Steve Hayes: America is largely safer since 9/11 but terror groups continue to 'proliferate'

America is safer in many ways 18 years after the 9/11 attacks, according to Steve Hayes.

Domestically, America's defenses are stronger and internationally, American forces have taken care of innumerable terror cells and hotspots, Hayes said Wednesday on "Special Report."

"I think in many respects we're safer," he said.

"We've hardened our domestic capabilities, we've chased terrorists and killed them where they live. We've made a lot of progress against Al Qaeda and other like-minded groups."

9/11 ANNIVERSARY: TRUMP SAYS DAY IS 'SEARED INTO OUR SOUL' AS NATION REMEMBERS 18 YEARS LATER

However, the Fox News contributor also warned the world is still not an entirely safe place.

"On the other hand, you've seen a proliferation of the ideologies that led to the 9/11 attacks in the first place," he said, adding Al Qaeda has grown in "significant ways" and pointed to the existence of ISIS.

In addition, Washington Post opinion columnist Charles Lane said America seems less unified since 9/11.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2001 attacks in New York City, Arlington, Va., and Shanksville, Pa., America seemed to be unified across the political spectrum but has since become extremely polarized.

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Morning ceremonies were held Wednesday at Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and at the Flight 93 National Memorial. This year is the first time the names of each are being read in the presence of a new, bittersweet section of the 9/11 Memorial -- one honoring the growing list of first responders who've passed away from illnesses diagnosed in the aftermath of the attacks.

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“For every American who lived through that day, the September 11 attack is seared into our soul," President Trump said during a ceremony at the Pentagon. "It was a day filled with shock, horror, sorrow and righteous fury.”

He added: “For the families who join us, this is your anniversary of personal and permanent loss. It’s the day that has replayed in your memory a thousand times over: the last kiss, the last phone call, the last time hearing those precious words 'I love you'."

Fox News' Greg Norman contributed to this report.