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What Do We Know, and What Does It Say about Terrorism?


With the caveat that everything we know about the suspects in the Boston Marathon attacks is preliminary, as is any analysis, Steve Emerson, founder and executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, talks about what happened, what it may mean, and what’s next.

Q: What do you make of the bombing suspects? 

A: The two brothers came here ten years ago to join their extended family under asylum, in keeping with our immigration policies that allow all family members to join other family members who have gained asylum. The FBI found more explosives and radical literature in the apartment in Cambridge of the dead brother. At least a dozen other members of the clan lived at that complex in Cambridge as well. Their Facebook pages suggest that they had been secular but became radicalized here.

Q: Are you surprised something this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often?

A: I am surprised that Chechnyan terrorists would ever do something here, but they became profoundly religious Muslims so their motivations may have been more Islamic than Chechnyan. 

Q: Is this “terrorism”? Is the government doing what it should to prevent domestic terrorism?

A: It is terrorism. And no, the government — the Obama White House – has been coddling and appeasing Islamic militants for the last four years. What fuels Islamic terrorism is the paranoid narrative that the “West is engaged in a war against Islam.” That is the narrative the Muslim Brotherhood drives, and is promoted by groups our government has legitimized. The downplaying of the danger of Islamic terrorism by this administration has consequences.

Q: What worries you the most about the potential terrorism here at home? Can this be prevented? 

A: I don’t think these types of attacks can be totally prevented. I’m also worried that this type of successful attack will embolden others. 

Q: How could media better handle stories of potential terrorism?

A: The media has done a pretty good job, contrary to the conventional wisdom that they’ve done a poor one. This was a moving story, minute by minute. Such a story is naturally going to have reports that are instantly reported which may turn out to be erroneous later. Indeed, law enforcement makes similar mistakes in similar types of fast-moving investigations, too. I do, however, fault liberal media and Islamic groups for inducing some self-censorship by warning news reporters and commentators off speculating who the perpetrators might be. 

Q: Where do we, a country that once announced a Global War on Terror, stand in this regard? What is the state of terrorism in the world?

A: Terrorism is a staple of life in the modern world. World War I was started by a terrorist. But there are several things that could be done to lessen the possibility of successful attacks: We need to have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to countries that exhort and promote violence against Jews, Christians, the West, Israel, and the United States. A more aggressive policy here in the U.S. against those funding or providing material support to Islamic militant groups should be restored. Islamic terrorism is responsible for carrying out 70 percent of all terrorism around the world ever year for the past decade, and terrorism more generally is going to continue and worsen as new adherents join Islamic terrorist groups, and explosive technology gets more advanced, more lethal, and more easy to manufacture.

Q: Should this influence our immigration debate at all? 

A: Yes, we need to be doing much more aggressive background checks on those coming from countries that spawn terrorism. 


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