Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Oklahoma City and Lessons on Fighting Terrorism from Within

British law enforcement has confirmed that at least one and probably all of the terrorists who struck London last week were British citizens. Shehzad Tanweer was born and raised in Britain, enjoyed cricket and blew himself up on a train near Aldgate Station, London. Few even knew he was involved in radical Islam.

Violent Islamic extremism is a world-wide problem. But, as British Prime Minister Tony Blair said today, it’s shocking that the London terrorists were British citizens. What kind of ideology leads a man to blow up his own countrymen? I don’t have a great answer, but I do know it’s happened before and it’s happened here. Oklahoma City 1995.

While the ideologies of Timothy McVeigh and the London terrorists are clearly divergent, their methods were the same. Should Britain’s reaction be the same now as ours was then? Everyone has made it a point to strongly express the truth that the vast majority of Muslims in Britain and elsewhere are good, decent people. But how about the extremist Muslims? Should they and their Mosques be treated with tolerance or should they now be the subject of harsh suspicion?

After Oklahoma City, few Americans took issue with the crackdown on the militia groups across the country. Law enforcement action plus a great upsurge of public condemnation all but ended the militia movement, with the number of active groups falling from 370 in 1996 to 68 before the turn of the century.

Any similar crackdown on religious groups would pose a serious problem for Britain or any other democratic nation. But Britain and other nations know who the radical clerics are and they know which Mosques are preaching hate. The key is turning the public against these terrorist enablers—and not just turning the average Brit against them, but encouraging the British Muslim community to harshly and regularly denounce them as well.

One of the reasons the American militia movement was allowed to grow so large and so radical was that many people and states tolerated them. We stopped that. Just like I think us Westerners must stop tolerating the extreme Islamic sects operating openly in our midst. Citizens of all religions and no religion should offer up harsh condemnation and nations should step up law enforcement against these groups.

I am fully aware that targeting a specific religion comes with the potential of crossing lines of freedom that shouldn’t be crossed. But the terrorists' brand of Islam is not much more than fascism in the guise of religion. We should not and can not confuse Islam with the Islamic-based fascism of al Qaeda and their allies. That would be like confusing Christianity with the Ku Klux Klan. And I know few who think we should tolerate the KKK.

We can only do so much to fight terrorism abroad. But Western nations can do a lot more to fight terrorism coming from within.


At 2:53 PM, Blogger J. James Mooney said...

And I know few who think we should tolerate the KKK.

That depends on what you mean by "tolerate." If the ACLU will defend NAMBLA (National Man-Boy Love Association), then I believe they would more than tolerate the KKK and their right to preach their hate.

What I believe you're saying is create an environment where these clerics are judged guilty in the court of public opinion, not the court of law. This is a difficult task to do as the rift widens.

At 3:04 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

There's a difference between tolerating and acknowledging a group's legal right to exist.

But you're right about this being difficult. How do you separate normal Muslims from dangerously radical ones? I think a lot of this will have to come from the Muslim community itself. I would never abide by a KKK member living next door to me and nor should Muslim commmunities abide by these Islamo-fascists in their midst.

At 3:42 PM, Blogger Rob Jackson said...

What do you mean you wouldn't abide by a KKK member living next door to you? Would you move? Would you somehow force him to move? What about a former KKK member? What about a former grand dragon? What about a convicted sex crime offender living on your block who's fresh out of prision? Would you buy him a house in someone else's subdivision?

At 4:04 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


I was thinking more of an active KKK member whom I knew was going out and burning crosses or plotting a lynching. Just because they were my neighbor and we were both Christian wouldn't mean I would hesitate to turn them in.

And even if I didn't know for sure that they were plotting something, knowing they were KKK would be enough to make me want to keep my eyes open.

At 5:15 PM, Blogger Rob Jackson said...

Yeah, I got a little carried away there. That post was actually the third post I wrote. The first two had more to do with our desire to identify dangerously radical Muslims (if we can define what it means to be dangerously radical) and the comparison between our reactions to Ok City and 9/11, which I don't believe were that comparible.

Any crackdown that happened after Ok City was a result of militias doing illegal things. If Radical mosques are breaking the law, then that's one thing...but having radical ideals isn't against the law unless they represent an imiment threat.

At 5:31 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Well a lot of the crackdown didn't involve arrests. It just involved a lot of inspections, warrents and general harassment. Usually I'm very against that kind of thing, but once a group or its allies blow something up, harsh policing is in order, I think.

But I don't know if those tactics will work against a sect of a religious community. And I'm not sure what the British were doing law enforcement-wise before last week. That's why I think the bigger change has to be how common people (particularly Muslims) treat these groups. That's where the real connection to the militas come in. Before Oklahoma City, being a milita person was just a little weird. Afterwards, it was considered dang-near psychotic.


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