'This Week' Panel: The Terror Threat

Rep. Peter King, Pierre Thomas, Frances Townsend, and Gen. Peter Chiarelli on the Kenya attack.
8:21 | 09/22/13

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Transcript for 'This Week' Panel: The Terror Threat
Let's bring in Republican congressman Peter King a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Who has been briefed on the Nairobi attack congressman king thanks for joining us this morning. What can you tell us about about what kind of attack this was who they believe is responsible. When markets are very sophisticated attack very similar to what restore the Mumbai. And by all indicators this was carried out by -- Bob. Which is based out of Somalia. When I was chairman of the homeland security committee to his ago I conducted a hearing on -- -- Bob it's extremely deadly organization very well trained. And these were the only -- Qaeda affiliates. Which actually has actively recruited. You're in the United States there's at least forty to fifty Somali Americans have gone from the United States to -- it to be trained. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- So I am I would assume that the FBI -- local law enforcement. -- looking into those -- American community say. Betty -- are indicators usual where sources and resources. To make sure that there's no follow up attempt here in the United States. -- and how about any information on whether some of those Somali Americans might be involved in this attack anything on that yet. I've not heard offended there are are involved about we know this probably still. Fifteen to twenty Somali Americans who are still active over there. -- to be of any of them have come back the United States and would use those abilities here in the United States also -- the shows I think the yet. Really growing -- influence of al-Qaeda is in Africa. You have. -- Bob ounce mighty going off into Kenya carry out an attack outside its own country. -- if he is the this State Department did not -- to Korea. Also -- a terrorist organization because they thought it was just focusing on tribal -- -- in Somalia. Now we see by attacking to Kenya they certainly have an -- national dimension to them. You also -- -- and Nigeria. And that -- you have -- Bob working closely with al-Qaeda in the review of some -- and Yemen. So we're talking about very significant terrorist groups here which are showing -- -- capacity to attack outside their borders -- to recruit people. From here in the United States. And really one of the biggest terrorist attacks in Kenya since the 1998 bombing. Of the US embassy. Others -- this is a good particularly brutal attack. And -- almost seems as if the -- war was coming full cycle because one of the first major tax. -- we recall against United States for the attacks on the embassies back in 1998 and now we have. Fifteen years -- It's be -- massacre really a and they well coordinated well planned horrific massacre. Where they attacked at the busiest time of the week the busiest time of the day. They knew what they were doing that took the hostages so this is again very similar to Mumbai. And showing that al-Qaeda and its affiliates are extra -- still extremely powerful. And still able -- strike terror -- into the hearts of people attacking his shopping mall. It has no military significance at all this is clearly intact terrorized and murdered innocent civilians. Reports are true. That they were allowing. Muslims believe in focusing on non Muslims. Again they're making this part of the jihadist war. Thank you very much congressman king for joining us now for more on the al-Qaeda threat and the risk to Americans both here and abroad. We're joined by ABC's senior Justice Department correspondent Pierre Thomas. Fran Townsend a former Homeland Security advisor to President Bush and -- CNN contributor. And general Peter -- rally former vice chief of staff for the army and former senior military assistant. To the secretary of defense I want to start with you Fran Townsend if you were still in that job right now what would you be looking for. A lot I want to know it's the very question -- asked to congressman king aren't I want to know were there any of those recruited a Somali Americans -- we know over there fighting. Weren't even involved in this attack. And what is the FBI doing to identify potential threats in this country look an attack -- US mall at this it's a soft target. Very difficult to protect and so it's long been a worry now you know you congressman king mentioned that is the hearing he had held. You know being tagged -- -- forty to fifty Americans have been recruited by Al Shabazz more than half of those come from Minnesota. And so you can imagine the FBI is concentrating their efforts right now domestically there Pierre. I know your sources have told you there's no direct threat to the homeland right now but but what do they do have -- they handle this. In the United States are -- ready for an attack like this in the United States. -- -- looking at particularly the young south Somali Americans in Minnesota that group has been going back and forth. Into Somalia they're very concerned about them. They have been studying their patterns because again the concern has been you get to training -- to come back home -- perhaps do something here. The US has been deeply concerned about these kinds of -- as congressman -- cents cents. Mumbai attacks in India and 2008 we now have law enforcement training at malls the FBI went to a particular. Higher caliber weapons they carry exactly in the trunk of their car so. The FBI and conference in DC -- went to was fascinating they were talking the hotel officials about what you have to do. In a soft target attack and they told them. Look the terrorists are not coming to -- -- -- to coming to kill people so we're gonna have to come -- and -- have to fight the room to room and it was very sobering. In Washington DC to hear the F. -- talk like that get general LA wanna go to you because. The military. Set up -- Africa command called Africa com. And what what does the military do in a situation like this going forward having watched an attack like. This will allow I would argue we're much better position today that we weren't 1998 with the creation of -- com. It provides focus into Africa. Relationships are built the built intelligence has -- been gathered and will continue to be gathered. -- to fill any holes that we have but about that what happened in it in this particular attack in what could happen in future. Let let's talk about an intelligent so the military. If they're involved in this if -- -- shabbat is involved in this right now it's probably looking for potential targets that's exactly right they're developing targets in it in -- I -- against south -- yes of course. And in refining target list -- to -- gaps that we possibly half. Com and -- in doing all the kinds of things you will do my to gain information and in what must -- what is a very chaotic situation. Chris -- they had it cleared. Media plant here. Moments after this attack. We heard. From -- Tweets coming out that's a war that's something very news. It is very new meaning it and -- did -- twitters credit they shut that account down. Pretty quickly and interestingly enough the Kenyan police. The police chief and the police service are also tweeting now and -- police chief just this morning encourage -- members who are missing people. To direct message him on Twitter and so we're seeing the use of social media both -- by the bad guys. And by the good guys -- collect information to collect additional data. You know this is not -- -- Bob's first attack outside Somalia in fact several years ago it was at added cafe. Around the World Cup in Kampala Uganda and so this is a reminder Al Shabazz is not gone that they -- that was not their only attack and they will continue to rise. Despite having been pushed back and out of southern Somalia. Here quickly if you will if -- an American out there and you're worried about going to animals what what do you do what do you say to those Americans. Well they have to go along with their lives and they have to believe and hope that law enforcement has been training for issues just like this. Law enforcement says they are prepared but the reality is if people -- committed. And they -- -- kill you can go to mall and you can do this so you just have to live with that in the back through your mind but live your life. Thanks thanks to all of you very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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