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The Blue & Gray Press | August 25, 2019

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America Continually Within Terrorists' Crosshairs


For many millennials, the most memorable line of President Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural address was when he referred to the leaders of the Muslim world.

“We will extend a hand if you will unclench your fist,” said Obama.

The pre-Obama daily news cycle almost always included a gruesome story from the Middle East. However, on that January morning, many people in my generation felt the pages of history were turning, and that, finally, the Muslim world would embrace the United States as a friend.

Regrettably, that has not been the case. The events of the last week have made it abundantly clear that anti-Americanism and political Islam are still prevalent and potent in the Muslim world.

In Libya, on the eleventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, gangs of radical Islamists scaled the walls of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and murdered four Americans. Among the victims was America’s ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, who had arrived just three months earlier armed with nothing but unbridled ambition for the country’s budding democracy.

On Sunday, the first democratically elected president of Libya, Mohamed el-Magariaf, suggested that the attacks where preplanned and coordinated by al-Qaida’s deadly North Africa branch. He said that, last month, al-Qaida militants from neighboring Algeria and Mali had slipped past Libya’s abysmally dysfunctional border security service. On Libyan soil, they hatched a plot to attack American diplomats. The attack was in retaliation for a drone strike that killed a senior Libyan al-Qaida leader.

Last week, a crude, unknown YouTube video mocking the prophet Mohammad sparked riots in the Middle East. This, coupled with embarrassingly low security at the embassy, created a perfect cover for al-Qaida’s attack.

Unfortunately, these bloody protests were not confined to Libya. Cities from Tunis to Sana’a were set ablaze by outraged Islamists. US embassies, consulates and private businesses were targeted. The American embassy in Cairo, Egypt was stormed by Islamic radicals and the American flag was torn down, burned and replaced by the black banner commonly associated with Al-Qaida. Even a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Beirut, Lebanon was destroyed by arsonists.

The protesters had no idea that the video, titled “The Innocence of Muslims,” was produced by a shady clique of Egyptian Coptic Christians living in California, and that almost no Americans had heard of it, or would have ever heard of it, if not for last week’s protests. Many in the Muslim world, where anti-blasphemy laws are still enforced, do not understand the concept of lawfully protected derogatory speech.

An Egyptian protester holding a sign that said “Shut Up America,” told the New York Times, “Obama is the president, so he should have to apologize! We never insult any prophet—not Moses, not Jesus—so why can’t we demand that Muhammad be respected?”

These protests bring back the memories of the 2006 Mohammad cartoon catastrophe that exploded across the Muslim world. After a Danish newspaper published an unflattering cartoon of the prophet Mohammad, belligerent thugs ransacked Danish embassies in Damascus, Beirut and Tehran. Clerics demanded boycotts of Danish goods, and the country’s embassy in Pakistan was bombed by the same al-Qaida terrorists responsible for the 1998 attacks on American embassies in East Africa.

One hundred human beings died because radicals where outraged by a foreign newspaper’s cartoon. As of the writing of this article, 39 people have died because of offense taken from a trashy YouTube video.

America was not the only target last week.

Iran once again threatened Israel with total annihilation. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that “nothing would remain” of Israel if it, or the United States dared to try and stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

This is not the first time Iran has threatened the Jewish state. In 2005, the rabidly anti-Semitic president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said that Israel ought to be “wiped off the map.”

Iran has said it will rain missiles on Israel regardless of whether or not the regime obtains nuclear weapons. Can you understand Israelis’ fears now?

It would be unwise to think that the Iranian regime would be satisfied with destroying Israel. Once they have nuclear weapons, all they will need is a long-range missile to hit the American East Coast.

Last week, the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, released a new study on America’s missile defense capabilities. The report, compiled by a panel of expert scientists and military officers, said that Iran’s “likely development” of long-range missiles coupled with our “flawed” missile defense systems, could leave our cities at the mercy of the Mullahs in Tehran.

Iran is still a regime run by bellicose theocrats. Foreign publications still have the ability to actuate throngs of Islamic extremists to attack diplomats and al-Qaida remains an active and deadly force.

All in all, the high hopes of Americans and the good intentions of the president did not translate into a sea change in the international Islamic consciousness. Maybe it will take longer, and maybe it will require more education and dialogue. Until then, America and its allies will be caught in the crosshairs of terrorists and rogue states.



