Based on what we’re learning about the plot, the cell, and how their plans were averted, National Review Online asked a group of experts: What’s the most important lesson we should take from the averted terrorist attack on Fort Dix?
There are three important lessons to learn about these six men. First, they seem to have taken to heart Abu Musab al-Suri’s advice to create a decentralized global Islamic resistance. Al-Suri — a key member of the al Qaeda leadership before his arrest last year — published a 1,600-page screed online in which he argued that every local jihad had failed, including those supported by al Qaeda, because jihadist groups had centralized control over their wars. The proper way to conduct a global guerrilla campaign, al-Suri argued, was to inspire men ideologically, give them training through the Internet, and then allow them to carry out attacks whenever and wherever they deemed appropriate. Al Qaeda’s leadership seems to have rejected this advice, and has spent the past two years attempting to bring local jihads under stricter, not looser, control. But Muslims around the world (including those who carried out the attacks in Madrid) have been inspired by al-Suri’s work.
Second, most of the men were Muslims (and Albanians) from the former Yugoslavia. While we may see our actions in this war-torn part of the world as one of our “good deeds,” in the jihadist conspiratorial vision of events, the U.S. was only involved in this conflict in order to kill Muslims. The intervention of foreign jihadis decisively turned the tide against the Serbs, not U.S. military action. It is also worth noting that extremist Islamic preachers have remained in Bosnia and Albania, winning converts to radical Islam and to jihadism.
Finally, the reports describe a video showing “ten young men” firing weapons, yet only six were arrested. This is not over.
– Mary Habeck is associate professor of strategic studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and author of Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror.
Victor Davis Hanson
The Fort Dix arrests raise the same-old/same-old script.
X-numbers of jihadists are caught trying to plot assassination, or to attack an airliner, or to take out a mall. They all will deny it.
Someone like CAIR will jump in, perhaps with the ACLU, alleging improper this and that; and the public after privately sighing relief and a few guarded grumbles along the politically incorrect lines of “Who in the hell let these people in this country?” will return to its normal state of amnesia.
And as long as these plots are not successful — or for that matter others like the recent Saudi effort to blow up an oil field, or those uncovered in Britain promising more killing — then we can have our hot-house arguments over whether we are really in a “war against terror” as we put scare quotes on anything associated with the notion of an Islamic threat.
But, if just one time, one of these plots succeeds and reaches a magnitude of 9/11 then the media will revert to form — suddenly dropping the “Bush took away our civil liberties” for “Bush didn’t do enough to protect us.”
And then, of course, the irony of it all can be seen in the profile of the suspects: Islamic terrorists from the former Yugoslavia, on whose behalf the U.S. bombed a European Christian country; illegal aliens at a time when those who object to the immigration crisis are considered nativists; a former resident of Jordan, a country showered with U.S. aid. At some point, we see how insidious are the effect of Middle East ingratitude, and how the envy and hatred of that region permeates its expatriates, the more so the United States has tried to help them.
– Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is author of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, among other books.