Tag Archives: TERRORISM

Why remembering Pearl Harbor remains important today

On December 7, 1941 the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service delivered a devastating blow to the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii.

This was a preemptive surprise attack by the Japanese, with the hope that they could decimate the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The Japanese believed that the United States was the greatest potential threat to their planned expansion of power in the Pacific region.

The early morning attack would launch in two waves from a half-dozen Japanese air craft carriers. Some 350 aircraft fighters and bombers would sink four American battleships and damage four more, sink eight other vessels, destroy 188 aircraft, and damage 159 more.

Over 2,400 Americans were killed with more than 1,100 injured. Japanese losses of life and equipment were minimal in comparison.

In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered one of the most famous and impassioned speeches in U.S. history to a joint session of the U.S. Congress the following day. It began as follows:

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. 

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.”

To that point, the United States had been able to stay out of active involvement in World War II. Meanwhile, the Japanese had become involved in an “Axis” powers agreement with Germany under Adolf Hitler and Italy under Benito Mussolini. Their aim was nothing less than global domination.

Roosevelt’s speech called on the Congress to declare war against Japan, which it did within the hour. Germany and Italy would then declare war on the United States. Thus began U.S. involvement in World War II, the deadliest war in human history.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the Japanese Marshall Admiral of the Navy and leader of their combined fleet during the war, did not believe that Japan could win a lengthy war with America. 

Following the attack, Yamamoto is alleged to have written in his diary “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.

American had been trying to stay out of World War II to that point. Formally declaring neutrality in the opening years of conflict, the U.S. gradually began to provide aid to Great Britain and others, and imposed economic sanctions on Japan.

The Japanese attack did indeed awaken America from its slumber. It forced us to realize that we could no longer ignore the expansionist aims of Hitler, Mussolini, and Japanese Emperor Hirohito. 

We were now forced to either allow these ideologies to overrun Europe and Asia, eventually becoming a major threat to our own security, or go to war to try and defeat them.

In the end, American military might and civilian industry proved the difference in winning the war. However, it would not be the last time that our nation was attacked on our own shores, or threatened by an ideology bent on world domination.

Flash forward nearly 60 years to September 11, 2001. Most Americans reading this require no reminder of what happened on that equally beautiful morning. Another sneak attack from the skies, this time from radical extremists bent on spreading the dominance of an Islamic worldwide caliphate.

That extremist ideology did not begin on 9/11, and it has not gone away today. The Islamists continue to spread their hope for a renewed global caliphate ruling under Sharia law in both aggressive and passive ways. 


Attacks and bombings by ISIL, ISIS, the Taliban, al Qaeda and others gain headlines in Europe and elsewhere. But the ultimate growth of the caliphate is also furthered by overrunning traditional populations of western nations through waves of unfettered immigration, followed by non-assimilation with that traditional culture. 

So-called “No-Go Zones” have formed in nations around the world. In recent years, they have begun to form right here in the United States of America. These areas have been largely closed off to legitimate authorities, and are being governed by principles of Sharia law rather than the U.S. Constitution. Ultimately, the goal is to build more of these zones, and to grow and expand them.



The lessons of Pearl Harbor need to be remembered by Americans today, because there remain very real parallels. The ultimate goals of the Axis powers in World War II are similar to those of the radical Islamists today. 

The lesson of history is that you must be smart enough to recognize a threat when one emerges, and you must be prepared to face down that threat. To repeat an old but always relevant phrase, if we fail to remember the lessons of history we are destined to repeat them.

Islamism Series: American Jihad in the second decade after 9/11

Embed from Getty Images

 

On July 23, 2008 here at my website, I introduced the “Islamism Series”, which was inspired by a class called ‘Radical Islam’ that I was teaching to police officers at that time as a Sergeant in the Training Bureau of the Philadelphia Police Department.

Over the next year and a half, I wrote 20 pieces in the series. The aim was to educate folks on the history of radical Islam, to comment on current Islamic terrorist attacks, and to keep Americans alert to the continuing threat.

