By John Chigos, CEO, PlateSmart Technologies
As an American, I never wanted to experience the horror of 9/11 again. To help ensure this, I have dedicated over 15 years of my life to intensive research and development of technology that could be used to fight terrorism. Our political leaders, on the other hand, have shown a level of either incompetence or unwillingness to deal with this threat that should disgust anyone that has ever given life or limb in service to this country.
Sunday, June 12th marked the second major attack by a terrorist group in the United States since 9/11. Even though it is not my responsibility to issue warnings about these groups, I have done exactly that. In May of this year, when ISIS second-in-command Abu Mohammed al-Adnani put out a call for the group’s followers to carry out lone-wolf attacks in the West during Ramadan, I wrote about the threat and also spoke publicly about it on the Web.
Our President and his staff, who could not have been ignorant of the situation, said nothing and did nothing; in other words, made no effort even to warn their fellow Americans of a very clear and very present danger facing every single one of them.
This is, in my opinion, the most reprehensible thing any American President has ever done, as the defense of the people is one of his primary roles as Chief Executive. In the wake of this attack, furthermore, he refuses to name the enemy, which is radical Islam. Make no mistake, this is what we are fighting.
Omar Mateen made this abundantly clear when he called 911 to pledge allegiance to ISIS moments before opening fire in a crowded nightclub and killing 49 innocent people. Yes, I am aware that reports are now surfacing that Mateen may in fact have been struggling with his own sexual identity and had frequently gone to Pulse, the nightclub where the massacre took place, as a patron. But he had a choice, and his choice was to commit his barbaric acts in the name of a radical Islamist organization that was all too willing to take the credit.
This lack of willingness to state the problem honestly seems to be endemic to every politician on Mr. Obama’s side of the aisle, including Mrs. Clinton. I shudder to think how complete the capitulation to monsters like Mateen would be if she were elected to the highest office in the land. Another four to eight years of leadership by people like this, with the spinelessness, well-known corruption, and lies that would accompany it, is inconceivable. These people lie about everything, from their own lawbreaking to their real intentions for this country. If they cannot be honest about who they are and what they do, how can we possibly expect them to tell the truth when it comes to the security of this nation? Whatever one may think of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, it is at least certain that this sort of brutal, necessary honesty is not something he is afraid of, and we need a lot more of it.
Instead of focusing on the real problem, the President and his allies in the mainstream press have predictably chosen to take this attack as another cynical opportunity to call for stricter gun controls, because this is and always has been one of the top items on their agenda. Second Amendment arguments aside, it never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for people who have personal armed guards 24/7 to try and disarm the rest of us. It is now known that Pulse is a designated “gun-free zone.” What if it hadn’t been? What if there had been multiple patrons in that establishment with concealed carry permits and personal firearms? Would Mateen have gotten as far as he did? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.
What should be clear to every one of us is that this threat isn’t going away anytime soon. It should also be clear that in order to protect ourselves, we will have to cease being afraid of the tools that law enforcement and Homeland Security officials use for that purpose.
My company, PlateSmart, makes an advanced video analytics platform based on Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) that we call ARES. Among its many features, ARES uses sophisticated algorithms to extract vehicle movement patterns from license plate captures. Had ARES been in use in downtown Orlando, there is every reason to believe that the authorities could have connected the dots regarding Omar Mateen and possibly even stopped him before he could act. Knowing as we now do that he had frequented the establishment, and that he had a history of radical Islamist ties and activities, there is justification to think this attack could have been prevented had the right tools been in place. But again, we’ll never know.
Going forward, we have to ask ourselves what we are prepared to do to stop something like this from happening again. Because make no mistake, if we do nothing, it will happen again. There is some speculation that Mateen at one time was considering Disney World for his target; what if the next attacker sets off a suicide bomb in the middle of the Magic Kingdom or Epcot? The enemies we face desire nothing less than our total destruction as a country and a culture, and unfortunately, there are few reliable ways to know at any given time just who and where they are. They are not just “over there,” they are among us.
I started PlateSmart because I desperately desired to give our nation and our allies in the Middle East, such as Israel, a technological edge over our would-be destroyers no matter where they are. Our technology and technology like it needs to be deployed everywhere possible, as soon as possible. I pray that our people awaken to this need sooner rather than later, and that our leadership follows suit. I further pray that we give our law enforcement and security personnel the freedom they need to do their jobs effectively. The best and only way to truly honor the Orlando victims is to do our utmost to ensure that more innocents do not suffer their fate.