Metro

Walsh says ISIS threat calls for citizen vigilance

Mayor sees peril in loner extremists

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” this morning.
Dina Rudick/Globe Staff/file
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” this morning.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston said in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday morning that the threat posed by Islamic State and other terrorist groups requires constant vigilance in the nation’s cities — but that urban leaders and citizens alike must also be on guard against violent extremists who may be working alone, as Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev are alleged to have done in the bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon.

“I need to make sure people stay engaged and keep an eye on the community,” Walsh said during a live round table discussion with Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, Mayor Kevin Faulconer of San Diego, and CNN host Candy Crowley. “I think the city is safer [than before 9/11], but that doesn’t mean we can’t change something every day . . . There has to be constant communication, constant diligence, and we’re going to continue to do that.”

Vigilance can’t be limited to groups currently in the spotlight, he said.

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“Police don’t have the luxury of looking at one group,” Walsh said. “An attack could come from any area.”

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The three mayors agreed that their cities are safer than in 2001, with Nutter citing “a new norm in America.” Walsh pointed to the Boston Regional Anti-Terrorism Center, an antiterrorism unit, and the city’s Office of Emergency Management as examples of local agencies monitoring tips and sharing information.

In addition, he said, “people in the neighborhoods are a little more engaged” since 9/11 and, more recently, the Marathon bombing. “We can never put our guard down,” said Walsh.

Two-thirds of respondents in a new Pew Research Center poll regard ISIS as a major threat, said Crowley.

Asked by the CNN host what keeps him up at night, Boston’s mayor said another attack on the city tops the list.

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“Certainly a terrorist attack is one of those calls I hope I never receive,” he said.

Jenna Russell can be reached at jrussell@globe.com.