Home Front Terrorism

August 28, 2008

Straight Talk - First in a Series of Articles
By Ilana Freedman, Editor and CEO of Gerard Group International, Inc.

This the first of a multi-part series on the critical threat posed by enemies who live and operate among us, using our democratic systems to undermine our society from within our own borders. The series will provide an overview for a presentation that will be given at the Fourth Annual Intelligence Summit that will take place in Washington, DC on October 22-23, 2008

We Americans have always been known for our ability to change with a changing world around us, and for our inner strength that enables us to rise to almost any challenge. But the current direction that America is taking with regard to the internal threat of terrorism directly contradicts our history, and threatens our future. When we watched the first war in Iraq unfold on television from the comfort of our living rooms, we felt safe because the war was so far away.

When the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks once again dissolved into violence that spawned horrific terrorist attacks and predictable military responses, we shook our heads but still felt ourselves safe because the conflict was so far away.

When two suicide bombers used a small explosives-laden boat in a Yemen port to blow a 40-foot hole in the side of the USS Cole and murdered 17 US sailors, we were shocked and saddened, but we still felt safe. Yemen was so far away.

Then, when four planes shattered a perfect September morning, flying into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and into a desolate field in Pennsylvania, we were shocked, we wept and felt violated. We even volunteered to give blood, money, and support in whatever way we could to help those who could still be helped and to avenge the deaths of those who had perished.

At the time we felt vulnerable and frightened. But over time, we willed ourselves to think that maybe it was, after all, just a one-time event. We began leaving our fears where we keep our memories and once again we began to feel safe.

So when a second war in Iraq turned into a nightmare of terrorist attacks against hundreds of civilians as well as against our own troops, we wept for our fallen young men and women. We either railed against the war or rallied round our leaders who supported it, but we still felt safe in our homes. Iraq is, after all, so far away.

We keep the mean and the ugly away from our door by giving it names we can live with. We favor euphemistic terminology to reference some of the most egregious issues in our world today. We talk about "insurgents" and "militants," for example, to describe brutal murderers of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Israel. These are gentler, kinder words to describe those who are anything but gentle and kind.

Then, when we began to see terrorism in our own backyard, we used these gentler kinder words to dismiss them. 2006 was a good year for lone-wolf attacks that went largely unnoticed because of our kindly language.

When 30-year-old Naveed Afzal Haq, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, invaded the offices of Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, shouting, "I'm a Muslim American; I'm angry at Israel," and he murdered one woman in cold blood and injured five others, officials called it the act of a "lone individual acting out his antagonism. There's nothing to indicate that it's terrorism-related."

When Mohammed Reza Taheriazar, 23, a naturalized citizen from Iran and a graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, in North Carolina, ran down five UNC students and a visiting scholar, it was a self-proclaimed attempt to avenge Muslim deaths overseas. But officials called it an assault. As in other cases, the police were not able to connect him to Al Qaeda or some other group, so he was not considered to be a terrorist.

When Joel H. Hinrichs III, an engineering student at the University of Oklahoma, tried to enter the stadium during a football game, wearing a suicide vest, and finally blew himself up outside stadium, the FBI reported no connection between him and terrorist organizations.

When Paul Joyal was shot in front of his home only days after appearing on Dateline to accuse Moscow of complicity in the poisoning death of Litvenenko, the police dismissed it as a street crime. It was easier than considering that a representative of a foreign nation might be carrying out violent crimes of retribution on US streets.

We Americans let ourselves be fooled by comforting language, and we assuage our fears by framing them in words which lessen our concerns. We prefer to see the world through eyes that are shaded and protected from the horror and insanity that prevails in other parts of the world. We allow ourselves to feel safe because it is either happening so far away, or it is something less than what it clearly appears to be.

We need to accept that the danger is real and that it is growing. We need to look at our world with greater clarity. We need to call the enemy what it is, even if doing so makes us uncomfortable, even if it makes us face some difficult truths about the world we live in.

9/11 was a wake-up call. The individual attacks that followed on what appear to be random targets, we have dismissed as isolated incidents, the work of misfits, the mentally deranged, and petty criminals. But the alarm keeps ringing, and we dare not push the snooze button and go back to sleep.

In the next several issues of INTELANALYSIS we will discuss the growing threat of terrorism inside our borders. It will cover the growth in America of hostile organizations bent on our destruction, the symbiotic relationships between terrorists, organized crime, drugs, and gangs, and the nourishing of ideologies and doctrines that are anathema to the American way of life within our own institutions.

Ilana Freedman is Editor of IntelAnalysis and CEO of Gerard Group International, Inc.


Posted September 1, 2008 at 5:53 PM PDT

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