The terror threat to the U.S. from “lone wolves” now has a different element to it, and those traditional counterterrorism apparatuses are not well-suited” to spotting them, John Cohen, who recently left as the top counterterrorism official at the Department of Homeland Security to teach at Rutgers University, tells the Wall Street Journal. “What we saw in Canada and in New York is an illustration of how the extremist threat has evolved,” he said. (In New York City, a man attacked two police officers with a hatchet before he was killed by police.)
Cohen said addressing the problem means relying less on the federal counterterrorism and military apparatus devised to defeat groups like al Qaeda. Now, the federal government must foster better coordination between local police, community groups, and mental-health providers because potential attackers can become radicalized, plot attacks and gather materials to carry them out without coming to the attention of the federal government. Communities will need to develop ways for friends and family to seek help for those exhibiting strange or suspicious behavior. “It's going to be difficult for somebody to pick up the phone if they think the only thing that's going to happen to their son is he's going to be arrested,” Cohen said.