311_Faisal Shahzad Times Square bomber.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Unremorseful and smirking, failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad told the US
court which sentenced him to life on Tuesday that “the war of the Muslims has
just begun,” adding that “the defeat of the US is imminent, God willing.” He
warned that “more attacks are coming.”
Indeed more attacks are now
forecast for Europe, a fact which has motivated the Americans to issue broad
travel-advisories to Europe-bound tourists and produced a farcical sideshow
whereby EU states issue such advisories against each other, while assiduously
downplaying the risks in their own bailiwicks.
Thus Britons have been
warned about visiting France’s major tourist attractions. The French, in turn,
have retaliated by warning their nationals against using British public
transport, arguing that London’s trains and buses are likelier targets than
Germany, also covered by America’s blanket warning, has
feigned ignorance of any menace on its soil.
There must be scornful
sinister laughter wherever it is that al-Qaida lynchpins hatch their plots. It’s
not only al-Qaida and the Taliban, moreover, who rub their hands with glee.
Other terror masterminds proliferate, many linked to Iran and Syria, including
the likes of Hizbullah and Hamas. While the international community may be leery
of al-Qaida, it tends to be incongruously tolerant of Hamas and Hizbullah,
presumably because they are perceived as “only” targeting Israel.
they are part of the international terror infrastructure.
To a great
extent we are all in the same boat – even if many Europeans are loath to admit
THE BURLESQUE of reciprocal travel advisories doubtless inspires
much gloating among all terrorists, who can derive satisfaction from seeing
their task at least partially accomplished before they ignite a single
The West is already psychologically terrorized, which is what
terror by definition aims to do.
The terrorists can mess with our minds
and unsettle our routines, as palpably evidenced by vague advisories that name
no names, focus on no cities or indicate no specified dangers. The call for
vigilance by tourists in foreign destinations is altogether
It’s hardly likely that outsiders can spot anything untoward
or do much about it. In a sense, visitors are being warned away from all rail
terminals, airports, hotels, museums and public gathering points.
potentially could deal a killer blow to tourism.
The resultant economic
damage can, in the long run, be crucial especially as recovery from the recent
recession is slow and arduous. As Israelis, we’re painfully aware of the havoc
wreaked by panic-promoting imprecise advisories.
WE BY no means pooh-pooh
even nebulous signals, but ill-defined counterproductive advisories aren’t the
way to preempt aggression. Foremost, the world needs to own up to the fact that
it’s at war. It must cease kowtowing to terror-sponsoring states and to
terrormongers within western societies. Political correctness may have to be
eased. Simple steps like allowing profiling at airports can make the importation
of terror much more difficult and hazardous for the conspirators.
are ways of curtailing the exploitation of western freedoms by those seeking to
destroy the very societies which so generously and universally bestow such
Like the 9/11 perpetrators, and others who have followed,
Shahzad enjoyed the bounties of American hospitality. Yet in a tape he prepared
in Pakistan before his attack, Shahzad declared that war with the West is
underway, that he is “a Muslim soldier,” that Muslim soldiers like himself are
numerous and that they will be victorious.
Perhaps it’s time we take such
testaments seriously and treat them as relevant warnings, rather than one
extremist’s ranting. The temptation throughout the democratic world is to regard
terrorists as felons and deal with them as the system would with any common
outlaw. But terrorism is no individual crime. The world has been at war for
years, considerably before 9/11. Still, President Barack Obama and others reject
war-on-terror terminology despite compelling, tangible evidence.
to acknowledge the war isn’t without consequences.
The worst is the
attendant failure to respond properly to belligerence – to indiscriminate
threats against the physical safety of ordinary folks, as well as to their way
of life and values.