The recent beheading of American journalist James Foley by a supposed British citizen and member of the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL, is just one of many reminders of the war on terror that are facing the United States and other countries around the world in the years to come.
ISIS, a self-proclaimed caliphate that is now attempting to claim religious authority over Muslims across the world and aspires to bring much of the Muslim-inhabited regions of the world under its political control, starting with Syria and Iraq, is a growing army of Islamic extremists that if not stopped, I'm convinced, will bring their war to the streets of our cities right here in the United States.
As someone that has followed this threat dating back to the late '70s and worked in Saudi Arabia when the American Embassy was seized in Tehran, and our military barracks was bombed in Beirut in October 1983, killing 305, and wounding 75, we as Americans have never been given a more chilling warning of beware than the one that came from His Majesty King Abdullah ibn Abdilaziz of Saudi Arabia just days ago.
Considered the most powerful Muslim in the world as the custodian of the two holiest sites of Islam, al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and the al-Masjid an-Nabawi Mosque in Medina, no one understands the threats posed by radical Islamic extremism to the rest of the world as King Abdilaziz.
King Abdilaziz warned that extremists could attack Europe and more if the international community doesn't engage in a strong international campaign to exterminate this threat.
Although His Majesty didn't mention ISIS or any other terror group by name, his concerns, and those of the kingdom, are clear, as Saudi Arabia has joined the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada, and other nations in designating ISIS a foreign terrorist organization.
The United Nations has accused the Islamic State of committing "mass atrocities" and war crimes, and for anyone that doubts their brutality, or if the images of James Foley's beheading weren't enough to catch your attention, all you have to do is peruse Facebook or a dozen other social media sites to see their savagery firsthand.
As Americans watch the events of James Foley's beheading, the growth of the ISIS army, and the implosion of the Middle East and Arab region unfold before their eyes on their television screen or computer, the importance or urgency of fighting this war is diminished by distance.
It's out of sight, out of mind, or just has nothing to do with us, and that is our greatest threat. That is what is going to hurt us the worst.
If the American people don't believe it can happen here or will happen here, they will never push our political leadership to fight the fight to exterminate this threat, and that will be our biggest mistake.
All you have to do is look at the history of the Islamic extremist movement against the West over the past 30 years. Forget the names ISIS, al-Qaida, Hamas, or Hezbollah, or any other for that matter. It doesn't make any difference anymore.
It is a sick and demented interpretation of the Muslim religion that promotes an ideology of hate, and calls for the demise of Israel, the annihilation of Christian, Jewish, and religious faiths other than Islam, and the death of the infidels — anyone who doesn't agree with or abide by their rule of Sharia law.
- 1983 — 305 killed, 75 wounded in the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut.
- 1993 — Six killed in the World Trade Center bombing in New York City.
- 1994 — Seven killed. including the hijackers of Air France Flight 8969.
- 1996 — 20 killed, 372 wounded at the Al-Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.
- 1997 — 68 foreign tourists killed at Egypt's Luxor.
- 1998 — 224 dead, 4,000 injured at the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
- 1999 — 293 killed in several bombing attacks in many Russian cities.
- 2000 — The USS Cole is attacked in the Yemeni port of Aden.
- 2001 — More than 3,000 killed, over 6,000 injured when four hijacked planes crash into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and into a field in Shanksville, Pa., flown by 19 hijackers.
- 2002 — 30 killed, 133 injured in a suicidal bombing attack in a hotel in Netanya, Israel.
- 2004 — 191 killed, 1,460 injured in multiple train bombings near Madrid, Spain.
- 2004 — 344 civilians, including 186 schoolchildren, killed in Beslan, Russia.
- 2005 — 53 killed by four suicide bombers, nearly 700 injured, in multiple bombing in London.
- 2005 — 64 people killed in bomb attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
- 2005 — More than 60 killed and 115 injured, by four suicidal attackers at three hotels in Amman, Jordan.
- 2009 — More than155 people killed and 520 injured in the Green Zone in Baghdad.
- 2012 — U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other American citizens are killed in Benghazi.
- 2013 — Three people are killed in a bombing attack at the Boston Marathon; two Nigerian men attack and kill a British soldier.
That was just a few . . . a very few reminders. So, with that in mind, and the recent messages from ISIS that they are here in the United States, that they intend to raise their flag above the White House, that the intelligence community insists that there are hundreds if not thousands of Americans, Brits, and other Westerners flocking to Iraq to join radical Islam's war against the West, and last but not least, that in 2012, a House Committee on Homeland Security report from the Oversight Subcommittee stated:
"U.S. government officials who are directly responsible for our national security continue to affirm the vulnerability. In August 2007, former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell stated that not only have terrorists used the Southwest border to enter the United States but that they will inevitably continue to do so as long as it is an available possibility.
In a July 2012 hearing before the full U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano confirmed that terrorists have crossed the Southwest border with the intent to harm the American people.
Additionally, the U.S. Border Patrol regularly apprehends aliens from the 35 "special interest countries" designated by our intelligence community as countries that could export individuals that could bring harm to our country in the way of terrorism." From Fiscal Years 2006 to 2011, there were 1,918 apprehensions of these Special Interest Aliens at our Southwest border.
For anyone to ignore this ever-growing threat that we face here on U.S. soil, you'd have be irresponsible and completely naïve.
We need to support the Kurds and Iraqi military, and get them the money and weapons they need to fight the enemy. We've got to go after ISIS' funding.
We need an enormous coalition of partners, like the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, and Australia.
Our coalition partners must also include Jordan's King Abdullah and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, two former distinguished military commanders who aren't shy about battling and exterminating internal threats . . . and in this case, a threat that is as much of a threat to them as it is to us.
King Abdilaziz's concerns and warnings over extremism are commendable, but don't think it's not also self-serving. This radical movement threatens the kingdom's crown, as it does the Emirates, Qatar, and every country in the Arab region and northern Africa. Many of these countries for too long either ignored this movement or furthered it through funding. It has now come back to haunt them.
Here at home, securing our borders, schools, malls, government buildings, transportation hubs, and tourist sites has never been more important.
David Cameron, prime minister of the United Kingdom, said it best:
"This threat cannot be solved simply by dealing with the perceived grievances over Western foreign policy . . . The root cause of the threat to our security is quite clear. There is a poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism that is condemned by all faiths and by all faith leaders.
"It believes in using the most brutal form of terrorism to force people to accept a warped world view and to live in an almost medieval state," he says, and adds that Britain is facing a "generational battle" against "poisonous' Islamist extremists, which is likely to last for decades."
But for the U.S. reader, Cameron left one thing out.
Britain isn't the only one facing a battle that is going to last for decades. It is our problem too, perhaps more than theirs.
If we don't address radical Islam once and for all, I am convinced that the savagery of James Foley's death will be played out right here in our own backyards, and then it will be too late.
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