Under the Dome

National security expert: NC General Assembly ‘a good target for a wacko’

The N.C. House’s homeland security committee heard Thursday from Bill Cowan, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and Fox News contributor who outlined terrorist threats facing North Carolina and the country.

Cowan said he doesn’t think North Carolina is likely to see a major foreign terrorist attack because its cities aren’t well known overseas.

“Charlotte doesn’t mean anything to them, other than an airport,” Cowan said. “Even Fort Bragg or Fayetteville, it doesn’t resound out there with the population that they’re trying to appeal to.”

But Cowan says North Carolina should be prepared for a cyber attack and threats from “lone wolves” and “small cells.”

He said he was surprised to see minimal security at the N.C. General Assembly, where visitors don’t have to go through security checkpoints or sign in.

“I was taken aback that I could just walk in the building here without walking through a metal detector,” Cowan said. “I don’t mean to say for one minute that this is a target for Al Qaeda or ISIS. But it’s sure a good target for a wacko, and there sure are a lot of them out there.”

Cowan served in the Vietnam War and led counter-terrorism missions in the Middle East. In addition to appearing on Fox, he hosts a radio show called “Danger Zone” and recently wrote a satirical book about Hillary Clinton.

The House homeland security committee’s co-chairman, Rep. Chris Whitmire, said Cowan was invited to “give you an awareness of what this committee’s subject area is.”

“We’ve got a long way to go, even though we’re 14 years past 9-11,” said Whitmire, a Transylvania County Republican who serves in the Air Force. “There’s still a lot of low-hanging fruit.”