Counterterrorism expert Michael Scheuer tells Newsmax that construction of a mosque near ground zero would be viewed as a “symbol of victory” by Muslim extremists — and calls New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg a “windbag” for voicing support for the mosque.
Scheuer, who headed the CIA’s secret unit charged with tracking Osama bin Laden, also says al-Qaida will definitely use a nuclear weapon if they obtain one, and warns that if Israel attacks Iran the Iranians will use their “terrorist infrastructure” to launch attacks in the United States.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Scheuer criticized plans to construct the mosque two blocks from ground zero in Manhattan.
“It’s hard to deny somebody the right to build a religious structure, but it doesn’t have to be built there,” says Scheuer, author of the book “Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror.”
“I’m not in the minds of the folks that are building it, but I would say it would be very much the case that if the mosque is built on the site of our defeat on 9/11, it will certainly be viewed among those people that are sympathetic to Osama bin Laden and those Muslims who are anti-U.S. as a symbol of their victory.
“The only real memorial to the people who died on 9/11 is an utter military victory over the people who attacked us. And if I were a victim’s family, I would be much more worried about our government losing the war in Afghanistan and Iraq than I would be about this mosque.”
Noting that Mayor Bloomberg has spoken out in support of the mosque on that site, Scheuer declares: “I think Bloomberg is just a windbag. He’s completely pro-Israel. He has no interest in Muslims except in terms of their votes.
“If he had any brains at all he would have made sure that the zoning regulations were such that this controversy would not have come up.”
The imam behind the mosque plan, Feisal Abdul Rauf, said on a tape that has surfaced on the Internet that America has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaida.
“That’s a pretty common view across the Islamic world, and it certainly draws into question what the motivation of the people behind this mosque is,” Scheuer says.
The former head of the bin Laden unit tells Newsmax about the terrorist mastermind: “I don’t think there’s any question that he’s still alive. It’s a mistake to even consider the idea that he may be dead. I think we have to operate on the assumption that he’s alive and very dangerous to the United States.
“The one thing you can be very sure of is,” Scheuer adds, is that al-Qaida has been looking for a nuclear weapon “since 1991, trying to buy one or make one. They have religious authorization to kill 10 million Americans if they do find one. And if they do procure one, there’s no doubt they will use it.”
Scheuer is concerned about security in the United States.
“Our local police forces are completely overwhelmed by the number of people that are in the United States that they don’t know anything about,” he says.
“We have 12 million undocumented people in the United States, and we’ve done nothing to control the border or the entry of undocumented people since 9/11, which is really a national defense issue.
“It’s a matter of giving the police at the local and state level a chance to stop the next attack, and so far we’ve done nothing to assist them.”
Scheuer was opposed to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Asked if American forces, who are now withdrawing, accomplished anything positive there, he responds: “Not from my perspective. We invaded a Muslim country without any real provocation or need, and once that mistake was made we didn’t win a victory.
“No matter how we dress up the withdrawal from Iraq, it’s going to be perceived in the Muslim world as the second superpower being defeated. The Iraqi war was a disastrous mistake. Not winning that war was a worse mistake.”
Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, says there are ongoing efforts to negotiate a political settlement with the Taliban.
“Senator Kerry is out there to try to arrange a surrender,” Scheuer states. “We don’t know what we want. We know, though, that [Afghanistan President Hamid] Karzai can’t survive without us.
“People say, “˜What do the Taliban want?’ It’s very easy thing. The Taliban want power. I’m convinced that they will negotiate some kind of agreement that gets us out of their country, and as soon as we’re gone they’ll murder Karzai and the rest of his relatives if they choose to stay around. What we’ll have is what we had in 2001, which is an Islamic emirate in Afghanistan.”
Asked what will happen if Israel launches an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities, Scheuer warns: “Without question if the Israelis attack Iran the Americans will be held responsible for it, whether we are or not.”
The Israeli attack would unite Sunni and Shiite Muslims against the U.S. “and we will have 1.4 billion enemies,” he says.
“In addition, because the federal government over the past 20 years has been absolutely derelict in controlling our borders and controlling immigration, the Iranians have a very sophisticated terrorist infrastructure in the United States, in Mexico and in Canada.
“Although they would never use it as an offensive first-strike weapon, if the Israelis attack Iran they will surely respond with terrorism in our own country.”