Opinion: U.S. must do more to fight radical Islam

April 24, 2013


The last time there was a terrorist attack on America, we got the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration. Each entity has spent billions to keep us safe, but neither could stop two brothers, Tamerlan, a permanent resident, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a newly minted U.S. citizen, who lived in America and, reportedly, became radicalized jihadists, from killing and maiming innocent people at the Boston Marathon last week.

According to Dana Priest and William M. Arkin of The Washington Post, “Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States. ... An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances. ... In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings -- about 17 million square feet of space.”

All of that failed to prevent the Boston bombings. The massive manpower, sophisticated equipment and money could not stop the Tsarnaevs from constructing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including “pressure cooker” bombs. Despite a domestic army of federal, state and local forces, the suspects managed to evade capture for days until Tamerlan was killed in a shootout and David Henneberry, a Watertown resident, found Dzhokhar hiding in his boat in his backyard. Henneberry called 911 and the wounded suspect was taken into custody.

The media have reported on the backgrounds of the two men. The FBI interviewed the older brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan, at the request of a foreign government, probably Russia, which expressed concern about his ties to Chechen extremists. The FBI, reportedly, could do nothing about Tamerlan under current U.S. law because there was no direct evidence of a terrorist plot.

How much confidence should Americans have in their government for keeping us safe when two young men can wreak havoc, shutting down a major city?

One thing the U.S. government should decide is whether or not to allow people into America from countries where radical Islam and “jihad” are taught. The hope has been that letting them live here would lead them to become more like us, more accepting of our way of life. In fact, their stay in America seems to have reinforced a radical brand of religion and its worldview that are intended to destroy countries like America whose freedoms and “libertinism” they despise.

The UK Daily Mirror reported Sunday that the FBI was hunting a 12-member “sleeper cell” they say is linked to the Tsarnaev brothers. Quoting a source close to the investigation, the Mirror reported, “We have no doubt the brothers were not acting alone. The devices used to detonate the two bombs were highly sophisticated and not the kind of thing people learn from Google.”

More must also be done to curtail the admission of radical imams and the construction of mosques and Islamic schools where hatred of America, Jews and Christians is preached and taught. How many sleeper cells are there in America? They must be found and dismantled. As offensive as this may be to some sensibilities, it is either that, or the offense of more terrorist attacks by people who hate us and are willing to die in the pursuit of goals they believe are dictated by their god.

How many more Americans must be killed and wounded before we fight back, not just overseas, but here? Our enemies are fighting us here. It’s our country, not theirs. We must fight for it.

Osama bin Laden’s announced intention was to conduct a “war of a thousand cuts” against America to harm our economy and permanently change our way of life. If he can see from Hell, he must be pleased about the way things are going.

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


Paul R Getto 1 year, 11 months ago

Works both ways, sir. Some countries are banning our MIC terrorists, like Rummy and the Dark Lord Cheney. Fair is fair, eh?

Liberty275 1 year, 11 months ago

Why should we care who other countries ban?

Kendall Simmons 1 year, 11 months ago

Agree with what??? His magical thinking demands like "How many sleeper cells are there in America? They must be found and dismantled"?? What on earth does this foolish man think we're trying to do now?

Or do you agree with his outrage that we couldn't keep two individuals from wreaking havoc. Good grief. Hindsight is a wonderful thing...for pretending you know what coulda/shoulda/woulda happened.

Do you really want us to become a country where the government knows everything each of us is doing so as to "protect" us? Cal apparently does.

Liberty275 1 year, 11 months ago

You have enough keywords there to get everyone in this forum put on the no-fly list. Thanks. I don't like flying anyway.

voevoda 1 year, 11 months ago

Cal Thomas himself often condemns the US as it is, and insists that it must change or it will be totally destroyed. He despises the US government. He claims that he is motivated by a religious world view that is superior to any other, and he advocates suppressing religions different from his own. Although he says that he is in favor of freedom, he has no qualms about trampling his fellow citizens' Constitutional rights--the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and (perhaps most onimously) the principle of innocent until proven guilty. Cal Thomas' worldview is remarkably similar to the "jihadists" (as he calls them).

jonas_opines 1 year, 11 months ago

I wonder if, going back through Cal Thomas's editorial archives, we'd ever find something of this nature on, say, a gun control column:

We must resist these attempts by the government to control our freedoms in order to make us safer, because those intent on criminal action will find ways around our laws.