As with other series that are resuming with the re-launch of this website, the “Islamism Series” returns as well. As with the others, it will continue into the future with periodic articles which will continue those original goals of education and commentary on what I believe to be that continuing threat.

Perhaps you’ve forgotten, or you haven’t put the pieces together for yourself. With so much going on these days in the nation and world, who could blame you? But the fact is that radical Islamic attacks right here in America are continuing.

Since the historically devastating attacks of September 11, 2001 there have been at least 14 successful attacks by adherents to the tenets of radical Islam right here in the United States. There have been further countless planned attacks which have been thwarted by law enforcement.

Some would have you believe that this is a brand new phenomenon. Perhaps actual terror groups such as ISIS are just beginning to formally sanction attacks. However, individuals inspired by groups like ISIS have been committing terror attacks for some time.

Of the successful post-9/11 attacks, 13 have occurred since 2009. Nine have happened in just the last four and a half years. If anything, the pace seems to be picking up. This is a problem that is going to get worse, possibly much worse, before it ever gets better.

So in renewing this series, let’s start by reviewing what has happened since the last piece was published in February 2010. Something to catch us up. A reminder that we need to continue to be vigilant.

That last piece in the “Islamism Series” came out in February 2010, just months after a pair of attacks on the United States military here in our homeland. 

In June of 2009, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad (born Carlos Bledsoe) committed a drive-by shooting outside of a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas. In the shooting, U.S. Army Private William Long was killed and another soldier was wounded.

Five months later, U.S Army Major Nidal Hasan, an army psychiatrist, committed the largest mass shooting on a United States military base in our nation’s history. Hasan killed 13 and wounded some three dozen others. 



Since publication of that last piece in the series to this point, more blood has been shed on American soil by Islamic radicals. The first actually came on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

On September 11, 2011 in Waltham, Massachusetts, three men had their throats slashed and were nearly decapitated by Ibragim Todashev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Both of these men had Chechen family backgrounds, and had come under the influence of radical Islam.

If the name of that second killer in Waltham sounds familiar to you, that’s because it should. A year and a half later, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev committed the Boston Marathon bombing. The brothers killed three, caused 16 others to lose limbs, and injured hundreds more.



In September of 2014, Alton Nolen was suspended from his job at Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma, just outside of Oklahoma City. Nolen went home, got a knife, and made his way to the company’s main offices. There he attacked one female employee, slashing her throat and completely beheading her. He then slashed another female employee as well. 

As he attempted to behead that second woman, Nolen’s attack was stopped when he was shot by the company C.O.O., who also happened to be a reserve sheriff deputy. An FBI investigation revealed that he had become radicalized, and used “Jah’Keem Yisrael” as his name on Facebook.

The following year, in July 2015, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez committed a pair of drive-by shootings at U.S. military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He killed four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor in the attack, injuring a police officer and a military recruiter.

 



Just four months later, Faisal Mohammad stabbed four people on the campus of the University of California at Merced. 

One month later, things turned deadly in California. A married couple, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik, entered a Christmas party in a banquet room at the Inland Regional Center with assault rifles. The party was being attended by dozens of employees with the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. The couple killed fourteen and injured two dozen. They fled and were killed hours later after a shootout with police that injured a pair of officers. It was the deadliest Islamic terror attack since 9/11.

If you thought that 2015 was bad, you hadn’t seen anything yet. The next year opened with a February 2016 attack by Mohamed Barry at the Nazareth Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. There he slashed four patrons with a machete. He fled, and was later shot dead by police following a car chase. It would be the first of two radical Islamic attacks in the city last year.

Four months later, in June 2016, came the Orlando, Florida shooting at Pulse, a gay night club. Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured another 58. This remains the largest radical Islamist shooting attack in U.S. history, and is second only to this year’s attack in Las Vegas as far as mass shooting casualties.



Five months later, in November 2016, the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Ohio State University was the scene of the second attack in Columbus, Ohio during 2016. The Department received a phone call regarding a fluorine leak, and so students were evacuated. 

