anyone that post a Facebook post, or anyone that fills up in Instagram, hashtags and pro-ISIS, anything needs to be condemned and considered whatever it is legally that needs to have teeth on it to be able to have Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook immediately shut those down and that’s where I would start.

CAVUTO: Aaron, thank you very, very much. Always good seeing you. Aaron Cohen, the former member of the Israel Special Operations Counterterrorism Unit. And he knows of what he speaks. Meanwhile, Democrats are saying that they’re in the driver’s seat right now with all of these problems around president Trump. Then how is it they’re raising so much less money than the Republicans? The grand old party and its grand old good secret after this.


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