Tag Archives: counterterrorism

How Long Will We "Never Forget"?

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For the past 11 years on this date, we’ve all heard, spoke, typed a now familiar refrain: “Never Forget!”

What we must never forget, of course, are the attacks against our nation on September 11th, 2001 by radical Islamists bringing their war against western civilization right to our doorsteps.

Today, I heard a couple of different things that made me realize just how difficult a proposition that it is to actually “never forget” something, even something as big as 9/11.

First, on my drive in to work this morning, I was listening to a radio station when the usual cast of morning show hosts began to discuss the date, and to go over their memories of that Tuesday morning.

Those of us who experienced it can remember clearly what an absolutely gorgeous, perfect morning it was – clear skies and comfortable temperatures. The kind of day you give thanks to the Lord for blessing us with.

Then everything changed, in a span of just 17 minutes between 8:46 and 9:03 am, when those sons of Muhammad crashed a pair of hijacked airliners into each of the iconic Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on the waterfront of Manhattan island in New York City. Just over a half hour later, a 3rd airliner crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a 4th crashed into a field in Pennsylvania a half hour after that.

The United States of America was under attack on our own shores for the first time in 60 years, the first time since World War II, when the Japanese decimated the American naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The ensuing chaos, the grounding of flights across the nation’s skies, the collapse of the iconic towers, the growing numbers of people lost and killed. Firefighters, police officers, other rescue workers, and regular citizens putting their lives on the line to attempt and effect rescues.

How could anyone who lived through it ever forget all that.

Ah, but there’s the rub. You see, not everyone alive today lived through that, at least not in their conscious memories. Those radio hosts that I was listening to brought up that their kids, now in the upper levels of elementary school and in junior high, had no direct memory of 9/11 whatsoever. Sure, they saw films on TV, but for these kids, and for many kids today of any high school age, the experience is not what adults of that day remember, if these kids and teens recall anything of it first-hand.

The second thing that happened today was that my brother complained that there had been no widespread, organized “Moment of Silence” at 9:37 am, the time that the 3rd plane had exploded into the side of the Pentagon, and a moment that had been memorialized each year since.

My explanation didn’t seem to satisfy him, but I believe it is no less true. We are not going to, as a nation, “Never Forget” – at least we are not going to remember with the raw emotion that people who are now in their mid-20’s and older feel.

My brother felt that “poor planning may have played a role” in this particular instance, and he may be right. But that only serves to highlight my point – there would have been no such “poor planning” in 2002 or 2005 or 2008.

The further we get away from that day, the more people are going to not build every emotional remembrance into their planning, and the more people who experienced it at all are simply going to have left this earth.

For kids today, their memory of 9/11 is what mine would be of the Kennedy assassination – nothing. Sure, I was alive when JFK was killed in Dallas in November 1963, but I was days shy of my 2nd birthday. There was no way that I was going to have any memory of that event, even though it was on our home television daily, and even though every fabric of society around me was affected deeply. I learned of and know about the events from TV, movie, and book accounts. I know of the event as history. That’s how today’s kids know 9/11, as history.

So while we will not forget the events of the morning of September 11th, 2001 for a long time, and those of us who actually lived it will carry it with us for decades still to come, some for maybe as much as 2/3 of a century, the fact is that one day 9/11 will be to citizens of the United States what Pearl Harbor is to us today – history. Sure, we will keep on saying that we must “Never Forget”, but the raw emotional power of the moment will be gone.

The real challenge is to make sure that Americans of any age and time never forget the important turning points in our nation’s history, from Lexington & Concord to Gettysburg, from Pearl Harbor to Dallas, from Memphis to Shanksville.

We need to ensure that even as the emotion passes, and as every person alive that day passes, that the people of the United States somehow learn to “Never Forget” the events that have shaped the very fabric of the greatest nation that God has ever blessed.

2011 American of the Year: Seal Team 6

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The United States Navy ‘SEAL’ teams are the Navy’s principal special operations force. The ‘SEAL’ acronym stands for Sea, Air, and Land, and each of these factors was on display on May 2nd, 2011.