As students and faculty congregated outside, Abdul Razak Ali Artan deliberately drove his car into the group. He then exited the vehicle with a butcher knife, and stabbed multiple people. He was shot and killed minutes later by responding police after injuring a dozen people.

An eerily quiet 2017 was ended on Halloween. That afternoon in Manhattan, Sayfullo Habibullaevich Saipov drove a rented truck onto the Hudson River Bike Path. He mowed down a number of bicyclists and runners over approximately one mile before crashing into a school bus. After fleeing the vehicle, Saipov was shot and arrested by police. Eight died and a dozen more were injured in the ISIL-inspired attack.



83 people dead. Hundreds injured, many left permanently disabled. All killed and wounded by individuals inspired by radical Islam and its jihadist ideology. All in the little more than seven and a half years since the last ‘Islamism Series’ piece was published.

Don’t let anyone try to tell you that this is not a legitimate ongoing threat to America. Inspired terrorists are out there right now, considering soft targets of all types. From sporting venues to movie theaters to concert halls, citizens need to be alert. 

There has been some version of a “See Something, Say Something” program happening in almost every community in our country over the last decade or so. More than that, Americans need to be prepared to respond, to act, if they find themselves and their family and friends facing a mortal threat.

As we move forward, I will continue to provide valuable information on radical Islam within this ‘Islamism Series’, and will cover major stories that inevitably occur involving these continuing jihadist attacks.

The Most Dangerous Woman in the World

However you may personally think that the most dangerous woman in the world is supposed to look, it probably is nothing like this 29-year old Northern Irish white mother of three.

Samantha Lewthwaite, also notoriously known as the “White Widow”, is arguably the holder of that ‘Most Dangerous Woman in the World‘ title. The current internationally wanted fugitive has certainly earned a nomination for the title.

She was born in Banbridge, County Down, on December 5th, 1983 to parents who met when her father, a British Army soldier, was stationed in her mother’s native Northern Ireland during the 1970’s.

The family moved to Aylesbury, a town about 45 miles northwest of London, when she was a small girl, and it was there that she attended school. But it was not to remain a happy family life. At age 10, her parents separated. Friends say that she was greatly affected and disillusioned by the split, and gradually sought comfort in relationships with her Muslim neighbors, whom she felt had a stronger family ethic.

During her teenage years she seriously began to turn to Islam herself, and at about age 17 she officially converted, taking on the name ‘Sherafiyah’ in her new faith. She enrolled at the School of Oriental and African Studies near the British Museum, and began work towards a degree in Religion and Politics.

Sometime in 2001, she ‘met’ a man named Germaine Lindsay online in an Islamic internet chatroom. They soon met in person, and by October of 2002 the couple married using Islamic names, ‘Asmantara’ for her, and ‘Jamal’ for him. Though using an official Islamic ceremony, the wedding did not take place in a mosque or other licensed location, and so was never officially registered. Her parents, who never approved of her conversion, did not attend.

The pair would have two children together (she is now believed to have 3-4 kids altogether), but much as her childhood, her own family was not destined for a life of happy togetherness.
On July 7th, 2005, Islamic terrorists carried out a series of attacks targeting civilian passengers on London’s public transportation system. There were more than 700 casualties in what became known as the “7/7 Attacks”, with 56 people killed, including the 4 suicide bombers. Germaine Lindsay was one of those radical jihadists.

In the aftermath, Lewthwaite at first became a sort-of cause celeb in the Brit tabloids. She reported him missing six days after the bombings, and when it was learned that he was one of the attackers, she denied any knowledge of his activities, and in fact publicly condemned them. She defended her husband as having been a recent convert who was tricked into complicity by extremists. The white local woman who had married a black Muslim was treated sympathetically in front page stories for a time.

