It’s at once a frightening and tragic statement to claim America is fighting a “war without end.” Yet I believe that’s indeed what our nation faces, for if any one single lesson can be drawn from our collective experience on that 11thday of September some12 years ago now, it’s that terrorism today is so murky and decentralized no one is quite sure when or where – nor against whom – an attack will be launched.
Take the Boston Marathon bombingthat occurred earlier this year. Two brothers –Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev– made homemade bombs out of pressure cookersthat killed 3 people and injured 264 more, some severely.
The authorities later said the two were “self-radicalized” jihadists who basically took it upon themselves to conduct what they hoped to be an extended terror campaign against civilians. Fortunately, FBI agents and local law enforcement personnel identified both three days after the bombing with a manhunt and resulting gunfight leaving the eldest of the two – Tamerlan – dead with Dzhokhar wounded and in custody.
The Boston Marathon Bombings – which followed the 2012 attack on U.S. personnel at our nation’s consulate in Benghazi, Libya– reminded me yet again that terrorism plots against Americans remain alive and well, even if “self-hatched” by deluded maniacs like the Tsarnaev brothers who relied on the U.S. welfare systemfor support.
Indeed, that harkens back to one of the more disturbing aspects of the 9/11 attacks back in 2001: those 19 terrorists trained in part on U.S. soil for over a year, learning to fly jumbo jets in U.S.-based flight schools and using memberships in U.S. health clubs to boost their physical fitness in preparation for hijacking those passenger planes. [You can read more details about the overall 9/11 attack plan here.]
Indeed, the 9/11 terrorists also turned existing airline “security protocols” against us; commandeering the planes and pretending to use the passengers as hostages before crashing them into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.
Yet despite the horror committed that terrible day, a change occurred in the average American’s view of terrorism: one that, as I’ve noted in this space before, the terrorists probably never expected. As information about the attacks flowed quickly through our nation via cell phone, Americans realized the need to fight back – and fast. That’s why the fourth plane hijacked on that terrible day – United Airlines Flight 93– never reached its intended target.
The Boston Marathon bombing also showed another side of the American character when faced with terrorism: the ability to band together quickly and save lives. So many of those 264 lived despite terrible wounds because ordinary Americans jumped right in the staunch the flow of blood, calm frayed nerves, and help assist the stricken to medical facilities.
Don’t forget, too, just how fast law enforcement ran down the heinous Tsarnaev brothers either. Those two probably thought they had plenty of time to commit more such hideous crimes; I’m sure neither expected to be fighting for their lives less than 72 hours after they set off their explosives.
Indeed, that is the strength that I believe will carry our nation forward through what often seems like unending dark times, that will sustain us no matter what political stumbles occur in Washington D.C.
Everyday Americans I think are now very well aware of what kind of world we live in now when terrorists can pop up at almost any place and time to commit acts of horrific violence. And the example set by them on Flight 93 and in the aftermath of the Boston bombings means to me at least terrorists may discovertheir twisted missionswon't play out as they think.