They Will Explode Here
John L. Perry
Monday, October 20, 2003
What is it about terrorist bombs in Iraq and Israel that makes anyone think the day won’t come when they’ll be exploding in American cities?
Tempting Iraqi and Israeli targets are ringed by reinforced-concrete barricades and guarded by heavily armed security forces. Yet none of that stops anti-American terrorists willing to swap their worthless lives for footage in the latest television news coverage.
By comparison, similar – and even more-inviting – targets on American soil lie largely prostrate, vulnerable to bombings that don’t even put terrorists at mortal risk.
The World’s Richest Target
Of all nations on the world map, the United States is the ripest for attack by global terror, the most readily plucked.
Federal, state and local governments in this country are collectively investing billions of dollars and countless hours of earnest time in unprecedented efforts to intercept terror wherever possible and respond wherever that should fail.
It is private-industry executives, however, who are for the most part sitting back, watching as though they have no dog to protect in this fight, smug in the delusion that what terrorists are doing overseas won’t happen here in the good ol’ U. S. of A., and, if it should, there’s no way it could happen to them.
Leaving It to Chance
The analogy is as if private businesses, factories and institutions – including schools, universities, hospitals and houses of worship – were to budget zero funds for either fire insurance or fire prevention, instead relying for protection on the roll of the dice.
This is an unspoken, open invitation extended at this very moment in every city, large or small, all across this land for terrorists to step up and take their best shots at where Americans live, work, play and raise their families.
It can’t get much dumber than that.
Ho-Humming Through Terror
And it’s only a matter of time – precious little, at that – until the terrorist sleeper-cells embedded throughout American communities receive their wake-up calls, while the private sector slumbers on.
Counter-terrorism forces in Iraq and Israel make it difficult, albeit not impossible, for terrorists to strike in those lands, almost always with loss of terrorist life.
In this country, terrorists could inflict far-worse damage, at less cost and, worst of all, with greater ease.
No Martyrs Need Apply
There is within the pro-terrorist population within the United States a far less number of willing candidates for homicide bombings than overseas. But who needs to blow himself up in this country to inflict substantial damage?
Consider the practicality and frugality of remote-controlled detonation of explosives.
Next time you fly over any American city look out the cabin window. You will see mile after twisted mile of highways feeding heavy rush-hour traffic in and out, bumper-to-bumper targets for roadside bombs triggered remotely, such as those growing in popularity in Iraq’s Baathist Triangle.
It is today possible to drive right in and park a car, van or truck loaded with explosives at most American airport parking lots or garages and then walk away with no one the wiser.
Not a shopping mall in this land has anyone in authority paying the slightest attention to who parks what where. In fact, the whole idea is: The more shopper-parkers, the better for business.
Hospitals are astonishingly wide open to a vehicle containing who-knows-what pulling right up to the front door while the driver steps inside “for just a moment,” then exits by a rear door.
At most manufacturing facilities, you may drive right up to the main entrance, leave a vehicle in a handy “Visitors” slot and be out of there on foot before anyone suspects a thing.
Church and synagogue parking lots are jammed on religious holidays. Mothers in SUVs line up at public schools every weekday afternoon to fetch their children home. Ball games, from major leagues to youth soccer, are wide open to parked bombs-on-wheels.
At every one of those scenes, and a multitude of others, it is no big challenge for a dedicated terrorist with a modicum of training to leave an explosive package behind and detonate it with a radio devise no bigger than a TV channel-changer.
Different Kind of Horror
Not much damage when compared with two loaded airliners crashing into the World Trade Center, right? Wrong.
All it would take for one such bombing every two or three days in various locations around the country, and the American people would be in purple panic, commerce at a crawl and the economy on the ropes.
Don’t think for one moment that organized terrorists have not figured this out for themselves. Remember: The end goal of terrorists is to destroy Western Civilization by crippling America’s economic engine by terrifying its population into catatonic paralysis.
Overdue At Home
Anyone who thinks that’s exaggeration hasn’t read history or seen through the evening news. The miracle is that terror in this initiatory form – random, repetitive bombings – has not already spread from Baghdad and Tel Aviv to Bangor or Telluride.
What the new Department of Homeland Security is doing to tighten up America’s points of entry and coordinate counter-terrorism intelligence is of enormous help. And it will be even more so in the following months of this protracted nightmare of terrorism that’s only getting started.
But no amount of federal or state or city governmental intervention is going to stop determined terrorists from doing tomorrow in America what they are doing today in Iraq and Israel. Only the private sector, itself, can protect to the greatest degree its own most-vulnerable weaknesses.
Living a Fantasy
The problem lies not in having enough physical means or know-how to do this job. All that exists in ample amount, just awaiting application.
What’s missing is a mind-set in the culture of American private businesses and institutions that acknowledges the threat, recognizes their own vulnerability and has the old-fashion business common sense to invest in adequate counter-terrorism assessment and practices.
There are right now in America highly intelligent, seasoned practitioners of the tried-and-true art of counter-terrorism. A number of private concerns is engaging them, to good advantage.
However, most of America’s public as well as private counter-terrorism funding is going instead into theoretical research by academics who haven’t a clue or a day’s practical experience of how to prevent a terrorist attack.
You can bet the terrorists, who already possess reality-proven bombing tactics, aren’t frittering away any of their time or money on theoretical research.
Terrorist bombings will happen here. Then will follow a God-awful clamor to “do something” … after it’s too late.
John L. Perry, a prize-winning newspaper editor and writer who served on White House staffs of two presidents, is a regular columnist for NewsMax.com.
Original NewsMax article
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