The argument has some validity in both cases.

Cal has written enough about constitutional freedoms -- of speech, religion, etc. -- that he should feel ashamed to have written this. Or, he should simply, openly admit that what he wants is freedom for himself and those who think like himself, rather than freedom for everybody.

jonas_opines 1 year, 11 months ago

"Osama bin Laden’s announced intention was to conduct a “war of a thousand cuts” against America to harm our economy and permanently change our way of life. If he can see from Hell, he must be pleased about the way things are going."

I mean seriously, the irony dripping from this is palpable. Osama would be smiling because his goal was to harm our economy and "permanently change our way of life"? Cal, you're ADVOCATING a policy that would permanently change our way of life!

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

You can't un-ring a bell that has already tolled. Decisions that were made 50 years ago, or 100, or 200, decisions we had no part of, continue to have ramifications throughout that region.

Shall we stay out, and watch, like in Syria? Shall we watch a country implode with significant civilian loss of life? Or shall we intervene, as in Iraq, replacing a brutal despot who killed his own people by the thousands, with our own regime, with even greater loss of civilian life?

The bottom line is this. There are no good answers. I would be equally uncomfortable watching from the sidelines as a genocide takes place as I would be intervening with the risk of another, different genocide.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

The U.S. tried a policy of isolationism between the world wars. We were eventually drawn in and the world was not better off for our isolation.

I'll stick to my opinion that we're damned if we do and damned if we don't.

50YearResident 1 year, 11 months ago

So you are saying that only .001% of Muslims know where America is?

50YearResident 1 year, 11 months ago

I agree, pull all of our troops out of the Middle East and let Nature take it's course. I think that is the best solution too!

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

A few days after Chernobyl, we found radiation in our drinking milk. When they start lobbing all their nuclear weapons, bringing about their prophecies of armageddon, what will we, sitting thousands of miles away, put on our cheerios in the morning?

Liberty275 1 year, 11 months ago

"what will we, sitting thousands of miles away, put on our cheerios in the morning?"

Soy milk,

voevoda 1 year, 11 months ago

You are confused about who "they" are, jhawkins. Chernobyl is in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union. Not Muslims. Muslims do not have prophecies of armageddon; that is a Christian idea. So who will be lobbing nuclear weapons?

Liberty275 1 year, 11 months ago

I think he meant Israel and Iran. Maybe Egypt.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

My point was that once the missiles start flying, it'll be hard to contain them. And the radiation released won't respect any borders.

One nut job kills one little archduke in Sarajevo and the next thing you know, you have a world war with tens of millions dead. If you think we've learned any lessons from that, or if you think we're somehow smarter now, you're wrong.

My mistake, Muslims don't have armageddon. They have suicide bombers who believe they'll be rewarded with (I forget the number of virgins).

verity 1 year, 11 months ago

I know the vicious pushback I will get on this, but, yes, part of the problem is that we are interfering in places and lives that we have no right to. One might ask the question, How would we feel if another country interfered with us the way we do in other countries?

notaubermime 1 year, 11 months ago

"How would we feel if another country interfered with us the way we do in other countries?"

We would probably come up with something like the Monroe Doctrine.

verity 1 year, 11 months ago

Your clever little answer does not address my question.

How would you react personally?

notaubermime 1 year, 11 months ago

Well obviously, I would turn myself into a homicidal maniac and go on a killing spree until I was shot dead by the cops.

Of course, you could look at it this way: the average American citizen is just as manipulated as are the people in foreign countries are (if not more so). The people in the US military are no less of pawns than the terrorists they are being sent to fight in places like Afghanistan. This isn't a dilemma of Americans versus terrorists, it is the American leaders who are manipulating us (while they sit in luxury) versus the Al Qaeda leaders who are manipulating the terrorists (while the leaders sit in relative luxury). Life exists through competition. The urge to manipulate others is merely a form of this competition. No society on the scale of that of the United States has been, and possibly cannot ever be free of people who are driven by this urge.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

There's your problem, KsLib., you keep looking at U.S. policy and see the glass as half empty. Someone looking at it as half full might point out that we've removed evil leaders in Germany, Japan and Italy. They might say that Iraq's leaders were evil and we removed them. Same with Serbia. Panama. We played a small part in removing a pretty bad guy in Libya. The list goes on.

