9/11 commission chairs: More must be done to combat extremist ideology

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"The threat we face today is arguably worse than the one we confronted in 2001," former leaders of the 9/11 Commission wrote on Saturday.

That's the message from the chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission on the eve of the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

In an op-ed published Saturday in USA Today, former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean and former Congressman Lee Hamilton emphasized the terrorism threat isn't just about us here at home — rather, it's a global issue. They called it "a spreading disease eating away at the foundation of the free, open and lawful international system."

RELATED: 15 most iconic images of September 11th:

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15 most iconic images from September 11, 2001 and aftermath
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15 most iconic images from September 11, 2001 and aftermath
Content in this photo gallery may be difficult for some to see -- viewer discretion is advised. 

This 11 September, 2001 file photo shows US President George W. Bush interrupted by his Chief of Staff Andrew Card(L) shortly after news of the New York City airplane crashes was available in Sarasota, Florida.

(Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

In this Sept. 11, 2001 file photo, American Airlines Flight 175 closes in on World Trade Center Tower 2 in New York, just before impact.

(AP Photo/Carmen Taylor, File)

The second tower of the World Trade Center explodes into flames after being hit by a airplane, New York September 11, 2001 with the Brooklyn bridge in the foreground. Both towers of the complex collapsed after being hit by hijacked planes.

(REUTERS/Sara K. Schwittek)

In this Sept. 11, 2001 file photo, the north tower of New York's World Trade Center shows the impact left by a hijacked Boeing 767, American Airlines Flight 11. The Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York City and Washington killed almost 3,000 people and lead to a war in Afghanistan.

(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta/FILE)

This 11 September 2001 file photo shows Marcy Borders covered in dust as she takes refuge in an office building after one of the World Trade Center towers collapsed in New York. Borders was caught outside on the street as the cloud of smoke and dust enveloped the area.

(Photo credit STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

A true-color image taken by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) aboard the Landsat 7 satellite on September 12, 2001 shows New York City and the smoldering World Trade Center following the September 11, 2001 attacks in this handout photo courtesy of NASA. The image was captured at roughly 11:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time.

(REUTERS/NASA/Handout)

A person falls headfirst from the north tower of New York's World Trade Center Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The south tower of the World Trade Center, left, begins to collapse after a terrorist attack on the landmark buildings in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.

(AP Photo/Gulnara Samoilova)

People run from the collapse of one of the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center in this Sept. 11, 2001, file photo.

(AP Photo/FILE/Suzanne Plunkett)

The remains of the World Trade Center stands amid the debris following the terrorist attack on the building in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.

(AP Photo/Alexandre Fuchs)

Rescue workers carry fatally injured New York City Fire Depatment Chaplain, Father Mychal Judge, from one of the World Trade Center towers in New York City, early September 11, 2001. Both towers were hit by planes crashing into the buildings and collapsed a short time later.

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

The damaged area of the Pentagon building, where a hijacked commercial jetliner slammed into it September 11, 2001, is seen in this file photo with the U.S. Capitol Building in the background, at sunrise on September 16, 2001.

(REUTERS/Larry Downing)

Firefighters raise a U.S. flag at the site of the World Trade Center after two hijacked commercial airliners were flown into the buildings September 11, 2001 in New York.

(Photo by 2001 The Record (Bergen Co. NJ)/Getty Images)

A New York City fireman calls for more rescue workers to make their way into the rubble of the World Trade Center September 15, 2001.

(REUTERS/Handout/U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres)

Members of the New York Fire and Police Departments salute as a truck carrying the last steel column of the World Trade Center moves up West Street from inside of the World Trade Center site May 30, 2002 as the recovery effort at Ground Zero officially ends in New York.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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SEE MORE: Jill Stein Says There's More To Learn About What Happened On 9/11

One of the biggest issues Kean and Hamilton identify is the United States' failure to focus as much energy on combating ideology that leads to "Islamist terrorism" as it does trying to militarily eradicate the al-Qaeda network.

That's one of the suggestions in the 9/11 Commission's report that the two men say hasn't been followed — or at least, pursued strongly enough — across both the Bush and Obama administrations.

They said part of the problem with extremism is that there is so much of it, and even non-violent extremist groups can spread the wrong ideology. They wrote, "These radical perversions of Islam might not condone violence, but they crowd out mainstream, tolerant and pluralistic ideas."

So, Kean and Hamilton said they are assembling a task force to create a longterm strategy to counter terrorist ideology.