  1. “The events of the last week have made it abundantly clear that anti-Americanism and political Islam are still prevalent and potent in the Muslim world.”

    Sir, I would not go so far as to use the word “prevalent” for this. Over there is exactly like over here. Just because groups of violent people got together and caused copious destruction and some loss of life, I wouldn’t say that those ideals are predominate over there. The are large numbers of pro-American people in the “Muslim world.” The number of people whom committed the violent acts in comparison to those who are wholeheartedly against the religious attackers is greatly in the latter’s favor.

    It all comes down to interpretation of the media that is presented. There was a great deal of sensationalism in the past week from the US media, which then plays off of the already-present angst that can be found in large portions of Americans. While I’m not downgrading the severity of the attacks and consequences of them, I am saying that this piece reads as just another sensationalist article that has its roots in anti-Islam sentiments.

  2. eb

    Though I rarely agree with Max (sorry Max!), I converge with the right here. The liberal inability to admit the threat emanating, not from a few ‘bad apples’ but from the doctrine of Islam itself puts us in grave danger. An average of 30% of Muslims sympathize with attacks launched against America in Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan and Morocco. Considering the massive Muslim populations in those countries even 10% would be a legitimate threat. 30% is a crisis. And the crisis is rooted in the Qur’an and Hadith which call for attacks against infidels and apostates with little room for interpretation.

  3. G Bucello

    Hardly so. Middle Eastern terrorism, though overtly religious in it’s rhetoric and stated ideology, is almost always political in its actual goals. The reason that there is so much religious language used by terrorists is because this is how they are able to legitimize their actions and gain support. Consider the historical example of the Crusades, in which untold numbers of atrocities were legitimized and even encouraged due to religious reasons, though the powers that supplied armed forces for the conflicts had other motives for doing so. Even assuming that your 30% statistic is accurate (and I have reason to believe that it’s not, since it likely doesn’t factor in varying sects of Islam, people brought up in households of multiple faiths, and so forth), there is still no reason to vilify an entire religion. There are other root causes to the problems we face. Attacking Islam does not solve them.

  4. eb

    I am still amazed by academia’s inability to see the direct connection between belief in divinely inspired ultimatums calling for the death of infidels and the death of infidels. If it were political as you say and due to awful economic situations, unwanted occupation, deaths of family members, etc, then where are the Tibetan Buddhist suicide bombers? They’ve faced likely the worst oppression of any country in a century, with every political reason to react, but they lack the religious doctrine calling for violent action. When people truly believe god authored the Qur’an, and it offers insights such as “O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness” (9:123), how can the cause of violence be questioned?

  5. G Bucello

    The cause of violence isn’t being questioned. I’m telling you, definitively, that it is not religious. You ask why there are no Buddhist suicide bombers, but reason is simple: not all religions allow for a pretext for violence. (There actually is a whole spate of public suicides in Tibet to draw attention to the oppression in the region. The Dali Lama and other Buddhist leaders have had no part in influencing these actions.) Islam, on the other hand, allows for such a pretext. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the rallying cry for anti-Soviet insurgents was one of Islam. The goal was political – in other words, the expulsion of the Soviets from Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden offered to have his fighters in Saudi Arabia to protect against Saddam Hussein and was denied by the royal family. Since then, the United States had been a target for al-Qaeda, which bin Laden saw as the puppet-master behind the Saudi royal family. You can’t write off politics. The entire issue is one of politics, not one of Islam. An Islamic following in Egypt will differ from one in Pakistan, and both will differ from one in France. You can’t equate them all.

  6. eb

    I do not write politics off, but even your response shows the cause of the violence can be directly traced to the religious doctrines of Islam. Are suicide bombers truly devoting their lives to the political goal of killing one or two non-muslims? They kill themselves often in the middle of streets filled with civilians, far away from any political targets or purpose. They kill themselves because they truly believe in fighting for Islam they can attain Paradise.

    Osama bin Laden’s ‘political’ demands included America converting to Islam. Many of the 9/11 hijackers were unoppressed PhD students. This ‘pretext’ you speak of is a semantic form of hiding from the issue. The Quran specifically calls for violence (4:74 “Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward”). And as interviews with failed suicide bombers confirm, their reasons are derived from their religion.