But you're right, we've installed and supported some pretty bad guys ourselves. It's been a mixed bag, really, as we bumble and stumble along.

Give credit where credit is due and give blame when it's due.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

What a shocking response. Compare our two posts. You put things in absolute terms (the U.S. never frees anyone from evil dictators). I then pointed out instances where we did, but then concluded that we should give credit when due and blame when that is due. You read that as me never, ever, seeing our screw ups and an attack on you. The only thing I'll attack is your reading comprehension.

Liberty275 1 year, 11 months ago

That's an interesting question. "have no right" is the easy part. I think that if we have a treaty with other countries that compel us to defend them, then we are bound to do so by law. South Korea would probably be a good example, as would Kuwait.

If we believe alqauaida committed terrorism against our country and the government of Afghanistan was giving the people that funded that operation safe harbor, then we can let them get away with it, or we can take their country. I generally side with "take their country", otherwise you become a perpetual victim.

tolawdjk 1 year, 11 months ago

Sorry Cal, I'm not going to agree to chip away at personal freedoms because for gun control and I'm not going to chip away at personal freedoms because someone half a world away doesn't believe in the same things I believe in.

Laws don't stop criminals.

verity 1 year, 11 months ago

There is something that keeps bothering me. Two day after the attack in Boston, a fertilizer plant exploded in Texas.

Reuters - "Wilson said 50 to 75 homes were damaged by the explosion and a fire that followed, and that a nearby 50-unit apartment complex had been reduced to "a skeleton standing up". Muska put the number of destroyed homes at between 60 and 80. . . .

The fertilizer plant that exploded on Wednesday, obliterating part of a small Texas town and killing at least 14 people, had last year been storing 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). . . .

Yet a person familiar with DHS operations said the company that owns the plant, West Fertilizer, did not tell the agency about the potentially explosive fertilizer as it is required to do, leaving one of the principal regulators of ammonium nitrate - which can also be used in bomb making - unaware of any danger there."

The Dallas Morning News reported that among the dead were at least 11 emergency responders, three of whom were training at the time of the blast to become EMTs. They valiantly rushed to the growing smoke plume that could be seen for miles around the small community of 2,800 people. It would be, as the paper said, "their last call."

Approximately 200 people were injured by the blast.

One has to make a point of looking for news about this while the Boston tragedy is continuously all over the news. This looks to be a worse tragedy in terms of people killed and injured, and was apparently caused by greed and by the company not following the law. No, they didn't plan to kill people and destroy lives, but they knew that could happen and they took that chance. The end result is the same, whether it was intended or not. Living in the midwest, I feel I have more to fear from this sort of lawlessness than from terrorists.

My question is: Why is the Boston bombing judged so much worse when fewer people were injured and killed?

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

The answer to your question, verity, is intent. The intent of the Boston bombers was not just death, it was terror.

You criticize the owners of the fertilizer for being greedy when they stored more of a potentially dangerous chemical than was allowed. Fair enough. But we can say it's greed that prompts the fast food industry in serving unhealthy food. And the heart disease it causes probably kills more each day than the fertilizer plant. Greed doesn't have the panache of terror. Cars kill more every day, but it too fails to grab our attention compared to terror. Nothing shakes us up more than terror. And that was the intent of the bombers. The deaths they caused was nothing but a means towards that end.

jonas_opines 1 year, 11 months ago

So we're basically letting them win by reacting the way we do, right?

50YearResident 1 year, 11 months ago

You should know the answer to your own question. It is not "what" happened it is about "who" caused it to happen. Is that so hard for you to comprehend? Accident? or Terrorism? Choose one.

verity 1 year, 11 months ago

The term "accident" gets thrown around way too much and certainly is misused, as in "it was an accident, so it couldn't be helped." This fertilizer plant fire and explosion need not have happened, the owners were disobeying the law and they knew what could happen. The people are just as dead or injured. When I am dead, I don't think it will matter how I got that way.