However, interviews with her family members, and the continuing investigation began to reveal cracks in her story. Her own early life conversion became known, and a pre-7/7 association with Mohammad Sidique Khan, ringleader of the attack, came to light. At some point in the next couple of years, she met and married suspected Islamic terrorist Habib Saleh Ghani. In 2009, she had another child which was likely Ghani’s, though no father was ever named officially.

Around that time, Lewthwaite and her children simply disappeared. Reports had her in the north of England, and then somewhere in the Middle East or Africa, possibly in Tanzania or Somalia. In February of 2012, she re-emerged, or at least her identity did. Anti-terrorist police in Kenya issued a warrant for her arrest under the name Natalie Faye Webb, and it came to light that she was an integral player in the Al-Shabaab cell of al-Qaeda.

Investigators uncovered her diary, which among other things related that she was the “devoted wife of a mujihadeen” (holy warrior), and that as such she must be discreet, obedient, and must understand that “both he and his wife would be cut off from their families” while pursuing jihad (holy war.)

Subsequent investigations have revealed that she is a leader and organizer in the cell, not usually carrying out attacks herself directly, but a key cog in the important areas of fund-raising, weapons acquisition, concealing and transporting of individuals, and more. In March of 2012, the CIA joined the hunt for Lewthwaite, who would begin stepping up her activities.

In June 2012, patrons were crowded into a bar in Mombasa, Kenya to watch a Euro 2012 match between Italy and England. The bar was attacked by Islamists who tossed grenades, and a number of people were killed and wounded. She is now wanted as having orchestrated that attack.

Today, Interpol has issued what is known as a ‘Red Alert’ on the woman born as Samantha Lewthwaite. This amounts to an international warrant for her arrest. This month, the Westgate Mall in Nairobi was attacked by Al-Shabaab. Information has surfaced that 2-3 American natives were involved, as well as a Brit female who accompanied them. This is believed now to have been Lewthwaite.

Despite some reports that a white woman was found among the dead bodies at Westgate, believed to have been one of the terrorists, early speculation that this was perhaps Lewthwaite appear to run contrary to today’s Red Alert issuance. Was the ‘White Widow’ finally brought down in Kenya, or is ‘The Most Dangerous Woman in the World’ still out there, waiting to strike yet again? Time will tell.

The tale of Samantha Lewthwaite, the young girl born into a typical Northern Irish family, is the story of a criminal and a terrorist. But it is also a cautionary tale, representative of a growing problem: the changing face of radical Islam.

Young, middle-class, white natives of European countries, especially Great Britain, as well as Canada and the United States, being seduced into the Muslim ‘faith’, indoctrinated into radicalism, and growing into less conspicuous, and thus in many concrete ways more dangerous, allies in the Islamic Jihad against the west that continues today.

How Long Will We "Never Forget"?

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Syrian Cesspool

I put up this map of Syria as the primary graphic accompaniment to this story in order to show people just where the country is located in relation to the rest of the cesspool that is the Middle East.

Syria lies just to the northeast of Israel, our lone reliable ally in the region, and the single nation that we need to be concerned with helping there. It lies up against the western border of Iraq, still a dangerous place in itself, despite our efforts of the past decade.

Now, like every nation, Syria has a long, deep, rich history that cannot be perfectly encapsulated in any short blurb of a story. But perhaps most importantly, today it is the site of major internal conflict between the Islamic Sunni and Shia factions and their allies.

For nearly five decades, from 1963-2011, Syria was under Emergency Law, ostensibly due to the ongoing tensions and at times war with Israel over the Golan Heights. This effectively suspended most constitutional protections for its citizens.

Bashar al-Assad, currently accused by the Obama administration of using chemical weapons on his own citizens, has been President since 2000, when he took over the reigns from his father who had served for 30 years.

In December of 2010, what has become known as the ‘Arab Spring’ began, a series of both violent and non-violent uprisings, demonstrations, protests, riots, and civil wars across the Arab world.

The aims were to overthrow and end the rule of authoritarian regimes that were politically corrupt and that in many cases stood accused of committing human rights violations. The movement has resulted thus far in the overthrowing of regimes in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen.

