Terrorism Strikes Home Again

Terrorism Strikes Home Again

Terrorism strikes home again!  Although early reports from traumatic and violent events are often incorrect the location, timing and fact that there were two explosions targeting the finish line of the 117 year old Boston Marathon seem to confirm that it was a terror attack and not a gas explosion or other type of accident.  Having experienced the horror of improvised explosive devices (IED’s) and rocket attacks my heart goes out to those who were victimized by or had loved ones victimized by this cowardly attack.  Please keep the victims and the victim’s families in your thoughts and prayers as well.

Yesterday’s attack was a sad reminder that terror can strike here as it has so many times before.  Consider this partial list of attacks on U.S. soil from InfoPlease:

Boston Marathon1920

Sept. 16, New York City: TNT bomb planted in unattended horse-drawn wagon exploded on Wall Street opposite House of Morgan, killing 35 people and injuring hundreds more. Bolshevist or anarchist terrorists believed responsible, but crime never solved.

1975

Jan. 24, New York City: bomb set off in historic Fraunces Tavern killed 4 and injured more than 50 people. Puerto Rican nationalist group (FALN) claimed responsibility, and police tied 13 other bombings to the group.

1993

Feb. 26, New York City: bomb exploded in basement garage of World Trade Center, killing 6 and injuring at least 1,040 others. In 1995, militant Islamist Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and 9 others were convicted of conspiracy charges, and in 1998, Ramzi Yousef, believed to have been the mastermind, was convicted of the bombing. Al-Qaeda involvement is suspected.  [Andrew’s Note:  This is the Ramzi Yousef that Egypt’s new leader has promised his constituents that he’ll see freed and brought home to Egypt…with allies like this who needs enemies?]

1995

April 19, Oklahoma City: car bomb exploded outside federal office building, collapsing wall and floors. 168 people were killed, including 19 children and 1 person who died in rescue effort. Over 220 buildings sustained damage. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols later convicted in the antigovernment plot to avenge the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Tex., exactly 2 years earlier.

2001

Sept. 11, New York City, Arlington, Va., and Shanksville, Pa.: hijackers crashed 2 commercial jets into twin towers of World Trade Center; 2 more hijacked jets were crashed into the Pentagon and a field in rural Pa. Total dead and missing numbered 2,9921: 2,749 in New York City, 184 at the Pentagon, 40 in Pa., and 19 hijackers. Islamic al-Qaeda terrorist group blamed. (See September 11, 2001: Timeline of Terrorism.)

2009

June 1, Little Rock, Arkansas: Abdulhakim Muhammed, a Muslim convert from Memphis, Tennessee, is charged with shooting two soldiers outside a military recruiting center. One is killed and the other is wounded. In a January 2010 letter to the judge hearing his case, Muhammed asked to change his plea from not guilty to guilty, claimed ties to al-Qaeda, and called the shooting a jihadi attack “to fight those who wage war on Islam and Muslims.”

2010

May 1, New York City: a car bomb is discovered in Times Square, New York City after smoke is seen coming from a vehicle. The bomb was ignited, but failed to detonate and was disarmed before it could cause any harm. Times Square was evacuated as a safety precaution. Faisal Shahzad pleads guilty to placing the bomb as well as 10 terrorism and weapons charges.

May 10, Jacksonville, Florida: a pipe bomb explodes while approximately 60 Muslims are praying in the mosque. The attack causes no injuries.

2011

Jan. 17, Spokane, Washington:  a pipe bomb is discovered along the route of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial march. The bomb, a “viable device” set up to spray marchers with shrapnel and to cause multiple casualties, is defused without any injuries.

1. On Oct. 29, 2003, New York officials reduced the number of people killed at the World Trade Center in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States by 40 names. The list of casualties dropped to 2,752 from 2,792 for a variety of reasons: some people initially reported missing have been found, there were duplicate names, there was no proof that a person was at the World Trade Center that day, and because of fraud. On January 2004, the number was reduced by 3 more to 2,749.

As I mentioned, this is a partial list and should be amended to include the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, the 2001 Anthrax, the Theodore Kaczynski (Unabomber) attacks from 1978 to 1995 as well as numerous others but even with this latest terrorist attack, those of us who live in the United States are fortunate.

We are fortunate to live in a country where such an attack still surprises.  Citizens of Israel, the Philippines, Iraq, Egypt, the United Kingdom (U.K.) and numerous other countries haven’t been so fortunate and in many ways have learned to deal with the threat of terror attacks better than we have.  Unfortunately, some countries like the U.K. have done so by building a security apparatus that would be the envy of a maximum security prison.

While our national dialog will undoubtedly return to how to secure large public gatherings remember that there is no such thing as perfect security.  Yes, we must take prudent security precautions but for every inch of false security we create… we give up of a foot of our freedom.  If you doubt this fact…consider the largely false security you have while traveling by air.  You undoubtedly feel safe in the air because of the tremendous security gauntlet all must pass through before boarding the plane…yet that security gauntlet often creates a larger concentration of people then could be found on any single plane.  This crowd just outside the airport’s security perimeter (the metal detectors) is a soft target created by the very security that was implemented to protect from the threat.  Think about that for the minute…the most dangerous part of flying is getting into security.

There are other lessons to learn from this cowardly attack.  If I were a member of the opposition I’d be taking note of the response to this attack and initial reports state that Boston closed all their bridges and tunnels crippling transportation and stranding tens of thousands of people in downtown Boston.  How might future attacks capitalize on this transportation shutdown…more importantly…what can you do to make sure that you aren’t cut off and vulnerable by the transportation shutdown?

Pray for the victims, pray for the families, pray that we bring the coward(s) to justice…but by all means take prudent steps to protect yourself and your loved ones…even knowing that perfect security is unattainable.

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