Op-ed: Terror network in US protected by American reluctance to question loyalty of immigrants
In the immediate hours and days after September 11, 2001 it became clear to most Americans that the values of tolerance and democracy – cornerstones of the “American dream ” – for which countless immigrants have journeyed to this land are at risk. In the 12 years since 9/11, and in the wake of combat fatigue from Afghanistan and the Iraq wars, many have become complacent – arguing that there is no longer a threat to our values or our lives.
Yet, the seeming period of homeland tranquility is only a result of internal security measures designed to prevent similar attacks. The threat to American domestic security is real and what appear to be isolated violent incidents over time are in fact part of a more insidious pattern that can be traced back to the influence of al-Qaeda and Islamist extremist infiltration.
On the flawless bright spring day of April 15, 2013 – Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts – explosions rocked the peaceful and festive finish line of the Boston Marathon, where hundreds of spectators and runners celebrated on Boylston Street. Two homemade bombs using pressure cookers had one goal – killing and injuring as many in the crowd as possible.
The bombs generated massive casualties – including the deaths of three (one an eight year old boy); the media broadcast the all-too-familiar bloody and horrific depictions of severed limbs and traumatized victims seen before in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, London and Madrid : Attacks on civilians in peaceful, open spaces where the element of surprise catches everyone off guard.
Though authorities were reluctant at first to identify terrorism (of any ideology) as a motive, it became clear on the Friday following the Boston bombing when suspect photographs were released, that the specter of Islamist terror had once again breached American soil. As revealed in the FBI interrogation, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told investigators that he and his brother Tamerlan learned how to make the bombs from Inspire (an al-Qaeda Arabian Peninsula periodical featuring jihadi thought and terror methods).
A brother-in-law of the Tsarnaev brothers (Elmirza Khozhugov) stated that Tamerlan began visiting internet conspiracy sites as his Muslim faith became extremist. Tamerlan’s trajectory of radicalization suggests he was sympathetic to hard-line Salafi-Wahhabi currents – in other words, a proselyte of the al-Qaeda cause.
The Boston bombings shocked America – and the world. But the bombing of the Boston Marathon was far from an isolated incident of a naturalized American ‘gone bad.’ As with the 2002 attempt by US citizen Jose Padilla to detonate a ‘dirty’ bomb; the attempted bombing of Fort Dix in 2007; the June, 2009 Little Rock, Arkansas army recruitment office murders of two soldiers; the November, 2009 Fort Hood shooting (in which 13 were murdered and over 30 wounded); and the May 2010 attempted bombing of New York City’s Times Square – the Boston bombing was part of a pattern in which Islamist ideologues recruited, nurtured, and trained American citizens (or longstanding residents) to carry out violent terror acts against US targets.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev (L) and younger brother Dzhokhar (Photo: AP)
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