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A group of firefighters walk amid rubble near the base of the destroyed south tower of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. In the worst terror attack on the U.S. mainland in modern history, two hijacked planes slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and a third plane hit the Pentagon, across the Potomac river from Washington. REUTERS/Peter Morgan

Family members of the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center gather around the Circle of Honor at the base of the site of the attacks on the one year anniversary of the attacks, in New York, Wednesday, September 11, 2002. (AP Photo/Mike Segar,pool)
Family members of the victims of the the attacks on the World Trade Center enter Ground Zero to pay their respects, September 11, 2003 in New York. U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday commemorated the attacks with subdued events of remembrance, as his government warned of possible bigger terror attacks. REUTERS/Stephen Chernin/POOL SC/GN
People gather at the World Trade center site in New York City, September 11, 2004 on the third anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers. This year, it is the parents and grandparents of World Trade Center victims who will read aloud the names of those lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
Family members make their way down a ramp to the site of the former World Trade Center during ceremonies marking the fourth anniversary of the attack of the twin towers in New York September 11, 2005. Families of victims of the collapse of the World Trade Center were allowed down to two pools of water placed on the ground where the buildings once stood. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn GMH/VP
People gather around a reflecting pool at the bottom of the Ground Zero site of the World Trade Center on the fifth year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, September 11, 2006. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES)
Family members of victims pay their respects at the site of the former twin World Trade Center towers in New York September 11, 2007 on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The first steel beams of the new Freedom Tower being constructed on the site are seen in the foreground. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES)
FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2008, file photo, cranes at left are set up above the foundation for One World Trade Center in New York on the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 will be the 14th anniversary of the attacks. Nearly a decade and a half after hijacked planes hit the World Trade Centerâs twin towers, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pa., the anniversary is still marked with observances around the country. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Family members of victims pay their respects at the site of the former twin towers on the eighth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, in New York, September 11, 2009. Families of the victims are gathering at the annual ceremony to remember the attacks that killed more than 2,700 people with the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES DISASTER ANNIVERSARY)
Police and firefighters surround the reflecting pool at the World Trade Center site during 9/11 remembrance ceremonies in New York, September 11, 2010. REUTERS/Don Emmert/Pool 
The North Memorial Pool, with 1 World Trade Center under construction at rear, is pictured during ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, in New York September 11, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Deutsch/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: ANNIVERSARY DISASTER)
Friends and relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center attend a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of the attacks at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
World Trade Center 1 looms over the north reflecting pool at the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York September 11, 2013. REUTERS/Allan Tannenbaum/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER ANNIVERSARY)
An American flag marks the name of a loved one at the North Pool Memorial site in front of 1 World Trade Center during memorial observances on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. Family and friends of those who died read the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in New York, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Robert Sabo, Pool)
The One World Trade Center building on the early morning of the 14th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks, on September 11, 2015 in New York.. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCUR / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
The World Trade Center. New York.
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That's not to say no progress has been made. The two wrote that since 9/11, airports have gotten better security, and intelligence sharing among authorities at the local, state and federal levels has improved.

SEE MORE: The US Intel Community Has Added Major Real Estate Since 9/11

While the U.S. hasn't had a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11, there have been multiple deadly attacks since then, including the San Bernardino shooting in 2015 and the June 2016 attack on an Orlando nightclub. The nightclub shooting is considered the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

