Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Commentary on the Times Square Car Bomb

The Times Square car bomb was a terrorist attack because it targeted innocent civilians. In previous posts, I have defined terrorism as a violent targeting of innocent civilians in order to intimidate the populace into acquiescing to the terrorists’ political demands (See my post “Terrorism” vs. “Militancy” from June of 2009). This attempted car bombing meets the definition of a terrorist attack not because of the tactic, but because of the intent and the target. The Times Square car bomb was carried out by militant Muslims against innocent civilians in order to terrorize innocent Americans into giving into their political demands.

The Times Square car bomb was a failed bombing, unlike the Christmas Day airplane bombing, which detonated. However, like the Christmas Day attack, it was not a failed terrorist attack (See my post Christmas Day Terrorist Attack Was a Successful, Not a Failed Terrorist Attack from December of 2009), as it succeeded in disrupting transportation and commerce and, more importantly, in terrorizing Americans.

United States law enforcement was able to track down the terrorist through matching a telephone number the terrorist used to its database. His arrest happened because the United Arab Emirates airline notified U.S. authorities of a suspicious passenger. These law enforcement tools and procedures were initiated by President George W. Bush – some of its many anti-terror policies the Obama Administration is following.

Law enforcement responded to the car bomb because of tips from alert citizens. It is often civilians who thwart terrorist attacks, such as in the Christmas Day terrorist attack and the attempted shoe bombing of an airplane in 2002. When the Bush Administration urged Americans to report anything unusual to law enforcement in order to prevent terrorism, its critics, claiming to be concerned about civil rights, accused it of urging Americans to “spy on each other” and lamented a supposed “loss of liberties” because of the War on Terrorism. Thankfully, good citizens ignored such nonsense and fulfilled their moral and legal duty to report suspicious activity, which helped protect American liberty from terrorists.

The Times Square car bomb is the latest in a series of jihadist attacks in the United States by militant Muslims during the Obama Administration: the shooting at the Arkansas military recruiting center, the Ft. Hood Massacre, the Christmas Day bombing, as well as a number of foiled terrorist plots. These attacks demonstrate the resolve of a determined enemy. Militant Muslims are opting for softer targets than before, but with the same strategy of terrorizing Americans through spectacular and deadly attacks.

That the enemy has been unsuccessful in carrying out its last two attempted bombings suggests either the difficulty in penetrating American security with simpler weapons, in the case of the Christmas Day bombing, and a lack of adequate terrorist training in the case of the Times Square car bomb. However, little solace can be taken from these failures as militant Muslims are likely to continue to attempt terrorist attacks on Americans. Therefore, all Americans must remain vigilant and the U.S. must continue to use appropriate law enforcement tools to preserve American liberty.

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