On that day, the Navy’s “SEAL Team 6”, it’s Special Warfare Development Group, got revenge for America and exorcised a ghost that had haunted the nation for two decades, particularly in orchestrating the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. On that day, they killed Osama bin Laden.
“Operation Neptune Spear” was led by the C.I.A. and included their own agents, U.S. Army Airborne Rangers, and Seal Team 6. Their target was a compound in the Bilal Town section of the city of Abbottabad, Pakistan where intelligence gathered over the previous 9 months had led to the conclusion that Osama bin Laden, the murderous leader of the al Qaeda Islamofascist terrorist group, was living.
The mission was to be a “kill or capture” one in theory, but information developed from the intel had led most to feel that those inside the compound would not allow themselves to simply be captured. The American team was ready for a fire-fight.

In discussions between the President and leadership within the National Security Council, it was decided to leave the Pakistani government in the dark as to the planned raid. There was a complete lack of confidence in their government’s ability to keep such a plan a secret.
Approaching the compound using newly designed helicopters, the SEAL team dropped in and made their attack. They came under fire as they entered the main building, and in the end there were five people killed, including bin Laden and his son. Watching from the White House Situation Room, President Obama said “We got him!”
The identities of SEAL Team members are supposed to remain classified for many reasons, including the potential for retaliation against individual members and their families for actions such as this raid on the bin Laden compound. The President came under scrutiny for releasing some of this information in the aftermath of the attack.
Here we will not concern ourselves with the individuals, and will absolutely respect their necessary anonymity. What we will do is recognize this group and their actions in avenging 9/11 and ridding the world of one of it’s worst-ever terrorists. For their heroic actions in May, we recognize the entirety of the group known as ‘SEAL Team 6’ as the 2011 American of the Year.

Islamism Series: What Are We Prepared to Do?

In the 1987 film ‘The Untouchables’, Kevin Costner plays famed lawman Elliot Ness, who is tasked to lead a fight against the violent empire of infamous crime boss Al Capone in Chicago during the Prohibition era.

In the beginning, Ness tries some of the usual law enforcement tactics of the day, but appears to be going nowhere in his efforts to defeat Capone.

Finally his right-hand man in the film, street cop ‘Jim Malone’ as played in an Oscar-winning performance by Sean Connery, turns to Ness and asks him a blunt question:

“What are you prepared to do?”

This is always the single most important question that needs to be asked, understood, and answered before committing to fight any war at any level.

Whether at the level of law enforcement fighting criminal groups to keep the public safe on the home front, or at the level of national armed forces fighting enemies from abroad with the same goal, this simple question cannot be avoided.

Decades ago a war was declared against the United States by the forces of radical Islam around the world. It was declared with public statements, and those statements were backed up with physical attacks against American troops, citizens, and interests abroad and eventually with attacks against the American homeland.

For years the answer to that question of “What are you prepared to do?” seemed to be a tit-for-tat response. They blew up something of ours, we lobbed a missile at something of theirs.

The international community cried if we killed civilians in our attacks, but shed no tears for American Marines and other service persons and civilians killed in attacks against our embassies or troops.

Nothing much changed until finally the radical Islamists were able to pull off a large-scale attack right here on our own shores with the physically, financially, and emotionally devastating attacks of September 11th, 2001 against Washington and New York.

Less than one year into his first term in office, President George W. Bush was faced with the question for the first time: “What are you prepared to do?”And for the first time, an American leader did not pull a knee-jerk response by lobbing a missile.

For perhaps the very first time, an American leader and his team actually sat down and took a good, long, hard look at the reality of the situation.

The United States was not the victim of some random attack by 20 guys who hijacked some planes. America was attacked by an entity which viewed us as a sworn enemy and wanted nothing less than either our destruction or our capitulation to their worldview. Join up with Islam completely or die, that was and is the message from this enemy.

This was not the usual, traditional type of enemy, and fighting them would require an entirely new mindset and commitment level. In days now long gone by we could identify an enemy as a nation-state or group thereof, and largely pinpoint this enemy and defeat them on a geographical battlefield.