You're asking me to make a false choice.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

I think it's you who are making a false analogy. Perhaps the owner of the plant knew of the risk. Perhaps he should have known, but for some reason didn't. Not that that means he's not responsible. But I would think that there's a very, very high likelihood that he in fact believed that no such accident would happen. Obviously he was wrong. But to suggest that he actually thought this would happen is a giant leap of logic, turning the owner into a mass murderer. I've heard nothing to suggest that that's where the investigation is going.

Then you compare that with people who did intend for people to die. Their actions clearly demonstrate that fact. And while the investigation is in it's infancy, the shooting of two policemen, killing one, and the subsequent shootouts and bombs being thrown shows that it was their intent to kill.

Sometimes people die. It's horrible when it happens. But really, verity, your comparison of these two separate, unrelated events is way off base.

asixbury 1 year, 11 months ago

My husband, a chemist, used to work in a warehouse that contained many explosive, hazardous materials improperly stored. If these chemicals caught fire, almost a square mile of Olathe would be gone, with nothing but a massive crater to indicate where the warehouse once sat. He noted this to his management and they fired him (used other excuses, of course). He said this kind of thing happens a lot in this industry, due solely to greed. The people who ran the fertilizer plant knew what they were doing was wrong and could cause major devastation. I'm sure their safety officer, if they had one, took note of the issues. They chose to ignore the safety concerns in the name of profit.

asixbury 1 year, 11 months ago

He was asked what needed done to improve the lab safety, since he was the safety officer, so why do you think he said something? Also, he has called OSHA.

Why the hate? You seem pretty agitated. My point simply is that the people who ran the fertilizer plant most likely knew the chemicals weren't stored properly. In fact, one of the news stories I watched indicated that they had cited them before for safety violations.

verity 1 year, 11 months ago

Actually, you were kind of hateful---at least that's the way I read it. You certainly seriously insulted her husband, calling him a dummy, etc. and making assumptions that he didn't do his job.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

Interesting that you mention that your husband called OSHA. I was listening to NPR a couple of days ago. They mention that the last OSHA inspection of the plant that blew up in Texas was done 28 years ago.

So, we want to blame greed? How about we blame Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan? How about we blame bureaucracy?

Of course, in my opinion, we should investigate first, and then place blame wherever that investigation leads. Call me crazy.

asixbury 1 year, 11 months ago

We should blame both greed and OSHA for not doing their jobs. OSHA didn't do anything about my husband's complaints either.

verity 1 year, 11 months ago

From what I've read, OSHA has not been fully funded and only has the people to do a small fraction of the inspections that need being done, not just on this but pretty much everything.

And we do already know that the amount of explosive material stored at this plant and not reported as required by law was way above the limit.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

As axisbury noted, OSHA was called and did nothing, despite her claim that the situation was quite bad. And as I noted above, OSHA hadn't inspected the Texas plant for 28 years. Has OSHA been underfunded for all of those 28 years? Longer? Perhaps they are nothing more than an inept government bureaucracy, one that has long since outlived their usefulness. I'm not sure what extra profit there is to be made by making this type of plant more dangerous, more potentially explosive. I would guess that if this was an industrywide problem as axisbury suggested, then their insurance premiums would wipe out any potential profits. Of course, that's all speculation at this time. as I said above, perhaps we ought to wait until an investigation is completed and then make our judgements.

verity 1 year, 11 months ago

You seem to be the one doing all the speculating. You might try researching the subject before you make the kind of specious speculations you are making.

Try googling Texas fertilizer plant explosion. I'll help you---this is from the Christian Science Monitor, which has a reputation for credible reporting.


Or just read my quote above from Reuters.

Liberty275 1 year, 11 months ago

People hate us an will try to kill us. We accept that an move on. In the meantime, we need to do all we can giving full weight to laws that give wide latitude to the people's rights.

