Tuesday, January 13, 2015

TOP STORY >> Terrorists here and overseas

Leader editor-in-chief

“Do not fear sudden terror or the destruction of the wicked when it comes.”


Three million people marched in France on Sunday, along with leaders from around the world, but high-ranking officials from the United States skipped the stirring protest against worldwide terror.

The heads of state from France, Germany, Britain, Spain, Italy, Israel, Palestine and Mali, along with the King of Jordan and others marched arm in arm, but President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry were absent, sending only our ambassador to France to represent us at the historic march.

Attorney General Eric Holder was in Europe during the march, but he, too, skipped the event.

The White House admitted Monday somebody more prominent than our ambassador should have marched with some 40 world leaders. President Obama and his wife Michelle Obama would have made quite an impression on the French, as did President Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy when they visited Paris and turned Charles DeGaulle, a reluctant ally, into a genuine admirer.

Kerry now says he will interrupt his overseas travels and go to Paris on Thursday, although a bit late to show the world that the United States considers the war on terror as important as the fight against fascism and communism, which we won with a little help from the French.

My wife was inside a Jewish grocery store in Miami as the hostage drama was taking place at the kosher supermarket in Paris on Friday morning. She was getting cookies for my mother and the staff at the assisted living center where my mother lives. An employee there remembered my mother, a Holocaust survivor, who used to shop there and insisted on giving her and the staff a bag of cookies as a gift.

Contrast that small gesture of kindness with the Moslem terrorists who killed four hostages inside the supermarket, a female police officer the day before and seriously injured a jogger in a park. Earlier in the week, two Moslem brothers killed four cartoonists and eight others at Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, including two police officers, bringing last week’s death toll to 17.

France has now put 10,000 police officers and soldiers at Jewish schools and other potential targets. French authorities say several members of the terror cell responsible for the Paris atrocities are still at large. Two of them slipped away to Turkey and into Syria.

Eradicating terrorism may be more difficult than winning a world war because the enemy is everywhere: Boko Haram terrorists in Africa force 10-year-old girls to blow themselves up in crowded markets. Boko Haram wipes out entire villages, killing 2,000 just last week.

Terrorists have struck closer to home, setting off two bombs at the Boston Marathon in 2013, killing three people, including a boy, and injuring and crippling more than 200. The Tsarnaev brothers almost certainly received some help in their native Chechnya.

The shooting at the Army recruiting station in Little Rock in 2009 killed Pvt. William Long, 23, of Conway and injured Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula of Jacksonville, who was then just 18.

Abdul-hakim Mujahid Muhammad, 24, aka Carlos Leon Bledsoe, reached for a cheap Chinese semiautomatic rifle and started firing at them. He had come back from Yemen, where he absorbed radical Islam in mosques and in classrooms.

Although he is serving a life sentence for murder, he was not charged with terrorism. His father, Melvin Bledsoe, thinks his son is a terrorist.

“My son was programmed and trained to kill by radical Islam,” he said during the trial. Jihadists “stole my son. They raped his mind. They changed his thoughts; they changed his behavior…and they manipulated him. He is no longer Carlos. He is Abdulhakim. I ask God to give me my son back.”

Prosecutors decided Muhammed was not a terrorist, which may be the reason why Ezeagwula and Long have not received their Purple Hearts.

Some of these terrorists may have received training from al-Qaeda or ISIS or Boko Haram, or they may have trained on their own, but the message is the same and the results are just as deadly.

The killers who thought they could put Charlie Hebdo out of business were mistaken. The staff that survived the massacre put together the new edition at another newspaper this week and printed 3 million copies in several languages — about 50 times the usual press run.

Charlie Hebdo has outlived the terrorists, but other terrorists are certain to strike again. It takes courage to publish under such circumstances, but journalists continue their work despite death threats around the world.

Many have lost their lives, and others are in prison. No ideology or government should force a newspaper to close. As Richard Kluger, the author and a former journalist, says, “Every time a newspaper dies, even a bad one, the country moves a little closer to authoritarianism.”