Because of smoke and “pop, pop, pop” noises coming from the Nissan Pathfinder parked in the heart of Times Square, alert street vendors knew to flag down a police officer, averting catastrophe.
While the celebration that has ensued is understandable, the incident this past weekend is actually a sobering reminder of just how vulnerable we are.
The combination of aggressive law enforcement and plain luck have prevented any major, successful attack in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001, but we cannot expect our good fortune simply to continue indefinitely.
Even though the Pakistani Taliban has claimed credit for the car bomb, there is no evidence as yet to substantiate their boast. It should be of greater concern, however, if a “lone wolf” had come that close to wreaking havoc on perhaps the most instantly recognizable neighborhood in America, if not the world.
Consider that Times Square is the hardest of hard targets, with highly trained police officers on every corner. Not only that, but it’s in the center of a city protected by the New York Police Department’s counterterrorism unit, which is easily the best in a local police force, and arguably even more effective than the FBI’s.
Yet, had the bomb been made correctly and detonated as presumably intended, a “significant fireball” could have claimed dozens or even hundreds of lives on the busiest night of the week in Times Square.
As heroic as the street vendors and the responding police officers were, luck was still the single biggest factor in averting disaster.
Luck has been essential in several close calls. The Christmas Day underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was able to get his explosives past security, but it was our luck that he could not ignite his bomb. Similarly, shoe-bomber Richard Reid evaded security, only to fail in detonating his explosives on the flight.
In October 2005, University of Oklahoma student and Islamic convert Joel Hinrichs III detonated himself less than 200 yards from the football stadium during a Sooners football game. Over 80,000 people were inside. It stands to reason that Hinrichs, who reportedly attended the same mosque as the would-be 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, had something much grander in mind than mere suicide.
Since Sept. 11, there have been more than 800 terror-related arrests in the United States, according to New York University’s Center on Law and Security. The onslaught is constant.
Two key factors have enabled law enforcement to protect us:
First is that most of the plots thus far have involved either existing networks or people reaching out to terrorist networks or known radical communities, giving the FBI a chance to monitor or infiltrate the terrorist plots.
Second is a cultural shift away from the mentality that prevented the FBI from seeking a search warrant to inspect Mr. Moussaoui’s laptop, which the agency had in its possession nearly a month before September 11.
Unfortunately, both of these ingredients are endangered. Radical messages of Islamic victimization at the hands of an evil America (or an evil Israel, with the help of America) abound on the Internet and in Muslim communities across the U.S.
The sense that the Islamic world is under attack by the West has been the stated motivation of most captured jihadists, who believe they are acting quite nobly, as they see it, in defending supposedly defenseless fellow Muslims.View Entire Story
By Rand Paul
Obama acts as though we no longer have a Constitution