Apr 05, 2012
By DAVID FREEDMAN
This morning as I sipped my morning coffee and read the morning newspaper, I was greeted with the news that Al Qaeda had posted on some of their Internet forums a graphic of New York stating, “Al Qaeda coming soon again in New York.”
Now I am a realist. This has been a rough year for the Al Qaeda boys. Leadership keeps turning up dead in some not so nice ways, courtesy of our men and women in uniform and without a dynamic leader, the job of terror is far more disjointed and uncontrolled. Whether Osama Bin Laden really was running the show in the end or not, does not matter. As long as he was alive, Al Qaeda lived through him and the momentum, even though diminished, inspired new converts to the hate and the violence.
In the past two weeks, we have seen a new rising of the bar from Al Qaeda. Pointless violence is successful, because in fact, it is not pointless. Killing innocent children and a rabbi in Toulouse, France seems pointless when looked at as a lone event. But when viewed through the lens of Al Qaeda internet forum threats and with the additional news that synagogues in Riverdale have been targeted, these events present a pattern that the smoldering phoenix has awakened and is poised to make a large and convincing statement.
So what do we do? All of the police agencies, the spy agencies and all of the National Security apparatuses are overtaxed now, trying to process all the threat scenarios. We must not be so arrogant as to believe that we are smarter than the terrorists. 9-11 happened because, despite the growing evidence, we as a country did not accept the basic premise that these terrorists were organized and smart. Somewhere in our collective heads, we saw them as backward and not savvy and thousands lost their lives. Even now, there is an underlying attitude that they are “just not that bright.” We see someone like the shoe bomber as a Bumbler, rather than realizing that, hey, he got on the plane and could have blown it up, but for the help of some very conscious people.
Many times, when I stand in Penn Station waiting for my train in the evening, I look around and wonder if today will be the day someone sets off a bomb in the station. There are thousands of people milling around and the handful of police and soldiers on duty would be hard pressed to stop any determined person. But like all of us, I push the thought back in my brain and sip my coffee, because the implications of it are too horrific to imagine. But it could happen anywhere, a stadium full of people, a subway, Times Square on New Year’s Eve. I think that it has not happened again is testimony to the dedication of law enforcement. But it is a race against time and apathy. It has been 11 years since 9-11 and with each passing year, the memories grow slightly dimmer. Al Qaeda knows this. Their world view is centuries. To them waiting 10, 20, 30 years to do it all over again is just part of the strategy.
As we go into the Passover and Easter holiday period, let us remember that this is a time for extra personal vigilance by each and every one of us. If you see something unusual, say something. If you are suspicious, say something. Don’t go out looking for trouble, but if it seems to present itself, don’t swallow your thought, let someone else who can make the determination, make the call.
Have a happy and healthy holiday! May it be a time of peace and redemption for all of us!
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