The enemy that we now faced was more of a network of ideological radicals scattered in both large and small groups all over the globe, including some in our own country, that was in some cases well-funded and trained. In some cases this network was being expressly, implicitly, or tacitly supported by a nation-state.

Faced with destruction, devastation, and death on his home front on his watch, President Bush answered the question fully when on September 15th, 2001 he said the following:

 “This act will not stand. We will find who did it. We will smoke them out of their holes; we will get them running; and we will bring them to justice. We will not only deal with those who dare attack America, we will deal with those who harbor them, and feed them, and house them. Make no mistake about it. Underneath our tears is the strong determination of America to win this war. And we will win it.”

In this statement, Bush correctly recognized that the problem was not only with the people who actually pulled off the attacks of 9/11, but fully extended to those who supported and nurtured these people both physically and ideologically.

Bush also here became the first American leader to publicly acknowledge that we were at war, and further, he promised that we would win that war. But he also went further, recognizing that this war would be long:

“This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while. And the American people must be patient. I’m going to be patient. But I can assure the American people I am determined, I’m not going to be distracted, I will keep my focus…It is time for us to win the first war of the 21st century decisively, so that our children and our grandchildren can live peacefully into the 21st century.”

The problem was clear, a war was declared on us, attacks were taking place against us, and Americans were dying. The problem was recognized with an acknowledgement that we were indeed at war. The question of what we were prepared to do about it seemed to be answered appropriately: we would fight wherever necessary for as long as necessary to win decisively to ensure lasting peace.

While we dealt them blows on their home bases in Afghanistan and began to establish a democratic foothold in the Middle East both there and in Iraq, the Islamists continued the war with attacks on the trains of Madrid, Spain on March 11th, 2004 and on school children in Beslan, Russia on September 1st, 2004 and on the buses and subways in London, England on July 7th, 2005 among others.

Unfortunately a problem began to develop. As we finally took the fight to the radical Islamists, some Americans, particularly Democratic Party politicians who were out of political power and their media lackeys, all too quickly forgot the pain and destruction of 9/11 and the many other Islamic attacks on America and our allies. They began to use the continuing war and the inevitable American service person deaths as a political football.

During the final 2,682 days of his two terms stretching over more than 7 years following those 9/11 attacks, the policies and strategies of President Bush and his team kept the United States safe from any further successful attacks by a determined enemy who was demonstrating all around the rest of the world that it was still very capable of delivering death and destruction.

The current American administration wants desperately to end our involvement in this war. It was elected largely by painting President Bush as a hateful war-monger and won with a promise to take that very action, in fact. However, on actually taking office and being faced with the reality of the situation themselves, Barack Obama and his people seem surprised to find that is it not America that is the problem after all.

This past week saw a reminder from al Qaeda and the radical Islamists that this war is far from over. They again attempted to use airliners to deliver devastating attacks against the United States on American soil. In fact, they continue to seek nuclear, bio-chemical, radiological and other weapons of mass destruction in what will likely one day be a successful large-scale attack on the United States.

The radical Islamists do not care what American political party is in power. They do not care what the skin color or sex or age is of the American president at any given time. They care only about one thing, that America openly convert to Islam and accept Sharia Law as the ruling cultural influence and legal authority. Anything less will result in the continuation of the war from their end.

That is the real important thing that we need to remember, that a war is not over just because we pull many or even all of our troops out of any country. Vietnam did not end when we Americans fled with our tails between our legs. Instead, the victorious North Vietnamese slaughtered an estimated 4.5 million South Vietnamese who our brave military persons had been protecting. But hey, a bunch of hippies and newscasters felt better, so it was okay.

Unless we become even more determined to fight this war against radical Islam with stronger conventional forces and tactics backed by more determined diplomatic energy and support to the region in finances and infra-structure development over what will likely be decades of commitment, we will lose. And the ramifications of our failure now will be even greater than our failure to win in Vietnam.

