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Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016 and domestic terror: best-case and worst-case scenarios.

The international community enters 2016 in a state of turmoil that probably hasn't been matched since the Second World War.  The terror organization ISIS continues to expand its ability to impact peoples lives.  Yesterday, while police in Germany were disrupting a planned attack at a rail station, another terror group, The Taliban, detonated a bomb at a restaurant in Kabul, which killed at least three persons while injuring scores of others.  The Taliban is not ISIS, nor are Boko Haram and Al-Qaida the same organization.  But they have the same motivations, follow Islamic extremist ideology, and use the same targets.  Earlier in the week, while appearing on Fox News, I responded to a comment made by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, identifying ISIS as "a new group".  We can no longer allow our leaders to get away without making use of the tough but necessary labels.  ISIS is not a new group; they are a reconstituted organization that in 2005 was set up in Iraq to organize a resistance to the U.S. military presence.  By 2008/2009 they had lost all initiative had had not choice but to gather their remaining members and relocate to the deserts of eastern Syria.  And why not?  Syria was ripe territory for a terrorist group to lick its wounds, recruit, and adopt a new slogan.  When ISIS lectures about its desire of a new Caliphate, it is just as worthless as when the Taliban argues that it is only interested in getting westerners out of Afghanistan, or when Al-Qaida preaches that its goal is the removal of U.S. warships and influence in the Persian Gulf.  These separate "causes" are one of the many methods utilized by these groups to distract us into thinking that they can be reasonable, and negotiations might be possible.  The reality is that these groups in their core are no different from each other.  They are driven my an Islamic extremist ideology which has been selectively plucked from Quran for the sole purpose of mobilizing the Muslim world in a Holy War against all other religions.  Many still mistakenly believe that these fanatics are focused on destroying "Christianity and The West".  This war is not just taking place in Syria, Iraq, Europe, Africa and the United States.  Its also underway in far western China, as the Chinese government is forced to confront its own Muslim extremist population.  It is also brewing in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Indian Subcontinent.  This plague has succeeded in reaching every corner of the globe, and obviously its not only ISIS.  If we focus exclusively on ISIS, the phalanges of Islamic extremism, either as Boko Haram or Al-Qaida in the Maghreb, will continue to spread the virus. And if this scenario isn't scary enough, remember that this movement has had years to perfect methods of disguising how it raises and launders money, and also how it smuggles weapons and operatives from one country to the next.  No one abuses the goodwill offered to humanitarian organizations as effectively as Muslim extremists.

The best-case scenario would be the continued disruption of active terror plots and the apprehension of terrorists.  Our Law Enforcement Officers are the best in the world, and they are on-the-job 24 hours a day, while we sleep or watch the Sugar Bowl with our friends and families.  We will never know the stories about all the successes, believe me.  I was stateside on September 11, 2001, and I remember how quickly the Intelligence Community and Law Enforcement came together to respond to the threat.  In a matter of days, our men and women in local Police, Sheriff's offices, Constables, and Federal Law Enforcement started rooting out groups of people with plans to cause mayhem.  I'm not at liberty to discuss where, when, or how many, but rest assured that it is happening, even as I write this blog.  As for me, I'm praying for the best-case scenario.  I believe that anything is possible, and we can defeat this monster without having to endure any additional loss of life in our nation.  It may seem unlikely to some, but law enforcement all over the world successfully disrupted numerous attacks during the Christmas-New Years Holidays.  As the bad guys get better at what they do, we get better at finding them.  They are the ones who must hide like criminals, and there are still more of us then them.

In January 2016, our biggest concern has to be with the spread of ISIS and other terrorist groups to other parts of the world.  Areas of the third world provide extremists with ideal recruitment opportunities, and the lack of civil authority simplifies the need to remain clandestine as weapons are purchased and smuggled.  The United States does a tremendous job working with many third-world governments to locate and root-out terror groups, but administrations have a tendency to change quickly, and president so-and-so one day may not be as helpful as his predecessor was the day before.  Speaking of changes in administration, the United States will elect a new president in 2016, and the American people are already being subjected to endless promises from all the candidates regarding national security and foreign affairs.  This has no bearing on the job Federal Law Enforcement and the Intelligence Community faces today, in locating any terror cells presently in the United States, while at the same time preventing new ones from getting in.  At the moment, no one is talking seriously about the use of profiling to assist in identifying potential terror suspects.  But if the United States suffers from a string of terror attacks similar to what happened in San Bernardino, there is no doubt that people will be more willing to give up certain conveniences.  As we begin 2016, the worst-case scenario would be the activation of a string of sleeper cells throughout urban America.  I have no reason to believe that these cells exist in any great number.  I have great faith in our Law Enforcement and Border Patrol to keep us safe.  But in the United States, we love our liberties and have a tremendous history of welcoming visitors, and extremists won't think twice about abusing our courtesy.  But if we consider the worst-case scenario, and the United States is faced with terror-related incidents in numerous locations, we must remember what the enemy is trying to achieve.  They don't care about the number of people they kill; their only goal is to create a sense of fear in our nation that directly impacts the way we lead our lives.  We must let our Law Enforcement authorities do their job and deal with the terrorists directly, while we do everything that we can to stay out of the way and follow instructions.  For those of us without weapons, our job is just as important.  Once the dust clears, it is incumbent upon us to continue living our lives as we did the week before.  Go to the movies, go to the beach, go to dinner, celebrate a birthday, take a trip overseas.  We must keep our faith strong, support each other, and draw strength from the examples being set by those first-responders and soldiers in the field who remind us everyday what it means to be a brave American.  

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