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NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 17: People tour the National September 11 Memorial & Museum on August 17, 2016 in New York City. Lower Manhattan, previously dominated by the financial industry, has become one of Manhattan's top tourist destinations with memorials to the victims, shopping malls and historical landmarks. Fifteen years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the area around Ground Zero has gone through significant changes but still carries reminders of that day when over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 17: A visitor to the 9/11 Memorial Museum looks up at the last foundation pillar that was standing from the World Trde Center site on September 01, 2016 in New York City. Lower Manhattan, previously dominated by the financial industry, has become one of Manhattan's top tourist destinations with memorials to the victims, shopping malls and historical landmarks. Fifteen years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the area around Ground Zero has gone through significant changes but still carries reminders of that day when over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 01: Messages are attached to the last foundation pillar that was standing from the World Trade Center site at the 9/11 Memorial Museum on September 01, 2016 in New York City. Lower Manhattan, previously dominated by the financial industry, has become one of Manhattan's top tourist destinations with memorials to the victims, shopping malls and historical landmarks. Fifteen years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the area around Ground Zero has gone through significant changes but still carries reminders of that day when over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Visitors walk past an exhibit at the National September 11 Museum in New York on February 10, 2015. The only Al-Qaeda plotter convicted over the 9/11 attacks has told American lawyers that members of the Saudi royal family donated millions of dollars to the terror group in the 1990s. French citizen Zacarias Moussaoui, dubbed the '20th hijacker,' made the revelations in court papers filed in a New York federal court by lawyers for victims of the attacks who accuse Saudi Arabia of supporting Al-Qaeda. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
French Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira (R) visits the National September 11 Museum in New York on February 10, 2015. The National September 11 Memorial and Museum is the principal memorial and museum, respectively, commemorating the September 11 attacks of 2001, which killed 2,977 people, and the World Trade Center bombing of 1993, which killed six. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Visitors look at an exhibit at the National September 11 Museum in New York on February 10, 2015. The only Al-Qaeda plotter convicted over the 9/11 attacks has told American lawyers that members of the Saudi royal family donated millions of dollars to the terror group in the 1990s. French citizen Zacarias Moussaoui, dubbed the '20th hijacker,' made the revelations in court papers filed in a New York federal court by lawyers for victims of the attacks who accuse Saudi Arabia of supporting Al-Qaeda. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
A visitor looks at an exhibit at the National September 11 Museum in New York on February 10, 2015. The only Al-Qaeda plotter convicted over the 9/11 attacks has told American lawyers that members of the Saudi royal family donated millions of dollars to the terror group in the 1990s. French citizen Zacarias Moussaoui, dubbed the '20th hijacker,' made the revelations in court papers filed in a New York federal court by lawyers for victims of the attacks who accuse Saudi Arabia of supporting Al-Qaeda. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 23: Portions of the garage survived both the 1993 bombing and the attacks on September 11, 2001. The soot stains seen on this fragment of the B-2 wall are the result of the fires that burned following 9/11. Recovered from the World Trade Center site after September 11, 2001. Photo taken on January 23, 2015 in new York City, New York. (Photo by Jin Lee/9/11 Memorial & Museum/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 09: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge view displays during a visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum on December 09, 2014 in New York City. The couple, who are traveling without their son Prince George, are on a three-day US east coast visit. This is the Duke and Duchess' first official visit to New York City. ( Photo by Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: People visit the National 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York, United States on May 25, 2014. The National 9/11 Memorial Museum was opened to the public for the first time on May 21, 2014 and telling the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives and a collection of monumental and authentic artifacts. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: People visit the National 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York, United States on May 25, 2014. The National 9/11 Memorial Museum was opened to the public for the first time on May 21, 2014 and telling the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives and a collection of monumental and authentic artifacts. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: People visit the National 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York, United States on May 25, 2014. The National 9/11 Memorial Museum was opened to the public for the first time on May 21, 2014 and telling the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives and a collection of monumental and authentic artifacts. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: People visit the National 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York, United States on May 25, 2014. The National 9/11 Memorial Museum was opened to the public for the first time on May 21, 2014 and telling the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives and a collection of monumental and authentic artifacts. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
The September 11 Memorial Museum's glass pavilion, center, overlooks the north reflecting pool, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Pope Francis stops to listen to former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg (L) describe a steel cross that once stood over Ground Zero during a visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York, September 25, 2015. Pope Francis visited the former World Trade Center site as part of his five-day trip to the United States. (Jin Lee/911 Memorial Musuem via AP, Pool)
This Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015 photo shows the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, center foreground, surrounded by One World Trade Center, left, the white v-shaped transportation hub, center, and 4 World Trade Center, the tall building at right, in New York. The building under construction at center right is 3 World Trade Center. Friday will mark the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
The salvaged tridents from the World Trade Center are seen in the National September 11 Memorial & Museum during a media preview in New York May 14, 2014. A museum commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington is on the verge of opening, with wrenchingly familiar sights as well as artifacts never before on public display. Among the first visitors to the National September 11 Memorial Museum are victims' family members and others intimately involved in its creation who will attend on Thursday, after a Wednesday media preview. The doors open to the general public on May 21. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER SOCIETY)
A man stands in the historical exhibition section of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum during a press preview in New York May 14, 2014. A museum commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington is on the verge of opening, with wrenchingly familiar sights as well as artifacts never before on public display. Among the first visitors to the National September 11 Memorial Museum are victims' family members and others intimately involved in its creation who will attend on Thursday, after a Wednesday media preview. The doors open to the general public on May 21. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER SOCIETY)
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the opening of the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York May 15, 2014. The museum, memorializing the September 11, 2001 attacks, opens this week to victims' family members and next week to the public, displaying artifacts from mangled columns recalling the enormity of that fateful day to shattered eyeglasses recalling its personal pain. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
A child lays on the memorial during a ceremony marking the 14th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center at The National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan in New York, September 11, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
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