Lone-Wolf Terror — How Can We Protect Ourselves?


Here we go again. We’ve just endured more terror attacks on American soil by radicalized Muslim young men. Their faith is not mentioned here to condemn the Muslim religion. It is a common denominator that should not be left unspoken for fear of finger wagging by the stewards of political correctness.

In Seaside Park, New Jersey, a pipe bomb suddenly disrupted the Saturday-morning calm near the finish line of a 5K race. Later that same day, in St. Cloud, Minnesota, 10 people were slashed and stabbed in a crowded mall. Almost simultaneously, a powerful pressure-cooker bomb (like the one that detonated at the Boston Marathon) exploded in a trendy New York neighborhood, wounding 29 people; a second, unexploded bomb was found nearby. The next day, five bombs were discovered near an Elizabeth, New Jersey, train station. Alert citizens called the police.

Investigations continue, but both foreign-born suspects — alleged New York and New Jersey bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and alleged St. Cloud knife attacker Dahir Adan of Ramsey County, Minnesota — are reported to have embraced radical Islamic ideals.

According to the federal criminal complaint against Rahami (who was captured after a gunfight), the naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan had become a devotee of Osama bin Laden; he kept a notebook of his jihadist intentions, and had been planning his bombing spree for months. Two years ago, Rahami was reported to the FBI for suspected terrorism. He had also been flagged by U.S. Customs and Border Protection after returning from a yearlong stay in Pakistan. An FBI investigation found no illegalities, so the case was closed.

Reports say that Adan, a Kenya-born Somali immigrant who came to the U.S. as a toddler, shouted out praise for Allah during his frenzied attack and demanded to know whether one victim shared his Muslim faith. Adan was stopped by an off-duty officer, who fatally shot him on the spot.

These won’t be the last incidents of radical Islamic terror attacks America will suffer. The bloody past is likely to be repeated.

In June 2016, the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, was carried out by American-born Muslim Omar Mateen. Mateen had been on the FBI’s radar before he killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 others in the shooting. During his horrific attack, he called 911 to pledge allegiance to ISIS.

Last December, a married Muslim couple, American-born Syed Rizwan Farook and his Pakistani-born wife, Tashfeen Malik, carried out a terrorist attack against Farook’s co-workers in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 and injuring 22. Malik posted a statement of support for ISIS right before their commando-style assault.

In Nov. 2009, American-born Muslim Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, killed 13 and wounded more than 30 in Fort Hood, Texas. It turns out that a Joint Terrorism Task Force had been monitoring Hasan’s email correspondences with notorious Yemen-based Imam Anwar al-Awlaki. Hassan’s Army colleagues knew of his escalating radicalization for several years, but there was no intervention.

Officials in Washington, D.C., may shy away from labeling these events “terrorist attacks.” But I see them as exactly that. To defeat terrorists, there needs to be a unified consensus that our enemies are young, radicalized Muslim males, and that they are very, very dangerous because they are not afraid to die for their bloodthirsty cause.

Under law, there is just so much the FBI can do to monitor suspected terrorists. Open-ended investigations are not allowed without justification. Traveling to suspect countries, speaking about jihad or buying a pressure cooker are not illegal actions. Maybe we need to give the FBI more legal leeway in certain cases. Government agencies should absolutely share terrorist-related intelligence. And Muslim families and clergy should be encouraged to do more to identify and anonymously report suspects within their communities.

It is up to our leaders to chart a course of action because what’s currently being done clearly isn’t working. What do the presidential candidates suggest?

In a nutshell, Donald Trump has backed off his idea of stopping all Muslims from entering the U.S. He now proposes a temporary ban on all immigration from countries known to be breeding grounds for terrorism — Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria, to name three. He also backs swift and strong military measures against ISIS.

Hillary Clinton supports a nationwide, community-based system of early warning programs, which enlists imams, teachers, coaches, physicians and others to counter violent extremism in their neighborhoods. She suggests that technology companies take radical speech off social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. And she has pledged that no American boots will be sent to ISIS hotspots.

Which is the best approach? Come November, you get to decide.

Rockland resident Diane Dimond is a syndicated columnist, author, regular guest on TV news programs, and correspondent for Newsweek/Daily Beast. Visit her at www.DianeDimond.net or reach her via email Diane@DianeDimond.net

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