The big ID ter­ror­ist cover

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Most ter­ror­ists seem like bum­bling losers if they’re caught be­fore the act: That’s cer­tainly true of the Fort Dix, N.J., ji­hadists who took their ter­ror­ist train­ing DVD to the lo­cal au­dio store to be copied.

It was also true of the Is­lamists ar­rested in Toronto last year for plot­ting to be­head the prime min­is­ter, one of whose cell mem­bers had a bride who wanted him to sign a pre-nup­tial agree­ment com­mit­ting him to ji­had. The Heathrow plot­ters ar­rested while plan­ning to blow up U.S.-bound air­lin­ers in­cluded a Mus­lim con­vert who had started out as the son of a Bri­tish Con­ser­va­tive Party of­fi­cial with a P.G. Wode­house dou­ble-bar­reled name and a sis­ter who was a Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret model and for­mer wife of ten­nis champ Yan­ick Noah.

But then Mohamed Atta and the Septem­ber 11, 2001, gang would have seemed pretty funny if you had run into them in that lap-dance club they went to be­fore the big day. The club girls re­mem­bered them only as very small tip­pers. Most ter­ror­ists are jokes un­til the bomb goes off.

So, when we’re for­tu­nate enough to catch them in ad­vance, it’s worth paus­ing to con­sider what they tell us about the broader threat we face. Ac­cord­ing to the ge­nius head­line writ­ers at the New York Times, “Re­li­gion guided three held In Fort Dix plot.” You don’t say. Any re­li­gion in par­tic­u­lar?

Well, the trio were Mus­lims, but Al­ba­nian Mus­lims — i.e., they weren’t Arabs and they didn’t have names like Muham­mad and Ab­dul­lah (though their ac­com­plices did). Even if Amer­ica were minded to profile, it is harder to profile suc­cess­fully against chaps with names like “Shain Duka” (Fort Dix) or “Richard Reid” (the shoe­bomber) or “Jer­maine Lind­say” (a July 7 Lon­don sub­way bomber) or “Muriel De­gauque” (a Bel­gian lady who self-det­o­nated in a sui­cide at­tack on U.S. forces in Iraq) or “Jack Roche” (an Aus­tralian ar­rested for plot­ting to blow up the Is­raeli Em­bassy in Can­berra).

Sec­ond, the young Duka brothers are “rad­i­cal Mus­lim” sons in a fam­ily of oth­er­wise “mod­er­ate Mus­lim” old­sters. That, too, fits a pat­tern of de-as­sim­i­la­tion, of young West­ern Mus­lims far more im­pla­ca­ble and hos­tile than their par­ents and grand­par­ents. The Lon­don bombers were Bri­tish sub­jects born and bred, rad­i­cal­ized in the vac­uum of con­tem­po­rary mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism.

The fa­ther-in-law of one of the Toronto plot­ters was the phar­ma­cist at the Princess Pa­tri­cia’s Cana­dian Light In­fantry base. The Princess Pats have done ster­ling work in Afghanistan, and pop sup­ports their mis­sion. But his daugh­ter doesn’t, and she named his grand­child af­ter a Chechen ter­ror­ist killed by the Rus­sians.

Third, what then rad­i­cal­ized so many West­ern Mus­lims? An­swer: In many cases, the Balkans. When Yu­goslavia col­lapsed 15 years ago, Jac­ques Poos told the Amer­i­cans to butt out: “The hour of Europe has come,” he de­clared con­fi­dently. Mr. Poos was for­eign min­is­ter of Lux­em­bourg, a coun­try as big as your hot tub, but he held the Euro­pean Union’s ro­tat­ing “pres­i­dency” at the time and, as it hap­pened, the Amer­i­cans were very happy to butt out. “We don’t have a dog in this fight,” said then Sec­re­tary of State, James Baker.

Well, the hour of Europe came and went, and a cou­ple of hun­dred thou­sand corpses later the EU was only too happy for the Amer­i­cans to butt back in again. So NATO bombed the Chris­tian Serbs in de­fense of the Al­ba­nian Mus­lims, and a fat lot of good it did if the Duka brothers are any in­di­ca­tion.

In the­ory, Mr. Baker was right. But out there in the Balkans, if you’re one of the dogs in the fight, great-power even­hand­ed­ness can seem pretty one-handed by the time you get to hear about it. Don’t take my word for it. Here’s Osama bin Laden: “The Bri­tish are re­spon­si­ble for de­stroy­ing the Caliphate sys­tem. They are the ones who cre­ated the Pales­tinian prob­lem. They are the ones who cre­ated the Kash­miri prob­lem. They are the ones who put the arms em­bargo on the Mus­lims of Bos­nia so that 2 mil­lion Mus­lims were killed.”

