Monday, September 21, 2009

Patriotism and The Damage Done

What is the definition of patriotism? Wiki defines it as the love of and/or devotion to one's country.

CNN reported on the arrest of several individuals suspected of participating in and/or plotting a terrorist attack, perhaps in the New York area, and indicated they had arrested a Denver man, Najibullah Zazi, and his father, Muhammed Wali Zazi, for these crimes. The former is 24 years old and admitted traveling to Pakistan to train with al-Qaeda operatives. In addition, he traveled from Colorado to New York in a rental car in which he brought a notebook computer containing downloaded information and handwritten notes containing directions on how to make improvised explosive devices (bombs). In his interviews with the FBI, he suggested he mistakenly downloaded these plans on the Internet. He didn't explain how this incorrectly-downloaded information was e-mailed from his account to two other individuals. Father Muhammed Wali Zazi is 53 and is accused of making false statements to the FBI.

Yet another of the arrested is an Imam in a mosque in Queens, Ahmad Wais Afzali, who, in a remarkable coincidence, very closely resembles porn star Ron Jeremy. He was arrested because he tipped off the father and son and lied to investigators on several key fronts.

The question isn't whether these people are interested in performing some sort of attack on the US. It's pretty clear they are. Why are they only -- currently -- facing 8 years in prison each?

Neither here nor there. Whether they are facing 2 days, 2 years or 2 life sentences is, in part, irrelevant. What is far more relevant is that they are naturalized legal residents; all of them are foreign-born; and all clearly have pernicious, malicious intention with respect to this nation.

On the one hand, I suggest we drop these three in a hole and forget about them for 30 or 40 years. We could easily deport all of them, but as we've witnessed with prisoners who the Israelis have been coerced into freeing, these people won't stop until their destiny -- ie martyrdom -- is achieved. Whether said martyrdom is achieved in Israel or America or Pakistan or Afghanistan, their aim is to kill Americans and other Westerners or, if at all possible, Israelis.

The more difficult question to answer is why this is happening. By this I mean why we welcome people who have every intention of destroying it. Of course, for every 1,000 people who want nothing more than to become Americans and slice off their chunk of the American Dream, there's one or two or -- who knows how many -- people who would like to destroy that pie. It's relatively mystifying how the US seems to overlook so many of these people, and since these are ongoing investigations, there's no way to determine how many of these people are under surveillance, how many of them are given a short leash to determine who they're contacting outside the nation, and what their specific plans are.

At once, it's both unsettling and irritating that this problem still continues despite the very visible and very real lessons learned -- perhaps -- on 9/11.

Inasmuch as I would love to let the FBI and the CIA run free, damning the Constitution in the process, and let slip the dogs of war, I can't completely rationalize this, given the past ineptitude of the FBI and the overzealous charges of the CIA. However, it seems fairly simple: watch every mosque in this nation -- from a distance -- and assume every mosque, from Los Angeles to New York -- shelters one or more individuals who are focused on more than their daily prayers while at these mosques. Sound unfair? Perhaps. I'm not advocating destroying mosques and/or decimating the US Muslim population. Nor am I giving the FBI license to kick down the doors of every mosque in this nation.

However, it seems to me that these individuals are -- eventually -- going to find the seam in the defense, so to speak, and fall between the cracks. I refer to these types of individuals, hiding in plain sight. Inasmuch as I respect the Constitution, can we continue to ignore the obvious warning signs in the name of absolute religious freedom? Are people whose lives mean nothing beyond their intent to commit suicide by blowing up buildings, landmarks, train stations, and -- ostensibly -- as many Americans as possible?

The 9/11 hijackers spent an inordinate amount of time living among the US population, as did these recently-arrested individuals. As their replacements become more sophisticated and continue to take advantage of our freedoms, it seems to me that the only real solution is for the US to take an increasingly proactive role in rooting them out. If they're hiding in plain sight -- mosques, prayer groups, clubs and associations -- focus on these and never relent. Those Muslims who have love and respect for the American way of life will understand and -- in the long run -- appreciate that these people who hide among them have tainted their religion, not embodied it, and those Muslims who cry most foul more than likely support the talk of jihad and its lust for blood, not peace.

Invariably, the mixed messages are more clear, and simultaneously fuzzy, with each passing day. And the more we wait, the more their numbers increase.

Put in far more simple terms, if you know you've got a roach issue and can see them scatter when the lights are turned on, the solution is relatively easy: turn the light on, keep it on, and spray in every crevice until the problem ceases.

Or until the spray runs out.

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