It likely won’t happen suddenly or overnight, and maybe not even over one generation. But Islam and its accompanying discrimination, intimidation, and hatred will eventually win out. Either that, or some totalitarian regime of Communism led by Russia or China will become the dominant power. The failure this time of the world’s beacon of freedom, the United States of America, will be a devastating blow to freedom everywhere.

So as every bomb explodes, as every school is attacked, as every head is lopped off, as more Americans are threatened and killed, as our leadership continues to talk tough after an attack while plotting our retreat the question begins to shout out to the American public. Do you want to become Islamic, or die? If the answer is neither, then you are again faced with that one simple question: what are you prepared to do?

NOTE: This continues the ongoing ‘Islamism Series’, each entry of which can be viewed by clicking on to that tag below 

Islamism Series: Back to Afghanistan

For a land-locked nation that is basically a pile of rock and sand, Afghanistan holds some serious sway in the international community. The reasons are many, but they are sometimes difficult to grasp until you look more closely.

Afghanistan is bordered on the west by an Islamic nuclear-power wannabe ruled by a mad President in Iran, and on the east by the already nuclear-powered and increasingly fractious Pakistan.

There is even a small slice of northeastern Afghanistan that borders up against a Communist behemoth known as China. Along its northern borders lie a trio of former Soviet states in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Its land-locked status means that it has virtually no natural water supplies. There are no seas against which it borders, no rivers running through it, no lakes in which water has gathered. In short, there is very little of the life-sustaining, not to mention economy-sustaining water that is necessary for a country and people to survive, let alone thrive.

The median age is less than 18 years, which might make you wonder where are all the adults? Many of them are simply dead, as the average life expectancy is only a little over 44 years.

Because of the poor economic conditions there is a high risk of infectious diseases and wide-scale problems with other illnesses such as malaria, typhoid fever, hepatitis A, and ‘bird flu’ influenza strains.

So why does everyone care so much about a country that is so desolate and so inhospitable? Simply because of its strategic location as a ‘buffer zone’.

Afghanistan was founded in 1747 when Ahmad Durrani was able to organized the native Pashtun tribes into one people. For a long time it served as a buffer between the Russian and the British empires before gaining independence from Britain in 1919.

In the 1970’s, the Soviets propped up a Communist government there, and then directly invaded the country in 1979 to put down rebellions from various native Afghan tribes and groups. This led to a decade-long war in which the rebels emerged victorious thanks to aid from the international community, most notably the United States (see the film ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’.)

In the aftermath of the Soviet-Afghan war there was continual civil war in the country, with the Taliban finally emerging with control in the mid-1990’s. The population is 99% Muslim, and the Taliban demanded observance of a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law. They also allowed the use of Afghan territories by Osama bin Laden and his radical Islamic followers, which al Qaeda used to operate terrorist training camps.

Following 9/11, the U.S.-led coalition invaded, destroyed the terrorist camps, and drove the Taliban from power. This began a process of attempting to install a democratic government and elected leadership, which ultimately led to the current democratically-elected government of Hamid Karzai (pictured). Many felt that the U.S. lost focus from this important rebuilding program when it switched gears and invaded Iraq.

With the Afghan situation appearing under control, President Bush redeployed many American forces to topple the regime of dictator Sadaam Hussein in Iraq. As noble as removing the evil Hussein from power may have been, it did allow the Taliban to begin slowly regrouping and regaining some influence in Afghanistan.

The new American President Barack Obama inherited both the Iraq and Afghanistan situations when he took office. It is his position that Iraqi defense forces and the Iraqi government are becoming strong enough that they will soon be able to stand on their own, and is planning to slowly draw down U.S. presence in that area. At the same time he plans to increase the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

There is an upcoming international conference on Afghanistan that will take place at The Hague and which will be attended by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton along with leaders from all of the world nations having a stake in Afghanistan’s short and long term future.

With both the historical and current instability in that region of the world, and with their significant strategic locations, successful democracies in both Iraq and Afghanistan are worthy and important efforts. The Afghans absolutely need and deserve more U.S. support, not just military but also economic and in other areas. But the Iraqis cannot be abandoned to fend for themselves to the point where the loss of 4,000 American lives over a half decade ends up being for nothing.

