Excellent column by Mark Steyn in Today's Sun-Times:
Fortress America's gate is open
May 13, 2007
Most terrorists seem like bumbling losers if they're caught before the act: That's certainly true of the Fort Dix jihadists who took their terrorist training DVD to the local audio store to be copied. It was also true of the Islamists arrested in Toronto last year for plotting to behead the prime minister, one of whose cell members had a bride who wanted him to sign a prenup committing him to jihad. The Heathrow plotters arrested while planning to blow up U.S.-bound airliners included a Muslim convert who'd started out as the son of a British Conservative Party official with a P. G. Wodehouse double-barreled name and a sister who was a Victoria's Secret model and ex-wife of tennis champ Yanick Noah.
But then Mohammed Atta and the 9/11 gang would have seemed pretty funny if you'd run into them in that lap-dance club they went to before the big day where the girls remembered them only as very small tippers. Most terrorists are jokes until the bomb goes off.
So, when we're fortunate enough to catch them in advance, it's worth pausing to consider what they tell us about the broader threat we face. According to genius New York Times headline writers, "Religion Guided Three Held In Fort Dix Plot." You don't say. Any religion in particular?
Well, the trio were Muslims, but Albanian Muslims -- i.e., they weren't Arabs and didn't have names like Mohammed and Abdullah (though their accomplices did). Even if America were minded to profile, it's harder to profile against chaps with names like "Shain Duka" (Fort Dix) or "Richard Reid" (the shoebomber) or "Jermaine Lindsay" (a July 7 Tube bomber) or "Muriel Degauque" (a Belgian lady who self-detonated in a suicide attack on U.S. forces in Iraq) or "Jack Roche" (an Australian arrested for plotting to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Canberra).
Second, the young Duka brothers are "radical Muslim" sons in a family of otherwise "moderate Muslim" oldsters. That, too, fits a pattern of de-assimilation, of young Western Muslims far more implacable and hostile than their parents and grandparents. The London bombers were British subjects born and bred, radicalized in the vacuum of contemporary multiculturalism. One of the Toronto plotters had a father-in-law who was the pharmacist at the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry base. The Princess Pats have done sterling work in Afghanistan, and pop supports their mission. But his daughter doesn't, and she named his grandchild after a Chechen terrorist killed by the Russians.
Third, what then radicalized so many Western Muslims? Answer: in many cases, the Balkans. When Yugoslavia collapsed 15 years ago, Jacques Poos told the Americans to butt out: "The hour of Europe has come!" he declared confidently. Poos was the foreign minister of Luxembourg, a country as big as your hot tub, but he chanced to be holding the European Union's rotating "presidency" at the time and, as it happened, the Americans were very happy to butt out. "We don't have a dog in this fight," said then-secretary of state, James Baker.
Well, the hour of Europe came and went, and a couple of hundred thousand corpses later the EU was only too happy for Americans to butt back in again. So NATO bombed Christian Serbs in defense of Albanian Muslims, and a fat lot of good it did if the Duka brothers are any indication.
In theory, Baker was right. But out there in the Balkans, if you're one of the dogs in the fight, great-power evenhandedness can seem pretty one-handed by the time you hear about it. Don't take my word for it. Here's Osama bin Laden: "The British are responsible for destroying the Caliphate system. They are the ones who created the Palestinian problem. They are the ones who created the Kashmiri problem. They are the ones who put the arms embargo on the Muslims of Bosnia so that 2 million Muslims were killed."
Whoa, hold up there: How come a list of imperial interventions wound up with a bit of non-imperial non-intervention? Because, for serious nations, even not taking sides is seen as, in effect, taking sides. What was the single biggest factor in the radicalization of British Muslims? Omar Sheikh, convicted in Karachi for the kidnapping and beheading of Daniel Pearl, is British -- a Westernized non-observant chess-playing pop-listening beer-drinking London School of Economics student, until he was fired up by the massacres of Bosnian Muslims. And, while Europe dithered as the mountain of corpses piled up, Saudi money poured in, transforming the relatively mild Balkan Islam into something far more virulent. Look at the change in Muslim architecture in the region over the last 15 years: They build Wahhabist mosques now. Unlike the State Department complaceniks, the Islamists understand there is no stability.
Tough, you say. So what? Washington still has no dog in these fights. It's time to hunker down in Fortress America. Which brings me to the fourth lesson: What fortress? The three Duka brothers were (if you'll forgive the expression) illegal immigrants. They're not meant to be here. Yet they graduated from a New Jersey high school and they operated two roofing companies and a pizzeria. Think of how often you have to produce your driver's license or Social Security number. But, five years after 9/11, this is still one of the easiest countries in the world in which to establish a functioning but fraudulent identity.
Consider, for example, the post-9/11 ritual of airline security. You have to produce government-issued picture ID to the TSA official. Does that make you feel safer? On that Tuesday morning in September, four of the killers got on board by using picture ID they'd acquired through the "undocumented worker" network in Falls Church, Va. Half the jurisdictions in the United States issue picture ID to people who shouldn't even be in the country, and they issue it as a matter of policy. The Fort Dix boys were pulled over for 19 traffic violations, but because they were in "sanctuary cities," any cop who suspected they were illegals was unable to report them to immigration authorities. Again, as a matter of policy.
On one hand, America creates a vast federal security bureaucracy to prevent another 9/11. On the other hand, American politicians and bureaucrats create a parallel system of education and welfare and health care entitlements, maintaining and expanding a vast network of fraudulent identity that corrupts the integrity of almost all state databases. And though it played a part in the killing of 3,000 Americans, leaders of both parties insist nothing can be done to stop it. All we can do is give the Duka brothers "a fast track to citizenship."
The Iranians already are operating in South America's Tri-Border area. Is it the nothing-can-be-done crowd's assumption that the fellows who run armies of the "undocumented" from Mexico into America are just kindhearted human smugglers who'd have nothing to do with jihad even if the price was right? If you don't have borders, you won't have a nation -- and you may find "the jobs Americans won't do" covers a multitude of sins.
When I heard that the Dix Six were Albanian, I could only think back to the Kosovo War and our attempts to assist the Kosovo Liberation Army, previously thought of as a terrorist organization and subsequent removed from the list by the Clinton Administration. I specifically recall Geraldo Rivera traveling with the KLA across the Kosovo border. While we were bombing the Christian Serbs back to the stone age (which they deserved), we were propping up Islamist groups in Kosovo - which is 88% ethnically Albanian and Muslim.
It seems that in Islam, no good deed goes unpunished.
Meanwhile, the Leftists are dismissing the uncovering of the Dix plot - reverting to their usual suspicion that any terrorist related event, from the capture of the British sailors in Iraqi waters to the arrest of actual terrorists on US soil - must be staged by the US government.
ARC: St Wendeler