Friday, May 20, 2005

Fanatical Muslim terrorists are not coming to get us.

Since the entire foreign policy of the United States is, since the National Security Strategy of 2002, entirely founded upon the premise that bearded Middle Eastern evil-doers are in fact coming to get us and are lurking out there on the periphery of our borders just waiting for the opportunity to strike a second and more spectacular 9-11, I do not make such a statement lightly. That being said, I have long been very suspicious of the widespread belief throughout the US that terrorists are about to strike. In fact, since late 2001 I have really not believed -- I can point to the whole Richard Reed bombing attempt as the beginning of my disbelief. If an incompetent like Reed was the al-Qaeda second string, we didn't have much to fear.

Two recent events have pushed my quiet disbelief into open heresy. The first was the May 11 ariel tour of downtown Washington, DC by Jim Sheaffer and Troy Martin in their Cessna 150. These two lost, confused and scared pilots flew right over the Vice President's residence and were within three miles of the White House. If sheer incompetence could get these guys so close, just think what determined and skilled terrorists of the caliber of Mohamed Atta could accomplish. And yet they've never even tried. They're willing to blow themselves up in Iraq, but they've never even tried a serious attack in the US since the Reed shoe-bombing attempt.

The second is the announcement from the FBI yesterday in Senate testimony that groups like the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front are "One of today�s most serious domestic terrorism threats".
John Lewis, the agency's deputy assistant director for counter-terrorism, told a senate committee in Washington that the militant groups were "way out in front" in economic damage. He also suggested it would not be long before loss of human life was added to their tally of crimes.

"There is nothing else going on in this country over the past several years that is racking up the high number of violent crimes and terrorist actions," he told senators . . .

The chairman of the senate committee, the Republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma, added to the sense of alarm, agreeing with Mr Lewis that killings might be next. "The danger of ELF and ALF is imminent," he said. "Although they have not killed anyone ... it is only a matter of time until someone dies as a result of ELF and ALF criminal activity."

And evoking language more normally heard in connection with al-Qa'ida, Senator Inhofe urged the FBI to seek out the money pipeline funding the groups.
If the FBI's top domestic terrorist threat is groups that have yet to kill a single person and have no apparent interest in intentionally killing anyone (although their use of explosives certainly has the potential to cause accidental deaths), then al-Qaeda "comin' to git us" has long since passed into the realm of myth.

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