Wednesday, April 24, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Terrorists elude FBI

The terrorist attacks in Boston last week were our nation’s fifth intelligence failure since 9/11. Even though the FBI had received warnings about the perpetrators in advance, they eluded capture until after they killed and injured scores of Americans.

One of those terrorists hit close to home in June 2009, when Carlos Bledsoe of Memphis (aka : Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad) shot and killed Pvt. William Long, 23, of Conway and seriously wounded Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula, 18, of Jacksonville while they were standing in front of an Army recruiting station in west Little Rock. The FBI knew about Bledsoe’s meetings with al Qaeda in Yemen, yet he made his way to Little Rock and gunned down the two young recruiters, one of them paying the ultimate price.

A few months later, Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan, 39, an Army psychiatrist, killed 13 people and injured dozens of others at Fort Hood, Texas. He was supposed to go to Iraq, but he told several people that no Muslim should fight along Christians and Jews against other Muslims.

There’s a similar pattern in every attack: The perpetrators meet up with radical elements overseas or at their local mosques. Complaints are made about their erratic behavior, but the FBI, lacking more evidence against a possible threat, can’t make an arrest until it’s too late.

Bledsoe should have been picked up in Memphis months before the Little Rock shooting. He’s serving a life sentence.

The Tsarnaev clan, the ethnic Chechens who immigrated here a decade ago, brought with them a culture that was crushed after years of wars with the Russians who ruled over them

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, the ringleader of the Boston terror attacks, was on the FBI’s radar, especially after the Russian intelligence services warned the U.S. last year about Tsarnaev’s trip to his native Dagestan in the north Caucuses. It’s a hotbed of terror where he could have learned how to make explosives. It’s amazing he was allowed to return.

Russia has wiped out the Islamic separatist movement in the region, but they’re always on the lookout for trouble. Not long ago, Russians killed a local terrorist whose video Tsarnaev had posted on his YouTube channel.

Tsarnaev returned to Boston, but he couldn’t become a U.S. citizen after he beat his girlfriend, which isn’t a big deal back home. He should have been deported right away. Immigrants have been kicked out for lesser crimes.

His brother, Dzhokhar, 19, who set off one of the bombs, is just as depraved and ruthless. After they were cornered by police Thursday night, he tried to run over his brother with a stolen SUV. Tamerlan had explosives strapped around his body, but they didn’t go off. He died in a hail of police bullets.

Dzokhar, who was found hiding in a boat Friday night, was close to death but has made a rapid recovery at Beth Israel Hospital and is cooperating with police. He’s accused of setting off weapons of mass destruction and is facing capital murder charges for killing a child and two young women at the marathon and a campus police officer. The survivors who lost their limbs will present compelling testimony at Tsarnaev’s trial.

No one is accusing the FBI of doing a lousy job when it comes to fighting terrorism. The bureau has prevented hundreds of potential attacks, but stricter guidelines could prevent future Tsarnaevs, Carlos Bledsoes and Maj. Hassans from killing more Americans.

Terrorists will continue to target us even if 99 percent of them are stopped in hopes that one of them will succeed. Perhaps the FBI should hire 1,000 more agents and watch out for troublemakers who are as deranged as the Tsarnaev clan — sequestration be damned.