President Obama is basically taking us back to Afghanistan, and that is a good and necessary thing. But at the same time we need to be very careful in the process of drawing down in Iraq.

In the ‘big tent’ meeting at The Hague, two groups with a stake in Afghanistan’s future which will not be represented are the Taliban and al Qaeda. But the groups who do meet should not forget their presence or their interest.

Radical Islamic forces are still fighting in both countries to undermine the American-led efforts, convinced that if they just wait us out we will eventually retreat to our own homeland and leave these Middle East countries with little defense against their continuing Jihad.

NOTE: This is a continuation of the Islam Series, all items of which can be read by clicking the below tag 

Islamism Series: Our Grandchildren’s Grandchildren

I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on a highly educational presentation by an American law enforcement professional that largely covered the topic of responding to a bombing or other terrorist attack in our city.

The individual presenting the class has been all over the world, particularly the hot spots in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and South America, aiding in their responses to such incidents.

Perhaps most importantly, he was also gaining an education and making vital contacts that would keep him abreast on the latest information from those far-flung locales regarding updated terrorist activities, attacks, and tactics.

One of the statements that he made that I found most compelling is something that I have believed for a long time. That no matter who is elected to become the next President of the United States, no matter whether we ‘bring the troops home’ or remain committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and possibly expand the current conflict into Iran eventually, this is not a war that is going to end any time soon.

His simple statement was this:

“Your grandchildren’s grandchildren will be fighting this war.”

He had a very simple, straightforward reason for making this statement. The Islamists with whom we are at war have no intention of stopping until Islam is in control of the entire world.

War has been declared on us over a decade ago. Our nation was directly attacked, and has had repeated attempted attacks on it. Our allies have been and are being attacked regularly.

Spain is the perfect example of how they intend to win. On March 11th, 2004, the Islamists bombed trains in Madrid, immediately resulting in 191 killed and over 1,800 wounded. They demanded that Spain pull out of Iraq, and told the Spanish people that they would pay for their governments involvement.

Out of this fear, Spaniards went to the polls in elections held shortly after the bombings and voted out the democratic government, voting in a Socialist government that pulled Spain’s troops.

The Islamists had effected a coup d’etat, installed a sympathetic government to their cause, and cowed a member of the European Union. They had knocked a government with close ties to the U.S. out of power, and effectively ordered it replaced with one that is antagonistic towards America. Thanks to the fear of the Spanish people, the Islamists won a great victory.

The victory became complete when this summer the Spanish courts tossed out more convictions, including of the mastermind of the attacks. His raised to 11 the number who have been acquitted, with a number of others receiving extremely lenient sentences.

The Islamists have incited riots in the suburbs of Paris, and attacked London as well, and are well on their way to creating an almost riotous situation across all of Europe.

What will likely happen on the European continent over the next few years and decades could make the 9/11 attacks look paltry by comparison.

They saw how we reacted to 9/11 by sending out troops overseas and lighting up their world, including overthrowing the Islamist Taliban in Afghanistan and the tyrannical regime of Sadaam Hussein in Iraq.

The Islamists find the response of the Europeans much softer, and so for now will simply be happy with turning their attention to slowly overwhelming our allies, who have proven to be far more soft.

The hard fact seems to be that the American people, at least right now, don’t have the stomach to win the war being fought. They understandably want peace, a return to a time when American soldiers weren’t in harms way, and when everyone can just sit down and talk out our differences.

The unfortunate reality is that the other side in this battle doesn’t want that, and will fight to the death. Because we may be unwilling to make the significant sacrifices now that it will take to overcome this global threat, we are likely to pay even greater costs in the generations to come.

I have two grandchildren now. My grandson was just born on August 1st of this year. It is highly likely that he, or his children, or his grandchildren, my grandchildren’s grandchildren, will be fighting a much bloodier and far broader war at some future time because today’s generation was unwilling to go all the way to victory.

NOTE: This is the continuation of my regular feature ‘Islamism Series’. At the bottom of this entry, you can click on the Tag of that name to read the prior entries.