Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended. – George W. Bush, 9/11/2001.
James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that 2014 was the most lethal year for global terrorism in the 45 years such data has been compiled. The statistics he presented are grim. Since 2013 about 11,500 worldwide attacks killed over 22,000 people, but in the first nine months alone of 2014 nearly 13,000 attacks have killed 31,000 people. Half of those attacks and deaths were in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He also stated that the Islamic State conducted more attacks than any other terror group in that nine month period.
Compare Clapper’s testimony with Sec. of State John Kerry’s appraisal of terror threats just a day earlier. Kerry stated, “Despite ISIL, despite the visible killings that you see and how horrific they are, we are actually living in a period of less daily threat to Americans and to people in the world than normally; less deaths, less violent deaths today, than through the last century.” Clearly there is a disconnect between the most senior intelligence official in the nation and the White House.
Clapper also stated that about 180 Americans have been involved in various stages of traveling or trying to travel to join up with ISIS. More than 3400 total western fighters have gone to Syria and Iraq hoping to link up with one of the most brutal terror groups we’ve seen in modern times. FBI Director James Comey has said his bureau is investigating possible ISIS supporters in all 50 states.
This information doesn’t make me feel any safer. I expect the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing don’t feel safer. I wager that the family and friends of Colleen Hufford, the grandmother beheaded by a ISIS sympathizer in Oklahoma don’t feel safer. And I can also bet police officers everywhere who are being targeted just because of their profession don’t feel safe either.
I have seen brutality and the aftermath of terrorism but for a long time most Americans have largely operated under the delusion that “these things don’t happen where I live”. The national pain and shock that followed the 9/11 attacks has lost its edge. Time has softened the horror we all felt. Sleeper cells and lone terrorists are clever and they are expert at blending in as they plan their heinous acts. The pilots who hijacked planes on 9/11 that killed 3000 innocent people were considered good neighbors by people that lived near them in Florida and California. Jihad John, the butcher who beheaded our journalists is described by his friends in Britain as a gentle, kind hearted person who would do anything to help you. Folks, terrorists are here and we need to be vigilant.
What we do not need to do is to suspect every Muslim in America of being a terrorist. That is counterproductive and not what America is about. But we do need to have what we called in Afghanistan “situational awareness”. This is particularly important when we are in places where large groups of people gather such as malls, sporting events, etc. Of course we are reluctant to give up our ideal view of America where we can travel anywhere, do anything we like and have the life of freedom our military men and women have fought and died for. But the threat of Islamist extremism is real and it is relevant, even if our President cannot name it.
My Muslim friends are not offended by me saying this. They know I don’t believe for a minute that these savages represent the majority of Muslims. Let’s face it; they don’t represent any group other than madmen and mass murderers. They need to be exterminated and our country needs to act swiftly to uncover the sleeper cells and sympathizers being homegrown in America. The young girls who are being recruited are in for a rude awaking if they manage to get to Syria. When they are repeatedly raped, brutalized and subjugated into a life no better than slavery, they will long to escape. But escape attempts or objecting to the life they live will result in beatings, disfigurement or death. I have seen a face that has been melted by acid because a 15 year old wife dared to try to escape her husband. Pictures of women who have had acid attacks or with their noses and ears sliced off should be publicized in America to counteract the “glamour” that ISIS is using to recruit these young girls. Sadly, there will be plenty of pictures to choose from.
We can no longer hide our heads in the sand. Terrorism is and has been a part of our lives ever since 9/11. Talk to your elected officials and talk to them often. If you have the opportunity to meet with them in person, do so and tell them your concerns.
America is still the greatest country in the world and because of that evil people everywhere want to destroy our way of life. Individually we may be limited in stopping terrorism, but collectively I am convinced we can force our country’s leaders to provide more protection than they have been. Personally, I don’t want to hear that 2015 was the worst year for terrorism on the books.