Terrorism specialist speaks in Saint Bernard of local threats

ST. BERNARD, OH (FOX19) - With days to go before the country remembers the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says that after a decade of war with Al-Qaida, the potential for another devastating terrorist assault remains very real.

Panetta made those remarks following a somber walk through the National September 11th Memorial Park and Museum with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"As tragic as 9/11 was, that we have drawn tremendous inspiration from that day," said Bloomberg.

And Tuesday night, folks in Saint Bernard got to hear first-hand from a terrorism specialist, Ed Bridgeman, on what the current threats are.

Bridgeman has been studying terrorists for most of his professional life, but don't call him a terrorism 'expert'.

"It's like being an expert on the weather," joked Bridgeman. "All you can do is see which way the wind's blowing and make your best guess."

Bridgeman said the terrorism wind is hard to predict, because he's not even sure they know what's next.

"There's a lot of spontaneity," said Bridgeman.

"I think everybody needs to be concerned," said Rodney Chatman. "There are so many people disenfranchised in so many ways."

Chatman is a negotiator for the Hamilton County Swat Team. He and Bridgeman told a group of neighborhood block WATCH teams how they can combat terrorism right in their own backyard.

"And small-town America is definitely a place where we need to be vigilant," said Chatman.

He said we are vulnerable.

"Even here in the Queen City. I think the biggest threat is the lone wolf and the guy in our backyards that wants a little notoriety and he's upset and wants to make a statement," he said.

Locally, one of the biggest threats right now, said Bridgeman, is a Ku Klux Klan enclave in Butler County.

"That's a big center for Klan activity for the nation," said Bridgeman. "Not just regionally."

He also laid-out other, potential targets of local concern.

"We have the oldest, reformed Judaic Seminary west of the Alleghenies," said Bridgeman. "We have a number of multinational corporations, and I want you to think for a minute, how many planes winging over Afghanistan and Iraq, have stamped on the bottom of their engine, made in Evendale, so we have a significant number of targets here."

And he said we should all follow the neighborhood block WATCH credo, if you see something, say something.

"Every citizen, any citizen can engage in anti-terrorism," said Bridgeman.

And with the 10-year anniversary of the worst attack on American soil just days away, Bridgeman said we all need to keep a better eye on our neighbors here at home, because the next big threat could be living just down the block.

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