Whoa, whoa, hold up there: How come a list of im­pe­rial in­ter­ven­tions wound up with a bit of non­im­pe­rial non­in­ter­ven­tion? Be­cause, for se­ri­ous na­tions, even not tak­ing sides is seen as, in ef­fect, tak­ing sides. What was the sin­gle big­gest fac­tor in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of Bri­tish Mus­lims? Omar Sheikh, con­victed in Karachi for the kid­nap­ping and be­head­ing of Daniel Pearl, is Bri­tish — a West­ern­ized nonob­ser­vant chess-play­ing pop-lis­ten­ing beer-drink­ing Lon­don School of Eco­nomics stu­dent, un­til he was fired up by the mas­sacres of Bos­nian Mus­lims.

And, while Europe dithered as the moun­tain of corpses piled up, Saudi money poured in, trans­form­ing the rel­a­tively mild Balkan Is­lam into some­thing far more vir­u­lent. Look at the change in Mus­lim ar­chi­tec­ture in the re­gion over the last 15 years: They build Wah­habist mosques now. Un­like the State De­part­ment com­placeniks, the Is­lamists un­der­stand there is no sta­bil­ity.

Tough, you say. So what? Wash­ing­ton still has no dog in th­ese fights. It’s time to hun­ker down in Fortress Amer­ica. That brings me to the fourth les­son: What fortress? The three Duka brothers were (if you’ll for­give the ex­pres­sion) il­le­gal im­mi­grants. They were not meant to be here. Yet they grad­u­ated from a New Jer­sey high school and op­er­ated two roof­ing com­pa­nies and a pizze­ria.

Think of how of­ten you have to pro­duce your driver’s li­cense or So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber. But, nearly six years af­ter Septem­ber 11, this is still one of the world’s eas­i­est coun­tries in which to es­tab­lish a func­tion­ing but fraud­u­lent iden­tity.

Con­sider, for ex­am­ple, the postSeptem­ber 11 rit­ual of air­line se­cu­rity. You have to pro­duce gov­ern­ment-is­sued pic­ture ID to the Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity of­fi­cial. Does that make you feel safer? On that Tues­day morn­ing in Septem­ber, four of the killers got on board by us­ing pic­ture ID they had ac­quired through the “un­doc­u­mented worker” net­work in Falls Church, Va.

Half the ju­ris­dic­tions in the United States is­sue pic­ture IDs to peo­ple who shouldn’t even be in the coun­try, and they are is­sued

The Fort Dix

a mat­ter of pol­icy.

as

boys were pulled over for 19 traf­fic vi­o­la­tions, but be­cause they were in “sanc­tu­ary cities” any cop who sus­pected they were il­le­gals was un­able to re­port them to im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties. Again, as a mat­ter of pol­icy.

On the one hand, Amer­ica cre­ates a vast fed­eral se­cu­rity bu­reau­cracy to pre­vent an­other Septem­ber 11. On the other hand, Amer­i­can politi­cians and bu­reau­crats cre­ate a par­al­lel sys­tem of ed­u­ca­tion and wel­fare and health-care en­ti­tle­ments by con­triv­ing in main­tain­ing and ex­pand­ing a vast net­work of fraud­u­lent iden­tity that cor­rupts the in­tegrity of al­most all state data­bases.

Even though that fraud played a part in the killing of about 3,000 peo­ple on U.S. soil, lead­ers of both par­ties in­sist noth­ing can be done to stop it. All we can do is give the Duka brothers “a fast track to cit­i­zen­ship.”

The Ira­ni­ans al­ready op­er­ate in the Tri-Border area of South Amer­ica. Is it the noth­ing-can-be-done crowd’s as­sump­tion that the fel­lows who run the armies of the “un­doc­u­mented” from Mex­ico into Amer­ica are just kind­hearted hu­man smug­glers who would have noth­ing to do with ji­had even if the price was right? If you don’t have borders, you won’t have a na­tion. And you may find “the jobs Amer­i­cans won’t do” cov­ers a mul­ti­tude of sins.

Mark Steyn is the se­nior con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor for Hollinger Inc. Publi­ca­tions, se­nior North Amer­i­can colum­nist for Bri­tain’s Tele­graph Group, North Amer­i­can ed­i­tor for the Spec­ta­tor, and a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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