President, London Center for Policy Research
Two weeks ago, a Bangladeshi man reportedly inspired by ISIS set off a pipe bomb strapped to his body sowing mass chaos in New York’s Port Authority, but fortunately causing few, if any injuries. It is believed the terrorist detonated his low-tech device prematurely.
Governor Cuomo said, “This is New York, the reality is that we are a target by many who would like to make a statement against democracy, against freedom.” Yes, but this was not a statement. This was an act of terror designed to instill panic.
Press Secretary Tyler Houlton said the terror suspect entered the U.S. in 2011 from Bangladesh on a chain migration visa and is a legal permanent resident. The suspect had a history of extensive overseas travel.
This most recent explosion is the second ISIS inspired attack in New York City in less than two months. On October 31 a terror attack killed eight people and injured eleven others after a man drove a rented truck into people walking and cycling on a bike path in lower Manhattan.
Sadly, many New Yorkers are growing accustomed to violence. As one person noted this is “the new normal.” However, the best way to combat terrorism is to be conscious of your surroundings and observe that which is different or unusual.
Cuomo noted that people should go back to work, “we are not going to allow them to disrupt us.” But disrupt they have. The entire west side of Manhattan was paralyzed. If panic is the goal, this terrorist met his mark. Chaos prevailed.
It is obvious that an open society like New York is vulnerable to terrorism even when military presence is on the streets. There is only so much that can be done to prevent incidents like this one from occurring.
Despite the usual appellation this terrorist like so many others was not a “lone wolf.” He needs the emotional and ideological support of a “system.” This is where ISIS comes in. As a terror group ISIS provides the logistics and even the rhetoric for terrorism. It is the beast that yields the dragon’s fire.
Terrorism does not emerge from a vacuum. It needs energy, funding, a distribution system, an ideology or philosophy. That is true of the moment just as it was true of the anarchists at the beginning of the twentieth century. The other factor that unites terrorism is its subordination of life to an ideology. For the terrorist, killing is a necessity to bring about his brave new world of the caliphate. For the Salafist, Allah has exalted the soldiers operating in his behalf whether they fly planes into buildings, drive trucks into crowds and plant bombs in bus terminals.
For the U.S. to effectively negate terrorism we need the reassertion of our own ideology, one that breathes the air of liberty. Too often Americans have relied on relativism, rather than the assertion of our traditions, to oppose extremism. That is not an answer; that is a pose. The answer lies in who we are and how this nation was created. That in itself won’t stop the terrorist devoted to murder and mayhem, but in time it will be the shield that sets back his anger and our vulnerability.