We don't change because people want to kill us, we do what we are compelled to and try to stop terrorists from killing us. Win some, lose some.

If terrorism is something we should worry about, the terrorists have already won.

jafs 1 year, 11 months ago

"There are no good answers" "Damned if we do and damned if we don't" "If you think we learned anything (from WWI), then you're mistaken"

The worldview espoused in these comments is a rather negative one, leading to apathy and cynicism.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

Despite the truth being unfortunate, the truth is still the truth.

jafs 1 year, 11 months ago

Your worldview is not composed of truth and facts, from my perspective.

It's constructed by selective information, and selective weighting, combined with a commitment to it.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

Feel free to point out my posts that are untruthful or when my facts are incorrect.

verity 1 year, 11 months ago

This article is off the front page, so probably nobody will see it, but I'm posting it anyway.

Huffington Post published "Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion: Stories Of Victims Of the Blast ." I feel like they are also worthy of notice. Most of those who died were first responders who were trying to control the fire that led to the explosion. They are certainly as much heroes as any dealing with the tragedy in Boston.


Liberty275 1 year, 11 months ago

Huffpo, Fox news, Pravda. whatever. You need better sources.

Anthony Mall 1 year, 11 months ago

Mother on the watch list, felony warrants in this country, and one brother already interviewed by the FBI and nothing happen... that is until the explosion that was a direct attack against innocent people for no reason. Syria is now accused of using chemical weapons on their own people and the world watches on television, he murders and makes his own people starve and everyday we watch... You didn't see radical Muslims complaining in the 80's when the United States was giving them weapons, didn't see them complaining the US stepped in to help Kuwait from being taken off the map, and I never saw kids running when soldiers give them water and food... Radicals exist for every religion all over the world. The radical Muslims (extremely rare) live and think that Christians are the devil, infidels, root of evil, and dirty because we touch with our left hand. They believe when they die taking a few with them that they will get virgins (think 72) and live in paradise.. these radical groups teach people views much like Mormon extremist brain wash their followers, or David Koresh (typo?), Jim Jones, and Manson... The difference is that radical Muslims (again very rare) use explosives and attack for the purpose of killing innocent people, ruining lives, and causing chaos... Unfortunately there is not a lot that can be done other than try to prevent the next one and hope.. the FBI/Military/CIA/ATF/Homeland defense/NSA/and informants have to right 100% of the time, terrorist only have to be right once...

Kyle Seiwert 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm personally a little more concerned with the thousands of people that die at the hands of guns every year than the once a decade possible attack from a Muslim. But maybe I'm the crazy one. Daily Show ran a great piece the other day on how Faux News (and their ilk) couldn't wait to just shred the Constitution over this Boston attack. Sounds like Carl feels the same way.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

So Faux News is unreliable while the Daily Show is?

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

Oh, I absolutely agree. I'd throw in Colbert and MSMBC as well. Colbert being the funniest, in my opinion.

notaubermime 1 year, 11 months ago

The Daily Show is on Comedy Central for crying out loud. It isn't like they are trying to pass themselves off as serious news. Same with the Colbert Report. Maybe we should restrict our estimations of reliable versus unreliable to the programs/stations that are actually trying to pass themselves off as legit.

Kyle Seiwert 1 year, 11 months ago

Ah yes, someone who doesn't understand what the Daily Show is. First, all I said was that the Daily Show ran a piece on Faux News, which was clips from Faux News, so I would call that a reliable piece on Faux News. Second, the Daily Show, since you've clearly never watched it, doesn't report news stories. Technically, neither does Faux News (unless you count propaganda and lies as "news"). What the Daily Show does is point out the ridiculousness of "news media" and what a joke Faux, MSNBC, and CNN especially have become. So, what again are they supposed to be "unreliable" about? Showing clips from other stations? If that's the question, then yes, they are reliable.

Kyle Seiwert 1 year, 11 months ago

Doh! And I meant Cal, not Carl. Although some dude somewhere named Carl is probably wrong about this.

Armstrong 1 year, 11 months ago

We must practice tolerance for the Muslims, only a few of them have committed acts of violence while we blame all. Blah, blah. Let's apply that to gun owners.

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