The painful and gory memories of human carnage are not left at the scene of the crime. Kahlberg, 48, a retired Israeli police officer and world-renowned counter-terrorism expert, carries the visions wherever he goes, awake or asleep.
When a Hamas suicide bomber killed 31 people and gravely injured another 150 in a 2002 Passover massacre in Netanya, Israel, Kahlberg was there. He has been there 15 other times when suicide bombers snuffed out countless innocent lives.
Kahlberg’s unique expertise with Muslim extremists has made him a highly sought-after consultant who has trained police forces around the world, including the New York Police Department and many in South Florida. He recounted all his experiences in an autobiography that he says is being developed into a movie.
Those life experiences tell him that if the United States isn’t more vigilant in weeding out terrorists before they strike, the comforts of safety will soon be a distant memory, he said. Doing so will require more predictive profiling, a controversial topic in the United States.
“In the world of counter-terror, you have to profile,” Kahlberg said. “The only people saying don’t profile and causing the jobs of U.S. security officials to be much more difficult are the people who don’t want to be profiled. “
Kahlberg has strong support from influential Americans, from U.S. Rep. Allen West to Clare Lopez, a retired CIA officer and senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Security Policy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank specializing in American security.
“We’re leaving ourselves completely open,” Lopez said. “The No. 1 thing is to face facts and identify and name the enemy – the forces of Islamic jihad and Sharia. We need to fight this war at the information war level, not just the kinetic level with troops and guns. It’s a battle of ideologies.”
Kahlberg said profiling has become an inflammatory term for what is actually trend and behavior analysis, and it can be done without violating the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable search and seizure.
“To successfully spot terrorists, law enforcement and even civilians don’t need to scrutinize someone because of their race or religion,” he explained. “The focus should be on behavior, someone walking different, behaving different and looking different.”
Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kahlberg, who is Jewish, always felt a connection to Israel. After completing his mandatory two years in the South African Army, he immigrated to Israel in 1987. He joined the Israeli army and then the Israel Police, where he worked as an intelligence detective charged with training elite police units in counter-terrorism techniques. Israel is recognized around the world for its strong national security, especially at its airports.
Pembroke Pines Police Sgt. Jim Gort, who for years ran the agency’s anti-terrorism unit, has trained with Kahlberg and implemented much of what he learned. Kahlberg developed the Secure Zone concept, which has been modified for agencies throughout the United States, including the NYPD.
Gort says Kahlberg’s training has helped Pembroke Pines police forge strong ties with its Muslim community, the majority of whom agree that radical Muslim terror needs to be stopped.
“The more American law enforcement opens up and tries to understand the Muslim community at large, the more trust there is and the more we can do to fight,” Gort said.
As a first responder, Kahlberg has seen the faces of terror up close. He retired from the police force in 2005 after Israel’s disengagement from Gaza, when Israel ceded the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians. He now is a consultant who trains foreign police forces in counter-terrorism.
Kahlberg, who says he is not a political person, has grave concerns about the Obama administration’s foreign policies, specifically in the Middle East. He cites “death and destruction” all around him and the threats by Iran to wipe Israel off the map.
“They are not a dog that barks and doesn’t bite,” he cautions. “They’ve proven it. Hezbollah organizations are a proxy for Iran. They are in Iran’s frontline in Lebanon. They are creating terror all over the world, blowing themselves up and blowing buses up. Hezbollah is Iran.”
Kahlberg believes President Obama’s sympathies lie in the Arab world. He characterizes the president as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” and wonders why Obama has never visited Israel during his four years in office. More concerning, he says, is that most of the Muslim world sees Obama as weak.
“[Obama] has tried in his way perhaps to make peace with Arabs, but the Arab world doesn’t see Barack Obama as one of them,” he said. “It’s a different mindset. He gave them a finger and they took his arm, and he’s blind to it. He may have sentiments toward the Arab world, but he doesn’t have the mentality of the Arab world.”
Kahlberg said he believes organizations supporting terror — such as the Council on American Islamic Relations — are having an impact on Obama’s mindset.
“Their influence is swaying the president’s school of thought,” he said. “A lot of money is coming out of Saudi Arabia and Iran to fight wars and terror throughout the Western world. We can’t count more than four conflicts in the world that aren’t Muslim-related. Why doesn’t Obama step up and say we have a problem? He’s either lying to himself or lying to the people, and in lying to the people, he’s lying to the world.”
Kahlberg says he wants American Jews to realize there is a real threat looming to the Jewish state of Israel. Hitler acted on his threats, he said, and so will Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Kahlberg’s hope is that Americans will shed what he sees as complacency before the terror so familiar in the Middle East becomes America’s harsh reality.
“If I go to Palm Beach and I leave my kid’s school bag on the floor there, it would probably stay there all day,” he said. “In Israel, the bomb squad would be there immediately. It’s coming to the U.S.”