In March 2011, the Arab Spring came to Syria in the beginning of the current civil war between Assad’s loyalists and members of the opposition group known as the ‘Syrian National Coalition’. In 2012, a new constitution was adopted that made Syria a semi-presidential republic.

However, for many reasons, including the history of the Assad regime, the SNC has been recognized by a number of nations, including the US, as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian peoples.

There is always an undercurrent of Islam in the Middle East, and this conflict is no different. The majority of the rebels are Sunni Muslims, while the government and its supporters are mostly ‘Alawites’, a branch of Islam closely related to the Shia school.

Explaining the differences of all these groups to non-followers is another article altogether. Look it up if you’re interested. But know this – they don’t like one another, and it goes back hundreds of years.

Despite the alleged new constitutional protections, most human rights groups rate Syria as “not free”, with torture, rape, arbitrary detention, kidnapping, censorship and other human rights violations considered the norm by the government. The government now stands accused of using chemical weapons last month against those sympathetic to the rebel cause.

Some 60% of the Syrian population identifies as Sunni, while just 13% are Shia, including President al-Assad’s family, which is of the Alawite faction of Shia Islam. Despite their national minority, Alawites dominate the government.

While the civil war has largely been between the Shia and Sunni factions, there has been a ‘shadow war’ against Christianity, with a number of Christian churches destroyed, and with the formerly 10% Christian population largely fleeing the country.

The bottom line in the civil war in Syria is power. The regime led by al-Assad is trying to retain it, and is apparently willing to use whatever means is necessary to do so. The SNC is trying to take it away, possibly to bring democratic freedom to the region, possibly to become dominated by Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, who have tried and failed to take over in Syria previously.

Do you hear much talk about the radical Islamists who run rampant on the rebel side, including al Qaeda? Didn’t think so, but that is a major factor that needs more discussion and consideration.

Right now, President Obama is backing the SNC. He has his publicly announced human rights reasons, and my belief is that he likely has some personal and/or religious reasons as well. But in any event, the wisdom of getting involved in any way in Middle East conflicts has to be questioned. If there is one thing that the world should have learned over the last thousand years or more is that peace is not coming to that region. We cannot pick winners and losers – they’re all losers, except for Israel.

The only position the United States should be taking, the only “red line in the sand” that we should be drawing, should be involving attacks and provocations involving the Israelis (or ourselves being attacked directly, of course.)

We are too dependent on Arab oil, that much is well-established, and we need to immediately begin addressing that dependency and drawing on alternatives, including those right here in our own region, in our own nation.

Entering the Syrian cesspool is, frankly, stupid and comes with little to no positive effect. Obama’s claim that they need to know “that we mean what we say” is nothing more than a call to allow him to flex his muscles. It comes with no lasting change, will allow al-Assad to laugh at us once it’s over and resume his activities further strengthened, and may encourage a wider conflagration of hostilities that ultimately draws in the Israelis, increasing the odds that we go in with ground forces.

Mr. Obama is naive to think that he can simply lob a few missiles at strategic sites and get the leader of a Middle East regime to cower to his wishes. There is only one way to eliminate those types of folks – go in and get them, as we did with Saddam Hussein. No one in the Obama administration has the stomach to do that here.

The United States policy should be to remain internally strong, maintain and increase our technological and military superiority over every other nation, bring home the vast majority of our war-weary troops and give them a much deserved and needed break from combat/policing situations, and remain engaged through a diplomacy that leaves no doubt of the true ‘red line in the sand’ around the Israeli borders.

There are human rights atrocities committed constantly around the world, not only in Syria and other nations of the Middle East, but in Africa, South America, Asia, and other areas. You don’t see us running in there with our military, lobbing missiles at encampments in those areas, and drawing a ‘red line in the jungle’, or a ‘red line in the snow’, or whatever that environment.

America needs to stop drawing so many ‘red lines in the sand’, and stay out of the cesspool that is the Middle East, this time in Syria.